Saturday, March 10, 2007

Klitschko v Austin Today!

I'm looking forward to this bout, though many call it a mismatch. Ray "Rainman" Austin, as will most any heavyweight of size, will definitely have a puncher's chance against the oft-rattled Wladmir. I'm predicting a sixth-roound KO win for Wlad, but anything could happen. Austin getting this fight is just another example of how insanity rules the roost at the IBF. Austin simply has not done anything to justify his being the IBF's mandatory challenger. Austin has size, and he can take a punch, and it may be that he's thought to be a better foil for Klitschko than the dozens of better fighters in the division. While Austin looked to have improved in his recent draw with Sultan Ibragimov, he has never had a victory over an opponent of note, unless you count Owen "What the Heck" Beck, which I don't.

Elsewhere among the heavyweight strap-holders, it looks like Nikolai Valuev will be in the ring with Ruslan "The White Tyson" Chagaev on April 14 (the same date as our Manny Pacquiao boxing funfest, to which all reading this are invited). Chagaev could well finally topple the gentle giant, but I'm expecting a Valuev decision, or perhaps a late-round KO. Chagaev has wowed some folks with his gym work, but his pro career lacks notable knockouts. He did win a split-decision over Johnny Louise, but I don't think that translates into much of a chance against Valuev. If Valuev can establish his jab, he'll win a close one.

Shannon Briggs is still nursing his damaged lungs, Lamon Brewster is still rebuilding himself after his "eye-popping" loss to the now-hiding Serguei Lyakhovich (the guy Briggs beat down to take the belt that Brewster took from Klitschko).

Oleg Maskaev may be fighting again soon, but whether it will be an un-retired champion Vitali Klitschko or the deserving contender Samuel Peter remains to be seen. Peter has earned his shot, and while I'm no fan of his clumsy and questionably legal style, I whole-heartedly endorse him as Maskaev's next mandatory challenger.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Other Heavyweight Happenings

And lest I forget, Oleg Maskaev successfully defended his WBA strap from Peter Okhello in Russia last weekend. Maskaev knocked Okhello down twice en route to a twelve-round unanimous decision. Often, a new heavyweight champ will take a relatively easy 'tune up and recover' fight, and, while Okhello is tough, he seems to fit that description.

The rest of the cream of the heavyweight crop is active as follows:

Wladmir Klitschko has a March 10th date on HBO, but no opponent.

Shannon Briggs is fighting Sultan Ibragminov, a fight that's tough to predict. Briggs is tough and has a chin, so he could well pummel Ibragminov, who nearly lost to the tough but unskilled Ray Austin on ESPN2 back in July.

Serguei Lyakhovich is not yet scheduled, nor is Lamon Brewster, or Hasim Rahman. I guess losing your belt kinda takes it out of you for a while.

Calvin Brock, Chris Byrd, Tye Fields, Oliver McCall (who knocked out Yanqui Diaz last weekend) and others had been slated for the Superfighter heavyweight tournament which was cancelled. None of them are scheduled for bouts as of yet.

James Toney and Samuel Peter have a rematch on Showtime in early January, and it is said that the winner will face Maskaev as a mandatory challenger.

Nikolay Valuev will be fighting a resurgent Jameel McCline, on HBO on January 1st. Most folks assume that Valuev will beat McCline, but don't forget that while McCline has lost six fights, he completely dominated Shannon Briggs a mere four years ago. It just depends on how well each fighter is conditioned, and how actively McCline pursues Valuev. I predict a Valuev victory, but this fight could be extremely exciting (of course, it could also be a dud of a hug-fest). The winner will face WBA mandatory challenger Ruslan Chagaev, who has the awful nickname "The White Tyson". Chagaev, yet another former Soviet with an extensive amateur career, won a 12-round split decision over Johnny "Louise" Ruiz in the WBA title eliminator last month in Germany.

Audley Harrison's recent KO of Danny Williams may set up a match between Harrison and Matt Skelton for a battle that no one outside of the U.K. will notice. If Harrison is serious about challenging for a belt, he'll be needing to look good.

In the Prospects section:
Tony Thompson, Eddie Chambers, Brian Minto, Alexander Povetkin and Roman Greenberg
have nothing on the schedule as of yet.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A-Force Strikes Back?

Well, it looks like 'Fraudley Harrison', the 2000 Olympic gold-winner, is getting his butt back into gear. Audley 'A-Force' Harrison up and beat the piss outta Danny Williams in a rematch of the fight that nearly ended Harrison's career.

Danny Williams is not a bad heavyweight, but he never was as good as the 'Tyson conqueror' moniker would suggest. He got lucky that a shot Tyson blew out his knee, and he made the most of it. I don't know if it's time for him to hang up the gloves, but unless he has another fight with Matt Skelton, there's not likely to be another big-money fight for him.

Harrison was seen by many as the stylistic heir of Lennox Lewis, and while I've not bought that, I do believe that he has to tools to be a great heavyweight. His recent lackluster performances (two pathetic losses to Williams and Dominick Guinn--in which he barely used his gloves) will hopefully be forgotten as he demonstrates a return to top form.

We'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Shannon Briggs, "Heavyweight Champion".

Lord, I'm too ashamed of the sport to post the text. Google it.

Monday, October 02, 2006


I'll admit to nearly having a stroke when the judges announced the split-decision in the Peter v Toney bout. To me, and the three folks with whom I watched the fight, Toney was the clear winner, and the scoring of the bout by two of the three judges appeared to be moronic or dishonest. My scorecard was very close to judge Gale Van Hoy's 112-115 dissenting decision. My companions' cards were very similar.

I found myself, more clearly than ever before, seeing why fans are flocking away from boxing towards MMA competitions. The variety of corruptions in management are one thing, but it is the pathetic and/or corrupt judging that is insulting, alienating and driving away both long-time and casual fans.

The pathetic boxing in the finale of "The Contender" also left me cold. If those guys represent the future of boxing, boxing has no future. I've been looking forward to some of the upcoming bouts, trying to re-kindle my love of the sweet science, but having a hard time doing it.

I was heartened, however by this news. It appears that the WBC is ordering a rematch between Toney and Peter, and while I'm still disgusted, I am (like a sucker) hopeful that this time the fight will be judged competently.

My continued support of what has been my favorite sport is on thin ice. I'll be watching the upcoming 'big fights', and I hope that I'm not disappointed again.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Will It Be "Lights Out" For "The Nigerian Nightmare"

On Saturday night, Showtime will be featuring James "Lights Out" Toney in a heavyweight bout against Samuel "The Nigerian Nightmare" Peter, in what is certain to be a fight worth watching. Toney is a trash-talking slickster who is the most fundamentally sound heavyweight of recent years, and this match-up with the heavy-handed, un-polished, and meagerly skilled Peter will provide a clash in styles that I'm hoping will prove to be exciting. Peter fights dirty, and he is thought to posess the greatest one-punch knock-out power in today's heavyweight division. Wladmir Klitschko showed that Peter's lack of skill leaves him vulnerable to being picked apart, but Peter, in addition to his great power, also demonstrated a strong chin. Toney lacks Klitschko's reach and power, but he will also withstand Peter's power punches better than did Wlad.

What will make this fight so exciting is that Toney will be fighting Peter from within Peter's range, making use of his chin and ability to slip punches, hoping to frustrate the powerful Nigerian while "breaking him down" with a series of body shots and well-placed counter-punches to the head. Neither fighter has a reach advantage, and neither has made a habit of backing up.

It is odd that Samuel Peter comes across as such a humble, decent guy, yet fights as dirty as any heavyweight in recent memory. He hits to the back of the head, punches on breaks, and hits already downed foes in a matter reminescent of Mike Tyson at his worst. Toney, who is noted for "trash-talking", verbal abusing interviewers, and acting a thug, is very much a clean fighter, using his skills to devastating effect, but generally not taking cheap shots. I will be rooting for Toney, for, all personality issues aside, I have chosen to support the skilled fighter over the unskilled, brawling behemoth.

Peter has never beaten a top fighter, though he has mowed through tomato-cans and fringe contenders with a vengeance. Unless something very unusual happens, Toney will not leave himself open to Peter's haymakers, and the big man will find himself in a fight unlike any other in his career.

If Toney shows up in as poor a physical condition as he did for his draw with Hasim Rahman, he may well end up battered and beaten, particularly if the usually unfit Peter shows up in atypically good shape. If Peter shows up fat, and Toney comes in fit, I expect that Toney will pick Peter apart, perhaps scoring a late-round TKO.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Paul Williams: Thomas Hearns Come Again?

Is Paul "The Punisher" Williams the second-coming of Thomas "The Hitman" Hearns? It's probably too early to say such a thing, but the long, lanky, hard-hitting welterweight looked impressive as he dissected and demolished the once-great Sharmba Mitchell. The six-one Williams used his much greater height and reach to his advantage, but he also fought in close, showing the ability to set the pace with his jab, or throw short punches to great effect on the inside. Mitchell is well past his prime, but he came to fight, and in his loss, he did expose some holes in Williams' defense. Williams has a tendency to drop his hands and Mitchell tagged him several times for committing this boxing sin. Fortunately for Williams, he had the chin to weather Mitchell's best blows. Mitchell represented a test, and Paul Williams passed it with flying colors, dropping Sharmba four times en route to a fourth-round TKO.

Williams lacks the mighty right hand of the great Thomas Hearns, but his build and style are very similar to those of "the Motor City Cobra". "The Punisher" has a great potential, and he's getting to the point where it will be tested, hopefully against the best that the welterweight division has to offer.

Williams is expected to be Antonio Margarito's next opponent, and the winner of that bout will hopefully be matched up with the winner of the upcoming Floyd Mayweather/Carlos Baldomir bout. The welterweight division has seen a great deal of excitement lately, and I don't expect that to change.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Friday Night of Ho-Hum Fights


Evander Holyfield looked to be in good shape tonight, as he dominated the thoroughly outclassed journeyman Jeremy "The Beast" Bates, winning the fight with a second-round TKO. Unfortunately, this will probably lead to Holyfield moving up to fight someone who isn't a unskilled journeyman, and that will not be pretty. Bates, despite his complete lack of skill, managed to rock Holyfield with what looked to be a relatively slow punch, and I shudder to think of how a skilled fighter will leave "The Real Deal" with "Real Dain Brammage". Of course, I believe that if Evander wants to fight, and he passes the physical requirements, he should be allowed to fight. I just hope that he'll decide to hang it up.

ESPN2's Friday Night Fights card disintegrated with both Sam Soliman and Vasily Jirov pulling out of the two fights of note, both complaining of back injuries. Soliman looked great in his previous bout against Winky Wright, and Jirov has been known for tough wars with Joe Mesi (who defeated yet another tomato can in last week's latest installment of his half-assed comeback) and James Toney. When these two guys pulled out of their respective fights, I expected the worst, and that was pretty much what ESPN2 delivered. The "main event" ended up being a yawnfest that pitted journeyman Cisse Salif against undefeated prospect Damian Wills, who is co-managed by movie star Denzel Washington. These guys looked slow, flabby, and unskilled, and I think that none of the top 20 heavyweights should have anything to fear from these two. As bad as this fight turned out to be, the undercard was even worse (though there was an exciting four-rounder between Joaquin Marquez (fresh out from a 7-year prison stint) and Roderick Grajeda, an under-achieving journeyman who was homeless as recently as six months ago. Neither of these guys are in a position to set the world on fire, but Grajeda showed a lot of heart and "ring smarts" in toughing out the draw with the more talented Marquez.

Tomorrow night's Sharmba Mitchell/Paul Williams fight promises to be more exciting, especially if they show "Fast Eddie" Chambers' fight on the undercard. I'll be watching.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

What A Night, What A Fight!

For all of those who derided last night's HBO PPV ticket, know ye that you were wrong! With the second great heavyweight fight of 2006 (the other being Lyakhovich v Brewster) as the main event, we who were watching were greatly entertained. After an exciting and entertaining undercard, the main event was worth every penny.

For those of you who haven't heard, Oleg Maskaev battered Hasim Rahman into a twelfth-round stoppage in a fight that should cause everyone to wonder if Jay Nady should ever again be allowed to referee a professional fight.

Maskaev has been criticized for being a one-dimensional fighter, and rightly so. His slow, plodding, nearly defenseless power-punching style has consistently left him vulnerable to fighters with a long reach, quick hands, and crisp jabs. "The Big O" was facing just such a fighter last night when he stepped through the ropes to meet Hasim "The Rock" Rahman. Rahman is younger, faster, has more reach, and a very strong jab. Maskaev's advantages were an extensive amateur background, a greater ability to weather punches, and he has shown himself to be capable of keeping his head in stressful situations (unlike Rahman, whose lapses in focus often make him his own worst enemy in the ring).

Both fighters started cautiously, each showing respect for the punching power of the opponent. Rahman gradually established his jab, and while Maskaev landed some well-placed punches, he seemed to have no answer for Rahman's jab in the early rounds. In round two, an accidental headbutt opened a small, vertical cut on the medial aspect of Maskaev's left eyebrow, and while it bled periodically, it didn't seem to have much effect on Maskaev's fighting. I scored rounds one through four for Rahman, though round one was very close to a 10-10 round.

As the fight progressed, Rahman's jab became less of an issue. Whether this was because of fatigue, Maskaev starting to circle, or because of Rahman foolishly abandoning his successful strategy, I cannot say, but once this happened, Maskaev was back in the fight, using his reprieve from Rahman's powerful jab to work his own power shots, consistently catching Hasim with left hooks and short right hands as the fighters closed. Jay Nady seemed to be watching a totally different fight with over-criticism of Maskaev for holding, giving him the "second warning" in round six. Maskaev responded to the threatened point deduction by being a bit more active, and shunning the clenches, but as he wasn't doing any significant holding prior to the warning, this didn't seem to have much impact on the fight. I scored rounds five and six for Maskaev.

In round seven, Rahman seemed to rediscover his jab, and round eight saw him pound Maskaev at will. Both fighters were tired, but with both fighters throwing bombs, there was plenty of excitement. The thrill of a potential knockout was in the air. Maskaev would land solid punches and occasional combinations, though Rahman looked to be getting the better of the exchanges. I scored round seven even and round eight for Rahman, giving him a 78-75 lead.

The ninth, tenth, and eleventh rounds were punctuated with big punches from both fighters, as Rahman gradually slowed down his jabbing, and Maskaev began landing more and more punches. Despite his corner's urging, Rahman foolishly seemed to want to fight in close, as opposed to maintaining his distance and jabbing, which was an offense for which Maskaev seemed to have no answer. Once Rahman moved in close, Maskaev landed several left hooks, and also began to work Rahman's body. While Rahman was still landing and still in the fight, it was obvious that the momentum of the fight had shifted to Maskaev. I scored rounds nine, ten, and eleven for Maskaev, though round nine was close. Going into the twelfth, the belt was up for grabs. I had it scored 105-105.

Rahman looked slowed and dazed coming into the twelfth round, while Maskaev seemed to have regained a bit of energy. During the first minute, Jay Nady stopped the fight to have loose tape cut from Rahman's glove (I believe that Rahman's corner had intentionally loosened the tape to give Rock a little extra rest), and once the action resumed, Maskaev was relentless in stalking Rahman about the ring. Rahman did his best to hang on (including a ridiculous amount of holding and clutching) while Maskaev delivered the heat. The big former Soviet landed a series of left hooks and straight rights, sending Hasim to the canvas, into, and almost through, the ropes, which was eerily reminiscent of Rahman's tumble in 1999. Rahman beat the ten count, but his legs were gone, and he looked to have no fire remaining. He made a valiant effort to hold on, but Maskaev would not be denied (even though Jay Nady was forced to pry Rahman's arms from around Maskaev's leg, after Rahman made a pathetic attempt to tackle Maskaev, and refused to let go). Despite Rahman's best (illegal) efforts, Maskaev pounded Hasim with a series of power punches until Jay Nady was forced to stop the fight. Only forty-three seconds remained, but that would have been an eternity for the defenseless Rahman to suffer the barrage that Maskaev was delivering. In post-fight interviews, Rahman still seemed stunned, and while I hesitate to use the word "punchy", Rahman's speech does seem markedly different from recent interviews.

I mentioned some displeasure with Jay Nady earlier, and everyone with whom I've spoken has agreed. He did a poor job in this fight, particularly by improperly warning Maskaev for holding, and then allowing Rahman to all but make love to Maskaev as Hasim tried to avoid that twelfth round TKO. Nady should have deducted points from Rahman, but more importantly, both fighters got away with punching behind the head, which is dangerous, and my number one harping point.

Maskaev, a naturalized American citizen, joins three other former Soviet fighters in holding the four major heavyweight belts. I anticipate that IBF strapholder Wladmir Klitschko will find his negotiations with Shannon Briggs falling apart in favor of a November match-up with Maskaev. WBO titleholder Serguei Lyakhovich has yet to be matched (as far as I know), and WBA titleholder Nicolay Valuev, the least significant of the heavyweight beltholders, is due to fight Monte Barrett in October.

The three most-discussed American-born heavyweights, in terms of regaining one of those straps, are Lamon Brewster, James Toney, and Calvin Brock. Lamon Brewster is still recovering from the detached retina he suffered against Lyakhovich, James Toney is meeting Samuel Peter on September 2nd, and Calvin Brock (who still hasn't beaten a top heavyweight) is still not matched, coming off of his lackluster win over Timur Ibragimov.

While I despise the pseudo-nationalist hype over the recent shift in boxing's balance of power, things are getting more interesting in the heavyweight division. Rest assured, I'll be watching.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Whatever Happened to Hawaiian Punch?

I know that a lot of you guys don't follow the light-flyweights, but one of the hardest-hitting mini-flies of all time, Brian "The Hawaiian Punch" Viloria, took to the ring in Las Vegas to defend his WBC title against the deservedly unheralded Mexican fighter Omar Nino Romero. By the end of the night, however, Romero had earned the respect of Brian Viloria and everyone watching the fight.

The guys at OLN, or at least the fight's promoters, did a fine job of reading the Filipino/Mexican rivalry. If you put a half-decent fighter from either country in the ring against a fighter from the other, you will sell a lot of tickets (Viloria is an American-born son of Filipino immigrants, but he is fully embraced by the Filipino public). The rivalry has long been there, though it has been honed to a razor-sharp edge with Manny Pacquiao's battles with several great Mexican fighters, most notably Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Erik Morales (who Manny will be fighting again in November).

While not totally sold on his technique, I've loved watching Viloria fight in the past. I've seen his last three fights, and even though he would have moments of difficulty in two of them, Viloria's relatively strong chin has allowed him to weather the troubles his erratic technique would make for him. In addition to toughness, Viloria has the ability to get his whole body into his left hooks and uppercuts, which has lead to comparisons with his fellow ethnic Filipino Manny Pacquiao--not that there are similarities of note in style, but in each case, the fighter in question lunges into his power punches, often unfortunately leaving himself open to a savvy counter-puncher. Both are trained by Freddie Roach, and I'd always hoped Roach would "reign in" Viloria, as he seems to have done with Pacquiao.

In his last fight, Viloria overcame some early difficulties to dominate former champion Jose Antonio Aguire, and his previous fight was 1 round dissection of a tomato can named Eric Ortiz. You could argue that the Aguire fight was a step up in class, but Viloria had yet to prove his greatness to me, though many were calling him the most powerful small fighter since Michael Carbajal.

Nino was the picture of a Mexican journeyman fighter. He'd never beaten a top-tier fighter, or even a prominent fringe contender, though he did KO Jorge Arce in what was both fighters' fifth fight (Arce is now the WBC Flyweight strap-holder). Nearly all of Nino's fights had been against fighters who'd lost the majority of their previous five fights, and the only good fighter he'd faced lately knocked him out. The one common opponent that Nino had shared with Viloria was Gilberto Keb Baas. Viloria rallied to KO Baas in the eleventh round, while Baas knocked out Nino in five.

This fight was seen by most as little more than Viloria's tune-up for a big-money fight with Japanese superstar Koki Kameda. Viloria was favored in betting parlors by huge odds, in large part due to the low level of Nino's recent competition.

Well, fight fans, it turns out that Viloria fought the worst fight imaginable, looking slow, flat, frustrated, and sluggish. Nino came out slugging, looked confident, and dictated the flow of the fight. He beat Viloria to the punch in nearly every situation, deleting Viloria's jab, and leaving Viloria unable to set up his big uppercuts, crosses, and left hooks. Viloria looked to be wary of Nino's counter-punching style, and Brian ended up with a ridiculously low punch output. Viloria's performance was pathetic, though nothing should be taken away from Nino. Tonight was Nino's night.

Nino won by unanimous decision, and it was a well-deserved win. He outworked, frustrated, and dominated Viloria, who had no answer for the challenger's quick fists and slick movement.

I scored the fight 118-110 for Nino, and I'll find it hard to bring myself to take Viloria seriously, unless he dramatically turns things around. Freddie Roach may be wasting his time with Viloria, and might be better served spending his time getting Pacquiao ready for his November date with Morales.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

One Week and Counting!

As boxing fans, it is hard for us to hear others decry the fall from greatness of the heavyweight division. While the current heavyweight field may do little to inspire some, I still love to see the two-hundred-pound-plus dreadnoughts battle it out. There have always been dull fights between lumbering, unskilled oafs, but there are also some heavyweights capable of putting on a good show. Next Saturday night, on HBO PPV, we're all hoping to see the later, not the former.

Those of us optimistic enough to fork out the fifty bucks are hoping to see a rematch between two experienced boxers, each with knockout power and a propensity to "mix it up". What we're afraid of seeing is a poorly disciplined, scatterbrained boxer against a shot, weak-willed, "coulda beena contender". What we will be seeing is the lone American strapholder, WBC "champion" Hasim Rahman take on Oleg Maskaev in what could be an exciting rematch, or yet another boring battle of behemoths.

Their first meeting, in 1998, pitted the up-and-coming, though unschooled Rahman against a former Soviet Army officer with an impressive amateur background who had failed to live up to his potential as a pro. As most of you remember, that fight saw Rahman use his superior speed and his stiff jab to take a solid lead into the eighth round, only to have Maskaev take over the fight with a series of well-placed power shots. Maskaev's rally ended with Rahman being knocked out, as well as out of the ring.

Since that night, Rahman's star has risen, though he has achieved little respect from serious students of the sweet science, while Maskaev has only recently struggled out of an obscurity into which his poor training and technique had led him. Each man is fighting to redeem himself, his reputation, and his career.

Rahman is hoping to be known as something other than a flash in the pan who struck down an overconfident, poorly conditioned Lennox Lewis and held his belt for a few months prior to having Lewis beat it out of his hands in a humbling fashion. Rahman's knockout win over Lewis was his only win over an elite fighter, with his other notable victories being over a 42-year-old Trevor Berbick, and journeymen Kali Meehan (a title eliminator), and the never-confused with competent Monte "Two Guns" Barrett (who is, inexplicably, fighting Nikolay Valuev for the WBA belt in October), for which Rahman was awarded the title. And lest we forget, at least Hasim was able to vanquish the two fighters who KO'ed Wladmir Klitschko, Corrie Sanders and club fighter Ross "The Boss" Puritty. Had Vitali Klitschko not retired, Rahman certainly would not be wearing the WBC belt.

Maskaev has been trying to re-establish himself after his fall from contention with losses to Corey "T-Rex" Sanders, Lance Whitaker, and Kirk Johnson in a disastrous 18-month tailspin that nearly de-railed his career. Maskaev has lost tough fights early in his pro career to Oliver McCall and David Tua, but had seemed to be ascending when started his fall, getting knocked out in three of five fights. After the loss to Sanders, Maskaev took eleven months off before getting back into the ring with a series of tomato cans. While widely derided, this allowed Maskaev to rebuild his confidence, make a little money, and start on the road back to legitimacy. His last three fights have been against solid fighters, and while some would argue that he's yet to earn a title shot, with the current state of the heavyweight division, there seems to be a lot of room for speculation as to what justifies a title shot these days.

The main reason that this fight is happening is that Rahman thinks that he can win it. This is the one money-making fight that Rahman's handlers could arrange that "The Rock" has a high likelihood to win. After Rahman's dismal performance in his draw with James Toney, the fans aren't willing to shell out money to see Rahman fight, unless there are special circumstances, which Rahman's past with Maskaev provides aplenty. Of the other three major strapholders, only Valuev would have anything to fear from Rahman, and Don King won't let that fight happen until he's milked that Russian cash cow dry. Rahman, and his legacy, such as it is, will always be haunted by the Maskaev's devastating knockout punch. Now, with his reputation in the doldrums, Hasim hopes that flattening a shell of his former vanquisher will increase interest in a fighter who's only appeal is his American citizenship.

I expect that both fighters will come into the ring in good shape, but Rahman's speed advantage will probably be greater than in their last bout, and if Rahman can maintain his composure in the ring, he should be able to outlast the thirty-seven year-old Maskaev. Maskaev has tremendous power with either hand, however, and if Rahman again gives Maskaev open shots, we may see a repeat of what happened back in 1998. Either way, I'll be watching, and the pork will be roasted, so those of you who know me, come on over.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting!

Tomorrow night looks exciting. HBO's card with Ike Quartey and Vernon Forrest has an amazing undercard with Kassim Ouma to fight Sechew Powell, and Andre Berto, one of my favorites, is fighting grizzled veteran Roberta Valenzuela. I don't know if HBO will show both of these undercard fights, but either could be fun. Ouma is rebuilding after his loss of to Roman Karmazin (who later lost his title to Cory Spinks in a close decision), and has been doing well against tough competition. Powell is an up-and-coming fighter who has yet to beat a big a really big name, but he has made a lot of fans into believers, especially with his big, goofy win over Cornelius Bundrage.

Showtime's card also looks promising, with Juan Manuel Marquez fighting the unfortunately named Terdsak Jaandaeng. The formerly great Marquez is coming off a poor performance and loss to Chris John, while Terdsak has been doing well in his last six fights against, though against lesser competition. I expect Marquez will win, but the two fighters' styles could make for an interesting match-up. Terdsak throws some big bombsk, and it will be interesting to see if Marquez gets caught, or if he picks his opponent apart.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Spinks In a Squeaker

On Saturday night, Cory Spinks went up in weight to challenge the former Russian bareknuckle brawler Roman Karmazin for his IBF junior middleweight belt. Spinks moved up in weight after he was stunned and stopped by Zab Judah at 147lbs. Spinks had all three of his belts taken by domination in front of his hometown fans, and he was certainly out to redeem himself.

Going into this fight, I was torn. As a child of the Cold War, I don't easily root for a Russian, but I have long loathed Cory Spinks and his silly showboating. I saw Kamazin's beat-down of Kassim Ouma, and was looking forward to this fight, as it looked to be a good match of contrasting styles--Karmazin's precision punching and moderate power against Spinks' speed, slickness, and relatively light hands.

In the first round, Cory Spinks came out swinging, and he used both his hand speed and mobility to take the round over the less active, plodding Karmazin, who kept his left hand low in the typical European style. Spinks took advantage of this flaw, throwing his jab on the way in, then smartly moving out laterally as before Karmazin could unload.

In round two, Karmazin rocked Spinks with a big right hand, and the Russian definitely shifted the momentum, at least for the second frame. Karmazin took control, not so much with a lot of punches, but by dictating the pace. Spinks put on a flurry in the final seconds, but the round went to Karmazin.

In rounds three and four, Spinks looked very slick, moving around the large ring peppering the champion with his jab. Karmazin's left eye began to show some redness, and it was beginning to look like it would be a long night for the Russian. The fight was staged in a relatively large ring, and Spinks was using that space in expert fashion.

In the fifth round Karmazin continued to follow Spinks, all the while eating punches. Spinks, not known for his power, began to land some power shots to go with his jabs. Spinks was showing no sign of flagging, and Karmazin was showing no sign of an effective offense.

I scored round six for Kamazin, as he started to land to both the head and body, forcing the slowing Spinks to fight more defensively. I could see how some would have scored it for Spinks, however, as he continued to land a great many jabs. Halfway score 58-56 Spinks.

In the seventh, Karmazin again pressed his offense, though the round was very close, even more so than round six. The left eye of Karmazin was continuing to swell. It appeared that an incidental headbutt opened a small cut under the Russian's right eye, but there were also Spinks jabs landing in the same area.

In round eight, Spinks returned to his impressive form, landing both jabs and straight rights on the doggedly pursuing Karmazin. Karmazin was walking right into the quicker Spinks' punches, though Spinks' output was not what it had been in the early rounds.

Karmazin turned it back on, to a degree, in the ninth round, though Spinks was still too elusive for Karmazin to land more than a few power punch combinations. Karmazin was stalking, but was not able to catch and damage Spinks.

Karmazin put several good punches together in the tenth, rocking Spinks, though he didn't pursue this golden opportunity. Karmazin didn't look particularly fatigued, but for whatever reason, he was not able to mout an effective pursuit. Spinks was ripe for the taking.

In the eleventh, Karmazin stalked Spinks around the ring, definitely winning the round, but not taking his chance to further break down the challenger. In my opinion, Karmazin made a huge blunder not pressing his advantage here, when he might have scored a knockout.

In the twelfth and final round, Spinks ran away from Karmazin. There is no other way to say it. I could hear the fans slipping away from boxing. This is the sort of thing that I hate as a fan, but I certainly understand Spinks' strategy. Spinks had nothing left in the tank, and Karmazin might have dropped him had he caught him.

My scorecard agreed with that of Jerry Griffin, the lone judge who scored the fight a 114-114 draw. Manfred Kuchler and Melvina Lathan both scored it 115-113 for Spinks, a decision that I can certainly respect. I'll bet that they scored the very close seventh round for the new champion, and that's a valid call.

In the aftermath, both fighters were gracious and showed good sportsmanship. Spinks was overcome with emotion, but was very respectful to man who's belt he'd just won. Spinks made a great showing, both inside and outside of the ring.

Karmazin complained that the referee didn't allow him to work on the inside, and he was correct, but I don't think that Karmazin was cheated. What we saw was within the typical range of variation of professional referees.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

De La Hoya Dominates the Mouthy Mayorga

My, oh my, Oscar De La Hoya put a whuppin' on Ricardo "The Matador" Mayorga. Taking the WBC light middleweight belt from his foul-mouthed opponent wasn't enough, so the Golden Boy beat and humiliated the tough Nicaraguan brawler, finally finishing him in the sixth round.

De La Hoya fought his smart, disciplined style that Mayorga simply could not stop. After dropping Mayorga in the first round, De La Hoya continued to lead with his crisp jab, follow it with a variety of power punches, and he blocked or avoided most of the wide, looping bombs for which Mayorga is known.

At times Mayorga was able to close and land uppercuts and the occasional chopping right, but this availed him little. By fight's end, De La Hoya's face showed little sign of Mayorga's vaunted punching power. Mayorga failed to live up to his nickname, charging about the ring like a crazed bull, while De La Hoya played the role of matador, weakening the bull before going for the kill.

De La Hoya continued to punish Mayorga, stayed smart, and did not allow Mayorga to goad him into a brawl. De La Hoya dismantled Mayorga throughout the early rounds, dropping him again midway through the sixth round. Rising from the knock-down, Mayorga showed courage, but it was clear that it was only a matter of time. De La Hoya has a great killer instinct, and he finished Mayorga with a series of power punches, as the beaten brawler sagged against the ropes. Referee Jay Nady stepped in at precisely the right time, even though he knocked De La Hoya to the mat in doing so. I wonder if that will cost Nady any future "Golden Boy" jobs.

I don't know if De La Hoya will take this opportunity to retire "a winner", but I do know that he will lose if he challenges "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Oscar didn't want to retire after losing to Bernard Hopkins, and I don't know how his ego would handle the likely ease with which Mayweather would dispatch him. Also, if the Golden Boy and the Pretty Boy "get it on", De La Hoya will be doing it with out his trainer, Floyd Mayweather, Sr, who won't train a fighter who's up against his son. If Oscar must fight again, I can't help but think that a Trinidad rematch would provide a better chance to go out "on top", and avoid the bitter nights of introspection that haunt so many who box beyond their prime.

De La Hoya is a smart businessman, and the chance to promote a fight between himself and Mayweather, who is currently a free agent, might be too much to pass up, though it certainly looks like De La Hoya doesn't need the money. I'll be watching.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

You must check out our hero Paul over at touchgloves.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Showtime Saturday Night

There have been several great fights lately, but I had been especially looking forward seeing Zahir Raheem fight Acelino Freitas on Showtime tonight. Their fight was the main event, and while it ended with some controversy, it was an entertaining fight.

I became a big believer in Zahir Raheem when he punished and humiliated Erik "El Terrible" Morales last year. Never mind how Raheem was "naturally" much bigger than Morales, boxing school was in session, and Raheem was the teacher. The fast-fisted Philly fighter has great technique, and confounds his opponents with a mixture of speed and precision. He is no knockout artist, but he has the ability to frustrate skilled fighters, and dominate the less skilled. His one loss was a disputed decision, and many have predicted that he is the lightweight to watch.

Acelino Freitas made his name, and earned the WBO title, as a brawler. Nobody disputes his ferocity, though his heart and head have their critics. He tried to box against the more skilled Diego Corrales, and Corrales punished Freitas until he quit in the ring. Freitas had won his last two fights, but victories over lesser competition did little to redeem the tough reputation that he had sullied in surrender.

In the first round, it looked that this was indeed a good match-up. Despite a clash of heads that marked Freitas' forehead and opened a small cut over Raheem's eye, the first round was quite enjoyable, as both fighters were aggressive and throwing power punches early. In the second round Freitas' definitely got the best of Raheem, and there was one questionable knockdown that the referee ruled a slip. I don't dispute his call, though it could have went the other way. The second round also saw Raheem tackle Freitas. I scored both rounds 10-9 for Freitas, as he was landing more, and the punches he landed were more solid.

In the third round, Raheem started doubling up on his jab, and again tackled Freitas. Raheem began to take control of the fight, frustrating Freitas with his evasive moves, quick jabs, and tactical clenching. I scored the fourth round for Freitas, but gave the rest of three through six to Raheem, who was looking very slick, though he pulled a page from the cheap-shot manual when, after pounding Freitas into the ropes, he threw him to the mat. Raheem, immediately realizing that he could be disqualified, fell to his knees begging referee Steve Smoger to spare him. Smoger warned Raheem that the next such action would cost him a point, but let the men continue.

Round seven was a toss-up, but I thought that Freitas' blows were more significant than Raheem's. Frames eight through ten were all Raheem, as he went back to jabbing, moving, and out-boxing the slowing, confounded Freitas. Raheem continued to clench whenever Freitas attempted to mount an attack, perhaps in fear of the Brazillian's power. I think that, in two of the judges' eyes at least, this cost him the fight.

In the last two frames, Raheem was less aggressive, and while Freitas did not look particularly impressive, he did seem to dictate the action, earning him those rounds on my scorecard. I had scored the fight a draw at 114-114, but I thought that Raheem had put on the better showing overall, and I expected him to win the decision.

The Showtime commentators seemed to think as I did, and they were surprised when the announcer called out Freitas' name. I think that a rematch would not be out of order, but I seriously doubt that Freitas will agree to one. At this stage in his career, he's likely preparing to make a last charge at glory, and preferably with big paychecks along the way. I'm betting that he'll try to set up a bout with Diego Corrales, if Corrales defeats Jose Luis Castillo in their rubber match on June 3rd. If Castillo wins, he's slated to face Miguel Cotto in November, and that fight will likely take precedence.

Prior to the main event, Showtime showed a bout between two undefeated middleweights, Andre Ward and Andy "Kaos" Kolle. Ward won light-heavyweight gold in the 2004 Olympics, while Andy Kolle is an untested college student with a respectable, but not outstanding, amateur record. Ward had yet to be tested as a pro, but no one was expecting a test for him tonight. Ward thoroughly outclassed and outboxed the game Kolle, who was aggressive, but totally ineffective in his offense. Ward looked great, landing all manner of punches to the head and body of the relatively immobile Kolle, whose right eye looked to be Ward's favorite target. The fight was called after the sixth round, when an accidental clash of heads further injured Kolle's already tenderized right eye. When Kolle tell his corner that he couldn't see from that eye, referee John Callas wisely stopped the fight.

In heavyweight news that happened elsewhere, Luan Krasniqi won a 10-round unanimous decision over tough journeyman David Bostice.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday Night Fights Results

Friday Night Fights has been entertaing so far this Spring, and tonight was no exception.

In the first of the televised bouts, Brian "The Beast" Minto fought the always-game Billy "The Kid" Zumbrun in an eight-round bout.

I saw Zumbrun fight Riddick Bowe about a year ago, and despite suffering a fourth-round knockout, Zumbrun should have left with the victory. Zumbrun does not have the tools to be a top-tier heavyweight, but he is a solid fighter, and he was a good "style match" for Minto.

In the first round Minto established his jab, dictating the pace and dramatically outlanding Zumbrun.

The third round saw Zumbrun moving inside, pounding Minto with left hooks and straight right counters. Zumbrun suddenly started to use his greater strength to force his will on the shorter, lighter Minto. Minto fought back better in the fourth, but rounds three and four went to Zumbrun on my card.

Minto won the fifth round, though Zumbrun still threw good punches. As the round came to a close, Zumbrun landed a three-punch combo that started me thinking knockout thoughts, though Minto's chin looked to be strong.

The sixth round went to Minto as his jab took control over the fatigued Zumbrun. Minto was showing pretty good hand speed, good footwork, but his defense would not have held up against a more-skilled fighter.

In the seventh round Zumbrun started doubling up his own jab, and used it to set up some good right hand punches. Zumbrun looked good, but "The Beast" was far from finished. Minto finally started to throw rights of his own, added some left hooks off the jab, and nearly scored a knockout in the frames' closing seconds. Zumbrun looked to be in bad shape, and I was surprised that he answered the bell for round eight.

Zumbrun wasn't able to recover fully between rounds, and Minto charged out to capitalize. He punished Zumbrun with rights and lefts that went all but unanswered. In this writer's opinion the referee should have stopped the fight, but it turned out that Minto ran out of gas before he could score a knockdown. Zumbrun was able to survive out the final round, but he took a lot of punishment. I felt more than a little anxiety as the stunned, confused Zumbrun walked back to the wrong corner after the bell. I hope that he wasn't permanently injured.

I scored the bout 78-74 for Minto, who ended up with a unanimous decision victory. I don't know where he'll go from here, but I definitely do not think that he belongs in the ring with a top-tier heavyweight at this time.

In the main event, Samuel Peter dished out the whuppin' that everybody expected. Julius Long was terrified coming in, and it never even looked close. At about halfway through the first round Peter's wild punches caused Long to fall to a knee as he was fleeing. It was correctly ruled a knockdown, even though it was caused by fear, not a punch. About a minute later, as Long was leaning back across the ropes in a vain attempt to avoid Peter's mighty fists, Peter partially landed a big club of a right hand which appeared to knock Long out. All of this without Peter landing a single punch cleanly. It was pathetic.

Long did not use his height at all, and didn't look as if he should even be in a ring with a fighter of Peter's caliber. If Long has any skill, it was not evident tonight. I haven't seen somebody fade from fear like that since the heyday of "Iron Mike" Tyson.

Peter was 13lbs heavier than he was when he lost to Wladmir Klitschko, when poor conditioning played a huge role. He looked slow, but it was hard to tell anything much in such a short fight. Peter is probably the hardest hitter in the division, but he will need to come in with better conditioning if he wants to beat Wladmir Klitschko

Samuel Peter now holds the NABF championship belt, for whatever that is worth.

In the third of the broadcast's fights, an "undefeated but untested" Mike Marrone unloaded like a hurricane against tomato can Dan Whetzel. The first-round knockout happened in a fast and furious fashion, and I couldn't tell you much about what I saw, except that Marrone threw a lot of punches from a lot of angles. If he's fighting again, I'll be watching, though it will most likely be on another ESPN2 undercard.

In the fourth fight a couple of middleweights tusseled in the most exciting fight of the night. Another "undefeated but untested" fighter, Lajuan Simon, fought Darnell Boone in a six-round bout. Boone took the fight on less than a week's notice, so it wasn't expected that he'd offer much in the way of a challenge. Simon did well in the first three rounds with his jab, but abandoned it in the final three, which allowed the slick, quick Boone to look impressive. The bout was scored a draw, but it was an exciting draw. I would like to see these guys scheduled for ten or twelve rounds sometime soon.

ESPN2's Friday Night Fights

Tonight's card on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights will be fun to watch, though it won't likely be of great importance. The main event will feature Samuel "The Nigerian Nightmare" Peter against 7-foot journeyman Julius "The Towering Inferno" Long. Some would call long a tomato can, but he did win impressively over the previously unbeaten Nicolay Popov, which warrants giving him a modicum of respect. At least for now, the stone-fisted Samuel Peter will draw a crowd because you can always expect heavy punches, and a knockout is never far away. This fight is of no significance in the heavyweight standings, but it should be entertaining. Peter needs more rounds and better conditioning before he again tries to move up to the heavyweight division's top-tier. He won, but failed to impress in his decision win over Robert Hawkins, and he needs to look impressive here. I anticipate that he will.

Other fights on the card will also be entertaining, as they'll have the always-entertaining Billy "The Kid" Zumbrun going up against Brian "The Beast" Minto. I've seen Zumbrun fight a few times, and while he's too small/untalented to be a heavyweight contender, he fights with a lot of heart, and always puts on a good show. Minto is looking to work his way up into legitimacy. His lone loss was a split-decision to former WBA strap-holder Tony Tubbs.

I'm not sure yet what ESPN2 will air, but I will be watching, and I bet that I'll be enjoying it. The other fights this weekend look good, too, but that's another article.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Almost An Ooops For Allan Green

All things considered, ESPN2 put together a pretty entertaining card for the most recent installment of its "Wednesday Night Fights" franchise.

In the main event, super-middle superstar Allan Green was matched up with last-minute replacement Donnie McCrary. McCrary accepted the fight on nine days notice, so the expectation was that he would be no serious challenge. I found some clips of his fights on the internet, and I predicted that the much-smaller McCrary would "be a smudge on Green's gloves by the end of this match". I was right, but it turned out to be quite a ride.

In the first two rounds, Green slowly established his dominance, using his greater speed, reach, and skill to chase McCrary around the ring with jabs and punishment, but McCrary showed a lot of spunk, throwing a few big punches, and fulfilling the role of the "scrappy little guy".

In round three, a left hook to the body dropped McCrary. Green had softened him up with a series of jabs and straight rights, and was looking like a million bucks. After the knockdown, Green opened up, and started to let his hands fly. Teddy Atlas had predicted that, at some point, Green might try to jump in with a lead left hook, and that McCrary could capitalize on this. As is so often the case, Teddy was dead on right, and McCrary's left hook to the chin almost put Green out on his feet. McCrary followed up and dropped Green with a series of big punches. McCrary didn't have the gas to follow up with a knock-out, but he had Green fighting for his career in the round's last minute.

In the fourth, Green came out with his defense picture-perfect. The tongue-lashing that he received in his corner appeared to have been effective, as Green kept his hands up until the final moments of the fight. The fifth frame was more of the same, and Green gradually began to re-establish his dominance with the jab.

The bout's end came in the sixth round, much later than I had expected. Green, showing his one-punch power, dropped McCrary with a powerful left hook, catching the smaller man stepping away.

I like Green. From several accounts, he is a good guy, and he seems to have a good combination of style and ability. The rumour is that he is to be an upcoming opponent for Joe Calzaghe, who is still basking in the glow of his demolition of Jeff Lacey. I would love to see such a fight, but I am inclined to think that it might still be too early in Green's career to make such a step up. Green has a great future, but his mistakes in this fight, against bottom-of-the barrel competition, seem to indicate that he still has some growing to do.

On the undercard, Jameel McCline had a thoroughly unimpressive unanimous decision win over game journeyman Rob Calloway. McCline looked to have dramatically improved his conditioning, though he still threw relatively weak arm-punches, and did so in a sloppy matter. If anything, McCline's stock went down with this uninspiring win.

Rankings, Smankings recently published their top 50 active heavyweights. I disagree with a lot of their guy's picks, but hey, that's a big part of the fun of being a boxing fan. Boxrec has their own system for objectively ranking fighters, but their rankings often ends up with varying amounts of craziness (John Ruiz at number five?), making college football's BCS foolishness pale by comparison.

Until I see otherwise, I'll consider Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, and Vitali K retired, and my rankings will take into account where the fighters are now.

Off the cuff, I'll say that the top 3 heavyweights (in no particular order) are:

Serguei Lyakhovich, Lamon Brewster, Wladmir Klitschko.

Serguei beat Lamon who ko'ed a Wlad who was thrashing him 'til he ran out of gas. Lamon has the most power, and he and Serguei each have a better chin that Klitschko, who is probably the most skilled boxer.

There are other good heavyweights, and I have no idea how everything will shake out, but as soon as I have my rankings set, I'll post them.

Who do you, noble readers, choose as your top 3, 5, or 10 heavyweights?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tomorrow on ESPN2's Wednesday Night Fights

Tomorrow night on ESPN2, the exciting Allan Green will be fighting. Lest you've forgotten, he's the super-hot super-middleweight who delivered unto Jaidon Codrington the most brutal first-round knockout of 2005. He gave Codrington eighteen seconds of Hell, and I'm expecting that he'll give something similar to the light-hitting Donnie McCrary. I saw a few clips of McCrary on the internet, and, from what I saw, he will most likely be a smudge on Green's gloves by the end of this match. Green could be coming in overconfident, but barring a total breakdown in his training, he should roll over McCrary.

Jameel "Big Time" McCline will be fighting Rob Calloway on the same card. I'm hoping that ESPN2 will be showing this fight as well, though it's not mentioned on their website. Jameel McCline seems like a great guy, but this may well be his last chance to turn around a once-promising, now-stalled, career. If he wins, he might move closer to re-establishing himself as someone to be taken seriously. If he loses, it may mean the end of a shot at the big money.

After a shaky start in the pro ranks, McCline put together a 31-fight unbeaten streak that included wins over contenders Michael Grant, Lance Whittaker, and Shannon Briggs. This ended with a TKO loss to Wladmir Klitschko in December of 2002, where McCline's corner called a halt to the beating that McCline was taking. McCline's attempted comeback was stalled with a disputed split-decision loss to Chris Byrd, a loss to the ascendent Calvin Brock, and then a disastrous loss to unheralded punching bag Zuri Lawrence. He is now riding a three-fight winning streak, though he's been fighting third-tier competition. McCline is big and strong, and while he has some boxing skill, he tends to get lazy, and the few punches he does throw tend to be ineffective"arm punches" that lack speed, accuracy, and power.

Calloway's career had a solid start, though much of his competition has been quite poor. He's lost three fights to solid fighters, most recently to undefeated prospect Ruslan "The White Tyson" Chagaev by unanimous decision in January. He has also been knocked out twice. Having been KO'ed by Hasim Rahman is nothing of which to be ashamed, but having been KO'ed by the ever-underachieving Audley Harrison is an indicator that Calloway will not likely be much of a test of McCline's ability, should McCline decide to throw hard, sharp punches. That said, Calloway has kept up an active fight schedule, and he could well win a decision over McCline by simply outworking him. I'll be watching.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Alexander "The Pretty-good-so-far"

On the Klitschko/Byrd undercard, Alexander Povetkin, the 2004 Olympic Super-heavyweight gold medalist, faced off against Friday "the 13th" Ahunanya. The six-round bout ended in a Povetkin win by unanimous decision, and was quite the exciting match-up. Both fighters went straight at one another and slugged it out. The fight ended with no knockdowns, but it looked as if some were coming, had a longer fight been scheduled.

Ahunanya is a skilled fighter who looked to be a real contender until Serguei Lyakhovich beat him in 2001. Ahunanya won a few subsequent fights against less talented competition, before losing to Lance Whitaker in 2004. Since then, Ahnunanya has been fighting, and losing to, tough competition, including Dominick Guinn, Taurus Sykes, and Sultan Ibragimov. I place him in a special category of journeyman fighters, those who make their living as a proving ground, as opposed to just being a punching bag. He's only been knocked out once, and, while I don't think that this Nigerian toughman will ever be seen as a contender, he could still hammer out a respectable career. Povetkin has reason to feel proud of this win.

Povetkin, with only 3 amateur losses, went on to defeat every fighter than he has faced, avenging those amateur losses in the professional ranks. He has been compared to Joe Frazier, in that he has an aggressive, straight-forward style, and unlike most European fighters, he is very mobile. He doesn't stand upright, but comes in bobbing, weaving, and somewhat crouched. His arsenal is left hook-heavy, and he throws powerful uppercuts on the inside. Povetkin has good hand speed, though I doubt that he's as fast as Chris Byrd. He has power, but he hasn't shown the power of Samuel Peter or Lamon Brewster. He has shown a durable chin, but it has yet to be tested against a real contender. I am very curious to see what becomes of this guy, though I'm not quite ready to start singing his praises as the "next big thing".

This blog entry also appears as my first guest-article on, a new, very cool boxing news website. Check those guys out.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Klitschko Over Byrd, Again.

Going into this fight, I'd predicted a round seven knockout (yes, I do have witnesses). While I was not surprised to see it happen, I was surprised at how easily Wladmir Klitschko beat Chris Byrd. It was not just a victory, it was a potentially career-ending whupping. Thankfully, Byrd didn't seem to be hurt, though his prospects for being taken seriously as a heavyweight were pronounced dead, dead, dead.

The fight started with the two men scouting one another. Wladmir, having been knocked out three times when favored, was very cautious. Byrd, the IBF belt-holder, didn't fight his usual slick, head-bobbing style, but he also didn't rush in aggressively, as he'd told us to expect in the pre-fight chatter. The first round saw Klitschko throw a few crisp jabs, and Byrd land a handful of relatively strong body shots. I scored the first round even, though I could see how some could have given the round to Byrd.

Early in the second round, Wladmir landed the first of what was to be a large number of powerful straight right hands. He also began to throw the left hook off of the jab, which has been his trademark, and started to take control of the fight. The second round also marked the entrance of Tracy Byrd's shrill voice. Many say that Byrd's wife has been instrumental in the failure of Chris' career to thrive, but I'll just say that I was wishing that she would shut up.

In the third Byrd came out with a flurry of body shots, but, as the round progressed, Klitschko dictated the pace, hammering Byrd with the straight right. More and more, these punches were landing on the right side of the face, as Byrd was unsuccessfully trying to turn away. Byrd looked bewildered, as Klitschko was out-muscling, out-jabbing, and out-punching him.

In the fourth, Byrd tried to establish the pawing jab for which he is known. Unfortunately for Byrd, the great defense for which he has also been known was picked apart by the big Ukrainian. There was a lot of talk by the HBO commentators about Klitschko's tactics, and it was becoming clear that Emmanuel Steward had prepared his client well. "The Steelhammer" looked to be perfectly prepared for Byrd, who had no answer for Klitschko's tactics.

In the first minute of the fifth, Klitschko dropped Byrd with a hard straight right, again to the right side of the face. Byrd, known for a strong chin, easily made the count, though he was badly wobbled, and bleeding from the nose. Byrd, copying a page from his cousin Lamon Breswter's playbook, tried to taunt Klitschko into "punching himself out", as the big Ukrainian had done against Brewster in 2004. Byrd was very mobile as he weathered the storm of Klitschko's fists, even taunting the aggressor, but Wlad resisted temptation, and stood back, not over-exerting himself.

After the bell, in the corner, Byrd had to ask "What'd he hit me with".

In round six, Klitschko charged out, and after initially pouncing on Byrd, he sat back and picked his punches, landing almost at will against the slowed, fearful-appearing Byrd. With Byrd being pummeled, you could clearly hear his shrew of a wife shrieking at him. Byrd walked to his corner looking like he'd already been the full twelve rounds, while the challenger was unmarked, and looked quite rested.

In the seventh, Klitschko again ran out, slamming Byrd's head with rights and lefts, again dropping Byrd thirty-five seconds into the round. As had been the story of the fight, the punch that dropped Byrd was a straight right to face, slightly off-center to the right. Byrd gamely regained his feet, but the referee had seen enough. Bleeding from both nares, the bridge of his nose, his left brow, and sporting a swollen right eye, Byrd did not put up much of a protest when referee Wayne Kelly called an end to the bout.

Klitschko handled Byrd with even greater ease, this second time around. While I've always thought highly of the former champ, Chris Byrd, particularly as he has aged and slowed, is simply not able to deal with the style of Klitschko, the only man to beat him, other than Ike Ibeabuchi (probably the greatest "coulda, shoulda, woulda" of this era). Byrd's style is not much fun to watch, he doesn't draw the crowds, and unless something changes, he'll likely never get another big-name fight as a heavyweight. I doubt that he'll try to get down to cruiserweight at his age, though he might draw a crowd for a fight with Jean Marc Mormeck or O'Neill Bell, as they prepare to move up in weight.

What's next for Klitschko? Hasim Rahman won't be available for a while, he's to next fight Oleg Maskaev, with the winner to fight James Toney. Likewise, Serguei Lyakhovich, will be giving a rematch to Lamon Brewster. Nikolay Valuev, assuming that he beats the under-achieving Owen "What the Heck" Beck, would be a huge money-maker in a European-staged fight with Wlad. Like a great many folks, I'd love to see Wlad fight the winner of the Lyakhovich v Brewster rematch. Other than one of these two, I don't think that any of the current belt-holders can give him a good fight.

Unless the always-suspicious buisness machinations of the of boxing world weave a tangled web, the only other big-dollar challenge out there for Klitschko would be the undefeated, and relatively untested Calvin Brock (who is to fight Timor Ibragimov in two months). Of course, putting Klitschko in the ring with any heavy-hitter will draw fans, given Wlad's past history of unexpectedly falling to an underdog's big punch.

With the recent title fights being so exciting, it appears that the heavyweight division is experiencing something of a comeback. I hope that this is so, though I'll keep watching the smaller guys if it does not.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Sloopy Sykes Sags

The Taurus "The Bull" Sykes v Derek "The One-Man Riot" Bryant fight looked to be a potential stinker. The flabby, under-achieving Sykes against the unheralded Bryant.

Sykes fights a sloppy style, but against weak competition, he's been able to mug, grab, and win ugly decisions. His only win of any sort of note was against Friday Ahunanya, prior to Friday had been totally discredited as a potential contender. Sykes' only other "main event" fights were lopsided losses. Owen Beck rolled over Sykes in six rounds, and Samuel "The Nigerian Nightmare" Peter beat Sykes senseless in two frames. No fight fan would pick Sykes to win over a legitimate contender. Of course, tonight he was fighting an unregarded Bryant, who'd only won two of his last seven fights. I'd never seen Bryant fight, but I wasn't impressed by what I'd read about him.

In the first two rounds, Bryant, said to be a slow starter, looked much better than the aggressive, but sloppy, Sykes. Some power punches were landed, and despite the sloppiness of both fighters, the fight was entertaining. In round three, Bryant began to reign in his wild punches, took control, and twice dropped Sykes with uppercuts. Had the round been ten seconds longer, Bryant would have finished Sykes.

Halfway through the fourth, Bryant knocked Sykes down again. The ref offered to stop the fight, but Sykes refused, and charged back into Bryant, only to fall again within moments. As the referee called the fight off, Sykes rolled out from under the ropes and began staggering through the crowd. I wasn't impressed by the way the Georgia boxing officials handled this truly bizarre aftermath. I hope Sykes was seen by a doctor, as he looked more than a little punch-drunk.

What a Week!

I'm getting settled in to watch Taurus Sykes fight Derek Bryant (after an entertaining undercard), and looking forward to the Klitschko v Byrd fight tomorrow night, and then Samuel Peter v Julius Long on next week's ESPN2's Friday Night Fights.

Spring is definitely the best time of the year to be a fight fan, and I'm enjoying it immensely. All of you a'reading this are welcome to come join in the boxing/pig flesh fest that'll start tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 pm CDT.

There's the bell.....gotta go watch the fight.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Old Boxers Never Die.....

Henry Akinwande beat Cisse Salif last month, Shannon Briggs is still on his tear of knocking down tomato cans, and Riddick Bowe, in all of his "dain-brammaged" glory, is still trying to get on fight cards at Indian Reservations.

If Oleg Maskaev is getting a title shot against Hasim Rahman, why not? It looks like a lot of heavyweights, having missed their shots during their primes, are still hanging around, looking for another shot at glory......or at least another paycheck. This is nothing new in the boxing world, but in the heavyweight division some of these "has-beens" and "never-weres" can still win a fight with the fabled "one big punch", and this does bring in the cash. One has to wonder if Mike Tyson will re-enter the fight game.

I suppose that the icing on the cake will be Ike Ibeabuchi coming out of prison at age 60 to re-enter the heavyweight mix (Hell, why not, he beat David Tua, and beat Chris Byrd into submission).

Monday, April 17, 2006

Guinn Wins!

Audley "A-Force" Harrison has to be one of the biggest disappointments in the heavyweight division. For the second fight in a row, the former Olympic Gold-Medalist lost an embarassing decision to a less-talented, but more active fighter. Dominick Guinn came out strong, and showed the closest thing to aggression in their Friday night bout. Guinn has also been an under-achiever, but it looks as he may have finally gotten his stuff together, or, at least, together enough to beat the uncertainty-plagued Harrison.

Guinn deserves credit for his win, though it was all but handed to him by his opponent. Harrison had a huge reach advantage, as well as greater power and skill. Instead of using his reach, establishing his jab, and picking Guinn apart, Harrison let Guinn close and punch at will. As I wrote last week, Harrison has attempted to model himself on Lennox Lewis, but he just doesn't have it, and it doesn't look like he's gonna get it. Guinn may have preserved his status as a "fringe contender" for now, but I don't expect that he'll ever again be taken seriously. His once-rising star has been dimmed with recent losses, but I wish him all the best.

In another fight on ESPN2's Friday Night Fight undercard, Andre Berto outclassed and stopped Horatio Garcia, a grizzled veteran who took the fight on very short notice. Berto's defense is suspect, but in his battery of Garcia his offense looked spectacular. Berto looks to have speed, power, and technique, all combined with a million-dollar smile. He throws a lot of different punches from a lot of different angles. He could be making a huge splash in the near future light middleweight division, and has the frame to move up to the talent-heavy middleweights at some point. This was my third time to see Berto fight, and each time he's looked impressive, though this time his competition too weak to be challenging.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Mayweather v Judah Tonight!--and Update

Tonight is the night. Or at least, "a" night, as "Pretty Boy Floyd" Mayweather is slated to unleash a devastating "whupping" on "Super" Zab Judah, brought to the screen by HBO PPV.

Mayweather is the complete package of power, speed, skill, and "ring generalship". He has never lost a professional bout, and is considered by many to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the game today. His style is smart, combining an excellent defense with a multiple-shot combination-laden offense, that makes him incredibly dangerous.

Judah has shown flashes of greatness, but these have been interrupted by instances of mediocrity, most recently his loss to Carlos Baldomir. He probably has more power than Mayweather, but can't match his boxing skills. Plus, he's a rude, ungentlemanly punk. No way I can root for this guy.


Mayweather beat Judah, winning by unanimous decision. In the first half of the fight, Judah did well, fighting Mayweather close, even landing pretty effectively at times. Mayweather began to accelerate, and Judah fade, starting in rounds five and six, though Judah would fight back in the closing seconds of each round. From round seven onward, Mayweather controlled the bout without question.

At the close of the tenth round, Zab Judah showed his true colors, throwing an obviously intentional low blow, then following with a hard punch to the exposed back of the defenseless Mayweather's head. This prompted a big brawl in the ring, as Mayweather's trainer (and uncle) charged into the ring, followed by members of each fighter's entourage.

After the ring was cleared, and Mayweather's trainer/uncle ejected, the fight continued. Mayweather played it safe, not appearing to go for the knockout.

I don't know if anybody else in welterweight class can give the "Pretty Boy" a serious threat, but I imagine that a fight with Ricky Hatton may well be in the works. That might well be an entertaining fight, and I'd probably spring for it, despite the certainty that Mayweather would win. I don't want to see Mayweather continue to go up in weight class until he is no longer effective, but I don't think that I'd like to watch him demolish fighters who simply cannot compete with him.

I enjoyed the fight, but it wasn't a great one. I don't resent the PPV fee, as I had some folks over, and we had a blast. I doubt that Mayweather will want to give Judah a re-match, and I don't think that many people would pay to see it.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Mesi, Still Alive

"Baby Joe" Mesi lived through another fight without his head exploding. He won an 8-round unanimous decision over a journeyman named Ronald Bellamy. The consensus seems to be that Mesi looked very rusty, but not beyond repair. The fight is to be webcast on April 11th, but I don't plan to watch it (see his site for details).

Will the "A-Force" Get Shot Down?

Audley "A-Force" Harrison is one of my least favorite heavyweights. He has attempted to model himself on Lennox Lewis, but he just doesn't have least not yet. His style and flash are undeniable, but his boxing style has huge holes, particularly on defense, and his loss to Danny Williams took the twinkle out of his star. In an attempt to get his career back on track, he'll be fighting former contender Dominick Guinn. Also known as "The Southern Disaster", Guinn's career got off to a relatively impressive start, only to win only 2 of his last 6 fights (losing to Serguei Lyakhovich, James Toney, and Monte Barrett, and "drawing" with Friday Ahunanya). The guy who once KO'd Michael Grant needs a win to get his career out of the toilet.

I don't think that either of these guys are great, but they both have something to prove, so that might make for a good fight. It'll be shown on ESPN2 next Friday, April 14. It'll be free, and for that reason, probably worth watching.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Suprisingly, A Great Fight, and a New WBO Heavyweight Champ

"Relentless" Lamon Brewster and Serguei "The White Wolf" Lyakhovich fought one helluva fight tonight. This was the best heavyweight fight of the last two years.

In the first four rounds, the fighters sought to establish dominance. Brewster's attempt to "Golata-cize" the bout (jump on him early and often) fizzled, as Lyakhovich's handspeed squelched Brewster's counter-punching, particularly limiting the use of Brewster's famed left hook. Lyakhovich was landing combinations that did not seem to damage Brewster, but they kept Lamon out of his game plan. Lyakhovich also landed a great many straight right hands to the body, which slowed Lamon as the fight wore on.

In the fifth, Brewster landed a flurry of punches, finishing with a body shot that set Lyakhovich's knees to wobbling. It must not have hurt Lyakhovich too badly, as he righted himslef and fought back after Brewster began to tire. In the final seconds Ernest Sharif, the referee, disgraced himself, probably ruining his career, when he stepped in between the two fighters at the 10-second alert (which is in itself controversial), which prematurely ended the round. Presumably, he mistook the alert for the round-ending bell. This was significant because, while Brewster had been punishing Lyakhovich, the White Wolf had fought back, and the punched-out Brewster was sagging near-defenseless against the ropes. The final seconds were not fought, and the break was highlighted with an amusing bit of abuse for the ref by Lyakhovich's corner.

For most of the sixth round, Lyakhovich dominated Brewster, but as the sixth drew to a close, Brewster landed a flurry of punches, finishing with a body shot that sent Lyakhovich down. It wasn't much of a knockdown, more like Lyakhovich taking a knee, and he quickly rose after taking a much-needed breather.

As the middle rounds progressed, Brewster continued to land a few big punches, but way too few for the number he was throwing. Had Brewster not been so fatigued, more of those punches would have landed. As Lyakhovich was dangerously leaving his guard down, that would have made the difference in the fight. As it was, Lyakhovich stupidly disregarded the advice of his trainer, Kenny Weldon, and Belorussian took a lot of punches that he did not need to take. Buddy McGirt was also giving Brewster good advice, though he seemed too tired to follow those instructions.

In the ninth round, Lyakhovich nearly KO'd Brewster, punishing him against the ropes. Brewster again showed a chin of stone, fighting back to wobble Lyakhovich. Had the round been 30 seconds longer, there is no telling what would have happened. As it was, it was a great round.

The fight ended with Lyakhovich firmly in control. He smartly stayed away from scrapping with Brewster, chosing instead to box, tatooing Brewster with his jab. Part of what made this fight so exciting is the knowledge that Brewster had the potential to end the fight at any time. Both fighters showed great heart, endurance, and skill. If they have a rematch, I'll certainly watch it.

Also, not that anyone cares, but Kevin McBride won a TKO victory over Byron Polley. Yay....I guess.

Heavyweight Happenings

After the Rahman/Toney debacle, I felt pretty disgusted with the heavyweight class.

However, I'll admit that I'm stoked about the fight tonight. "Relentless" Lamon Brewster will be fighting Serguei "The White Wolf" Lyakhovich on Showtime. Brewster, probably the best of the relatively poor heavyweight belt-wearers' club, will likely win, but you can never tell with the big boys. I've seen Brewster fight several times, and he seems to feed on taller, slower, European fighters. The catch will be whether or not Lyakhovich is truly slower. I've only seen clips of his fights, and didn't see enough upon which to base a decision. He seems to have a good jab, but that alone won't serve him well against Brewster, who has a strong chin and hits hard. Like a great many heavyweight fights, this one will come down to either conditioning, or the landing of early power shots, both of which have been strengths of Brewster's. Both fighters have lost to unheralded competition, but only Brewster has beaten big-name fighters (no, Dominick Guinn doesn't count).

As a bit of trivia, Kevin "I whupped an old, out-of-shape Mike Tyson" McBride is fighting on the undercard of the Brewster-Lyakhovich fight. He's fighting a journeyman named Byron Polley, who's most noted for being a 1st-round KO for a "then-up-and-coming" Owen Beck. I don't know if Showtime is showing this fight or not, but, given the 10CST starting time, I imagine that they won't. To bad, sometimes these low-rent heavyweights put on a good show.

Thankfully, there will not be a Rahman-Toney rematch, at least not for awhile. The WBC has decreed that Hasim "The Rock" Rahman will next defend his belt against Oleg "The Big O" Maskaev, who delivered a brutal knockout to Rahman in 1999. For those of you who don't remember, Maskaev, probably trailing on all cards, knocked Rahman out of the ring, across the announcers' table, and onto the floor in an unconscious heap. A rematch could be exciting, as Rahman has improved since their last meeting, and both men have a lot on the line. Maskaev is making his last stab at the big time, while Rahman has a belt but gets virtually no respect. Maskaev has good boxing skills, and skilled fighters seem to give Rahman a tough time, since he is a very poor boxer. In Rahman's favor, Maskaev has been shown to have a susceptible chin, losing by KO to Lance Whittaker, Kirk Johnson, Corey Sanders, David Tua and Oliver McCall. The thing that Rahman does not lack is punching power. If he shows up in the same condition that he did for his fight with Toney, he could last long enough to beat down the glass-jawed Kazakhstani.

The bout between Nikolay Valuev and Owen Beck has been postponed. I don't even know that I care.

The heavyweight bout that I'm most eagerly awaiting is the Chris Byrd-Wladmir Klitschko coming up on April 22 (HBO). I'll blather more about this fight as it gets closer, but I'm predicting that the IBF belt will change hands. Klitschko has too much reach for Byrd, who has too little power to take advantage of Wlad's glass jaw. Both are skilled boxers, but I imagine that this will be a repeat of their last bout, which ended in a Klitschko unanimous decision, with Byrd twice tasting canvas.

The heavyweight division has been boring, but I still hold out hope. Of course, while holding onto that thread of hope, I'm watching and enjoying the lower weight-classes more. The 10 last good fights I've seen have all been Cruiserweight or below. To me, a long-time boxing fan, that is a sad statement.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Toney v Rahman started off great, with both fighters working hard. The punch output was very high for a heavyweight bout.

Toney showed up fat and out of shape. Freddie Roach (Toney's trainer) has acknowledged that he cannot control Toney's weight, and that Toney's training regimen was almost exclusively sparring. That regimen did not work. Toney's sloth, combined with his lack of "heavyweight-caliber power", led me to expect a Rahman victory, particularly once I'd heard that he weighed in at 237 lbs.

Rahman looked to be in the best shape of his career, though he is still not a good boxer. He fights in a more disciplined manner than he did early in his career, but that is not saying much. Rahman has power, and he certainly has the ability to take a punch, but without speed OR good technique, he will never be a dominant champion.

The fight ended in a majority draw, with one judge scoring the fight in favor of Rahman. I thought that Toney looked to be winning halfway through, but Rahman outworked the huffing and puffing trash-talker during the last six frames. Toney ended up with nary a mark on his face, while Rahman bled from his nose, mouth, and a small cut over his eye.

Neither of these guys are the heir to the heavyweight division, and I won't watch their re-match, unless I'm bored beyond belief.

I'll be looking forward to the Chris Byrd v Wladmir Klitschko fight next month.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Lacey Loses !!!

I must admit, I'd NEVER seen Jeff Lacey lose a fight until last night.

MANCHESTER, England (AP) - Joe Calzaghe cut Jeff Lacy around both eyes and knocked him down in the final round, earning a lopsided, unanimous decision on Sunday to capture the American's IBF super-middleweight title and hold on to his own WBO crown for the 18th time.
An underdog even with the British bookmakers to win the unification fight, the left-handed Welshman found Lacy's face and chin an easy target for 12 rounds, and even the American fighter nodded when Calzaghe lifted his arms aloft at the final bell.
It was Lacy's first loss in 22 fights, while Calzaghe, the longest reigning world champion for 8 1/2 years, goes on with another belt to show off. His record now stands at 41-0.
Judges Roy Francis and Adelaide Byrd called it 119-107, while Nelson Vasques scored the fight 119-105. If Calzaghe hadn't been deducted a point for pulling Lacy around in the 11th, he would have won all 12 rounds.
Lacy, five years younger than Calzaghe at 28, had defended his title four times and had hoped to dominate the fight with the power of his own left hook. He also hoped that Calzaghe's own left, which was broken in his last defense, might not last the fight. He was wrong on both counts.
Calzaghe came out throwing left uppercuts and hooks, and also threw his arms up to claim he won the opening round.
Although Lacy landed a solid right hand in round two, Calzaghe came back with a left-right combination to the chin and, by the fourth round there was blood coming from the American's nose and trickling down his face from cuts above both eyes.
With the home fans in the 12,000 crowd chanting "Easy! Easy!'', Calzaghe stayed on top and his right jab kept snapping into Lacy's face. The Welshman's punching speed seemed to take the strength away from the American, who rarely answered back with any hard shots.
Lacy's cornermen had to work hard on his eyes between rounds, and Calzaghe had him trapped in a corner and kept pummeling his face with fast combinations with the American fighting back to try and stay in the fight.
His right eye closing, Lacy got through with some right hands, but Calzaghe's accuracy was still keeping the Welshman well ahead on the judge's cards.
Lacy, nicknamed "Left Hook'', finally landed it in the ninth but it did little to stem the flow of shots coming his way.
A left and right put Lacy down for a count of four in the final round and the American continued with blood streaming down his face, but Calzaghe was unable to finish the fight with a knockout.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Viloria Wins

Yesterday, Brian Viloria convincingly defeated Jose Antonio Aguirre in defense of his WBC Light Flyweight(108lbs) title. Viloria came out throwing in the first round, landing several solid punches in the first round, seeming to hurt Aguirre. Showing why he'd been a champion, Aguirre came back, nearly knocking Viloria down as he took the second and third rounds in dominating fashion. Viloria had slowed down, perhaps tired after his first-frame-flurry. Aguirre took the initiative, establishing a jab, throwing combinations, and forcing Viloria back to the ropes. At least twice, Viloria looked ready to fall.

Starting in round 4, Viloria finally followed his trainer, Freddie Roach's, advice and started moving forward again, using his jab to set up left hooks and other shots to the body. While Aguirre fought back initially, it was soon clear that Viloria had taken the fight in hand, and by the end there was no doubt as to the decision. Viloria had dominated the final 8 rounds, particularly using his left hook and a straight rights to both body and head. Aguirre was barely able to participate in the silly pre-decision posturing that his handlers forced on him. He was a beaten man.

The Mexico v Philippines boxing rivalry has been a hot one, and the Pinoy fans were wanting a knockout. Viloria did not provide one, as he slowed a bit in the later rounds, but the crowd's disappointment is eased by the fact that this is the 9th straight Filipino victory in the rivalry.

Aguirre has lost 3 straight fights (two by KO) at light flyweight, and it may be that he is not able to compete in this class. He moved up after Eagle Kyowa dominated him, taking his WBC Minimumweight title in convincing fashion.

Hopefully, there will soon be a fight between Viloria and Roberto Vasquez, who currently holds the WBA Light Flyweight belt. Vasquez's only loss came in a controversial 4 round decision in his first pro fight, and nobody's come close to beating him since he moved up past 10-round fights. Vasquez beat Aguirre into submission last year, and comparing that performance to Viloria's against Aguirre-----it doesn't look good for Viloria. Vasquez will have reach on Viloria, just as Viloria had reach on Aguirre. Of course, that sort of thinking doesn't always (or even often) apply to boxing, and that's why, as they say, "you fight the fights".

Vasquez is fighting an unimpressive Venezualan fighter named Noel Arambulet in a couple of months. Assuming that he wins, we may see Vasquez and Viloria on the undercard of a big fight in the Fall (Pacquiao v Morales III?). If it happens, it'll be a fight that I'll watch.