Monthly Archives: May 2011

Here’s a Shout for Carl Froch vs Glen Johnson

Another leg of the forgotten Super Six Supermiddleweight tourney takes place on June 4th this Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City when the Old Road Warrior, Glen Johnson challenges Carl Froch for his WBC belt and the right to advance to the finals of the tourney.

This should be a cracker of a fight as the Brits are fond of saying, but alas, is anyone else interested outside the usual boxing fanatics? Hopefully there’s enough boxing fans still left on the East Coast to fill the venue in order to honor the fighting credentials of these gentlemen who are loathe to take a step backwards in the ring and willing to take on all comers, a rarity in boxing these days among the plethora of spoiled belt holders. 

In his last outing Froch put on his finest boxing demonstration ever in handling the frustrating style and power of Arthur Abraham. Johnson proved there’s still thunder in those ancient mitts as he knocked out Alan Green who had never been stopped before.

The Fatal Blow

The Fatal Blow

Incredibly, this is 42 yr old Johnson’s 18th year in boxing, and while he has slowed up some physically as to be expected, he is still one of the all time toughest fighters in history and nobody fancies a walk in the park with him unless they are forced to. No surprise that Johnson has logged well over double the fights and rounds of Froch who has become quite experienced in the last few years at the elite level of his division.

Since both are coming off previous performances that were out of character for each fighter, that makes this fight something of a wildcard where anything might happen. Johnson is a pure pressure fighter and Froch thrives at ring center against come forward fighters so there is sure to be plenty of give and take in this donnybrook.

Carl Froch

Carl Froch

Does Froch have the power to keep Johnson off of him in order to pick him off? Can Johnson get inside to outwork and outbrawl Froch?

I must confess to loving the career of the old Road Warrior, but probably he needs a big knockout to win this fight, and of course Froch has proven to be very durable, so my fear is that Froch’s power may trump Johnson by the fight’s end.

Froch will enter a substantial favorite, but he best be running on all cylinders as this will take a huge effort to derail Johnson who is probably as hungry a fighter today as he was 15 yrs ago.

Time for a Big Shout to rattle the cages of fight fans down Jersey way. Everyone always moans about returning to some golden era of old school fighters, and now two of the best modern throwbacks to any golden era in history are gonna duke it out in your backyards, so, gentlemen, “Let‘s git it on!”

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The Rematch–Jean Pascal vs Bernard Hopkins

The Jean Pascal vs Bernard Hopkins rematch next Saturday, May 21st at the Bell Centre in Montreal took an ugly turn when Hopkins was accused of using performance enhance drugs in his last dance against Pascal.

Truth be told, Hopkins took the ugly turn long ago when he chose to become a stinker/spoiler type of fighter as he got older and then started whining about the results and acting out in the ring. I was astounded as anyone else to see him turn back the years after suffering two early knockdowns to roar back and actually take the fight to another fighter as he did in his prime.

Pascal vs Hopkins

Pascal vs Hopkins

But this is Jean Pascal who is not noted for his power, but for his fading stamina in big fights, and sure as shootin’, he was running on empty by the end which gave the oldtimer Hopkins room enough to claim he was robbed, which he does with every loss anyway, so no big deal there.

It’s a shame Golden Boy hasn’t done more to clean up the drug issues they started with their accusations against Manny Pacquiao, yet Oscar has been typically silent on accusations against one of his business partners and done nothing to clean up drug testing in Golden Boy much less boxing as a whole.

Since there only few examples of boxers using performance enhancing drugs, it’s not clear boxing needs a drug rinse, but hopefully down the road a few more procedures can be implemented to get ahead of the curve and put down these ugly, useless rumors.

I hope Pascal and Hopkins can pull their acts together and give us a definitive result this fight instead of histrionics. I won’t hold my breath since I’d guess Pascal will be content to pace himself better and it’s doubtful Hopkins will be as “up” as he was for their first fight, a classic in the beginning that  digressed into sloppiness by the end when Pascal got too tired to fight with Hopkins too slow to capitalize.

A better fight for me next Saturday is young Nathan Cleverly attempting to “unify” the WBO interim Lightheavyweight belt against regular WBO champ Juergen Braehmer. Both fighters are still in their athletic primes and talented although 32 yr old Braehmer has a significant edge in experience over 24 yr old Cleverly.

Brits seem to have taken to Cleverly who made a splash when he graduated with his Mathematics degree, so the O2 Arena in Greenwich should really be rocking for this. The British hoopla may offset Braemer’s advantages coming into the fight since he’s been strictly a Germanic zone fighter, even becoming deathly ill in his last canceled outing against Shumenov in Kazakhstan, his sole travel outing . Braehmer also has over a year’s worth of rust.

The odds should be fairly even, so take your pick.

Finally, sadly I close with the news that Roy Jones Jr. is bent on going out on his shield against a very powerful cruiserweight Denis Lebedev at Sport Complex Krylatskoe in Moscow. Jones has had no legs left to manuever for some time now with his punch resistance wearing thin as well.

So, that’s the Saturday, May 21st lineup, a decent weekend for boxing.

The Forgotten Super Six–Ward vs Abraham

The announcement of the Super Six Supermiddleweight tourney a couple of years back was a huge promotional boost for boxing, Showtime, and the original fighters, Arthur Abraham, Andre Dirrell, Jermain Taylor, Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, and Andre Ward.

Promotional squabbles, injuries, poor health, poorer officiating, and sorry scheduling have combined with short term fan memories to take considerable shine off of the involved parties.

Andre Ward

Andre Ward

The tourney favorite now, Andre Ward, should be at a high career point as the last American Olympic Boxing Gold Medalist, but hardly anyone outside his immediate family knows him, and certainly nobody bigs up his flashy resume, silky boxing skills, and thrilling public persona for good reason since he is none of those things.

Arthur Abraham enters this bout at the lowest point of his previously undefeated championship career, coming off his only two losses with critics now questioning his style, heart, and talent.

So, the fight has become essentially meaningless with the general public and barely registers with boxing enthusiasts as the Super Six Supermiddleweight tourney officially slides into terminal torpor, which is a shame given the level of talent packed into this tourney and the hoopla it stirred.

That Ward continues to recieve blatant favoritism by never having to travel beyond his home environs should be a warning for future fighters signing on for these tournies. So far the “homies” have remained undefeated thanks to sometimes specious officiating designed to protect the hometown fighter whenever things ain’t going his way.

That’s not to say some of the hometown fighters didn’t deserve their hard earned victories, but rather noting that in the more competitive contests, clearly the odds were stacked against the visiting fighter, the reason why the Froch/Abraham bout was held in Finland. That eliminated hometown boxing commission favoritism and it was telling the fight was the cleanest of the tourney thus far.

How the Ward/Abraham fight plays out is hard to tell other than Ward should be a substantial betting favorite with recent career momentum and home advantages swinging his way. Stylistically, his current form shows him to be a fundamentally sound boxer type with a strong bent towards dirty fighting, headbutts being his dirty little favorite, but also some unseemly grappling, rabbit punches, hitting on the break, and general ugly mayhem, things that get opposing fighters complaining to the ref and off their fight plans.

Arthur Abraham

Arthur Abraham

Abraham is the slugger in this match with proven power, but he can also be a slow starting, clumsy looking fighter when on the hunt, open to being out maneuvered and outboxed as Carl Froch most recently showed in his last encounter. Abraham is the shortest boxer of all the super six by a substantial margin which may innoculate him against the Ward butts. Though Abraham is extremely strong for his size, it’s a given that Ward is the bigger man and may try to test Abraham early by muscling him inside and brawling to confuse him.

It’s up to Abraham to figure out how to best apply his power to Ward. He did hurt the durable Froch late in their fight, but it was too little delivered too late and I just can’t see him outboxing Ward, so it’s knockout or bust for this fight, something Abraham thrived on in before his last two fights robbed him of his invincible mojo.

Ward turned pro with rumors of a weak chin being the reason this touted Olympic Gold Medalist has taken the slow train to nowhere approach to his career and likely the real reason for his dirty fighting. Thus far though, he has endured every good shot, but it’s fair to say that Abraham even in his diminished capacity of late has more power than Ward has ever experienced, and in an awkward fight as I suspect this will be, King Arthur could well surprise.

They turned pro within a year of each other, but Abraham has logged considerably more fights and rounds, 34/226 compared to Ward who has notched 23 fights in 139 rounds. So add in that Abraham has been fighting at championship level for some 7 yrs and near his athletic prime at age 31, that’s a significant advantage that many are overlooking for this fight since the 27 year old Ward is a relative newcomer to title fights with his 3rd defense of his WBA strap .

Strategically, King Arthur’s long time trainer Ulli Wegner is used to European style boxing where German refs don’t tolerate dirty fighting. Wegner and Abraham had a public falling out after the Froch loss before making up, but I can’t say if all the residual bad feelings between the two have been settled coming into this fight. Can Wegner properly train a fighter for the foot movement and brawling, mauling style of a Ward type of fighter?

More disturbing, Abraham’s promoter, Hall of Famer Wilfried Saurland has warned that he will keep Abraham at home if the California Boxing Commission can’t appoint “neutral” officials for this fight, so lots of “ifs” going into the fight.

Thankfully in a recent interview, Abraham sounded confident and ready to fight, so it may be worthwhile to tune in this Saturday, May 14th at Home Depot Center, Carson, California to see if anyone shows up.