Super middleweight prospects David Benavidez, 18-0, 17 KOs, and Ronald Gavril, 18-1, 14 KO, vie for the vacant WBC super middleweight belt from The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, September 8th, this Friday night.
Normally these types of fights would part of the development of a fighter on his way to becoming a contender, but boxing is so weak these days, they have to round up their kids to make a title fight in many cases. Benavidez is 20 yrs to Gavril’s 31 yrs, but their pro comp is about similar, meaning on paper this could be considered near even. However, Benavidez is a touted prospect looking mighty promising in a weak era if he can hold it together mentally. Most talented guys in the history of boxing can’t and so never pan out.
Great opportunity for both, so should be a good fight since this will be the biggest fight both in media exposure and talent that either has had.
To be, or not to be–that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Or to take arms against a sea of troubles. And by opposing end them.
In tribute to the most ballyhooed undefeated record of an active boxer since Julio Cesar Chavez ran his record out to 89-0, and perhaps with the gentle lassitude of centuries passing, a comparison to the first great undefeated boxing record, that of John L. Sullivan to that of Floyd Mayweather Jr might be instructive.
John L, The Boston Strong Boy
The Boston Strong Boy turned “modern” boxing on it’s nascent head by not only becoming the first recognized heavyweight champion under the new fangled Marquis of Queensbury rules, but he became boxing’s first “fully unified” champ of sorts when he also claimed the last remaining bare knuckle title claim under Revised London Prize Ring Rules in a memorable, a quite remarkable contrast of styles against Jake Kilrain down Mississippi way.
Sully was in the final days of his long standing dissipation from the ravages of a great fighter’s most formidable enemy, that of the gross excesses of wine, women, and song, unceasing calls carousing like sirens set loose in the night ensnaring those possessing such great fame and fortune as did Sully. He was only at age 30, a figure usually considered near the peak of most traditional sports, but not necessarily so in such a brutal sport of the era of boxing that he fought in.
Sirens singing their fatal calls for Ulysses
John L reaped a fortuitous turn of The Luck of the Irish when impossibly he agreed to the spartan training regimen of the champion Greco-Roman wrestler and physical trainer of the era, William Muldoon, a son of Irish immigrants just like Sullivan who cut his own swath of considerable size and strength to match his advanced theories of physical cultivation that brooked no stick from any man. In short, he was the last man standing in the world that John L could respect enough to set aside his massive ego and pride to be ruled over those many months it took to cut out the fifty some odd pounds of flab and add the hard conditioning and strength that the 220 lb Sullivan commanded at his best.
Sullivan had already “unified” any of the standing claims to the Marquis of Queensbury gloved rules and really had no need for another bare knuckle unification added on to his own claims. The problem he shared with Floyd Mayweather was profligate spending that ultimately left him in needs of funds despite being literally a walking mint in his prime years, an estimated ring earnings of near one million dollars on top of his considerable touring exhibitions of boxing, plays, and other public appearances that likely exceeded his ring earnings.
Consider how staggering those figures were in the considerably deflated 19th century dollars where few American citizens earned more than a few hundred dollars every year, if even that.
Building the secret Mississippi venue
Jake Kilrain was something of multi sport athlete, being both a champion sculler in his early days before turning to boxing and the considerable income brought in by being a claimant to the heavyweight bare knucks title. His style has some overlap with that of Mayweather, being a lithe 178 lbs against the considerably stronger, more powerful Sullivan, and of being a wrestler and clincher of considerable skill combined with a limited light tapping offensive arsenal operating out a running, contorting defense that went down upon the landing of any heavy or light blow landed by the soon to be frustrated Sullivan. Kilrain’s style was the practice of the defensive masters under LPRR rules.
Last Bare Knuckles Fight of Champions, Jake Kilrain vs John L Sullivan
The reigning consensus of the day was that Sully could not maintain his strength over distance much less in his current bloated, dissipated state, so imagine the Kilrain shock as Sullivan stripped down to reveal a Muldoon rejuvenated John L in better condition than ever. There were at least three dozen knockdowns and throwdowns or more of this contest that went 75 rounds, too many to count with most every one being the game Kilrain hitting the turf. He was successful in defensively extending out Sullivan beyond the point of no return, alas, to no avail by the end. Kilrain retired on his stool at the end of 75 rounds, pulverized beyond recognition after going far beyond any prudent notion of survival instincts, unable to do more than lift a pinky to wipe his bloodied face while drawing painful breaths.
Sullivan was undefeated under Queensbury rules, an amazing 38-0, 32 KO record of what would prove to be one of the highest knockout ratios in boxing history at 84%. He was also undefeated under his dozen or more bareknuck fights with many more savage knockouts. He promptly sauntered forth on a greatly renown tour to be feted by his fans, yet still savaged by his enemies who had long spared no expense with full page challenges of his reputation of being an intemperate, bull necked, drunken brute of a bully. Sullivan did not have to return to the ring some 3 years later in a such a poorly trained corpulent state to go against his former sparring partner and touring buddy, James J. Corbett. They had conducted a boxing exhibition in formal dress attire when the cocky, youthful manner of Corbett became the final challenge to the fierce pride of Sullivan.
So Sully ultimately went out on his shield, finally giving satisfaction to his vehement critics, but not before 21 hard rounds against a lithe boxer and mover in his prime. Noteworth was that Corbett was also considerably bigger and stronger than Kilrain with more offensive nuance at his disposal.
Fast>>forward 123 amazing years later spanning three centuries and here we are again in 2015 with Floyd Mayweather currently standing at 47-0, 28 KO after having finally rising to the top of the monied food chain of boxing. He rakes in more than his fair share of the billions, sometimes trillions the US government issues in printed money and debt every year. Where does boxing and Mayweather go from here?
He has more in common with James J. Corbett who was 9-0-2, 3 KO than he has with the powerful John L who was the proto undefeated Mike Tyson of his day. Corbett had also had defeated the unbeaten under Queensbury rules version Jake Kilrain who was also closer to Mayweather than to Sullivan. Kilrain was 19-0-9, 12 KO coming off his grueling bareknuckled beating by Sullivan the year before going into the Corbett 6 rounder which can hardly be seen as significant given the light nature of the fight.
Kilrain would log several more wins culminating with his last significant win in a fight to the finish under Queensbury rules against era black contender George “Old Chocolate” Godfrey. It was recorded as a thrilling contest of skill until Godfrey landed face first in a pile of straw after having been knocked out of the ring after 44 rounds.
Unlike Mayweather, Sullivan fought all across the country, taking the fight to the people wherever it could be arranged in those “illegal days” when boxers had to dodge the authorities as much as they did punches. He even traveled to Great Britain and France because that’s where the money and the challenges were.
Floyd Mayweather is obligated to fulfill his last two fights under his Showtime contract. He will be in his 8th straight year of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, almost half of his career and all of his most acclaimed period of a fighter. No fighter in history has ever been so confined, coddled, swaddled, and rewarded in such a single venue, there is no precedent. He will be looking more and more like an aging, shopworn 38 years of age if his last two fights against Marcos Maidana are any indicator. The emasculated Mayweather nation can blow their smoke up his keister ’til Gabriel blows his horn in the end times, but the plain truth is that Mayweather didn’t fight his main rivals during their prime years, most especially Manny Pacquiao, a fight that will continue to be floated to the public by the press in fruitless efforts 6 years after it’s primacy has passed.
In short, he will not have any “signature fights” of note to be remembered by. It’s his money, his many “retirements, and his hometown venue that will that stand out as his legacy when future historians rate him. We can only judge in our days where he manages to cover much of the full range of the spectrum from a so, so great to the best ever, but we have no final word as ratings of boxers goes up and down all through history with every new generation.
There are near some 50 fighters of any note who retired with undefeated records, most not being HOF fighters and none making the International Boxing Research Organization, IBRO, their historical rankings of P4P top 20 fighters. Such is a perspective to consider as Mayweather and his here today, gone tomorrow bandwagon fans proclaim him The Best Ever.
Retirement is near and beckoning while the siren sings the eternal song of mo’ money, Mo’ Money, Lot’s MO’ MONEY We Gots Next! We’ll see how that all works out for him come 2015 after a long rest from his recent “grueling” schedule of 2 Mexican Holiday fights at the MGM Grand per year with two more TBAs in the queue waiting, waiting…forever waiting….until…..and……?
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged floyd mayweather jr, george old chocolate godfrey, jake kilrain, James J Corbett, John L. Sullivan, Las Vegas, london prize ring rules, manny pacquiao, Marcos Maidana, marquis of queensbury rules, mgm grand, mike tyson, showtime, the best ever, william muldoon
Boxing officially enters a summer “dead zone” with the recent completion of Miguel Cotto’s signature win over Sergio Martinez. Certainly the hard core fan can still see plenty of good fights featuring top fighters most every week, but there are no more “Big” Fights” until July. That’s when Canelo Alvarez fights Erislady Lara in an exploratory Vegas MGM Grand PPV and Tyson Fury rematches Derek Chisora in a big stadium fight to be held in Manchester, England. Often the general fan’s schedule is unable to make time for these summertime blues “dead zone” fights, and I won’t be writing about them, so the question gets begged before the stifling summer ennui sets in: What of Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer’s recent adversarial departure from his long time gig at Golden Boy? Alvarez vs Lara was his last creation as it were and he won’t be around to massage the final details.
Oh for sure, the “boxing expert” world is agaga over what the impact will be not to mention all the anti-social media monkeys over flowing their shorts with competing befouled projectile offerings of what the former Swiss Banker Schaefer and the rest of his boxing crew does next.
Myself? Neither boxing expert, boxing insider, nor fly on the wall of Richard Schaefer am I, but I can guarantee a big shakeup in the boxing world that’s been a long time coming. This arcane 17th century sport looks to be setting up a scramble for big international dollars as boxing is being developed in the Asian markets as it wanes in the American market. The European market seems to be holding with the Brits and Germans hanging in there as Russia is gaining traction to pull even with them.
So Golden Boy is conclusively split up with Floyd Mayweather Jr also announcing he’s exiting the ranks. And mum’s always the password at the Al Haymon underground boxing works buried somewhere deep down in a former Howard Hughes bunker in Las Vegas, still stocked with thousands of rows of kleenex box slippers ready to be shuffled around in me thinks. Schaefer has given no indication of what capacity he might continue in boxing, but if he does he will have to start from scratch and get to working with as many promoters not named Golden Boy or Top Rank if he is to continue his adversarial relations with Oscar de la Hoya and Bob Arum even as he is still a shareholder in Golden Boy.
And where do the Showtime contractual obligations land?
Another sticking point is the many Golden Boy fighters also signed with Al Haymon. Word is many of those fighters don’t actually have a contract with Golden Boy and may no longer be promoted by them, not the least of which is Floyd Mayweather who has his big Mexican Holiday set for his 10th consecutive appearance at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for September 13th. That would be vs TBA, of course with a TBA vs TBA supporting undercard. Sticky Mayweather negotiations are typically settled at the last minute, but now they may be stickier and more unsettled than usual. His promotional company supposedly lacks a license to officially do business, but no problems when he was aligned with Golden Boy. Just slap his logo up on all the promotional banners and and reap the extra profits.
Somebody somewhere running some connected responsible promotional entity has to come up with those monstrous 30 and 40 million dollar guarantees that Mayweather has enjoyed, but by whom and by what means will that be accomplished?
Stay tuned for the gold rush crush as everyone and his aunt and sister stake a claim as lawsuits whizz by like bullets in an OK Corral Shootout. It may not be pretty, but sure as shootin’, “It’s Boxing!”
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged al haymon, bob arum, howard hughes, Las Vegas, mgm grand, miguel cotto, Oscar De La Hoya, richard schaefer, sergio martinez, showtime, top rank
The most exciting two-division champion of his era, Jhonny Gonzalez, looks to fight his way back to the top against undefeated WBC featherweight champion Abner Mares at the StubHub Center this Saturday.
The 27 year old Mares has won titles at 118, 122 and 126 pounds and currently the undefeated younger man as compared to the grizzled Gonzalez at 31 years with 62 career bouts and 300+ rounds of wear on him. By career record Mares is 24-0-1, 14 KO to Gonzalez 54-8, 46 KO, but more importantly Mares is the money fighter picked by Golden Boy and Showtime to be featured for as long as they can ride him. He also happens to be one of the dirtiest boxers of his era with a plethora of blatant old school fouls that he is almost never reprimanded for much less penalized, so he’s clearly the house fighter from every angle save one.
It was a curse really when Hayman/GoldenBoy News of the Ring World “boxing experts” picked Mares by a 17-0 shutout to beat Jhonny Gonzalez. Early in the year they dismissed most of their “boxing experts” after some spectacularly blown shutout prognostications, so their latest team may have well set the stage for Jhonny Gonzalez for another one of his patented comebacks by blasting high flying favorites out of the sky like clay pigeons at a trap shoot.
Gonzalez has taken another step to improve his chances by employing legendary trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain to impart some of the Juan Manuel Marquez magic to the Gonzalez mix. He may have had spectacular wins over top competition Hozumi Hasegawa and Fernando Montiel, but it is Mares who will be the overwhelming darling of the sporting crowd who love a sure thing. The California referee is Jack Reiss who would seemingly favor the naturalized Californian over Gonzalez who primarily fights out of Mexico.
Could be a real stinker or could be a fantastic fight, all dependent on which version of Abner Mares turns up. He showed excellent natural talent and skills at the start of his career and seems to have a lot of heart, so we’ll have to see if he wants an all time classic between two top ranked Mexican fighters as part of his legacy.
Jhonny Gonzalez may be overmatched on paper, but he has shown a transcendental quality in his biggest fights, so Here’s Jhonny yet again loaded in the breech of destiny, waiting, waiting……waiting for those big looping punches to power him to yet another stunning upset as we await the opening bell. Can he?
The action is supposed to occur December 17th at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, but this Showtime Supermiddle Tourney has been plagued by so many cancellations, reschedules and bad hometown officiating it’s hard to know how much the average fan cares about the final.
The Showtime tourney was announced with great fanfare and accolades, but only a few fights have lived up to the promise of the best fighting the best. Now the tourney limps home on the final leg.
The best officiated and by far most competitive fight was overseas in Mikkel Kessler‘s backyard of Denmark where he and Carl Froch went toe to toe with great overall boxing skills. Excellent ebb and flow and a very clean fight where both fighters had to dig deeper than ever before just to stay in the bout. Kessler won the bout but had to withdraw from the tourney because of a eye injury first suffered in the Ward fight where he was without vision.
One thing is certain about this bout, Andre Ward and Carl Froch are two really tough fighters with a lot of strength at the weight. Ward holds the traditional prime age advantage at 27 years to Froch’s 34 years, but Froch is fighting as well as he ever has, so I don’t see age playing a factor though Froch has 5 more fights and 48 more rounds on his ledger.
Andre Ward is the last American Olympic Gold Medalist and was supposed to be boxing’s new star, but he has almost disappeared in the boxing landscape since his 2004 debut to become a small venue hometown California fighter well removed from the bright lights of Las Vegas and Madison Square Garden. Ward compiled a 24-0, 13 KO record in boxing’s hinterlands and will be making his 4th defense of the WBA belt he won off of Mikkel Kessler, the blueprint of his butting, elbow and grappling style offense he has employed during the tourney.
Froch vs Pascal
Meanwhile, Englishman Carl Froch turned pro to no acclaim in 2002 and stayed that way in England as he steadily fought his way up the chain until his spectacular “international” debut in Froch’s hometown of Nottingham, England. He dethroned undefeated Canadian Jean Pascal to snatch away his WBC belt in a very well fought bout with plenty of back and forth action. Since then he has done a foxtrot around the world against the best supermiddleweights in the business and has slowly built up a healthy following in the UK. He is a fan friendly action fighter with only one very competitive loss to Mikkel Kessler to sully his record, 28-1, 20 KO.
So Froch is better prepared to fight away from home than Ward and may have more fans in attendance than Ward since British fans love to hop The Pond to vociferiously support their fighters. However better prepared Froch is to fight away from home, Ward is clearly the Showtime “house” fighter, the only fighter to fight all his Showtime fights on his hometurf until this fight was scheduled.
Ward is more than the last Olympic Gold Medalist, he is also undefeated, so there’s much more upside to keeping him undefeated for Showtime than if the British fighter wins. This means Froch has to beat him substantially to secure a draw, and knock him out cleanly to secure the win, but Froch is the slugger in this match even if his power seems on the wane of late.
Up Close Dark Arts
The biggest problem for Froch being that Ward is also the dirtiest fighter in boxing, well experienced in spoiling tactics and various “Dark Arts.” More to the point, Ward is strong enough and willing to use them as his primary offensive weapons in naked view for all to see. So far only the brawling Sakio Biko could match his dirty tactics, and poor Bika had the ref interfering anytime he looked to be up against Ward, and of course the hometown judges awarded Ward almost every round of the ugly fight only Ward’s family might like to judge.
There is no easy way to prepare for the strength and skill Ward uses to employ his Dark Arts any more than there is to counter the interference from the referee. If Froch is to win he has to fight in a defensive grappling style any time Ward gets in on him for a butt while aggressively setting up his knockout punches on the outside.
Grappling inside with dirty fighters is not Froch’s forte.
Ward is easy to find in ring center usually, but harder to hit cleanly with his octopus arms and elbows sucking up a fighter’s offense and spirit. He did employ cleaner tactics against Arthur Abraham and Allan Green, but Abraham is a pure upright slugger that a good boxer with footwork in a hometown setting can secure a win against and Green barely showed up, meaning that Ward does have some legitimate boxing skills to employ when he chooses and knows how to stay away from sluggers.
Nonetheless, Ward makes a very awkward fight to score because even when he chooses to box outside, he’s still got a quick low shoulder rush inside that knocks other fighters off balance and disrupt continuity.
Adding it all up, Ward has to be considered a favorite. I’ve no doubt Froch could outbox and outslug him in a cleanly officiated and scored bout, but such rules of fair play are regrettably not likely to be in force. I don’t envision a knockout, but a headbutt could stop the fight. The fight was originally delayed when Ward got a truly nasty cut in sparring, possibly working on a headbutt that went awry.
Should be interesting to see what tactics each employs, and if Froch is smart, he’ll stay clean and use his considerable skills to work as hard as he can and let the chips fly where they may. Two high profile Brits, Dereck Chisora and Amir Khan have lost against hometown fighters recently. Chisora employed headbutts and clowning strategies that clearly didn’t win over the judges. Khan was warned repeatedly for pushing before being deducted points. Both were winnable fights with a smarter, cleaner strategy.
Wonder what the over and under odds are for a clean fight vs a dirty fight?
Shame it has to come down to a question like that, but the Showtime folks and New York Commish have a chance to correct what has been largely a disappointing tourney with some genuine sporting rules of fair play enforced to finish the tourney and the year with a great fight.
Abner Mares defends his IBF banty title in the rematch against Joseph Agbeko December 3rd at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
The fighters are about as evenly matched as a good matchmaker could dream for with the only edge going to the dirty fighting of Mares, turning it something of a promoter’s nightmare if Mares remains true to form. Will the referee allow a 3rd straight dirty fight by Mares after he eked out wins over Vic Darchinyan and Agbeko previously with low blows, punches after the bell and other rabbit tricks that used to be known as the Dark Arts of boxing?
Fighters used to be more circumspect and less obvious in practicing the Dark Arts, but to be fair, fighters only use what they can get away with, and regrettably the Showtime supermiddle and banty tourneys have been full of dubious refereeing. The supermiddle finale is allegedly due early next year in what could be a dirty way to start the new year.
Incidential fouls are to be expected in a high action bout when punches start to flow in bunches, so let’s hope the ref does his job properly this time around to sort out what could be a very lively bout between two game and skilled practitioners of the sweet science.
The “undercard” is a main event unto itself.
The longtime undersung former WBA banty champ Anselmo Moreno defends his new superbanty WBA title against the raging Vic Darchinyan who has to be the toughest little man in boxing today. Yes, the former flyweight titlest continues to plow up new divisions and is making his superbanty debut.
Moreno is 31-1-1 with 11KOs against some pretty fair competition. Darchinyan is 37-3-1 with 27 KOs against the best competition of his era, so by records looks to have the edge going into the fight with more power against better class.
The Harder They Fall
Normally a fight between two southpaws makes for an awkward, difficult fight to watch and judge, but both fighters are offensively oriented with contrasting styles and attributes, meaning a good fight is in the cards.
Darchinyan can be said to be the slugger even if his power has not kept up with his rise through the divisions. He’s 35 years old, ancient in the little man world of boxing, and will be giving up a lot of height and reach to the rangy 5-8 Moreno who is a prime 26 years old.
Moreno has a good jab and credible defense to go along with his two handed attack. Darchinyan has his trademark crouching lobster style with the right hand mostly used as a distraction and defensive purpose to disguise his big left hand where the power is.
Each fighter made his chops early on in the flyweight division and now they finally meet in the Panamanian Moreno’s American debut. They are very durable fighters, so this is likely a 12 round decision in the making.
Could be a classic card of some really great banty fights if, and only if the referees show as much class as the fighters. We shall see.
Joseph Agbeko was forced to withdraw from his Showtime banty final against Abner Mares last April due to a bad case of sciatica, a very painful nerve problem leading to leg problems.
We’re now entering the homestretch this week of the long anticipated tourney final between a recovered Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares in what should be an action oriented fight with plenty of ebb and flow mixed in as the fighters vie over who will be the tourney winner.
Though Agbeko will likely be the marginal favorite, this is an even type of fight that is heavily influenced by the actions of the ref and the judging. I’d favor Agbeko under ideal conditions, but don’t know if he’s fully recovered.
Mainly we get to finally see the end of the Showtime banty tournament, a good idea whose time has regrettably petered out. Perhaps it was asking too much for the American market to support the little guys over the long haul, but thankfully the little guys showed their class and persevered, so the final should finish with some colorful fireworks before it’s all said and done.
Top fight, so be there.
It’s been a nice run with Showtime signing what is generally agreed to be the best 4 bantamweights fighting today to a tournament, but I’m not sure if it translated into a greater appreciation of the little big man divisions, much less any additional respect for when the best agree to fight each other.
It was something of a risky format for the biggest name, Vic Darchinyan, who lost his match to young Abner Mares in a controversial decision, but then again, Darchinyan is amazingly enough 35 yrs old now, so maybe it was the kind of gamble that a fighter like him has to take at this point.
Darchinyan is now matched against Yonnhy Perez in the “consolation” bout after Perez dropped his bout against Joseph Agbeko. Should be as competitive and closely contested as the previous bouts in this tourney have been, but hopefully without any further controversy if we can just get some good officiating to match the skills and hearts of the fighters.
The headliner features Abner Mares whose career had stalled out before the tourney going up against Joseph Agbeko for his IBF title. Agbeko has gained the most thus far from the tourney after previously holding the IBF title for a couple of years. King Kong was going nowhere fast after Perez dethroned him back in 2009, but the tourney provided the backdrop for the rematch, so Agbeko showed up in shape with his A-plan and took back what was his.
Mares could make the tourney his coming out statement if he can handle the always tough as nails Agbeko, but I have the feeling Agbeko is the hungriest fighter of the lot in the form of his life, so we will just have to see.
Impossible to say who the favorites will be, but I’m sure the bookies will come up with something enticing, so there it is, Saturday, April 23 at Nokia Theater, Los Angeles if you need a boxing fix or just something with plenty of excitement.
Showtime revised the successes and failures of their much acclaimed Super Six Supermiddleweight tourney and put together a tight little Banty Tourney featuring tough guy Vic Darchinyan, 35-2-1, 27 KO going against young gun Abner Mares, 20-0-1, 13 KO, and IBF champ, Yonnhy Perez, 20-0-1, 14 KO squaring of against rough former champ, Joseph Agbeko, 27-2, 22 KO.
The grizzled 34 yr old south paw Darchinyan is the star of the bunch, always good for some great funny or intimidating prefight quotes, but he’s also the oldest going up against the youngest with the 26 yr old Mares perhaps being the future of the division.
Mares is coming off a toe to toe war against Yonnhy Perez that was part science, part slugfest and a majority draw as it turned. He may be the youngest, but he also looks to be the smallest, and Raging Bull Darchinyan hates taking prisoners, so this fight has classic written all over it. The vacant IBO title goes to the winner who goes straight to the finals to challenge the IBF champ.
The Perez/Agbeko IBF title rematch reprises their first classic where Perez showed how ring craft can overcome am awkward, butting, brawling type of fighter that Agbeko is. They are more evenly matched in ages, Perez being 31 and Agbeko 27, but El Columbiano Perez is clearly the biggest, rangiest fighter in the grouping, assets he uses well at distance, but his main strengths are adaptable skills for every occasion and durability. King Kong Agbeko worryingly hasn’t fought in over a year which may compromise his main assets of youthful strength and durability when he has to make the 118 lb limit.
I have to think Darchinyan and Perez will be the favorites, but it’s the fans who are guaranteed winners with the bunches of punches thrown from every conceivable angle in this tourney, a great mix of styles and attributes.
Congratulations Gentlemen, well done.
This Saturday, December 11, you’ve been forewarned.
Little Big Man War 1
Little Big Man War 2
Take out your photoshop shears and saw off the right side from the middle of the above photograph, a scarily eerie sequential grouping portending the fate of this acclaimed elimination tourney launched with much fanfare.
There was hope for all the parties involved, not withstanding expectations of boxing fans everywhere. Oddsmakers quickly put together their numbers and folks lined up on the side of their favorites. Sleeping nationalistic fervors were fired up and internet boxing forums were buzzed as the prefight debates and squabbles commenced.
Even the casual viewing general public stood up to take notice, proving that boxing is not yet dead in the hearts and minds of the larger populace just yet. This was a new world order shaping up the boxing world where 3 Americans and one Dane, Brit, and German apiece were mixed and matched in a dream come true, the best fighting the best.
- The Fates Plot
Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men get dashed so easily in the grand scheme of things once The Fates of Perchance enter the picture.
In perfect sequential order as per the photo, Jermain Taylor, Mikkel Kessler, and Andre Dirrell have dropped out of the tourney citing the bane of boxers everywhere, neurological problems.
Blame meisters are of course in overdrive trying to assign the blame for the collapse of the tourney, but technically, the tourney is still on with replacement fighters Allan Green and Glen Johnson selected to replace Jermain Taylor and Mikkel Kessler respectively.
Showtime should instead be applauded for aspiring to such a grand idea that elevated the worldwide profile of boxing. So what if they fell short because of inherent structural problems involved in organizing a promoter controlled sport of brutal consequences? It was a wonderful learning experience that they can utilize as they launch their new Super Six Bantamweight Tourney.
Nobody is claiming that Super Six tourneys are the solution to boxing’s woes, but it is a nice piece of creative organizing that with a little luck, will open up promoters, broadcasters and boxers to better work with each other for better fights.
There are legitimate criticisms of course, the overriding one being the blatant home favoritism that has seen every visiting fighter losing with the taint of incompetent officials too often spoiling the show. Perhaps, tellingly, the venues have too often turned out to be small potato type hometown low attendance type locales for such a high profile global tourney.
Why are they fighting in Nottingham, England, Oakland, California, and Detroit, Michigan for example? Froch, Ward, and Dirrell have little local following and would be best served up in Las Vegas or London where their names and publicity would resonate more.
And what of the fates of the fighters you might ask?
Jermaine Taylor at age 32 was the first to drop out, but he has had a fine career with great earnings if he chooses to retire. Twelve of his last 13 fateful fights have been against past, present, or future champions. All four of his losses have come in his last 5 fights against prime, very strong, murderous punching undefeated fighters. If not the end of the road for him, the end surely must be near.
Mikkel Kessler followed Taylor, yet started the tourney as the favorite, and at age 31, he’s has had the longest professional career with a record of 43-2. As a 3x champion with great earnings, the end of his prime may be near with him still relatively intact. No sob stories yet, but that’s assuming his eyesight will return to normal.
Andre Dirrell is the latest dropout, a relative novice at age 27 with a 19-1 record. This was supposed to be where his career flowered, but his sole win in the tourney also saw him splattered incomprehensible on the canvas after Arthur Abraham was finished with him. It would be a shame for him, his family, and his team if this was the end of the road. His style is not to take punishment, so it could be that once his chin was finally cracked, the problems will only start to cascade. Every fighter has a limited time, so I leave those decisions to him and his advisors.
Arthur Abraham is still a strong favorite to win the tourney, and at age 30 with a 31-1 record, he’s had a fine career and earnings and seems well poised with the fearsome reputation of having knocked his first two opponents out of the tourney. One could easily imagine him doing the same to Carl Froch in his next bout.
Carl Froch at age 33 started as the elder statesman who has had a fine warrior type of career thus far, but not the big earnings and acclaim he might have hoped for as a British champion. He seems to have been shaken up by his loss to Kessler and perhaps sees the end of his own prime slipping away in the undertow of the tsunami of formidable talent washing over this tourney. We shall see.
Andre Ward at age 26 is the baby of the tourney with a perfect record of 22-0 still intact as Dirrell, Abraham, and Froch have seen the first nicks on their records. Ward has been the biggest winner of the tourney as far in jumping the ratings, but has shown some serious cracks in the façade that still sees him as a regional California fighter with a small following in spite of being the last US Olympic Boxing Gold Medalist. Probably the oddsmakers have him down as the favorite now, but that may change if he is ever pried out of his hometown and forced into a fight under neutral conditions.
Allen Green at age 31 is still waiting for his career to take off. The public was last seen waiting for him to throw a meaningful punch at Andre Ward, and may still be waiting after Glen Johnson finishes with him.
Glen Johnson at age 41 and record of 50-14-1, gives some serious gravitus to the tourney IF he can reduce down to the 168 lb weight limit. He has to be The People’s Choice of the tourney now and truly the pre-eminent road warrior of his era…..Have Gloves-Will Travel.
Insert the next replacement to fight Andre Ward here___________. Showtime is scrambling to find a suitable replacement to carry on. Good luck.
So, perhaps the rumors of the death of the Showtime Super Six are premature, but it’s been a grand experiment, so surely boxing enthusiasts can better appreciate the logistics of making credible fights when so much is at stake.