Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Possible Jr. Featherweight Box Off? Bring It On!

In recent years the 122lb. Jr. Featherweight division has had two fighters, who have been the division’s central figures. The unified WBA/WBO Jr. Featherweight world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and WBC champion Leo Santa Cruz. Rigondeaux, undefeated in fifteen professional fights is widely considered the number one fighter in the division. An argument can be made that if Rigondeaux is the number one fighter in the division, Leo Santa Cruz could be considered 1-A as Santa Cruz, undefeated in thirty professional fights has won world titles in two different weight divisions.

While some might talk of a potential unification bout between Rigondeaux and Santa Cruz to determine who is the best fighter at 122lbs., there is another fighter who has emerged as a player in the division. The undefeated IBF world champion Carl Frampton. Frampton, a former European and Commonwealth Jr. Featherweight champion won the IBF world championship in September of last year in scoring a dominant twelve round unanimous decision in his rematch with Kiko Martinez. Frampton’s second victory over Martinez not only earned him a world title, but also established him as a player in the division.

Frampton’s first title defense came on February 28th against top contender and IBF mandatory challenger Chris Avalos at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The champion used solid lateral movement and hand speed to consistently beat Avalos to the punch. What impressed me about Frampton’s performance in addition to how well he used his lateral movement was the accuracy of his offense. Frampton was able to land crisp combinations on the challenger and more or less dictated how the fight was fought from the opening bell. Frampton’s systematic attack gradually took a toll on Avalos and ultimately resulted in a fifth round stoppage for the champion.

Simply put it was a dominant performance by a world champion in his first title defense. The win over Avalos has potentially set the stage for some interesting fights in the Jr. Featherweight division. A scenario that this observer has thought of since Frampton’s stoppage of Avalos could result in the potential for full unification of the Jr. Featherweight division.

In addition to Rigondeaux, Santa Cruz, and Frampton there is another fighter who like them is undefeated. Scott Quigg. Quigg is undefeated in thirty-two professional fights and currently holds interim/regular champion status in the WBA’s Jr. Featherweight ratings. Although this would theoretically give Quigg an opportunity to challenge Guillermo Rigondeaux for his unified world title, a fight that has gained significant interest is a potential battle between Quigg and Frampton.

A fight between Frampton, who is now undefeated in twenty professional fights and who has stopped five of his last seven opponents inside the distance  up against Quigg, who has stopped three of his last four opponents is certainly intriguing. A fight between the two would definitely be a draw in the United Kingdom and would also be a fight that would draw the interest of Boxing fans here in the United States. Quigg, who last fought in November of last year scoring a twelve round unanimous decision over Hidenori Otake has scored twenty-two knockouts in his thirty wins as a professional. In comparison to Quigg, Frampton has scored fourteen knockouts in his twenty career wins. Both fighters have registered career knockout percentages of nearly 70% and a fight between the two would be a battle between two highly skilled fighters who can box and have shown the ability to end fights early.

What could result in full unification of the Jr. Featherweight division is if Frampton, Quigg, Rigondeaux, and Santa Cruz were to take part in what would amount to be a two fight box off where the winners would face each other for the undisputed Jr. Featherweight world championship. It is important to remember that a fight between Frampton and Quigg has not been signed, nor has a potential fight between Rigondeaux and Santa Cruz.

This observer however, believes the possibility of the potential fights taking place is certainly realistic. If a box off involving the four were to take place it would bring arguably the four top fighters of the 122lb. Jr. Featherweight division together to determine an undisputed champion. It is something that would be a positive for the sport. Bring it on!

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

The Boxing Truth ® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Boxing Returns To Beaumont,Texas

Press Release: February 23, 2015- By L.O.E.F Promotions and Majestic Raven Entertainment

“We are planning on changing the boxing landscape in the Golden Triangle”- Allen Jaco, L.O.E.F President

On April 11th, League Of Extraordinary Fighters known as L.O.E.F Promotions will be presenting Boxing Shootout at the Montagne Center on the campus of Lamar University. The card is scheduled to feature and highlight several local fighters. “We are planning on changing the boxing landscape in the Golden Triangle.” Says Allen Jaco, President of L.O.E.F. “There hasn't been a show in this area in so long and our plan is to out on numerous shows for the fans”.

The card was originally scheduled for January 17th, but was postponed due to fighters pulling out last minute and other issues. “It really pained us to have to postpone the show. We did everything we could to get enough fighters for commission approval, but we just couldn't get it. But we are going full steam ahead with our inaugural show in April.”

 Weigh-ins for the event will take place April 10th and doors open for Boxing Shootout at 5:30pm on the 11th.

Material Courtesy of: L.O.E.F Promotions and Majestic Raven Entertainment Used with Permission.

The Boxing Truth ® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Is Cotto Next For Golovkin?

The latest chapter in the career of undefeated unified the WBA/IBO Gennady Golovkin came when he defended his title against top contender and two-time world title challenger Martin Murray on Saturday night at the Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo, Monaco. As has been asked of previous Golovkin opponents, the question heading into this fight was whether or not Murray could find an answer to avoid the consistent pressure style and punching power of the champion.

In the early rounds of this bout Murray was able to have success in landing punches to the head and body of the champion. Murray’s success was also complemented by his high defensive guard and ability to avoid being a stationary target, as well he was able to tie Golovkin up and not allow the champion to execute much offense on the inside. This however, did not deter the champion, who showed patience and proved that he had the advantage in terms of punching power when he was able to land.

What was a competitive fight in the first three rounds would begin to shift in the champion’s favor in round four. Golovkin began to land more frequently in round four and was able to score the first of two knockdowns in the round by dropping Murray with a right hook to the body. Murray showed his mettle by getting up from the knockdown, but was floored for a second time with another right hand to the body by the champion. Murray again arose from being knocked down and the fight continued.

Following the fourth round, Golovkin’s systematic attack to the body and head of Murray became the story of the fight. Despite not being able to keep the champion off of him for extended periods of time, Murray remained very “Game” and attempted to return offense while being on the defensive. Murray’s punches simply did not have the power behind them to discourage Golovkin from coming forward.

A right hand to the head sent the challenger down for the third time in the closing seconds of round ten. Murray once again was able to get up from the knockdown and survived the round. The beating administered to Murray at the hands of Gennady Golovkin would come to an end as Referee Luis Pabon stopped the fight after Murray was hurt by a flush right hand on the ropes fifty seconds into the eleventh round.

The victory for Golovkin earned him his thirteenth successful title defense and his nineteenth consecutive knockout. The question coming out of this fight remains the same as Golovkin’s previous title defenses, who can withstand the constant pressure and punching power of a fighter who has become one of the sport’s hottest stars.

Although much of the discussion in regard to the Middleweight division has centered around the circumstances surrounding the now vacant IBF Middleweight world championship, an intriguing storyline has become what may indeed turn out to be a historic championship reign for Gennady Golovkin. Golovkin now having successfully defended his title thirteen times is one successful title defense away from tying the mark of fourteen successful defenses set by Carlos Monzon, who reigned atop the Middleweight division from 1970-1977.

As Golovkin continues to win talk of him challenging the all-time Middleweight record for successful title defenses set by Bernard Hopkins, who reigned as Middleweight champion from 1995-2005 successfully defending his title twenty times will increase. An interesting question however, is who will be Golovkin’s opponent for title defense number fourteen?

This observer believes with WBO champion Andy Lee preparing to defend his title against undefeated former WBO champion Peter Quillin in April and with the status of the IBF Middleweight championship remaining for the moment uncertain, the most viable option for Golovkin would be a unification bout with WBC champion Miguel Cotto. What makes the idea of Cotto-Golovkin more appealing beyond a fight between two fighters with exciting styles is that it would be a unification bout that could be mandated by the World Boxing Council (WBC). This is due to Golovkin being designated as having interim status in the WBC’s Middleweight ratings per his defeat of top contender Marco Antonio Rubio last October, despite Golovkin already being a unified world champion. 

Although I believe in this case the WBC’s interim designation to be a moot point, it may serve a purpose if a fight between Cotto and Golovkin cannot be made between the fighters and their camps. Theoretically Cotto the WBC champion could be mandated to fight Golovkin. It is certainly a unique scenario that has not been seen before, but it would put the WBC into an interesting position of possibly mandating a unification bout to take place if the fight is not made otherwise.

A fight between Miguel Cotto and Gennady Golovkin would certainly generate significant interest of Boxing fans and experts alike. It’s too soon to tell whether or not a fight between Cotto and Golovkin may be on the horizon, but a fight between the two is the best possible option for both fighters, in my opinion.

Even though the discussion coming out of Gennady Golovkin’s stoppage of Martin Murray is what will be next for the champion, what should not be overlooked is the bravery of Murray. For eleven rounds Murray gave it everything he had against a champion, who has only one goal “Seek and Destroy.” Despite taking an awful beating throughout the fight, Murray never stopped trying to find a way to turn things in his favor and remained determined right up until the fight was stopped.

Martin Murray more than proved his mettle in this fight and remains a top contender in the division. Murray deserves every bit of credit he receives for the courageous performance he put forth in defeat.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

The Boxing Truth ® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved. 

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Should Sergio Mora Get Title Shot

The two questions that surrounded the lead up to the Sergio Mora-Abraham Han fight.  Would the cancellation of Mora’s scheduled challenge of IBF Middleweight world champion Jermain Taylor have any effect on his focus as he prepared to face Han.  As well, could seize the opportunity to make a name for himself in the talent deep Middleweight division after stepping in to face Mora.

Those questions were answered when Mora and Han met for the vacant USBA Middleweight title on February 6th at the Beau Rivage resort and casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. The story throughout much of this fight was Mora’s lateral movement, ring generalship, and ability to land the cleaner more effective punches. Although Mora was not always the aggressor, he was able to make the most out of the offense he put forth.

The change in opponent and what had to be disappointment due to missing out on an opportunity to become a two-division world champion did not seem to have much effect on Mora, who has previously held the WBC Jr. Middleweight world championship in his career. Mora however, did face a fighter in Abraham Han who was very “Game” and who was able to rally late in the fight including scoring a knockdown of Mora in the tenth round.  Han was able to make the fight close as after the conclusion of the twelve round title bout the three official judges rendered a split decision.  One judge scored the fight in Han’s favor 115-112, while the two other judges saw the fight 114-113, and 115-112 for Mora.

Although I felt that Sergio Mora won this fight convincingly as I unofficially scored the fight 117-112 in his favor, it was a competitive fight from beginning to end. The primary difference in this fight was Mora’s ability to execute his offense in spurts and in particular how effective he was in landing his right hand throughout the fight. This along with his ability to be an elusive target and make Han miss often, despite his aggressiveness was the basis of my score. It is understandable however, how some could feel that Han was able to win more rounds due to his aggression. This was a case where the question was whether simply being more aggressive would be enough to win the fight while not necessarily being effective.

Even though Han came out of this fight on the losing end, he was able to give a good account himself and it would not surprise me if he were able to secure a fight against someone in the top ten in any of the sport’s respective sanctioning organizations. The Middleweight division is very deep and Han would be an interesting opponent for any of the top contenders in the division.

As for Sergio Mora, the question is what will his win over Han mean for him in the long-term. It was announced prior to the fight between Mora and Han that the International Boxing Federation (IBF) had stripped Jermain Taylor of its Middleweight world championship and that the sanctioning organization would mandate a fight between it’s number one contender Hassan N’Dam and it’s number three contender Felix Sturm for the vacant IBF championship.

This however, will apparently not be the case as it has been announced that Felix Sturm will decline the opportunity to fight for the IBF championship in favor of moving up in weight to the 168lb. Super- Middleweight division. Sturm’s intention to move up in weight with his sights on a potential fight with current WBO Super-Middleweight world champion Arthur Abraham now leaves a question of who will fight N’Dam for the vacant IBF Middleweight championship.

One possible scenario could be that the IBF could award the title to N’Dam seeing as he did win an elimination bout, defeating Curtis Stevens in October of last year for the number one ranking in the IBF’s Middleweight ratings. It would not be the first time that a top contender has been named champion, as fighters who have held interim champion status in other organizations respective ratings have been elevated to champion. If such a scenario were to come to fruition an argument could be made that either N’Dam would be mandated to defend his title against a top contender or the IBF may hold another elimination bout between two top contenders to determine a new mandatory challenger.

An interesting question is what would this mean for Sergio Mora? As I stated last week prior to Mora’s fight with Abraham Han, it is important to remember that Mora, who entered the fight with Han rated number fourteen in the IBF’s Middleweight ratings, was in line to challenge for the IBF world championship prior to the cancellation of his fight with Jermain Taylor.  The fight with Han was for the United States Boxing Association (USBA) Middleweight title. Mora’s victory over Han has elevated his ranking in the IBF ratings to number seven. In this observer’s opinion, seeing as the USBA is a regional title under the umbrella of the International Boxing Federation, it makes sense that Mora should be in line to fight for the IBF title off of his recent victory.

Although fighters such as Sam Soliman, David Lemieux, and Billy Jo Saunders are rated above Mora currently in the IBF Middleweight ratings, it is important to note that Saunders is currently the number one contender in the World Boxing Organization’s (WBO) ratings and there is no word as of this writing as to what the future plans might be for Soliman and Lemieux. Based on this and Mora having previously been scheduled to fight for the IBF world championship, I believe he should be in line to fight for the vacant title.

An interesting question is how will all the circumstances surrounding the IBF Middleweight world championship impact the rest of the division. For now, the attention of the division will focus on unified WBA/IBO Middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin’s title defense against top contender Martin Murray on February 21st.

If Sergio Mora is not in line to fight for the vacant IBF championship in the near future, it will be interesting to see whether he could be a potential future opponent for the winner of the Golovkin-Murray fight. The sport of Boxing is after all a sport of opportunities. For a fighter who was going to have an opportunity to fight for a world title and who unfortunately missed out on that opportunity due to circumstances that were beyond his control, he was able to make the most out of a disappointing situation and elevate his standing as a top contender.

Whether or not Sergio Mora will get the opportunity to fight for a world title in a second weight class remains to be seen. In my opinion, he has earned the title shot.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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