Friday, November 29, 2013

A Look At The Froch-Groves Controversy

The 168lb. Super-Middleweight division one might argue has seen a global surge in popularity since the groundbreaking Super-Six World Boxing Classic tournament that ran its course from 2009 through 2011. Along with showcasing much of the division’s top fighters, the tournament also ultimately established eventual tournament winner Andre Ward as the top fighter in the division. An argument can be made however, that if Ward is considered the number one fighter in the division, then Carl Froch the tournament runner-up and three-time world champion of the Super-Middleweight division is certainly 1-A.

Since losing a close and competitive fight in the tournament finals to Ward in December of 2011 Froch has gone on to make a very good argument for himself as being the number two or 1-A fighter in the division behind Ward. Froch regained a portion of the Super- Middleweight title in his first fight following the completion of the Super-Six by destroying previously undefeated longtime IBF champion Lucian Bute in May of last year. There was an opinion going into that fight that Froch was an underdog. The basis of this was that Bute had successfully defended his version of the Super-Middleweight world championship nine times and with the exception of his first fight with Librado Andrade had not been really in danger of being dethroned. Froch however, would dispose of Bute in devastating fashion stopping the champion in five rounds. It was clear that Froch was underestimated by some.

Following his knockout of Bute, Froch successfully defended his title two times including a twelve round unanimous decision over former Super-Middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler in May of this year, avenging his first career loss which took place during the course of the Super-Six in April 2010. The impressive performance in the rematch against Kessler set up an intriguing bout between Froch and undefeated top contender George Groves that took place on November 23rd in Manchester, England.

Groves, undefeated in nineteen professional fights, with fifteen knockouts going into the fight with Froch had previously won both the British and Commonwealth Super- Middleweight titles in his career including a dominant performance in defense of his Commonwealth title over former IBF Light-Heavyweight world champion and former Froch opponent Glen Johnson in December of last year. Although some believed that the experience of the thirty-six year old Froch might be a crucial factor as this fight approached, there was no disputing that the twenty-five year-old Groves deserved his opportunity at the world title in what was the first world championship fight of his career.

Heading into this fight I thought based on the crowd pleasing styles of the two fighters that there was a good chance that there would be fireworks in this fight. It did not take long once the fight got underway for fireworks to materialize. Groves dropped the champion with a solid right hand in the first round. It was only the second time in Froch’s career that he was knocked down, the first being in his fight with Jermain Taylor in 2009. It was clear that Groves had the edge in terms of hand speed. 

Although appearing to be clearly hurt, Froch was able to survive the first round. It seemed that Groves could not miss Froch with his right hand. It was not just the hand speed of the challenger, but also the timing of his offense and lateral movement that was giving Froch trouble. Groves was able to win the early rounds by being the effective aggressor and getting his punches off first. The knockdown in the first round and Groves’ overall effectiveness appeared to shake the champion’s confidence.

Some of the questions that are bound to be asked when a fighter challenges for a world title for the first time are can they handle the magnitude of the event? Will they freeze? Clearly George Groves did not freeze and was not overwhelmed by the event. What was impressive was not only how Groves was able to bring the fight to the champion, but the concentrated tactical way in which he approached Froch.

In the fifth round Froch began to open up more and appeared to gain some ground in this observer’s eyes. Although both fighters had their moments in that round, it was Froch who seemed to be able to do a little more. At the end of six rounds however, Froch was clearly at a deficit and needed something significant to turn things around in his favor.

After a close seventh round that this observer scored even, Froch was able to win the eighth round based on aggression. It was clear at this stage of the fight that the champion was approaching desperation mode. He was able to rough Groves up periodically and appeared to be risking being penalized a point by Referee Howard Foster. 

Even though one might argue that such roughhouse tactics are basically bending the rules, Froch needed to do something to get into the fight. The fight was getting away from him on the scorecards. It was in the ninth round however, that the element of controversy would rear its head.

Froch staggered Groves with a right hand and followed up with a barrage of offense that caused Referee Howard Foster to stop the fight at 1:33 of the round. Although Groves was staggered and appeared to be in trouble, some argued that the stoppage by Foster was quick and that Groves should have been allowed the opportunity to see if he could fight through adversity.

Although this observer believes that the stoppage was early, it is important to remember that we as observers are not the third man in the ring. After studying the stoppage several times in the days following the fight, I believe that perhaps Foster may have seen something in Groves’ body language that may have indicated that he was in trouble. One must remember that in addition to making sure that fighters follow the rules of a fight, the referee above all is responsible for the safety of the fighters. Clearly this was a case of a referee exercising his discretion in stopping the fight.

Some may indeed argue that perhaps the fight could have been stopped in the first round when the champion Froch was knocked down and appeared badly hurt. Although it is perhaps a valid argument, it again boils down to a referee’s discretion. There have been times throughout his career where Carl Froch has been staggered and hurt, but rallied back to win fights most notably against Jermain Taylor. Based on his ability to take punishment and recover, Froch was given the benefit of the doubt. This observer believes however, that had Froch been put into a position where he was clearly incapable of defending himself that the fight would have been stopped.

The stoppage of this fight is somewhat reminiscent of two noteworthy fights that were stopped prematurely in the eyes of some. Many will remember the first fight between former Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and Donovan “Razor” Ruddock in March of 1991.

In a fight where Tyson was able to score knockdowns of Ruddock in the second and third rounds, the exciting battle was stopped in the seventh round after Tyson landed a barrage of punches to the body and head which sent Ruddock staggering back to the ropes. The bout was subsequently stopped by Referee Richard Steele. The stoppage was followed by a riot between the camps of the two fighters. 

A more recent example was the October 2011 WBC World Lightweight championship fight between Jorge Linares and Antonio DeMarco.  In that fight although Linares was taking a beating throughout he was able to win most of the rounds. The end came in the eleventh round when DeMarco was able to get Linares on the ropes and appeared to have Linares defenseless prompting Referee Raul Caiz, Sr. to stop the fight. Although the fight was stopped justifiably in the eyes of this observer, some contended that the fight should have been allowed to go on as Linares appeared to be getting ready to attempt to return offense as Caiz stepped in.  This clearly was not the case as Linares was staggering with his head down to his right along the ropes when the fight was stopped and was not in position to launch any offense much less defend himself. What was overlooked by some in the immediate aftermath of that fight was the class of Antonio DeMarco who while being announced as the new Lightweight world champion consoled a battered Linares in his corner. An example of class that should be applauded by all.

Although some may feel that the Froch-Groves fight was stopped prematurely it is also worth noting that in recent months there have been four cases where fighters have suffered severe injuries, with a commonality of perhaps the injuries being caused due to fights being allowed to go on when maybe they should have been stopped. 

By now most Boxing fans are aware of the tragic circumstances of Heavyweight contender Magomed Abdusalamov who suffered a terrible beating in losing a hard fought ten round unanimous decision to Mike Perez earlier this month. In that fight Abdusalamov sustained several injuries including a broken nose, broken cheek, and broken hand. Abdusalamov however, was put in a medically induced coma after doctors discovered a blood clot on his brain. A part of Abdusalamov’s skull had to be removed to reduce swelling, as well he also suffered a stroke while being in a coma. Abdusalamov still remains in a coma as of this writing.

There are other tragic circumstances however, that may not be known to many Boxing fans that have also taken place. Light-Heavyweight contender Daniel MacKinnon of New Zealand who was stopped by fellow New Zealand contender Robert Berridge on the undercard of the David Tua-Alexander Ustinov bout collapsed in his dressing room following the fight and had to undergo emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. MacKinnon has continued to improve since the surgery and was discharged from a New Zealand hospital earlier this week.

Featherweight contender Jose Carmona also suffered severe injuries in his knockout loss to former multi-division world champion Jorge Arce resulting in Carmona having to undergo two brain surgeries. There is no update as of this writing on Carmona’s condition.

The tragedies that have plagued the sport in recent months have also resulted in a tragic death. Super-Bantamweight contender Frankie Leal died three days after his fight with Raul Hirales in October due to an injury to his brain suffered during the bout. 

Although some may be tempted to criticize Referee Howard Foster for the stoppage of the Froch-Groves fight, in light of the tragedies that have befallen the sport of Boxing in the last several weeks, you cannot fault a referee for exercising his discretion in looking out for the best interest of a fighter. Despite the belief of some that Foster acted in the best interest of Froch by stopping this fight, this observer strongly disagrees.

George Groves gave everything he had in this fight and proved that he belonged on the world level of the sport. Groves has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and in some ways the loss to Froch could be better for him in the long-term as it will likely open more lucrative opportunities for him in the Super-Middleweight division, most likely a rematch with Froch.

Even though Carl Froch is still considered one of the two best fighters in the division, George Groves has proven that he belongs in the discussion. Although Froch may be looking for an eventual rematch with Andre Ward, I believe a rematch with Groves is warranted and should happen as soon as possible. 

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pacquiao: Back And Still In The Mix

The natural question that a fighter who is attempting to come back from a devastating knockout loss will have to answer is how did the knockout that they suffered affect them? It goes without saying that a knockout can have several different affects on a fighter. A fighter who was normally aggressive could turn into a defense a fighter and be hesitant to let their hands go. For fighters who suffer a particularly devastating knockout questions could also be asked about their ability to take a punch in fights following that knockout.

In the case of Boxing superstar and former multi-division world champion Manny Pacquiao those questions were all present when he entered the ring against Brandon Rios on November 23rd in Macau, China. Pacquiao, who was fighting for the first time since suffering a brutal knockout loss at the hands of his arch rival Juan Manuel Marquez last December, one might argue had more to prove in this fight than Rios who was fighting for the first time in the Welterweight division.

Although there was the opinion of some that Rios’ style was made to order for Pacquiao, Rios still was an all action pressure fighter who had the power to potentially give Pacquiao trouble. It was clear once the fight got underway however, that Pacquiao was not affected by the knockout in the way many had speculated since the loss to Marquez.

For twelve rounds Pacquiao consistently beat Rios the punch landing in combination, using great movement and angles, and showing the ability to take a punch and counter to earn a convincing unanimous decision. What particularly impressed me in this fight was Pacquiao’s disciplined approach. He remained an elusive target throughout much of the fight and frequently made Rios miss. Rios was able to be effective in spots particularly on the inside when he was able to land body punches and attempt to roughhouse Pacquiao. Although it appeared that Pacquiao may have been able to potentially stop Rios as the fight went on, he remained disciplined and did not approach his offense recklessly.

It was after all Pacquiao attempting to go in for the finish which led to his downfall in his fourth fight with Marquez. One might argue that had Pacquiao been more aware of the time remaining in the round in which Marquez was able to score that dramatic come from behind knockout that perhaps the outcome of that fight may have been different. Pacquiao appeared more cautious in this fight and did not leave Rios many openings.

Rios displayed great heart throughout this fight and never stopped trying to find a way to break Pacquiao down. Much as other fighters have discovered against Manny Pacquiao, Rios just could not find a way to break Pacquiao’s rhythm and could not effectively find a way to neutralize Pacquiao’s angles. A task that has proven to truly be easier said than done. Rios however, did show his mettle in this fight in that he stood up to all of Pacquiao’s offense and in similar situations where fighters have crumbled against Pacquiao; Rios continued to try to turn things in his favor. Although some will say that Brandon Rios was simply outclassed in this fight, no one can take away the heart he showed against Pacquiao and the “Game” effort he put forth in defeat. 

Despite what many will view as a dominant performance by Manny Pacquiao, there are some who may feel that more questions are to be asked. In the eyes of this observer Manny Pacquiao looked like the dominating force that he was prior to his loss to Marquez. He did not appear to be diminished in any way. There have after all been fighters who after suffering knockout losses, particularly knockout losses of a devastating nature who are never really the same. An example of this one might argue could be Roy Jones.

Much like Pacquiao, Jones at his peak was considered the best fighter in the world pound for pound. Along with suffering controversial losses while at their peak, both Pacquiao and Jones lost their standing as the best pound for pound as a result of sudden and dramatic one punch knockouts. Jones, who was knocked out in May of 2004 at the hands of Antonio Tarver in their second of three fights, returned to the ring in September of that year and suffered a knockout loss at the hands of then Light-Heavyweight champion Glen Johnson. Many observers, this one included believed that Jones came back too soon after being knocked out by Tarver and in addition to suffering the knockout at the hands of Johnson along with dropping back down in weight to the Light-Heavyweight division after successfully winning a Heavyweight world championship in March of 2003 resulted in the gradual decline of Jones.

Unlike Jones however, Pacquiao although suffering a brutal knockout loss was not affected by a drop down in weight and did not show any signs of diminishing skills in his fight with Brandon Rios. Whether or not Pacquiao will be able to regain his standing among the sport’s mythical pound for pound ratings remains to be seen. The win over Rios however, should be looked at as a confidence booster for Pacquiao who due to his controversial loss to Timothy Bradley and the knockout loss at the hands of Marquez had not won a fight since 2011. After suffering those setbacks in 2012, the victory over Rios and his solid performance has to be a lift for Pacquiao.

What may loom on the horizon for Pacquiao in 2014? Although it is understandable that based on what was a very impressive performance against Brandon Rios, that speculation would resume on a potential clash between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, this observer believes that is more likely to see Pacquiao remain in what I have called an unofficial round robin concept involving himself, Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Ruslan Provodnikov, Mike Alvarado, and Brandon Rios. Although this concept has never been made official, it appears logical that all of these fighters will remain in the mix for each other. Despite the loss to Pacquiao, Rios is still an exciting and dangerous fighter for anyone in either the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight or 147lb. Welterweight divisions. 

Under the round robin scenario that I have discussed in recent months it is not out of the realm of possibility to see Rios pursue a third fight with Mike Alvarado or a fight with Ruslan Provodnikov. Both potential fights present exciting style match ups and would garner significant attention. Rios’ battles with Alvarado were two very exciting fights and with each holding a win over the other the idea of a third fight is very possible. A possibility of Rios fighting Provodnikov before a potential third fight with Alvarado is also possible.

Provodnikov, who stopped Alvarado to win the WBO Jr. Welterweight championship last month one might argue could be the more viable fight for Rios for his next fight due to both Provodnikov stopping Alvarado, the first man to defeat Rios, but also Provodnikov’s battle with Timothy Bradley earlier this year in a fight that many feel he deserved the decision. Whichever route Brandon Rios decides to take he will continue to garner attention.

As for Manny Pacquiao, this observer believes that his next fight will either be against Juan Manuel Marquez in a fifth encounter or a rematch with Timothy Bradley. Both potential fights deserve to happen and an obvious motivation for either Marquez or Bradley would be to prove that their victories over Pacquiao were not flukes. In the case of Timothy Bradley who’s reputation and status as a viable entity in the sport was damaged due to the controversy surrounding his win over Pacquiao, one might argue that a rematch for him would be important as it would give him the opportunity for vindication. 

Although Juan Manuel Marquez has stated that he does not have an interest in a fifth fight with Pacquiao, this observer believes that it could happen. Despite the knockout in the fourth encounter between the two, the series of fights between Pacquiao and Marquez rank among the greatest series of fights in the history of Boxing. Even though the fourth encounter provided the first conclusive ending of any of the fights in the series Boxing fans will surely welcome a fifth chapter in what has been a great rivalry.

If this round robin concept does inadvertently continue into 2014 the Boxing fan can likely expect more of what makes the sport great. Potentially entertaining battles featuring fighters at their peak facing off against each other. The kind of fights that will likely be considered one day to be part of a great era in Boxing.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tyrell Biggs Documentary Last Day of Kickstarter Campaign

Press Release: November 24, 2013 by LunchBox Communications- Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We only have 18 hours left on Kickstarter to raise the funding to complete "Whatever happened to Tyrell Biggs?". Kickstarter is an all or nothing platform. They will only charge your account and donations if the amount of plegdes reach our campaign goal.

This is where we ask you to do a little work. Tell everyone. Forward this email to anyone you know who has an interest in sports, filmmaking, community hope, after school programs, documentaries or helping out with anything you believe in. Then please take five minutes tonight to donate. Every dollar and supporter counts.
We are excited for this story to be told and we hope you are too...
This is so much more than a sport biopic about the first ever US Super Heavyweight Gold Medalist and his rise and fall. It's a story that has the potential to engage and inspire people of all ages and from all walks of life.
As Filmmakers we felt moved to connect the dots from the classic tragic boxing tale of Tyrell Biggs to the hope of the interfaith and multigenerational community that has adopted this fallen hero and, with him, begun writing a new chapter in boxing for a struggling neighborhood.
We are inspired by the boxing community in West Philadelphia at the Shepard Recreational Center. Two of the young boxers from the Center's Mitch Allen Gym just won the Junior Olympics. Also, D and D management has a growing stable of up-and-coming Pros training at the gym alongside the young kids and legacy champions. This is where Pastor David Price of D and D realized that the man he was seeing work around the recreation center in the afternoons was none other than Tyrell Biggs, the first Super Heavyweight Olympic champion.
We learned what boxing and independent filmmaking have in common - besides taking a lot of hard knocks - to succeed it requires a major commitment by an entire community. West Philadelphia and the Shepard Recreation Center are bursting with stories but an unfortunate lack of resources to tell their own tale.
The campaign ends tomorrow morning, November 25th. Please start hitting the forward button now.
With gratitude,

For more information about “Whatever Happened to Tyrell Biggs?” Please visit:

Material Courtesy of: LunchBox Communications Used with permission.

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