Sunday, May 31, 2015

Khan-Algieri: Should There Be A Rematch?

The storyline leading up to the Welterweight fight between former Jr. Welterweight world champions Amir Khan and Chris Algieri was one that some might argue of two fighters at a crossroads. In one corner stood Amir Khan the one time unified WBA/IBF Jr. Welterweight world champion, who has seen his career go through ups and downs. Despite suffering some setbacks however, Khan has established himself as one of the top contenders in the Welterweight division and entered into the bout with Algieri having won four straight fights.

Standing across the ring from Khan was Chris Algieri. Algieri was able to go from an undefeated contender to a world champion last year when he defeated Ruslan Provodnikov to win the WBO Jr. Welterweight world championship. Algieri however, would suffer a setback of his own as he was dominated in his attempt to move up in weight in challenging Manny Pacquiao for the WBO Welterweight world championship in November of last year.

A battle of two former world champions, one looking to continue to build momentum, the other looking to bounce back from his first defeat, culminated when Khan and Algieri met on May 29th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. It was no surprise to this observer to see this fight being fought at a tactical pace as both fighters were able to have periods of effectiveness in the early rounds.

When it comes to tactical Boxing matches a challenge for those who score a fight where both fighters are able to be effective is to determine which fighter is able to execute their offense in a more decisive manner than his opponent. This can result in “Swing Rounds” where there can be differing opinions as to who wins a round. In this fight Amir Khan was able to get his punches off first often by throwing punches in combination. Algieri meanwhile, was able to consistently put pressure on Khan and able to periodically land solid right hands and left hooks, which were attention grabbing.

Although Khan continued to be effective in throwing and landing combinations as the fight progressed, Algieri’s consistent pressure and ability to be effective in spurts made this fight difficult to score. It became a question of Khan’s ability to throw in quantity versus Algieri’s pressure and aggression, which was often effective.

As the fight entered the late rounds it was really anyone’s fight in this observer’s eyes. It was in the late rounds however, where I feel Khan began to stand out from Algieri a little more than had been the case in the early and middle rounds. Khan’s lateral movement and ability to consistently throw combinations never really decreased as the fight progressed. Khan was able to win rounds ten and eleven by landing combinations, countering Algieri, and landing punches to Algieri’s body, in my opinion. Algieri however, seemed to get the better of the action in my eyes in the twelfth and final round based on his ability to pressure Khan and Khan seeming to let up slightly with his offense perhaps due to fatigue.

At the end of the twelve round bout it did not surprise me to see a difference in scoring even though the decision was unanimous in favor of Khan. Judge Don Ackerman scored the fight 115-113 or 7-5 in rounds, while Judges Joseph Pasquale and Benoit Rousell both scored the fight 117-111 or 9-3 in rounds. Unofficially, I scored this fight the same as Don Ackerman 115-113 for Khan.

In all truth and honesty I feel this fight could have gone either way, but in my opinion Khan’s combination punching was the difference in this fight. I can easily see an argument however, in favor of Algieri based on how effective he was able to be in spurts and his overall pressure and aggression. Several of the rounds were extremely close and as I have often said over the years when it comes to close fights, it will often boil down to what a judge prefers in their own individual criteria in how they score based on clean punching, effective aggressiveness, ring generalship, and defense. Even though two judges ultimately gave nine of twelve rounds to Khan, if you watch the fight round by round it was extremely difficult to score.

An interesting question coming out of this fight will be what is next for both fighters. Although Khan is hoping to secure a fight against Floyd Mayweather in September, this observer believes that a rematch between Khan and Algieri is warranted based on how competitive the fight was and I believe Boxing fans would want to see a rematch between the two. If a fight against Mayweather or a rematch against Algieri is not in the immediate future for Khan, a possible option could be a championship fight against IBF world champion Kell Brook, who successfully defended his title on May 30th with a sixth round stoppage of top contender Frankie Gavin.

As I stated following Brook’s victory over Jo Jo Dan earlier this year both Brook and Khan have significant followings and a fight between the two just might be the type fight that both fighters need in order to secure a potential fight against a fighter like Floyd Mayweather. Whether or not Khan does secure a fight against Mayweather, which he has been seeking for some time remains to be seen. 

In this observer’s opinion however, there are now two very intriguing fights outside of a potential clash with Mayweather that Khan should consider. Kell Brook has clearly established himself as a rising star in the sport and currently is the only world champion in the Welterweight division besides Floyd Mayweather. The other fight of course, would be a rematch against the more than deserving Chris Algieri, who despite losing his last two fights, remains a player in the Welterweight division and gave Khan all he could handle.

If a fight against Floyd Mayweather is not available to Khan for his next fight, it will be interesting to see if Khan will seek a fight against either Brook or Algieri. Although this observer believes a fight with Brook or a rematch with Algieri are the most logical options for Khan outside of a fight with Floyd Mayweather, we will have to simply wait and see who Khan will fight next.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Khan-Algieri Preview

One of the storylines that emerged in the aftermath of Floyd Mayweather’s victory over Manny Pacquiao on May 2nd was the announcement that Mayweather intended to relinquish the world championships he holds in both the Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight divisions. Perhaps a storyline of more interest however, could be who Mayweather might face later this year in what could be the final fight of his career.

A fighter who has been in the running as a potential Mayweather opponent on more than one occasion is former unified WBA/IBF Jr. Welterweight world champion Amir Khan. Khan, who reigned as champion in the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division from 2009-2012 successfully defended his five times and successfully unified the WBA and IBF world titles before losing back-to-back fights to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia in 2011 and 2012.

Despite suffering some setbacks in his career, Khan has remained a force to be reckoned with and has won four straight fights since his loss to Garcia, including three wins in the 147lb. Welterweight division. Now after compiling wins over the likes of Carlos Molina, Julio Diaz, Luis Collazo, and Devon Alexander Khan may once again be in the running for a potential fight with Floyd Mayweather. Before Khan can set his sights on Mayweather however, he must first face a challenge in the form of former WBO Jr. Welterweight world champion Chris Algieri on Friday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Algieri emerged on Boxing’s main stage in June of last year when he scored a come from behind twelve round split decision over Ruslan Provodnikov to win the WBO world Jr. Welterweight championship. In that fight, Algieri overcame two knockdowns in the first round and a badly swollen right eye and was able to outwork Provodnikov throughout most of the fight to earn a hard fought decision victory.

Algieri however, would be stripped of his world title in what some considered a controversial move by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) prior to Algieri’s move up in weight to the 147lb. Welterweight division to challenge then WBO Welterweight world champion Manny Pacquiao for his title in November of last year.

Algieri, who was also an undefeated two-division world champion in Kickboxing, prior to beginning his professional Boxing career would suffer his first loss as a fighter when he lost a lopsided twelve round unanimous decision to Pacquiao in a fight where Algieri suffered six knockdowns.

Although Algieri lost that fight, he more than proved his mettle in defeat by continuing to fight through adversity to go the distance. Now Algieri looks to rebound from that loss against Khan.

This figures to be an interesting contest as both fighters are known for their quickness and hand speed. What will interest this observer in the early rounds of this fight will be which fighter takes the initiative of being the aggressor and whether one of the fighters will look to play the role of counter puncher.

Although Khan would appear to have an edge in terms of punching power having scored nineteen knockouts in his thirty career wins compared to Algieri’s eight knockouts in twenty career wins, it would not surprise me to see a tactical chess match between the two fighters and to see this fight and up close on the scorecards. It will be interesting to see how Khan would deal with Algieri’s lateral movement during the course of this fight. 

In his fight with Ruslan Provodnikov, Algieri was able to use his movement to set up his offense and was able to get his punches off before Provodnikov could get set to throw his punches. Even though Khan has a different style than Provodnikov and is also known for his quickness, it will be interesting to see if Algieri can implement a similar strategy of being an elusive target against Khan. It is a fight that could go either way.

What may be at stake for the winner of course could be a fight against Floyd Mayweather later this year. If a fight against Mayweather is not in store for the winner however, what could await the winner if Mayweather does follow through on his announcement and relinquishes his world titles could be a fight for a vacated world title in the Welterweight division.

Regardless of what may be in store for the winner of this fight, this observer believes given the styles of the two fighters this could be an entertaining fight. Whether the actual fight lives up to the interesting tactical battle it appears to be leading up to it remains to be seen.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Povetkin Makes Statement With KO Win Over Perez

In Boxing part of the anticipation leading up to a fight for both fan and expert alike is thinking of how a contest between two fighters will play out. Often prior to a fight both fans and experts will attempt to analyze and break down an upcoming fight. Sometimes however, no matter how one may view how a fight might go prior to it taking place, it can ultimately come down to which fighter can land a power punch first.

Such a scenario took place when former world title challenger and longtime Heavyweight contender Alexander Povetkin took on fellow top contender Mike Perez on Friday night at the Luzhniki Arena in Moscow, Russia. Prior to this fight, this observer stated that I expected this fight to be very competitive. In reality, the fight ended before it could really get started.

Povetkin staggered Perez with a right hand and knocked Perez down with right hook seconds later. Although Perez was able to beat the count, it appeared that he may not have known where he was and looked to be how on his feet. Povetkin would bring the fight to an end moments later knocking Perez down for the second time forcing Referee Massimo Barrovecchio to stop the fight at 1:31 of the first round.

Although I expected this fight to be competitive, readers over the years have become accustomed to me stating on many occasions “Anything can happen at any given time in the sport of Boxing and that is what makes the sport so great.” In this fight Alexander Povetkin simply saw his opening, took advantage of it, and closed the show. It was as impressive a performance as Povetkin has had in his career thus far.

Even though there is not much that one can say about a fight that lasts only ninety-one seconds, I believe this fight should have been stopped following the first knockdown of Mike Perez. Although Perez deserves all the credit he receives for managing to get up from the knockdown, he appeared to be out on his feet. Furthermore, it also appeared that Referee Massimo Barrovecchio did not ask Perez if he was okay and did not ask him to raise his hands to indicate that he was ready to resume fighting.

 Instead, it appeared that Barrovecchio simply motioned for the fight to continue upon Perez making it to his feet. Perez with his arms down at his sides was clearly in no condition to continue and although the fight would end moments later, I believe Barrovecchio made a slight error in judgment by allowing the fight to continue albeit briefly. Barrovecchio however, should be commended for immediately stopping the fight upon the second knockdown.

My slight criticism of Referee Massimo Barrovecchio notwithstanding, it does not in any way take away from Povetkin’s performance. With the victory, Povetkin now moves into the mandatory challenger position in the WBC’s Heavyweight ratings. Povetkin is slated to face the winner of the upcoming WBC World Heavyweight championship fight between undefeated champion Deontay Wilder and WBC number nine rated contender Eric Molina, which will take place on June 13th in Birmingham, Alabama.

Although it would appear that Povetkin will fight the winner of Wilder-Molina in his next fight for the WBC world championship, one should remember that Povetkin, who previously held interim/regular champion status in the WBA’s Heavyweight ratings waited over two years to challenge unified IBF/WBO/WBA/IBO world champion Wladimir Klitschko for his title.

It is my hope after what was a devastating knockout of Mike Perez that Povetkin will not have to wait long for his second opportunity at a world championship. It should not be overlooked that Povetkin not only won this fight, but made a statement by winning it in decisive fashion. He deserves to fight for the WBC world championship as soon as possible.  

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Povetkin-Perez: Who Will Move Closer To A Title Shot?

Longtime top Heavyweight contender Alexander Povetkin has been a cornerstone of the division for several years. Povetkin, who earned interim/regular champion status in the WBA’s Heavyweight ratings in August 2011 with a victory over former WBA world champion Ruslan Chagaev had to wait over two years for his opportunity to challenge unified IBF/WBO/WBA/IBO world champion Wladimir Klitschko.

Povetkin would remain active fighting and winning four bouts while waiting for his title shot against Klitschko. When Povetkin met Klitschko in October 2013, the then undefeated challenger put forth an extremely “Game” effort surviving four knockdowns in losing a hard fought twelve round unanimous decision. Despite suffering the first loss of his career, Povetkin as this observer stated in covering that fight earned much more respect coming out of that fight than he was given by some going into the fight and had clearly established himself as a legitimate player in the Heavyweight division.

Povetkin returned to the ring in May of last year dominating former world title challenger Manuel Charr en route to a seventh round knockout. In October of last year, Povetkin scored a tenth round knockout over contender Carlos Takam. The two knockout victories also earned Povetkin the number one ranking in the World Boxing Council’s (WBC) Heavyweight ratings.

Before Povetkin can set his sights on a potential title shot however, he will face current WBC number two rated contender Mike Perez on Friday, May 22nd in Moscow, Russia. This is an intriguing fight between one fighter who has fought for a world title before and another fighter who narrowly missed an opportunity to challenge for a world title.

In July of last year Perez lost an extremely close twelve round split decision to top contender and recent world title challenger Bryant Jennings in a WBC world title elimination bout. It was a fight that could have gone either way and despite suffering what was the first loss of his career, Perez showed why he is a top contender and gave Jennings all he could handle. Perez returned to the ring in February of this year scoring a second round knockout over journeyman contender Darnell Wilson.

Now Povetkin and Perez turn their attention to each other in what will be an elimination bout to determine the next mandatory challenger in the WBC Heavyweight ratings. This figures to be an interesting fight between two fighters who have shown a willingness to mix it up with their opponents.

What will interest me in this fight is how Perez will deal with the quick hands of Alexander Povetkin. Povetkin is known for his ability to land his punches in combination as well as his ability to be accurate with his offense. In his fight against Manuel Charr, Povetkin was able to consistently beat Charr to the punch and keep him on the defensive. Povetkin’s combination punching to the body and head eventually broke Charr down as the fight progressed in what was a dominating performance.

One might wonder whether Povetkin will attempt to take a similar approach in this fight against Perez. Perez is known as a fighter who can be aggressive and it will be interesting to see whether he will look to bring the fight to Povetkin from the outset or if he will look to be tactical and play the role of counter puncher. It would not surprise this observer to see these fighters being willing to stand toe to toe with each other at some point in this fight. Although one might consider the Chekhov, Russia native Povetkin a favorite in this fight, I expect this fight to be very competitive and it would not surprise me if this bout were to end up in a close decision similar to Perez’ fight with Bryant Jennings.

Perez was able to win most of the first half of his fight with Jennings by landing the cleaner, more effective punches. Perez was not however, able to sustain the pace he established in the early rounds and faded down the stretch allowing Jennings to get back into the fight and ultimately earn a hard fought decision. Perez must pace himself in this fight and must not fade in the middle and late rounds to be successful, in my opinion.

Who will come out on top in this fight remains to be seen, but what awaits the winner will be a title shot against the winner of the upcoming WBC Heavyweight world championship fight between undefeated world champion Deontay Wilder and WBC number nine rated contender Eric Molina on June 13th. Will it be Povetkin or Perez?

We will find out on Friday May 22nd.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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