Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Look at Mansour-Dawejko

In the sport of Boxing one thing that will certainly draw interest and create a buzz around a prospect is a fighter who builds a reputation as a “Knockout Artist.” A fighter who has earned a reputation as a “Knockout Artist” is Heavyweight prospect Amir Mansour.

Mansour has compiled sixteen knockouts in twenty-two professional fights earning twenty-one victories. Some fans may now that Mansour, who began his professional career in 1997 had his career derailed by legal troubles as he served nine years in prison for drug possession. Upon returning to the ring in 2010 however, Mansour established himself as a fighter to watch in the Heavyweight division. What should also not be overlooked is that Mansour has established himself as a rising prospect as a fighter over the age of forty.

Although Mansour has scored victories over fighters such as Dominick Guinn, Jason Gavern, and Maurice Harris and won the United States Boxing Association (USBA) Heavyweight championship in his career, he has also faced adversity. In April of last year Mansour suffered the first loss of his career in losing a hard fought ten round decision to former IBF world Cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham.

As this observer stated following Mansour’s loss to Cunningham, it is highly unusual when discussing a fighter who was at the time forty-one years old that you can say that fighter is a rising contender. Despite the loss to Cunningham, Mansour did show his mettle in defeat in what was a grueling give and take Heavyweight fight. 

A question that will be asked of most fighters at some point in their careers will be how they deal with defeat. Mansour returned to the ring in November of last year scoring a seventh round knockout over Fred Kassi. Off of what was a devastating knockout of Kassi, Mansour now looks to continue building momentum as he faces Philadelphia based prospect Joey Dawejko on Friday night at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The fight, which will be for the Pennsylvania State Heavyweight title will headline this week’s ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights. Dawejko, a veteran of nineteen professional fights will enter his bout with Mansour with a record of 14-3-2, with 7 Knockouts. Even though Dawejko is slightly less experienced as a professional compared to Mansour, he did have a decorated amateur career registering a record of 56-12.

Dawejko enters this fight having won six straight fights, winning four of those bouts by knockout. It will be interesting to see how Dawejko reacts to getting hit by a fighter with the type of punching power that Mansour possesses. Although Dawejko is stepping up in class in this fight, he has only been stopped once in his career when he was stopped in four rounds by current North American Boxing Organization (NABO) champion Charles Martin in 2013.

Even though Dawejko has shown in recent fights that he too is capable of ending a fight inside the distance, it will be interesting to this observer to see if Dawejko attempts to extend the fight into the middle and late rounds. Fighters such as Maurice Harris and Steve Cunningham were able to have success against Mansour as those bouts were into the mid-and late rounds, and in the case of Cunningham he was able to score a victory. Mansour however, is a fighter with a career knockout percentage of nearly 73% and will be dangerous for however long the fight lasts. If Dawejko can find a way to extend the fight and neutralize Mansour’s power, he may be able to pull off what some would consider an upset.

It will be equally as interesting if the fight does go into the middle and late rounds to see if Mansour fades as the fight progresses. In his battle against Steve Cunningham, Mansour was able to score two knockdowns of Cunningham in the fifth round, but could not finish him. As the fight progressed Cunningham was able to narrow the gap and score a knockdown of an exhausted Mansour in the final round and went on to win a close, but unanimous decision.

As I stated in my coverage of that fight, one of the primary things that I believed worked against Mansour against Cunningham was he seemingly put everything he had into every punch he threw, often lunging in with his punches and neglecting to use his jab to set up his offense. If this fight does indeed go into the mid-and late rounds, it will be interesting to see if Mansour can pace himself and not burn himself out as a fight progresses.

What may be more importantly at stake in this fight in addition to the Pennsylvania State Heavyweight title for the winner might be an opportunity to move up the rankings and potentially find himself in position to face top contender in hopes of getting a world title shot against either of the two world champions in the division currently Wladimir Klitschko and Deontay Wilder.

For the forty two year-old Mansour one might argue that time is not on his side and that a loss at this stage of his career might put his status as a rising contender in serious jeopardy. For a fighter eighteen years Mansour’s junior however, this fight represents an opportunity to establish himself as a rising contender.

We will see what happens on Friday night.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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