Sunday, March 26, 2017

Reflecting On Golovkin-Jacobs


There was much anticipation for Gennady Golovkin’s eighteenth defense of his Middleweight world championship against WBA number one contender Daniel Jacobs on March 18th at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY. This fight seemed to have all of the ingredients that make Boxing special. Two hard-hitting boxers looking to prove superiority over not just their opponent, but over the entire Middleweight division. For the champion Gennady Golovkin, the encounter with Jacobs represented not just the eighteenth title defense in a reign that has seen him gradually unify four of five Middleweight world championships, but it also represented the next step in what may ultimately become a historic reign as a World Middleweight champion.

With a victory over Jacobs, it would place Golovkin two successful title defenses shy of tying the all-time Middleweight record for successful title defenses, which was set by future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins between 1995-2005. For Daniel Jacobs, the fight with Golovkin obviously represented the opportunity to become a world champion after previously coming up short in his previous world championship opportunity against Dmitry Pirog in July 2010. Jacobs also held interim/regular championship status in the World Boxing Association’s (WBA) Middleweight ratings for nearly three years and successfully retained his position as the WBA’s top Middleweight contender in four fights from 2014-2016, scoring knockouts in each of those bouts. Jacobs’ long standing as number one contender as well as a record of 32-1, with 29 Knockouts validated him as not only deserving of his opportunity against Golovkin, but one might argue one of the more dangerous opponents that the champion had faced in his career.

Despite the impression that statistics can sometimes give especially when discussing two fighters with career knockout percentages of 92% and 88% respectively, the battle between Golovkin and Jacobs was not the “Shootout” that some had anticipated. As is sometimes the case when two knockout punchers are pitted against each other, the fight between Gennady Golovkin, the long-reigning Middleweight kingpin and Daniel Jacobs was a tactical, but still exciting encounter.

It was clear from early on in the fight that the challenger Jacobs intended to box the champion rather than engaging in a toe to toe slugfest. What I liked about Jacobs’ approach in this fight was how he used his lateral movement and his jab to establish distance between himself and Golovkin. As has been the custom throughput his career, Golovkin looked to apply pressure from the outset, but unlike some of his previous opposition, Golovkin had trouble in this fight neutralizing Jacobs’ movement, despite being able to land his share of offense early on.

At the conclusion of three rounds, I had Jacobs winning two out of three rounds due largely to how well he was able to offset Golovkin’s pressure and his effectiveness in using his jab to dictate how the fight was being fought. In round four however, the champion would establish himself as he scored a knockdown of Jacobs with a short, but solid right hand. Under circumstances where some fighters have wilted once they felt Golovkin's power, Jacobs did not appear to be hurt or discouraged.

The knockdown Golovkin was able to score in round four as well as the gradual success he was able to have in not only backing Jacobs up, but executing his offense systematically allowed the champion to win rounds four and five on my scorecard and gave him a slight edge.  Although Golovkin won the fourth round by a 10-8 margin in points because of the knockdown, it is important to remember for those who saw this fight when it to place and to state for those who have yet to see this encounter that several of the rounds in this fight were extremely close and if one watches the fight round by round as the official judges score fights on a round by round basis, there is the element of interpretation when it comes to close fights. This fight was certainly no exception.

This observer has always said that 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 aggression, ring generalship, and defense. Rather than go into a long detailed explanation of all the facets that go into scoring a fight, I will simply offer the reader my perspective in how I saw this bout play out.

From round five on, I felt the two fighters traded momentum in that determining who got the upper hand in a round could have been based on specific moments in rounds that would sway opinion in favor of one fighter, particularly in rounds that may have otherwise been scored even. Rounds six, seven, nine, ten, and eleven I felt were won by Jacobs based on his seeming to be the more effective fighter of the two even though Jacobs did not necessarily out land Golovkin in some of those rounds. Rounds one, four, five, eight, and twelve meanwhile I felt were won by the champion Golovkin. Although many of the rounds in this fight were very close, it seemed as though when Golovkin was able to be more effective and win rounds, it was due to his being able to land the harder punches, which in close rounds can leave a lasting impression. Jacobs meanwhile won rounds where he seemed to be more effective and made it difficult for Golovkin to get his punches off, despite being under consistent pressure throughout the fight.

With the two fighters splitting the final two rounds of the twelve round championship bout on my scorecard, I arrived with a score of 114-113 in favor of Jacobs at the end of the fight. Given how close this fight was and taking into consideration not only the 10-8 round in favor of Golovkin in round four, but how scores could vary depending on opinion of who got the upper hand in rounds where there was not much to separate the two fighters, it was understandable how Golovkin was ultimately declared the winner at the end of the fight earning the victory by the same 114-113 margin on one of three official scorecards. It is also understandable how some may take issue with the fact that Golovkin was the winner via unanimous decision as two of three official judges had him winning by three points 115-112.

Although some may be tempted to use the word “Controversial” with regard to the scoring of this fight, this observer does not feel there was ”Controversial” scoring in this fight, despite my opinion that Jacobs won the fight by a narrow margin. As for a reason why two of three official judges saw the fight in favor of Golovkin by a slightly wider margin than the third judge, who had the same man winning, but only by one point, it may come down to how those two judges scored some rounds, which frankly could have gone either way in addition to the knockdown against Jacobs in round four as to how each arrived at their respective 115-112 score at the bout’s conclusion.

Rather than dwelling too much on the subject of scoring, what one should have taken away from this fight is that not only was Gennady Golovkin’s incredible knockout streak of twenty-three halted by Daniel Jacobs, but Golovkin was also given a scare in what was his eighteenth successful title defense. All fighters eventually learn that the level competition only increases when competing at the highest level of the sport and this was another fight that ultimately put Golovkin to the test. Whether you the reader feel that he won or lost, at the end of the day, Golovkin found a way to win.

In the one week since this bout took place, my opinion as to who won it has not changed. After reviewing the fight several times however, it is my hope now that the fight, which was televised live on pay-per-view has begun being rebroadcast on several networks worldwide that fans whether watching the fight again or seeing it for the first time, sit back and appreciate what took place in Madison Square Garden on March 18th.

 It was after all a battle between two of the best fighters that the Middleweight division has to offer. Regardless of the outcome, it was one of the more interesting and entertaining fights in recent times. An encounter all Boxing fans and experts alike should take time to enjoy.

“And That's The Boxing Truth.”

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

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison





Thursday, March 23, 2017

Update


We would like to let readers know that a column looking back at the recent Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs world Middleweight championship fight that was originally scheduled for Tuesday, March 21st will now be released on Sunday, March 26th. We apologize for the delay. Stay tuned. “And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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


Follow Beau Denison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison

Friday, March 17, 2017

Golovkin-Jacobs Preview


Boxing as a sport is one that is constantly searching for two components. The next rising star and the sport’s next big “Mega Event.” It should be no secret to longtime readers that one such fighter’s rise that has been chronicled in recent years here at The Boxing Truth® has been the rise of undefeated unified Middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin. Golovkin has been on what some might call an unprecedented run for a fighter on the elite level of the sport. A run that this observer has called “A Path Of Destruction” through the Middleweight division.

Golovkin’s path has seen him compile seventeen successful title defense and twenty-three consecutive knockouts. Along the way, Golovkin has unified four of five world championships in the Middleweight division. In his last fight in September of last year, Golovkin scored a fifth round stoppage of previously undefeated IBF Welterweight world champion Kell Brook.  

In what could be described as not his most devastating performance, Golovkin was given some difficulty by Brook, who was able to have considerable success in being able to use his hand speed to outwork the champion early in the fight before Golovkin was able to catch up with him in the fifth round and get the victory by Book’s corner throwing in the towel to stop the fight.

In covering that fight, this observer stated that even though the fight was not as dramatic in terms of Gennady Golovkin’s ability to bring the fight to a conclusion, he was still able to get the job done and sometimes that is all you can ask of a fighter. It was clear however, that Kell Book was the first fighter to provide the champion with a significant test. Regardless of what one’s opinion might be with regard to Golokin's performance prior to getting the stoppage win over Brook, he was able to pass that test.

Now Golovkin prepares to defend his WBA/IBO/IBF/WBC crown for the eighteenth time when he takes on current WBA number one contender Daniel Jacobs on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY in a bout that will headline a pay-per-view card televised by HBO Pay-Per-View in the United States. Jacobs, a veteran of thirty-three professional fights will enter this fight having scored knockouts in twenty-nine of his thirty two career wins registering a career knockout percentage of 88%. Given Golovkin’s current knockout streak and his own career knockout percentage of 92% having scored knockouts in thirty-three of his thirty-six career wins, it suggests that there may be a likelihood of fireworks from the opening bell.

Jacobs, who currently holds interim/regular championship status in the World Boxing Association’s (WBA) Middleweight ratings will be making his second attempt at a world championship. In his first attempt at a world championship in July 2010, Jacobs was stopped in five rounds by Dmitry Pirog in what was at the time a battle for the vacant WBO Middleweight world championship.

Jacobs however, has not lost a fight since the encounter with Pirog. The native of Brooklyn, NY known as “The Miracle Man” also overcame a life-threatening illness in 2012 after being diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Given his crowd pleasing style, but more importantly his victory over cancer, Jacobs is likely not to be in awe and/or intimidated by Golovkin.

In his last fight, Jacobs scored a dominating seventh round knockout stoppage in his second encounter with former WBC Jr. Middleweight world champion Sergio Mora on September 9th of last year, one day before Golovkin’s successful title defense against Kell Brook. Jacobs has held interim/regular status in the WBA’s Middleweight ratings for over three years and frankly is more than deserving of this title shot having fought and maintained his number one ranking four times since earning the designation with a knockout win over Jarrod Fletcher in August 2014.

Although statistics would indicate what some might feel is a strong likelihood of a “Shootout” between Golovkin and Jacobs, it would not surprise this observer if a more tactical battle took place at least early in the fight. Both men know what each other can do and that alone can at times lead to a more cautious approach by both fighters.

At the official weigh-in early today in New York City, NY both fighters came in under the 160lb. Middleweight limit. The champion Golovkin came in at 159 1/2lbs. The challenger Jacobs weighed-in at 159 3/4lbs.

For Gennady Golovkin, if he is successful in this fight against Jacobs, it will put him two successful title defenses away from tying the all-time Middleweight record for successful title defenses currently held by Bernard Hopkins. It will be interesting to see if Golovkin feels pressure not only based on his last performance against Kell Brook, but also the fact that he is gradually inching his way toward Middleweight history to perform well in this fight.

For Daniel Jacobs, I feel he must get Gennady Golovkin’s respect from the outset. Golovkin is not only known as a fighter with devastating power, but also as a fighter who relentlessly pressures his opponents and looks to gradually break them down. It will be of equal interest to see if Jacobs perhaps saw something in some of Golovkin’s most recent fights, specifically against Kell Brook that he might be looking to implement into his own fight plan.

This fight has all the ingredients of a fight fan’s kind of fight. Two fighters with exciting action-first styles, each fighter with the ability to end the fight with one punch with either hand. When one throws in what is likely to be an electric crowd at Madison Square Garden, this observer believes all the ingredients are present for what may very well be the next “Garden Classic.” A fight that I have very much been looking forward to. We will see who emerges with his hand raised in victory on Saturday night.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Golovkin vs. Jacobs takes place tomorrow night (Saturday, March 18th) at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY. The fight will be broadcast in the United States  and Canada on a cable/satellite pay-per-view basis by HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9PM ET/6PM PT for $64.95. Contact your cable/satellite provider for ordering information. For more information on HBO Sports and HBO Pay-Per-View please visit: www.hbo.com/boxing. In the United Kingdom and Ireland the bout can be seen on BoxNation beginning at 1AM (Sunday, March 19th, Local UK Time.) For more information about BoxNation please visit: www.boxnation.com.  Check your listings internationally.

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

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison.






Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Options For David Lemieux Following KO Of Stevens


In October 2015 two of Boxing's most feared “Knockout Artists “ Gennady Golovkin and David Lemieux squared off in Madison Square Garden in New York City to further unify the Middleweight division. Golovkin, who entered as the undefeated WBA/IBO world champion facing the IBF world champion Lemieux in what had all the ingredients of a “Shootout!” With both fighters having knockout power in either hand and with each entertaining the fight with career knockout percentages of 91% and 86% respectively, it was certainly not hard to understand how Boxing fans anticipated an all out war between the two.

What happened instead however, was more of a demonstration of a fighter showcasing his overall skill set and proving not only superiority of his opponent, but in the process showing the Boxing world that fighters who have carved a reputation as a “Knockout Artist “ can be much more as a fighter than simply one who has devastating punching power. For eight  rounds, Gennady Golovkin systematically implemented a strategy using lateral movement, a consistent jab, and effective combination punching to dominate Lemieux. Golovkin scored what some felt was a controversial knockdown of Lemieux in the sixth round of the fight when after nailing Lemieux with a flush left hook to the body, which caused a delayed reaction, Golovkin struck Lemieux, who had taken a knee with a right hand to the head while Lemieux was on the canvas.

Although some felt there were grounds for a disqualification against Golovkin, this observer maintains his opinion that the right hand that Golovkin landed was one that was not thrown with the intent of hitting a downed opponent, but was likely caused by the delayed reaction from Lemieux after the previous left hook to the body, which was what caused the knockdown and the decision to not disqualify, penalize, or at minimum warn Golovkin for what should be viewed as an unintentional foul boils down to a referee’s discretion. Despite the element of controversy that arose, Golovkin did not relent in his approach and ultimately was able to stop Lemieux in the eighth round.

What should not be overlooked despite the fact that Lemieux came up against a fighter, who on that night proved to have a complete package of skills, was the valiant effort he put forth in defeat. One might argue that Lemieux was also able to provide Golovkin with more resistance than most of his previous opponents up to that point in Golokin’s career. It should also not be overlooked that despite the fight being lopsided in Golokin's favor, Lemieux did have periodic success and landed some flush offense of his own throughput the bout.

The logical question that is usually asked of a fighter who suffers the kind of loss Lemieux suffered at the hands of Golovkin is can that fighter bounce back? For Lemieux, the rebuilding process began in May of last year when he scored a fourth round knockout of Glen Tapia. Lemieux followed that victory by scoring a ten round unanimous decision over Cristian Rios in the former world champion’s hometown of Montreal, Canada last October.

This led to the third fight on Lemieux’s comeback trail on March 11th against former world title challenger Curtis Stevens at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, NY. Much like Lemieux's encounter with Golovkin, this fight pitted two “Knockout Artists” against each other as Stevens entered the bout having scored knockouts in twenty-one of his twenty-nine career wins registering a career knockout percentage of 60%. A commonality that Lemieux and Stevens also shared in addition to their styles in being offense-first fighters was that Stevens also suffered a loss at the hands of Gennady Golovkin, who stopped Stevens in eight rounds in November 2013.

Unlike when Lemieux fought Golovkin however, the encounter between Lemieux and Stevens was what most had anticipated, a “Shootout!” For three rounds Lemieux and Stevens engaged in a battle that was fought at a quick pace from the opening bell. It was clear immediately that neither fighter was intimidated and showed no fear for each other’s punching power. With the two fighters exchanging punches and each seemingly looking for the knockout blow, it did not take long for this encounter to live up to its billing. This battle between hard-hitting Middleweights would have an exciting, but brutal conclusion as Lemieux would knock Stevens out cold with a straight right hand to the head followed by a flush left hook to the jaw that sent Stevens down and out for several minutes on the canvas. Stevens left the ring on a stretcher and was taken to a local medical facility for observation. It was reported the day following the fight by several media outlets including Fightnews.com that Stevens was okay and did not suffer a more severe injury due to the knockout he suffered at the hands of Lemieux.

This victory for the former world champion Lemieux, the third thus far in his comeback was the type of statement making performance that a rising contender or former world champion seeks as they vie for an opportunity at a world championship. The obvious question coming out of this fight is what are the potential options for Lemieux after scoring what should be considered a Knockout of the Year candidate?

Of course, all the attention at least with regard to the immediate future of the 160lb. Middleweight division will be focused on unified WBA/IBO/IBF/WBC Middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin as he attempts to make the eighteenth defense of his Middleweight crown against current WBA number one contender Daniel Jacobs on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. It is logical to assume that if the opportunity were to present itself for Lemieux to face the winner that fight that he would certainly consider it. Although Lemieux was bested by Golovkin when they met in the same building where Golovkin and Jacobs will do battle, there have been many times throughout the course of Boxing history where former world champions are open to potential rematches with fighters who defeated them regardless of the competitive nature of those fights.

It is important to remember that Lemieux like all of us is human and it is certainly understandable how one might look at his fight with Golovkin as simply a bad night at the office for him. As Lemieux proved in his battle with Curtis Stevens, sometimes all a fighter really needs is one punch.

Even though this observer believes that Lemieux could be a viable option for either Golovkin or Jacobs depending on what happens when they meet this weekend, there are other options that could be considered. Options such as a potential challenge of WBO Middleweight world champion Billy Joe Saunders, the only champion in the division that is not named Golovkin. Saunders as some may recall scored a razor thin twelve round majority decision over Andy Lee to win his world championship in December 2015. For the undefeated WBO champion, who scored a twelve round unanimous decision over Artur Akavov in December of last year in his one title defense since his defeat of Lee, could see Lemieux as a potential option to springboard himself into a unification bout with the winner of Golovkin-Jacobs, which would once again fully unify the Middleweight division.

If a world championship fight is not in the immediate future however, one potential option that this observer has thought of that I feel could make an interesting fight for Lemieux would be for him to face undefeated contender Rob Brant. Brant, who currently holds the North American Boxing Association (NABA) Middleweight title is unbeaten in twenty-two professional fights and has scored knockouts in fifteen of those twenty-two wins. For Brant a fight with Lemieux would represent an opportunity to climb further up the rankings and if he were to defeat Lemieux, one might assume that Brant, who is currently rated in the top ten of both the World Boxing Association (WBA) as well as the World Boxing Organization (WBO) could himself be in line for a world championship fight.

This is of course only three potential scenarios for Lemieux going forward. Although the possibility does exist that Lemieux could take an entirely different route for his next fight, this observer believes one of these three options may indeed be the most logical at this stage of his career. Logic may also suggest that Lemieux’s next course of action would probably be decided after the Golovkin-Jacobs clash takes place on Saturday night. No matter what Lemieux decides to do, he has made a strong case for himself as still being one of the most dangerous fighters in the Middleweight division. Something that any rising contender, world champion, or former world champion should keep in mind as they too discuss their potential options in the future.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison


Monday, March 6, 2017

Brief Update


We would like to let our readers know that new material will be released on Tuesday, March 14th. Stay tuned. “And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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


Follow Beau Denison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Saturday Weights: 3/4/2017


The official weigh-ins for the highly anticipated Heavyweight showdown between David Haye and Tony Bellew as well as the World Welterweight championship unification bout between undefeated world champions Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia took place on Friday in London, England and Brooklyn, New York respectfully. The official weights for both cards are as follows.


Haye vs. Bellew: O2 Arena, London, England

Main Event: Heavyweight – 12Rds.

David Haye 224 1/2lbs. vs. Tony Bellew 213 1/2lbs.

WBC International Welterweight championship – 12Rds.

Sam Eggington (Champion) 146 1/2lbs. vs. Paul Malignaggi 146 1/4lbs.

WBC Silver Jr. Welterweight championship – 12Rds.

Ohara Davies (Champion) 140lbs. vs. Derry Matthews 139 1/4lbs.

Jr. Middleweight – 10Rds.

Jack Sellars 154 1/4lbs. vs. Ted Cheeseman 154 1/2lbs.

Women’s Lightweight – 6Rds.

Katie Taylor 134 1/4lbs. vs. Monica Gentili 134 1/4lbs.

Jr. Lightweight – 10Rds.

Lee Selby 128 1/4lbs. vs. Andoni Gago 128lbs.

Heavyweight – 6Rds.

David Allen 253 1/4lbs. vs. David Howe 251 1/4lbs.

Cruiserweight – 4Rds. *

Craig Glover vs. Jake Bonalie

(Weights for this bout are unavailable as of this writing. Bout is still scheduled to take place where Bonalie is scheduled to make his pro debut.)

Haye vs. Bellew takes place tonight (Saturday March 4th at the 02 Arena in London, England. The card can be seen on pay-per-view in the United Kingdom on Sky Box Office beginning at 6PM (Local UK Time) for €21.95 HD/€16.95 Standard Definition. For ordering information please visit: www.my.sky.com/orderboxoffice/. In the United States, the card can be seen on AWE:A Wealth of Entertainment beginning at 1PM ET/10AM PT. The card will also be available on a pay-per-view basis for non-AWE subscribers on www.KlowdTV.com for $4.99.(Available in the U.S. only) AWE is available on cable providers throughout the United States and on Over The Top (OTT) devices such as Roku and Amazon Fire TV. For more information on availability of AWE on cable or via an OTT device please visit: www.awetv.com. Check your listings internationally.

________________________________________________


Thurman vs. Garcia: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY.

Main Event: WBA/WBC World Welterweight Championship Unification Bout – 12Rds.

Keith Thurman (WBA World Champion) 146 3/4lbs. vs. Danny Garcia (WBC World Champion) 146 1/2lbs.

WBC International Female Featherweight championship – 10Rds.

Heather Hardy (Champion) 124 3/4lbs. vs. Edina Kiss 124 1/2lbs.

Jr. Middleweight – 12Rds.

Erickson Lubin 153 3/4lbs. vs. Jorge Cota 153 3/4lbs.

Light-Heavyweight – 10Rds.

Chad Dawson 176lbs. vs. Andrzej Fonfara 176 3/4lbs.

Lightweight – 6Rds.

Thomas Velasquez 135 1/2lbs. vs. James Lester 137 3/4lbs.

Jr. Welterweight – 4Rds. *

Richardson Hitchens 141lbs. vs. Mario Perez 141 1/2lbs.

(* Hitchens scheduled to make his pro debut on this card.)

Jr. Welterweight – 8Rds.

Mario Barrios 139 1/2lbs. vs. Yardley Cruz 139 1/2lbs.

Featherweight – 6Rds.

Pablo Cruz 125 1/2lbs. vs. Ricky Lopez 125 1/2lbs.

Jr. Welterweight – 10Rds.

Sergey Lipinets 140 3/4lbs. vs. Clearance Booth 140lbs.

PBC: Thurman vs. Garcia takes place tonight (Saturday March 4th) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. The card, which is being presented by the Premier Boxing Champions series can be seen in the United States on CBS beginning at 9PM ET/6PM PT. Check your local listings for time and channel in your area. For more information about the Premier Boxing Champions series please visit: www.premierboxingchampions.com. For more information about CBS and where to find it in your area please visit: www.cbs.com. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the card can be seen on BoxNation beginning at 2AM (Sunday, March 5th Local UK Time.) For more information about BoxNation including schedules and channel listings in the UK please visit: www.BoxNation,com. Check your listings internationally.

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

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison.







  

Friday, March 3, 2017

Observations On Recent Events In Boxing February 2017

The month of February continued to build the kind of momentum of what has the ingredients to be a very successful year in 2017 for the sport of Boxing. As successful as this year appears to shaping up to be however, it has not been without it's share of setbacks. The month of February saw two such setbacks.

The most notable one might argue was the scheduled February 25th encounter between former multi-division world champion Miguel Cotto and Jr. Middleweight contender James Kirkland, a bout that was to have been the main event of an HBO Pay-Per-View card was cancelled due to an injury suffered by Kirkland while in training for the bout. What is somewhat ironic was the Cotto-Kirkland pay-per-view card was to have gone head to head with a Premier Boxing Champions card here in the United States televised by Fox headlined by undefeated WBC Heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder’s scheduled title defense against Andrzej Wawrzyk of Poland. The scheduled Wilder-Wawrzyk fight however, would also not come to fruition as it was revealed at the end of January that Wawrzyk had tested positive for the banned substance Stanozolol in random testing conducted the Voluntary Anti-Dopping Agency (VADA).This led to Wilder seeking a substitute opponent for the second consecutive fight.

Before discussing more about  Deontay Wilder's opposition for his scheduled February 25th title defense, the circumstances which led to the encounter, the fight itself, and where both fighters stand coming out of the bout, there were other notable events during the month of February featuring a good mix of former world champions, rising prospects, and longtime contenders that warrants attention. Events such as the February 2nd Welterweight encounter between highly touted prospect Sammy Vasquez and former WBA Welterweight world champion Luis Collazo in a bout that headlined a card televised by Fox Sports 1 in the United States as part of the Premier Boxing Champions series.

Vasquez, who was looking to rebound from his first career defeat to fellow rising prospect Felix Diaz in July of last year faced the most experienced opponent of his career in the form of former world champion Luis Collazo, who himself was looking to rebound from a failed attempt to regain the WBA Welterweight world championship against current undefeated world champion Keith Thurman in July of last year. Collazo was stopped in seven rounds by Thurman and one may well have thought that he would be an ideal opponent for a rising prospect such as Vasquez, who was coming off of a hard fought decision loss in his last fight.

As he has done throughout his career however, when cast in the role of what could be described as an “Enhancement Opponent “ to coin a pro wrestling term, the thirty-five year old Collazo had other plans. Collazo used effective counter punching, timing, and elusiveness to score two knockdowns of Vasquez. The first coming in round three as a result of a counter left, right combination when Vasquez had Collazo against the ropes and  the second coming in round six. The second of the two knockdowns, a devastating counter right hand to the head knocked the thirty year old Vasquez out cold.

Although he is not known as a devastating power puncher, Collazo’s knockout of Vasquez was certainly the type that turns heads and generates buzz. A clear statement making performance and knockout victory, which will no doubt keep Collazo in the discussion of top Welterweight contenders going forward.

As for Sammy Vasquez, this second consecutive loss and more specifically the brutal manner in which this latest loss occurred will likely require some time to recover from. Even though some might be tempted to say that Vasquez is no longer a prospect following back to back losses, it is important to remember that the 147lb. Welterweight division has long been one of Boxing’s most deep and competitive divisions and with few exceptions, one might be hard pressed to find a fighter at or near the top of the division who has not experienced a few bumps in the road throughout the course of their careers. Luis Collazo is one of the best examples of a fighter that has experienced hardship, struggle, and adversity throughout his career. Despite that adversity, Collazo has also shown that perseverance does pay off and he remains a player in a talent-stacked division. If after a period of time to recover from two hard losses Sammy Vasquez can persevere, his career just might be the next great story that Boxing thrives off of.

Prospects who also saw action during the course of February included undefeated Light-Heavyweight Mike Lee who improved to 19-0 on February 16th with an eight round majority decision over fellow prospect Justin Thomas in a main event of a card in Costa Mesa, CA that was broadcast worldwide on the Fite TV app. In what was a close and tactical fight Lee was simply the more active and slightly more effective fighter, which allowed him to get the nod on the official scorecards.

Although a majority decision may be viewed by some to be too close for comfort for an unbeaten prospect who is looking to advance to the next level in their career, fights like the encounter between Lee and Thomas are vital in terms of a fighter’s development and gaining valuable experience that can only help a prospect as they progress. For Lee, who was rated number twelve in the world in the World Boxing Organization ‘s (WBO) Light-Heavyweight ratings going into the fight with Thomas would appear to be approaching a point where he could potentially face a fighter rated in the top ten before the end of 2017. The question in my mind will be who Lee decides to fight next, which may determine how quickly he faces someone in the top ten.

The Light-Heavyweight division also saw a bout to determine a new mandatory challenger for long-reigning WBC world champion Adonis Stevenson as current number one WBC Light-Heavyweight contender for Eleider Alvarez met former IBF Super-Middleweight world champion Lucian Bute on February 24th at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada in a bout televised on pay-per-view. This was an interesting fight between a longtime top contender in Alvarez, who had seemingly been in line for a world championship fight for the last couple of years against the former longtime champion Bute, who after dropping a hard fought decision to current IBF Super-Middleweight world champion James DeGale and earning what some felt was a controversial draw against WBC champion Badou Jack in his previous two fights, was now looking to bounce back in the Light-Heavyweight division after previously dropping a decision to former WBC Light-Heavyweight world champion Jean Pascal in January 2014 in a bout that was for the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) Light-Heavyweight championship.

Initially, it appeared as though Bute would be too quick for Alvarez as he frequently beat him to the punch early on in the fight working behind a consistent jab, mixing in combinations, and using good lateral movement. Alvarez however, would bring a sudden and dramatic end to the bout when he connected with two flush right hands to the head of the former world champion Bute sending him down to the canvas. Although Bute was able to beat the count, he was unable to continue forcing Referee Marlon Wright to stop the fight giving Alvarez his twenty-second victory in as many fights. With the victory Alvarez remains the number one contender for the WBC Light-Heavyweight world championship and would appear to be on a collision course with Adonis Stevenson for sometime later this year.

This brings us back to WBC Heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder’s recent defense of his crown against unbeaten contender Gerald Washington at the Legacy Arena in the champion’s home state of Birmingham. AL. It goes without saying when a fighter prepares mentality as well as physically for one opponent that a fighter’s preparation and performance can sometimes be affected when the scheduled opponent falls out of the fight regardless of the reason, putting the fighter who chooses to still compete as scheduled in a predicament of facing an opponent on short notice. As stressful as the situation had to of been for Wilder, it is one that he is not unfamiliar.

Some may recall in Wilder’s previous title defense against longtime contender Chris Arreola, that it was Arreola who entered the fight as a substitute in  due to WBC number one contender Alexander Povetkin himself tested positive for the banned substance meldonium a week before what would have been a mandatory title defense for Wilder in May of last year. Wilder, who stopped Arreola in eight rounds in July of last year suffered torn right biceps and a broken right hand in the bout, which kept him out of action for the remainder of 2016. 

The champion coming off of two injuries now found himself in a similar scenario as when the scheduled defense against Povetkin was cancelled due to Povetkin’s failed drug test, when Andrzej Wawrzyk found himself in the same position as Povetkin was.  In Gerald Washington, Wilder faced an undefeated rising contender who had stopped twelve opponents in his eighteen career victories with a draw coming in his seventeenth pro fight against Heavyweight contender Amir Mansour.

What was most interesting about this fight in this observer’s eyes was Washington at 6’6 was nearly level with the champion, who is 6’7. Washington also brought into the fight a seventeen pound weight advantage coming in at 239lbs. over Wilder, who came in at 222lbs. What is always interesting about a fight like this with a fighter facing a substitute opponent, particularly when that fighter is a world champion is not only how the fighter who had to deal with the change of opposition performs, but also how the substitute performs after taking the fight on short notice. 

Washington came to fight working behind a solid jab and was surprisingly effective in his attempt to work the champion’s body. Wilder looked sluggish for a time throughout perhaps due to the late change in his opponent as Washington took the fight on a little over three weeks notice. After three rounds, the challenger seemed in command due largely to how effective he was in using his jab to control the distance at which the fight was fought that in some was reminded me of how former Heavyweight world champion Larry Holmes executed his jab against opponents. It was in the fifth round where the champion would make the challenger’s performance up to that point an afterthought as Wilder floored Washington with a right hand followed by a left hook to the head that sent Washington down to the canvas.

Washington showed his mettle and got up from the knockdown, but he could not defend against Wilder’s follow up barrage forcing Referee Michael Griffin to stop the fight. The way this fight ended was similar to the ending of the Bute-Alvarez encounter from the previous evening. Much as was the case in the Bute-Alvarez fight, Gerald Washington appeared to be in command of his fight as Lucian Bute appeared against Eleider Alvarez. Deontay Wilder however, in a similar fashion as Eleider Alvarez was able to knock Lucian Bute out in sudden fashion with a combination highlighted by a right hand.  Although Wilder-Washington was able to go on for a few more seconds after Washington got up from the knockdown and gamely tried to continue the fight, the commonality between the two fights was the sudden and brutal way each met it’s conclusion.


For Deontay Wilder, it was his fifth successful title defense of the WBC Heavyweight world championship he won from Bermane Stiverne in January 2015. In an interesting development, it was announced by the World Boxing Council (WBC) earlier this week that Stiverne, who was scheduled to face Alexander Povetkin in an elimination bout in December of last year to determine a mandatory challenger for Wilder did not fight Povetkin, who once again failed a pre-fight drug test, which was revealed on the day the fight was supposed to take place , is now the official mandatory challenger for Wilder and one would assume that a rematch between the two will take place later this year.

It should not be overlooked despite some challenges that has come his way both in and out of the ring during the course of his championship reign so far that Deontay Wilder has been a considerably active world champion, despite not facing a mandatory challenger in the little more than two years since he won the title from Stiverne. One can only hope with Stiverne now in position for a rematch against Wilder per the WBC’s number one ranking/mandatory challenger status that Wilder will finally get to fulfill his mandatory obligations as champion by facing the sanctioning organization’s top contender after being prevented from doing so due to circumstances that were out of his control. As for Gerald Washington, he established himself as a player in defeat in what was an impressive showing before he got caught by Deontay Wilder. It would not surprise me based on how well he performed against Wilder to see Washington in with a top contender perhaps later this year.

With the book now closed on the month of February, the Boxing world now focuses it’s attention on two intriguing fights that will kick off March in a big way on Saturday. The first of the two bouts will take place at the O2 arena in London England as former two-division world champion David Haye squares off with current WBC Cruiserweight world champion Tony Bellew in a scheduled twelve round Heavyweight bout that will be televised in the United States on AWE.

Haye, who began a comeback in January of last year after a near four-year absence will be in for the toughest test in what will be the third fight in his comeback after scoring knockout victories over Mark de Mori and Arnold Gjergjaj in 2016.  Haye  faces Tony Bellew, the current WBC Cruiserweight world champion who is coming off of an impressive third round knockout of longtime Cruiserweight contender BJ Flores in a title defense last October. 

This is an encounter between two fighters who have a good mix of speed and punching power that are each capable of getting an opponent out of there should the opportunity present itself.  Although one of the main storylines going into this fight is there appearing to be a genuine dislike between the two fighters, for this observer the storyline /question I am interested in as this fight approaches  centers on whether two fights against over matched opposition will be enough preparation for Haye to go against a fighter of the caliber of Bellew, even though Bellew is moving up in weight for this fight.

Some may feel that the fact that Haye has not fought as a Cruiserweight in over nine years since scoring a knockout of Enzo Maccarinelli to briefly unify three of five world championships in the division before becoming a Heavyweight, that his having more experience as a Heavyweight might give him an advantage over Bellew who will be making his Heavyweight debut. Bellew however, does have power having stopped four of his last five opponents inside the distance.  It is also worth noting that Bellew has only been stopped once in his career as a Light-Heavyweight when he challenged WBC Light-Heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson in November 2013.

Much like Stevenson, Haye has speed and punching power that can come in sudden spurts and gives angles that has proven to be difficult to time for most opponents.  Much like Bellew, Haye suffered a knockout loss early in his career in his eleventh pro fight against former two-time Cruiserweight world champion Carl Thompson in a failed attempt to win Thompson’s IBO Cruiserweight world championship in September 2004.  The only other loss on Haye’s record came against longtime Heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko in losing a twelve round unanimous decision in July 2011 in what was a unification bout where Haye lost the WBA Heavyweight world championship.

Given each fighter’s style and willingness to mix it up regardless of who the opposition might be as well as their dislike for one another, it would surprise me if this were not a fight that saw some action where the possibility exists of an exciting battle. One could make an argument that this is a crossroads fight for both fighters and it will be interesting to see who will come out on top.

The second of the two encounters taking place on Saturday will be a battle to unify the WBC and WBA Welterweight world championships as undefeated WBA world champion Keith Thurman faces undefeated WBC world champion Danny Garcia at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card televised by CBS here in the United States.

This fight has all the ingredients of an all-action fight as both fighters tend to be offense first and have engaged in some notable wars in the past. Thurman comes into this fight off of a grueling battle in the same venue where his fight with Garcia will take place against former IBF Welterweight world champion Shawn Porter in June of last year. The current WBA world champion has scored knockouts in twenty-two of his twenty-seven career wins registering a career knockout percentage of nearly 80%.

The question I have as this fight approaches is how each fighter will approach this fight. Both Thurman and Garcia have been more than willing to engage with whomever they’ve faced in the past, both have knockout power in either hand and both are solid counter punchers. If one were looking for a comparable difference between the two, it might be that Garcia, who will enter this fight unbeaten in thirty-three professional fights may be categorized as more of the boxer of the two fighters having scored nineteen knockouts in his thirty-three wins registering a career knockout percentage of 58%. Garcia does have the more experience of the two fighters as he is a two-division world champion having previously held a unified Jr. Welterweight world championship in his career from 2012-2014.

The two fighters appear to be equally matched and there is no reason to not assume on paper based on the two fighters styles that this fight could be a candidate for Fight of the Year honors at the end of 2017. What may be the best thing about this fight for Boxing fans beyond two undefeated world champions, each in their prime putting their respective world championships on the line against each other is the fact that this unification bout will be televised on free over the air broadcast television. In an era where the Boxing fan is too often asked to pay what most view as expensive pay-per-view prices to see the best fighters in the sport do battle against one another, sometimes with the fights themselves not living up to the price that fans/consumers are asked to pay to view the battles, this is a nice change of pace. Regardless of who emerges victorious in this fight, it is a change that I hope will not only continue going forward, but also hope that the fight itself will continue the momentum the sport has been building in 2017 so far. If Boxing gets a great fight when Thurman and Garcia do battle on Saturday, regardless of who wins, it will ultimately be a victory for the sport in what should be the start of an exciting March for Boxing.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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