Wednesday, March 11, 2020

March 6-7th, 2020 Weekend Thoughts

As sometimes can be the case, there are often too many events across the globe in the sport of Boxing during a relatively short period of time for one to cover every event in singular form. Although this observer takes pride in the amount of Boxing cards he covers during a calendar year, when such circumstances arise where even with advances in technology cannot make the task of covering all cards yours truly would want to cover one by one, it becomes appropriate for me to try and cover as much from multiple events as possible in feature-form. The weekend of March 6th and 7th in the sport served as much as an illustration as to the global appeal of Boxing as any you will find.

Several interesting fights took place over this two-day period from such locations as Northridge, Australia, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to Manchester England, to finally Brooklyn, NY. Of course, readers saw the coverage I provided of the event in Dubai on March 6th that featured a little bit of everything in a card that was presented by MTK Global. What about the other events that took place over the two-day period?

We start by discussing some of the events that took place at Metro City in Northridge, Australia. The latest edition of promoter Tony Tolj's Dragon Fire Boxing's Thunderdome series, Thunderdome 33 featured a look at several of the up and coming prospects in the Boxing hotbed of Australia. The Thunderdome series has served as a breeding ground for such talent in the past most notably the Moloney brothers Andrew and Jason Moloney. One highly touted prospect that has been on the rise is Jackson England, who many fans refer to by his nickname “Action Jackson.” The Jr. Lightweight prospect England took an impressive record of 11-1, with 6 Knockouts into the ring on this card to do battle with veteran Jason Tinampay in a bout for the WBC Asain Boxing Council Silver Jr. Lightweight championship.

While some all too often criticize sanctioning organizations for what they view as too many championships, which leads to confusion particularly amongst casual fans, in reality, titles such as those of the Asian Boxing Council, or ABC for short under the affiliation of the World Boxing Council (WBC) are often the first step on a regional level for those fighters who compete out of the Asia-Pacific region of the world, which includes Australia and New Zealand, towards a top rankings in the world rankings similar in nature to the North American Boxing Federation (NABFl, which is also affiliated with the WBC. Now that I have gotten a brief explanation of why such titles do serve an important purpose for fighters for any would be critics, we can discuss what went on in the ring.

The main event of Thunderdome 33 was largely dictated by England who consistently came forward and forced the action. This was highlighted by consistent combination punching and frequently pressing Tinampay against the ropes. With his opponent on the ropes, England unleashed a combination of punches highlighted by a left hook to the body of Tinampay that dropped him in the second round. Tinampay rolled on the canvas clearly compromised by the body shot and was unable to continue. The bout was promptly stopped at 2:50 of round two, giving England his twelfth career victory and his seventh career knockout.

Although a criticism that inevitably comes for virtually all prospects throughout the entire sport when they are able to end fights this quickly usually revolves around when said fighter will be tested, all a fighter can do is face the opponent that is in front of them. Impressive performances like the one  England was able to put forth in this fight however, will keep the buzz about him growing as he continues to progress in his career. 

An intriguing Jr. Lightweight bout took centerstage on March 7th as former world title challenger Jono Carroll faced Scott Quigg at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. This was the second fight for Carroll after losing a twelve round unanimous decision to Tevin Farmer in a failed bid to win the IBF Jr. Lightweight world championship in March of last year. In Scott Quigg, Carroll faced a fighter who like him was a former world title challenger and who also previously held interim/regular champion status in the World Boxing Association (WBA) rankings as a 122lb. Jr. Featherweight. Quigg however, had been out of competition for more than a year and a half and it was logical to question whether or not it was necessarily wise for him to re-enter competition against a fighter who just recently fought for a world championship.

For eleven rounds, Carroll’s combination punching, quicker hands, and lateral movement were the story of the fight. Although Quigg remained very “Game” throughout, the one-sided combat was finally halted when his corner threw the towel in midway through the eleventh round to prevent their fighter from further punishment. This signaled the end of Quigg’s career as he announced his retirement in the days that followed the fight. What I was particularly impressed by in Carroll’s performance that can at times be called a lost art in the sport is how he dedicated a portion of his offense to the body of Quigg from the opening bell. There are times where fighters do not show this type of consistently in attacking an opponent’s body, despite how it often leads to further success as a fight progresses.

Jono Carroll is not known for his punching power having only scored knockouts in three of his previous seventeen career victories, but this performance does show if s fighter is consistent in their approach and can follow the fight plan, sometimes knockouts/stoppages do come and it does not necessarily have to be strictly related to one’s punching power. This victory will likely keep Carroll, who is rated number nine in the world by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) in the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight division as of this writing, in the discussion for a potential world title shot down the line or at minimum, an opportunity against another top contender that could lead to another opportunity at a world championship.

The action on March 7th concluded with a Heavyweight bout at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY as undefeated rising contender Adam Kownacki faced former European Heavyweight champion Robert Helenius. In previewing this fight, this observer stated that I felt it was crucial that Helenius establish the tempo of the combat from the outset. It was also logical to question as the fight approached what version of Robert Helenius would be in the ring. The fighter who several years ago looked as though he might be one who could dominate the division in a post-Heavyweight era following the exit of longtime kings and division cornerstones Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko or the fighter who has gone through some inconsistency and suffered some setbacks along the way.

As expected by many including this observer, it was Kownacki, a fighter known for his aggressive come forward style that pressed the action from the opening bell. What stood out to me however was the unbeaten Kownacki appeared to be soft in his midsection having weighed in for the fight at 265lbs. Although in regard to Heavyweights especially in the present era of the division a fighter weighing over 260lbs. is not necessarily a negative, it was nevertheless something that caught my eye and I wondered what impact the weight might have on him as the fight progressed.

In the first two rounds of this fight, it appeared as though Helenius could have fallen into a problem he has had periodically throughout his career where a lack of overall activity would allow him to be outworked over the course of the fight as Kownacki established a fast pace. Helenius also had trouble controlling distance between himself and Kownacki as he was consistently forced to fight moving backward. This however, did not discourage him from being willing to engage in some heated exchanges of punches with Kownacki. The former three-time European Heavyweight champion Helenius was able to hold his own in those exchanges.

In round four, Helenius appeared to score a knockdown of Kownacki with a counter right hand. This however, was ruled a slip by Referee David Fields. Even though video replays would later show that Fields made an error in his call, it would turn out to be a mute point. Helenius sensing that his opponent was in trouble pressed forward and dropped Kownacki with a flush right hand that was thrown behind a jab. This time, it was ruled a knockdown by Fields. Kownacki to his credit was able to get to his feet, but he did not appear to have control of his balance. Despite this, Fields likely on the basis of Kownacki being an undefeated fighter known for having punching power of his own, allowed the fight to continue. Helenius would not be denied as a barrage of punches on a staggering Kownacki forced Fields to step in and stop the fight.

Although Helenius was not given much chance of succeeding in this fight by some, sometimes all a fighter needs is one victory to revitalize their career. For the thirty-six year old Helenius, this could be such a victory. The win in a fight that was billed as an elimination bout in the WBA Heavyweight ratings catapults Helenius, who was not ranked in the top ten in the world’s respective sanctioning organizations rankings, right back into the discussion of potential Heavyweight championship challengers. Where exactly Helenius will be entered into the equation among the plethora of top contenders remains to be seen.

The events that took place over this two-day period including the previously covered card in Dubai, seemed to continue the trend the sport has been on in recent times. Boxing can truly be the theater of the unexpected. With arguably three separate upsets taking place across the four cards, it is natural to wonder what might happen next. It may indeed be too soon to call the year 2020:a year of upsets and the unexpected, but it certainly generates interest not only among the Boxing enthusiasts, but more importantly the casual fan. When the appeal of Boxing being that anything can happen at any given time is on full display and it succeeds in drawing the interest of potential new fans, the sport thrives. In a sport that is consistently the subject of criticism for its negative aspects, this should be viewed as a good thing. Something that frankly Boxing needs more of.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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