While it was originally intended as a monthly to bi-monthly feature that was introduced earlier this year by this observer here on The Boxing Truth® as a means to frankly cover as much ground as possible in covering the sport of Boxing beyond the short-form card coverage and individual features that cover specific fights and subjects throughout the calendar year, Jabs And Observations has been absent since March. Although this was not intended as such, I felt coverage provided throughout 2022 had been smooth where the feature would be used on an occasional basis for the remainder of the year when circumstances warranted, with the aim of returning it as a bi-monthly feature column in 2023. As tends to be the case from the months of September through the remainder of a year, yours truly began the month of September in the midst of what I consider to be my norm, covering what usually tends to be a very active Boxing schedule during the latter months of the year.
Even though most of September ran smoothly in this regard, unfortunately plans changed in the last week and a half of the month. This was due to the unfortunate disaster known as Hurricane Ian, which necessitated my family and I to evacuate to seek higher ground. Although I am as have said in the weeks and months since the storm across social media, extremely grateful that the storm did not directly impact my area as was originally forecasted in the days prior to it making landfall in Florida and have no illusions as to how lucky we were upon seeing the effects of the storm in other areas as it could have been much worse, unfortunately having to evacuate as well as the Boxing schedule continuing as normal resulted in material that was in development for the final week of September as well as the first few weeks of October being sidelined, thus necessitating the return of Jabs and Observations.
While I will not put the reader through the several pages of material that was written across two features if memory serves me as I write this, I do want to spend a little time discussing some of the events that took place prior to the storm that I did cover as well as some things that have happened since as I have eased back into the schedule following what frankly was a scary and stressful time. Something that unfortunately we had a subtle reminder of recently with hurricane Nicole as well.
With the subject now thankfully turning to Boxing, the last week of September 2022 featured two bouts that were of particular interest to yours truly. First, was the September 23rd bout, which featured undefeated two-division world champion Shakur Stevenson in what turned out to be his final bout in the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight division. This was because not only his setting his sights on the 135lb. Lightweight division where there are some interesting fights that could be ahead for him as well as more lucrative paydays, but also because he failed to make weight for his scheduled title defense against top contender Robson Conceicio resulting in his losing the unified WBC/WBO Jr. Lightweight world championship on the weight scale. Stevenson’s struggle to make the 130lb. limit did not have an adverse effect on him as he soundly out boxed Conceicio over twelve rounds to earn a convincing twelve round unanimous decision.
While some were critical of Stevenson for not making the weight prior to this fight, it is important to keep in mind that the human body can be a mystery at times and what may work for one fighter in terms of cutting and maintaining weight may not necessarily work for another fighter under similar circumstances. There are also times where no matter what a fighter does, the issue of making weight remains difficult especially for fighters who are naturally bigger than where they compete in terms of fighting weight, thus a move up in weight to a heavier weight class is often a necessity for fighters that are not natural Heavyweights as their careers progress. With his focus now turning to the Lightweight division, I do not necessarily see Stevenson remaining in the division for long.
This is due to several notable fighters that could be lucrative opportunities for him either having already moved up to the 140lb. Lightweight division or will soon be doing so. Along with Stevenson’s comfort level at that weight, which is yet to be determined, it will likely mean that his time as a Lightweight could be brief depending on what may be available to him as a Jr. Welterweight down the line.
On September 24th, an important Heavyweight bout took place in London, England that featured former WBO Heavyweight world champion Joseph Parker and undefeated top contender Joe Joyce in what was billed as a world title elimination bout. Although Joyce had ended every bout, but one he has fought as a professional inside the distance, the question remained as to whether or not he would face a sufficient test before getting a shot at a world championship. Parker proved to provide that test as the former world champion was able to land flush right hands on Joyce throughout the fight. Despite Parker’s success, as the fight progressed, Joyce gradually wore and broke him down before knocking Parker out in the eleventh round. The first knockout loss of Parker’s career.
Two important questions of Joyce were answered in this fight. The first was how he would react to being hit flush by a fighter that has some punching power. Despite being hit with right hands that may have dropped some Heavyweights, Joyce was able to take the best that Parker had to offer and press forward. The second question was would being hit flush change his approach? Joyce was able to show that he could keep his mind on the task at hand and ended up producing one of the best performances of his fifteen fight professional career. With the win, Joyce became the WBO’s number one Heavyweight contender for undefeated current IBF/WBA/WBO/IBO Heavyweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk. It may be unlikely based on Usyk’s desire to meet undefeated WBC champion Tyson Fury in a bout for the Undisputed Heavyweight championship of the world in the near future that Joyce will get his opportunity at least in the immediate months ahead. If however, Joyce can remain active against other top contenders in the meantime and continue to maintain his position as the WBO’s top contender, he will likely be the first fighter in line once the issue regarding a potential undisputed championship fight is settled.
While yours truly spent the last week of September and the first weeks of October evacuating due to hurricane Ian and subsequently taking a little time to recharge and refocus after a difficult time, the month of October was dominated by one topic. The collapse of the scheduled bout between undefeated Welterweight contender Conor Benn and former IBO Super-Middleweight world champion Chris Eubank Jr. By now most know that the bout, which was to take place in London, England on October 8th ended up being cancelled by the British Boxing Board of Control in the days prior to the bout taking place, while the fighters were in the midst of the normal “Fight Week” festivities and obligations. The reason for the abrupt cancellation was due to Benn testing positive for a banned substance in the weeks prior.
In the interest of honesty with the reader, my mind was frankly on other things at the time this occurred, but as I observed the fallout, which as of this writing is still not settled, one question continuously ran through my mind. Why would the British Boxing Board of Control wait until mere days before what was a highly anticipated event, particularly throughout the United Kingdom, if the board were aware of a positive test well before fight week festivities began? It is important for me to point out that I ask this question not as an expert in the field of drug testing, but merely as an observer who covers the sport. This situation has not been resolved as of this writing, but I will say that at minimum, the protocols of not only the British Boxing Board of Control and any other reputable state or international regulatory boards should be reviewed in order to ensure if there is indeed a circumstance of a positive test that a situation like this can be avoided in the future.
Now as we approach Thanksgiving here in the United States, I would like to share a few brief thoughts about what has gone on in recent weeks. First, as the reader can probably tell, I have jumped around a bit here and if there is anything omitted from this edition of Jabs And Observations it is merely a circumstance of the constraints of what can fit into a single column. Originally, I intended to conclude this edition with the Benn-Eubank Jr. controversy. I would however, be doing readers and the sport a disservice if I did not share my view on the recent fights between undefeated Super-Middleweight contender David Morrell and Aids Yerbossynuly. A fight that took place in the Minneapolis Armory in Minneapolis, MN on November 5th. Quite frankly, the fight was a mismatch from very early in the bout as Morrell administered what can be described as a beating on a very “Game,” but overmatched Yerbossynuly. Despite the one-sided nature of the bout, somehow the fight was allowed to go into the twelfth and final round, where after sustaining significant punishment throughout the contest, Morrell was able to drop Yerbossynuly and led to a long overdue stoppage.
Most who are familiar with this fight know that Yerbossynuly suffered a severe brain injury, had to be helped back to his corner by Morrell and Referee Tony Weeks. Following the bout, Yerbossynuly was rushed to a nearby hospital where he underwent surgery to reduce swelling on his brain and was for a time put in a medically induced coma. Although Yerbossynuly remains hospitalized as of this writing, he is said to be improving, which is news that all who are involved in the sport should welcome.
This observer however, has struggled to find the words to describe my feelings on what I saw in this bout. After a lifetime covering Boxing and by extension combat sports, there is not much that I have not seen. This unfortunately includes several bouts that were allowed to go on well past the point where they should have been stopped resulting in traumatic brain injury and death. While I will admit that the topic of when a fight should be stopped is one that can be it’s own column and perhaps several if I am honest with the reader, I do wonder when does common sense enter the equation?
As in when it is clear that a fight is one-sided as this one was, at what point is it the responsibility of a fighter’s corner, the referee, and the athletic commission overseeing a fight to exercise common sense and prevent an injury or God forbid worse before it occurs. No one can take anything away from the heart Aidos Yerbossynuly showed in this fight, but his corner, the Minnesota Boxing commission, and Referee Tony Weeks should review the fight, which was subsequently pulled from reairings by United States premium cable network Showtime and see where they could have stopped the fight sooner. While Aidos Yerbossynuly is recovering, the reality is missing the signs of when a fight should be stopped may result in a more tragic outcome next time. Everyone involved in the sport, especially commissions/regulatory boards and referees should consider if protocols need to be changed. This observer believes at minimum a dialogue should take place in order to hopefully, try and prevent something like this from happening in the future.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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