Posts Tagged ‘Montreal’

Beterbiev_Cloud

Less than 10 fights into his pro career,  Artur Beterbiev has made a strong statement in the light-heavyweight division by decimating former titlist Tavoris Cloud in two rounds Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

Cloud had not been seen since a September 2013, seven-round drubbing at the hands of Adonis Stevenson. He looked no better tonight, sporting a visibly wider mid-section but reduced capacity for taking punches. Beterbiev took charge from the opening bell and put Cloud in retreat with powerful right hook counters.

Cloud’s downfall escalated during the inside exchanges, were Beterbiev battered him with right and left hooks to the tune of three knockdowns in the first round.

Beterbiev wrapped up the second round but cornering Cloud and putting him face-first on the mat with a left hook counter shot.

Beterbiev is now 6-0 (6 KOs). Cloud has lost three consecutive fights with the last two coming by knockout.

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My God, this was ugly. This fight is probably the final nail in Cloud’s coffin as a contender. You can make the valid argument that he hasn’t won a fight since his June 2011 KO over Yusef Mack. Since then he’s received a robbery gift over Gabriel Campillo, given a boxing lesson from Bernard Hopkins, battered by Stevenson and now destroyed by Beterbiev. From the way Cloud was reacting to the punches, it was clear those difficult moments were taking him back to the Stevenson beating (and he wanted no parts of that type of fight).

A good team protects their fighter coming off a bad loss. The last thing you do is put him in with another puncher after a year out the ring. That tells me the team that helped guide Cloud to premium HBO dates has jumped ship, or is cashing him out as a gatekeeper.

As for Beterbiev, it looks like we might have another scary Eastern European bruiser in the division to join Kovalev.

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Lemieux_GuerreroJPG

David Lemieux breathed new life into his career with a brutal and efficient third round KO Saturday night on Showtime’s Stevenson vs. Fonfara undercard.

Billed as a crossroads fight, the fight was determined by durability. Both landed flush shots, but Lemieux’s hooks and power proved more damaging. Guerrero was cut badly over his right eye courtesy of Lemieux’s left hook, and tasted the canvas three times, the last coming via a brutal right uppercut.

The win raises Lemieux’s record to 32-2 (30 KOs). Going into Saturday night, Lemieux was ranked #7 by the IBF, #12 by the WBO and #13 by the WBC. In his post-fight interview, Lemieux confirmed his willingness to face the winner of the proposed WBO championship match-up between title-holder Peter Quillin and Danny Jacobs.

Pascal_Bute

MONTREAL — Despite a dramatic 12-round that featured Jean Pascal flirting with a stoppage defeat, the former light-heavyweight champion dominated a tentative and overmatched Lucian Bute to a unanimous decision (118-110, 117-111 and 116-112) before a sold-out, hot crowd at the Bell Centre. Bute was the overwhelming crowd favorite, but the repeated “Bute!” chants couldn’t overcome Pascal, who although utilizing his fighting in explosive spurts pattern, also displayed skillful countering ability that kept Bute confused and domesticated.

 

PASCAL’S THREE KEYS: The initial four rounds were a chess match with Bute scoring well with his jab and Pascal doing solid work with hard right hands to the body. However, Pascal completely walked away with the fight starting in the fifth behind these three factors:

1. THE WEIGHT: The main reason I picked Pascal by decision is I felt he’d have hard time adjusting to the natural strength and durability of a career light-heavyweight. That proved to be the case as even the Pascal haymakers that didn’t land clean had Bute stumbling backwards and reluctant to counter. In addition, when Pascal did land clean, Bute froze and was driven to the ropes where Pascal would work him over with 7-10 punch combinations.

2. FOUR-ROUND FIGHTER NO MORE: I interviewed Pascal for Knockout Nation earlier this week, and he was emphatic in stating that his tactic of exploding in spurts was not due to bad stamina, but a strategy to demoralize and dominate his opponents. I admit, I kind of snickered at that, but it’s hard to deny it isn’t intentional and more importantly, not effective. Pascal would take Bute’s best shots and played possum long enough each time that Bute, and many times the crowd, would think he was actually hurt. Then in the span of a few seconds, it was Bute frantically stumbling back on his heels after eating left hooks and overhand rights, or covering up on the ropes after being spun around by Pascal.

3. JEAN JONES MAYWEATHER JR.: Roy Jones worked with Jean Pascal and was in his training camp for this fight. The results were evident in Pascal’s sharp lead right hand that many times stopped Bute’s offense cold. Pascal varied the punch as a counter shot too, fighting out of a shell and popping Bute right down the middle ala Mayweather whenever Bute got bold enough to lead (Note: Pascal also worked with the Mayweathers for this fight). To make it more embarrassing for Bute, in the latter rounds Pascal literally looked in the other direction while waiting for Bute to get in range before popping off a quick right hand.

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UNNECESSARY DANGER: Pascal flirted with disaster the last two rounds by taking his possum strategy to the extreme. While it  seemed like he just took the 11th off, Pascal started the 12th by letting Bute wail away on him in a corner for over a minute. The ref was out of sight of the camera, but you could hear him state several times for Pascal to “show him something,” indicating he was close to stopping the fight. Pascal never seemed alarmed by this and would simply lift his head up and nod to the ref that he was ok.

Considering the dubious calls we’ve seen in situations like this, it’s incredible, and downright foolish, to see Pascal taking a risk like that in a fight he was dominating. Nonetheless, Bute had been conditioned enough by this point to expect a strong Pascal flurry, so he was hesitant to really go all out. Pascal did indeed manage a big flurry at the round’s midway point, but it was Bute who closed the round in stlye with a few counter right hands to manage a moral victory of sorts for his fans.

PASCAL VS. STEVENSON: This is the next logical big Montreal fight, but Pascal didn’t seem enthusiastic to call out Adonis Stevenson, preferring to praise their comradery based on ethnic ties. It also important to note Stevenson is allegedly in talks to face Andrzej Fonfara next, which means Pascal might have to wait until the summer or possibly take Sergey Kovalev.

BUTE’S NEXT MOVE: If I’m Andre Ward, I’m kicking myself for not taking that Bute fight years ago. Many will say Bute is completely washed up, but that crowd reaction says fans north of the border are still willing to pay good money to see him. If I’m HBO, I put on a triple-header for my next Montreal card with Stevenson and Kovalev in separate bouts, and Bute getting one last chance to salvage his career against another former champion in dire need of a win, Chad Dawson.

 

MIKE PEREZ STUMBLES: On the undercard, Mike Perez was extremely lucky to walk away with a draw against Carlos Takam, who quite simply bullied and worked him over inside for the second half of their ten-round fight. Early on, Perez was the aggressor in feet only, coming forward but not being able to land many clean shots on Takam, who elected to fight off the backfoot with a low punch output. An accidental butt produced a bad cut on Perez’s left eyebrow in the third, and Takam slowly started to get confidence.

Takam upped his punch output and found massive dividends when he took the fight inside. As the much bigger fighter, Takam was able to muscle Perez to the ropes and sapped his energy with clubbing shots to the body. The judges had it 96-94 Takam and 95-95 twice for the draw. My score was a clear Takam win, 97-93.

Perez dedicated the fight to Magomed Abdusalamov, who Perez beat badly in November and put into a life-threatening coma. Although Abdusalamov is slowly going through the recovery process, it’s not a far-fetched theory to think Perez wasn’t in the best mental state headed into this fight. In addition, Abdusalamov was a massive heavyweight and landed his own heavy leather in that November fight. Considering that it’s barely been three months, the turnaround might have been too quick for Perez.

However you look at it, the one clear thing from this fight is HBO’s eagerness to paint Perez as a threat to Wladimir Klitschko was a complete “prisoner of the moment” stance.

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Live from Montreal, watch the weigh-in for tomorrow’s light-heavyweight showdown between Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute. The fighters take the scale at 1 p.m. ET followed by the undercard of Mike Perez vs. Carlos Takam. The HBO card airs Saturday at 10:15 p.m.

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Kovalev

Ahead of his WBO light-heavyweight title defense against Ismayl Sillakh this Saturday (November 30), HBO Sports takes a short look at feared puncher Sergey Kovalev and his recent one-sided victory over Nathan Cleverly. The man nicknamed “Krusher” will be a part of a double-header featuring Adonis Stevenson vs. Tony Bellew, airing at 10:15 p.m.

Stevenson_Bellew

The light-heavyweight division will once again take center stage on HBO with the confirmation of a November 30 championship double-header featuring Adonis Stevenson vs. Tony Bellew and Sergey Kovalev vs. Ismayl Sillakh.

Stevenson has had a breakout 2013, having picked up the WBC light-heavyweight crown in a one-round blowout of Chad Dawson in June, and dominating Tavoris Cloud to a seventh round corner stoppage last month. The November 30 date will mark his third HBO appearance in five months. Bellew, who earned his shot with back to back wins over Isaac Chilemba in March and May, will be making his first U.S. and HBO appearance.

Sergey Kovalev is making the first defense of the WBO light-heavyweight strap that he lifted via a fourth TKO of previously undefeated Nathan Cleverly in August. Considered by many the most feared puncher in the division, Kovalev will be facing a fighter in Ismayl Sillakh who was held in similar regard until an upset TKO loss to Denis Grachev lst year. Since that defeat, Sillakh was won four straight with three coming via stoppages in six rounds or less.

The card will take place at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City and airing in the U.S. as a HBO “Boxing After Dark” card at 10:15 p.m.

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HBO is not playing about their “Epic Fall Boxing Schedule” tagline. Obviously, the goal is a unification matchup between Stevenson and Kovalev. What’s intriguing is that the two champs aren’t being given easy “setup” fights so they can look good heading into 2014. Bellew and Sillakh are tough challengers to the point upsets are not out of the question. Bellew proved his toughness and ability to adjust in the Chilemba bouts, and Sillakh has the technical boxing skill, not to the mention the range and power, to give Kovalev looks he hasn’t seen before.

Kudos to HBO for making this happen and really investing in the 175 pound division. Their work over the last few months has made Hopkins’ IBF title defense against Karo Murat seem like an afterthought.

 

AdonisStevenson

On this very website, Chad Dawson dismissed concerns that he was facing a dangerous puncher in Adonis Stevenson with his first fight since a suffering a knockout loss. He claimed his confidence was at an all-time high, and that he would deliver a memorable performance.

He lived up to his boost, but not in the way he originally planned, as Dawson was on the wrong side of a shocking first round knockout to lose his lineal and WBC light-heavyweight title in Montreal.

Dawson promised to come out aggressive and he did just that in the short time the fight lasted. Stevenson landed a solid left as his first scoring blow and Dawson appeared to take it well.

Stevenson came in with a southpaw right jab followed by a pinpoint straight left that dropped Dawson to his back. The champion remained inert for several seconds with just his head elevated before slowly rising on unbalanced legs. Although Dawson did put his hands up halfway during the count, he failed to answer referee Michael Griffin’s instructions, resulting in the contest being waved off.

Stevenson’s victory is his eighth consecutive knockout and first world title win.

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Looks like it might be time to say an RIP to Chad Dawson’s career as an elite fighter. That interview I did with him yesterday, complete with his quotes about putting on a great show for the fans, now reads like an article from The Onion. Turns out that Dawson’s biggest contribution to the fans tonight was getting himself KO’d in time enough for fans to watch the end of Anuglo-Lara and all of Maidana-Lopez on Showtime.

In all seriousness, Dawson looks to be done. It’s not a physical thing — he was in great shape and for the brief minute we saw him, looked to be moving well. It has always been a mental thing with Dawson and I don’t see how he’ll be able to put this behind him. In his whole words, this was the best camp he’s had and he went into this fight supreme confidence. And at his best, Dawson will have to rationalize how that wasn’t even good enough to survive a full round against a guy who previously never faced a Top 5 fighter in the division.

We’ve seen the best of Chad Dawson and it’ll be all downhill from here. We can probably bet on another trainer change, as well. If he fights on, a match against Tavoris Cloud makes sense from a marketability standpoint, but I think Dawson has had his fill of hard punchers for the time being. I honestly don’t know where he goes from here.

As for Stevenson, he has a bunch of options. Bernard Hopkins, Andre Ward, Carl Froch, Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute are among the names he can get. And he’s vulnerable enough where all those guys would probably jump at the chance to face him.

The light-heavyweight division just got a little more exciting.