Posts Tagged ‘highlights’

GeorgeGroves

Chris Eubank’s expected a coming out party and instead received a boxing lesson from George Groves, who worked diligently behind a disruptive left jab to score a clear unanimous decision (117-112, 116-112, 115-11) at the Manchester Arena.

It was clear early on that Eubank didn’t come into this fight with a Plan B. He fully expected his athleticism would allow him to get inside and use his explosive power. Instead, he found himself stuck on the outside and eating jabs. When he attempted to barrel through, Groves would tie him up and force a reset at ring center. This essentially was the pattern of the entire fight.

Groves_Eubank

As the fight wore on, Eubank’s attempts to get inside got more and more reckless. We got errant fouls from both, but Eubank would get the worst of the legal and illegal actions. He received a bad cut over his right eye from a clash of heads. He was lucky in the middle rounds when the referee missed a flash knockdown.

GrovesEubank_missedknockdown

Eubank found his best success when he took risks and worked from mid-range. Groves would give ground to the ropes and Eubank had space to pound the body and exchange upstairs. Eubank particularly did this well in the championship rounds where Groves’s stamina began to wane.

We would find out later that Groves suffered a dislocated left shoulder early in the 12th, robbing him of the left jab that kept Eubank’s contained. The challenger took full advantage and dominated the stanza, but Groves showed durability and slickness by rolling with of Eubank’s power shots.

At press time, the severity of Groves’s injury is unknown. All are hopeful it won’t be an extended delay as Groves is set to the meet the winner of Callum Smith and Jurgen Brahmer (February 24) in the World Boxing Super Series Finals. Usually, recovery time can range anywhere from six weeks to three months.

In the meantime, Chris Eubank has to take a long hard look in the mirror. It’s time to stop believing his own hype and get with a new trainer. Naseem Hamed was commentating and absolutely ripped him, going as far to say Eubank showed he’s not a world-class fighter. It’s hard to argue with that considering Eubank was rendered clueless by Groves’s jab and look like an amateur throwing wild haymakers.

28 years old doesn’t exactly make Chris Eubank an old fighter. The question becomes whether it’s too old to unlearn the bad habits he’s internalized.

 

Advertisements

Spence_Peterson_punch

Photo Credit: Amanda Wescott/Showtime

BROOKLYN — The great thing about the truth is it’s uncompromising. Emotionless. That reality manifested last night at the Barclays Center in the form of Errol Spence Jr., who showed why he’s the most feared man in the welterweight division by breaking the will of Lamont Peterson over seven one-sided rounds.

With both men having fought once in the last year, the big question was who would show more ring rust and if Spence could handle the Jekyll-Hyde style of Peterson, who likes to apply heavy pressure after slow starts. Spence not only breezed through that test but revealed other truths which will be very concerning for the rest of the division.

CERTAIN DOOM: If you stand in front of Spence, bad things will happen. Peterson tried to wear out his foe by keeping a high guard and catching punches on the gloves and elbows. The problem was the southpaw Spence’s offense was too versatile; he alternated between shooting straight lefts to the pit of the stomach, uppercuts that split the gloves, and looping hooks around the guard. These shots kept Peterson hesitant to throw more than one counter at a time. And these were powerful, thudding shots you could tell were wearing down the reserves to prevent Peterson’s usual middle rounds comeback.

Spence_Peterson_knockdown

YOU CAN’T SLUG YOUR WAY OUT: Peterson went down off a left hook to the top of the temple. The shot whipped around his guard and he didn’t see it coming. Peterson has been dropped eight times over the course of his 14-year. The Matthysse loss aside, he’s got up and prevented KO losses by turning the contest into brief slugfests. Last night, that strategy invited a worse beating for the D.C. challenger, who witnessed Spence smile and shrug off his best right hands to maul him with powerful hooks. When Peterson stumbled into the ropes, the beating continued with uppercuts and more hooks.

The severity of the punches and lack of Peterson return fire let us know this time would be different. There would be no last hurrahs for Peterson. The one remaining question was if his corner would be perceptive enough to realize when they needed to save Peterson from himself.

 

AN HONORABLE TRAINER: Peterson’s cornerman, Barry Hunter, is more than just a trainer. He was the man who took a teenage, homeless Peterson off the streets of Washington D.C. Father and son-like relationships don’t always lead to the best decisions in the heat of combat. Many times, the father figure “freezes” and either fails to give adequate instructions to his losing fighter or lets a beating go on for too long.

Hunter saw the writing on the wall early and told his man by the fifth he’d stop it if he couldn’t turn the fight around. The beating continued through the sixth and seventh, with a dejected Peterson telling Hunter that he couldn’t box him and his only hope was making it a slugfest. Hunter asked him if he wanted to stop it. And the prideful Peterson affirmed the hopelessness of the situation while still relying on his father figure to make the hurtful call.

“If you want to stop it, I understand. It’s your call.”

Having never heard anything close to that over Peterson’s career, Hunter knew his man had enough.

WELTERWEIGHT SUPREMACY IS UPON US: In his post-fight interview, Spence affirmed his desire for a unification showdown with WBC title-holder Keith Thurman, whom he derisively referred to as “Sometimes Thurman.” The match is one of the biggest showdown in the division and between two undefeated, prime fighters both under the PBC banner. To this date, Thurman has been non-committal and appeared comfortable with letting the fight “marinate” until 2019. The public won’t allow that, and there’s nothing that can happen between now and 2019 that would suddenly make either of them pay-per-view stars.

Its actually fights like Spence-Thurman that can catapult a fighter into becoming an pay-per-view attraction. Spence has the ambition to bet on himself and take the risk now. Does Thurman?

THE REAL SUPERFIGHT FOR 2019: If there’s any fight that I would accept waiting next year for, it would be Spence taking on Terence Crawford, who has his own welterweight title shot in April when he takes on WBO title-holder Jeff Horn. With Crawford under Top Rank and Spence with Al Haymon, the promotional rift will keep them separated for some time. Should Spence beat Thurman, he would still have guys like Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter to tangle with. And Crawford can feast on the endless list of WBO mandatories and Top Rank guys before looking Spence’s way.

But by 2019, those lesser options should be exhausted and we’d have a true super fight. How would it go? Right now, I’d lean towards Spence having a come from behind victory. Crawford has the superior footwork where he could control Spence by turning him and using that jab (southpaw and orthodox) to keep him from getting set to punch. However, Spence has great punch placement and a massive skill advantage when he gets inside. I see the naturally bigger Spence wearing Crawford down for a close but clear decision.

In the meantime, let’s continue to enjoy Spence’s path of destruction.

Saunders_Lemieux1

You might not care for Billy Joe Saunders’s mouth, but the respect is likely there after last night’s virtuoso performance against slugger David Lemieux. Saunders exploited Lemiuex’s limited offensive arsenal with a southpaw jab, feints and movement to score a unanimous decision win and clear the path as a potential opponent for the winner of the Canelo-Golovkin rematch.

NO CONTEST FROM ROUND ONE: I’ll admit it — Lemieux fooled me once again. Having covered his career since he was a hot prospect and been ringside for several of his fights, I thought he might have finally turned the corner. The win over Hassan N’Dam made me think he’d finally figured out how to intelligently cut off the ring and break down elusive fighters.

But I quickly discovered within the first minute that at the highest level, Lemieux is missing the versatility to compete. Saunders rendered Lemieux’s massive power impotent with his movement and made him pay with stinging counters. Lemieux wasn’t just missing his power shots by inches. At times he was several feet out of range and clumsily fell off balance. Saunders even mocked him by looking into the crowd to see where Lemieux was punching at.

NOT A RUNNER: Despite getting a few rounds from his hometown judges, you can argue this was a complete shutout. Lemieux looked embarrassed afterward and tried to characterize Saunders as a runner. The retort to that claim was written in the bruises on Lemieux’s face and the blood that was splattered all over the canvas. Lemieux was a bloody mess from Saunders’ jab and straight left halfway through the fight, and the only reason he wasn’t KO’d is due to the champion not possessing a big knockout punch.

NEW OPPONENT OPPORTUNITIES: This was the masterclass performance Saunders needed for fans to take him seriously again. His inactivity and lackluster performances since defeating Chris Eubank had many looking at him like a title placeholder rather than a legit champ. Now, you can see him posing problems for other HBO fighters like Danny Jacobs, Demetrius Andrade, and yes, even the cash cows Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. With the latter two likely to rematch this May, I could see Saunders targeting Jacobs despite the Eddie Hearn/Frank Warren promotional riff. It could do well in the UK, and it’s a much more fan-friendly fight stylistically than Andrade.

But if Saunders had his way, he’d be facing Golovkin. He claimed Golovkin only wanted him last year because he saw him as an easy mark. Now that Saunders is training under Brenden Ingle, he feels he’s at the peak of his powers. We might not see a GGG showdown, but I love the confidence and last night’s bout shows that a focused Saunders won’t be an easy night for anyone.

***

UNDERCARD RESULTS

GARY “SPIKE” O’SULLIVAN TKO7 ANTOINE DOUGLAS: This one was tough to watch once you realized what was happening. At his best, Douglas was a solid technical boxer with a good punch. O’Sullivan realized that and made it an attrition fight, constantly invading Douglas’ range with a counter right hand and hammering him on the ropes. Douglas’ defense was extremely disconcerting as O’Sullivan clocked him with right hand after right hand. As early as the first round, commentator Roy Jones spoke on how Douglas was the making a fatal mistake of leaving his jab out there and not protecting against the right hand.

The punishment culminated to a frightful end in the seventh when O’Sullivan brutalized a defenseless Douglas. He took about 3-4 unnecessary flush shots before falling to the canvas. Although he’s only 25, Douglas would be wise to consider hanging up the gloves. He was left in there too long against Avtandil Khurtsidze last year, and that fight appears to have done permanent damage, not to mention last night’s beating doing no favors.

***

ULYSSE JR. UD10 CLETUS SELDIN: The HBO investment in Cletus Seldin has hit a pothole right out the gate. After an entertaining beatdown on Robert Ortiz last month, Seldin sought to have a quick turnaround last night against relative unknown Yves Ulysse Jr. It was supposed to be a showcase for the Hebrew Hammer, who instead got an Erislandy Lara type schooling to the tune of three suffered knockdowns and a lopsided decision loss (88-99 across the board).

It wasn’t always pretty as Ulysse moved a lot and shunned engagement in the middle rounds. But when he did stand his ground, he either put Seldin on his backside with counter shots or forced him to retreat. Ulysse showed smart strategy in walking the bullish Seldin into uppercuts or clocking him with overhand rights.

Matched correctly, Seldin can still be an opening card attraction. And I’m sure HBO is grateful to have this early exposure before investing significant money.

 

 

 

Pascal_Elbiali

If Jean Pascal is calling it a career, the former light-heavyweight champion is going out with a decisive win. What was supposed to be a launch-pad for Ahmed Elbiali turned into a slugfest with the stronger Pascal stopping an exhausted Elbiali in the sixth round.

The deciding factor was Pascal’s sustained body attack. Elbiali’s was content to hold while Pascal fired off haymaker hooks downstairs. From range, Pascal relied on his usual haymaker potshotting. He finally hit paydirt in the sixth with an overhand right that hurt Elibiali, who was too worn out from the body shots to hold or retreat. Pascal continued to tee off with the right until Elbiali’s corner threw in the towel at the 2:06 mark.

If Pascal’s retirement sticks, he finishes his career with a 32-5-1 (19 KOs) record.

Spence_Brook_tko

The Truth has arrived. Errol Spence Jr. lived up to his nickname by silencing critics (myself included) by overcoming an early deficit to batter Kell Brook into an 11th round stoppage and claim the IBF welterweight title.

The fight was fought on a very high level. Early on, Brook held the advantage when he kept the challenger at long-range and on the end of his right hand and jabs. But Spence would force the action and remain relentless in clubbing the body. The biggest difference over the first half was Brook had a better grasp of ring generalship; he knew when to pick his spots on offense and smother Spence’s attempts to respond. Through six, I had Brook with a 4-2 lead.

Then things started going south for the Sheffield native. Brook’s punch output dissipated drastically as Spence’s accuracy and pressure gradually increased every round. Now Brook was a step slower in clinching, allowing Spence to work the body and land punishing jabs.

By the eighth, bad swelling surrounded Brook’s left eye. The toll of making the 147 limit from welterweight, in addition to Spence’s pressure and body-punching, had Brook’s resistance withering by the minute. There was nowhere to hide as the challenger punished Brook with blistering power shots whenever the champion sought refuge on the ropes. Brook was forced to take a knee in the 10th and was on the verge of being stopped before a dramatic late rally got him through the round.

Spence promptly continued his workmanlike assault in the 11th. Brook once again took a knee, later claiming the left eye damage had badly compromised his vision. This time, his corner wisely saved him from further punishment.


If you’re a top welterweight not named Errol Spence, tonight performance has put you on notice. The most impressive thing for me was Spence’s defense, which I had previously underrated. He proved to an elusive, small target and took away the potency of Brook’s right hand.

WBA/WBC champion Keith Thurman, who’s currently recovering from elbow surgery, wasted no time responding to Spence’s unification challenge.

Although many see Spence as the future kingpin of the division, Thurman has a good chance of derailing it. One Time is highly athletic and has the footwork needed to keep Spence from getting set and also exploding with flashy and damaging combos. However, we know Spence’s specialty is body-punching and Thurman has been hurt badly twice from shots downstairs against Luiz Collazo and Shawn Porter. Ideally, a Spence and Thurman unification should be one of PBC’s major fights in early 2018.

KellBrook_eye

What’s next for Kell Brook? A LONG break. He has suffered orbital bone fractures to both eyes in his last two fights. A titanium plate had to be inserted into the right one after the brutal defeat to Gennady Golovkin last year. The same procedure will likely be required for the left eye that Spence smashed tonight. The eyes will be targets from here on out, and Brook’s best bet would be to take the rest of the year off and cash out with an all-Sheffield showdown against Amir Khan in spring 2018.

As for Spence, there’s no need to sit around while Thurman convalesces. Luis Collazo or the winner for the just announced Robert Guerrero vs. Omar Figueroa (assuming they don’t kill each other) bout would be solid stay-busy fights to close out the year.

Whatever Spence does, you can be rest assured we’ll all be watching very closely.

 

 

20170422_BertoPorterFI_4699

Photo Credit: Ed Diller/DiBella Entertainment

BROOKLYN, NY — When you’re the one taking punches, there’s only so many years you get in this fight game. Every jab to the face rattles the hourglass, the sand hastened with every left hook to the body. If we could see former title-holder Andre Berto’s hourglass, it’d be shattered in a thousand pieces following last night’s ninth-round stoppage defeat at the hands of bulldozer Shawn Porter.

At 33 years old and 13 years of professional fighting on his ledger, Berto is closer to retirement than his prime. He looked like it Saturday night. Porter had him grimacing in pain from every body shot, and looking to the ref for help every time Porter roughed him up instead of taking matters into his own hands.

At one point in the later rounds, Berto’s trainer Virgil Hunter asked him why he kept going to the ropes and allowing Porter to maul him without mercy.

“I don’t know,” said Berto, his speech heavy with resignation and despair.

20170422_BertoPorterFI_4494

Round nine was marked the end of the fight and Berto’s career as a top contender. A clash of heads, one of numerous during the fight, dazed Berto had him careening into the ropes. The ref didn’t break the action, so Porter, which both eyes bleeding from previous butts, pounced with brutal haymakers. We’ve seen Berto get battered before on the ropes. Luis Collazo had him reeling several times in their 2009 classic. Victor Ortiz almost stopped him early in their consensus 2011 Fight of Year. Robert Guerrero brutalized him so bad that both eyes were grotesquely swollen. And Jesus Soto Karass capitalized on an injured, one-armed Berto to stop him in 2013.

But unlike those fights, the Andre Berto from last night was missing the will power from year’s past. In every one of the aftermentioned fights, Berto was highly competitive, either by scoring his own knockdowns or stinging his opponent with big shots. Last night looked like a high school senior bullying a freshman. The Andre Berto of year’s past fearlessly went out on his shield. The Berto of 2017, inactive for a year while seeking a lucrative fight (and getting it with over $1million for this bout), reached out to the ref with desperate eyes for salvation. He received it with a merciful stoppage.

Years from now, there won’t be any Hall of Fame debates about Berto. No tearful Jim Lampley reflections on HBO. And frankly, not much goodwill from fans who, perhaps unfairly, have come to view him as the poster boy for overpaid, protected fighters post-2000. But the less cynical will see a man who overachieved in the ring with classic fights, and in his pocketbook with multiple million-plus paydays, including the pinnacle by facing Floyd Mayweather in 2015.

Berto mentioned in his post-fight interview that he needs time to reflect with family before deciding his future in boxing. Maybe our final memory of Andre Berto will be the best one we can hope for any fighter — that he knew the right time to walk away.

Shields Szabados Boxing

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

DETROIT, MI — Claressa Shields capped her historical headlining card with a fourth round stoppage over Szilvia Szabados at the MGM Grand.

What Szabados lacked in skill she made up for with durability and aggression. Shields did most of her damage with hooks to the head, particularly the left hand. Szabados would bull forward into Shields’ chest, but didn’t have the tools needed to take advantage.

The one-sided beating came to an end midway through the fourth when Shields’ left hook counter made Szabados’ neck do an 180. Although Szabados look clear-eyed, referee Harvey Dock thought the punishment was too one-sided and called off the bout.

The win is Shields’ first professional knockout and improves her record to 2-0.


Amazing to think that last night was the first time a woman headlined a premium network card. Kudos to Showtime for investing in Claressa Shields. She’s still very raw at the pro level so I hope Showtime is patient enough to let her develop for 10 fights. Her footwork and patience are the two glaring areas. She’s so anxious to bomb gals out that she neglects the body and gets into unnecessary brawling. But at 2-0, her future looks very bright.