hit them again

A boxing tragic's look at the world of boxing. No hidden agendas, no cash for comment, just my opinion, for what it's worth, of the greatest sport there is. Oh yeah, and i can't fight for shit!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

No Excuses

October started with a bang – Jones V Tarver III No Excuses and none were given.
But before we get to the big one let’s look at what was for a change a pretty fine undercard.

A couple of big bangers started the night when Vinny Maddalone and Brian Minto met for a rematch over 10 rounds. The last time these two ‘up and coming’ heavys met, Minto stole the fight with a last round KO. This time Minto said he was going to control the wild swinging, hard hitting Vinny with the jab and he did. Showing a lot of style he kept the jab in Maddalone’s face throughout the bout whilst also being canny enough to step in and tie Vinny up negating his power. Pitching pretty much a shut out this time, Minot finally stopped Maddalone in the seventh with 15 unanswered punches (nearly all of them left hook/jabs). Minto’s lost just one fight – a split decision against Tony Tubbs but has yet to face serious opposition. He looked good here but can he step up? If he fought like he did here he could maybe cause some problems. Sure he ain’t no world beater but look at the rankings, who is?
Olympic Gold medallist Andre Ward was fighting at middleweight against some poor local schmo with a decent record but hell, Glen LaPlante is a club fighter. He shouldn’t have been in the ring with Ward and he wasn’t for long. "Nuff said.
For mine the fight of the night was Nate Campbell Vs Almazbek Raiymkulov or Kid Diamond as they call him. And we will cos I can almost spell that. After losing his title bid to Robbie Peden at Jr. Lightweight, Campbell it seems is now campaigning at Lightweight. Kid Diamond’s backers obviously thought this would be a good, competitive, name bout for their boy who, though rated number 7 by Ring magazine, and undefeated, isn’t exactly a household name. With a name like that is it any wonder? I saw Diamond’s fight against Casamayor where he slugged out a hard fought draw and was impressed with his guts and stamina although I thought then he was fairly one dimensional (and lucky). Nothing has changed. Raiymkulov favours the old ‘hit me and I’ll hit you back’ routine ‘only harder’. This can work but not forever. Just ask Kostya Tszyu. Campbell came out swinging, ducking and outpunching Diamond. He was relentless and I think surprised Raiymkulov and his corner. Sure, he copped some punches back but Campbell just seemed stronger. In the fifth round he had Diamond down twice and was damn close to a KO win but to Kid Diamond’s credit he fought back, weathering the storm and the doctor’s attempts to stop it in round seven. Finally though, attrition took its toll (and the hits to the head and gut that he was taking) and in round ten the referee wisely called a halt after Raiymkulov went down as much from exhaustion as the blows to the body. Kid Diamond’s first defeat and obvious signs of a weakness in his armour. He has very little defence, he doesn’t tie up, he just relies on a granite chin and hitting the other guy harder. It worked for the first 21 fights but how will he come up now? As for Nate Campbell, he looked fairly ordinary against Peden, easy to hit and not really in control. Against Diamond though it was an entirely different fighter. He’s just taken out the ring magazine’s number seven lightweight, where does that put Nate? And who amongst the lightweights is going to be willing to risk fighting him now?
It was a good lead up to the main event with Roy Jones Jr taking on his nemesis and thorn in the side, Antonio Tarver. Let me say off the bat that I’ve never been a big fan of Jones, finding him too flashy, too smarmy and I’ve always had that nagging doubt about his avoidance of anyone who could maybe hurt him. Sure he was fast, and no doubt good but against some of the chumps he handpicked he couldn’t look bad could he? He beat Tarver the first time, but only by a whisker so I was looking forward to seeing what he had left in the tank for this bout. It’s interesting to note that though both men are 36 years old, Jones still looks the elder. I guess though he has had a lot more fights. The crowd love the man though and cheered ecstatically for him whilst booing the champ Tarver. Strange crowd. Tarver seemed a bit lost early with the first round being possibly the dullest I’ve seen since … hell, I don’t know, probably one of Ruiz or Rahman’s battles I guess. Neither deserved the points for this pawing, tentative opening but you can’t give 9/9 can you? It opened up in the second with Tarver starting to throw them while Jones seemed intent on showing that he still had the moves, the style. Well yeah he did but he wasn’t throwing any punches and when he did it was pretty obvious that Tarver wasn’t intimidated, wasn’t in awe of the legend of Roy Jones Jr. I made a note to that effect in the third round and then in the fourth and fifth Jones comes out like the man of old dancing, throwing, scoring. As I wiped the egg off my face though he went back into his shell and started mugging and showing off to the crowd. Nice cheers but no points from the judges. Tarver took control from the sixth on with Jones content to show his dance moves and to throw the odd flurry (which usually missed) but not seeming to want to get hurt again. And in the eleventh he did get hurt. It was only Tarver’s excitement that saved Jones with Tarver rushing in and screwing up his opportunity to lay Jones out. I’ll give Jones credit though, he came back fighting in the twelth and I even gave the round to him. He certainly offered no excuses. He was beaten by the fighter who was prepared to throw punches not just dance. I had it 117/112 to Tarver . The judges saw it 116/112 (twice) and 117/111 so I wasn’t far off. (It’s easy when it’s this obvious!)
Now though where does Jones go? He’s lost three in a row, sure he looked better this time out than the last two (he finished on his feet for a start) but Tarver really did come close in the eleventh to stopping him again. Does Jones want to risk besmirching his reputation, his record with maybe another loss or does he get out now while he’s still seen as a great who’s maybe hit the age barrier. He could still beat most of the current crop below him although fighters like Briggs or Adamek would probably beg to differ and with the power they possess they may have a point; does he wait and see how Hopkins fairs in his rematch… maybe look for a big bang with the Executioner to round it all off… and where now for Tarver? He seems to have cemented his claim as the man in the light heavys but what now? A third fight with Johnson? Or does he take on some of the pretenders to the throne? At 36 himself he must feel that time will soon catch up with him too. He seems willing to take on all comers, I guess that’s the best we can hope for in this alphabet soup system. At least he is willing to do just that, precious few others seem to want to risk their moment in the (alphabet) sun.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Big What If....

Levander Johnson died five days after his title losing fight against Jesus Chavez. Now the finger pointing starts. Opponents of boxing have another statistic to wave in our faces, fans of boxing will be rehashing the fight, officials will be trying to work out what could have been done differently, his trainer and father will wonder if he could have prevented his son’s death. It’s a sad fact that this sport will always have it’s tragedies, it’s losses. These men (and women) are not statistics though. They are boxers, sportsmen; they chose a sport that is sometimes brutal, sometimes dazzling, always challenging. We shouldn’t forget Levander Johnson but nor should we dwell on his death. He was a boxer, he was a world champion (at least alphabetically), now it’s over. The sport will continue, we will still watch it, we will still bay for blood, for the big punch, some of us will feel a bit sadder for a few days, maybe tentative about our love of this often vicious sport, but we won’t stop watching it, so let’s not pretend any different. That pretence is a slur on Johnson’s character, on the character of all the boxers who have died from boxing injuries. Let’s enjoy the sport as they did.
Let’s get rrrrready to rrrrrumble.