Friday, May 30, 2014

Harold Lederman Compares Julio Cesar Chavez Junior to Senior Unfavourably: Quote Spotlight

It's a rare thing to hear Harold Lederman being personally critical of a fighter and it may not have been particularly fair, given the disparity in virtually every capacity that Julio Cesar Chavez Junior had against Sergio Martinez but it was spotlight-worthy when he criticised Julio Junior with a comparison to his father.

Harld Lederman, during the tenth round of Sergio Martinez VS Julio Cesar Chavez Junior:

"If it's one thing I never expected that was a meek performance by the son of Julio Cesar Chavez Senior. I mean, he just doesn't have that-that vicious gene that his father had. His father was pure mean. This kid is so meek. He's not-just not trying. I mean, he's standing there and, you know, and letting Martinez pound on him like that. I would've never expected this."

Work that bag,
Basement Gym Boxing

Bermane Stiverne VS Chris Arreola II: A Heavyweight Classic?

100 comments in favour will certify it a BGB Classic match in its division. Please, discuss. I thought it was a terrific action fight, with the gravitas of the green strap on the line and worthy of the question.

Work that bag,
Basement Gym Boxing

Monday, May 26, 2014

Larry Merchant On Boxing In China: Quote Spotlight

                                                          ( image)

As China tries to put itself on the map as a legitimate "Boxing Country" in recent times, I'd like to spotlight a word from Hall of Fame commentator Larry Merchant who made the trip to Macao for the February card. We got an ugly but effective win from Miguel Vazquez over Denis Shafikov and a significantly more exciting match between China's own rising star Zou Shiming over the more experienced pro, Thai fighter Yokthong Kokietgym. Kokietgym was badly beaten but what he did was give a highly valiant effort against Shiming which forced him to shine. Larry's quote on boxing in China:

"I feel like a, uh, dog barking at boxing's caravan, as it tries to open up a trade route in China the way Marco Polo did about eight hundred years ago, from Venice. And we just happen to be in the Venetian Hotel with, uh, gondoliers paddling and singing on the third floor. A couple of numbers that indicate why westerners think this could be a rare and rich territory to explore and exploit: 

Fifty million dollars. That's the amount that two high rollers rolled the casino during the weekend that Pacquiao fought Rios, back in November. And what was the hotel's response? They ordered four more events this year. That's how well boxing has done for them. The other figure: One and three quarter million dollars. That's the amount that Shiming will have made by the end of tonight, in four preliminary main events. So, the caravan moves on. We don't know where it's going or where it'll stop, but, meanwhile, it's been a gas."

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Petr Petrov VS Fernando Carcamo: One Sided Action Ends The Tournament

Friday Night Fights on ESPN2 finished off its Boxino tournament last night and it was a successful venture that had been full of dramatic ups and downs, hot competition and good knockouts. I have to hand it to the guys for matching up the opponents well. I really enjoyed it but I was surprised by the one-sided action of the main event. Carcamo took a terrible beating by Petrov and for a few rounds I thought he had nothing in his legs and was kept up only by heart and a very generous (depending on how you look at it) corner and referee. I agree with Teddy Atlas that Carcamo just didn't look right throughout this match. I gave him the first round, narrowly, then it was all Petrov smashing his face with left hooks and right uppercuts, in and out, ducking and weaving, battering and ramming, the rest of the way. Carcamo didn't seem to have any snap, any speed, any accuracy.

I was very surprised. I haven't got a clue if it was all Petrov being better or if there was actually something wrong with Carcamo coming into the ring or perhaps if he got hurt early and never recovered. Petrov is a perfect fighter for ESPN and they should have him back as soon as possible. Congratulations to him. Carcamo's corner almost called it (should have, in my opinion) and there were one or two instances in this fight that were perfect examples of why standing 8 counts SHOULD be in effect in ALL professional boxing matches. Referees need to have this call available to them. Phasing it out is madness. I don't understand how this is not a given.

Work that bag,
Basement Gym Boxing

Friday, May 23, 2014

Ray Mancini On Miguel Vazquez: Quote Spotlight

Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini sat in to commentate for HBO on Miguel Vazquez's world title defense against undefeated contender Denis Shafikov back in February. Vazquez is known as a master spoiler of sorts, nullifying his opponents with constant lateral movement, herky-jerky rhythm and odd-angled shots without much mustard on them. It was interesting to me to see what Ray would say as commentator because Ray, who was also a major world title holder at the exact same weight class was one of the beloved action-fighters of his day, putting on war after war and was a very heavy-handed fighter on top of that. He was one of the sport's top stars for a while and here we've got Vazquez, who has been on perhaps a very undervalued winning streak while holding a major world title for much of that time. He hasn't lost since 2008 and has held his title since 2010.

For a guy with that in his favor, there's not a lot of attention on him. Larry Merchant was also commentating on the match, making it more interesting to me whether or not they'd be critical toward Vazquez's style, as Larry's also got a reputation for bias against spoilers and, really, cautious fighters in general, usually drawing attention to the entertainment values of boxers throughout his career when he commentates. For the majority of the match, I don't think they were hypercritical of Vazquez's performance but I did laugh when Larry was speaking of Vazquez's viability as a TV fighter (which is a valid enough talking point), in the eleventh round of a bloody but not very fan-friendly match and Boom Boom added:

"You're absolutely right, Larry. And, you know, you've heard the term "winning ugly"? You look it up in the dictionary, it's his picture."

This, to me, is one of the more memorable recent quotes when it comes to one era's top names remarking on another. But for the most part Vazquez put in another impressive performance of nullification and having Ray Mancini sit in was a great pleasure. I can't think of a time outside the ring when he didn't come across as being both good-natured and straightforward without reeking of artificiality of any kind. I'd love to get him on another broadcast.

Work that bag,
Basement Gym Boxing

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Jim Lampley Quotes Page: The Notables Chosen By Basement Gym Boxing

Jim Lampley has been the voice of HBO boxing for many years and has also covered over a dozen Olympic games and currently hosts The Fight Game on HBO as well. An emotional voice in boxing who has brought home the drama for fans in both triumphant and sad outcomes. Here are our selected quotes:



On HBO's The Fight Game with Jim Lampley, he ran an odd "anti-Gatti list" segment, and remarked on Miguel Vazquez:

"Miguel Vazquez: You've heard of track meets? Vazquez is an unabashed runner. Makes you wonder if the Mexican birth certificate is counterfeit."

When asked on an ESNEWS interview about his pick for Mayweather VS Pacquiao:

"It's a Floyd Mayweather fight, right? . . . I love Manny Pacquiao. . . Floyd Mayweather fights a hundred opponents, in a hundred different arenas, that's a hundred times I pick Floyd Mayweather to win by unanimous decision. Okay? It's about control. It's about absence of risk. It's about gradually erasing the other guy. It's about taking all the air out of the balloon, so that the crowd walks away saying 'What was that?' And it's a Floyd Mayweather unanimous decision. He'll win nine or ten rounds."   
(Video released on May 1st)

During the broadcast of Vyacheslav Glazkov VS Steve Cunningham, between rounds 8 and 9, while HBO cuts to a shot of Roy Jones Junior working with Jean Pascal for his match with Sergey Kovalev:

"Roy's a hard worker at everything he does."

On Manny Pacquiao, during the Pacquiao VS Rios broadcast:

"I think Pacquiao is enjoying looking at Rios's swollen, bloodied face."

(Roy Jones Junior replied "He is.")


Featured on HBO's Road to Marquez/Alvarado, during a segment about Mike Alvarado retiring on his stool after taking tremendous punishment from Ruslan Provodnikov:

"That, to me, is one of the most baseless canards in all of boxing. The notion that because you retire you're a quitter? That's ridiculous."

During the Viktor Postol VS Selcuk Aydin broadcast, about Michael Buffer:

"There's Michael-one of the friendliest, nicest, most generous friends you could ever have, Michael Buffer."

During the Demetrius Andrade VS Brian Rose broadcast, about Andrade:

"He also seems to have that Gumby-like elasticity that you see from a lot of really gifted athletes."

During Orlando Salido VS Vasyl Lomachenko:

"Well, I hate to say it, but I think Laurence Cole has done his normal dreadful job. He's just a dreadful referee. Unfortunately, and that's one of the black eyes on the state of Texas. It happens over and over and over."

On Gennady Golovkin, in HBO's Road To Golovkin/Geale:

"He is the subject of the most Paul Bunyanesque stories, relative to his trade, what he does in sparring, in camp... You want to believe that the myth is bigger than reality, and then, on the occasions when I've seen him, reality was pretty much every bit as big as the myth."


During Floyd Mayweather's walk to the ring, on the broadcast for his match with Sharmba Mitchell:

"Now, here comes the man who is probably the most gifted athletic specimen in the sport at this very moment, Floyd Mayweather Junior."

"Yeah, if his market power ever catches up to his talent, that will be a cosmic force in the sport."

During the Sharmba Mitchell match, in round one:

"Floyd Mayweather, over the course of the past two years, has gradually and steadily increased the power on his straight right hand-most devastating punch. He's gone from being a knockout possibility to, in many instances, a knockout puncher."

More quotes will be added, comment if you think you've spotted a correction, please.

Work that bag,
Basement Gym Boxing

Thanks for stopping by our place. Here are some other pages you might enjoy:

Muhammad Ali & Sonny Liston Psyching Each Other Out

What is Floyd Mayweather Junior's Reach? A Reference Guide

Floyd Mayweather Junior's Weight, With Unofficial/Rehydration Weights List

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Juan Manuel Marquez VS Mike Alvarado Celebrity Report

Notables in attendance for the Viktor Postol VS Selcuk Aydin/Juan Manuel Marquez VS Mike Alvarado card:


1. Boxing celebrity Ruslan Provodnikov
2. Boxing star Miguel Cotto

As commentators:
3. Boxing star Marco Antonio Barrera
4. Boxing star Julio Cesar Chavez
5. Celebrity commentator Jim Lampley
6. Celebrity commentator Max Kellerman
7. Boxing star Roy Jones Junior

As announcer:

8. Star announce Michael Buffer

As trainer:

9. Star trainer, with Postol's corner, Freddie Roach
10. Star trainer, with Marquez's corner, Nacho Beristain

11. Boxing star Gennady Golovkin
12. Celebrity screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga

As commentators:

13. Celebrity commentator Colonel Bob Sheridan
14. Celebrity commentator Larry Merchant
15. Boxing star Timothy Bradley

(names added to main celebrity attendance page)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Timothy Bradley Fights "Stupid" For Reason X: Unwarranted Criticism?

Dismissive Notions:

There is a notion. It has been floating around the world of boxing. I'm not sure how or when it started, but if I had the type of fire I thought would kill it, I'd be using it right now. Instead, I've got some web space to see if I can do even the slightest bit of damage to the notion I've seen in full bloom recently. It pertains to Timothy Bradley, one of America's best and least credited athletes, the way I see him. Tim Bradley is someone that I have been rating highly to others for years as an under-appreciated fighter. First as a top notch titlist among very many titlists, then as a top pound-for-pound talent among few contemporaries. There's a way some fans have of introducing backhanded compliments about some of the top names of our sport. A way of finding a little dig while thinly veiling their disapproval of the fighter or the perception of them being overrated. It's not usually crafty stuff and it's often unwarranted. Examples abound, for instance:

"Floyd Mayweather is a great talent. I just wish he wouldn't avoid the fights to prove it."
"Timothy Bradley has a lot of heart and good skills but he fights stupid."
"Manny Pacquiao is a great athlete. He's just not a technically skilled boxer."
"Andre Ward is a great boxer but he has an obligation to move up in weight and seek real challenges."
"Wladimir Klitschko is the best out there...of a really bad bunch..."

It goes on and on and on. Not one of those comments have I not heard spoken or seen typed. And many times at that, in one wording or another. Not one of those comments do I put any stock in either. At least not the backhanded parts. They're almost ironically oblivious in their dismissal of what it means to be one of the best athletes in a major international sport. Often the criticisms make virtually no sense to me and often they stand up to no critical thinking that I put to them. But I see one or two of these lines perhaps every day, as I regularly check in to read the feedback of boxing fans on all headlines great and small that I can find. I'm not exaggerating. There really isn't a day I don't see something like this that makes me roll my eyes, whether it's at Boxing Scene's forum or the comments section of Richard Dwyer's videos on YouTube (both Dwyer's YouTube Channel and Boxing Scene's site are regular and recommended stops for me).

My Notion & Motive:

I consider myself a fan of the sport over that of Timothy Bradley. I like a lot about him but I won't be defending Tim Bradley's boxing brain because I'm a fan of his, only as a fan of boxing. Listen, Tim Bradley has made millions of dollars from boxing and is a grown man. I'm not worried about random fans, commentators, and whoever else not giving him his dues because I'm worried about his feelings. I don't want anyone I like to feel badly, granted, but that is not my reason for this post. It's about the notion that I have that whether you like a fighter on a personal level or like to watch that fighter's fights, it's irrelevant in that the sport always benefits from understanding what a fighter does to get to the top ranks of the sport. That's an appreciation of the sport of boxing. That's a goal of true fans. Not fans of certain fighters, but of the whole sport over any one fighter. That's what I see in the true boxing fans, the desire to understand the sport on a deep level and appreciate the best that it has to offer of its participants.

Contrarily, missing the point of why a guy is successful, and thoroughly minimising what he does to get himself that success and how good he is- that is damaging to the sport. That's disrespectful to boxing and I feel it should be fought whether I'm a fan of the fighter suffering from the minimization or not. The types of backhanded compliments I listed can only oppose the understanding and appreciation of the sport itself-because these are among its top practitioners. So, my bottom line reason for giving my opinion on what I feel is growing unfair misconception of Tim Bradley isn't for Bradley's sake. It's from my own notion that the health of the sport is largely built on appreciation for rating a fighter's abilities, both mental and physical, as accurately as possible. I feel with Tim Bradley, there's been a selling of a storyline that essentially gives a backhanded compliment to his heart and athleticism while actually denigrating his intellect.

Addressing the case against Bradley's ring IQ:

Section 1/3: Pacquiao I

By the time Tim had unified major world titles twice at Light Welterweight, and decisively defeated three undefeated fighters in a row, in two weight classes, I was telling people that he was highly under-appreciated for being one of the best in the world. At this point, though I found performances like the Lamont Peterson fight to be aesthetically pleasing, he had some almost apologising for him after the Alexander fight. There were a lot of statements about "Well, he's not pretty but he's effective." or "He's not outstanding at any one thing, but he's so well-rounded..."

When we got Tim Bradley in the Pacquiao fight, I, like almost everyone who watched (a few respectable voices to the contrary existing though) had Pacquiao winning the match by at least a few points. I was so used to Bradley finding a way to win, was so used to people, in fact, talking up that he adjusted his style so that he would find a way to win, that I was surprised by certain adjustments I didn't see being made. I thought Bradley's big overhand rights would be converted to straighter punches, getting through the guard more often, be deflected less by Pacquiao's guard, working on a supposed weakness that had been exploited quite successfully by Juan Manuel Marquez. It didn't happen. Operating at the high levels of the sport, against one of its more unorthodox stars, a southpaw with blazing hand speed and every offensive angle being used, Bradley missed the mark more than I thought. Big deal.

He fought the far-and-away best fighter he'd met as a professional and didn't figure him out, but as offensively gifted as that fighter was, Bradley still nullified plenty of his shots as well. He still found a way to turn it on when his senior star was taking his foot off the gas, even while hurt, he didn't just survive. And he managed to be one of only two fighters that have fought Pacquiao in years and years that didn't manage to either be badly beaten down while trying to be competitive or soundly outworked throughout while trying to survive, in a defensive prison. How many times did Manny Pacquiao make a man look like he'd been thrown down a mountainside and trampled by wild horses or, to prevent that punishment, shell up or run away?

So, this is the first piece of evidence against Tim Bradley's ring IQ? Because this is when I noticed the talk of Bradley adjusting and adapting turning the opposite, even under highly difficult circumstances. If this is the only evidence, it's not just weak, but pathetic. We can all see on tape where Bradley likely injured himself. I certainly have no reason to doubt injury, but he didn't get stuck in a defensive shell, and he didn't get a disfigured face and he did win rounds. How is performing better against Manny Pacquiao than everyone but Juan Manuel Marquez in so many years and so many weight classes any kind of a case against Tim Bradley's ring IQ? It's not. Plain and simple.

However, enter Ruslan Provodnikov. A fighter many labeled "ESPN Level" and meant in an unfairly derogatory fashion. A fighter who most thought Tim Bradley would soundly outbox. This is where opinion comes in harder with speculation, and this is where the Bradley "stupid fighting" theory really heated up and I really start to question how I'm seeing it so differently than what most seem to see. Before Provodnikov, Bradley was just being rated highly enough to develop some animosity and those trying to sell the idea that Bradley was not a top shelf fighting man. Some because they didn't like Pacquiao and wanted to downplay what's been known as an unofficial victory over Bradley to the majority. Some because they loved Pacquiao and held Bradley's official victory against him. But still, here it's just started making me take notice in a big way.

Section 2/3: Why did this Siberian Rocky have Bradley in a war?

My questions regarding how this match played out:

A. Did Provodnikov improve so much from where he was regarded leading up to the Bradley fight that he became a top shelf 140-147 fighter capable of doing so much damage to an elite fighter like Tim Bradley? 

B. Did Bradley get concussed early and somehow manage to wage a FOTY candidate while concussed (most of that time?) against a powerful brawler?

C. Did Bradley match up poorly with Provodnikov's style, rather than suffer from a lack of discipline in applying a game plan where he really could have "easily" out-boxed him, and never been damaged? In other words, was "fighting stupid" a credible accusation and explanation for this unexpected war?

D. Did Bradley abandon something similar to what he later did with Marquez, something that he would also be capable of doing with Provodnikov in order to "prove himself" as a fan-friendly warrior out of insecurity he felt during the Pacquiao backlash, as well as some grumbling about the entertainment value of a few of his other previous fights?

A: I say, it was a little bit of A, that Provodnikov had improved his fighting style under Roach and probably gained valuable experience against Herrera (who I thought he beat), and that the Alvarado fight should at least help strengthen that position that he either improved that significantly, or perhaps he was just better than assumed from the beginning and we hadn't appreciated his level of dangerousness in this era.

B: I say with admittedly little medical knowledge that, as a layperson, I must seriously consider B that Tim Bradley really did fight while concussed in a way that should earn the respect of all boxing fans, for the rest of his life. And, I think if the exact same action took place and there were no concussion, you could say the same, that he still earned lifelong respect for the fight. But, in assuming early concussion, I don't think there was brawling for the sake of pride or entertainment but fighting on instinct while very seriously injured and probably unable to think as clearly as he ordinarily would.

C: I say that C is a genuine question mark. There are many fighters, even truly great ones likes Evander Holyfield that get accused of fighting "down" to their lesser opponents during their career. I'm not sure I'd call Tim Bradley a truly great (historically speaking) fighter, nor am I sure even if Provodnikov's level is really "down" from where Bradley is, regardless of a large difference in accomplishments. It's up in the air to me and I've underestimated this Siberian fellow before. I do suggest that Provodnikov's pressure-fighting style may be the key to the trouble Bradley suffered. I wouldn't call Pacquiao a conventional pressure fighter, if any kind, and Marquez certainly isn't. Peterson flips on and off but he's never shown pressure fighting ability on a Provodnikov level to me, and so on. I do wonder if Bradley, for all the intelligence I attribute to him, would not always have trouble with a Provodnikov, who isn't really much like anyone else Tim has faced. I don't believe we have another frame of reference that would be telling in Bradley's career.

D: I say that D, even if Bradley and camp have supported the idea, I can't say I saw it like this the five or six times that I watched this modern classic. I've seen fighters resort to this idea that they made fights harder on themselves than they had to so many times and there are some times when I can buy it. But probably more times I think they were forced into fights that didn't suit them by their opponent, not their own ego. I think this is one of those times. I think Tim Bradley fought Ruslan Provodnikov, not the same way through the fight, but constantly changing to suit the moment. So, firstly, I didn't see one constant brawl-fest. When he was too hurt to stay mobile (or maybe even know where he was) he fought on instinct. When he had nowhere to go or no wherewithal to leave, he stood his ground. That's what I saw.

But I also saw that when he could he did pop his jab and move in a way that favoured him against a stronger man, and did so in several rounds. When he was forced by Provodnikov to stand his ground, he just did. He fought out of those moments like a true warrior does and he took advantage of being able to fight on the outside when he could like a smart boxer does in that situation. I don't buy that he put himself in an awful position because he was trying to prove something. Even on the inside, when Bradley initiated, as opposed to reacted, it's not as if Bradley has made a career of outside fighting and gave that up. He's gotten inside on and mauled the hell out of several fighters. He's a short fighter who knows how to play inside quite well. Bradley fights just fine at all ranges. It's partly why I rate him so highly.

Let's not act like he abandoned something he does exclusively at any time in this match. He's an adaptive fighter, always changing his style up. Granted, if it wasn't erased from his mind by Ruslan's fists, only he knows his motives. Regardless, I don't see that he did anything reflecting poorly on his intelligence or discipline in this fight. Even if his trainer thought so or he later felt like it. I think it's probably Provodnikov's credit being falsified as Bradley's fault. I think, totally to the contrary of "fighting down to Ruslan", or "fighting stupid" that he handled severe adversity brilliantly, and in a way most simply can't. I think if he did fight a stupid fight with a concussion against Ruslan Provodnikov, no matter how much heart he has, he'd have been laid out. But he wasn't.

The mistakes that his trainer thought he made, or maybe he thought he made or countless fans thought he made, are actually an illusion, the way I see it. It might be easier to say "I made the fight harder than I had to." but I think that actually makes Bradley sound less intelligent than he is. It may seem counter-intuitive, but that's what I think the case is, very often, the many times I've heard fighters go to this old chestnut. They actually downplay their own decision-making and often the opponents too, while in hopes of distancing themselves from the supposed level of their opponent. "Please, don't think he's on my level. I just made it harder than I had to."  So, this is another piece of the case against Bradley's ring IQ and for his claimed sojourns into the fan-pleasing art of "stupid" fighting for reason X.

Section 3/3: The rematch - the most recent case for Bradley fighting "stupid" for reason X:

While I was frustrated with the decision in the initial bout, I'm still frustrated even if I agree with Pacquiao's recent victory. Why? Because I see now we've gone to a new, higher level of selling this stupid fighting angle. Throwing a random haymaker that fell well short here and there did happen. I won't say it didn't. But I've been seeing statements all over from some of boxing's most prominent voices like Jim Lampley about a Bradley who pinned his hopes on a kayo punch, made baffling strategic errors, did everything blatantly wrong, and in a few instances, all the way to Kevin Iole quoted saying "I thought he fought a stupid fight.".

I know Bradley talked up a knockout before the fight (God, who hasn't done that?) but again, maybe I'm the oblivious one. I don't see it. I see that as just talk that I've heard many times but in the actual fight I didn't see stupid fighting. No, I really didn't see this big problem that they tried to play up of Bradley swinging for the fences wildly for half the fight as though he wanted each punch to be a knockout. I didn't see this tactical decision hampering him that HBO and a lot of you saw. I saw him scoring more power shots to the head than he came remotely close to in the first fight, actually. I saw rounds that were closer. I saw a better fight even though I thought Pacquiao was more "on" in this bout than the first. To me, Bradley, once again probably had a perfectly real physical issue that hampered him a bit, and once again made the best of it and once again gets slated for doing well, this time even better. And, once again, I see a fake narrative being sold about it. 


I think Bradley did what he could with Provodnikov after getting concussed against an ever-improving pressure fighter and he did what he could (and a hell of a job at it) against both Pac and Provo, while having a genuine injury in all three combined fights. Real things that give context are not excuses. We all saw when injury occurred in the first Pacquiao fight.  I don't really have any serious doubt that he was hampered in the second fight by a different one either. I heard him say it to his corner clearly. Nothing suspicious about it, not some afterthought he threw in later to excuse doing something wrong. He didn't do wrong. He threw a few wild punches, as Pacquiao has certainly done. But overall, I would say Bradley makes pretty rational decisions and is a very smart fighter. He is constantly trying to adapt to circumstances like injury and I don't see that he's ever failed at doing very well to make those adaptations as well as you can expect. So, that's my take on The Desert Storm and the way he's viewed these days.

Work that bag,
Basement Gym Boxing

Monday, May 12, 2014

Quote Spotlight: Bermane Stiverne Did Not Want To Address Future Opponent In Post Fight Interview

In Call-out Central there were no phones ringing after Stiverne's hard night in taking out Chris Arreola to win the only major world heavyweight title that does not rest in the heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko's hands.

ESPN's Bernardo Osuna: Deontay Wilder is your mandatory but Wladimir Klitschko once again reiterated, he wants to unify the title that was once his brother's. What's next?

Bermane Stiverne: Listen, with all due respect, I don't give a damn about Wilder or Klitschko, right now. Right now, it's about what I won. You know what I'm saying?

Why spotlight? Stiverne seemed to want to make it clear that he's going to enjoy the moment so fans get to see no hunger or concern for a unification. I can certainly understand after the night he had if he didn't want to talk about fighting again soon but when a man earns a major title in a division headed by someone else who said he wants him and he doesn't want to address that at all, it is disappointing for the sport. But I do hope Stiverne enjoys what he did work hard to earn and a unification can take place by late 2014 or early 2015, no matter who is holding the belts, whether it's Klitschko and Stiverne, Pulev (we can't forget him, he's not just an opponent) and Stiverne, or even Pulev and Wilder, etc. Anything can happen but unification is always the greatest victory over boxing politics we can realistically hope for.

Work that bag,
Basement Gym Boxing

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Stiverne/Arreola II - A Classic Heavyweight Title Fight & Jack Reiss Helps

It is interesting that the true champion of the heavyweight division, Wladimir Klitschko, may never hear that he was in a classic title fight, or any classic fight at all, despite his Hall of Fame lock of a career, yet Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola get to say it. Neither gets to call themselves the top heavyweight in the division for now but they both get to have that badge of honour over the champion. Last night, with Pete Rose, Mario Lopez and Deontay Wilder in attendance, and Don King waiting to get back a major heavyweight titlist after so long, Bermane Stiverne, trailing on most cards that I've seen, in a genuine heavyweight dustup, found the equilibrium button on Cristobal Arreola. Two men battled for some history as one tried to be the first Haitian-born fighter to earn a major heavyweight title and the other tried to be the first Mexican-blooded fighter to do it.

Stiverne beat Arreola convincingly again, sure enough, but this time he was losing and this time he knocked his man out. It didn't play out like many saw it-a perfect repeat. It took dramatic twists and turns. Contrary to Stiverne's bizarre post-fight assessment that he'd only been hit with one decent punch (a body shot) during the night after taking quite a few bombs which clearly caught his attention, both fighters landed huge punches from the opening round. Arreola took an early and aggressive lead and then at the end of round one Stiverne found a few left hooks that shook Arreola up. In the second it turned back in Arreola's favour as he drove Stiverne to the ropes. Arreola's jab was excellent in this fight, and Stiverne was excellent at timing it at the tail end. It was exciting, tense action. Referee Jack Reiss did an exemplary job and knowing the resilience of Arreola, he gave him a chance that some may have disagreed with, and perhaps it would have been questioned if something medically traumatic had occurred. Thankfully, we did not have an Abdusalamov moment in this one, brutal as it was.

The decision by Reiss that I'm mentioning is following the second knockdown, where Arreola got up and clearly didn't have his balance. He wobbles, you see. He's not quite right upon rising. It's a small thing, perhaps, in the grand scheme of the event, but it is absolutely not an insignificant thing. It reminded me a lot of a Tim Bradley knockdown suffered at the hands of Ruslan Provodnikov where many a ref would've said that was it, "You got up, son, but you're not all there. Good try. But no more." The referee that night gave Tim, a man known for having inspirational tenacity even before that match, a questionable chance to continue. And Bradley won. Raul Caiz Senior played a part in a classic that night by making a judgment call involving a supremely resilient fighter. Jack Reiss gave Chris Arreola that chance to come back. Chris mentioned that maybe he was stopped prematurely. But I hope he sees in hindsight that if anything, he was given the perfect amount of opportunity by Reiss, who could've stopped it sooner and been thoroughly justified. This is a chance that these days you don't see in a lot of big United Kingdom fights, a place which has become notorious among the hardcore of boxing fans for contentious stoppages, with fans being disturbed by the thought that fights of all levels are given premature endings on the regular. And not out of cautious refereeing but out of bad refereeing. Out of either "hometown" corruption or blatant incompetence. I use the UK as an example because I can't go two weeks without hearing the term "British stoppage" and Jack Reiss is the kind of guy I'd like to see teaching a course in the UK after Saturday night.

Now, one of the reasons why I support this decision and think it was good work, even in retrospect, knowing now that Arreola would still be stopped soon after, is that A. Arreola did go the distance with Stiverne previously and B. Arreola's history must give context, as he's so well known to his followers for roaring back after being hurt and pulling out victories. A fighter's history matters. Like Bradley's history mattered in the Provodnikov match, Arreola's history mattered here, no matter what would happen; he should've gotten that chance, I say. Some guys fight well while hurt and if you have that ability, if you're known not to freeze up, defenselessly, when hurt, even in a questionable circumstance, with so much on the line, you should probably be given the benefit of the doubt if your corner doesn't throw in the towel. You had too hotly a contested match with too proven a fighter to stop it there. Split seconds matter in recovering during a match and even though the referee is within his right to call a fight if a man gets up wobbling and stumbling, he does not have to. And if the context is on the side of the fighter, the ref shouldn't call it. If you've proven your mettle in these situations, even though it's dangerous, it can still be a good call on the referee's part to give you more leeway than an unproven fighter might get, or in a fight that isn't particularly competitive. I support Jack Reiss, and think he did a great job here and saved the match from a lot of what-ifs. 

So, the boxing world can applaud two true warriors for putting on a classic, one true warrior for making history, one fine referee for wisdom, and arguably boxing's greatest hairdo for a huge promoter victory in his old age.

Work that bag,
Basement Gym Boxing

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