Year End Thoughts
Paul Williams and Sergio Martinez showed why they are two of the most avoidable fighters when they engaged in a great and entertaining fight. Sometimes a fighter has to switch tactics and for Paul Williams, Martinez forced him to be the pursuer. And this nearly cost him the fight as Martinez countered effectively and even knocked Williams down in the first round. In the early rounds, Martinez’s hands were just too quick but as the fight wore on, Paul Williams’ pressure slowed Martinez down. Yet, Martinez wills show to be as great as Williams as this become a fight where neither fighter would give quarter. And in the end, Williams won a close bout that could have gone either way. Meanwhile Kelly Pavlik recovered enough from a staph infection to be fighting on December 19th.
The American Heavyweight division is becoming even more muddled as both Kevin Johnson and Chris Arreola lost easily to Vitali Klitschko. While it is no embarrassment to lose to Vitali, both fighters showed significant flaws in blow out defeats. For Arreola, he showed heart as he continued to pursue Vitali in their bout but he looked amateurish. He could not penetrate Klitschko and rarely threaten the Ukrainian. As for Johnson, he simply fought to survive and interesting enough, his jab managed to cut and swell Vitali Klitschko right eye; Johnson simply didn’t consistently attack. Johnson showed that he was not easy to hit but he showed a reluctance to fight the taller Klitschko.
Speaking of Arreola, the question is being raised on whether Arreola has the dedication to be a star. When I think of Arreola, I am reminded of Tommy “The Duke” Morrison. Morrison fought with passion and may have been a harder puncher than Arreola but like Arreola; there was question of Morrison dedication outside the ring. Morrison signature victory was against George Foreman when he outboxed Foreman and managed to avoid his big shots. After that victory, Morrison took steps backward as he lost his next fight in one round and from that point, he never would rise to the same levels that he reached against Foreman. His career was shortened by contracting HIV and he never fulfilled his potential.
Arreola is following a similar path as he is showing at each fight heavier than the previous bout. Just a year ago, he was fighting under 240 pounds and now he is moving past 260 pounds. Arreola fights with passion and toughness as he is willing to take punishment just to pressure his opponent. His weight gain could derail a promising career.
Speaking of American heavyweights, Eddie Chambers is proving to be American best heavyweight. With solid technical skills and hand speed, Chambers has beaten many of the better heavyweights including Big Russian Poktvin and Samuel Peter. Against the top ranked Poktvin, Chambers put it all together against an elite heavyweight.
The best two Heavyweights are the Klitschko brothers and the only one who can beat Vitali is Wladimir and vice a versa. There are no heavyweights who can beat either fighters and as one HBO announcer noted, if you don’t treat boxing as a 365 day job, you won’t beat the Klitschko brothers.
Manny Pacquiao has been one of the world’s beat fighters over the past decade and yet, he has reinvented himself as a more complete fighter. A few years ago, Pacquiao fought with one hand, his powerful left, and used the right jab as more of range finder. This made him vulnerable in his first fight against Erik Morales and his two bouts with Marquez. As he moved up in weight, he developed a solid right jab and right hook to go with his sledgehammer left. His last fight with Miguel Cotto showed a great fighter at his peak. No longer a one handed puncher, he is the complete package.
Timothy Bradley and Lamont Peterson showed something extra in their fight. Conventional wisdom was that Peterson could only win by fighting on the outside and Tim Bradley best shot was to fight inside. After the first three rounds, Lamont Peterson and his corner realized that their fighter was losing the outside game as Bradley showed improvement in his boxing skills. Peterson fought the fourth round on the inside and Bradley now had to adjust when he realized that Peterson could fight on the inside with a ferocious left hook. So Bradley moved to the outside and forced Peterson to chase him. Bradley last adjustment proved to be decisive but both young fighters showed more than raw talent; they showed ring savvy. Conventional wisdom was wrong and both fighters were wise to ignore it.
The Super Six tournament got off to an exciting start with close competitive fights. The Super Middleweights are now boxing deepest division and the Super Six took six of the best 168 pounds pugilistic. Arthur Abraham knocked Jermain Taylor out in the final round whereas Carl Froch narrowly defeated Andre Dirrell. The big upset came when Andre Ward defeated Mikkel Kessler. With the second round coming up, other Super Middleweights are making their claims as Lucian Bute demolished Librado Andrade in four rounds in their rematch.
Finally, when does a fighter say goodbye? Juan Diaz lost a close bout to Paulie Malignaggi and this is his third lost in his last five bouts. Even his victory over Malignaggi in their first bout was close and could easily have been a lost. For Diaz, he has other career options with a college degree and goal of becoming a lawyer; so boxing is but one aspect of his life. Diaz has been a champion and fought some of the best fighters in the lightweight division and he is not yet 30 years old. The thing is that he has essentially two fights with Malignaggi a fighter who lost decisive bouts to Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton. Diaz is very good fighter but he is just short of being a great fighter so why continue to fight? He should have money in the bank and new opportunities. Of course, Diaz could simply say, “I still have something left and there are titles to fight for.” The real question is when does a fighter say goodbye, especially when you have options.
For Roy Jones, his recent lost to Danny Green in one round should send a message, it is time to leave. Roy Jones had been one of boxing great but since his first lost to Antonio Tarver, he has never been same. Over the past few years, Jones could beat second tier fighters easily but he could not defeat elite fighters. He kept plugging away, hoping for lightening to strike and youth be rediscovered. It is over and it is time for Jones to say goodbye.