Three Takeaways from the Weekend: Life Off for Josh Taylor
By: Jonah Dylan
When Anthony Joshua finally knocked out Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round of their 2017 fight of the year, everyone watching knew they were witnessing the birth of a superstar. The famous call from Adam Smith was “Lift off for AJ!”
It wasn’t a knockout, but it felt like a similar moment for Josh Taylor on Saturday in London.
Taylor and Regis Prograis put on a show in London. It was, as they say across the pond, brilliant. And it was a star-making performance for Taylor. Stateside in Reno, Shakur Stevenson just dominated Joet Gonzalez in a fight that didn’t exactly live up to the massive hype it had coming in. Still, we learned a lot about a ton of different fighters.
1. Josh Taylor is a superstar and should be getting pound-for-pound recognition
I’ll admit I thought Prograis would win this fight. This was obviously considered a 50-50 fight, but it seemed like the needle was leaning slightly toward Prograis. He’d just dominated everyone in front of him coming into this fight.
He wasn’t dominated in any way, but Taylor was just too good. Prograis fought a solid fight and has nothing to be ashamed of, but I think we just underestimated how good Taylor’s boxing is. He never really allowed Prograis to get on the inside, at least until the last few rounds when he already had the fight won on the cards. It felt like Prograis was fighting Taylor’s fight most of the night.
There had been some clamoring for Prograis to be on P4P lists before this fight, so it’s only fair we say the same for Taylor now, especially if you look at his resume. Three of his last four opponents have been former champions and he’s won convincingly against them all. I think it’s fair to slot him in around nine or 10.
As for what’s next: I’d favor Taylor ever-so-slightly against Jose Ramirez, but that’s clearly the fight to make. Ramirez will make at least one mandatory defense first, but Taylor-Ramirez is the fight to make for the back half of 2020.
2. Shakur Stevenson is the best featherweight in the world. Full stop.
Listen, I’m not saying you can’t argue for or Gary Russell Jr. or Josh Warrington or whoever (for what it’s worth, I don’t see the point of ranking Russell. He’s made it clear he won’t fight more than once a year and won’t fight anyone of consequence). I just think Stevenson is a level above.
People will say Joet Gonzalez isn’t the best opponent, but he was an undefeated prospect with a lot of hype behind him. Stevenson made him look silly, and the fight was really never in doubt. The 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist has elite movement, hand speed and defense. At 22, I say he beats anyone at 126 and anyone at 130 save for Miguel Berchelt. He’s already that good, and he’s only getting better.
I like the Stevenson-Josh Warrington fight a lot. Warrington would be the underdog in a world title fight yet again, but there would be a lot of high-level stuff here. The Warrington- Kid Galahad fight makes me think this might be an ugly battle, but Stevenson moves a lot more than Galahad.
Stevenson is headed to 130 sooner rather than later, but I’d like to see him stick around for one more fight against Warrington.
3. Dereck Chisora-Aleksandr Usyk would be a really interesting fight.
If I’m Usyk, I’m waiting for Joshua-Ruiz II and assuming the winner will vacate the WBO belt. That means Usyk would fight for a vacant title, though against who is a tricky proposition because the WBO rankings are messy after Usyk. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being Usyk-Dillian Whyte for that belt.
Still, Chisora is a fun guy to watch no matter who he’s in with. Saturday’s fight against David Price wasn’t the most entertaining on Price’s part, but Chisora still made it into a good scrap, as they say. He’s gonna come forward and press the action no matter what, knowing full well he might get caught – like he did by Whyte in their rematch last December.
Against Usyk, Chisora wouldn’t have ot be too worried about the power coming back. Usyk would try to move and avoid Chisora’s onslaught early, probably waiting for the Brit to wear down. It would probably work, and I’d favor Usyk, but it would be a good test of where he’s at as a heavyweight. He’d have to show he could take shots from big punchers and prove he can use his speed and defense to avoid taking too much damage against bigger guys.
If Usyk wants to fight for a world title in his next fight, he can. If he doesn’t think he’s ready and wants to test himself against a legit heavyweight, Chisora is the perfect next opponent. Regardless, sign me up for Chisora against literally anyone.
Follow me on Twitter @TheJonahDylan.
Five Post Fight Thoughts from Pacquiao vs. Horn
Five Post Fight Thoughts from Pacquiao vs. Horn
By: William Holmes
A legend in the sport of boxing lost to a man that nobody thought he would lose to on Saturday in Brisbane, Australia.
Manny Pacquiao is a sure fire first ballot hall of famer and is an eight division world champion. Since 2005 almost all of his fights were made available exclusively on Pay Per View. However, many were stunned to see Jeff Horn be named the victor and were left in disbelief. Many, including the announcers on ESPN, strongly felt that Manny was robbed and clearly won the fight.
Is this the end of Pacquiao’s career? What does this mean going forward?
Here are five post fight thoughts from the Pacquiao vs. Horn fight.
1. Pacquiao Was Not Robbed
This may come as a shock to some, but Pacquiao was not robbed. I’m not saying he didn’t win the fight, but you can’t argue with the judges who felt Horn won the fight. Pacquiao didn’t dominate any round with the exception of the ninth, and many, many, rounds were “swing” rounds and could have been scored either way.
Fans have to remember that crowd reaction affects judges and this fight took place in Horn’s home country. Most of the fans in attendance were rooting for their fellow Australian and were reacting positively to every punch that Jeff Horn threw. Yes, judges are supposed to be able to block out the sound and view a fight objectively, but that’s easier said than done and no judge is completely immune to the vocal support that surrounds him.
Fans also have to realize that viewing a fight live is much different than viewing a fight on TV. When you’re watching a fight on TV you can be swayed by the commentary of the announce team and you have a much better view/angle on the action inside the ring than those who are watching the fight in person. Ring side judges do not have the advantage of wide camera angle and often their views are obstructed by the ropes, ring, competitors, and the referee.
Additionally, Jeff Horn pressed the action and was able to dominate the exchanges when they were in tight or when Pacquiao’s back was against the rope. Ring Generalship and effective aggression are two criteria that judges use to judge a fight, and it was clear that Horn was dictating the pace to Pacquiao and never stopped coming forward.
Again, I’m not saying Pacquiao didn’t win the fight, I’m merely stating he wasn’t robbed.
2. CompuBox Stats Are Overrated
Many upset boxing fans point to the CompuBox statistics as evidence that Pacquiao was robbed. They note that Horn only landed 15% of his punches and that Pacquiao landed almost 100 more punches.
However, fight fans have to understand that CompuBox punch totals are done by a person sitting ringside keeping a manual tally. There is nothing scientific or reliable about CompuBox, at best it is an estimation. CompuBox also doesn’t take into consideration the visible effects of the punches landed.
As a general rule punches are more noticeable when a bigger man lands against a smaller man, and Jeff Horn was clearly the bigger man. When his punches landed they visibly moved Pacquiao and many of Pacquiao’s punches were not noticeable to the untrained eye.
3. More Big Fights Need to Happen Outside of Las Vegas
As a fight city, Las Vegas is overrated.
Yes, it’s the gambling capital of the world and very few locations can compete with the purse sizes that Las Vegas provides. But, if you’ve ever gone to a fight in Las Vegas you’d know that most of the fans who attend a big fight in Las Vegas are more concerned with the glitz, glam and celebrity that Las Vegas provides instead of the action in the ring.
I’ve been to Vegas several times for big fights, and a good 95% of the fans in attendance do not show up until a few minutes before the main event starts. Most of the fans at a Las Vegas fight do not know the difference between a jab and a cross and are more concerned with looking good at a big event.
The Pacquiao Horn fight was held in an outdoor stadium in Australia and came across great on television. 50,000+ fans were in attendance, a number that currently can not be reached in Las Vegas. The excitement and anticipation of a fight comes off much better in a big stadium when compared to Las Vegas, and makes it more attractive to the casual sports fan.
The Klitschko vs. Joshua fight was held at Wembley Stadium and was one of the best fights of the year. The crowd was unbelievable and that fight also looked great on television.
The most entertaining fight that this writer ever attended live was when Pacquiao fought Margarito at the home of the Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium. The venue was a big reason as to why that fight was so entertaining.
Granted, there will still be fight fans who only show up for the main event if a good boxing card were to be held outside of Las Vegas, but the overall experience is much better when it’s held in a stadium.
4. Pacquiao Needs to Drop Down in Weight
Ever since Pacquiao made the jump to the junior welterweight division and higher he has been the smaller man inside the ring. His walk around weight is near the welterweight limit and he often has to fight someone who has cut 10-20 pounds to make the welterweight limit.
When Pacquiao was in his prime his movement and endurance was good enough to run circles around his opponent so that they couldn’t catch him. He’s no longer in his prime and Jeff Horn was able to capitalize on his size advantage and trap Manny on the ropes with effective body work. If Jeff Horn was able to trap Pacquiao imagine what some of the other top welterweights could do to him.
Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr., Kell Brook, Shawn Porter, and even Lucas Matthysse are all opponents that are bigger than Pacquiao and would probably inflict more damage on him than what Horn did on Saturday.
Even though the current version of Pacquiao would still be competitive with most of the welterweights ranked in the top ten, he is risking serious damage to his body and health if he continues to campaign against bigger and stronger opponents when he is pushing 40.
5. An Aged Version of Pacquiao is Still Entertaining
Should Pacquiao retire? That’s a tough question but at the very least it should be discussed amongst him and his team.
But one thing that we learned on Saturday night is that even the faded and aged version of Manny Pacquiao is still exciting in the ring. His fight with Jeff Horn dominated social media and ESPN and has been the talk of the sports world for the past two days.
Fight fans were on the edge of their seat the entire fight and the ninth round was one of the most thrilling rounds of the year.
The ratings support the entertainment value of Pacquiao. ESPN recently released a press release indicating that the fight delivered a 2.4 overnight rating and was the highest rated fight for a cable network this decade. The release also indicated that the Battle of Brisbane was likely to be the highest-rated fight on ESPN’s networks since the mid 1990s.
The current version of Manny Pacquiao may have difficulty reclaiming a world title in the welterweight division, but he still draws eyes to the TV.