Monday, May 30, 2005

State of the Heavyweights: Clearing the Crossroad

By JE Grant

In the midst of the most muddled heavyweight picture in many years, the easy temptation is to write off the current crop of contenders, champions, and pretenders all as a part of a consortium of fighters who are unworthy of being in boxing’s glamour division.Of course, if you dig out those old boxing magazines and read the contemporaneous news through most of the last century, you will find decade after decade of claims decrying the weakness of the heavyweights. Read the complete article at.... State of the Heavyweights at The Sweet

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Krasniqi blows out Whitaker -- Much ado about very little

By JE Grant

Germany-based Kosovar Luan Krasniqi knocked out favored Lance Whitaker in 6 rounds in Germany tonight.

Much will be made about Krasiniqi's accomplishment and he will be promoted as being the next coming of Max Schmeling.

He improves to 28-1-1, but more importantly as the winner of this bout he is guaranteed a shot at WBO champion Lamon Brewster. Whitaker falls to 29-3-1.

European backers should take a deep breath before deciding Krasniqi is the real thing. Whitaker is the first fighter Krasniqi has beaten that is anywhere near a legitimately top 15 contender. There's simply no way that Whitaker deserved to be the number 1 contender for the WBO or any other so-called world sanctioning body.

This win should be a springboard for Krasniqi to continue fighting able-bodied contenders.

He will claim a desire to fight Brewster and perhaps he really wants that bout. However, Brewster has his eye on the really big money and right now that means a bout with Vitali Klitschko. We'll just have to wait and see if a Brewster-Krasniqi title match really happens.

In any case, it is a good win for Krasniqi. We just have to keep perspective on the overall quality of this win.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

June Predictions

By JE Grant

June 4 --: Kostya Tszyu (31-1, 25 KOs) vs. Ricky Hatton (38-0, 28 KOs) world junior welterweight title

One must be cautious when evaluating a great fighter based on his last bout which came after a long-layoff – something many discovered painfully watching Felix Trinidad go down in flames against Winky Wright. Like Trinidad, Tszyu came back from a long layoff and stunned the boxing world with a thorough beating of a very good Sharmba Mitchell. Many did not see the limits of Mayorga’s ability because they wanted to see the greatness of Trinidad once again. It is possible that the same thing is happening here with Tszyu. The central difference however, is that Mitchell is likely a better fighter than Trinidad’s opponent in his initial comeback fight, Ricardo Mayorga. It is also the case that Tszyu has proven his ability to adapt and mix boxing with punching against tremendous opposition (Zab Judah among them). I’m betting Tszyu still has enough resourcefulness in the tank to stop a very determined and able contender in Ricky Hatton. Hatton has faced limited competition in defense of his obscure WBU title but has demonstrated a ruggedness that is likely the real thing. Expect him to give his best effort and see many applaud his valiant effort. Expect Tszyu to show his full repertoire of boxing skill and sharp punching. Tszyu by KO in 8.

June 11 --: Mike Tyson (50-5, 44 KOs) vs. Kevin McBride (32-4-1, 27 KOs) heavyweights

Some care went into the opponent selection for Mike Tysons's return to active fighting. Kevin McBride is big, ultra-slow and is willing to run into Iron Mike’s still-powerful punches. One thing that was instrumental to Tyson’s success early in his career was his management’s recognition that the more often he fights the more focused and sharp he gets. Much of Mike’s game is his mental state. Fighting often will boost his confidence and allow him to advance in the rankings – just in time to take another beating against one of the young stallions currently at the top of the heavyweight charts. But, at least fighting often will get him into another big fight. McBride will likely be the first in a string of low-level opponents for Tyson. Should Iron Mike prevail, as expected, he will energize the considerable crowd he can still bring to the arena. Tyson by KO in 2.

June 11 --: Miguel Cotto (23-0, 19 KOs) vs. Muhammad Abdullaev (15-1, 12 KOs) WBO junior welterweight title

Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto, despite holding a fringe title, still has to be seen as a prospect. He is getting close to being ready for the a real championship fight with the likes of the true champion, Kostya Tszyu, or the winner of the upcoming Arturo Gatti-Floyd Mayweather WBC bout. There is the element of history between Cotto and Abdullaev that makes its viewing worthwhile. Abdullaev, an Uzbekistani living in Germany, defeated Cotto in the first round of the Sydney 2000 Olympics on a clear decision. Of course in the current computerized state of amateur boxing (that is merely counting landed blows) the Olympic sport is something very different than professional boxing. Cotto has come a great distance since the Olympic games. He’s fought better opponents under more stressful conditions – and he’s undefeated. Abdullaev has taken a different route professionally with more modest success. Little-known Emmanuel Clottey has also stopped him. Not the kind of record that inspires tremendous confidence. Cotto will add this to his kit bag and move on to the top talent in the division. Cotto by KO in 10.

June 18 -- Glen Johnson (42-9-2, 28 KOs) vs. Antonio Tarver (22-3, 18 KOs) world light-heavyweight title

Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver each ditched their respective title belts to fight each other last December. It seems the WBA, WBC, and IBF had other names in mind for each of them as their respective “number 1” contenders. Of course the rest of the world recognized then and now that the best two light-heavyweights were in the ring in a bout recognized only by the prestigious Ring Magazine as a title fight (no, I am not going to mention some of the other, lesser-known alphabets that did recognize it as a championship). They are still the best two light-heavyweights but each has something to prove. Johnson gave the solid, workmanlike effort he has become known for – only this time he was on the right side of a close decision. Another win puts him firmly at the top of the division in time for him to capture some substantial paydays in the twilight of his career. Tarver, claiming now that he wasn’t at his best, must win lest he become a footnote in the history of the division. Tarver has proven adaptability and focus in beating both Eric Harding and Roy Jones in rematches. I think he’ll do it again. Tarver by KO in 10.

June 25 --: Arturo Gatti (39-6, 30 KOs) vs. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (33-0, 22 KOs) WBC junior welterweight title

The specter of two more high-quality fighters in the talent-rich junior welterweight division meeting should make every boxing fan’s must-see list. Arturo Gatti is an old soldier of the sport having engaged in epic contests against a wide variety of the class of today’s boxing scene. Floyd Mayweather, though fairly new to the division, currently sits near the top of everyone’s pound-for-pound top ten list. And he should. He knows and exhibits every trick in the old-school book. He can punch when necessary and box better than anyone in the game – time after time. He has also proven that he can shut out the antics of his private life and execute flawlessly. The one glitch that may work against him against Gatti, however, is that in the 140-pound class he may – may – be at the outer edge of his power. Gatti is willing to take a world-class beating and continue to forge ahead. He has also demonstrated rediscovered skills under the tutelage of boxing sage Buddy McGirt. Although Mayweather will be favored, I see an upset. Gatti will push Mayweather to the edge – and edge him out. Gatti by decision.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Brewster-Golota: A struggle for a backwater title

By JE Grant

Saturday night boxing fans will witness another in a string of heavyweight “championship” fights held this year. Indeed, with four champions who have some recognition there are plenty of title fights to be seen. Lamon Brewster, 31-2 (27 knockouts), will defend his WBO title against the ever-controversial Andrew Golota, 38-5-1 (31 knockouts). Golota, of course, is fighting in his third successive attempt at capturing a piece of the championship, having fought to a very disputed draw against IBF champion Chris Byrd, and an equally absurd decision loss to WBA champion John Ruiz……….read the complete article at Brewster-Golota on The Sweet Science.Com

Friday, May 20, 2005

Bell captures IBF cruiserweight title in horrendous decision

By JE Grant

In what can be described as a direct assualt on the fabric of boxing, O'Neill Bell, (24-1-1, 22 KOs) garnered the IBF's version of the "world" cruiserweight championship with a horribly scored 12-round decision over Dale Brown, (33-4-1, 21 KOs).

Brown, a capable and sturdy boxer, repeatedly beat the home-run seeking Bell to the punch throughout the fight. What's more, the relatively light-hitting Brown was able to out-maneuver Bell and dictate the pace of the fight. It can even be said that he landed the bigger punches – Bell never came close to hurting Brown.

With the fighters splitting the opening rounds, Brown scored sharp counters to the head of the forward charging Bell with ringing regularity in the third. Bell's legs wobbled and his punches dropped off considerably.

From that point on, Dale Brown slowly gained control of the action. He continually pulled the one-dimensional O'Neill Bell out of position with clever slides and well-placed, if too infrequent jabs. Bell hustled enough to win rounds 2, 4, 5, and 10, but never convincingly dominated the action. I scored the bout 116-112 (8-4 in rounds) in favor of Brown.

Brown's clear lack of the explosive punch prevented him from becoming the IBF champion . He outboxed, outfoxed, and actually out-punched the favored and harder-hitting Bell.

Not since Lennox Lewis - Evander Holyfield I, in which Lewis easily outfought Holyfield only to see the bout scored a draw, has there been such a convincingly terrible decision rendered by supposedly professional judges at ringside.

Although it won't draw that kind of attention, this is not something boxing people should overlook or let pass without closer examination.

Whatever thoughts the judges in Florida had racing through their minds as they scored in Bell's favor after seeing him slapped silly round-after-round is up for conjecture. It should also be up to some stern public questioning.

Neither Brown or Bell demonstrated skills that will make anyone think that either represent a real threat to Mormeck. That does not, however, diminish the fact that Bell will now likely go on to realize a big payday while getting beaten down by Mormeck in a unification bout --- and Brown will be watching from ringside.

I picked Bell to win this bout by a KO in 7. That prediction did not come close to coming true. Most of us watching a boxing match, even if we are openly rooting for one fighter to win, hate to see the true victor robbed of his hard-earned victory. Such was the case tonight.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Whitaker-Krasniqi Prediction: The super-secret WBO title eliminator

By JE Grant

May 28 --: Lance Whitaker (29-2-1, 24 KOs) vs. Luan Krasniqi (27-1-1, 13 KOs) WBO heavyweight eliminator

For reasons known only to the serious thinkers on the WBO ratings committee, the best two heavyweights in the world other than champion Lamon Brewster are none other than Lance Whitaker and Luan Krasniqi.

Vitali Klitschko, Chris Byrd, and John Ruiz (the on-again WBA champion) are of course non-existent in the eyes of the WBO because they hold belts of other organizations. No it does not make sense. How about serious contender Hasim Rahman? Not even in the top 15. Wladimir Klitschko? Number 13. Former WBO titlist Corrie Sanders, a winner in his last fight? No mention.

If you think I’m less than serious in viewing this as a true title eliminator you’re right. Krasniqi was able to muster only a draw in his last bout, a European title defense against Timo Hoffmann.

He has also been stopped by little-known Pole, Przemyslaw Saleta. Whitaker, on the other hand, has had his moments. Wins over Oleg Maskaev and Monte Barrett served notice that the 6’8” “Mount” Whitaker was in the hunt for a top rating. A tough loss to Jameel McCline and some management issues led to a stall in his career. Since that loss, however, he has scored 6 wins and 1 draw against distinctly modest opposition.

He deserves to be rated in the top 15, but he is not the number one contender by a long shot. Still, he’ll likely take this one despite fighting in Germany, the Kosovar Krasniqi’s adopted stomping ground. Despite his great size Whitaker is not a giant puncher, but he’ll have enough juice to put away Krasniqi. Whitaker by KO in 8.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Judah successfully defends against Rivera -- No surprise

By JE Grant

Welterweight champion Zab Judah (34-2-1, 25 KOs) easily defended his undisputed title with a third-round knockout of mandatory challenger Cosme Rivera (28-8-2, 20 KOs). He knocked down the challenger early in the first and was in total control throughout.

The fight serves as an embarrassment to the ratings committee of the IBF that somehow came to the conclusion that Rivera was the top welterweight in the world other than the champion Judah. Better than former champions Shane Mosely, Cory Spinks (who was, for some reason moved to the jr. middleweight division), WBO champion Antonio Margarito (yes, I know the organizations don't rate each other's champion -- how ludicrous), or Luis Collazo.

(To confuse the matter even more, of course, Collazo is the WBA "champion" despite the fact that the WBA considers Judah the real "super champion" because he holds multiple belts. To decode that madness, you only need to realize that when Collazo defends his (less-than-super) title, the WBA is there with a hand out expecting a fee. Same goes with a Judah defense of his "super" title).

You'll have to ask the IBF which fight or set of fights led to a number one ranking. Rivera is clearly a journeyman fighter who was never a threat to the undisputed title. His last opponent prior to tonight's fight left the ring with a .500 record after being stopped by Rivera .

All-in-all, it was a waste of time for an undisputed champion. Judah is obviously a top fighter who should be engaging the best in the world; fighters who will enable him to earn major paydays. Everytime a fighter enters a ring, there is risk of injury --- why should Judah be forced to take such a chance against a fighter who has no business being a mandatory challenger?

Prior to this fight, you'll note that in my "May Predictions" column I picked Judah to win by knockout in 2. Okay, so I was off by one round. The real point is, that no champion should be so far above the pack that he should be expected to score a KO in 2 against the so-called number one challenger.

And, Judah indeed is not so far above the best of the welterweight division. He may be the best but certainly some of the real contenders mentioned earlier in this article will give him a stiff test. That's the way it's supposed to be.

Boxing writers and fans, take note of the IBF's rankings and ask them why Rivera was tops. Ask them why Cory Spinks is no longer rated in their welterweight top-ten yet qualifies as a top-ten jr. middleweight without having fought a single fight in that division. Ask them why they choose not to rate the champions of their rival sanctioning bodies (yes, that's a question for all the sanctioning bodies). Ask them why they exist.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Brief Comments -- James Toney Stripped of WBA Title

By JE Grant

Today it is being reported that James Toney was stripped of his recently acquired WBA heavyweight championship, fined, and suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission for having an illegal substance in his system as detected by a post-fight test.

I'm sure in the coming days there will be hearings and lots of arguments put forth by a battery of attorneys on both sides. Nonetheless, damage has already been done to Toney's reputation and boxing is now going to be linked to baseball and football as being tainted.

Though quick resolution is possible, this will likely drag on for a few months. In the meantime, boxing's heavyweights need to quickly unify the remaining titles and allow the division to assume its traditional role as the bell-weather of the sport. Boxing is poised to make a comeback and this setback, though serious, can be a mere bump in the road if the powers controlling the division work diligently to create one champion.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Golota gets another chance – where will it lead?

By JE Grant

When Andrew Golota fights, few members of the viewing public watch for the accuracy of his jab or the crispness of his straight right. No, what they look for in an episode of Golota vs. Anyone is if he will blow a gasket. Will he bite again? Another spate of crunching low blows? Perhaps a total freeze? Maybe a “no mas”? All of the above is possible - and more...Read the entire article at the Golota Gets Another Chance at The Sweet

Monday, May 02, 2005

May predictions

By JE Grant

May 7 --: Joe Calzaghe (38-0, 30 KOs) vs. Mario Veit (45-1, 23 KOs) WBO super-middleweight title

Joe Calzaghe has engaged in 16 title fights, including 15 title defenses and the boxing world does not know if he really has the goods. He seems content to hold onto the WBO belt despite the obvious evidence that it has cost him the notice and money that he claims to want. This fight is more evidence of the same. Calzaghe stopped Mario Veit in 1-round in their previous meeting. Veit was pushed forward to number-one contender status – in the minds of the WBO rating committee and no one else -- and Calzaghe was “forced” to defend or risk having the title vacated. He should’ve dumped the belt in the river and demanded a money fight with the willing Jeff Lacy or stalked a superstar such as Bernard Hopkins. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. In this fight Calzaghe beats Veit again…says he wants a big name…laments the fact that he isn’t accorded the respect he deserves…and plans another meaningless defense of his WBO belt. A vicious cycle. Calzaghe by KO in 5.

May 7 --: Jose Luis Castillo (52-6-1, 46 KOs) vs. Diego Corrales (39-2, 32 KOs) The Ring Magazine world lightweight title / WBC and WBO belts

At 31 Jose Luis Castillo is already a 15-year veteran of the ring. He’s tough and can hit. Corrales, a proven puncher, has had good success since leaving prison – except, of course for his slugfest stoppage loss to Joel Casamayor, later avenged. Both fighters have come up short against Floyd Mayweather, but he won’t be in the ring on this night. Look for Corrales to edge out Castillo in power and control the fight. Corrales by 12 round decision.

May 14 --: Winky Wright (48-3, 25 KOs) vs. Felix Trinidad (42-1, 35 KOs) middleweights

Perhaps the most important non-title fight of the year. Winky Wright has proven brilliant in applying an array of skills against a diverse set of contenders and champions. Of course until his twin victories over Shane Mosely, he never received the acclaim that he was due him. Trinidad, long renowned for the power that carried him through 18 defenses of the welterweight crown, actually created the most attention of his career following his two-year hiatus with a stunning knockout of Ricardo Mayorga. It is still possible that too much is being read into that victory. After all, it was Mayorga’s first real fight as a middleweight and just two fights removed from his loss to Cory Spinks for the welterweight title. Winky will expose some flaws that Mayorga simply couldn’t. He will pick apart Trinidad from angles he hasn’t seen in years. Wright by decision.

May 14 --: Zab Judah (33-2-1, 24 KOs) vs. Cosme Rivera (28-7-2, 20 KOs) world welterweight title

Zab Judah was at the top of his game in his title-winning effort over Cory Spinks. He won’t need to reach very far into his bag of tricks to pull this one out. Rivera shows nothing in his record that rates a shot. In his last fight his opponent didn’t even have a winning record. Judah wins by KO in 2.

May 20 --: O'Neill Bell (23-1-1, 22 KOs) vs. Dale Brown (33-3-1, 21 KOs) IBF cruiserweight title

O’Neil Bell has been steadily harnessing a strong punch and improving his skills. Except for former champion Arthur Williams, much of his resume does not contain a list of the best and brightest. Brown, on the other hand, has already contested against the best: Wayne Braithwaite; Vassiliy Jirov; and Jean-Marc Mormeck. In each instance he was chopped up and stopped. There’s no clear reason for him to be in a title fight. Bell will step up and take a belt. I hope he ventures on to a match with Mormeck. Bell wins by KO in 7.

May 21 --: Lamon Brewster (31-2, 27 KOs) vs. Andrew Golota (38-5-1, 31 KOs); WBO heavyweight title

Lamon Brewster, holder of the fringe – but suddenly important – WBO belt, is quickly dismissed as a one hit wonder. That’s what losses to Clifford Etiene and Charles Shufford will lead to. Don’t rule out the possibility that his power is the real thing. We should also recognize that with his victory over Wladimir Klitschko came a boost in confidence – confidence gained from coming back from the brink. But hold that thought, Andrew Golota, easily a candidate for boxing’s wasted talent award for past misdeeds, is coming in with some boosted confidence of his own. Robbed in successive title shots at Chris Byrd and John Ruiz, Golota should be fighting a title-unification bout with Brewster instead of challenging. He has a proven ability to go the distance and fight hard along the way. He’s not a great hitter but he’s very strong and his chin, if not concrete, is solid. He’ll get to Brewster late. Golota by KO in 10.

May 21 --: Paul Briggs (23-1, 17 KOs) vs. Tomasz Adamek (28-0, 20 KOs) vacant WBC light heavyweight title

What title are they fighting for? The WBC title you say. Didn’t we watch Antonio Tarver lose that title along with The Ring belt and every other meaningful championship to then IBF-champion Glencoffe Johnson? And of course Tarver and Johnson knocked-out all-everything Roy Jones. One of these men will walk out of the building with a title, but unless the victor faces someone named Johnson or Tarver this is a nothing title. I, like almost all of the rest of the world, do not know either of these guys. No pick.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Toney – once more to the well – once more a champion

By JE Grant

James Toney had no business winning in Madison Square Garden Saturday night. His renowned wizardry was supposed to be dulled by a thick midsection, a real height problem in today’s world of giant heavyweights, a series of injuries, and at 36 years of age perhaps he was going one fight too many. (Does anyone remember the spent shell of a fighter that inhabited the body of Muhammad Ali at age 36?) …Read the entire article at Toney -- Once More to the Well -- Once More a Champion at The Sweet
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