Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Calzaghe -- Once again trolling for an opponent

WBO super-middleweight titlist Joe Calzaghe is once again making noise about fighting someone other than a truly top contender.

Calzaghe, in an article appearing on the BBC webpage, says he is looking for warm-up match as he waits for Jeff Lacy. The truth is, for most of his title reign he has feasted on a steady diet of warm-ups.

He also continued his claim to want a light-heavyweight title fight -- though based on his focus on Clinton Woods, there is ample evidence that he wants to go the easiest route possible.

Lacy stands in stark contrast to Calzaghe in that he wants to engage the best opponents now and not when he approaches his mid-30s. What good is a long title reign if all of the champion's opponents are journeymen.

The best champions face the best available contenders irrespective of alphabet sanctioning bodies.

So when I hear that Calzaghe is once again going to square off against a less-than-stellar opponent, I just want to say to Joe, say it ain't so Joe, say it ain't so.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Floyd Mayweather Toys With Gatti in AC

By JE Grant

Undefeated virtuoso “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 139, 34-0 (23 KOs), forced defending WBC super lightweight champion Arturo Gatti’s trainer Buddy McGirt to stop their fight after 6 rounds in Atlantic City Saturday night ending a one-sided beating. The faster, stronger and more versatile Mayweather, 28, pounded Gatti, 33, clearly the favorite of the Atlantic City crowd entering the fight, from the opening bell. Mayweather delivered the complete package, jabs, left hooks, straight rights and counters from every angle as Gatti appeared to approach the challenger in slow-motion. Read the entire article at… Floyd Mayweather toys with Gatti in AC at the Sweet

Monday, June 20, 2005

Woods and Gonzalez to vie for IBF light heavyweight belt

By JE Grant

Clinton Woods, 37-3-1 (23 KOs), is scheduled to defend his IBF light heavyweight title against former WBO light heavyweight belt-holder Mexican Julio Gonzalez, 38-2 (23 KOs) this fall.

Of course the reason I have not listed the Englishman Woods as “champion” is because he gained the belt as a result of the stripping of the title from Glen Johnson.

Johnson, you see, had the audacity to want to defend his title against the number one light heavyweight in the world, Antonio Tarver (who was himself stripped of the WBA and WBC titles for fighting Johnson).

It is, therefore, difficult to view this fight as anything other than a match-up of two reasonably able top 10 contenders.

Woods’ primary claim to fame to date is a draw with Johnson (Nov. 11, 2003). He was also soundly drubbed and embarrassed by Roy Jones in his sole attempt at the real title (Sept. 7, 2002).

It appears even Woods understands that the real champion today is Tarver who regained his claim with a tough win over Johnson this past Saturday.

“Tarver is back on top of the tree now,” Woods is quoted as saying on the BBC webpage today.

Gonzalez is noted as being the first man to beat Dariusz Michalczewski (who was 48-0 at the time) to capture the WBO belt. He also holds wins over Johnson and Montell Griffin.

(I’m aware that some contend that the title represented the lineal championship. While the claim is not outlandish, it should be noted that German promoters studiously avoided any suggestion that Michalczewski face Jones who captured every other belt imaginable).

He lost the title in his first defense against Hungarian Zsolt Erdei.

His other loss was a lopsided decision against Jones (July 28, 2001) for all the other belts in the division.

It is a shame that quality fights such as Woods-Gonzalez can be overshadowed by the silliness of the sanctioning bodies. This fight should stand on its own merit as being between two fighters actually contending for a real title match with Tarver.

Ruiz May Face McBride – Stop This “Colossal” Disaster Before It Begins

By JE Grant

Much of the boxing media is abuzz with the prospect of recent Mike Tyson conqueror, Irishman Kevin McBride, facing freshly reinstated WBA belt-holder John Ruiz. While it is difficult to imagine McBride and Ruiz in the same ring for any "world" title, both men appear to be on a collision course. If the WBA title ever meant something, it is quickly spiraling in a downward thrust of irrelevance...Read the entire article at Ruiz may face McBride at the Sweet

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Tarver Recaptures Light Heavyweight Crown

By JE Grant

Antonio Tarver, 173½, reclaimed his perch high atop the light heavyweight division, with a clear, though hard-fought, 12-round decision over a determined Glen Johnson, 173, in front of a thrilled Memphis crowd Saturday night. Tarver, 23-3 (18 KOs), was focused from the opening bell, mixing hard and light punches in a high volume with both hands. His clear design was to prevent Johnson, 48-10-2 (28 KOs), from steamrolling and capturing rounds through sheer determination…Read the complete article at Tarver recaptures light-heavyweight crown at The Sweet Science.Com

Sunday, June 12, 2005

McBride outlasts a shell of Tyson, captures KO win

By JE Grant

Irishman Kevin McBride, 33-4-1 (27 KOs), 271, stopped former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, 50-6 (2 NC) (44 KOs), 233, in Washington D.C.’s MCI Center last night as Tyson decided not to respond to the bell in round 7.

By most accounts, Tyson led early, though with desperate, wide shots thrown in an effort to score the early knockout. He must’ve known going in that his gas tank was near “E” and he only had a few good shots left in him.

This bout says nothing about McBride except that he happened to be there at the end of what was once a promising career. He was chosen because he is slow, does not punch all that well, and is relatively easy to hit. He was all those things Saturday night and still Tyson could not muster the energy or ability to defeat him.

Of course Tyson still has large bills to pay, but future ring appearances don’t figure to bring in the tens of millions that are needed. Some of his creditors are likely never to receive what he owes.

Hopefully this bout brings to an end any speculation that Tyson has any future in the upper ranks of the division. His legions of admirers, however, are rarely dissuaded from believing in him despite the profound evidence that he is finished as a contender.

He has now dropped 3 of his last 4 fights, all by knockouts. (An interesting fact is that Tyson, if he really retires as he said he would, leaves the ring never having lost a decision – all 6 of his losses have been stoppages).

McBride will undoubtedly cash-in on this victory, but any talk of championships will come to nothing. He will gain a rating and will lose to the first real top 10 fighter he faces. He is a proven journeyman and there is no shame in that --- he’s just not a real contender.

Cotto’s skill, poise lead him past Abdullaev

By JE Grant

Miguel Cotto (24-0, 20 KOs), stopped his Olympic nemesis Mohammad Abdullaev (15-2, 12 KOs), in 9 rounds to successfully defend his WBO junior welterweight belt, Saturday night in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Abdullaev, a gold medallist in the 2000 Olympics, started strong with very deliberate pressing attack. Although punching only sporadically, he was able to occasionally land on the moving Cotto from behind a high guard….Read the entire article at Cotto's Skill, Poise Lead Him Past Abdullaev at the Sweet

Friday, June 10, 2005

Briggs continues win streak

Former lineal heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs, weighing an especially heavy and soft, 261, crunched Ghanian Abraham Okine, 245½, in 3 rounds of a scheduled 10 in Verona, New York tonight. The bout, which took place as part of the backdrop for the International Boxing Hall of Fame festivities in nearby Canastota this weekend, was to be Okine's move into the big-time against a fading former contender (and champion if we're purists)………Read the entire article at Briggs continues win streak at The Sweet Science.Com

Brief Comments --- Tyson vs. McBride

By JE Grant

Reports today are that Irishman Kevin McBride, 32-4-1 (27 KOs) weighed in at 271, and Mike Tyson, 50-5 (2 NC) (44 KOs) weighed 233. For McBride, the weight is a career high and, at least from the photos of the weigh-in, he does not look the better for it.

Tyson is also heavy and looks it. His mid-section is thick and he is not the well-defined man-hunter of years past. He looks hard enough for this fight, but, if this is the best shape he can muster he will have severe problems with the top five contenders in the division.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

More gnashing of the teeth about the heavyweights

Many of the popular boxing websites bloggers seem to lament the current state of the heavyweight division -- even to the extent of rewriting the history of the division and discussing Muhammad Ali in nearly mythic terms.

Some have suggested that his championship opponents including Floyd Patterson, Ernie Terrell, Jerry Quarry, Jimmy Ellis, Chuck Wepner, and Leon Spinks were part of some special "supporting cast" for Ali. One need only view the tapes of his defenses against such opponents to realize that his era was not especially filled with great fighters. Indeed perhaps no era is packed with tremendous heavyweights.

Ali beat Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, and George Foreman and can claim his fights with them were in their prime years. This is perhaps the extent of the list of "great" or "near-great" heavyweights Ali defeated while they were at their peak. He beat great light-heavyweights Archie Moore and Bob Foster. He also beat a possible near-great inclusion in Ken Norton (and yes, a strong case could be made that Norton won all three of their meetings).

The point is, that even great fighters will meet only a limited number of great opponents -- even if they are not trying to avoid anyone.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Harrison Blows Past Brodie

By JE Grant

Scotland’s Scott Harrison, 24-2-2 (24 KOs) easily defended his WBO featherweight belt with a fourth round stoppage of Michael Brodie, 35-3-1 (22 KOs), in Brodie’s hometown of Manchester, England. The bout, held in the MEN Arena, served as an appetizer to the Kostya Tszyu – Ricky Hatton match to be held tonight in the same ring..……..Read the complete article at Harrison Blows Past Brodie at The Sweet Science.Com

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Lacy-Reid – Left Hook Lacy’s charge through the super-middles

By JE Grant

IBF super-middleweight champion Jeff Lacy, 19-0 (15 KOs), is set to take on challenger and former WBC (and a handful of other alphabet titles) champion England’s Robin Reid, 38-4-1 (27 KOs), on August 6th in Tampa.

As readers of my column have come to know, I am an unabashed believer in the potential of Lacy, 28. He possesses the best power in the division and, despite his relative newcomer status, shows poise and determination. He is still a little rough around the edges, but is the best bet to dominate the division.

Reid, 34, will provide a bit of a nuisance but not much else. He is a solid journeyman but he won’t stand up under the heavy artillery Lacy will bring.

Of course this fight is supposedly the only thing that stands in the way of a unification bout with WBO belt-holder Joe Calzaghe, 39-0 (31 KOs). Calzaghe is widely regarded as the best in the division. Of course big unification fights have had a way of not happening where he is involved.

Calzaghe, 32, himself a victor over Reid (W12, Feb. 13, 1999), was never able to lure multi-belt holder Sven Ottke into the ring, and Ottke retired undefeated. Other talked-about fights, with light-heavyweight king Glen Johnson and undisputed middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins, eluded him.

Lacy, on the contrary, appears to be one of the few champions today who defends often and openly calls on the big names.

He is fighting in his fourth world title fight in 10 months, and is aiming for a fall unification with Calzaghe in the fall --- assuming he can avoid the last minute collapse in negotiations that occurs whenever Calzaghe gets near a serious bout.

For Reid, this is likely the end of the title road should he lose. Since losing to Calzaghe he has lost in his only meaningful championship challenge, against the tricky Ottke (L12, Dec. 13, 2003) in a controversial decision. He has also won and lost in bouts for the more obscure alphabet titles.

All-in-all, this “mandatory” defense (yes, Reid is inexplicably the top-rated available IBF contender) will serve primarily as a tune-up for whatever bout takes place in the fall. If, for some reason the Calzaghe match falls out, you can bet Lacy will defend again before the year is out.

The Lacy-Reid bout will air on Showtime.

If only the other champions of the world could follow his lead…….
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