Posts Tagged With: Errol Spence Jr.

Risk, Reward and Real Boxing

This weekend boxing fans will be witness to the conclusion of another exercise in delaying the inevitable.  Lamont Peterson will be challenging (if you can call it that) former Olympian Errol Spence Jr.  Spence has been rolling through opponent after opponent since his pro debut in 2012.  Admittedly, his early opponents were low risk by any standard, but when he decided to make the transition to legacy-making fights, he jumped right into the deep end, taking on Kell Brook.  In that fight, Brook was thoroughly dominated for his second consecutive fight.  His only previous loss, however, was a fight in which he moved up two weight classes and fought one of the best in the sport, Gennady Golovkin.  Spence had always looked good, but it was the fight against Brook that really made him shine.  It was a showcase both for Spence’s talent and his limitations, but it was clear that his future held big things.

One of those things arrives this weekend in the form of the perfect opponent.  Lamont Peterson has enjoyed extreme devotion from his hometown fans, enough that their loyalty and enthusiasm swung the judges’ favor his way when he fought Amir Khan.  He would likely have lost a rematch.  I have always been a fan of his, and not just because of his boxing ability.  He’s a classy, admirable guy outside the ring, and he just so happens to be a hell of an athlete who’s fun to watch.  Lately, though, his ambition seems to have left him, and he’s got a list of excuses for everything that goes wrong in a fight.  He’s always fallen well short of the mark against big opponents (Danny Garcia, Lucas Mathysse, Tim Bradley), but some of his less noteworthy challengers have given him trouble as well.  In his two past fights he’s struggled against David Avenesyan and Felix Diaz Jr.  Neither one is likely to hold a title any time soon, and while the record shows that Peterson won those fights, you wouldn’t know it to watch them.

One of the biggest reasons to see Lamont Peterson fight has always been his incredible stamina, but recently he’s seemed lazy and sluggish, and has chosen to fight less frequently.  I sat in a stadium full of Lamont Peterson fans the night he fought Felix Diaz Jr., and all of us expected the decision to go against him.  We all actually wanted him to lose that night, not because we weren’t fans of his, but because that’s what his performance deserved.  His most recent win was more convincing but similarly disappointing.  When he meets Spence this Saturday, he’ll have fought only three times since 2015.  Let’s hope he got the rest he needed, because stepping back up in competition so suddenly against someone so young and talented is a good way to end your career.  Lamont will come up with his formidable jab and hold Spence off for the first couple rounds, and he might move his hands enough to win one or both.  If he’s in good form, he’ll throw consistently for two or three rounds and defend well, but then he’ll slow down and stop throwing.  Once Spence feels comfortable letting his hands go, he’ll push Lamont to the ropes and they’ll call it.

In the heavies there’s been a lot of hubbub surrounding the showdown between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker.  Mostly because Parker has a big mouth.  It’s become a real trend in boxing for untalented, uneducated Brits to essentially rant their way to a contract.  I’m fine with Sky Sports using their airtime to broadcast David Haye-Tony Bellew 5, but let’s not pretend these exhibitions have anything to do with boxing.  Haye, Bellew, Chisora, Fury–none of them were ever relevant, yet they felt comfortable claiming they were going to easily defeat opponents with much greater experience, even threatening to kill them, then shamelessly taking the easy way out once in the ring.  Reminds me of Trump, actually.  Haye-Bellew?  That’s fake news.  Fake boxing.  It cheapens the efforts of the real athletes to allow guys like that to Paris-Hilton their way to a televised title shot.  (Sure, Fury beat Klitschko, but we’ll never know how the rematch would’ve gone.)

We spent so many years suffering through a total drought in the heavyweight division (save for the Klitschkos) that it’s now possible to become a known entity with very little experience.  In fact, it worked both ways, in that when we had no one else to compare them to, many fans were even critical of the Klitschkos.  Tyson Fury was a sideshow when he started his campaign to get a fight with Wladimir, the biggest win on his resume over Dereck Chisora, but suddenly he was a name.  The same thing has happened with Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua, their considerable reputations preceding their success and being met with a stubborn but well-founded skepticism.  Joseph Parker is yet another, possibly even more extreme example of the phenomenon.  The difference being that Wilder and Joshua actually have proven themselves.

How Parker was chosen as the opponent, I can’t imagine.  Aside from a unanimous decision over Joshua’s last opponent (who Joshua knocked out), and a much closer one over Hughie Fury, he has no credentials that would justify his selection.  I guess height is now considered a talent supplement in the heavyweight division (Parker is 6’4″).  Actually, that does show that we’re learning–we’ll never have to sit through another Klitschko-Haye, but I have a feeling the talent deficit for Parker will be similar.  There’s no doubt that Parker is an impressive athlete, but it’s unlikely he’ll dethrone one of the best British heavyweights of all time.  It’ll be a good learning experience for Joshua and should be entertaining to watch, but merely a formality.  There’ll be several more to come, I’m sure, before we get what we’re really waiting to see: Wilder-Joshua.  Given that both of them are young and the division is relatively vacant, their meeting seems inevitable.  I’d be surprised if both don’t end up carving out a place in the history books.

In March a fight will be held to determine the mandatory challenger for Sergey Lipinets.  More tantalizing is the co-feature, a bout between Viktor Postol (KO over Mathysse) and Regis Prograis.  Both are up-and-coming talents looking to establish their place on the ladder.  Plus, Prograis wears a werewolf mask to the ring.  While neither fighter has managed a career-defining win, Postol has taken on Terence Crawford, and a win here would go a long way to getting him back to the top of the division.  Expect real entertainment from this one.


Categories: Thoughts On: | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Piece of Resistance

This Saturday Kell Brook takes on Errol Spence Jr. for the IBF welterweight title, just one fight removed from his first defeat, moving up in weight to fight Gennady Golovkin.  Clearly, Spence is less of a physical force than Golovkin, but likely no less of a challenge.  Having dominated all his previous opponents, Spence convinced fans and analysts that he’s ready for the next level of competition, and Kell Brook fits the bill.  The only real name on his resume so far is Chris Algieri, who, admittedly, has only lost to Pacquiao and Khan, but is otherwise unaccomplished in his professional career (except for his defeat of Provodnikov).  Brook is similarly undistinguished in his record save for his victory over Shawn Porter, elevating him to the higher level of competition which granted him this match against a fighter who may be the next face of the sport.

Anyone watching the end of HBO’s broadcast of Crawford-Diaz this past weekend is likely to remember Max Kellerman’s effusive veneration of Spence in comparing his skill level, along with Crawford, to the greats in the history of the sport.  Kellerman suspects, he says, that Spence is special.  His choice of words for this statement was particularly appropriate, as Brook refers to himself as the Special One.  The fight is, indeed, a battle to prove who will be seen as the Special welterweight, and potentially the most marketable fighter behind Saul Alvarez.  Worldwide, Brook is probably better known than Spence because of the fight with Golovkin, but in America (where the money is), Spence has the advantage of being an Olympian.  Fighters featured in the Games have always enjoyed an automatic bump in popularity in the States.  He was the standout representative from our lackluster 2012 team, and has acquitted himself well since turning pro, but didn’t have enough to get the gold that year.  Of course, scoring in Olympic boxing over the past decade has been notoriously corrupt and inaccurate.  The question remains until this Saturday, who really is the next star of the division?  Who can be charismatic, talented and powerful enough to be the poster child?  It reminds me a bit of the plot line from The Lego Movie, where Chris Pratt plays the most ordinary lego-guy on the planet, but everyone around him keeps calling him “the special.”  He doesn’t believe it until the very end, but the viewer harbors a deep suspicion that he may well be more important than he realizes.

“Because the only thing anyone needs to be special is to believe that you can be. I know that sounds like a cat poster but it’s true.” – The Lego Movie

Brook clearly believes himself to be that special.  He puts it on his boxing trunks.  It’s probably on his pajamas.  But Spence has been disappointed in the past when a lot of other people had faith in him.  Has his professional success buoyed his spirits to the point that he can overcome the force of skill commanded by Kell Brook?  He has a two-inch read advantage, which will go a long way, and he’s a few years younger, which never hurts.  Brook is more experienced, but still hasn’t faced anyone in his division at such a high level.  Golovkin, of course, is arguably just as talented and what he lacks in talent he makes up for in size and power.  It showed a lot of courage, confidence and amibition for Brook to face him.  That being said, Golovkin knocked Brook out in five rounds.

The fight for the “Special” crown will be exciting in terms of the future of the sport, but may not be quite as exciting to watch.  Both being slick fighters, Brook and Spence will probably spend a large part of the early rounds circling and jabbing, holding when their opponent gets too close.  For Brook, that period of hesitation should be encouragement to establish his range and then stay there.  Spence could conceivably stay on the outside for the whole fight and score enough points to win a decision.  At the same time, both fighters are willing to trade at times, and are more than capable of putting together devastating combinations.  Look for thrilling exchanges in the middle rounds, with one of the two (Spence, I’m guessing) getting ahead on points and then playing it safe for the last two to three rounds.  Both men are dangerous enough to command the respect of the other, and both will have a bright future beyond a loss in this fight.  If either of them has been avoided (and they’ll tell you they have), a loss will serve to bring them more lucrative and interesting opponents, while the winner will be set for marquee fights with the division’s biggest names.

All the champions at welterweight right now are marketable, some more so than others, but I could also see any of them being usurped at any given time.  Manny Pacquiao still holds the WBO belt, but is getting older and seems to be taking fights on a whim.  Keith Thurman holds both the WBA and the WBC belts, but showed himself to be fallible against Danny Garcia and also in previous fights.  Lamont Peterson even still holds a titular WBA belt, and Brook holds the last of the group.  With so much talent in the division it’s hard to believe a couple of those names won’t change by the end of the year, if not more than once.  The question is whether one of them will set themselves apart as being different, whether someone can clearly show themselves to be special.  It might not be this one, but at some point, after the dust has settled, the mandatories have been satisfied and the controversies cleared, the matchmakers will give us that epic fight between the best and the second best: the piece of resistance.


Categories: Thoughts On: | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Crawford, Spence Rising

A week from tomorrow Terence Crawford will take on Hank Lundy in the only significant match of the month.  Crawford will get another chance to put his talent on display, and poor Lundy is stuck being a stepping stone for yet another rising fighter.  Hammerin’ Hank has been an ESPN mainstay for years, and only provides action-packed fights, but does so competently.  He’s lost 5 fights at lightweight against 25 wins, but his record is deceptive;  he’s fought upper-level competition more consistently most fighters with 25 wins.  In what might be descending order, the opponents who have managed wins over Lundy include John Molina Jr., Mauricio Herrera, Raymundo Beltran, Victor Postol and Thomas Dulorme.

Next weekend Hammerin’ Hank proves once again that he’s willing to take on anyone.  There could be no better opponent to prove his conviction; Terence Crawford  has shown himself to be one of the most talented fighters in the sport, building his repertoire slowly and finally being forced to put it on full display when he beat the odds against Yuriorkis Gamboa.  Since then Crawford has worked the laundry list of former bests, including a couple of the the same men who came away victorious from fights with Lundy: Thomas Dulorme, Raymundo Beltran.  We can expect Hank to put on a good show and survive Crawford’s precise power better than most, and even offer substantial resistance at times, but he won’t have the speed, defense, or accuracy to be competitive throughout.  You count on Crawford’s power and precision becoming a problem by the third round, with Lundy looking worse for the wear by 8 or 9.  Crawford’s not a devastating puncher, so he’ll most likely take a unanimous decision.

On the horizon we have a showdown at light heavyweight between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev granted they win their next fights respectively.  The match would showcase two of the best athletes in the sport with Kovalev being given a chance to prove he’s  more than just the best of the moment.

On April 16th we’ll get another tantalizing fight with the American Olympian Errol Spence Jr. taking on welterweight gatekeeper Chris Algieri.  Spence will have a tough task ahead of him as Algieri has proven himself to have a sturdy chin and formidable heart, as well as impressive skills.  The fight will go a long way in giving Spence the experience he’ll need to begin his reign at the top, where he should be.

Categories: Thoughts On: | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at