Pac Man wins

Tom Brady still sling a football for the Patriots past the age of 40 and may still be the best quarterback in the NFL and Manny Pacquiao won a tough fight against an undefeated younger opponent. This was a close fight in which Keith Thurman reverse his usual MOI of being a fast starter and often found himself in pitch battles over the second half of fights.  Part of the reason for that was Pacquiao, who came out smoking, moving side to side while landing his jab that set up a right-hand hook that sent Thurman down in the first round.

Pacquiao dominated the early rounds and I had him winning the first three rounds. Thurman jab was ineffectual throughout the bout and that is one of his key weapons.  Pacquiao won the early rounds and had nice lead on the scorecards going into the second half.  In the fifth round, the Pac Man nailed Thurman with a vicious body-shots.  

From the sixth, the momentum seemed to change as Thurman connected on power shots.  In the ninth round, Thurman forced Pacquiao briefly on the rope but Pacquiao landed a vicious left to Thurman body at the two-minute mark of the tenth round that hurt Thurman and forced Thurman to retreat. This disrupted Thurman momentum and allowed Pacquiao to regain control of the fight. Both fighters landed flurry of punches in the final round but Pacquiao won the round and clinch his victory.

Compubox numbers showed the closeness as Thurman landed a few more punches and nearly 90% of his punches were power shots.  He was also more accurate and his 190 plus power shots were more than any other fighters landed on Pacquiao, but Pacquiao showed a variety of punches including the jabs which he landed consistently throughout the bout.  He threw more punches and showed himself in excellent shape as he withstood the Thurman onslaught over the second half of the fight.  Thurman has been an effective jabber but Pacquiao neutralized his jab. 

I scored this 115-112 for Pacquiao and two of the judges agreed and while a case could be made for the third judge 114-113 score in favor of Thurman, most observers agreed with the two judges and yours truly, Pacquiao won. Thurman did not dispute the decision, so even Thurman acknowledge that he didn’t win the fight.   

The Welterweight division is loaded at the top and the elite fighters are very close to each other in ability and this fight was no different.  Over the past few years, Garcia, Porter, Spence, Jr. Thurman and now Pacquiao been involved in close decision in key championship bouts. With the exception of Spence defeating Brook in England with an eleventh-round knockout, these other fights with the top elite Welterweight ended up going the distance.

Garcia, Porter, Spence Jr., Crawford, Thurman, and now Pacquiao makes up a deep elite fighting core that close to each other in ability. While Spence, Jr. and Crawford are recognized as the best, much of that due to that both fighters are undefeated, the other top fighters can certainly beat either one. 

Thurman place in the division is unsettled but he will get another shot at the title. He is too good of a fighter not to.  Pacquiao is going to wait until 2020 to fight again but for now, he will be working as a Philippines’ Senator. 

Porter fights Spence, Jr. for Spence version of the belt and this will start the process of setting up other big fights in the division.  What Pacquiao did was incredible to be able fight at this level against top-flight competition at the age of 40. It wasn’t that long ago when he lost to Jeff Horn that many were wondering if Pacquiao hit the end of the road as a fighter.  The critics were wrong.

Ruiz Upsets Joshua to Win IBF/WBA/WBO Heavyweight Championship By Tom Donelson

By Tom Donelson / Author, Member Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA)

Anthony Joshua left the British Isles and made his first visit to Madison Square, once the mecca of boxing but still a venerable boxing location.  His opponent Anthony Ruiz was four inches shorter and Joshua had an eight-inch reach advantage. Ruiz previous loss was a majority decision loss to Joseph Parker in Parker’s native New Zealand.  Ruiz is hardly looking the part of the fit heavyweight with a flabby middle, but he had won 32 heavyweight fights and going into the fight, had 21 knockouts.  Four weeks ago, Ruiz was told that he would be Joshua’s opponent as Jarrell Miller flunked drug tests.  Joshua was the heavy favorite, and this was to be a tune up for a future Wilder fight, and coming to the Garden was his introduction to American fight fans.

Joshua’s job was simple, win big and start the countdown to a big fight with either Tyson Fury or Wilder. The first round was a feeling out round, as Joshua threw jabs; and the height and reach looked obvious.  The sculptured, well-built Joshua looked the part of the Champion, but in the third round, the fight changed.

Joshua knocked Ruiz down early in the third round and all looked right with the world except Ruiz got back up. Joshua smacked a right hand to Ruiz’s jaw, but Ruiz moved forward and landed a right on Joshua, sending Joshua down.  Ruiz turned into a battering ram as he kept nailing Joshua and one more big right sent Joshua down a second time. Joshua looked in serious trouble.

Ruiz kept the pressure up in the fourth round, but Joshua survived. In the fifth round, Joshua appeared to have weathered the storm and won the round with his jab and landed the best punch of the round with a left hook. In the second half of the sixth round, Ruiz let his hand loose and started to hurt Joshua.

The beginning of the seventh round saw Ruiz go after Joshua with a series of punches and he sent Joshua down.  Joshua got up and Ruiz kept up the pressure, sending Joshua down a second time in the round.  Joshua managed to get up at the count of seven minus his mouthpiece.  Joshua drifted back to the rope before the judge said “no mas”.  Joshua looked surprise but this was his fourth knock down in the fight and he was being dominated.

This fight turned the heavy weight division upside down as Ruiz put himself in the heavyweight division sweepstakes as he now owns three of the heavyweight belts.  Wilder holds the other plus you have the undefeated Tyson Fury who fought Wilder to a draw.  At the top of the heavyweight elites sits Fury and Wilder with Joshua taking a step back.  Ruiz now is in the Wilder’s sweepstakes since he has three belts and a fight with Wilder could set up a big fight with Fury.  Nor can we dismiss a Ruiz-Joshua rematch and team Joshua wants that chance to get his titles back. Wilder would be the favorite against Ruiz, but Ruiz has shown he can fight with the best of the division.  Below them is Dillon Whyte and Joseph Parker.

The heavyweight division has many attractive match ups and now American fighters have four of the belts. It has been nearly two decades before an American fighter was recognized as the best heavyweight and that fighter was Evander Holyfield. Now Americans have two heavyweights on top of the heavyweight mountain.

Wilder wins big

Wilder by 1st Round Knockout over Breazeale
May 26, 2019Heavyweights, Recent Fights, Tom Donelsonadmin

By Tom Donelson / Author, Member Boxing Writers Association of America

On Saturday, May 18, 2019 at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York, Deontay Wilder faced Dominic Breazeale for Wilder WBC heavyweight championship. It lasted all but 2 minutes and 10 seconds with Wilder starting fast and ending the fighting almost as quickly. Within the first minute, a Wilder right sent Breazeale reeling into the corner. Wilder effectively jabbed even landed a hook, and Breazeale did land one right hand but that did little to turn the tide.

Wilder shot out a left jab that Breazeale took a step back to avoid before Wilder throw a perfect right hand nailed Breazeale, sending Breazeale tumbling down. The referee stopped the fight as Breazeale wobbled back to the ropes.

This was one of the most brutal right hand one has witnessed in the heavyweight division in a long time. These two minutes showed Wilder strength, improvement and weakness. The weakness is stepping straight back to avoid punches and the tendency to throw wild haymakers. The strength is his piston like jab and right hand. The improvement was his use of two left hooks.

The right hand is Wilder’s signature punch and it exploded on Breazeale as he did what he was supposed to do, win a big fight against a good heavyweight whose only previous loss was to Anthony Joshua by a 7th round TKO. Now it is time for Wilder to go on to fight either Joshua or a rematch with Fury.

Fury is an intriguing fight since it would be interesting to see how Wilder can adjust to the awkward Fury. Fury frustrated Wilder most of the fight with his boxing style and proved a hard man to hit consistently but when Wilder connected, he sent Fury down twice. In the twelfth round, it was a miracle that Fury actually got up, but he did and that preserve a draw. Wilder knows he can knock Fury down with his power and Fury could not match the fire power of Wilder, but Wilder could not maintain a consistent offense and the question remains, can Wilder adopt a better fight plan?

As for Joshua, this is a more problematic fight since Joshua is a technically sound fighter with power. He has the ability to stop Wilder and Wilder has the power to stop Joshua. The question is whether Wilder can hurt Joshua early and avoid major mistakes, like leaving himself open after a wild haymaker that he often throws. The two fight fans want to see is Fury-Wilder or Joshua-Wilder. (Maybe I should a add a third fight, Joshua-Fury and they don’t have to leave the country to have this fight.)

World of Boxing

Williams Wins WBA/IBF Junior Middleweight Belt over Hurd … Korobov vs. Aleem a DRAW … Berchelt Stops Vargas to Retain WBC Super Featherweight Title

May 15, 2019Recent FightsTom Donelson

By Tom Donelson  / Author, Member Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA)

On Saturday night (May 11, 2019) Julian Williams, fighting in his opponent’s backyard and a big underdog to Jarrett Hurd, carried out the perfect game plan to produce the big upset.  Williams put the pressure on Hurd throughout the bout and took advantage of Hurd’s habit of starting slowly to build up a big lead.  After three rounds, I had Williams up by four points, including a second round knock down.

The Compubox numbers told the story. While Hurd threw more punches, Williams was the more effective fighter as he handed more punches, more jabs, more power shots and was the more accurate puncher.  Every phase of the bout favored Williams. 

From the very beginning, Williams used his accurate punches to take advantage of his opponent’s wider punches and his body shots aided his overall attack. Over the second half of the bout, Hurd tried to turn the tide but Williams kept his cool and, while both fighters were shaken by power shots, both fighters remained on their feet. 

This was an action fight from the beginning and the judges had it scored correctly.  I had it 116-111 but the 115-112 score was reasonable and even Hurd accepted that he lost. No complaints.

Matt Korobov entered a hard fought battle with Immauwel Aleem. I had the fight 97-93 in favor of Korobov but it depended upon how you scored the first seven rounds, which I gave to Korobov. A couple of rounds were close but Aleem won the last three rounds on most judges scorecards and I agreed with them on that.  Korobov is not a stranger to close decisions as he lost a close bout to Jermall Charlo.  This was a tough call for Korobov, but Aleem did come back strong after being dominated early in the fight. One key call was a Korobov knockdown of Aleem in the fourth round which was ruled a slip. If ruled a knockdown, this would have resulted in a 10-8 round and a Korobov victory.

Miguel Berchelt defeated Francisco Vargas in a rematch of their bout two years earlier.  The 34 year old Vargas slipped skill wise from his previous bout and Berchelt improved.  Two years earlier, the bout lasted 11 rounds before Berchelt won by TKO. This bout was a one sided affair as Berchelt landed double the punches of his opponent.  Berchelt landed 48 punches in the second round followed by 41 punches in the third round, 47 punches in the fourth round, 50 punches in the fifth round, and 45 punches in the sixth round. That is complete domination and Vargas’ corner threw in the towel after the sixth round.  Vargas had no problem with his corner stopping the fight.

This was an evening of great action bouts and we get a Hurd vs. Williams rematch in the future which will be a fight friendly bout. 

From the world of boxing

Bert Cooper, Harold Lederman (R.I.P.)

May 18, 2019Harold LedermanR.I.P.Tom Donelsonadmin

By Tom Donelson / Author, Member Boxing Writers Association … Contributor to dmboxing.com since 2008 with expertise, articles, and input

Last week, boxing lost both Bert Cooper and Harold Lederman.  Bert Cooper began as a cruiserweight but it was as a heavyweight that he fought every major figure in the late 1980’s and the 1990’s including George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe, Ray Mercer, and Michael Moorer. His overall record does not speak Hall of Fame with 25 losses go to with his 38 wins but many of his losses came later in his career.  From the time he fought his first pro fight in 1984 to his last fight in 2012, he proved to be a warrior and willing to go toe-to-toe with any fighter.  RIP Bert Cooper.

Harold Lederman educated an entire audience on the nuances of boxing and scoring through his position with HBO.  Perhaps Lederman’s death symbolized the change in boxing and the new TV reality. Lederman, from his perch at HBO, was part of some of the biggest fights, and there was a time that HBO was where the big fights were; but today, HBO no longer covers boxing matches and Lederman, sadly, is no longer with us to score fights.

Lederman would tell the boxing fans that the four big ways to view a fight include ring generalship, clean scoring, defense, and effective aggressiveness. He explained how each played a role in his scoring, and I would agree with Lederman’s view the vast majority of the time. 

Lederman spent six decades involved in the sports and now his daughter, Julie, carries on the legacy.  Lederman was known more for his scoring fights on HBO, but he judged over 1000 fights as a judge and those six decades gave Lederman a unique perspective on the sport as well historical insight.  He also was not afraid of the new technology, such as Compubox, and used them in his analysis. (While Compubox has its limitations, it does give a fan insight into the sport and, explained correctly, it does give you insight on why a boxer won or lost a fight.)

I met Lederman at a bout in New York that was part of an ESPN telecast in the early part of this century. He was the perfect gentleman and gave both myself and my daughter great insight into the fight game that evening. 

Lederman originated the practice that every broadcast now does, which is combining the scoring with his view of the boxing match.  HBO over the past several years was eclipsed by Showtime and other cable outlets.  Showtime is now where the boxing action is, but ESPN still has a hand in boxing along with UFC, while FOX Sports has their own broadcasts, as well. Harold Lederman still provided excellent analysis until the bitter end of HBO.  Harold Lederman RIP.