Monday, December 21, 2009

:boxing: Boxing Bits ::12.21.09:: The Brave, The Bold...and The Buffoons

After two weeks of standout matches, the week after hit a lull, though the following proved to be a little more interesting...

--Kevin Johnson, for all of his talk, trashing, and bravado, had absolutely nothing to show for it as he basically did nothing in his loss to Vitali Klitschko. I really don't care how agile people said he was or how difficult it was for Klitschko to land something on him, he didn't do anything himself, landing an impressive 65 punches and missing more than double that amount. Staying against the rope and semi-dodging shots don't win you championships alone, nor does completely undeserved showboating and displays of machismo. Johnson had the tools (e.g. fast hands, agility) to beat him and could have moved around and, you know, engage him, but he seemed more content to just stay alive and get his "I Survived 12 Rounds With A Klitschko!" t-shirt as unscathed as possible. He had zero right to be jawing and posturing at him when he's nary throwing a punch or doing anything productive to show that he was winning the fight. Instead, he looked worse than a "chump"--he was just a poser. It is hard to properly gauge Klitschko's performance when such an unwilling opponent fought him, but he fulfilled his role and was actually trying, period.

--Vic Darchinyan--one of my personal favorites--once again fought poorly, but got out of a potential embarrassment when an on-the-button shot on the chin(?) laid Rojas flat out. Lucky for him, given how many times his face was an open target for Rojas' punches and seeing how he looked desperate and want for answers prior to the end. On the other hand, Rojas had it coming to him when he got too comfortable (too early) and very literally invited Darchinyan to take a crack at his chin. Kids these days...

--Note to the Rojases, Johnsons, and Joneses of the world: Clown around and showboat only when you are actually well into in the fight and winning comfortably. Even then, don't get too complacent...

--Speaking of "clowns"--and a "shining" example of the above rule--Paulie Malignaggi finally had his Cinderella night the Saturday before in a relatively easy rematch win over Juan Diaz. The fight was close for the first four or so rounds, but it was basically "The Magic Man" (sorry, Antonio Tarver) having his way with "The Baby Bull", outworking him and landing at will. From late midway on, Malignaggi had the look of a kid alone to himself in a stacked candy shop and was having a ball knowing that he was going to gain vengeance and a title belt. So elated was he, that he was completely oblivious to an opportunity to possibly finish Diaz when he caught him square on the chin, electing to mug in front of him as he staggered. The antics got a little wearisome towards the end and got Malignaggi to straighten up in the last two rounds as Diaz tried to pour it on in vain, snapping the New Yorker's head back when he was vulnerable and fooling around. Even so, Malignaggi swept the fight and the scorecards with a happy-go-lucky unanimous decision. Diaz, meanwhile, concluded an eventful 2009 with a year that saw him losing three fights (if you count his first encounter with the new champion as a genuine defeat).

--The Timothy Bradley-Lamont Peterson bout was a disappointment from a competitive standpoint. Sure, Bradley looked great and was commanding in the process, but I was expecting a whole lot more from Peterson, who appeared beforehand like a good match for the champion. Instead, he looked lost and gunshy, unable to figure out how to offset Bradley's aggressive onslaught and seemingly unwilling to do so. I still don't like Bradley all that much due to his sometimes dirty fight tactics (mostly involving his head), but I have to give him his just dues, as he looked "top ten", P4P good that night.

--Good to see Pavlik is back, after delivering a TKO to top contender Miguel Espino in five rounds. The nearly-deadly staph infection he suffered sounded legitimate, so knowing that he's back in form is assuring news of his recovery.

Now all of that said, why not finally take on Paul Williams, who he was originally scheduled to fight this month? His tight tangle with Sergio Martinez, though a winning one, exposed some very dangerous kinks in his armor, making a once dangerous match a little more exploitable (though Pavlik is not without his own flaws). And there's always Martinez to fight, as well. Neither makes for an easy night, but the Youngstown native would be remiss if he didn't fight Williams next year, including Martinez. If he cares about recognition, his legacy, and two decent paydays, he will.

--In more "bravado clown" news, Sam Peter TKO'd some brash guy barely above a .500 record, Gabe Brown. Said goof...err...guy sounds like he took a page out of Kevin Johnson's playbook and took it a few levels forward (or backwards), demanding the (not so) "Nigerian Nightmare" to punch him square on the jaw--continuously--in a show of manly brio and panache (read: "I have no chance to win whatsoever, so I'll puff out my chest and make myself look like the toughest man on the planet by eating punch after punch with my hands completely down. MAN TIME!"). Being the KO puncher that he is, Peter, of course, stopped him via 4th round TKO, but--of course--some fans ate that up like the guy did hooks and rushed to get there picture taken with him ringside afterword. Whatever gets you a following and money in the end, I guess (until something serious happens to you). Personally, I prefer masterful performances and, well, winning to sideshow antics and consistent failure.

--KO machine Edwin Valero wins again, this time against one Hector Velazquez, but I still don't care that much for him. Instead of someone with double-digit losses, let's see him against a proven fighter or current/past champion, especially against a crafty type that's hard to knock out so easily...

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