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The EPIX TV Cheat Sheet- Dec. 2, 2011


Order the pizza and stock plenty of beer; a full weekend of boxing awaits. The shows range from a star-studded pay-per-view to an always exciting “ShoBox” series featuring young guns in a hurry to achieve pay-per-view status. In fact, the schedule is so full that the TV Cheat Sheet covers neither (other Maxboxing writers are doing that very well) event since there are equally attractive cards aired on Showtime and EPIX. Freddie Roach, whom HBO is airing a six-episode documentary of, makes his commentating debut on the EPIX card, showcasing two legitimate heavyweight contenders. Roach adds undisputable insight to a broadcast that was sorely lacking with Lennox Lewis’ uninspiring analysis. The pairing of boxers meshes well on paper and the combined records of the featured four fighters is 88-2.

The EPIX network has made sound boxing purchase and I like their outside-the-box thinking, such as airing these fights live on the Times Square JumboTron in New York City (live at 4:30 PM ET) and going after European events worthy of an American audience. They also produce a quality stream for fights at EPIXHD.com for fans who sign up for a free two-week trial offer. The broadcast team of Bruce Beck (blow-by-blow), ESPN’s Dan Rafael and Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated are still developing but generally entertaining. I do believe they blew the Vitali Klitschko – Odlanier Solis call, where all reached with theories questioning a legitimate punch and proven injury. I do not have viewing figures for previous EPIX shows but hope they are rewarded with solid ratings and support from boxing fans.


At the Hartwall Arena, Helsinki, Finland
(EPIX) Alexander Povetkin (22-0) vs. Cedric Boswell (35-1)
(The Ring magazine #2 heavyweight vs. unranked)
(EPIX) Robert Helenius (16-0) vs. Dereck Chisora (15-1)
(The Ring magazine #5 heavyweight vs. unranked)

Dereck Chisora – London-based bruiser gained stature and valuable name recognition last year without stepping into the ring when two scheduled fights against Wladimir Klitschko were cancelled on him. Born in Zimbabwe, Chisora learned his trade in the capital’s gyms, winning a coveted ABA title (the equivalent of America’s National Golden Gloves competition) and gaining a reputation for brutish strength and athletic moves. Despite bulk, is not a one-punch knockout artist, registering 56% kayo ratio, stopping nine of 15 victims. Uses sound bodywork to set up accurate punches in the later rounds as opponents weaken under his mass. Does not lack for confidence, even after a respectable loss to Tyson Fury, and the thickly-built banger had registered two career-best wins before that setback. Reminds me of Samuel Peter in build but Chisora had a more refined amateur background and faster hands with a higher work rate. Chisora is not all about brute strength, sporting underrated feet that he uses to stay in contact with foes. That lateral movement is essential, given below-average 74-inch reach and relatively small stature at 6’1½”. People question Chisora’s character, with several assault and a domestic battery charges in his background that nearly scuttled big opportunities. In addition, Chisora bit one opponent and during a pre-fight stare-down, kissed an opponent. Not to mention that Chisora entered his most important fight against Tyson Fury in July at a career-high 261 pounds. Simply put, Chisora is unpredictable in and out of the ring. He had his moments in lone defeat to Fury but as a result of that loss, must go back into the deep end of the talent pool to redeem himself. Chisora understands the importance of this fight. “Everything is on the line in this fight, so I have to win to continue in my career and get a world title fight. I’m back to my best. Nobody will beat me when I’m at my best. Everything is on the line in this fight so I have to win to continue in my career and get a world title fight.” In pre-fight photos and videos, Chisora looks fit and slimmed down, hopefully an indication that his performance can match his mouth this time.

Robert Helenius – “The Nordic Nightmare” does not look the part of a heavyweight champion, with a receding hairline and equally unimpressive musculature that reminds one of the aging Larry Holmes. Registered notable stoppage wins over Samuel Peter, Lamon Brewster and Sergei Liakhovich before his 17th professional bout. Those all belie Helenius’ first impression, physically. Helenius’ killer instinct is galvanizing and stands out, considering other Europeans and even American heavyweights. Helenius patiently stalks his prey but pounces immediately, throwing combination punches when a foe is hurt. Does so without smothering punches or allowing himself to get tied up. Seemingly senses openings and shifts punches into overdrive to take advantages of the split-second weaknesses, something that cannot be taught. Helenius is instinctual because he began boxing at an early age, though he did not begin taking it seriously until age 14. Helenius was a proficient but unspectacular amateur (200 fights, winning over 150), winning bronze and silver medals at the European level, where nothing spoke to such future success at the pro level. At age 27, is in his physical prime. 6’6½”, 240-pound frame is not chiseled, despite carrying obvious power, given the way he destroyed Peter. Power could be result of great balance, able to step into his punches with a quick shift of weight. Helenius exercises a patient game plan, using power found in both hands, dominating three former world champions before scoring emphatic stoppages. 69% kayo percentage is legit and Helenius got in educational rounds, stopping his three best foes past the eighth round. Makes use of great sparring found at Berlin’s Max Schmeling gym, that is buzzing with quality boxers, and is taught by nonsense trainer Ulli Wegner, who is world-class in his own right. Wegner describes his charge as “a calm philosophical type. In the ring as well and that has advantages and drawbacks. He is very stubborn inside the ring. That is good.” Helenius keeps getting better as his opposition has increased, stopping five of his last six opponents to include three former world title claimants. His promoter’s confidence in scheduling difficult opposition has paid off in public recognition and top ten ranking by The Ring magazine. Helenius is not bothered by the talkative Chisora, “Let him tell stories. I will show in the ring who is better. I’d rather box than talk.” Finland’s finest is eerily effective, his accurately thudding punches taking an increasing toll as the rounds ratchet up. Helenius stuffs a high-octane engine in a Volkswagen body.

Verdict – Chisora is a brute but Helenius has shown a good chin in the past, so one potential avenue of victory is eliminated for the visiting Briton. Ultimately, Chisora does his best work on the inside, where “The Nordic Nightmare” can hurt him, given he possesses one of the heavyweight division’s best uppercuts. Once that happens in the third or fourth round, Helenius dominates the fight and Chisora plays it safe. I really appreciate Helenius’ finishing ability but am not sure he can hurt Chisora on multiple occasions and force the stoppage. If anything, he dominates the final three rounds (from the outside, using distinct height and reach advantages) to the point where the referee steps in as Chisora languishes on the ropes without punching. I have a bit more faith in Chisora’s fitness in this fight vice the Fury debacle and point to a 10-2 win in rounds for Helenius. 

Cedric Boswell – The Atlanta-based veteran is an underrated force, entering the fight on a five-year, 14-fight winning streak in which Boswell stopped 10 opponents. A sought after sparring partner on both sides of the Atlantic, Boswell used those sessions to improve himself and develop a quality skill set of his own. Age is one factor that is hard to overlook but Boswell is a well-preserved 42, given his good defense and still functioning reflexes. If the American heavyweight scene were more respected (Don King and Goossen Tutor could not manufacture title shots), Boswell would be better known. A 17-year pro, he only lacks a defining fight and one-punch power after the second round. Knocked out one-time hot and undefeated European prospect Roman Greenberg but only other name of worth on his résumé is ancient Oliver McCall. At 6’3”, with long 81-inch reach, Boswell uses his legs and jab to create openings, seldom smothering punches and keeps the hands up on defense. A fast starter, Boswell settles into a long distance jab and looks for openings if the opponent shows competence. Can lead but prefers to counter and use his accuracy to frustrate foes into more mistakes. Invariably rattles off one three-punch combination a round, just to show he can and keep opponents guessing. It appeared Boswell hurt his right hand, not using it much past round five, in his last fight against Kertson Manswell. Lone loss came eight years ago, stopped in the final round against Jameel McCline, with Boswell ahead on the scorecards when caught by a big punch in the ninth round that he did not recover from. More of a boxer than a puncher, Boswell needs to open up more than usual to score the points needed on European soil, although his brand of boxing is better appreciated by European judges and audiences and he puts more stock into body punching than most big men. Already engaged in three fights this year, the last five months ago, going 22 rounds that will have kept Boswell sharp. Seems focused for this challenge, especially given his long career. “This is the chance of my life. I am more experienced and much better than Povetkin. I´ve already paid for extra baggage to bring the belt home. The American Dream will soundly defeat the Russian pretender.”

Alexander Povetkin – One of the last Russian boxers with the old-style Soviet amateur pedigree, recording a 125-7 record and avenging every loss in the unpaid ranks. Made his first impact on the international amateur stage winning the Goodwill Games gold medal in 2001. After that triumph, Povetkin entered 16 competitions, winning all but one (upset in the Russian National title final) over a span of three years. Despite burly stature, 6’2” and 230 pounds, collected gold medals at the Russian, European, World Amateur Championships and Olympic Games. At 2004 Olympics, no opponent came within 12 points of defeating the juggernaut. More importantly, Povetkin gives his best performances on the biggest stage, such as overcoming a slow start to dominate fellow unbeaten prospect Eddie Chambers. In that pairing, Povetkin built momentum, steamrolling Chambers like a locomotive once he got inside, shooting short hooks to the head and body. This came after Povetkin showed an ample arsenal, defeating former champion Chris Byrd in only his 14th pro bout. Only ever faced one opponent with a losing record. Povetkin does his best work on the inside, using his top-heavy mass, husky shoulders, and intelligent punch selection to wear on foes. Possesses the accuracy and sense of timing to fight on the outside despite short 75-inch reach and cuts off the ring well to take the fight to opponents and force tempo. Stamina has not been an issue; if anything, is above average, given strong finishes in championship rounds. Overcame less than ideal preparation in his last fight (Teddy Atlas was flown in on three weeks’ notice), defeating underrated Ruslan Chagaev in a back-and-forth clash where both absorbed solid punches. Fight also showed Povetkin has heavyweight chin. As importantly, Povetkin rallied in the late rounds again (like the Chambers fight) after Chagaev rocked and took over the momentum in the sixth to ninth stanzas. Is mentally tough and sound, not abandoning a strategy or looking for one big punch to get himself back into fights he temporarily loses control of. The Chagaev win and this fight break a three-year rut, in which Povetkin suffered nagging injuries, trainer and managerial changes, as well as the unexpected death of his father. Povetkin has beaten three top ten opponents and is making a case as the number one challenger to the Klitschkos. Before the Chagaev victory, the level of opposition has declined markedly but Povetkin now looks like a thoroughbred waiting to have his reins released. 

Verdict – This pair sparred last year, so neither will be surprised by what is thrown at them. I see this as an advantage for Povetkin since he will have experienced the long arms and stride of Boswell. This will not be an easy fight for Povetkin to look good in though, especially early figuring out the right distance. What will rescue the Russian are his feet, cutting off the ring to make Boswell engage him near the ropes (not sure how big the ring is for this fight) where the latter cannot use his reach. That should take four rounds and I expect Povetkin to get stronger as the fight progresses. That has been Povetkin’s theme and Boswell has not done as well late in fights. I’m calling for a tenth round stoppage, with Boswell behind on all cards and unable to get up from a second knockdown.

Prediction record for 2011: 87% (134-19)
Prediction record for 2010: 85% (218-40)
 
You can contact Marty at mmulcahey@elpasotel.net or visit him at www.facebook.com/fivedogs.



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