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Weekend TV Cheat Sheet

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Yes, the boxing world seems sedentary in anticipation of the big Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley fight, but another solid weekend of boxing awaits fans, with ESPN2, Showtime, and HBO delivering a good mix of champions, contenders, and prospects. The intriguing showdown between Kelly Pavlik and Sergio Martinez is the clash I am most interested in. If ever the term “puncher’s chance” applied to a fighter, this time it’s stuck to Edison Miranda, who tries to unseat the world’s best super middleweight on the same HBO card as Pavlik versus Martinez. ESPN2 features a RING magazine top ten-rated heavyweight, and two undefeated prospects against one another. Showtime televises one of the few boxers in America, ironically the Dominican-born Fernando Guerrero, who can make the legitimate claim of being a hometown draw. All in all, this weekend is a good appetizer for what awaits on May 1st.


April 16th, Friday 
At The Omni New Daisy Theater, Memphis, TN

(ESPN2) Tony Thompson (33-2) vs. Owen Beck (29-4)
(THE RING magazine #10 heavyweight vs. unranked)
(ESPN2) Henry Lundy (17-0-1) vs. Tyrese Hendrix (18-0-1)

 

Tyrese Hendrix – A Southern circuit boxer who should feel right at home in Memphis, a good thing since some fighters from the South lose their skills when they travel above the Mason-Dixon line. Hendrix uses his size, 5’8” with a long reach, and speed to stay on the outside and pick apart opponents behind a pestering jab. Another asset is his fast feet, which provide good lateral movement. Despite southpaw stance, Hendrix squares up to opponents a lot, giving a broad target. Was a good regional boxer in the amateurs, winning the Georgia Golden Gloves, a Southeastern regional title, and was a U.S. Nationals quarterfinalist. Relies on speed first, second, and last. A fact his 37% kayo ratio reinforces. Hendrix has hurt opponents in fights, but lacked the finishing instincts to make it an early night. Is already 29 years old, turned pro in 2004 and despite low level of opposition, has only averaged four fights a year. Got in eight rounds, five months ago, against professional survivor Marteze Logan and has been that distance a couple of times. Only stopped one of his last seven opponents, and never defeated a quality prospect before with only four opponents entering their fight against Hendrix off of a win in their previous bout. The best name on his record is Moises Pedroza, who had lost his last seven fights before meeting Hendrix. I keep seeing Hendrix listed as a lightweight, but he has only made the 135-pound limit once and fought as high as 144 pounds. Says he walks around at 156 pounds, but shows up in shape for every bout. Timing seems right to make the jump from a regional to national title.  

 

Henry Lundy – Somewhere in Philadelphia, there is a boxing factory that churns out prospects at a record pace, the latest of which is “Hammerin” Hank Lundy. Like most Philly prospects, Lundy had solid amateur schooling, sporting a 65-5 record with a Pennsylvania Golden Gloves title and finishing second at the National Golden Gloves. Not been coddled since turning pro, his resume sports a good mix of opponents with three undefeated prospects losing their zero to Lundy. Combination punching makes him fun to watch, and Lundy definitely has Philly mindset of punching with an opponent instead of countering. Despite fast hands, does not avoid body work in favor of flair alone. Needs to work on defense, much of Lundy’s defense is reflexive, pulling back instead of good footwork or keeping his hands up. When Lundy gets comfortable with a foe, his hands are held much too low; the jab suffers for it while other punches remain fast enough to land. Carries a lot of his weight in the upper body with burly shoulders, but knockouts (56% kayo ratio) are generated by fast hands and feet that launch him into opponents. At first sight, looks like purely an offensive banger, but Lundy lays the groundwork with body shots and will back up to allow opponents to walk into punches. This is his second fight of the year, and he averages four fights a year. Did well to get in ten educational rounds with lanky Cuban trickster Richard Abril in his last fight. Before that, Lundy stopped his previous four opponents, and because of sometimes wild punches, receives some comparison to Vinny Pazienza, when fighting in New England area. A rough-around-the-edges prospect, Lundy’s fighting instincts were fortunately not trained out of him in the amateurs.

 

Result – Styles dictate that the faster man wins this fight, and both men are so reliant on speed at this point of their career that the lesser will be left impotent. Lundy has those faster hands, and is, more importantly, the quicker of the two men. Lundy can start his punch later, but because of the compactness of his punches will still land first. As importantly for Lundy, his last opponent was a better version of Hendrix. Lundy breaks Hendrix down early and wins ensuing rounds by wider and wider margins. I like Lundy by kayo between the fifth and eighth round.

 

Owen Beck – Nickname is “What the Heck,” which is what many people who invested time in him must have been thinking during his frustrating career. Jamaican-born heavyweight was a sometime boxer, sometime mover, but turned into an all-the-time safety-first jabber. Despite good kayo ratio, 20 stoppages in 29 wins, is a fighter who relies on lateral movement, jab, and well-timed combination punches to stop opponents. For three or four rounds, can hang with most of today’s prospects and contenders, but slips into neutral and reverse over the course of a fight. One of those guys who never recovered from his first loss, not fully committing to punches, training, or mental preparation after his first setback. Has boxed since age ten, accumulating a 73-5 amateur record highlighted by an appearance in the Commonwealth Games. Signed with Don King, showing potential when he beat undefeated former two-time American amateur champion Derrell Dixon in his fourth fight. Posted a 24-0 record before losing an exciting battle with Monte Barrett, but, since then, is 5-3 (over a five year period) only beating one fighter with a winning record. That win was back in 2006, and Beck enters this fight having lost via tenth-round stoppage (only 16 seconds remaining in the fight) to 13-0 Lebanese prospect Manuel Charr. Beck, somehow, got a title shot at Nikolay Valuev back in 2006, but was blown out in three rounds, zapping whatever confidence remained in him. Has not been below 250 pounds since 2006, which hurts Beck’s speed and reveals the lack of dedication to put in the work that could get him back in title consideration. Despite good hand speed, the best adjective to describe 33-year-old Beck is slow, because he slowly loses fights against competent boxers that he seems to have the ability beat.

Tony Thompson – Outside of a forgivable loss to Wladimir Klitschko, Tony Thompson has posted some of the most impressive wins of any American contender over the last five years. The problem for Thompson is that he is already 38 years old, and has only averaged two fights a year since 2006. The southpaw has gotten better with age, not a surprise since the well-preserved Thompson did not turn pro until age 28. In his last fight, four months ago, Thompson dominated and knocked out prospect Chazz Witherspoon on three weeks’ notice. At 6’5” and 250 pounds, Thompson has good size, and uses his 81 ½” reach to its fullest extent to frustrate opponents and blind them to incoming left hands. Did not have the mental wherewithal to deal with Klitschko but, otherwise, shown himself capable of hanging with anyone in the top ten. Went to Germany and knocked out a solid Luan Krasniqi, and defeated superior boxers like Dominick Guinn and Timur Ibragimov. Since he came to boxing late, lacks fluidity offensively, but it also gives Thompson the advantage of throwing awkward punches whose trajectories throw experienced fighters off-kilter. Still has good speed and reflexes for a heavyweight, and his size (well-proportioned and lacking a big gut) allows Thompson to operate well on the inside or outside. Reminds me of Oliver McCall, but not as skilled or savvy, with good instincts and natural strength that puts opponents on the defensive. Because Thompson creates hesitancy, his fights lack excitement, and you can see a lack of refinement with an inability to stop opponents or put together a combination that forces a referee to stop the fight. Best asset is winning mentality, Thompson outwills opponents dragging them, in a good way, down to his level. Once there, Thompson envelops them with effective and accurate punches, and he is selective in choosing punches. Which is why Thompson is capable of beating anyone in America, and all but the most schooled European boxers.

Result – The big difference between these two is inside their heads. Beck has checked out mentally, while Thompson believes he can beat anyone. Thompson was a sparring partner of Wladimir’s, and it showed when they met for real, so I forgive and throw out a loss to the heavyweight champion in evaluating Thompson for a ESPN-level fight. In a loss to Manuel Charr, Owen Beck started well, but faltered over the later rounds, a sign of his unwillingness to put in the work before the fight to win. Thompson breaks Beck down over time here, and gets a pretty easy win with a late stoppage a high probability.

At The Wicomico Civic Center, Salisbury, MD 
(Showtime) Fernando Guerrero (17-0) vs. Michael Walker (19-3-2)
(Showtime) Shawn Porter (13-0) vs. Raul Pinzon (17-4)

Raul Pinzon – Frankly, I am surprised Showtime has chosen such a suspect opponent. The “Shobox” series is renowned for making tough matches for prospects who appear on their air, so maybe I am underestimating Pinzon. A 17-4 record, with 16 stoppages, looks good on paper, but falls apart on closer inspection. Pinzon has not defeated a boxer with a winning record since 2007, his last two wins came against 0-8 foes and Pinzon has been stopped in his last four fights in America. In fact, Pinzon has never won outside of his native Colombia, but he should be given credit for nearly beating Ricardo Torres before collapsing in the tenth round of their exciting fight. The Torres fight shows Pinzon can bang (he had Torres down three times), but it might have been the last stand for a 30-year-old who lost by stoppages to Saul Alvarez and Mike Jones in two recent steps up in competition. Has good power, 72% kayo ratio, and went ten rounds twice before, but not flashed any late power with no stoppages after the fifth round. Is a pure banger, and like many punchers, does not hold up to punishment himself, having been stopped in three of four losses. Straight right hand is his most effective punch, but everything is negated once Pinzon is forced to make a backward step. Has little defense and no head movement, relying on his offense to mask defensive flaws. Mike Jones stopped Pinzon with a body shot, and he will carry a few extra pounds around the waist since this fight is at junior middleweight. Early power is a concern with Pinzon, so tune in on time because there are diminishing returns from the opening bell forth.

Shawn Porter – Ohio native comes off a somewhat disappointing fight as a headliner in his hometown, but there are always issues with fighting in front of a home crowd for the first time. Porter was an amateur star, finishing his internship with a 276-11 record and plenty of national titles (Golden Gloves title, among them) along with many international bouts. Missed out on participating in the 2008 Olympics, losing to Daniel Jacobs, but made the team and trip to China, as an alternate. Porter shows commitment as a pro, slimming down from his debut weight of 165 pounds to a rock-solid 154 pounds with an aim to compete at 147, eventually. Has gotten quality sparring at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card gym, mixing it up with P4P great Manny Pacquiao. Sparred with middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik too, and went as high as sparring light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson. Helpful hints from master coach Freddie Roach have helped Porter’s father, who still trains his son, which has not been a problem to date, and Jordan has shaken amateur tendencies with only three of his 13 pro opponents hearing the final bell. Most compare Porter to Andre Berto, but I see more of a Meldrick Taylor (OK, nowhere near him, at this stage of his career, maybe a Sharmba Mitchell comparison is more apt?) influence. Porter flashes fast combinations and an eagerness to engage opponents head-on, despite advantages in speed and ability. Moves in and out of range with snappy foot work, all along bouncing happily on his toes, looking for openings his movement creates. One obvious item that could hold Porter back is a lack of height and reach, only standing a reported 5’7” “tall” in a division where 5’10” is the norm. Has great activity, fighting 14 times over the last 18 months. Another good looking prospect whose lofty ambitions are perfectly in tune with this series.

Result – Pinzon has little left and did well against Torres because Torres only threw one punch at a time. Pinzon has trouble with speed; he lacks it and is susceptible to it. Porter’s penchant for throwing multiple combinations at a high rate ensures a win, and it will probably come spectacularly. I like Porter by stoppage, with Pinzon crumbling before the fifth round. 

Michael Walker – Chicago based middleweight has lost three of his last four fights, but earned a hard-fought decision over Antwun Echols in that win, back in 2008. Fought once in 2009, losing a lopsided but not uncontested eight-round decision to prospect Daniel Jacobs. This bout was likely made as a measuring stick by the Guerrero camp. I remember that, for the Jacobs fight, Walker was misrepresented in a press release, stating he was a two-time world amateur champ when the best I could find was a Chicago Golden Gloves title. However, Walker is not a bad fighter and a very good opponent, given his experiences against Antwun Echols, an underrated David Lopez, and Daniel Jacobs. Walker is a no-frills guy, like a running football team, he comes at opponents right up the middle. No subtlety, and it takes a lot for Walker to be induced into a backward step. Knocked out disappointing Olympian Dante Craig back in 2007, and aside from two Echols fights, has not registered another significant win. A quality sparring partner, sharing the ring with the likes of Kelly Pavlik and Miguel Cotto in recent years. Has an excellent chin, and has learned to survive by sparring with champs and taking on prospects. At 31, is slowing down, so Walker knows this represents one of his last chances to take down a rising prospect. Enters the ring in top shape for every fight, and had an advantage in power punches landed against Jacobs, but could not match his younger foes work rate and effectiveness. A solid pro who has never shown the speed or versatility to move above solid test level. 

Fernando Guerrero – One of the few American (born in Dominican Republic, and came to America at age eight) prospects with enough charisma to amass a local following, not just relying on cable TV to gain name recognition. Some of Guerrero’s home fights, one televised by ESPN2, had crowds nearly as boisterous as Ricky Hatton does in Manchester. Has a very good amateur background (beat Shawn Porter once) boxing 140 times, and began to fight in his early teens, emulating his hero Felix Trinidad. Fought internationally and was a Junior Olympian, won the 2007 National Golden Gloves tourney and finished second the year before. Lost out to Shawn Estrada in a bid for the 2008 Olympics, but considering his pro style, Guerrero did better than is to be expected with the amateur scoring system. Has not disappointed as a pro, knocking out 14 of 17 opponents and using an imposing physique to move opponents around the ring. Also enjoys the advantages of a southpaw. Needs to work on varying his punch selection, since all his kayos have come before the fifth round, revealing a lack of imagination. I do not think it has anything to do with stamina, with Guerrero showing good wind in a ten-round decision over Ossie Duran. Dealt well with a late-round cut over his eye in that fight as well. Displays a good mix of speed and power in both hands, but should up his punch output as long as it does not affect his accuracy, which is above average. Defense is not bad, but because of Guerrero’s youth (23 years old), he still relies on reflexes instead of keeping proper distance or getting his hands up, coming out of combinations. Is marketed as a kayo artist, but I think Guerrero lacks that extra nanosecond of speed to make his punches more impactful. A bit like Arthur Abraham in that sense. Has been fighting at super middleweight and middleweight. Seems most suited for middleweight, where his physical dimensions are just right. Interviews reveal a humble and astute person, and nearly everyone comments on Guerrero’s tremendous work ethic. A definite prospect, Guerrero seems to possess the right mix of personal and ring ingredients to move beyond “Shobox” and into Showtime’s championship series telecasts.

Result – Don’t think there is much doubt about the winner, but the fashion in which Guerrero wins is debatable. I don’t think he will become the first prospect to stop Walker, since Walker has stood up to the bigger Jacobs and shown a talent for riding with punches. Walker has enough power to keep an opponent honest, and gives up enough ground in the later rounds for opponents not to put in the overtime needed for a kayo. Guerrero can be a slow starter, so I will give Walker one or two rounds on the cards, but no more.

April 17th, Saturday 
At The Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada

(HBO) Lucian Bute (25-0) vs. Edison Miranda (33-4) (THE RING magazine #1 super middleweight vs. unranked)
(IBF super middleweight belt)

Edison Miranda – The most derogatory mouth (I have a hunch some of those insults come from the mind of a person writing his press releases, as much as Miranda) this side of Ricardo Mayorga, this Colombian has received opportunities off his brashness instead of quality wins in recent years. In fact, Miranda has not defeated a top opponent since Allan Green back in 2007, and been knocked out in two of his three losses to championship-quality opposition. Against Bute, he has a chance to score a win worth bragging about. A writer cannot compose a bio sketch of Miranda without using the word power, but unfortunately for Miranda, he believes his press clippings and now only guns for kayos. Began boxing at age 15, reportedly winning over 125 amateur bouts in racking up four national titles, and won a bronze medal in the 2000 Olympic trials before faltering in the last stage of Olympic qualifying. There is a question as to whether Miranda could show more variety in the ring if he wanted to, and given his already dented chin, one would think Miranda’s team would work more on defense or footwork. But Miranda is not on HBO for his footwork, and proves that with the damage he inflicts, every time an opponent is hit. Miranda is the only man to stop former middleweight champion Howard Eastman, but might have regressed in terms of volume punching, since that win. Defense is virtually nonexistent, but Miranda does get his hands up to block punches early in a bout. Was frustrated by Andre Ward’s speed, and it is the only fight where Miranda seemed to shut down mentally. Is still only 29 years-old, and would ideally fight four times a year, as he did 2009. For Miranda to beat Bute, he will need a return to the accuracy he showed back in 2006, and have the confidence to actually be less reliant on his biggest weapon...power.

Lucian Bute – Romanian-born boxer/puncher has established himself as a fan favorite in Canada, and fought his way to the top of the super middleweight division without the aid of Showtime’s “Super Six” tourney. An affable personality and charity work aids his ticket selling prowess, with only the beloved Montreal Canadiens hockey team receiving higher TV ratings. But mostly, as with all fighters, fans are drawn to Bute because he scores knockouts (20 stoppages in 25 fights). Like many fighters from the former Soviet Bloc, this ardent student of boxing has a solid amateur background. However, his amateur pedigree is not overwhelming when compared to other boxers from Eastern Europe who have graduated to professional titles. Apart from winning a bronze medal at the 1999 amateur world championships, Bute did not excel in major tourneys he entered. Obviously, Bute’s pressing style, which slowly overtakes and envelops foes, is more suited for fights that extend beyond four rounds. What I like most about Bute is that he picks his shots wisely. He rarely lunges or overextends himself to land a looping punch on a retreating opponent, aware that his style and wit will afford more opportunities as the rounds progress. Is very smart, shown when Bute knocked out Librado Andrade with a body punch, knowing Andrade had an impervious jaw from their previous bout. Is solid on defense, where much like his offense, Bute does everything well and does not open up enough to cause large holes or leave himself off-balance. Because of a lack of dazzling speed, overwhelming one-punch power, or fancy feet, Bute has been underrated and overlooked. Then Bute steps between the ropes and slowly reels in a big fish opponent, employing a sound strategy and cutting off the ring to force opponents to engage him. Best asset is the compactness of punches, which give little hint of their arrival since Bute has an uncanny ability to slide close to an opponent before hooking to the head or body. Bute simply creeps up on foes, and, like a boa constrictor, slowly chokes the air out of opponents as the rounds progress.

Result – Miranda has not shown enough variety to cope with Bute, who is basically a more active Arthur Abraham, minus the forearm defense. Speed or accuracy are the keys to unlock the Bute puzzle; Miranda does not possess either and lacks the patience to play ring games with Bute. The Romanian breaks Miranda down, without leaving defensive gaps Miranda relies upon, and stops him late.

At Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ
(HBO) Kelly Pavlik (36-1) vs. Sergio Martinez (44-2-2) (For THE RING magazine World Middleweight Championship)
(WBC and WBO middleweight belts)

Sergio Martinez – Argentine gained fans in a loss (many think he won) to Paul Williams, brandishing a variety of skills and the willingness to absorb punishment to dish out his extensive array of punches. Before that, the Spain-based fighter looked sensational stopping Alex Bunema, three fights ago, and was robbed of a victory over Kermit Cintron by both the referee and judges. An excellent all-around athlete, Martinez drew interest from lower-division Argentina soccer teams in his youth. As an amateur, he won two national titles, representing Argentina in international boxing competitions, gaining the nickname “Maravilla” ("Marvelous One"). Only real loss, in 12 years, was a seventh-round stoppage at the hands of Antonio Margarito (revelations about Margarito’s hand wraps call that loss into question). Since that time, Martinez has punched his way to 28 wins in Europe, Argentina, and America. Those wins have come against a variety of styles, mostly on the road, which forced Martinez to learn and deploy an impressive arsenal of punches and skills. Solid punching power is magnified by the speed and awkward angles from which they are delivered. Martinez cannot be called heavy-fisted or a banger, but vexing ring generalship infuses his punches with extra sting. Has good size at junior middleweight, with broad shoulders, Martinez is more athletic than given credit for and possesses a faster set of hands than Pavlik. Is both resilient (took a lot of flush punches from Williams) and smart, coming back to outpoint hard-hitting Richard Williams after getting dropped early in their first fight. In a rematch, Martinez had a much easier time, showing adaptability and a good learning curve. What makes Martinez doubly difficult are non-tendencies, leading with either hand and punching from varying distances. Has defensive holes, but those are somewhat hidden because of a herky-jerky style and the sudden pivots Martinez employs on offense. Has shown a good chin, and conditioning had to be fantastic to survive the Williams war. Is a well-preserved 35 years of age, since he did not start boxing until his late teens. Martinez has a zestful boxing style, taking chances with his hands-down style and rapid-fire darting attacks.

Kelly Pavlik – Ohioan’s emerging reputation as the next great middleweight was ruined when Pavlik was outpointed by the last great middleweight in Bernard Hopkins. Before that loss, Pavlik had built himself up the hard way, twice besting Jermain Taylor and eliminating a solid line-up of prospects and contender, en-route to a title shot. Given that Pavlik lost to a legend, it is hard to see the reasoning of some who believe the 28-year-old has already seen his best days. At 6’ 2½”, he is a tall middleweight, but I would not characterize Pavlik as big since he lacks bulk and his legs are skinnier than most kitchen tables’. Pavlik is a product build on the basics learned in the amateurs, where he had an 89-9 record, winning three national competitions between 1998-1999. Uses a long and lean frame to jab and pick holes in opponents with precise punches, before moving in to finish off confused foes with powerful hooks and straight right hands. A smart fighter, taking his time to break down the opposition and gets a feel for the tendencies and range needed to score, while leading instead of countering. Is not a bad counterpuncher either, did well against speedier Taylor, but his footwork is more suited to coming at an opponent and he needs forward momentum to get the most out of his lean frame. Looked frustrated and lethargic against Bernard Hopkins, but everyone has an off day and it’s not wise for anyone to expect to see that Pavlik again. Pavlik’s passion left when it was obvious he could not stop Hopkins and was hopelessly behind on the scorecards. Has been hurt in a couple fights, but always from punches he did not see and seems to have an otherwise sound chin. Sometimes carries his hands too high on defense, leaving room for shots under the elbow and blocking his sight of looping blows. If allowed to maintain space, Pavlik dictates and overwhelms opponents. Has offensive mindset of a finisher, and when one of his punches breaks through, Pavlik rushes to finish. This fight will tell us whether the Hopkins fight was a one-off aberration, or proof of Pavlik’s limitations against smart boxers.

Result – A tough fight to call, with many contradictions. I am not sure if many would favor Martinez, if it were not for Pavlik’s poor performance against Hopkins. Despite a three-inch height difference in favor of Pavlik, it is Martinez who has the reach advantage by one inch. I believe Martinez is actually the stronger man, despite moving up a weight class. Martinez also seems the better athlete, but Pavlik is a better pure boxer. I believe the two advantages that lead to a win here are speed, and Martinez’s unorthodox southpaw style. I also think Martinez has a better chin, and because Pavlik keeps his hands too high at times, might land a looping punch that knocks Pavlik down. In a close fight that could be the difference- plus Martinez has shown more mental resilience when pressed than Pavlik- Martinez will have to overcome some rough moments in the middle rounds, but finds a reserve of energy to sweep the championship rounds for a split decision victory.

Prediction record for 2010 to date: 79% (68-18)

 

You can contact Marty at mmulcahey@elpasotel.net or www.facebook.com/fivedogs




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