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H2O Man

(74,300 posts)
Mon Dec 8, 2014, 07:15 PM Dec 2014

Boxing: Dec 11 - 13

Thursday, December 11, on ESPN:
Austin Trout vs. Luis Grajeda, junior middleweight; 10 rounds.

Friday, December 12, on Showtime:
Erislany Lara vs. Ishe Smith, for Lara’s WBA junior middleweight title; 12 rounds.

Saturday, December 13, on Showtime:
Devon Alexander vs. Amir Khan, at welterweight, 12 rounds,

And on HBO:
Timothy Bradley vs. Diego Chavez, at welterweight, 12 rounds.


This week offers the boxing community a number of high-quality fights. I’ve only listed the “main events” on each of these four televised bouts, although the under cards will also feature quality competition, as well. More, the best fights are all in two of the best weight classes; the fact that the sport’s two most dominant fighters -- Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao -- are active in these weights and nearing retirement, makes all of these bouts significant.

(Note: Keith Thurman defends his welterweight “title” on the Alexander vs. Khan undercard, against Leonard Bundu. Most experts recognize Thurman as one of the most talented young contenders today. He could definitely compete with any of the guys in the main events. In fact, I would tend to favor him over Pac Man if they were to meet in 2015. And I think he could cause Mayweather serious problems by 2016.)

Austin Trout was the undefeated WBA junior middleweight champion, going into what was then his biggest fight: Miguel Cotto, at Madison Square Garden. Cotto, who ranks among the all-time greats, had never lost a fight at the Garden, and was coming off a competitive loss to Floyd Mayweather. But Trout would handle Cotto convincingly, and win a lop-sided decision on that night in December of 2012.

In 2013, Trout would lose two fights in a row: first, to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, then to Lara, both by decision. He was also floored in each of those fights. He took the next eight months off, before coming back to decision a journeyman -- fringe contender. ESPN televised that bout, in which Trout was floored twice in the third round.

When my son and I have talked with Austin Trout, he comes across as a highly intelligent and polite gentleman. On Thursday, he faces a hard-punching opponent, with inferior ring skills. It will be interesting to see if the southpaw Trout is able to outpoint Grajeda, and remain upright and strong for ten full rounds. (I suspect that Trout may need to move up in weight in 2015).

The Lara vs. Smith bout is the only one that threatens to be boring to all but boxing purists. Lara is very talented in the Cuban style of “hit and don’t get hit” boxing. Smith is capable, but not compelling, in the ring. I expect Lara to win by decision in a fight that causes few to call for a re-match.

Alexander and Khan are both very talented ex-champions, with the ability to compete against any fighter their size. Both are fast with their hands and on their feet, and are talented boxer- punchers. While Alexander has shown the stronger chin, both have panicked when under real pressure in the past. On paper, it is a very close fight; while I’d prefer to see Devon win, Amir seems a bit more likely to pull out the victory.

By far the most interesting fight of the week will be Bradley vs. Chavez. In fact, this could easily turn out to be the most intense fight of 2014, and is sure to please any sports fan who enjoys watching toe-to-toe slugfests. Bradley, the former junior welterweight and welterweight titlist, is coming off his first professional loss; after winning a disputed decision over Manny Pacquiao in June of 2012, he lost to Pac Man last April.

But it was his two fights in between the Pacquiao bouts that probably shed more light on what we can expect from Tim on Saturday. He easily out-boxed Juan Manuel Marquez in October of 2013, in a slow-paced battle between two counter-punchers. But seven months before that, he had won a very close decision over tough Ruslan Provodnikov. In that fight, the referee blew the call on at least one early knockdown that would have reversed the decision. Bradley was decked in the 12th round, and barely made it to the final bell. (It was later revealed that Tim suffered a serious concussion in the fight, which impacted his speech for several months.) It was clearly the 2013 Fight of the Year.

Chavez is a good aggressive boxer, who has extreme punching-power. He only has two loses on his record: a 10-round knockout lose to Keith Thurman in the summer of 2013, in his first bout on the big stage; and a DQ loss to Brandon Rios last June. Chavez was actually thrashing Rios, and the referee, Vic Drakulich, made the worst call of his career by disqualifying Chavez -- for undisclosed reasons -- in the 9th round. (Although I generally like Vic, I am convinced that he disqualified Chavez because he knew the promoter wanted Rios to “win” by any means necessary. The kindest thing that I can say was that Vic’s call was criminal.)

Although Bradley is physically very strong, he lacks even average punching power. Hence, he may out-box Chavez for three rounds, but the fight will definitely become more intense by the middle rounds. More, both fighters are fully capable of fouling their opponents: Bradley has long used his head to butt like a billy goat; and Chavez, while wrestling on the inside, throws purposely low blows. So this one surely will not resemble a pillow fight.

Many in the boxing community -- myself included -- question the wisdom of Bradley picking Chavez for his next fight. Sure, he can and should win on Saturday. But a victory over Chavez does little to promote his career. If he were able to make it a boxing clinic, it won’t make Tim a “must see” challenger for a title shot. If, on the other hand, Bradley fights to win fans -- exactly why he opted to slug with Provodnikov -- he risks far more than a loss. Chavez has concussive power, and the sad reality is that Bradley has already suffered an unacceptable amount of damage to his brain. That’s the worst part of the Great Sport -- far worse than losing a bad decision, or having a Don King steal your earnings.

Enjoy the fights!

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Boxing: Dec 11 - 13 (Original Post) H2O Man Dec 2014 OP
Thanks for the heads-up on "TNF" KamaAina Dec 2014 #1
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