Michael Rosenthal

Weekend Review: Big nights for Froch, Chavez

 

BIGGEST WINNER

Carl Froch: The format of the Super Six World Boxing Classic had the potential to make or a break its participants, who would face a series of elite opponents in succession. It made Froch. The Englishman entered the tournament a long shot to succeed but went 3-1, including a clear victory over Glen Johnson on Saturday that lifted him into the tournament final against Andre Ward. He also outpointed Andre Dirrell and Arthur Abraham and lost a close decision to Mikkel Kessler. Froch still isn’t the most-polished boxer in the world but he’s a smart fighter who is extremely tough and one of the hardest workers in the sport. He probably won’t beat Ward in the tournament championship but never, ever count him out. Carl Froch is one of the best fighters in the world.

 

BIGGEST LOSER

Glen Johnson: The last word one should use to describe Johnson is loser. The personable Jamaican has had a wonderful career and remains a legitimate contender at 42, a testament to his ability and dedication to the sport. That said, he has had more than his fair share of frustration in title fights. He is 3-8-1 when fighting a major belt, including his setback to Froch. Some of those losses could’ve (should’ve?) gone his way. Others, like the one on Saturday, he clearly lost. Johnson will be remembered as a consummate professional and one of the better fighters of his time, perhaps successful enough to reach the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He’ll also be remembered as a guy who came up short in high-stakes matchups more often than not.

 

BIGGEST WINNER II

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Chavez doesn’t have the hand speed or basic skills that Sebastian Zbik has, the result being he took a few hundred shots to the head on Saturday in Los Angeles. Junior would be the first to admit it. The son of a legend has less-tangible qualities that are just as important, though: resilience, determination, courage and the ability to land body shots that are painful to watch. He also added something to his repertoire for the fight Saturday: superb conditioning, which laid to rest his reputation of being lazy and probably allowed him to outlast Zbik and win his first major title. Chavez will never even approach the accomplishments of his father. He doesn’t have the physical gifts. He has turned himself into a good fighter the old-fashioned way, with grit and hard work.

 

BIGGEST LOSER II

Sebastian Zbik: Zbik had a wonderful opportunity on Saturday night, a chance to make a big statement on a big stage after fighting most of the past seven years in relative obscurity. If he beats Chavez, becoming the first German to win a title fight in the U.S. in 80 years, he returns to his homeland a legitimate champion. If he loses, he’s just another pretty good European fighter. Zbik turned out to be the latter. He did well, using his speed and ability to outbox Chavez much of the fight. He simply didn’t have the punching power to prevent his bigger foe from imposing his will, which manifested itself most often in the form of body punches that wore him down and allowed Chavez to take control of the fight. Zbik gave a good effort. However, you have to beat unproven contenders like Chavez to be taken seriously.

 

BEST ARGUMENT FOR SAME-DAY WEIGH-INS

Chavez-Zbik: Chavez reportedly weighed 180 pounds the night he fought Zbik, 20 pounds above the middleweight limit. Zbik weighed 165 on Saturday. That 15-pound difference in the ring was a huge advantage to Chavez, who in effect had a 1½ weight-class advantage over Zbik. An overweight light heavyweight was fighting a small super middleweight. The German, a light puncher to begin with, couldn’t have hurt Chavez if the Mexican dropped his hands and stood still. And Zbik was remarkably resilient to take the pounding he took from a much bigger man, especially those killer body shots. I still support day-before weigh-ins because I believe weight disparities are less dangerous than dehydrated fighters. I see the other side once again, though.  Chavez had an unfair advantage. What’s the solution? I’m not sure there’s a perfect one.

 

MOST INTRIGUING

Chavez-Cotto: This matchup would’ve seemed ridiculous a few years ago, Chavez being perceived as a crude, developing boxer with minimal experience against a possible future Hall of Famer. I still think Cotto would win if this fight is made, which seems likely. The Puerto Rican might’ve slowed down a step but he remains one of the better all-around fighters on the planet, as Ricardo Mayorga learned most recently. He probably has too many advantages to lose to Chavez. I give the kid a chance, though. One, he would dwarf Cotto in height and weight in the ring. (See above entry.) I’m not sure Cotto could hurt him. Two, a big heart like his is a tremendous weapon. Junior is tough. And, three, he demonstrated that he is willing to work hard. All that proved to be too much for Zbik. If nothing else, it would be interesting to see how far it would take him against Cotto.

 

WORST SCORING?

John Keane: I thought Keane’s scorecard for the very-close Chavez-Zbik fight – 116-112 in favor of Chavez – was out of line.  However, I don’t want to be too hard on him. A number of rounds – probably more than half of them — were very difficult to score, meaning they could legitimately have gone either way. Still, I believe the appropriate result was somewhere between 115-113 either way. Zbik’s punches weren’t as hard as Chavez’s but he sure landed a lot of them. That is evident in the punch stats, if you give them credence. Zbik outlanded Chavez 391-256, according to CompuBox. He also landed more power punches, 335-242. That doesn’t prove anything. However, it’s an indication that eight rounds to four in favor of Chavez doesn’t reflect what happened in the ring.

 

BEST OF SHOW

Mikey Garcia: The best fighter on the card was in the co-feature. Garcia isn’t the most-dynamic fighter but he doesn’t appear to have a weakness and is coldly efficient. The steely-eyed featherweight contender calmly picked apart Rafael Guzman with laser-straight, snapping punches to dominate the scheduled 10-round fight and set Guzman up for the kill. That came in the form of a big right – with all of Garcia’s weight behind it – that found Guzman’s chin and put him flat on his back. The Mexican tried to get up but failed, giving Garcia a knockout victory. Garcia (26-0, 22 KOs) has yet to face the best in the 126-pound division – the Gamboas, Salidos, Lopezes and De Leons — but seems to be ready for the challenge.

 

MOST COURAGEOUS

Christy Martin: Let’s see if we can summarize what the one-time face of womens’ boxing did. She was beaten, stabbed, shot and left for dead, allegedly by her husband, yet was back in the ring six months later. She was leading her scheduled six-round fight against Dakota Stone on Saturday night through the fourth round, in which she put her opponent down with a hellacious right. She also broke her right hand in that round yet continued to fight one-handed into the sixth round, which the ring doctor finally stopped the fight against her wishes. And she did all this at 42 years old. Is that courageous or what? I have profound admiration for her. And I know I’m not alone.

 

MOST UNINSPIRING

Yudel Jhonson: Jhonson is one of a handful of former Cuban amateur stars who defected to the U.S. to seek their fame and fortune. The silver medalist in the 2004 Olympics has all the tools — fine-tuned boxing skills, quickness, atheticism, good power. He demonstrated as much on Friday Night Fights, dominating Jose Torres to win a one-sided 10-round junior middleweight decision. One ingredient was missing, though: Fire. It was as if Jhonson, apparently cautious by nature, simply went through the motions. He can get away with that against a limited opponent like Torres. That might not be the case against an elite fighter, though. Plus, he's going to put people to sleep fighting like that — and I'm talking about the fans, not his opponents. C'mon, man, let's see some passion.

 

BEST QUOTE

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr: “My father came to the Wild Card [gym in Hollywood, Calif.] two or three weeks ago and told me, ‘This is where you win the fight, not down the street at Staples Center. Work hard, listen to Freddie Roach. This is where you win titles.’”

 

 

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