Maske Decisions Hill

henry maske(Henry Maske, on left, warily watches Virgil Hill) 01.04.07 - By Miguel Velasco: Former German boxing hero, and the owner of four McDonald's fast food stores, Henry Maske (31-1, 11 knockouts), in possibly one of the most boring fights Iíve ever seen in my life, won a 12-round decision over Virgil Hill, the WBA cruiserweight champion, on Saturday night in Munich's Olympic Hall, in Germany. The final judgesí scores were 117-110, 116-113, and 117-110, all given for Maske, who was making his ring return after 10 years away from the sport. He probably should have stayed retired, because he fought like someone who was shadow boxing with air rather than an actual fighter. When the final judgeí decision was announced, I shocked, to say the least, because Hill had put on a virtuoso performance, badly out-boxing Maske the entire fight.

Unlike the judges, I had Hill winning 11 rounds to 1, and I was being very generous by giving Maske the one round, because he did next to nothing all fight, rarely throwing punches other than badly aimed jabs. In fact, Maske looked more like a statue out there than actual fighter, often standing completely still for long moments, studying Hill with a look of seemingly great concentration on his face that somehow made him look ridiculous.

On the other hand, Hill did most of the work in the bout, landing a large amount of powerful body shots, and a sizable amount of right hands to the head. To be frank, Ii it werenít for Hillís aggression, there wouldnít have been a fight at all, since Maske wasnít showing much interest in making a fight of it until the 10th round.

All before that, as far as I could tell, Maske came close to winning none of the rounds. He did, however, throw a lot of pretty jabs at the air, badly missing Hillís face by 2-3 inches every time. It didnít matter, though, because the German fans shouted their heads off, mindlessly oblivious to the fact that Maske was missing Hill with his jabs and hitting only air.

henry maskeRound after round, it went like this, Maske throwing exclusively jabs, missing 99% of them, and the German insanely roaring on each miss. Clearly, Maske was afraid of being countered by Hill, otherwise heíd have let himself get closer to Hill so that his jabs - again, his only weapon in the fight Ė could land. As for what he showed in the fight, it wasnít very much, to be kind. Maskeís timing was shot, speed was gone Ė and his power was nonexistent... not that he ever had any to begin with.

In point of fact, Maske looked like a fighter only in physical form, but not in action. Iíve seen some of his older fights, and though I wasnít impressed with him, at least back then, 10 plus years ago, he could actually fight some, especially when fighting a slow-moving European fighter Ė his typical opponent. Way back, in his past, Maske could land punches, even with his jab. As for now, in 2007, all I can say is, those 10 years away from the ring took with it any of the limited skills that Maske ever had, turning him into caricature of his former self.

Now, donít get me wrong or misinterpret what Iím saying. Maske did do something well on Saturday night, for instance, he showed good form in clinches. In fact, from the rounds 10-12, thatís mainly what Maske did, mostly clinching. Whenever Hill got close to him, Maske often dove at him, grabbing him in a tight embrace, causing the referee to pry them apart, and chastise him about holding. Besides this, Maske displayed excellent form on hitting on the break, something he did on a number of occasions in the later rounds. When, however, Maske actually was initiating any kind of an offensive attack, he looked wild and amateurish, running at Hill and wildly flailing both arms like a grade school child. Aside from, perhaps, Axel Schultz, Iíd never seen fighting like that before in professional boxing, and I hope never to see it again. Any how, enough of Maske, I think you get the point.

henry maskeAs for the action of the fight, each round was in essence the same, and at all times, painfully boring to watch and seemingly like punishment. In rounds 1-9, Virgil Hill - looking incredibly young and sharp for 43 - would throw jabs and hooks, for the most part, to Maskeís chest and midsection, rarely bothering with punches to the head. Maske, on the other hand, was often slow to respond to the attacks, and would either push Hill away or grab him. Like I mentioned previously, Maske mostly threw jabs, particularly in the first nine rounds. The jabs looked nice, but they were so badly missing, it gave the appearance that Maske was auditioning for a Rocky movie, perhaps as a poor manís version of Ivan Drago. Maske certainly had the robotic thing going, standing and fighting like he had a stick stuffed up his backside, and he couldnít get it out.

At first, I thought that Maske would make corrections, seeing that his jabs were coming up short, and would get a little nearer to Hill, allowing them to make contact with Hillís face. Strangely enough, Maske never did correct his bad aim, perhaps figuring that if the German crowd Ė 12,500 strong - is shouting and screaming for his every punch, it must mean they think heís connecting. Little did they know, Maske couldnít hit the side of a barn if he was right in front of it.

In the eighth round, Hill received a large cut above his left eyebrow after butting heads with Maske. It was a bad cut, with lots of blood, causing the referee to stop the action and have the ringside doctor take a look it. In the meantime, the referee docked a point from Maske, although I donít know why, because it seemed more initiated by Hill than by any move on Maskeís part. After looking at the cut for a few seconds, the doctor allowed Hill to continue fighting. The cut, however, would bleed badly for the rest of the bout, covering both fighters in blood and giving Hill a ghoulish appearance.

So, the fight went like this, round after round, until finally in the 10th round, Maske seemed to summon up a little courage, enough to actually throw a few punches other than his usual, wildly thrown jabs. Incredibly, he even landed with a couple of them, for instance, when Hill threw a punch and missed, leaving him balance and bent over. Not to miss out on such an opportunity, Maske launched an all out assault when Hillís back was turned, and thus was able to land several punches before Hill could right himself and regain his balance. Sure, it wasnít pretty, but what the heck, it worked for Maske, and the Germans loved it.

Near the end of the 10th round, Maske was able to corner Hill against the ropes, and land several punches, although none of them were what you would call hard shots, but since Hill did very little in this round, it was enough for me to give the round to Maske.

In the 11th and 12th rounds, Maske began to hold a lot, so often that he was repeatedly warned by the referee. It looked awful to watch, reminding me a lot of a typical fight with John Ruiz, filled with clinches. During this round, Maske would throw punch, and regardless of whether it landed or not, he would immediately grab for Hill and start trying to wrestle him to the ground, bending him to and fro.

henry maskeHill, showing that he was a true professional, didnít get annoyed by the constant clinching, instead landing powerful hooks, and jabs. If it werenít for all of Maskeís wrestling and clinching in the final two rounds, he would have had a decent chance at winning these rounds. However, his behavior seemed as if he was trying to just survive the rounds without taking punishment. I thought it was stupid for him to do this, but then again, the fight was in Germany, so he probably thought the fight was in the bag and wanted to coast the rest of the way.

Afterwards, when the fight was Maske was awarded the decision by the judges, he seemed to lose all his sense, moving around constantly in ring, looking slightly crazed, and barking barely understandable German nonstop. Even when being interviewed afterwards, he paced back in forth, rapidly, looking around and sniffing the air. It looked odd. For someone who, in my book, was easily beaten in a one-sided fight, he strutted around the ring like peacock, seeming both incredibly arrogant, and out of touch with the reality of the fight.

It was around this time that someone foolishly handed him a microphone, so that he could address the entire German audience, at which point he started blathering about this and that, boring the audience with his long-winded speech. In fact, it went on so long, it seemed like a presidential address, and I was hoping he would just shut up already. Finally, the announcer, perhaps getting tired of listening to him, too, snatched the microphone out of his hands before he could put the entire audience to sleep. Some of the audience, however, was in rapture, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, both seemed near tears with his great accomplishment, as were Darius Michalzewski and Markus Beyer. As for me, I was sickened by the whole thing.

Article posted on 02.04.2007

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