Yuri Foreman vs. Anthony Thompson: The battle for Jerusalem!

07.06.07 - By Izyaslav “Slava” Koza: Based on my previous article, analyzing this Saturday’s upcoming Judah vs. Cotto boxing fight, I think a question most readers would ask me is, “then what is the point of you ordering the bout?” While I would not really think of doing such for one bout that in my mind was decided as soon as it was signed, there is in fact one other reason for getting the PPV on the 9th. By itself, Cotto-Judah is a decent fight but in conjunction with its under-card really makes it a worthy card to pay and watch. That bout is the one serving as the title bout of this article. For those who know and for those who care to know, this will affectively be the biggest showdown between two Israeli fighters in the history of boxing.

The notion itself is very controversial, of course, since there are very militant views regarding the nature of who in fact, is or isn’t Israeli/Hebrew/Jewish, but even so, I bet both Yuri and Anthony would welcome the idea that their fight is a battle for the pride of the nation and country and not the different sects and denominations within it. Though many people strongly believe Israel is a cut and dry Jewish state the nature of its spiritual status in world history means and makes it a very broadly heterogeneous nation.

Yuri Foreman was born in the former Soviet Union and moved to Israel at a very young age. There he was able to learn and reunite with his traditional faith and heritage of Judaism more openly and easily then in his country of birth and also gain Israeli citizenship. Anthony Thompson is part of a relatively small movement of African Hebrew Israelites founded by Ben Ammi Ben-Israel in 1966 in the US. Though Thompson was born in Philly, his close spiritual relationship with the Hebrew-Israelite movement makes him a strong representative for Jerusalem as well.

That being said, I am also interested in this fight for a very biased and un-objective reason. Simply put, I have been very impressed with Yuri Foreman ever since seeing him on ESPN many years ago. While much time has passed between that bout and his appearance on Shobox, the ease with which he out-boxed then undefeated Kevin Cagle on that night, showed he didn’t spend all his time at the arcades. Once Yuri hit his stride as a pro, he has rarely lost a single round in any professional bout.

Of course, his competition to this point has not been great but even so, it takes a certain amount of dedication, that even many elite fighters don’t have, to fight each round of any given showdown 100%. While the decent criticism of lack of power can be made, stylistically if the kid is winning fights without so much as a single round going the other way, maybe it should not matter at all?

I have mentioned before that while a KO allows a fighter to do less in a fight, and even get away with slacking off a bit in training since he can always light it up, a fighter who can fight and win a complete fight is ultimately way more valuable. For one, that fighter will always need to be fit and focused, for two, that would mean people are getting 12 rounds of action and skill rather then a 30 seconds of a “fight” with a climax that they miss by bending down to tie their shoe, and for three, that fighter walks away with his wits and can prolong his career as long as he retains that vise-like dedication. In my mind, Yuri is the best Israeli national (Thompson is an American by citizenship) fighter in the world.

While Dimitry Salita and Roman Greenberg, both of whom he is friends with, ultimately get more press and attention, Yuri is Israel’s and Brooklyn’s best kept secret. Although Yuri would disagree with me, I believe that in part his promoter has to work harder in letting the cat out of the bag. Even still, a fight of this nature will do more for the winner then any press release Top Rank can publish and for that Mr. Arum deserves praise.

That being said, I am not trying to slight Anthony Thompson. The problem is while I have seen a few of Yuri’s fights, I have not seen any of the man known as the “Messenger.” I do know however that Thompson was in camp with Floyd Mayweather and that Floyd looked very good in beating Oscar De La Hoya. This should be a somewhat positive testament to the work Thompson put in with the “Pretty Boy.” A more crude analysis made by somebody of the “boxing 4 real” variety would suggest that because Thompson got knocked out by Grady Brewer that he is not that good, but I have always contended that such logic is ridiculous.

Nobody knows the reasons or circumstances behind that bout and even so an off night, or the night of a lifetime for an underachiever, may be the reason behind that result, and why it should not be a factor. A fighter should be judged on his wins way before he is ever judged on his losses. Unfortunately, I have not seen any of Anthony’s fights to give a more accurate and concrete prediction.

I believe in Foreman’s caliber enough to think he can win and does hold the edge somewhat. However, as I said, this is without much knowledge of the type of fighter Thompson is. If Anthony does have what it takes to win, then more then likely it will be because he is just that good a fighter and was simply overlooked and why neither man should lose out.

I also think of Yuri as a good friend which is why, even though as a fan I will cheer for the best man, as an acquaintance I will be hoping for a Foreman victory.

Article posted on 08.06.2007

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