Golota destroys Bates

golota11.06.07 - By Geoffrey Ciani: Andrew Golota finally made his long-awaited return to the ring. It had been over 24 months since we last saw him. That, of course, was back in May 2005 when he was obliterated by then-WBO champion, Lamon Brewster. Golota lasted just 51 seconds. It was the latest disappointment in a career defined by disappointment.

Considering the long lay-off, it’s understandable that Golota’s first fight back was against an unheralded journeyman. In fact, Golota squared off against the very same fighter who Evander Holyfield chose as his comeback opponent after a lengthy layoff—Jeremy Bates. Apparently, Bates is now a stepping-stone fighter for aging pugilists eager to hit the comeback trail.

Overall, Golota looked pretty good. Of course, it’s difficult to discern how much he has left based on his match against Bates. Whether or not he still has what it takes to compete with the division’s elite remains to be seen. What we do know is Golota still has what it takes to outclass a journeyman like Bates.

Golota did what he was supposed to do: he stopped Bates early. Unfortunately, stopping Bates in two rounds does little in terms of removing ring rust. Also, it makes evaluating his performance a difficult endeavor; we can only speculate what he has left.

Based on what we saw, it appears Golota’s left hand is much improved. He was using the jab as a measuring stick, not much unlike he used to back in his prime. Of course, his jab didn’t look as sharp or snappy as it did back when he was administering vicious beatings on Riddick Bowe, but even still, it appeared to look much better than it had in more recent performances against Chris Byrd and John Ruiz. This was a very good sign; Golota’s success has always been dependent on his ability to use his jab.

On the flipside, Golota is still a painfully slow starter. At 39 years old, his hand speed looked slower than ever in the opening round. Perhaps some of this can be attributed to ring rust, for he did look much sharper and quicker in the second stanza. It’s also worth noting, he looked a lot more winded than we’re accustomed to seeing him after two rounds. Again, this is something that could possibly be attributed to ring rust, but perhaps his age is beginning to show.

Golota ultimately passed his first test back. He was in complete control and was able to utilize his superior skills to ensure victory. Despite having some trouble maintaining a proper distance, Golota was able to unleash some nice combinations and he appeared to have some nice pop in his punches. To be fair, maintaining a proper distance against a clincher like Bates is no easy task. For that matter, looking ‘good’ against someone like Bates isn’t exactly easy, either. Regardless, Golota did what he had to do.

At this stage I think it’s safe to say Golota wouldn’t stand much of a chance against the likes of Wladimir Klitschko or Samuel Peter. He should avoid those routes at all costs. On the other hand, I’m honestly not sure whether he can beat someone like Sultan Ibragimov or Ruslan Chagaev, but if he plays his cards right, he should at least remain competitive. If Golota is trying to angle his way back into title contention, this is the direction he should pursue—Chagaev and Ibragimov.

The key for Golota is to stay active. He needs to follow the Foreman Blueprint if he wants this comeback to be successful. If he fights four or five times in the next six months, he gives himself a good chance at getting back to form. If he can do that, he may be back in the mix. But if he doesn’t remain active, I doubt this comeback will ever be considered “successful”. Time will tell…

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Article posted on 11.06.2007

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