All that is wrong with Boxing

evander holyfield14.08.07 - By Anthony Coleman: As a boxing fan who desperately tries to recruit more soldiers into the boxing militia, I always find more hesitation than enthusiasm for enlistment. There are quite a few reasons for this disposition, yet the overwhelming consensus opinion is suspicion of the legitimacy of the sport itself.

Many fear that the sport is plagued by crooked judging, too many world champions, and most importantly the champions not fighting the best available opposition. Yet, sadly there are title fights that will take place this fall which will justify, the critic’s suspicion about boxing. Now I must say that this has been a great year for boxing. We’ve been blessed with the two fantastic Marquez-Vazquez wars, Pavlik-Miranda, Cotto-Judah, and Earl-Katsidis.

We have been treated to the coming out party of Jorge Linares (a fighter who as all the potential to be a pound-for-pound player), and Israel Vazquez. Later on this year we have a slew of big fights: Mikkel Kessler and Joe Calzaghe will showdown for the undisputed 168 pound title, Kelly Pavlik will attempt to overthrow Jermain Taylor in September, Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley will fight in perhaps the most anticipated fight of the year in November, and Floyd Mayweather will square off with Ricky Hatton in December. All and all this is a great time to be a boxing fan.

However; despite the fact that for all that is good in boxing right now, there are still fighters who are challenging for Championship gold who have no right to the claim as number one contenders. Off the top of my head there are two boxers who will square off for championships in the coming months despite the fact they have done absolutely nothing to deserve title shots: Rocky Juarez and Evander Holyfield.

Next month, Rocky Juarez will get his fourth try in three years to capture a world title when he faces future hall of famer, Juan Manuel Marquez next month. Personally, I find the fact that Juarez to be the top challenger to Marquez to be inexcusable. Last year, Juarez lost a very close decision to living legend Marco Antonio Barrera, then he would lose a wide unanimous decision to him in the rematch. Even worse, two years ago while campaigning as a featherweight he would lose his first title shot when he was upset by Humberto Soto. Add to the fact that he looked unimpressive against Jose Andres Hernandez in his last fight and you have to wonder: what has he done to deserve a title shot? The emphatic answer is nothing. Juarez has lost three title fights in three years, yet he will challenge for another world title. This fact should be upsetting to every boxing fan. When I first heard that this fight was made I shook my head in disgust.

What is more damning is the fact that Juarez has been installed as the replacement for another unworthy contender. Jorge Barrios was originally supposed to challenge Marquez next month, but had to pull out due to the fact that he was suffering from severe retina problems. To be honest a Juarez fight will be a hell of a lot more competitive than the originally schedule fight. Even at his advanced age, Barrios is still the type of fighter which Marquez destroys: limited sluggers who throw looping power shots. Barrios would have been destroyed, while Juarez; who has good punching power and technique (though is slow as hell) will offer a better challenge for Marquez (though I still pick the Mexican great to win a wide unanimous decision). Yet even though Juarez will probably be competitive with Marquez, it still doesn’t change the fact that he has no business fighting for the WBC and Ring Magazine Super Featherweight title. He has done absolutely nothing to justify a title shot.

Meanwhile Humberto Soto, the man who defeated Juarez for the WBC Featherweight crown and won not one but two WBC number one contender eliminators is sitting in the shadows while he is getting screwed. He should be the one fighting Marquez for the crown, not Juarez. The fact that he has been passed over twice for this assignment against Marquez even though he is the number one contender to his title is insulting to him and the paying boxing fan. As soon as Marquez defeated Barrera back in March negotiations should have began for the eventual title fight between Soto and Marquez. Yet, this being the business of boxing and these being the sanctioning bodies, this predictably didn’t happen. What good are these number one contender slots if you’re going to ignore them anyway? It simply is an insult to the fighters and the paying public if the champion is given Carte Blanche to avoid their top challengers (to be honest, I think that Marquez isn’t ducking Soto; though Golden Boy may be reluctant to see the match go down). It makes the sport look illegitimate.

You know what is even sadder? Rocky Juarez even isn’t the most undeserving fighter to fight for a world title this fall. He is not even close. That distinction goes to no other than the 44-year old Evander Holyfield. As we all know Evander Holyfield is one of the greatest boxers who ever lived. His courage, skill and unbelievable determination will be talked about for decades to come. However the fact that Holyfield will be fighting Sultan Ibragimov for his WBO scrap this October is just downright criminal. There are at least 25-30 Heavyweights who have done more to deserve title shots than Holyfield.

Plus we must not forget that Holyfield had been on Medical suspension for a year and a half because of his recent losses and eroded boxing skills. Plus he has fought absolutely putrid competition since returning to the ring last year. He shouldn’t be boxing for a word title, and more importantly he probably shouldn’t be fighting anymore. Quite simply this man isn’t the Evander Holyfield of old, and he has only been competitive against never-weres (Maddalone), never-will-bes (Jeremy Bates), and fellow Has-Beens (Saverese and Oquendo). The only reason why Holyfield is fighting for a title is due to the fact that he has a name and it will guarantee a half way decent crowd for this fight and a nice pay-day for Ibragimov. Yet, it is also a showcase of one of Boxing’s ugly little secrets: name recognition trumps merit virtually 100 percent of the time.

In my opinion as a boxing fan, I am outraged that both of these fights will be taking place. These fights represent all that is wrong with boxing today and it also makes boxing fans more cynical to the sport, and also turns potential new fans away. As fans we should do everything possible to dissuade promoters and the sanctioning bodies to rip off the fans and the fighters in such a manner by ignoring condemning these matches. Then maybe our sport will finally reclaim much of its lost credibility.

News of the World-

HBO had a hell of a card this past weekend with their doubleheaders of Penalosa-Gonzalez and Ponce De Leon-Bautista. While one fight turned off certain boxing fans and the other was a one-round slaughter it still was a good card because it represents the spirit of the old Boxing After Dark; a platform for lesser known boxers. In round seven, Gerry Penalosa would stop Jhonny Gonzalez with a picture perfect counter left hook to the liver into a close fight (HBO was giving too much credit round after round to Gonzalez’s workrate despite the fact that he was missing a lot and Penalosa was landing the cleaner shots). The shot is now tied with Nonito Donaire’s KO of Vic Darchiniyan for KO of the Year. It was that good. This was sweet vindication for Penalosa after losing a highly controversial decision to Daniel Ponce De Leon earlier in the year. Now he sets himself up for future fights, and I would love to see a fight between him and Silence Mabuza. As for Gonzalez, I don’t know where he goes from here. He has now lost two highly competitive fights by KO in his last three fights. Hopefully he will be back.

Rey Bautista will probably be back. His inexperience cost him big time in this fight, but I think with a couple more fights he will be even better. Don’t count him out, he could possibly win a world title in the near future.

As for Daniel Ponce De Leon, well I will just repost what I said on a well-known boxing message board:

Well I give the awkward clumsy bastard his due-he can absolutely punch. I mean damn his punching power is outstanding. Did you see how Bautista reacted once he got smashed with that 1-2? He was out right then and there. However, that is far as my praise will go for him. Let's be real: De Leon's boxing skills sucks. Even in this first round knockout he showed all of his flaws-overloading on powershots thus throwing himself off balance, keeping his chin held up too high, throwing wide looping sloppy punches and thus leaving himself open to every power shot in the history of mankind, and his left cross narrowly beats out Jermain Taylor's right cross for the award for "most telegraphed punch in boxing". It absolutely frustrates me when I see Ponce cock back on his left hand pauses then throws the shot. He begs to be countered when he does that.

While it may seem that I’m picking on him and being overly harsh on Ponce, It is nothing personal I’m just stating the facts. His punching power and heart are the only real skills that he has and I would absolutely pick Vazquez and Marquez to KO him. Yet his punching power will seem him to daylight virtually all of the time so Ponce shouldn’t have to worry that much.

Article posted on 15.08.2007

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