German education for Matt Godfrey

PROVIDENCE (April 10, 2008) NABF cruiserweight champion Matt Too Smooth Godfrey (16-1, 9 KOs) has been boxing professionally for four years, after a lengthy amateur career, but his ring education reached another level last month in Germany, albeit in defeat..

As the No. 1 rated contender in the World Boxing Council, Godfrey was matched against No. 2 ranked Rudy Kraj in a 12-round WBC Title Eliminator to determine the WBCs mandatory challenger to title-holder David Haye. Kraj won a unanimous 12-round decision by scores of 117-111, 116-113, and 115-113.

Fighters react differently to adversity, especially a first loss; they generally come back stronger than ever because of the experience or fold-up and end-up nothing more than a club fighter. The 27-year-old Godfrey says hes learned valuable lessons about himself and boxing that will help make him a world champion in the not too distant future.

I went overseas to fight Kraj in his backyard, Godfrey said. I got through a difficult fight and learned a lot that I hadnt experienced in my first 16 pro fights. I proved that I can dig down and go 12 hard rounds. I also learned that I have to become a lot meaner and more aggressive. I cant just rely on my boxing ability, being Too Smooth, and just looking good in the ring. I need to bite down, push forward and take the fight away from my opponent like Vinny Paz did instead of just boxing around in the ring.

The loss wasnt devastating to his career, Godfreys manager Bret Hallenback explained, as long as hes learned and that depends on how he comes back. Its too early to say right now, but its no more than one loss, and I strongly believe he learned a lot. One thing he learned is that hes not invincible, which will put pressure on him in future fights. It was a huge eye-opener for him. Matt has to be aggressive and use the skills and power he definitely has. It was an education. He took a loss, not a beating, and I have no doubt that he learned a valuable lesson. We need to get him into a big fight to prove his last fight wasnt the norm, but more of a fluke, and an education for him.

Godfrey was second heavyweight alternate on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team, compiling a 194-23 amateur record, including six national championships -- four open tournaments highlighted by the 2004 Everlast U.S. Championships, plus two in the Junior Olympics as well as a Bronze medal at the 2001 Pan-American Games, Silver in all four of that years national major tournaments (National Golden Gloves, PAL (Police Athletic League), U.S. Championships and U.S. Challenge).

His most notable wins as a pro were devastating stoppages of highly-touted prospects Shaun George and Felix Cora, Jr. on national television of. Matt was riding high until he fought Czech Republic native Kraj in Germany.

I was terribly disappointed with my first loss, but now I realize that all champions (not named Floyd Mayweather or Joe Calzaghe) lose at some point. It isnt the end of the world, as long as you learn from a loss, and Ive learned a lot. I know what Im capable of and I just have to put it all together. I still believe Im the best cruiserweight in the world. I cant wait to fight again. I went back into the gym right away and Ive been working as hard as if I was preparing for a fight. I want to fight the top guys, on television, and get back to where I belong.

Once rated No. 1, Godfrey dropped to No. 7 after his loss, which surprised Godfreys promoter, Jimmy Burchfield (Classic Entertainment & Sports, Inc.). I dont understand why hes rated any lower than No. 3, Burchfield noted. He lost a close 12-round decision to the No. 2 guy and dropped all of the way to No. 7? I dont get it. Matt won the championship rounds. He took over the fight but started off too slow and ended-up finishing just a little short. Theres no question that this experience is going to make him an even better fighter.

Article posted on 10.04.2008

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