Boxing

Boxing State of the Union 2010 (Light Heavyweight)

By Karim ‘Kato’ Godfrey - With the heavyweight division lacking any real excitement, limited to no television coverage of the top 10 boxers in the Cruiserweight division, the lighter weights have been forced to pull the brunt of the workload and keep the casual boxing fans happy. The real ‘hardcore’ boxing fans would tune in to see Thai midgets duke it out in the squared circle if it were available. However, since the hardcore fans aren’t the majority, promoters should make better matchups in order to bring back those casual fans..

During the past decade the Light Heavyweight division has been packed with sensational, fan-friendly boxers. Many of these same names are still on Ring Magazine’s top ten lists. Is that a sign of a weak division or just strong talent that are able to withstand the rigors of staying on top? I think it’s the latter. During their time at the lighter weight classes, many were able to build a fan base with plenty of television exposure in the form of PPV’s and subscription television fights.

Unlike the Cruiserweights, Light Heavies have gotten quite a bit more media coverage.

Light Heavyweight Division:

With only 19 fights so far under his belt, Nathan Cleverly still has a ways to go to become a bona fide contender. His 5th round TKO of Antonio Brancalion catapulted him on Ring Magazine’s top 10 and is a good way to start. He does posses pretty good hand speed but, so far it’s hard to tell if he has serious punching power with only 9 wins coming via KO. However, 6 of those KO’s have happened since he settled into his 174 lb. frame. If he continues to pad his record on his home island of Great Britain he should be ready to take on some serious competition in the next 2 years.

Another young up and comer Karo Murat who fights out of Germany seems to be heading in the right direction as well. Another 2 years or so in the kiddie pond should find this slugger vying for a world title. He hasn’t really been tested yet but, with a 21-0 (13 KO) record, that should put him well within reach of a title shot. Is it a little premature? I think so but this seems to be the norm these days.

The fighter holding down the number 8th spot right now is Adrian “The Shark” Diaconu from Romania via Canada. He hasn’t been overly active having fought only once in 2007 and once in 2008 but he has made up for it with 3 fights in 2009. His two losses to Jean Pascal were noteworthy and do deserve some praise. Two losses shouldn’t mean that much especially when it’s against someone of Pascal’s caliber who posses extraordinary hand speed and lateral movement. At 31 years of age with 8 years as a professional, Diaconu can either commit, become better or be relegated to being a gatekeeper of the division. Either case, his fan friendly style will put people in the seats and could translate well if he fought more outside of his native Canada. He should continue to test his abilities against other top 10 contenders in his division and would serve him well to stay away from Jean Pascal. Sometimes a guy just has your number; just ask Roy Jones Jr. who couldn’t get past Antonio Tarver or Sugar Shane Mosely who had a hard time with Vernon Forrest.

Tavoris Cloud at 5’ 10” is a physical specimen who looks much bigger than his 174 lb. frame. He’s quickly becoming a legitimate name in this division boasting a spectacular record of 20-0 (18 KO). His unanimous decision victory over Clinton Woods showed that he’s much more than just a power puncher. He threw over 1100 punches in the 12 round match which proves that he has ring savvy and the stamina to keep up an entire fight against a much better opponent. Cloud needs to stay much more active but maybe it’s just a matter of him being too good for his own good. How many promoters or trainers would risk their rising star in the ring against Cloud? Right now, I could see Tavoris taking on any of the guys rated at 1 – 5 but, who will give him the opportunity? Bernard Hopkins is very old in boxing years, and would be more inclined to settle for huge paydays instead of trying to pave the way for the next up and comer. Bernard has nothing more to prove and I highly doubt he’d even give it a second thought to take on the much younger, stronger Cloud. Tavoris has his sights set at the number one spot, currently being held by “Bad” Chad Dawson. Dawson, who claims to be one of the most avoided fighters should also step up to the plate and take on Tavoris who has been calling him out for some time now.

”You find out that most fighters are just well managed, protected and it’s all about money. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with a couple of money fights. But I won’t be a champion who just defends against old men – like the last champion did (a dig at Dawson).”

Speaking of old men, the next three slots belong to Antonio Tarver #4, Bernard Hopkins #3 and Glen Johnson #2. Tarver did ok against a much younger Chad Dawson but was unable to win any of the two fights. The first one was far more interesting and exciting than the second fight. Dawson looked a little too reserved and unwilling to take many risks in the match. Tarver still has the skills to be ranked in the top 10 but with only 1 fight in 2009 and nothing in the immediate future he might be getting ready to make his Showtime gig a full time occupation.

At 45 years old, Bernard still has a lot of the same skills and ring smarts to take on and adapt to almost any style. He proved this at the end of 2008 when he dismantled then dangerous Kelly Pavlik. It was a shear boxing clinic, almost as picture perfect as his monthly “Perfect Execution” boxing lessons in The Ring Magazine. His upcoming fight with Roy Jones Jr. is pathetic to say the least and is about 10 years too late. What could he possibly prove by taking on Roy at this point? As great a boxer as Roy was in his prime, it’s pretty sad to see him getting knocked unconscious against the likes of Danny Green. I think it’s time for Roy to get one final payday against Bernard and call it a career, wait a few years for Canastota to call and wrap it up already.

Glen “The Road Warrior” Johnson is exactly what his name implies; a road warrior. He’s taken on many of the top boxers and has proven he is much more than a flash in the pan. He has a serious work ethic and clearly doesn’t care who/when he fights. He deserves his ranking and should have a few more decent fights under his belt. For now however, he might be the man to beat in order to get a shot at Dawson.

Dawson, having fought Johnson twice and Tarver twice, has showed he is indeed king of the hill. There are a lot of fights out there that would interesting but that would mean he would have to risk his undefeated record against one of the new lions in Jean Pascal or Tavoris Cloud. Pascal’s and Tavoris’ style would force Dawson to fight and anything would be possible. Does Dawson have the power to take out these two guys? I’m not sure. Would it be a great fight to watch? Heck yea!

Gone are the days of Champions taking on other Champions (or someone at least in the top 10). Fighters or promoters or trainers aren’t risking their careers by taking on stiffer competition and this has somehow caused boxing to become diluted. We, the fans need to demand good fights and Boxing needs to provide this for us. Oftentimes the fans are a mere afterthought. This should change, and change in a hurry if boxing is to regain its foothold as America’s pastime. I love Boxing and I would like nothing more than to turn on ESPN and have them discuss boxing during its normal SportsCenter broadcast the way they analyze Danica Patrick or the Williams sisters. But in order for this to happen there has got be more to get excited about than just hearing Mayweather spew off at Brian Kenny. Give us great fights!!!!

Article posted on 17.02.2010



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