Showtime comes up with two winners

boxingBy Paul Strauss: Willie Nelson 17-1-1 (11KOs) took his fight with Yudel Jhonson 12-1-0 (8KOs) on short notice. It was a gamble, but he won the bet last night at Texas Stadium Casino by scoring an upset UD win over Yudel Jhonson.

Unusually tall (6’3 ˝”)for the junior middleweight division, Nelson, age 25, was trying to continue to right himself after suffering his first defeat against Vincent Arroyo last April at the Event Center in Laredo, TX. The thirty year old Jhonson planned to stay unbeaten and remain part of the excellent crop of Cuban fighters such as Gamboa, Rigondeaux, Lara, etc.

Lefty Jhonson started with the style popular with several of the top Cuban fighters. That style incorporates excellent balance, good defense, coupled with sharp, hard counter punching. In southpaw Jhonson's case, that means throwing a hard, knockout left. Another characteristic of the Cubans is punching accuracy, both around the guard, or straight up the middle, and Jhonson was is no exception..

On the other hand, Nelson knew what he needed to do. He and his new trainer Jack Loew (Kelly Pavlik’s former trainer) had a good plan. Instead of relying on his height and reach advantage by staying at a safe distance, they planned to keep Jhonson on his heels by pressing. The feeling was they would negate Jhonson's ability to throw the big left. Without that ability, they knew Jhonson would be at a big disadvantage.

Offensively, the right-handed Nelson was going to stay at the end of his jab, but mix in a goodly portion of lead rights to both surprise and keep Jhonson honest. In the second round, Nelson scored a real moment of truth by shooting through a good right hand that put Jhonson down for the first time in his pro career. The bookies were probably frantically sipping Maalox at that point, worrying about their payout.

But, before they needed to get out the prayer beads, Jhonson dropped Nelson hard with the big left. Nelson made the mistake of lowering his right hand in preparation to throw it, and boom, over the top came the left. Nelson went over backwards, with his leg bending awkwardly underneath him. It didn't look good. Unbelievably he popped up and managed to think clearly enough to tie up Jhonson long enough for his head to clear.

From then on, it seemed as though Nelson gained confidence, realizing he had taken Jhonson's best shot and was still conscious. He started popping Jhonson more with his left jabs, hooks and uppercuts. He also continued with the good old one-two, and lead rights. The area around Jhonson's right eye started to swell, and he looked a bit disheveled; although, he did bounce a few more good lefts off of Nelson's head, but nothing like the knockdown shot.

Jack Loew chewed out Nelson more than once between rounds, reminding him that he had Jhonson in trouble more than once, but let him off the hook. He also continued to caution Willie to avoid being careless, and to keep Jhonson on his heels. Nelson did just that, and as a result came away with a big upset UD win.

In the co-feature, super middleweight/light heavy Badou Jack 11-0-0 (8KOs), who is from Stockholm, Sweden, had a heck of a time with the unusual style of Alexander Brand, from Bogota, Columbia. The orthodox Jack planned to move forward with a good jab, effective body punching, and sharp counter punching. Jack knew Brand had a very unorthodox style and threw wide looping punches, but he wasn't worried. He felt he would be able to get inside those wide shots and make Brand pay.

The first couple of rounds were uneventful. Brand stayed at long distance, only occasionally jumping in with a single shot here and there. He wasn't going to be able to win rounds that way. But, he quickly started taking more chances, and although he looked open, he was not. His speed and constant head and foot movement proved to be a real problem for Jack.

Brand 17-1-0 (15KOs) was getting away with having his hands low, squaring up and moving from lefty to righty without getting caught. His speed and athletic ability were just enough to keep Jack off balance and out of sync. When he seemingly was out of position, he would land an almost back-handed shot, double or triple up, or push off with a forearm. Jack just couldn't fire back the way he wanted.

Jack's trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad chastised him for not going to the body, but Brand made that hard as well by either staying out of range, or flailing away when at close range. He landed a lot of shots from strange angles, which even though not hard caused Jack problems. Brand also proved strong enough to be able to muscle Jack when needed.

Brand landed a lot of shots, but his style is less than appealing. Whereas someone like Sergio Martinez can make an unorthodox style look just that.....stylish, Brand looks more like a kid's wind-up toy that's gone berserk! All three judges scored the fight the same 77-75, but the problem for Brand was two saw it that way for Jack, so Jack snuck away with a SD in an ugly, but exciting eight rounder.

Article posted on 12.05.2012

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