Our Version Of Boxing Day

25.04.05 - By Chris Acosta: For any boxing fan, you had to love what this past weekend was all about. For once I actually didn't worry too much whether a PPV card was going to deliver or not. ESPN's 29.95 price tag was a hell of a lot more reasonable than the usual fifty dollars you get for one main event and obligatorily noxious undercard. And with what was originally supposed to be four feature attractions (before the Juan Diaz-Ebo Elder fight was cancelled), there could possibly be a new revolution in discount cost for those of us who subscribe faithfully to these events.

Oh sure, my girlfriend wasn't too pleased as I began the day by watching ESPN Classic fights like Holyfield -Dokes and the always mesmerizing Leonard - Hearns 1. I guess she thought that those were the bouts I had been talking about all week until I sheepishly explained otherwise..

Girlfriend: "Oh, there's more fights later?"

Me: "Yeah, remember that pay -per-view thing I was telling you about?"

Girlfriend: "What time does that end?"

Me: "Around 9."

Girlfriend: "Oh! We should watch a movie after that!"

Me: "Um...but then Wladimir is fighting on HBO at 9:45."

So with that, I accepted the fact that I would eventually pay in some guise (the old dinner and a movie). That's okay because my girlfriend is pretty darn understanding when it comes to my infatuation with this sport and she has even begun to make shocking statements like, "Why does that guys' hand drop when he jabs?" which is as much a turn -on as I always imagined it to

I was pumped by the time Calvin Brock and Jameel McCline were making their ring entrances. The winner would come out of it in a strong position to get themselves a title shot and would either pump new blood into the division (Brock) or maintain the validity of "Big Time" as the strong contender he's proven to be. It was a little of both.

McCline coming in at a pretty light 265 showed better stamina than in his previous title try decision loss against IBF title holder Chris Byrd and pumped a nice jab into the untested Brock's face, resulting in a cut over Calvins' eye. Brock to his credit is as sound a fighter as there is in the division. He has an extremely balanced attack minus the "flash" which is okay because there's less chance of being fried in the "pan", if you know what I mean. Is the "Boxing Banker" a future world champion? Hard to tell. Based on what I saw and on the assumption that he'll take a great deal of confidence from the win, it seems pretty safe to say that he'd be competitive with anyone in the division. As for Jameel, you had to feel for him when he said that boxing was "all he knew" in the post-fight interview. It wouldn't be fair to categorize the big man as a steppingstone just yet. He did, after all, floor Brock in the seventh round and provide some anxious moments in spots. He also showed a little better improvement in utilizing his size although he just as quickly reverted back to the tentativeness that seems at odds for someone so big and strong. With Brock and Samuel Peter as new faces in boxing's glamour division, the possibilities for excitement become much more tantalizing.

There was much concern about "Sugar" Shane Mosley returning back to the welterweight division with all the risk issues involved with losing weight at this stage of his career. It was a valid question since Shane has never come into a fight out of shape, meaning no excess fat to shed and we saw what could happen to someone when they dropped back down in weight courtesy of the shocking descent of Roy Jones Jr. His opponent David Estrada was no gimme as far as retesting himself in old but familiar waters. The Chicago native pressed Mosley hard and did so with just enough technique to make things interesting. Estrada was not intimidated in the least but as the rounds went on you got the idea that had this been vintage Mosley, he would have been taken apart in much the same way as, say, Shannon Taylor. Shane hurt Estrada with some sharp left hooks to the body in the middle rounds but in an effort to close the show, went for the home run instead of opening up with one of those extended combinations that used to freeze opponents in their tracks. Despite Ray Leonard's rather unimpressed assessment of Mosley's effort, Shane got the win, which at this point in his career, was huge. The big question is whether he can regain that sweetness that once had him atop the pound for pound charts and based on what we saw, it's too early to tell but you can bet he'll be better the next time out. As for Estrada, he's not a bad fighter and if he continues to improve under the tutelage of Angelo Dundee, may find himself as someone's mandatory down the road.

Before the Antonio Margarito - Kermit Cintron bout, I made it a point to tell some friends I'd invited over, that the broad -shouldered Puerto Rican was a puncher on the level of a Felix Trinidad. That got my buddies quite worked up (although by this time, my girlfriend had resorted to cleaning my bathroom to alleviate the boredom) and so we all held our breath in anticipation of the birth of a new star. Unfortunately, "Killer" Cintron just seemed to fall apart under the rust of inactivity, the pressure of the moment and particularly, Margaritos' stunningly accurate fists. It wasn't even close. As early as the second round, Cintron wore an expression of a man who knew the boat was sinking with no life raft on board. He fought his heart out but it was clear that his mind was simply not up to the task. I've seen Kermit fight before and can honestly say that something was seriously missing. I was rooting for Margarito and by no means do I imply that his victory rung hollow but you can't help but sympathize with his opponent who fell way short of his best. The Mexican champion to his credit, forced the issue when he realized his challengers inexperience and nerves, landing some beautiful combinations that became more frequent as the fight progressed. Afterwards, there was talk of Margarito meeting Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya or Ring Magazine champion Zab Judah. A match with any of the three would be tremendous and it's obvious that Antonio isn't out of his class at the elite level. Let's hope that he gets the chance to secure both a big money fight and greater acclaim.

HBO gave the once -promising Wladimir Klitschko what amounted to a last chance to try and redeem his shaky career against Cuba's Team Freedom member Eliseo Castillo. It seemed a reasonable test as Castillo had not lost in 18 bouts and had even managed a decision win over ex-champ Michael Moorer, which incidentally, grew in value after Moorer's K.O. over ex-cruiserweight champion Vasiliy Jirov a few months ago. Still, Eliseo was a smallish heavy with nice moves but no appreciable pop in his mitts. The Cuban circled the ring for the four rounds the fight lasted, occasionally lashing out with a sweeping hook before going on the retreat and eating some hurtful jabs. A solid right cross spilled Castillo in the fourth and the ref waved the contest over. Not a whole lot to take from the win in terms of where little brother Klitschko is right now but I saw some very important signs that bode well for his future. First was his relaxed mood. Even in his bouts with a hapless Fabio Moli and Danell Nicholson, Wlad appeared extremely stressed and overreacted to anything resembling an attempted punch which carried over to his hideous mental collapse against Lamon Brewster. He sometimes held his right hand out in front of him, swatting at Castillos gloves before resuming that punishing jab.

Trainer Emmanuel Steward explained to HBO analyst Larry Merchant that he'd upped Wlads sparring to a level he'd never approached before and it was obvious that Klitschko was more willing to stay in the pocket. It's never really been his chin but rather, his composure in the face of adversity that has led to so much understandable doubt. It was pretty much what we all know: Wladimir Klitschko has every physical and athletic quality you could ask for, so much that I can't find another heavyweight outside of James Toney with so much sheer talent. Whether he canraise his mental bar to the same level remains to be seen.

Article posted on 25.04.2005

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