Boxing

Styles Make Fights - The Predictamundo Strikes…Again!

01.09.05 - By John Way: When considering the rich history of Showtime boxing, September 3rd 2005 seems to hold no special promise of greatness. Two floundering heavyweights, supported by a non-title cruiserweight fight? Hardly on the level of the historic battles in years past on this network, featuring superstars like Kostya Tsyu, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez, and most recently, Ricky Hatton.. An off month for Americas #1 boxing network, right? Maybe not, considering the old boxing adage, "you don’t need two great fighters to see a great fight", as was highlighted almost exactly a year ago when Kali Meehan and Lamon Brewster hit each other with everything but the bible in a savage give-and-take affair.

On the undercard we witnessed Cory Spinks’ twelve round waltz with Miguel Angel Gonzalez, in a fight that had even the announcers yawning. No one denies Spinks’ extraordinary defensive talent, or the fact that Gonzalez was one of the best lightweights of recent years, so how did a garbage man and a fella who lost to Clifford Etienne steal the spot light from two top flight performers? Styles make fights. You don’t have to be John Ledes, or even John Way to realize that Ray Austin’s career isn’t going quite the way he planned. Video game nerds will remember the burly Austin for his role as one of the C-level fighters featured on EA Sport’s hit (pun intended) fighting game, Knock Out Kings 2001.

Since losing his pro debut, "The Rain Man" has reeled off a series of inconsequential victories against absolutely anonymus
opposition, with his his best performances to date coming in the form of draws against bottom feeders like Larry Donald, Zuri Lawrence, and Lance "Mount Goofi" Whitaker. His most recent loss came against one time fringe-contending prospect, Attila "The Hun" Levin when Austin was stopped in nine rounds. In his defense, he did manage to post passable victories against proposed David Tua opponent Cisse Salif, and Mexico’s best active fighter, Gilbert Martinez. When it comes to nutty nicknames, it’s hard to think of many monikers more maniacal than Owen Beck’s "What the Heck"; which is exactly the response such a byword illicits.

After Sam "The Boston Tar baby" Langford, Marcus "The Tuna" Rhode, and Johnny Nelson as the "Entertainer", the list of ridiculous nicknames quickly thins out. Previously an undefeated hot-prospect, Owen is looking to patch his career back together after Monte Barret turned his nickname into "Hit the Deck" earlier this year. Since joining the likes of Dominick Guinn, David Defiagbon, Eric Kirkland, and David Izon et al on the growing list of punctured heavyweight prospects in recent years, he has been commended for the bravery that he showed by rising from multiple knockdowns against his conqueror. After looking impressive early in his career against Taurus Sykes and George Arias, the hard hitting Beck became stagnated, treading water versus Troy Weida and Vernon Woodward. Putting poor opposition and his first professional loss behind him, Beck is looking to make a splash by thumping Austin in impressive fashion. The main question in this fight is whether Beck’s weak beard can hold up to Austin’s wild, two-fisted attack.

This being said, Owen is a very underrated puncher himself, with the benefit of accuracy and timing, gifts that have past over the brawling "Rain Man". This fight isn’t difficult to predict: Beck zaps his opponent with the jab for a few rounds, before Austin makes his move, ineffectually pushing Owen to the ropes. Under pressure, "What the heck" begins to counter-punch with impressive precision, after getting wobbled early in the assault, showing improved defense coupled with fine conditioning. Don’t look for this one to last more than eight rounds, but don’t be surprised to see Beck to get shaken, or even suffer the indignity of a flash knockdown or two. Despite being the hardest punching switch-hitter this side of Naseem Hamed, Wayne Braithwaite hasn’t always been the bone crusher he’s known as today. But after two decision wins over Ken Sharpe early in his career, he’s only gone the distance twice since.

In the first test of his career, Wayne managed to finish off perennial contender, Dale Brown, impressing fans and experts alike. Soon after, he put Louis Azille away in three rounds before upsetting Vincenzo Cantatore for the vacant WBC cruiserweight title. Between Ravea Springs and Luis Pineda, Braithwaite required less than five full rounds of action to retain his title twice. His impressive streak of stoppages ground to a halt when Azille weathered the early storm to last the full twelve rounds in their rematch. Like every fighters dependent on punching power, Wayne finally met someone stronger, tougher, and smarter than himself, in the form of Frenchman (a brave Frenchman, I’m not kidding) Jean Marc Mormeck. Although the statuesque Mormeck did manage to floor Braithwaite heavily during the fight, it should be noted that he had taken a heavy beating prior to being decked, so its unlikely that the former champion lacks the ability to absorb punishment reasonably well.

Guillermo Jones is here for one reason, and one reason only…his recent win over spelling impaired Kelvin "Koncrete" Davis. Tough as all get out, Davis was regarded as one of the hardest pound for pound hitters in the world, coming off a sensational lambasting of heavy handed bomber, Ezra Sellers. While Davis had been stopped by O’Neil Bell, no one in the entire boxing community expected Jones to have the firepower to hurt, let alone kayo his rock solid opponent. Coming off a disappointing decision loss to Philly based phenomenon Stevie Cunningham, Jones was bent on finishing off "Koncrete" early. Faced with nonstop combinations, the former IBF champion just couldn’t cope with the high work rate, and took a nasty lacing before the fight ended in the forth round. Now Jones is poised on the brink of his biggest fight to date, with proposed matches against the cruiserweight elite if he prevails, and oblivion if he fails.

As much as I admired "Big Trucks" bravery this April as he stood up to Mormeck’s fearsome body attack, I just don’t think he can rebound. For some fighters, defeat can serve a positive purpose, forcing a boxer to work harder and make necessary adjustments. More often, especially in the case of heavy hitters, a defeat as decisive as the one Braithwaite suffered is negative. This being said, its also unlikely that Jones can ambush Wayne the way he did the less vigilant Davis, so the same gung-ho attack he employed in that fight might leave him vulnerable to heavy counter punches.

This bout is more multi-dimensional in terms of how the action could pan out: either Braithwaite buries Jones under a hail of serious leather, or vice versa. The way I see it, Jones hops right on Braithwaite, and pushes him to the ropes where the action unfolds for a few rounds before "Big Truck" desperately tries to rally, giving us some good action. After taking some of the middle rounds, Braithwaite tires and falls into a shell for the championship rounds, and drops a close majority decision. Look for Jones and Beck to move on to bigger and better things in the future. Contrasting predictions welcome below.

Article posted on 01.09.2005



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