Wishful Thinking Does Come True! “Tiger” Jirov To Return To Cruiser!

18.02.06 - By Izyaslav “Slava” Koza: To be honest, although a boxing fan through and through, it has been difficult to remain as captivated by the sport, when the career of my favorite fighter, Vasili Jirov has been so stagnant. I know that objectivity is the drug pushed on those of us who write about boxing, but I can’t stand the idea of being objective when part of the passion comes from pure unadulterated bias for certain fighters. To those fans who love Gatti because of so many highlight reel moments, to those who like Corrales because of his never say die even after 4 knockdowns attitude, I think the Mesi, Toney and even Moorer fights (unfortunately loses), demonstrate why I am such a huge Jirov fan. Even before that watching the 96 semi-final against Antonio Tarver, and knowing that the Tiger’s hand was messed up, I saw a boxer that deserved respect and loyal fans win, lose or draw.

After those fights to see the Tiger, struggling, unmotivated, and most of all not the lean mean punching cruiserweight machine of times past, against Orlin Norris, it was to say the least sad and painful.

Throughout his heavyweight campaign, many fans had said going back down to Cruiserweight would be the wise thing to do, and even though I did not agree with them at first, the uninspiring performance against Norris made me rethink that position in retrospect.

The problem with most heavyweights is they don’t have a specific weight target limit. Every other boxer in every other division, has to focus and train such that they make weight, and not only that but make weight and still be at an optimal performing level. Heavyweights are not bound by these limits. If Riddick Bowe wants to balloon up to 350 pounds and fight there is nothing stopping him, but maybe a really small doorway in his dressing room. The same could be said for James Toney, Kirk Johnson, and even the guys who are not necessarily big, waist wise, but just don’t consider that the extra poundage makes a difference. Digression aside, when Vasili Jirov was on top of his game and had to make a certain weight limit, he would not slack off in training, consequently that probably boosted his energy level mentally knowing he was in peak form. At least that is what it looked like to me. He looked more confident, more aggressive, more like a killer. If you compare some of those thin cruiserweight assassin pics, to the ones of him at cruiserweight the frustration of fans becomes apparent.

However, thankfully that frustration looks to be headed into the frigging gutter because last Tuesday Vasili Jirov has stated he would go down to cruiserweight. To say the least the mood of both myself, my brother, and our whole Jirov loving posse in the Metropolitan area, as well as the Jirov fans all over the worldb skyrocketed to skyscraper levels. Who is he fighting? Will he still be successful? Is he done?

Those are the questions the critics asked when the news was passed along to the public. While valid questions the answer I have is, who cares, the important thing is that the man is trying to radically reform himself and get back to not only winning but impressively winning ways. In truth, I had suspected there was something going on because in a recent interview Jirov had stated that he was training on a daily basis, and unless he was doing it the way, his arch nemesis James Toney is rumored to do, I would think that sort of thing drops the pounds and takes him closer and perhaps below the 200 mark limit of Cruiserweight.

This move also couldn’t have come at a better time because right now the cruiserweights are a hot commodity, considering Bell, Mormeck and the like. Personally I don’t see why Vasili Jirov can’t take out Bell within two or three fights. The guy has a great chin but I thought he was losing the Mormeck fight, till the Frenchy ran out of steam, and as I hear lost the Brown fight as well. In 1999 Vasili Jirov stopped an undefeated Dale Brown in 10 rounds in his first title defense. Of course fighters change and that ABC logic does not mean Jirov necessarily beats Bell, but it does create certain elements that should be considered. From what I have seen of Bell, I think trying to knock him out by going at his head is silly. Mormeck hit him with all sorts of hell and it really didn’t seem to bother Bell even though to those of us watching it seemed like the Frenchman was about to win by KO.

Bell has a good chin, but on the other hand, he was susceptible to a Mormeck body shot which he played off well, and admitted had an affect on him after the fight. Vasili Jirov, was a murderous puncher at Cruiserweight, and a lot of those fights were won by KO because of the body punching more so then his power to the head. One of his key mistakes, in my opinion, when attempting heavyweight was switching to head hunting, which coupled with other elements already mentioned made his campaign relatively unsuccessful.

Another problem is that while Vasili Jirov has a gold medal in the Olympics, to prove he is a great boxer, he does not use his boxing enough. In spurts in the Norris fight his sidestepping, and ability to get to the side of Norris was inspiring because even if he could not score a clean punch, Norris definitely could not and even a half glancing blow in that position, from Jirov is worthwhile and showing ring generalship. Had he done more of that he would have gotten the Norris decision, instead of it being a draw, do to Jirov trying to corner and head hunt against a counterpunching Norris on the ropes. I think that a well fit, and hungry Jirov, will have enough stamina to not stand flat-footed, and look for only big head shots, and to win rounds through boxing if need be. It is probably frustrating for a guy that likes to fight to dance around and throw jabs, but fighting smart and brawling are what separate boxing from tough man. I know Vasili Jirov can take a shot and can give one too, but many guys can do that, not many of them can box however, and that is what I hope the cruiserweight move will do for the man. It may lead to boring fights potentially, but I would rather he win by any means even warless ones.

The bottom line is this is a terrific move that shows Vasili Jirov’s dedication to the sport is still somewhere inside him, which is something some had started to doubt. Will that translate to victory? Perhaps but as I said win, lose or draw he is a fighter that deserves any boxing fan’s respect regardless, so really, in my biased eyes, this move is a victory in it of itself. Although it need not be said, Eastside wishes Vasili Jirov the best of luck and hopes to see him celebrating victory in the ring and on TV in the near future.

Article posted on 19.02.2006

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