Quartey - Forrest: Meet Me at the Crossroads

02.08.06 - By Thomas Scherr: This Saturday’s fight between Ike Quartey and Vernon Forrest is being billed as “Now or Never” and never have those words been more true for two combatants. This is truly a crossroads fight for both men, where the winner should be thrust into the mix at the top of the 154 lb. division, while the loser needs to consider life after boxing.

Ike Quartey is currently 36 years old and hales from Accra, Ghana. In 1994, he won the WBA Welterweight title, and went on to make eight successful defenses of that belt. Over that span, he notched wins against contenders “Cool” Vince Philips and Oba Carr and fought Jose Luis Lopez to a rousing draw. In 1999, Ike Quartey faced Oscar De La Hoya for the WBC Welterweight title. The fight saw both men on the canvas, with Oscar taking a controversial split decision victory. In his next fight, Quartey was matched against Fernando Vargas. The fight was a furious slugfest, which ended in a close but unanimous decision for Vargas. Ike thought he should have won both of these decisions, and retired from boxing in 2000. Quartey returned to the ring in 2005, and has since earned wins against rugged veterans Verno Phillips and Carlos Bojorquez.

Vernon Forrest turned pro in 1992 after a successful amateur career that included a trip to the Olympics. In 2001, he gained the vacant IBF belt by defeating Raul Frank in their second fight (the first was ruled a no contest due to an accidental head but in the third round.) In 2002, Vernon Forrest got his career defining shoot against top pound for pound fighter Shane Mosley. Vernon Forrest dropped Shane Mosley twice in the second round en route to a lopsided decision victory. Less than six months later, Shane Mosley forced a rematch with Forrest. Forrest defended the WBC and Ring Magazine titles he gained from the first fight, and was able to gain a close decision in a largely tactical, low action fight. 2003 was a disastrous year for Forrest. He lost against heavy handed Ricardo Mayorga twice, first by third round knockout, then by Majority decision. Forrest has fought sparingly since the Mayorga bouts, largely due to multiple surgeries on his shoulder and elbow. In 2005 Forrest earned victories over lightly regarded Sergio Rios and Elco Garcia.

Breaking Down the Fight:

Punching Power: Ike Quartey is an explosive puncher. His solid jab has earned him the nickname “bazooka.” Vernon Forrest has 28 KO’s in his 37 wins, but does not have a reputation as a power puncher. Edge: Quartey

Chin: Both fighters have tasted the canvas during their career. Vernon Forrest has the only knockout loss, but it was to the power punching Ricardo Mayorga. Quartey was down against Jose Luis Lopez, Oscar De La Hoya, and Verno Phillips. Edge: Forrest

Endurance: Forest is a consummate professional and has been in top physical condition for his fights. Quartey has been known to run out of gas in the late rounds, which was the cause of the knockdowns against Lopez and Phillips. Edge: Forrest

Ring Generalship: Forrest is an excellent tactical fighter. He likes to use his jab to set up the straight right hand. He uses his height well, and tries to avoid getting in wars. Quartey is more or a slugger. While he has a solid jab, he will follow his opponents around the ring, and lose his tactical advantage. Edge: Forrest

Ring Rust: In his return to the squared circle, Quartey has been fighting fringe contenders. These efforts should have helped to prepare Quartey to step back into the elite realm of fighters. Forrest has been fighting unknown opponents with decent records, but minimal skill in his recent fights. Edge: Quartey

Health: Ike Quartey had health and injury concerns before the De La Hoya fight, but his body has held up well recently. The same cannot be said of Vernon Forrest. Shoulder problems have plagued him since the second Mayorga fight, and injury issues even delayed this fight. Forrest will readily admit that he has lost some of the range on his jab, and it is unknown if his body betray him against Quartey. Big Edge: Quartey

Conclusion: If this fight would have taken place in 2002 I think Forrest would have taken an easy decision. In his prime he was a fantastic tactical fight with a long straight jab and a solid right. I think he could have controlled distance against Quartey, and fought to a relatively easy decision victory. In 2006, I have to take Quartey. I do not believe Forrest can use his jab to keep Quartey off with his should in its current state, which will allow Quartey to close the distance and land power shots. While I expect a competitive fight, I believe Forrest will take too much damage in the middle rounds and the Ike will earn either a late round stoppage or a decision victory.

Article posted on 02.08.2006

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