Forrest tops Quartey by Disputed Decision

Forrest vs Quartey06.08.06 - By Ryan Songalia: New York City's Madison Square Garden was filled with mixed reactions to the verdict in the junior middleweight fight between Ike Quartey and Vernon Forrest. The arena was a chorus of discontent, reacting to the disputable unanimous decision victory that was awarded to Vernon Forrest on a night in which he did not appear the more effective fighter. The "Now or Never" event was promoted by Lou Dibella Entertainment.

As a pair of former welterweight champions on the comeback trail, both men gave respectable accounts of themselves, fully acknowledging that it may be too late to recover from a big setback. However, Ike Quartey of Accra, Ghana found himself on the downside of a decision he appeared to deserve the better fortune in. Quartey was the more accurate and effective puncher throughout, and used his physical strength and jab to back up Forrest. Vernon Forrest, Atlanta, GA, did not appear sharp from the opening bell, unable to sustain an effective offense for extended periods in the fight.

The early rounds were dominated by the crisp jabs and counter punching of Quartey. Forrest was not using his own jab effectively to set up his power punching, and found himself having to lunge while out of range to land his own blows. However, and this is important in the scoring discrepancies, Forrest was the busier fighter and threw more punches..

By the middle rounds, Forrest's right side of his face began to swell as a visible testament to Quartey's proficient use of his left hand punches. Quartey's stamina remained better preserved than Forrest's, who appeared the more exhausted of the two down the stretch. In the ninth round, a stanza Quartey seemed to win, Forrest was docked a point by the referee for low blows.

Quartey, who looked absolutely sensational in his public workout this past Tuesday, put on a well concocted display of technical brilliance through out the fight. Quartey remained the aggressor throughout, and was much more effective with his jab than Forrest. Forrest was the busier fighter, but his porous defense and unstable balance enabled Quartey to take advantage with accurate power shots.

When the official scores were announced, the debatable tallies of 95-94, 95-94 and 96-94 were met by the jeers of the dissenting crowd. Unofficial HBO ringside judge Harold Lederman's scorecard read 97-92 for Ike Quartey. My perspective had the identical result of the aforementioned commentator.

Forrest's inability to make his longer jab a factor may be attributed to the persistent injuries to his left rotator cup. After suffering damage to his rotator cuff in 2004, he endured a long layoff in which he had multiple surgeries to repair his maligned shoulder.

His open media workout in Manhattan this last Wednesday may have suggested that his arm was not 100 percent healed and functional following his recent injuries. At the Crunch Gym in midtown Manhattan, Forrest barely worked up a sweat as he shadow boxed for a couple of rounds before calling it an early session after approximately twenty minutes of light shadow boxing. Forrest's exhibition was in stark contrast to the impressive showing of Ike Quartey, who was very sharp in his appearance.

Quartey still looks to be in fantastic form, but his continued inability to win over the judges seemed to elicit signs of discouragement and bitterness during his post fight interview. The typically stoic Quartey appeared on the verge of tears while talking to HBO commentator Larry Merchant following the decision.

When Quartey lost under similar circumstances to Oscar De La Hoya in 1999, he spent more than a year away from the ring. In the aftermath of his close loss to Fernando Vargas the following in 2000, Quartey spent nearly five years out of the ring while regaining his hunger and motivation. At the age of 36 and 18 years since his professional debut, this was a setback that he could not afford.

He will find it very difficult to get the big names in the ring giving the high risk, intermediate reward that fighting Quartey will bring. Forrest, while victorious, showed vulnerability and holes in his game, thus potentially helping make him an attractive opponent for some of the big name fighters in the welterweight and junior middleweight divisions. A rematch between the two combatants would be an ideal scenario for the Quartey camp, while Team Forrest will likely look to challenge for a world title before considering going at it with "Bazooka" again.

Forrest would be best served to take a step down in opposition later this year to help regain his form. The Vernon Forrest who showed up Saturday night did not perform like the boxer that earned him Ring Magazine's 2002 Fighter of the Year Award.

A fortuitous Forrest raises his professional ring record to 38-2 (28 KO) and sets himself up for some possible big money showdowns down the road. Ike Quartey, whose deflated and dejected expression told the story of the fight, drops to 37-3-1 (31 KO).

Ryan Songalia is a syndicated columnist. If you have any feedback or questions, my email address is . My Myspace address is . My Friendster is Special thanks to Matt Nash and Adrianna Fernandez.

Article posted on 06.08.2006

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