30.08.04 – By Coach Tim Walker: Amidst lawsuits, distrust and customer dissatisfaction the popularity of boxing has dwindled. But there are those of us who are stricken by the pugilist bug. We tune in 3 or 4 times a week in hopes of seeing that rare bout. We watch in hopes of seeing greatness in the squared circle.
Friday night we came the closest to fight greatness that we have since the battles of Ward/Ghatti. The ESPN2 main event featured top twenty fighter Willie Gibbs and slightly known boxer Daniel Edouard. Both fighters were lined up for the next level but Edouard was to play the role of the mouse. The odds makers were against him and according to Gibbs, “Edouard is only a stepping stone to me.”
That’s usually the way things go in the boxing ring. You have a favorite and you have an underdog. The problem is that someone forgot to fully explain the role of underdog to Edouard. After the announcements the fighters met in the center of the ring and touched gloves as a gesture of sportsmanship. That was the last time these two would act civilly towards each other.
Round one started with Edouard trying to establish his jab. He clearly had no intention of mixing it up early with Gibbs. Gibbs on the other hand wanted to end things early. It didn’t take long before a couple of Gibbs hard rights and upper cuts changed Edouard’s game plan. He began to bang in the trenches with Gibbs and had him on his heels. Or so it appeared. With his back against the ropes Gibbs landed a solid upper cut that sent Edouard wobbling around the ring and holding on for his boxing life. Edouard fell through the ropes and the referee ruled it a slip. Daniel survived the round and landed some early shots but I gave this round to Gibbs.
In round two the tables turned in Edouard’s favor. A series of hard right hands gave Gibbs a case of the shakes and he never seemed to have his legs under him again. Edouard effectively cut the ring off and cornered Gibbs. Imagine that the mouse cornering the cat. The cat landed a barrage of straight rights and left hooks that caused the referee to jump between the two fighters. It was unclear though if he was stopping the fight or giving a standing eight. Irregardless, Gibbs, who had just got off the canvas, was given the eight count and the bout continued to all of our satisfaction. Edouard pummeled Gibbs some more and the crowd cheered both fighters at the end of the second round. This round I gave to Edouard.
The third round was as close to an even round as the fight produced. Both fighters landed hard shots but Edouard seemed to have the upper hand. Gibbs was slowing down a bit and could not see the right hands of Edouard. Edouard was equally having difficulty dealing with the left upper cut of Gibbs. Gibbs was slated to play the cat in this mouse hunt but Gibbs was learning that even a mouse will fight his way out of a corner. Though an argument could have been made for the round to be even I gave it to Edouard.
Round four gave us more of what we came for. “The Haitian Sensation” was stalking the “Gladiator” with a look in his eye that can only be described as desperation. He too was beginning to feel the effects of the all out battle. Then like the courageous nephew mouse in the old Tom and Jerry cartoons Edouard chased Le Pussycatto into the corner. Gibbs stood virtually defenseless as Edouard pounded him into submission with hard shots to the head and body which included a left hook to the temple and straight right flush on the jaw. The onslaught of punches in the thrid minute of the fourth round ended with Edouard fading a jab and landing a short right to the chin that ended Gibbs night, sent him face first to the canvas and forever into the upset book. Gibbs got up but then proceeded to dance the way Zab Judah did at the hands of Kostya Tszyu. The referee ended Gibbs’ pain and our joy by stopping the fight.
The crowd cheered not solely at Edouard’s victory or Gibbs’ defeat but rather at the treat that they witnessed. The cheered boxing greatness.
The referee may have stopped the bout too late. Both fighters were hospitalized and medical suspensions may be looming. Edouard’s medical leave will be a little sweeter because he now has the USBA Middle Weight Title to keep him warm. Gibbs on the other hand has the memory of Le Pussycatto and a possible setback in his boxing future. All in all it was easily one of the best fights of the year and that is exactly what is wrong with boxing. We are teased with the greatness that boxing should be. In the sport of boxing aspiring prospects and contenders usually take on lesser competition. But this night we were treated to the best that boxing has to offer. On this night both guys let it all hang out and because of that they earned something greater than any belt or title. They both earned a fan in me. They both have my respect and my attention for the rest of their boxing careers.