Boxing’s Final Big Weekend for 2004

18.12.04 – By Tom Donelson: Thursday night HBO Boxero series featured two up and coming fighters in Librado Andrade and Brian Viloria. In the first feature, Super Middleweight Librado Andrade faced light heavyweight trial horse Thomas Reid. Reid is a smart crafty boxer with little power, as his 13 knockouts in 33 victories would attest to. In his last fight, Reid lost a 10 round decision to Montel Griffin and came down to the Super Middleweight weight for this bout.

The undefeated Andrade showed from the very beginning who was the power puncher as every punch had Reid clinching in pain. Reid offered very little in return and never could hurt Andrade whereas every punch Andrade threw seem to put Reid on the defensive. Not only that but Andrade accuracy combined with his power never allowed Reid any opportunities to get into this fight. From the opening bell, Andrade used a variety of punches. He used his jab to neutralized Reid boxing skills and then when he got on the inside, he followed up with devastating uppercuts and hooks to the body. In the fourth round, Andrade unleashed a variety of punches as Reid covered up for dear life. The referee stopped the fight after Reid no longer put any resistance. During Andrade’s last volley, Reid merely covered up and was getting hit with hard punches after hard punches. When the fight stopped, Reid put up no protest. He was as happy to see this end as his opponent. He had enough.

The Priolo-Viloria fight will go down as a seventh round knockout for Brian Viloria but this was a closer fight than supposed. The undefeated Viloria went headhunting from the opening bell but PrioloÔáýs four-inch reach advantage proved to be advantageous. He controlled Viloria with his jab and occasionally nailed Viloria face with an accurate right hand.

In the third round, Viloria and Priolo went toe-toe which allowed the shorter Viloria a shot at hitting his taller opponent. While the beginning of the round saw Priolo having the advantage, Viloria nailed Priolo with a perfect left hook at the 1:30 mark and put Priolo down for a brief count. Priolo got back up but Viloria finally broke through. He dominated the fourth but Priolo regained control in the fifth round as he used his height to an advantage as he did in the first two rounds.

Viloria rarely went to the body and merely chased the Columbian fighter. This allowed Priolo to take control of the fight and as the sixth round began, Viloria undefeated status appeared in jeopardy. At the end of the sixth round, Viloria nailed Priolo with the most effective body attack of the fight. For the first time, Viloria sat down on his hooks to the body and the pain on PrioloÔáýs face showed the effect. Sitting in his corner between rounds, Priolo gasp in pain when his corner rubbed his body. Viloria went back to work as he nailed Priolo with a series of body shots and Priolo retreated. A perfect shot to the stomach put Priolo down. Priolo went flat on the canvas and there was no doubt that the body shots showed their efficacy. Priolo lay on the canvas for a good 30 seconds before he could get up.

In the beginning of the fight, Viloria did not go to the body often and this allowed Priolo to dictate the pace of the fight. Had Viloria gone to the body earlier, he may had ended this fight earlier. It was Viloria’s body shots that ended the fight and Brian Viloria sent a message that in the 112-pound division, he may be king. The one flaw in this performance was Viloria refusal to go to the body in the beginning. When Viloria went to the body, he slowed Priolo down and brought Priolo’s hands down as he banged to the body over and over.

ShoBox featured a tough grueling lightweight match between Ebo Elders and Courtney Burton. For Burton, this was one of those crossroads fights. Earlier this year, he lost to Julio Diaz and won a controversial decision over Emanuel Augustus. As for Elders, he had a five fight-winning streak since coming back from a self-imposed exile.

This match showed both fighters at their best. Elder had the quicker hand but Burton pressure and overall strength along with boxing savvy almost proved to be the difference. Over the first six rounds, the fight was tight as both fighters exchanged rounds. Elders lost a point in the fourth round for a low blow after numerous warnings. In the first half of the fight, Elders hit combinations to the body and head but after the first point deductions and numerous warnings, Elders basically abandon the body attack. As for Burton, he consistently confused Elders by switching from Southpaw to orthodox. Regardless of which side he fought from, he was effective and able to land hooks to the body and head. Elders right eye was cut in the early rounds and began to swell as the fight progressed. As Steve Farhood observed in the latter rounds, Elders did not resemble the fighter that began the fight.

In the seventh thru ninth, Elders began to take control as he whipped combinations to Burton head, as Burton appeared to slow down. At the end of the ninth round, Burton landed an uppercut flush after the bell. Stunned by the illegal blow, Elders went back to the corner staggered. His dad began to pray over his son after asking him if he was okay. Calling upon divine intervention, ElderÔáýs father forgo instructions. Meanwhile in Burton corner, his corner man simply told him that this was his fight and his life.

Burton came out strong in the tenth as he pressed the action and in the eleventh, he nearly had Elders out. ElderÔáýs hand actually hit the canvas but no knockdown was called. Elder walked back to his corner, exhausted as he fought the last minute with his hand down. This set up a wild twelve and final round.

Burton jumped on Elders and pummeled his opponent up and down. Elders wheeled to the rope and barely stood up as he withstood Burton best. The referee eyed Elder, as the thought of an early stoppage must have occurred. What saved Elder at this point was that he threw a few punches. Burton continued to press before he ran into an Elder straight left. Burton staggered back and Elder went after his wounded prey. Another straight left sent Burton down. Burton was now in trouble and Elder took no chances as he finished his game challenger. Burton was stopped with a four-punch barrage. Elder prevailed but not without cost. Both eyes were swollen along with the right side of his face. As both men prayed after the fight, the fans were treated to two warriors colliding. Burton and Elder gave their all and both men showed they had both heart and will. Burton just fell short.

In the first match, undefeated boxer Mike Arnaoutis showed flash against Juaqun Gallario. Arnaoutis is becoming a regular on SHOBOX and one reason is that he is an exciting boxer who has discovered a little power with his second stoppage in a row. Arnaoutis punches are accurate and his ability to avoid his opponent heavy punches are a plus. The accuracy and speed of his punches has led to his recent power surges. In the fight, Gallario went down twice plus with cuts as a result of an accidental head butt, he looked a mess at the end of the third round. The fight was stopped as Arnoutis nailed Gallario with a straight left. Gallario appeared ready to go on but the referee stopped the fight as Gallario bloody face gave the appearance of fighter badly damaged.

As for Arnoutis, he knocked Gallario with a beautiful hook in the second round and a straight left from his southpaw stance in the third. What he showed was pop in both hands as both hands led to the knockdowns. The junior welterweight is a deep division with talent so Arnoutis move up boxing ladder is fraught with obstacles. In most division, he could be a legitimate contender but in this division, he is still a mere prospect.

Going into the Johnson-Tarver fight, two of more respected boxing pundits told me that this was a toss up. Tarver was coming up off his two-round domination of Roy Jones but before his shellacking of Jones; Tarver was just a very good fighter with two losses. He hardly dominated the rest of the light heavyweight division and Glen Johnson was a better fighter than his nine losses would suggest. Johnson had fought some of the best fighters in the middleweights and light heavyweight division and often was robbed in a few close decisions. Only one fighter had stopped him. There was no doubt that the winner of this fight would be the true light heavyweight champion.

The first round, Johnson came out smoking and even nailed a few shots through Tarver’s defenses. Tarver took Johnson best and walked backed to the corner unfazed. In the second round, Tarver used his jab and straight left as he easily out boxed Johnson and continued this through the third round.

The fourth round was one of those crucial rounds that appeared close as Johnson won the first half but Tarver came back to win the second half of the round and appeared to throw the more accurate and powerful shots.

In the fifth round, Tarver took most of the round as he moved and jabbed Johnson. Johnson took advantage of Tarver’s lack of activity and nailed Tarver with numerous combinations. Going into the second half of the fight, Tarver appeared to have the advantage as his superior boxing skills began to take hold. He moved and jabbed while occasionally nailing Johnson with beautiful straight shots. Johnson attempted to cut off the ring but Tarver beat Johnson to the punch.

Johnson came back to easily take the tenth round as Tarver took the round off after a busy previous three rounds. Johnson nailed Tarver with several shots. Tarver’s corner essentially pleaded with Tarver, “Knock this guy out.” While it would appear that Tarver had the fight under control, this proved not the case. The eleventh round was a close round as Johnson swarmed his way inside Tarver wheel house but with halfway through the round, Tarver nailed Johnson with a sharp left and boxed Johnson rest of the way. In the twelfth round, Tarver came out desperate and went for the knockout. In the first two minutes, Tarver nailed Johnson with three or four beautiful combinations that had Johnson twisting around. Johnson appeared to be getting the worse of it but the judges disagreed. While I had this fight 115-113 in Tarver favorite, two of the judges had Johnson up by 115-113. Johnson won by a split decision.

Normally, it is Johnson who gets robbed but tonight, he was the recipient of a favorable decision. This was a close fight and Johnson pressed the action most of the fight whereas Tarver threw the sharper and more accurate punches. The judges favored the aggressive Johnson.

What we found out was that Tarver could engage in a war in which punches are thrown in volleys. Both fighters averaged nearly 70 punches per round and Tarver was willing to trade with the more aggressive Johnson. Johnson showed heart and a hardy chin. And both men essentially gave the sanctioning bodies the middle finger for they gave up their paper titles to vie for being the people’s champ. And in the end, they both proved to be champions and HBO would do us all favor by having them fight again.

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