Monday, July 28, 2014

Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Geale: The GGG Man Guns Down Geale

Photo:Getty Images

By Peter Silkov

There was something beautifully brutal about Gennady Golovkin’s (30-0, 27koes) three round demolition of Daniel Geale (30-3, 16koes) on Saturday, in defence of his WBA world middleweight title, at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden.  Although this was Golovkin’s third appearance at ’the Garden,’ it was his first in the ‘main room,’ and he delivered a performance worthy of the historic venue.

Daniel Geale arrived with the credentials that made him the champion’s most formidable challenger so far. He was a former world champion himself, who had never been stopped during his career, and had not been so much as floored, for many years. However, in the end, Geale fell like all of the rest. Indeed, when faced with what was on paper, his greatest challenge so far, Golovkin gave one of his most comprehensively destructive performances to date. It was a performance, which surely took Golovkin one-step closer to the super fights that he craves. After this victory, the excuses of the divisions other ’world champions’ (specifically WBC, and lineal champion Miguel Cotto) for not facing the ‘GGG’ man, are becoming ever weaker.

The challenger entered the ring seemingly unnoticed by the crowd, but when Golovkin entered, the buzz around the historic hall became palpable. Golovkin approached the ring to the rocking strains of The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” which is a fitting track for the hard-edged fighting style of the champion. The entrance music aside, Gennady was all business as he approached the ring like a man in a hurry. As he would later say in the post fight interview, ’This is no joke’. Golovkin’s business is destruction. 

Daniel Geale came to fight. That much was evident from the start of the first round, when the challenger looked to make use of his herky-jerky style by moving about on the outside of the ring, and firing off some jabs and uppercuts at the already stalking champion. Despite his ferocious reputation, Golovkin tends to use the first round or two of his contests to feel out his opponent, before committing himself totally to his decisive attacks. Even so, such is the destructive power in his hands that Golovkin usually manages to hand out some crucial damage, even while studying his competitor. While Geale tried to circle around him and landed some determined looking jabs, the champion stalked, taking centre ring, and fired some early jabs of his own, which were finding the challenger’s face already.

Golovkin’s punches are understated at first sight; they are not dramatic or flashy, his shots are short and precise, and delivered with perfect balance.  It is this mixture of precision, balance, timing, and speed, allied with a strength that seems to belie his almost slight frame, which merges together to create such impressive effects.

Perhaps the timekeeper was especially engrossed in this opening round, as it ran on for close to five minutes, before finally being brought to a halt. 

As the over long round moved on, Geale continued to stay on the outside of the ring, while stopping his movement every now and then to fire his sporadic attacks.  The challenger’s strategy seemed to be to move in and out, scoring with jabs and flurries, then getting back on the move, and providing as slippery a target as possible for his heavy-handed antagonist.  As strategies go, it made sense, and seemed the perfect fit for a durable, all-round boxer such as Geale.  Yet, as the fight unfolded, it would become evident that it will take much more than simply a good strategy to derail the fighting machine from Kazakhstan. 

Golovkin was already beginning to land his jab with more regularity the further the first round travelled. In the last minute of the round (which was actually its 4th minute), Geale slipped to the floor after getting his foot caught upon an over zealous camera operator’s camera.  No harm was done, but it was a portent of things to come. 
When the round was finally called to its conclusion, Geale was already cut over the right eye, by virtue of the champion’s pinpoint jabs.

Geale began the second round fast, landing some multiple jabs, and a good right hand. The GGG man responded with a scything left hook, and a series of left jabs that drove his challenger back onto the ropes, where a body shot, followed by a right-left-right combination, dropped Geale to the canvas by the ropes. No slip this time.

On regaining his feet, Geale was wearing the expression of surprise and bemusement previously seen on the faces of past Golovkin opponent’s.  For all of the talk surrounding his punching prowess, Golovkin’s challengers still seem genuinely shocked when they experience the full force of a GGG attack. Perhaps it is the speed and subtlety with which it strikes. Who can forget Curtis Stevens’ almost comical expression when he was floored in the second round in his fight with Golovkin last year. Certainly the impression Golovkin’s attacks have on his challengers is a lasting one, from beginning to end.

Showing admirable spirit, Geale returned to the fray, with a look of grim determination, although perhaps knowing deep down, that this fight was heading towards only one conclusion. With his cut right eye reopened, what had been a bright start to the fight by the challenger just minutes earlier was swiftly falling apart. 

Despite this disintegration, Geale continued to fight back, but there was a tinge of desperation in his work now, as his punches were mostly being deftly blocked, by the muscular arms of the champion. All the while Golovkin continued to take his time over his work, like a surgeon performing an operation, or an artist putting the finishing touches to his latest work. Nothing is wasted by Golovkin, every punch, and every step is measured, and has a reason and a purpose.

In the closing moments of the second round, Golovkin landed some thudding body shots that were all of the better to soften up his prey. While Geale’s punches seemed to simply bounce off the world champion, if they were not blocked or deflected by his long muscular arms, every punch that the champion lands seemed to have an ever-more debilitating effect upon the challenger.

The challenger’s spirit was unbowed, as he came out for the third round defiantly throwing leather, a left jab, then two right hands, first to the head, then to the body.  Once more, they seemed to simply bounce off the champion, who resumed his forward march behind a probing, pole-like left jab.  Geale grabbed onto a brief moment of glory, when after skilfully slipping some Golovkin punches, with a nifty bob-and-weave, he allowed himself some celebratory showboating. Geale’s mischievous display produced not a flicker of emotion on the champion’s visage, and yet, this is the point where Golovkin chose to step up his attack. Geale was shaken by a left hook to the head, which backed him up into a corner, where Golovkin landed thudding lefts and rights to his body. After gingerly escaping from the corner, Geale skirted around the edge of the ring, with the GGG man in cool pursuit, picking and probing, looking for that final opening. Geale’s movement, which at the first bell of the contest was part of his strategy to try and win, became his only method of survival. 

Geale couldn’t avoid the GGG man’s pinpoint shots for long, as the ring became smaller and smaller for him.  Golovkin fired a right, then a left hook, which momentarily froze Geale, and then a straight right to the chin dropped the challenger onto his back by the ropes. Geale got up quickly, but he staggered backwards, his balance gone, his eyes bleary. When referee Mike Ortega asked him if he was all right to continue, Geale gave a brief disconsolate shake of the head and the fight was over.  

This was Gennady Golovkin’s 10th defence of the WBA world middleweight championship that he won in late 2010 and his 17th straight stoppage victory.  Some critics have questioned the quality of some of Golovkin’s challengers, but since the beginning of his career, the GGG man has impressed not so much by who he has beaten, but how he has beaten them. There can be no denying that Golovkin is one of the most efficient and destructive fighters, pound-for-pound, currently on the planet. 
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the other ‘world champions’, at 160 pounds, are not beating down any doors to take on the GGG man. 

In his post-fight interview, Golovkin called out (politely of course) all of the other ’world champions’, but especially Miguel Cotto, the WBC and linerel champion.  While some would use trash talk and profanity to go with their challenges, Golovkin seeks to appeal to the fighting pride of his fellow champions.  Golovkin wants to give the fans what they desire, the best fighting, and the best in unification fights.  It is an almost quaint desire on the part of the Kazakhstan fighter.  He is a throwback to the time when the best really did fight the best, and this is another reason for the GGG man’s growing appeal amongst the boxing public. 

Gennady Golovkin may be running out of willing opponents, but those who are trying to avoid him are also running out of credible excuses.

Copyright © 2014 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Geale: Battle of the G-Men

By Peter Silkov

One of boxing’s most exciting fighters takes to the ring again this Saturday, when Gennady Golovkin (29-0, 26koes) defends his WBA world middleweight title against Daniel Geale (30-2, 16koes) at New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden.  

Golovkin has the unusual problem of being one of today’s most popular boxers, with his fights having become ’must see’ events for most boxing fans, yet, he is still accused by some prospective opponents of not being a big enough name. Just recently, a short while after his fighter Miguel Cotto had beaten Sergio Martinez for the WBC (and lineal) world middleweight title, Freddie Roach dampened talk of a Cotto vs. Golovkin showdown with the claim that Golovkin is not a big enough draw to merit a fight with Cotto. Ironically, Golovkin is defending his title against Geale at Madison Square Garden in New York, a place that Cotto considers his home, but a venue that has also hosted three of Golovkin’s recent world title fights, and where he has proved to be very popular. In light of Golovkin’s popularity in New York, it is difficult to believe that a fight between Cotto and Golovkin at Madison Square Garden would be anything but a highly anticipated sell-out. 

Like another outstanding world champion, Guillermo Rigondeaux, the Kazakhstan born Golovkin has been finding it difficult to entice the other top names from his weight division into facing him. The accusations levelled at Rigondeaux, that he is a ‘boring’ boxer, are as outrageous and unjust, as suggestions that Golovkin is somehow not yet a big enough name to justify one of the other top middleweights fighting him.  Many times Golovkin has voiced his wish to unify the various world titles at 160 pounds, by fighting the other ’world title’ holders, especially lineal champion Miguel Cotto, but so far, his polite challenges have either fallen on deaf ears, or provoked hollow excuses. 

However, it’s not very hard for most people to figure out that the general avoidance of Golovkin by the other ’world champs’ has nothing to do with Golovkin’s credentials with the fans, and a lot to do with him simply being, like Rigondeaux; too good for his own good.

Golovkin faces what is likely to be his most formidable challenge on Saturday, when he defends his title against Geale. The Australian born Geale is a former ‘world’ champion himself, having held the IBF version of the world middleweight championship, before being dethroned in his last contest by England’s Darren Barker.  Ironically, Geale also held a portion of the WBA title for a time (the WBA out does itself these days by having as many as 3 world champions in each division) after beating Felix Sturm in a unification fight.   In light of Saturday’s fight, Geale then chose to vacate the WBA belt when he was asked to defend it against Gennady Golovkin. Now, having lost his IBF portion of the world title, Geale has opted to finally take up the challenge of facing Golovkin, with the knowledge that victory will send him right back to the top of the middleweight tree. 

Geal is a tough and clever box-fighter who likes to come forwards and throw many punches, but can also box, and has a decent jab. Statistically, both men are very well matched, being around the same height, age, and are both technically sound boxers with a penchant for going toe-to-toe.  The main difference between champion and challenger is that Golovkin is a much more dangerous puncher. Indeed, he has established himself over the past three years as one of the best punchers in the world pound-for-pound, and has been building up an ever more impressive highlight reel of stoppages with every fight. Golovkin’s major asset is that, unlike many big punchers, he does not rely on brute force alone, but uses technique and tactical awareness to pick his moments. While Golovkin’s fights often end suddenly and spectacularly (hence one of the reasons for Golovkin’s popularity with the fans) he has usually paved the way for these conclusions by his clinical breaking down of his opponent.  Golovkin’s body attack, in particular, is a vital and often overlooked part of his repertoire. The champion also has good hand speed and places his punches with pinpoint accuracy. 

Geale’s best chance of victory would seem to try to pressure Golovkin and attempt to take him out of his comfort zone. Geale is a volume puncher, rather than a knockout puncher like the champion, and while Golovkin has shown in the past that he can take a punch, he has yet been under the kind of pressure where he has taken a steady number of shots over a long period of time. Although Golovkin’s defence is often cited as being his one true weakness, the champion is adept at blocking and moving away from shots at just the right moment. While he is often in range seemingly to be hit, Golovkin has an underrated defence, and is not an easy fighter to hit cleanly more than once. Geale will have to try to force Golovkin onto the ropes, work the body, and attempt to take the fight away from the champion that way. Though, this will be no easy task for the challenger, as Golovkin is an expert at dominating the center of the ring. In order to force the champion back, Geale will have to walk through Golovkin’s own bombs, which are likely to test the Australian’s durability to its limit.

The challenger’s other option to win this match is to attempt to outbox the champion.  This would seem to be an even tougher assignment for the Australian, as Golovkin is an expert at cutting down the ring, and tracking down an opponent on the back foot.  Geale, despite his sound boxing skills, does not look to have either the speed or the defensive skills that would give him a chance of eluding Golovkin all night.

This is a big fight for both men, with Geale aiming to regain a place amongst the middleweight elite, while Golovkin is looking to continue his impressive run of  world title defences, with this being his tenth defense. Since winning the WBA world title in 2012,  Gennady Golovkin has convinced many in boxing, fans and media alike, that he is the world’s best middleweight, irrespective of who is the lineal champion, and if he becomes the first man to stop Daniel Geale this Saturday, then, his already formidable reputation will continue to grow.

Saturday’s fight also has an added poignancy for the champion, as it will be his first competitive outing since the sudden death of his father earlier this year. Yet, this is likely to increase Golovkin’s focus and determination to do a good job on Saturday. Look for Gennady Golovkin to provide further proof this weekend of why he is the best 160-pounder in the world, and one of the most wanted (by the fans) and unwanted (by prospective opponents), fighters pound-for-pound at the moment.  Golovkin may have to travel a little further than normal this time, but the chances are that his precise attack will wear down and pick apart the game Australian challenger, and open the way for a stoppage defeat around about the 9th round.

Whether another impressive victory will open the door for Golovkin to the kind of big fights that he has been seeking for some time now is debatable. In the perverse world of boxing, Golovkin may actually find himself further away from a unification fight with the other ‘world champions’ the more impressive he looks. The near future may see Gennady forced to move up to super middleweight in a search for ‘bigger’ fights.  Although having said that, there are signs that he would not exactly be welcomed with open arms by the top men at 168 either. There has been talk that Golovkin would be willing to move down to the light-middleweight limit of 154 pounds, if a suitable ‘big’ fight could be found there. 

All the indications are that Golovkin is doing his best to entice the big names into the same ring with him, and that those big names are doing their very best to avoid him.

Gennady Golovkin is a throwback champion, a no nonsense, do-all-his-talking-in-the- ring-kind-of-fighter, who is troubled by the very modern boxing problem of being a champion whom many contenders would rather avoid. Unfortunately, there are many alternative ’champions’ for a prospective challenger to search out and have a better chance to beat.  Modern boxing has reached a curious stage where champions are now chasing contenders for fights, rather than the other way round. 

The only solution for Golovkin is to keep on winning, against the people who are brave enough to enter the ring with him, and hope that the feeble excuses used to avoid him at the present moment will run thinner and thinner, until eventually there will be no excuses left.  Unfortunately, in the perverse world of modern boxing, it may be a long wait.

Copyright © 2014 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Guillermo Rigondeaux Destroys Sod Kokietgym: The Jackal Unleashed

Photo: Chris Farina
By Peter Silkov

In the 1.44 seconds that it took Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9koes) to defend his World super bantamweight title against Sod Kokietgym (63-3-1, 28koes) earlier today, July 19, you could sense a quiet, almost silent fury that was almost palpable. It’s very possible that Rigondeaux was picturing the face of someone else upon the head of his opponent at the Sod Kokietgym, Venetian Resort, in Macao, China.  Certainly, Rigondeaux’s very public falling out with his promoter Bob Arum and the network HBO would have given the champion ample material for just such visualizations.  Rigondeaux was as cool and relaxed as ever on the surface, but the finish of Sod Kokietgym’s world title challenge came with a clinical and venomous right hand and left hook combination which seemed to vent quite a lot of the anger and frustration,  that has built up over the past 15 months.

Since he defeated and embarrassed Nonito Donaire in their unification fight last year, Guillermo Rigondeaux has been the target of an unprecedented campaign of career assassination by Bob Arum and HBO, in addition to various members of the boxing media who were happy to jump upon the anti-Rigondondeaux bandwagon.  Indeed, not since the days of Sonny Liston has a reigning world champion been treated with such barefaced contempt and discrimination.  

Any thoughts that the venerable Arum and HBO might soften their attitude for this defence, which marked the final fight of the champion’s contract with Arum, would have been quickly dispelled by the fact that Rigondeaux was handed a challenger who is unknown outside his native Thailand, save for two previous world title attempts, way back in 2005 and 2006.  It was almost as if HBO and Arum were doing their best to place their man in a no-win situation. The pre-fight build-up could be at best described as scant.  Many boxing fans seemed almost unaware of Rigondeaux’s first outing of 2014 until a few days before the event in Macao. Then, the event itself was lovingly built all around Zou Shiming; Bob Arum’s little Chinese pot of gold. Does it matter that Shiming can’t really fight at a world-class level?

When fight night in Macao finally came, Rigondeaux found himself buried in the undercard, without even the dulcet tones of Michael Buffer to announce him. 
The fight started with ’The Jackal’ finding his range with his sword-like southpaw jab, seemingly with his first punch. This might have been only Rigondeaux’s second competitive outing in fifteen months, but he looked as sharp as ever. Rigondeaux was landing the jab at will, with his left-hand poised by his chest, ready to fire. While the challenger made lunging attempts to come forward, Rigondeaux manoeuvred nimbly about the ring, with his legs seemingly barely moving. The action came abruptly to a halt after an accidental head clash that looked to be caused by Kokietgym lunging forwards into the champion.  Kokietgym seemed in some distress, as he recoiled back in pain, and then fell onto his knees upon the canvas, while gesticulating at the referee Mark Nelson.  The challenger was still grimacing and shaking his head, after he had regained his feet and walked into a corner, while the referee talked to him.  At this point, the referee seemed satisfied that Kokietgym was fit to carry on, and waved the fight to continue. The two men briefly touched gloves, in mid-ring, then, Rigondeaux landed a right hand and a left hook, which were like lightning bolts, and it is doubtful the challenger saw either punch, before falling down in a heap once more. Although he beat the count, Kokietgym looked in no condition to continue and despite his protests; the fight was waved off by Referee Nelson.

Some might try to say that Rigondeaux displayed a less than sporting side to himself by jumping upon his opponent so quickly after the accidental head clash, but the same people would probably have criticised Rigo had he allowed his challenger to recover and get into the fight. Faced with an unheralded challenger, and with everything to lose, but precious little to gain, Rigondeaux did the best and most impressive thing under such circumstances, and destroyed his opponent. For all of those who had called him boring, Rigondeaux’s display carried an air of cultured viciousness about it. Whether such a performance will encourage any of the other big names at 122 pounds to enter the same ring as him is another question. The likes of Kiko Martinez, Scott Quigg, Leo Santa Cruz, and Carl Frampton seem to be quite content to squabble amongst themselves and stay out of the way of the division’s real world champion. Now that he is free of the spiteful clutches of Bob Arum and HBO, we can only hope that he finds himself a new promoter and network, which will appreciate him, and work to get him the big fights, which he craves and deserves. Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza has already stated an interest in taking on Rigondeaux and such a move could pave the way for a fresh start for ’The Jackal’.

The ’Main event’ at Macao was Zou Shiming’s (5-0, 1ko) 10-round joust with Luis De La Rosa (23-4-1, 13koes) for something called the WBO International flyweight title.  Rosa had built his record up against mostly poor opposition, and has been beaten every time he has stepped up in class, including two stoppage defeats.  However, despite winning a wide point’s decision, the closest that Shiming came to scoring a stoppage against Rosa was the severe cut that Rosa suffered due to a head clash mid-way through the fight. Shiming’s lack of power is still impossible to avoid, despite the best efforts of trainer Freddie Roach. Rosa came bravely forward all through the fight, and while he never seemed to hurt Shiming, he never seemed to be overly hurt or in trouble himself, except for the aforementioned cut. Shiming has certainly improved since his debut as a professional, but improvement as a professional and being a fledgling world champion, are two vastly different things. 

It is the fact that, while some amateur stars grow in ability and stature when they turn professional, (as has Rigondeaux) others find their weaknesses and limitations exposed, as they never were in the amateur world.  Unfortunately, for Zou Shiming he falls into the latter bracket.  At the age of 33 years old and with the whole of China following his progress, there is huge pressure on Shiming to become a world champion in the very near future. However, with even the fringe ’world champions’ at flyweight being leagues above what Shiming has had to face so far as a professional, uncle Bob Arum will have his work cut out for him trying to fix this one.  Then again, where there is over one billion people, there must be a way!

Copyright © 2014 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Guillermo Rigondeaux: The Sour Treatment of a Master of the Sweet Science

By Peter Silkov

Boxing is looked upon by many as a bloody and brutal endeavour, in which the object of both fighters is to inflict physical damage upon the other fighter. This is, of course, is a huge over simplification of the sport that is as much about the mental and spiritual side of the fighters, as it is about their physical attributes. At its best, boxing is a duel between two combatants on every possible level, the type of which cannot be found in any other sport. This is one of the reasons why boxing has been called ’The Sweet Science’.  There are times when boxing can be almost ballet-like, with both offense and defense coming together in a seamless flow. Unfortunately, boxing’s defensive artists are often the sports unsung heroes. Everybody likes the sluggers, and the knockout artists, but the boxers who give as much thought and ability top defence as they do to offence, are often a more acquired taste. In today’s boxing, the defensive masters are a dying breed.  Along with Floyd Mayweather and Bernard Hopkins, Guillermo Rigondeaux (13-0, 8 koes) is one of the few pure defensive geniuses in boxing today. 

The Cuban is a smooth boxing technician, whose defensive skills are so profound, that he can go through whole fights against top competition, and hardly are hit with a clean punch. The only boxer, who is comparable to Rigondeaux, in terms of overall boxing skill and technique, is Floyd Mayweather.  Like Mayweather, Rigondeaux is a master of the art of self-defence, but he also has a knockout punch in each hand. In many ways, there lies one of Rigondeaux’s main problems, faced with his overwhelming skill and his formidable punch, many of Rigondeaux’s opponents choose to retreat into their shells and wait until it is all over. Rigondeaux is that rare thing in boxing, with the ironic gift of being too good for his own good.  

Following an amazing amateur career, in which he won Olympic Gold at Bantamweight, at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic games, in addition to winning the National championship of Cuba seven times, Rigondeaux defected to America in 2009, with dreams of being able to test his skills against the best professionals in the world, and achieve the kind of wealth and glory that would be forever denied him in the Cuban regime. However, the American dream hasn’t worked out quite the way it was supposed to for Rigondeaux. It all started so well for ’El Chacal.’ In just his ninth professional fight, he knocked out Rico Ramos with a body shot, on January 20, 2012, to win the WBA world super-bantamweight championship.  Fifteen months later, on April 14, 2013, after two successful defences of his title, Rigondeaux was matched with WBO world champion Nonito Donaire, in a big unification fight.  

Donaire went into his showdown with Rigondeaux unbeaten in his last 29 fights (going back to his second professional fight in 2002) and regarded as pound-for-pound, one of the best boxers in the world. Although entering the match a clear underdog, Rigondeaux rose to the occasion and produced a sublime exhibition of  boxing, to not only outpoint Donaire, but dominate and ’school’ him.  Indeed, at times, Donaire looked like a novice against the fast and silky skills of the exiled Cuban, it was a masterful performance by Rigondeaux, and should have established him as an elite star and attraction.       

What should have been Rigo’s greatest night, and his pathway to stardom, turned into a bittersweet experience when his own promoter, Bob Arum, turned on him post-fight, and criticised his performance as dull and boring. The problem was that Rigondeaux was not supposed to beat one of Bob Arum’s and Top Rank’s biggest cash cows, Nonito Donaire, and he was most certainly not supposed to have out-classed Donaire and make him look like a hurt and befuddled novice at times.

With one of his biggest cash cows beaten and humiliated, Bob Arum responded by attacking the credentials and reputation of Rigondeaux. ‘The Jackal’ was now too boring, and a hard sell, according to Arum. Apparently, it was Rigondeaux’s fault that after being hurt in the first round of their showdown, that the usually extremely offensive-minded Donaire chose to fight a rear guard action against Rigondeaux. 

Fairly quickly, Rigondeaux’s network, HBO, had been dragged into the act as well, with Arum gleefully describing how the very mention of Rigondeau’s name provokes HBO executives to ‘vomit.’

In the ensuing, fifteen months since he defeated Donaire, Rigondeaux has fought just once(a one sided points decision over Joseph Agbeko, last December) all the while, being over shadowed by the bitterness and negativity aimed at him constantly by his own promoter and network.
The career of Floyd Mayweather Jr. has shown how high a defensively brilliant boxer can climb when he is promoted correctly. While Rigondeaux doesn’t have the out of the ring persona or American back story that Mayweather Jr. has, his ability and achievements still deserve much better treatment than what they are getting at the present time from Bob Arum and HBO. One wonders where Mayweather Jr.’s career would have gone had he stayed with Arum ,rather than opting to break away from him some years ago. He almost certainly would not be the global star in the same way that he is today. It is not hard to imagine, that with a little work, Rigondeaux could attract far more positive publicity and attention than he does at the moment. After all, in addition to his brilliant boxing skills, Rigondeaux has a compelling back-story of his own, having been forced to leave his wife and children behind in Cuba in order to chase his dream of becoming a professional boxing champion in America. 

Unfortunately, HBO’s and Arum’s treatment of Rigondeaux has done a good job of putting a negative slant upon the Cuban’s reputation. He has found himself out in the cold and avoided by the other big names and so called ’world title’ holders at his weight. Now the managers and promoter’s of fighters such as Scott Quigg, Carl Frampton, and Kiko Martinez can avoid putting their men into the same ring as Rigondeaux, by using the excuse that he is too negative and not a ’draw’ with the fans.

This Saturday, July 19, Rigondeaux finally enters the ring for the first time in 2014, when he defends his WBA and WBO world super-bantamweight titles against veteran Thai contender, Sod Kokietgym, at the Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort, in Macao, China.

With all due respect, to Kokietgym, this is the kind of fight that is more or less an insult to a boxer of Rigondeaux’s talent.  Instead of being given the kind of big fights which his ability deserves, Rigondeaux is being matched up with a fringe contender who has fought much of his career in obscurity, and will be a total unknown to many boxing fans outside of Thailand. Despite a statistically impressive record of (63-2-1, 28koes),  Kokietgym’s only real claim to having operated at anything approaching this level before in his career, is his two fights with Daniel Ponce De leon, for De Leon’s WBO world super-bantamweight title, way back in late 2005 and mid 2006 .  Kokietgym actually gave De Leon all he could handle in their first fight, dropping the champion in the 2nd round, and making a battle of it all the way, before losing on points. In the rematch some months later, Kokietgym was knocked out in the 1st round. These encounters with De Leon remain Kokietgym’s only career defeats, but in the years since, he has fought a long parade of mediocrity in Thailand, and this, along with his advanced age of 37, does not bode well for his chances against Rigondeaux.  In all honesty, Kokietgym looks to have little chance against the Cuban maestro, outside of being able to pull off something truly extraordinary. The main question about this fight is whether or not Kokietgym will be able to last the distance.  If he comes forward and really tries to make a fight of it against a master counter puncher such as Rigondeaux, then the answer must be a firm no.

Rigondeaux’s title defence has been hidden away on the same bill as Zou Shiming’s first ten-rounder.  Shiming is a former Olympic champion in his own right, but far less accomplished than Rigondeaux. With a possible audience of over 1 billion Chinese fans eager to follow Shiming’s professional progress, Uncle Bob is being very accommodating to his budding Chinese star. 

If there is a silver lining for Rigondeaux this Saturday, beyond finally being able to enter the ring again, it is that this fight will be the last under contract to Bob Arum and Top Rank, and that once it is over, Rigondeaux will be free to pursue new promotional avenues. Hopefully, Rigondeaux can find a promoter and network who will appreciate him for the special talent that he is and be willing to put the work in to promote him as an elite world champion. Rigo deserves as much. 

It doesn’t really take much of a search to find some interesting and exciting matches for Rigondeaux, provided that certain fighters can be tempted out of their comfort zones, and perhaps a new promoter, with a new and positive attitude towards Rigondeaux, can make some of these possible fights become a reality.

This weekend will hopefully signal the end of Rigondeaux’s bitter falling out with Arum and HBO, and the start of something fresh and new. One of today’s best exponents of the sweet science may finally find himself reaping the benefits that his ability deserves.

The star of the show, for the Chinese, will be Zou Shiming, (4-0, 1ko) who will be having his first 10-rounder, when he takes on Luis De La Rosa (23-3-1, 13koes). This fight will also be Shiming’s first professional title fight, as he and La Rosa, will be fighting for the WBO International Flyweight championship. Bob Arum will be hoping that this fight represents Shiming’s first step towards a world title, how realistic that hope is, remains to be seen.  Despite all of his fans, and uncle Bob’s best intentions, Shiming has so far shown himself to be woefully short of the type of talent needed to win a professional world title, even in these times of multiple and diluted, world championships.

Also on the card, will be former World flyweight champion Brian Viloria, (33-4, 19koes) who begins the road back with an undemanding looking fight against Jose Alfredo Zuniga (11-5-1, 5koes.)

Russian light-heavyweight Egor Mekhonstev (3-0, 3koes)  who won gold at the 2012 Olympic games, takes on Mike Mirafuente (2-0, 2koes.)

There is further Chinese interest with:

Super-flyweight Rex Tso (13-0, 8koes) vs. John Baja win (12-6, 6koes)
Lightweight Ik Yang (15-0, 10koes) vs. Rachamongkol Sorpleonchit (14-8, 6koes)
Lightweight NG Kuok Kun (4-0, 2koes) vs. Beau O’Brien (4-0-1, 1ko) 

Copyright © 2014 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Evander Holyfield Retires: The Fighter Who Was the Real Deal

By Peter Silkov

Evander Holyfield finally gave in to the inevitable march of time this week, and officially announced his retirement from the sport and the end of a glorious, drama filled, boxing career that stretches back thirty years, to 1984. At three months short of 52 years of age, Holyfields retirement is perhaps one bourn of necessity, rather than desire. His last fight was back in 2011, when he out-lasted fellow veteran Brian Nielsen. Since then, there had been rumours and talk of further fights, big fights even, but nothing came to fruition. In the end, the offers had simply dried up, along with the boxing publics appetite to see Holyfield continue to ply his trade into his 50s.

Recent years have not been kind to Evander, and his financial problems are well documented. The long good bye, which the last years of his career became, unfortunately, leaves a bittersweet taste in the mouth. Despite all of his extraordinary achievements in the ring, Evander Holyfield has fallen into the same traps that all too many other greats of the past also stepped. The Real Deal as Holyfield called himself, and indeed proved himself to be many times over, deserved a better ending to his long career, than the slow fade out which it became. However, like so many great fighters before him, Evander Holyfield was reluctant to leave the arena that he made his own personal theatre for the best part of three decades. At the same time, it could have been much worse. When the final curtain came upon Holyfields career, (presuming that this truly is the end and that nobody is foolish enough to tempt Evander back into the competitive ring sometime in the future) it was not prompted by one final defeat too many, and with the once great warrior being humiliated in the ring. Holyfield actually exits boxing a winner, after winning six of his last nine contests, including his last fight against Nielson.

Yet, there is no avoiding the fact that Holyfield retired about 14 years too late. The almost unnerving mix of courage and stubbornness that made him carry on fighting, long after most of those around him wanted him to hang them up, are the same attributes that allowed him to defy the odds in so many fights during his career, and come back from almost certain defeat to snatch victory in his most famous ring moments.
There are those who wrote Holyfield off as far back as his first encounter with Riddick Bowe in 1992, when he lost his World heavyweight title to Bowe following a fight that was so thrilling and violent, that it immediately drew comparisons with the Ali vs. Frazier classics of the 1970s.

Those who foolishly questioned whether it was the end for The Real Deal saw Holyfield produce one of the greatest displays of his career when he defeated Bowe in their rematch, and regained the world title, after a fight that was an even more dramatic battle than their first match. Then, there was the upset defeat to Michael Moorer in 1994, when Holyfield lost his championship once more, and followed two fights later by a knockout defeat to Riddick Bowe, in what was their third and final bout. 

Now, the whispers became a crescendo, and when Holyfield signed to fight Mike
Tyson in late 1996, most of the talk wasn’t about who would win, but how badly a
faded Holyfield was to be injured by a still frightening Iron Mike Tyson. 

Evander was never more The Real Deal, than when he twice encountered Iron Mike; out-boxing, out-fighting, and finally stopping Tyson in their first fight. In the much awaited rematch, Holyfield then out-bullied the one-time baddest man on the planet to such a degree, that Tyson fouled himself out of the fight with his now infamous bites upon Holyfields ears. 

It would have been so much better had Evander retired following his victories over Mike Tyson, but few great champions retire when they should, especially after the biggest wins of their career. Instead, Holyfield carried on, but his career was pretty much a long slide down hill after his defeats of Iron Mike.
There was an impressive revenge win over Michael Moorer, then a more workman-like victory over Vaughn Bean. However, when Holyfield faced Lennox Lewis in early 1999, he looked all of his 36 years, and was lucky to escape with a controversial draw. In their rematch eight months later, Holyfield was out-pointed, and despite giving his usual spirited performance, it was clear that Holyfield was no longer able to produce the speed and workrate that had been at the base of his greatest successes. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was growing weaker.

After the Lewis fights, there came the three bouts with John Ruiz, with Evander scoring a points win, followed by a loss, and then a draw. These three fights, which spanned late 2000 to late 2001, revealed that at the age of 39 years old, Holyfield no longer had the tools to overcome a fighter whose fistic talent laid mostly in his awkwardness. The Ruiz fights are one trilogy that boxing fans do not choose to re-watch willingly. 

Holyfield followed the Ruiz fights with a controversial 8 rounds technical draw against Hasim Rachman on June 1, 2002. Evander then suffered three consecutive defeats that effectively ended his career as an elite fighter. Losing to Chris Byrd, James Toney, and Larry Donald. The defeats to Byrd and Donald were both via points, but the loss to Toney came via a punishing 9th round stoppage.

Following the loss to Donald on November 13, 2004, Holyfield had his license revoked by the New York State boxing commission. For most, that would have been the end of the road but, Holyfield refused to be told when to retire and carried on, claiming that his run of defeats were due to chronic shoulder injuries, rather than simple old age.
Holyfield returned to the ring in 2006, after almost two years out, and over the next five years, despite being effectively banished from the major venues in America, and restricted to fighting in either Texas or Europe, The Real Deal would take part in nine fights, of which he would win six, lose two, and have one no contest. The two defeats were both on points, while fighting for fringe portions of the World heavyweight championship. On October 13, 2007, Holyfield traveled to Moscow Russia, to be out-pointed by Sultan Ibragimov, for the WBO portion of the world heavyweight championship, as Ibragimov proved to be just too young and quick for the slower Holyfield.

Fourteen months later, The Real Deal was controversially out-pointed by the giant Nikolay Valuev when challenging for the WBA world heavyweight title, with many believing that at 46 years of age Holyfield had done enough to outpoint the seven foot two inch giant, Valuev. It was to be Evanders last chance of regaining a world title. Although he lost these fights, Holyfield could still point to them both as proof that he could still compete with world-class opposition in his late 40s. Happily, Holyfields often spoken desire to face one or both of the Klitschko brothers for their portions of the heavyweight crown never became reality.
With hindsight, it is a huge accomplishment for Holyfield that he was able to stay at the top of the heavyweight tree for as long as he did. He was considered a small heavyweight, who often had to give away weight to his opponents. Holyfields high energy, all-action style, doesnt usually lend itself to long careers, but Evander was able to prolong his career with a rare mixture of heart, stubbornness, and a dedication that never seemed to leave him. 

Holyfields heart and incredible fitness would always remain intact right up to the end; never would Evander enter the ring flabby or overweight like so many fighters tend to do in the final years of their careers.
This dedication, and his underrated ring intelligence, is what allowed Evander to stay competitive at the highest level until his mid-40s. Few champions can boast the amount of classic ring wars to compare to the resume of Evander Holyfield. From his first world title winning triumph, at Cruiserweight, against Dwight Muhammad Qawi in 1986, then his exciting rise to the heavyweight crown, with classic fights against Mike Dokes and Alex Stewart, and his multiple reigns as heavyweight champion of the world. Holyfield proved himself The Real Deal in thrilling encounters with the likes of George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Bert Cooper, Riddick Bowe, and Mike Tyson, amongst many others. 

Holyfields’s latest plans include him becoming an advisor and ambassador for ‘Dynasty Boxing’ promotions (headed by Dino Duva and Tommy and Terry Lane, the sons of famous referee Mills Lane). One of the first boxers whom Holyfield will impart his advise to, will be Zhang Zhilei, the six foot six, 255 pounds Chinese heavyweight, who gained Olympic silver at the 2008 Olympic games. Zhang makes his professional debut in August, and if he can absorb just 10% of the knowledge and experience which ’The Real Deal’ has collected over the course of his 30 year career, it would be invaluable. Hopefully, Holyfield can now contribute to the fighters of the future.

Perhaps nature never intended Holyfield to be a heavyweight, but he always had a heavyweight heart in the ring. While Evander Holyfield may not go down in boxing history as the greatest heavyweight champion of all time regarding ability, he was most certainly one of the most exciting. He was a throwback to the ring warriors of the past who would fight anyone, anywhere, and never shy away from going toe-to-toe when the opportunity presented itself. If ever a fighter deserved to call himself The Real Deal that man is Evander Holyfieild. One of the last true warriors of the ring and we will not see too many more fighters like him.

Copyright © 2014 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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