Sunday, March 19, 2017

Big Fight Report: Roman Gonzalez Dethroned In The Big Apple by Hard-Headed Srisaket Sor Rungvisai

By Peter Silkov

It's been a traumatic last few months for little warrior, Roman Gonzalez (46-1, 38koes.) After winning his 4th world title last September, Gonzalez was deeply shaken by the death of his trainer, Arnulfo Obando, last November. Obando had been Gonzalez’s main trainer and mentor since 2010, and had guided him to 3 of his 4 world titles. His loss to Gonzalez was only too evident last night as ‘Chocolatito’s first defence of his WBC world super-flyweight title descended into a bloody nightmare for the pound-for-pound, number one, boxer in the world.

When Gonzalez won this title from Carlos Cuadras six months ago, there were indications that this might be a weight jump too far for Gonzalez. Unlike many modern fighters, Gonzalez does not lose a significant amount of weight for his fights, and in this, his 4th weight division, he is facing opponents who are naturally bigger than him on fight night. Although he prevailed against Cuadras in September, after a fight of the year epic battle, there remained doubts about whether he was destined to be as strong a force at super-flyweight, as he was in his previous divisions.

The man chosen to provide the answer last night, at a packed Madison Square Garden, was Thai tough man, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, (42-4-1, 38koes.) Rungvisai, a former holder of Gonzalez’s title, came with the reputation as a hard-punching tough nut, and he was to live up to this reputation in more ways than one.

The portents of what was to come were not good, as Gonzalez looked perturbed and tense, and close to tears in the moments before the contest started, constantly looking up towards the heavens, as he seemed to thinking about his late trainer, Arnulfo Obando. It was something that he was to do throughout this fight, leading one to wonder whether he was really in the right state of mind to defend his title at all.

The match started at a quick pace with both men exchanging shots and the challenger showed from the start that he was looking to stand his ground and not allow Gonzalez to push him back. In the last minute of the round the fight produced its first shock, as a body punch dumped ’Chocolatito’ onto the canvas by the ropes. The champion seemed to be more surprised than hurt, but already Rungvisai had lived up to his heavy punching reputation.

In the second round the action speeded up, as a stung Gonzalez went to work, barrelling forwards, and throwing punching with both hands. Rungvisai stayed with the champion though and would not allow himself to be put onto the back foot. Already the fight was developing into a grueling toe-to-toe battle, with neither man willing to give away an inch. Gonzalez had the faster hands, but Rungvisai the heavier punch.

The third round saw a development that was to have a significant impact upon the rest of the fight, as a clash of heads left Gonzalez with a severe cut by the side of his right eye. The cut would became worse during the course of the fight, leaving ’Chocolatito’ battling with a mask of blood covering his face. Although it was ruled by the referee, Steve Willis, that the cut was caused by an accidental butt, developments over the rest of the fight would lead an observer to conclude that it was no accident at all.

Fueled by the cut, Gonzalez intensified his attacks in the 4th round, unleashing fierce two-fisted barrages, which started to drive the challenger back for the first time. However, just when he seemed to be on the verge of taking control of the fight, Gonzalez building rhythm was disrupted by another head butt. As would be the case in future rounds, the head butts always seemed to occur when Gonzalez was in the ascendancy.

In the 6th round, Gonzalez seemed to be taking control of the fight through sheer will power, as he forced himself forwards and out-punched his challenger, despite a now permanent flow of blood splashing down the right side of his face. Once again his attacks were disrupted by butts. This time there were two and after the second one, not far from the end of the round, Rungvisai was finally deprived of a point by referee, Willis, yet the damage has already been done. By now, not only had the cut by Gonzalez’s eye been worsened, but he also now had a cut in his hairline.

The butts in the 6th round certainly seemed to take some of the steam from Gonzalez’s attacks. Though he still came forwards for the remainder of the fight, Rungvisai was never in the same kind of trouble that he had seemed to be in parts of the 4th and 6th rounds. The size disparity was also clear as Gonzalez’s shots, so potent in the lower divisions during his career, simply bounced off Rungvisai. Yet, Gonzalez was winning rounds with the intensity of his work-rate, which was, at times, breathtaking. He also showed far better accuracy than his challenger, while also at the same time, slipping, and blocking many of the punches which were coming his way.

Despite the challenger's round tactics, and the sheer viciousness of their combat at times, this fight was fought with an admirable amount of respect on both sides, with both men touching gloves after each round. This is the way of real warriors.

Rungvisai cleaned up his act noticeably after the point deduction in the 6th round, but in the 12th and final round, he pulled out all his tricks as a seemingly fresher Gonzalez sought to close the show with a good finish. The challenger held, wrestled, and ran away from Gonzalez, and at several points tried blatantly to butt Gonzalez again, then even attempted to lift the champion off the floor at one point. While Gonzalez won the round, Rungvisai was lucky not to lose another point for his last round antics.

The judge's verdict, when it came, was not well received by the audience. The scores were 114-112 twice and 113-113.

This was a hard fought thriller, which should be an instant candidate for fight of the year. Fights like this are always subject to perception, and certainly there were rounds that could have gone either way. Despite everything that went against him in this match, Gonzalez still seemed to have done enough to retain his title. The Boxing Glove made Gonzalez the winner by a score of 114-112.

While he had to whether a significant amount of punishment himself, Gonzalez often outworked his rugged challenger, and more importantly blocked and slipped many of the challenger's own punches. It is possible that the judges were influenced by Gonzalez’s bloodied features into thinking that Rungvisai was doing more damage than he was in reality. The fact remains that the only wounds inflicted on Gonzalez by Rungvisai were caused by butts.

It is hard not to feel respect for Rungvisai, who showed commendable heart and will to win in this contest, but it has to be said that his tactics at times crossed the line from the rough to the dirty. His frequent head butts undoubtedly made Gonzalez’s task all the more difficult, and the single-point deduction, which he drew from them was simply not enough of a penalty. Referee Steve Willis deserves criticism for letting Rungvisai get away with far too much in what was otherwise a thrilling fight, that was aside from the fouls, fought in a great sporting spirit.

Despite the controversial nature the verdict, this defeat for Gonzalez will have been costly. He has not only lost his world title, but also his unbeaten record and status as pound-for-pound number one in the world. After his struggle against Carlos Cuadras in his previous fight at this weight, the indications are that Gonzalez is not the dominant figure at super-bantamweight that he was in the previous three divisions that he occupied. Should he decide to stay at this weight and seek a rematch against Rungvisai, or Cuadras, or perhaps former foe Juan Francisco Estrada, then he looks to have further grueling fights in his future. Even if Gonzalez had received the verdict last night, and retained his championship (as we at The Boxing Glove believe he deserved), the indications are still clear that Gonzalez is not the same fighter at super-flyweight that he was in the lower divisions. There remains the chance that he could move back down to flyweight, but at 29 and over a decade of fighting at the elite level, it is questionable whether he can still comfortably make 112 pounds.

The sad fact is that at 29, and after 8 years at the top, it looks as if Gonzalez’s time is on the wane. Gonzalez is still a wonderful fighter, who is likely to provide us with several more thrilling contests before his day is done. Yet, as with all great champions, he has reached the point of his career where the sheen of his peak has faded, seemingly overnight, and with it his aura of invincibility. The former number one fighter in the world is suddenly a mere mortal.

Full Fight:


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Big Fight Report: Gennady Golovkin’s Reputation Bruised In Big Apple Showdown As Daniel Jacobs is Robbed Of Victory

By Peter Silkov

Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33koes) always says that he loves to provide ‘a big drama show’ for the fans, but last night against Daniel Jacobs (32-2, 29koes), his performance should have cost him his title. In the belly of New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden, Gennady Golovkin retained his world middleweight titles (and won Jacobs' WBA regular belt) with a showing that will forever be used against him in future when he is measured against the division's greats. To say that Golovkin was disappointing sounds like sour grapes, and does an injustice to Jacobs' clever, and brave performance. Yet, the sharpness and fire that we have come to expect from Golovkin, was only too clear in its absence last night. He produced only flashes of the finely tuned fistic assassin that he has gained a reputation for being over the length of his title reign. One of the major questions that comes out of this fight, is was Golovkin simply that bad, or Jacobs' that good. In the end, Golovkin seemingly produced enough to secure the win, after being taken the full distance for the first time since 2008, but his aura of invincibility has been left permanently bruised.

The fight itself was not the slam-bang showdown, which many fans were hoping to see, instead we saw an intriguing tactical contest, with some smatterings of good exchanges. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was the caution shown by Golovkin. Often praised for being a patient assassin in the ring, against Jacobs, the GGG man’s patience often veered into the bounds of lethargy. When he did finally try to get going, Jacobs proved to be an unwilling accomplice.

The first three rounds of the contest were very quiet, as both men sized each other up, and seemed unwilling to make a mistake. However, it was Jacobs who was the more active, and seemed to do enough to win this first portion of the match, as Golovkin’s usual first round scouting mission stretched well into the 3rd stanza. Jacobs made good use of his seven inch reach advantage over GGG from the start, and his jab would prove to be a problem for Golovkin throughout the night.

In the 4th round, Golovkin seemed to finally flick the switch and go into destruction mode, as there was now purpose in his marauding pursuit of Jacobs. He managed to knockdown Jacobs in the first minute of the round, with a right-left combination, but the knockdown itself was scrappy, as too was Golovkin’s follow up. So often praised for his finishing of wounded opponents, GGG remained sluggish as he tried to finish Jacobs through the rest of the round, allowing himself to be tied up, and generally lacking the finishing spark one would expect from him.

The 5th round was a good one for Golovkin, as he pressured Jacobs, and forced him to hold, but Jacobs at times stood his ground and struck back, and Golovkin still seemed to be biding his time. By the 6th round, Jacobs had not only recovered from the knockdown, but seemed to be growing in confidence. From this point, he used more lateral movement, along with his jab, and made Golovkin look often flat-footed, and slow by comparison. The fight now settled into repetitive groove of Jacobs using movement and his jab to score steadily against the constant pursuit of GGG. There was frequent holding, which often seemed to befuddle Golovkin, whose inside work was poor throughout the fight. Strangely, against a fighter of Jacobs' height and build, GGG’s usual body attack was almost nonexistent, and his jab, so often one of his most potent weapons in past fights, was strongly nullified by Jacobs' own reach and jab.

As the rounds passed, there often seemed to be a lack of urgency from both Golovkin, and his corner. If they felt that it was just a matter of time before he caught Jacobs with a fight-ending power shot...they were sadly mistaken. Sensing that he had already withstood the best GGG had to offer, Jacobs' confidence increased with the passing of the rounds, and at times, he out-boxed GGG with comparative ease. Golovkin’s technical skills were visibly absent on this night as he seemed to struggle with some of the basics. Perhaps the advancing years, and a long run of stoppage victories, have blunted GGG’s boxing skills.

If anything, it was Jacobs who landed some of the fights best punches in the second half of the contest. Showing that he could stand and trade with GGG, as well as out-box him.

Golovkin’s corner finally seemed to wake up after the 11th round, and Golovkin was sent out to do some damage in the 12th and final round. Yet, while he won the round, the action was still close, as the game Jacobs continued to fight back, and many of GGG’s punches were missing their target.

Photo: Fight News
In the end it went to the judge's score cards for the first time in a GGG match since 2008. Scores of 115-112, twice, and 114-113 allowed GGG to retain his world title, but not his reputation as the division's destroyer. While not wanting to take anything away from Jacobs' display, which was aided greatly by his excellent corner, it looks as though at the age of 34, and after lengthy amateur and professional boxing career, GGG is in definite decline. The clues to a decline that were visible against Kell Brook six months ago, were confirmed last night. Golovkin is now two years older than Marvin Hagler was when he lost to Sugar Ray Leonard, yesterday's match was his 17th defence in a title reign going back almost seven years. It should be no surprise that the wear and tear of age and activity seems to be finally taking a toll on GGG.

Ironically, following this unification fight, the middleweight division is now more muddled than it was previously. On the evidence of last night Gennady Golovkin can no longer be considered the clear cut number one in the 160-pound division, and while there will no doubt be increased demands for a Golovkin vs. Canelo contest, the fight that really needs to happen first is a rematch between Golovkin and Jacobs. 

Full Fight:

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Monday, March 13, 2017

GGG Vs. Jacobs: Big Fight Preview: Can Jacobs Spoil Gennady Golovkin's Garden Party?

Photo: Daily News

By Peter Silkov

On March 18, at New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden, Gennady Golovkin (36-0, 33koes) hopes to be one step closer to his, often mentioned, goal of becoming the undisputed middleweight champion of the world, by adding Daniel Jacob’s (32-1, 29koes) WBA belt, to his already impressive title haul. Golovkin holds the IBF, WBC, and IBO middleweight titles, in addition to being recognized by the WBA as its ‘super’ world champion, (the same WBA which sees Jacobs as its ‘regular’ world champion.) Such is the state of the sport today unfortunately, even the world boxing bodies themselves seem to be getting confused.

Photo: Sweet Science

However, aside from the muddle of boxing politics, and the seemingly never ending chain of world titles that now envelops boxing, there are few people today that follow the sport who do not recognize Gennady Golovkin as the true number one at 160 pounds. Some might produce an argument that Canelo Alvarez is the rightful linear world champion, due to his victory over Miguel Cotto, who himself had beaten Sergio Martinez, the fighter whom previously was recognized as the true world champion at 160 pounds. Yet, the Martinez, whom Cotto beat, was an injured fighter with a ruined knee, who could barely walk, let alone fight. Then Alvarez’s own point’s defeat of Cotto was a lukewarm display, rather than the kind of impressive dynamic performance that we have come to expect from Gennady Golovkin. Alvarez’s subsequent avoidance of a showdown with Golovkin, and his decision to take on welterweight Amir Khan, then move back down to light-middleweight and fight Liam Smith for the lightly regarded WBO title, has largely nullified his claims of being the real-world champion at 160 pounds. The fact that Canelo is now due to fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., on May 6th, at a weight limit of 165 pounds, after his well-documented protestations that he is ‘not yet a full middleweight’ has made Canelo’s position even more absurd.

The bottom line is that Gennady Golovkin is currently the best fighter at 160 pounds, by quite a long way. Indeed, it is hard not to make an argument for him being one of the top fighters today pound-for-pound, at any weight. The big question is, can Daniel Jacobs do anything to change this on March 18? The fight takes place a day after St. Patrick’s Day, and Jacobs may well need a bit of the luck of the Irish against his Kazakhstan born opponent. 

One of the criticisms aimed at Golovkin is that he has ‘not fought anyone’ of significance during his career and title reign. While it is true that Golovkin hasn’t had the kind of defining fight which all great champions need to bring the best out of them, and to truly show their greatness, it is hard to find anyone that he has avoided.

Photo: The Sun
Golovkin’s resume as world champion includes solid contenders such as Martin Murray, Matthew Macklin, Gabriel Rosado, Daniel Geale, Marco Antonio Rubio, Curtis Stevens, and David Lemieux. Of course, he is waiting on Canelo Alvarez, but of course, he’s not a true middleweight, so it might be a long wait. Also, there is WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders, but he seems to be in no hurry to meet Golovkin in the ring either. Miguel Cotto is another name absent from Golovkin’s record, but once again, Cotto made no secret about his lack of enthusiasm regarding a meeting with Golovkin between the ropes.

This will be Golovkin’s 17th defence of his world title and comes at a crucial point of his title reign. In his most recent outing, six months ago, Golovkin took on IBF welterweight title holder Kell Brook, stopping him in 5 rounds. Despite giving Brook a thorough going over, and breaking his eye socket in the process, it was not a polished performance by the champion. Furthermore, Golovkin received some strong criticism in some areas for defending his title against a ‘smaller’ man, even though the record books tell us that he was by no means the first middleweight champion to defend his title against a welterweight champion. Just four months previously Canelo Alvarez had himself demolished welterweight Amir Khan, who does not even hold a significant title at welterweight. 

Photo: Sky Sports
Despite the finality of his victory over Brook, who finished dazed and bloodied in the 5th round, Golovkin did not look his best. His defence was sloppy and even the usual sharpness of his punches was missing. There is little doubt that against Jacobs, Golovkin will need to be as sharp as he was when he fought David Lemieux. Jacobs is a good boxer, with a dangerous punch, and Golovkin, despite his reputation of having an excellent chin, would be well-advised to sharpen up his sometimes leaky defence.

If Golovkin has a weakness, it could well be his own success. He has become accustomed to being able to walk through his opponents and at times disregard defence. It is bad habits like this that could eventually lead to Golovkin’s downfall one day, if he is not careful. There is a suspicion that his long run of title defences, along with his increasing years, has perhaps taken a little of the shine from the now 34-year-old Golovkin. Despite his image, Golovkin is human after all, and at the age of 34, it would be natural if he were starting to physically slip from his peak.  Certainly, this is something which several of his possible future opponents are only too keen to see happen.

With this in mind, it is important for Gennady Golovkin to perform against Daniel Jacobs. Saturday’s fight is a chance for Gennady to show that he is still a finely tuned fighting machine. He will not want to just win, but win impressively. Especially with a possible big showdown with the elusive Canelo Alvarez, still being constantly talked about.

Photo: Bleacher Report
When looking at Jacobs’ record, one thing that becomes clear is that his opposition has largely been a lower level than that of Golovkin’s. Jacobs’ most impressive victories have come in his last two contests, beating Sergio Mora in seven rounds, and Peter Quillin in one round. The Quillin fight especially showed that Jacobs has formidable punching power. Jacobs’ lone career defeat so far has been a July 2010 defeat to Dmitry Pirog for the WBO middleweight title, when he was stopped in 5 rounds by the promising Pirog (who never fought again due to a back injury.)  It seems unlikely that Jacobs will be able to outbox Golovkin for 12 rounds. Not only is Golovkin a far better boxer than he is generally credited for, but it is doubtful that Jacobs has the mixture of durability and boxing skills to last 12 rounds with Golovkin, and win a decision. Jacobs’ best chance of victory seems to be to land one or more of his big bombs upon Golovkin’s chin and hope that he can crack GGG’s whiskers. To do this, he must try and put Golovkin under the kind of pressure that Gennady’s previous opponents have not managed to do, and try to break the GGG man that way.  No easy task against a fighter who has barely been shook up by a punch as a professional, let alone severely hurt or knocked down.

The truth is, when he wants to, Golovkin, can dodge or ride punches with ease, and can be a much harder target to hit than is generally believed.  He is far from being simply a one-dimensional brawler with a big punch. These facets about Golovkin are the real secrets of his long-running success. Unless his recent display against Kell Brook was a real indication that he is now in decline as a fighter, Gennady Golovkin will simply have too much of everything for Daniel Jacobs on the March 18th. 

Photo: Real Combat Media
Like most of Golovkin’s fights, this is a clash which should be exciting while it lasts, but with the stronger boxing skills, the better power and superior durability, Golovkin looks certain to take Jacobs apart bit by bit, before stopping him. If Jacobs tries to box Golovkin he will last into about the 6 to 8th rounds, but if he goes for the high-risk strategy of going toe-to-toe with Golovkin, then the chances are that he will be caught early himself, and stopped sometime in the first 3 rounds.

On March 18, Golovkin will once again show that he is a level or two above simply being just a ’good’ fighter. Of course, ironically, his main problem is that in truth he is too good for his own good. 

The Golovkin vs. Jacobs main event will be supported by a fight that may well steal the show, with Roman ’Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (46-0, 38koes) making the first defence of his WBC world super-flyweight title against Wisaksil Wangek (41-4-1, 38 koes), in a match which could well prove to be the fight of the night.

Photo: Boxing Scene
This will be Gonzalez’s first outing since he won the WBC super-flyweight crown from Carlos Cuadras, in what was one of the fights of the year for 2016, and undoubtedly the hardest fight of Gonzalez’s unbeaten career. Gonzalez became the first Nicaraguan to win a world title at 4 weights against Cuadras. Yet, he was also shown, by the slippery and speedy Cuadras, that life at the higher weight may perhaps be harder than he first thought. Although he prevailed in the end, and won a close decision over Cuadras, ‘Chocolatito’ ended the fight with his face bruised and battered, while the deposed champion remained largely unmarked. There were signs in this fight against that Gonzalez’s famed strength and power had perhaps not moved up with him from the lower flyweight division.

Against Wangek, Gonzalez will be facing a fighter with a much more straight- forward, aggressive, fighting style, which should suit him, in comparison to the flashy and slick boxing skills of Cuadras.  Yet the Thai challenger will be a formidable opponent in his own right. He is himself a former holder of Gonzalez’s WBC world title, having lost it in 2014 on a close technical decision to the same Carlos Cuadras whom Gonzalez beat for the title last year. Since that setback, Wangek has won 14 fights in a row to qualify for this shot at his old crown. Wangek is a battle-hardened fighter who recovered from losing three of his first five professional contests after he was thrown in the deep end at the start of his career against the likes of Akira Yaegashi, and Kenji Oba.

‘Chocolatito’ usually enjoys having fighters come straight at him, and this is what Wangek is likely to do, and the hard-punching challenger will certainly test Gonzalez’s strength at this higher weight. If the lighter punching, Cuadras, could produce moments of discomfort for Gonzalez with his punches, then can the heavier punching Wangek go a step further.  The answer to this question could make for a fascinating and exciting title fight. 

Roman Gonzalez fully deserves the plaudits, that he is finally getting at this stage of his career. He is a great all-round boxer-fighter, with the kind of skills which makes you cast your mind back to the great champions of the past. He has also earned his place at the top of the pound-for-pound tree by facing all his major challengers throughout three weight divisions, over the past eight years. It is a bitter irony, that despite all this, Gonzalez still finds himself given the short end of the purses, when compared to his larger, yet far less accomplished, fellow fighters.

With this mind Gonzalez, will want to produce an impressive performance against Wangek, and set up what would be a very interesting rematch with Carlos Cuadras, that hopefully will finally bring Gonzalez some of the big purse money, which he so richly deserves.  

Gonzalez will be attempting to show that he has now become acclimatized at his new weight division against Wangek, and that the mixture of skills and strength, which he held at the lower weights, has not been depleted. This is likely to be a tough fight with some entertaining toe-to-toe encounters, but Gonzalez if he is on form, should be able to out-slick Wangek with his superior boxing skills, and slowly break him down, on the way to scoring an impressive late rounds stoppage. This is certainly a fight that will tell us whether Gonzalez is as much a force at super-flyweight, as he was at the lower weights, or has he finally taken that one step too far. 

Also on the Madison Square Garden under card:

Carlos Cuadras (35-1-1, 27koes) faces the useful David Carmona (20-3-5, 8koes) with a win a must if he is to set up a rematch with ’Chocolatito’ for later this year.

Andy Lee (34-3-1, 24koes) returns to the ring for the first time since losing his WBO world middleweight title to Billy Joe Saunders 15 months ago.  Lee faces KeAndrae Leatherwood (19-3-1, 12koes) in what is another ’must win’ fight if Lee is to get back into serious title contention.

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Copyright © 2017 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved.