"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."
~Mike Tyson

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Boxing - Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

Boxing And Technology

Photo: .soundandvision.com
All sports evolve as times and technology change; all sports that is except for boxing. Alright, that may be a bit hyperbolic but there has been little change when it comes to the technology boxing adopts or embraces. With a few notable changes serving as the exception, boxing exists and is viewed today much as it has been in years and decades past. When you look at what other sports have incorporated technology wise and how their deliveries and presentations have changed and then juxtapose that with the archaic operating models boxing employs at the time of this writing you'll understand how the hyperbole is justified.

Every other major sport, save for boxing, has latched onto things that improve them; utilizing new technologies that not only improve the sports themselves but help them reach broader and new audiences. Take a look at the tech the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB use for their television broadcasts as an example. Some may pejoratively assert that broadcasts look more like video games than actual sports telecasts but the lines, circles, and numbers all over the screen make the game easier to follow for veteran fans and make things less complicated for the casuals and new fans that don't yet grasp the nuances of the game and its rules. Conversely boxing has yet to implement something as simple and useful as instant reply; a technology implemented by the NFL on September 7th, 1986, 1986! How many bad calls and errors has this technology corrected and how many wrongs has it righted? Now ask yourself how many bad calls in boxing could be corrected by this now antiquated technology? Why this technology is used in virtually every major sport outside of boxing probably has more to do with the fractured nature of the sport and a lack of a central governing body but that's another article for another time.

The Times They Are A Changin'

Search for yourself!
Television is no longer consumed the way it once was. Gone are the days of watching something only when a network decides to air it. Both broadband internet and the widespread adoption of mobile and streaming technologies forced networks to begin reviewing their business and delivery models nearly a decade ago. Consumers in 2017 can now view virtually any program they want, when they want, through any mobile or home based device and have been doing so for several years. The NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and nearly every other sports league has it's own dedicated television and/or streaming channel/application. Moreover the majority of these entities has had their apps and channels up and running for many years now though they have evolved since their inception. Any guesses on which sport doesn't have anything like this for its connoisseurs? Fans of these other sports can watch any game live, watch games after they've aired, etc. all for a reasonable monthly fee. To pull another 80's reference from my aging hat, Eddie Murphy's Prince Akeem once remarked, "But it is also tradition that times *must* and always do change, my friend."

"Listening On The Radio"

Edward Teach would be proud.
Although boxing hasn't given its fans any type of dedicated channel that allows them to watch any fight, including pay per view events, for one monthly fee, boxing fans have long been using modern technologies to consume the sport they love. Until recently when Banner Promotions streamed Petr Petrov vs Terry Flanagan live on Twitter the power brokers in boxing have largely ignored streaming technologies even though the sport's fans have not. Boxing aficionados have been watching "illegal" streams of the fights they want to see for years. They stream both fights of little note and pay per view events for a variety of reasons. For some it's a matter of convenience for others it's a matter of cost. Sometimes it's a matter of both. The ever increasing amount of streaming fans however seems to suggest that they no longer see value in $60, $70, and $100 pay per view cards (did they ever?).

The aforementioned Petrov vs Flanagan stream is likely boxing's first foray into a technology it should have adopted and presented to consumers long ago. Perhaps there is a light at the end of this pugilistic tunnel. The problem boxing currently has with shrinking pay per view purchases and a growing number of streamers reminds this scribe an awful lot of the Napster fiasco at the turn of the millennium. Instead of embracing new technology and finding a way to incorporate it into new business models or methods of delivery, the myopic music industry obstinately dug its feet into the ground, clung to outdated methods of operation with a death-grip, stumbled around suing its customers, and went on a witch hunt that involved bullying and threatening its consumers. Forcing people or coercing them into becoming customers by way of fear does not work and is a bad look for any company.

The powers that be in boxing can and should approach these changing times, not as the RIAA did but as Apple did by utilizing a popular and effective technology to give fans what they want at much more affordable costs. Boxing has long been a cost prohibitive sport for fans and it's time for that to change. Boxing fans and pundits already recognize Mayweather/Pacquaio as the last pay per view event to generate impressive numbers or revenue and that event is just two years old. The fallout and disappointment following that bomb has been the cement shoes on boxing's antiquated business model.  It's time for promoters, networks, fighters, and everyone else involved to not only recognize this but be proactive and aggressive in using modern technology to deliver its product in new and affordable ways.

The Point Of No Return

Photo: http://farmwars.info
"Cord Cutters" as they are called by cable companies are people who've cancelled their television subscriptions in favor of independent services like Netflix, Hulu, or their favorite sports applications. Cutting the cord is a smart move and allows consumers to pay for only that content which they want. There also exists a sub group of cord cutters that don't pay for anything at all, instead relying on friends/family to share passwords, files, etc. No matter how hard those whom run boxing squeeze or try, they'll never stamp out the piracy they are fighting so hard to eradicate. Again, you can not force people into becoming customers but you can make paying for a modern service a much sexier and alluring idea if you're creative. Piracy will always exist in one form or another and so will cheapskates who won't ever pay for anything. Rather than pouring money into shutting down streams that pop up somewhere else later, suing those who make them available, etc. the sport and the networks should invest their monies into modern technologies and give its fans exactly what they want. Bringing itself into the 21 century benefits everyone.

It's fantasy to believe that promoters, networks, fighters, managers, advisers, etc. would all work together for their own common good or the good of their consumer base but this is exactly what the sport and its fans need, even if its in a limited capacity. This type of thing is long overdue as is a change in the sports wavering pay per view model. Boxing is well past the point of no return and can no longer expect it's ancient methods of delivery and business to reap the same returns they once did.

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split Decision Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Shawn Porter vs Andre Berto - Analysis, Breakdown, Keys To Victory

Winning Half The Time

Photo: premierboxingchampions.com
Andre Berto is a fighter that leaves everything he's got in the ring each time he fights. Shawn Porter is a high energy twitchy swarmer who isn't afraid to mix it up on the inside. Together these two fighters should make for an intriguing if not exciting fight. If there's any downside to their bout on April 22nd it is most assuredly both fighters recent history. The Haitian born Berto currently carries a record of 31-4-0 which isn't necessarily a bad record but when you consider that he's gone 4-4 in his last eight fights one must question what the man possibly has left. Shawn Porter is currently 26-2-1 which is respectable but he is 2-2 in his last 4, having lost to both Kell Brook and Keith Thurman. Despite his recent struggles Porter will enter the ring on fight night as the fresher fighter. It should be an exciting if not one sided bout.

Shawn Porter Keys To Victory

"Showtime" Shawn Porter
Photo: http://boxrec.com
In Andre Berto, the 29 year old Porter has in front of him a man that has been having trouble pulling the trigger in recent fight. Berto also has some big defensive liabilities. Porter will want to exploit this with his usual high workrate and frantic style. Porter can work hard on the inside digging at Berto's body which will put the brakes on anything Berto might have left in his tank. Berto however can punch and as such he remains dangerous. Porter will need to stay on the inside mauling in order to keep the offensive minded Berto from setting up his mid ranger power shots.

Andre Berto Keys To Victory

Andre "The Beast" Berto
Photo: http://boxrec.com
Andre Berto must first recognize that he is no longer the fighter he once was and then make some adjustments to his game if he wants to walk away with the victory on fight night. The last thing to go in an aging or battle fatigued fighter is his power and Berto will want to try and capitalize on just that. When Berto is on his game he throws crisp hard power shots that can hurt a man to both the body as well as the head. Against Porter though Berto will simply not get away with throwing haymakers nor swinging for the fences. He'll need to employ a good stiff jab if he wants to keep his lunging and swarming foe on the outside. If Berto can double his jab and keep the power up he might discourage Porter from coming in which in turn would allow him to set up some big shots. Andre Berto's plan should be to earn Porter's respect with his power and discourage him from coming in over the long haul.

How It Plays Out

Expect to see a swollen Berto again
Photo: img.memesuper.com
I expect the younger, fresher, and hungrier Porter to answer the opening bell with a great deal of activity. Porter's inaccuracy and lack of power probably means that Andre Berto doesn't have to worry about getting knocked out but Porter's volume of work is going to overwhelm and be more than the battle weary Berto is capable of handling at this point in his career. I wholly expect Porter to do what he does best and swarm Andre Berto while he pounds away scoring on the inside. I foresee Berto having a few moments here and there throughout the fight but because he's got so little left he'll only fight in spurts. Don't be surprised if Berto remains inactive for the entirety of several rounds. In his prime I think Berto would handle Porter and stop him late but the Andre Berto of 2017 doesn't have the stamina or drive he once had.

Winner: Shawn Porter by dominant unanimous decision

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split Decision Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Priemier Boxing Champions - A Boxing Coup D'etat

Too Big To Fail?

Photo: premierboxingchampions.com
Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions is an entity that has it's foundations rooted in hyperbole, misnomers, misinformation, and hubris. Designed from the ground up to appeal to the lowest common denominator of television viewers as well the incredulous boxing fan, the fight series promised high quality fights between the best in the sport and was heralded as the sport's long overdue return to "free" television. The series aimed to be the antithesis of modern boxing models, promising to break the mold networks like HBO and even Showtime had been successful with for decades. The powers behind the PBC made some big promises and with Waddell & Reed's half a billion dollar financial backing how could it possibly fail?

Dead On Arrival

Despite the PBC's promises most whom follow the sport with any sort of regularity were wary from the start. Reclusive PBC brain child Al Haymon had demonstrated in years previous that he had little talent not only for matchmaking but boxing promotion as well. Evidently earning a MBA from Harvard doesn't necessarily endow one with the talents, experience, nor the acumen one needs to be a successful boxing promoter, excuse me, "adviser". Not only were the fights he staged on pay networks underwhelming and often mismatches but the fighters themselves were almost always...well let's just say they weren't the sports greatest talents.

If the writing hadn't been scribbled on the wall by Haymon while he and his fighters/fights were on both HBO and Showtime it certainly was when the boxing series dropped its first promotional video. In case you've either never seen that promo or been one of the lucky ones who've forgotten about it I've included it here.

"The Champ Is Here"

To the uneducated, casual, or new boxing fan, this promo could easily be construed in a positive light. To those with a flare for the critical, boxing cynics, and long time fans however this promo raises some red flags... six to be exact. When the following fighters are being sold by any entity as it's premier talent one has every reason to be skeptical of that entity delivering on any of it's promises.
None of the aforementioned boxers are bad fighters but they are mediocre and critically flawed; embarrassingly so for an outfit that refers to itself as "Premier". Is it possible that savvy boxing fans might have watched this promo and walked away confident in what was coming? Hyperbole and rhetoric are powerful marketing tools used to drive specific points home but in the PBC's case these tools were used egregiously. Sure the PBC had a small vocal and intellectually vapid minority supporting its efforts at launch but to everyone outside of that minority the PBC was essentially dead on arrival.

Quality Over Quantity

Photo: boxinginsider.com
Fans have plenty to complain about when it comes to the PBC. Whether it's meaningful fights never materializing, fighters being protected, long layoffs etc.; it is perhaps Haymon's focus on quantity over quality that is the sharpest thorn poking fans in their sides. At the series peak PBC fights aired on a variety of "free" networks. PBC fights could be found on Spike, ESPN, Bounce TV, CBS, and NBC Sports, sometimes airing at odd days and times during the week as well. Flooding the market isn't always a bad way to draw attention to a new product but when quantity takes a precedent over quality its not exactly going to inspire interest or loyalty in that product.

"Premier" Boxing Champions?

Without having signed the likes of Sergey Kovalev, Gennady Golovkin, Wladimir Klitschko, and the sport's other elite talents in 2015, Haymon could have and should have chosen a better name for his now failing boxing series. Nearly his entire stable of fighters is made up of mediocre talent; you know those guys that, without protection, will never come close to reaching the pinnacle of the sport but that can be used to test those that will on their way up? Outside of the PBC's bubble these types of fighters are referred to as journeymen and gatekeepers. Within the PBC universe however they are considered  "Premier" talent. Ask yourself, is it really just a coincidence that the sports elite fighters still haven't signed with Haymon?

Premier Boxing Champions is more than a misnomer, it's a blatant attempt to pander to people who don't know any better and it's an insult to those that do. It's an attempt to create a market that doesn't exist and manage a business model that is unsustainable. Haymon and company aimed low in their attempt to monopolize and reform boxing. Business 101 says "find a niche and exploit it" which is exactly what boxing had done successfully over a century before Mr. Haymon came along. Al Haymon either didn't care about boxing's core audience or he was arrogant enough believe the people who live and breathe the sport wouldn't see through the bullshit. When one overlooks their core audience and patronizes them it's nearly impossible to be successful.

Change Is Good Right?

Change can certainly be a force for good in business but that's not always the case. Apparently Al Haymon never got the memo that reads "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Of course it's entirely possible that he got it, read it, and then promptly threw it into a shredder thinking he knew better but who knows. There are many areas of the sport that need fixing or updating and anyone whom attempts to address those in a manner in which makes sense should be admired. Gutting and omitting time honored and popular boxing traditions in order to replace them with sterile presentations however has proven to be an unpopular move among the very people Haymon needs tuning in. In his attempt to capture a new audience it's appears as though Al Haymon looked to the likes of MMA and the WWE for inspiration and was so excited about what he saw that he forgot what actually works in boxing. Smart business says that you improve on what is already working within a business model and nix what doesn't. With his PBC series Haymon has done away with grand ring walks and fighter entourages instead choosing to send fighters out alone to Hans Zimmer tunes that feel generic inside of a lifeless promotion. Gone too are in ring announcers and his announcing team functions more like a PR team who proactively damage controls his business. The PBC is boxing minus it's personality, it's pomp, and it's excitement.

Lowering The Bar

Photo: renegadetribune.com
The PBC is a toxic entity that has killed, stalled, and detoured a number of careers. It's biggest stars fight anywhere from just once every 8 months to once or twice a year. This alone clearly demonstrates that Al Haymon doesn't understand momentum nor how to build a boxer's career. Then again maybe activity isn't part of Haymon's business plan. Inactive fighters aren't exclusive to the PBC but it appears as though its fighters purposefully sit out for long stretches while they wait for politics to drop big fights into their laps. PBC promoted fights are, for the most part, disappointing affairs and are often mismatches to boot. It's biggest fights feature 2nd tier talent in bouts where there's more activity than achievement, although it's spokespersons would have you believe you've just watched something that makes Hagler/Hearns look like a boring affair. Despite it's current problems the PBC has succeeded in doing one thing. Across all lines and in all areas, the PBC has substantially lowered the bar. Even worse and like a virus, its business model has infected other areas of the sport and other promoters and networks are now playing copycat. Be it quality of fights, recycled fighters, what passes as a great fighter, drama and story lines, and even its presentation you can be sure you'll walk away from a night with with the PBC disappointed and frustrated 95% of the time.

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split Decision Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Golovkin vs Canelo AKA The Horse And The Carrot

An Active Champion

Middleweight Champ
Gennady "GGG" Golovkin

Photo: Boxrec.com
In an era where fighting just twice a year is considered "staying busy" for fighters and understanding that activity would help broaden his brand, Middleweight king pin Gennady Golovkin began going against the grain in 2013 becoming a very busy fighter. His goal was 4 fights per year but the passing of his father in 2014 threw a monkey wrench into Golovkin's plans. Despite this the champion still managed to squeeze in 3 fights that year, with two of these fights following the tragedy and a period of mourning with his family in Kazakhstan. In 2015 he once more fought four times but after Miguel Cotto's defeat at the hands of Saul Alvarez in November of that year GGG seemed to become preoccupied with fighting Canelo. By the time 2016 reared it's ugly head it became clear that Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions was starting to maneuver Gennady's career towards a fight with the Guadalajara native.

While it is difficult to castigate any fighter for aiming high and going for the biggest payday of their career, this maneuvering resulted in the smiling assassin fighting just twice in 2016, much to the chagrin of fans. It appeared as though Golovkin would again fight 4 times in 2017, that is until rumors of delays, injuries, and a fight with Canelo began to swirl on April 11th. These rumors brought with them a collective groan from those who want to see one of the most exciting and dramatic fighters in the sport remain active. Several prominent members of the press have reached out to K2 Promotions for answers but as of this writing nothing has been confirmed.

Fool Me Once

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez
Photo: Boxrec.com
Despite some on air bravado from Canelo he has remained reluctant and fickle when it comes to a fight with Gennady Golovkin. Publicly he's ready now and can't wait to for the opening bell to sound. Privately however he and his promoter, Golden Boy Promotions have remained coy and dance around questions when it comes the fight. It's very clear that both Alverez and Golden Boy recognize and understand the inherent dangers in facing one Gennady Golovkin.

Following his knock out of Amir Khan, Canelo invited Golovkin into the ring where the ginger remarked (in Spanish) "we don't fuck around" when asked if he was ready to face Golovkin. It has been widely reported that Golovkin and K2 Promotions had been sent an offer by Golden Boy Promotions for the fight and that GGG had declined the offer. If you do enough digging you'll find that the offer was not seriously entertained by team GGG only because it offered Golovkin a flat fee and the fight was to be contested a year down the road. GGG's decision to decline the offer was a smart one as a lot can change in a year. For some perspective, Manny Pacquiao was offered the same type of deal by Floyd Mayweather several times in the years before they finally met in the ring and as a result of the congressman's (and perhaps Bob Arum's) shrewd patience, he ended up making much more when the fight was finally made.

Canelo and his team may now finally be ready to face Golovkin though it's been clear they were not in the past. The chain yanking and carrot chasing Golovkin has endured since talks of a super fight with Canelo began would make a skeptic and a cynic out of anyone. Why then is Golovkin seemingly passing on an opportunity to become undisputed middleweight champion of the world by fighting and defeating Billy Joe Saunders in June? It's a much easier fight to both make and win. Additionally, it has been reported that Kazakhstan would be footing the bill for this fight, putting up a substantial amount of money for one of it's favorite sons to fight at home as part of a major event no less.

It's a lot like this.

Photo: giphy.com
Knowing all of this one would be remiss if they didn't ask themselves the following questions. Is Gennady Golovkin passing on his summer unification bout with Saunders because of injuries sustained against Danny Jacobs? Is Saunders reluctant to sign the contract? Is Golovkin acquiescing to Golden Boy who have made it clear that a summer fight with Saunders would kill a fight against Canelo later in the fall? Could the fight already be made and might team GGG be keeping things quiet until after Canelo/ChavezJr? Right now no one but those close to the aforementioned fighters know the answers and Tom Loeffler remains tight lipped playing things close to his chest. There may be multiple answers to these questions as the business of boxing is often complicated and convoluted. In the meantime and as it pertains to Canelo however, Golovkin and K2 would do well to remember, "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me."

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split Decision Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Adonis Stevenson - Does Anyone Care Anymore?

When Adonis Stevenson came out of nowhere and knocked out then reigning and consensus Light Heavyweight Champion Chad Dawson in the summer of 2013, most of us had to pick our jaws up off the floor. The manner in which he dispatched Dawson was sudden, violent, exciting, and left us wanting more. Many, including yours truly, saw a great deal of potential in the hard hitting Haitian born Canadian and most of us immediately turned our thoughts to fights against the 175 lbs division's best. Since he effectively ended Dawson's career as a top tier fighter however, Stevenson has done as little as possible and done it against very carefully selected opposition. Are they any boxing fans or members of the media that aren't disappointed in Adonis' post Dawson run? If such people exist what excuses can they possibly come up with that give credence to Stevenson's recent career moves? 

Adonis Stevenson ends Chad Dawson in round 1.

Parlaying Success Into Irrelevancy...

In the immediate aftermath of Stevenson's destruction of Dawson discussions regarding a fight with Kovalev began in earnest. HBO flexed it's muscle and working with Kovalev's promotional outfit, Main Events, the two convinced the WBC title holder and his handlers to verbally agree to a unification bout with the intimidating Russian later in the year. There was a real buzz about the fight at that time and it looked as though everyone would strike while the iron was hot, an ever increasing rarity in the sport. Not long after a verbal agreement had been reached however the floor fell out from underneath clamoring fans and from team Kovalev.

There had been rumors and whispers prior to it actually happening but it was at this time Adonis Stevenson signed with the impotent, inept, dubious, and infamous Al Haymon. The deal with Haymon essentially killed the Kovalev fight and ended any realistic hope of it ever happening. Instead of risking everything against Kovalev, Stevenson opted for the path of least resistance by becoming a part of Haymon's network of mostly mediocre fighters. He's fought just 7 times in 4 years and has been allowed to face very limited opposition in the following guys.
Not exactly a who's who of the light heavyweight division nor murderers row I know.

Now Stevenson is set to face Andrzej Fonfara in a rematch on June 3rd, 2017. Stevenson defeated Fonfara back in 2014 by unanimous decision but was dropped by Fonfara in that fight. This has to be what his promoter will use to try and sell this horrible fight. Is there really any other angle to this thing? It's not the worst fight that could have been made but it's a fight that serves no purpose and one that no one was asking for. Like so many before and after him in the PBC stable of fighters, Adonis Stevenson has squandered larger opportunities in exchange for easier and less work. Like another fighter I've recently written about, Stevenson is a boxer that embodies what is wrong in boxing today. Unlike that other fighter however Stevenson receives almost no accolades nor praise. Adonis Stevenson is one of the weakest title holders of recent memory as well. The sooner he's defeated or retires the better off both the fans and the sport will be.

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split Decision Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

My Readers Ask...Part 2 - Andre Ward

As promised here is the 2nd question from Glenn, one of my readers. He asks:

Also what do you make of Andre Ward these days?

Photo: boxrec.com
Oh, Andre Ward, where do I start? My opinion of the Oakland native is not a popular one and one that will ruffle a great many feathers. Before I give my opinions on Andre Ward let me first preface my comments by saying that I don't think Ward is untalented nor is he a bad fighter. That said I don't think much of Andre Ward as a fighter or a person nor is he the fighter many claim him to be.

As a fighter he's excellent at doing what he does (holding, dirty fighting, grabbing, single punches) but I don't think he's the master boxer he, the networks, nor most fans believe or want us to believe he is. He has just one gear and effectively shuts his opponents offense down by throwing one punch at a time before lunging in and grabbing/holding. He rarely ever puts the hurt on his opponents and this is because his offensive game is extremely limited; consisting mainly of one punch/move/hold...repeat. To this day we've yet to see Ward adjust on the fly nor change his game plan. Moreover he's never beaten one elite level fighter, not....one! Sure the judges awarded him a decision over Kovalev last fall but he was out boxed, over powered, and effectively counter-wrestled by the fearsome Russian. The only people that scored the fight for Ward, save the judges, were the fighter himself, Virgil Hunter, and boxing pundits/fans with an agenda.

There are then those people that like to use Ward's victory in Showtime's now ancient Super Six tournament as proof of Andre's greatness. While winning the tournament would make any boxer proud, it was a contest whose participants were B and C level fighters. This is a difficult pill to swallow for some boxing enthusiasts but it's the truth. Arthur Abraham, Mikkel Kessler? Please! At the peak of their powers and on their best nights these two boxers where B and C level combatants respectively. Now I know what you're thinking, “yea ok so but he did beat Carl Froch.” For as good and respected as he was The Cobra from Nottingham was a one dimensional B+ level fighter. Exciting sure but hardly a world beater. So Andre Ward beat a handful of mediocre fighters without ever having to fight outside of his hometown and in a tournament that was built for him with the sole intent of showcasing him? I don't consider that a great nor an elite level accomplishment.

The post Super Six Andre Ward has made a career of fighting as seldom as possible and fighting C and D level guys. More to the point he goes the distance with guys like Alexander Brand, Sullivan Barrera, and Edwin Rodriguez, often while looking less than spectacular; not really a good look for someone who is supposedly an elite talent. Despite his tepid accomplishments Ward is heralded as a master boxer with some in the media mentioning his name and the Hall Of Fame in the same breath. I consider this patently absurd and disrespectful to what the the Hall in Canastota and it's honored warriors stand for.

Somewhere in the not too distant past boxing fans and members of the media forgot this is the hurt business and started rewarding moving more than punching and began awarding points to fighters based on their ability to not get hit, even when those fighters aren't hitting back very often. In the modern era of boxing, slicksters with mediocre and/or poor offensive games are showered with praises while aggressive fighters are admonished and those with power are dismissed as hype jobs, crude sluggers, etc. Ward is most certainly a benefactor of what many refer to as “The Mayweather Effect”. As a fighter Andre represents everything that should be loathed in boxing. He is a smug, angry, and entitled man who on occasion has retarded progress in his division, and purposely fights lesser opponents in redundant and excessive tune up fights. Most egregiously of all however he's an absolute bore to watch. He has little power, no killer instinct, takes few risks, and is a diva. The man has no desire to test or push himself which makes me dislike him an awful lot. In the past I was much more tolerant of fighters like Andre Ward but as I've gotten older and watched the sport of boxing hold guys like Ward in higher and higher esteem I find myself liking these types of guys less and less. If Andre Ward were to retire today yours truly wouldn't miss him and the sport would be healthier for it.

Oh and that handsome Andre Ward smile? Take it from someone who has not only lived with persons suffering from narcissistic personality disorder but whom also owns his own advertising business, it's as fake and transparent as they come.

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split Decision Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com.

Monday, April 3, 2017

My Readers Ask...Part 1

Yesterday I received some questions (yea it happens once in a while) from a boxing fan named Glenn who says he's enjoys the way I talk boxing. Rather than engage one on one I told Glenn this would be an excellent opportunity for me to answer questions publicly. So without further ado, here is the first of Glenn's questions and my answer. More to follow at a later date of course.

I am looking forward to hearing your take on Klitschko / Joshua, not your views on the fighters but the match up.

Photo: e1.365dm.com
It would be an arduous undertaking for me to break down the fight without first discussing the fighters involved Glenn. Joshua/Klitschko is one of those rare fights that's happening with the right combatants and at the right time; a crossroads fight if there ever was one! After looking extremely gun shy and dropping a decision to Tyson Fury at the end of 2015, it would seem that the 41 year old Klitschko won't have much of anything left in his tank when he faces England's latest athletic export on April 29th. Of course there's always the chance that against Fury, the future hall of famer simply had an off night, a bad training camp, was hurt, etc. though the consensus among both fans and pundits alike is that Wladimir isn't just out of gas...he's coasting into this fight on fumes. I remember some moments against Jennings where Klitschko looked like he might not be what he once was and after putting in that abysmal performance against a mediocre fighter in Tyson Fury I tend to agree with the aforementioned consensus.

What can I say about Anthony Joshua that hasn't already been said? Sure he's exciting, powerful, huge, he certainly looks the part, and has some good boxing ability but it's important to remember that he's largely untested. In the modern world of boxing fighters win titles and then go on to develop themselves; many making a career of padding their records and KO percentages without ever pushing or testing themselves. I don't necessarily believe that Joshua belongs in this camp of fighters completely but I do believe he might be a benefactor of a weak Heavyweight division and careful matchmaking, at least up to this point. The eye test tells me that Anthony Joshua is at least very good. Time and the right fights will tell us if he's more than that. I will say this however, against Klitschko keep an eye on his whiskers.

The Fight Itself

As for how I see the fight playing out that's a tough one Glenn. From my vantage point (the view from behind my laptop) the fight is a legitimate toss up and I've changed my pick many times since the fight was first announced. Both men boast nearly identical stats in the tale of the tape. Klitschko has an 81 inch reach while Joshua has only a once inch advantage there. Both men are behemoths at 6 foot 6, and both will probably weigh in close to one another the day before the fight. The only glaring and obvious advantage on paper Joshua has over the ex-champ is age. The old warrior recently celebrated his 41st birthday back on March 25th while Joshua doesn't turn 28 until October giving him a 14 year age advantage. No one can outrun or outbox Father Time no matter how dedicated, skilled, or athletically gifted they are when he comes calling. I see this fight as a classic age vs youth or a true passing of the torch match-up that should provide some very exciting drama, provided both men, or at least Joshua, are willing to push the action.

Klitschko Keys To Victory

Photo: http://i2.mirror.co.uk
Wladimir Klitschko has two weapons in his arsenal that he'll constantly need to be loading and firing if he is to defeat his much younger and fresher opponent. Both the Klitschko jab and the right hook need to be utilized with great frequency here. The purpose of Wladimir's jab will be twofold in this fight. It will not only keep Joshua from easily coming in with big shots but will allow the veteran to set up his big and lethal right hand. Joshua isn't exactly known for his head or upper body movement so this could help create a big advantage for Klitschko. Although a fighters legs are among the first things to go as they start to age, Wladimir will need to use what's left of his in order to keep the slower and plodding Joshua from setting up anything meaningful. If he can keep Joshua from finding his range or landing anything big Klitschko could walk away with the victory, quite possibly a KO.

Joshua Keys To Victory

Anthony Joshua is a solid boxer with thunderous power in both hands and will need to make use of both fists if he is to come away with a victory. Getting around Klitschko's jab isn't easy but that's exactly what he'll need to do in order to find success. Joshua would be well served by pressing the action early, doubling up on his jab, throwing combo's, and by constantly coming forward. No one beats Wladimir Klitschko off the back foot or by retreating. More than that, Klitschko has never responded well to overwhelming smart pressure. Joshua will need to change up the speed and power of his punches and he would be smart to go to the body often. If he can manage to take the air out of Wlad's tires I believe he'll take his spirit too. Of course if the Klitschko that fought Fury shows up, Joshua needn't worry too much about anything as it will be a relatively easy (but still dangerous) night.

How It Plays Out

I think the fight starts slow and uneventful with both Klitschko and Joshua doing very little and remaining wary of each other's power. Moreover, I wouldn't be surprised if the boo birds make their presence known in the early going and get vocal frequently throughout. I foresee Klitschko tiring mid fight and Joshua taking over at that point. I think the pressure Joshua applies throughout the fight eventually breaks the aging Dr. Steelhammer down and leaves him flummoxed and unable to pull the trigger. I can see a scenario however where Klitschko catches Joshua with something big and stops him so take my prediction with a very minuscule grain of salt. At any rate this is the kind of fight boxing needs more of. Let's hope it turns out to be as exciting as it is on paper.

Winner: Anthony Joshua by unanimous decision

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split Decision Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com.

Marco Huck-Mairis Briedis Fight Review

A Pugilistic Disappointment

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Anyone whom tuned in to watch Marco Huck battle Mairis Briedis this past Saturday likely found themselves disappointed. On paper Huck vs Briedis was a can't miss fight between a tenacious veteran who's known for leaving it all in the ring and a young and seemingly very heavy handed puncher. It's a shame that the fight not only failed to deliver solid action but stunk out the joint as well. Someone whom yours truly admires often remarks, "One guy wouldn't, while the other guy couldn't." You may not think it fair to sum up a fight with a quip like this but this was, in a nutshell, Huck/Briedis.

Going into this fight there were several question marks surrounding both fighters. Sadly only one of these was answered with any kind of certainty. We now know that Marco Huck is not only in decline as a fighter but his plateau is much further behind him than previously thought. It became clear in the opening rounds that Huck had little to no answer for Briedis's offense. That's not to insinuate that Briedis was mounting some sort of brutal attack but he dominated not only the opening rounds but the entire fight simply because Huck could no longer pull the trigger. Speaking of Briedis' offense, it constituted almost entirely of grabbing, holding, and smothering his own work. There were several instances where Briedis could have really put the hurt on Huck but instead lunged in thereby negating his offense. Huck spent most of the fight on the back foot and had only a few small moments of success. From the opening bell to the final bell, Mairis Briedis was in control not because he put on a boxing clinic or was connecting with his devastating right hand but because Marco Huck did practically nothing. The judges scored it 116-111, 117-110, 118-109 and yours truly scored it a shut out for Briedis. Regardless of who won this bout, the fans whom tuned in lost.

Where Do They Go From Here?

Prior to his decline, this scribe enjoyed watching Marco Huck fight. This is however no longer the case. Briedis was, for whatever reason, unable mount a sustainable nor clean attack and yet Huck had no answer for that; never a good look for a fighter. I think that the battle fatigued Huck probably sticks around for at least a few more fights against cannon fodder but I wouldn't rule out retirement either. Huck has had a very respectable career and should walk away from the sport proud. As far as Briedis is concerned expect him to continue rising for the time being. From what these eyes saw on Saturday though, Mairis Briedis is not an elite fighter and may have some real problems when he runs into someone like Huck was at his best.

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split Decision Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com.