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

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Weekend Of Mismatches - June 3rd, 2017

A Bad Look For Boxing

Nearly half way through the year boxing appears revitalized in 2017. Through some great matchmaking as well as fights that delivered all on levels, boxing has started to return what it began taking from fans back in 2012. Even in it's best years however, boxing will occasionally show it's ugly side and televise mismatches, promote shot fighters, offer up fights no one asked for, enable protected fighters, and use all of the aforementioned to essentially pre-promote another fight that no one wants or needs to see.

What you've just read aptly describes this past Saturday, June 3rd 2017. On this night at the Bell Centre in Montreal, boxing fans were subjected to two meaningless fights in Jean Pascal vs Eleider Alavarez and Adonis Stevenson vs Andrzej Fonfara. Both fights had bad or questionable looks from the moment they were made. Jean Pascal for example was thought of as being a shot fighter while Stevenson's penchant for avoiding credible names in the ring has long been bemoaned by fans and pundits alike. Digressing for a moment, what would the late great Emanuel Steward think of Stevenson's post-Chad Dawson career path? One has to wonder doesn't he/she? Getting back to the crux of things, the bad auras surrounding these fights physically manifested themselves on fight night as both Stevenson and Alvarez emerged victorious, even if those victories were pyrrhic ones. Yes, there's still plenty to look forward to and be excited about if you're a boxing fan but Saturday June 3 of 2017 is a night best forgotten.

Jean Pascal vs Eleider Alavarez

On my card
It wasn't a
competitive fight
Coming into this match up, Pascal had lost two of his last four fights by knockout. He'd also received a gift decision against one Yunieski Gonzalez following his first fight with Sergey Kovalev. In all 4 of these bouts, Pascal looked less than spectacular and showed signs of erosion. Some may point to a career's worth of wars while others will cite Kovalev as the reason for Pascal's physical and mental decline but regardless, the Pascal we saw this past Saturday bared no semblance whatsoever to the fighter he was in years past. Eleider Alvarez on the other hand looked just the opposite in the fight. Poised and measured, if not a bit too tentative, Alvarez employed an accurate and stiff jab that Pascal could not avoid to save his life. Alvarez controlled the action and was the ring general from the opening to the final bell. Conversely, Pascal stood flat footed, often against the ropes, looking for one big shot. Pascal remained inactive for all but the final 30 seconds of each round at which point he launched a bevy of flurries; flurries I might add that were largely ineffective. Pascal landed very few punches in these flurries with Alvarez blocking the majority of the shots and others just missing their mark completely. Throughout the fight Pascal exhibited all the signs of a fighter who can no longer fight. If Alvarez had even decent power Pascal likely would have lost more than just a decision on Saturday.

Speaking of the decision, Alvarez won a majority decision, which was atrocious. When Jimmy Lennon Jr. read "We have a majority decision" my stomach sank and it looked as though Pascal would receive yet another gift. Two of the judges had the right man winning with scores of 117-111 and 116-112 respectively. The third judge scored the fight a draw at 114-114. I don't often agree with Teddy Atlas but when scoring like this rears it's ugly head his "incompetence or corruption" dichotomy makes a whole lot of sense. The judge whom scored this fight a draw should be suspended and investigated at the very least. At any rate the bout was a one sided affair that lacked excitement and drama.

Jean Pascal needs to call it a career and head home to his family with the few brain cells he's got left. As far as Alvarez is concerned, he was paid step aside fees by team Stevenson but after watching him jab his way to victory I find myself wondering why. Eleider Alvarez is a skilled pugilist no doubt but this is a guy Adonis Stevenson and/or his handlers want to avoid? Really? Alvarez's low work rate and lack of power make him tailor made for Stevenson. I would heavily favor the aging WBC titlist if that fight were to come off. In fact I'll go so far as to say Stevenson stops Alvarez in 3 rounds. Where either Pascal or Alvarez goes from here is anybody's guess though. As always...time will tell.

Adonis Stevenson vs Andrzej Fonfara 2

If Stevenson were a
Sumo Wrestler

In the lead up to it this fight was being called "the rematch no one asked for" by fans and media all over Twitter. In his quest to avoid any dangerous fights, Adonis Stevenson and his team elected to once more fight the once rugged Pole Fonfara. This rematch might have made much more sense had it happened in the immediate wake of their first fight back in mid 2014. Time isn't the only thing that tainted this fight however as Fonfara had looked bad in recent fights while Stevenson had continued to pad his bank account and wallet with fights against over matched opponents. Retrouvaille this was not.

Stevenson took the fight to Fonfara right from the opening bell and it was painfully clear that Fonfara, like Pascal earlier that night, had nothing for his opponent. Stevenson's left hand landed repeatedly on Fonfara's face; he was unable to avoid or block the shot regardless of how often it landed. Stevenson sent Fonfara to the canvas in round one and although he made it back to his feet it was clear the Pole was forswunke and woozy. Although Fonfara made it through the first round the fight essentially ended with that knock down. 28 seconds into round 2, Fonfara's trainer Virgil Hunter stepped up onto the ring apron and waived off the fight in order to put a halt to Stevenson's relentless attack and spare his fighter further damage.

No one legitimately gave Andrzej Fonfara a shot in this fight and rightfully so. If I'm Fonfara I seriously consider retirement...yes even at age 29. He's a spent fighter with nowhere to go in the sport. Stevenson on the other hand may be an aging one trick pony with that left hand of his but he's a dangerous and potentially lethal outing for anyone in the light heavyweight division. Stevenon's second win over Fonfara does nothing for boxing and nothing for his career but Adonis has no problem with that. The Haitian born Québécois isn't interested in legacy nor sport. He's interested in making money and will continue to do it with as little hassle as possible. Stevenson is going to fight on, likely against another opponent whom has no business being in the ring with him. Eleider Alvarez is Stevenson's WBC mandatory but given his track record don't expect to see that fight get made. Instead expect to see Stevenson vs Pascal in another fight at the Bell Centre. Both fighters draw crowds in their hometown and both are popular there. It's a barbarous fight and one that poses great risk to the health of Jean Pascal. Be that as it may, mark my words this fight gets made and happens in the early Autumn of this year.

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


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