( Member of Boxing Writers Association and International Boxing Research Organization )
Froch moves on
Carl Froch was one fight away from facing Andre Ward and being a part of the Super Six tournament final. His opponent, Glen Johnson, was the ultimate road warrior and a fighter better than his record as he became one of the elite light heavyweights over the past decade. At the age of 42, Glen Johnson still had enough talent to be a threat and his most recent victory over the younger Allan Green reminded the boxing world that he was still one of the best in the world.
In the opening bout, Mikkel Kessler fought a warm up fight against Mehdi Bouadla. Bouadla pressed the action against the accomplished Kessler but halfway through the round, Kessler used his jab to set up combinations. Bouadla own jabs penetrated Kessler own defense as he kept the round close.
Bouadla defense made it difficult for Kessler in the second round as Kessler’s jab often fell short and when he got closer; he got counter by a Bouadla left hook. Kessler fought a better third round as ring rust from 14 months layoff started to evaporate and a Kessler right sent Bouadla down for an eight count. Bouadla spit his mouthpiece out to gain more time and the referee gave him a point deduction for delaying the fight. Kessler continued his assault with multiple combinations.
Kessler began the fourth round by unleashing combinations and found a home with his right hand as Bouadla took some big shots as he tried to survive the round but with ten seconds left, another Kessler right sent Bouadla down, but Bouadla got up and wobbled back to his corner.
As the sixth round began, the first question was how did Bouadla survive to get his far as he got pasted over the past three rounds. With a minute left, a Kessler left hook hurt Bouadla and this was followed by a second left hook along with a nasty right hand that sent Bouadla a third time. Kessler finished up Bouadla with another combination and after hitting the canvas for the fourth time, Bouadla was finished. Kessler won impressively and set himself for another big fight; maybe against Lucian Bute.
Meanwhile in Atlantic City, Froch and Glen Johnson fought a tactical first round as they decided to figure what each other had. The second round saw Glen Johnson move closer to Froch as Froch attempted to jab as mean to keep distance. Glen Johnson stalked Froch and invading Froch’s space as Froch attempted use angle to avoid Johnson’s rushes. Froch managed to land jabs and more punches but the best punch was a Glen Johnson right over the Froch’s left in the third rond.
If Johnson could land rights, Froch punches were more effective as he countered Johnson effectively and Johnson looked just a half a step slower to Froch plus he was not cutting the ring off. This continued through the fourth and fifth round as Froch movement bothered Johnson and Froch right hand proved to be the decisive punch in the fifth round.
Near the end of the sixth round told the story of the first half of the fight as Johnson finally connected on a solid right but Froch came back with a left hook and solid combination as he build up a big lead on the score card.
Johnson finally got inside and fought a portion of the seventh round off Froch’s chest and this allowed him to connect two straight chopping right hands. Eighth round was an explosive round as Johnson connected on two rights and added a double left hook but Froch came back in the last thirty seconds after being rocked with some Johnson’s solid punches.
In the tenth round, Johnson once again landed some nasty right hands, but after the second right hand, Froch came back with a combination to neutralize the Johnson’s charge. In the eleventh round was similar to the tenth as Johnson was able to connect with solid rights but Froch was able to counter quickly as Johnson could not hurt Froch with those right hands.
In the final round, Froch started out the round by unleashing combinations as he control the distance as he did early in the fight while Johnson was hoping to land one big punch but that one punch never came. Johnson showed his heart but at times in the fight, he showed his age as he had trouble closing the distance with Froch using angles to win the distance.
Froch is now set to fight Andre Ward in what should be a classic fight as both fighters showed improvement over the past two years in the Super Six tournament. Ward went undefeated in the tournament while Froch lost one fight to Kessler, but beating Andre Dirrell, Arthur Abraham and Glen Johnson.
Chavez wins a title
Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. faced Sebastian Zbik for the WBC Middleweight division in the boxing after dark speical. Chavez has fought under the shadow of his famous father, who is about to be inducted in International Boxing Hall of Fame and now he had his chance to set his own legacy as he went for his first title.
In the opening bout Miguel Angel Garcia fought Rafael Guzman. Guzman came into this fight with just three day notice but he was in shape as he was schedule for a fight next week. Garcia used his jab to set the pace but Guzman did manage to land a few blow in the first round. Both men exchange blows over the final twenty second and Guzman actually stunned Garcia with a solid left hook that might have won him the round.
During the second round, Guzman trapped Garcia in the rope but Garcia nailed Guzman with a left hook that forced Guzman to retreat and Garcia managed to land some solid blows that cut Guzman over the right eye. Near the end of the round, Guzman attacked but his wild blows hit air and before that, many Garcia punches hit Guzman’s face.
At the end of a third round, a Garcia right sent Guzman head spinning and if there was more time, the fight might have ended right there. Garcia own jab against the taller Guzman, neutralized Guzman’s reach and jab. Garcia continued to attack in the fourth round and with a minute left, a Garcia’s jab nailed Guzman and a split second later, a Garcia right hand sent Guzman down. Guzman did not get up and Garcia stayed undefeated.
Chavez walked out accompany by his dad but while his dad is the legend, this night belonged to junior as he faced the defending undefeated WBC Middleweight champion Zbik. Zbik started quickly as he unleashed combination as he forced Chavez to retreat but Chavez did throw those classic Chavez left hook to the body. Near the end of the round, Chavez landed some nice combination, forcing a hasty retreat by Zbik as he started to penetrate Zbik defenses.
The second round was one of those rounds in with ebb and flows as both fighters took turn dominating. Zbik threw quick combinations but Chavez started to abandoned his long range fight plan and fight inside.
With a minute left in the third round, Zbik struck Chavez with left right combinations twice but Chavez didn’t flinch and threw his own combinations as the bell rang. Zbik set the pace throughout most of the round but when Chavez connected, the crowd went wild.
Zbik continued to force Chavez back but when the both stood toe to toe, Chavez landed some solid body shots but like in the third round, Zbik quicker hands often beat Chavez to the punch.
Zbik continued to school Chavez with his combinations but in the fifth round, Zbik stayed inside, giving Chavez a shot to use his left hook to Zbik’s body. While Zbik kept building up the lead on the scorecard, Chavez hope was to wear the smaller Zbik down for the second half of the fight. At the end of the fifth round, Chavez threw his best combination at this point in the fight when he stunned Zbik with a lead left hook and right hand. Chavez looked like he succeeded in turning the fight into trench warfare and both fighters stayed in toe to toe throughout the sixth round; Zbik looked fatigued as his hand speed slowed down.
Going into the second half of the fight, Chavez may have been behind but the fight was turning in his favor as he was fighting a Chavez fight, inside with devastating body shots and turning the affair into a rugged brawl. Toward the end of the seventh round, Chavez unleashed body shots, forcing Zbik to retreat back to the rope where Chavez nailed with a right hand. In the eighth round, Zbik threw combinations that connected and out punched Chavez even though at the end of the eighth round, Chavez moved forward to push Zbik back to the corner.
In the ninth round, Zbik boxing skills allowed him to connect on three times as many punches as he outworked Chavez. In tenth round, both fighters fought a close in tight and both fighters had their moment. Zbik landed a sharp left hook that sent Chavez briefly reeling but in the last thirty seconds, a Chavez right took some wind out of Zbik.
In the eleventh round, Chavez body attacks made Zbik winced as Chavez took control of the round. Chavez continued his attack as Zbik looked tired and his punches lacked steam; Zbik look vulnerable for the first time in the fight. Zbik wobble slowly back to his corner and now Zbik hold of the title looked in jeopardy.
Zbik came out throwing punches for the first thirty seconds but Chavez forced Zbik in the corner with more of body shots. Zbik attempted to counter with quick head shots to slow the Chavez body onslaught. Over the last minute, both fighters delivered solid shots while fighting in total exhaustion and leaving the fight in the judges’ scorecards. This was a fight difficult to score as there were many rounds that Zbik outworked and out punched Chavez but Chavez’s punches had more power and he forced Zbik to fight his fight; inside brawl.
Michael Buffet announced the decision, “114-114, 115-113, 116-112, winner by majority decision, Julio Cesar Chavez!” This was a decision could have gone either way as Zbik was the more accurate but in the end, this was Chavez’s fight; an inside brawl that won the fight. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. won his first title, fighting the way his dad did; but delivering tough body shots to wear his opponent down.
Saturday Night was alright for Boxing
This past Saturday night, two great fights showed the best of boxing. The Julio Cesar Chavez and Sebastian Zbik fight showed two young fighters trying to make their name in boxing history. The same could be said of Carl Froch and Glen Johnson in the semi-final of the Super Six tournament.
Glen Johnson have always been the consummate professional, a fighter who always came in shape and willing to rumble. He rarely if ever produced a boring fight and last Saturday night was no difference. The difference in this fight was Carl Froch taking advantage of his height and age as he outworked one of boxing busiest fighter. Both fighters fought hard and the second half of the fight saw Johnson finally penetrating Froch defenses as he finally found a way to fight off Froch’s chest. Froch took his game to another level as he took Johnson best shot, his right, and fought back. These were the same right hand that knocked out fighters like the great Roy Jones, Jr. and most recently Allen Green in the Super Six tournament.
Throughout the Super Six tournament, Froch showed improvement; even in defeat against Mikkel Kessler. Against Johnson, Froch showed flexibility as he used angles and continuously nailed Johnson with quick combinations as he out punched Johnson throughout the bout. Johnson often followed Froch and failed effectively to cut off the ring. Froch victory was as much due to boxing intelligence and using his height and youth to push Johnson. His chin allowed him to take those nasty rights and this lead to victory and a bout against Andre Ward.
Chavez fought a quicker and technically sound fighter and while many pundits wanted him to fight from a distance to use his height; the reality is that Chavez had to channel his father. When he stood at a distance, the quicker Zbik got off first and threw successful combinations. It was only when Chavez moved inside and unleashed those Chavez’s left hook to Zbik body and this wore Zbik down. While Zbik often out punched Chavez over the second half of the fight, his punches lacked the steam and the fight was consistently fought on the inside where those left hooks to the body determined the fight. This was a fight that was close and not easy to score but it also a action fight all the way through with both fighters giving no quarters.
As for the Super Six tournament, this proved to be a success in one very important matter. Two years ago, Dan Rafel of ESPN noted that one could have designed two Super Six tournament; the Super Middleweight division was that deep. Over the past two years, the Super Six forced six of the top Super Middleweights to face each other and as the tournament proceeded, two more top ten fighters joined the fray. Meanwhile, many of those who did not participate in the Super Six chose to fight each other; allowing many of the elite fighters to actually fight each other and now we have a division narrow down to three top fighters and maybe two or three more great fights. Andre Ward and Carl Froch will determine who will end up fighting Lucian Bute, a slick boxing undefeated Canadian fighter. Bute may face Mikkel Kessler, an original Super Six tournament fighter before an eye injury forced him out of the tournament. The most telling aspect is that Ward, Froch and Bute have grown in stature as fighter since they fought the best of their division and that stature grew because they fought the best of their division.