Thursday, July 13, 2017

SNB Scouting Report -- Julius Indongo

Who: Julius Indongo
Age: 34
Country: Namibia
Record: 22-0 (11 KOs)
Division: Junior welterweight (140 lbs.)
Titles: Currently has IBF and WBA titles at 140 lbs. 
Stance: Southpaw
Trainer: Nestor Tobias
Promoter: MTC Nestor Sunshine Promotions and Matchroom Sport
Next fight: August 19, 2017 against Terence Crawford
Miscellaneous: Indongo was a 2008 Olympian for Namibia

Style in a nutshell: Indongo is an energetic, athletic southpaw who uses his massive height (5'10 1/2") and reach (71 1/2") advantages to control range while applying a consistent and impressive work rate. Indongo's offense consists mostly of his jab and left hand; however, he uses these punches in a variety of ways. Indongo is excellent at leading with his jab and he'll go to the body with it frequently. In addition, he employs his jab as a quality counter shot, one of his main ways to thwart fighters from rushing in on him. 

Indongo throws a number of different punches with his left hand. Perhaps his most pulverizing is a slinging left hand (that knocked out Eduard Troyanovsky to win his first title). He changes the angle and trajectory of the shot and it can be difficult to defend. In addition, he'll throw straighter, more traditional lefts to the body and head. He does have a right hook, which he throws as a counter and, far less frequently, as a lead. It's not terribly accurate but it can catch an opponent by surprise. 

Everything from Indongo is at mid-range or at distance. He rarely allows fighters to get in close and when those instances do occur, most likely he'll tie up or quickly leave the pocket. He tries to maintain distance whenever possible.

Indongo is a very active fighter but he's not an accurate one. He'll lunge in with wide lefts and many of his shots miss the mark. However, he does have good power with his left hand, both to the head and body. If he can land his best slinging left hand (it almost resembles a sidearm shot), he can cause damage. 

Strengths: height, reach, hand and foot speed, athleticism, applies effective pressure, work rate, body punching, conditioning, ring IQ.

Weaknesses: Inside game, accuracy, only likes going forward, just one knockout weapon, limited offensive arsenal, leaves himself open to be countered. 

Best punches: Slinging left hand, straight left hand to the body, jab

Worst punch: Uppercut

Stylistic Quirks: Indongo often throws such wide, looping shots that he frequently finds himself out-of-position, where he can be easily countered. On defense, he doesn't have much of a counter left hand. His main counter shots (hook and jab) are with his right. When he has an opponent against the ropes, he works very deliberately. He'll often throw just a shot or two before resetting. He's very careful about giving up his size, reach and distance. He likes to initiate offense. Very rarely will he let an opponent be first with shots. 

When Indongo is at his best: Stalking with his right jab and throwing his left behind it, Indongo commands the ring and leaves his opponents unable to close the distance. Featuring a high punch volume, Indongo continues to throw shots. Not all of them will connect but he scores with his jab and left. He goes to the body as much as he does to the head, leaving opponents unsure of how to defend themselves. He varies the angle and the trajectory of his punches to create added difficultly for his foes. 

When Indongo is vulnerable: After throwing and missing with a long left hand, he can be countered with any number of shots. Opponents who can hold their ground and fire off quick counters can have success against him. In addition, he doesn't want to work on the inside. If and when an opponent can get at close range, he doesn't have to worry about much coming back from Indongo. 

How Indongo can have success against Crawford:

Against certain opponents, such as Thomas Dulorme and Hank Lundy, Crawford will take a few rounds to ease his way into the fight. He'll wait to time opponents and find openings. In the initial third of the fight, Indongo will have the opportunity to set the pace and score with shots as Crawford gets his bearings. In addition, Indongo will most likely land one of those slinging left hands in the early rounds (especially if Crawford is in a conventional stance), which will surprise Crawford and potentially hurt him. Indongo needs to keep a high work rate and throw punches, irrespective of their accuracy. He'll be able to win some rounds based on activity. Eventually, Crawford will pull the trigger with more regularity but Indongo can't get discouraged. He'll need to consistently throw shots and ride his high punch volume in hopes of winning a decision. 

How Crawford can trouble Indongo: 

Crawford may decide to fight almost exclusively as a southpaw, which most likely will reduce Indongo's effectiveness with the jab. In addition, by moving to his left (in either stance), Crawford will be able to neutralize Indongo's left hand. Crawford will have the ability to counter Indongo's wildness. In those moments, he can have a lot of success with a counter right hook (out of the southpaw stance) or an uppercut from either hand. Crawford will have some free shots during these quick flurries. If he's accurate, he can cause a lot of damage. Finally, Crawford can do his best to work on the inside. Using feints and lateral movement, he can get inside and fire off two- and three-punch combinations before Indongo can effectively tie him up. Crawford will have a number of options to unfurl his offensive arsenal; he just can't wait too long to get started.

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of saturdaynightboxing.com 
He's a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Email: saturdaynightboxing@hotmail.com
@snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.    

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Opinions and Observations: Pacquiao-Horn

By now, it seems increasingly clear that there was a continental divide in how boxing fans perceived this weekend's fight between Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn. In America, the ESPN broadcast had Pacquiao winning a competitive but clear decision (116-111, also, my score) while England's BoxNation broadcast and Australian television had Horn as the victor. Now, let's not say that everyone belongs in the same bucket based on his or her geography. I know several British fight fans that I respect that had Pacquiao edging the win. In addition, I've corresponded with a few Australian boxing enthusiasts that had Pacquiao winning. The number of American fans I saw that had Horn as the victor might be in single digits. 

Officially, Horn, the significant underdog from Brisbane Australia, won a unanimous decision in his hometown against Pacquiao. And before I dissect the fight in more detail, it should be said the Horn performed to the best of his abilities. Not intimidated by the big-fight atmosphere or the reputation of his foe, Horn charged after Pacquiao throughout much of the bout. Whatever else one might say about the fight, Horn successfully made Pacquiao look awkward at various points in the match and he certainly managed to exceed expectations. 

Now, here is where the tricky part comes in. Horn made the fight very ugly. Grappling with Pacquiao on the inside and mixing in a healthy dose of head butts, elbows and rabbit punches, Horn took Pacquiao out of his comfort zone. The question is: how many of Horn's shots were actually scoring blows? 

Punch stats are often fallible. Accepting their absolute totals as gospel is a fool’s errand. However, using them as a tool can be instructive if employing them properly. According to CompuBox, Horn threw more punches than Pacquiao in 9 of the 12 rounds. That's a meaningful difference. On the flip side, Pacquiao was credited with being more accurate in 11 of the 12 rounds. Already, we can see start to see the genesis of why the perception of the fight could vary so drastically. Horn was the busier fighter and it's certainly obvious, even if you bump Horn's connect percentage up by 10% or even 20%, that Pacquiao was the much more accurate boxer. 

There are four scoring criteria that judges use for awarding rounds in boxing: clean punching, effective aggression, ring generalship and defense. What follows is my application of these criteria in aggregate for Pacquiao-Horn. Yes, fights are scored round-by-round but, indulge me. (You can use my thoughts on these criteria as proxies for how I awarded specific rounds throughout the fight.) 

I think that it's clear that Pacquiao consistently landed cleaner. His straight left hands and counter right hooks continually found their mark in the fight. Horn's shots were more difficult to judge. Punches that land on the back of the head don't count. Shots that are partially blocked, hit elbows, shoulders and arms aren't regarded as clean punches. 

I also think that it's fair to say that Pacquiao had the better defense. Pacquiao's scoring blows were easier to see. CompuBox had Horn landing at just 14.7% to Pacquiao's 31.8%. You would have to MORE THAN DOUBLE Horn's landed blows to get him close to Pacquiao's connect percentage. I get it. CompuBox is certainly fallible. They don't get everything right. However, I have a hard time believing that they missed 50% of Horn's scoring blows. 10% I'll give you. 20%, it's possible. 50%, not a chance at all. Pacquiao's defense was a large part of why it wasn't clear how many of Horn's punches landed. 

Ring generalship is the first scoring criteria where I think that Horn had the clear edge. In short, he fought in the style that would give him the best chance of winning. Grappling, firing off in close range and making the fight rough-and-tumble, he was more consistent in dictating the terms of the match. Even in many of the rounds where he didn't do the cleaner work, he was still forcing the action and making it the type of fight where he could potentially prevail. 

I think that the most difficult of the four scoring criteria to assess for Pacquiao-Horn is effective aggression. This criterion presents problems during so many fights. It's not enough to come forward. One must come forward and land scoring blows. Ultimately, how you view this criterion for Pacquiao-Horn depends on how successful you believe that Horn was during his forays forward. 

I've already given Horn credit for ring generalship in that he fought the bout in the manner that would give him the best chance of winning. However, that is not the same point as actually succeeding in landing punches. A fighter can give himself the best opportunity for victory and still lose. He can have bad defense. He can throw shots that aren't legal, scoring blows. He can get hurt or knocked out. In short, I don't want to double count Horn's effort. Yes, he dictated the terms of the fight, but that's not the same as actually getting the best of the action. 

To my eyes, so much of Horn's work was awkward and ineffective. Yes, he was successful to a degree with limiting Pacquiao's offensive output, but was he able to accomplish enough offensively to win at least seven rounds of the fight? Without enough quality, scoring blows – again, feel free to up Horn's landed punches by 20% – the case for Horn winning rounds via effective aggression is bogus. 

Of course, not all punches are the same. One guy's power punches don't always register with the same impact as those of his opponent. It's certainly clear to me that Horn never had Pacquiao hurt in the fight. Even when he did catch Pacquiao with some particularly good shots (such as in the 6th and 12th rounds) it wasn't as if his power was so immense throughout the fight that it should be credited as more devastating than Pacquiao's power. Horn was the fighter who was clearly hurt in the fight. Pacquiao rocked him with a series of lefts throughout the ninth that forced referee Mark Nelson to consider stopping the fight. Throughout the bout, Pacquiao’s straight left hands seemed to have more impact than Horn's landed blows. 

It's true that everyone loves a good underdog story. Horn did far better than expected. He wasn't supposed to be competitive with Pacquiao. He made Pacquiao look old in the ring and uncomfortable. Horn outworked Pacquiao. All of this is true. However, nothing mentioned earlier in this paragraph has anything to do with official scoring criteria. Fighters who don't land shouldn't be given credit for having the audacity to move their arms more. "Taking a fighter out of his comfort zone" MIGHT be a case of ring generalship. However, Horn's liberal use of his head (which led to two Pacquiao cuts) might also have had a lot to do with that. Again, leading with your head and butting aren't legal maneuvers and a fighter shouldn't be rewarded for them. (And where was Nelson regarding the butting? He certainly didn't do a great job in keeping the fight clean.) 

Often we see the "aggressor" winning fights, even if his aggression isn't effective. Certain jurisdictions in America, such as Nevada and California, seem to reward the fighter who comes forward more, irrespective of what actually landed in the ring. 

I can almost forgive the 115-113 scores for Horn from Ramon Cerdan and Chris Flores. They weren't able to distinguish between effective and ineffective aggression. Flores has had difficulty rendering good cards in the past when dealing with awkward fights. He was far too generous to Isaac Chilemba in his fight against Sergey Kovalev, giving Chilemba four rounds, closer than the other two judges had it. In addition, he found only two rounds to give Fernando Montiel against Lee Selby, a fight which was more competitive than his 118-110 score suggested. Cerdan scores most of his fights in Argentina and he was last overseas for the Joseph Parker-Andy Ruiz fight, which he scored for Parker by two. (Ironically, that fight was promoted by Duco Events, the New Zealand-based entity that served as the local co-promoter for Pacquiao-Horn.)

Waleska Roldan's 117-111 card for Horn is inexcusable. I tweeted out before the fight that I was amazed she was still getting international judging assignments. She just isn't a good official. She gave Gabe Rosado one round against Peter Quillin. She had Arthur Abraham up by six points in the first Paul Smith fight. She believed that Froch-Groves I was equal in rounds prior to the knockout. Roldan gave Karim Mayfield only two rounds against Thomas Dulorme. Do you want some more? She thought that Artur Szpilka won only two rounds prior to being knocked out by Deontay Wilder. Finally, she gave Miguel Marriaga only one round against Nicholas Walters. 

Roldan somehow continues to get high-profile assignments. Often she scores for the house fighter very widely. Perhaps that's why she's so popular. No matter the reason, the quality of her work is poor. If my 116-111 Pacquiao score differs widely from Roldan's tally, I feel even more comfortable in my final result.  

Moral victories are nice stories and they help to humanize fighters in the ring. I get that. However, an underdog exceeding very low expectations does not necessarily equate to winning seven rounds of a prizefight. Horn lost the battles of clean punching and defense. He got hit repeatedly with hard shots throughout the fight. 

Those who had Horn winning can discount punch stats all they want. And that's fine. But ultimately, it would take a CompuBox fail of epic proportions for Horn to get close to reaching Pacquiao's landed punches or punch accuracy. And Horn had no edge in power.

Ring generalship alone isn't enough to win a fight. A boxer must actually land scoring blows to get credit. I didn't see nearly enough of them throughout the fight to give Horn seven rounds. Few did in America as well. Without clean, landed punches, Horn's whole case for winning the fight involves extraneous factors that shouldn't be considered when scoring a boxing match.

One can protest that American boxing enthusiasts were too influenced by the ESPN broadcast. But in reality, we've certainly been able to tune out Teddy Atlas when needed. Ultimately, I think that American fans care less about the humanistic side of boxing than those in other jurisdictions. Horn was a great story. And we're certainly happy that he'll get another opportunity for a big fight. But we're tuning in at 12:30 a.m. on a Saturday night/Sunday morning of Independence Day weekend for the boxing. The soft factors are great, but we're there to see a fight. And ultimately, we know what a winning fighter looks like; he's the one that consistently lands more punches, the one that does the cleaner work. Horn did well but finding seven rounds to give him using the official scoring criteria...now that's a story.

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of saturdaynightboxing.com
He's a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.   

Letter to the Executive Director of the Ohio Athletic Commission

The following letter was sent to Bernie Profato, the Executive Director of the Ohio Athletic Commission, on July 4, 2017 in reference to the performance of the Ohio-appointed officials during the Jamontay Clark-Ivan Golub fight, which occurred on June 30th. Also referenced was a scorecard from the Robert Easter Jr.-Denis Shafikov bout, which served as the main event for that fight card. 

Mr. Profato:

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with the Ohio-appointed officials for the Jamontay Clark-Ivan Golub fight, which occurred on June 30th in Toledo. Before I proceed, let me emphasize that I have no attachment to or relationship with either of the combatants in the fight. I am responding to you as an independent entity that has followed boxing for a number of years and maintains a website (saturdaynightboxing.com) that covers the sport. 

The performance of the Ohio officials during the Clark-Golub fight was distressing on many levels. The fight itself was competitive; however, all whom I've talked to on social media that watched the match or attended the bout at the arena believed that Golub, the fighter not from Ohio, should have been the rightful victor. The broadcasters on Bounce TV, which televised the bout, had Golub as the winner. Yet, Clark was declared the winner of the bout by unanimous decision. One scorecard in particular, the 79-73 card turned in by Ken Bucher, had Golub only winning one round, despite two rounds (the 4th and 5th) where Clark looked like he was about to get knocked out. These rounds were as clear as possible to score for Golub. 

In addition, referee James Howe looked like he missed a clear knockdown in the 4th round, which he called a slip. Ultimately, all four of the officials made decisions which enabled the home-state fighter (Clark) to win. 

After reviewing the records of Howe, Bucher and the other two judges, Jamie Garayua and Rosemary Gross, it struck me how little experience these officials actually had in professional boxing. (The following numbers come from boxrec.com.) 

Bucher has only judged 17 bouts in 9 years, an average of less than two fights a year. Prior to 2017, he hadn't judged since December of 2014. 

Gross has only judged 40 bouts in her career, and only two of those were 10-round fights. Again, it's clear that Gross is a relatively new judge who is trying to break in as a professional official. 

Garayua has judged 111 fights, but Garayua's last 10-round fight was in 2014 and before that it had been in 2012. Garayua doesn't seem to be a judge who gets top assignments in Ohio, which usually has several large cards throughout a calendar year. Perhaps I am reading into things that aren't there, but Garayua's assignment record speaks for itself. 

Finally, this was only referee James Howe's seventh professional fight. Overall, this was a crew of officials that lacked top-fight experience. Although Clark-Golub was only an eight-round fight, it was part of a national TV broadcast. Moreover, both fighters were considered significant prospects in professional boxing. 

I understand that in your role as Executive Director, it is part of your job to break in new officials and provide them with experience in increasingly challenging settings. However, wouldn't you allow that perhaps this fight included too many novices? Wouldn't one or even two officials with little experience suffice for such an important matchup? Why have four in one fight? 

Ultimately, when those in the boxing industry witness decisions such as those of Clark-Golub, as well as Garayua's 120-108 scorecard for local fighter Robert Easter Jr. in the main event (which was highly competitive), they may become hesitant about sending their fighters to Ohio and participating in boxing in your jurisdiction. This could have financial ramifications for the Ohio Athletic Commission and the cities which would benefit economically by staging high-profile fights. 

I know that you have served as Executive Director for over a decade, a sign that those in Columbus have faith in your judgment and administrative acumen. I would just like to ask that new officials be mixed in with veteran ones to create a better balance, which may lead to more objective results. In addition, it may be appropriate to review Bucher's Clark-Golub and Garayua's Easter-Shafikov cards. These steps will ensure that the Ohio Athletic Commission continues to conduct itself with the utmost standards of integrity and that Ohio is a welcoming jurisdiction for fighters of all backgrounds, geographies and nationalities. 

Sincerely, 

Adam Abramowitz
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Should you wish to contact Mr. Profato, he can be reached at:
You can also contact the commission at 330-797-2556.

Adam Abramowitz is the founder/head writer of saturdaynightboxing.com
He's a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Email: saturdaynightboxing@hotmail.com 
@snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Pound-for-Pound Update 6-24-17

There have been a number of changes in the Saturday Night Boxing Pound-for-Pound List since the last update in March. The two most important changes involved the knockout victories from Andre Ward (over Sergey Kovalev) and Errol Spence, Jr. (against Kell Brook). Ward's eighth-round knockout of Kovalev cements his status as the top fighter in the sport. With the loss, Kovalev drops from #2 to #7. Errol Spence makes his debut in the Rankings after his 11th-round KO victory over Kell Brook. Spence enters the List at #17. 

Vasyl Lomachenko has also rocketed up the rankings with his knockout win over Jason Sosa. Lomachenko moves up from #14 to #10. Finally, Tim Bradley has been removed from the Rankings due to over a year of inactivity. 

Here is the complete Saturday Night Boxing Pound-for-Pound List:
  1. Andre Ward
  2. Manny Pacquiao
  3. Terence Crawford
  4. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
  5. Roman Gonzalez
  6. Gennady Golovkin
  7. Sergey Kovalev
  8. Saul Alvarez
  9. Naoya Inoue
  10. Vasyl Lomachenko
  11. Keith Thurman
  12. Juan Estrada
  13. Guillermo Rigondeaux
  14. Adonis Stevenson
  15. Donnie Nietes
  16. Leo Santa Cruz
  17. Errol Spence, Jr. 
  18. Carl Frampton
  19. Mikey Garcia
  20. Shinsuke Yamanaka
Adam Abramowitz is the founder/head writer of saturdaynightboxing.com
He's a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Email: saturdaynightboxing@hotmail.com 
@snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook.