Sunday, March 20, 2011

Notes from Bute-Magee, Cotto-Mayorga

·     Lucian Bute surgically destroyed Brian Magee tonight.  Bute has so many weapons -- the uppercut, the jab, the right hook, the commitment to body punching – and he looks to improve every fight.  What I especially liked about Bute tonight was his poise, keeping the appropriate distance from Magee and fighting at his pace.  After a few rounds he realized that his key to victory would be body punching.  He didn't rush. Bute could have taken more risks earlier in the fight but he didn't need to.  He fought the right fight. 
·     I thought the Showtime announcing crew was a little over-eager in awarding Magee credit for landing left hands on Bute.  I mean even Floyd Mayweather gets hit with punches.  Settle down there, crew.  If a guy throws hundreds of shots, he's going to land a few -- even if by accident.  Magee had no real power and couldn't effectively counter Bute.  In actuality, he was just as predicted before the fight: an opponent.   
·     It was a nice touch by Showtime to bring in Mikkel Kessler to commentate on the action.  Kessler said a number of witty things and it certainly beats another egregious, between-round shot of a Showtime fighter who just "happened to be at the fight." 
·     The fighter who beats Lucian Bute must have a supreme game plan a great chin, excellent counterpunching ability, great conditioning and an ability to take the crowd out of the fight.  If you think that sounds a lot like Bernard Hopkins, congratulations and pick up your prize.  I don't know if the 45-year-old version could beat Bute, but he'd make it damn close.  I think the 35-year-old Hopkins would beat Bute in an interesting tactical fight. 
·     I'm not sure which current super middleweight can beat Bute.  Andre Ward is still very much an enigma to me.  He can fight in lots of styles and is far more cerebral than is often credited.  I have questions about his chin and his ability to hurt Bute.  Carl Froch has a puncher's chance.  If Librado Andrade can hurt Bute, so could Froch.  If Froch can't land his Sunday punch, Bute wins easily.
·     You've got to give Interbox, Bute's promoter, credit.  They sure know how to make the in-fight experience memorable.  The lead up to Bute's opening ring-walk extravaganza was excellent.  Plus, any promoter that puts girls in cages during the break between rounds is certainly viewing the fan experience through a different prism than its American promotional counterparts.  I'm not sure how I feel about the cages, but it certainly was a new element.
·     Ricardo Mayorga has supplied a lot of great moments throughout his career.  His taunting of Cotto in the third round, by trying to force him to fight in the corner, was legendary.  In the fourth found, he continued by denouncing every punch that Cotto threw his way.  I was laughing hysterically on the couch.  
·     If this is the end for Mayorga, he has been the best "opponent" of the last decade.  Every fight he has been in has been entertaining.  He has not won many of his biggest fights but he beat that crap out of Shane Mosley, roughed up Cotto's face, gave Fernando Vargas hell in a fight which I thought he won and psychologically and physically destroyed Vernon Forrest in their first fight.  He made (and spent) a lot of money.   For an eight-loss fighter, what a career.    
·     What made the third round so much fun in the Cotto-Mayorga fight was that each fighter epitomized their respective ring essences.  Mayorga was boastful and combative, more than happy to eat shots.  Cotto was poised and focused yet vulnerable to right hands.  Cotto has become a very intelligent fighter.  Maybe younger Cotto would have engaged in a war, like he did with Ricardo Torres.  Older Cotto recognized the trap, kept his distance and landed some vicious hooks to the body and right-hand headshots.  
·     Cotto's days as an elite boxer are over.  Mayorga landed over 40% of his power shots and roughed up Cotto's face.  The standard rule of thumb is any time that a fighter lands one-third of his power shots, he is doing well.  Also factor in that Mayorga's wide, looping shots are perhaps the most telegraphed shots in all of boxing.  If Cotto can't get away from those, whose shots is he going to avoid?  Cotto's defense is just not good enough.  Any fighter with good countering ability and straight punches can land at will on Cotto.  Luckily, the 154 pound division is weak, but I don't think we'll be seeing Cotto in with a beast like Paul Williams any time soon.  
·     Jim Gray had a great between-round interview with Mike Tyson.  Tyson was right.  Cotto-Mayorga did feature two fighters past their respective primes.  But it was a fun fight.  And fun has a place in boxing.  One other note about Showtime, if you have legendary trainer Emanuel Steward working the corner in your broadcast, wouldn't you want to show him giving advice to his fighter.  Perhaps, the audience might find out something more interesting than the endless replays of ineffectual combinations.   

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