Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Fact Finding Mission about Austin Trout

1.  Who?
Austin Trout, the WBA junior middleweight champion

2.  Why should I care?
Trout has talent.  He's young (25) and he might become a real player in boxing.

3.  Ok.  Where is he from?
Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA. 

4.  What's his record?
22-0 with 13 knockouts

5.  So he's an undefeated American titleholder.  How come I've never heard of him?
He has never been aligned with a big promoter.  (I haven't figured out why.)  Also, his most noteworthy fights have taken place in Panama and Mexico.  He has not had major television exposure in the U.S. to this point.  Most of his American fights have been in New Mexico (not a traditional boxing hotbed, with the exception of Johnny Tapia and Bob Foster) or in small hotel ballrooms in Houston – not the best way to get media attention. 

6.  Well, he must have fought some good people to win his title, didn't he? 
Not really.  He won a vacant title by defeating Rigoberto Alvarez, the brother of Mexican sensation Saul Alvarez.  Rigoberto was not blessed with Saul's talent level.  Trout's other victories have been against low-profile fighters.  In short, he hasn't fought many notable opponents on his way to the title.

7.  Then how did he get a title shot?
The WBA elevated Miguel Cotto to super champion (even though he is not a unified titleholder).  Then, the WBA selected Trout to fight Alvarez for the vacant "regular" title.  Definitely a little bogus.  Trout himself claimed that he impressed the WBA when he defeated Nilson Julio Tapia at the WBA annual convention in Panama in 2009.

8.  So, does the kid have talent?
Yes.  Trout was an alternate to the 2004 U.S. Olympic team.  He had a solid amateur record of 160-45.  Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Sergio Martinez and Lucas Matthysse have all used Trout as a sparring partner.  

9.  What can you tell me about Trout's style in the ring?
Although there isn't much tape floating around of Trout on the internet, I have found parts of five fights of his to examine.  Trout, a southpaw, has very good defensive skills.  He has an excellent jab and throws it consistently.  He likes to lead more than follow, although he has an impressive straight left counter when pressured.  He'll pepper his opponents with the jab and then throw a straight left hand to the body.  Trout will also start sequences with a lead right hook and follow up with a sharp left uppercut.  He moves very well in the ring and can make opponents miss without leaving the pocket.  He does not seem to get hit cleanly too often.  He is slick but he does have an offensive temperament.  He transitions very well from offense to defense.  I was very impressed with his ability to control distance in the ring and make opponents fight at his pace.   

10.  Does Trout have any major weaknesses?
He doesn't have legit power.  Although he throws his punches with good technique, he hasn't been able to stop his most recent opponents, and they weren't even close to world-class fighters.  He could certainly sit down on his uppercut more.  He sometimes can get a little wide with his right hook.  I'd be interested to see how he fares against high-volume pressure fighters.  Does he have enough power to discourage them? 

11. Who trains him?
Louie Burke.  He was a super featherweight in the '80s, also from Las Cruces.  As a pro, he beat Freddie Roach twice but lost in his most notable fight to Hector "Macho" Camacho.  In two instances, Burke was one or two fights away from a title shot, but he never won his step-up fights against Camacho or Charlie Brown.  As a trainer, Burke has also worked with Antonio Escalante and undefeated heavyweight David Rodriguez. 

12.  What are Trout's future prospects?
Trout is going to be a tough out for anyone in the junior middleweight division.  He has superior athleticism, very good (but not great) hand speed and a strong understanding of his strengths and weaknesses.  Right now, the junior middleweight division is wide open.  If Trout can stay at 154, there are a lot of interesting opponents for him in the division, including Cornelius Bundrage, Erislandy Lara, Vanes Martirosyan, Saul Alvarez and Pawel Wolak. 

13.  What's next for him?
He makes the first defense of his title on June 11th in Mexico against David Lopez.  Although Lopez's record (40-12 with 23 KOs) isn't great, he is on a 16-fight winning streak. 

14.  If you were advising Team Trout, what would you suggest they do after Lopez?
Trout has to get more exposure.  Admirably, he has fought in Panama, Canada and Mexico in his rise up the junior middleweight rankings, but he has not fought enough on American TV.  Team Trout should be calling ESPN every day to get a headline shot on Friday Night Fights.  Trout is currently promoted by Greg Cohen, formerly the founder of Empire Sports.  Cohen should certainly consider enlisting a big promoter for a co-promotional deal.  If he doesn't want to do that, he should talk to big promoters about giving them options on Trout's future fights if they give him opportunities on their major network television cards.  Meaning, if Trout gets a slot on a Top Rank card on HBO, then Top Rank gets a financial piece of his next two or three fights. 

The first call I would make if I were Cohen would be to Bob Arum to get Trout a fight with Martirosyan, who beat Trout in the amateurs.  That matchup would be a solid undercard fight for an HBO Boxing After Dark show or a headlining slot for Shobox.  Cohen should be running up some massive telephone bills this year.     

Friday, May 27, 2011

May Rankings Movement (Guerrero, Trout, Rigondeaux)

May has provided boxing fans with some enormous fights, including Pacquiao-Mosley and Hopkins-Pascal II.  However, the outcomes of these contests did not necessitate any changes to the SNB rankings.  Pacquiao and Hopkins were elite fighters coming into their fights and they remain SNB Elite Fighters after their respective victories.  Nathan Cleverly also retains his status with his win over Aleksy Kuziemski this month. 

The rankings movement for May was based on the reevaluation of several fighters' recent body of work and their immediate future prospects.  Two fighters have seen their career momentum stall and two boxers have taken some significant steps forward in the first half of 2011.  With that, the May Rankings Movement:

Elevated:  Robert Guerrero joins the SNB 10 Boxers on the Rise list.  Guerrero's victory over Michael Katsidis demonstrates that he is a force at 135 pounds and could be competitive with any of the titleholders in the junior welterweight division.

Elevated:  Austin Trout debuts on the Bubbling Under list.  Trout, a relatively anonymous American junior middleweight, captured the WBA title earlier in the year.  His opposition hasn't been great but at just 25, he's someone to keep an eye on.

Demoted:  Paul Williams exits the Fighters on the Cusp list.  It's clear that with the choice of Erislandy Lara for his next opponent, Williams is at least a few fights away from recapturing elite status.  The "Fighters on the Cusp" designation is reserved for boxers who would move to elite status with their next big victory.  Williams' career is currently in "regroup" mode.  

Demoted: Guillermo Rigondeaux leaves the SNB 10 Boxers on the Rise list.  Even though Rigondeaux won an interim title earlier in the year in only his eighth professional fight, his career momentum has stalled with an uninspiring performance in 2010 against Ricardo Cordoba.  Top Rank farmed him out to Ireland for his fight against Willie Casey.  Even with his first round knockout of Casey, Rigondeaux finds himself persona non grata on U.S. premium network television – not a good place to be for a 30-year-old Cuban fighter with no natural fan base.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Danny Green--DestroyerMan of Seniors

G'day.  I'm Danny Green, the IBO cruiserweight champion of the world.  I could be fighting the best cruiserweights out there like Denis Lebedev, Marco Huck or Steve Cunningham, but I answer to a higher power.  

Many years ago I played the game like all other boxers; I wanted to be the number one fighter in the world. I fought for title shots and tried to beat the best.  By the end of 2007, I had had enough and retired.  I quit the sport as the WBA light heavyweight champion of the world. 

I enjoyed my life away from the ring, especially some of the more mundane, day-to-day tasks that I missed while I was a professional fighter.  I spent lots of days reconnecting with old friends, completing my home refurbishing and trying my hand with the culinary arts.  Life was good and I was content.  I had no idea that I was about to undertake the central mission of my life.   

One day in 2008, as I was doing the dishes of all things, I saw a giant beam of light enter my kitchen.  I heard a voice calling to me; it was the Lord.  Now I had always been a spiritual man, but I had never had an encounter with the Deity.  

On that afternoon, God spoke to me and said.  "Danny, you must return to boxing and you must eliminate all of the old boxers from the sport.  They are a pox, a plague every bit as menacing as locusts or famine.  You must retire them and rid the sport of their kind.  Do not be afraid.  If you follow me, I will bestow upon you all the powers needed for such an important quest." 

I hurriedly put the dishes down and sat on my floor, shaking from my encounter.  My heart was racing.  I felt galvanized.  I then realized that after 35 years, I now had a purpose in my life.  That night I couldn't go to bed.  There was so much excitement.  It went beyond that, actually.  For the first time in my life, I was wide awake.  

The next morning I went back to my old gym.  I trained with a vigor and energy that eluded me in my earlier years.  I felt the rush of positive energy throughout my entire body.  Instantly, I could run faster, hit harder, work longer.  I was practically dropping sparring partners with just the focus of my gaze and the clarity of my vision. 

At night, I would start to assemble my dream list of old fighters to eliminate.  Roy Jones.  Antonio Tarver.  Glen Johnson.  And the MacDaddy of them all, Bernard Hopkins.

See, these old fighters deprive up-and-coming boxers, fans and followers of the opportunities to watch the best in the sport.  So much time is wasted on these irrelevant has-beens.  They are damaging boxing by stifling the growth of future fighters and diverting TV time, media attention and money away from more deserving people.  They are full of avarice, envy, arrogance and immodesty.  These old windbags have had their time, but refuse to exit with grace, displaying selfishness and narcissism. 

During training, I would yell out "The World no longer cares about you, Roy Jones."  Then I would hit the heavy bag with the force of three Klitschkos.  This is my cause.      

You many say, "Hey, but Danny aren't you now 38?  You are not really such a young pup yourself?"  My answer to that is you are right.  However, my journey is your journey.  I am not fighting for money or power; I fight for the purity of the sport.  I will slay these elderly dragons.  When my job as Destroyer of Senior Boxers is finished on Earth, I will hang up the gloves and live the rest of my life in peace in Western Australia.  You will not have to worry about me abusing my powers.  Destroying these seniors is not a calling I sought; but it is the one that I follow.    

To help execute my strategy for vanquishing the old guard, I consulted with my trainer, Angelo Hyder.  We determined that we needed a plan to lure these senior citizens down to Australia to meet their ultimate demise.  The obvious answer was exploiting their personal vanities, through offering money, trinkets and status.  He suggested that I start with a few comeback fights to show that I could be a viable option for these glory-addicted geriatrics. 

After disposing of a Nobody called Anthony van Niekerk, I was offered the opportunity to fight for the IBO belt at cruiserweight.  Now, everyone knows that the IBO is a laughable organization but after consulting with Angelo, we decided to pursue this strategy.  In short, the only thing that old, fat American boxers love more than money is bling.  Perhaps the title belt, even a silly one, would be an important facet in helping to lure my prey. 

We concocted a nefarious plan for retiring Roy Jones, Jr. – the most evil of all of the old boxers.  We made nice with his promotional company, Square Ring, telling John Wirt, the CEO, that I was Roy Jones' biggest fan and it would be my biggest thrill as a boxer to fight on one of his undercards.  I told him that perhaps if I won the title belt maybe Mr. Jones would honor me by fighting him.   

Somehow, Jones bought all this tripe.  You see, Seniors Boxers are vain fellows.  They should just retire and leave boxing to the youth.  But instead, they pollute the airwaves and the media with their Pride, their Envy, their Greed and their Lust.  They think they will be on top forever, that they have special rules, that they deserve all of the good things in life.  No, they deserve to be permanently exiled.  With their arrogance and selfishness, they continue to take and take and take. 

So I won the title belt.  Honestly, I couldn't even tell you who Julio Cesar Dominquez was.  I was in the ring, following God's commands.  My combinations were faster than a tornado. My power shots struck like thunder.  Divine intervention was doing remarkable things.  I got the TKO in the fifth round.

After the win, we put the next phase of our plan into action.  We told Jones that the only thing he had left to do in boxing was to defeat Bernard Hopkins once and for all.  We convinced him that Hopkins' constant yammering about the lack of a rematch was diminishing the legacy of the great Roy Jones, Jr.  Furthermore, we persuaded Jones to come to Sydney to fight me.  We told him that he would be treated like a king Down Under and that this fight would be the perfect showcase to let the boxing public, scratch that, the world over, know that he was still a massive presence in the sport.  If he defeated me, he would be viewed as a suitable opponent for Hopkins, with the opportunity to make untold future riches.

Hyder and I went back to Australia, and with messianic zeal, we raised enough money to get Jones to come down to fight.  My Australian brethren opened up their pocketbooks for the worthiness of our cause.  Instead of the sparse accoutrements afforded by Perth, we staged the fight in Sydney, where we would line up the finest wine, women and song to distract Mr. Jones.  

By the time Jones entered the ring, he was not fighting Danny Green, cruiserweight champion; he was facing the Lord's agent – DestroyerMan.  Within 30 seconds I landed a thunderous right to his temple.  Within 90 seconds he was lying flat on the ground, motionless. 

After I vanquished Jones, I started calling out Antonio Tarver and Bernard Hopkins.  But they weren't ready to meet their destiny head on.  Failing to get bites from them, Hyder suggested that I stay busy by fighting some additional no-hopers, using these opportunities to further harness my awesome powers.  He preached patience, telling me that DestroyerMan's time will come.  So Manny Siaca, Paul Briggs and BJ Flores met my fury.  After each fight, I continued to call out the graybeards.

Like the idiot that he is, Jones continued with his career.  No senior recovers from DestroyerMan.   Although he refused to throw punches against Hopkins in their rematch, Jones probably felt he won just by surviving the 12 rounds.  Jones, his ego still laced with avarice, pride and greed, then got crushed by Lebedev.  My mission was spreading.  Other fighters were joining me in this righteous quest.   

A few months ago, my calls were answered; Fat Antonio Tarver agreed to come to Sydney and fight at cruiserweight.  

For this fight in July, we will provide Tarver with the most opulent buffets known to man.  He will be afforded with Sydney's finest pleasures and vices.  We will disarm him with kindness and hospitality.  Then he will get into the ring.  Without warning, he will face Judgment Day.

For me, DestroyerMan of Seniors, or just DestroyerMan for short, I will be taking my quest to a whole new level.  I am going to walk into the ring with my new cape and my magic staff.  Hyder and I are busy devising our regalia for the affair.  There will be pyrotechnics, Biblical symbology throughout the arena and ominous voices chanting medieval liturgy.  Tarver will quake in his boots knowing that the wrath of DestroyerMan will come down and smite him.  

After Tarver, I will put Hopkins and Johnson out of their misery.  I will rid this sport of their obsolescence.  I don't care that Hopkins still has a title.  He is an anathema in this sport, with his refusal to exit with grace and ruining the lives of young boxers.  Johnson's time will come as well.  If Carl Froch does not retire him, then he too shall meet the DestroyerMan. 

All of you geriatrics are on notice.  DestroyerMan's work is not finished.  Retire now and you will be spared.  Fight on at your own peril.  Ultimately you will answer not to Danny Green, but to DestoyerMan.  

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Notes from the Hopkins-Pascal II card

·      Strategically, Jean Pascal employed different tactics in the rematch against Bernard Hopkins than he used in their first fight.  After exhausting himself in their first meeting trying to knock Hopkins out, Pascal paced himself much better throughout the night.  On my card, which I had Hopkins winning by 115-113, Pascal took the final two rounds and seemed to be the fresher fighter in the championship rounds.  I had Pascal winning five rounds last night: better than the first fight but not good enough to secure the victory. 

·      However, fresh does not necessarily mean accurate.  HBO posted a statistic in the 11th round that Pascal was averaging only a little more than five landed power shots per round.  That's an anemic number.  Also, consider that Pascal doesn't really throw a jab and you have a sense at how completely inept his offense was most of the night.

·      The amazing thing about Hopkins' defense is that he is not a runner.  He does not endlessly circle away from exchanges or avoid close combat.  Like a prime Winky Wright, Hopkins is seemingly there to be hit, but nobody finds him with actual consistency.

·      No fighter has yet to elude Hopkins' lead right hand.  What a weapon!  He moves in like he's going to throw a jab or a left hook and then unleashed the right hand with pinpoint accuracy, almost always getting through his opponents' guard.  Last night, he even looped his right hand some; Pascal never saw it coming. 

·      In many ways, last night was a vintage Hopkins performance.  He led with his head, he threw numerous kidney punches, he held and hit at the same time, he punched during the break and he displayed numerous, impressive headlock positions.  I don't know if he was influenced by the death of Randy Savage, but the Macho Man would have been proud.  Don't feel so bad for Pascal, he repeatedly threw rabbit punches and hit behind the head.

·      If the above paragraph sounds like British referee Ian John-Lewis didn't have control of the fight it's actually far worse than just the fouls.  He missed possibly two knockdowns for Hopkins.  The ninth round was egregious.  Hopkins connected on Pascal with a short right hand.  Pascal was off balance after the punch and his gloves touched the canvas.  It wasn't a devastating shot, but the knockout should have been called.  The tenth round was less clear.  After an exchange, Pascal missed with a wild left hook and fell, again with his gloves touching the canvas.  I'm less certain about this being scored a knockdown, but the ninth round was an obvious one.

·      Pascal did exploit one flaw of Hopkins.  After Hopkins would throw his lead right hand and subsequent follow up punches, he would move to his left, while staying in the pocket.  Pascal countered a number of times with a straight right hand, landing during several sequences. 

·      Hopkins' chin is special.  Pascal ripped Hopkins with a few counter rights and thundering left hooks, yet Hopkins took the punches well.  Over the years, I have seen Jermain Taylor, Joe Calzaghe and Antwun Echols hit Hopkins with punishing shots, straight on the chin.  Somehow, Hopkins remained on his feet.  Pascal's knockdowns in their first fight occurred because of a rabbit punch which was illegal, and another shot behind the ear, which was just barely permissible.

·      Over the last decade, in many of Hopkins' fights, he abandoned his jab.  Since the Kelly Pavlik fight, he has featured the jab with more regularity.  It's not a hard jab, but it's accurate and well thrown. 

·      Both Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman spent the last three rounds of the fight essentially bestowing hosannas upon Hopkins for his spectacular career accomplishment.  I saw it as a much closer fight than they did.  Their remarks were heartfelt (I'll comment on that more in a little bit), but I think that when they review the tape, they will find that they were a little hasty in their valedictory pronouncements.

·      It was a good thing that Hopkins secured foreign judges.  The judges last night did a great job and scored the fight appropriately, ignoring the hometown, Montreal crowd and Pascal's mostly ineffective, aggressive flurries.   They saw the right fight.  Kudos to them.

·      For Pascal, he is a good fighter, but he may have been exposed on the elite level.  He needs 20 to 30-second breathers after his flurries, takes rounds off and gives opponents opportunities to steal rounds.  These are not the characteristics of a future pound-for-pound fighter.  The first thing Team Pascal should do is to hire an Alex Ariza, or an elite conditioning coach.  While Pascal has impressive musculature, he has insufficient stamina.  He is not even 30 yet; there is no reason why he needs to take so many breaks.  I think that with someone like Ariza, Pascal can reach the highest levels of the sport.  Without this change, he may be a titleholder but he will never be one of boxing's best.        

·      Don't let anyone tell you that Hopkins doesn't have a sense of humor.  From hiring singers and penning a Hopkins-specific version of the Frank Sinatra classic "My Way" during his ring walk, to his impromptu push-ups at the beginning of the seventh round awaiting Pascal, Hopkins supplied a number of wonderful, light moments.  In another sense, he's so good a playing the bad guy.  I guess, to continue the wrestling theme, he would have been the ultimate heel or bad guy in the ring.  He understands performance and has somehow made himself into one of the top characters in all of boxing.  Whenever he retires, he will surely be missed.  

·      I have now seen Michael Buffer give his introductions in at least five different languages: all with almost perfect, native pronounciations in his non-Engligh assignments.  The man continues to astound me.  He may have the best job in the world and he does it well. 

·      HBO was effusive in praising Hopkins last night.  If you are familiar with the network, that is an interesting turn of events.  HBO and Hopkins have always had a complex relationship.  On one hand, Hopkins has appeared on either the network or its PPV cards almost 20 times.  So by that mark, he's one of their featured fighters.  Yet, the HBO brass and commentator Larry Merchant have been very confrontational with Hopkins over the years.  From the network's rampant cheerleading of Jermain Taylor in his two fights with Hopkins, to their failure to secure a spot for Hopkins after his sensational win over network-favorite Kelly Pavlik, to passing on Hopkins' first fight with Pascal, to Merchant's scalding criticism of many of Hopkins' in-fight performances, the relationship between HBO and Hopkins has sometimes bordered on the surreal. 

·      In a bit of poetic irony, prior to last night's fight, Merchant authored a warm video essay on some of Hopkins' greatest accomplishments in the ring.  I have no idea whether Merchant volunteered to author the piece or if he was compelled to do so by the network as a make-nice gesture (come to think of it, can anyone really compel Merchant at this point in his career), but Merchant's retrospective exuded class.

·      Lampley and Kellerman both had poignant monologues toward the end of the broadcast regarding Hopkins' enduring legacy and singular accomplishment of being the oldest fighter to win a championship.  In many ways, they all grew up together.  Although Lampley may be best known for his call of Foreman-Moorer or Tyson-Douglas, Hopkins has provided the network with some of its most dramatic upsets in the last ten years, from Trinidad to Tarver to Pavlik.  In addition, Hopkins fought on major pay-per-views against de la Hoya, Calzaghe, Taylor and Wright. 

·      Along the same lines, Hopkins had noted that it was "nice to come home," in reference to returning to HBO.  He knows that the network is the premier destination for boxing in the United States.  When you appear on HBO, you matter.  It's one of the highest validations for an American fighter in the sport.  So while Hopkins may spar with Merchant or disapprove of some of Lampley's calls, he loves that they are there for him. 

·      Before I give Chad Dawson a hard time for what he didn't do last night, let me start with praising him for what he did accomplish.  Dawson completely dominated Adrian Diaconu, easily a top-six light heavyweight.  Diaconu had no idea how to apply pressure or land anything with consistency.  Dawson toyed with Diaconu, spanking his opponent and teaching him a lesson when he dared to make Dawson work.    

·      Dawson featured all of his punches last night.  Dawson sat down on his straight left hand very well, landing some punishing shots on Diaconu.  Dawson also threw his right hook and jab with regularity.  I was most impressed with his uppercut, which he used to thwart Diaconu's pressure.   Unfortunately for Diaconu, Dawson had enormous height and reach advantages.  If Diaconu couldn't get inside, there wouldn't be much of a fight.  Despite Diaconu's attempts, he couldn't find a way in.  I scored it 118-110 for Dawson. 

·      Yet with all of his physical and technical talents, Dawson can be painful to watch.  He seems to fight with no urgency and is more than content to pile up points without pressing the action.  He could go for knockouts; he just doesn't want to.

·      The impact of Emanuel Steward on Dawson, who is now working with at least his fifth trainer, was hard to detect.  Perhaps Dawson threw his left hand with a little more authority and ran a bit less but at no point did I watch last night's fight and say, "That looks like an Emanuel Steward fighter."  After scoring with big punches, Dawson let Diaconu off the hook on numerous occasions.  As in the old days, Dawson was content just to win the round.  I'm not sure what Steward or any trainer can do the change that mentality at this point in Dawson's career. 

·      Unlike Hopkins, Dawson seems to be oblivious to the notion that boxing and sports as a whole are entertainment.  Give Floyd Mayweather Jr. credit.  He doesn't necessarily fight in an action style, yet he provides endless entertainment for those who follow the sport.  Dawson is not captivating in or out of the ring.  At some point, he has to give the fans something.  Dawson better keep on winning because if he loses again, no premium network will be rushing to offer him another fight.  

·      Hopkins is mandated to fight Dawson next.  On paper, Dawson has all the advantages, but his lack of killer instinct shows a sign of weakness, which the old man will be able to exploit. 

Notes from the DeGale-Groves, Cleverly card

·      The big winner in the James DeGale-George Groves fight was Groves' trainer Adam Booth.  Booth had a masterful game plan for Groves and his fighter followed it to perfection.  Groves, known for his aggression, and at times recklessness, fought instead as a counterpuncher and a pot-shotter.  DeGale was so confused by Groves' tactics that it took him until the second half of the fight to throw meaningful combinations.

·       Groves' timing was impeccable.  When DeGale threw his jab or a right hook, Groves would counter with straight right hands to the body or left hooks to the head.  After throwing his quick counters, Groves quickly got out of harm's way.

·       Groves moved beautifully throughout the fight, circling mostly away from DeGale's straight left hands.  But Groves also switched up his movements, further confusing DeGale.  Groves fought a lot of the fight on the ropes, luring DeGale in to lead with his jab or a right hook.  Groves then countered and stepped away from DeGale beautifully.  Groves' discipline throughout the fight was his greatest achievement. 

·       For some reason, DeGale insisted on switching from his southpaw stance to orthodox.  Every time he switched, you could practically see Groves lick his lips with anticipation.  Groves tagged DeGale repeatedly with uppercuts and straight right hands when DeGale went conventional.  Tactically, it was an awful move for DeGale and that may have been the difference in the fight.  Obviously, the switching showed that DeGale was frustrated and was looking to create some openings.  He did, but unfortunately they were for Groves.    

·       There were some difficult rounds to score, where few, solid punches were thrown, let alone landed.  Groves was wary of trading while DeGale seemed to be flustered at how to initiate offense.  

·       If additional contestants are needed for "Dancing with the Stars" or "So You Think You Can Dance," Groves and DeGale are both worthy candidates.  There were long periods during the middle rounds where both fighters would literally dance on their toes from side to side, refusing to throw punches to 20 to 30 seconds.  At one point, I thought that their routine might be choreographed.  Perhaps with some additional training, the two of them could go on the road together.

·       For DeGale, this must be a frustrating loss.  He had more power, tighter punches and better technique than Groves did.  He just wouldn't let his hands go.  Although he came on in the second half of the fight, he let too many early rounds slip away.  DeGale was the heavy favorite and the Olympic gold medalist.  Unfortunately, he wasn't fighting in the amateurs whereby you win with each clean, effective punch.  Commentator Jim Watt made the point brilliantly in the broadcast that DeGale was still fighting in an amateur style, throwing one punch at a time instead of combinations.  

·       The Sky broadcast was exemplary.  Watt and play-by-play man, Ian Darke, had an easy rapport.  I had been familiar with Darke from his work in the 2010 World Cup; he's incredibly witty and doesn't force conversation.  Furthermore, Sky augmented its pay-per-view coverage with three former champions: Joe Calzaghe (a friend of Cleverly's), Johnny Nelson and the dean of Irish boxing commentators, Barry McGuigan.  Each one was incredibly lucid and added a lot to the broadcast.  In a sight you don't often see on television, McGuigan apologized to Groves after the fight for his prediction that Groves didn't have the intestinal fortitude to beat DeGale.

·       Promoter Frank Warren was as good as any boxing commentator after the fight.  Assessing DeGale's performance, he thought his fighter had won but gave away too many early rounds and refused to let his hands go.  It was an honest assessment and something you would rarely hear from an American promoter after a close defeat. 

·       Give Frank Warren credit, with DeGale and Groves as a main event – two fighters with only 22 professional fights between them – as well as three different opponents for Cleverly, Warren was still able to pack the O2 arena.   The man can really promote.  

·       Nathan Cleverly fights in an exciting style.  He leaves his jab at home and instead throws nothing but power shots, especially left hooks and straight rights.  Cleverly wants to be a crowd pleaser but he has some significant things to learn if he wants to beat the best in the light heavyweight division.

·       Cleverly handled late replacement Aleksy Kuziemski in three of the four rounds of their fight.  His left hooks were crisp and his right hands consistently found their marks.  However, from round one it was apparent that Cleverly squares up too much when throwing his hooks and leaves himself open for counters.  In addition, during exchanges, Cleverly's punches start to get wide, which created openings for Kuziemski.  

·       In the third round, Kuziemski broke through with a series of left hooks that landed flush on Cleverly.  Cleverly took the punches well (Kuziemski didn't have real power) and returned fire like a real fighter.  The subsequent in-fighting created a couple of cuts on Kuziemski's left eye. 

·       Cleverly opened one cut with a beautiful, short uppercut in the fourth.  Referee Denny Nelson stopped the fight toward the end of the round.  It was a bad stoppage.  The American referee should have let Kuziemski's corner attempt to stop the cut between rounds or, at the very least least, have the ringside physician examine the cut before calling the fight off.  However, it was not a tragic ending; Cleverly was clearly the better fighter.   

·       Cleverly is going to face some real problems when he meets a fighter with real power.  He is susceptible to left hooks and doesn't have first-rate power of his own.  He must tighten up his defense.  I think southpaws, with their straight left hands, could potentially be devastating for him.

·       The Sky broadcast team was fair in its assessment of Cleverly's performance.  While giving him the proper plaudits for winning a world championship belt, both Darke and Watt criticized him for not throwing his jab.  In addition, McGuigan noted that Cleverly makes his fights more difficult than they need to be by giving up his height and resorting to brawling.  

·       If I were Frank Warren, I would give Cleverly a couple of more developmental fights before challenging some of the best at light heavyweight.  Cleverly has a future but his style may lead to a short career without more attention to defense.

·       I was able to catch the last half of the Frankie Gavin's fight on the Epix feed.  Gavin rolled to an easy points victory over Young Mutley.  Mutley was merely looking to survive and Gavin was content to throw right jabs and straight lefts. Gavin is one of Warren's best prospects and was looking to make a big impression.  The crowd was not pleased with the fight but some boxers just won't provide opportunities to look good.  Gavin's victory was a solid one, and he was fighting at less than 100% physical condition.  Personally I would like him to throw more right hooks and uppercuts, but that will come.  For a fighter with only 10 professional fights, he controls distance well and looks uncommonly poised in the ring.