Monday, December 30, 2013

The 2013 Saturday Night Boxing Awards

As a memorable 2013 comes to a close, it's time to hand out the annual hardware and honor those who have provided us with the best ring moments from the past 12 months. The award categories for this year are fighter, fight, knockout, round, upset, trainer, promoter, network and referee of the year. I have also included the past Saturday Night Boxing award winners. Without further ado: the 2013 Saturday Night Boxing Awards.
Fighter of the Year: Adonis Stevenson
It should be remembered that prior to this year that Adonis Stevenson was essentially a mere curiosity from Canada, a powerful southpaw super middleweight with heavy hands, limited opposition and a knockout loss to journeyman Darnell Boone. However, 2013 was Stevenson's year, obtaining four stoppage victories and moving up to light heavyweight to become the number-one fighter in the division. Stevenson started off the year by avenging his loss to Boone. He then jumped at the opportunity to face lineal light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, where he knocked him out in the first round. For his next fight, Stevenson flashed his boxing skills in addition to his power, battering former titlist Tavoris Cloud around the ring to earn a seventh-round stoppage. In his final outing of the 2013 campaign, Stevenson defeated mandatory challenger Tony Bellew by patiently stalking him and unleashing several left hand bombs in the sixth frame, which ended the match.
With Stevenson's body of work this year, he has become one of the sport's must-see attractions, not to mention a face of HBO Boxing. Already 36, Stevenson is now looking for big fights and he will get them next year against possible opponents such as Sergey Kovalev, the winner of Jean Pascal-Lucian Bute and Bernard Hopkins.
Previous SNB Fighters of the Year:
2012: Nonito Donaire
2011: Andre Ward  

Fight of the Year: Bradley-Provodnikov
Not a whole lot was expected from March's meeting between Tim Bradley and Ruslan Provodnikov. Bradley had been inactive for nine months after his dubious victory over Manny Pacquiao. In the aftermath of the decision, Bradley became persona non grata in the boxing world, receiving death threats, scorn from boxing fans and media and continued derision in the sport after believing that he had actually earned the victory legitimately. With Provodnikov, Bradley was looking to stay busy while he waited for greater things in the sport. 

Provodnikov was thought of as a limited banger who might give Bradley some rounds. However, he was moving up from junior welterweight and most assumed that he wouldn't be successful in imposing himself on Bradley, who had grown into the welterweight division.
From the opening moments of the match, the pre-fight script could have been thrown out the window. In the first, Provodnikov caught Bradley in a sequence with a couple of short, chopping over-the-top right hands and a left hook, causing Bradley to crumble to the canvas in a delayed reaction (referee Pat Russell incorrectly ruled a slip).

In the second, the hard-charging Provodnikov had Bradley essentially out on his feet with a series of short power punches. Provodnikov moved in for the kill against the delirious Bradley, who was winging arm punches out of sheer self-survival. Somehow, Bradley made it out of the round and Russell should be given credit for not stopping the fight.
Then, something strange happened. Bradley regrouped in the corner and dominated Provodnikov with his boxing ability and varied offensive attack. During the next three frames, Bradley continued to cruise and Provodnikov looked like the proverbial "might be dangerous early" type of fighter.  

In the sixth, Provodnikov was soundly getting outboxed early in the round until he connected with his power again, reducing Bradley to a Gumby-type figure. Provodnikov expertly closed the ring off on the champion and fired menacing shots, but Bradley again survived the round.
After the sixth, Bradley recovered between rounds (notice a theme?) and starting plastering Provodnikov with body shots, uppercuts, left hooks and straight rights. As the fight progressed, both trainers told HBO's Max Kellerman that they were considering stopping the fight.
Prior to the 11th, Provodnikov's trainer Freddie Roach told his fighter that he needed a knockout to win. In the 12th, Provodnikov almost got it, beating Bradley mercilessly around the ring. As the round closed, Bradley took a knee, which essentially ended the action of the fight. When the final bell sounded, both fighters felt like they had done enough to win. The official scores were 115-112 and 114-113 (x 2), all for Bradley. (If Russell had correctly ruled the knockdown in the first round, the fight would have been a draw.)
Bradley-Provodnikov exemplified the best of boxing. Many fighters wouldn't have made it out of the first round, yet Bradley somehow overcame four rounds of intense and sustained beatings to pull out the victory. Bradley demonstrated that he had the attributes (heart, skills, courage and determination) that separate elite talents from the merely good ones. He ended 2013 back in boxing fans' good graces. To be more accurate, with his showing against Provodnikov and his subsequent victory over Juan Manuel Marquez, Bradley's status has never been higher in the sport. 
Provodnikov seized his moment. He didn't shrink from the bright lights. After getting outboxed and hit hard through many portions of the fight, he persevered for all 12 rounds, convinced his trainer not to stop the match and almost secured one of the most impressive knockout victories of the modern age. His performances against Bradley and Mike Alvarado, later in the year, signaled that he was a major force to be reckoned with in the welterweight ranks. One really refreshing attribute of Provodnikov is his refusal to make excuses. He didn't complain about fighting at a higher weight against Bradley or squaring off against Alvarado at a disadvantageous high altitude. He just put his head down and landed punishing blows.
Previous SNB Fights of the Year:
2012: Pacquiao-Marquez IV
2011: Rios-Acosta    

Knockout of the Year: Stephen Smith KO 5 Gary Buckland
Before we go any further, watch this uppercut! 

Now that's a nasty shot! In August, rising prospect Stephen "Swifty" Smith faced the capable Gary Buckland for a British super featherweight title. Through the first four rounds, the action was fairly even. To that point, it was a well fought if slightly pedestrian contest. But in the fifth, Smith slipped a jab to the outside and then BAMMMMM! He connected with one of the best counter right uppercuts you will ever see. Buckland remained face down on the canvas for several moments after the fight and Smith had his signature moment of his career – pure devastation.
Previous SNB Knockouts of the Year:
2012: Juan Manuel Marquez KO 6 Manny Pacquiao
2011: Takashi Uchiyama TKO 11 Jorge Solis 

Round of the Year: Tim Bradley-Ruslan Provodnikov Round 12
The first two minutes of the final round of Bradley-Provodnikov were rather non-descript. Bradley's trainer, Joel Diaz, correctly informed his fighter prior to the round that Provodnikov would be gunning for the knockout. In the other corner, Provodnikov knew exactly what he needed to do to win the fight. Provodnikov started the round stalking Bradley with lead left hooks, but Bradley evaded most of the damage, using the ring and firing back quick combinations to stay out of harm's way.
However, at just over the two-minute mark, Provodnikov landed a huge left hook that drove Bradley across the ring to the ropes. The shot stunned Bradley but he seemed to have his bearings. A few seconds later, Provodnikov landed a powerful counter right hand that again sent Bradley back to the ropes. Now Bradley was in real trouble. His legs were gone and he had no strength left in his punches. Provodnikov connected with two more right hands straight on the button. Bradley held on and then used the ring to try and stave off further damage. Another left hook scored for Provodnikov and as he was about to move in for the finish, Bradley took a knee.
Similar to the thrilling ending of the 2012 Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight, Bradley, so close to the final bell, needed to make it back on his feet to give himself a chance to win. By Pat Russell's eight-count, Bradley rose and collected himself in the corner. Russell instructed Bradley to move forward. The champion nonchalantly gave a shrug and walked towards the referee. Russell inspected Bradley and let the fight continue. Then, the final bell sounded.
This fight had everything a boxing fan could ever want but the last round passed my strict criteria for round of the year. Was I out of my seat jumping up and down like an idiot? Of course I was. This final battle between hunter and prey was the most thrilling action of 2013.
Previous SNB Rounds of the Year:
2012: Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Round 12
2011: Hernan Marquez-Luis Concepcion I Round 1

Upset of the Year: Jhonny Gonzalez KO 1 Abner Mares
From 2010 to 2013 Abner Mares faced a Murderer's Row of opposition, including Yonnhy Perez, Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko, Anselmo Moreno and Daniel Ponce de Leon. Winning belts in three divisions, Mares had established himself as one of the sport's elite fighters. For his first featherweight title defense, Mares was given a supposed softer touch with the 32-year-old Jhonny Gonzalez, a powerful fighter, but one who had lost to Ponce de Leon in 2012 and had been knocked out three times previously. Going into the fight, Mares was anywhere from an 8-1 to 12-1 favorite.
However, no one told Gonzalez that he was in Carson, California to lose. Working with Hall of Fame trainer Nacho Beristain, Gonzalez immediately landed a punch which forever changed the fortunes of the two fighters. Cocking his left arm slightly down and to the side, Gonzalez was signaling a forthcoming left hook to the body, Mares dropped his right hand to prepare for the punch. Instead, Gonzalez went upstairs with the left hook, sending Mares down to the canvas violently. Mares beat the count and the fight continued, but Gonzalez jumped on him with a series of power shots putting Mares on the canvas again. Ref Jack Reiss took a long look at Mares on the ground and waved off the fight. In a brief sequence, one of the top young fighters of the sport was sent back to the drawing board.
Previous SNB Upset of the Year:
2012: Sonny Boy Jaro TKO 6 Pongsaklek Wonjongkam 

Trainer of the Year: Kenny Porter
In my estimation, a trainer has four main responsibilities: 1. Ensure that his fighter is in peak mental and physical conditioning for a fight. 2. Continue to make improvements with his fighter. 3. Concoct and implement a game plan for each fight. 4. If needed, make critical adjustments during the fight. With these considerations in mind, I don't believe that any trainer had a better year than Kenny Porter, who took his son, Shawn Porter, from welterweight afterthought to champion in 2013.
Shawn Porter had a ho-hum 2012. He failed to impress in a workmanlike decision against journeyman Alfonso Gomez and engaged in a spirited draw against former lightweight titlist Julio Diaz, a fighter long thought to have been past his expiration date. In the Diaz fight, Porter mixed in periods of dominance with stretches of uncertainty. He seemed caught in-between styles, sometimes a boxer, sometimes a slugger. The end result was something far less than anticipated.
Porter didn't fight again until May of 2013, when he stepped in against wildly overmatched Phil Lo Greco, a club fighter whose gaudy undefeated record was nothing more than smoke-and mirrors. Lo Greco showed a world-class ability to take a beating, but nothing more.
In September, Porter returned to the ring to square off against Diaz in a rematch. For this fight, Porter had a much surer sense of his ring identity. He utilized his athleticism, boxing skills and sharp power punches to keep the veteran Diaz at bay. As the fight progressed, Porter's class rose to the top. It was a confident performance and one he could build off of.
For his next fight, Porter found himself in a title shot against Devon Alexander. Porter, a significant underdog, lacked the world-class experience that Alexander had. To many boxing observers (myself included), this fight was seemingly a case of too much-too soon for Porter.
However, Kenny Porter had a brilliant game plan for the fight. Studying Alexander's loss to Tim Bradley, Porter found the exact formula for how his son could impose his will on Alexander. Porter even had his camp contact Joel Diaz, Bradley's trainer, to get additional pointers for facing Alexander.
From the opening bell, Porter jumped on Alexander with a display of power punches, mugging on the inside and a high work rate. Alexander seemed incapable of keeping the more spirited Porter from coming forward. Using the combination of his athleticism and power punches, Porter swarmed Alexander and made him uncomfortable throughout the first five rounds.
But by the sixth, Alexander started to get his sea legs and worked his way into the fight. Porter's work rate started to drop. As the fight progressed, Alexander appeared to be the fresher combatant.
However, Kenny Porter would not let victory slip away. Goading his son prior to the championship rounds, Porter exclaimed how the fight was still in the balance and emphasized that Shawn needed to close strongly. Shawn immediately responded and found his second wind. He had two big closing rounds to earn the victory, securing his first world title.
Ultimately, Kenny Porter had the perfect game plan to help his son become champion. However, when self-doubt, fatigue or the enormity of the moment may have crawled into the mind of the fighter, Porter showed the urgency needed to push his charge over the top. It was a masterful performance. There certainly were bigger-name trainers than Porter in 2013, but there wasn't a better one.
Previous SNB Trainers of the Year:
2012: Robert McCracken
2011: Robert Garcia 
Promoter of the Year: (Tie) Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank Promotions
The two major American promoters both had excellent years in 2013. Golden Boy put together the highest grossing pay per view of all time with "The One," headlined by Mayweather-Alvarez. Even though Golden Boy was kicked off of HBO in 2013, the company responded by making some of the more memorable fight cards of the year, including the wonderful Knockout Kings II during the summer and Broner-Maidana to end the year. The company also started a new biweekly boxing series on FS1, which has yielded mixed results to this point, but the series could certainly become a platform for sterling fights in the future.

With its deep stable of fighters, a commitment to exciting boxing cards and an ability to expand boxing's reach for the company's biggest attractions, Golden Boy has demonstrated forward thinking in the sport and has generated a lot of momentum in the boxing world. 
Top Rank had my fight of the year in 2013 (Bradley-Provodnikov), perhaps the second best fight of the year (Rios-Alvarado II) and a number of other solid scraps in the past 12 months. In addition, with Vasyl Lomachenko (who might win a world title next year in his second pro fight), Felix Verdejo and Oscar Valdez, Top Rank clearly signed up the most impressive talents from the 2012 Olympics. From a strategic standpoint, perhaps its most important new fighter is Zou Shiming, the Chinese gold medalist. Featuring Shiming, Top Rank held three fight cards in the gambling Mecca of Macau (including Pacquiao-Rios), just a quick trip away from the Chinese mainland.
By working to build the Chinese professional boxing audience as well as further cementing its status in Asian boxing, Top Rank positioned itself well in 2013 for future prosperity. Its talent pipeline has been replenished and the company has realized more than any of its competitors that boxing stars can come from anywhere. Becoming too reliant on American or North American-born boxers runs the risk of myopia. Talent is talent. If it's there, Top Rank has enough faith in its own capabilities that it can produce the next wave of boxing stars, regardless of country of origin.
Previous SNB Promoters of the Year:
2012: Golden Boy Promotions
2011: Top Rank Promotions 

Network of the Year: Showtime
Sure, landing Floyd Mayweather was a big coup for Showtime and it immediately paid off dividends for the network, which had the biggest two pay per views of the year. Previously, HBO was thought of as a far superior entity in terms of successful pay per views. What Showtime demonstrated with this change was that it could certainly compete with HBO in helping to maximize revenue for big events. 

But two fights don't make a network; with that said, Showtime produced one of its best years in boxing. Investing heavily in its product, Showtime saw double-digit gains in ratings for 2013 and set new internal viewership records for a number of its fights. 
Working exclusively with Golden Boy as lead promoter, Showtime, led by boxing head Stephen Espinoza, insisted on asserting quality control for its telecasts. The network refused to let Golden Boy's "Most Favored Nation" status drag down its overall product, which had happened previously in the sport when similar exclusive network-promoter arrangements existed. After the first quarter of the year, Showtime hardly had a misstep. In addition, Showtime also raised the bar on American airwaves by filling its telecasts with three and four title fights as well as showing key undercard matches on one of its other networks. Finally, with Al Bernstein and Paulie Malignaggi, Showtime can now boast of having the best two fight analysts working on American television. Overall, it was a stellar year for the network.
Previous SNB Network of the Year:
2012: BoxNation
Referee of the Year: Tony Weeks
Nevada-based Tony Weeks has long been regarded as one of the best referees in boxing. His decisive work in Danny Garcia-Lucas Matthysse illustrates why this reputation is deserved. After Garcia closed Matthysse's eye in the seventh round from a left hook, Weeks continued to let Matthysse fight on. Matthysse would later demonstrate in both the 11th and 12 rounds that he had more than enough ability, even in a diminished state, to win the fight. In the 11th round, Matthysse got tangled up in the ropes and as he re-emerged, Garcia landed a chopping left hook that sent Matthysse to the canvas. It was a slight shot but Weeks made the correct call by scoring a knockdown. 

Finally, in the 12th, with the fight potentially in the balance, Weeks demonstrated no hesitation in issuing a point deduction for a flagrant low blow by Garcia. Again, Weeks made the correct call and wasn't awed by the big stage in the slightest. He did his job with aplomb and helped to preserve a clean and fair fight. 
Weeks also officiated two of the better fights of the year in Alvarado-Provodnikov and Rios-Alvarado II. Weeks did right by Alvarado by letting him continue after getting knocked down twice in the eighth. The referee was also a wonderfully unobtrusive presence during Rios-Alvarado II, a fight that featured some of the best inside combat of the year. All around, it was a great 2013 for Weeks.
Previous SNB Referee of the Year:
2012: Eddie Claudio

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Contact Adam at
@snboxing on twitter
Follow Saturday Night Boxing on Facebook:

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Changes to Saturday Night Boxing

One of the pleasures of my experience with Saturday Night Boxing has been the interaction with boxing fans around the world. I never expected it and it's certainly been a joy to talk boxing at all hours of the day and night. This globalism has also informed my perspective of the sport. I know how healthy boxing is doing in many corners of the world and how passionate its fans are.

With this factor in mind, I want to ensure that the work on my website – – is as accessible as possible to this global audience. For instance, of the more than 75,000 who like and follow Saturday Night Boxing on Facebook, the majority speaks a language other than, or in addition to, English.

I have added a Google Translator button on the website to make it easier for people to read my content in the language of their choice. You will be able to find it on the bottom left column on every page of Now, I know that Google Translator isn't perfect, but it's a nice tool. I'm also always open to suggestions on how to make my website more readable and user-friendly. Drop me a line or contact me directly on the Facebook page or on twitter: @snboxing.

The content of Saturday Night Boxing will remain free. This is a value of mine; I want to make it easier to talk and share boxing, not less restrictive. With that said, I'm certainly not opposed to making a little bit of money with this endeavor. You will start to see some light advertising on the website. I don't believe it will be too intrusive and if you like the ads, click on the link. Every little bit counts.

As always, thank you for reading my work, exchanging your opinions and spending some time with Saturday Night Boxing. It continues to be a wonderfully rewarding experience and I have really enjoyed getting a chance to interact with you. Have a great holiday season and I look forward to some spectacular boxing ahead in 2014. And when you're at the fights, come say hello.
Adam Abramowitz
Philadelphia, U.S.A.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Contact Adam at
@snboxing on twitter
Follow Saturday Night Boxing on Facebook:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Boxing Asylum Podcast.

I jumped on this week's Boxing Asylum podcast, where we gave out our end-of-the-year boxing awards, including fighter, fight, breakthrough, round and bastard of the year.  

Click here to listen.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Contact Adam at
@snboxing on twitter
Follow Saturday Night Boxing on Facebook: 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pound-for Pound Update 12-22-2013

Adrien Broner's defeat by the hands of Marcos Maidana highlights a number of changes to the Saturday Night Boxing Top-20 Fighters list. In addition, Nonito Donaire's sluggish performance against Vic Darchinyan drops him down a few spots in the Rankings.  The major changes are below. For fighters listed, their new ranking will be in bold; their previous spot is in parenthesis.
Adrien Broner Unranked (18) Broner drops off the Rankings after his wide-decision loss to Maidana. Getting dropped twice and losing by five points on the judge's card with the closest score, Broner exits the pound-for-pound list. Although it's a quality win for Maidana, his victory doesn't place him yet in the SNB Top-20.
Nonito Donaire 14 (10) Donaire scored a ninth-round knockout of Vic Darchinyan last month, but it was a very close fight prior the knockout and Donaire performed far better against Darchinyan in 2007 than he did in 2013. Prior to the Darchinyan win, Donaire was thoroughly outboxed by Guillermo Rigondeaux. 2013 was not a strong year for Donaire, who continues to drop in the Rankings.
Shinsuke Yamanaka 20 (unranked) Yamanaka was in the SNB Rankings earlier in the year but was dropped when more deserving candidates jumped over him. Yamanaka had an impressive ninth-round victory over Alberto Guevara last month and has now defended his bantamweight title five times, including four by stoppage. He reenters the Rankings at #20.
The complete Saturday Night Boxing Top-20 follows:
  1. Floyd Mayweather
  2. Andre Ward
  3. Sergio Martinez
  4. Wladimir Klitschko
  5. Tim Bradley
  6. Juan Manuel Marquez
  7. Manny Pacquiao
  8. Guillermo Rigondeaux
  9. Carl Froch
  10. Danny Garcia
  11. Roman Gonzalez
  12. Bernard Hopkins
  13. Adonis Stevenson
  14. Nonito Donaire
  15. Anselmo Moreno
  16. Juan Estrada
  17. Takashi Uchiyama
  18. Gennady Golovkin
  19. Mikey Garcia
  20. Shinsuke Yamanaka
Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Contact Adam at
@snboxing on twitter
Follow Saturday Night Boxing on Facebook: 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Q&A: Dr. Scott Weiss on Cus D'Amato Part II

Saturday Night Boxing recently spoke with Dr. Scott Weiss, the co-author of the book ”Confusing the Enemy: The Cus D'Amato Story" (Acanthus Publishing, 2013). Weiss, a physical therapist and athletic trainer for the United States Olympic Team, has written (along with Paige Stover) the most comprehensive volume to date on one of boxing's most fascinating and enigmatic trainers. Using his experience as a martial artist and former amateur boxer, Weiss delves into the technical, psychological and personal characteristics that helped D'Amato, with his peek-a-boo ring style, shape champions such as Mike Tyson, Floyd Patterson and Jose Torres. 

Click Here to Read Part I of the Interview. 

Part II of the Q&A covers the rise of Mike Tyson, Teddy Atlas, Jose Torres and Cus D'Amato's legacy in the sport.
Interview by Adam Abramowitz:
(This interview has been condensed.)

Jose Torres is probably the least known of the three main champions that Cus had but he was a wonderful fighter in his own right. What can you tell us about Torres and Cus D’Amato?
Cus got him so young. He fielded him from Puerto Rico. He sent him telegrams to try and get him to come out of Puerto Rico and visit. Actually, the original telegram was sent accidentally to the famous Puerto Rican baseball player, Jose Torres. Finally, the telegram gets to Jose and his father lets him go. They came to visit Cus and like I said earlier Cus was just very charismatic. He would win families over. He said I’ll take care of your boy.  He got him at just a young enough age that he didn’t have to peel that many layers back. He was able to really instill the seed or the nucleus and Jose was able to grow.
One thing about Cus was his relatively small size and stature and yet he was a very intimidating presence. How do you account for that?
I would say that when you really know something that well, you speak about it with a confidence, a direct focus and a positive regard. And for Cus, boxing was his whole life. It was his whole being. As I said before, it wasn’t his vocation; it was his life. When something is your life, you just speak it. The lexicon is just there. And I think he dominated or overpowered people with his spirit and knowledge of the science of boxing.
What would Cus say would be his perfect performance or moment in the ring? Was there one fight that gave him the most pleasure out of all his victories in the ring?
He commented a lot about certain fights of Floyd’s [Patterson] and Jose’s. The exact one fight is not coming to mind but what he would want is a fighter to be hit minimally and be able to within the first three rounds totally annihilate and dominate the other fighter without ever struggling.

If the psychology of what he taught you worked and your dominance and spirit is in check and you are really ready physically for the fight, you won’t need anything more than those things for the first three rounds, unless the other fighter’s will and strength is better than yours. Then Cus would say, “You’re going to be here all night, my friend.” After the third round, Cus realized that’s when things change.
There was a great era of trainers in the ‘60s and ‘70s. You had major figures such as Angelo Dundee and Eddie Futch. What were his relationships like with these trainers?
They did respect him, Adam. They respected Cus but he was always an outcast for some reason. He was always the weird guy on Fourteenth Street close to Pete’s Tavern who was just different. The gym was different. If a fighter got good at his place, they couldn’t become the best at his place. They would have to then go to Stillman’s. That’s why he would have to pass Floyd off to [Dan] Florio. He wasn’t allowed to hold his fighters’ hand the whole way. So that was a really big limitation.
How did Cus perceive some of the other trainers of the era?
He liked pieces of their styles. He liked the way that Charlie Goldman talked to his fighters. He liked the way Ray Arcel worked the corner, like the Florio brothers did…Al Gavin and Bob Jackson, he thought that they were some of the youngest, greatest guys out there, especially Al. He loved Al – the way he worked cuts and things like that. So, he got along with them but some of his colleagues and peers just thought of him as an outcast.
There was a fairly long gap between Jose Torres’ career and Cus’ reemergence with Mike Tyson. Cus would leave New York City and go to Catskill, New York. How would you characterize his time in Catskill? He did open a gym there but he wasn’t the active trainer he was earlier in terms of having big-time fighters. What was his life like in that era, in the early and mid ‘70s?
Things were changing a lot in those times. You know, people always ask me if Cus was getting run out of Manhattan. He wasn’t getting run out, but it was more like pushed out. He was an old man by then. He had no more cards in his hand. He didn’t have a champion, and that was really hard and frustrating. He started to look to settle down. Jimmy said, “Go find a wife. I’m thinking about doing the same thing.” They wanted to relax and throw things back so to speak.
Cus’ family lived in the Catskill area. He used to always go out there for vacations. And all of his bass fishing was out there. My parents used to go to the Concorde and the Raleigh and those places. It seemed like Cus and those guys opened those places up. They would have demonstrations there and boxing training camps there. That’s really what happened in those days.
Mike Tyson gets brought to Cus, who is immediately enamored with him. That part of the story is well known. One aspect that I think is interesting is Cus’ relationship with his acolytes – Teddy Atlas and Kevin Rooney. There was the famous story with Atlas pulling the gun on Tyson and Atlas getting dismissed. From Cus’ perspective, can you walk us through some of those events? How did Cus perceive that disruption? Why did he make some of the decisions that he made?
Just to put it briefly, why would I want to put cold water on hot coals? Cus is thinking Mike is my last hurrah. And if you were Cus – you have to think about it from Cus’ mindset – anybody that interferes and puts water on my hot coals that may be my final, homegrown heavyweight champion of the world, that I created from the get-go…my Sonny Liston was the way that Cus thought about it. Nothing was going to stop him from doing that. Teddy Atlas, no matter how good he was – and I do respect a lot of things about Teddy, I have his number in my cell phone – but he has just not come to grips with it yet. One day there will be a book or an interview where he decides to open up, but he’s not ready to open up and tell the truth about his angle and what he saw. Trust me, I gave him many opportunities.
Teddy didn’t like the way that Cus was favoring Mike. Several times, Cus would undermine Teddy in front of Mike and Teddy felt a loss of respect. By the way, the gun story is 100% true and Teddy definitely fired a shot.
Was there competition between Teddy and some of the other younger trainers at Cus’ gym?
No, Teddy was the man. 100%. He was the senior student if you will. If you understand the martial arts world, he always stood front and right. He was the senior student. Nobody got in the way of Teddy except for Cus. Once people started to see Mike screwing off, they started to lose respect for Teddy. But that also became a sketchy scene and Teddy wasn’t always there. Teddy started to really become enveloped in the community. His wife was from there. She owned a nice Italian restaurant out there and he started to get ingrained in the community. He and Cus went at it once they started to gripe about Mike. Cus did not want to stop anybody from throwing water on his hot coals.
Were there discussions at the time about keeping Mike’s amateur status longer?
No, not at all. The main gist by Bill Cayton and Jimmy [Jacobs] was to send a VHS tape out in little packets, and I have one of these packets. They sent these packets out to every sports agent across the country. And they did like a guerrilla-style marketing.
They didn’t even want to wait. The way they pushed Mike, you can’t even do it like that anymore. Maybe you could through the Internet but not the way that they did. They did a guerilla-style marketing effort with Mike and they did not want him to stay an amateur.

His style was not an amateur style. Mike was not good at points. Look at the Tillman fights. Tillman I and II were a mess. Even seeing Mike at Colorado Springs [home or the United States Olympic training grounds], watching Mike fight, he was just atrocious as an amateur. Mike was a professional [style] from the day he started. They wanted him to get out of the amateurs immediately. Period.
As Cus started to deteriorate as he got older, Kevin Rooney took more of a lead role with Mike. Can you talk more about Rooney and what his role was in helping to shape the fighter who Mike Tyson became?
Kevin was there before Teddy. I know it sounds simple but it’s true. Kevin was a professional. Teddy couldn’t be a professional, so that’s why he started training with Cus. He had scoliosis. I treat patients with scoliosis to this day. You don’t stop fighting because of that unless your Cobb angle is greater than a certain degree. I think it’s 30 degrees if I’m not mistaken. He did not have that.
Cus didn’t want Teddy getting hurt. That’s the honest truth. He didn’t want him being a professional. He didn’t want him getting beat up. Cus also wanted Teddy to be his disciple. Cus knew he didn’t have long to live and he wanted to make sure he would pass on his legacy. So he made Teddy a trainer. At that time, Rooney was still fighting.
And then when it switched, when he [Cus] didn’t like Teddy anymore, there was no better person to help Mike than the guy who was actually doing it, and that was Kevin. Not only did Mike respect Kevin for that, but Cus respected Kevin for that.
What were some of the last moments of Cus’ life like? He had a fighter on the brink of becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in the world. There was this tremendous momentum building. But Cus wasn’t one to dwell on his declining health. Could you walk us through the last 12-18 months of Cus’ life?
They were pretty sad in a lot of ways. He never drove. People were always driving Cus around and doing things for him. And at that time, it became apparent that his physical conditioning and his ability to do the things to keep on living were just a task for him. His sleeping was not consistent throughout the night. He always slept alone. He never slept with Camille [his wife] ever. He would be so loud in his room that he would wake Camille and some of the other fighters up with his snoring and post nasal drip. He was just really becoming physically bad.
Unfortunately, and I hate to said it, but he became an angry, old Italian man, cursing at things. If you didn’t butter your bread properly, he would get mad at you. But while you were sleeping, he would come to you at your bedside and say, I’m sorry. That’s the type of guy Cus was. He was going through a lot of emotional variability. He was very up and down. It was very labile with his emotions at the time. Jimmy was really taking care of him the most at the time.
He formulated the plan for Mike. He made sure that Jimmy and Bill knew exactly the path that he wanted. Cus knew how to create champions – from the press part to the physical part to the mental part – and he didn’t want anything to stand in his way when it came to his last shot, which was Mike.
How would Cus perceive his own legacy in the sport?
Well Cus would want to have something to say about his own legacy. He would want to direct his past, present and future. That’s the funny part. He would want to be cracking jokes and telling you the way it should have been.
Cus really wanted to be a fighter like his brother Gerry, but he couldn’t pass the ocular test. He used to say that if Harry Greb could fight with a glass eye, so could he. He never really got to do everything he wanted to do. He felt like he could have done more and be better. Yeah, Mike was a great kid, but [using the Cus voice] “He wasn’t exactly what I wanted. He accomplished the goals that we set forth, but he could have done more. He could have done better.”
Cus believed there could have been a lot more people like that…if he had like a master and a student, who would bow down to him on his knees and listen to everything that Cus said. Not only listen to what Cus said, but he’d have to live in a monastery. He would have to sweep the monastery. Make rice. Really learn all of the attributes and that’s what he really wanted.
There’s a theme of regret that runs through Cus, if that’s the right word for it.
He’ll never be happy. He’ll never be satisfied. He always could do it better. Cus wanted to do it himself, but he could never. He wanted to get out there and really try and do it himself but he was never able to fully express himself in his lifetime, and that frustrated him. He was lonely.
As he got older, were there other fighters of that era whom he respected? Was he still a student of modern boxing?
He loved Ali. He really loved Ali a lot. He gave a lot of props to Muhammad for his charisma, the way he commanded his personality in the press, the way he commanded himself in the ring. I try to allude to this in the book that he had a better relationship with Ali than Angelo [Dundee] did and he had a closer relationship with Ali than most people really understood. So that was a huge person that he loved.
I would also say the other people he looked up to at that time when he was kind of fading...he loved the Hilton brothers in Canada. I don’t know if you heard of them but they were really big at the time. He really appreciated their zest for the art of the boxing. He did appreciate Roberto Duran’s camp until the whole No Mas fight. He also liked Hearns and while he was scared of Big George [Foreman], he respected him. He almost worked him out at one point, when Cus was in the Catskills.
Again, at that time, Cus was really out of it. The vibe of that era was nobody was calling Cus and saying, “Hey, what did you think about that fight. Hey what did you think about this fighter coming up.” It was quiet. The phone wasn’t ringing. There was a guy who I spoke to who was in that era of Cus’ life. They would just sit in the backyard with a lounge chair talking about the past, but nobody was calling Cus. That was a hard time for him. He was more of a critic or a criticizer of boxing at that time than somebody who was saying I like certain fighters.
Cus was thought of as a critical personality by some.
He thought boxing was safer than football. He would always say, “If people got hit as much as they thought a boxer did, then nobody would box.” The art and science of boxing is not to get hit. And he would try and get you into a verbal headlock and try to convince you of anything – like the reason why people stutter and get dementia has nothing to do with boxing.
Cus had his band of devotees and then a lot of critics. Were there any bridges that he burned that he regretted?
Floyd [Patterson] was the biggest one. Floyd was his big regret. Meaning, underneath his breath, while he was getting ready to pass away, he was still mumbling Floyd, I love Floyd. Period. Forget about Mike. Forget about Jose. Floyd was his boy. Floyd was his heyday. That’s when he had his vitality. He was able to train Floyd. I think Floyd was really his big regret of any connection he had with anyone.
His brothers also. Rocco was his older brother. He always had some issues with Rocco and I guess it was a control thing with Rocco being the only brother born in Italy. He always had battles with him in a way, as well as Tony, who always owed him money. And they always fought over that, even if it was for 10 bucks. I guess 10 bucks those days was more money but...he fought with his family a lot. There were a lot of heated fights.
Putting your speculation hat on for a second, in today’s boxing, who do you think are some people in the sport – trainers or fighters – that Cus would really respect?
There’s a group that tries to mimic Cus’ style. There’s a UFC fighter Dominic Cruz who’s part of a camp that tries do something that Cus did with numbering, but instead of numbering punches, they number punches, movements and kicks. So I think he would really appreciate their coaching.  That’s one group.
You know Cus didn’t like the people who were on top. He would really get upset looking, I would say, at a guy like Floyd Mayweather, making more money than any athlete in the world, just because of his style. He would say that that man really doesn’t want to give it up to get. He [Mayweather] would stay his distance and control the fight and make it go the way he wants, and that’s fine, but Cus didn’t like that. He didn’t like people who didn’t want to get challenged, that were afraid to show their true colors. That wouldn’t show a true champion. That’s why some people dislike Floyd. So part of it is Cus wouldn’t like what is out there. But any fighter who put his life on the line and truly immersed himself in boxing, Cus would appreciate.
How about somebody like Pacquiao who fights in a very aggressive style?
He would love that. I think I said that before. When you are faced down like that…god bless nothing like that ever happened where I had to get taken out either from a martial arts bout or a boxing match face down. That’s a tumultuous experience. The psychology that one needs to get coached back from something like that is paramount. More important than the training is to be able to get in there with the confidence; it takes a lot. Cus would have liked to have been there. That’s his thing – the psychology of it, how to get you back. He would have taken advantage of all of his skills with Manny Pacquiao.
What should today’s boxing trainers learn from Cus?
It’s all about your fighter. It’s not about you. Cus used to say, “The fighter fights. Just do what your job is and do it well, whether you hold the spit bucket or you’re the cutman.” You should know your role in the entourage. You’re sitting shotgun. You’re not in the driver’s seat. So that’s the first thing. Like I work with Gabe Bracero right now. I’m sitting shotgun with him. If not, I’m sitting shot-back-left. You’re in the car. That’s important to respect and remember. You have a spot in the training camp. I would say that would be the most important thing, that you have a role.
I’m trying to square what you just said with how Cus would take his fighters, break them down and make them conform to his wishes. Is what you said similar to how Cus would train his fighters?
Let me give you an example – Buster Mathis. Buster was an overweight guy that came to him. They said, Cus, train this guy. He said we’re not even getting in the gym. He said I’m not doing any boxing with you. He threw on roller skates and just wanted to see this big guy on roller skates. He wanted to see how he moved. He wanted to see how he talked to people and how he got along in crowds. 
That’s what Cus was about – who you really are as a person and a personality, because that comes through when you fight.
It seems hard to explain but you didn’t throw a punch or a kick until you know how to clean the monastery and make the rice paddies. That’s what was Cus was about, breaking you down, or learning about you is really what it comes down to. That’s what he did.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Contact Adam at
@snboxing on twitter
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Opinions and Observations: Broner-Maidana, Thurman

I will forever remember the joy – the euphoria in the crowd as Marcos Maidana was announced the winner over Adrien Broner, the cacophonous exclamations of shock and pleasure as Maidana sent Broner to the canvas in the second round, the hundreds of fans who lined up in the hotel lobby after 1 a.m. chanting and singing, flashing their cameras and mobbing Maidana as he walked into the fight hotel, trainer Robert Garcia reveling in Maidana's performance after the fight with a celebratory drink, erasing the sting of Pacquiao-Rios just a few weeks past. These moments are indelible to me. They are why the sport in my estimation has no parallels: the perseverance, the viciousness, the surprise, the upset, the glory, the elation. These are the intoxicants that make boxing so special.

Of course there are other images that made an imprint: Broner hurriedly leaving the ring after his first loss, the solemn and consoling beers shared by members of his team in the hotel lobby as joy and revelry were just a few feet away – their conversation was nothing above a whisper. These defeats hurt. They quash dreams, change realities and force people to consider their immediate futures.

The boxing world was turned on its head on Saturday with Marcos Maidana battering the supposedly better-skilled Adrien Broner over 12 rounds to win a hard-fought decision. Knocking him down in the second and the eighth, Maidana earned his first outright world championship after years of being so close to the top of the mountain.

Sure, many boxing fans disliked Broner's sense of entitlement, his out-of-the-ring antics and his lack of professionalism, but the night wasn't all about Broner's comeuppance. Maidana's fearlessness, power and perseverance have connected with boxing fans. They know that Maidana was never handed anything in the sport. He was brought in to lose to Victor Ortiz and Amir Khan. He was hand-picked by Devon Alexander to make his debut at 147. He was selected by Adrien Broner as a credible steppingstone to greater things in the sport. Maidana's glories in boxing have all been as a result of his sweat equity. He was never a "chosen one" or groomed by Golden Boy to be anything other than an opponent. 

But it's not just having a strong will that finally took Maidana to the top. Lots of boxers have never-say-die attitudes and the internal fortitude to become champion; however, they lack the technical skill to get there. After feeling he had plateaued as a fighter, Maidana enlisted Robert Garcia to help him improve. Saturdays' result was a stunning testament to how well the two have worked together.

Maidana's lead left hook was his money punch against Broner. But that deserves some additional discussion. It wasn't that he threw the punch that was so surprising; it was his ease with landing it. The Maidana of five fights ago would never have had the same type of success in connecting with that shot that he did on Saturday. Against Broner, Maidana disguised the punch with a shoulder feint. This forced Broner to defend against a potential incoming jab. Instead, Maidana unfurled a delayed looping left hook that nailed its target. In the past, Maidana didn't have feints or a jab. He would rush in with power shots through hell or high water. However, Broner defended Maidana the way that he did because of Maidana's improved jab. That whole sequence of success should be attributed to Maidana's further refinement under Garcia.

And unlike what Brandon Rios failed to do against Manny Pacquiao, Maidana went for the jugular from the opening bell, attacking Broner with right hands from over-the-top at close range, jabs to the body, grappling and left hooks. His determination and punch output immediately put Broner on the defensive.

Broner and his team were so worried about Maidana's lead right hands at the outset that Maidana was able to score with his other offerings. Interestingly, of the big punches that Maidana landed during the fight, very few were his traditional right hands – the ones that dropped Ortiz and sent Khan to funny town. He had more success against Broner with a right hand that he started above his head and shot it down to the back of Broner's. It was an untraditional punch, but it proved to be effective.

All of this speaks to Garcia's game plan. He knew how paramount it would be for Maidana to establish his other punches. He formulated a strategy that took advantage of Broner's slow starts and his willingness to mix it up. And as Broner rallied back into the fight (which he did in the middle rounds), Garcia never let up on Maidana, imploring his fighter to keep the pressure on and go for the big shots. Garcia knew that Maidana was the "opponent" and that the fight was in Texas, a jurisdiction that can be very hospitable to star fighters. It wasn't enough to be up by a few rounds and play it safe; the fight had to be in the bag. 

And there were many rounds, especially late in the fight, where Broner had good opening minutes, hitting Maidana solidly with combinations and backing him up towards the ropes. Yet Maidana dug down and fought back with his own determination vis-a-vis vicious bombs. He wasn't conceding rounds and he was willing to fight for all 12 (another new wrinkle in his game).

After the final bell sounded, the long delay in announcing the result was sickening. Could Maidana really get robbed? Surely, there are worse robberies that occur in the sport throughout the year. I had the fight 115-110, which equates to eight rounds to four, minus two points for Broner for the knockdowns and one point for Maidana for the egregious head butt in the eighth. Although there were three or four swing rounds in the fight, a judge would've had to bend over backwards to find a way to give the match to Broner. But this is boxing; these kinds of awful scenarios happen. It's why the sport can be so soul crushing at times. I was feeling uncomfortable. I'm sure that many in the audience were feeling similarly.

Finally, Jimmy Lennon Jr. grabbed the mic and said that there was a unanimous decision. I had some immediately relief. When he announced that the first judge, Stanley Christodoulou from South Africa, had it 115-110, I didn't even need to hear whom he had as the victor. Christodoulou is one of the finest judges in the sport, and if he had the score wide, I knew it was for Maidana. The final two scores were read (116-109 and 117-109) and the boisterous crowd erupted in a wave of revelry as "El Chino's" name was called. Saturday wasn't my first rodeo, but let me assure you that this was the most passionate crowd response I have witnessed in my years of attending live boxing. 

After the fight, fans, members of the media and those in other boxing camps congregated and expressed a combination of awe, jubilation, bewilderment and shock. They had seen a special performance. Very few had predicted that Maidana would win, and certainly even fewer thought that he would win a decision in Texas against a groomed star such as Broner. It was an unforgettable post-fight scene, with excitement and libations all around. 

As for Broner, I will not bury him here. I'll say that he fought back bravely after getting beaten up early in the fight. After seven, I had the bout even. But I think that the eighth round was the fight. Broner had an excellent first minute and landed hard right hands and left hooks. However, Maidana caught him with that left hook again and followed up with a blistering combination that led to the second knockdown. After Broner got up, Maidana continued to charge at him and rough him up. Although Broner was successful in milking a head butt for a point, I think that Maidana's ferociousness really stunned him.

Broner wasn't used to a guy walking through his shots. (And make no mistake; I saw Maidana on Sunday morning, he was really marked up). In addition, Broner's hand speed and accuracy weren't enough to thwart Maidana's desire to come forward and engage. Certainly, Maidana felt Broner's power, but was it anything worse than what he had experienced from Victor Ortiz (who knocked him down three times) or Jesus Soto Karass? Broner had only been in one real war in his career, against lightweight Antonio DeMarco, but that fight was effectively over in the mid-rounds after Broner started to unleash his power shots. Here, following that same blueprint, Maidana wasn't as compliant as DeMarco had been, and Broner had difficulty matching Maidana's punch volume and effort.

Let me also make some notes on the defensive differences between Broner and his role model, Floyd Mayweather. Broner absorbed the shots that he did on Saturday because he doesn't use his legs with the frequency or skill that Mayweather does. It's one thing to have a Philly shell defense; it's another thing to know when and how to spin out from the ropes, when to disengage and how to reset the action. Mayweather is just far more fluid with his feet than Broner is. Floyd uses distance and movement to control the pace of the action; Broner is often a stationary target.

I read an interview with Mayweather from earlier this year where he talked about the characteristics of his defensive style. He said that the most important part of his defensive posture was keeping his right hand up by his cheek to protect himself from the left hook. He would take getting hit with the jab as long as he could block the hook. Broner bit for Maidana's feints and after watching dozens of Mayweather fights, I'm not sure that he would've done the same. It's why jabbing can sometimes work against Mayweather. He'll give you a jab to land as long as he can stop the hook. 

One attribute of the Philly Shell is the ability to limit combination punching. With only allowing a limited area to hit, the first shot becomes primary. It's Shane Mosley cracking Mayweather from a distance with his right hand or Judah scoring with a single left.

Even with all of Maidana's success, I counted only a few instances where he was successful at throwing even a three-punch combination. Thus, as Garcia knew and instructed to Maidana, the first shot had to hurt. The left hook was delivered in such a way that it stunned Broner and gave Maidana the opportunity to land follow-on shots. A traditional jab-your-way-in approach to the shell doesn't work and Garcia didn't even try that. He instructed Maidana to deliver single jabs to the head or body to set up shots for later, not to initiate prolonged offensive exchanges. Again, this was an acute understanding of an opponent by a trainer and a wonderful example of a fighter incorporating the teachings of his coach.

For Broner, it may make sense for him to drop down to 140, a division he passed over earlier this year. It's clear that his power won't be enough to take out the top players in the division and his sparse punch volume coupled with defensive holes make it tough for him to beat the best welterweights.

It will be fascinating to see what he does next. Will he insist on a rematch? Does he want another top guy at 147? Will he take on one of the bad boys at 140, like Danny Garcia or Lucas Matthysse?

I'm sure that Broner will want to remain in the limelight but will he put in the time at the gym to get better? Will he be a Marcos Maidana and learn from his defeats, or will he be an Andre Berto and never really recover from his first loss? His frame of mind and dedication will now determine his future in the sport. He has more than enough skills to beat top guys. But he needs to understand that to be the best there has to be constant improvements and adjustments. He has to be willing to put in the work.

For Maidana, he literally has 10 guys who would be viable opponents. Everyone from Mayweather to Guerrero to Thurman to Matthysse to Garcia to Porter, and the list goes on and on. A lot will depend on the Mayweather dominoes. If Mayweather selects Khan to fight next, he'll need a big name and an action fighter to support him on the undercard. You can bet that Maidana would get prime consideration for that coveted slot in May. Even if Mayweather goes in another direction, Maidana's name is virtually synonymous with must-see TV (we'll forget that the Devon Alexander fight happened). Whomever Maidana winds up fighting next, he will have successfully filled up his financial coffers in 2014 from his performance on Saturday. It was a night that can never be taken away from him, or from the multitude of boxing fans for which he provided so much joy.


Undefeated welterweight Keith Thurman made an impressive showing on the undercard as he stopped the rugged Jesus Soto Karass in the ninth round. As the fight started, Soto Karass made an immediate impact by buckling Thurman's knees with a vicious uppercut. Similar to his last outing against Diego Chaves, Thurman felt his opponent's power and decided to fight in boxer-puncher mode instead of an all-out slugger. 

After the first couple of rocky rounds, Thurman took control of the fight. Boxing sprightly on his feet, he used his legs and his large offensive arsenal to alternately negate and thump Soto Karass. In the past, we had been conditioned to see Thurman as the seek-and-destroy young gun, but on Saturday, he was ducking under punches, turning Soto Karass, picking spots in the ring to initiate action and controlling much of the fight with his jab and movement.

But this being Thurman, he didn't try to stink out the fight. No, when he let his hands go, he unloaded vicious bombs, including his right hand, left uppercut to the body and a left uppercut/hook hybrid punch that led to his first knockdown in the fifth round and initiated the final sequence in the ninth. Soto Karass spent much of the fight eating punches or blindly following Thurman around the ring. Thurman used the entire squared-circle to his advantage and expertly navigated along the ropes to thwart Soto Karass' oncoming aggression.

It was less than 18 months ago when many big-time boxing writers derided Thurman as nothing more than an Al Haymon creation. They mocked HBO for featuring him on its airwaves. To my eyes, that was unwarranted then, and Thurman's continued advancement in the ring has made those particular fight scribes look foolish; he's one of the most exciting young fighters in boxing.

Almost under-the-radar, Thurman has been moved expertly. From the crafty Carlos Quintana to the mature and durable Jan Zaveck to the banger Chaves to the pressure fighter Soto Karass, Thurman has seen an array of different styles as the quality of his opposition has increased. For his next fight, there will be lots of talk about a Maidana matchup (Maidana actually passed up that fight last year) and it's a scenario that promises fireworks. I think that Thurman might be ready for it, but if his team is still interested in further refining him, I would suggest that he try and track down a mover like Paulie Malignaggi. That would be an interesting battle which would force Thurman into a cerebral fight. It would also prepare him for some of the more well-rounded and tactical talents at 147.

Through Thurman's development process, we have learned a lot about him. We know that his chin is pretty damn good. He certainly is much more than just a one-punch knockout artist. He has very good foot speed and at least above-average hand speed. He can jab and go to the body. Perhaps most impressively, he has three knockout weapons with his right hand, left hook and left uppercut.

Another attribute I particularly like about Thurman is his coachability. Although he possessed raw power 16 months ago, his shots were very wide and telegraphed. He has done an excellent job of working with trainer Dan Birmingham to shorten his punches and use his considerable athletic gifts to separate himself from his opponents. Sure, there are still things to learn. I think he wastes a little too much energy bouncing up and down in the ring; better controlling his aggression might make him that much more lethal. In addition, he could add some feints to his repertoire. Feinting his right would open up so many possibilities for his left hook and uppercut. His weapons are real; now it's just a case of delivering them with maximum impact.

On a final note, Thurman spent almost three hours after the fight talking with fans, taking pictures and signing autographs. Holding court at a table near the center of the hotel bar, Thurman had a small group from his team with him, but there was no posse or barrier restricting access. Actually, he jumped up whenever someone came to talk with him. He went back and forth with media members. He gracefully accepted well-wishers.

Thurman seems to be a fighter who is incredibly comfortable in his own skin. He has a combination of intelligence, confidence and sincerity that really connects with fans. Still only 25, he has some big fights ahead of him and there are no guarantees that his record will remain unblemished in the next 18 months. Nevertheless, I think that there's a very good chance that Thurman becomes a significant star in the sport. If he stays in the gym and keeps working his tail off, he may become one of the true drivers in boxing, with the chance to expand the reach of the sport further into the mainstream. He's standing on the precipice of great things and maybe only his will and determination will govern how far he can go. Keep your eyes here.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Contact Adam at 
@snboxing on twitter
Follow Saturday Night Boxing on Facebook: