Thursday, February 28, 2013

Boxinghead Battle Update 2-28-13

Here are the updated standings for the 2013 Boxinghead Battle prediction game, a contest where professional boxing observers and amateur fans compete to see who can pick the most fights correctly.  For the full set of rules for the 2013 Boxinghead Battle, click here. There are 67 players currently participating in this half-season of the Battle. Christopher Coreschi leads at +5.

Updated 2-28-13

Abramowitz, Adam (saturday night boxing) +2
Anjuum, Mohammad 0
Barry, Alex (boxing seed) +2
Boxing 101 +1
Boxing Advocate +4
Bivins, Ryan (bad left hook) +2
Browning, Ryan +2
Campbell, Brian (espn) +2
Christ, Scott (bad left hook) +2
Coppinger, Mike (ring) +2
Coreschi, Christopher +5
Craze, Tom (bad left hook) +1
Daniel +2
Dre 0
Enriquez, Hernan 0
Ferguson, Billy (fighthype) +4
Fischer, Douglass (ring) +2
Foley, James (bad left hook) +2
Frauenheim, Norm (15 rounds) +3
Freeburn, Shannon +0
Freeman, Jeff (KO Digest) +1
Fruman, Andrew (bad left hook) -1
Garcia, Julio +1
Greisman, David (boxing scene) -2
Groves, Lee (the ring) +3
Grozev, Radoslav +2
Guryashkin, Igor (espn) +2
Halford, Adrian +2
Hamad 0
Haro, Frank -1
Hegarty, Lucy +2
Jrosales -1
Junior Uzzy +1
Kitchen, Kory (bad left hook) +0
Levine, Adam -2
Marotta, Rich +3
Maquinana, Ryan (boxing scene) +3
McCarson, Kelsey (the sweet science) +1
Mojica, Matthew +4
Mulcahey, Marty (maxboxing) +1
Oakes, Dave (bad left hook) 0
Obermayer, Jack (fight fax) +3
Odessa, Joey (MMA odds) +1
Ortega, Mark (ring) +2
Pawel +2
Poplawski, Ray 0
Rafael, Dan (espn) +1
Rawson, Paul +4
Richardson, Matt (fight news) +3
Robinson, Chris (boxing scene) +3
Rodriguez, Alex +2
Rold, Cliff (boxing scene) +2
Rosenthal, Michael (ring) +3
Salazar, Victor (boxing voice) +2
Santoloquito, Joe (ring) +3
Sher, Laurence +1
Sledskillz +3
Songalia, Ryan (ring) +1
Starks, Tim (tqbr) 0
SwishZ 0
Talbott, Steven 0
The Title Fight +2
Two Piece Boxing +3
Uddin, Riaz +1
Uriarte, Jorge 0
Velin, Bob (USA Today) +3
Weiler, Matt -1

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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Don't Rob Me

I get the call on three week's notice. It's on national TV against a tough guy. But I can take him. I know it. The fight's in his home town. Should be a good crowd there. He's being pushed as the next big thing by his promoter. He's boxing's next star and all that stuff. I've heard it all before. Hey, they said that about me 10 years ago. He has skills, don't get me wrong, but I can beat him. I take the fight. The money's not bad. And I've got to feed my family. 

I've got a daughter. She's five. She's the love of my life. I fight for her. I have a full-time job doing construction. The hours are tough but I can train at night. I get up at 4:45 every day, do a quick run and I'm at the job by 7. At 4, I head over to the gym and we go to work. Most days I don't see my daughter until she's almost ready for bed. But that hour or two a day is so special. I read to her. I listen to what's going on at school. She's in kindergarten now and she grows up so fast. The other day she asked me if I was hurt. She saw bruises on my face and she was worried. Smart girl too.

Next week, I get on a plane. I'm not supposed to win but I'm going to shock the world. I'm not an opponent. My new manager has a plan for me. Win this fight and it will be six-figures. Lose, and I'm back to just scraping by. Don't really have a choice the way I see it. But I'm feeling good. I have a new lease on life. My shoulder's feeling better and I train smarter now. It's not about whipping five boys at the gym. It's about getting my work in.

I wasn't always an angel. I get that. I burned a bridge or two. No denying that. I didn't always listen to the right people. Hung around with a couple of bad guys. I could have trained harder. I threw a lot of money around.

The weird thing about having money when you're young is that you think it's going to be there forever. Then one day, it's almost all gone. I'm not bitter about it, not anymore. I put myself in that position. I messed up. It's on me.

But I'm telling you, I can beat this kid. He's never seen a jab like mine. He's used to brawlers. I can box. I can move. My legs are feeling great.

When I started, I had that right hand. It was lightning quick. BAM! Light's out. Game over. That was my money punch. Brought me up through the amateurs, almost made it to the Olympics. For awhile, it was easy. They were putting guys in front of me and I was knocking them out, one after the other. They had never seen anyone like me.

But something happened. I didn't have that spark in the gym. I never felt right. First it was my ankle, then my shoulder. I couldn't pop like I used to. Didn't help that I was up late at the clubs. Burning the candle at both ends.

And then one day, 5th round KO. Didn't see the punch. Tough fight. The kid brought it. I remember the plane ride home. My team was cheering me up. There were saying it was a lucky punch. Things happen in boxing. All that stuff. I took the loss hard. I hate losing.

A few weeks later, I go back to the gym. But it wasn't right. I wasn't feeling the same. I didn't train as hard. I wanted to go all out, but I just couldn't. Started to cut some corners. It wasn't like before. Looking back I was just going through the motions at that time.

I started boxing when I was 8 and now I was 26. Didn't seem like I ever stopped. It got tougher and tougher. I kept fighting. First fight back was a confidence guy. Dusted him. But things weren't going well at the gym. Coach and I would argue a lot. In the ring, I didn't feel sharp. I'd win a few fights then lose one.

My promotional contract ran out and they didn't renew it. These were guys who said I'd make millions. They brought me to Vegas when I first signed with them and had a big press conference. It was written up on espn.com.  Suddenly, I didn't have a promoter. I didn't have a plan.

I never really paid too much attention to the money. One day I went through my accounts and I noticed there wasn't much left. I was in shock. I called the banks and we went through everything line by line. It was almost all gone. My signing bonus, the network contract, the endorsement checks. Gone. Like a puff of smoke.

It was a tough time. I had a baby girl on the way and all that time I sacrificed, all that work I put in, didn't leave me with much. I felt like I let my mom and dad down. I felt like a failure.

As I said, I no longer had a promoter. I had nothing in the works. People didn't call or come by the house like they did. I had a mortgage to pay and nothing was coming in.

The thing about depression is that it's so hard to shake it. It just crawls up inside of you and won't let go. It's awful. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. At one point, for almost four months I didn't leave my house much. I'd run errands or something, but I was in my own world. Didn't really want to see anyone. Didn't want to talk to anyone. 

I had a trophy room in the house where I kept all of my awards and medals. There was my first-place trophy in the National PAL Tournament.  I had my regional belts from the pros. My USBA belt. One day, I walked in the room and I just couldn't look at it anymore. Destroyed almost everything. I tore that room apart.

To me, where I was at that time, I didn't deserve those trophies. I was nothing. I was supposed to be the best. But I was just a loser. My girlfriend, now my wife, was there with me that day and just cried and cried. And I just sat there on the floor of the room, holding a piece of a trophy for what must have been five or six hours.

I put on weight. I blew up 45 lbs. I didn't feel like going to the gym anymore. I watched a lot of TV. Judge Judy. Cops. Maury Povich. It didn't matter.

It wasn't like everyone left me. My amateur coach dropped by every now and then. My professional trainer, or Coach, as we call him, stayed loyal, but he didn't pity me. He tried getting me out of the house but I wasn't listening. Some of the other fighters from the area were my good friends. They'd send me texts telling me to keep my head up. It didn't really matter.

A couple of things changed though. I got a call from a small promoter in Atlantic City. They needed help selling some tickets and he offered me a fight. It was a six-rounder against some scrub. But the money was pretty decent. I thought about it for a day and said OK. I was just tired of sitting around.

I went back to the gym and put in some hard work. One day I woke up, it must have been about two weeks before the fight, and I couldn't move my right arm. It felt kind of funny more than anything. But I couldn't do anything with it and it wasn't getting better. I went to my doctor and he sent me to a specialist. We took some X-Rays and an MRI. He told me I had a torn labrum in my shoulder and I'd be on the shelf for awhile, maybe for a year. If I didn't have the surgery I wouldn't be able to box again. 

I went home and thought about everything. I wasn't ready to retire. In my heart, I knew I had something left. My girlfriend made me promise her that if I ever fought again, I'd give it 100%. No excuses. I said yes on the spot. Easiest promise I ever made. Kept it too. We had the surgery and that pretty much took care of whatever savings we had left.

My girlfriend, she was great. She stuck with me the whole time and just kept me centered. It didn't matter that she was pregnant and going through that. She stayed strong for me. The night after the surgery I was lying down and she was rubbing my head. I looked up at her and said, "Will you be with me always?" And she said yes. Like it was nothing. But I don't think she really understood, so I said, "Will you be with me as my wife?" She looked at me and started crying and I cried too. It was just a beautiful moment. I'll never forget it. I didn't have a ring or anything. But it was the best decision I ever made.

Then in a few weeks my angel was born. And suddenly life was much better. I took a job in my uncle's office just answering phones or doing this and that. Pick up a permit at City Hall or drive this person here or there. It wasn't tough but it was nice to get out of the house.

I started going hard at rehab. Did a lot of work at the pool, some strengthening exercises, lots of flexibility work. About six months after the surgery, I laced up the gloves. Man did I miss it. You really don't know what you have until it's gone. I remember the first day back, I could only hit the heavy bag a few times. I'm sure the young kids there after school probably hit harder than me that day, but I didn't care. It felt good.

I went back to doing road work. And I missed it. There's something about the cold air in the morning. It keeps you going for the rest of the day. There's that feeling that you're up earlier. You're getting ahead while everyone's sleeping. Champions get up early. The discipline. I missed it.

As my shoulder started getting better, I went out to some of the construction sites. I had never had a full-time job in my whole life. The pay was better than sitting around the office and I liked the fresh air. Good guys too. Many of them had been fans of mine. At first, they would bring a poster or a pair of gloves to sign, but eventually, I was just like the rest of them.

I talked with Coach more. I told him I wanted to make another run. But I needed to make some changes. I wanted new management. I couldn't afford to make any more mistakes. A few weeks later, he brought in some guys and we really hit it off. They had a plan for me. No shortcuts. Just what Coach and I wanted. We signed some contracts and I was back in business. I hadn't fought in almost two years but I was ready.

First fight back was just a four-rounder. I was the main event but it was against some local dude who was 4-13-1. We swept the fight and got the decision. Man, I was rusty. My timing was off on my combinations. I didn't really let my right hand go either. But my jab was there. It was a good start.

We worked back slowly. I fought five times the next year, all four and six-rounders. The money wasn't anything special but I was getting my name out there. Training hard. Feeling back to my old self in the gym. The other boxers around town started showing up at my fights. Their support meant everything to me.

Flash forward to six months ago and things were going fine. I won 11 in a row in my comeback and I'm on the final undercard fight before the HBO show goes live. I'm fighting another guy like me. A guy with a name who got knocked out a couple of times but was trying to make it back. It was my first 10-rounder in almost five years. I do my ring walk. The HBO suits are in the crowd. The camera's rolling. They were doing tests for the show.

Let me tell you, I had it that night. BAM! I was smooth. The jab was working. All night we hit him with the 3-2. I hit him with one right in the fourth. It pushed him back to the ropes. I'll never forget his face. I saw it in his eyes. He was ready to go. I was about to jump on him but the bell saved him.

Coach is getting on me in the corner. Telling me to stay aggressive. That everyone's watching. Bell rings to start the fifth and the guy's still on his stool. He's done. The fight's over. We're jumping up and down in the ring. My wife comes in. It was the first fight she brought my daughter to. We hugged and people were coming over to congratulate us. That high. That high is amazing. There's nothing like it.

We started getting some offers. Nothing great, but the phone was ringing. My manager told me to be patient. And then a few weeks ago we got the call. The original guy got hurt in camp. Would I be interested?  It was a tough fight but I'd seen the guy before. I could get to him. The money wasn't life changing or anything but it was still the best I'd seen in years. I took it. What the heck. You've got to make your own luck sometimes. He's got some power, but he's green. He can't fight anyone that can move.

So I'll be on the plane. And I'm going to give it my best. They let me get off work to train full time. The weight's been fine and I'll tell you, I'm killing it in the gym. I dropped this guy during sparring two days ago with a left uppercut and he just went to sleep. The gym basically stopped. I mean, I never had that punch before, not like that.

We're feeling good. We're ready. My sister and her family are coming out as well. They made shirts for us to wear for the weekend. They had a big story about me in the newspaper. My wife made copies for everyone at her job. We're all hyped up. 

But we're also serious. I'm doing it right this time. Eating the right things. Getting my rest. Training as hard as I can and listening to Coach.

I'm going to walk in that ring and let it fly. I think I got the kid's number. All I want, all i ask for, is a fair shake. If I win, give it to me. If I lose fair and square, give it to him. But don't rob me. Give me this chance to succeed. I know his record is good, but he's got holes. Watch the fight. I'll be popping him with my jab and right hand all night. He looks the part, but I got the skills.

If I win, big things are in store for me. I'll move up high in the WBA and the WBO. I might be up for an eliminator next. If I lose, I'm back to eight rounders in front of 300 people. I've put the time in.  I'm doing everything right. I'm playing by the rules. Don't rob me.

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Opinions and Observations: Broner-Rees


There was a sequence on Saturday that encapsulated Adrien Broner's uniqueness in the ring. Not captured on the HBO broadcast, after his pulverizing fifth-round knockdown of Gavin Rees, Broner immediately ran across to the other side of the ring. He talked to the camera and danced; he thought Rees wasn't getting up. At the count of eight, he turned back to the fight. When Rees was able to continue, Broner seamlessly went back to work and landed more pulverizing power shots.

Again, this all happens in a little more than 10 seconds. Broner scores a crushing knockdown with a left uppercut to the body. Immediately, he starts dancing, bragging to the camera and taking in the rapt affection from the crowd. He turns around and with no change in his demeanor, he continues his punishing assault. The fight gets stopped moments later.

To me, it was stunning. In those brief moments when Rees was sprawled out on the canvas, Broner didn't care if he got up or not. If he reached his feet, Broner would just go for the inevitable killshot. If not, the party would just start earlier. Broner was in his element. He looked as relaxed as a day at the gym blitzing through sparring partners. The moment didn't get to him, it almost seemed beneath him. This was a 23-year old beating a former world title holder on an HBO main event and Broner swatted Rees away like he was a gnat who happened to interrupt his summer stroll, a speed bump on his way to the freeway.

What makes Broner particularly interesting is that his theatrics are inseparable from who he is as a fighter. His dancing, gesturing and fighting all constitute his entire package in the ring. There is no isolating one from the other. His flash is essentially ingrained with his performance in the ring. It comes across like peak Roy Jones but with even less respect for his opponents (if that is even possible).

Attention-grabbers are not new in boxing; it’s part of the currency of the sport. There have been shuckers, jivers, intimidators, protestors, clowns and dancers. But Broner's activities in the ring are not extracurriculars; they are absolutely central to his ring identity. He used a bolo punch in the second round not just to entertain the crowd, but to measure Rees with his right hand, and then crush him with a power shot. It wasn't a bolo punch like the famous Sugar Ray Leonard shot; this punch was a deliberate calculation, designed to create a strategic boxing opening.

Broner nodded his head all night at Rees' direction. He provided constant non-verbal communication, shaking it after Rees hit him and moving it more affirmatively after he landed a solid punch. As he walked Rees down in the fourth and fifth rounds, he slowly nodded his head, in rhythm, letting Rees know that the fight was turning. He wasn't nodding once to let an opponent know he wasn't hurt; his gesturing was constant. It's very much part of who he is as a fighter.

Forget his rapping during his ring entrances, the lame attempts at humor or the "canned" answers to interviews. In the ring, Broner is a different animal. There is no switch where he gets down to business. This desire to entertain, to intimidate and to annihilate is very real. With other fighters, these "additional" attributes might be perceived as glorified distractions, but they are absolutely central to the makeup of Adrien Broner.

In the first two rounds Rees had success with short left hooks to the head and body and sneaky right hands. Broner mostly covered up and studied his opponent. It was obvious that he hadn't seen videotape of Rees. Now some fighters claim that they don't watch their opponents on film (but secretly do); however, this was an example of Broner literally using the first two rounds like it was an exhibition season, like the games didn't count yet. This disdain or ignorance of his opponent wasn't some guise or affectation. It wasn't an exercise in playing it cool. Broner literally had no idea what he was walking in to, and he didn't seem to care.

Rees did have a nice game plan to start the fight. He tried to limit countering opportunities by keeping his punches short and using angles. He fought valiantly and kept firing back his best punches, even as Broner started to pile on serious leather. Ultimately, he couldn't hurt Broner and the gap in hand speed and power was too much for him to overcome.

Still, Rees had a great moment in the second. After his bolo punch, Broner went in for a clinch. As they separated, Broner had his hands down and Rees crushed him with a left hook that sent Broner's head back. Broner seemed stunned for a second. Even in the fifth, when things weren't going well for Rees, he landed a big right and dropped his hands as if to say, "I'm not intimidated by you." Rees gained a lot of fans on Saturday with his guts, spunk and moxie, but he was outgunned.

Sitting in the stands of Boardwalk Hall, I started making mental notes of the lead punches that Broner landed: straight right hand, left hook, right uppercut, left uppercut, and jab. Again, these were just his lead shots. Broner doesn't just have all of these weapons, he likes to take them out of their cases and fire off rounds with them. Unlike many other fighters, who consciously transition to their secondary and tertiary punches, Broner throws all of his punches throughout a fight and they flow with an instinctiveness that belies his 23 years of age. There are no wheels that turn when he throws a combination. He's not making strategic calculations on the fly. These punches are almost a priori with him. He throws them because they need to be thrown, and because he can throw them. He doesn't intellectualize boxing, but he seems to have an innate understanding of what he needs to do in the ring.

There are three things that may give Broner problems as he faces better competition. First, his willingness to take risks might come back to haunt him. His desire to entertain and mix it up is laudable and wonderful for the fans, but a fighter that gets hit too much is a vulnerable fighter. It's unclear if Broner's defense has deteriorated or if he feels that his chin is so strong that he can take whatever comes his way. Nevertheless, these moments, and others where Broner covers up and leaves his body exposed, could lead to opportunities for future opponents.

Second, his wide stance is designed to land power punches; it also creates openings for mobile boxers (think of a guy like Miguel Vazquez). Broner likes to walk his opponents down. If his foe isn't in front of him, he'll have to go find him. Broner is at his best flat-footed, not on the balls of his feet. Mobile guys, especially ones with strong lateral movement, could give him trouble.

Finally, his inability to study fighters, or at least have a basic understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, could be a real problem. Against top competition, he won't be able to give away two or three rounds with such carelessness. Certainly he has tremendous boxing skills and he knows how to break down fighters, but there needs to be a middle ground between where he was on Saturday and coming into the fight as a genuine student of the game.

Putting aside these questions for another day, Broner looks like a special fighter to me. He has "it" – that intangible something which is compelling and makes people want to tune in. "It's" unpredictable and wildly entertaining. "It" makes people buy tickets and pay per views.

After the fight, fans in Boardwalk Hall were buzzing like they saw something special, and they had. Spectators witnessed a young gun with power, hand speed, charisma, a willingness to take risks and a desire to entertain. The people in that arena will be coming back for more. Broner's package doesn't just grow on trees and fans realize that. Broner will become a much bigger figure within the sporting world over the next 18 months.

Enjoy the ride. It should be a lot of fun.

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Opinions and Observations -- The Frampton-Martinez Card

Belfast, Ireland native Carl Frampton landed a beautiful right hand during an exchange in the ninth round that dropped European titleholder Kiko Martinez (from Spain), ending what was otherwise a very competitive fight on Saturday. Although there was only one year difference between the fighters (Frampton – 25, Martinez – 26), Martinez entered the match with 15 more pofessional bouts than Frampton did and had faced the higher level of opposition.  This experience gap was evident early in the fight.

Whether it was nerves, the big stage, the experience level of Martinez or just a faulty game plan, Frampton started the fight very cautiously.  Maneuvering himself around the ring past the hard-charging Martinez, Frampton used his legs and quick shots to escape harm's way.  However, "escape" is what Frampton did. 

In his quick ascent up the prospect ranks, Frampton didn't excite boxing observers because of his ability to run or stick and move.  At his best, like in the Steve Molitor fight, Frampton demonstrated impressive offensive gifts and a killer instinct.  That was the Carl Frampton who seemed destined for big things in the sport. The Frampton who fought on Saturday was tentative throughout much of the bout.

Nevertheless, Frampton was winning his fair share of rounds.  Martinez stalked him relentlessly but didn't often land cleanly or move his hands enough to take the majority of the rounds.  I had Frampton up 78-74, or six rounds to two, before the stoppage. However, many saw the fight closer. Martinez did have his moments, especially in rounds like the third where he landed flush left hooks as Frampton tried to escape along the ropes. 

Frampton's best rounds were the fourth and the ninth where he held his ground and exchanged.  In these frames, Frampton stopped Martinez's forward momentum with blistering combinations, especially his straight right hand and left hook. Frampton ended the fight as I believe he should have started it: imposing his will. Ultimately, Frampton and/or his trainer, Shane McGuigan, showed Martinez too much respect in the ring.  The amount of caution that Frampton displayed was unwarranted.  It was a wonderful knockout but his performance left something to be desired.

In my estimation, Frampton doesn't have the skill set or ring IQ to be a pure boxer. First, he often circles incorrectly, as he often did on Saturday to Martinez's right side.  Second, he doesn't get in and out of the pocket effectively.  He drops his hands often and frequently keeps them down when moving.  These are significant flaws, correctable, but evidence that Frampton is not a real ring technician at this stage of his career.

One of the great challenges for young fighters is to fully understand and harness their ring identity.  On Saturday, Frampton demonstrated that he is not fully formed yet in the ring.  On the surface, that's fine. He's still young; he was in with his toughest opponent to date. It's what Team Frampton takes away from the victory that is most important. Will they see that Frampton was at his best on Saturday holding his ground and trading? Is the goal to make him some type of slick boxer/puncher?  Ultimately, these are some very serious questions to be answered, and as he moves up in the junior featherweight division, he needs to have these answers in relatively short order.  Frampton is already a top-10 fighter at 122. He may have only one or two additional development fights before his title shot. His team has its work cut out for them.

A matchup that has enticed the boxing world (especially in the U.K.) is a possible showdown between Frampton and Scott Quigg. They are both promoted by different entities (Frampton with Matchroom, Quigg with Hatton Promotions) and are on different paths at the moment, but it's certainly a fight that would draw enormous interest. 

At this point, I would favor Quigg, who is sounder defensively and has more poise in the ring than Frampton does. Frampton has the flashier offensive arsenal but Quigg has the patience, appetite for body punching and ring awareness to cause some significant problems for Frampton. It's a great style matchup and I hope that the fight happens sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, it would do wonders for Frampton and his team to work on tightening up some of his wide shots, especially his right hand, and improving his glove positioning on defense.

*******************************************************

On the undercard, featherweight Lee Selby cruised to a unanimous decision (118-110, 117-111 and 118-109) over Martin Lindsay, who had toughness, but not much more. Selby, a British and Commonwealth belt holder from Wales, has a large offensive arsenal and is a committed body puncher.  His left hook is his best punch and he works well off of the jab.  On defense, he does a nice job slipping punches while not taking himself out of throwing range. 

One thing I liked about Selby's performance was that he made a nice adjustment to Lindsay's left hook.  After getting hit numerous times with that punch in the first three rounds, Selby raised his right hand and Lindsay's left hook ceased to be a factor in the fight. 

Selby is an imposing featherweight with the tools and skills to progress to the world-class level.  One attribute of his performance that left something to be desired was his inability to step on the gas.  By the eighth round, it was clear that Lindsay was no threat in the ring; he was essential surviving.  However, Selby was content to maintain his workmanlike pace and judiciously pick his spots.  He finally hurt Lindsay at the end of the 10th with a series of power shots. Lindsay looked ready to go, but Selby started the 11th without any increased urgency.  He wound up with the easy win, but he should have had the knockout. 

Nevertheless, Selby is an excellent talent in the featherweight division.  The next 18 months will be critical for his team as they position him for European and international belts.  Selby is close to a fully formed fighter but it will be interesting to see if he can learn some of the finer points of ring generalship. Will he be able to get guys out of the ring when they're hurt? How will he react to a first-rate puncher?  Does he have a real knockout punch? Stay tuned.

*******************************************************

Irish middleweight Andy Lee hooked up with trainer Adam Booth (David Haye, George Groves) after the passing of his former trainer, Emanuel Steward. Lee's professional career to this point has been something of a mixed bag.  He's been knocked out by Bryan Vera and Julio Chavez and he has yet to defeat anyone in the top levels of the division. 

Under Steward's tutelage, Lee developed an excellent straight left hand and a solid right hook. The three knocks on Lee were his defense, his inconsistent jab and his conditioning. The former Olympian had a significant amount of hype as he rose up the prospect ranks but at this point in his career, it's not certain if he will ever become a top middleweight.

Enter Adam Booth.  Booth fancies himself as a master boxing tactician and in certain fights, whether it's Haye-Valuev or Groves-DeGale, you can clearly see Booth's imprint on the final result. Booth enjoys clever boxing and he likes his fighters to use the ring to their advantage.  This approach can work well with athletically gifted fighters or those with a particularly high ring IQ, but it's not for everyone.

To see Lee struggle at times on Saturday against a C-level fighter, Anthony Fitzgerald, was distressing. Booth had Lee fighting off of his back foot, counterpunching along the ropes and throwing quick shots and turning his opponent.  Lee won the bout fairly comfortably by rounds but Fitzgerald applied serious pressure throughout the entire fight. The official score was 98-94 (in non-title fights in the U.K., the referee is the sole judge).  I had him ahead 98-92 on my card but it wasn’t an easy fight. Although Fitzgerald didn't have the technique or power to hurt Lee, he certainly succeeded in making the fight competitive.  

I think that Lee's at his best when he's attacking, when he fires off lead power shots with his right hook or left hand.  (In some fights, his jab can be a plus.)  To Booth's credit, Lee looked to be in fine condition and he dealt with Fitzgerald's aggression quite well. But he didn't shine. 

I'm not sure if Lee and Booth will be a good match.  Lee is a power puncher, not a clever boxer.  He lacks the athleticism or punch output of many of the top guys in the division.  His best opportunity against good opposition is to land his power shots with maximum impact.  Obviously, it's tough to make firm judgments after one fight, but if Lee doesn't progress quickly under Booth, I think a trainer switch should be in order.  Booth has real ring acumen, but I'm skeptical that this match will work out well for either party.

After the fight, Lee talked about wanting to fight Matthew Macklin or Darren Barker.  Both of those fights would be fun and they would sell tickets in the U.K. or Ireland.  At this point, Barker would probably be a more winnable fight for Lee, but it still would be tough to make Lee the favorite.  Ultimately, Lee's team is going to have to take some risks in matching him. He's not a top athlete and his punching power is very good but not necessarily elite. Perhaps he lands a menacing left hand and he picks up an upset victory one of these days.  I think that's his only road towards the top of the division. Maybe Booth thinks Lee can box his way to a belt; I don't see it.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of saturdaynightboxing.com.
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Boxing Asylum Podcast

Today i joined the Boxing Asylum podcast to discuss Mayweather, Broner, Smoger, Frampton and more.  I really enjoyed it.  Click the link to hear it.  http://boxingasylumpodcast.tumblr.com/