Friday, April 24, 2015

Five Fights: What We've Learned

The last few weeks have been tough for me to crank out the writing. Dealing with a nasty case of strep throat and traveling all around for work (these two things are related), my boxing output hasn't been what I'd like it to be. But the fights never stop and April has seen a number of memorable battles, two of which I attended – Danny Garcia-Lamont Peterson and Andy Lee-Peter Quillin. Ultimately, there's been some great stuff to write about so pardon my delinquency in these matters and let's get to the fights. However, instead of giving you weeks-old recaps, I'll focus on what I've taken away from five bouts in particular. Let's start with the Barclays card.

I. Danny Garcia MD Lamont Peterson

Lesson learned: Clowning is only appropriate if you're clearly winning the fight. 

It's clear from watching the unusual battle between Garcia and Peterson that Peterson got the best of the action...when he decided to engage. Dominating the latter rounds of the fight on the inside, Peterson asserted his will and made Garcia look pedestrian. However, fights are judged by the 10-point "must" system and each round counts as much as the next; Peterson just didn't do enough in the first seven rounds to warrant winning a decision. 

Now, a number of respected boxing writers had Peterson victorious on their cards but in the arena, the fans were none too happy with Peterson's performance in the first half of the fight. He barely threw punches in many of the early rounds and evaded Garcia at the expense of offense. In addition, he fucked around. Showing off his Ali Shuffle, throwing bolo punches and dancing around the ring, Peterson did a number of things instead of actually fighting. The crowd booed. And although Garcia was only marginally more effective than Peterson was early on, his effort in the first seven rounds won him the fight. The scores were 115-113 x2 and 114-114 and they were just. 

Garcia has been slowly coming up from 140 to 147 and it seems to me that he's going to have some big issues with the more physical fighters at welterweight (think Keith Thurman or Shawn Porter). Garcia can still counterpunch well and he is creative offensively but the jury's out on whether he can be a full-fledged welterweight. Needless to say, Peterson would probably be favored in a rematch but he's a notorious slow starter and this isn't the first time that he's failed to win a fight because of his performance in the first few rounds (the Victor Ortiz matchup, for example). Strategy, not talent, cost Peterson this fight and it's certainly possible that he would find a way to lose in a rematch. 

II. Andy Lee D Peter Quillin

Lesson Learned: Quillin's lack of a killer instinct finally cost him.

Watch video of Peter Quillin and there's a lot to like. He throws a great jab. He has an assortment of knockout weapons. Featuring plus hand speed, athleticism and physicality, he has natural advantages over almost any middleweight. However, Quillin lacks a key intangible – the desire to finish a fighter. 

Quillin had Hassan N'Dam down six times but never truly went for the kill. Instead, N'Dam kept coming back and won a number of rounds. Quillin hurt Gabe Rosado in the early rounds of their fight but before that bout was stopped because of a cut, it was Rosado who was coming on strong. Quillin carried the woeful junior middleweight, Lucas Konecny, for 12 rounds as well as the ancient Winky Wright. 

Quillin rocked Andy Lee in the first round. With a crushing right hand that led to a knockdown and a huge left hook that ended the frame, Lee was in terrible shape. But did Quillin rush in for the kill in the next round? No, he followed his pattern and fought tentatively, picking a couple of spots to engage. Slowly but surely, Lee regained his legs and found his timing. Eventually, Lee would drop Quillin with a strong right hook in the seventh and as the fight concluded, he was the fighter making the more significant impact. 

It wound up being a close fight. Quillin paid Lee too much respect early, which gave his opponent the opportunity to recover, establish confidence and work his game plan. Quillin's tentativeness cost him the victory. This is not to disparage Lee's fine countering in the second half of the bout, but after three rounds, the fight was Quillin's to lose, and he came very close to doing so. The draw was appropriate.

III. Lucas Matthysse MD Ruslan Provodnikov

Lesson Learned: In a battle between bangers, Matthysse's boxing skills were the difference.

Although this matchup fell short of the pre-fight orgiastic pronouncements of a bloodbath for the ages, it was still a damn good scrap. Matthysse won most of the early rounds by using his size, reach, legs and fluid combination punches to beat up Provodnikov. But then a funny thing happened, Matthysse stopped moving. Incrementally, Provodnikov started having more success with his cuffing left hook and lead right hand. As the fight progressed, his shots were having the bigger impact. When Matthysse remembered to move and work behind his jab, he dominated the action but when he stood in front of Provodnikov, he got raked.

Ultimately, Matthysse did enough in the early part of the fight to win a razor-thin majority decision (115-113, 115-113 and 114-114) but Lucas and his corner almost gave it away. Throughout the fight, Matthysse's trainer, Luis Barrera, insisted that Matthysse was up significantly, which was certainly not the case towards the end of the match. As a result, Matthysse fought the championship rounds with little urgency, trying to avoid prolonged skirmishes and survive. Ultimately, Matthysse was lucky. The fight was very much in the balance and it's certainly possible that with a different set of judges that Matthysse could've lost the match by a round or two (note: I also had Matthysse winning 115-113). 

Matthysse has dropped three winnable fights in his career and his corner has been problematic in two of them. He was far too tentative in the first half against Zab Judah and he was overly knockout-happy early against Danny Garcia, creating opportunities to be countered. During the Provodnikov fight, Barrera needed to stress that Lucas' best chance to win the fight was by boxing. Also, knowing Matthysse's history of losing debatable decisions, Barrera should never have been so self-satisfied in the corner. 

It's a shame that Lucas has failed to reach his full potential as a fighter.  Much of this can be attributed to his weak corner, which gives him bad advice and is slow to make adjustments. However, Matthysse deserves responsibility for this failure too. He makes his own decisions and picks his team. Other fighters have left for top trainers to maximize their abilities in the ring. Yet, Matthysse seems satisfied with the status quo. Unless Matthysse switches corners, he will always be a case of "what could have been."

IV. Terence Crawford KO 6 Thomas Dulorme

Lesson Learned: One round of brilliance was enough.

A beautiful two-punch sequence in the sixth round led to the end of the fight: Crawford feinted the jab and came with the right hand immediately behind it – and Dulorme was never the same. Within moments, Dulorme was down three times and the fight was waved off. Crawford showed tremendous finishing instincts in a fight that had been competitive; his knockout was quite a statement. 

But my question is this: Why did the fight have to be close? Crawford was oddly tentative throughout the first five rounds. His punch volume was low and he had a natural advantage that he failed to employ. Crawford is one of the best switch-hitters in boxing and Dulorme showed huge vulnerabilities against Hank Lundy when Lundy went to southpaw. The opportunity to dominate Dulorme was there for Crawford but he didn't take it. 

Some have compared Crawford's performance to those of modern greats such as Floyd Mayweather or Bernard Hopkins. Those two often gave up rounds early in fights but eventually took away their opponents' weapons. They made adjustments and owned the later rounds. However, Crawford didn't do this against Dulorme. The fight turned on one punch. True, Crawford set up the shot with his work in the earlier rounds but what if that punch wasn't enough to hurt Dulorme or what if it didn't land as cleanly as he wanted it to? 

Essentially, Crawford's power was more responsible for his victory than his cunning was. In my opinion, Crawford didn't need to give up rounds against Dulorme. Against an opponent of this caliber, he had the talent to sweep every one of them. Ultimately, he got the victory but I believe that he had looked more impressive against Ricky Burns, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Ray Beltran than he did against Dulorme. Crawford's victory train keeps rolling but his performance lacked the well-roundedness of his best efforts.  

V. Andrzej Fonfara RTD 9 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. 

Lesson Learned: Chavez is less successful when he picks on someone his own size. 

Oh it must be fun to have a functional 15-lb. advantage over an opponent. You can use your body to lean on him, break him down to the body and feel confident that your chin can absorb all of the incoming shots. But what happens when your opponent is the same size? Does your usual bag of tricks still work?

For Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the answer to this last question is an authoritative "no." Andrzej Fonfara pasted him around the ring, landing huge right hands and left hooks throughout the fight. It was essentially target practice. Chavez's defense was awful and his footwork was laughably bad. Fonfara looked like a real light heavyweight and Chavez served his role as ritual cannon fodder. Fonfara dropped him in the ninth and after the round Chavez didn't want any more.
Showtime and Al Haymon invested a lot of money to get Chavez and after one fight, that investment looks unfortunate. Chavez can't compete with real light heavyweights and it's not even clear if he has the desire to get down to super middleweight, a division where he could at least hope to compete. Furthermore, he's never exhibited the discipline in training to reach his full potential in the ring. For now, Chavez lacks the willingness to take his career seriously and he is a man without a division, not a good recipe for future success. 

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter, SN Boxing on Facebook


  1. Finally! Some great, insightful boxing journalism this week. Mr. Abramowitz, thank you, keep up the great work and get well soon.

  2. Thanks for some solid fight recaps and insight. Always good stuff.