Friday, December 30, 2016

Monthly Podcast

It's my pleasure to announce that I'll be co-hosting a monthly podcast in 2017 with Brandon Stubbs. Brandon does an excellent job focusing on the high points of boxing and MMA on his weekly Punch 2 the Face Radio podcast. (Here's a link to some of his previous podcasts.For our monthly show, we're going to concentrate only on boxing. 

I've had an opportunity to appear on Brandon's podcasts a few times over the last year and it's always been entertaining. The man knows his stuff and how to have a good time. We're still working out all the formatting for the monthly podcast but the first show is scheduled for Wednesday, January 25th. Be on the lookout for additional information about how to listen and call in. Hope to see you there.

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
SN Boxing on Facebook
Contact Adam at: 
saturdaynightboxing@hotmail.com

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

SNB Scouting Report -- Luis Nery

Who: Luis Nery
Age: 22
Country: Mexico
Record: 22-0 (16 KOs)
Division: Bantamweight (118 lbs.)
Titles: No major titles yet
Stance: Southpaw
Trainer: Ismael Ramirez
Promoter: Zanfer Promotions
Next fight: TBA

Style in a nutshell: Nery is a lanky, left-handed swarmer with very heavy hands. Resembling a less-frenetic version of James Kirkland, Nery can hurt an opponent with either hand, blitz a foe with pressure and volume and finish like a seasoned professional. Another fighter who comes to mind when finding a Nery comparison is lightweight titlist Robert Easter, Jr. Although Easter is an orthodox fighter, both boxers often give up their height, like fighting on the inside and have a significant wingspan that can hurt opponents who think that they're out of range.  

Nery has very good footwork. He uses angles well and turns opponents to create openings. He almost always comes in behind a punch. He's much better going forward then fighting off of the back foot. When letting his hands go, he loses a responsible defensive posture and can be countered fairly easily. 

Very few of Nery's punches are straight. He throws long, looping hooks, often from unconventional angles. Even his left cross can have a hitch to it. This aspect of his style is both a blessing and a curse as opponents are often unprepared for his unique offensive arsenal but they can also beat him to the punch and counter him cleanly. Although many of his punches from range aren't straight, he still has deceptively good hand speed (with one notable exception which I'll talk about below). His punches come much quicker once he starts to throw in combination.  

Strengths: power, reach, body punching, finishing ability, footwork and aggressive temperament

Weakness: Defensive holes – most glaringly, failing to return his hands to a defensively responsible position after throwing; leaning forward before throwing punches; accuracy and counterpunching

Best punches: Left uppercut and right hook to the body

Worst punch: Straight left hand 

Stylistic quirks: There's no sugar-coating it; Nery has a terrible straight left hand. Leaning over towards his opponent before he throws it, the shot is 100% telegraphed. It's also slow and not terribly accurate. It's the only punch he throws where he lacks confidence. Most fighters easily duck under it. His better opponents can counter it at will with whatever punch they feel comfortable throwing. (He was dropped in his last fight by a short, counter right.) 

Nery also gets very wild after he thinks that he has hurt an opponent. On one hand, this characteristic makes him an exciting TV fighter; yet, it also makes him susceptible to a sharp counterpuncher, or someone who can lay traps on him. At this point in his career, Nery seems uninterested in throwing when an opponent pushes him back. And he's an indifferent counterpuncher; he'll trade with an opponent but if a foe can get off first, Nery more often than not will try to smother, evade or block shots rather than throw back. 

One other interesting note: Nery throws two different right hooks. His hook to the body is sharp, quick and pulverizing. When throwing to the head, it's a much more looping shot. However, it can be devastating shot because of his substantial reach and his ability to throw it from numerous angles. Many of Nery's opponents don't see his wide hook coming.

When Nery is at his best: He's stalking, coming forward and using movement and his jab to get into range. He unloads with hooks (he also throws a left hook to the body) and uppercuts to inflict maximum damage. He'll throw four- and five-punch combinations and overwhelm an opponent with his volume, pressure and power. He's deadly when he gets a foe against the ropes, working the head and body and leaving enough distance to operate.  

When Nery is vulnerable: It starts out when an opponent figures out how to counter him. It could be with a straight right, a left hook, a southpaw right hook or an uppercut. He's essentially vulnerable to any big power punch. To this point, he hasn't faced the type of dynamic punchers that could knock him out but this is a real problem as he steps up his competition level. In particular, an uppercut would be a devastating counter against him because he leans forward with his chin exposed fairly regularly. He also could be susceptible to an excellent jab-and-mover. If Nery gets beaten to the punch, he becomes far less formidable than when he initiates his own offense. 

Could he win a title? Yes

How far can he go? At 22, Nery still has time to improve. Refreshingly, he's faced a number of solid pros throughout his development, including former title challengers. He needs to further refine his straight left hand and he could learn to be a tad more disciplined when exchanging. 

Nery finds himself in a sweet spot in the bantamweight division. The two best boxers at 118 lbs. over the last five years, Shinsuke Yamanaka and Anselmo Moreno, are both getting up there in age and have already started to decline. Jamie McDonnell might be moving up to 122. Lee Haskins runs hot and cold. Zolani Tete remains an impressive fighter but there are multiple paths to acquiring a title without going through him. 

A knockout artist, like a prime Yamanaka, would've given Nery all sorts of problems. If a fighter can retain his composure in the pocket against Nery, he could have a lot of success. However, Nery has more than enough physical ability, power and athleticism to trouble the current crop of bantamweights. He might not become a pound-for-pound-level fighter but bantamweight is a relatively thin division in terms of depth; he'll have his chances. 

I'd expect Nery to remain at the world-level for a number of years but unless he can make a number of key adjustments, he'll always be vulnerable to a good counterpuncher or a pure boxer who can consistently beat him to the punch. Nevertheless, Nery certainly is one exciting TV fighter and his style would be catnip to blood-and-guts fight fans. He could pick up a rabid following in short order. 

Thank you to Rian Scalia for his research assistance. 

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
SN Boxing on Facebook
Contact Adam at: 
saturdaynightboxing@hotmail.com

Monday, December 5, 2016

Pound-for-Pound Update 12-5-16

With a busy November in the top reaches of the sport, there have been a series of changes to the Saturday Night Boxing Pound-for-Pound list. The first order of business is to remove several inactive fighters. Tyson Fury, Wladimir Klitschko and Miguel Cotto haven't fought in over a year; they have been removed from the Rankings. The rest of the updates are as follows:

Andre Ward won a razor-thin unanimous decision over Sergey Kovalev last month. Although the victory wasn't comprehensive and failed to provide a definitive answer as to which was the better fighter, both boxers displayed world-class capabilities against their best opponent to date. As a result, I have elevated both fighters, moving Ward to the number-two spot and Kovalev to number-three. Manny Pacquiao, who had his own victory last month, slides to number-four. 

Vasyl Lomachenko notched a dominant victory over Nicholas Walters last month, winning every round and forcing his foe to surrender in the corner. Lomachenko, a two-division titleholder has elite-level skills. If he continues to get top opponents in the ring, he could further rocket up the list. He moves up six places in the Rankings, from #18 to #12. 

Keith Thurman and Shinsuke Yamanaka both reenter the Rankings, at #18 and #19, respectively. Thurman slid off the list as other fighters had impressive showings this summer. With his next fight, against fellow pound-for-pound-fighter Danny Garcia, Thurman will have a big opportunity to ascend in the rankings. Yamanaka had a questionable decision victory over Anselmo Moreno in 2015. Since that debatable win, he knocked Moreno out in a thrilling rematch in September and defeated durable former junior bantamweight champ Liborio Solis earlier in the year.

Rances Barthelemy makes his Saturday Night Boxing pound-for-pound debut at #20. Barthelemy has won titles at junior lightweight and lightweight. Although he's yet to defeat a great fighter, he's beaten a number of good ones, including the likes of Argenis Mendez and Denis Shafikov. There are several impressive talents at 135-lbs. and if things break right, Barthelemy should have an opportunity in the next 12-18 months to prove his talent in the ring against a top opponent. 

The complete Saturday Night Boxing Pound-for-Pound list is below:
  1. Roman Gonzalez
  2. Andre Ward
  3. Sergey Kovalev
  4. Manny Pacquiao
  5. Terence Crawford
  6. Gennady Golovkin
  7. Saul Alvarez
  8. Juan Estrada
  9. Tim Bradley
  10. Guillermo Rigondeaux
  11. Naoya Inoue
  12. Vasyl Lomachenko
  13. Adonis Stevenson
  14. Donnie Nietes
  15. Danny Garcia
  16. Carl Frampton
  17. Carlos Cuadras
  18. Keith Thurman
  19. Shinsuke Yamanaka
  20. Rances Barthelemy
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
SN Boxing on Facebook
Contact Adam at: 
saturdaynightboxing@hotmail.com

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Q&A: Tevin Farmer

Junior lightweight contender Tevin Farmer returns to the ring on Friday to conclude what has been a busy and eventful 2016. Notching the biggest win of his career in July against Ivan Redkach, Farmer has announced his presence as one of the top fighters in a blossoming division. Friday's bout against Dardan Zenunaj will be of the stay-busy variety but unlike most top fighters of this era, Farmer insists on remaining active. Zenunaj will be Farmer's fourth fight of the year.

Farmer, a southpaw from Philadelphia, didn't start boxing until he was 19. After only 16 amateur fights, he turned pro in 2011. His beginnings in the paid ranks had several rocky moments. At one point, he was just 7-4-1. After his last defeat in 2012 to now-junior lightweight titlist Jose Pedraza, Farmer rededicated himself to boxing and the results have been impressive, with 16 consecutive victories. Now in the prime boxing age of 26, his record currently stands at 23-4-1. 

Since aligning himself with trainers Raul "Chino" Rivas and Rashiem Jefferson, Farmer has continued to develop in the ring technically and he believes that he's a much stronger fighter mentally than he was earlier in his career. Frequent sparring with stablemate and 130-lb. titlist Jason Sosa hasn't hurt either as Farmer has learned some of the finer points of inside fighting from the hard-charging boxer from Camden. Farmer's on the cusp of a title shot and should he keep on his winning ways, big things could be in store for him in 2017.

In the following interview, Farmer talks about his maturation in the ring, what he's learned from his trainers and how his relationship with Sosa has helped both fighters. He also admits some disappointment about the state of boxing in that very few top fighters seem interested in taking on worthy opponents. Despite the frustrating politics found in contemporary boxing, Farmer maintains optimism regarding his future, having full confidence in his abilities and the strength of his team.  

Interview by Adam Abramowitz
This interview has been edited and condensed.

Tevin, this will be your fourth fight this year, what’s the importance for you of staying active?

Staying sharp is the key for me. The more a fighter fights, and specifically the more I fight, the sharper I am. The better conditioned I am the more I can stay ready for the big fights in the future. 

What type of guidance has Lou DiBella, your promoter, given you in terms of staying active? Has he been supportive of you staying active? 

Lou’s paying for the fight. He’s absolutely supportive. I just told him how I felt. I’m not making crazy money but the time will come for that. Right now it involves me staying active and I’m not just going to sit out for money reasons.  

On Friday, you’re facing Dardan Zenunaj. It’s a stay-busy fight. What would be a successful night for you?

For one, I want to get the victory. That’s the key. If I can get the victory, that’s O.K., and doing it in a spectacular way. I’m looking to showcase power. A lot of people underestimate my power but if you look at Ivan Redkach fight, he couldn’t stay on the inside with me and he was supposed to be the bigger, stronger fighter. But he couldn’t stay in there. My style didn’t allow him to do the things he wanted to do. 

We’re working on slowing down a little more, sitting down on our shots a little more. A lot of people that know boxing, they’d say that Tevin Farmer is a puncher-boxer. 

Have you had a chance to speak with Lou about some possible opportunities for you next year?

No. It’s really hard. Nobody wants to fight a Tevin Farmer. Nobody wants to lose to him. Nobody wants to fight a tough fight. That’s what boxing’s laughing at. I wish I could say it better but I really can’t because nobody wants to fight anybody else right now. I’m trying to set an example for the boxing world. I’ve never turned down a fight. Or, I’m calling out the big names. If anybody offers me a fight, I say c’mon. I’d love to fight a big name but it’s not happening right now. If a fighter really has confidence in himself, he doesn’t care who he fights. It’s the ones that aren’t confident in themselves that pick-and-choose who they want to fight. 

One of my favorite weight classes in boxing is the junior lightweight division. There are a lot of knockout artists and some very good boxers. Who are some fighters in the division that you have your eye on? Who would you like to fight in a perfect world?

Well, I’ve called out every fighter in my division and I haven’t really gotten a response. Nobody wants to take the fight with me. So I’m not going to waste my breath saying who I’d like to fight or who I don’t because I know for a fact it’s not going to happen. And anybody that follows me knows that I’d fight anybody that they’d put in front of me. But the question is: are they willing to fight me? 

Another fighter in the 130-lb. division is your stablemate, Jason Sosa. You went over to Monte Carlo to watch his fight against Stephen Smith and stay in training camp with your team. What can you tell me about that experience?

Oh man, it was a great experience. I got to see something totally different. I went over there, met new people. We worked hard. It was a great atmosphere. I got to see how business is done. I got to see a lot of different things. It was a special moment for me. 

Sosa-Smith was a very good fight with Sosa earning the unanimous decision over Smith. What were your impressions of that fight and did you think that Sosa would get the win at the end?

Oh yeah, absolutely. I think it was a hell of a fight. I think if it was on [American] TV, it probably would get nominated for fight of the year. Stephen Smith came to fight but Sosa was more of a dog that day. He was hungrier. He landed cleaner shots.  Sosa showed a lot in the fight. I actually think Stephen Smith hurt him but you couldn’t even tell. Sosa showed he could box a little bit. He even showed some good defense. He showed a lot.

Do you spar with Jason?

Oh yeah, we just sparred yesterday [last Thursday]. 

I wanted to ask you about your trainer, Raul “Chino” Rivas. I read an old interview of yours where you said that he quadrupled your skill level. What did you mean by that? 

Raul Rivas and Rashiem Jefferson. There are two of them. A lot of people leave one out but it’s a team. Both of them deserve credit and the both play a big part in getting the best out of me in different areas.

Specifically, how have you seen improvement since you’ve been with Rivas and Jefferson?

I always had the skills but they brought the skills out of me. Mentally was the key. The mental side and conditioning. They were able to tell me and show me... Most fighters are good but they’re not good mentally. They were able to build me mentally and have me believe that I could beat any fighter in the world. I can outbox anybody in the world. I can fight with anybody in the world. My conditioning is amazing. When I’m tired, I keep going. Back in the day, I could fight but mentally I wasn’t there. I would get tired and then I just wouldn’t fight. Now, I rarely get tired, or, if I do, you wouldn’t know because I’m mentally built for it. 

You started your career off at 7-4-1 and you talked about how after the Jose Pedraza fight, which you took on short notice and lost, that you rededicated yourself to the sport. After that moment, what changed? How did you go about your career in a different way?

I wasn’t really taking it serious. I didn’t have the right team yet. I think I took the fight on three days’ notice. And even on three days’ notice, I still went the full eight [rounds]. And, on top of that, I beat him the first two-and-a-half-rounds. I spanked him. Then, I got tired and he just took over – what he was supposed to do.  Even back then, if I had a full training camp, I would’ve beat him, even with not knowing anything. 

Pedraza is a champion now. Would you be willing to face him in a re-match? 

That would be too easy. Yeah, he told me... He and my trainer told me that he’s not fighting me.

I’ve noticed from watching some of your fights that in addition to your hand speed and defensive skills, you’re also very strong on the inside. Have you always been comfortable with inside fighting or is it something that has come to you more over the years?

No. I never could fight on the inside earlier in my career. But over the years, “Chino” built that. This is where “Chino” played a part in it. He built me to fight in that style, sparring with guys like Jason Sosa and a lot of strong fighters. Sometimes when we spar, we do nothing but work on the inside. And it’s so good that I’m a monster on the inside now. That’s where "Chino" comes in at. When it comes to boxing, that’s where Rashiem comes in. And when it comes to my IQ, that’s where we all come in at. So we all play a different role in me being what I am today. 

And Jason Sosa, as far as my inside game, that’s one of the guys that’s helped me build my inside game. He helped me mentally, knowing that if I could take his shots I could take anybody’s shots. He helped me with a lot of things, and vice versa. I think I’ve definitely helped him as a boxer. 

One of the big fights in your career happened earlier this year in the Barclays Center against Ivan Redkach. A number of boxing observers thought that Redkach would be a very good test to see where you were at that stage of your career. You wound up winning a wide unanimous decision. What are your thoughts on that performance?

I trained a month for that fight. I was training for another opponent in June so I was in camp. And Sosa and I were already banging out 10, 12 rounds in camp back in May. So I was ready and prepared to go. That performance, I grade it a ‘B.” I haven’t really brought out my “A” game yet. No fighter has brought it out of me yet. If I would’ve stopped him it would’ve been an “A” for sure. I do think I could’ve stopped him but he came into the fight overweight. I think those extra pounds held him up. 

You know, I’m still learning as well. The more these guys wait to fight me, the harder it’s going to get. They think that avoiding me now is the best thing to do. But avoiding me now is the worst thing they could do because I’m still getting better. Remember, just 16 amateur fights. Started out at 19. Only been boxing for seven years. And I already have the experience. What do I have…27, 28 fights? I’m already fighting with experience. It’s going to get harder and harder for these guys. 

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
SN Boxing on Facebook
Contact Adam at: 
saturdaynightboxing@hotmail.com