December 30th’s Random Boxing Rants

Via Dan Rafael on twitter: “Awesome [Tommy Burns vs. Jack Johnson] factoid from 107 yrs ago today: The promoter (Hugh McIntosh) served as referee!! 1st fight he ever officiated!”

I can name a few 21st century promoters who wouldn’t mind operating under those rules.

 

It’s been enjoyable & informative, but quite a task, to compile a list of boxing’s worst offenders in the area of officiating each month in my Judging the Judges segment which debuted this year on Pound4Pound Ireland.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…yet boxing has a way of forgetting about past sins & assigning the same officials involved in botching fights to the next big one.

With that in mind, who were some of the worst repeat offenders of the year?

Ian John-Lewis tops the list with a whopping 7 gaffes in the 11 months I covered, with countrymen Marcus McDonnell, Terry O’Connor, Dave Parris and Steve Gray all repeat offenders also.

I’ll admit that this is somewhat skewed due to my viewing of British boxing being more comprehensive than international bouts, but one can only draw the conclusion that British boxing has some of the worst referees and judges in the world.

Pat Russell, responsible most notably this year for ending Bradley-Vargas ten seconds too early with Bradley reeling, takes the boxing razzie for worst international official with 3 total offences on my scale of incompetence.

 

 

How did my prospect of the year picks for 2015 pan out?

(https://pound4poundireland.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/pound4poundirelands-2014-fight-knockout-round-prospect-upset-and-trainer-of-the-year/)

Felix Verdejo made his HBO debut and continued to progress, although a hand injury did put him on the shelf for a while.

Errol Spence made it look easy as he demolished a quartet of fringe contenders at 147. He’s ready for world level in 2016.

Oleksandr Usyk continued to rise at cruiserweight with 3 wins, and, despite middling opposition, looks ready for anybody after just 9 pro fights.

Definitely a blue chip trio of ‘can’t miss’ future titlists.

 

 

What about the fights I hoped would happen in 2015?

(https://pound4poundireland.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/fights-to-look-forward-to-in-2015/)

Unfortunately, only 3 of the 12 hoped-for fights happened, although Frampton-Quigg is set for February.

Not a good haul.

Some of the fights on the list (Canelo-GGG & Brook-Khan, for example) just might be ready to ripen in 2016, while others (Stevenson-Kovalev & Lomachenko-Walters) seem unlikely to ever take place.

 

Wrap-up of the two big UK cards that ended the boxing year: Saunders MD12 Lee: a purist’s exercise in fistic chess.

I was very impressed by Saunders, and expect him to be matched right (think more Tommy Langford than GGG) & hold onto the belt for quite a while.

He showed great improvement from the Eubank Jr. contest a year ago. His strategy was spot on, he kept his composure throughout, showed surprising power, and, even though he again faded to a degree late, it seemed less due to conditioning than to playing it safe with a healthy lead in hand.

As for Lee, his luck was bound to run out sooner rather than later, but he showed great heart as always to survive the torrid third round. He can come again right back into a significant fight, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the ring with Danny Jacobs next year in NYC.

 

Joshua KO7 Whyte topped the card of the year on December 12th.

I’m not usually given over to unqualified superlatives, but this was a night of thrilling entertainment that left me breathless.

Two upsets were authored by Barroso knocking out Mitchell (to earn a shot at Anthony Crolla) & Luke Campbell floundering, and Bellew-Masternak was fun.

All heart, no head from Eubank Jr. in the co-feature. I couldn’t believe I was watching an Adam Booth fighter in there. He’s nowhere near ready for Danny Jacobs (whom he’s now mandatory for) & I’d be surprised if he’s sent to New York to fight him next year.

Perfect stoppage by Spike’s corner after round 7. It boggles the mind that the same corner let Frank Buglioni absorb a full 12 rounds of hellacious punishment against Fedor Chudinov in September. Maybe they’ve learned a valuable lesson.

The Campbell loss was one of the biggest upsets of the year, as he was one of the sport’s brightest prospects.

He’ll learn a lot from the defeat but was seriously exposed at this stage of his development. His weak, amateurish punches hardly penetrated Yvan Mendy’s guard at all, and, as a bantamweight amateur, clearly he had trouble dealing with pressure from a decently skilled, natural lightweight. In fact, Mendy has gone 12 rounds with divisonal leader Viktor Postol at 140lbs.

A lot of work for ‘Cool Hand’ to do, but I still think that someday he will win a world title. However, the expected showdown next year with Anthony Crolla is down the tubes.

I knew the AJ journey would be exciting, but the main event was a surprisingly early test of his mettle. He flirted with disaster and it’s telling of how raw he is that he struggled so mightily the first time he faced somebody with ambition, a decent chin and who threw punches of his own in return.

A world level fighter would likely have ended matters in the 2nd, which puts the kibosh on the hype merchants who would have us believe that Joshua is already one of the best in the world. His defence needs to be improved, and he lacked fluency in there at times, appearing stiff in the shoulders. Those improbable muscles had him gulping oxygen mighty early too.

On the plus side, he’ll have gained a lot of experience & his composure from round 4 onwards to break a tiring Whyte down was admirable, as was the spectacular finish.

Spike & Whyte both see their stock rise in defeat, and can come again. I see Joshua-Whyte II in the future. In Joshua’s immediate future, perhaps it will be Chisora next on April 9th, or Helenius for the European title?

 

Funniest boxing moment of 2015?

My vote goes to the belated realization of Alan Partridge’s concept of Chris Eubank reviewing youth hostels.

 

Bonus Eubank hilarity to end the year’s ‘random rants’.

Frank Bruno could never dance that well.

Happy 2016 everybody!

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