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Articles of 2005

Johnson-Tarver Fight Predictions

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“Gentleman” Glen Johnson, formerly known as “The Road Warrior,” meets Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver a second time this Saturday in Memphis, Tennessee, in a fight broadcast on HBO. Johnson won their first fight by decision, but most commentators felt it could just as easily have gone the other way. The Magic Man has a history of doing better in rematches than he did the first time around. Can he pull it off this time against Glen Johnson? This is how The Sweet Science writers call it.

Even though Tarver is a quick study when it comes to rematches, I don't see Johnson losing the way Roy Jones and Harding did to Tarver the second time around. Look for Johnson to swarm Tarver, whom I suspect will try to turn the bout into a war instead of laying back and picking his shots like he did in the first match. Tarver is the bigger puncher here but I see Johnson outworking him again in an entertaining bout that goes the distance. Then again, I'm the guy who picked Tszyu to knock Hatton out in one round and Abdulaev to beat Cotto.
Mitch Abramson

Johnson is as hard and tough as they come, and his victory over Tarver last December was the culmination of a feel-good year for the “Road Warrior”. But, more than likely, his storybook run ends with the Tarver rematch. The “Magic Man” fought too aggressively last time out, opting to stand and trade with the stronger Johnson instead of using his natural advantages: Speed and height. Tarver may have also entered the ring more than a little overconfident and under-conditioned, thinking Johnson's one-punch KO of Roy Jones Jr. three months prior was a fluke. This time, Tarver comes in focused and prepared, and he'll stay on the outside enough to build a significant, early lead before Johnson rallies down the stretch. The early lead will be too much for Johnson to overcome. Tarver by split decision in another good scrap.
Matt Aguilar

Glen Johnson's a tough, tough cookie. I believe he just out-willed Tarver in their first encounter. Did Tarver underestimate Glencoffe ? I think he did. He will not make the same mistake again. This should be a very tightly contested bout. I see a lot of momentum changes. What I also see is Tarver being a little more aggressive. By doing this it will be less likely that Johnson will set the tempo of the bout like he did in their first meeting. I'll have to go with Tarver by decision.
Jim Amato

I think Tarver took Johnson lightly last time. He wins a unanimous decision in the rematch. Trainer Buddy McGirt will see to that.
Robert Cassidy Jr.

It'll go the distance as both fighters are too skilled to get caught in a knockout. Glen Johnson will earn a unanimous decision.
Jesse K. Cox

I was one of the few who picked Johnson to win the first fight (and by split decision, no less), and might be one of the few to pick him to do it again. People will cite Tarver's impressive track record in rematches (TKO5 Harding, TKO2 Jones) and figure him to turn the trick here. No way – at least not by one-punch KO. In both fights where he avenged previous losses, Tarver landed a single shot that either ended the fight (Jones) or permanently changed the course of the fight (Harding). Johnson can take your punch, and also applies far more pressure than the aforementioned. Tarver is troubled by such fighters; he's not comfortable when forced to work for three minutes of every round. Glengoffe made him do so in the first fight; Tarver wasn't willing to do it in all twelve rounds, and it cost him the fight – much like the first Roy fight. Glen will make him do it again, because that is what he does best. Tarver's best chance is by one-punch knockout and it's not going to happen. Johnson by decision, leaving Tarver to refer to him as “Daddy” on this Father's Day weekend.
Jake Donovan

Same as last time … He must be careful not to be out-hustled by Glen Johnson, but Antonio Tarver’s superior talent should prevail in the end. Tarver by Decision.
Chris Gielty

Tarver by decision. I have no strong feelings on this winner of this fight, but I'm extremely eager to see how it unfolds. It's a competitive matchup, but I have a hunch Tarver will be more prepared this time.
Tim Graham

Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver each ditched their respective title belts to fight each other last December. It seems the WBA, WBC and IBF had other names in mind for each of them as their respective “number 1” contenders. Of course the rest of the world recognized then and now that the best two light heavyweights were in the ring in a bout recognized only by The Ring magazine as a title fight (no, I am not going to mention some of the other, lesser-known alphabets that did recognize it as a championship). They are still the best two light heavyweights, but each has something to prove. Johnson gave the solid, workmanlike effort he has become known for – only this time he was on the right side of a close decision. Another win puts him firmly at the top of the division in time for him to capture some substantial paydays in the twilight of his career. Tarver, claiming now that he wasn’t at his best, must win lest he become a footnote in the history of the division. Tarver has proven adaptability and focus in beating both Eric Harding and Roy Jones in rematches. I think he’ll do it again. Tarver by KO in 10.
JE Grant

Tarver controlled Johnson in spots of the first fight; he just didn't ration his output for a twelve round fight (even though he signed for one). Lesson learned, I think the tall southpaw does enough fighting at a more measured pace to bank rounds and then hold off a late Johnson rally while Tarver is still fresh. Johnson is a classic overachiever and would be a surprise winner here . . . just as he was the first time. Tarver's heavier shots exact his revenge as the “Magic Man” sweeps the scorecards at the end of the night.
Joey Knish

DEJA VU all over again. Johnson by decision.
George Kimball

We haven't heard much from Tarver in the media lately, and I take that to be a good thing. After knocking out Roy Jones, Tarver pulled a Riddick Bowe and forgot what brung him to the dance–toiling away in the gym, not mugging for the camera on Jay Leno. Even at less than 100%, one could argue that Tarver beat the busier Johnson 7-5 or at least deserved a draw. He has never lost a rematch; he comes up big when his back is against the wall. A well-conditioned, focused and hungry Tarver should easily decision “The Road Warrior”–or maybe even stop him late in the fight. He's simply the more gifted fighter…and desperately needs to win this fight.
Zachary Levin

I hate to go against the Road Warrior because A) he's full of surprises lately and B) he's one of the nicest guys in the sport — but I have to believe that Tarver is hungrier. Tarver wins by lopsided decision but Johnson shows tremendous heart and never stops coming — unlike some other people we know.
Marc Lichtenfeld

My head says Tarver, but my heart says Johnson. Johnson W 12.
Bob Mladinich

It’s hard to pick a winner in this, because my head tells me Tarver employs his tools with better effect this time and pulls his usual rematch trick. But my heart tells me it will take a better fighter than Tarver to take the title from Johnson given the heartache and time it took him to secure it. I'm going to go with my heart, because my head let me down in the Hatton fight. Johnson on points.
David Payne

When I was at their first fight, I thought Johnson won it convincingly — his punches had more heft. I remember wincing at the impact of his body shots…and he forced the action.  Tarver had his innings but they didn't seem as telling. I thought Johnson won it bigger than the cards — that was in person. When I saw it on TV at home, I got a different picture: Not only did Tarver land more — and accurately — but his shots that looked less  weighty live. Johnson grunted and put everything in every swing. Tarver looked more strategic on TV than ruffled. It was a close verdict on TV, and could have gone either way. If Tarver fell short, it was only because he didn't do enough.  If he picks it up earlier — because he can do more things — he should win a grueling unanimous decision.
Joe Rein

I think Tarver is more talented, but Johnson has some things he worked very hard for — a title and respect — and he is tough enough to keep them by decision.
Ed Schuyler

Prior to their first fight, I was skeptical of Tarver's preparation. He appeared to be a full-fledged heavyweight while he was doing pre-fight commentary for Hopkins vs. De La Hoya in September of last year. In his mid-30s, I thought he might be depleted melting down to 175 for Johnson in December. Tarver didn't appear to be on point, and Tarver is now confirming that he wasn't as prepared for their first fight as he should've been. Tarver is typically brilliant in rematches, and I expect him to be much more focused and powerful for the rematch. I think he'll try to get Johnson's respect early with some heavy artillery and look for weaknesses to break him down and stop him. It'll be a tough fight, but I like Tarver in a clear unanimous decision or stoppage.
Greg Smith

The first time around, Antonio Tarver had a huge lead over Glen Johnson in landed punches but the judges were impressed by the “Road Warrior’s” constant aggression. This second fight will have the feel of most sequels. The action will be all too familiar, but the outcome will not. While it may not be a classic, a trilogy is in the works. Tarver by unanimous decision.
Aaron Tallent

Look for Tarver to keep his record of reversing losses perfect in this rematch. I expect a more focused Magic Man to rely more on his superior hand speed and leverage in countering everything the hard-working Glen Johnson throws at him. Antonio Tarver by unanimous decision.
Scott Yaniga

Articles of 2005

In Boxing News: Floyd Mayweather An All-Time Great, Valuev & More

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A Shot of Boxing on the Last Day of the Year

The Guardian reports that talks have already taken place between Nicolay Valuev‘s co-promoters – Don King and Wilfried Sauerland – and Danny Williams‘ promoter Frank Warren for Nicolay Valuev to face Danny Williams. I’d suggest Danny Williams needs to worry about Matt Skelton (who Williams is reportedly scheduled to fight in February) before he entertains notions of facing the Beast From The East.

The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.

The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holder Mark Woolnough. Woolnough’s career turned controversial – as widely reported in the Canadian press – at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It’s an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.

Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There’s plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld’s opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?

(More Boxing News Links at TheSweetScience.com)

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Articles of 2005

Pick ‘Em: Plenty of Big Upcoming Fights in ’06

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Here’s the early call on many top matches scheduled for the first half of 2006: Happy New Year!

As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.

It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.

It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.

With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.

Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.

So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.

The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.

Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.

It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.

The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.

Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.

February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.

First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.

As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.

February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th.  This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.

Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.

It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.

Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.

March both comes in and goes out as a lion.

On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.

All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.

It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.

March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.

This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.

This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.

At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.

It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.

On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.

Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.

Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05.  Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.

Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.

This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.

March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.

Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.

Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.

Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.

Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.

The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.

Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.

Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.

If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights

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Hot bantamweight prospect Raul “The Cobra” Martinez heads back to Chicago next Friday night as he is featured in the co-main event of SHOBOX “THE NEW GENERATION,” an action packed evening of professional boxing presented by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions,’ HOME OF THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING, Kathy Duva’s Main Events Inc., along with Miller Lite and TCF Bank.

The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round,  will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.

Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.

Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”

When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”

Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”

Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

The full bout lineup for the evening is:

Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights

Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights

Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights

David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights

Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights

Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights

Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights

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