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HOLY HOLLY! “Holm” Run Showing From Ex Boxing Champ, Who Destroys Rousey



MONDAY UPDATE: Pockets of buzz were still ringing on Monday.

I walked by a local hospital, in Brooklyn, saw an EMT doing that kick, the one above, which sent Ronda Rousey to an unfamiliar place…La La land, and a zone of, maybe, self doubt.

The EMT and me chatted about the fight, and the strategy used by Rousey, who stood and banged with a woman whose specialty would be just that.

So, chatter about Saturday nights’ UFC 193 resonated, and elements of the bout and the aftermath keep filling 140 character bursts on social.

We heard from Rousey, via Instagram, where she said, “I just wanted to thank everyone for the love and support. I appreciate the concerns about my health, but I’m fine.” (Some speculated she dodged the post-fighter presser, because she’s a poor sport. But in fact, she went to a hospital for observation, as is most often the case following KOs in UFC.) “As I had mentioned before, I’m going to take a little bit of time, but I’ll be back.”

Fans of good sportsmanship took issue with no public congrats being offered to her conqueror, Holly Holm…

The buzz ripples will continue to makes waves…Makes sense, being that the company set a live attendance record, drawing 56,214 payers in Melbourbe, beating UFC 129 in Canada. This promotion spurred interest galore…

One thing to ponder, from us on the pugilism side of the tracks,  does such a compelling and enduring spectacle and hubbub such as the Holm-Rosey battle have boxing deal-makers and power-brokers considering beefing up their effort to kickstart female talent in the realm. I’d guess yes..


SUNDAY UPDATE: The signs and signals and hints, now they are apparent, in that proverbial rear view mirror, after the unconquerable one got KTFO.

She seemed on edge, in a different way, like the excess media attention had slithered into her brain, lodged there, was a tumor of annoyance. Her impatience at handling difficult questions told us her temperment was what it often appeared to be, edgy, but now teetering towards edgy and untethered. What if, you ask now, knowing you should have been cognizant of that leading up to UFC 193, after Rondy Rousey got kicked into unconsciousness by a super-strong and committed athlete with just two-plus years of mixed martial arts training tucked into her belt, she is human, and can be bested?

If went out the Octagon door, and remaining tall and proud is Holm, a boxing ace thought to be past her pugilistic prime. Maybe so, but today is hers to savor.

She was the benificiary of a beyond-iffy—-sorry UFC boss Dana White, it’s absolutely fair game to question Rousey’s strategy— gameplan, which saw the grappling/judo ace Rousey look to prove that RING cover was not mistake.

She tried to be the boss standing up with someone who had years of experience on her, and ate 5-ounce serving of fist sandwiches for that hubris.

And in that rear view mirror, more puzzling information…Rousey looked out of sorts against a left-hander, who’s rear hand kissed her lips and chin a few times. Yeah, no, choosing a left-hander to prove something is to be done only after lengthy contemplation and preparation. But maybe there was that…and maybe Ms. Holm is just all that..and while many think Rousey was EXPOSED, maybe it is Holm who is exposed…as being a magnificent physical and athletic specimen.

But of course, in that mirror, we can look and see and ponder the actions and reasons and behaviors which resulted in much euphoria when Rousey got punched and then kicked into a humbler place. She acted petulant and childish when refusing to touch gloves before the match with home, and Fate saw it, and interceded.

Now, now we will see if the gushy assessments are spot on. Now we see if Rousey has the stuff of legends..or maybe more so was a product of environment and skilled mystique building and being a big fish in a pond of guppies, in women’s MMA, just in the nascent stage…Rousey will be given the chance to see if she can do better against Holm in a rematch..and if the ferocity and the bluster and the attitude was perhaps more of a front than a reality…This morning, she woke up, realized it was no bad dream, and Ronda Rousey faces an unconquerable certainty: she is faced with the most difficult physical challenge of her athletic arc.

Look in the mirror and see the resolution to that puzzle? I look and I see a haze…I see no hints which inform me..I see for Ronda Rousey a massive challenge and an athlete who may, or may not, be up to the task.


The rise of Ronda Rousey has been an improbable one, considering that not many years ago, the man running the promotion she fights in, UFC, said he’d never run womens’ fights.

It’s not so improbable when you watch her, see how she acts, note her charisma, see the obvious magnetism in her actions, and sense the less tangible pull you find yourself feeling when you see her perform.

The camera is interested in her, and not just for the fact that she eats arms for lunch, is a stone-cold tendon killer as she submits foe after foe in the Octagon.

The imprint of the 28-year-old is widening, and it’s clear that her star will be enlargening, brightening; she’s on the cover of the current RING magazine, a decision which has been debated heatedly, with purist boxing fans pointing out that it’s insulting to accomplished female fighters that an 0-0 pugilist who merely aspires to try her hands at pugilism gets a RING cover.

But with more copious attention comes increased scrutiny, right Dr. Ben Carson?

The 12-0 Rousey headlines a UFC PPV event in Melbourne, Australia Saturday night, where she will look to deal with Holly Holm in her typical bloodlessly ruthless and abbreviated fashion.

Holm sports a 9-0 mark in MMA, which she’s been doing since 2011, after going 33-2-3 as a pro boxer. Most expect that even if she hits the Octagon with barbed wire wrapping on her limbs, the Rousey armbar will be activated and have her surrendering in short order.

“Rowdy” Ronda yesterday drew an unwanted buzz burst when it was noted that she spoke of a violent encounter with her ex boyfriend in the autobiography she put out a few months ago. At the Thursday media day event to hype the Holm fight, the California resident was asked about the violent situation with the ex she doesn’t name in the book, “My Fight/Your Fight.”

“So if someone is blocking you into an apartment and won’t let you leave, you’re entitled to defend yourself and find a way out,” she explained. “If you’re trying to get into your car and leave and they’re grabbing your steering wheel and saying you can’t leave, technically you’re being kidnapped, and you can defend yourself in any way that is necessary,” she said, in order to paint the incident as self defense.

“I punched him in the face with a straight right, then a left hook,” the former teen judo ace recounted in the book; to give context to the scuffle, she noted he took took nude pictures of her without asking, and then blocked her from leaving his apartment after she delved into the subject with him.

“He staggered back and fell against the door.” She said he wanted to continue to debate. “I walked around the car, pulled him by the neck of the hoodie again, dragged him onto the sidewalk and left him writhing there as I sped away,” Rousey wrote.

The publicizing of the scrap puzzled or enraged some folks who noted she’s been a vocal critic of boxer Floyd Mayweather, who served 60 days of a 90 day sentence in jail in December 2011 after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor battery domestic violence charge for hitting the mother of his three children, in front of two said children.

Rousey’s mocked him for that altercation, and persistently needed him for his lack of character.

The issue itself, athletes battering their partners, is an ultra-hot button matter, being that the NFL hierarchy is knee-deep in getting grilled on the matter of now Dallas Cowboys’ player Greg Hardy. He was arrested after cops were called to his residence, and his then girlfriend said he assaulted her, in May 2014. Hardy denied that he entered the bathroom, the place where the woman said the then Carolina Panthers footballer threw her, where she hit a wall, and then fell into the tub.

Hardy said she fell in the tub; he was suspended for ten games, appealed, and that was dropped to four games. Hardy went to court to answer charges, was sentenced to 18 months and a 60-day jail term, suspended. But he appealed that verdict and charges were dropped, when the lady didn’t attend the jury trial. He returned to the field of play on Oct. 11, but fans still debate whether he should be allowed to compete.

The NFL had the fire lit under their feet when Ray Rice in March 2014 was seen on video punching the woman he’s now married to, knocking her out, while they were in an Atlantic City casino. He too was suspended, indefinitely, but he appealed, and can be signed and play in the league if a team so chooses to. The ex Baltimore Raven is not with a team now. Fans and media debated whether his off the field behavior should be held against him, or what he does away from the field is by and large not pertinent to him playing football.

Rousey was under the microscope, by extension, when it was last month revealed she was dating fellow fighter Travis Browne, a heavyweight in the UFC. He’d been accused by his ex wife of hitting her, with her posting pics on Instagram and presenting the marks on her as a result of domestic violence. He went on record saying his ex was serving up “false accusations.” The Browne situation seems like it is a touchy one; on a conference call last week, Rousey was asked about dating Browne, and abruptly her line went dead. Her phone died, she explained, to eye rolls, but was terse and said “next question” when asked about Browne the next day.

Boyfriend drama has been a not infrequent theme in a life notable for the difficult terrain she’s navigated. Rousey’s father commited suicide in 1995, and she is, amateur shrinks theorize, working out some rage issues inside the cage, in her workplace.

In May, she explained that she decided to pose tastefully nude in the 2012 ESPN The Magazine “Body Issue” after she stumbled on nude pics taken by the ex she said she had that violent rumble with. They were stored on his hard drive, and she erased them. But, she said, she wanted to beat anyone else to the punch, by doing the nude thing before anyone else leaked possible pics. “I’m going to put them out there on my terms,” Rousey explained.

I asked a UFC rep if boss Dana White has addressed the Rousey/domestic violence incident revelation, and would furnish a response.

“No, but Ronda addressed (it) in her media scrum yesterday that is available online,” said Dave Sholler, a UFC VP of PR.

Difficult spot for White; he’d been asked when women would fight in his Octagon, in 2011. “Never!” the combustible deal maker replied.

Never went out the window, faster than you can say “depleted roster of name attractions,” and she debuted in 2012 in the premier MMA league; now Rousey drives the front car in the MMA train. White wouldn’t and couldn’t, I don’t think, throw her under any bus, as her aura grows, with ever more movie roles and forays into WWE, and other outside-MMA milieus. But the Rousey road he now has to drive through is rockier, littered with scrutinizers looking to snare her scalp, in the name of fairness, or principle, or political correctness, so the less he says on this book’s revelation, maybe the better for him, and the company.

Anti Mayweather folks have enjoyed Rousey’s jabs at “Money.” She has zinged his supposed inability to read, and he’s responded that he didn’t even know who she was. He had to know, when she picked up the Best Fighter Award at the July ESPYs, and said, “I can’t help but really say I wonder how Floyd feels being beat by a woman for once. I’d like to see him pretend to not know who I am now.”

The Rousey altercation laid out in the book has spurred intense debate, and while it could translate into a beefier PPV buy rate, it makes for at least a thorny patch for the UFC officers.

Meanwhile, on social media, side-takers are weighing in; is she not being critiqued and held to the same standards as men who engaged in such an altercation? Is Rousey not that much different, in fact, than Mayweather, and should she not be, at the least, chided for hypocrisy?

Up for debate…how much, or little, should off the field or out of the cage missteps affect how we perceive the athletes we follow…and should they be seen as role models, or simply fallible human beings who shouldn’t be expected to live up to our projected desires as more perfect models of humanity?

Meanwhile, through it all, the shows go on. The NFL serves up the organized mayhem which blows away church-going as the favored weekend distraction endeavor in our United States, while a small but growing and intellectually well-armed critics carve away at the mission of the league and the cultural worth of such brain-rattling competitive fare; and the UFC’s visibility and brand strength continue to be impacted by Ronda Rousey, a compelling spitfire of combat, yet another athlete whose traits which aid her in overwhelming the body and will of foes may not serve her as well outside her workplace.


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Three Punch Combo: A Bouquet for “ShoBox” and More



new television

THREE PUNCH COMBO — We are embarking into a new age in boxing. There are new television contracts and digital platforms available that are making the sport more visible than ever before to the masses. But with all these new deals and platforms, it is important not to forget some of the consistent programming that has been around for some time. There is no better example of this than the ShoBox series on Showtime.

ShoBox, more formally ShoBox: The New Generation, began with a simple premise of matching young prospects in with tough opposition. To get their fighters on this series, promoters would have to find credible opponents who could potentially test and maybe even upset their prized prospect. This premise has led to consistently competitive and entertaining fights in the more than 200 broadcasts since the inception of the series in 2001.

This past Friday, we saw just how this premise works once again. There was a four fight card that featured competitive fights on paper in all the matches. However, in two of those matches there did seem to be clear favorites though each of the respective fighters was being matched with their toughest foe to date.

James Wilkins and Misael Lopez opened the telecast in a 130-pound contest. Wilkins was featured in a documentary that aired on Showtime just prior to the card and was expected to make a smashing television debut. He was a knockout artist and the thought was that he would put on a show to open the telecast. But instead, Wilkins got a boxing lesson from Lopez who was busier from the outside and managed to mostly avoid the power of Wilkins throughout the contest in winning an eight round unanimous decision.

The main event featured Jon Fernandez facing O’Shaquie Foster in another 130-pound contest. Fernandez had been getting a lot of buzz and many in the sport considered the Spaniard a future star. This was supposed to be a test for Fernandez as Foster (pictured on the right) represented a step up in class, but nonetheless many expected Fernandez to pass the test with flying colors. Instead, the power punching Fernandez was clearly out-boxed by Foster for ten rounds in an entertaining fight.

These two fights showed once again that when young fighters are matched tough we often get better than expected fights that can sometimes deliver surprises. This coming Friday, the series returns with highly touted lightweight prospect Devin Haney (19-0, 13 KO’s) in the main event taking on former world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos (33-2-2, 21 KO’s). This is a fight in which Haney is favored but one in which he is facing the toughest challenge of his young career. At the very least, this should be a test for the highly touted 19-year-old Haney and I am certain we get a compelling fight.

ShoBox is boxing’s most consistent series and one that just continues to provide fight fans with high caliber, competitive fights.

10 Percent or 10 Pounds – How To Combat Fighters Who Blow Up In Weight

It is time to address the issue of fighters gaining an absurd amount of weight following the weigh-in. There is a reason why we have weight classes in boxing. If one fighter enters the ring weighing significantly more than his opponent, it gives the bigger fighter a big advantage. This can make for not only non-competitive fights but potentially dangerous situations. I have a simple solution that I think can combat this problem.

In past articles, I have touched on the issue of fighters who miss the contracted weight. My argument has always been to implement a system with stiff financial penalties. So in a similar aspect, I think stiff financial penalties can combat the continued problem of fighters blowing up in weight after the official weigh-in.

What I propose is second day weigh-ins where fighters would not be permitted to put on more than ten pounds or 10 percent (whichever is more) of the contracted weight limit. If they are over, the fight still goes on but the fighter who misses the second day weight limit pays a substantial fine. This simple adjunct can be easily administered by the various state commissions in the United States (or any other commissions worldwide).

Here is an example:  Let’s say we have a fight contracted at 130 pounds and each fighter weighs in at 129 pounds. The second day limit would be 10 percent of 130 pounds which was the contracted weight. So each fighter could come in at a maximum of 143 pounds. Now let’s say one fighter comes in at 146 pounds. The penalty I propose would be 20 percent of that fighter’s purse per pound over the weight. And this money goes directly to their opponent. Under this example, the fighter over weight would lose 60 percent of his purse.

Zero Shouldn’t Mean That Much

We are in an era, largely due to The Floyd Mayweather Jr. Factor, where fighters are often overly protected to keep that precious zero in the loss column. But to do so, they are frequently matched with soft opposition and learn little from dismantling their overmatched foes. There is little to no growth in their career during this period and though the record may get glossy, the development of the fighter may be stunted.

Setbacks can humble fighters and make them see what needs to be done so as not to experience that feeling again. They become better overall fighters and put themselves in a better long term position in their career.

This past weekend, we saw two once promising prospects bounce back with career defining wins after suffering an early unexpected defeat. They are both now in prime position to have their respective careers blossom which may not have otherwise been the case.

Earlier I mentioned O’Shaquie Foster’s upset win against Jon Fernandez. Three years ago, Foster was a highly touted prospect. He had a good amateur background and was blessed athletically with dynamic speed. After building up an 8-0 record against less than formidable opposition, he lost in a dreadful performance to Samuel Teah. Another loss would follow several months later to Rolando Chinea. But Foster clearly learned from his mistakes in these fights and bounced back, layering his natural athletic ability with much improved skills in frankly outclassing Fernandez. Foster’s losses made him take a step back and re-evaluate what needed to be done inside the ring. He is now in prime position to become a contender in the 130-pound weight division.

Luke Campbell was a 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist and considered a can’t-miss future star in boxing. But in his 13th pro fight, in a rather shocking development, he was put on the canvas and lost a split decision to veteran Yvan Mendy. Another loss followed two years later against Jorge Linares but Campbell performed well while losing a split decision and flashed signs of improvement from the Mendy setback.

The rematch with Mendy for Campbell took place this past weekend and Campbell did what many expected him to do in their first encounter. He boxed effectively from the outside and mixed in precision combination punching to easily avenge the defeat. It was a dynamic performance by Campbell and put him in line for a big fight at lightweight.

Luke Campbell is a vastly different fighter from the one who lost to Mendy three years earlier and appears primed to potentially live up to the once high expectations. He is in a better spot today in his career due to what he learned from that first loss to Mendy.

Photo credit: Dave Mandel / SHOWTIME

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In Dismantling Povetkin, Joshua Recaptured His Swag among the Heavyweights



experienced opponent

He was in against a very crafty and experienced opponent in former WBA titlist Alexander Povetkin 34-2 (24). And although he was troubled by the dangerous Russian fighting small as he tried to inch his way in and time him, AJ adjusted well and started to take the initiative and dropped and stopped Povetkin in the seventh round, retaining his WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titles and thus becoming the first fighter to ever stop Povetkin, something Wladimir Klitschko failed to do.

During the fight AJ was forced back. He had to adapt to Povetkin making him punch down and that caused him to be a little tentative, especially after being bloodied from a broken nose in the first round. And early on, AJ was a little confused and busy trying to keep Povetkin occupied from outside so he couldn’t get in on him. His most effective weapon in doing such was his left jab, delivered to the head or body, although the fight really turned when he began putting his one-two together. Then after a fairly evenly-paced bout, AJ slowed some with the hope it would lure Povetkin to close in a little harder, and he did.

As Povetkin, who came to fight, became more assertive, he became more vulnerable. AJ found the openings for his big right hand and left hook. With the first really solid right hand that bounced off his chin, Povetkin buckled and instinctively went back. Joshua pursued him and then, with near Joe Louis-like accuracy, put his right hands and hooks together, along with a beautiful right to the body in the middle of the assault and finished his game opponent.

Once again it was shown that trading with AJ is almost certain suicide. Povetkin was in great shape and would’ve been a handful for any other heavyweight in the world because he no doubt brought his A-game. Sometimes it takes AJ a little while to get going, and if you don’t do anything to bother him or wake him up, he doesn’t fight with the urgency of a “Smokin” Joe Frazier. However, when you wake him up and force him to cut loose, he’s so dangerous that he doesn’t need too many clean shots to end it. And making Joshua more lethal is that he has both short and inside power in both hands.

After months of hearing how Povetkin was the most serious threat to Joshua, that’s now finished business. Prior to the bout The Ring magazine rated the top six heavyweights in the world as follows…..Joshua, Wilder, Povetkin, Ortiz, Whyte and Parker, in that order. Now Joshua is 3-0 (2) versus Povetkin, Whyte and Parker which squashes the narrative that he has fought weaker opposition than WBC title holder Deontay Wilder 40-0 (39) who has only faced Ortiz among the top six.

Today, the most widely levied criticism of any elite fighter is that he didn’t fight the best man or men in his division. Fighters can’t control who their contemporaries are but they can control fighting the best of their era. Rocky Marciano’s era wasn’t stellar, but he fought every top fighter who was in line to challenge him. Floyd Mayweather fought in a stout era – the difference is an overwhelming majority of his bouts with big name opponents were strategically manipulated so that he faced them on the downside of their career – and that’s a fact, not a theory.

Forty years after his last victory in a title fight, Muhammad Ali is respected and revered as a fighter even by those who don’t claim to be a fan of his. Why? He wasn’t the most fundamental boxer in heavyweight history nor was he the biggest puncher, and not all of his fights were edge of your seat exciting. The thing that’s often cited as to why he was a marvel is that he fought the best of the best during one of the deepest eras in heavyweight history. There were a few times between 1975-77 that he held a win over every fighter ranked among The Ring magazine’s top-10. Sure he fought a few Brian London’s and Jean Pierre Coopman’s, but London was encompassed by Sonny Liston and Ernie Terrell during the 1960s and Coopman by Joe Frazier and Ken Norton during the 1970s.

Anthony Joshua hasn’t yet sniffed the greatness of Ali on many levels, but he is on the same trajectory in regards to meeting and defeating the best of his generation. By the end of this month, the WBC heavyweight title fight between Deontay Wilder and former champ Tyson Fury will likely become official with them meeting in early December. And regardless of who wins, Joshua, if he really wants to etch a great legacy, must pressure the winner to meet him in their next bout. In addition to that, he must tell his brain, aka Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn, to forget about winning the purse war if it is the only stumbling block. If the winner of Wilder-Fury is impressive, he will have earned a 50-50 split.

During the faux negotiations between the Joshua and Wilder camps this past summer the purse split was the focal point. And prior to the prospect of Wilder and Fury meeting, Joshua clearly held the better hand based on his resume and owning three titles to Wilder’s single title.  But the Wilder-Fury winner will have closed the gap and Joshua needs to be next while the fighters are at or near their prime. The fact is Joshua versus the Wilder/Fury winner will be the most widely anticipated fight in the heavyweight division since Lewis-Tyson and maybe even since Tyson-Holyfield I. The onus is on the fighters to make it happen and they both have the clout to make sure it does, especially Joshua.

Interviewed in the ring after dispatching Povetkin, AJ said it didn’t matter to him who he fought next as long as it’s Wilder or Fury, but it was obvious that he preferred Wilder. A lot depends on how Wilder fares with Fury, but until then, here’s what we know…..Alexander Povetkin and Luis Ortiz are about on the same level; having never faced each other, it’s a tossup as to who’d win. Both Joshua and Wilder scored impressive stoppages over Povetkin and Ortiz respectively…AJ needed seven rounds and Deontay needed ten rounds. During his bout with Ortiz, Wilder was knocked around the ring and had to endure a few big exchanges, some of which he came out second-best. Wilder was also nearly stopped in the seventh round but battled back, summoning great courage and reserve to win a fight he was losing. Against Povetkin, Joshua was more troubled than he was beaten up. And once he found his range and pace and began putting his punches together, the fight ultimately ended when AJ got off with his best stuff. In essence, Joshua was more impressive against Povetkin and had fewer close calls than did Wilder against Ortiz.

Between now and the time Wilder fights Tyson Fury, it’ll be debated as to who was more impressive – Joshua against Povetkin or Wilder against Ortiz; the answer is clearly Joshua for the reasons stated. Moreover, when analyzing a fight, A + B doesn’t equal C. Joshua will be favored over either Wilder or Fury, but probably along the line of 7-5 and nothing will change that.

The thing that emerged from Joshua dismantling Povetkin is that AJ recaptured some of the limelight and swag he ceded to Wilder this past March. AJ is again the fighter to beat in the heavyweight division and will probably get the bigger purse split regardless of whether he faces Wilder and Fury.

That said, he better not let the fight fall through over it!

Between 1977 and 1982, Frank Lotierzo had over 50 fights in the middleweight division. He trained at Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia under the tutelage of the legendary George Benton. Before joining The Sweet Science his work appeared in several prominent newsstand and digital boxing magazines and he hosted “Toe-to-Toe” on ESPN Radio. Lotierzo can be contacted at

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Tanaka vs. Kimora: A Monday Morning Treat For Serious Fight Fans



Kosei Tanaka was just 4-0 the first time he was appraised on The Sweet Science back in 2015; the question then was, is Tanaka the world’s brightest boxing prospect? The question now is whether or not Tanaka is about to add a strap at a third weight to an already glittering career that has seen him annex belts at 105 and 108lbs in just his first eight fights.

Now 11-0 with seven knockouts he prepares, this coming Monday, to duel Sho Kimura in Nagoya, Japan and with a lot more than just the WBO trinket on the line.

Hearts and minds, as always, translate into dollars and yen. The winner of this all-Japanese contest will find himself buoyed in fame, glory and gold in his home country, which also happens to be one of the few places on the planet where a boxer can collect a small fortune without ever leaving his native shores. Should the winner dare to dream a wider dream, then that too can be facilitated by the win.  Even fistic denizens of boxing strongholds in Japan and Britain feel a shiver run down their spines when the words “Las Vegas headliner” are whispered into their ear.

The favored man among the hardcore in the west is Tanaka. He is still very young at just twenty-three years old and is slick and quick, what the west expects of a Japanese force. Interestingly enough, however, the Japanese seem to be leaning towards Kimura: older, at twenty-nine, armed with a superb work-rate, good power, limited technique but the conqueror of Chinese superstar Shiming Zou who he stopped in the summer of 2017. Zou may have had his bubble burst by the Thai brawler Amnat Ruenroeng in 2015, but it was Kimura who sent him stumbling into retirement and at a time when the talk was of China stealing Japan’s thunder as boxing’s home in the east.

Kimura was indeed impressive that night in Shanghai. He maintained pressure with wonderful variety, eschewing the jab, perhaps, for spells, but filling those gaps with an assortment of wonderful punches, most of all his body attack, which was persistent, withering, and apparently went unscored by two of the three judges who somehow had the Chinese ahead at the time of the eleventh round stoppage. Zou had shown a skill for flurrying while fleeing and Kimura had shown him how to fight.

Now a strapholder at 112lbs, Kimura staged two defenses in the following twelve months. The first was against Toshiyuki Igarashi, the man who beat Sonny Boy Jaro, the man who had beaten the superb champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam before a softer fight against Froilan Saludar. He won both by stoppage.

Kimura, then, rather came from nowhere but made the most of his arrival. What he displayed in all three of these fights was a determination to offer pressure and footwork educated enough to do it while taking many fewer steps than his harried opponent. A tad overrated as a puncher, I suspect, he places himself in hitting position often enough that his default fight plan – chase, harass, throw – makes him capable of hurting his opponents by way of persistence and pressure.

He left Zou, Igarashi and Saludar, broken in his wake.

In short, he is the type of opponent Kosei Tanaka has been waiting for.

There have been calls for Tanaka to be considered a pound-for-pound talent should he overcome Kimura this Monday. I understand the impulse. Tanaka, were he to triumph, would become a three-weight world champion and he hails from a boxing territory which has little direct control over the meaningful pound-for-pound lists, if such a statement is not a contradiction in terms.

In short, it is felt he would be undervalued.

Tempering these calls is the fact that he has never beaten a divisional number one and that Kimura would be, by far, the best opponent he would have bested, and the most proven. Some Tanaka opponents have come good after he defeated them, some were ranked in the lower reaches of their respective divisional top tens when he matched them, but none are scalps as impressive as those dangled by the likes of Errol Spence or Anthony Joshua, who populate the nine, ten and eleven spots in reputable lists.

But this is neither here nor there; the key is not what Kimura does not represent, it is what he does represent. He is the best that Tanaka has met and, I would argue, the first truly elite fighter that Tanaka has met. He is the litmus test and he is one with a stylistic advantage.

Tanaka can punch. Here we will find out whether or not he punches hard enough to keep Kimura off him. Personally, I doubt it and that means that Kimura is going to hand him a serious gut check.

Interestingly, it will not be Tanaka’s first. The first time I wrote about him I stressed that his chin was essentially untested. That is no longer true. Tanaka, who is reasonably sound defensively, can be lazy in minding himself and foolish in pursuing the attack.

Thai puncher Rangsan Chayanram checked him in 2017, delivering a serious eye injury among other ignominies before succumbing in nine; puncher Angel Acosta, a ranked fighter if not a great one, hit and hurt Tanaka repeatedly late in their 2017 contest. If Tanaka has been learning these lessons, expectations concerning his potential may be realized. If he is not, he will fall short. Kimura is the man to test him.

Kimura’s experience and seemingly limitless twelve-round stamina are to be pitted against Tanaka’s skill, proven heart and taut footwork. It sees a superior technician – Tanaka – who has shown a propensity for being drawn into a cruder fighter’s wheelhouse matching an aggressive stalker – Kimura – who specializes in drawing technically superior foes into knockdown-drag-out scraps.

It is framed both as a fight that is likely to finish a future pound-for-pounder’s education and a fight where a young pretender is found out by a grizzled veteran.

Best of all, it is a fight that fight fans can watch for free, simply by clicking here.  The Asian Boxing website has secured exclusive international rights to the fight and will broadcasting it, free of charge, to anyone with an internet connection. As can be seen here, the fight is due to start at 4pm Japanese time.

All the reader has to do is find out what that means for timing in their own corner of the globe and a potential fight of the year will unfold before his or her eyes free of charge.

World class boxing being broadcast for free and including two of the best below 115lbs; a stylistic crossroads contest that opens up the on-ramp to pound-for-pound recognition for at least one of the combatants – on a Monday.  All facts worth keeping in mind the next time that someone tells you boxing’s prime was any number of decades ago.

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