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Different Kinds of Power

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In the sport of boxing, nothing gets the casual fan as invigorated as a real knockout artist. While there’s no shortage of purists out there who find Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward’s sublime skill sets most pleasurable (and I find them to be exhilarating, too), you can’t argue with the KO. And frankly, it’s casual fans that pay the bills. When they tune in, or buy the PPV, that’s when the networks and fighters make money.

The knockout is what separates combat sports from all other sports. You simply cannot hit a 5-Run Home Run to tie a game. You can’t hit a 5-point shot in basketball. No goals count for double in soccer or hockey. And while the rules allow for 2-point conversions in football, you simply can’t win with one play left when you’re down 9.

Conversely, boxing offers that element of theatrics where one blow can change the outcome of an entire fight. It’s why the 12th round always means something, and it’s why Meldrick Taylor-Julio Cesar Chavez lives on as a legendary night of boxing.

Boxing is currently blessed with several serious power punchers coming up the ranks. And while every division always has some knockout artists, it’s very rare that those same explosive punchers are in the elite class of their respective divisions. It’s why Mike Tyson was such an eye-catching fighter. He wasn’t knocking around club fighters; he was nearly decapitating championship-caliber fighters.

What’s interesting about punching power is how different it can be amongst different fighters, and how it’s uniquely blended with style and defense to either make a highlight-reel fighter, or a real nightmare for titleholders. Below are some of the sport’s biggest hitters (only including potential world titleholders in my opinion, so apologies to Marcos Maidana, Alfredo Angulo, etc.) and what defines their power.

Lucas Matthysse (140 lbs) – The Argentinean export has slowly catapulted up the ranks by flashing once-in-a-generation power for a junior welterweight. His only two “losses” came on questionable hometown decisions going against Americans Zab Judah and Devon Alexander. It’s worth mentioning that he put both men down during the fight. His power is a cracking power. It’s the type of power you think about if someone were to hit raw meat with a baseball mat. He is constantly a threat for a 1-punch knockout, effectively works the body, and was born with enough power to snap anyone’s head back with either hand. He’s one of the few fighters in boxing that can hurt his opponent with a glancing blow, or one that is partially blocked. That is a clear indicator of elite power. One of his best assets is his chin, as he’s traded bombs on multiple occasions and never been on the wrong end of a savage exchange. While an underrated tactician, he wins fights by making his opposition think twice about engaging with him in the pocket.

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Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (160 lbs) –  Perhaps the best “boxer” on this list due to his extensive amateur resume, Golovkin (pictured above) is simply a damaging puncher. While his shots don’t always look as high-impact as Matthysse, the effects are even more noticeable. Similar to Miguel Cotto in his prime, GGG only needs to land a few punches to disfigure his opponent. Every punch he lands seems to both physically hurt his unfortunate foes (you don’t see many pro fighters wince upon contact like his opposition frequently does), and make them less willing to engage.

Partially due to his strong base with a wide stance, he is able to generate tremendous torque on all punches with both hands. His body punching is second to none in the sport right now, and his accuracy really stands out. Contrary to most extreme power-punchers, GGG picks his shots very intelligently and wastes little energy while unleashing the types of punches that end fights instantly. It’s really like he’s wearing brass knuckles and the other guy has pillows on his fists. He’s one of a handful of fighters that backs people up with jabs and would happily punish you over several rounds rather than knock you out in dramatic fashion. He is also defensively sound and takes very little punishment due to his well-schooled defensive prowess combined with the fear he imposes after landing a few shots. He has two legitimate knockout of the year candidates already in 2013, and when he faces Curtis Stevens in November, he’s got a good shot at a third. His willingness to bang with anyone from 154-168 lbs has pundits and fans alike salivating over potential matchups. We’ll see which ones come to fruition, but since HBO has taken a liking to this fan-friendly KO artist, he’ll be easy to watch as he continues his assault on his weight class(es).

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Sergey Kovalev (175 lbs)- Kovalev’s power can only be described as thudding. He has literally hammered his way onto this list by making short work of some very good fighters. What’s impressive about his punching power is that his shots don’t have to look like big punches to severely hurt high-caliber opposition. While Golovkin is a calmer, more cerebral KO artist, Kovalev is a stalker. He can certainly box well, and is trained by noted defensive master John David Jackson, but he simply throws bombs until his guy goes down. You really need to get his respect or you’re dead in the water. When he dispatched Nathan Cleverly this past weekend, it was incredibly impressive. When he combines high-volume with his confidence, power, and accuracy, your night ends early. Simple as that. He doesn’t need to hit you perfectly, he can clip you, and down you go. That’s the sign of a serious power puncher. Perhaps most importantly, he’s a finisher. When he hurts a guy, he goes after them with no concern for later rounds. That could hurt him against a seasoned veteran like Bernard Hopkins (who he may well fight next), but someone has to survive his onslaught to take him to the later rounds, which is one tough task.

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Adonis Stevenson (168-175 lbs)- Now this dude just throws sledgehammers with the sole intent of putting people to sleep. Stevenson doesn’t hurt people so much as end their nights with his absolutely devastating left hand. He honed his craft with the late, great Emmanuel Steward, so while he seems like a one-trick pony, he’s learned some really crafty ways of landing his one trick. He also covers a ton of ground with his straight left. I mean, this is really a heat-seeking missile, so any one shot could end a career. He tends to overwhelm lesser opponents with his brute strength, but any one shot could be the end of the night at any time. His biggest win was his last fight vs. a top caliber Chad Dawson, who is a good enough technical boxer to take one thing away from any fighter. However, he missed the memo that round one wasn’t just a feeling out process, got lazy, and then lost his title after one left hand thrown by Stevenson. He’s got that Tyson-esque power, something nobody else on this list has. Check out the 0:40 mark below. Have a pillow to hug nearby.

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As mentioned, it’s outstanding to see all of these murderous punchers either holding title belts or due for a major title fight. One of the easiest ways to get the casual fan back engaged with upcoming fights is to promise fireworks. While promoter’s tend to speak in superlatives (not unlike this writer), these guys always promise explosive outputs. And if you’re a purist looking for technical brilliance, watching some of these bombers create angles and expertly manage timing and distance to land with such unworldly power will certainly wet your palate.

Follow me @Blakehoc

 

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Emerging Heavyweights: Three to Watch

Ted Sares

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Victor Faust (Viktor Vykhryst), a 6’6” 232-pound Ukrainian heavyweight (and long-time amateur) is a product of the great amateur program in the Ukraine–one that has produced the likes of the Klitschko brothers, Oleksandr Usyk, Vasily Lomachenko, and more recently Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

At first glance, his amateur record does not appear stellar, but a closer review indicates several SD’s or MD’s.

Earlier this month, on Sept. 20, he scored a frightening one punch KO when he fought the more experienced Gabriel Enguema (10-9) in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro. It was his third KO victory in three professional fights—all in 2020. The end came as a result of a Doctor Steelhammer-like perfect straight right to knock the Spaniard out cold. It brought back memories of Wladimir’s KO of Calvin Brock in 2006. Faust displayed skills, size, a solid chin, and power in dispatching his opponent.

“…Soon everyone will …see how skillful he is. He’s the complete package and will compete in massive fights sooner rather than later.” Erol Ceylan (Faust’s German promoter)

Oh yes, Faust beat Romanian Mihai Nistor in the amateurs and the talented Nistor in turn halted Anthony Joshua in the amateurs back in 2011. (Nistor also went 1-2 with Filip Hrgovic and lost to Tony Yoka in 2012.) Of course, one must be circumspect when using logic in boxing. Now that Nistor has turned pro, he will be worth following as his style is very much Tysonesque.

There are others who have—at a minimum– the same potential as Faust.

Tony Yoka

tony

Hard-hitting Frenchman 6’7” Tony Yoka (8-0) has beaten far better opposition than Faust and has a far better amateur record. In fact, he beat Filip Hrgovic and Joe Joyce in the 2016 Rio Games on the way to a Gold Medal. Recently, he dismantled veteran and fellow Frenchman Johan Duhaupas, a fringe contender with some notable notches on his belt. The end came in the first round by virtue of a crunching right uppercut.

Yoka perhaps could be slotted above Faust at this point.; he just might be the best of the new guys on the block. However, there are some dicey anti-doping issues that have tainted his reputation, though they do seem to be mostly resolved at this point.

Arslanbek Makhmudov

Arslanbek

This Russian “Lion,” 6’5 ½”, 260 pounds with an imposing muscular frame, is still another hungry prospect ready to break into the next tier. Nicknamed the “Lion,” — he also has been called “Predator” and “Beast — he is 10-0 (10 KOs).

He now lives and fights out of Montreal. The holder of two regional titles, he stopped a shot Samuel Peter in one round this past December.

“I’m confident that with my team, Eye of the Tiger Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions, I will reach my goal of becoming heavyweight champion of the world,” —Makhmudov.

This all said, The Lion needs some work on his technical skills as size can only go so far.

Makhmudov’s next opponent is Canadian heavyweight Dillon “Big Country” Carman (14-5) whose claim to fame is that he KOd comebacking Donovan Ruddock in 2015 in Toronto. This one will end differently for “Big Country.”

Others

Arguably, classy Americans Stephan Shaw (13-0), and Jared Anderson (6-0 with four KOs in the first round) could be added to the above. Filip Hrgovic and Efe Ajagba, both 6’6”, have already moved up.

A good yardstick is 6’5” American Jonathan Rice who lost a 10-round bout to Ajagba, was TKO’d in the seventh round Makhmudov, lost a 6-round decision to Tony Yoka, and a lost 6-round decision to Shaw.

Have I missed any?

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com of on Facebook.

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Jermell Charlo Unifies Super Welterweights Via Solar Plexus Punch

David A. Avila

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WBC super welterweight titlist Jermell Charlo knocked out IBF and WBA titlist Jeison Rosario with a knockout punch delivered to the solar plexus on Saturday to add two more belts to his collection.

“I’m definitely bringing home the straps,” said Charlo.

Shades of Bob Fitzsimmons.

Back in 1897, Fitzsimmons used the same solar plexus punch to dethrone Gentleman James Corbett for the heavyweight title in Carson City, Nevada.

In another casino city Charlo (34-1, 18 KOs) floored Dominican Republic’s Rosario (20-2-1, 14 KOs) three times at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. He and his brother co-headlined a heavy duty pay-per-view card with no fans in attendance on the Premier Boxing Champions card.

Charlo jumped on Rosario quickly in the first round when he charged and clipped him with a left hook to the temple. Down went the two-belt champion for the count. But he got up seemingly unfazed.

For the next several rounds Rosario was the aggressor and put the pressure on Charlo who was content to allow the Dominican to fire away. Occasionally the Houston fighter jabbed but allowed Rosario to pound up and down with both fists.

After allowing Rosario to get comfortable with his attack, suddenly Charlo stopped moving and connected with a short crisp counter left hook and right cross in the sixth round. Down went Rosario again and he got up before the count of 10.

Charlo said it was part of the game plan.

“I’m growing and I realize that the knockout will just come,” he said.

Charlo was in control with a patient style and allowed Rosario to come forward. But the Dominican was more cautious in the seventh.

In the eighth round Charlo jabbed to the head and then jabbed hard to Rosario’s stomach. The Dominican fighter dropped down on his seat as if felled by a gun shot. He could not get up and convulsed while on the floor. The referee Harvey Dock counted him out at 21 seconds of round eight.

“That jab that got to him must have landed in a vital point,” said Charlo after the fight. “I hope he recovers and bounces back.”

Charlo now has three of the four major super welterweight world titles.

WBC Super Bantamweight Title

Luis Nery (31-0, 24 KOs) captured the WBC super bantamweight title by unanimous decision over fellow Mexican Aaron Alameda (25-1, 13 KOs) in a battle between southpaws. The war between border town fighters was intense.

Nery, a former bantamweight world titlist, moved up a weight division and found Alameda to be a slick southpaw with an outstanding jab. At first the Tijuana fighter was a little puzzled how to attack but found his groove in the fourth round.

But Alameda, who fights out of Nogales, Mexico, began using combinations and finding success.  A crafty counter left uppercut caught Nery charging in a few times, but he managed to walk through them.

In the final two rounds Nery picked up the action and increased the pressure against the slick fighting Alameda, He forced the Nogales fighter to fight defensively and that proved enough to give the last two rounds for Nery and the victory by unanimous decision. The scores were 115-113, 116-112 and 118-110 for Nery who now holds the WBC super bantamweight world title. He formerly held the WBC bantamweight title.

Roman Wins

Danny “Baby-Faced Assassin” Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) managed to rally from behind and defeat Juan Carlos Payano (21-4, 9 KOs) in a battle between former world champions in a nontitle super bantamweight clash. It wasn’t easy.

Once again Roman fought a talented southpaw and in this fight Payano, a former bantamweight titlist, moved up in weight and kept Roman off balance for the first half of the fight. The jab and movement by the Dominican fighter seemed to keep Roman out of sync.

Roman, who fights out of Los Angeles, used a constant body attack to wear down the 35-year-old Payano and it paid off in the second half. Then the former unified world champion Roman began to pinpoint more blows to the body and head. With seconds left in the 12th and final round, a left hook delivered Payano down and through the ropes. Sadly, the referee missed the knockdown. It didn’t matter as all three judges scored it identical at 116-112 for Roman after 12 rounds.

“I made some adjustments and picked up the pace and got the win,” said Roman who formerly held the WBA and IBF super bantamweight world titles.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Jermall Charlo UD 12 Derevyanchenko; Figueroa and Casimero Also Triumphant

Arne K. Lang

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Jermall Charlo UD 12 Derevyanchenko; Figueroa and Casimero Also Triumphant

The Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, was the site of the first pay-per-view boxing event in the United States since the Fury-Wilder rematch on Feb. 22. There were six fights in all, five of which were title fights and the other a title-eliminator. They were divided into two tiers but bundled into a package that cost approximately a dollar a round with a facile intermission tossed in at no extra charge.

The headline attraction of the first “three-pack” – and the most anticipated fight of the evening – found WBC world middleweight champion Jermall Charlo defending his title against Sergiy Derevyanchenko. The Ukrainian gave Gennady Golovkin a hard tussle when they fought in November of last year at Madison Square Garden – GGG won a unanimous decision but the scores were tight and many thought Derevyanchenko deserved the decision – and the expectation was that tonight’s match would also be very competitive.  But it really wasn’t although the rugged Derevyanchenko rarely took a backward step.

The fight went the distance and there were no knockdowns, but Charlo buckled his knees at the end of round three and Derevyanchenko ended the fight with cuts above both eyes. The judges had it 118-110, 117-111, and 116-112.

With Canelo Alvarez apparently headed to 168 and GGG showing his age at 38, one can make a strong case that the undefeated 30-year-old Jermall Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) is now the top middleweight in the world. Derevyanchenko, who was 23-1 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing before turning pro, saw his pro record decline to 13-3 with all three losses in middleweight title fights.

The middle fight of the first tier was a lusty encounter between Mexican-American super bantamweights Brandon Figueroa and Damien Vazquez. Figueroa, one of two fighting brothers from the Mexican border town of Weslaco, Texas, was a huge favorite over Vazquez, a Colorado native who moved to Las Vegas as a freshman in high school and had fought extensively in Mexico where he made his pro debut at age 16. But Vazquez, the nephew of former three-time world super bantamweight title-holder Israel Vazquez, came to fight and gave a good effort until the fight turned lopsidedly against him.

In the middle rounds, Figueroa’s high-pressure attack began to wear Vazquez down. Vazquez had a few good moments in rounds six and eight, but when his right eye began swelling from the cut above it, he was fighting an uphill battle. He took a lot of punishment before referee Gary Rosato halted it at the 1:18 mark of round 10.

Figueroa, 23, successfully defended his WBA 122-pound title while improving his record to 21-0-1 with his 16th KO. Vazquez declined to 15-2-1.

The lid-lifter was a WBO bantamweight title defense by John Riel Casimero with Duke Micah in the opposite corner. Micah, from Accra, Ghana, came in undefeated at 24-0, but Casimero had faced a far stronger schedule and was a substantial favorite.

A Filipino who was been training in Las Vegas under Bones Adams, Casimero took Micah out in the third round. The Brooklyn-based Micah was somewhat busier in the opening frame, but the tide turned quickly in favor of the Filipino. Casimero hurt Micah with a left hook in round two and went for the kill. He wasn’t able to finish him, but Micah was on a short leash and referee Steve Willis was quick to step in when Casimero resumed his attack after the break. The official time was 0:54.

Casimero (30-4, 21 KOs) was defending the title he won last November with a third-round knockout of favored Zolani Tete in Birmingham, England. He was slated to fight this past April in Las Vegas against Naoya Inoue, but that fight evaporated as a result of the coronavirus. After the bout, Casimero called out Inoue (and others): “I’m the real monster,” he said. “Naoya Inoue is scared of me. You’re next. I would have knocked out anyone today. If Inoue doesn’t fight me, then I’ll fight Guillermo Rigondeaux, Luis Nery, or any of the top fighters.”

Check back shortly for David Avila’s summaries of the remaining fights.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

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