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Rest in Peace, Harold “Hercules” Johnson

Matt McGrain

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“I didn’t want that fight. I didn’t want to fight Harold Johnson. They had to pay me a lot of money to fight that animal.” Willie Pastrano

Harold Johnson was a licensed union drummer and as his astonishing fight career wound down he could be found in clubs with his band “Harold Johnson and the Contenders.” The story goes that when Johnson ran out of money, he would pawn his drums and then take a fight, explaining that spate of ten round decisions over the likes of John Alford (23-15-3) and Eddie Jones (7-5) in the late sixties. When he was paid, he would rescue his drums and return to the jazz circuit and bang out his second love on stage. Having never heard him play I’ll make a guess that he married a sizzling left to steady right.

I don’t know what he made of Johnson the musician but Philadelphia boxing scribe Jack McKinney compared the fighter to Bach. He was on to something, I think. French composer Charles Gounod regarded Mozart as the most beautiful composer and Bach as the “most comprehensive”, damning him, it might seem, with faint praise – but completeness is in many ways the highest praise a great artist can pay a peer. What Gounod is saying is that Bach does more perfectly than his fellow genius, for all that he is not quite so dazzling. Something similar can be said about Johnson.

Johnson’s Mozart was Archie Moore. It is hard, really, to exaggerate the atrocious luck he experienced in sharing an era with arguably the greatest light-heavyweight in history but nor can Johnson’s bravery in setting out to master this man be overstated. He first met Moore in April of 1949, two months after his impressive defeat of Chilean heavyweight Arturo Godoy. Godoy was almost a decade removed from his outstanding performance against the immortal Joe Louis but he still held a twenty-pound weight advantage over the smaller Johnson. The great Tommy Loughran was working closely with him at that time, and it showed. Harold reportedly boxed his way calmly and clearly to a unanimous decision. Unbeaten at 24-0 he was still an underdog against the vastly more experienced Moore in a fight that was laughably listed as an eliminator for the light-heavyweight title then held by Freddie Mills.

Moore would have to wait four years for his shot but he looked like a champion against Johnson that April evening in 1949. Johnson was never in the fight. Moore was aggressive from the first while Johnson banked upon his jab to keep Moore off. It didn’t work, and by the sixth he was bleeding from the nose and by the seventh he was hauling himself off the canvas.

“I knew I’d win,” Moore told the press. “But the tough ones are still ahead.”

Johnson took his defeat quietly, in keeping with his character. He had won no more than three rounds in the ten round contest and had been bullied and outclassed, but there is something dismissive in that line that bothers me a little – “the tough ones are still ahead” – and I suspect it bothered Johnson too. Moore was among the cleverest and most deadly of punchers in history but for whatever reason his name was never far from Johnson’s mouth. It is hard to think of a more difficult way to make a living in the 1950s than fighting Archie Moore, but that became Johnson’s job – he met him four times in that decade.

By the end of their first rematch Johnson was bleeding from his “nose, mouth and left eye” but on one card he won five of the ten rounds. He was gathering experience, closing in. Three months later in December of 1951, Harold Johnson defeated Archie Moore by unanimous decision 5-4, 5-4, 6-4. A low blow landed by Moore in the tied fifth round cost him a draw, but the most significant factor was Johnson’s left. It had developed into perhaps the most cultured appendage in the history of the glittering light-heavyweight division.

Precious footage of their fifth and final contest fought in August of 1954 for the world’s light-heavyweight championship survives until this day, and in it we see just what a punch Johnson’s left jab had become. Within seconds of the bell for the first round he threw a swift jab to Moore’s body while leaning away, a stiff jab to the head thrown from behind his high left-shoulder as Moore ducked and moved in, and three short-arm hooks, arm punches thrown as a reaction to the champion’s sudden presence within his sphere of action. Two different kind of attacking jabs and three different kinds of defensive hooks, Johnson shows a whole offence without once chancing the right hand. Often outreached even in the light-heavyweight division, Johnson developed a beautiful, baiting footwork mode, moving away from an opponent in tiny increments, moving even the genius Moore out of a crouch and slightly towards him – simply by moving his head backwards in a deep stance he puts Archie on the end of his jab. He was conservative with his balance and this sometimes cost him punching opportunities and led the ignorant to name him boring, but it bought him control of the range against a man who thought he had mastered that forever. By the fifth Moore is clearly playing Johnson’s game and losing.

In the tenth, Johnson dropped his man with a sneaky right behind the ear. If the fight had ended with that round like their previous contests, Johnson would have been victorious; if it had been fought over twelve, he would have been victorious – but it was a championship fight decided over fifteen rounds, a distance Johnson had never boxed before. By the thirteenth he was hanging on and in the fourteenth, still ahead on two of the cards, he was cruelly stopped by a resurgent Moore.

I think Johnson’s problem with his nemesis was a stylistic one. If he was classical, Moore was the jazz Johnson so loved, technically proficient but free-wheeling, as capable of the unexpected as the true. In the end, when Moore had to abandon himself to win, he knew where to find Johnson in a way that Johnson could never replicate with Moore. Willie Pastrano called him “a fighter’s fighter, a perfectionist” but his commitment to what was correct described his limitations, too.

Those limitations did not prevent him adding a second layer of astonishing success at heavyweight. Johnson is perhaps the most underrated heavyweight in history and few light-heavyweights come close to matching his overall resume in the unlimited class. In 1961 he put on a left-handed clinic against master-technician Eddie Machen, out-jabbing the man who was supposed to carry the best left in the division. Even more impressive was his narrow defeat of former heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles. A victory that came almost a decade before his defeat of Machen it means that Johnson proved himself the heavyweight division’s definitive technician in fights eight years apart against world-class opposition. Jimmy Bivins, Nino Valdes and Clarence Henry were the other major heavyweight scalps he carried, the last in particular regarded as an enormous shock against an overwhelming favourite.

Indeed, his only losses at heavyweight came in strange circumstances. In a 1950 fight with Jersey Joe Walcott he withdrew in the third with an injured lower back. He was also “stopped” without having been hit against Julio Mederos in the second, an apparent victim of a drugging by a “stranger” who presented him with a “bitter orange.” It should be enough to say that an African-American that turned professional in the 1940s walked a strange and difficult path.

Despite his glowing success above, light-heavy was where Johnson walked his true path. It had its valleys, not least his two rounds stoppage at the hands of puncher Billy Smith but eventually he took the long walk to a ring containing Doug Jones, the winner to be named the undisputed champion of the world. Jones, ten short months from extending a prospect soon to be known as Muhammad Ali, was embarrassed in a one-sided masterclass that to this day remains among the benchmarks for technical excellence in the field of boxing. Johnson looks old; he is balding, the severe crew-cut he wore from his navy days becoming redundant. But the younger Jones just isn’t allowed to hit him without suffering. He is smooth and Jones is fast, and this is not a contest.

Johnson, by his stage had mastered the control of his opponents trailing hand, with jab, with movement, with vision. Glimmers of what we see against Moore are concrete lightning now, he often ditches the Jones jab before he has really thrown it, a twitch of his head and then, boom, across comes the right hand, an uppercut, a straight, a feint and a jab. I managed to score the seventh and fourteenth for Jones; sympathy may have played a part.

In the aftermath, Johnson once again demanded Archie Moore, for what would have been a sixth time, but had to settle for Gustav Scholz in Berlin in front of forty-thousand Germans. He took the decision in what some regard as his finest hour. When he returned to America he was matched with defensive specialist Willie Pastrano after Henry Hank withdrew from a proposed title fight with a facial injury. Such was Pastrano’s respect for Johnson that they had to make him three different offers before they could come up with a payday he could not refuse. What appears on film to be another one-sided schooling followed, although Johnson’s rhythm was destroyed by Pastrano’s jittery up-jab and mobility. Somehow the decision went against Johnson and his short title run was over.

“Man, I just got lucky, that’s all,” Pastrano would say years later. “After each round I’d say ‘Well, I’m still here. Thank God.’”

Johnson was never particularly well managed. When he won the title he received a bonus of just $250. His fifth fight with Moore was the first time he received a purse larger than $6,000. He once claimed career earnings of just under $200,000 but spread over a twenty-three year career that represents just over $8,000 per annum. Soon, he was pawning that drum-kit. Then he made a desperate and failed comeback attempt. Finally he sold the trophies of his fistic greatness, transforming them from riches to memorabilia with each swift, sad transaction. Questioned about his excellent physical condition in later life he would say with a serious smile that he could not afford to gain weight because he could not afford to buy new clothes.

In the end he seems to have found a modicum of peace, living his last years “in quiet retirement in northeast Philadelphia” according to phillyboxinghistory.com. But no more writers will seek him out there to hear about those glory days that spanned four decades and two weight divisions. No young fighters will approach him, as Bernard Hopkins once did, and beg his wisdom or pay their respects. He died this week at the age of eighty-six. Watching him box in that timeless style in stark black and white all day today has made that fact unreal.

The great matchmaker Teddy Brenner once called Johnson the perfect fighter but added that “there is no room in boxing for perfection.”

And you know what he means.

But I’m not sure that Archie Moore would agree with him. Nor would Ezzard Charles. Or Jimmy Bivins. Or Arturo Godoy, or Bert Lytell, or Clarence Henry, Bob Satterfield, Nino Valdes, Eddie Machen, Eddie Cotton, Doug Jones, Gustav Sholz, Willie Pastrano, Henry Hank…

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 61: Puerto Rico vs Mexico and a Weekend Look-Ahead

David A. Avila

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Southern California loads up with multiple fight cards this weekend.

It’s Puerto Rico versus Mexico when Luis Feliciano (12-0, 8 KOs) meets Genaro Gamez (9-0, 6 KOs) in the main event at Fantasy Springs Casino on Thursday Aug. 22. It can be seen on RingTV.com and Facebook Watch via the Golden Boy Fight Night page.

“I know all about the rivalry,” said Feliciano who trains in South El Monte, Calif. “I’ve heard about it all my life.”

As long as I can remember, whenever you put standout Boricuas against standout Mexicans, it’s like adding gasoline to a fire. Just stand back. This year alone two Puerto Ricans with world titles were tripped up by Mexican challengers.

But the opposite can happen just as easily.

The first time I actually saw this heated rivalry in action was back in 1981 when Puerto Rican great Wilfredo “Bazooka” Gomez met Mexico’s equally great Salvador Sanchez in a featherweight duel in Las Vegas.

Gomez, at the time, was considered by many as the best fighter pound for pound. He walked into the Caesars Palace indoor arena with 32 consecutive knockouts in 32 wins. After fighting to a draw in his pro debut in Panama, he made sure that his fights did not end in a decision by brutally knocking out everyone in front of him.

Sanchez was the featherweight champion defending against Gomez who was moving up a weight division after cleaning out the super bantamweights. The Mexican fighter from the small farming town of Tianguistenco trained in Mexico City with several of the top fighters of his country. One of his teammates, Carlos Zarate, was wiped out by Gomez two years earlier by getting hit after the bell for a knockdown. He never recovered and it left ill feelings with Mexican fighters, including Sanchez.

The stage was set when they met on August 21, 1981, exactly 38 years ago today. Gomez walked in with a salsa band and Sanchez with a band of mariachis. Both bands dueled with each other. I laughed when I saw that.

Sanchez walked in as the underdog and the two warriors erupted at the opening bell. It was Sanchez who floored Gomez in the first round and looked like he would finish the Boricua. But Gomez got up and would not quit. Still, it didn’t look like the Puerto Rican champion would make it through the second round. He did and more.

Both fighters exchanged punishing blows, daring the other to take each other’s big shots. In one round they exchanged left hooks as if challenging the other to see whose punches were more powerful. Slowly the fight developed in Sanchez’s favor, and in the eighth round the Mexican fighter connected with a combination and down went Gomez. Though Sanchez would win by knockout that day and go on to gain more victories against three more fighters, he would die in a car crash almost a year later in Mexico.

Gomez would go on to knock out several Mexican fighters, including Juan Meza, Juan Antonio Lopez, Roberto Rubaldino and then the coup de grace, the epic knockout win over Lupe Pintor. Gomez would go on to win featherweight and super featherweight world titles. But his fight with Sanchez further ignited the future battles between Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Here we are 38 years later and the wars between fighters from these two countries are still captivating.

Puerto Rico vs Mexico

Feliciano, 26, ironically trains in the heart of Mexican style boxing and is trained by Ben Lira. Though he was raised in Milwaukee, he has spent the past two years in Southern California getting familiar with the pressure style that Mexican fighters impose on their opponents. He’s sparred and fought numerous times against all styles in California, New York and Puerto Rico.

“I feel I’m more than ready for this fight,” said Feliciano recently at the South El Monte boxing gym. “Gamez is a good fighter and that’s what I want to prove myself against, good fighters.”

Gamez, 24, began his pro career as a super featherweight but grew into the lightweight and now super lightweight division. Despite the changes in weight divisions, the San Diego-based prizefighter remains undefeated. He had a strong amateur career and, despite the varying weight divisions, Gamez (pictured with his promoter Oscar De La Hoya) has shown good boxing skills and a sharp boxing IQ.

Both fighters are undefeated and eager to move to the next level. On paper it’s a dead even fight. But you never know when Puerto Ricans fight Mexicans. It can end suddenly.

In a co-main event, Las Vegas-based Blair Cobbs (11-0-1, 7 KOs) meets undefeated Steve Villalobos (11-0-1, 9 KOs) of Mount Vernon, Washington in a 10-round welterweight clash.

Cobbs, a southpaw, has endured a virtual gamut of opposition and the Las Vegas-based fighter, originally from Philadelphia, has emerged unscathed. He signed with Golden Boy and continues to show improvement aside from natural toughness.

Others on the fight card are Mexico’s Raul Curiel (6-0) fighting Alphonso Black in a super welterweight match and lightweights Kevin Ventura (10-0) battling Brian Gallegos (6-1) in a six-round bout. Several other fights are planned.

Carlos Zarate, the great Mexican bantamweight world champion, will be a special guest at the fight card. Zarate, who had 63 knockouts in 66 wins, will also be available for photos and autographs at 6 p.m.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Tickets start at $25.

Costa Mesa

On Thursday, Aug. 22, a Roy Englebrecht Events boxing card at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa, Calif. features several young prospects including a middleweight showdown between Malcolm McAllister (9-3) and Rowdy Legend Montgomery (5-2-1) in the main event.

Others on the boxing card include Sergio Gonzalez, Jorge Soto, Israel Mercado, Mike Fowler and several others.

Doors open at 7 p.m. For more information call (949) 760-3131.

Corona

On Friday, Aug. 23, Thompson Boxing Promotions presents a summer outdoor event at Omega Products International. In the main event, bantamweight prospect Saul Sanchez (12-0) meets Edwin Rodriguez (10-5-1) in a 10-round fight.

Sanchez, 22, returns to the site of his last battle that took place this past May and ended in a knockout win for the Pacoima, Calif. prizefighter. He’s trained by Joel Diaz and Antonio Diaz and has shown improvement in each of his fights since February 2016.

“I think it’s great that I’m fighting in the same place as such great champions,” Sanchez said. “I put in a lot of work for this camp to make sure I win convincingly. I know Rodriguez is looking to pull the upset, but it’s not going to happen.”

Rodriguez is a tough Puerto Rican who has toppled a couple of undefeated fighters and has never been knocked out. He also briefly held a regional title and has never been an easy foe for anyone.

A welterweight showdown pits Kazakhstan’s Bobirzhan Mominov (10-0, 8 KOs) against Puerto Rico’s Javier Flores (14-2, 12 KOs) in an eight-round fight.

Mominov, 27, fights out of Florida and his last fight was in Costa Mesa this past March.

Flores, 33, is a southpaw slugger who has fought some tough competition. It’s an interesting welterweight matchup.

Others on the fight card that begins at 8 p.m. are heavyweight prospect Oscar Torrez, welterweight Luis Lopez and super featherweight Sebastian Salinas. For more information call (951) 737-7447.

Pico Rivera

Red Boxing International presents another lengthy boxing card at Pico Rivera Sports Arena on Saturday, Aug. 24.

In a lightweight headliner, Angel Flores (5-0, 4 KOs) risks his undefeated record against veteran Roberto Almazan (9-11, 4 KOs) in a six-round bout. Both Flores and Almazan previously fought at the outdoor arena located by the San Gabriel River.

A flyweight matchup pits Axel Aragon Vega (12-2-1, 7 KOs) against Giovanni Noriega (2-4-2) in a six-round fight. Vega, 19, fights out of Ensenada, Mexico and Noriega, 24, hails from Tijuana, Mexico.

Seven other pro bouts are scheduled on the fight card. Doors open at 5 p.m.

San Diego

Middleweights clash on a Roy Jones Jr. Boxing Promotions fight card on Saturday Aug. 24, at Viejas Casino and Resort in Alpine, Calif.

Connor Coyle (10-0) and Rafael Ramon Ramirez (21-4-2) meet in a 10-round middleweight contest. UFC Fight Pass will stream the fight card.

Coyle is an Irishman who now trains in Florida. San Diego’s Ramirez is a fighter who actually fought at the Olympic Auditorium and left boxing for seven years before returning in 2013. He hasn’t lost since losing at the now retired boxing venue in 2004.

Six pro bouts are scheduled for Saturday.

Fights to watch

Thursday Facebook Watch 5 p.m. Luis Feliciano (12-0) vs Genaro Gamez (9-0).

Fri. Showtime, 10 p.m. Shohjahon Ergashev (16-0) vs Abdiel Ramirez (24-4-1).

Sat. ESPN+ 9:30 a.m. PT Sergey Kovalev (33-3-1) vs Anthony Yarde (18-0).

Sat. DAZN 4 p.m. Juan Francisco Estrada (39-3) vs Dewayne Beamon (16-1-1).

Sat. UFC Fight Pass, 7 p.m. Connor Coyle (10-0) vs Rafael Ramon Ramirez (21-4-2).

Sat. Fox Sports1, 7 p.m. Brandon Figueroa (19-0) vs Javier Nicolas Chacon (29-4-1).

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An Eclectic Undercard Girds Juan Francisco Estrada’s Hermosillo Homecoming

Arne K. Lang

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Juan Francisco Estrada: His Hermosillo Homecoming and an Eclectic Undercard

Eddie Hearn, the head of the boxing division of Matchroom Sport, the company founded by his father, sure does get around. Since entering into a joint venture with DAZN in May of last year, Hearn has widened his geographic scope. This weekend, Matchroom is in Hermosillo, Mexico, partnering with Mexican heavyweight Zanfer Promotions on a deep DAZN card headlined by a local man, WBC 115-pound title-holder Juan Francisco Estrada.

Estrada (39-3, 26 KOs) is widely considered the top fighter in his weight class. He’s 13-1 since losing on points to Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez who was then undefeated and climbing the list of the world’s top pound-for-pound fighters. The lone defeat was to Chocolatito’s conqueror, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (aka Wisaksil Wangek), and Estrada avenged that setback in his last outing, winning the WBC belt to become a title-holder in a second weight division.

The challenger, Dewayne Beamon (16-1-1, 11 KOs), hails from Goldsboro, North Carolina. He had 11 of his first 12 fights in the Tar Heel State, the other in neighboring Virginia, and fought his last six fights in Mexico. He’s 34 years old.

Beamon certainly hasn’t done enough to warrant a shot at a world title and hailing from North Carolina is a knock against him. North Carolina cranks out about as many good pro boxers as North Dakota cranks out good pro basketball players, which is to say hardly any at all. In common with several other states, North Carolina has become a feeder lot, a place where boxers are fed soft touches to pad their records and make them palatable as opponents for pugilists higher-up in the food chain. But having said that, we have a nagging suspicion that Beamon will make things interesting.

Beamon excelled in football and basketball at a small college in Virginia that has since dropped its football program, impressive for a five-foot-four fellow whose playing weight was somewhere south of 140 pounds. The son of a minister, he came to boxing late because his parents were opposed to it and as an amateur he was good enough to advance to the National Golden Gloves tournament. His curious nickname, “Stop Running,” dates to his amateur days and was a nod to the fact that none of his opponents were willing to stay in the pocket and trade punches with him.

The aforementioned Sor Rungvisai is also under contract to Matchroom/DAZN. A win by Estrada is expected to propel him into a rubber match with the Thai. Their previous fights were highly entertaining and a third meeting would be welcomed with raves by serious boxing fans.

– – – –

Notable British boxers Liam “Beefy” Smith and Jono Carroll and hot heavyweight prospect Filip Hrgovic are also on the card.

Liverpool’s Smith, one of four fighting brothers (the youngest, Callum Smith, just may be the best 168-pound fighter in the world) has lost only twice in 30 starts, both coming in world title fights, the first with Canelo Alvarez and the second with Jaime Munguia. He is matched against Mexican veteran Mario Alberto Lozano (33-9, 24 KOs) who went the distance in a 10-round fight with Jermell Charlo in 2014.

Jono Carroll (16-1-1, 3 KOs) made a lot of new fans in his U.S. debut in March when he battled defending IBF 130-pound champion Tevin Farmer hammer-and-tongs in Farmer’s hometown of Philadelphia.

This was a match between two southpaws, neither of whom was known as a hard puncher. On paper, it figured to be boring, but au contraire it was a feisty squabble in which the combatants threw a combined 2,050 punches according to BoxRec, 1,227 by Carroll. When the smoke cleared, Farmer won a close but unanimous decision, after which he reportedly took Carroll along for a post-fight meal, a Philly cheesesteak, natch.

The heavily bearded Irishman, who made his pro debut in Australia, is an interesting character. It figures that he will have a less strenuous fight in Hermosillo where he is matched against Mexican journeyman Eleazer Valenzuela (20-11-4, 16 KOs).

Filip Hrgovic (8-0, 6 KOs) needs to be busier. Although he has a far stronger amateur background than fellow young guns Daniel Dubois and Efe Ajagba, they have surpassed him in terms of name recognition.

The six-foot-six Croatian, who trains in Miami, needed only 60 seconds to dispatch Gregory Corbin in his U.S. debut in May. On Saturday, he opposes Mario Heredia (16-6-1, 13 KOs) who stands 5-foot-10 and carried 275 pounds in his last fight against Samuel Peter in Atlantic City. He earned this assignment by defeating Peter, winning an 8-round split decision.

“After his countryman Andy Ruiz’s win and his win in his last fight against Samuel Peter, (Heredia) surely has the wind in his sails,” Hrgovic told a reporter for a Croatian paper.

Hrgovic will take the wind out of his sails.

For some folks, the 10-round junior welterweight contest between Shakhram Giyasov (8-0, 6 KOs) and Darlys Perez (34-4-2, 22 KOs) is the most intriguing match on the card.

Columbia’s Perez, a former interim WBA lightweight title-holder, has lost two of his last three, late stoppages at the hands of Luke Campbell and Maxim Dadashev, but before that he out-fought future super lightweight titlist Maurice Hooker in a bout that was confoundingly scored a draw. Perez is definitely a step up in class for the fast-rising Giyasov, a silver medalist for Uzbekistan at the 2016 Olympics.

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Hughie Fury vs. Alexander Povetkin: At the Crossroads

Ted Sares

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Hughie Fury vs Alexander Povetkin will be on the undercard of the Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Luke Campbell world lightweight title fight on August 31 at the O2 in London.

Fury is 23-2 while the Russian is 34-2 but these records somewhat hide the fact that the loser will need to reevaluate things while the winner can move on to bigger things. In short, a win can catapult Hughie (Tyson Fury’s cousin) to the world stage, but a loss in this, his Matchroom debut, can be disastrous, especially coming after his ugly win against a bloated Samuel Peter in a foul-fest this past July.

Said promoter Eddie Hearn, “Hughie will have to come through fire in this fight to win but, if he does, the rewards are huge.”

That’s a big “if.”

Povetkin turns 40 in a few weeks. Father time takes no prisoners and Povetkin is hardly the Povetkin of old. He was dismantled by Anthony Joshua and was even in trouble against big David Price. But “Sasha” has fought much stiffer opposition and is heavy-handed with many notable wins on his resume.

Fury himself said, “You can’t underestimate Povetkin. One [wrong] move and you get your head taken off.”

So, the two will be at the crossroads. And Robert Johnson said it best in these lines from his iconic “Cross Road Blues”:

I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
Asked the Lord above “have mercy, now save poor Bob, if you please”

Ooh, standin’ at the crossroad, tried to flag a ride
Ooh-ee, I tried to flag a ride
Didn’t nobody seem to know me, babe, everybody pass me by

Many pundits (but not this one) think Fury, being the younger and fresher man, will prevail in the fight as youth trumps experience, but others, including the oddsmakers that made Povetkin the favorite, assert that the more experienced Russian is stronger and more dangerous and will not stop moving forward.

Fury adds, “My mind is good at the moment….I’ve had a bit of bad luck with boxing, health issues and all that….It has been frustrating at times but that’s all behind me now and we’ve got a good team behind me. We’re ready now….Nobody has got the experience I have at my age. I’ve fought all over the world and I haven’t been protected. I’ve had experience that nobody else has ever had, especially at my age.”

However, his last effort against former titleholder but now woefully dreadful Samuel Peter in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was, well, dreadful. BLH’s Scott Christ nailed it: “The cousin of Tyson Fury is not known as one of the world’s more exciting heavyweights, to put it kindly, but he’s a good technician who understands how to use his physical advantages, and he kept range easily against Peter, who was never much of a mover and at this point has cinder blocks for feet.”

One notable thing the combatants have done is signed on to be tested by VADA, both before and after their fight. “It is impossible to say in advance how many doping samples will be collected in total,” Povetkin’s promoter Vadim Kornilov told TASS. Given Povetkin’s record on this account, the VADA tests are a welcomed addition.

Ted Sares is a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). He is an active power lifter and Strongman competitor in the Master Class.

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