Connect with us

Featured Articles

Juan Francisco Estrada-Roman Gonzalez II: Do Not Miss This Fight

Published

on

Juan-Francisco-Estrada-Roman-Gonzalez-II-Do-Not-Miss-This-Fight

Of all the sequels that boxing could make, Juan Francisco Estrada-Roman Gonzalez II, staged this weekend in Dallas, Texas, is the most fascinating. Superflyweight has been over-delivering on top-class competition for years now but this being the second Gonzalez-Estrada fight, coming more than eight years after the original, makes it special even for 115lbs.

Their first fight was a classic and classical, a combat of legitimate intensity fought at the highest-level boxing can deliver. Estrada, fast-handed, longer and taller than Gonzalez, started fast and stayed fast while Gonzalez, immediately aware of an unexpected danger, sunk tactical boreholes to try to find the answer. The answer, as it happened, was as old as boxing, a pressure and corner style, paying tolls, picking himself to win two thirds of the spells of technical craftsmanship they swapped inside, Estrada dangerous with uppercuts, Gonzalez lashing him with the compact combinations that made him famous.

It was close and remained close and many of the rounds were close and this was unexpected.  Estrada was unrated and underrated, 26-1 and had never fought in a twelve-round fight. I think about that sometimes; Estrada fought his first twelve round fight against an absolute monster of a champion in Roman Gonzalez, an all-time-great pound-for-pounder. Estrada took an early lead in the fight, was pegged back by a tactical adjustment and began to fight his way out of the predicament.  Then Gonzalez adjusted again.

Estrada was inexperienced and unheralded; he is anything but that now.

Ranked number nine pound-for-pound by TBRB he is the reigning champion of a 115lb division which remains the deepest in all of boxing, he is thirty years old and 41-3, in his physical prime and is coming off a stoppage victory over Carlos Cuadras, a man who took Gonzalez to the absolute edge in 2016.

“I am stronger and have more desire than the first fight,” said Estrada in the build-up. “In the first fight, I was 21 years old, and I had no experience of big international fights, he was a pound-for-pound star at that time, but now I think this time it favours me.”

It is impossible to verify that the established Estrada is more motivated than he was as a twenty-one-year-old with none of the material trappings he has since gathered, but everything else he says is irrefutably true. And there is more.

“We are fighting two weight classes above the first fight, so it is already very different. I know that I can win this time. I know it’s a tough fight and I think it will be a better fight, but I have already faced him, I know his qualities and I feel that I can beat a fighter who has been knocked out.”

Here, Estrada touches upon two key points. First is size; there can be little doubt that the 115lb limit suits Estrada more than Gonzalez. 115lbs was always going to be the absolute roof for Roman, a short, stocky fighter who brings pressure and absorbs punishment despite an elite defence, he can ill-afford to take on bigger men. That he has made it from 105lbs to 115lbs is in itself a testimony to his surprising elusiveness; but these returns have been diminishing as the smaller man has aged.

Which brings us to Estrada’s second point. Gonzalez, at thirty-three, an advanced age for a fighter who turned professional at 105lbs, has been in wars, and he has been hit and has been hurt. He is indeed a fighter “who has been knocked out” having been devasted by Wisaksil Wangek as long ago as 2017. Since, Gonzalez has glimmered, smouldered, but never blazed as he did in the days when he was tearing top fighters to pieces. Estrada sees something different now than he did the first time he looked upon Gonzalez, and the confidence is clearly flowing.

Gonzalez, meanwhile, is training principally for power. This makes sense. His first attack in earnest upon 115lbs saw him match Carlos Cuadras in 2016. It would be an exaggeration to say that Cuadras walked through him – that ignominy awaits at bantamweight should he have an unfortunate rush of blood – but it was shocking to see Cuadras live with him for spells of exchanges. This limitation was then firmly underlined by Wangek and since, Gonzalez has been matched stiffly but not dangerously.  In terms of quality of opponent, Estrada is the first to represent a callback to an opponent as good as Wangek since that knockout loss.

“One of the things we are working on is long combinations. He threw more than 1000 blows in the previous fight, but now he`s punching with greater power,” trainer Marcos Caballero told Boxing Scene. “We are going to war with Estrada.”

Talk of war is well and good but the postscript was more interesting to me:

“We know the quality of the opponent, but we trust that in the ring, the one who arrives better prepared and with the best strategy, will win. That will be us.”

Roman’s strategy in the first fight, was war. He recognised quickly that he was being presented with a different proposition than he had been prepared for and adjusted accordingly. The final adjustment he made was to introduce in earnest his left-hook. It was awful to watch and underlined Estrada’s toughness for all time.

Remember, this was not superfly Gonzalez who bounces hard punches off hard fighters; this was light-fly Gonzalez who steamrolled those he could hit. At the beginning of the eighth, as Estrada tried to operate his own right, having slipped behind in the fight for the first time, Gonzalez repeatedly landed his torpedo-like left-hook and riffed behind it with increasingly fluid, terror-laden combinations. Gonzalez is the best combination puncher in history below 112lbs – with apologies to Ricardo Lopez fans – and when he finds that afterburner, he is essentially impossible to beat.

The problem is that these torque-filled punches have proven resistible at 115lbs – that is why the interest in power-punching during training. Estrada was perhaps the only man below 115lbs that really stood up to these punches in a meaningful way, in a way that allowed him the opportunity, at least, of turning the tide. Of the five available rounds after Gonzalez ignited his left, he won three of them; but it is notable that Estrada was able to outfight his prestigious foe in what must have felt to both men a key twelfth round. Still, the predominance or otherwise of the Gonzalez left hook may determine the result of this fight.

Round eight will be too late this time, I suspect. Estrada was close to being too big for Gonzalez first time around and that was in a weight division that better suited the smaller man. Now Estrada is in the weight division that he arguably most belongs in while there is ever a sense that Gonzalez is waiting in the knowledge of the bigger man. The law of Joe Louis says this though: once a puncher has found a mover, he has found him for all time. While I am not suggesting Gonzalez is the equal of Louis, he is, or at least was of that class by my eye; there is a possibility that having found Estrada with his left in the eighth of the last fight, he will find him in the first of this, their second fight, regardless of how long has elapsed. In the first fight Estrada bagged the first two rounds, the key punch perhaps the uppercut; Gonzalez needs to meet and greet that punch with one of his own and outfight the bigger, younger, faster man early, a tall order for even a great fighter.

Roman Gonzalez looks different now. His face, full even at 105lbs in a boyish way, has taken on the puffiness of a civilian. He never wore the visage of a fighter but he is beginning to look like the favourite uncle of your youth. He talks openly of retirement. He knows some ending is approaching.

He is a dramatic underdog here, in the twilight of his career. Should he win, he will match Wangek in a second dramatic rematch. If he loses it will be retirement or the continued career of a fighter with problems. There is nowhere for Gonzalez to go if Estrada masters him; 118lbs would be a dangerous disaster, 112lbs is beyond the reach of his pugilist’s body. Either he becomes the champion of a division in which he has always walked the tightrope or his career as an elite sportsman is over.

Estrada could stand to lose and box on, even 118lbs not entirely beyond his lither frame but elite sports is so rarely about “who wants it more.” It is about who is better. I believe Estrada is a better 115lb boxer than Gonzalez – therefore I pick him to win a fight that feels close, with close rounds, but where the scorecards speak of a comfortable win, somewhere in the region of 117-111.

But – keep your eyes peeled for that Gonzalez left early in the fight. I’ve been publishing fight reports on Roman Gonzalez for more than a decade now and if it is said of him that he is training for war, I believe it. Winning a war remains his last best chance of becoming a champion once more.

At the risk of sounding redundant, do not miss this fight.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Featured Articles

U.K. Boxing Montage: Conlan KOed; Wood Regains Title; Billam-Smith Upsets Okolie

Published

on

UK-Boxing-Montage-Conlan-KOed-Wood-Regains-Title-Billam-Smith-Upsets-Okolie

British fight fabs had plenty of options last night. Important events were staged in Manchester, in Bournemouth, and in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The locals were delighted in Manchester and Bournemouth, but fans in Belfast were left crestfallen when their hometown hero Michael Conlan, the former two-time Olympian, was on the wrong end of a vicious KO.

Conlan, who was 18-1 heading in, had a four-inch height advantage and three-inch reach advantage over Mexican spoiler Luis Alberto Lopez. The Irishman attracted late money and went to post a small favorite. But Lopez (28-2, 16 KOs) emerged victorious, successfully defending his IBF world featherweight title which he won in British soil over Josh Warrington.

Although Conlan had a rough patch in the second round, he was seemingly in a good position heading into round five when the Mexican invader brought a swift conclusion to the contest, discombobulating Conlan (pictured) with a right uppercut that prompted his trainer Adam Booth to throw in the towel. It was the second time that Conlan came up short in a bid for a world title. He challenged for the WBA version of this belt in March of last year, losing on a spectacular last round knockout to Leigh Wood in a fight that he was winning until the final 90 seconds.

Also…

In a scheduled 12-rounder for a WBC featherweight trinket, five-foot-three Liverpool buzzsaw Nick “Wrecking” Ball advanced to 18-0, (11 KOs) with a 12th-round stoppage of South Africa’s previously undefeated Ludumo Lamati (21-1-1, 11 KOs). Lamati’s corner tossed in the towel after Ball landed a series of hard punches in the final frame.

Lamati was on his feet when the bout was stopped but was in dire straits and was removed from the ring on a stretcher. There was no update on his condition as this story was going to press.

In a companion 12-rounder, Belfast’s Anthony “Apache” Cacace (21-1, 7 KOs) successfully defended his fringe 130-pound title with a wide decision over Damian Wrzesinski (26-3-2). The judges had 118-111, 117-111, and 116-112.

Wrzesinski, a 38-year-old Pole, fought with a brace on his right knee. This was the first fight for “Apache” in his hometown in eight years. The win may have set him up for a match with Welshman Joe Cordina, the IBF junior lightweight title-holder, or Shavkat Rakhimov who lost a close decision to Cordina in a bruising tiff last month.

Manchester

Mauricio Lara didn’t bring his “A” game to England. That became apparent at the weigh-in when he failed to make weight, losing his WBA world featherweight title on the scales. By rule, only Leigh Wood could win it or it would become vacant.

This was a rematch. Fourteen weeks ago, Lara went into Wood’s backyard in Nottingham and stopped him in the seventh round. Lara was behind on the cards when he felled Wood with a crunching left hook. Wood beat the count but his trainer Ben Davison tossed in the towel which struck many, especially Wood, as premature as less than 10 seconds remained in the round.

In a previous trip to England, Lara had broken hearts in Leeds, stopping native son Josh Warrington. The Mexican invader, younger than Leigh Wood by 10 years, was expected to win again, but Wood, 34, simply out-worked him. He knocked Lara down in the second round with an uppercut and methodically kept him at bay, winning by scores of 116-111 and 118-109 twice.

Co-Feature

In his first appearance since his controversial defeat to Josh Taylor in Glasgow in February of last year, Jack Catterall improved to 27-1 (15) with a wide decision over Irish-Australian southpaw Darragh Foley (22-5-1).

The Sportsman called the Catterall-Taylor fight, a split decision win for Taylor, the most controversial fight in British boxing history and Catterall became a more sympathetic figure when Taylor, after several postponements, reneged on his promise to give Catterall a rematch, opting instead for a date with Teofimo Lopez.

Although Foley was in action 10 weeks ago, scoring his signature win with a third-round stoppage of favored Robbie Davies Jr., and Catterall was making his first start in 15 months, this was a one-sided fray in Catterall’s favor. He had Foley on the canvas twice en route to winning by scores of 99-88, 98-89, and 97-90.

Eddie Hearn has expressed an interest in matching Catterall with Regis Prograis assuming that Prograis gets past Arnold Barboza on June 17.

Also

England’s Terri Harper (14-1-1), who jumped up three weight classes last year, successfully defended her WBA 154-pound diadem with a unanimous but unimpressive 10-round decision over perennial title challenger Ivana Habazin. The judges had it 98-92 and 99-93 twice.

Harper was slated to fight former pound-for-pound queen Cecilia Braekhus last Saturday in the co-feature to Taylor vs. Cameron in Dublin, but hat match fell out when Braekhus came down with a bad cold following the weight-in.

Harper is seeking a unification fight with countrywoman Natasha Jonas. Habazin, a 33-year-old Croat, fell to 21-5.

Bournemouth

In his fourth defense of his WBO world cruiserweight title, previously undefeated Lawrence Okolie was soundly defeated by former sparring partner Chris Billam.-Smith The match was contested in Billam-Smith’s  hometown before a raucous crowd at sold-out Vitality Stadium.

A 3/1 underdog, Billam-Smith, who was 17-1 heading in, proved clearly superior He knocked Okolie down in the fourth round and again in rounds 10 and 11 en route to winning by scores of 116-107, 115-108, and 112-112.

About that curious 112-112 card. It was turned in by U.S. judge  Benjamin Rodriguez who had been working the Illinois-Wisconsin circuit. On social media, his tally is being called the worst scorecard of all time.

Did Billam-Smith’s fans leave happy? The correspondent for British Boxing News called the event “a night of breathtaking boxing action that will never be forgotten.”

The six-foot-five Okolie may have made his last start as a cruiserweight. He aspires to fight Oleksandr Usyk.

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

The Sweet Science Rankings: Week of May 22nd, 2023

Published

on

The-Sweet-Science-Rankings-Junto-Nakatani

The Sweet Science Rankings: Week of May 22nd, 2023

Hiroto Kyoguchi departs 108lbs for 112lbs so there’s a reorganisation at the bottom of the 108lbs division.  Fellow Japanese Junto Nakatani’s breathtaking destruction of Andrew Maloney sees him rise to #6 at 115lbs with Maloney dropping to #10; Kosei Tanaki who was also out at the weekend climbs to #9.  Raymond Muratalla is the last mover this week, eliminating Jamaine Ortiz and debuting at #9 at 135lbs.  There are no further changes at lightweight where Lomachenko maintains his ranking at #3.

*Please note that when the fighter’s name appears with an asterisk it represents a movement in ranking from the previous week.

Pound-for-Pound

01 – Naoya Inoue

02 – Oleksandr Usyk

03 – Juan Francisco Estrada

04 – Dmitry Bivol

05 – Terence Crawford

06 – Errol Spence Jnr.

07 – Tyson Fury

08 – Saul Alvarez

09 – Artur Beterbiev

10 – Shakur Stevenson

 

105lbs

1            Knockout CP Freshmart (Thailand)

2            Petchmanee CP Freshmart (Thailand)

3            Melvin Jerusalem (Philippines)

4            Ginjiro Shigeoka (Japan)

5            Wanheng Menayothin (Thailand)

6            Daniel Valladares (Mexico)

7            Yudai Shigeoka (Japan)

8            Oscar Collazo (USA)

9            Masataka Taniguchi (Japan)

10          Rene Mark Cuarto (Philippines)

 

108lbs

1            Kenshiro Teraji (Japan)

2            Jonathan Gonzalez (Puerto Rico)

3            Masamichi Yabuki (Japan)

4            Hekkie Budler (South Africa)

5            Sivenathi Nontshinga (South Africa)

6            Elwin Soto (Mexico)

7            Daniel Matellon (Cuba)

8            Reggie Suganob (Philippines)

9            Shokichi Iwata (Japan)*

10          Esteban Bermudez (Mexico)*

 

112lbs

1            Sunny Edwards (England)

2            Artem Dalakian (Ukraine)

3            Julio Cesar Martinez (Mexico)

4            Angel Ayala Lardizabal (Mexico)

5            David Jimenez (Costa Rica)

6            Jesse Rodriguez (USA)

7            Ricardo Sandoval (USA)

8            Felix Alvarado (Nicaragua)

9            Seigo Yuri Akui (Japan)

10          Cristofer Rosales (Nicaragua)

 

115lbs

1            Juan Francisco Estrada (Mexico)

2            Roman Gonzalez (Nicaragua)

3            Jesse Rodriguez (USA)

4            Kazuto Ioka (Japan)

5            Joshua Franco (USA)

6            Junto Nakatani (Japan)*

7            Fernando Martinez (Argentina)

8            Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (Thailand)

9            Kosei Tanaka (Japan)*

10          Andrew Moloney (Australia)

 

118lbs

1            Emmanuel Rodriguez (Puerto Rico)

2            Jason Moloney (Australia)

3            Nonito Donaire (Philippines)

4            Vincent Astrolabio (Philippines)

5            Gary Antonio Russell (USA)

6            Takuma Inoue (Japan)

7            Alexandro Santiago (Mexico)

8           Ryosuke Nishida (Japan)

9            Keita Kurihara (Japan)

10          Paul Butler (England)

 

122lbs

1            Stephen Fulton (USA)

2            Marlo Tapales (Philippines)

3            Luis Nery (Mexico)

4            Murodjon Akhmadaliev (Uzbekistan)

5            Ra’eese Aleem (USA)

6            Azat Hovhannisyan (Armenia)

7            Kevin Gonzalez (Mexico)

8            Takuma Inoue (Japan)

9            John Riel Casimero (Philippines)

10          Fillipus Nghitumbwa (Namibia)

 

126lbs

1            Mauricio Lara (Mexico)

2           Brandon Figueroa (USA)

3            Rey Vargas (Mexico)

4            Luis Alberto Lopez (Mexico)

5            Mark Magsayo (Philippines)

6            Leigh Wood (England)

7            Josh Warrington (England)

8            Robeisy Ramirez (Cuba)

9            Reiya Abe (Japan)

10          Otabek Kholmatov (Uzbekistan)

 

130lbs

1            Joe Cordina (Wales)

2            Oscar Valdez (Mexico)

3            Hector Garcia (Dominican Republic)

4            O’Shaquie Foster (USA)

5            Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (Tajikistan)

6            Roger Gutierrez (Venezuela)

7            Lamont Roach (USA)

8            Eduardo Ramirez (Mexico)

9            Kenichi Ogawa (Japan)

10          Robson Conceicao (Brazil)

 

135lbs

1            Devin Haney (USA)

2            Gervonta Davis (USA)

3            Vasily Lomachenko (Ukraine)

4            Isaac Cruz (Mexico)

5            William Zepeda Segura (Mexico)

6            Frank Martin (USA)

7            George Kambosos Jnr (Australia)

8            Shakur Stevenson (USA)

9            Raymond Muratalla (USA)*

10          Keyshawn Davis (USA)

 

140lbs

1            Josh Taylor (Scotland)

2            Regis Prograis (USA)

3            Jose Ramirez (USA)

4            Jose Zepeda (USA)

5            Jack Catterall (England)

6            Subriel Matias (Puerto Rico)

7            Arnold Barboza Jr. (USA)

8            Gary Antuanne Russell (USA)

9            Zhankosh Turarov (Kazakhstan)

10          Shohjahon Ergashev (Uzbekistan)

 

147lbs

1            Errol Spence (USA)

2            Terence Crawford (USA)

3            Yordenis Ugas (Cuba)

4            Vergil Ortiz Jr. (USA)

5            Jaron Ennis (USA)

6            Eimantas Stanionis (Lithuania)

7            David Avanesyan (Russia)

8            Cody Crowley (Canada)

9            Roiman Villa (Columbia)

10          Alexis Rocha (USA)

 

154lbs

1            Jermell Charlo (USA)

2           Tim Tszyu (Australia)

3            Brian Castano (Argentina)

4            Brian Mendoza (USA)

5            Liam Smith (England)

6            Jesus Alejandro Ramos (USA)

7            Sebastian Fundora (USA)

8            Michel Soro (Ivory Coast)

9            Erickson Lubin (USA)

10          Magomed Kurbanov (Russia)

 

160lbs

1            Gennady Golovkin (Kazakhstan)

2            Jaime Munguia (Mexico)

3            Carlos Adames (Dominican Republic)

4            Janibek Alimkhanuly (Kazakhstan)

5            Liam Smith (England)

6            Erislandy Lara (USA)

7            Sergiy Derevyanchenko (Ukraine)

8            Felix Cash (England)

9            Esquiva Falcao (Brazil)

10          Chris Eubank Jnr. (Poland)

 

168lbs

1            Canelo Alvarez (Mexico)

2            David Benavidez (USA)

3            Caleb Plant (USA)

4            Christian Mbilli (France)

5            David Morrell (Cuba)

6            John Ryder (England)

7            Pavel Silyagin (Russia)

8            Vladimir Shishkin (Russia)

9            Carlos Gongora (Ecuador)

10          Demetrius Andrade (USA)

 

175lbs

1            Dmitry Bivol (Russia)

2            Artur Beterbiev (Canada)

3            Joshua Buatsi (England)

4            Callum Smith (England)

5            Joe Smith Jr. (USA)

6            Gilberto Ramirez (Mexico)

7            Anthony Yarde (England)

8           Dan Azeez (England)

9            Craig Richards (England)

10          Michael Eifert (Germany)

 

200lbs

1            Jai Opetaia (Australia)

2            Mairis Breidis (Latvia)

3            Lawrence Okolie (England)

4            Richard Riakporhe (England)

5            Aleksei Papin (Russia)

6            Badou Jack (Sweden)

7            Chris Billam-Smith (England)

8            Arsen Goulamirian (France)

9            Yuniel Dorticos (Cuba)

10          Mateusz Masternak (Poland)

 

Unlimited

1            Tyson Fury (England)

2            Oleksandr Usyk (Ukraine)

3            Zhilei Zhang (China)

4            Deontay Wilder (USA)

5            Anthony Joshua (England)

6            Andy Ruiz (USA)

7            Filip Hrgovic (Croatia)

8            Joe Joyce (England)

9            Dillian Whyte (England)

10          Frank Sanchez (Cuba)

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

 

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

‘How To Box’ by Joe Louis: Part 6 of a 6-Part Series – Putting It All Together

Published

on

How-to-Box-by-Joe-Louis-Part-6-of-a-6-Part-Series

‘How To Box’ by Joe Louis: Part 6 of a 6-Part Series – Putting It All Together

“You got to be a killer, otherwise I’m getting too old to waste time on you.”—Jack Blackburn

Much has been said concerning the Joe Louis duels with Max Schmeling. It was proof that Louis was vulnerable to right hands. It was proof that Louis wasn’t vulnerable to right hands. It was a victory for America over the Nazis. But Schmeling wasn’t a Nazi. It was boxing’s biggest fight. But it wasn’t about boxing. It was what made Louis a hero. But he was already a hero.

One of Abraham Lincoln’s most successful biographers, Roy Basler, wrote that “to know the truth of history is to realize its ultimate myth and its inevitable ambiguity.” Is there a more telling example of this truth in sports than Louis-Schmeling II? Sometimes the tale can obscure the truth. To put it another way: when was the last time you just wondered at it? Wondered at what Joe Louis did to Max Schmeling on a night when, admittedly, the world was on the brink of war and the African-American was on the road to reclaiming himself from the white power structure in the USA? When was the last time you ignored all those very important things and just marvelled at that fight, the recording of which reporter Henry McLemore called “the most faithful recording ever made of human savagery”?

I’m going to invite you here, please, to wonder at it again.

In one moment.

First, we must take a look at Joe’s best performance.

Buddy Baer

The bigger, less celebrated of the Baer brothers had his own rematch with Joe Louis at the beginning of 1942. The first fight had ended in the controversy of a DQ win for Louis and, as he always did when there was the merest hint of scepticism after a title fight, Joe arranged to meet the Giant Californian once again.

A huge man in any era, Buddy tipped the scales at 250 and scraped the ceiling at a little more than 6’6. As noted by the St.Petersburg Times, “a fellow of Baer’s size in good condition, and equipped with the usual quota of arms, legs and eyes must be conceded a chance in any bout, particularly if he has courage and a punch.”

Buddy had both in abundance, but he was not a natural fighter. “We have the feeling he would rather be out picking violets,” is how the Times chose to illustrate the point. While this is a bit much we all know what he means. Louis, who would famously be fighting for free that night in support of the Navy Relief Fund, was a natural gladiator. Buddy Baer was not.

If Max Schmeling is clearly the tougher of the two opponents and Louis wreaked similar havoc on each of them, what is it that makes this Joe’s greatest performance? Baer’s size? Might it be suggested that herein lies the key to arguing Louis the master of all modern super-heavies as he destroys one in this encounter? It’s a reasonable point, but no, it is not that. It was my own favourite line from How to Box by Joe Louis that brought me to this conclusion.

“There are two basic methods of attack,” the1948 manual tells us, “either by force or by skill. The attack by force is used only by the slugger who depends only upon hitting power. The attack by skill is used by the boxer who relies upon his cleverness in feinting, correct leading, drawing and in-fighting.”

This is a fine division, at once elegant and incomplete, of the boxer’s physical abilities versus his technical ability, his gifts as an athlete as weighed against his skill as a boxer. While Joe’s destruction of Schmeling is his most devastating display, he relies often in that short fight upon his natural gifts, his speed, his power. Joe fights ugly for short, vicious stretches against Baer, too, but not before he has demonstrated for us the height of his art.

Louis and his ghostwriter, Edward J. Mallory, describe the various feints Louis employed in his championship years and most interesting among them is the left jab to the body, the lie, and then the right uppercut to the head, the truth. It is a difficult move from a technical perspective, calling upon the weight to be transferred from the left foot to the right and for the fighter to move from long distance to the inside, downstairs to up, all without getting caught. Louis pulls this move off against a fresh Baer, twenty-five seconds into the fight.

Baer came out aggressively and Louis was momentarily crowded out of the fight, driven and harried back to his own corner first by Baer’s length, then his size. Buddy’s physical advantages overcame Joe’s technical superiority, for just a moment. They circle, and Louis takes a short step back, employing the draw, before throwing a nothing left hook. Louis notices that the challenger’s tactic upon being jabbed are to dip, then make a grab and try to tie the champion up on the inside, allowing him to use his size and weight to bear down on him. A fine plan for a big man, but in fact the fight is now lost.

A few seconds later Louis is shuffling back and away from Baer once more and as Baer moves forwards Louis throws another jab. Again, Baer dips and tries to crowd but Louis has no intention of landing the jab. Instead, he holsters his left, takes a step to the outside with his left foot and even as Baer draws himself into his shell and prepares his grab, Louis uncorks his right uppercut, slipping his weight across his body as a part of the natural movement of the punch, the absolute perfection of this skill. The punch is not a finisher but note Baer’s reaction when Louis jabs at him once more, moments later. Instead of trying to menace the champion with his size or a counter, he backs up directly; shy of the uppercut that the jab disguised last time around. This is the ultimate realisation of the feint—to imbue in the jab, a hammer blow at the best of times the virtual attributes of the uppercut. Baer has now to abandon his pre-fight plan for Joe’s most important punch, that jab.

Skill has determined that his superior size is now worthless.

Paraffin to the wound seconds later as Louis pulls the trick off once more, this time after following through on the jab. A right-handed uppercut to the jaw—the hardest punch to land from a technical perspective—turns the trick again and now Baer is hurt. Louis plants a left hook behind the glove just above the ear and then he is ready to unleash the combinations that made him famous.

People say Joe Louis has slow feet. There is something to this, although hopefully it has been explained in the proper context in Part 1—The Foundation of Skill. Even then, however, we discuss his speed relative to those opponents who run. Well footwork is not merely a byword for a foot race. I defy anyone who takes the time to pay close enough attention to the speed at which Louis adjusts his feet now as Baer retreats across the ring to name him slow.

Out of position for a left hook as Baer is going away slightly outside his right foot, Louis shimmies—there is no other word for it—a quick step forwards, channelling all his power through his left leg and hips. This allows him to land that deadly, rare, straight right and behind it, even though he each time has to shimmy and hop forwards, he lands a left hook and then that rolling right cross. With each punch he is covering ground and with each punch he touches down long enough to get the torque through his hips and crack home hard punches, knockout punches. Perhaps the most startling thing about this sequence is that if you press pause at the moment these blows are landing, they look as though Louis were punching from a stationary position. His balance is perfect, his rushing attack is in no way affecting the value of his punches, yet he takes literally no time to get set. He is a cobra packing a shotgun.

“Use the weight of the body in every punch,” (my italics) advises How to Box and it is a tenet Louis is married to. My expectation upon placing it under the microscope was that I would have to issue a warning similar to the one I described when analysing Joe’s straight right hand—that it bore sweet fruit when it worked but that it was to detail-specific to be really viable in the ring, and that countermeasures must be employed. To my astonishment I found that Louis threw power punches (if not always his jab) in this fashion without compromising his balance on offense. It is my suspicion that this is a unique skillset above 200 lbs. and that you would have to work to find fighters who can fight like this in even the smallest divisions.

Though the fight is only a minute old, referee Frank Fullam takes his first close look at Baer as he wobbles back to Joe’s short rope behind a left-right combination to the jaw and a right to the body that Louis lands after ducking into a clinch as Baer tried to throw his first punches in some seconds. Louis is made to miss in turn as Baer bores him back and away from the ropes, missing first with the right uppercut and then the left hook. These are the most difficult punches to remain composed behind, but Louis does so, remaining in punching position.

Head-to-head in a maul, Louis appears the loser as he slowly gives ground during an exchange of meaningless shots, but a split second later, he has moved out of the maul that Baer remains bowed solemnly into, and Louis begins the assault again. A bobbing top caught in two opposing tides—his, and the punches Joe is driving home—Baer’s size is now nothing less than a handicap in the face of the genius of Joe’s box-punching.

For the first knockdown Louis slips the non-existent jab he expects when he is on his way in, jabs to the stomach and bombs a right cross over his defence. Watch carefully and you will see Baer’s high guard rappelled right and down by the famous Louis follow-through before snapping back into place as Baer collapses in an enormous heap on the canvas, forty-pound weight advantage and all, the first time he has looked big since that first uppercut landed.

It’s hard to admire a man shooting fish in a barrel but take a moment to appreciate the blinds being drawn and the man Leroy Simerly (Herald-Journal) called “strictly a sixteen-inch gunner” in full flow.

Baer was magnanimous in defeat clutching Joe’s head in his oversized paws, almost comically huge next to the man labelled in newspapers the following morning as “the most destructive puncher the fight game has ever seen.”

Baer figured Louis to be champion for some time to come.

“Maybe my next child will be a son and I can raise him up to do the job.”

Three days later, Louis would pass his army physical. He would never reach the heights of the Buddy Baer fight again. It is a frightening thought, but it is possible that boxing never saw the very best of its greatest champion.

Max Schmeling

“Ain’t no sense foolin’ around like I did last time.”

Louis said more than once in the run up to the fight that he would end Max Schmeling in a single round. For the most part this was dismissed as hyperbole by a press which did not break ranks to predict anything earlier than a third-round knockout. Hyperbole was the furthest thing from the minds of Louis and Blackburn, however. This was a plan with its foundation built firmly upon the scientific reasoning that Schmeling had become so famous for.

When Joe Louis attended the welterweight title fight between Henry Armstrong and Barney Ross, it was not as a fan, although he was one, but as a disciple. It is possible that Armstrong was the only man in the history of the fight game capable of teaching Louis about controlled destructive violence in the ring, but the story goes that he did—and that along with handler Eddie Mead, he convinced Louis and Blackburn that a direct, rushing assault was the best strategy.

And the story had more than just a hint of truth to it. First Joe was seen at Henry’s training camp and then Henry was seen at Joe’s. Louis did not speak of it directly, but Blackburn was less equivocal:

“Last time Chappie fought just the way Schmeling wanted him to. This time it’ll be different. Chappie’s going to learn from Armstrong. He’s going to set a fast pace right from the start.”

Max Machon, trainer to Schmeling, did not see the danger, encouraging Louis to do just that:

“He would be as awkward as a school girl on her first pair of ice skates!”

Schmeling, meanwhile, wasn’t paying attention or had seen a bluff where there was none:

“I think in the first round we will just feel each other out.”

According to the World Telegram, “Schmeling will make no mistake in strategy. Louis doesn’t know what the word means.” This was the prevailing attitude at the time, but in fact a reversal of this equation was happening right under the noses of the dismissive newspapermen. Even those that sniffed out a possible tactical dimension to the Louis battle plan were disdainful of it. Perhaps they were right, and perhaps Blackburn and Mead were the masterminds behind the directness of the violence about to erupt in Yankee Stadium. But the fact is that Louis had been obsessively watching the first Schmeling fight, originally with a journalist (who could not believe that Blackburn had never shown it to the champion and had in fact discouraged him from seeing it), then with his trainer and finally alone.

Over and over again.

“I know how to fight Max now.”

Louis was to fight Schmeling in the opposite style, as far as How to Box is concerned, to the one he would use to destroy Buddy Baer. There, he fought by skill, here it was to be by force—speed, power.

Louis doesn’t stalk or attempt to draw a lead from Schmeling. At the first bell, he is after him straight away and when Schmeling tries to move, Joe moves with him, still in the small steps and still behind that ramrod jab but with more urgency than is normal. The hard jab and a closet left hook are landed before Max moves out of range, but the leaping left hook he uses to drive Max before him is a new flavor of Louis, especially against an unharmed world-class opponent. Louis had reportedly shadowboxed for forty to fifty minutes before emerging from his dressing room wearing two gowns to keep his body warm. Now he was making both Schmeling and Machon foolish in their pre-fight predictions. Not only was Louis wasting absolutely no time in feeling Schmeling out, but he also bore very little resemblance to a schoolgirl on ice skates. He looked more like coiled galvanized steel brought miraculously and terrifyingly to life.

Referee Arthur Donovan would later claim that this left hook caused Max’s face to swell and changed his pallor to a “faint bluish green.”

maxresdefault 2

The hook also carried him inside, but rather than moving for space Louis dug his heels in and pushed against Schmeling, denying him room, landing three hard uppercuts, pulling out and then stabbing back in with the one-two. When Schmeling puts his left glove over Joe’s right, cupping his own body protectively with his free arm, Louis reverted to his old habits, making room for himself as he punched, adjusting tactically to Schmeling’s increasingly desperate defensive manoeuvres.

After the German lands his only significant punch of the fight—a right hand as the champion moved away—Louis stalked a rattled Schmeling to the far rope and drew the inevitable pressure lead, before going to work with both hands to the midsection and switching upstairs. When Schmeling tries to hide up close after another one-two, Louis pushes him back and away, giving himself room for his aggressive rushes. Here, then, was the culmination of the tactical switch as he drove Schmeling back with the uppercut then invoked the most famous fistic assault between Dempsey and Tyson, hammering Schmeling back with both fists, the German catapulting away but seemingly caught in the Bomber’s horrifying gravity as he catches the rope for support with his right gloves and catapults himself right back into the kill zone. Louis is swarming all over him and Schmeling, now half turned away, is nothing more than a slab of meat and one that the champion goes to work upon in earnest, a butcher wielding two cleavers, finally landing perhaps his most famous punch, a right hand just above the kidney that fractured the transverse process of the third and fourth lumbar vertebrae, tearing the muscles surrounding it in the process. The scream that erupted from Schmeling was “half animal, half human” and according to David Margolick author of Beyond Glory: Max Schmeling and Joe Louis was so bloodcurdling that many patrons on that side of the ring reached for their hats as though compelled to retreat. If it occurred, this was a primal reaction but Louis, for me, was not giving the primal showing of legend.

“He is a jungle man,” wrote journalist Henry McLenmore. “As completely primitive as any savage out to destroy the thing he hates. He fought instinctively and not by any man-made pattern.”

This is not true. Louis had re-armed himself with some new tools for this fight and had shown a strategic surety the German came nowhere near matching—Schmeling was outthought for all that he was also slaughtered. When necessary, Louis switched between pure aggression and his drawing, counterpunching style with seamless ease and although he used his physical rather than his technical brilliance to master Schmeling, I would argue that “the hand of man” is more apparent in this performance than any other one of his fights.

“I thought in my mind, “How’s that Mr. Super-race? I was glad he was hurt,” said Louis in response to questions about his thoughts on the punch that had broken Schmeling’s back. Now he did cut loose, battering Max like he was a heavy bag and indeed from this point on the challenger put up about as much resistance. The final punch, when it came, had the same affect upon Schmeling’s face as a baseball bat would an apple, according to the Herald Tribune. The fight ended in confusion and uproar as first the towel, then Max Machon himself stormed the ring but Schmeling was as knocked out as any fighter had ever been. Louis had wiped the floor with him.

His reward, outside of the $400,000 he had just banked, was to be compared in the next few days in the press to every dangerous animal that walked the earth. Lions, tigers, bears, snakes, hawks and most of all panthers were what the champion was like and the racial climate in which he fought makes us look back and shake our heads at the casual racism. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and John F. Kennedy were all in America’s glittering future. But I do not think it was a matter of race—or not only of race.

It is a fact, however, that some of the pressmen that talked about Louis in these terms were black.

Louis himself, by virtue of his skill in the ring would take a hand in steering his race toward calmer waters.

It’s us.

We all look at Louis and see something primal because there is something primal within all of us. He speaks to it.

And that’s fine. Boxing needs its violence every bit as much as it needs its heroes. If this series of articles was about anything it was about stripping away that projection, that stardust, that lie and looking at the fighter underneath, because that is a beautiful thing that all too often is overlooked. Louis had one of the best jabs, one of the best skillsets, was one of the best counterpunchers, one of the best boxers at any weight, ever—and I hope I have shown that his supposed tactical rigidity and strategic naivety is something we have projected onto this “animal” this “killer” this “bomber,” too, for all that these were not his greatest strengths. He had help and Blackburn was an important part of arguably the greatest story our sport has ever known but as Joe Louis said, “Once that bell rings, you are on your own.

“It’s just you and the other guy.”

And I sure wouldn’t want to be the other guy.

For those of you who have taken the considerable time to read these articles on Joe Louis from the first word to the last—thank you.

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading
Advertisement
The-Haney-Lomachenko-Tempest-Smacks-of-Hagler-Leonard--Dave Moretti-Factored-into-Both
Featured Articles7 days ago

The Haney-Lomachenko Tempest Smacks of Hagler-Leonard; Dave Moretti Factored in Both

In-the-Homestretch-of-His-Career-Philadelphia's-Tank-Keeps-on-Rolling
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

In the Homestretch of His Career, Philadelphia’s Joey “Tank” Dawejko Keeps on Rolling

Avila-Perspective-Xhap-237-Battles-for-Undisputed-Status-in-Dublin-and-Las-Vegas
Featured Articles1 week ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 237: Battles for Undisputed Status in Dublin and Las Vegas

Romero-Controveesially-TKOs-Barroso-Sims-Nips-Akhmedov-in-a-Barnburner
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Romero Controversially TKOs Barroso; Sims Nips Akhmedov in a Barnburner

Avila-Perspective-Chap-235-Canelo-Alvarez-Silk-Pajamas-and-More
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 235: Canelo Alvarez, Silk Pajamas and More

Nine-TSS-Writers-Analyze-the-Haney-Lomachenko-Fight
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Nine TSS Writers Analyze the Haney-Lomachenko Fight

Underdog-Victor-Morales-and-Undefeated-William-Zepeda-Score-Fast-KOs-in-Texas
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Underdog Victor Morales and Undefeated William Zepeda Score Fast KOs in Texas

Former-LA-Times-Scribe-Steve-Springer-Reflects-on-his-Days-on-the-Boxing-Beat
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Former LA Times Scribe Steve Springer Reflects on His Days on the Boxing Beat

Devin-Haney-Stays-Unbeaten-More-Controversy-in-Las-Vegas-Ring
Featured Articles1 week ago

Devin Haney Stays Unbeaten; More Controversy in a Las Vegas Ring

South-African-Southpaw-is--the-Best-Fighter-in-his-Weight-Class
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

South African Southpaw Kevin Lerena is the Best Fighter in his Weight Class

TSS-Salutes-Lance-Pugmire-the-2023-Nat-Fleischer-Award-Winner
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

TSS Salutes Lance Pugmire, the 2023 Nat Fleischer Award Winner

The-Hauser-Report-The-DAZN-Experiment
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

The Hauser Report: The DAZN Experiment

How-to-Box-by-Joe-Louis-Part-6-of-a-6-Part-Series
Featured Articles4 days ago

‘How To Box’ by Joe Louis: Part 6 of a 6-Part Series – Putting It All Together

Guadalajara-Notebook-Long-Before-Canelo-There-Was-Juan-Zurita
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Guadalajara Notebook: Long Before Canelo, There Was Juan Zurita

Moloney=vs-Astrolabio-on-Saturday-has-the-Mark-of-an-Old-fashioned-Dust-Up
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Moloney vs Astrolabio on Saturday has the Mark of an Old-fashioned Dust-Up

How-to-Box-by-Joe-Louis-Paet-2-The-Jab-and-the-Hook
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

How To Box by Joe Louis: Part 2 – The Jab and the Hook

Alimkhanuly-Destroys-Butler-and-Jason-Moloney-Outpoints-Astrolabio-on-Stockton
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Alimkhanuly Destroys Butler and Jason Moloney Outpoints Astrolabio in Stockton

Ralph-Boston-and-Muhammad-Ali
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Ralph Boston and Muhammad Ali

Canelo-Alvarez-Dominates-but-Goes-the-Distance-with-Stubborn-John-Ryder
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Canelo Alvarez Dominates but Goes the Distance with Stubborn John Ryder

How-to-Box-by-Joe-Louis-Part-4-Bodywork-and-the-Uppercut
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

‘How To Box’ by Joe Louis: Part 4 – Bodywork and the Uppercut

UK-Boxing-Montage-Conlan-KOed-Wood-Regains-Title-Billam-Smith-Upsets-Okolie
Featured Articles19 hours ago

U.K. Boxing Montage: Conlan KOed; Wood Regains Title; Billam-Smith Upsets Okolie

The-Sweet-Science-Rankings-Junto-Nakatani
Featured Articles2 days ago

The Sweet Science Rankings: Week of May 22nd, 2023

How-to-Box-by-Joe-Louis-Part-6-of-a-6-Part-Series
Featured Articles4 days ago

‘How To Box’ by Joe Louis: Part 6 of a 6-Part Series – Putting It All Together

Action-Galore-in-the-UK-on-Saturday-Title-Gights-at-Three-Separate-Venues
Featured Articles5 days ago

Action Galore in the U.K. on Saturday — Title Fights at Three Separate Venues

The-Haney-Lomachenko-Tempest-Smacks-of-Hagler-Leonard--Dave Moretti-Factored-into-Both
Featured Articles7 days ago

The Haney-Lomachenko Tempest Smacks of Hagler-Leonard; Dave Moretti Factored in Both

Devin-Haney-Stays-Unbeaten-More-Controversy-in-Las-Vegas-Ring
Featured Articles1 week ago

Devin Haney Stays Unbeaten; More Controversy in a Las Vegas Ring

Chantelle-Cameron-Defeats-Katie-Taylor-in-Ireland
Featured Articles1 week ago

Chantelle Cameron Defeats Katie Taylor in Ireland

Avila-Perspective-Xhap-237-Battles-for-Undisputed-Status-in-Dublin-and-Las-Vegas
Featured Articles1 week ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 237: Battles for Undisputed Status in Dublin and Las Vegas

How-to-Box-by-Joe-Louis-Part-5-Defense
Featured Articles1 week ago

‘How To Box’ by Joe Louis: Part 5 – Defense

Nine-TSS-Writers-Analyze-the-Haney-Lomachenko-Fight
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Nine TSS Writers Analyze the Haney-Lomachenko Fight

South-African-Southpaw-is--the-Best-Fighter-in-his-Weight-Class
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

South African Southpaw Kevin Lerena is the Best Fighter in his Weight Class

The-Sweet-Science-Rankings-Week-of-May-15th 2023
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

The Sweet Science Rankings: Week of May 15th, 2023

Two-Fascinating-Tussles-Gird-Saturday's-Lomachenko-Haney-Showdown
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Two Fascinating Tussles Gird Saturday’s Lomachenko-Haney Showdown

Romero-Controveesially-TKOs-Barroso-Sims-Nips-Akhmedov-in-a-Barnburner
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Romero Controversially TKOs Barroso; Sims Nips Akhmedov in a Barnburner

Alimkhanuly-Destroys-Butler-and-Jason-Moloney-Outpoints-Astrolabio-on-Stockton
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Alimkhanuly Destroys Butler and Jason Moloney Outpoints Astrolabio in Stockton

How-Good-Was-Ill-Fated-Lither-McCarty-The-Best-of-the-White-Hopes
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

How Good Was Ill-Fated Luther McCarty, the Best of the ‘White Hopes’?

Avila-Perspective-Chap226-Jaime-Munguia-and-More
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

 Avila Perspective, Chap. 236: Jaime Munguia and More

Super-Lightweights-Take-Center-Stage-at-the-Cosmo-on-Saturday
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Super Lightweights Take Center Stage at the Cosmo on Saturday

How-to-Box-by-Joe-Louis-Part-4-Bodywork-and-the-Uppercut
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

‘How To Box’ by Joe Louis: Part 4 – Bodywork and the Uppercut

The-Sweet-Science-Rankings-Week-of-May-8th-2023
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

The Sweet Science Rankings: Week of May 8th, 2023

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Advertisement