Photo Credits: Action Images/Reuters
From a technical perspective, there was a fair bit to enjoy and explore from this past weekend’s action, this year 2017 and this Summer have offered fans of boxing quite a bit to sink their teeth in to at virtually every level from domestic up to the rest of the world.
Some fighters still considered prospects exceeded expectations while others who espouse possessing unqualified greatness continue to fall short of the hype.
As is our want, we here at BOXRAW not only want to provide you with entertaining reads, thought provoking articles or challenging points of view we also aspire to inform and teach.
So here is my view on some of the lessons that can be learned from the pros.
Copy their formulas for success and/or bypass their failures. Add to your game.
Berchelt vs Miura: Understading Footwork
Newly minted WBC World Super Featherweight champion Miguel Alacran Berchelt took on the former champion Takashi Miura before the jubilant crowd at The Forum in Inglewood, CA.
A raucous contingent of Japanese fans had made the long trek to the west coast of America to cheer on their fighter however their cheers were largely muted in the one-sided drubbing by The Scorpion who convincingly out boxed the stalwart Japanese over 12 rounds.
An interesting dynamic played out – Berchelt in his first defence of the WBC title was pitted against the man whom lost the title approximately a year and a half ago to Francisco Vargas, the man Berchelt would himself beat to take the title just six months ago in a blood-soaked fight of the year candidate.
The battle between Miura and Vargas in November of 2015 likely took years off both men’s careers if not their lives.
Regardless, on paper the match between Berchelt and Miura had intriguing intangibles and would likely be just as action packed given the explosive styles of both fighters. Firstly, Miura is a rugged southpaw, possessing a great left straight and boasting a KO percentage of 65%. Berchelt is an aggressive fighter that throws everything with power and fights with his face. His pressure, volume & work rate were too much for Vargas when they clashed.
What we saw was off script to say the least.
Photo Credits: Tom Hogan Photography/Golden Boy Promotions
Berchelt surprised most by boxing not that we didn’t think him capable, just that it’s a wrinkle we heretofore didn’t anticipate seeing.
Berchelt wisely circled to his left – away from the southpaw Miura’s power hand virtually all night and generally used movement to disrupt Miura’s ability to fire anything with consistency.
Floyd is the best at this – understanding how your foot work sets up all your offence and is also your first line of defence.
Miura was reduced to chucking single shots. Mostly desperate looping overhand lefts that had Miura off balance and exposed to Berchelt’s counters.
Berchelt with surprising accuracy timed Miura over and over landing the lead right hand when he had the proper angle and could throw the punch when safe either on the beat when Miura was trying to jab or off the beat when Miura was trying to set his feet.
It wasn’t all a master class however.
Berchelt’s jab is just horrible. An ineffectual arm punch. He looked uncomfortable at long and mid-range and acted as though he couldn’t wait to get in close to launch volley after volley of punches, he buzzed Miura several times in this fashion, however had no regard for what was coming back.
Berchelt’s hands were low every time he threw punches, his head and chin high above his lead shoulder and his face pulled back in an odd half-grin-half-grimace while wading in to the fray.
Berchelt’s neighbours at 130 pounds would likely make mincemeat out of him: Tank Davis the IBF champion carries so much power in both hands and if the Mexican’s defence is that leaky against Tank he’ll get bombed out in short order.
Jezreel Corrales the WBA Super Champion at 130 pounds is a slick operator when he’s on with hand speed and a cracking shot. He fought on the undercard of Berchelt – Miura and though Corrales seemed to have an off night against Robinson Castellanos he still came away with a technical decision win and that’s with getting off the canvas twice. Corrales has incredibly fast hands and could certainly match Berchelt’s work rate.
Then there is the phenom, Vasyl Lomachenko.
What can’t he do?
With two thirds less professional fights than Berchelt we have seen Lomachenko grow literally into arguably one of the best pound for pound boxers to ever lace gloves.
His size, boxing brain and footwork are in a class by themselves.
Sure, Alacran stung Miura, his movement confounded the 33-year-old Japanese boxer who looked like a shot fighter on this night, but Lomachenko could make Berchelt look like he was walking in pluff mud.
Lomachenko in his heart of hearts is a pressure fighter.
He overwhelms with accuracy, variety and in tight half circle cuts to gain lead foot dominance and expose his opponent’s flanks where he launches his stupefying attacks.
Berchelt has a lot to be happy about with his win over such a tough and durable fighter as Miura however with more than 30 fights under his belt now and a championship around his waist he has some glaring weaknesses as well and his time at the top will likely be short.
Eubanks v. Abraham: Don’t Abandon the Jab
Also featured on Saturday was the return of the “former undefeated world champion” Chris Eubank Jr taking on the rugged German Arthur Abraham.
Most in the boxing community yawned – Abraham at 37 seemed past prime & the Eubanks were gauging fans again by putting Chris at the top of a bill and charging PPV money for a fight that could have maybe opened the main card on free to air TV.
But I digress.
If you listen to Eubank Sr the perfumed, monocle wearing cult leader of “The Chris” his son can beat anyone from GGG to Tyson Fury back to back. However, these inanities aside we sat up a little straighter when it was announced just days before Eubank Jr & Abraham were to fight that the winner of the match would parachute in to the last slot available in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) Super Middleweight Tournament.
Since no one believed Abraham would give Junior too much trouble the implication was then that we would finally see the Prodigal Son facing the like of George Groves or Callum Smith – finally we would see Junior against world class competition.
Photo Credits: Action Images/Reuters
However, in his current form I believe he’ll be found wanting if he meets either of the fighters who are the favourites to win the tournament based on what we have seen up to and including his win over Abraham.
To begin with, Abraham came in nearly two pounds over the 168-pound weight limit and Abraham likely had to kill himself to get there.
Ultimately the fight went ahead.
From the opening bell, the difference in hand speed and overall conditioning was apparent. Eubank Jr struck at will, while Abraham moved with the urgency of an extra on The Walking Dead, spending large periods languishing on the ropes with a high guard.
Abraham did little more than act like a heavy bag with a pulse for 12 rounds and Eubank Jr cruised to a unanimous decision win with two scores of 118-110 & judge Steve Wiesfeld less charitable to Abraham scoring the fight 120-108.
Photo Credits: Reuters
For our purposes let’s examine some technical aspects of the fight that deserve more attention.
Namely Junior’s distinct power reduction moving up the eight pounds to super middleweight. Junior won his lightly regarded IBO super middleweight title against Renold Quinlan last February in a bout so one sided it bordered on assault. Quinlan – God bless him – had never fought outside of Australia and somehow amassed an 11-0 undefeated record. No one had ever heard of him and it seemed clear that he and his belt were brought in as easy pickings for the Eubanks to pick up a trinket to take in to future fight negotiations.
And like the Abraham fight Quinlan got hit all night, but Junior needed 10 rounds to put the man away.
Though one-sided Junior struggled when Abraham jabbed with him. Several times Abraham snapped Eubank’s head back as his short straight jab caught Eubank flush.
Photo Credits: Action Images/Reuters
Junior wants to get inside and throw his 75 upper cuts in a row that he fancies so much from his videos on social media but he’ll struggle to do that without a jab. Previous elbow injuries make full extension of his left arm almost impossible.
Lucky for Eubank Jr he’s drawn Turk Avni Yildrim in the first round of the WBSS tournament.
Currently 16-0 with 10 KOs his biggest win so far is over a 46-year-old Glen Johnson on August 15th, 2015 where Yildrim picked up the WBC International Silver title. More recently Yildrim was taken the full distance by opponent Marco Antonio Periban.
Eubank ought to get by the Turk.
His likely opponent could be Callum Smith who faces undefeated Swede Erik Skoglund or current WBA champion George Groves, tall orders for the best of fighters.
Eubank Jr will finally be found out when he faces the likes of those two.
But in this current post truth climate the Eubanks will likely spin the devastating loss their way.
Figueroa Jr v. Guerrero: The Art of Inside Fighting
I’ve saved the best for last.
Former two weight world champion and consummate warrior Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero entered the ring for what became the final time to welcome back from a nearly 2 year-long absence the former WBC Lightweight champion Omar Figueroa Jr.
Guerrero was coming off a three-fight skid. He’d not won a bout in two years. However, he believed he had miles left on the odometer. An action fighter, Guerrero drowns his opposition in a ferocious barrages that often leaves him open to damage, however Guerrero has never been stopped in five losses as of his meeting with Figueroa Jr at the Nassau Coliseum in New York.
Brittle hands have cursed Figueroa who needed the 19 month layoff to fully heal his injuries that resulted from multiple fractures. He also ballooned up to 190 pounds during this period so the normally chiseled Lightweight looked soft and unassuming at the contracted weight of 147 pounds.
As it happened just the night before I was sitting on the coach after work relaxing and rewatched the classic welterweight fight between Roberto Duran & Carlos Palomino, some 37 years ago. That fight also took place in New York but at the legendary Madison Square Garden.
Photo Credits: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images
That fight like many other fights highlights the mastery of Roberto Duran. Mistakenly thought of as brawler he was quite elusive especially in close quarters where his subtle upper body movements and hand trapping and fighting kept him safe while he piled on the damage to Palomino.
Figueroa employed a similar strategy to dispatch with a veteran like Guerrero in just three rounds – a fighter who had never been stopped up to that point.
One of the keys to inside fighting is keeping your punches as tight and compact as possible.
Photo Credits: Rich Schultz/Getty Images
The reason is twofold; one, the distance your punch must travel is shorter.
Two, the fighter can engage bigger muscles in the back like the latissimus dorsi to carry the power of the punch better up from your legs and hips, through that set of large muscles to either side of the spine and thus assisting the shoulder in using the lever of your arm to strike the target with max force.
Before the fight Guerrero promised to abandon his usual kamikaze style in favor of a more measured approach and was having some early success. However as soon as the two men came inside it was apparent immediately that the young man understood inside fighting far better than the veteran. Figueroa caught a punch on his right glove from the high guard and landed a short chopping right hook that wobbled Guerrero in round two, that lead to a barrage of punches and a knock down.
Guerrero reverted to his all-out attacking style that he’s known for in response to getting hurt which played right into Figueroa’s game. Crowding his own punched, Guerrero backed Figueroa into the ropes, Figueroa defended the onslaught and landed two upper cuts and a hook, each punch seemed to travel mere inches but with the perfect leverage on each one and Guerrero was down again. Three times in all in only the second round.
In round three The Ghost came out brawling, a wild wounded animal at this juncture, however this sealed his fate as again he crowded his own punches inside and Figueroa landed another compact upper cut to score the first knockdown that completely stole the legs from Guerrero and a final short hook to the body seconds later ended Guerrero’s night.
Photo Credits: Diller, Ryan Greene/PBC
Off the back of that one-sided loss Guerrero called it a career.
So, though Figueroa would not have won a figure modelling contract last Saturday night he aptly applied his physiology and leverage to exact a clinical finish on one of this generations toughest welterweights.
HRDR FSTR SMTR
As a fighter, you can train harder than your opponents to give you a mental edge.
You can try to be faster than them, however speed and power is usually God given.
Training and fighting smarter is perhaps the most underrated attribute of all.
Study the old and young masters. Strive to be better.