With the devastating knockout to Jermain Taylor in Berlin Germany, undefeated Arthur Abraham emerged as the clear winner of the first round of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic— a six-fighter event aimed at producing the sport’s undisputed 168-pound champion.
Taylor, a former middleweight world champion, who suffered his second straight last-round knockout, has some insiders calling for his retirement- not just in the tournament, but from boxing in general.
Saturday’s brutal knockout sent Taylor to a Berlin hospital for precautionary measures after suffering from concussion-like symptoms.
This wasn’t the plan for Taylor, who had the sport at his feet just four years ago. In the summer of 2005, Taylor, then a 26-year old prospect, took the middleweight title by decision from 40-year champion Bernard Hopkins. It was a close fight and despite the arguable win, Taylor was deemed a new era in the middleweight class.
How quickly things change. The ageless Hopkins with some stellar fights behind him, is now gearing up for a battle against ex-rival Roy Jones. On the other hand, Taylor’s middleweight reign has been anything but impressive. He’s now lost 4 of his last 5, 3 by way of dramatic stoppage.
The Super Six was an opportunity for Taylor to get back on top but in the first match he found himself in a familiar position, on his back in the 12th.
Meanwhile, WBC champion Carl Froch won a controversial split decision over previously unbeaten Andre Dirrell in Nottingham, England.
There is still debate over whether the Super Six is a way to forward boxing. Is creating a champion’s league event good for the sport?
Most fans and insiders do agree on one thing… Danish champion Mikkel Kessler, who will cap off the first round on November 21st in Oakland, CA against Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward, is a favorite to win the tourney. Abrahams is a popular second.
Ring rust used to be a big concern in boxing. But lately, it seems like the longer the layoff, the better the results.
First there’s the case of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his masterful return against Juan Manuel Marquez. Then, nearly a month later in Los Angeles, Israel Vazquez knocked out Angel Priolo (30-8 20 KO’s) after a 19-month hiatus.
Last Saturday at the Nokia Theater, a bloodied and shaky Vasquez (44-4, 30 KOs) showed he wasn’t going to let a 2-inch cut (opened over his left eye during the sixth round) threaten his bid for a comeback. Ironic, due to the fact his absence was a result of surgery to repair a detached retina.
Vasquez admitted to being rusty… but a win is a win. And considering his former trainer, Freddie Roach, hoped he would retire given the grueling rivalry with Rafael Marquez last March, those words were never more true.
But with another mega fight on the horizon for his wunderkind, Manny Pacquiao, Roach has his mind on other matters… Like Cotto and his track record of low blows. The legendary trainer is awaiting a rules meeting before next month’s fight to address the issue.
Roach will be seeking an automatic disqualification for the first intentional low blow thrown. “Cotto tends to get dirty when the going gets tough in most of his fights and I don’t want this to happen. I will make sure the referee will be very strict about it,” Roach says.
Count on it. Roach is a master at micro-management. When Cotto gets threatened, which he will, can the Puerto Rican warrior stop his impulse from hitting below the belt?
We’ll have to wait until November 14th to find out.
Mayweather’s last bout with Marquez was a clinic. Against all the talk of ring rust, and weight, Mayweather made it rain once again in September. His unparalleled speed, skill and natural talent reduced a good fighter to an average one.
According to Manny Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach, “Floyd needs us- we don’t need him.”
Roach, among his many skills, can foresee the outcome of fights that involve his favorite fighter. Polite manners aside, Roach predicted a knock out on Hatton when the majority believed his boy would go down. If the Mayweather fight happens, the forecast will be hazy. Even for Roach. This is the one guy that may stop Pacquiao’s brilliant reign as a pound for pound favorite.
For many fight fans, we love to hate Mayweather. He’s branded himself as the villain of the sport. It’s not the fact that he backs it up, but underneath the bravado he has heart. As much as Vegas fans booed him for dominating Marquez, most fans like myself, smiled at the outcome. He has yet to partner up with Golden Boy Promotions or Bob Arum. The fact that he held on this long without selling out is very rare in a sport that buys fighters faster than a slot machine in a Reno tourist convention. Besides his storied family history and his cockiness, he’s charming.
Pacquiao is another fighter that has yet to sell out to the mega promoters and may be the most likeable guy in boxing in decades. His humility and honesty touches people. It would be an eyesore to watch him being beaten to the punch. Unlikely, when you remember his last few fights, dismantling a faded Oscar De La Hoya and shutting down the tough Brit from Manchester, Ricky Hatton… But nonetheless, “Money” Mayweather will close the show because….will because, bottom line he always has. Period. Pacquiao’s past legacy of knocking off the best Mexican fighters doesn’t apply to the elusive Mayweather. Although, his speed and footwork, with Freddie Roach in his ear has evolved with every fight, it’s no match for Mayweather’s hand speed and blinding combinations and a newly discovered left jab. Here’s the thing, even with a year and a half of ‘retirement’ he’s smarter.
Speed vs. Speed. Mayweather is two inches taller and with a reach advantage of five inches it’s no contest. It will come down to who has more talent.
It won’t be easy and there is always the chance that Pacquiao will do the unthinkable and administer the first loss to Mayweather. But there’s also a chance I will win the lotto.
Whatever goes down that night, make no mistake, there will be a rematch.