by PusboilThe WBC supervised two title fights in Mexico City last night. This alone is a scary thought. While the outcomes of the bout were understandable to most viewers, the ends did not justify the means.
We saw some interesting addition of scorecards, subtraction of points, and multiplications of rematches.
Joining me in reporting on these fights are Pedro Fernandez, Thomas Gerbasi, DscribeDC, Phrank Da Slugger, BoyMayo and special thanks to Jim Trunzo contributing courtesy of Electronic Boxing Monthly.
As you will see there was a lot of "this just in" last night, so in that train of thought....
This just in WBC changes it’s name to WBK an acronym for We Belong to King.
by Pedro FernandezIf you have forgotten what a mediocre fighter looked like, watching Miguel Angel Gonzalez on Saturday night was an instant cure for your loss of memory as the former WBC lightweight champion struggled for 12 boring rounds against Julio Cesar Chavez.
The official decision was a split draw. But the mere fact that the 27 year old Gonzalez, now 42-1-1, 26 KO's, allowed the aging Icon of Mexican boxing to go 12 rounds is indicative of his shortcomings. You see Chavez, 35 going on 85, stepped into the ring last night a veteran of 103 professional scraps.
El Julio was El Shot-o! Lacking any real fire, the Cullican native of Mexico seemed content to just try and not get hurt in a lot of rounds. Then with less than 30 seconds to go, he would make his hands move. This caught the eye of the pro-Julio crowd and apparently two of the three judges.
After 12 rounds, most people felt Gonzalez had done more than enough to win. As I said earlier, he wasn't spectacular, but it was Gonzalez landing by far the greater amount of punches and making the fight for the most part.
Officially the scoring was as follows. Terry Smith of California incredibly had the defensive Chavez a one point winner at 115-114. Judge Larry O'Donnell of the UK had Miguel Angel in front 116-114, while Californian Chuck Hassett totally copped out with a 115-115 score, resulting in the split draw.
Having known and watched both Smith and (previously highly regarded in this corner) Hassett for years, I truly find their towing the WBC company line here was not for the betterment of the sport. Chavez is 102-2-2, 82 KO's.
And if that wasn't enough, the WBC officiating deserves some additional rapping with the technical draw decision rendered in the 105 lb. title fight between unbeatens Rosendo Alvarez of Nicaragua and WBC poster boy Ricardo Lopez.
Alvarez was not in awe of the fact that he was facing a man who hadn't lost a fight in his life with 41 amateur wins coming before his 46 straight pro victories.
Adding luster to the 46 wins were 21 successful defenses of the WBC 105 lb. belt where Lopez of which Lopez lost maybe half a dozen rounds total.
But this night was going to be different as was indicated when Alvarez, 24-0-1, 16 KO's, came out and won the opening stanza by making Ricardo miss and land counter punches. It was quite clear that Lopez was a bit unraveled when he went back to the corner after the round.
The real wake up call came 15 seconds into the second round when Alvarez landed a right counter over a Lopez jab that put Ricardo down hard for the first time in his life.
From that point forward, El Finito was El Tenativ-o and rarely initiated any exchanges with the WBA titilist from Managua. Lopez had his moments, winning the third and fourth by real close margins on my card.
In the seventh round the two fighters butted heads and the result was a bad cut. The referee Arthur Mercante Sr. following WBC rules then took a point away from the uncut fighter or Alvarez in this case.
The fight resumed and the cut worsened. When the round ended, the Lopez corner headed by Nacho Berastein, opted to not work on the cut. Berastein was confidant Lopez was ahead and he prodded the ringside physician to stop the fight, which he did.
It then took an estimated 15 minutes to tally the scorecards of the three judges! Fifteen minutes to add up the scores, while the fight itself lasted only 21 minutes!
When the scores were announced, Tommy Kazmarek of New Jersey had Lopez ahead 67-64, while another judge favored Alvarez 68-63. The third judge was Las Vegan Dalby Shirley who ruled the bout 66-66, a draw.
I felt Alvarez was not only in control, but that he was getting his second wind. All this spelled disaster for Lopez, who is now 46-0-1, 35 KO's, and his corner knew it. Maybe Ricardo can never beat Alvarez, but at least in the eyes of the WBC their "butt" rule saved his bacon.
The "WBC butt" rule deducting a point from the uncut fighter when an accidental butt occurs, deprived Rosendo Alvarez of a victory much like it cost Frankie Randall the WBC 140 lb. diadem when he rematched Julio Cesar Chavez a few years ago.
WBC President Jose Sulaiman has defended that rule time and again. He says the fighter who is cut is at an extreme disadvantage. Yeah Jose, but only if the fight continues.
Although I think the WBC has made incredible headway in the safety of the fighters. But what occurred last night was nothing short of another travesty in boxing.
Note: WBC Prez Jose Sulaiman will get to defend himself this Saturday night on Ring Talk, the insider's look into the world of boxing, which airs Saturday & Sunday on the TALK AMERICA Radio Network at 11 PM ET. Live Internet audio is available at www.talkamerica.com
Kissing Your Aunt in Mexico
by Thomas GerbasiIf, as the saying goes, a Draw is like kissing your sister, then last night's card from Mexico was the equivalent of kissing your aunt with the foul breath and thick moustache. What looked on paper to be two competitive fights turned into two interesting but disappointing contests. And once again, you can thank the boxing "establishment" for these two.
In the opener, Gabriel Mira scored an easy 12 round unanimous decision over a game Young-Soon Chang. Simple enough, but little did we know that we wouldn't see a winner for the rest of the looong night.
For the boxing purist, the WBA-WBC 105 pound unification bout between Rosendo Alvarez and Ricardo Lopez would be the highlight of the night. And for seven rounds it was. Lopez hit the canvas for the first time in his career (pro or amateur) in the second, the victim of a perfect counter right, and the battle was on. Alvarez, a Roberto Duran look-alike (and ironically trained by Duran's team) forced the action, and was giving Lopez the toughest fight of his stellar (46-0-1) career. But despite the forecast of doom from the Showtime announcing crew, I had Lopez ahead 67-65 after seven. In that seventh round, an accidental butt opened a nasty gash over Lopez' eye, forcing referee Arthur Mercante to stop the fight and send it to the judges. Close to ten minutes after the fight ended, the scorecards were read: 67-64 Lopez, 68-63 Alvarez, and 66-66 Even...a Draw. After the fight it was rumored that the President of the WBA doctored the scorecards, locking the originals (which had Lopez a winner) in his briefcase. A lousy end to what was shaping up to be one of the best fights of the year, and once again the public gets cheated out of seeing the greatness which is Ricardo Lopez.
Could it get worse? Sure, this is boxing isn't it? There was an excitement when the Miguel Angel Gonzalez- Julio Caesar Chavez contest was announced. Would Gonzalez take over the mantle as today's top Mexican fighter, or would JC Superstar rise from the ashes for one last great performance? Well, 50,000 rowdy fans packed a Mexican bull fighting stadium to cheer on their hero to one more miracle. And despite the fact that I lost a ton of respect for Chavez ever since his whining loss to Frankie Randall, I was rooting for him to recapture his youth once more. It didn't happen. Instead we were treated to a Chavez who looked suspiciously like a post-Manila Muhammad Ali. You know the drill, fight for the last thirty seconds of a round, steal it, and walk away with a gift. Ask Jimmy Young, Ken Norton, and Earnie Shavers. Or Miguel Angel Gonzalez. Chavez showed brief flashes of his old skills, bringing the crowd to its feet, and the judges into his corner. It even worked on me, as some close rounds went to Chavez on my card, thanks to some late round heroics. Unfortunately for Gonzalez, this cost him the fight. I think that the fact that it was a Draw (115-144 Chavez, 116-114 Gonzalez, 115-115 Even) in extremely hostile Chavez territory tells the tale. For the record, I had Gonzalez winning, 116-115.
Miguel controlled the early rounds, as the notoriously slow starting Chavez chugged away aimlessly after him. Chavez started to pick things up in the fourth, but then he slipped back into a holding pattern through rounds five and six. In rounds seven through nine, Julio made his move, landing harder blows, though Gonzalez was busier. Again, these were difficult rounds to score. The two battled through the final three rounds, with Gonzalez taking two of the three on my card. The decision was met with flying seat cushions from the capacity crowd, and though Don King was smiling at the end of the evening, not many others were.
Chavez, with his left eye swollen shut and a reported broken nose, told interviewer Jim Gray that he wanted a rematch. Sad, because with that statement, Chavez joined a long and distinguished list of fighters: Ali, Duran, Holmes, Louis, Robinson. All greats who hung around too long. Maybe Gonzalez couldn't hurt Chavez enough to force him to retire. But someone will. Some young, up and comer is pounding a bag in a gym somewhere, and someday he will be the one who will retire Chavez. And we'll all be there to see it. Makes you kind of wish that boxing was like football; when you're old and not capable of performing, you get cut.
"A report just in from the waiver wire in Mexico..."
WELCOME TO THE TORODOME, OR, WHAT'S A NIGHT AT THE PLAZA DE TOROS WITHOUT A LITTLE BULL?
by DscribeDCJulio Cesar Chavez vs. Miguel Angel Gonzalez
Plaza de Toros
Mexico City, Mexico
March 7, 1998, PPV
It almost goes without saying that any major night of PPV boxing that features Don King, Jose Sulaiman and 50,000 angry fans shouting for a fading champion is going to have its share of weirdness, outrage and outright buffoonery. What did we see tonight, kids? A Korean fighter who practically gave his opponent whiplash before he was finally penalized, a crazy draw in which a WBA supervisor allegedly spirited away improperly-marked scorecards in a locked briefcase, power outages, flying debris, and a climactic fight that should have been a changing of the guard but ended up being another one of King's patented rematch-making draws -- in other words, a clanging of the cash register. If this all sounds more like Melrose Place than Bullring Place, well, welcome to the wacky world of big-time pro fisticuffs. What a shame that all these distractions and machinations had to mar what was an otherwise fascinating series of bouts.
In the feature match, semi-legendary Mexican titlist Julio Cesar Chavez was to contest the WBC super-lightweight title with his logical heir apparent as Mexican fistic icon, 42-1 ex-lightweight king Miguel Angel Gonzalez. Many of the experts were predicting that the rapidly-slowing Chavez, weighed down by years of cerveza, domestic strife and tax troubles, would go quietly into that good night at the hands of a younger, more energetic and talented foe. Not only did Chavez show up with more in his arsenal than we have recently seen, the pundits seemed to have underestimated the persuasive power of 50,000 rowdy partisans, whose vocal reactions to Chavez' every blow (not to mention their water bottles, seat cushions, food containers and other throwables) could have a profound effect on the judges.
Chavez, always a slow starter, even in his most impressive efforts, came out with little in the first three rounds, letting Gonzales move him backwards, take the play and generally pepper him with light, but scoring, punches to the head and body. In rounds two and three, Chavez complicated matters by scoring isolated, but more impressive-looking, combinations that were punctuated by frenzied crowd reaction. After more of the same in round four, Chavez began to close the gap, scoring heavily late in the round with a resurgent left hook. By stealing the round, the Mexican great seemed to be setting the stage for much of the fight's second half, where he would bookend workmanlike punching by Gonzales with an early bullrush and a late flurry. Rounds five and six both featured solid late-round offense by Chavez that tried to, but could not, make up for the early-round inactivity of a fighter who had simply seen too many wars. On this reporter's card, Gonzales, through sheer punchrate and aggression, took five of the first six frames.
The second half of the fight looked markedly different, although Chavez clearly seemed to be the more fatigued (at one point spitting out his mouthpiece), the fighter most concerned with preserving energy. Rounds six through twelve were perilously close -- almost impossible to score -- but Gonzales' activity rate declined markedly, giving Chavez the opportunity to do damage with smashing double and triple hooks. The spurts in which the elder boxer fought seemed more convincing, and Chavez more frequently cornered his more agile challenger for the barrages that closed the rounds. After ten, the fight appeared to be virtually even. A stunning left-right combination in the opening seconds of round eleven temporarily dazed Gonzales, but the 35-year old warrior from Culiacan seemed to have no more fuel to burn, and Gonzales' vigor and combinations overwhelmed his opponent, keeping Chavez backpedaling and unable to land effectively. By bout's end, my scorecard read the same as ringside announcer Ferdie Pacheco's: 115-113, Gonzales. Thanks to the 115-115 scoring of ringside judge Chuck Hassett, the bout was ultimately scored a draw, prompting boos and a wild rain of foreign objects from the chagrined fans, most of whom no doubt felt that their hero had done enough to justify a decision (and certainly enough to justify the hometown gift decision that people seemed to accept as a foregone conclusion), and who felt cheated out of a celebration.
As obnoxious as the omnipresent draws we see on Don King cards may be, this one could be justified. Although the fight was there for Gonzales to win (and a case could be made for his winning), he seemed unable to fully capitalize on Chavez' fatigue. Chavez, to his credit, made his less-frequent punches more telling, thudding hard hooks to the head and body and timing his aggression for maximum visual impact. It may not have been Chavez at his most impressive, but it may very well have been Chavez at his most tactically cunning. This is a rematch that should be made, and one can only imagine that Gonzales' justice delayed will not be his justice denied. Julio can only get older, slower and less interested, while the future must surely belong to Gonzales. Let's hope that when the torch is finally passed, an angry mob doesn't burn down the arena with it. A neutral field is recommended.
The co-feature -- by far the night's oddest result -- saw boxing's longest-reigning king, Ricardo Lopez, draw in his 21st defense of the WBC 105-lb. title with Nicaraguan WBA ruler Rosendo Alvarez. Alvarez, a relatively unknown quantity, was impressive, starting strong and flooring the never-beaten Lopez in round two with a perfectly-timed sneak right hand over a lazy Lopez jab. This blow seemed to serve as a wake-up call for the Mexican champion, as he began to punch more crisply and with more purpose, using his mobility and defensive slickness to make Alvarez miss. Alvarez regained the edge in the seventh round with a hard right hand, but an accidental head butt had already cost him a point, and when referee Arthur Mercante called a halt to the bout, the cards yielded -- surprise surprise! -- another draw!
Once again, this result was defensible. (At the time of the stoppage, my card read 66-66 with two even rounds. But how did Tommy Kaczmarek score the fight 67-64 for Lopez after Lopez had hit the canvas?) What was indefensible was the nearly ten minutes it took three experienced boxing judges to add up seven columns of numbers. Perhaps if Don King and his entourage had not had their Rolexes lifted by Mexican banditos they could have kept the intrepid judging crew of Kaczmarek, Samuel Conde and Dalby Shirley informed of how long their scores were taking to tally. To the viewers and the fans in attendance, this was the kind of nightmare scenario that almost always breeds suspicion. Particularly given boxing's eternally-checkered history, the officials at ringside had to know they were leaving themselves open to charges of impropriety, and an all-too-rematch-friendly draw was not the result to dispel those suspicions. Later in the telecast, WBC President Jose Sulaiman, a guy not known to be on intimate terms with the truth, raved, in a scenario too absurdly James Bondian to be believed, that a WBA supervisor had spirited the cards away in a locked briefcase. However, Jose assured us, he had seen the cards, and the WBC's favorite son Lopez had, indeed, won. You can hardly blame pissed-off fans for treating this revelation with more than a grain of salt. A whole mine of salt, more likely. What a shame that this kind of alphabet soup mierda had to land on Lopez, a class act and a great fighter who deserves better.
The first bout on the card -- a WBC flyweight title eliminator added when the Mexican authorities deep-sixed Christy Martin by invoking a 1947 regulation against female boxing in Mexico City -- saw a strangely inactive and poorly-conditioned Korean named Young-Soon Chang try to force Mexican Gabriel Mira into a submission hold through repeated shoves to the back of the neck, before running out of steam and succumbing to his highly-mobile and sharp-punching opponent. Strangely pacifist referee Jose Medina was too preoccupied ejecting cable TV cameramen from the ring apron to penalize Chang until well into round five, but by then, the Korean had dug himself a hole from which he could not extricate himself. The scores were all lopsidedly in the favor of Mira, who established himself as the best seven-loss fighter in the division, and should get a well-deserved shot at the belt in his next outing.
Yet again, the finest action -- the sharpest jabs and hooks, the slickest defense -- came in the inevitable interview between King and King's own pocket Fury Jim Gray. After a couple of weeks in which King was publicly beaten by Mike Tyson, set for retrial on criminal wire fraud charges and named by Tyson in a $100 million fraud suit, you can imagine that Gray was licking his chops at the chance to hone his giant-killer image. And hone he did. King proclaims his innocence as a result of his first wire-fraud trial. Gray points out it was a hung jury. [POW!] Gray pulls out Tyson's earlier lawsuit against Bill Cayton, and asks King if he thinks it's ironic that he is being sued for most of the same conduct. [THUD!] Gray asks if King forged documents. [BASH!] Gray grills King about the fees paid to his wife, son and daughter from Tyson's earnings. [BAP!] King cooks up some explanation about the Tyson fraud case being designed to prejudice jurors at his upcoming criminal trial. [WHIFF...] At last, King is reeling, only able to moan in exasperation. "Oh, Jimmy boy, oh, Jimmy boy..." Gray turns and lands the coupe de grace: "why should anyone believe you?" You can almost see King's shock of hair deflate. It's a decisive victory. It should be stopped. But it goes to the cards.
And how do the judges score it?....Well, Land O' Goshen! Wh woulda thunk it?...a DRAW! Guess in sports a tie really does go to the runner.
Even when it's a former numbers runner.
Strap on your seat belts, kids. With Whitaker-Quartey called on account of "snow," the best action in boxing over the next few months is going to be in front of the bench, not between the ropes. And in that arena, the judges tend to be a little more decisive. It will be interesting to see if we really have ourselves a Teflon Don, or just another Lyin' King.
Night of the Draws
by PusboilKingVision brought us three fights tonight from the Plaza del Toros in Mexico City. There were other fights scheduled but due to a law that was drawn up before color TV, the ladies’ bouts had to be canceled.
Before I get to the fights, let me just say "WHAT PLANET WERE THESE FANS FROM"?? From the first fight and on through the rest of the night they felt compelled to hurl bottles, seat cushions, food and anything else they could get their hands on in to the ring.
A friggin’ ugly display at best. It’s bad enough that a fighter has to worry about his opponent cleaning his clock. Let alone wondering what foreign object might be striking him in the head at any point.
The night started off with a YAWN. Young-Soon Chang against Gabriel Mira was a fight to fall asleep to. Mira boxed well and Chang ran out of gas early. Mira won an easy decision in this flyweight title elimination bout. Sorry I don’t have more to report on this fight but I really had a hard time watching it.
Next up was Ricardo Lopez defending his WBC strawweight title against Rosendo Alvarez, the WBA title holder. This looked like it might be a great fight. Lopez was trying to extend the longest current title reign and his streak of over 20 successful defenses. Alvarez was looking to become the next big name in the minimum weight classes.
What was an omen of things to come were the two clashes of heads in the first round. Neither fighter was cut or injured but it looked as if this wouldn’t go long. The clashes were purely accidental and no points were deducted
Fifteen seconds into the second round Lopez was introduced to the mat for the first time in his professional career. It was a crushing counter right by Alvarez that made the introduction. He got up and seemed okay. Alvarez was not able to do any further damage to Lopez in the round.
Bobby Czyz had his first great line of the night at this point. In referring to the hostility of the mostly?? Mexican crowd and their antics to this point, he said "I’m already picking my place under the table fellas". Obviously anticipating the crowd’s reaction if Alvarez who is from Nicaragua was to go on and win the fight.
The third and fourth rounds saw Lopez landing some good combinations. Specifically a left hook to the body followed by a right to Alvarez’ head. Lopez was able to outbox the stronger Alvarez and minimize Alvarez’ superior punching power through this stage of the fight.
Alvarez was coming back though and in the seventh was winning the round when another clash of heads occurred. This one was ugly. Lopez came away with a nasty gash on his right eye. At the end of the round, referee Arthur Mercante Sr., who is usually a solid ref started saying the fight was over. Sorry Arthur, didn’t realize you were doubling as the ringside physician tonight.
The fight was stopped at this point. And then all hell broke loose. The wonderful WBC has this dumbass rule that says when an accidental head butt causes a cut, the uncut fighter must be deducted a point. Ludicrous. I’d love to meet the guy who designed this one. No other sanctioning body uses this stupid rule, I wonder why.
Anyway, we now go to the scorecards. But wait, the score cards aren’t finished yet. Okay we’ll wait. Then we will wait some more. And some more. Cut to Jim Gray, who tells us that there is some "confusion over the addition" of the cards. I was under the impression that a professional boxing judge was able to add. Stupid me. As I started to remember which three kings of wisdom were scoring this bout, the name Dalby Shirley came to mind and I shuddered.
At least I had some understanding as to why there was delay in the cards. For those who might not remember, Dalby Shirley permanently embedded himself in my memory on June 12, 1989. This was the evening he somehow scored Ray Leonard beating Thomas Hearns in their second battle.
Well after all the delay the fight was ruled a draw. A rematch would definitely be in order here.
But wait it’s not over. While the Chavez fight is on, we get breaking news that Don King’s long time partner in crime, WBC president Jose Sulaiman says that there was an error in the scorecards. Let me get this straight, you set a world record for length of time to add and check the scorecards and they’re still wrong?!?!?! Puhhhhlease. Sniff sniff, what’s that I smell?? Oh yeah now I remember what it is, typical WBC bullshit.
On to what was supposed to be the changing of the guard in Mexico boxing lore. Julio Cesar Chavez faced off against heir apparent Miguel Angel Gonzalez. Heir apparent my ass. Chavez as far as I recall, never froze against top competition. But wait, I digress.
Round one saw Chavez start off slower than usual. Gonzalez won the round basically by being the busier fighter. The action picked up in the second. Chavez started getting in close and doing what he does best.
The third round saw Chavez still being the more effective fighter. He closed the round with some beautiful elbows and shoulders that would have made my neighbor Vinny proud. Vinny currently trains amateurs and has told me his old ring stories about throwing everything at his opponent when he fought.
Chavez started to slow down again showing signs of age. He basically took the fifth round off and most of the sixth but did finish strong at the end of the sixth. He won the seventh as Gonzalez just couldn’t decide what he wanted to do.
A series of left hooks and a nice right hand won Chavez the eighth round. But he once again rested throughout the ninth and most of the tenth rounds. Gonzalez won these round simply by throwing punches.
Chavez landed a nice left hook, right hand combo in the eleventh but never staggered Gonzalez. And I saw Gonzalez winning the twelfth easily.
Not to take anything away from Chavez, but if Gonzalez would have fought more aggressively, he would have wiped the mat with Julio. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved watching Chavez fight anyone for years. But he is older now, and he just doesn’t have what he used too.
Chavez isn’t washed up, but he definitely is able to be beat by fighters that wouldn’t have touched him a few years ago. It happens to the best and Julio is no exception.
This is the second time that Gonzalez froze in a big fight. Against Oscar De La Hoya he did the same exact thing. Not to say he would have beat DLH, but he might have. This is boxing, when two fighters are on top of their game anything can happen.
I had the fight 114-114, a draw. The three judges each were alone in their decision, One had 115-114 Chavez, then 1616-114 Gonzalez and finally 115-115. So we had another draw and it started getting ugly again in Mexico City. Crap started flying all over the arena.
The announcers, the fighters, and everyone else near ringside was getting hit with garbage, seat cushions, everything. Bobby Czyz finished off the night with another great quote. " I got hit with less stuff during the riots in Newark".
by Phrank Da SluggerI was hoping it'd happen. Just imagine the story of the greatest fighter of our time pulling it up out of himself one last time and winning the title, while at the same time capturing the hearts of his countrymen by vanquishing his rival and heir apparent. But it wasn't to be.
Julio Cesar Chavez is no longer great. He hasn't been for years now. What we saw tonight was glimmers of that greatness, mostly in the final minute of a number of rounds when he slammed home right leads and those oh-so-awesome left hooks to the body. But the result wasn't unexpected -- we all knew a prime Chavez is 10 years in the past. But it was also difficult to watch him toil with a guy who, while a very good fighter, wouldn't have lasted 8 rounds with Julio 4 or 5 years ago.
It was the usual story: the old fighter, fighting on memories, couldn't nail the punches when he saw the opportunities. Chavez was also less aggressive than usual and slllooooow.
All that said, I still had him the winner by a round. So many rounds could have gone either way, so perhaps a Draw is the best result. Chavez and Miguel Angel Gonzalez indicated they'd like a rematch, and Chavez promised he'd be better prepared next time and perform better. While I'd like to see him retire while he can still beat 95% of the opponents out there, something in me wants to believe him and looks forward to seeing him win the last big one.
A great fighter, he deserves it...
by BoyMayoTonight in Mexico City, two Mexican fighters fought not only for a vacant 140 pound world title, but for the admiration of the Mexican population. Could Julio Cesar Chavez turn back the clock and compete against the top of the division? Could Miguel Angel Gonzalez live up to the promise he showed in a loss last year to Oscar DelaHoya? The only place to find out was in the ring.
Before 50,000 fight fans (judging by the number of fights in the stands) one of the more anticipated, if not delayed, matchups of 1998 was held. Coming into the fight, both men often spoke of the motivation the matchup provided. Yet rumors had long been swirling that both fighters had ballooned in weight since their last bouts on the Holyfield-Tyson undercard. As they met at center ring for the final instructions, both men looked lean and trim. Chavez, especially, looked to be in fine condition having lost the blubber that distorted his frame in a earlier bout with Tony Martin. It wouldn't take long before one was wondering if the weight had come off in the gym or in the steam room.
The fight began with Miguel Angel Gonzalez using a firm jab, lead left hook, and right hand to set the tempo. Chavez, who barely threw a punch in the first half of the opener, seemed to be looking for an opening that never showed up. He shot power punches through what holes he could find, and while he occasionally found his target, Gonzalez was scoring through consistent output. And so went the fight.
For 12 rounds, Gonzalez threw and Chavez picked his punches. At times the momentum seemed to be with Gonzalez, who showed flashes of brilliance when he threw combinations and moved. At other times the fight seemed to turn to Chavez, who was able to land a number of hard power punches and stun Miguel Angel, but never close the deal. Most of the time, however, the fighters were seeking a rest.
In the clinches (where a number of fouls were committed), in the exchanges where both fighters threw one punch apiece, and in the lack of aggression that at times threatened to lull the rabid crowd to sleep, both fighters seemed ill prepared for a long grueling battle at high altitude. Chavez began breathing through a gaping mouth at the end of the 2nd, Gonzalez looking winded a round later. The fighters coasted in such long stretches that it seemed every toe to toe exchange finally erupted with 20 seconds left in the round.
Once the pace of the fight was established, it was clear that the fight would go the full 12. Gonzalez displayed too little power in his quick hands to chip the granite chin Julio sports. Chavez snapped Gonzalez's head with numerous left hooks, but none as devastating or frequent as the left hooks Gonzalez survived in his bout with DelaHoya. The WBC judges would get their say this night, and that can only mean controversy.
Controversy is a staple of boxing. So much so that everyone involved in tonight's bout...from the television announcers, to the pay-per-view buying pundits, to the participants themselves knew that there was no way to beat Julio Cesar Chavez in Mexico City with three WBC assigned judges and WBC Godfather Jose Suliaman at ringside, unless you knocked him out. And as it became clear the Gonzalez was not going to knock out Chavez, it was not a question of whether he would be robbed, but by how much.
If you liked his punch output, his aggression in the middle of each round, and his combinations, you saw a fight where Gonzalez won 8 rounds or more. If you felt that Chavez's occasional power shots made up the difference or that he was able to steal rounds with last minute flurries (some of the best of which landed after the bell), then you might have been able to give Chavez a close fight.
When the decision was read as a draw, it was hardly a shock. But as I reflect on the bout tonight, it seems a particularly fitting, if not totally fair, result. Did either fighter deserve a world title tonight?
Chavez, for his part, survived. But did he really perform any better than he did in his last two tune-up fiascos? Like so many fighters past their primes, Julio was unable to pull the trigger when he needed to. Unable to follow up on the opportunities he created, Chavez had to settle for home run swings. He may not be shot, but he is in the chamber and the gun is cocked.
Gonzalez also underachieved. Unable to capitalize on the fading veteran before him, Gonzalez showed us only that he has a great chin. We can thank his poor defense for this.
Neither fighter won. Not the title, not the admiration of the Mexican fans (who pelted the ring with everything they could possibly throw), and not the future payday with Oscar DelaHoya (who, at ringside, was pelted with almost as many objects as the ring).
After the fight, immediate talk of a rematch was circulating in the ring. And why not? The WBC still has a super-lightweight title to fill, and Chavez and Gonzalez will presumably keep their #1 and #2 rankings. But should we be excited? After tonight's disappointing display, perhaps not...
NIGHT AT THE FIGHTS: SHOWTIME PAY PER VIEW CARD
byJim TrunzoMatador Tames the Bull
Gabrielle Mira Wins Shot at WBC Flyweight Title
Gabrielle Mira of Mexico came into last nights title elimination contest with 7 losses on his record, including 3 by TKO. His opponent, Yoog-Soon Chang had stopped 14 of his 22 opponents, losing only once in the process. It was Mira (whom Ferdie Pacheco insisted on calling "M-eye-ra" instead of "M-ear-a" all night), however, who was rated #1 and Chang who occupied the #3 spot in the WBC pecking order.
Mira came out fast, taking the first 3 rounds by virtue of activity, fast hands and nifty defense. For his part, Chang looked almost bored, as if he simply assumed that his wicked power would put the brakes on Mira the first time it landed cleanly. The problem was that Chang didn't start landed with any regularity until the 6th round.
Mira could have taught Che Guevera something about guerilla warfare. Hitting and running, Mira would dart in, land a quick combination and move away before the awkward, plodding Chang could do anything.
Chang, who had spent only 6 days in Mexico, appeared to be badly affected by the thin air (5,500 feet above sea level), so much so that his corner kept asking him what was wrong. Chang rallied in the sixth then promptly allowed Mira to take , on EBM's scorecard, the next 3 rounds.
Badly behind going into the 10th (a, situation made worse by the fact that referee Jose Medina deducted a point in the 5th from Chang for repeatedly "pushing" Mira to the canvas), Chang needed a knockout to win and he tried for it, give him that, winning the last 3 rounds by sheer will, aggressiveness and power. However, it simply was too little too late.
Mira won a unanimous decision by the lopsided score of 119-110 and 119-109 twice. EBM actually agreed with the ringside boys - Pacheco, Czyz and Alberts - and saw the fight much closer, scoring it 115-111 for Mira.
Mira impressed with his defense and speed; however, several times it appeared as if he was hurt by single shots from Chang. Chang looked so bad that EBM had the feeling that on a different night at a different venue, Chang might have stopped Mira.
There was really nothing concrete on which to base that impression because Chang looked anything but smooth, but still the feeling persisted all through the fight that if Change could have put a 3 punch volley together, been busier, the outcome would have been reversed.
Chang's penalty was questionable when it occured; however, there were numerous time when it could have been assessed prior. Chang had an annoying habit of wrapping an arm around the back of Mira's head, pushing it down and hitting him. Frequently, Mira would fall when he felt the pressure on the back of his neck.
Mira 17-7-1 with 13 stoppages will go to face Chartchai Dutchboy Gym if all proceeds according to plan.
Ricardo Lopez Receives First Blemish - MAYBE!
Rosendo Alvarez Holds the Great Ricardo Lopez to a Draw
Ricardo Lopez, undefeated in 46 bouts, took his perfect record and 35 knockouts into the ring last night, seeking is 21st straight title defense of his WBC strawweight crown. The streak stands 3rd on the all-time list behind only Joe Louis (25) and Abe Attel (23).
WBA strawweight champ, Rosendo Alvarez, had no intent of adding his name to Lopez' string of wins. Also unbeaten, Alvarez had compiled a 24-0 (16 KOs) record against competition that was at least as good as what Lopez had faced.
The two fighters were mirror images of each other physically. Both weighed in at 105 pounds, both stood 5' 5" and both had 65 inch reaches. Alvarez, at 27, is 3 years younger than Lopez.
The first round was a typical feeling out round, but Lopez won it on EBM's card with several clean punches toward the end of the stanza. Fifteen seconds into round two, though, Alvarez landed a textbook right over a lazy Lopez left jab and floored "Finito (The Finisher)" for the first time in his career.
The shot was as clean as you'll ever see but Lopez bounced back immediately and landed some good shots of his own. Alvarez refused to foolishly rush in and attempt to stop the damaged but very dangerous Lopez, instead continuing to put pressure on the now-counter punching Lopez.
Lopez rallied strongly in rounds 3 and 4, dominating the exciting exchanges by putting together combination punches in answer to Alvarez' single shots. Both men exhibited moments of brilliant defense and while both scored in spurts, neither fighter could sustain an offense. Although Lopez won the rounds by landing more punches, some of them solid shots, he certainly didn't dominate the impressive Nicaraguan.
The two little warriors battled on even terms, with Alvarez sqeaking out the 5th and Lopez getting the edge in the 6th, putting Ricardo ahead 57-56, going into the 7th round.
In the 7th and unintentional clash of head resulted in a horrible cut over Lopez' right eye and venerable referee Arthur Mercante correctly assessed one of the worst rules in boxing by deducting a point from the uncut fighter, in this case Rosendo Alvarez. The penalty created a 10-8 round for Lopez, whom EBM had winning the 7th, effectively negating the Alvarez knockdown in the 2nd.
What happened next created mass confusion. The Lopez corner, obviously thinking that the WBC king was comfortably ahead, despite the knockdown, wanted to go to scorecards. Lopez appeared confused about what was taking place and Mercante gave no indication as to whether or not the bout was being stopped or being allowed to continue.
Lopez, hands high but still bleeding badly, started out of his corner (although no bell had sounded that we heard) as the eighth round was getting underway, but Mercante took one look at the blood streaming down Ricardo's face and called a halt to the bout.
An interminable delay ensued. The unruly crowd of 50,000 plus took the opportunity to increase their pelting of the ring, a disgusting sideshow that had been taking place from the beginning of the telecast. Seat cushions, chunks of ice, and plastic water bottles bombarded the ringside area like Scud missles, fortunately not hitting their mark but disconcerting nevertheless.
After close to a ten minute hiatus, Jimmy Lennon, Jr. climbed into the ring to announce the decision. Judge Tommy Kazmerek scored the bout 67-64 for Lopez (EBM had it scored exactly the same), Judge Conde scored it 68-63 for Alvarez, and Judge Dalby Shirley scored it . . . 66-66 . . . and both fighters retained their titles via Technical Draw.
However, controvesy immediately ensued. While both fighters were very gracious after the bout and agreed that a rematch was in order, shortly after they left the ring, Jose Suliman, president of the WBC, announced that a question had arisen about the round by round scoring. He claimed that he, along with others, had seen one of the cards - we assume Shirley's - added incorrectly and actually favoring Lopez.
A WBA official took the round-by-rounds, locked them in his briefcase and left the premises so the cards were no longer available. Stay tuned!
As far as the fight went, Alvarez had indeed proved to be Lopez' toughest opponent. Early on, he appeared a little stronger than Lopez but what was most impressive about Alvarez were his skills. Dismissed by some as simply a power hitter, Alvarez exhibited excellent defense and a nice variety of punches. And while, Lopez appeared to be winning the fight going into the 8th, the bout was a long way from over, cut or no cut.
Controversy aside, fight fans were robbed by the cut. Alvarez was holding his own against one of boxing's best. Lopez was calling on all his skills to battle back from the knockdown. The last 5 rounds were going to be the stuff of high drama. Was Alvarez tiring? Would Lopez be able to land one of his own wicked shots to end the bout? Was Alvarez pacing himself and ready to launch a power attack? The two fighters were so evenly matched that anything migh have happened.
It's easy to see how the fight could have been scored a draw. Many of the rounds were close and both fighters, in light of the premature stoppage, deserved to escape without a loss. It would be a shame to see some bureaucratic blundering turn this fight into a loss for Alvarez. However,whatever the final decision, one thing was made clear last night, Lopez - Alvarez II is a must-happen, must-see event.
"El Grand Champeon" Turns Back Clock . . . to Earn Draw
J.C. Superstar Battles Miguel Angel Gonzalez on Even Terms
Julio Cesar Chavez, at age 35 (at least), managed to summon a superior effort out of his ring-worn body and hold the younger, faster Miguel Angel Gonzalez to a draw.
Chavez, a 6 time world champion and veteran of 103 fights, squared off against Miguel Angel Gonzalez (42-1 with 32 knockouts) for not only the vacant WBC super-lightweight crown but also for the bragging rights as the greatest Mexican fighter still throwing leather.
Chavez, a notoriously slow starter, promptly dropped the first 3 rounds of the fight as the 27 year old Gonzalez refused to be intimidated by either Chavez' aura or the overtly hostile crowd. The latter is ironic considering that the fight was taking place in Gonzalez' backyard; but then again, all of Mexico is home turf for the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez.
Chavez had his best early round in the 4th, winning it cleanly with patented left hooks to the head and body of Gonzalez. However, Gonzalez, rebounded in EBM's opinion, to snag the 5th and 6th frames by landing sharper punches and many more of them.
Gonzalez had an obvious edge in hand speed over the first half of the bout and kept pushing his jab into the face of Chavez from the opening bell until the 7th. And while Chavez' face didn't open up the way it has recently, it was beet red after eating leather for six rounds.
Chavez rallied strongly in the 7th and 8th, picking up the pace considerably and blasting left hook after left hook into the body and head of the tiring Gonzalez. Miguel Angel gamely fought back but for the first time in the bout, it was Chavez forcing Gonzalez backwards instead of the other way around.
The 9th appeared dead even and on EBM's card, Chavez had clawed his way back to within 2 points of Gonzalez, 87-85. However, after splitting the 10th and 11th rounds, it appeared that Chavez would need a knockdown in the 12th simply to earn a draw.
When Gonzalez clearly won the 12th as a strangely inactive Chavez did little to help his cause, the outcome should have been a done deal. Still, many of the rounds had been close and considering the stature of Chavez, tension was high as everyone in the outdoor arena awaited the decision. The Showtime broadcast team had already been eyeing hiding places - and rightly so! - in case of a riot over the decision. Fortunately, nothing exceptionally untoward took place, other than an increase in the aireal bombardment.
Judge Smith called the fight 115-114 in favor of Julio Cesar Chavez.
Judge O'Connell saw the bout going to Gonzalez by a score of 116-114.
Judge Hassett viewed it . . . 115-115 . . . and we had another Draw!
This was not a bad decision! In spite of the fact that EBM had scored the bout 116-113 in favor of Gonzalez, there were enough debatable rounds to legitimately have the outcome ruled a draw. EBM's big fear was that outside influences would simply and completely steal the fight from Gonzalez.
Hats off to Julio Cesar Chavez, who didn't look anything like the Chavez of old except in brief spurts, but who instead held his own against a talented opponent 8 years his junior.
If this had been the Chavez we'd seen in his last three or four bouts, Gonzalez would have mauled hiim. Instead, Chavez appeared in reasonably good shape and proved that if he can't dominate like he used too, he can still compete with anyone, even at age 35 - if sufficiently motivated,
Chavez looked like an old fighter but as Bobby Czyz put it (I think it was Czyz), he didn't look like a shot old fighter. He still retains some skills. Interestingly, Chavez apparently told his corner, while awaiting the decision, that he would NOT fight Gonzalez again. In the post-fight interview, he reversed that statement, and immediate called for a rematch.
Gonzalez acquitted himself well. What became obvious as the fight went on, though, was that Miguel Angel will never be a "Superstar", not only in light of this bout but in reviewing his overall career. Gonzalez is a talented, gutty performer who is a good champion. Nevertheless, he fails to stand out in any single category, being competent in all but exceptional in none.
Gonzalez, in our opinion won the fight, but it was against an aging, past prime opponent. His heart allows him to compete against the De La Hoya's, etc. but his slightly less than exceptional skills prevent him from becoming on of the elite. And his charisma isn't nor every will be a strength
The Final Bell
All in all, the evening was entertaining without being spectacular. The Alvarez - Lopez tiff had the makings of a sensational bout but it was stopped short by the cut. The Mira-Chang fight was an interesting chessmatch but lacked any real drama and the Chavez-Gonzalez bout was more of a curiosity than a great fight. Let's grade the card a C+ and be thankful we didn't have to watch Christy Martin overwhelm some overmatched nobody and then listen to her claim that she's not ducking the better women fighters out there!
3.8.98 [Return to Top]
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