|The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire|
May 27, 2001|
Injuries hamper Mayweather's showcase
Jesus Chavez steals the show with 12-round win over Arias
by Chris Bushnell
Floyd Mayweather's post-Diego Corrales homecoming was supposed to be a showcase for the young champion's stunning arsenal of boxing ordnance. Instead, Mayweather fired blanks after he injured both his hands halfway through his WBC title defense against Carlos "Famoso" Hernandez. Unable to pound his opponent as he had in the opening rounds, Mayweather ran, clinched, and pitty-pat jabbed to the finish line of this most ugly fight. As Derrick Gainer would say, "That's boxing!"
Mayweather actually began the bout with the dazzling handspeed and combination punching that has vaulted him into the spotlight. Pretty Boy Floyd's hands were too quick for Hernandez, and the champion peppered his opponent with a series of blinding jabs and lead left hooks. After a few minutes, Hernandez realized that his only chance was to put his head down, rush in, and charge. Hernandez accomplished this much, although he neglected to follow-up with the punches required to make such aggression work. In fact, Hernandez landed only one meaningful punch in the round. With nearly 30 seconds remaining in the opener, Mayweather switched southpaw and immediately tasted a Hernandez overhand right. The punch drove Mayweather back into the ropes, and while he wasn't hurt, it did catch his attention.
Hernandez wasn't selected because of his ability to compete with Mayweather, and that became abundantly clear early in the fight. In the second round, Mayweather casually pounded Hernandez as though the bout were a public workout. Time and again, Hernandez would rush at Mayweather, eat a few jabs or hooks on the way in, and wind up falling into a messy clinch on the ropes. Mayweather was never flustered by Hernandez' attempts to turn the fight into a brawl, and calmly fired punches as Hernandez pushed and shoved.
The challenger's propensity to brazenly come forward often forced Mayweather into a corner. Early in the third, Hernandez trapped Mayweather this way, and attempted to unload. But Mayweather was having none of it. Each time Hernandez stepped forward to score, Mayweather fended him off with a barrage of short blows. After a third mini-charge, Mayweather's return did not cease, and as he continued to throw punches, the crowd noise built into a buzz. Using masterful footwork, Mayweather was able to spin Hernandez into the corner without stopping his assault. As the crowd rose to it's feet and increased their decibel level yet again, Mayweather pounded Hernandez with his fluid flurries.
Once the action returned to center ring Mayweather continued in this, his best round, with even more interesting offerings. So quick are Floyd's hands that he often appears to line up his fist to an opening, hold it on target for a half-second, then fire and land in a flash. This was the case with a series of lead right hands that Mayweather landed in the third, most all of them thrown sidearm from the waist. These half-uppercut/half-cross blows began a swelling on the bridge of Hernandez' nose that would continue to grow and change shape until the bout's ending nine rounds later.
Mayweather closed out the third round with a dazzling series of left hooks to the head. He landed one such punch in the final minute of round three, then recocked and landed another. And another. And another. Eight times Mayweather threw the left hook without interruption, and while the first three did the most damage, it was still an awesome display. Hernandez wildly answered with powerless arm punches after these attacks, and after a few errant blows bloodied Floyd's nose, he opted to shift into boxing mode from the fourth round on.
Mayweather began jabbing and moving in the fourth round. When he used his feet, Mayweather was able to neutralize Hernandez' entire game. Forced to chase down Mayweather, Hernandez now found it much more difficult to smother the champ with his long arms. Occasionally, Hernandez would glance an overhand right off Ma yweather's face, but his ability to land clean rarely improved over his first round haymaker.
We probably would have seen Mayweather coast to an easy victory if the sixth round hadn't changed the entire fight. After boxing through a perfunctory fifth, Mayweather began favoring his right hand in the sixth. Shaking the hurt hand, Mayweather was still able to do as he pleased with his left jab and hook. But after 2:30 of only throwing the left, the unthinkable happened: Mayweather injured the left, also. As Hernandez ducked, Mayweather landed a short left hook to Hernandez' forehead. The pain was immediate, and Mayweather's face turned to anguish. Before Hernandez could respond, Mayweather turned his back on his opponent and touched the canvas with his left glove. Referee Dick Grable began a knockdown count, giving Hernandez a likely 10-8 score in a round he might have otherwise lost.
[Editor's Note: Grable incorrectly should have ended the fight on a TKO for Hernandez. It is a classic rule of boxing: if a fighter turns his back, the referee should end the fight.]
After the mandatory eight, and a bit of stalling to close out the round, Mayweather returned to his corner moaning in pain. With both hands out of commission, what would he do now? Not even Floyd knew the answer when the fight resumed in the seventh. Mayweather tried to concoct a new gameplan as he timidly ran from Hernandez for most of the round. Looking confused and desperate, Mayweather shuffled left then right, avoiding any real contact with his opponent for three full minutes.
Comfortably ahead on the cards, Mayweather could afford to give away a few rounds. By the eighth, his new strategy emerged: jab with the right from the southpaw stance. For most of the rest of the bout, Mayweather used his feet to run and his jab to score. At times, his injury-hampered offense was impressive, such as in the eighth and tenth when Mayweather easily outscored Hernandez with just one hand. But many late rounds were marred by running and clinching, and Boxing Chronicle favored Hernandez in a few of these stanzas when he was able to catch a running Mayweather with some wild punches coming in. But Hernandez' forehead had grown into a grotesque lump. The fist-sized swelling on Carlos' forehead prevented him from recklessly attacking Mayweather in his hour of crisis. We would go to the cards.
In the ninth round, the crowd had picked up on Mayweather's passivity, and began booing when the running threatened to overtake the action. By the final bell, the boos were nearly unanimous... and Mayweather's hometown show had flopped. The final scorecards issued a too-wide, but still deserved, decision: 119-110, 117-110, and 116-112. Boxing Chronicle score the bout 115-111, including a point deducted from Hernandez in the final round for flagrant roughhousing.
Before the fight, Mayweather's penciled-in next fight against Jesus Chavez looked like another gimme. After all, Chavez is easy to hit, doesn't offer a lot of head movement, and doesn't possess the type of power to give Mayweather pause. But after Mayweather's substandard outing, Chavez' chances improved greatly. After all, Hernandez failed by not being able to rain down punches in volume on Mayweather during his fits of inactivity. If anything, this is Chavez' biggest strength.
Chavez W!2 Arias
For 12 action-packed rounds, the WBC mandatory challenger battered unknown Juan Arias without respite. When it was over, both Chavez and Arias had thrown over 1,000 punches. But Chavez had landed a deadly 50% of his blows, and Arias' warped face and bruised body showed the side-effects.
Chavez may not have the handspeed to deal with Mayweather, but he does throw solid punches in combination from a variety of angles. He wasted no time smashing Arias with a lead right and a quick one-two in opener. Arias looked like he might fold quickly when Chavez' repeated right hands drove him into the ropes at the end of the first. But Chavez let a hook to the liver stray low, and a verbal warning from referee Monty Oswald broke the momentum of Chavez' flurry.
Despite looking outmatched in the opener, Arias came out an took the second round by winging some haymakers of his own. Where Chavez' punches were crisp and compact, Arias' hooks and overhand rights were wide and wild... but powerful enough to momentarily stun Chavez as the second drew to a close. Neither of these men had any problem finding the other, but the exciting battle of round two was about to be dwarfed by the controlled fury of round three.
Perhaps feeling that his own showcase was slipping away, Chavez stormed at Arias to start the third round. Chavez aimed squarely for Arias' belly and began swinging both arms non-stop to the body. Arias welcomed the openings up top to counter, and for the entire first minute, these two fighters stood toe-to-toe and let it all hang out. If you walked into the building during this sequence, you would have thought the two men were in the final minute of a dead-even contest.
After a minute of all-knockout-attempts-all-the-time, the pace understandably quelled by mid-round. Still, both men were looking to end the fight with a single blow. In what almost appeared to be a contest, the two took turns nailing each other with their heaviest, most forcefully thrown punches. Chavez got the better of it this round, driving Arias into the ropes and punishing him to the body time and again. But Arias would not fold, and nailed Chavez again with an eye-opener just as the third round came to a close. It didn't look like a fight that would go 12 full rounds... but it did.
Although the action never returned to the fever pitch of the third, the fight was still thrilling in each and every frame. Without fail, Chavez threw close to 100 punches per round. Arias' output varied, but even in rounds in which his offense diminished, he was able to land hard, clean punches right on Jesus' chin. Despite the fact that Chavez gradually adjusted his technique to feature more boxing (and less brawling) skills, the power shots continued. Jesus lived up to the Chavez name by pounding Arias' body in every single round. Using an occasional jab, Chavez was also able to set up his power shots with precision. Time and again Chavez would jab at Arias, pull down his guard on the retraction of the jab, and then bury an overhand right on Arias' chin. By round six, Arias had a cut over his left eye, swelling over and under his right, and bruises scattered across his face. By round twelve, his own mother might not have recognized him.
A tired Chavez continued to pound away at Arias in the later rounds as onlookers wondered what was holding Arias up. In round nine, when Arias's own fatigue appeared to have him close to resigning, Chavez repeatedly looked to be within moments of ending the fight. Chavez would jab, land a right, and follow-up with a few hooks to the body. Arias would retreat to the ropes, and just as the ref looked close to stepping in, he would throw and land another haymaker. By the end of the ninth, fans at ringside could be heard calling for the ref to halt the punishment. Arias must have heard them, too, because he came out and won the tenth round with a display of courage and will power that will not be soon forgotten.
But it was too-little, too-late for the game opponent. Chavez had banked enough early rounds that he was able to box the final two stanzas without having to get into the dangerous exchanges that made Arias' dream a possibility. All three judges agreed: 117-110 for Chavez. Boxing Chronicle scored the bout 116-111.
And so Chavez (35-1/24) now hopes for his mandatory bout with Mayweather to materialize. But hope may be all he has. Without question, Mayweather is going to need time to rest his fragile hands. He may even require surgery. The champ also complained about having to make 130 this week. It's entirely possible that Chavez may have to fight for a vacant title as Mayweather moves up. And that's not such a bad thing. Chavez could win a belt and get big showdowns against other 130 lb. fighters with whom he would be more evenly matched while Mayweather would get to test his talent against a pool of fighters at 135 and 140 who could make things very difficult for him. Mayweather-Chavez, as good as Chavez is, is just a tune-up. Mayweather-Castillo, Mayweather-Tszyu, and Mayweather-Judah? These fights are must-see events.
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