|The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire|
February 25, 2001
Jones Stops Harmon
Gainer beats Polo
by the CBZ Staff
Jones and Gainer stink out the joint|
Pound-for-Pound the most boring night of championship boxing
Does Roy Jones really deserve to have his 43-1/35 record improved to 44-1/36 after his 10 round "fight" with Derrick Harmon? After all, if this wasn't an exhibition fight, then what is? Harmon's name may litter the bowels of the alphabet sanctioning groups' Top Ten lists, but the truth is that he was a drifter in the 8-rounder circuit and his 20-1/10 record coming into this fight had more padding than a La-Z-Boy convention. Harmon never had a chance against Jones, and still Jones stunk out the joint. In fact, the only good thing that can be said about Roy Jones is that he wasn't nearly as bad as his protege, Derrick Gainer.
Harmless Harmon put on a good game face. In the first round, he pretended not to care that Jones was stinging him at will with his typical superfast one-punch offense. Dutifully fulfilling the role of southpaw-opponent-who-works-the-body, Harmon did his best to try and corner Jones and slap his sides. Harmon must have actually believed he could win, because he hung on even after Jones ripped off a dazzling seven punch combo to end the opening round.
You can't blame Derrick Harmon for taking the $300,000 he got for being Jones' sparring partner, er, opponent... but you can blame Jones for doing the bare minimum to earn his reported $7 million payday. Once it became clear that Harmon's biggest asset was his charming personality, Jones should have stepped up and taken him out. You don't have to knock a guy unconscious to get the stoppage. Given Harmon's propensity to completely cover up whenever Jones threw more than one punch, Jones probably could have ended this boring contest at any time. Simply flurry until the referee is forced to jump in.
But instead of do that, Jones simply moved away from Harmon for most of the night, stopping occasionally to hit him. Jones had such a speed advantage, that he was able to hit Harmon with any punch he wanted, virtually whenever he wanted. Occasionally, Jones would sustain his efforts for 15 or 20 seconds, but only a couple of big blows ever got a rise out of the crowd. The paying public that Roy allegedly "performs" for were dead silent when most of the rounds came to an end.
Derrick Harmon tried his best. Like most of Jones' opposition, he found Jones' midsection to be a consistent and easy-to-hit target. But despite landing to Jones' belly pretty consistently in the middle rounds, the effort never seemed to bother Jones in the least. Even on two occasions when Harmon ended his mini-flurry to the body with a left hook upstairs, and ended up hitting the lotto by catching Jones relatively flush, nothing happened.
Harmon quit on his stool after 10 rounds of boring one-sided "action," claiming he couldn't hear out of one of his ears. If Roy Jones thinks it's more humane to carry a guy for 30 minutes instead of end the fight quickly, he's best rethink. Harmon may have taken Jones' shots, but he took way too many of them. Let's hope that he's alright.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: if Roy Jones wants to be called pound-for-pound best, then he has to outclass guys that aren't in his class. Shane Mosley and Felix Trinidad, two genuine pound-for-pound claimants, completely dismantle guys who don't belong in the ring with them. They fight three minutes of every round. They try hard to win and win big. I'll again watch Shane Mosley vs. Willie Wise or Felix Trinidad vs. Mamadou Thiam any day of the week before I'll ever pull out my VHS tape of Jones vs. Harmon. Why? Because Jones-Harmon was a boring exhibition.
Mini-Roy-Jones, a.k.a. Derrick Gainer, absolutely sucked in the first defense of the WBA featherweight title he stole from Freddie Norwood. Matched against journeyman Victor Polo, Gainer slapped, held, and got on his bike and ran for twelve excruciating rounds of boxing torture.
Roy Jones' Square Ring Inc. set up a 17 foot ring for this night of boxing, and Gainer's footwork put him against the ropes for most of the night. During the first round, he side shuffled across the ropes so often that his back was red with rope burns. For most of the opening round, Polo simply reached down and tagged Gainer with a stiff jab to the body. As Gainer leaped in with a half-baked impression of Roy's lead left hook (thrown on the right side from Gainer's natural southpaw stance), Polo easily avoided the incoming and began stepping into his body-jab with more authority. At one point, Gainer moved from one set of ropes to the other, each time stopping to catch a jab downstairs before he ran off to the next side of the ring. Gainer stole the opening round on the hometown cards with a cute flurry at the end of the round. But his right uppercut, straight left, right hook combo wasn't enough to take the round on Boxing Chronicle's card.
Gainer gave away the second when his circling nearly morphed into full retreat. Polo could do little but give chase. When he would catch up with Smoke, Polo would try and land downstairs... and he even glanced a few hooks off Gainer's head. But Polo really put it together in the third round, when the retreating Gainer stopped circling, laid on the ropes, and then ate an unending flurry of punches. As Gainer covered up, Polo let his hands go. Most of his punches landed on the arms or gloves of Gainer, but a few good shots got through. Gainer kept waiting for Polo to stop throwing so that he could counter, but Polo just wouldn't stop. Even after his punches lost their steam, his flurry continued, and Gainer was content to simply sit underneath it. The entire last minute of the round consisted of Polo throwing punches (145 in all) at Gainer like he was doing his heavybag drills.
Gainer finally displayed some serious offense in the fourth round. Gainer went to the ropes again to start this round, but this time he caught Polo coming in with a good counter hook, and that punch moved the fight back to center ring. There, Gainer found good success landing his left hand off the jab. Gainer, keeping a safe distance away, would often leap in with his shots. When he missed, he was way off balance... but in this round he was landing. With just under a minute to go, Gainer launched two consecutive lefts. The first landed flush, and the second snapped Polo's head straight back and drove him three steps back into the ropes. It was the perfect opportunity to finish off a clearly hurt fighter, but Gainer did nothing. In fact, Gainer barely threw another punch for the rest of the round. Polo was let completely off the hook.
Gainer's passivity oddly continued into the fifth round, where he again let Polo totally outhustle him. By this point, Polo's conditioning was betraying him, and most of his punches had absolutely no snap on them. But he again threw 100 punches at Gainer while the "champion" rarely fired back. On Boxing Chronicle's card, Polo had now taken four of the first five rounds. Yes, some of the early rounds were close and probably swayed to Gainer... but we don't think he deserved them.
Luckily for Smoke's sake, Polo seemed totally pooped out after his latest triple-digit effort, and Gainer was able to bank rounds 6-9 with ease. But this was a boring boring boring boring affair. Gainer threw little more than leg feints and some slaps in the sixth. Gainer heard his first boos of the night in the seventh, when his footwork graduated from fast circling to flat out running away. The boos would continue in every round until the final bell, growing louder with each round of inactivity. At the end of the seventh, Gainer hit Polo with a big left (one of only four or five flush punches in the whole round) and then strutted back to his corner after the bell.
Gainer had learned a few tricks from Roy Jones, and one of them is only do the minimum required to win. After banking a cool four rounds, and assuming he picked up a couple of early rounds, Gainer totally took the tenth round off. Gainer's running in the tenth round made Oscar DelaHoya look like Jake LaMotta by comparison. Gainer was on his bike in full retreat. At one point, Polo even leaped in and tagged Gainer as he was backing up. The punch seemed to stun Gainer, and the next three times Polo got close to him, Gainer blatantly jumped forward and grabbed Polo's arms for a clinch. Gainer was in such retreat that he was only credited with throwing 19 punches in this round... and that might have been generous.
The snoozefest continued into the eleventh. Gainer opted to land a few shots from center ring, and even scored a knockdown on Polo. The punch was a long left hand that crashed into Polo's face as he was bending forward. The punch buckled Polo's knees. But as Gainer's left shoulder followed through, it too crashed into Polo's face and helped shove him back onto the canvas. It all happened so quickly that it looked like the knockdown came entirely from the punch, and Polo got the mandatory eight count.
And this is what separates Gainer from the other names in the featherweight division. Here he had Polo down and hurt... what does he do? Nothing. Now Gainer knows for certain that he has enough points to win, and so for the remaining 45 seconds of the round he doesn't even throw a single punch (except for two jabs right at the bell). How lame.
The final round could be summed up with three words: Slap. Run. Hold. Gainer was killing time without even trying to hide it. Polo was too tired to move his arms, so Gainer won the round... but it was ugly. In fact, the perfect metaphor for Gainer's entire career could be summed up in the final ten seconds of the bout. Knowing that he would win, Gainer raised his hand and tried to shuffle his feet to showboat a little bit. He ended up slipping on the canvas and falling to his knees, face first into Polo's crotch. He stayed there until the final bell sounded. Nice showboat, chump, er, champ.
As soon as the fight was over, Gainer was on top of his posse's shoulders yelling "That's boxing! That's boxing!" Whatever.
There were some raw nerves as the score took it's sweet time to find it's way to Mark Beiro. And what do you know? A split decision. Boxing Chronicle had Gainer up 115-112, as did one of the official scores. One judge had Polo up 114-113 (a bit of a stretch... even if you gave every round in which Gainer flat out ran away to Polo, you'd still probably have Gainer up because of the 10-8 11th). The final judge had Gainer up 118-109, about as biased towards Gainer as the one judge had been to Polo.
All the talk now is that Gainer will next face recently defeated featherweight title holder Guty Espadas. Bring it on. Guty will mop the floor with Gainer... if he can catch him.
Roy Jones Jr. doomed to lack of competition.
By Barry Stephen Hanley
HBO's double bill took place at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay Florida. The featured fight of the evening featured the supremely talented Roy Jones Jr. facing another thoroughly outgunned opponent, one Derick Harmon. A wide variety of pro athletes were in attendance, including suspected double murderer Ray Lewis. Perhaps he has formed a friendship with some of the shadier denizens of the "sweet science". Don King springs to mind. These two have a lot in common. Neither has any sweetness to speak of.
The undercard featured Jones Jr.'s sidekick, Derek Gainer. Gainer holds the WBA version of the featherweight title. Gainer has been nurtured and schooled just like the host of pit bull terriers and fighting cocks that Jr. hosts at his ranch outside Pensacola, Florida. Many argue that Gainer has risen to prominence only because of his ties to the gifted undisputed light-heavyweight champ. These ties couldn't help him against the only two elite fighters he has faced. Both Diego Corrales and Kevin Kelley knocked him unconscious.
Gainer's opponent on this night was Victor Polo, "EL Hijo de la Republica de Colombia" (son of the Colombian Republic.) Polo had Lou Duva in his corner and a decent enough record, 29-2-2 with 22 of his victories coming by way of the sandman method.
Before the opening bell,referee, Brian Garry, warned the fighters, "Avoid the use of your head as a weapon". Garry didn't mean this in the cerebral sense. Anyone who has ever climbed through the ropes knows that this is a thinking man's game.
Gainer began the fight well. His style is obviously modeled after his friend and mentor, Jr. Hands held low, almost in contempt of his opponents offensive skills, he circled the ring, frequently launching big hooks to the body and head. In the 3rd round Polo finally got to unleash a good body assault. Gainer played the boxer role, staying outside Polo's range and looking for the counter power shots. His plan was to use his speed advantage to avoid being sucked into a slugfest. Meanwhile, his Colombian adversary attempted to stalk and corner him, all to little or no avail.
Gainer connected with two terrific straight left hands in the 4th round. Polo would have fallen on the canvas had it not been for the proximity of the ropes of the small 17ft by 17ft ring, a ring designed by Roy Jones Jr. Despite the size, Gainer managed to run away from any serious conflict throughout the fight. Naturally, this wasn't seen in a favorable light by the multitude of paying fans at the Ice Palace. The arena rang with boos. A fighter solely focused on self preservation and a minimal attack will never be a crowd pleaser.
Gainer was winning the fight handily though. In the 7th, he connected with another stiff left cross, his most effective punch. The 11th round brought the fight's only knockdown. Once again, Gainer connected with a left to Polo's chin, only this time the punch landed while Polo was in the center of the ring. Displaying good ring savvy, Gainer helped Polo on his way by following through with a nicely disguised shoulder charge.
The fight went to the cards and Gainer won by split decision. The Mexican judge who awarded the fight to Polo was obviously unimpressed by the lack of fight in Gainer. The crowd booed in unison as Derek "Smoke" Gainer proclaimed "Now, that's boxing" .
I beg to differ.
The main event was typical Roy Jones Jr. fare. Jr., has the unusual position of having nobody in his weight division who can mount a serious challenge. Fight fans are tired of consistently seeing Jones, toy with opponents, seemingly "teeing off" at will. In order for Jones to actually become involved in a fight he is faced with a career defining decision. Should he move up to Heavyweight or move down to Middleweight? In the former he will face the likes of Holyfield and Lewis. The latter will have him fighting guys like Felix Trinidad.
A Trinidad/Jones encounter appears to be the one that most people want to see.
In the meantime, we are subjected to these yawn inducing mismatches that merely showcase the seemingly super human talents Jones possesses. This time, Derrick Harmon (20-1-0) was the designated cannon fodder. Harmon had the dubious distinction of making more money in a Michael Caine movie called "Shiner", than he has ever made plying his trade as a professional boxer. Ironically, Harmon's sponsor was emblazoned on his shorts, B.U.M. Fitting indeed.
Jones Jr (43-1-0) with 35 k.o's has only lost once, on a disqualification against Montell Griffin. The "fight" was refereed by Frank Santone. The 1st round set the tone for the rest of the fight. It is hard to write about a one sided contest such as this. The one bright spot in this otherwise dull affair was the exhibition of Jr's astonishing skill and supreme speed. Harmon did connect with some decent body shots and a surprising left hook in the 4th.
The most eye-catching thing about Harmon, though, were the pair of beige Grant boxing gloves cushioning his fists. Jones held court and gave Harmon a boxing lesson, smirking all the while. The crowd didn't boo the undisputed light-heavyweight champ as they had his predecessor but you could feel the potential in the air.
In the 7th, Jones stepped up the tempo with a beautiful combination of body shots, left hooks, and a picture perfect right uppercut. Until, the 10th, Jones continued to score with big power shots at will. The 10th round signaled the end of the fight for Harmon. His corner wouldn't allow him to continue due to a punctured eardrum. Jones won the fight but won't win any new fans until he stops talking about himself in the third person, chooses to change weight classes and fights some real opposition. If he fails to do this, his career will remain in the stagnant phase it currently wallows in.