Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Foreman's Fortitude Wins Over Fans

Yuri Foreman left Yankee Stadium a winner.

Sometimes competitive spirit is enough to nullify a loss and blur the line between victory and defeat in the court of public opinion. After all, boxing fans gravitate toward balls-to-the-wall brawlers, those who spill as much blood as they draw. The late Arturo Gatti was beaten nine times -- five of those by stoppage -- yet his never-say-die attitude made him one of the most popular fighters for more than a decade from the late-'90s until his retirement in 2007.

Foreman (28-1, 8 KOs) will never be confused with Gatti in the style department, but his losing effort against Miguel Cotto on Saturday won the rabbi-in-training a transcendent amount of praise.

During the bout, Foreman's name entered Twitter's top-10 trending topics. Words associated with his name in users' status updates? Guts. Heart. Warrior. And those referred to the man who arguably lost all but one round entering the seventh stanza.

Foreman, who wore a brace on his previously injured right knee, slipped three times during the bout. The second spill inhibited his lateral movement to such a degree his trainer, Joe Grier, literally threw in the towel in the eighth. In a confusing and controversial moment, referee Arthur Mercante Jr. dismissed the forfeiture, believing the towel entered the ring from an outside party (and accepting Grier's denial).

As Cotto pressed, Foreman limped and stumbled and absorbed thudding blows he would have avoided prior to his injury.

But he never quit.

It took a textbook Cotto left hook to the liver to end what was a simultaneously gruesome and inspirational ninth round.

Foreman's first blemish was seen by a larger audience than any of his wins. This was, of course, the first boxing event in (albeit a rebuilt) Yankee Stadium since Muhammad Ali defeated Ken Norton in a rubber match. And Cotto remains a huge draw in New York and as a television fighter. Not only did 20,272 witness Foreman's courage in person, but HBO also received a 3.9 rating for the show, its highest-rated boxing broadcast of the year.

Considering the amount of buzz generated by his performance, Foreman's return will be highly anticipated.

Watch E:60's segment about Yuri Foreman:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Remillard Focused on Remaining Sharp

Connecticut-born Matt "Sharp Shooter" Remillard puts his NABF featherweight title on the line against Carlos Rivera at the Mohegan Sun Casino. The bout is scheduled as an undercard of Saturday's Peter Manfredo-Angel Hernandez main event.

Remillard, 23, carries to the ring a perfect record of 21-0 with 12 knockouts, including two stoppages of previously unbeaten Rafael Lora. In addition to an unblemished record, Remillard has fellow Hartford resident and former light heavyweight contender John "Iceman" Scully in his corner.

"(Remillard) certainly has the ability to step up right now and face some of the top-10 guys in the world," Scully said. "If it was up to Matt, I think he'd be in a fight next time out with a top-10 contender. He really wants to prove himself."

Remillard must first get past Rivera (16-4-2, 5 KOs), an opponent nine years his senior and whose resume includes a win over veteran Johnnie Edwards. Three of Rivera's losses have been by stoppage.

Scully praised Remillard's determination, calling it "incredible." He said his fighter is prepared for the next step toward elite status, starting with his preparation for Rivera.

"(Rivera is) a southpaw, which is eventually a problem for anyone," Scully said, "but Matt is a great, great listener in the gym and really works hard on not just his conditioning but his technique also.

"For this fight, he's really pushed hard to do what he has to do against the southpaw style."

Remillard will enter as the favorite in terms of odds and fan support, and Scully believes his fighter's management will seek a bout against a top-15 opponent within the next few fights. It will come down to boxing politics, Scully said. Promoters, location and judge selection will factor into moving up the rungs of the featherweight division.

Scully believes Remillard is ready for the next step, perhaps against a notable opponent such as perennial championship contender Rocky Juarez, whose name has been mentioned around Remillard's camp.

"(Remillard) has many tools, many weapons that I like to see, especially with his jab and his body punching," Scully said. "But his drive and desire really add fuel to that fire."

Iceman Trainees Cometh: Scully will be a busy man Saturday. Along with training Remillard, he will also tend the corners of two potential prospects.

Junior lightweight Joey "Chip" Perez, a six-time Western New England Golden Gloves champion, looks for his fourth professional win. Perez (3-0, 1 KO) has sparred with Remillard and Hartford fan favorite Mike Oliver in preparation.

"Being able to get sparring with two guys of that caliber has been a huge asset to Joey Perez," Scully said. "He's been 10 rounds on a couple of occasions with Mike-Mike in the gym, and that's been a huge mental boost for him."

Scully said Perez has a crowd-pleasing style since the shorter Perez loves to "brawl and bang."

Also on the undercard is the pro debut of Reinaldo Graceski. The Puerto Rican light heavyweight has also laced up against some of the sports biggest names and biggest punchers in training, including Felix Trinidad and Edison Miranda.

"Ray is a very, very sharp puncher, especially with his right hand and his body shots," Scully said. "I'm working hard with him on maximizing his power, but he's already a sharp hitter."

Read my Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez preview at The Boxing Bulletin.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Back on the Grind

Fight fans,

Allow me to extend my apologies for the lack of content on Pugilism 101. My account was apparently phished, disallowing me to publish my posts up to this point. It's great to be back on here, sharing my thoughts on the sweet science with you.

I'd like to thank those who frequently checked in for new posts, those who asked when the blog will be updated and those who kindly hassled me to find a remedy for the problem.

To Andrew, Lee and everybody at The Boxing Bulletin: Thanks for maintaining interest in my writing and allowing me to contribute. I look forward to working with you in the future.

There were so many riveting stories in the boxing world during my sabbatical. I had commented on many of them, and I'm sorry my opinions weren't available to be shared on here. I'm not going to play catch up, though. I'm just going to jump in as if I never left you.

Again, thank you for your support.


Joseph R. Holzer

R.I.P. Jennifer Carolina Vieira: It's a shame the mainstream media have covered Edwin Valero's horrifying act of violence and subsequent suicide in such volume. I don't think it's fair to Vieira and her family, and I don't think it's fair to boxing.

Where is the coverage (outside of boxing-specific Web sites and pages) of the humanitarian efforts of Andre Berto and Tomasz Adamek? How is the charity of Valero's fellow Venezuelan and newly crowned middleweight champion, Sergio Martinez, being overlooked by sports news outlets?

The sport shouldn't be condemned for one boxer's evils. The sport should be celebrated for the affiliated people who stand for what is right. The media should know better. Vilifying Valero without praising the aforementioned only puts a stigma on boxing.

Awareness is only benefit of the coverage of Vieira's murder. Maybe abused women will be enlightened and learn to leave once the first fist strikes their faces. Unfortunately, there are men in the world like Valero. Proportionately, there are less men like Valero in the sweet science.

Predictions: There are some decent televised bouts this weekend. Cristobal Arreola will face former cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek in a heavyweight main event on an HBO Boxing After Dark card beginning at 11:15 p.m. ET.

This is a no-win situation for Arreola. If he wins, he will have beaten a much smaller man. If he loses, his status as a contender takes a severe hit. Adamek, in my opinion, is the most underrated fighter in the sport. That said, I don't think he'll be able to absorb the power of the bigger Arreola. Adamek is tough as nails, but I see him on the canvas by the sixth. I'm not saying he won't beat a 10-count; he's too durable. I envision a ninth-round stoppage in favor of The Nightmare, Arreola.

On the undercard, Alfredo Angulo takes on Joel Julio in a junior middleweight showdown between power punchers. This will be a firefight through five. Then Julio will go down.

The Super Six World Boxing Classic continues with a Group Stage Two battle between Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET.

In the super middleweight tournament, Froch is currently tied for second (Andre Ward, Andre Dirrell) with 2 points after defeating Dirrell in Group Stage 1. Kessler is coming off his second career defeat at the hands of Ward in the first stage.

I picked Froch to win the Super Six from the get-go. He wasn't entirely impressive in his first bout, but he's still a force. Kessler is the more polished boxer, but I think Froch's will more than makes up for the difference in skill. Froch can brawl and has a speed advantage. Kessler isn't mentally tough enough to deal with Froch's onslaught. Froch wins a majority decision on enemy territory.

Jose Aldo puts his featherweight championship on the line against Urijah Faber in WEC 48 on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET. This should be a mixed martial arts war of epic proportions.

Both unorthodox and explosive, don't expect a cat-and-mouse game. It's Aldo's superior striking against Faber's extreme conditioning. Faber will recapture the title by decision in a 5-round classic.

On the undercard, Donald Cerrone will attempt to avenge his loss to Ben Henderson. He'll achieve his goal by submission, forcing a rubber match. These two are made for each other.

It's great to be back.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Weighing In - July 2009: The Cruiserweights

Seven months after losing it, Steve "U.S.S." Cunningham set sail on a tour to regain the IBF title. His first assignment: successfully withstand the barrage of the hard-hitting Wayne "Big Truck" Braithwaite in Sunrise, Fla., on July 11.

Mission accomplished.

Throughout the course of the 12-round title eliminator, the 6-foot-3 Cunningham was content on trading with the diminutive Braithwaite on the inside, most times landing cleaner punches at a higher frequency. All three judges had Cunningham winning by a wide margin: 119-109, 117-111 and 118-110.

"I wanted to rough him up a bit, just give him different looks," Cunningham said of his willingness to mix it up with a dangerous opponent.

One win closer? Check.

It was Cunningham's first bout with Naazim Richardson as his trainer. Richardson -- who also trains Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley, among others -- gained recognition in January for discovering a foreign substance in Antonio Margarito's hand wraps minutes prior to entering the ring against Mosley. His keen eye led to a one-year ban for Margarito.

New trainer? Check.

Next on the U.S.S. log is reclaiming what Cunningham (22-2, 11 KOs) feels is rightfully his: the IBF belt, along with the then-vacant RING cruiserweight championship Adamek won in their epic December slugfest.

"I feel like a champion," Cunningham, 33, said. "A champion without a belt right now. I'm looking for my belt, and I found it. I know where it's at, so I'm going to go get it."

Following his win, he might not have to look far. Barring interference from fellow-Philadelphia fighter Hopkins, Cunningham and Adamek are on another collision course.

Also on July 11 but in Newark, N.J., Adamek packed too much ammunition for Bobby Gunn. Referee Earl Brown and a ringside doctor called a halt to the bout after the fourth round. It was Adamek's second win in as many fights since defeating Cunningham.

Though separated by more than 1,200 miles, Adamek and Cunningham were linked by I-95 and a memory of their first meeting.

Adamek (38-1, 26 KOs) floored Cunningham three times in December. Still, Cunningham's resolve and relentless will were enough to impress judge Clark Sammartino to score it for him 114-112. At 115-112 and 116-110, respectively, Shafeeq Rashada and John Stewart favored Adamek, a testament to how closely the two competed considering up to three extra points could have been deducted from Cunningham's scorecards due to the knockdowns.

It's no wonder why Cunningham is vocal about a rematch and deserving of such.

"I'm the No. 1 mandatory and hope to get (a rematch) sometime in '09," he said.

Not only is Cunningham not looking past Adamek, he also isn't seeing anything else in his scope. Adamek is the only blip on his radar.

A move to heavyweight doesn't entice Cunningham, either. In a fairly deep weight class with a lack of household names, he wants to be the face of the cruiserweight division. Evening the score with Adamek on a stage set by HBO or Showtime is the first step, as well as one toward closure.

"After Adamek, I'm going to get them belts," Cunningham said. "Then it's the whole cruiserweight division. (In beating Braithwaite) I wanted to send a message, let them know that I'm still the man in the cruiserweight division. Man up."

And the U.S.S. Cunningham won't dock until the mission is accomplished.

Top 10 at 200:

1. Tomasz Adamek (38-1, 26 KOs): The RING champion is a beast. He's deceiving to both opponents and fans. He has pure skill, a good chin and throws smart combinations. He rarely throws one punch at a time.

2. Steve Cunningham (22-2, 11 KOs): A rematch with Adamek makes so much sense that fans are worried it won't happen. When you throw the IBF in the mix, you never know what to expect.

3. Guillermo Jones (36-3-2, 28 KOs): El Felino has a solid resume to match his record. One of his three losses was by split decision to Cunningham in April 2005. He stopped Braithwaite in four and Arslan in 10.

4. Marco Huck (25-1, 20 KOs): Another victim of the sea-faring Cunningham, Kapt'n takes on Victor Ramirez on August 29. Huck fights almost exclusively in Germany, which makes fans weary of record.

5. Giacobbe Fragomeni (26-1-1, 10 KOs): Fragomeni has plenty going against him: He's 39, 5 feet 9 inches and has little power. Nobody told that to Wlodarczyk, who the fiesty Italian fought to a draw in May.

6. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (41-2-1, 31 KOs): Diablo had Frago down in the ninth but couldn't put him away. He also owns an erroneous split decision win over Cunningham, which was later avenged.

7. Firat Arslan (29-4-1, 18 KOs): The southpaw has wins over Darnell "Ding-a-Ling Man" Wilson and Wilson-stopper Grigory Drozd. Alas, he's another German-based fighter who has rarely fought outside of his homeland.

8. Matt Godfrey (19-1, 10 KOs): Too Smooth put on a clinic against Shawn Hawk on July 10, fighting in the southpaw stance the entire bout. He owns quality wins over Emmanuel Nwodo, Felix Cora Jr. and Danny Batchelder.

9. Ola Afolabi (14-1-3, 6 KOs):
Kryptonite's knockout of Enzo Maccarinelli proved this Brit can bang a bit. He's recently been winning with ease, but needs better opposition to show fans how skillful he is.

10. Troy Ross (22-1, 15): In his first fight since winning The Contender, The Boss took an easy but terribly boring decision from Michael Simms. The Canadian is definitely talented. He just needs to be entertaining.

Notably absent: Hino Ehikhamenor (KO loss to Ross), Darnell Wilson (KO loss to Drozd), Jean-Marc Mormeck (KO loss to David Haye) and O'Neil Bell (what else is new?)

The Sweet Science lab is now closed.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Battle of Bantamweight Beasts

Predictions for Joseph Agbeko vs. Vic Darchinyan are posted on The Boxing Bulletin.

Add a comment or post your own prediction.

Also, more tragic news. R.I.P. Arturo Gatti.