Stevenson vs. Fonfara

Boc09TGCQAAeJ4t.0_standard_730.0Even Superman had a rough battle or two but in the end he always came out on top.

In a tougher and more entertaining bout than expected Adonis “Superman” Stevenson (24-1, 21KO) defended the lineal light heavyweight championship by a unanimous decision against the underrated Andrzej Fonfara (25-3, 15KO). Stevenson survived a late rally by Fonfara by using his underrated skills and heart.

The fight, deemed a mismatch by most experts, seemed to unfold this way when Stevenson knocked down Fonfara with a powerful left-hand in the first round.

Stevenson continued his early success by mixing his offense up and downstairs and putting Fonfara on the defensive as the Chicago-based Pole was hesitant to attack. A second knockdown in the fifth round by Stevenson after a left-hand to Fonfara’s stomach showed the power of the Haitian-Canadian as the champion continued to punish his opponent with debilitating power shots to the head and body.

Fonfara showed his grit by surviving the early onslaught from Stevenson and began to get back into the fight after the second knockdown. The Pole stepped up the pressure and by the end of round eight Fonfara reestablished himself with right hands and left hooks.

In the early moments of round nine Fonfara landed a series of blows punctuated by a right hand which floored Stevenson. The challenger pressed his advantage but Stevenson managed to clinch and move away enough to survive the round although he suffered a bleeding nose from Fonfara’s attack.

Showing the heart of a champ, Stevenson rallied in rounds 10-11 by outworking Fonfara and attacking his body. The final round saw both fighters land good combinations and the momentum switched periodically. A hard right and left by Fonfara followed by a punch after the bell ended the bout.

Stevenson won by scores of 115-110 (twice) and 116-109 but Fonfara won fans both in Montreal and throughout the world by showing determination and skills on the world stage.

The difficulty of this bout will cause critics to question Stevenson in potential bouts with the ageless Bernard Hopkins and rising star Sergey Kovalev. If Stevenson fights the way he fought on Saturday against Hopkins, he’ll lose the fight. Hopkins is a crafty veteran who is extremely effective against aggressive but defensively lacking fighters.

Stevenson will need to tighten up his defense no matter who he fights against but especially a powerful puncher like Kovalev.

Fonfara gained respect and admiration from the boxing community for his spirited effort and his refusal to settle for a ‘moral’ victory. He showed that he is a top contender for any title in the division. This will not be the last we see of him.

Perhaps even for Stevenson.

Mayweather Wins But Loses Aura of Invincibility

c161ce174e7f9c0865bb70442451cc04_crop_northThe simplicity of boxing allows grand narratives to be drawn quickly. When a fight is announced, there is usually a clear ‘good’ guy and ‘bad’ guy to root for and against.

Fans are eager to label fighters with various verbal ticks such as ‘quitter’, ‘warrior’, and even ‘god’. Most of these labels are overly simplistic and largely untrue. Whether you love him or hate him it cannot be disputed that Floyd Mayweather has managed to conjure some of the most polarizing labels for himself more than any other pugilist of his generation not named Pacquiao.

Like the Roy Jones Jr. fanboys of the 90’s, fans of Mayweather will not hesitate to call him “The Greatest of All Time” or “Unbeatable”. On the opposite side of the scale, others call him such creative names like “Gayweather” and a ‘coward’.

Marcos Maidana (35-4, 31KO) would prove both generalizations wrong.

The Argentine quickly applied the same strategy he used to defeat Mayweather-look-alike Adrien Broner by making the bout a rough brawl which normally makes well-taught boxers like Mayweather (46-0, 26KO) uncomfortable.

The strategy paid off in the first half of the bout as Maidana landed the kind of wild, odd angled shots that boxing fans are not used to seeing land on Mayweather. To his credit, Mayweather kept his cool in the face of a determined challenger and landed nice body shots as well as began to establish his best and favorite weapon; the straight right hand.

A headbutt in the fourth round opened a cut above Mayweather’s eye further adding to the excitement of the fight as it became apparent that this was not going to be a typical Mayweather shutout.

Mayweather began to settle into a bit of a groove by the sixth round. He landed his signature pot-shots and quick combinations which displayed not only his tremendous speed but also his ability to adjust to an opponents tactics. A low blow by Maidana in the eighth round momentarily delayed the action but the illegal blow did not seem to faze Mayweather as he continued to use his defensive prowess to avoid the majority of Maidana’s offense and counter his attack.

When the final bell rang, both fighters celebrated. It had been a long time since a Mayweather opponent actually had enough confidence after the fight to believe he had won.

The judges did not see it exactly that way. With scores of 114-114, 117-111, and 116-112 Mayweather retained his title and earned Maidana’s WBA welterweight title. Maidana fans or more likely Mayweather haters may say that Maidana deserved the nod but when you consider who landed the cleaner shots Mayweather’s accuracy comes to play.

Maidana did make it a tough fight for Mayweather by using rough tactics to discomfort Mayweather but it needs to be noted that only certain punches can actually be counted. Illegal blows such as ones behind the head, low blows, and elbows are not officially counted by judges. At least they are not suppose to. So although Maidana’s strategy may have been somewhat successful it could not always be counted due to the various rough-house tactics he used to get to Mayweather.

With this victory, Mayweather has added a rare exciting, competitive fight to his resume. However, with the initial effectiveness of Maidana’s attack the boxing community is reminded of a simple fact. Mayweather is just another fighter. He may be one of the best of his generation and some would argue one of the best ever but he is just another human being. He is neither god nor coward. Mayweather supporters would have everyone believe that their fighter is invincible but there is no such thing. It is an interesting and romantic concept but it does not exist.

Not even for Mayweather.