Styles Make Fights…Yet Not Always Fighters

By Marc Livitz on December 30, 2017
Styles Make Fights…Yet Not Always Fighters
Fury was built like the garbage man. Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko were not.

“Fight of the Year” does not a “Fighter of the Year” make. Let’s discuss just a few points on the matter…

Time is quickly ticking away from 2017. What a year it was for the sport of boxing. For starters, we were able to see an all-action middleweight showdown in September and we didn’t have to wait nearly a decade to see it unfold in front of us. In regards to what may have officially been deemed as 2017’s “Fight of the Year,” so many seem to forget the welterweight championship contest from last March between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia. This was a terrific fight between two undefeated competitors, yet it’s not mentioned as one of the best contests of the year.

Onward we’ll move and we’ll likely find ourselves triple-decker sandwiched between the January rematch between Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton, the April contest between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, perhaps the early September clash featuring Juan Francisco Estrada against Carlos Cuadras and the showdown between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez one week later. Call it what you will and add, subtract or amend as you choose. Whether by kitchen knife or pizza slicer, the aforementioned contests are among those listed as the best fight of 2017. Fair enough, yet a “Fight of the Year” does not a “Fighter of the Year” make. Let’s discuss just a few points on the matter.

The shortlist of the year’s best fighters across the boxing landscape have usually held the following names: Anthony Joshua, Vasyl Lomachenko, Mikey Garcia, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Terence Crawford. As previously stated, amend as you see fit. The purpose at hand is to illustrate how the best fights, so to speak, don’t always happen to take place between the best fighters.

Perhaps the greatest example is Anthony Joshua’s eleventh round knockout victory over Wladimir Klitschko this past Spring. At the time of the stoppage, Joshua was ahead on two of the three scorecards at ringside (96-93 and 95-93) and behind on the third (95-93). He and “Dr. Steelhammer” traded knockdowns in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively, and Klitschko was clearly on his last gasp in round eleven when the bout was stopped.

Wladimir had not fought since November 2015, when Tyson Fury fired away from an elevated position at a height of 6’9” to Klitschko’s 6’6”. Fury held a four-inch reach advantage as well. To just about any pair of eyes, the bout was nearly unwatchable. In any case, far too much attention is being given to Wlad’s loss to Joshua sixteen months later. Why?

Because we as fans of the sweet science aren’t regularly accustomed to seeing heavyweights fight the way they did. We’re not used to seeing two heavyweight competitors look as if they take the job completely serious, as evidenced by their respective physiques. Tyson Fury was built like the garbage man. Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko were not. Even more to the point, we’ve grown so spoiled to the action being confined to the lower weight classes that our eyes and minds can fool us into singing unbelievable praises when the big guys give us the same.

Additionally, one’s complete résumé within the year must be examined. Anthony Joshua knocked out a 41-year-old man who was beginning to show notable cracks in his armor with each passing night in the ring. With no tried and true names in his division, he could only fight who was put in front of him and let’s not forget how so many openly criticized Klitschko for the lack of talent he fought, even though that largely wasn’t his fault. His ‘jab, jab, jab, jab, hard right’ wasn’t for everyone, but it worked. It simply had an expiration date and Joshua, 27 at the time of their fight, took full advantage.

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai or Wisaksil Wangek is the same person and is rightly the WBC super flyweight champion of the world. Be honest for a moment. Who among us owns a satellite system fit to receive programs from Thailand? More to the point, who among us had truly heard of him before this past March or whenever his initial bout with Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez was announced? It’s likely that not even the crickets are raising hands. He was able to outfox and outwork Gonzalez as part of the undercard for Gennady Golovkin’s narrow decision win over Daniel Jacobs in New York.

Sor Rungvisai dropped Gonzalez in the opening round of their first contest and went on to win a majority decision. Six months later at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, his rematch with “Chocolatito” wasn’t even close. Gonzalez looked as if he’d rather have been hundreds of other places instead of the ring that night. He was knocked out in the fourth round. Do these two particular bouts warrant the slugger from Thailand into consideration for “Fighter of the Year”? We can each be our own judge of that call.

Mikey Garcia pasted Dejan Zlaticanin in the third round last January when fought on the undercard of the previously mentioned rematch between Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton. The reason why so many would like to shake his hand and buy him a beer is because of the way he undressed Adrien Broner in July. The soft-spoken fighter from Southern California made many of us smile when he made Broner eat his words as well as Mikey’s punches. He won by unanimous decision. A great sight for sure, but the best “Fighter of the Year”?

As the this writer previously wrote in an article earlier this week, only Vasyl Lomachenko or Terence Crawford possess the credentials to take home “Fighter of the Year” honors. Anthony Joshua fought magnificently against Wladimir Klitschko last April and went on to fight a moving target in Carlos Takam two months ago, a man who took the chance to fight for the heavyweight championship on less than two weeks’ notice.

Joshua’s age and ring savvy may have indeed helped him when he faced “Dr. Steelhammer,” yet for the sake of argument, imagine him fighting a 30 or even a 35-year-old Wladimir and not one who recently hit a milestone where one is given black balloons.

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  1. Andre Roussimoff 08:18am, 12/31/2017

    Kudos to Holly Holm to be able to stand in there with a real throw back! A way, way, way back throwback….Neanderthals clearly are not extinct! Holly will whip Katie Taylor’s ass to a frazzle!

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