Fightwatchers had been through a pretty rough time, almost having to go cold turkey in recent weeks. The fare was meager. But Saturday night, we got our dose, and then some.
The Puerto Rican vs Mexican/Youth vs Age battle pitting Juan Manuel Lopez versus Rafaael Marquez didnt disappoint. JuanMa, as is typical, helped make the fight exciting with both his offense, and his defense. His punishment, and the rigors of aging, took him to the win, with Rafa having to go out on his stool, instead of his shield, with an injured wing.
The Fighter of the Night, to many, was Glen Johnson, who looked fresh, fit and fast at 168 pounds, after spending a decade at 175 pounds. At age 41, he is a credit to a superior gene pool, and a clean-living lifestyle. It is mind boggling to know that unlike fellow oldster Bernard Hopkins, who more so confounds kids with ring generalship, Johnson does it with volume and a better work rate. Truly an inspiration for anyone looking to turn back the clock…
And then theres Zab Judah. All are happy that Judah, now 33 years old, seemingly has seen the light, and embraced religion, which seems to have given him a needed focus and serenity. But in the ring, well, that transformation hasnt really taken. Lucas Matthysse, his foe on Saturday, deserves much credit for being a fine pugilist. Read some of the takes on Judah from readers below to better understand what keeps Zab from performing up to his capability. As is typical, we got a solid batch of comments from the best and brightest on the web, the insightful and articulate inhabitants of TSS Universe.
RED: Judging by the numbers, JuanMa dominated Marquez, but true to form, he showed how his vulnerability will keep any solid fighter in the game against him. JuanMas chin has proven to be soft (or at least softer) multiple times. Yet, he still goes for the money punch while leaving his guard open for counters. He counts on his power to end the fight and imposes that power through the raw motion of just dropping bombs looking for his opponents head. No body punching, very little jab set up. Felix Trinidad used to do that. Then, a guy by the name of Hopkins took the bomb away and had his way with him. JuanMa will have to adjust. However, his power is undisputed and if hes able to establish it, even he doesnt blast his opponent in one shot, the punishment hell inflict will catch up. I will say this,…If Rafa Marquez indeed had an injured shoulder BEFORE the fight, he was irresponsible in getting in the ring. That was not fair to him, to JuanMa and certainly not the fans. Hopefully, theyll face each other again next year, although judging by Arums comments, he already has JuanMas proximate future planned out for him.
Mortcola: Zab was in great shape. But he is Zab, and always will be. Fine athleticism and technique, good power and defense, but absolutely no ability to establish or maintain a battle plan, no ability to go out and take the W. So much self-doubt, which turns him into a fighter who postures and then mostly reacts to what the other guy does. Matthysse lost his opportunity by being a plodder, following Zab around. But he still could have taken the decision with different judges. Zab just, as usual, didnt earn it, even if he wins respect again for hanging in while a hungrier fighter tries to take his head off.
Amay@Mort: You dont think Zab won this fight? What did Lucas do the first eight rounds? Nothing. He couldnt land anything, Zab out boxed him handily those rounds, tight defense, controlled distance, used his jab, occasional left hand down the middle, a left uppercut at times. Lucas could not get to Zab and threw hard at the body but Zab was not there or caught most of those on his gloves or elbow. Lucas came on strong at the end but in the end mathematics was in Zabs favor. I think Zab gives Alexander some fits, probably out-boxes him, not sure about Bradley though. And if Zab can get to Khan he knocks him out, but Khan is fast and tall. Lucas did not do enough to win this fight, point blank.
Mortcola@Amay: Its not a robbery in either direction. Judahs skill kept him in the fight. Close fight, which, for me, revealed a lot that is wrong with each guy. Matthysse has lousy footwork, for one thing. And Judah has a lousy trainer, at least as far as tactics, strategy, motivation, and corner advice are concerned. He has always fought like a boy because his Daddy remains the Man, and Zab just seems scared to fail. Which makes him fail. Irony.
Real Talk: Good Fight from Juan Ma and Rafa but if Tony Weeks didnt jump in to take a point JuanMa probably wouldve been seeing stars looking up at the lights. Hes got power but he walks into some mean shots and its a matter of time before he gets KOd. Bob Arum better hurry up and make what ever fight he wants to make happen with this kid. Seems to me like hes regressing, becoming too dependent on his power. Caballero would eat him for breakfast. No way Bob Arum puts him in the ring with him. Gamboa maybe, but not Juan Ma. Love to see Glenn Johnson get what was his and leave it out of the hands of the judges. Hes going to be a tough fight for anybody in the tournament, and Im sure the last thing they wanted to see happen was him advance. I got him beating King Arthur, matter of fact he can beat anybody in the tournament with the pressure and power. Zab got a blessing from the judges, he really needs to start working on leading with the left and then the right hook sometimes to change the gameplan. Looking forward to the rest of the year of boxing.
Green the Hyena looks the part of a tough boxer but he isnt squat. He kept giving up the side and back of his head by bending low. It wasnt as though Johnson were stepping to his side or behind to deliver rabbit punches. Anybody would have and should have thrown the punches that Johnson threw. Like he said it wasnt personal it was just business. Johnson may wish his friend could advance but Im sure none of us do. Green did nothing to earn anything in this tournament. He has suffered two beatings…and is worthy of nothing. Adios. The Marquez/Lopez fight was very riveting. Lopez seemed to me to be the dominant fighter, although Marquez had his moments. Marquez seemed to be bending over too much at the waist, but Lopez was pushing his head down. Marquez took a beating although you never know when he is going to score with a nice punch or combination when he was hurt. I agree with Antonio Tarver, if Lopez had of invested in some body work he probably would have gotten Marquez out of there. Those hard headed fighters seem to go from body shots. Marquez showed an ability to hurt Lopez but Lopez was a game fighter. It was a great fight. I feel Lopez should move on to other fights now. He is not at a point in his career where he should fight a rematch. There are other more compelling fights for him right now.
Mortcola: Lopez is for real. Still immature in some ways, but what a beautiful puncher! But, by the third I was asking, where is Marquez right hand? Lopez wasnt doing anything to neutralize it, but it wasnt coming. Still, Marquez had him badly hurt, but Weeks took away the flow by choosing that moment to address the lower-priority holding-head-and-hitting, possibly saving Lopez from a KO. Then we find Marquez fought mostly one-handed, and was able to do real damage. Marquez has taken too many shots for my liking, but if they have a rematch and Marquez hasnt aged overnight, I see a two-handed Marquez winning another war if they have a rematch, because Lopez, brave as he is, goes cross-eyed when hit solidly, and RM has the track record of hanging in during the trench warfare.
In Touch: Could not be more happy for Johnson. The man deserves everything he gets. Somebody on this site had made a comment to contradict a thought I shared: My thought was that Johnson would probably beat Green based on the fact that he dominated their sparring on a regular basis. Somebody on the site (dont mean to be ignorant as to who is was, but it was a while ago) said, sparring is not an indication of how the fight will go. I disagreed then and still disagree now. It usually is a good sign. If one fighter has the upper hand over another fighter in a gym on a repeated basis, he has figured out the style to beat him. It is a fact. And sure enough that was proved last night by Johnson.
BrownSugar : What an incredible night of boxing. Im still soaking in the ambient violence left behind in their wake. Fight of The Year bar none. Not many fighters are gifted to truly enjoy what they do like JaunMa..the kid truly lives to perform for his people, I bet hed fight for free. You could tell the end was near when the eighth round resembled the Penalosa fight. But Marquez lived up to the advertisement, he can still hold his head high, stick his chest out and walk tall in the knowledge that hes still a beast (although one whose lost a fang or a claw along the way). Congrats to Green for being in an entertaining fight. If Green could have stayed mobile he could have beaten Johnson like Dawson did in their second fight but Johnson marshaled his remaining strength to attack in bursts whenever Green slowed down. Johnsons legs looked stiff as stilts hardly no give at the knees but he didnt let a little thing like that stop him. Bute didnt seem threatened at ringside. And Zab got a gift. 2 out 3 good fights aint half bad on a Saturday nite…is it now?
FeRoz : Always ready to go all out, come what may, is Juanma beginning to remind any else here of the Ferocious One…. Fernando Vargas? I mean this guy loves to fight, has awesome firepower and alway seems to get clocked. I want to add a few words about his resiliency. It has been great so far but Rogers Mtagwa can barely punch straight on a good day and when he had JML out on his feet he just needed to tap him…but he couldnt. Last night, Rafa had him out again but between Weeks and the fact that Rafa was fighting over his natural weight for the first time, it makes me question whether that Rafa was throwing with the power he normally carries into the ring. In other words, did Juanma just get hurt by a little man.
Mortcola@FeRoz: You said it, dude. Brilliant puncher, JuanMa is; defensively terrible and, sorry, the chin is china. Not the heart, which is fine. But he freezes and shimmies whenever he is hit solidly, which is usually. Rafa IS too small…but still might win a rematch. He fought like a one-handed fighter, and couldnt execute his inside counterpunching game, with his usual accuracy. Weeks and the shoulder won JuanMa that fight. With JuanMas offensive gifts, hell have a fine time of many of his fights – he is even better offensively than Vargas – but the chin and defense will place him on the losing side of some dramatic KOs before long.