It was all about middleweights and welterweights last weekend. It’s heavyweights this coming week with Wladimir Klitschko coming to NYC.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. got a lot of heat for taking the fight against Andrzej Fonfara and subsequently losing by knockout on his stool. It was a challenge he wanted to take before possibly meeting Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.
The son of Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. took it and lost against light heavyweight contender Fonfara. There’s no disgrace in trying. It’s only disgraceful when hiding from challenges in boxing. Chavez did not hide, he took the challenge and simply fell short. Now what’s next?
Chavez needs to drop down to super middleweight where he has a fighting chance. Light heavyweights are simply too big and strong for the 29-year-old. Even the super middleweights may be a little too strong but it remains to be seen.
Fonfara looked and fought like a light heavyweight contender. The tall Polish prizefighter was efficient and composed in his win before an overwhelmingly large pro-Chavez crowd at StubHub Center last Saturday. There were nearly 8,000 fans mostly wearing the traditional red Chavez headbands. The crowd got angry at the stoppage and tossed water bottles and other refuse toward the ring.
Younger brother Omar Chavez defeated Colombia’s Richar Gutierrez and managed to defeat the former contender. It was a good win for Omar, who had not fought on American soil since 2009. It gave fans here a chance to see his progress. Last year he lost to Ramon Alvarez, the older brother of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in Chiapas, Mexico. It was a good solid win for Omar Chavez in the junior middleweight division.
Amir Imam looked pretty sharp in his outing against Walter Castillo of Nicaragua who was a talented fighter. Imam was able to use his long left jab and counter right with deadly accuracy. Imam has good footwork and was able to stay away from Castillo. But when Florida’s Imam wanted to attack, he was frightfully effective. Had Imam started earlier on attack it might have ended before the 10th and final round.
Imam wants a crack at Terence Crawford and that’s a fight I would like to see. He’s got ultra-confidence and despite only 17 pro fights feels ready for a world title now. He can crack, has speed and good defense. Crawford has all that too and seems taller, but Imam can compete.
Crawford captured the vacant WBO junior welterweight world title with a sixth round technical knockout of Puerto Rico’s Thomas Dulorme in Arlington, Texas while Imam was winning in Carson, California. Somebody has to connect them.
The tall, ambidextrous Nebraskan would have an interesting fight should he face Florida’s Imam. Crawford was able to chop down the taller Dulorme but can he compete with the speedy blows of Imam, who can box or bang.
Murat Gassiev was expected to run over Felix Cora Jr. but the Texan stood his ground and gave the Russian fighter all the rounds he needed. You could see Gassiev seemed pleased by Cora’s effort. In his previous fight in Montebello, Calif. his opponent clutched and hug for four horrible rounds. Finally, the referee saw enough and stopped the fight. Not this time. Cora used every trick in his veteran’s playbook to pull out a win. It was a gutsy effort by a gutsy fighter and ended with a Gassiev knockout in the ninth round.
Daniel Jacobs may not be the true WBA middleweight titlist but he’s still worth watching as he battles Caleb Truax in Chicago. Spike will show the middleweight showdown on Friday and a number of other prizefighters signed with Al Haymon. The match that looks compelling is Anthony Dirrell facing Badou Jack for the WBA super middleweight title that rightfully belongs to Andre Ward. But that's another story. Still, Dirrell looks good and Jack needs a win to stay relevant in the 168-pound division. This can be a shootout.
Roberto Garcia is scheduled to fight James Stevenson but who knows. He didn’t make the weight in his last fight that was supposed to take place in Ontario, California. Garcia usually performs well when he’s in the boxing ring, but weight issues may be his future.
Lightweight prospect Jose “Gato” Roman headlines the Thompson Boxing Promotion card when he faces Martin Cardona on Friday, April 24, at the Ontario Doubletree Hotel. Also on the same card will be heavyweight LaRon Mitchell clashing with Sylvester Barron.
Thompson Boxing has occasionally looked for a heavyweight and maybe this time they finally have one. Mitchell is a southpaw from the Bay Area and has knockouts in all of his wins. Heavyweights are a crap shoot. At one time the Orange County promoters had a shot at Chris Arreola and passed on him. That was a mistake. Now they hope they have a future contender. But they need to hurry up with Mitchell who’s already 34 years old.
Klitschko in NYC
Wladimir Klitschko may be the most unknown heavyweight world champion in the history of the sport in the U.S. Until the Klitschko brothers took over all of the belts, most Americans knew who held the heavyweight championship.
In Europe, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko are well known but ask someone in Los Angeles or any small American town and you will get a lot of puzzled looks. The world knows Mike Tyson or even Evander Holyfield, but the Klitschko brothers have fallen under the radar.
The reason is simple: neither brother has fought on American soil since 2009. Most of their fights have taken place in Germany. The last time any Klitschko fought in the U.S. was at the same arena and against Sultan Ibragimov, a slow fight which ended in a win by decision for Wlad.
Klitschko may be entering the twilight of his career. Now 39, he faces American heavyweight Bryant Jennings on Saturday April 25, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“I am really excited to be back in the States. I’ve been fighting – champion of the world means to fight in different countries, in different cities, which I have accomplished in the past years. I’ve been fighting in Berlin, Switzerland. I’ve been fighting in Moscow, Russia. I’ve been fighting in many German cities. It’s always exciting to be back in the States and to be back at The Garden,” said Klitschko.
A heavyweight world title fight at the Garden? Now that has a familiar tone.
“So I’m prepared for Bryant Jennings. I’m not going to underestimate him by no means. I’m not going to overestimate him by no means because as I said, we’re all limited, including myself. So we just can fight in the way we can fight and I think that it’s going to be an exciting fight,” Klitschko said.
Jennings was very respectful about the champion.
“Well, you know, the challenges that he brings, first of all, being a boxer, period, comes with a lot of challenges, especially being a heavyweight. We’re challenged because one punch from a heavyweight has the power to pretty much put just about any man down, so I’m aware of that. Plus, I’m aware of the specimen in Wladimir. He’s a very dedicated individual. He’s always been. He appears to live the clean life and he’s a 100% athlete,” Jennings said.
Photo credit : Rachel McCarson
Follow David A. Avila on Twitter: