THREE PUNCH COMBO: Heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz announced last week he was signing with Al Haymon. Previously, Ortiz had been working on a fight by fight deal with England’s Eddie Hearn. The signing with Haymon should open some interesting doors for the feared Ortiz.
Look for Haymon to keep Ortiz active and move him quickly toward a date with Deontay Wilder. Why would Haymon pit his two top heavyweights against each other so soon? I think Haymon understands the importance and value of having the heavyweight champ. I also think Haymon has taken notice of some of Wilder’s recent performances and does not feel he’d stack up well against the likes of, say, Anthony Joshua. Haymon wants the heavyweight champ and feels Ortiz has a better chance of beating Joshua than does Wilder. That is why Haymon will be eager to match Ortiz and Wilder later this year. I expect after the fight with Derric Rossy we see Ortiz fight on a Wilder card this summer against someone like Gerald Washington. This would then set up an Ortiz-Wilder showdown.
Miguel Cotto also made news this week with his team announcing plans to go forward with a June 24th date. The date is significant when thinking about the type of opponent Cotto will face. Remember, the week before is the rumored pay-per-view rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev. So unlike the proposed bout with James Kirkland, pay-per-view likely is not an option for Cotto on June 24th as HBO will likely rebroadcast the Ward-Kovalev rematch on that date.
One name to keep in mind is someone I have mentioned before as a potential Cotto opponent and that is Yoshihiro Kamegai. Kamegai will not have the financial demands of, say, a Brandon Rios and stylistically makes perfect sense for Cotto as he is a come forward brawler with a very suspect defense. Cotto certainly does not want an opponent who is slick like Austin Trout; he much prefers a fighter that will be aggressive but with limitations such as Kamegai who is not a huge puncher and is coming off an HBO win last September against Jesus Soto Karass. It just makes too much sense not to happen and gives Cotto the perfect opportunity to shine leading into one last big fight at the end of the year.
Under the Radar Fights
This is a busy week with many shows on the schedule. On Tuesday, prospect Omar Douglas takes on veteran Edner Cherry in a classic crossroads tilt. On Saturday, HBO is televising an interesting light heavyweight contest between Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Yunieski Gonzalez. It is the opening bout on the card that features Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk in separate bouts.
The Douglas-Cherry fight is a good example of excellent matchmaking. The fighters are evenly matched and both badly in need of a win. Douglas lost for the first time his last time out in dropping a hard fought decision to Javier Fortuna. Cherry is craving one more crack at a title shot following his controversial loss by split decision to Jose Pedraza for the IBF super featherweight championship in 2015. Stylistically, Douglas is quicker and busier but Cherry possesses the better timing as well as power. It could be one of those fights with many close competitive rounds in which little separate the two combatants.
Gvozdyk is a former Ukrainian amateur star and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist. However, he has not received quite the hype of some other Eastern European prospects. He is a well-schooled, heavy handed fighter and coming off his best professional win against veteran Isaac Chilemba. Gvozdyk showed good subtle skills in that performance, dominating a fighter that many others did not look so good against.
In facing Gonzalez, Gvozdyk is taking a step up in class. Gonzalez is an aggressive fighter who will bring the fight to him. That should produce plenty of action and may bring out the best in Gvozdyk. And as we saw with Gonzalez’s performance against Jean Pascal in 2015, he should not be taken lightly either. Expect to see a test for the prospect Gvozdyk in a fun, fan-friendly fight on Saturday.
Remembering a Curious Decision
Boxing history is full of strange and controversial decisions. But none may be stranger than what was seen in the August 8, 2000 bout between Vivian Harris and Ivan Robinson in Atlantic City, New Jersey. All three judges turned in cards in favor of Harris who largely controlled the fight. However, due to a modification in the scoring system, the bout was officially declared a draw.
In the wake of the outcry following the controversial draw between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield in 1999, some boxing commissions began toying around with making modifications to the traditional 10- point must system. One such idea that gained momentum was the so called consensus scoring system. As far as I can tell, New Jersey was the only major commission to actually adopt it although the idea was kicked around by others.
The way the system works is simple. If judge A scored round 1 for Harris, judge B for Robinson and judge C for Harris then Harris would be awarded the round 10-9 on the master score sheet. The main argument for instituting such a system was that if it had been used in the Lewis-Holyfield fight, Lewis would have won the bout 115-113.
In basic theory, such a scoring system makes some sense. If two judges see the round for fighter A and the third for fighter B, then fighter A seems logically to have won the round. In practice though, the system has faults as seen in the scoring of Harris-Robinson. The official master sheet had Harris winning six rounds and Robinson four. There was a 10-8 round in favor of Robinson in round three and Harris was deducted a point for spitting out his mouthpiece in round 8. Thus on the master sheet, the bout was a 94-94 draw despite all three judges actual cards having Harris the winner.
In wake of the decision, New Jersey would move back to the traditional 10- point must system. Though the decision in Harris-Robinson did not have the outcry of Lewis-Holyfield I, it did leave many in the sport scratching their heads. It also put to rest the idea of the consensus scoring system in boxing.
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