Morilla’s Spit Bucket – 2018 Opens Strong, Tainted Fistic Feats and More

The Spit Bucket is your weekly source of random thoughts, opinions and comments about the Manly Art, compiled by TSS boxing writer Diego Morilla. Make your suggestions and comments and dare to give us your own short commentary on this week’s boxing issues by sending us an email at diegomorillabox@hotmail.com

2018 Starts with a Bang

The year that is about to end has produced some great fights in every division, and with a breathtaking pace. It has been a banner year for boxing in every aspect, with most of the matchups living up to their lofty expectations, new records being broken, new stars emerging and much more.

And so far, 2018 is set to give its predecessor a run for its money. Especially in the welterweight division, which has given us great fights but only in isolated spurts, with most of the big players at 147 fighting only once during the year.

Things will definitely change in 2018, when the year will start with a solid crossroads fight between young gun Errol Spence Jr. taking on Lamont Peterson on January 20th, and then a great make-or-break fight for perennial welterweight contender and former interim titlist Lucas Matthysse (pictured on the left against Vivien Harris) taking on the unbeaten Tewa Kiram for a world title on January 27th.

The Matthysse-Kiram bout may look like a tailor-made graduation night for the Argentine fighter, who is yet to win a proper world title despite being a top player in the division for several years. But a quick look at Kiram’s videos shows us a very poised, controlled, powerful and skilled Thai fighter, who in spite of having almost never traveled outside of his country is nevertheless a very solid fighter who could give Matthysse a terrific challenge if he manages to work patiently behind his superb jab and start connecting with power early in the fight.

Both fighters will be aiming for a historic achievement of their own in this fight. For Matthysse, it is the culmination of a lifetime in boxing that includes his entire family, including his mother and father, as well as brothers, sisters, in-laws and even nephews who stand to gain a huge measure of pride and sense of collective achievement if “The Machine” finally nails the elusive title belt. And for Kiram, a rather big fighter in a country that has not produced any notable fighters above the featherweight level, the chance of becoming Thailand’s first-ever welterweight titlist will put him on the same level as other fellow champs in a country that is suddenly exploding with talent.

And that’s just January in the 147-pound division for you. Checking out the boxing schedule every week and setting aside time to check out the big fights would be a great idea in 2018. – Diego M. Morilla

Manuel Charr’s Underwhelming Achievement

A Yahoo! Sports affiliate in Germany recently carried this headline: “Charr ends Germany’s 85-year wait for a world heavyweight champion.” My goodness, one would think there was dancing in the streets of Berlin as happened in Chicago when the Cubs won the 2016 World Series.

Manuel Charr, who won the WBA “regular” heavyweight title last Saturday with a well-earned decision over 40-year-old Alexander Ustinov, deserves a lot of credit for overcoming a great deal of adversity, but hardly deserves to be put on the same pedestal as the venerated Max Schmeling who split two fights with a prime Joe Louis, notwithstanding the fact that Schmeling was massacred in their second meeting.

If Charr is able to successfully defend his newly-won title twice, he will pass Schmeling who had only one successful defense. The first part ought to be easy. The WBA sanctioned Charr-Ustinov for their regular title with the proviso that the winner would fight Fres Oquendo next. Oquendo, 37-8, is 44 years old and hasn’t fought in more than three years. – Arne K. Lang

Menayothin Redefines the Absence of Value in the Number Zero

Thailand’s Wanheng Menayothin, born Chayaphon Moonsri, successfully defended his WBC world minimumweight title last weekend with a 12-round decision over his obscure Japanese opponent. In the process, Menayothin advanced to 49-0, matching Rocky Marciano’s once deified benchmark. But records in boxing are often very deceiving and we still don’t know how good he is.

As TSS contributor Ted Sares noted in a story that ran a year ago, Menayothin had found the perfect formula for challenging Marciano’s mark, interspersing world title defenses with easy tune-up fights. He’s yet to fight outside Thailand and has won only 17 of his fights by stoppage.

The view from here is that Menayothin needs to take his act on the road and dominate at least one top-tier opponent at a hostile venue to merit consideration for the Boxing Hall of Fame. He’s 32 years old which is considered young for a heavyweight but old for a person in his weight class. – Arne K. Lang

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