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Quintana has to be perfect to beat Berto

04
Apr

When Carlos Quintana meets Andre Berto in Florida on HBO on April 10, he will do so as the fighter who must rely on his craft and cunning and hope that they are sufficient to overcome his opponent’s greater power and speed.

It is not an unfamiliar role for Quintana, who is all boxer and very little puncher. Although he has scored 21 knockouts in 27 wins (against two losses) most of those knockouts, it can be safely said, came against the kind of fighters to whom the sport is a hard and bewildering hobby rather than a career with an upward trajectory.

When Quintana has stepped up and won — against Joel Julio, and against Paul Williams in their first fight — he used his skill and intelligence to outsmart and out-maneuver his opponents, never his strength to overpower them.

Against Miguel Cotto and against Williams in their rematch, he was overwhelmed and knocked out by fighters whose power were greater forces for victory than were his cerebral skills.

He thinks his experience will be instrumental against Berto.

“Andre is a very good fighter, but he has not been in the ring with the same opposition I have,” Quintana said recently. “I've been in the ring with Joel Julio, Miguel Cotto and Paul Williams twice, that’s experience you can’t teach and will be a huge advantage for me on April 10th.”

As one who employs brains rather than brawn, Quintana belongs to a relatively small group of like-minded boxers such as Yuri Foreman, Paul Malignaggi, Ivan Calderon, the come-backing Paul Sapdafora, Andre Dirrell, Eric Morel, Sergio Mora, and the best of all of them, Floyd Mayweather.

You can throw in Tim Bradley, too, and Sergio Martinez if you want to stretch a little.

These fighters win on ring intelligence and reflexes and repetition in the gym, which one would be wise to say requires a good deal more dedication and, yes, courage, than is required to walk forward because you know your punch is harder than your opponent’s.

A good puncher can get lazy. He can get tired. His mind can wander. He can get sloppy and too brave and all the things against which he has been counseled from his first days in the gym because fight-ending power, like great speed, forgives all kinds of errors of craft and concentration.

The soft-handed boxer has no such luxury. Against the best opponents, he has to be perfect. He cannot forget to jab. He cannot feel his back against the ropes. He cannot get tired or stand still or leave his chin in the air.

He doesn’t have the power to move his man or make him regret his mistakes. He has to be perfect — the whole way. And he has to be so good that his work does not get lost in the face of a more energetic opponent whose offenses are more easily ascertained. (Or, he can just avoid fighting in Texas.)

Quintana’s great problem against Berto will be not just Berto’s obvious gifts of speed and power, but his versatility. You see, he has spent time in Quintana’s world and in the other one too. He can do it either way.

Against Luis Collazo, he brawled and won. Against Juan Urango he boxed and won. A fighter who can do both is dangerous indeed.

“I'm very good at making adjustments during a fight and I have seen just about every style,” said Berto recently. “Throughout my career as both a top amateur and now as a professional, I have seen just about everything in the ring. If they’re boxers or bangers, it doesn't matter. I don’t watch films of my opponents, I let my trainer focus on that aspect.”

You can make the argument that Berto was lucky to have lost out on a fight with Shane Mosley when the earthquake in Haiti so distracted him that he had to stop training.

Mosley too is one of those rare fighters who can kill you with power or speed or both.

But Quintana is no Shane Mosley. And as a result he’ll have to be something better than perfect on April 10.

Some random observations from last week:

It’s been two days and I still don’t know what to make of the abomination that took place in Las Vegas Saturday night between Bernard Hopkins and the formaldehyde-soaked remains of Roy Jones.

That Hopkins claimed to see spots after taking a couple light rabbit punches and then reportedly fainted in his dressing room is worrying, but with Bernard, few things are as they seem. 

Tony Weeks called an 11th-round headbutt by Hopkins that opened a cut over Jones’ eye “accidental.” Nothing Bernard Hopkins does is accidental ÔǪ
.
How awful must it be to be Jeff Lacy? 

Here’s a quote from fitness guru Mackie Shilstone in advance of Hopkins-Jones: “The world will tremble under the force of these two great champions. Age and won/loss records will be meaningless gauges of the intensity of this encounter. The ring may not be big enough.” Um, seriously? Who knew Mackie is such an insufferable twit? ÔǪ

For the first time ever I pick John Ruiz to win a fight and what happens? He gets pancaked. That’ll learn me. ÔǪ

Isn’t it time we gave up this post-fight interview device of asking the winning fighter to describe the highlights to the TV audience as he watches the replay on a monitor? Really, in the 60 or so years of televised boxing, how many interesting moments have come out of this ritual? Typically the exchanges sound like this:

Interviewer: “Tell us what you were thinking there, when you landed that right hand, champ.”
Fighter: No response
Interviewer: “Just give us your thoughts, champ.”
Someone in fighters’ entourage: “BOOM! There he go!”
Fighter: “Uh.”
Interviewer: “How about there, champ, when he went down?”
Fighter: “I just want to thank one person – my sparring partners. And my promoter. And God. I knew I was in shape. Shout out to Boo-Boo and Little Head. Daddy’s comin’ home, baby! Woo!”

Do we really need the monitor for that? 

We hate seeing once-great athletes get old and useless because we know we’re next. It’s OK to admit it. ÔǪ

Sergio Mora was very sharp and more or less stole the show against tough but unaccomplished Calvin Green. Good for him

Ismayl Sillakh was so much better against Daniel Judah than Demetrius Andrade was against, ahem, Geoffrey Spruiell on Friday Night Fights that it’s an insult to Sillakh to call them both “prospects.”ÔǪ

So what do you do now if you’re Mike Arnaoutis? ÔǪ

Jason Litzau got the break of his life when Jay Nady ruled that Rocky Juarez butted him. Litzau was a round or two away from doing some prodigious snoring.

In case you missed it, the Associated Press reported that Thomas Hearns held an auction of his personal belongings to help pay off a whopping $448,000 bill to the IRS. This shortly after Emanuel Steward reportedly had to pay $38,000 in back federal taxes. Don’t they have any H&R Blocks in Detroit?

Bill Dettloff can be reached at [email protected] You can read his articles every month in THE RING magazine.

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