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Weekend Review: Big nights for Kessler and Adamek

26
Apr

Mikkel Kessler bounced back from his loss to Andre Ward with an impressive victory over Carl Froch on Saturday. Photo / Tom Casino-Showtime

BIGGEST WINNER

MIKKEL KESSLER We all wondered about Kessler’s psyche after the beating he took from Andre Ward in November, the kind of beating that can shake a fighter’s confidence. Alas, he clearly believed in himself as he took the fight to durable Carl Froch and earned a hard-fought unanimous decision in his second Super Six World Boxing Classic fight before a home-nation crowd Saturday in Herning, Denmark. He looked sharp, focused and as resilient as ever as he outworked one of the toughest men in the sport and gave himself a chance to advance to the semi-final round of the tournament. He next faces Allan Green, who he’ll probably beat. The Dane deserves any accolades he receives. To lose to Ward the way he did and then face Froch was a tough assignment.

BIGGEST WINNER II



Tomasz Adamek: Chris Arreola critics might say, “Well, Adamek beat a fat, mediocre heavyweight. It doesn’t prove anything.” Not true. That fat, mediocre heavyweight, a legitimate title contender, threw everything he had at the amazing Pole and couldn’t take him down. Adamek can’t afford to be the thrill-a-minute fighter he was at 175 and 200 pounds against the giants of the sport. He must be more cautious. However, his combination of underrated skill, fitness, experience and an inhuman chin make him a threat to beat anyone in the division except the Klitschkos. He’s one of the true wonders of the sport. I’d love to see him fight David Haye next if the Briton doesn’t fight Nikolay Valuev again or one of the Klitschkos. I’d pick Adamek to win.

BIGGEST LOSER

Carl Froch: I want to say this: Well, it finally happened. The crude brawler from Nottingham was finally exposed for what he is – a tough guy but a limited boxer. However, it somehow doesn’t seem quite as appropriate now. I actually liked what I saw from Froch in some ways. He seemed to be more calculating and even a bit quicker against his skilled and very determined opponent. I think he might’ve actually won – or at least made it closer — had he been more active. I was thinking by the middle rounds, “Kessler is going to win simply because he’s outworking him.” That turned out to be the case. You can’t wait in boxing. You wait, you lose. And you can’t expect to come from behind in the final rounds every time out. Arthur Abraham learned the same lesson recently. Froch fights Abraham next. There will be no waiting.

BIGGEST LOSER II

Chris Arreola: The big Mexican-American from Riverside, Calif., was as entertaining as ever against Adamek, taking the fight to his smaller, but more-talented foe before losing a majority decision. And he’ll undoubtedly continue to please crowds no matter who or where he fights. However, he has now lost the two biggest fights of his life – to Vitali Klitschko and Adamek – and two of his last three fights. He must now win two or three times in impressive fashion if he hopes to regain his status as a serious title contender. Who could he fight that would generate any enthusiasm, though? Dan Goossen, his promoter, is going to have to get creative to pump life back into Arreola’s career.

BIGGEST WINNERS III

The fans: First Kessler-Froch (if you watched it live) and then Adamek-Arreola. Throw in Alfredo Angulo-Joel Julio and the plate of boxing fans was overflowing on Saturday. We’re lucky to see such fights once a year. We saw two great fights and a good one all in one day. Kessler-Froch is a Fight of the Year candidate. The most-passionate boxing fan I know and I were on our feet cheering over the final two rounds of Kessler-Froch. My hair would’ve stood on end if I had any. And, while Adamek-Arreola wasn’t quite as entertaining, I’ll reiterate that Arreola is one of the most-exciting fighters in the world even if he isn’t one of the best. He’s what every heavyweight should be but few are. I love to watch him fight. Same goes for Adamek, who I admire tremendously. It was a great night for boxing.

BIGGEST LOSER III

Joseph Pasquale: This is tricky because I know people who watched Adamek-Arreola on television and believe it’s the 114-114 score of Tony Crebs that was out of whack. I was at the fight, though. To me, and many others on press row, Adamek scored effectively with his jab and quick combinations but they were relatively light punches. Arreola didn’t land as many punches but you could feel them when he did. That’s significant. I feel strongly that Arreola won three rounds convincingly (fifth, 10th and 11th) and I gave him two of four close rounds, leaving me with a score of 115-113 in Adamek’s favor. Colleague Doug Fischer had the same score. Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, our partner, had it 114-114. Pacquale scored it 117-111 for Adamek, which (sorry my friends) didn’t reflect reality. Pasquale and Adamek are both from New Jersey.

BEST HIRE

Jimmy Montoya: Kessler hired the veteran trainer for this fight and the new marriage couldn’t be happier. First, Montoya is known as an effective motivator, which an apparently fragile Kessler needed immediately after his demoralizing loss to Ward in November. And, second, Montoya apparently came up with a very effective game plan. Kessler, a counter puncher his entire career, went after the brawler and beat him at his own game. Brilliant. I’m always leery when a successful fighter turns to a new tutor because it often backfires. This time it couldn’t have worked out better.

TIGHTEST TOURNAMENT

Super Six World Boxing Classic: Here are the standings in Showtime’s 168-pound competition: Abraham (1-1) three points; Andre Dirrell (1-1) two points; Froch (1-1) two points; Kessler (1-1) two points. Ward (1-0) two points; Allan Green (0-0) zero points. Yes, the tournament remains wide open as we approach the final matchup – Ward vs. Green on June 19 — in the second round of fights. Ward will probably outpoint Green, leaving him with four points as the fighters go into their third fights. Those matchups are: Ward-Dirrell, Kessler-Green and Abraham-Froch. I predict Ward and Kessler will win on points and Abraham will stop Froch. Thus, Ward (six points), Abraham (six points), Kessler (four points); and Froch (two points with a victory over Dirrell, which breaks their tie) will advance to the single-elimination semi-finals. Stay tuned.

MOST MACHINE-LIKE

Alfredo Angulo: Someone look for a motherboard on the once-beaten Mexican junior middleweight contender. It has to be there. Angulo, his face always expressionless, pursues his opponents with robotic relentlessness – not too quickly but perpetually and ominously moving forward. Joel Julio fought a pretty good fight against him on the Adamek-Arreola undercard, landing some meaningful punches and moving fairly well. However, he couldn’t keep Angulo away. He would land a punch that made everyone in the crowd wince. No impact on Angulo. Julio moved adeptly out of harm’s way most of the fight but his efforts were futile. Angulo was bound to catch him – and did: TKO 11. Angulo can be beaten by a good boxer – as Kermit Cintron demonstrated – but most fighters aren’t going to want to get his way.

BEST MATCHUP

Angulo-Margarito: I have difficulty getting excited about any fight involving Margarito because of the hand-wrap incident last year. From a boxing perspective, though, this would be a monster matchup. They are two brawlers who have almost identical styles – destroy or be destroyed, the kind of mentality boxing fans love. The fact both are Mexican would make the matchup particularly big among their countrymen, who may never have seen two world-class junior middleweights (assuming they fight at 154 pounds) from their country going head to head. I think Angulo-Margarito could fill the right stadium. Gary Shaw, Angulo’s promoter, said he’d target either Margarito or Miguel Cotto if Cotto beats Yuri Foreman on June 5.

BEST QUOTE

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in his newspaper column: “It’s necessary to underline the media frenzy that encircled ‘El Inca’ [Edwin Valero] during recent months. They never forgave his identification with the Bolivarian Revolution. Someone who had turned into a symbol had to be destroyed – at any cost. Now, like vultures, they feed off the cadavers of Jennifer and Edwin.” No, it’s Chavez who is doing the feeding. The leftist leader is using the deaths of Valero and his wife as propaganda tools. Nothing is sacred.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]