Time off can certainly be a good thing. Take Saturday’s IBF Light Middleweight title fight for example. Roman Karmazin defended his title against Cory Spinks and despite each fighter being out of a boxing ring for a year, a good show was put on. Karmazin had been inactive after upsetting Kassim Ouma while Spinks needed time off after an embarrassing loss to Zab Judah and a plethora of personal problems.
Roman Karmazin vs. Cory Spinks
Cory Spinks fought in front of his hometown St. Louis crowd and as usual, danced his way to the ring accompanied by some rapper that the kids listen to on the radio. Many people frown on Spinks’ elaborate entrance but they’re mainly the same old white men that want to ban NBA players from having a personality. I find it entertaining, but not as entertaining as this picture of Cory Spinks’ father, 1976 Olympic Gold Medalist and former heavyweight champion, Leon Spinks.
Roman Karmazin had a much more subdued entrance but it worked for the native Russian. This was Spinks’ first fight as a light middleweight yet somehow he gets a title shot. That’s boxing. Spinks showed his speed and elusiveness early, but also showed his suspect chin. Karmazin wobbled Spinks in the second round but couldn’t seize the opportunity to turn it into a knockdown. Spinks used his superior quickness to move in on the champ and quickly move back out. Karmazin remained patient.
Karmazin figured out Spinks in the later rounds. Spinks thought he had built up a big enough lead where could spend the last few rounds running away. Even though Spinks looks remarkably like Dudley from Diff’rent Strokes, Karmazin couldn’t catch him in order to molest him. Karmazin realized Spinks could not hurt him so he came forward with no respect for Cory’s punching power. The fight went to the scorecards where a majority decision was reached in favor of Cory Spinks.
Not so fast, it’s not really boxing unless there is judging tomfoolery. While the cards were added up correctly, it turns out the German judge was either on Spinks’ payroll or a complete moron. Manfred Kuchler gave the twelfth round to Spinks, even though Spinks literally ran from Karmazin the entire round and didn’t throw any punches. Had Kuchler given the round to Karmazin as the other two judges did and anyone with two eyes and a brain would have done, his scorecard would have been a draw and the decision would have been changed to a majority draw and Karmazin would have kept his belt.
Spinks is going to have to stay in top physical shape if he wants to compete with the top light middleweights. He has no punching power and is vulnerable to heavy punches. The move up in weight class invites heavier punchers. Spinks will have to outbox his opponent for twelve rounds and not get caught with a fight-ending blow in the latter rounds if he wants to remain competitive. Spinks was calling for Mosley, Vargas, and Mayweather after his victory and I’m afraid those sharks would eat him alive.
The Contender: Season 2
The first season of The Contender was met with mixed reviews. While the season was not popular enough for NBC to renew the contract for another year, the show did gain a large enough following for ESPN to pick up the second season. The first season helped spotlight fighters such as Ishe Smith, Alfonso Gomez, Jesse Brinkley, Peter Manfredo, Jr, and season one champion Sergio Mora. While the first season was fought at middleweight, the second season will be contested at welterweight. The first episode airs on Tuesday, July 18th at 10 PM ET on ESPN.
The main problem I had with the first season was the over-dramatization of the fights. The fights were cut and edited to make the fight seem as enthralling as the producers wanted it to feel like, all the while a cinematic score would play in the background. With the fighters going five rounds, that means there is only 15 minutes of fight time. Throw in ring entrances and the breaks between rounds, and you’re being generous in giving 30 minutes towards the overall fight time.
I hope they take a cue from UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter and get rid of the silly challenges. Devote the first half of the episode to building the characters and let the second half of the show be an unedited fight between the two boxers. ESPN has yet to listen to my demands so I doubt now is the time they start doing so. Regardless of the format of the show, here is a preview of the 16 welterweights vying for a new beginning in their boxing careers:
Nick Acevedo 15-1-0 (9 KOs)
Acevedo hasn’t fought since losing to the ancient “Cool” Vince Phillips in 2002. He claims he his strong-willed and determined, which seems contradictory to his career as he quit after suffering his first loss. Acevedo knows he will win the contest and wants to be a role model for inner city kids, as well as a provider for his five children.
Gary “Tiger” Balleta 29-2-2 (25 KOs)
Another boxer coming off of a layoff, Balleta hasn’t been in a boxing ring in three years. His layoff can be attributed to the ring death of a friend and starting a construction company. It would be fun if he was really in the mob and the construction company was just a cover. If that’s the case, I see no reason why Balleta would lose. As with everyone else, he’s fighting for his children.
Vinroy “Slick” Barrett 21-4-0 (11 KOs)
Hailing from Jamaica, Barrett has lost three of his last five professional fights. However, this shot of international flavor does not lack any confidence. Barrett finds success through preparation, but surely the different surroundings of the reality show will make him uncomfortable.
Noberto “El Gallito” Bravo 20-10-3 (12 KOs)
Bravo seems like the underdog to get behind this year, like Alfonso Gomez last season. I admire his willingness to take on the nickname The Fighting Rooster. Trust me, with a last name like Pusey, I know he’s just inviting the genital jokes. Bravo says you’ll have to kill him to stop him and for some reason I believe him. Still, with ten losses it’s hard to believe he’ll get very far in this tournament.
Grady “Bad Boy” Brewer 18-11-0 (12 KOs)
Brewer has fought the likes of Jermain Taylor, Peter Manfredo, Jr, Marco Anotnio Rubio, and Sechew Powell. Grady has lost to all of them, amongst a host of others as his record dictates. Brewer is discouraged because he has to hold down a job to support his family. I can’t muster too much sympathy for a guy that has to work to raise money. Brewer has an outside chance at winning only because he’s faced the toughest competition of anyone else on the show. There’s likely nothing these guys can do that he hasn’t seen before.
Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage 21-1-0 (13 KOs)
Bundrage’s lone loss is an infamous one. He and Sechew Powell knocked each other down at the same time in the opening seconds of their fight last year. Both men got up but Powell made sure Bundrage went right back down. Cornelius got up but stumbled all over the ring, causing the ref to stop the fight after only 22 seconds. Bundrage was a street fighter as a youth yet has the ring savvy to win. At least Bundrage seems like one of the more charismatic fighters on the show which should allow for some prosperous fights once the season ends.
Rudy “El Cachorro” Cisneros 8-1-0 (7 KOs)
Out of Chicago, Cisneros lacks experience and quality competition. The 24-year old, whose nickname means The Puppy, can’t be seen as much of a threat amongst the other boxers. Additionally, he has no children to fight for as inspiration. Stop being selfish Rudy and have some kids. It seems like Cisneros is merely fighting to satisfy his dreams. That’s lame.
Michael “Cold Blood” Clark 35-3-0 (16 KOs)
Unlike Cisneros, Clark has plenty of experience, which makes him one of the favorites to win. Clark has fought for world titles and been in plenty of 12 round contests. He says he’s like Michael Jackson and Prince. It would be awesome if he were a super effeminate boxer that fought in ass-less pants, but that’s not where Clark draws the comparison. Clark believes boxing is second-nature to him and the crowd loves his performance. Michael Clark has a legitimate chance of winning this thing and should take advantage of the less-experienced fighters.
“Furious” Freddy Curiel 15-5-2 (6 KOs)
Steady activity doesn’t seem to be a habit for Freddy Curiel. He’s only boxed three times in this century with the last contest coming in 2002. Freddy seems like a nice guy and as the saying goes, nice guys finish last. That could be the case for Mr. Curiel. He too is fighting for his children but just doesn’t have the ring experience to hang with some of the better fighters on the show.
Andre “Daredevil” Eason 15-4-0 (6 KOs)
Eason has fought some good competition and even handed welterweight prospect Delvin Rodriguez his only loss. Eason could be a sleeper in this tournament and he’s trained by Yoel Judah, Zab Judah’s father. Daredevil is another boxer that grew up fighting. He wants to win for his mother as she is the most important person in his life. Eason also won the New York Golden Gloves title as an amateur.
Ebo “The X-treme Machine” Elder 22-2-0 (14 KOs)
Elder is naturally a lightweight, whereas most other guys are either at or above the welterweight division. Elder claims God guided him into the boxing ring. He’s been boxing for most of his life and has the beneficial mix of youth and experience. Ebo’s largest hurdle will be the jump in weight class but he has a very realistic chance of winning it all.
Stephen “2 Pounds” Forbes 29-3-0 (9 KOs)
Forbes had trouble making weight as a super featherweight and lightweight so the move to welterweight makes sense. That’s a somewhat ironic statement to make given that Forbes’ nickname is attributed to his birth weight. Even though Forbes doesn’t have a lot of experience at welterweight, he’s no stranger to world title fights. In fact, Forbes once held a world title in the super featherweight division. Forbes seems like a humble man who will let his boxing talk for him in the ring.
Jeff “Hell Raza” Fraza 17-2-0 (10 KOs)
You may remember Jeff from the first season of The Contender. He defeated Brent Cooper in his first fight last year but had to withdraw from the competition due to Chicken Pox. Fraza is better suited for welterweight than last year’s middleweight qualification so this could be his year. Jeff comes from a family of fighters and is trained by journeyman turned icon Mickey Ward.
Michael “No Joke” Stewart 38-4-2 (22 KOs)
Stewart is very experienced and can only benefit from fighting guys like Ivan Robinson, Sharmba Mitchell, and Ricky Hatton. Like everyone else, Stewart is supremely confident and fighting for the honor of his family. On paper, Stewart seems like a favorite to win this tournament but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him bow out in the second round. Something about his slow drawl makes me lack confidence in this boxer.
Aaron “2-Guns” Torres 14-2-0 (6 KOs)
Torres has fought weak competition throughout his career. He says he has a superior work ethic and he’s going to need it against this crop of boxers. Torres comes off as an intelligent guy but this isn’t a Quick Recall tournament, it’s boxing. Philadelphia is a city rich with boxing tradition. Something tells me Torres won’t be included in the city’s lineage of fighters.
Walter “2-Guns” Wright 10-1-0 (5 KOs)
Couldn’t ESPN at least find 16 boxers with different nicknames? Wright has been boxing professionally for only three years and has never fought outside his home state of Washington. Wright seems happy just to be on the show, which isn’t a very tasty recipe for victory. On the bright side, Wright has won ten fights in a row and could be very strong as a welterweight. Still, how confident can you be in a fighter that has 2-Guns when the guy right above him also has 2-Guns?
It’s difficult to predict too much as I don’t know how the show is set-up. Last year was East vs. West but that doesn’t mean teams will be split that way this year. So my final four picks are:
As for a champion, my pick right now is Michael Clark. We can all look back at this at the end of the season and laugh if Clark is gone in the first round and I’ll politely tell you to lick my taint, but Clark seems like the safe pick right now. He’s a natural welterweight with big fight experience. Enjoy the season and don’t be afraid to email me with your thoughts.
Results From Last Week
– Jerome Ellis knocked out Neil Sinclair in the 6th round of their light middleweight contest. Ellis was behind on the scorecards but landed a body blow that Sinclair couldn’t recover from.
– Former world champion and current #1 contender to Diego Corrales’ lightweight title, Joel Casamayor, defeated Lamont Pearson by 9th round TKO. The doctor stopped the fight after a cut over Pearson’s eye was determined too severe to continue the fight. This fight was broadcast on ESPN with none other than Diego Corrales as their in-studio guest. Corrales and Casamayor talked trash through an interpretor, until the interpretor thought Casamayor didn’t need to understand the conversation and just laid into Corrales himself. Something about that was funny to me but I’m not sure what at the moment.
– Joe Spina defeated Jay Pina by 4th round TKO in a matchup of super middleweights that never need to fight each other again because their names are too similar.
– William Joppy successfully moved up to light heavyweight as he defeated Jonathan Corn by KO in the 5th round. Joppy was a world champion as a middleweight.
– Cruiserweight Jean Marc Mormeck earned a 4th round TKO over Sebastian Hill. Mormeck’s lost his last fight, a unification bout to O’neil Bell, and hopes to get back into the title picture.
– Randy Griffin took down Maselino Masoe by unanimous decision in a WBA Middleweight Title Eliminator. The champion will be decided next week when Felix Sturm takes on Javier Castillejo.
– Matt Skelton avenged a loss to Danny Williams earlier in the year by winning a unanimous decision over Williams in Wales. Williams came in the heaviest he has ever been in his career, 288 lbs.
As always I would love to hear from you all. What upcoming fights are you looking forward to? Are there any fights you would like to see that aren’t booked yet? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about it. If you are simply better than me and refuse to start a correspondence then check these guys out:
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