Aftermath: On Marquez-Katsidis, Andre Ward, Carl Froch &, Sigh, Andre Berto


*****

Juan Manuel Marquez stopped Michael Katsidis on Saturday night in a brutal give-and-take brawl that should serve as an example of what prizefighting is meant to be. If a fight is not exciting, if it does not entail a certain amount of drama, then why not follow the Pro Bowlers Tour instead? Marquez scored the TKO in the ninth round, when Kenny Bayless stepped in to save a wobbly Katsidis from taking further punishment.

Still, it looked like Katsidis would upset the dope early. A neatly-timed left hook dropped Marquez flat on his back in the third round and an upset seemed a distinct possibility. But Marquez, the epitome of a professional, beat the count, refused to panic, and fought his way back into the fray before the round had even ended. From then on it was bombs away, with Marquez landing—often in combination—knifing bodyshots, wicked uppercuts, and cannonball rights. Katsidis kept up an inhuman pace, working both hands on the inside but effective mostly with his left, but soon began to wither from the punishment. Finally, he hit “E” in the ninth round, backing up for the first time in the fight, an invitation to Marquez to swarm. Naturally, he obliged.

Katsidis fought his heart out and was still trying to answer back when Bayless halted the bout. Prizefighters like Katsidis and Marquez are few and far between, and yet much of the boxing economy is used to bail out lauded phonies whose skills are better suited for the Good Will Games or American Gladiators.

*****

Andre Berto continued to lampoon professional boxing with a pathetic first round KO of limited Freddy Hernandez on the $1.25 million windup to the Juan Manuel Marquez-Michael Katsidis donnybrook. That real prizefighters have to share the same arena with Berto types is one of the shames of boxing. To think that there are still “experts” out there who hype up Berto while simultaneously denigrating Manny Pacquiao. Save your penny clicks, eh? In the end, the rules of supply and demand simply do not apply to Berto, who is the Burke and Hare of boxing. After all, this is a fighter without enough of a following to sell even 975 tickets to one of his WORLD TITLE fights.

*****

Celestino Caballero tobogganed himself right out of all the big fights he felt he was entitled to when he dropped a split decision to Minnesota clubfighter Jason Litzau on the Marquez-Katsidis undercard. It was a sloppy brawl, with Litzau landing the bigger punches throughout, shaking another supposed “P-4-P” stalwart over and over again with left hooks and sucker punch rights that a Toughman contestant might have avoided. Focused and determined, but not much else, Litzau worked hard to capitalize on his opportunity. The same cannot be said of his opponent, whose body language revealed a man whose professionalism is no match for his mouth. Rarely does a fighter win a bout on contempt alone, and that was all Caballero entered the ring with on Saturday night.

*****

Carl Froch is not nearly as skillful as cyberspace would like you to believe after whitewashing Arthur Abraham, but he owns every intangible needed to be a successful prizefighter: heart, determination, stamina, resilience, chin, and smarts. Preparation outside the ring is also key. Froch devised a gameplan specifically tailored to exploit the weaknesses of his opponent and had the discipline to stick to it. Abraham, on the other hand, seems incapable of adjusting his style no matter who answers the bell against him. Without creating an opening for his only real strength—crippling power—how did he expect to do any damage much less win? He moved around the ring on Saturday like a hausfrau with a featherduster in her hands. Froch fought with purpose and made the most out of his strengths.

*****

As for Abraham, chances are Andre Ward will also nullify him completely. Abraham has no inside game whatsoever, and if Ward decides to rassle, Abraham might as well get on all fours and have a saddle strapped onto his back between rounds. “Exposed” is not a word used often on TCS, but Abraham has certainly earned the right to it after his last two performances.

****

Andre Ward played frotteur with Sakio Bika at the Oracle Arena on Saturday night and came away with a bruising if somewhat dull unanimous decision. Once again Ward decided to set up house on the inside, mauling and grinding with Bika for most of the fight. When Ward created distance, his technique was far superior to that of Bika and he landed some of the only clean blows of the fight. Bika, however, appeared to shake Ward on two or three occasions, once with a bodyshot that forced Ward to clinch immediately, this time out of necessity and not by choice.

The lopsided scorecards verged on ludicrous. Most rounds saw both men trading shovel hooks, rabbit punches, elbows, headbutts, forearms, and bodyshots while locked in various clinches and armbars. How, then, do you determine that one fighter has won the bout hands down? If you are a cyber-expert, it probably depends on how high you have placed Ward on your “P-4-P” standings and how much you feel you have to justify his “ranking.”

When boxing fans criticize MMA for its long stretches of grappling, MMA fans shoot back that some people simply do not understand the intricacies of the ground game. Now we have a fighter, Ward, who has turned into a fairly dull mauler and boxing fans are telling anyone they feel comfortable insulting that they do not understand the intricacies of infighting. Boring is boring, intricacies be damned, and if other boring fighters are to be lambasted with regularity, Ward should be as well. There is a difference between infighting and holding, of course, but good luck finding someone who will admit it. At times, Ward would simply reach out, grab a limb, and clamp down on it furiously. Great move if you happen to be Royce Gracie, illegal if you are a boxer, uninspiring if you are interested in a good fight.

Ward is essentially a spoiler, a style pervasive among journeyman of another era, when lasting the distance meant another pay check. Today, that same methodology gets you compared to Sugar Ray Leonard. In a way, Ward must be given credit for transforming super middleweight bouts into 1980s “Lost Generation” heavyweight tussles. As talented as he is, there really is no reason for his obsession with clinching.

*****
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Tags: ANDRE BERTO Andre Ward ARTHUR ABRAHAM CARL FROCH Celestino Caballero Jason Litzau Juan Manuel Marquez Michael Katsidis

  • El Destruyo

    Rough as Ward was at times (especially with his much-vaunted head) during the Kessler fight, he showed great skill in that one and truly outclassed a super-middleweight great. The same can’t be said for the strategy with which he walloped a clueless Allan Green and had Sakio Bika, of all people, wondering how he got outdirtied. This is a disturbing trend for a fighter with actual skills. (And the less said about the scorecards, the better.)

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi El Destruyo,

      Great point re: Bika being out-dirtied. That’s pretty funny. Bika actually did seem bemused after the fight and was probably like, WTF? Generally speaking, not many people like dirty fighters, but it looks like Ward gets a pass here, too. He’s a smart guy with lots of talent, but if all he cares about is the “W,” then how is he any different from those who get ripped on all the time for eschewing the entertainment aspect of boxing? If he becomes a super middleweight version of John Ruiz–boring clutchy decisions over and over again–will people avoid his fights, too, or will people continue calling him a master infighter as if he were Jake LaMotta or Jack Dempsey?

  • luvbrothel

    I certainly tired hearing the commentators on Ward’s fight constantly praise his ‘greatness’. The only greatness I see in Ward is in his ability to grab his opponent. Dull and dirty, Ward continues to embarrass the sport. Unfortunately for us all, he’ll do the same thing to Froch.

    I would like to see Ward fight Bute, an excellent counterpuncher with speed and power, who would make Ward pay for trying to constantly clinch. Will it happen? Doubtful. Legitimate prizefighters are few and far between nowadays.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi luvbrothel,

      thanks for writing. The Showtime commentators certainly went overboard on Saturday night. Gus Johnson is known for his hyperventilation and it sounded like Ali-Frazier III was taking place in the ring when, obviously, it wasn’t. Also making Bika sound like a cross between Bob Foster and The Incredible Hulk was pretty silly. Bika is a tough guy, but his only notable wins were against Jaidon Codrington and Peter Manfredo…I guess you can throw Sam Soliman in there, but that’s about it.

      Showtime signed Bute to an exclusive contract with the intent to match him against the Super Six winner….so if Ward wins the tourney, Bute is supposed to be in the picture. Let’s hope that happens.

  • johnpaulfutbol

    CA,

    Good overview of the carnage last weekend, only you and my addiction to twitter keep me online…at this point!

    JMM/Katsidis was great to watch, while it lasted. You really have to respect both guys for a number of reasons, but ultimately as you say both guys “are examples of what prizefighting is meant to be.” I thought Katsidis had a chance as JMM looked pretty bad after that knockdown, but once he made it out of the round….I figured Katsidis was in trouble. JMM’s recovery skills are amazing, as is his ability to “dribble with his head up” when in trouble. It seems sometimes he goes wide so that he can finish combos straight, if that makes sense. That’s one fighter that will be or should be missed when he finally retires. If Floyd won’t fight Pacquiao, then JMM is really the only other matchup that interests me at this point for Pacquiao. If there’s anybody in the sport that “deserves” big paydays it’s JMM.

    What else can be said about Berto? That guy kills me. He KO’s a dude with absolutely no shot at winning…then basically says he wanted to do something special in response to everyone that gives him a hard time on the interwebz etc. He made another $1.25m for that! These fights aren’t helping him develop at all, but I’m sure he’s already peaked skill wise anyway. He’s in for a rude awakening if he ever steps up and makes a big fight.

    My man Carl “Mad Skillz” Froch is growing on me. You’re right, he brings all the necessary intangibles into the ring….which is an important element rarely factored by the “experts.” I’m strangely looking forward to Froch/Johnson.

    My take on Ward changes from day to day. He’s definitely not very fun to watch. I do respect his ability to get “it” done by hook or by crook….or by headbutt or elbow and so forth. I just don’t want to watch it. He seems allowed to get away with an awful lot of ruff stuff, wonder if that that will change should he ever fight outside of Oakland. A couple of those butts on Kessler were pretty vicious. The Bika fight was brutal on the eyes, Bika wasn’t going to be allowed to win that fight unless something miraculous happened. LMAO at the “intracacies” comment..if you’re talking about what I think you are. If so, there were a couple good points made and a shit load of pretentious prattling.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi JPF,

      Only me keeps me online, too, since I usually avoid Twitter…too much pseudo-expertise on there, IMO. Lots of folks like to give the “last word” on just about everything that happens in boxing and, sometimes, the world. My favorites are the ones with “writing” advice and writing updates: “Working hard on my next masterpiece–” like they’re Proust or something.

      Scoring a knockdown against Marquez does nothing, it looks like, except get you a couple of points on the scorecards. There are a lot of guys who would fold, panic, weep, quit after that kind of adversity, but Marquez just gets up and goes about his business. That was a big left hook by Katsidis…if he had two hands he might have scored the KO, but that strange chicken-wing punch he throws in close with his right is pretty ineffective. As it is, he tried his damnedest to win and never thought about just getting by or lasting the distance.

      I think it’s retarded for folks out there to bitch about Pacquiao’s catch weight “obsession” and then cry about how they want to see him fight JMM at 140 or at some other number. But those are the experts for you. To be honest, it really doesn’t matter what Pacquiao does, the same folks will shit on him no matter what, so he might as well take the fights that pay him the most $$$. And Marquez does not fit that bill, realistically. For me, it’s like you say, let JMM get paid, the fight has a backstory, Pacquiao can finally shut Marquez up, and it’s all good. But Bob Arum is a promoter, not Richard Schaefer, and so he is going to go with the bottom line.
      I wouldn’t mind seeing Pacquiao leave Berto on his face, however, or Devon Alexander or Tim Bradley. Alexander and Bradley would be easy work for Pacquiao, I think, and it’s about time he finished a fight without swelling and bruising.

      Berto was paid $910K, reportedly, with Freddy Hernandez getting $75K. I don’t recall ever hearing about a title challenger getting 8.25% of what the champion earned. Lou DiBella and Gary Shaw split the remaining 265K for all their hard promotional work involving the fight. The whole thing is/was a joke.

      I’ve picked against Carl Froch his last three fights…I don’t know what to think about him other than he’s a tough dude with a temperament exactly suited for his chosen vocation. He is a funny guy, though. I was getting my chuckle on watching him and Abraham go to work…and then he comes out of nowhere with a beret on after the fight!!!

      I agree with you on Ward–he knows what he’s doing and, of course, he wins, but he’s boring. And he is dirty…what’s up with your refs out there in Cali? Anyway, Ward has talent and he’s also Froch-like, I think, regarding doing what he has to do in the ring and having that professional attitude. But no way he is a “star.” His last fight drew fewer than 500,000 live viewers on Showtime and was THIS close to being canceled due to slow ticket sales. After that mess with Bika, there will be even more comp tickets for his future bouts in Oakland. You should go hang out in the Bay Area a few days before his next fight….

      I don’t mean anyone in particular about “intricacies…” I don’t read enough blogs, websites, etc. to offer specific criticisms anymore. But I do know there is no end to the number of people who will tell you that you’re stupid and who have world-shattering ESP powers. More often than not they’re the kind who see the pilot light in a stove and think they’ve discovered fire. But lord, some of these guys–who probably went to their first boxing match in 2007–do go on about themselves….since that’s basically what it’s all about–themselves…some strange kind of affirmation game….But I could be wrong about that.

      • johnpaulfutbol

        CA,

        Proust! No kidding, too funny. I’m gonna start saying that sort of thing..”working hard on my masterpiece.”

        That “chicken wing” punch is pretty peculiar. I don’t know if I’d just never paid enough attention or what…but I’d never noticed him do that before Saturday night. Kept thinking JMM was going to be able to sneak one of those left uppercuts he throws to the body in there.

        I’m glad you reminded me of Froch’s beret, that was hilarious. The beret and him leaning against the ropes all casual for the post fight interview was funnier than hell.

        You’re right, Ward is not a star. I was talking to a friend…who was saying (and reinventing the wheel) that Ward is the perfect guy you’d want to see interviewed to rep boxing, but the last guy you’d want to see fight. Too bad he’s so boring and ugly as a fighter, as he’s decent looking and fairly articulate.

        • Carlos Acevedo

          Hi JPF,

          everybody’s Proust!

          That Katsidis punch was pretty weird, and I never noticed it either. You should ask your trainer what it is if, indeed, it “is” something. I suppose you shorten distance with it as opposed to throwing a roundhouse blow in close, but it can’t possibly hurt a world-class fighter.

          Froch, along with his lovely woman, is a walking reality show. Funny dude….

          Your buddy is right….Ward is smart, young, photogenic, has a nice family, etc. Perfect poster boy for boxing…now fight, goddammit!

          • funkybadger

            Looks a little like he’s trying to punch and keep his elbow in to protect his ribs at the same time. Maybe…

          • Carlos Acevedo

            Hi Funkybadger,

            That could be it, too. Still, I’ve never seen it before, and certainly I was never taught that punch in the gym 40 pounds ago…I mean 15 years ago….