Photos by Sumio Yamada
ARTHUR ABRAHAM W12 PIOTR WILCZEWSKI
I’ve been busy working on previews for the Fightwriter subscribers and writing for Boxing Monthly, but I’m dropping in to give some thoughts on the past couple of weeks’ fights.
It surprised me that some people thought Arthur Abraham had a close call against Piotr Wilczewski in Germany. I agreed with the judges that Abraham won this fight going away on points.
As many of you know, I have for a very long time been interested in the wagering aspect of boxing, and I was monitoring the live online wagering at Betfair as rounds ended.
After six rounds, Abraham was -1400 in the live betting (14/1 on). After eight rounds, Abraham was -2500 and after nine rounds he was sitting at -5000 (50/1 on).
So, the people who risk their money were piling it on Abraham as fast as they could.
Wilczewski was tough, game and capable, and he was making a lot of rounds close. Abraham, though, was landing the sort of hard, clean punches that impress the judges. Abraham’s jabs had authority, and when he launched those two-handed bursts of punches to the body he was cancelling out Wilczewski’s dogged effort. The Polish camp knew at the end that their man had been well beaten, and Wilczewski had no complaints.
This win doesn’t make Abraham once more a force to be reckoned with in the 168-pound division but it was a highly respectable performance when you consider that Wilczewski fought James DeGale right down to the wire in the U.K. At a certain level — just below the elite level — Abraham will take a lot of beating. I wouldn’t dismiss his chances against the winner of the Robert Stieglitz vs George Groves fight.
I keep hearing about how difficult it is for a visiting fighter to get a decision in Germany. This is one of the biggest misconceptions in boxing. Many visitors have gone to Germany over the years and come away with a points verdict over a locally promoted star, among them the late Julio Cesar Gonzalez (U.S.), Vivian Harris (Guyana), Daniel Geale (Australia), Frans Botha (South Africa), Cristian Sanavia (Italy), Michael Sprott (U.K.), Leonard Bundu (Italy), Oleg Maskaev (U.S. and Russia), Eddie Chambers (U.S.); Jose Antonio Rivera (U.S.), Rudy Markussen (Denmark), Mads Larsen (Denmark), Frederick Klose (France) — all names that spring easily to mind.
One of my all-time favourite fighters, Philadelphia great Harold Johnson, got the decision over very popular Gustav Scholz in Berlin back in the 1950s and Virgil Hill won on points over another celebrated German fighter, Henry Maske.
That said, I thought Tony Averlant of France did enough to get the decision over German-promoted Eduard Gutknecht in their European light-heavyweight title fight on the Abraham-Wilczewski show.
Gutknecht scraped home on a split decision but in the consensus scoring (where at least two judges agree on which boxer won the round), Averlant came out ahead, 115-113. Averlant reminds me of Bruno Girard — long and lanky, not a lot of power but very busy and gritty. There were rounds when he was completely outworking Gutknecht. I wouldn’t say that Gutknecht got a gift, because this was a tough fight, with Gutknecht landing the heavier blows, but Averlant was at times swarming all over him. A knockdown late in the first round, when Gutknecht sent Averlant sprawling with a huge left hook, cost the French boxer the fight. Averlant had been breezing through the round, dominating it, even, until he got caught — one judge had the opening round only 10-9 in Gutknecht’s favour despite the knockdown. (How fights are scored is something else that interests me greatly and I am always grateful to the commissions and the indefatigable Bob Yalen for sending the master scoresheets of key fights.)
Disputed decisions happen everywhere — I thought Gabriel Campillo did enough to beat Tavoris Cloud in Texas but I will always believe that Campillo’s premature celebration of victory and mocking of a brave opponent counted against him in the scoring. The last two rounds were close enough to make an argument for Cloud winning them — Campillo should have closed out the fight by punching, not taunting.
Talking of Texas, I have to come to the defence, up to a point, of veteran judge Gale Van Hoy, whose scoring of the Carlos Molina-James Kirkland fight has come in for much criticism. I must admit that it seemed bizarre to me that Van Hoy could have had Kirkland winning by a score of 86-85 after nine rounds when everyone else — including the other two judges and also myself — saw Molina clearly ahead at that stage. However, a look at the scorecards showed that Van Hoy was only out in one round. (By “out”, I mean when a judge is on his own, his two judging colleagues having scored the other way.) As far as the official judging goes, the only round that Van Hoy missed was the seventh, which he had Kirkland winning while the other two judges went with Molina.
All-Mexico fights are usually intensely competitive and we saw this on Fox Deportes on Saturday night when Edgar Sosa came back from a first-round knockdown to win a close but unanimous — and well-deserved — decision over Wilbert Uicab in their flyweight title elimination bout in Cancun. It was tough luck for Uicab that he dropped Sosa when the opening round was almost over — if only Uicab could have landed the left hook in, say, the middle part of the round he would have had time to follow up and we could have been looking at a different result. That’s boxing, though, like life, full of “if onlys”.
Until the next time.