Boxing


Fighters who lost their “0” in 2007: Who Bounces Back and who Falls Flat in 08”

By Phil Santos – Overhandright.com: Maybe it’s due to the physicality of the sport, or the manner in which fighters are beaten between the ropes, whatever it is one loss in boxing can be more damaging to an athlete than in any other sport. If Roger Federer drops a match he was heavily favored to win, or Tiger Woods fails to win a tournament that everyone knows he should have, sports fans collectively assume that these highly skilled pros will resume their winning ways the very next chance they get. Whether it’s an individual or team sport a loss is simply viewed as a bump in the road, something to learn from, after all nobody is perfect right? In fact often times a loss is viewed as beneficial to a team or individuals’ growth and the rectification of flaws can help strengthen prior short comings..

Well fight fans do not adhere to that line of thinking. Today undefeated fighters are often coddled and carefully matched in order to preserve that all important “0”. Over the years I have witnessed many great fighters lose for the first time. Marciano and Mayweather, assuming he retires, are clearly the exception and not the rule. Yet you hear it all the time, you may have said it yourself, “I don’t know if he’ll ever be the same” or “He must not have been that great anyway”. As history has dictated it is not so much the loss itself but how a fighter rebounds from the loss that tells the story.

2007 has given us plenty of reason to speculate on the topic so lets get started….

Vic Darchinyan entered 2007 as a fan favorite with a perfect record, 28-0 (22), and as the reigning IBF and IBO Flyweight Champion. His year began with a vicious beating of tough contender Victor Burgos. Darchinyan’s victory was so thorough that Burgos was hospitalized and in listed in critical condition following the bout. Things couldn’t be better for the “Raging Bull”. His stock was on the rise, he was amassing a following due to his fan friendly, free swinging approach. Vic then signed to fight relatively unknown Nonito Donaire in July. Donaire was considered a solid fighter with a nice record, 17-1 (10), who would end up being another victim of a Darchinyan KO. One quick left hook changed all of that. Nonito Donaire took out the champ and became the fighter to watch at 112 lbs, while Darchinyan lost his sense of invincibility, his championship titles and ultimately his “0”.

Vic got back to his winning ways by scoring a TKO over Federico Catubay in October. The win marked his 29th as a pro and was his 23rd win by way of knockout. Darchinyan is next scheduled to battle Z Gorres, 27-2-1 (15), in February of 08”. A return to prominence and eventually a title shot should be in Darchinyan’s future. Given the former champions power, marketability and resume barring another shocking defeat Vic Darchinyan’s future appears bright. Whether it’s a rematch with Donaire or another alphabet title quest expect Darchinyan to bounce back strong in 08”.

Vic Darchinyan: Expect Darchinyan to Bounce Back in 08”

Jermain Taylor began the year as an undefeated world champion and was less than two years removed from defeating the legendary Bernard Hopkins twice. Taylor signed up to tangle with former Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight title holder Cory Spinks, despite harsh criticism from fans and media. Spinks would be Taylor’s second straight opponent, with Kassim Ouma being the first, who spent the majority of their careers below the 160 pound limit. Taylor ignored the denigration and scored a close win over Spinks.

While Taylor was able to block out the critics he could no longer avoid a true Middleweight contender in the form of Kelly Pavlik. The two squared off in September and put on a show to remember or forget in Taylor’s case. Pavlik destroyed the former champ, after getting off the canvas early, and scored a tremendous TKO. Jermain Taylor will kick off 08” with a rematch with Pavlik and a chance to avenge his lone defeat. It is for this reason more than any other that Taylor’s chances of having a nice bounce back year are very slim. Taylor seeking an immediate rematch with Pavlik showed a side of Taylor that fans yearned for while he was the champ, brashness, confidence in his ability and willingness to take on the best opponents. Unfortunately for Taylor he may have really stepped in it this time. He has split ties with Emmanuel Steward and faces an opponent who seems focused and unshakable in Pavlik. He would have heard it from the critics but a tune up fight or two may have been just what the doctor ordered for Taylor to bounce back in 08” and prep for a championship run going forward.

Jermain Taylor: Expect Taylor to Fall Flat in 08”

Ricky Hatton had fought his way to a flawless record, had legions of fans and was recognized as one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world. He began his 07” by besting Juan Urango in January before scoring, perhaps, his most meaningful win over Jose Luis Castillo in June. That is when he made, what might be, the biggest mistake of his career. Hatton called out Floyd Mayweather following his 4th round KO of Castillo. Hatton had to figure, why not, after all nobody had ever knocked out Castillo and when Mayweather fought him the first time it was as close as anyone had come to beating “Pretty Boy”.

The fight was made and it would be the second major event that Mayweather would take part in during 2007. On December 8th somebody’s “0” had to go. Hatton fought valiantly but, as witnessed in his fight with Luis Collazo, 147 was just too much for “The Hitman” and Floyd was just too good. Ricky Hatton holds all the cards at this point in his career. Whether 08” is a bounce back year or not depends on whom he chooses to fight. An eagerly anticipated match up between UK rival Junior Witter could make or break the year to come for Hatton and, perhaps, do the same for his legacy. I expect Hatton to be carefully matched in order to line up another big name fight by the end of 08”. You should expect a bounce back year from “The Hitman” who will undoubtedly return to 140 lbs where he does his best work. Hatton should look impressive against some mid-level opposition before something big pops off toward the end of 08” or early 09”.

Ricky Hatton: Expect a Bounce Back year from “The Hitman” in 08”

Mikkel Kessler made his American television debut in 2007 and proceeded to pound out a win over an iron chinned Librado Andrade. Interestingly Andrade also entered the fight with a perfect record before being outclassed by the “Viking Warrior”. Although Kessler failed to stop his opponent the beating he administered was so one-sided that none of the three judges could find a single round to award Andrade. There were many, myself included, who thought that a younger, stronger Mikkel Kessler would bring Joe Calzaghe’s long reign as Super Middleweight King. The outcome of a match up between two undefeated, highly skilled champions had been speculated for sometime now, and a strong case could be made for both.

Finally on November 3rd all our questions would be answered. The fight was entertaining but failed to live up to the hype surrounding it. Kessler failed to apply the kind of pressure that many felt he was capable of putting on Calzaghe. Surprisingly Mikkel Kessler seemed almost content just to share a ring with the “Pride of Whales”, who boxed circles around him and coasted to an easier than anticipated decision victory. While Calzaghe deserves all the credit for again beating the man who was believed to be his vanquisher, Kessler’s performance was sub par and has to leave doubts as to his future. On the plus side Kessler remains one of the top two or three Super Middleweights in the world, with Calzaghe seated firmly on the throne. Mikkel should be able to bounce back and enjoy a solid 08” given his track record against top quality opposition. His wins over Anthony Mundine, Librado Andrade and Markus Beyer are proof enough for me that Kessler should be back in a big way in 08”.

Mikkel Kessler: Kessler should Bounce Back to enjoy a solid 08”

A few other noteworthy fighters who lost their “0”

Nicolay Valuev: The Heavyweight divisions Goliath met his David in the form of Ruslan Chagaev. “The Russian Giant” lost his WBA title along with his “0” as Chagaev fought tough on the inside and avoided being caught at the end of Valuev’s stiff jabs. The game plan laid out by Chagaev will likely be replicated by any of the top two or three heavies in the world if matched up with Valuev. Nicolay did well to score a decision win in his next fight over Jean Francois Bergeron in September and if he chooses to continue his plight in Europe against relatively unknown fighters he has a great chance of a Bounce Back 08”. If, on the other hand, Valuev is matched with Klitschko, Maskaev or Peter than the colossal former champion would surely Fall Flat in 08”.

Rey Bautista: After blasting his way toward title contention “Boom Boom” ran into a buzz saw in free swinging Daniel Ponce De Leon. Bautista was crushed, suffering his first loss by 1st round TKO. He did manage to go 3-1 in 07” and bounced back to score a win in his very next fight, a decision win over Antonio Meza, but don’t expect Bautista to regain his once lofty status as a potential champion. A loss to Ponce De Leon, who looked little more than ordinary against Eduardo Escobedo could have exposed Bautista as nothing more than a brawler. Expect a fair share of exciting knockouts from Bautista in the future but look for him to Fall Flat in 08” when faced with quality competition.

Allan Green: Green was a fast rising star who flashed devastating knockout power to go along with solid technical skills. What was expected to be a great contest between Green and heavy handed Edison Miranda turned out to be a coming out party for Miranda and brought to light whatever short comings Green’s arsenal possessed. Every fighter, nowadays, seems to have an excuse for losing; I was drugged, this isn’t my best weight, I was distracted, and so on however Green was suffering through some rather serious medical issues going into the Miranda fight. Whether his medical condition was truly the cause for his unraveling is tough to say. What I can say is that Green has looked solid since his lone defeat scoring two knockouts in his only fights since facing Miranda. He kayoed Darrell Woods in the 1st round and Sherwin Davis in the 2nd to cap off 2007. Expect Green to Bounce Back in 08” and re-emerge as a serious title contender at Super Middleweight.

Article posted on 18.12.2007



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