Boxing


Does Manfredo Have a Chance Against Bika?

manfredoBy Jason Peck, photo by Emily Harney

Iíve never doubted Peter Manfredo Jr.ís heart, his likeability or his willingness to fight. Indeed, Iíve heard more than a few people compare him to Arturo Gatti, a charismatic underdog who rallies the fans despite lacking the talent of an elite pugilist. And like Gatti, that marketability gets Manfredo into fights way over his head.

I was rather concerned to see that Manfredo will fight Sakio Bika this week. Fans say that Manfredo has a chance; reality says he doesnít. And if Manfredo does make it past Bika, the Pride of Providence still has a long way to go. Gatti may have been B-list, but he still had powerful weapons that made him dangerous against superior competition. Unless Manfredo makes some improvements, heís doomed to forever remain a journeyman..

In the meantime, Manfredo is just tough. But any trainer from Emanuel Steward to Clint Eastwood can tell you that isnít enough.

Despite all the insults, people forget that Gatti actually had considerable Ė but not elite Ė boxing skills and excellent movement around the ring. More importantly, for much of his career he had the brutal one-punch power that could snatch victory from the jaws of a shut-out defeat in a single blow. More than once, it did. Similar fan favorites like Micky Ward and Glen Johnson likewise had tools that didnít always win the fight, but always kept them competitive. Even top fighters dreaded the Ward body shot, and Johnsonís astonishing work rate guarantees a tough night.

By contrast, Manfredo brings little to help him against the top-tier in the super-middleweight division. He doesnít have sufficient power, he doesnít have the speed to evade and he doesnít have the boxing skills to out-hustle. When the bell rings on Thursday, Bika has no reason for caution.

To be fair, Manfedo showed some punch when he KOs fighters such as Joey Spina and Donny McCrary, but get real. That punch is still insignificant when compared to top super-middles like Mikkel Kessler, Carl Froch and Lucien Bute.

Admittedly, both Manfredo and Bika earned significant career boosts by appearing on the Contender TV program, but thatís where the similarities end.

Many of the early Contender stars clearly put on weight just to make the show. Itís interesting the note that Alfonso Gomez, who gave Manfredo the first loss of his career, subsequently dropped way down and campaigned at welterweight. According to Boxrec, Sergio Mora, who defeated Manfredo twice, likewise cut down a weight class as well.

Should Manfredo have taken a cue from his co-stars and trimmed down? I for one think so. In fact, I can see him having far more success at a lighter weight class than at super-middle.

Manfredo himself fought as a junior middleweight in his pre-Contender days. Since then, heís fighting as a super-middleweight Ė a tremendous weight difference by any standard, which exposes the fighter to different styles and a different class that requires a different emphasis.

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe Manfredo will pull off the upset of the year and claim the IBO trinket from Bika. If so, Iíll be the first to admit I was wrong. But Iíve got a pretty good idea that my prediction will be on the money.

Article posted on 12.11.2008



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