10.24.04 - By Izyaslav “Slava” Koza - Novirasputin@hotmail.com - No, I don’t mean in terms of money or in terms of comebacks, threats or 100,000 bets placed on the side in regards to which fighter will KO which. This is the fight that, were it a perfect world, every boxing fan would be salivating for with a glazed over look in their eye. Why?
Article posted on 23.10.2004
Well, look at it logically: The Champion of the best (in terms of quality fighters) division in boxing, is taking on his number # 1 challenger, who if you can believe it, actually deserves that chance. With the amount of false pretenders and belts circulating around in other divisions, calling themselves champs, and having “world title fights,” everything is oh so clear in this world title fight. What more can you ask of champ Kostya Tsyzu or his #1 challenger Sharmba Mitchell, who both earned the right to call themselves the best of the best, and now get to find out which is better.
What I would like to know is why the hell is this not on PPV? Why are some of the biggest losers (Holyfield, as of late) and jokes (Kali Meehan), as well getting a shot at PPV limelight, while the one true champion and his accomplished challenger are one rung away?
However, those are questions we should be asking of promoters who want to have fractured belts, so they could make a ton of money putting humpty dumpty back together again. Right now, let’s focus where the focus is due, and that is the fighters themselves.
I respect Sharmba for two things that he did after the Tsyzu fight. First of all, he went out and re-earned the right for a title, without too much ridiculous complaining. I imagine Sharmba could have done something like this: “I don’t need to fight anyone to prove what I am worth, my knee let me down, otherwise I would murder him, etc.” I think Sharmba realized that it wasn’t Kostya who hurt his knee and it wasn’t Kostya that made him quit on his stool, and that senseless “as$-sitting” was about as useful as, to quote a famous comedian, “a shotgun blast to the face.”
Secondly, Sharmba just plainly shut up for a while and stopped being disrespectful to Tsyzu, and insulting him. After the Phillips fight, he went so far as to say that Tsyzu was a bum or something to the effect, but when he realized Tsyzu doesn’t respond to empty trash talk, he did what he was supposed to and shut up, and fought on. Two victories over Ben Tackie, and Lovemore N’dou, and a long silence on Mitchell’s part in regards to insults, and he was back to where he was the first time he met Tsyzu, fighting for a title.
However, here is where the positive story ends on Mitchell’s part. After the N’Dou fight, Mitchell said, “I need tough fights like this.” However, I don’t understand what Micheal Stewart, and Moises Pedroza, Mitchell’s last two opponents, have to do with this. He easily beat Stewart by unanimous decision, and in his last fight, he stopped an overmatched unknown, in Pedroza, who had lost 3 fights in a row before this.
Regardless of what Mitchell says, actions speak louder then words. In my opinion, besides being meaningless fights, these bouts are a way for Mitchell to gain some much needed confidence. First of all, Mitchell is not a big puncher, and I think after watching the first fight between him and Tsyzu, we can see it showed. Yeah, he was being competitive at some points in the fight, but Tsyzu was turning it up, kept getting closer, hitting harder, until finally forcing Mitchell to quit, knee or no knee. A lot of people claim that Mitchell was giving Tsyzu problems, but I don’t really understand how that is possible, seeing as Tsyzu was up on two of the cards and drawn on the third, even with a point penalty for pushing.
Many people were extremely displeased when Kostya destroyed Judah in two rounds. However, I am of the latter group that were more displeased with the fact that he has only fought twice since that memorable unification bout.
First, he defended his title against the rugged “Ghanian Warrior” Ben Tackie. In my opinion, the beating he laid on Tackie was about as good as it gets, simply because at that time, Tackie was still considered a legit threat. Kostya outboxed him cleanly over the course of twelve rounds, and maybe lost one round in the process. Those that said he was only about power, were totally humbled that night. Yeah, Tackie wasn’t a masterful boxer, but for a solid contender with a good chin, he got the boxing lesson of a lifetime. I imagine that had this been a heavyweight fight, it would be on par with Lewis’ handling of Tua, but alas Kostya and Ben were born extremely underweight.
Tsyzu’s next fight is something I am completely at odds with in regards to how many fans view it. Kostya defending his title in Australia took on Jesse James Leija, the rugged veteran, who has been seen on TV more times then some current champions. Tsyzu, after some early problems, blasted Leija out in 6 rounds, after the Texan complained of all things, a broken ear-drum.
Now, here is where I come to odds with a lot of fans. Many people assume this was some sort of “stay busy,” exhibition fight that Tsyzu was taking as a break between legit defenses, and that he was supposed to destroy Leija in one, or two rounds, since Jesse James is, according to some, a shot fighter.
While I agree, Leija was not a high caliber defense, he was nothing short of a legit hungry opponent. Leija, if some recall, had just beaten Mickey Ward (yes, by decision but the cut that caused it was a vicious one, so don’t blame Leija for that), who Kostya wanted to fight as early as before the Judah fight. So, by default, it was a fair fight to take considering Leija beat the man (Ward), that was going to get a shot at the title. Secondly, besides Oscar De La Hoya, a Hall of Famer if there ever was one, who else crushed Leija?
Mosley stopped him in 9 rounds, and Nelson won on cuts. I would say placing your money on an early stoppage, was by all means, ridiculous. Especially considering the fact that after that fight, Leija decisioned a young Olympian named Francisco Bojado.
Throughout that fight, Leija was anything but shy, attacking Tsyzu without retreat.
The result? Tsyzu gave him the second worse beating of his career behind De La Hoya and forced him to quit. If your still not convinced, ask yourselves how Mitchell would have done against Leija in that instance? Yeah, he might have won, but I doubt it would have been a knockout victory.
The problem with Tsyzu is not the quality of his opposition or his skill in handling them, it’s his inactivity. An ardent Tsyzu fan, even I would strip him of all those belts after the second time he postponed the fight with Mitchell, due to an injury. Not because I want to hurt him, but because there are other guys who deserve a shot to make money fighting for belts, and nobody is getting any younger, especially new contenders itching for a fight, and not getting one, if the champ takes a year or so off.
I do, however, respect the fact that Tsyzu didn’t come back and waste more time with warm ups. No, the champ went the way a champ should go and chose to fight the guy that earned the best shot at the title.
Before I go so far as to make a bold prediction, I want to say that I make it based on the fact that both guys are in top shape, and there are no unexpected occurrences like head-butts, deep cuts caused by gloves or any of that stuff. I understand that whatever I say, there is no way that my words can prevent a single vicious haymaker from destroying my pick. I also cannot control what the fighters will weigh, or how two years off will affect them, or how an injury a day before the fight will play out. Let us just assume for the sake of argument that both guys will be hungry, prepared, and fully expectant to win the fight.
With all that out of the way, here is how I see it play out. The edge in mobility, and boxing skills goes to Mitchell, without question, simply because he does not have power and depends on technical boxing to carry him through. More concretely, however, he has not shown devastating power when fighting guys like N’Dou, Tackie (the knockdown was a trip, by the way, Tackie moved back and obviously tripped on Mitchell’s foot after the punch), or Phillips.
However, I think this fight will come down to one thing, and that is Tsyzu’s power. Tsyzu has really heavy hands and knows how to set up his punches extremely well. I mean, when have you ever heard of a fighter (Leija) quit with a broken eardrum? How hard does a person have to be hit to bust that up? Mitchell will have to be ready to avoid the Tsyzu’s right hand all night, and will have to be very to do so.
In my opinion, I think Mitchell is not as good a boxer as people give him credit for. Besides, Tsyzu is not the type of fighter who is scared of fast mobile guys, as the Judah fight proved. Tsyzu is also not the type of fighter who is not affected by long lay offs, even though I do think he needs to fight more often to stay in the public eye. Therefore, I expect Tsyzu to start slowly as usual, ala Judah, Leija, Urkal, and Mitchell-Tsyzu 1, and concede the first two rounds to Sharmba. From round three or four and on, I think Tsyzu’s ability to find his range, will finally take full affect. Once he starts landing, Mitchell will be less and less willing to engage, and will begin to run continously. At this point, I expect Tsyzu to start to a vicious body attack, to slow Mitchell down. This will depend on Mitchell’s ability to avoid Tsyzu’s body shots and counter Tsyzu. If Mitchell does choose to engage, he will succumb to Tsyzu’s power, much like Leija, or Chavez. If he chooses to run, Tsyzu should beat him by decision, as he will not have done enough to win rounds.
Finally, what I would like to say is, it’s not a matter of how much different views people take on the fight. I mean, I know some writers see Mitchell coming in and destroying an old, aging Tsyzu, and embarrassing him quite effortlessly. However, in the end, it’s not a matter of who’s analysis is better organized, or detailed, or who has the most evidence. In the end, it’s the two guys themselves in the ring. For the fans, it’s a matter of their gut feeling on who they think will win the fight deep down, and how they can justify it logically to themselves and others. Whatever the outcome, I think the fact that it’s a pick ‘em fight, legitimizes it even more in the public eye, and makes both guys seem even worthier challengers for boxing prestige. I hope that afterwards we as fans can appreciate what both guys did in there, and not criticize either of them, because what more can you ask of two fighters, except to give it their all against the best, most worthy opponents?
As always Novirasputin@hotmail.com