Boxing


Super Six - Green Out & Johnson In, Plus Marquez injures shoulder in loss to Lopez

By Paul Strauss: There is a common denominator in these two fights that took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV Saturday night. It is a fighter's excuse. An excuse can be valid, and often times supplies a geniune reason to remove blame for a loss. Or, it can be more of a "loser's limp". The term seems to have originated in a book titled "No More Excuses", by Tony Evans. In the book, Evans describes the outfielder who misjudges the flight of a fly ball, or the receiver who drops a pass. They both fall to the ground and come up limping with this mysterious injury. It's open to debate, which applies to Green and Marquez.

In the Green vs. Johnson fight, Glen Johnson fought in his usual aggressive style. He was always pressing forward, gloves high, and moving his punches up and down. Green exhibited a good jab, but it wasn't slowing up the Road Warrior. It was interesting to hear announcer Al Bernstein suggest that if Green was to be successful, he would have to land a more effective jab that drove Johnson back. Co-announcer Antonio Tarver said, "When was the last time you saw anybody's jab driver Johnson backwards?" Al laughed and had to agree that the answer was never..

That started out as the pattern of this fight and remained so until the end. However, the big difference in the fight was Johnson's right hand punches to the head. Certainly all of the shots, especially his good body work contributed, but it was the looping right hand punches to the side or back of Green's head that spelled disaster. He just couldn't get out of the way. In fact, you could say he got in the way, because his whole defensive posture was flawed.

It started with his poor footwork. He was continually walking and crossing his feet. He needed to shuffle and slide, so if he saw an opening he would be set to take advantage of it. Instead, he was vulnerable to Johnson' s game plan. Early on it appeared that Green wanted to step inside Johnson's looping right hand and land his own left hook. However, because he wasn't set properly, he couldn't get the punch off, which left him trying to duck down and away from the shot.

As a result, the punch would land to the left side or back of his head. It wasn't an illegal punch, because as Antonio Tarver pointed out, Green was not avoiding the punch correctly. Rather, he was placing himself him harm's way.

The first time he got knocked "screwy" was in the third round. Johnson ended the round with a flurry, landing one of those big right hands, then a left to the body, and finishing things at the bell with a another right hand. Green was badly hurt and his equalibrium was gone.

In the fourth round, Green clinched and held a lot. He was warned on at least three occasions to stop. Johnson ripped several hard shots to the body, and tried to keep the pressure on his foe and finish him off. In between rounds, the camera was on Green and it was obvious he was not focusing on instructions from his corner. His eyes were wandering and he looked confused.

As the fight progressed, he did have his moments when he would get a jab through, or let go with a combination. However, it didn't deter Johnson in the least, and he kept coming and throwing. Glen's defense remained tight, and it was obvious that dropping down to the 168 lb division hadn't weakened him at all.

Green continued to look wobbly, and kept leaning and bending to his right, with his gloves low, which availed him to the looping right hand. It was like watching someone step into traffic. It's a dumb thing to do, and you yell watch out, but it's too late.

Seconds into the ninth round, Green got nailed again. This time the punch dropped him to the canvas, and the first thing he did was to tilt his head up and with a plaintiff look at Referee Robert Byrd complain he had been hit behind the head. It was obvious he hadn't been knocked out and was in control of his faculties, but it also was obvious he did not want to continue. He did manage to get to his feet, but the fight goes down as a KO at thirty-six seconds into the ninth round. Now, Johnson moves on in the tournament tied with Arthur Abraham at three points, and the Ghost Dog stumbles off into the shadows.

In the main event, Rafael Marquez quit on his stool, claiming an injury to his right shoulder. He probably was feeling a lot of other injuries to other parts of his body as well, because he was taking a shellacking at the hands of Juan Manuel Lopez.

Both fighters started out cautiously and with a lot of respect for each other. But, Lopez steadily increased his attack. Marquez tried to get his jab going, but was getting countered with JuanMa's hard right hook. Rafael didn't adjust by getting his glove back fast enough, or by taking a fast half-step back. He also failed to faint, so he didn't get Lopez to commit and put a little hitch in his giddy-up. As a result, he kept getting hit with the punch.

Marquez also failed to move often enough to his left, away from Lopez southpaw power. Rafael has had good success in the past against southpaw, so it was odd that he didn't position himself better Saturday night. Much of that inability could justifiably be attributed to Lopez' good footwork.

In fact, throughout the fight Lopez looked strong and on-balance. He continually derailed any attempts by Marquez to flee or change angles. When Marquez did open up, he retaliated in kind.

Initially, Marquez had hoped that Lopez would try too hard too early to end things, and possibly open himself up for a counter. However, Lopez remained calm and deliberate. His attack was precise and surgical. He had Marquez off balance, with his feet too far apart.

That is not to say Marquez didn't have his moments. For example, in the third round, Lopez landed a big left, which sent Marquez stumbling backwards across the ring trying to catch his balance. When JuanMa caught up with him, he also ran right into a straight right hand. Fortunately for him it was close to the end of the round.

Already by this time though, Marquez was wild. He was missing some of his punches by as much as one-half foot. A little panic might have been comig into play. But, he still managed to hurt JuanMa badly in the fourth with two lefts, and then two rights. JuanMa was definitely in trouble, and for a few seconds the fight got ugly with holding and hitting, wrestling and so forth. Referee Tony Weeks warned JuanMa several times for holding behind the head and hitting.

Unfortunately for Marquez, the referee chose that point to stop the action and penalize JuanMa a point. It was obviously justified, but it also resulted in needed time for JuanMa to regain his senses. The fifth round was very close and possibly an even round. The main thing for JuanMa was his ability to regain his composure and get through the round without further damage.

In the sixth round, JuanMa returned to punishing Marquez. Rafael would make the mistake of trying to get inside with JuanMa, but he failed to keep his guard up while doing so. As a result, JuanMa ripped him with a succession of hard short shots.

Rafael continued to fight back, but he wasn't sharp. He did manage to land a good right uppercut in the seventh and later a left hook, but Lopez was applying tremendous pressure. It was a very rough round for Marquez. His corner stated the obvious when they told him, "You have to stop him with something!"

In the eighth round, Marquez was squared up with his guard down. It was turning into a slaughter. It was only Rafael's tremendous courage that kept him on his feet, and still trying to wing wild punches, but he was like a wounded bird, easy prey. He made it through the round and back to his stool, but he immediately complained that he had injured his right shoulder, and that he couldn't defend himself. As a result, the fight ended with his failure to answer the bell for the start of the ninth. Officially it is an RTD.

Rafael quickly got up off his stool and paraded around the ring, tapping his right shoulder with his left glove to somehow signify to the crowd that he had hurt it. He was trying his best to make people understand that he hadn't just quit. An interesting thing happened. Rafael was headed in one direction, and Referee Tony Weeks grabbed his right arm and pulled him in the opposite direction. Why, who knows. But, the anticipated reaction by those watching was for a grimace on the part of Rafael, because of his injury, be it a rotator cuff, muscle tear, dislocation, etc., but it didn't happen?

Maybe that failure to react means nothing, but in the post fight interview, Marquez seemed to imply that he hurt the shoulder in training camp, and that's why he wasn't throwing more right hands. Hmmmmmm. That of course brings other questions into play. Why go through with the fight if you have a geniune injury? During the fight, why wasn't his corner checking to see if the shoulder was alright? Didn't they know? It's doubtful he could have concealed it from them when sparring in camp. They certainly would have been asking him then why he wasn't throwing more right hands?

According to promoter Bob Arum, plans for Lopez include a fight (TBA) during the first quarter of next year in Puerto Rico, and then possibly a huge fight with Yuriorkis Gamboa around June. If Marquez' complaint of injury proves accurrate and legitimate, then he might be able to successfully lobby for a rematch in the latter half of next year. Time will tell.

Article posted on 07.11.2010



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