Sharkie’s Machine: "The Ring Magazine and Reality"

06.12.03 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr: Francisco Lorenzo vs. Courtney Burton: Friday night in St. Thomas, the Virgin Islands, fight fans got a look at Courtney Burton, whose claim to fame was a knock out win over the heavily tattooed Angel Manfredy last July. Coming into this fight against Francisco Lorenzo, Burton was ranked #6 by ‘The Ring Magazine.’ That’s pretty high praise for a guy who’s done so little so far.

I don’t put much stock in The Ring Mag’s ranking system since, considering that Derrick Gainer (Featherweight division) was ranked #2 by The Ring Magazine a couple of weeks ago. Then we saw from Gainer’s gutless performance against J.M. Marquez that he does not even deserve to even be ranked in the top ten. It makes me wonder how guys get their rankings from that magazine?

This was a Lightweight fight for some marginal title belt. LWs are 135-pounders. There’s no way Burton weighed less than 150 in that ring. Throw in that Burton is 5’9” tall and has been known to hover at 170-pounds between fights and that his opponent is 5’3” tall and looks like he weighs about 140. If this is not a match up designed to build Burton’s record, what was it?

To Lorenzo’s credit, he came to fight. He didn’t look scared of his much taller and larger framed opponent. Lorenzo took the fight to Burton with wild punches and a high work rate. As busy a fighter as Lorenzo is—he’s no household name. He put some good fights together lately though, fighting five times in 2003. Being from the Dominican Republic, where fighters take on tougher fights as they build their records, Lorenzo is not one to be overlooked, inside that small frame is a big heart. He’s a work in progress though and his skills are not as impressive as his fighting spirit. At age 32, he may never get to wear a major title belt but he’s a good test for others with more promising futures. Lorenzo’s last five fights were:

Ubaldo Hernandez W-10, Juan Diaz L-10, Genaro Trazancos W-10, Santiago Matos KO-3 and Francisco Melendez by KO-4.

Lorenzo is a sloppy fighter who wings his shots. He is easy to hit if you’re willing to get close. Power is not a Lorenzo asset though he throws punches in bunches and has a street brawler’s demeanor.

Burton is a better technical boxer. He is patient, changes from southpaw to conventional with ease and came into this fight with a look of a man who knew he would win. He did. But that was not the sentiment of the fans in attendance, which as is becoming more and more common these days at boxing matches.

* * *

The Fight

Round 1

Francisco Lorenzo is more aggressive and takes the fight to the more polished and significantly larger Courtney Burton. Lorenzo throws a low blow and is warned. FL throws more, landed more and won the round.

Round 2

Again, Lorenzo low blows, Smoger warns but doesn’t penalize. FL outworks the patient CB and wins the round.

Round 3

CB scores a few nice shots that get Lorenzo’s attention but CB is still out worked and outscored by FL.

Round 4

CB scores very well and wins the round. FL keeps up the pace but doesn’t do enough scoring to win the round.

Round 5

FL low blows again and is looking sloppy and unbalanced, CB hits much harder as they looked like David vs. Goliath in the ring or maybe Godzilla vs. Mothora. CB wins that round as FL looks low on gas.

Round 6

Lorenzo keeps throwing, mostly missing too in this round. CB is more calculating and scores well when he does. Both do about even, I scored it 10-10.

Round 7

A slugfest, where FL throws a zillion soft shots and CB throws a handful of decent shots that score. I would rather have been CB in this round, so CB takes the 7th.

Round 8

FL out hustles CB and just barely wins this round.

Round 9

FL slips on the advertisement in the center of the ring and Referee Steve Smoger, who did a great job up to that point, called it a knock down. A moment later, while Burton was getting his mouthpiece put back in a neutral corner, the replay clearly showed Lorenzo slipping before Burton even landed the punch that touched him as he went down. He got up instantly but Smoger already made the call. Lorenzo does well in the round but Burton may have done a pinch better. 10-9 Burton. I didn’t count that as a 10-8 round because a slip is not a knock down.

Round 10

FL comes on strong and scores some good shots. Burton is cut above the left eye. Lorenzo does really well in this round where it looked like Burton had over looked him. FL wins round.

Round 11

Burton scores big. Lorenzo holds a lot. FL loses mouthpiece this time. CB dominates this round.

Round 12

In an awkward moment, with FL turning to circle and avoid CB, he slips again on the wet canvas as CB lands a grazing shot to the back of FL’s head. Smoger calls it a knock down. I was shocked!

What was up with Smoger? Was he looking for reasons to protect the favorite? I think Smoger’s a pretty good ref, who for the most part, let them fight their fight, but those were some bad calls. It would’ve been acceptable to deduct a point for one of the low blows Lorenzo threw, which would have been unquestionable. Lorenzo scored very well after the bad call and I thought it was a well balanced round for both guys and so I called it 10-10. I didn’t base my score on Smoger’s calls. They were slips, not knockdowns. If a punch causes a slip, that’s a knock down. If a guy slips before he gets punched, that’s a slip.

Overall, an entertaining match between a pair of fairly unknown fighters.

I had the fight a Draw. 115-115

I knew the official scores would be different. Lorenzo had to be handpicked for Burton. Only a knock out by Lorenzo would’ve secured a win. Come on, a guy 5 foot 3 inches against a 5 foot 9 inch full framed guy—who’s idea was this as a fair match up?

The crowd booed loudly when the announcer said, “We have a Split-Decision…” Then went on to say the scores of 115-114 for Burton, 115-113 for Lorenzo and 116-113 for Burton.

Burton had won the decision. Lorenzo won the crowd. Too bad this wasn’t the Coliseum during the days of the Roman Empire where there were no Judges to influence the outcome of combat.

* * *

Courtney Burton is typical of ‘up and coming’ American fighters. His first 15 fights were all against guys with losing records, some as bad as 1-21 (2nd fight) and 1-28 (8th fight). After ‘building’ his confidence against a bunch of stiffs, he fought a guy with a 14-2 record but a head butt caused an early end to that fight, called a No Contest. Two fights later, he got brave again and faced 17-2 Eleazar Contreras, who knocked Burton down five times and won by KO 5. After losing his confidence, Burton took a set-up fight against Tomas Barrientes and won by KO-1. Then took on old warhorse, Gabe Ruelas (49-6), who lost to Azumah Nelson his first of three fights against Nelson by decision in 1993! Ten years ago—now that’s old. He beat Ruelas by KO-8. Then he KO’d Angel Manfredy, a ‘name fighter’ on the serious decline in the twilight of his career last July.

After that last paragraph, serious questions rise about The Ring Magazine’s ranking system.

Top Ten Ring Mag Lightweights are:

1-Juan Lazcano 2- Jose Luis Castillo 3- Leonard Dorin
4- Steve Johnson 5- Artur Grigorian 6-Courtney Burton
7-Alejandro Gonzalez 8- Julien Larcy 9- Javier Jauregui and
10- Victoriano Sosa.

How can Courtney Burton be ranked 6th when he never beat any of the guys ranked 7th thru 10th? I doubt he could beat any of them, especially the unorthodox and dangerous Jauregui. Why isn’t Contreras even on the list? Maybe because he lost two of his last three to some other guys who aren’t on the list, Juan Valenzuela and Juan Diaz. Most of the guys on that list have not fought each other making the whole list bogus.

Somehow, before Boxing ends up with the believability of “Professional” Wrestling, Boxing must come up with a legitimate system for ranking fighters so that true competition decides who the top ten fighters are in any given division. Regardless of what a certain promoter for The Ring Mag says, their rankings are as questionable as the Alphabet soup rankings and are therefore, no substitute.

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Article posted on 06.12.2003

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