Sillakh cruising along smoothly until he ran into a Grachev right hand
by Paul Strauss: Denis Grachev lived up to his nickname "The Pirate" when he stole the fight from top contender Ismayl Sillakh at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, TX. Up until the eighth round, Ismayl was going along smoothly, winning every round with his superior skills and athleticism. But, unlike the Ishmael in Herman Melville's Mobie Dick, this Ismayl wasn't going to escape.
It was fun listening as Friday Night Fights analyst Teddy Atlas expanded on his usual fight plan. He talked about Sillakh's tendencies, and how Grachev might exploit them. As the fight progressed, Grachev seemed unable to execute what Teddy felt needed to be done, and therefore Teddy went so far as to say the fight was not an interesting one. (Roy Jones, Jr. would fire Teddy for such an utterance. That is according to his design for a new boxing network. Roy only wants announcers who ballyhoo the fighters. Any negative comments would warrant dismissal. How boring. You would have to be an ignoramus, like those who enjoy MMA announcers, to want that kind of commentary. Oops, that slipped out..)
As is normally the case, Teddy kept reiterating his point that Silliakh was vulnerable to a right hand. He explained that Sillakh, like many mobile fighters, thinks he's can avoid the big one by simply moving straight back out of range. They believe there's no need to keep their hands up. Also, Teddy was right in explaining that the slower fighter shouldn't always chase the speedier one. Rather, he should use timing and lure the faster guy into range and then time what was coming and beat the quicker guy to the punch.
That's exactly what happened in the eighth round. Sillakh was having everything go his way. Grachev looked slow and awkward. He wasn't giving fans much hope for an upset. He looked every bit the 11 to 1 underdog. He was off balance, leaning in with his head down, open for an uppercut. Sillakh was bouncing lefts and rights off of his head, and put Grachev down in the third round with a left, left, right hand combination.
Grachev was throwing embarrassingly short shots. It didn't look as though there was any way he would get to Sillakh. As the fight progressed, Sillakh slowed some, but he was still controlling the action. Grachev continued to slug around, and the fans were increasing the din level of their booing. Grachev kept plugging away. Boring!
Then it happened. Silliakh screwed up by lingering inside, maybe trying to please the fans by exchanging more? Regardless his motive, he was there to be hit, and Grachev obliged him with a nice inside right hand. When the punch landed on the left side of Sillakh's head, it caused his body to stiffen. He didn't go down, but there was no doubt he was in trouble.
Teddy was so excited that Grachev was proving him right, that he almost lost his voice. He was squeaking out things like, "Just as we were saying" which meant he was assuming co=host Bernardo Osuna agreed with him. The fact is those two weren't agreeing about much Friday night, mostly because of Teddy, who obviously was in need of his usual partner Joe Tessitore.
Back to the action, Grachev seized on his opportunity. He already had proved Teddy right by timing the inside shot, and now he was about to prove him right again, this time about Sillakh's vulnerability when moving straight back with his left down. Grachev fired several hard shots, which were bouncing Sillakh around. They definitely were causing him some distress, but not yet getting through cleanly. Then Sillakh did what Teddy said he would do, and that was move out in a straight line with his left down. Grachev's big overhand right followed him and landed cleanly putting him down and out.
Referee Rocky Burke stepped in and waived an end to what might have been Ismayl Sillakh's hopes for a title shot. It was 2:18 into the eighth round. The twenty-nine year old Grachev improved his record to 12 (8KO) -0-1, but it's doubtful anyone believes he's ready for a title shot. On the other hand, the previously undefeated 17 (14KO)-0-0 Sillakh might be able to go back to the drawing board and correct his glaring deficiency, which surprisingly is not all that uncommon, and then get back into contention. He is physically skilled enough to do so, but can he mentally get over being stopped?
Back at ringside, did you sense that Teddy is not all that crazy about being paired with Bernardo? There seemed to be a definite uneasiness or level of irritation in Teddy's demeanor. Several times over the course of the broadcast, Teddy pointedly disagreed with Bernardo, and corrected him much like a parent or teacher would do with a youngster. It seems obvious that Teddy would just as soon have Bernardo back in the studio, and not seated next to him at ringside. Who knows what the future will bring.
Another thing Teddy seems to be right about is the upcoming PPV bout between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Miguel Cotto. Asked what he thought about Cotto's chances, Teddy bluntly said, "Not much." More than likely Teddy is right. Certainly Cotto has a chance, but that's about it......a chance. Mayweather does everything better. He's faster (hands and feet). He punches with greater accuracy. He is more elusive. He is more skilled. He knows all the tricks. He has never suffered punishment in a fight such as Cotto has in several of his fights, including ones he has won. Nope, Cotto's chances aren't good. You might want to save your money.