Boxing


Peter-Toney: Like Watching Paint Dry In A Torture Chamber

samuel peter04.09.06 - By Wray Edwards: With one exception - the Guerrero-Aiken bout - the rather abbreviated fight card at the Staples Center was unremarkable. The main event between Peter and Toney seemed to be fought at three-quarter throttle by both fighters. Only once or twice did James Toney really cut loose with an all-out combination, the likes of which would have easily brought him victory. IMO the news conference after the fight was way more entertaining than the main event.

Dan Goosen and Dino Duva got into a spirited exchange about who thought who won the fight. Dan’s position was that Toney won the match, and he wanted a rematch to prove the point or Goosen Tutor would protest. Duva said Peter was going to get a belt first and then he would consider the rematch. So Dan replies, “Then we’ll protest”. Then a really bizarre event took place.

One of the questioners in the crowded press room made disparaging remarks about Dino’s boxing related activities. Then Dino’s father Lou took exception to the remarks, first making physical threats, and then he got up to step into the crowd to whip up on the guy. Duva staff stepped in to restrain Lou and Staples security escorted the man from the room. This disruption was only slightly less intense than the general atmosphere in the room as many pointed and hostile questions were directed at Don King, Dino Duva and Dan Goosen (the three “Ds”).

The general drift of the mêlée was guided by the sentiments of about ninety percent of the media which felt that Toney had won the fight. Not to gloat, but I did predict that Peter would have a slight, perceived edge which would bring him the win, and that’s how it went. There were lots of statements by both camps that their fighter was the best, current heavyweight in the world. IMO neither one of them fits that description due to Peter’s weight impediments and Toney’s “tricky & elusive” style which leaves little time or opportunity for resolute victory to take the decision out of the hands of the judges.

THE FIGHTS:

Toney-Peter:

With the exception mentioned above (Toney’s two or three outbursts) the fight consisted of lots of mugging, lots of Toney coming in with his head so far down that the back of his neck was often the only target as he turned away, and Toney’s version of the “rope-a-dope”…yawn. Peter whacked Toney hard enough to cause James to hang on to the ropes and Toney tagged Peter a couple of times resulting in a bit of stagger which quickly passed.

My impression that the fight was kinda lame was shared by every fan I asked upon leaving the venue, and by the folks at home. In fact I was wrong in general about the whole card. All but one match were way less exciting than the mere appearance and demeanor of the fighters would lead one to believe. That one exception was…

GUERRERO-AKIN – FEATHERWEIGHTS:

Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero from Gilroy, California confronted Eric Akin from Marysville, Ohio in an IBF Featherweight Championship contest. The champion Akin was pretty much out-boxed in every round, and quit on his stool between the eighth and ninth rounds. Dan Goosen’s young feather also turned out to be the one bright spot in an otherwise contentious and negative press conference. Congratulations to the new IBF Featherweight Champion of the World.

MARRONE-WEST - HEAVYWEIGHTS:

Ralph “Wild-Wild” West was right when he said there would be a third round KO. He was, however, over-optimistic about who would be defeated. Michael Marrone demonstrated great reach and vicious technique in forcing West to turn his back and stick his head through the ropes in his own corner. The ref waved the match over. Marrone looked pale, not particularly ripped and quite ordinary at the weigh-in, but he gives the lie to appearances with accurate, long-reach punching and persuit.

DIRREL-THOMPSON – SUPER-MIDDLEWEIGHTS:

Anthony Dirrel owned Billy Thompson the whole six rounds and got the UD 60-54.

WALKER-CLARK – HEAVYWEIGHTS:

Emphasis on the “heavy” as these two could not seem to get their ponderous fight in the air. Travis Walker from Tallahassee, Florida did manage to best the slower-moving John Clark from Los Angeles, Cal. They leaned on each other quite a bit and had one wishing they would get on with it.

RAKOCZY-LARACUENTE – WOMEN’S LIGHTWEIGHTS:

Jessica Rakoczy from Las Vegas, Nevada sustained a really long gash over her left eye as a result of an accidental head-butt with Belinda Laracuente of Bridgeport, CT. This resulted in a no contest ruling.

Final thoughts on the news conference and the dispute over the main event decision: I have not recently been impressed by Toney’s style in the ring which looks more like sparring than prizefighting. Even though he styled himself after the weigh-in as a “street-fighter”, there was little evidence of the all-out war mentality usually associated with that attitude in this fight. Saying that his punches are “slick” and often “difficult to observe” begs the question regarding their effectiveness.

Conversely, Peter’s punches are usually initiated from huge, lunging motions of his inertial mass. He absorbed assorted Toney jabs which had little other than scoring effect. As much as I hate the concept I would have been OK with a draw in this match as it was so boring one didn’t feel like giving either fighter the satisfaction of a win. The old horse probably lost because he’s an old horse, and the young (rather rotund) buck did pursue contact way more than Toney. You don’t win by lying on the ropes unless it is to effectively tire the other guy out so that you can KO the dude later. Failing that, you just end up looking awkward and defensive. That IMO is why the nod went to Peter.

Having been to boxing venues all over the country, one tends to develop a sense of the good (which most are) and the bad. The Staples Center was, at least for this event, the most unpleasant experience I have ever had. Let’s review:

1. There was no media parking. We got whacked $20 just to park.

2. The venue staff was not very friendly.

3. The spacing of the seating, writer’s tables, and the ringside barricade was way too tight considering the available floor.

4. The ring lighting was pitiful with minimal lumens which the Staples technical staff readily conceded.

5. Last, but not least, those photographers who were not ringside, were relegated to a cramped strip of folding chairs which did not really afford suitable room to sit comfortably, let alone deal with heaps of camera equipment. I took pity on my seat mates and vacated to a place where I could kneel on a towel on the concrete. Every one of these photogs were big-time sports dudes and dudettes who had cameras which cost more than my car.

The photog seating was not even opposite the ring, yet there was ample open space on either side of the TV camera where we might have done our coverage without interfering with the TV folks at all. Every other venue I have attended provides ample space for the high-up, telephoto guys to operate with reasonable comfort and effectiveness.

I would never cover an event at the Staples Center if these issues were not first addressed and corrected. Diego Corrales gave good commmentary. Finally, I would like to thank Goosen Tutor for their kind assistance in providing ESB with the necessary information and credentials to cover the event. See you at the fights.

Article posted on 04.09.2006



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