Chances are, if youre reading this column youre a diehard boxing fan. And one of the small enjoyments of being a hardcore follower is being treated to a loaded Saturday night of boxing. Tomorrow (April 24), Showtime and HBO will compete for your views with 2 cards that promise to be filled with brutal, exciting action.
On Showtimes end, the network is continuing their 168 pound Super Six Tournament, with WBC titlist Carl Froch (26-0, 20 KOs) traveling to Denmark to face the countrys own Mikkel Kessler (42-2, 32 KOs).
The stakes are high for both men. Froch escaped with a controversial, ugly decision in the first round by beating Andre Dirrell by split decision in his hometown of Nottingham, England. By beating Kessler, Froch would gain a nice cushion and be the first fighter to win both his 1st and 2nd round fights, giving him an excellent chance to make the finals. Kessler was the tournament favorite, but was outclassed and beaten badly on a technical decision by upstart American Andre Ward last November. An emphatic win gets Kessler right back in the mix. Another loss and hes likely out of the tournament and in limbo regarding his career.
Both men are bangers who do their best when forcing the action and walking their opponents down behind power shots.
Froch is the more aggressive fighter, and as a result many times comes in wild. At times that can be costly, as witnessed when he was hurt and knocked down early against Jermain Taylor, and stunned several times by Andre Dirrell. But Froch does possess a strong chin, and was able to emerge victorious in those fights because he never ceased attacking and wore his foes down.
Kessler is much more measured and very precise with his punches. Much of the power he generates is from his superb punching technique and accuracy. However, Kesslers footwork and movement are not elite, and it leaves him vulnerable to quick fighters who can land counters and turn him before he can get set and fire back (see Calzaghe, Ward fights). Particularly in the Ward fight, Kessler was just too slow to avoid Andres explosive, offensive first move by taking a step to the side or back to counter. Mikkel later admitted that was a serious flaw that he intended to work on.
Kessler can count his blessing in that he is not facing a speed demon tomorrow. Froch will come straight at him, and with both men at 61, Kessler should be able to hold his own in the trenches. Each man will trade wincing, damaging shots and I expect nothing less than a shootout.
I see the difference being that Kessler is the better puncher, and will take more out of his foe with his accurate shots. A bout of note is Kesslers 2007 performance against pressure fighter Librado Andrade, who never stopped coming forward on Mikkel but took a frightful, one-sided beating over 12 rounds. Froch is a much better fighter than Andrade, but he will apply the same type of pressure, and at times leave too much space between them and get countered hard and often, like he was with Jermain Taylor and Andre Dirrell. But this time, if he gets dropped like he was with Taylor or stung badly as with Dirrell, the chances of finishing the fight are much lower.
My prediction for this one is Mikkel Kessler brings some luster back to his rep with a TKO by about the 8th round.
HBOs side features a double header with house fighter Alfredo Angulo (17-1, 14 KOs) facing former promising welterweight prospect Joel Julio (35-3, 31 KOs), and a guaranteed heavyweight brawl with Tomasz Adamek (40-1, 27 KOs) challenging Chris Arreola (28-1, 25 KOs).
Angulo was being groomed for a showdown with fellow young junior middleweight James Kirkland. Unfortunately, Kirkland went to jail for parole violations and Angulo was upset after being outboxed by a motivated Kermit Cintron last May.
Ironically, Julio is 2 years younger than Angulo at 25 despite having much more experience. This is a stern test for Angulo, who may be in for a long night if he simply plods after Julio like he did against Cintron. In his last HBO fight, Julio went out guns blazing after a relentless James Kirkland walked through all his shots and beat him into submission for a 6th round TKO.
Julio is tough and wont go easy, so Angulo is going to have to show he can put consistent, but not reckless pressure on Julio, who will undoubtedly be fighting off the back foot and looking to potshot.
HBO hype aside, Angulo had only 14 fights when he lost to Cintron, so he deserves another opportunity to show his improvements.
This one is a tough call, but Im leaning towards Angulo by KO. But dont be shocked by a Julio upset.
If you enjoy brawls, than make sure you dont miss Tomasz Adameks attempt to legitimize his heavyweight experiment by facing colorful contender Chris Arreola.
Adamek, whose spent most of his career at light-heavyweight and just vacated his cruiserweight title last year, will be making his third appearance at heavyweight. Last October, he scored an easy 5th round TKO over a shot Andrew Golota. In February, he won a decision over a fringe contender in Jason Estrada.
Arreola represents Adameks biggest test, and that is meant literally. At the weigh-in, Arreola came in at 250 pounds. Despite his size, Arreola has surprising stamina. In his loss against Vitali Klitschko last September, Arreola never ceased coming at Vitali for 10 rounds before being pulled out by his corner.
Adamek is a better boxer, but that can easily be nullified if he eats one too many Arreola haymakers. Essentially, Adamek will have to fight the perfect technical fight, constantly turning Arreola with movement and keeping the massive Mexican brawler off balance with hard jabs. The popular Polish pugilist must also be very strategic in when he allows exchanges, and when its wiser to clinch. Adamek does not want to be against the ropes, and at 217 pounds Tomasz must concede that he is in there with stronger, albeit slower foe.
Here is another tricky one to call. Adamek is the better boxer, but its not as if hes a technician; he made his name on bloody slugfests with Paul Briggs and Steve Cunningham. Still, my bias has always been skill over brawn, so Ill go with Adamek by split decision after tasting the canvas at least once.
Sugar Shane Mosley on Knockout Nation Next Week
Its been a hectic last month for Shane Mosley going into his May 1 showdown with Floyd Mayweather. Over the past week, Mosley has had to answer new questions regarding his past steroid use and defamation case with former BALCO head Victor Conte. In addition, Floyd Mayweather has renewed his personal attacks, this time accusing Mosley of taking out a $2 million dollar loan against Golden Boy preceding the fight due to money problems.
Early next week, check out my exclusive interview with Mosley as he discusses the biggest fight of his career, his critics, Mayweather, his past with performance enhancing drugs, and whether he feels Pacquiao is guilty of steroid abuse. Dont miss it.
News and Notes
– Edwin Valero was buried in his native Valenzuela several days ago. The boxer hung himself with his sweatpants in police custody after admitting to murdering his wife.
– Newly crowned middleweight champion Sergio Martinez is willing to face Kelly Pavlik in a rematch, and has vowed to knock him out should the bout be made.
– Jorge Arce (53-6-1, 40 KOs) faces Cecilio Santos (24-13-3, 14 KOs) this Saturday on FOX Sports