Convicted Artist Magazine

Apr 25th
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boxing-knockoutsAfter watching Tomasz Adamek’s futile effort against Vitali Klitschko, I think it is official to start calling a recent observation a trend.  Fighters are only capable of scoring knockouts, when there is no surrender in an overmatched opponent.  Of course there are exceptions in the lower eschelon of matches.  11-0 prospects routinely batter 5-9 journeymen to the ground for kayos, even when the opponent is running for safety.  However, once at the top levels of the game, a knockout is not possible without a stubborn refusal to accept that one is outgunned.

We can use either Klitschko for an example, but I will use both.  David Haye can call himself a decision loser to Wladimir.  Ditto Kevin Johnson to Vitali.  Chris Arreola and Tomasz Adamek, however, are stoppage losers to Vitali.  One glance at a record may suggest that gives Johnson and Haye bragging rights.  One might even make the suggestion that Johnson and Haye possessed better chins.  However, one who has actually watched these fights will come to another conclusion.

Johnson and Haye never engaged.  They are good enough fighters to avoid disaster if they only have to focus on defense, therefore they lasted.  Arreola and Adamek, however, experienced the exact same futulity when faced with the Iron/Steel brothers, yet did not surrender.  Arreola stubbornly pushed forward, while Adamek tried a few different tactics, distances, and speeds, all in vain.  These men could have probably lasted the distance, had their hearts not also revealed their deficiencies so vividly.  While we were left to wonder by round ten, whether or not Haye or Johnson would ever start fighting, we were wondering about the safety of Adamek or Arreola.

Both Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have had to answer similar recent questions about failing to finish their last 5 combined opponents.  Both men pointed to Ricky Hatton as the example of what it requires to score knockouts.  He kept trying to win, even after it looked like there was no way he was going to.  This may not sound intelligent, but the longer one tries, the more likely something can happen.  Injuries (Vitali’s creaky knees gave a glimmer of hope to Adamek) and lapses in concentration from an opponent pressing the issue can help.  However, never forcing your opponent to be uncomfortable, just for the sake of lasting the distance, cheats fans out of what they paid for… your effort.

The best in the game typically establish the talent gap between themselves and their opponents quite early.  Roy Jones and Pernell Whittaker were famous for this.  On many occasions, this is the first time their talented, experienced opponents have experienced that feeling.  Reacting to it properly makes one a true fighter.  Haye, Clottey, Mosley (at least in his later career), and Johnson reacted like most people would.  They thought about their own safety and embarrassment.  However, true fighters are not like most people… they are willing to come forward and keep trying their luck.  Let’s hope men like Victor Ortiz and Robert Helenius, who will tangle with these stars someday, follow their lead.  Let them never become content just to hear a final bell.

Chris Strait

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