Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mosley-Mayweather: Thoughts and Predictions

This is awfully late for a fight that happens the day after tomorrow, but I was distracted by the relatively meaningless diversion of the heavyweight division for two days in a row.

So far I have seen two dominant narratives emerging around the Mayweather-Mosley fight. I don't feel either is entirely objective or accurate.

Narrative A is what I would call the majority view. Every boxing writer in Las Vegas for the fight thinks Mayweather is going to win and the odds in his favor are 4-1. Many people essentially believe Mosley has no chance, that his 38 years of age might as well be Bernard Hopkins' 45. I have seen fans write to the one unflinchingly pro-Mosley writer I follow saying that Mayweather will win because of his 'ring intelligence' in a manner suggesting that Mosley is an idiot. Internet boxing writer Ted Sares predicts 'a dominant UD' win for Mayweather. I don't dismiss the 4-1 odds (I'll get to that later) but I do think that all of this misses a great deal of nuance.

Narrative B is the equal and opposite reaction. Most prominent on this end of the argument is's Doug Fischer. He has been predicting a Mosley victory in his mailbag since before the fight was ever announced*. This view holds that Mosley has the combination of size, strength, speed, skill, and power to beat the pants off Mayweather. I think this would be very true of a prime Mosley. I think it's more realistic to recognize that Mosley is still very good and far from used up but most definitely past his very best.

So what is an honest, objective, realistic assessment of this fight?

I think the 4-1 odds in Floyd's favor and the 3-1 odds against Mosley reflect a certain degree of reality. Shane is definitely an underdog rather than the obvious favorite and if both fighters have the very best night that each is still capable of having, Floyd should win. I think odds somewhere between 2-1 and 6-1 are very reasonable. It's just that the intangibles make me unsure of exactly where in that range things fall into place.

Let's look at Shane first and let's look at him with an honest detachment. I don't want to look at him that way either. I'm born and raised in Southern California. My hometown is barely 30 minutes from Pomona. I'm the same age as Floyd Mayweather. That means Shane Mosley and I were 'neighbors' of sorts when we were kids. He is the one fighter I would want to root for instinctively above nearly anyone else. Still, you've got to bite the bullet.

Shane Mosley is 38 years old. While his performance against Antonio Margarito was nothing short of beautiful, his three previous fights were uneven at best. He had a lot of trouble with a used up Ricardo Mayorga before finally stopping him, was outboxed by Miguel Cotto down the stretch, and he put together a workmanlike but lopsided win over Luis Collazo. Four very different performances against four very different fighters. He's shown signs of his age at several points in his career and, while he's always bounced back well, it must be admitted that his age is a factor and might be a deciding factor. He's lost something. He doesn't move quite like he used to, doesn't pull the trigger quite as fast, doesn't beat the counter quite as smoothly as he did. Despite that, he's still able to move and pull the trigger pretty well. The main difference is that he gets countered more and, as a result, takes more punches. Against a pure boxer like Floyd, that doesn't help him. I don't think anyone denies Floyd is a better boxer than Miguel Cotto. Shane says he didn't expect Cotto to box and I think he came into the fight flat and might have beaten Cotto otherwise. Floyd won't surprise him by boxing, but there's still plenty of risk that Shane could come in flat from inactivity and/or overtraining. While it's not terribly likely, what if Floyd surprises Shane by standing in front of him? Mayweather stood in front of Jesus Chavez for 9 rounds and beat him so badly he quit.

Sure, Shane isn't a quitter and Floyd isn't going to beat him up the way he beat Chavez. Still, if Shane reacted badly to a surprise from Cotto then how would he react to a surprise from Floyd?

I don't think that's Floyd's likely strategy. Shane's admission that he failed to properly adjust when surprised by Cotto's strategic moves, however, suggest he is in danger if Floyd does do something he isn't expecting.

As for Mayweather, he is 33 years old. Once upon a time a welterweight was considered finished at that age. Floyd's periodic lack of activity, recent 'retirement', and lack of seriously punishing fights probably put his 'ring age' at around 27 or 28. So he may not be far off his prime at all. Still, in the 30s one starts to wonder. There aren't many guys Mosley's age fighting at Mosley's level. He doesn't always do it himself. Floyd's on safer ground but his age can't be totally ignored. Mayweather starts slow, is frequently more conservative than he really should be for too long, and is far from busy even in his most dominant rounds in the majority of his fights. His amazing athletic gifts and a degree of technical polish not common in this boxing era have allowed him to overcome these handicaps. Yet he has had close calls along the way and the fighters who gave him those close calls had things in common with Shane. Zab Judah and DeMarcus Corley were hard punchers who narrowed the speed gap enough to give Mayweather some tough moments. Jose Luis Castillo was bigger and stronger and was able to rough Mayweather up throughout their first fight. Mosley is both a hard puncher with good speed and a bigger and stronger man than Mayweather. This could be a dangerous combination.

I believe Mayweather has taken this fight because he sees it as the maximum possible level of reward he can get for the equivalent risk: like Oscar De La Joya before him, Mosley is an old man with a big reputation. I think Mayweather is in for tougher going than he expects.

My prediction and caveats will likely please no one in either camp.

I think Floyd will win. The fight will be close, sometimes entertaining and sometimes very ugly to watch, and the final scoring may be controversial. The final decision will likely be a majority or split decision or a very, very razor thin UD. There will be people who swear Mosley deserved to win.

As for my caveats, I think both are equally likely. If both cancel each other out, it will only ensure my prediction. It would not surprise me at all if that happened.

1.) Mosley has a lot in common with the guys who have Floyd a hard time early and he is considered a good puncher at welterweight. If Mosley uses his experience and what is left of his speed to catch Mayweather with a couple of good right hands and a fast combination early in the fight it could be a game changer. I don't think he KOs Mayweather, but the circumstances could unfold in which he gives Mayweather the kind of night he was given by the late Vernon Forrest. If Floyd really is underestimating Shane this becomes even more possible.

2.) Shane could also get old all at once. He is 38 and he has been in some very punishing fights. Forrest-Mosley I was more punishing than most of Floyd's career all by itself. If this happens he's going to have a very long night and people will be calling for his retirement. I can see a scenario where he craps out around round 10 or so and gives Mayweather a resurgence that makes the difference, even if Mosley is leading coming into the championship rounds.

The pressure is on Mosley to come in at the very best he can still manage in order to win and that can be a very difficult challenge to overcome. Floyd, because of both his comparative youth and his more defensive style, has more margin for error. That's why I can't pick against Floyd.

It's not going to be easy or lopsided, though. Floyd is going to have to work to win and, when it's all over, the sportswriters talking about how this will solidify his legacy may not think it did after all. Some of them may think Mosley won while others may think Mosley wasn't as much of a threat as they thought.

In the end Mayweather is going to win but he isn't going to make anyone happy who isn't already.

Just like always.

* The linked page is from this week, to show Mr. Fischer's position on the fight and his mailbag. The factual language of the sentence is not to imply this specific mailbag is older than the announcement of the fight.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ummm, no.

Despite my rather incisive comments about the heavyweight division yesterday, I have a lot of respect for Tomasz Adamek's victory over Chris Arreola this past Saturday. I predicted that Arreola would win by KO3 and when I hedged a little it was to say that Adamek could make it competitive for three or four rounds before losing by KO6. As I said yesterday, I was wrong.

My few readers and correspondents must think I absolutely hate Adamek. I have argued that he lost against Steve Cunningham, dismissed his wins over Andrew Golota and Jason Estrada, and stated I still consider him an underdog in a fight with Cunningham or Bernard Hopkins. I don't hate Adamek. I think he's a fun fighter, an entertaining fighter, a solid boxer, and a good puncher. Given the state of the heavyweight division, I even think that a #4 ranking is not entirely out of order.

I'm not sure about ranking him above Eddie Chambers. Chambers has arguably accomplished more at heavyweight than Adamek despite his losses to Wlad Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin. Despite his loss to Povetkin, one could argue that between himself and his European rival, Chambers has accomplished more. Still, Povetkin won his fight against Chambers (and Chambers, with his unwillingness to fight to win, deserved the loss) and remains undefeated. While I would favor Chambers over Povetkin in a rematch and favor him even more against Adamek, rankings are not all about who might beat whom. Chambers' losses to Povetkin and Wlad both showed the same defect: an unwillingness or inability to let his hands go against some opponents. The loss to Klitschko was expected and the disparity in size, Wlad's cautious style, and Wlad's great jab makes Chambers' usual jab/parry/counter style difficult to execute correctly. Against Povetkin, however, Chambers showed himself both capable of beating his opponent and unwilling to make the extra effort to do so.

As for the men ranked above and below him, I have to admit I'd favor him in a rematch with Arreola now. I'd also favor Adamek over Povetkin, who is a smaller-framed man than Arreola and would not possess the strength and power advantage I had expected Arreola to have over the Pole. I can see Adamek using the careful, conservative strategy that Chambers used against the Russian very successfully. He'd land bigger right-hand counters and it's not at all hard to picture him hurting Povetkin enough to ice the decision-influencing advantage in the late rounds. Povetkin isn't as good as Steve Cunningham. The real question mark here is Adamek's chin and power at heavyweight. The latter appears to definitely have declined. The former has yet to be tested. His technique and fundamentals are better than those of David Haye and Haye has something Adamek has never displayed: a questionable chin. Moreover, both men started at cruiserweight and moved up. I don't see a particular size advantage or disadvantage for anyone.

So it's obviously fair to call Adamek one of the top five heavyweight contenders in the world.

There is such a thing as too much hyperbole:

Tomasz Adamek may never realize his goal of becoming the heavyweight champion of the world but he’s well on his way to being recognized as one of the best fighters, pound for pound, in the sport.

Is he? Really?

The above, written by Doug Fischer in The Ring's ratings update this week, is very difficult to support. Adamek's biggest accomplishments are as follows: he knocked Chad Dawson down en route to losing an otherwise one-sided decision, he knocked Steve Cunningham down three times and won an arguably controversial decision to claim the cruiserweight championship, and he beat Arreola. This is not the stuff of greatness, folks. His most significant win (over Cunningham) and his less to Dawson show the same thing... against world-class boxers, he has to rely on right-hand power. Though his knockdowns of both men were impressive, he failed to stop either and was only capable of landing the big right sporadically and to ultimately limited (if dramatic) effect. His power, his big ace in the hole, appears to be lessened at heavyweight.

I like Adamek. I'm not a hater. I think he's a good fighter who wil be competitive at heavyweight and am impressed that he proved me wrong about his ability to outbox a bigger, stronger man for 12 rounds without getting badly mauled. I am more than happy to repeat that I was very wrong about his level of ability. I just don't think he has done anything near establishing a pound-for-pound future.

Neither should you.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Heavyweight Thoughts

First up, I was wrong.

As everyone knows by now, Tomasz Adamek beat Chris Arreola by unanimous decision. I had been thinking about analyzing another writer's Mosley-Mayweather predictions (and you should check them out) but being wrong is always a great segue into pontification to support the underlying arguments behind one's mistakes. So heavyweights it is.

I'll start, of course, with fight about which I was so very wrong.

I noted not too long ago that I thought Chris Arreola would knock Adamek out in 3 and that Adamek could expect to last 6 rounds or so at best. Adamek, who is fundamentally sound but hardly 'Money' Mayweather or 'The Executioner' when it comes to defensive polish, soundly outboxed Arreola over the distance. I would not have been surprised if he had boxed well for three or four rounds, gotten badly beaten up in one or two, and then been stopped hard. I did not expect him to keep Arreola on the end of the jab for the entire fight or come anywhere near winning. I have to give Adamek a lot of credit for the win.

I also have to add a caveat to that credit.

I think that Arreola's loss to Adamek says more about the state of the heavyweight division, especially the American heavyweight picture, than it does about Adamek's legitimacy as a big man.

To start, despite the impressive win, I would still consider Adamek a live underdog in a rematch with Steve Cunningham rather than a favorite. I've said a lot about my thoughts about the original fight and I give Adamek a lot of credit for chin, resiliency, and power. I just don't think he is as good as the best cruisers in the world and that his ability to pull knockdowns out of his hat swayed judges who didn't know who Cunningham was. I'm not saying that the fight was so lop-sided Adamek's win was a magoo. I am saying that Adamek-Cunningham is not a fundamentally different fight than the fight between Wlad Klitschko and Sam Peter that put WK back on the heavyweight map.

In both fights a superior boxer outboxed a big puncher for the majority of the fight. In both fights the puncher scored strategic knockdowns that made the fights hard to score despite the overall dominance of the boxer. In both fights it was very difficult to find rounds to give to the puncher outside of the knockdown rounds. In both fights it could be argued that there was at least one round that might deserve to be 10-9 or even 10-10 despite the knockdown, because one good shot was the only accomplishment the big puncher managed that round.

Yet, in both fights, one guy clearly was able to hurt the other guy whenever he had the chance and was able to get the chance often enough to produce some impressive results in small but dramatic bursts. The other guy, while successful overall, was not able to match those bursts of drama.

It could be argued that Sam Peter and Steve Cunningham both deserved to win and equally argued that neither WK nor Adamek did quite enough to win. The knockdowns made the fights that difficult to score.

Adamek's life and death struggle with Steve Cunningham and his loss to Chad Dawson, coupled with his surprisingly easy win over Chris Arreola, leads to an unpleasant conclusion.

James Toney, Juan Carlos Gomez, David Haye, and Adamek have all enjoyed some degree of success beyond expectations at heavyweight. I would favor Hopkins over Adamek at heavyweight and (despite the thoughts of some others) would call Hopkins/Haye an even money fight. It might be time to change conventional wisdom: the cruiserweight division might now be deeper and more talented than the heavyweights. If one consider that the 200 lb weight limit is perfect for the great heavyweights of history, this only makes sense.

I'll offer a reason, at least on the American side. Three reasons, actually.

Promoters, writers, and fans. Especially writers and fans. Sure, the promoters are evil. But writers and fans enable that evil in their passion for the sport they love.

The promoters' share of the blame is obvious, but I'll repeat it anyway: they've protected marginal prospects to manufacture impressive records, they've exploited their own successes so shamelessly and attempted to simulate their own achievements so ludicrously that their business model is perhaps less incestuous than it is masturbatory. When given the chance to discredit or marginalize the sport, they've done so at every turn. They make the fights and their need for that 'special fighter who can't lose' requires guys stay undefeated for as long as possible. Usually they stay undefeated by fighting the kind of opponents who don't offer enough of a challenge to allow them to develop their skillset.

Writers enable this by making a big fuss over the promoters' next Michael Grant or Chris Arreola. Amateur writers are the worst (witness my own belief in Arreola) but professional writers are far from immune. Boxing writers become boxing writers because they were boxing fans first. The objectivity demanded of a crime reporter is not necessarily desirable in a sports writer. Would anyone want to read a boxing article by an MMA fan? Writers get worked up, excited, or impressed beyond rational justification just like fans do. Hyperbole is sort of expected of a sports writer even when they aren't worked up. When they really like a guy? They're going to be fulsome. The Ring published an article comparing Henry Armstrong and Manny Pacquiao. The gulf between the respective achievements of the two great fighters is so wide that the article itself stressed that the idea that Pacquiao might be as great as or greater than Armstrong was silly in order to focus on the real parallels between the two... but the fact remains that they published an article comparing Henry Armstrong and Manny Pacqiao.

Fans enable everyone by buying into everything. The next guy all the promoters and writers are raving about will be a fan favorite quite soon. His loyalists will scream for him to fight VK or WK after his 9th fight. They'll write to their preferred writer's mailbag swearing that David Haye will knock out either Klitschko with ease. They accept the notion that Tomasz Adamek is a legitimate heavyweight because he beat a prospect whose only test on the world class level was a heartless human sacrifice to some ancient European war god.

There are obviously (just obviously not on this blog) good writers. There are many good fans. There might be a good promoter somewhere. Maybe. I exaggerate some on every one of my criticisms... but only some. I'm as guilty as any other writer or fan.

The heavyweight division could improve with some matchmaking effort on the part of promoters and some careful consideration on the part of writers and fans. In the meantime, we need to be realistic about what we've got.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Dissection of Kelly Pavlik

A bit gruesome perhaps, but it is going to happen anyway. I would rather focus on the real faults than the storm of complaints by fellow fans-playing-writer that he has been 'exposed.'

The biggest problems with Kelly Pavlik's style have all been mentioned on television, usually in a manner that was closer to a back-handed compliment than a real critique. More importantly, the deficiencies in his style are not entirely why he suffered his two losses.

That said, his technical deficiencies are why two skilled and experienced men were able to put together winning gameplans. So making some mention of them is necessary.

He does not bend his knees or move his upper body much. While everyone talks about the latter, I believe the former is the bigger weakness. His high guard and busy jab can substitute quite well for head movement, but his lack of knee movement means that when he gets hit more of those shots are clean. Watching Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather fight in today's shallower talent pool often leaves us with the notion a good boxer will not get hit, but at the truly world-class level everyone gets hit. The best know what to do when they are, and Pavlik does not entirely appear as if he does.

The failing that really has hurt Pavlik the most is one of attitude. How severely the problem has spread to Pavlik himself is not always clear. At some times Pavlik appears to be the best guy around and at some times he appears 'infected.' The source of the attitude isn't hard to see, however: it's from the corner. Pavlik trainer Jack Loew is the Floyd Mayweather Jr. of the corner: he behaves as if he were the greatest ever on real, but comparatively sparse, accomplishments. Prior to the fight, both Loew and manager Cameron Dunkin were clearly looking past Sergio Martinez to Paul Williams; or perhaps it is more accurate to say they were looking past Sergio Martinez to their excuses for moving up in weight and not fighting Williams.

It is possible that this failure to take note of the guy in front of them had enough effect on Pavlik to make the difference when his eye was badly cut in the 9th round.

Even more damaging, however, is Loew's apparent belief that Kelly Pavlik is a finished product in need of no more fine tuning or improvement. This clearly has spread to Pavlik himself. A fighter's confidence in himself and his corner is important, obviously, but it's foolish not to understand where one can improve. Writing defeats that can be clearly seen to stem from specific strategies to exploit Pavlik's flaws off as 'bad nights' and claiming one can learn nothing from them is simply ridiculous.

I like Pavlik. I think he is a talented kid who is far more polished than he is given credit for being. I don't think he has been 'exposed' at all and I would favor him in a rematch with Martinez.

I do think that he needs to consider shaking up his corner. Loew has taken him as far as he can. More seriously, Loew thinks there is no farther to take him.

That is far more damaging to Pavlik's future career than a lack of head movement or an inability to bend at the knees.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bernard Hopkins' Future

With his recent decision win over Roy Jones Jr, Bernard Hopkins has his revenge.

I absently sent an annoying fan email to William Dettloff of The Ring magazine, sometime before the fight, noting that I felt entirely confident that I knew the reason Hopkins wanted to fight Jones again despite Jones' terrible and shocking KO loss to Danny Green.

I said Bernard Hopkins wanted to beat Roy Jones up. Bad. Regardless of how much anyone cared. The money the match would pull in from the name recognition value was just an extra. Beating him up on tv, of course, was why it was a pro-fight and not a parking lot face-off. When Mr. Dettloff mentioned my speculation on the audio webcast by himself and Eric Raskin, it really made me smile. I confess to being more than just a little bit egomaniacal.

So now Bernard has beaten Roy up and been paid for the pleasure. Now it's decision time: either he resumes a serious boxing career or he retires. A serious career basically means one of two choices. Either he moves to cruiserweight full time and goes shopping for more gilded plastic or he fulfill his post-fight musing and moves to heavyweight looking for a legacy fight with David Haye before he calls it a career.

In RingTV's weekend review, Michael Rosenthal makes his feelings quite clear:

Yes, he can still beat the majority of good fighters in and around his weight class. However, he’s talking about challenging heavyweight David Haye. Hopkins, a smart guy, is deluding himself if he thinks he can beat a fighter as big and good as the brash Briton. He’d get pummeled –- badly. The hope here is that Hopkins retires, leaving behind a wonderful legacy. If he must continue fighting, he should stick to relatively small and slow opponents. No one wants to see him get hurt.

I would be happy to see Mr. Hopkins retire now if that's what he wants, but I'd also be rather disappointed if his last fight was a personal vendetta that benefitted no one. It might be poetic, considering the Bon Jovi-esque qualities of his 'It's My Life' career, but it would still be disappointing.

An idle musing of The Ring's cruiserweight ratings tells me this: with one definite exception (Steve Cunningham: nearly as polished as Bernard, more athletic, and still in his prime or at its tail end) and one possible exception (Zsolt Erdei: maybe too fast for Hopkins at 45), Hopkins is even-money against the 200 lb Top Ten. Better against some of them. He could win a belt at 200 lbs, even make a serious championship run and go out on a great blaze in a classic fight. Yet I don't know what he would really add to his legacy by doing so and I am not sure the investment in physical punishment is worth the reward. If this were the only choice he was considering I'd advise retirement and the beginning of a career training Golden Boy prospects. Who wouldn't like to see the old man teach a new generation of American fighters to fight a lot better than most of them do?

I have to admit, though, that the Haye fight intrigues me.

Yeah. I said it.

For those who are thinking about the damage he took from Roy Jones' rabbit punch, it might not be the most important factor. Rabbit punches can really hurt people. That's why they are illegal. The fact that many referees fail to properly warn fighters as long as no one gets hurt, or that some fighters base their style on borderline rabbit punches, doesn't change that. Rabbit punches are really dangerous. It's why they are fouls. The after-effects Bernard experienced are precisely why they are illegal and do not necessarily reflect how he would take a legal blow. If the rabbit punch did the type of permanent damage that would make retirement necessary, it would show up on exams and licensing would be very difficult. If it hasn't, it shouldn't be a factor in the decision.

Forget Hopkins' age for a moment and then ignore the size difference as well. We'll get back to both.

Focus on the basics: Haye is a fast, powerful, athletic KO artist who is still a product in development regardless of his potential star power or his (meaningless) WBA strap. He has great talent, raw skills, and a questionable chin. His wins over Nikolai Valuev and John Ruiz have shown that his patience and self-discipline are improving. Bernard Hopkins is the perfect opponent to test/develop his technique. A close, ugly, controversial decision win (or loss) for Haye would be great for his development. If he blows Hopkins out, we know he's ready to try the Brothers K... let's face it, the only guys at heavy who would show even a semblance of Hopkins' polish have names ending in '-itschko.' If Hopkins exposes him, then he'll have a better map of what he needs to fix than anything anyone at heavyweight can show him.

That's why it's good for Haye, win lose or draw. It's good for Hopkins because he'll probably either provide a close, technical, tactical fight without a clear winner or win a huge upset.

Yes, Michael Rosenthal says he has no chance and he'll get his ass kicked. It's possible Hopkins could get old all at once and it could really happen. At 45, that's always a threat. It's happened to guys before.

Barring such a sudden event, however, when is the last time anyone kicked Bernard Hopkins' ass? Two men have beat him since he won the middleweight championship: Jermain Taylor and Joe Calzaghe. They both won the kind of close, technical, difficult fight that used to go to Hopkins over guys like Keith Holmes. There was some degree of controversy in all three of those defeats. Neither man came close to kicking Bernard's ass.

Hopkins has had his 'ass kicked' precisely twice: his first pro-fight and his first fight with Roy Jones Jr.

Of course there have been two occasions on which his ass-kicking was widely and loudly predicted: his fights with Felix Trinidad and Kelly Pavlik. In both cases much ass was kicked. Just not Bernard's.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not predicting that Hopkins can do that to Haye at heavyweight. I'm just saying that his two career defining wins came in fights in which he was a massive underdog. Before the Pavlik fight, when everyone was predicting a brutal KO that would end Hopkins' career, I admit I was wrong too: I said Pavlik would win a very close and potentially controversial decision. Hopkins surprised me.

I don't think that Bernard Hopkins will surprise me again. If he and David Haye fight, I think David Haye will win (or possibly lose, but I lean toward win) a very ugly decision of the kind Joe Calzaghe won. Don't be surprised if Hopkins manages a flash knockdown in round one in much the same way, Haye's chin and balance aren't all that.

Now, for those who cannot get over the issue of size: David Haye's claim to fame is as a big puncher at cruiserweight. At heavy, he's shown the ability to break guys down but he has not blown anyone out of the water. Like Michael Moorer before him, he's still a KO threat at 2001+... he's just no longer a sure, safe KO bet. Bernard Hopkins was talking about fighting Tomasz Adamek or Danny Green at cruiserweight before the Roy Jones fight. I think most people favored Bernard in those fights, and those who did were right to do so.

So riddle me this:

If Arreola-Adamek is a real fight which can get everyone excited, then how can Haye be safely predicted to blow Hopkins out of the water?

Tomas Adamek and Chris Arreola bring the same things to the table: good chins, solid punching power, fan-friendly styles. I've seen Adamek fight... he's entirely one dimensional. He's the stereotype of the old 'European fighter.' Jab, right hand, repeat until final bell. He doesn't throw a lot of combinations. Against Steve Cunningham (at cruiser) he won a very close fight on the basis of three knockdowns and came very close to being stopped early. At 175 he lost to Chad Dawson. Arreola isn't as fast as Dawson or as polished as Cunningham, but he hits a lot harder and has a heck of a chin. Even if Adamek brings all his power to heavyweight, Arreola is a very big slice of pie for him. If he doesn't, he's in for a very long... but very short... night. He faces much more risk of really being hurt... he's there to hit and he doesn't have a plan B if he can't hurt a guy. I expect Chris Arreola to win by KO3. It could happen faster. I can see Adamek making the first two or three rounds competitive with a bit of movement, but he's not Vitali Klitschko. He's not going to outslick Arreola and break him down. He's going to get caught and eventually ground down. His 'best case' scenario is to lose by KO6.

David Haye is a former cruiser, Bernard Hopkins has probably been a de facto cruiser for awhile. Sure, age is a factor. It's impossible to ignore '45'... but David Haye is neither tremendously bigger than Hopkins nor tremendously more skilled than guys at cruiser we would all admit, if pressed, we just can't see badly beating Bernard.

There's the crux of it. If Haye were still a cruiserweight, there would be some die-hard American boxing writers predicting a big Hopkins win in the same vein some predicted Hopkins schooling Calzaghe. Anyone actually reading this should take a moment to think about that and tell themselves honestly what they think about such a fight.

For those of you who still believe, despite all of my arguments, that a highly-skilled middleweight champ lacking one punch power can't be successful at heavyweight well-past his prime I have only two words.

James Toney.