Commentator Questions: Chavez-Vera II

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

More: Stakes High for Rematch | HBO Boxing Podcast | CompuBox




What type of fight can fans expect the second time around for Chavez-Vera?

Jim Lampley: The style of the fight can't change: Vera trying to press the action and use greater energy and activity to outwork Chavez for a decision victory, while Chavez takes his time and selects counterpunching opportunities to land big shots, hoping to wear down Vera and set him up for a knockout. It should be lively and physical. If Chavez appears to have been responsible in his approach to making weight and preparing for the bout, the San Antonio crowd will support him. If not, they won't.

Max Kellerman: A fan-friendly fight. Whether or not Chavez has properly rededicated himself, he has an essentially offensive style. And Vera, feeling he was robbed the first time, can be expected to be highly motivated and ready to give the best account of himself possible.

Andre Ward: I think we can expect the same Bryan Vera we saw in the first fight. I believe that the Vera we saw the first fight, I think that's probably the best Vera we are going to see. We are going to see a much more motivated, better conditioned and more focused Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. I think that's going to erase all the doubts from the first fight. I can see him stopping Vera in the mid to late rounds in this fight. 

How well does amateur pedigree translate to professional success and what are your expectations for Lomachenko as a pro fighter?

Jim Lampley: Amateur pedigree is the absolute surest predictor of professional success. Muhammad Ali, Ray Leonard, Pernell Whitaker, Floyd Mayweather, Evander Holyfield, Wladimir Klitschko, Gennady Golovkin, Guillermo Rigondeaux were all Olympic medalists, just a partial list. Lomachenko is arguably the most successful amateur fighter of all time. He will have a successful and significant pro career, win or lose vs Orlando Salido.

Max Kellerman: Amateur pedigree among fighters who come from nations with significant amateur programs is the single most positively correlated factor in predicting professional success. Lomachenko has a chance to one day, in the not too distant future, be in the pound for pound conversation.

Andre Ward: A strong amateur background, especially an amateur career like Lomachenko's, a two-time gold medalist, can hurt or help you. It can hurt you because you're locked in to an amateur system for so long and the pro game is totally different. It can help you if you are able to break the amateur style fast enough. That type of amateur pedigree can put you on the fast track in the pro game and with fewer fights than a normal fighter. Obviously Lomachenko has only one fight and is fighting for a title against Orlando Salido, who is a veteran and a crafty fighter. That shows the kind of confidence that Lomachenko and his handlers have. It will be interesting to see how this plays out because I don't think anything like this has been done before.

Rested, Not Rusted, Ward Routs Rodriguez

by Eric Raskin

Andre Ward - Photo Credit: Will Hart (Click for Slideshow)

Andre Ward is not ranked first on any pound-for-pound lists at the moment. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t the best fighter in the world. It just means he doesn’t have the track record, visibility, or activity this year of Floyd Mayweather. But to watch both undefeated boxers’ last couple of fights, you’d be hard pressed to separate them, to point to one as clearly superior to the other. Ward is that good.

Edwin Rodriguez, a bigger, harder punching, undefeated contender, discovered that first-hand on Saturday at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, where the lineal super middleweight champ Ward had the crowd ooh-ing and aah-ing with every flush punch, of which there were plenty. In his return to the ring after surgery on his right shoulder and a 14-month layoff, Ward was as masterful as ever, shutting down Rodriguez’s theoretically dangerous offense and, if not for some aggressive refereeing and dubious judging, shutting him out as well. The official final tallies were 118-106, 117-107, and 116-108.

Read More

Mike Tyson to Co-Host Saturday Night on HBO

One of boxing’s biggest names, Mike Tyson, returns to HBO this Saturday with the network debut of HBO Films' 'Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,' the one-man stage show directed by legendary filmmaker Spike Lee.  The film premieres Saturday, November 16 at 8:00 PM ET/PT, followed by an all-new episode of '24/7 Pacquiao/Rios' at 9:30 PM  and a World Championship Boxing super middleweight title showdown at 10:00 PM.

In addition to starring in his eponymous special, Tyson will also serve as co-host with HBO broadcaster Jim Lampley for the network's slate of entertainment and boxing programming on Saturday night. The pair will introduce the evening's programming lineup, with Tyson providing his inimitable candor.

Leading up to the debut of Tyson’s film, HBO Boxing insider Eric Raskin chronicled the highs and lows of Tyson's career in the ring.

On World Championship Boxing, Andre Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), one of the sport’s premier fighters, returns to the ring after more than a year versus fast-rising super middleweight challenger Edwin Rodriguez (24-0, 16 KOs), 28, of Worcester, Mass.  Lampley will be joined ringside by Max Kellerman and Roy Jones Jr. to call the bout, while Tyson will join with a guest interview appearance.

Watch a preview of 'Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,' and follow HBO Boxing on Twitter and Facebook for updates throughout the night.

CompuBox Analysis: Andre Ward vs. Edwin Rodriguez

by CompuBox

If ever there was a word to describe Andre Ward inside a boxing ring, it would be "dominant."

Every fight recap over the past few years has included that word. It was the case when he blasted out Chad Dawson in 10 rounds and when he defeated Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, Sakio Bika, Allan Green and Mikkel Kessler during his run to the Super Six championship. Heck, Ward hasn't lost a fight of any kind since he was a pre-teen.

Another word that can describe Ward, at least as of late, is "inactive." Injuries and promotional issues have limited Ward to just one fight since December 2011 and he is coming off his second consecutive career-long layoff, this time 14 months. At age 29 he is at the later stages of his prime but one has to wonder what all the time off has done to his considerable skills.

If anyone can help conjure an answer, it is Edwin Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a hungry, ambitious volume-punching specialist who carries a 24-0 (16 KO) record and a million-dollar check following his one-round blowout of Denis Grachev in July. The Dominican bomber is eager to prove that he is among the best fighters in one of boxing's best divisions.

Statistical factors that may shape the outcome include: 

Read the Complete CompuBox Analysis: Andre Ward vs. Edwin Rodriguez on HBO.com.

Ward Sees Himself in Rising Young Opponent

by Nat Gottlieb

Four years ago an unbeaten boxer and Olympic Gold medalist who was largely untested as a pro stepped into the ring with one of the world's best super middleweights. When he left that ring, having stunned Mikkel Kessler, Andre Ward was on his way to becoming one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the world.

Now, three months away from his 30th birthday, Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) will find himself in the ring on Nov. 16 with Edwin Rodriguez for a fight with more than a little déjà vu attached to it. In Rodriguez, Ward will be looking across the ring at a mirror image of himself at 25: an unbeaten young boxer who is untested at the elite level. 

Read the complete Andre Ward vs. Edwin Rodriguez fight overview at HBO.com

Dawson Back on Track After Weighty Issues

by Kieran Mulvaney

Andre Ward, Chad Dawson - Photo: Will Hart

There is no shame in losing to Andre Ward. Every one of the 26 professional opponents he has faced has done so. But for Ward's most recent victim – light-heavyweight titlist Chad Dawson, who faces Adonis Stevenson on HBO Boxing After Dark on Saturday – the 10th round stoppage loss he suffered last September was only partly due to the skillful way in which Ward routinely beats people up. A lot of it had to do with the decision Dawson made to move down from 175 pounds to 168, and challenge Ward on the latter's super-middleweight turf.

"I wrote a check my body couldn't physically cash," Dawson said recently to Tris Dixon of Britain's Boxing News magazine. "He's a great fighter and I would love that rematch, but at 175 pounds I would never touch super-middleweight again."

While moving up through the weight divisions over the course of a career is the rule rather than the exception, Dawson is the latest in a relatively short line of recent professional prizefighters to find that shedding pounds and moving down in weight rarely works out well.

Roy Jones was never the same after moving back to 175 pounds following his brief venture into the heavyweight division in 2003. Sugar Ray Leonard was taken apart when he challenged Terry Norris for a title at junior middleweight – a weight at which he hadn't fought in seven years. Oscar De La Hoya dropped down to welterweight to meet a Manny Pacquiao who was moving up from lightweight, and was beaten so badly he soon retired.

There were additional reasons for all those outcomes: Jones at his peerless peak dominated foes with almost superhuman reflexes, and once they slowed a fraction with age, he descended to the realm of mere mortals; Leonard, at 35, was taking on a 24-year-old champion who is now enshrined alongside him in the Hall of Fame; and De La Hoya was reaching the end of his storied career anyway. But the strains placed on their bodies to squeeze extra pounds out of their system in all cases almost certainly contributed to their respective demises.

Why is it so rare for boxers to drop down in weight, and so rarely a positive move when they do? For one thing, if it were easy to lose six or seven pounds, we'd all be doing it. For another, the examples above all involve boxers in their thirties, when bodies are mature and metabolisms battle with extra determination to hold on to every spare ounce.

Plus, chances are that a boxer– if he fights, for example, at light-heavyweight –has already had to lose 10 pounds or more just to reach the 175-pound limit. Dropping down to super-middleweight is therefore a case of dropping not seven pounds but 17; and the final few in particular of those pounds must be wrung out of a frame that is already virtually fat free and bone dry.

Small wonder, then, that rehydrating once the weigh-in is over can cause a boxer to expand like a sponge dropped in a bathtub – Dawson entered the ring against Ward weighing 192 pounds, 24 more than he had registered on the scales the previous day – or that a fighter can be drained by the whole process of squeezing himself into his usual weight class, let alone one that requires even more sacrifice.

It is of course possible that Dawson would have lost to Ward that night no matter the weight at which they fought; the man from Oakland is regarded as one of the top two talents in the game for a reason. Maybe, if Dawson resumes his winning ways atop the light-heavyweight division, we will eventually find out, should Ward exhaust his options at 168 pounds and move up in search of new challenges.

Before then, of course, Dawson has more immediate concerns: specifically, how to overcome the challenge of once-beaten Stevenson, a power-punching fellow southpaw. Stevenson, a career super-middleweight, is moving up a division – a move more common than Dawson's effort to move down. Dawson will be aiming to make sure it is no more successful.

Closing the Year with Boxing’s Best

by Kieran Mulvaney

What to do when HBO’s live boxing broadcasts have wrapped for the year? Revisit the very best bouts from an action-packed 2012, of course. The last 12 months have provided some jaw-dropping action, and for five days, beginning December 25, HBO will be showcasing seven of the year’s best examples of boxing brilliance. All times are ET/PT.


Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto
Tuesday, December 25 at 11 PM


In May, Puerto Rican superstar Cotto put his junior middleweight belt on the line against pound-for-pound king Mayweather. In one of the finest performances of his likely Hall-of-Fame career, Cotto pushed Money May to the edge, forcing Mayweather to dig deeper than he has had to in at least 10 years.

 

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez
Wednesday, December 26 at 11 PM

 

Martinez was regarded as the true middleweight champion. But Chavez had the belt he coveted, and Martinez agitated for over a year for an opportunity to take it from him. When the chance came, the Argentine appeared well on his way to doing what he had sought to do, until a dramatic finale that was one of the most explosive rounds of the year.

 

Robert Guerrero vs. Andre Berto
Thursday, December 27 at 11 PM

 

Three years ago, Guerrero was campaigning as a junior lightweight, having begun his professional career as a featherweight. One month ago, he appeared on HBO World Championship Boxing in just his second bout as a welterweight, taking on a hard-hitting former 147-pound-title-holder whose own professional debut had been at 162 pounds – almost 37 pounds heavier than Guerrero’s. But Guerrero was the aggressor, dragging Berto into an old-fashioned down-and-dirty street fight that was one of the roughest, toughest and best of 2012.

 

Antonio DeMarco vs. Adrien Broner
Friday, December 28 at 11 PM

 

Flashy Adrien “The Problem” Broner inspires a gamut of emotions – and it’s safe to say that few if any of them are ‘indifference.’ Love him or hate him, it is hard not to respect him; increasingly tipped as the sport’s next big star, Broner went a long way to establishing his bona fides with a devastating and dominant performance against Mexican DeMarco.

 

Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson
Friday, December 28 at 11:45 PM

 

Light-heavyweight titlist Dawson took the unusual step of dropping down in weight to take on super middleweight kingpin Ward. He may still be regretting it, after Ward – in many pundits’ eyes, second only to Mayweather on the pound-for-pound list – opened his full bag of tricks and cemented his place among boxing’s elite.

 

Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado
Saturday, December 29 at 11 PM

 

The moment this junior welterweight clash was signed, boxing fans everywhere had the date circled on their calendars. Both Rios and Alvarado entered the contest unbeaten and with reputations for possessing that rare combination of immovable object and irresistible force. There seemed no way this could fail to be a serious Fight of the Year candidate, and so it proved. Each man dished out and received hellacious punishment, and the contest swayed back and forth, with first one man and the other seizing advantage and momentum, until an ending that seemed to come almost out of the blue.

 

Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez 4
Saturday, Dec. 29 at 11:40 PM

 

Pacquiao and Marquez had pursued each other like Ahab and the whale, across eight years and 36 rounds, before meeting for a fourth time on December 8. Each man insisted beforehand that this would be their final battle, but after six rounds that exceeded even the dizzying heights of their previous encounters, and a conclusive, concussive ending that was among the most shocking and emphatic in years, who would bet against a fifth?

 

Jim Lampley Previews the Next Installment of ‘The Fight Game’

by Kieran Mulvaney

The third episode of ‘The Fight Game with Jim Lampley’ airs on HBO on Saturday night, following the re-broadcast of last Saturday’s victory by Sergio Martinez over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. We spoke with Lampley, while he was in Las Vegas preparing to call the Martinez-Chavez fight, about what we can expect from episode 3, and what he has learned from producing the previous two episodes.

It’s a very small sample size, but is there anything that has surprised you about the process of putting these shows together, if there is anything that has stood out to you?

My experience on ‘The Fight Game’ has affirmed my perception that there is a very large core within our audience: well-versed, well-educated fight fans, who are on the web maybe every other day and at least once a week, who are following the schedule, who understand the business conflicts and business parameters and how they contribute to what we see in the ring, and who are just as interested in following the business steps that take place from fight to fight as they are the fights themselves.


You threw out the script for episode 2, and went with a powerful editorial slant, including a segment at the end in which you called on fans to ‘occupy boxing.’ I’m curious what was the response to that?

The response from fans is enormous. I’ve always been recognized in the arena; there have always been people who’ve called out my name and wanted an autograph or photograph, something like that. That’s not new. But the intensity of it, and the number of people, is significantly larger than before. People are yelling at me about The Fight Game as soon as I walk into the arena; people are confronting me about it, and asking me what’s on the next show, and that’s very gratifying.

And I have people who send me emails or call me up, both from boxing media and from the fan group, who want to advise me on what to do next and what the editorial content of the next show should be.


What can we expect for episode 3?

You know, 9/22 is an interesting date, because it’s one week beyond this unusual business confrontation of 9/15, and so for me the lead story is obvious: What happened when Chavez Jr. and Canelo Alvarez went head-to-head with each other down the street in Las Vegas, and is that, as most people see it, a sign of the sport’s insanity? Or could it be seen as a positive? Is it a sign that boxing’s health is back, that 19,000 people [were] in the Thomas & Mack Center, and apparently [almost] 15,000 in the MGM Grand? And even though Mexico’s two great attractions were forced to split their audience that night, both business enterprises feel as if they’re going to be making out OK. So maybe our sport isn’t as dead as all those general media people think it is.


Which leads to my final question: Over the years, there has always been despair when the top fighters approach retirement, but there is always somebody else to take their place. As Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao near the end of their careers, did Andre Ward make the definitive case on September 8 that he is next in line to sit in the throne atop the sport?

He certainly came off the page in a big way, and he provided the kind of dramatic excitement that hasn’t always been the case in his other fights. He’s demonstrated extreme competence, and he’s shown that he can beat good opponents, that he can shut them down defensively and with his enormous intelligence, but he has not produced a real offensive explosion prior to last week. And now, viewers have the image of him knocking down Chad Dawson three times, and really exploding with that left hook, and that provides a tantalizing template for the future. Can he do that kind of thing again? Can he do what [Sergio] Martinez has done: going from having a good career to suddenly skyrocketing and saying “Wow, look at me, I’m really one of the best there is”?

Prepare for the Andre Ward Era

by Hamilton Nolan
Andre Ward - Photo Credit:Will Hart

In front of a chaotic hometown crowd in Oakland, California, Andre Ward (26-0) made a rather irrefutable case for himself as boxing's most unbeatable fighter with a domineering tenth round TKO of light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson (31-2).

Dawson, who had dropped down to 168 pounds to meet Ward for the super middleweight belt, was a larger fighter who clearly possessed more raw strength. But after a two round feeling-out process, Ward brutally and methodically asserted his volition. He knocked Dawson to his knee for the first time in the third round with a fast, efficient left hook to the temple, and again in the fourth round with the same punch. From that point on, Ward controlled the pacing of the fight and drove the bigger man backwards at will. In the tenth round, Ward again landed his left hook to Dawson’s temple, causing his legs to wobble like a flapper dancer at a Prohibition-era gin joint. Ward rushed in and knocked Dawson down again; he rose, but his legs, swaying drunkenly side to side, told the story of just how much punishment he had taken. The referee called it, and Oracle Arena exploded with cheers of “S.O.G!”

Dawson, a southpaw, possesses all of the physical tools one could hope for in a fighter, but has always suffered from a lack of assertiveness. It killed him tonight. Here is how Andre Ward won: he kept his lead left hand above Chad Dawson’s lead right hand. And Dawson, who prefers to carry his lead hand low, let him. This allowed Ward to turn his left hook into Dawson’s temple with ease. Ward won the fight using only two punches: the left hook, which eventually knocked Dawson senseless, and a straight right to the belly, which he planted whenever Dawson decided to pull his elbows out of his gut and try to protect his skull. Ward neutralized Dawson’s killer straight left with his feet, simply by circling to the outside. He took away Dawson’s right hook by keeping his hand above it and batting it down whenever Dawson deigned to unleash it, which was rarely. That left Dawson with nothing except Ward’s left fist on his mind. 


Compubox Analysis: Ward vs. Dawson

For most fighters, a career-defining victory is usually followed by the easiest opponent that can still justify a pay-per-view payday. Such is the business of boxing today.

But not so with Andre Ward and Chad Dawson. Ten months after Ward captured the Super Six tournament title and five months after Dawson decisioned Bernard Hopkins to win the WBC light heavyweight belt, they are fighting each other -- without tune-ups. Moreover, Dawson, a 3 ½-1 ‘dog,  is shedding seven pounds for the opportunity to topple an almost universal pound-for-pound entrant in the hopes of adding his own name to those lists.

High risk. High reward. Old-school prize-fighting. This is the way boxing should be.

 

See more Compubox analysis of Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson on HBO.com