It is Monday, we had time to mull the weekend’s work, to chew on the performances and the stakes and the lingering feelings emanating from the pugilistic goings on from Friday and Saturday.
Certainly, to me, Alexander Usyk’s dominance in bettering Murat Gassiev struck me hard and lingers till today. Day-um, that guy is goood. No….great. He was an A plus fighter that that night, or, OK, maybe an “A” because his foe Gassiev showed limitations, perhaps mostly due to inexperience, and thus wasn’t able to switch up his ways and change the complexion of the tango.
I checked in with the NYFights crew, and asked their takes on Who Won the Weekend. Thanks to the gang for their rapidity in getting back to me and furnishing thoughtful takes for the WWTW edition, which we put together to help all of us make better sense of the sports’ goings on…
“On the basis of performance, it’s Usyk in a walk,” said David “Brother Julius” Phillips. “However, I think the viewers of the next Munguia fight were the big winners. Munguia is wild, sloppy, and has about as much interest in defense as Doug Moe’s 80s Denver Nuggets teams (I’m olde). His forthcoming scraps are going to be a lot of fun to watch. I would also like to throw in a plug for Liam Smith and his prematurely graying hair. Which he does not hide. I like a guy with no shame.”
Nice; Phillips has that artistic GNF side which I enjoy. He’s a bit of an idealist (his archive here) and iconoclastic yet respects some elements of “conservatism,” like a respect for history, so all in all he’s a smart cookie and we’re glad to have his talents to savor.
Colin “More Morrie” Morrison also weighed in. The Scot, who fired us some A plus grade soccer commentary during World Cup, had this to say: “All I can say is Usyk. Great game plan and execution of it. We knew he was good but that was special on Saturday night in Moscow. Now I can’t wait to see if he moves to heavyweight to shake things up there.”
Agreed; some folks were saying and were not summarily dismissed that Usyk is a man to beat, or maybe THE man to beat, at heavyweight in the not distant future.
Big Tex, Kelsey McCarson, also put in his vote. The software programmer/boxing analyst said this: “DAZN won the weekend! They’re the home of the WBSS going forward and Saturday’s cruiserweight final was an awesome spectacle that truly mattered. My interest in seeing the WBSS has grown substantially after witnessing it, and I’m sure many boxing fans who were on the fence about forking over another $9.99 per month to stream more fights feel the exact same way.”
McCarson is a good addition to the analyst pool. He has some conservative ideology, but it’s grounded in a spiritual cocoon. That helps him see some sides that maybe some other analysts don’t…
“Usyk, because he showed us the difference between very good and great,” said young gun Tom Penney, who is of the new breed of analysts. He’s done his due diligence in studying film and can be relied upon to be one of those “he knows what he’s seeing in a ring” dudes. No, not every analyst can be deemed to have that asset in their pocket. He’s also humble, in that he will admit if a prediction went awry, so that’s good, because sometimes there is a cockiness, unearned, in some of the younger dissectors. “You can also make the case that DAZN were the big winners, being the chief broadcast partners for the second installment of the WBSS.”
Facilitator extraordinaire Abe Gonzalez is a new splasher in the analyst pool. As with several other talents I’ve come across over the years, like Lee Wylie, I saw his chops on Twitter. Has a good eye, and is dedicated to securing knowledge and understanding of the game, and all sides of the sweet and savage science. His decency, combined with tenacity, makes him a potent and much appreciated part of the NYF crew!
Oh, and some friends from the RING gang also offered me their takes…
“Two fighters enjoyed excellent results this weekend,” the rock-solid Anson Wainwright told me. “Jaime Munguia looked very good offensively, still work to be done defensively. To follow the eye-opening stoppage of Sadam Ali was always going to be tough but THE RING Prospect of the Year looks very strong and at 21 has time to develop the requisite defensive skills to become a more rounded fighter. Usyk. Wow. Used his terrific footwork to maneuver Gassiev around and keep him honest with the jab. It was an outstanding effort. So good that perhaps the fight was a little disappointing as we largely expected a close fight. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist won the WBO title in Poland against Glowacki and in the tournament went to Germany and stopped Huck, Latvia and outpointed Briedis and Saturday was flawless losing only two rounds on the judges cards in a career best win. That he saved his best for when he needed is a measure of the man. I for one can’t wait to see what his next move is. Has several intriging options. Perhaps a rematch with Briedis who was on the undercard, maybe Tony Bellew or perhaps step up to heavyweight where he won’t be short of offers.”
And from “Travelin’ Man” Lee Groves: “It can’t be anyone else but Usyk, who not only won the World Boxing Super Series tournament and unified all four belts, but also did so in utterly dominant fashion on his opponent’s home ground. Before the fight, Usyk-Gassiev was thought to be a potential Fight of the Year candidate and the ease with which Usyk won shouldn’t take away from the significance or impressiveness of his achievement. If I were to pick a second-place guy, it would be Alberto Machado, who demonstrated much better all-around technique in outpointing Raphael Mensah,” said Groves. “Gil Clancy used to say that becoming champion makes a fighter 25 percent better because of the confidence he gains by winning the title. Machado looked composed, confident and commanding throughout, which was impressive to me.”
I summate with this comment by “The Jazzman,” “Gunner Gatling,” John Gatling, whose style is un-replicable. His knowledge is considerable and can be matched only by his passion for deep thought. He has insights on how the boxing world works and more so the world at large, and that gives his material a different flavor than any analyst in the game. “All of these comments were great. We fuckin rock,” the Gunner said. And his nomination for Who Won the Weekend? “A coach in boxing just does not get the same amount of respect other coaches get in different sports,” Gatling said. “That is, unless they become personalities like an Abel Sanchez (or famous for not having one, like say, Bill Belichick). Ask Vasyl Lomachenko how valuable long-time cutman and 40 year fight veteran Russ Anber was in preparation for Jorge Linares that will never get recognition. Anber took control of Usyk’s corner and annihilated Sanchez. He’s really the one responsible for transforming Usyk into the machine that befuddled Gassiev. Let’s not forget this was a bona fide 50/50 fight Usyk turned into an Ali shuffle at the end. I don’t know if Usyk is done in 2018, but if he’s not, Anber could actually garner TOTY consideration as far as I’m concerned.”