By Jon Uddin & Tré Berry III | 10/21/2020
Jon Uddin and Tré Berry covering some very important topics lingering over from last Saturday’s action, and results. Did Lopez solve the Lomachenko puzzle? or did Lomachenko start too late? We discuss what is currently wrong with the culture, and addressing the concerns of judging and distractions in what is the current climate of boxing.
LOPEZ REIGNS SUPREME
JON UDDIN – We have a new King in the Lightweight division and his name is Teofimo Lopez. The 23 year old Brooklyn native put the boxing world into a craze after defeating the chessmaster of boxing Vasiliy Lomachenko by unanimous decision. What impressed and surprised you the most about Lopez’s performance? What questions did Lomachenko’s performance leave you with?
TRE BERRY III – Well the first thing that I was impressed with was Teofimo’s boxing IQ. I always touted him to be a smart boxer at this stage of his career, but he took it a level further to where it should be noted as a strength of his. Speaking of strength, mental strength and tenacity had to be pushed to the front as a paramount necessity late in the fight when Lomachenko was barreling forward and raking him to the chest and upstairs with combinations that he could not see.
In the 🛎️12th round, Lopez did not let that sap his confidence, and he fought toe to toe with all caution to the wind with Lomachenko – that in and of itself is certainly commendable. As for Lomachenko, the only question I had about his performance was the question that most observers around the world pondered, and with that, I will use this as a perfect segway toward what is presumably your next question…
WHAT WAS HE WAITING ON?
JON UDDIN – “Loma gave too many rounds away” -“Loma didn’t let his hands go”. This has been the storyline of the fight from round 4 to now for the majority of fight observers. There is also a contingent that counter that argument with credit to Lopez for solving the Lomachenko puzzle. Do you agree with the idea that Lomachenko started too slow, or do you think it takes away from the fight plan executed by Teofimo?
TRE BERRY III – There is this notion in society today that only one fixture of rationale is supposed to be accepted to explain a specific situation or event, but often times, when there are ♊duel narratives attached to something (in this case, a boxing match), both of those narratives can legitimately have some validity and credence whenever you decide to look through them without a partisan lens. With that being said, I would say that both is true that Lomachenko started his surge too late, and Teofimo executed his gameplan very well.
Now where I will make the distinction between what I firmly believe was more a factor to the tangible product that took place in the ring, I will play with numbers and say in my view/observation, 75% of what had to do with Lomachenko and his father Anatoly opting to play the wait game too long with the plan of drowning the younger opponent, and 25% to do with Teofimo being very sharp in his own right.
What I’m about to bring to light doesn’t happen all too often, but there are sometimes moments in boxing history where the superior fighter does not win a particular bout, with most of those situations in the post-1950 modern era being predicated on the follow-through, and execution of a flawed gameplan. Some people are not going to like what I just said, and take it as a slight to Teofimo, ⚠️however I assure readers that is not the case at all. I will list a few examples to further bring understanding to what I am getting at.
Taking a trip down memory lane (good or bad) and harkening back to specific fights, a couple of high-profiled bouts that come to mind are 🇺🇸Bernard Hopkins vs. 🇺🇸Jermain Taylor, and 🇺🇸🇲🇽Oscar De La Hoya vs. 🇺🇸Pernell Whitaker. There are certainly other examples historically to pull from, however these two fights in particular share a common bond with what transpired with Lopez and Loma’s dust-up on Saturday.
One game plan that I personally do not like, with disdain, is to spend more time setting traps than varying up the attacks and touching the opponent enough to keep afloat in the scoring portion of the equation. While all 4 fighters mentioned up top became true Lineal Champions, it is abundantly clear in those matches who the superior boxer was going in, and even post-fight, albeit while being shorted on the cards.
With each example, both Hopkins and Whitaker had the idea to tire the overzealous young challenger out, then pummel him late to break him down, put him down, or to stop him. The problem with that method is that you shrink your own margin of error to where if you can’t physically, or mentally get your opponent out of there, you have to pitch a virtual perfect shutout the rest of the way to catch up in the minds of judges who just might have given the opponent every round.
Though superiority was clearly exhibited down the stretch of the fight from both Hopkins & Whitaker, both were snakebit from the 1-12 scoring component that encompassed the overall picture. Now back to live time, as a fight observer and fight fan, I fully appreciate what Lopez brought to the table, and was impressed with his overall skills, however it is abundantly clear to me that the stagnation of the gameplan had more effect on the scoring (the people, not the horrible cards authored up by the Judges) than Teofimo’s execution.
Last point on regarding this question, I don’t believe anyone can genuinely say that Lopez has solved the 🧩Lomachenko puzzle, when Vasiliy deliberately started his gameplan in round 6, and took a heavy stake in the second half of the fight. If he was completely solved and figured out, then much of Teofimo’s early work would have continued to transition over, still stunting Loma’s productivity, even at a lesser clip.
I don’t believe any honest viewer can say that from the time that Lomachenko decided to step forward and engage in the middle of round 6, that that the fight was closely fought from rounds 6-12 regarding the technical action, and the scoring portion of the picture, which gives further indication to my premise on this narrative in particular. This is why I am in favor of rematches, to see how each combatant can handle the adjustments once they got a keen understanding of one another – will we get a Lopez/Loma rematch? I certainly hope so, for that reason, but it seems unlikely that we will see it.
THE LOMA HATE TRAIN
JON UDDIN – You won’t find a better pedigree than the one provided by Lomachenko, and that goes for the amateur ranks where he won nearly 400 fights and took home 2 Olympic Golds, and the road chosen as a professional where he won titles in three weight classes. However, immediately following the loss to Lopez, it seemed as if critics and some fighters, released whatever weight Lomachenko had been holding on their chest for the past seven years as social media turned into a Loma loss party. I ask you, where’s the vitriol come from?
TRE BERRY III – It stems from a multitude, if not a litany of reasons, so I will start with the most important factor of it all. I don’t believe in generation bashing as I feel it is a toxic trait, that yields nothing positive to the bridging of gaps, so instead of bashing the byproduct of the culture, I will speak a bit upon what has been implemented over time to shift the conscious norm that surrounds the sport in terms of its viewers.
Recently over about a 15 year span…what boxing at its core was/is supposed to be about in terms of its pedigree has shifted from the fundamental appreciation of the sport, to putting more stock into the flash that surrounds it, with extra emphasis on the bragadocious approach with their favorite fighters. Accompanying that is fighter over-emphasis on protecting the “0” 📌(if you are undefeated), and avoiding potential losing situations at all costs, which intertwine with fans paying attention to the wrong virtues of boxing, and decimating any top fighter that loses, with incessant vitriol.
This type of behavior is poor for fans to take up, and poor for boxers to play towards, because as a professional fighter, you are designed to take risks, not to avoid them, for the general health of the sport. The main players that fully expounded upon these things while policking in the fight game has indoctrinated those new fans who follow what the sport is now, and gravitated towards what the new normal is – which is natural, but that is why I’m attacking those more who were actually in boxing that shifted the culture into that direction.
As a byproduct of what I specified, boxing’s culture among the majority of people is toxic right now, so what once was a sport that appreciated its risk-takers, that yielded a fundamental understanding that even the best lose sometimes when you take those risks, or in falling victim to an off-night every now and then, it is far more likely now where those boxers will be cast aside, vilified, or met with a spew of venom from those who lack the fundamental appreciation and respect of prizefighters, or the groundworking’s of the sport in general. A clear cut example – look at how viewers and fight fans treated 🇳🇮Chocolatito Gonzalez after he was knocked out…..
Lomachenko has been without a doubt one of boxing’s biggest risk takers in the last 2 decades, both as a amateur where he won multiple national tournaments, 2 gold medals, and in pushing towards a fast ☄️meteoric rise in the pro game that hasn’t been seen ever before citing the distinct manner in which he has gone about it thus far. For people to crucify him, or denigrate his immense level of talent and accomplishments should be a direct indicator that something needs to be shifted in how the sport is viewed, and how it is marketed.
Now, as for certain fighters who are taking shots at him, you can see that these are current boxers at the weights in which Lomachenko has occupied in the last 4 years, and mostly that you can chalk up some form of jealousy or envy, believing that he had praise heaped upon him that wasn’t warranted, which can’t be deemed as an accurate assessment once you simply take a view of all that he has done in boxing, in such a small time frame, and the excellent boxers he dominated and/or shutout over the years, while actively looking to fight the best.
Young boxers aren’t infallible neither from falling into that narrative spoken of above regarding a contingent of watchers, so instead of honoring their fellow boxers who are doing what they can to carry the sport, some join the 🎉hate party due to a mixture of its convenience, and pouncing upon any negative narrative about someone they dislike, which promotes their agenda, but hurts the very fabric of their sport in its totality.
JON UDDIN – If I’m correct, this marked the first fight inside Top Rank’s bubble that had minimal fans present. Those fans let themselves be heard during the course of the fight, specifically on Teofimo Lopez’s end. This brings me to the confusing lopsided scorecard that was turned in by veteran Judge 📝Julie Lederman, which gave Lopez 11 of the 12 rounds. I know you feel her scoring was way off as well, but I present a theory to you that she could have possibly been swayed by the reaction from Lopez’s contingent whenever he threw something, whether it truly connected or not.
We want our judges laser focused enough to not be phased by that but let’s face it, we’ve seen enough to know that’s not the case. So with no other fans to drown them out Saturday night, do you think it could have affected her assessment of the action whether she knew it or not?
TRE BERRY III – First and foremost, I will put it out there that she has been an active Judge for the last 20 years, and her performance in her job Saturday was abysmal, to say it as nicely as possible, so I can’t let her off the hook. Now…the points that you made are interesting ones worth taking a look at in terms of overall observation. I would like for someone to do a 📜study one day (if it is at all possible) to see how much crowd reaction influences people at home watching the fight, how it can affect announcers, and whether a Judge will rely on that reaction during times where their view was obstructed during a sequence in the middle of an active round.
My assessment is even those who are less susceptible to being swayed, can sometimes gravitate towards the crowd noise unwittingly, or unsuspectingly, even when they try to go out of their way to block the noise, it is only a natural human reaction. Even in battling that urge to ride the wave of a crowd, a Judge is trained more-so than anybody else to effectively block out the noise, and everything outside of those 4 turnbuckles, and view the way in their interpretation attached to credible credence, so she has no excuse.
While she is taking the majority of the guff, 📝Steve Weisfeld has been let off the hook in many ways, when he should be reprimanded for his poor scoring as well, though it wasn’t of course to the level that Lederman took it. I’m not even that happy with 📝Tim Cheatham’s score, but his score is what I would deem to be the edge of acceptable reality given the scope of the fight, so he’s off the hook as far as I am concerned, but the other 2 should be in hot water.
Now with what was established with some level of temptation from judges regarding live supporters, I have always been an advocate of boxing making a few changes and graduating out of the prehistoric ages. One change that I propose is that given the day and age of technology that we live in, Judges should have their own isolated chamber far away from the action, and they should have 📼📽️top-notch technology in order to watch the fight from the angles that we are privy to seeing at home, and they should be forced to watch the fight without any access to sound, as that will give them the clearest indication of strictly the action that is happening without any background noise to alter their rationale.
I would also say to give Judges ⏲️45 seconds after the round, to rewind to a marked point in a round where they weren’t sure whether a critical punch effectively landed, so that they can be firmly confident in their assertation so that they can tally it up properly. Now the old adage from back in the day was that you could see things far better sitting ringside as opposed to watching it on TV, and old timers around the sport would use that reasoning to strengthen their position on events that took place in fights. Now I’m going to say that notion was entirely true…..back in the day.
The difference between tv coverage, the amount of cameras, camera angles being utilized, replay technology, clarity of the video, and better audio quality makes the home experience actually a more accurate watch in my opinion than sitting at ringside these days, and I say that with ringside experience – so minus the audio mention, shouldn’t judges have all the access to what watchers are home are privy to, that way they can see the most accurate viewing possible to make their call on series of events round by round❓ I certainly think so.