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Tszyu-Gonzalez Report

Kostya Tszyu v. Miguel Angel Gonzalez
August 21, 1999
Miccosukee Indian Gaming
Miami, FL

by DscribeDC

Sometimes this can be a tough job.  Sometimes we are called upon to watch see-saw battles, analyze subtle nuances of style, read delicate shifts of momentum, and  cut through a web of boxing biz b.s. and judging shenanigans to reach the essence of a hotly-contested professional bout.

And, then again, sometimes the job ain't that tough at all.

Tonight, over the course of nine-and-one-third mostly lopsided rounds, Soviet-born, Aussie-trained WBC interim super lightweight king Kostya Tszyu potshotted, psyched-out and generally abused former WBC lightweight ruler Miguel Angel Gonzalez in a fight that would not have been close if it was fought in Miguel's mama's kitchen.

Our esteemed colleague GorDoom got the gist the second he heard the outcome.   Although the tape-delayed fight had not yet aired on the left coast, he summed it up with a terse, "hey, man, you don't take a year off and come back to fight a guy like Tszyu..."  Too true.  After 400 days out of the ring, the WBC #1 contender seemed small at the weight, unsure of his ring generalship, and devoid of game plan, soaking up murderous punishment in a one-sided cakewalk marred from the jump by excessive clutching, fouling and roughhouse

To sum it up, Gonzalez' battle strategy seemed to involve working over Tszyu's mid-section for four rounds while roughing him up in the clinches (perhaps to take him out of his mental game), then accelerating in the later rounds after the bigger banger had used up his heavy artillery.  But Kostya appeared to be more than up to the challenge of countering these gambits.  He is clearly a guy who can "take it to the body," and assaulting his ribs is a little bit like ankle-tackling Barry Sanders;   you had better have a good Plan B.  In the clinches, Tszyu gave as good as he got, opening a small, but distracting, cut over Gonzalez' eye in round one after an early headbutt and launching some menacing-looking shots on various breaks.

The cut was never a factor, but it must have provided Gonzalez with a premonition of the kind of desperate, catch-up war he would be waging.  From the second round on, Tszyu found a home for left hooks and straight rights fired with impunity at Gonzalez' stationary head.  The challenger's fight plan seemed to depend on his ability to come forward, to maximize the damage of his power shots and befuddle Tszyu's offensive efforts.   But Kostya spent the entire fight advancing.  With his smaller frame, weaker punches and the ring rust that robbed his shots of crispness, Gonzalez simply had no ammunition with which to fight moving backwards or against the ropes.  By the time referee Frank Santore's point deduction for shoulder-blocking turned round four into a 10-8 Tszyu stanza, Gonzalez was already fighting from a pretty substantial hole.

Round five was the fight's most savage, a dead-on Tszyu right hand to the button sending Gonzalez wobbling back to the ropes and opening up a two-minute barrage of virtually uninterrupted power shots.  Gonzalez took the onslaught well, but by round's end was facing an almost certain decision loss.  By the start of the seventh, Kostya's corner tasted blood in the water, and sent their man out running to meet the challenger, who had begun
to look like an old, tired Mexican clubfighter.  By this point, Tszyu was beating his opponent like a reform school bully out to steal some extra milk money.  The ending had all but been written, and just three frames later, Gonzalez' own cornermen would sagely throw in the towel to save their man from sharp combinations that twisted the ex-champ's head in a number of directions God never intended.

Tszyu impressed mightily in a hotly-hyped, widely-anticipated bout, and may have set himself up for a big-money unification war with DC's Sharmba Mitchell.  Gonzalez, who learned the value of consistent activity, will be
back, but after a prolonged pounding like the one he sustained, one has to wonder if he will ever return to the first rank of fighters in his division.  We can only hope.

With this win, Tszyu moved to 23-1-1, and Gonzalez fell to 43-2-1.

This reporter had the bout scored a very lopsided 90-80 at the time of the stoppage.   Reasonable minds simply could not differ.  People in charge at the Miccosukee tribe, Showtime, and the Florida athletic commission would be well advised to watch a tape of this fight, which should clearly have been stopped midway through round eight.  A one-sided drubbing throughout, the bout had seen nothing but Tszyu flurries caught by Gonzalez' chin and temples.  By the time Tszyu launched a by-then familiar fusillade of punches in the eighth, there was no hope for a Gonzalez decision, the Mexican's punches had lost their steam, and the challenger's defenses were insufficient to block even the blows his radar detected.  Gonzalez was forced to absorb at least five minutes of needless pummelling, the kind of prolonged, late-rounds pounding that kills synapses and will likely stick with him for life.  Santore, who was consistently slow to break the combatants and permitted entirely too much outside-the-box bullying, should have closed the show sooner.  I doubt if even the most ardent south-of-the-border fight fans would have protested.

And while we're on the subject, can the alphabet soupers please retire the concept of the "interim" title?  It means nothing, cheats the fans of a true champion and insults the intelligence of fighters and followers alike.

The moral of the Romp in the Swamp is simple:  if you go to Florida, see the Mouse, cruise the Everglades, but for God's sake, stay away from the Tszyu.  It'll Kostya.


HBO, the Network of Champions that has given us such wonderful bouts in its Boxing After Dark series, should be wearing a big old boxing-gym shiner after its role in putting on the dreadful Arturo Gatti-Reyes Munoz fight recently.  The vogue in boxing these days has been to put purported world-beaters in with borderline-pros (Roy Jones, Jr.-Ricky Frazier being the worst example). 

But this fight lowered the bar yet another notch.  Not only was Munoz a fighter of questionable power and skills, he did not even appear to be in shape to take on the fight.   As a result, the first real punches landed by the comebacking Gatti -- a right to the top of the head and a left that looked like it hit mostly neck or collarbone -- put Munoz on the corner of Queer and Coldcock and sent him to the hospital, strapped to a gurney, for a
catscan.  Even worse was announcer Jim Lampley's handling of the situation.  How many times did we hear that it was Munoz' "biggest payday by far."  HBO, which we all know played a big part in setting up that farce, tried to pass itself off as philanthropic, giving Munoz a chance to buy a car and reunite his family.  But as soon as the spit hit the fan and it looked like another fistic tragedy was in the offing, Lampley was backpedaling, chiding the
Connecticut boxing commission for allowing the fight to go on.  Give me a break.   Maybe next time Seth Abraham, Foxwoods and the Duvas can pay the handpicked pushover enough to buy himself a hearse.  If past is prologue, he may need it.

Tszyu manhandles Gonzalez
By Chris Bushnell

On paper, the matchup between hard hitting Kostya Tszyu and rugged counterpuncher Miguel Angel Gonzalez seemed like an even proposition.  Once in the ring, however, it was all Tszyu.  From the opening bell to the
merciful stoppage ten rounds later, Tszyu unleashed a debilitating attack that would have folded most fighters in a mere round.  It was quite a display.

It only took 30 seconds before Tszyu landed the first heavy blow.  Once he did, Gonzalez clinched wildly and wrestled on the inside with the Russian "interim" champion.  Amidst the hugging was a headbutt which opened a long gash over Gonzalez's left eye.  Infuriated, MAGO intentionally headbutted Tszyu and immediately began fighting like a desperate fighter:  hugging, running, and fouling.  It wasn't enough.

Whether his conduct was a conscious plan to upset Tszyu's rhythm or an unconscious reaction to Kostya's power is was despicable.  In the first half of the second round, Gonzalez hit low, rabbit punched in the clinch, and threw more than a few all-too-obvious shoulders and headbutts.  Referee Frank Santore's repeated warnings did little to stop the fouling, so Tszyu offered his own solution.  Hooking off the jab and following with a crisp right hand, Tszyu swiveled Gonzalez's head and sent him reeling across the ring.  And then it got worse.

For the next six rounds, Kostya Tszyu threw everything but the kitchen sink at Miguel Angel Gonzalez's head and landed most of it.  Gonzalez's fouling cost him a point in the fourth, but it wasn't the only 10-8 round in the books.  The fifth round was a 10-8 round if ever there was one.  Gonzalez began the round firing downstairs only to be hit with a Tszyu right hand that melted his legs.  As Gonzalez retreated from one corner to the next, Tszyu
repeatedly swiveled his head with clubbing hooks and laser guided straight rights. Criticize Tszyu for headhunting if you must, but his bombs were landing with increasing frequency and rearranging Gonzalez's face.

Although Gonzalez never went down in the fifth, Santore was within moments of stopping the bout on a number of occasions.  Each time Santore looked to be on his way in to call the bout, Gonzalez would fire a single shot to keep him back.  Allowed to continue in the contest, Gonzalez was able to do little more than build upon the reputation of his granite chin. 

Gonzalez had plenty of opportunities to show his ability to take a punch, since that's pretty much all he did for the next  5 rounds.  Firing exclusively to the body in an effort to slow Tszyu down, Gonzalez's output was minimal.  Tszyu was just the opposite:  always attacking, always coming forward, always punishing.  In every round, Tszyu turned Gonzalez's head into a living speed bag, turning it one way and then the next.  Referee Frank Santore was close to stopping the bout at nearly every turn, and Abel Sanchez was close behind...telling Gonzalez repeatedly that he would halt the contest.

Sanchez stood true to his word in the tenth round, after an eighth and ninth defined by Tszyu mauling Gonzalez at will, by calling off the fight after the round began with more Tszyu bombs.  Gonzalez was never down in the bout, but his face showed the effect of a ferocious beating.  The unmarked Tszyu raised his hands in the air, showing only a tad bit more emotion than his assassin's demeanor in the fight.

Slumped on a stool in the ring, Gonzalez was despondent.  Ending a 14 month layoff with this non-performance may have fatally wounded his career.  Once considered a potential heir to Chavez, Gonzalez has failed to win a major fight in years.  His fouling and inactivity in this bout have tarnished even his contender status, and in a division ripe with rising talent, Gonzalez (43-2-1/33) may find himself shut out of the rankings.

Kostya Tszyu was certainly impressive this night.  His calm attack and unusually heavy hands have now brought him to his second world title.  His propensity for headhunting, and his susceptibility to the right hand remain his biggest weaknesses...but it remains to be seen if the division's other top dogs can exploit them.  Next up for Tszyu (22-1-1/19) appears to be aging Julio Cesar Chavez.  Although the Mexican legend's chin might even be better than MAGO's, it is difficult to imagine him having any more success.  Hopefully Zab Judah, Sharmba Mitchell, or Shane Mosley will find their way into the ring with Tszyu instead...we might just get the fight of the year we were hoping for.

-Tszyu's victory fills the WBC 140 lb title slot that has been vacant since Oscar DelaHoya abandoned the belt to become a welterweight over two years ago.  Although Tszyu had been named "interim" champion following his knockout of Hurtado, his recognition as full "champion" was not in place until this evening.  Wearing two WBC belts in the ring, one for his "interim" championship and one for his "real" championship, Tszyu was announced as now being "the undisputed WBC champion".  Great!  So now we're going to have unification bouts within each sanctioning body?  When will it end?

.....Chris Bushnell

Tszyu Crushes Gonzalez:
Claims World Super Lightweight Title
By Francis Walker

On Saturday, August 21, at the Miccosukee Gambling Center in Miami, Russian native Kostya Tszyu (23-1-1, 19KOs) stopped Migel Angel Gonzalez (43-2-1, 33KOs) of Mexico in ten rounds to capture the vacant WBC Super Lightweight crown. Tszyu, who originally was the WBC's interim champion, officially fulfilled a vacancy of more than two years.

When current WBC welterweight king, Oscar De La Hoya defeated Julio Cesar Chavez (TKO 4) in June 1996, Gonzalez dropped a 12-round decision to De La Hoya six months later. Prior to De La Hoya's challenge of then welterweight titlist, Pernell Whitaker, the WBC 140-pound title was ruled vacant.

In an attempt to fulfill the vacant spot, Gonzalez challenged Chavez in March 1998. As expected, They both fought a tough grueling war in front of 50,000 countrymen in Mexico. As expected, however, the bout was ruled a draw.

Tszyu, meanwhile, continued to impress. Prior to defeating Gonzalez, Tsyzu looked great in his stoppage wins against Rafael Ruelas (KO 9) and Diobeles Hurtado (KO 5). Tszyu did the same against Gonzalez.

Tszyu is the type of fighter whereas, he will either knock you out or will punish you for twelve full rounds. Every shot Tszyu throws is a powered shot. At the same time, Tszyu has good boxing skills. He protects himself well
behind the jab and keeps in chin tucked.

Watching Gonzalez against De La Hoya (L 12) and Chavez (D 12), not to mention a controversial decision against Lamar Murphy (W 12) in August 1996, it was clear that Gonzalez would not beat Tszyu. Never had Gonzalez fought someone capable of hitting him at will with the power to kayo opponents at will.

Gonzalez keeps his chin upward as fights carry late and forms into a bit of a shell when hit often.

Gonzalez was not in the fight from round one. Tszyu jabbed with the left and followed with the right. Gonzalez' face was swollen and head jerked back by the fourth round. Gonzalez, in all, committed a dozen fouls where he would hit Tszyu after breaks within the clinches. Gonzalez was docked just one point in the fourh for fouling, which was the only thing he was really doing from jump.

I never thought much of Gonzalez. The only reason why he has remained in the spotlight at 140 is because, he was an undefeated 135-pound champion with 10 successful defenses. Also, Gonzalez is one of the few big names protected by stiffs and overmatched opposition. It was only a matter of time before someone on their best night would pummel Gonzalez into submission.

In the later rounds, Tszyu backed Gonzalez in circles against the ropes. While Gonzalez' left hands were far off their mark, Tszyu countered and connected with sharp rights up-top. Tszyu landed at will, but kept his poise.
Tszyu was disciplined enough to go out and just win the fight, not taunt and humiliate the opposition.

Gonzalez' nightmare ended at 48 seconds of the tenth, as referee Frank Santore recognized Gonzalez' corner consent to stop the bout.

Tszyu now has a number of big-money options. There is always an opportunity to pursue unification against WBA kingpin, Sharmba Mitchell and IBF champ, Terronn Millett. Plus with Arturo Gatti moving up in weight again from 130-135, and now 140 only makes the junior welterweight division more attractive.

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