MARQUEZ DENIED VICTORY OVER NORWOOD
Boxing prodigy Floyd Mayweather, Jr. wasted no time reminding us why he is one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world today. Moments after the opening bell sounded, Mayweather landed the first in an imperishable storm of lightning fast power punches from all angles on challenger Carlos Gerena. Firing double right hand leads and crunching left hooks up and down, Mayweather wasted no time in establishing that he was the fighter and Gerena was the heavybag.
Whether leading with the left hook or beginning his stinging combinations with a forceful stick, Mayweather was firing four and five punch bursts and landing. For the first half of the opening stanza, Mayweather never gave Gerena a chance to breath, let alone react. Slowing down only partially in the second half of the round, Mayweather sized up Gerena's midsection and launched a gigantic right uppercut that crashed into Gerena's sternum. The punch would have certainly sent Gerena down on all fours if a millisecond later Floyd hadn't recocked his right hand and fired it down the pike into Gerena's head. The punch lifted Gerena's torso upright and over as he landed on his back.
Beating the count on seriously wobbly legs, Gerena rushed Mayweather while gesturing to his chin. Mayweather obliged him by cracking him again with rights and lefts until, backed to the ropes, Gerena ate two more home run style left hooks and crashed to his side for the second knockdown of the round. Again Gerena beat the count, and this time the round was over.
Displaying patience beyond his youth, Mayweather began the second round by slowly picking off Gerena. The challenger mostly watched Floyd, although when he did bully in, nothing came of it. Having asserted his dominance, Mayweather was now putting on a show. Calmly and coolly, Mayweather would decide to showcase his uppercuts, and land the punch off of both hands. Left hooks were thrown at the beginning and end of combinations. Gerena ate them all. Mayweather was in boxing Nirvana, and the grin on his face showed it.
Before the fourth round, Floyd Sr. urged his fighter to concentrate on the body. Floyd Jr. obliged him with a wicked display of bodywork. In a textbook demonstration, Mayweather would crunch Gerena to the body, bend him over as a result, and then stand him up with two more punches to the head. Again Gerena motioned to his chin, and again Mayweather hit him on it. Three consecutive gestures on Gerena's part invoked three increasingly powerful lead right hands that landed flush. It's unclear what Gerena was trying to prove, other than the fact that a round can be scored 10-8 without a knockdown.
In the fifth, sixth, and seventh, Mayweather carried on with the show, chopping Gerena down bit by bit. Having not fought for 110 days, his longest pro layoff, Mayweather was intent on working through his repertoire, which included samplings of Ray Leonard's footwork, Roy Jones' handspeed, and even Naseem Hamed's lean-back-hands-down defense. It was nothing short of dominance.
The seventh round was not unlike the previous six, with Gerena soaking up crisp power punches from all angles. With 30 seconds to go, Gerena inexplicable yelled "NO PUNCH!" at Mayweather. The agitated champion sought to show him otherwise, grunting loudly as he dug the hardest bodyshots and left hooks of the evening before the bell rang. Still chanting "No punch" at Mayweather had Floyd riled up in his corner between rounds. Luckily, Dr. Flip Homansky saved Gerena from young Mayweather's wrath, halting the one sided contest between rounds due to the excessive punishment Gerena had soaked up.
Now 22-0/17, Floyd Mayweather expressed hopes of division unification, suggesting bouts with Robert Garcia, Joel Casamayor, and Lakva Sim. All would be entertaining, perhaps even close bouts. But after tonight's showcase, Mayweather would be the heavy favorite against any of these titlists.
Question: What is worse than a highly anticipated matchup between two rugged tough fighters that turns into a boring fight? Answer: When you top off that bout with a questionable decision.
WBA featherweight champion Freddie Norwood posed and postured his way through 12 rounds with tough, but ineffective challenger Juan Manuel Marquez and somehow earned a lopsided decision that probably should have gone to the challenger.
At the opening bell, both fighters began a very tentative and respectful distance from each other, as Marquez sought to feel out Norwood's southpaw stance, and Norwood looked to land against the rangy Mexican challenger. In the second round, after more feeling out, Norwood landed a big left to the jaw after Marquez rushed in wide open and sent him on the seat of his pants. Marquez beat the count and ate two more big left hand counters from Norwood before making it out of the round. It amounted to Norwood's biggest offense of the night.
Now wary of the champion's power, Marquez fought more tentatively. Although he countered Norwood's counters with effective right hands, his more renowned left hook was nowhere to be seen. Still, when matched with Norwood's sleep walk offense, it seemed enough to win most of the first half of the fight.
Norwood exerted most of his energy by wrestling with Marquez in the many clinches, and after tonight's performance Norwood solidified his reputation as one of the sloppiest fighters in the game. But beyond that, there was very little happening for most of the fight. As both men paid respect with distance, both were also looking for the single punch that would shift the fight definitively in their favor. The result was a majority of the punches being range finding jabs that caught nothing but air, and a lot of big misses that morphed into clinches. It was ugly, to say the least.
In the seventh round, there was brief action after Marquez landed a double left hook to Norwood's head that sent him down to one knee. Unfortunately, Joe Cortez was on the other side of the fighters, and his angle provided him with a view of Norwood's own left hook which landed simultaneous with the one he ate. To Cortez, Norwood's knockdown looked like a slip, and was ruled so. No matter. With seconds left in the eighth, Marquez knocked Norwood down again, this time clearly, with a tidy one-two.
But in between these two knockdowns was non stop stinker of a non-fight. Norwood's offense never added up to more than two or three counter left hands, even in the rounds he won on my card. Marquez often was coming forward, and throwing, but not landing much. Still, it seemed enough to give him a good lead.
Norwood "stormed" back in the final two rounds, winning each by landing only a few clean shots, as Marquez jabbed and shot right hands that never landed. At the end, Boxing Chronicle.com scored the fight 115-113 for Marquez, with rounds 1 and 5 scored 10-10 due to the extreme inactivity of both men in each round. Naturally, a 115-113 fight could swing either way with a round or two scored differently, but when the cards were read, Norwood's unanimous decision was as wide as the butt-induced gash on his left eye: 117-112, 115-111 and 114-112 all for the champion Freddie Norwood.
It was an awful fight, more boring than even David Reid's recent snorefest over Keith Mullings. Norwood (35-0-1/20) wrestled, complained, and posed for 12 rounds, earned a gift W, and probably shot to the top of the list of fighters Naseem Hamed is looking to fight.
© 2001 Chris Bushnell. All rights reserved.