|Southpaw Slickness Going Out of Style
By JD Camacho, DoghouseBoxing.com (Feb 14, 2009)
Joe Calzaghe’s retirement sees another leave a dying breed. The left-handed boxers that prefer the elusive to the abusive are becoming fewer and fewer. And it’s happening at every level.
Victor Ortiz and James Kirkland are two of the hottest prospects in the sport. They aim to please by aiming to punish. They’ve each knocked out the last five names on their ledger, and most of their opponents didn’t see past round five. Edwin Valero and Juan Manuel Lopez are titlists that prefer to finish fights as soon as possible. “Shutout” remains absent from their vocabulary. Even Manny Pacquiao, the reigning pound-for-pound king, prefers to fight rather than to fence and receives his fair share of hits in the ring.
And while Pacquiao, in the eyes of many, is the best fighter in the sport at any level, few would confuse Pacquiao with the wall-like Winky Wright. Or with the fleet-footed Hector Camacho. And especially with the twisty Pernell Whitaker, a pugilistic contortionist of the highest caliber.
On Whitaker’s match against Mexican great Julio Cesar Chavez, Ron Borges of the Boston Globe wrote, “Circling, moving inside, throwing flurries and then disappearing, spinning off the ropes when he appeared trapped and rapping Chavez on the way out, he dictated the course of nearly every round. Whitaker was Gregory Hines in shorts, a lethal Fred Astaire sporting oversized red gloves.”
Only recently has Manny Pacquiao shown that kind of slick. Pernell Whitaker made a career out of it. And now that Joe Calzaghe has left, it’s much harder to find a southpaw that resembles “a lethal Fred Astaire sporting oversized red gloves.”
Light heavyweight titlist Chad Dawson is the closest boxing has to an elite southpaw symphonist. But while Dawson used former linear champion Antonio Tarver’s head for a drum, the aging Glen Johnson beat out his own rhythms on Dawson’s noggin and made the young man look very beatable. If Johnson can get to Dawson, who else can?
Dawson is only 26. He still has time to develop and elevate his defense to another level. But slickness is already in his skill set. The same cannot be said of the 21 year-old Ortiz, the 24-year old Kirkland, the 26 year-old Lopez or the 27-year old Valero. Will these power-punchers adapt that southpaw slipperiness? Do they even need it?
If these scholars of the sweet science want to have the longevity that Calzaghe enjoyed, slickness may be a prerequisite.
- Arum’s outrage over Margarito’s license revocation seems forced. I don’t see what’s so outrageous about the punishment. Was there a time when hardened wraps were you know legal, or did I miss it?
- Vic Darchinyan did indeed stomp Jorge Arce, but that cowboy is a gutsy guy. Darchinyan would get rolled by any of the top super bantamweights, though. Caballero and Lopez are too powerful while Marquez and Vazquez are too tough. If Shaw wants to cash out, be my guest…
- Joe Calzaghe, for my money, is at least among the Top 3 European fighters ever. Jimmy Wilde never even fought anyone as good as a faded Jones and Hopkins, let alone beat anyone as good…
- Speaking of southpaws, it’s been almost a decade since an inactive and aged Pernell Whitaker struggled to see the final bell against the lethal Felix Trinidad. Even with his slickness gone, Whitaker was able to finish on his feet. Kudos to you, Sweet Pea…
e-mail JD at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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