What's The Hurry? Well, I'll Tell You!
By Chris Strait, SocalFightFan (June 24, 2009) DoghouseBoxing.com  
Teddy Atlas has been right on the money with his recent criticisms of how slowly the Olympic class of 2008 has been moved along thus far. The management of Shawn Estrada, Demetrius Andrade, and Deontay Wilder ought to be ashamed with the level of opposition of their fighters first few matches. They should be additionally ashamed for allowing these mismatches to be televisied. Not only are these fighters developing potentially dangerous bad habits by sharing the ring with inept opponents, but they are missing a golden opportunity to separate themselves from the pack.

It seemed as if Andre Ward was on that track after his gold medal win of 2004, but after the first sign of deficiencies, he was pulled back. Now, here we are, five years later, and no title shot. All of this just to protect an undefeated record? How many fighters with losses need to become stars before we let go of the emphasis on protecting a record. What happened to the Leon Spinks' fighting Ali in his 8th pro fight, or Jeff Fenech winning a title in his 7th pro fight?

I am not just speaking of the fighters who have potential to be great. What about the limited fighters who need to strike while the iron is hot? Sometimes the fast move allows a fighter to grab some accolades (and money) before he is exposed. Paul Gonzales picked up a regional belt in his third pro fight and fought for a world title, before his limitations were revealed. Same with Henry Tillman. If Leon Spinks had been moved as slowly as the Olympians nowadays, he would have been beaten and dismissed before even entering the top 10, and never would have been able to call himself a world champion.

Here's a good formula for the movement of decorated amateurs, who are a cut above everyone else turning pro (and if possible, try to get all of these fights televised. It will build the fan base, and reveal weaknesses that make it easier to get fights with bigger names):

Fight 1) against anyone, just get it over with
Fight 2) against an unbeaten prospect without that amateur pedigree... a 7-0 guy who's fought nobody
Fight 3) a limited journeyman with a losing record, who goes rounds
Fight 4) a limited journeyman with a winning record, who goes rounds
Fight 5) a shot former contender who can punch, but not accept one
Fight 6) a top 30 fighter, for a regional belt or two
Fight 7) a lower part of the top 15 fighter, for a ranking
Fight 8) a fractional belt holder in an optional defense
Fight 9) an HBO/Showtime date for a useless mandatory, then call out the big names.

See how easy that was? Assuming your charge wins all of these, you are in business. 6-figure paydays in only the 10th fight. Even if he loses, treat it like a video game. Move him back two places, and restart. Instead, we will likely be forced to see these Olympians fight tomato cans until they've padded their records and lost most of the schooling they practiced over all their amateur days. It's shame really, because boxing needs a new star now, not in 4 years!

Chris Strait

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