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Boxing's First Quarter 2004: Season of the Jab
By Martin Wade (March 29, 2004) 
Brendon Pierpaoli
Walk into any boxing gym anywhere in the world and ask a trainer to teach you the fundamentals of boxing. I can guarantee that if you never return to that gym you will leave with knowledge of the most important punch in a boxer’s arsenal which is the jab First utilized (and thus invented) by the turn of the century lightweight Joe Gans the jab is the most multidimensional and yet devalued weapon in today’s power equals money-boxing world.

Often polished boxers (code for fighters who jab) are dismissed by fans (as boring or heartless) and promoters for utilizing what some trainers refer to as the “stick”. Often called the “table setter” based on the punch being the beginning to most effective combinations the jab is versatile enough to suit the strengths of any boxer cerebral enough to use it often. To the delight of credible trainers everywhere the month of March marked resurgence in the importance of “the stick”. Let us examine how the jab in its various applications altered the landscape of big time boxing in March.

Corales reformed: Diego Corales, pound for pound one of the hardest punchers in boxing seemed doomed by many to remain hopelessly enamored by his one punch power. Though rusty in his first barnburner with fellow elite 130 pounder Joel Casamayor one cannot help, but to notice the same technical flaws that Floyd Mayweather, JR. feasted upon in 2001. Though a physical anomaly at 6 feet Chico simply did not seem to have the mentality to “box tall” until Joe Goosen entered his camp for the March 6th showdown.

Many cite Goosen’s knowledge of his former charge as the the source of Chico’s disciplined performance, but I believe the game plan of Goosen and it’s emphasis on a steady jab was the difference maker. The result is the return of Chico Corales as a major player in several divisions; boxing fans will only be treated with possible matchups with Morales, Frietas and Casamayor on the horizon.

A Wink and a Smile: The second weekend of March Ronald “Winky” Wright ended all doubt that he was undisputed by riding his southpaw jab to victory over Sugar Shane Mosley. In this case, Wright a solid career 154 pounder used his jab to nullify Mosley’s speed and continually keep the shorter fighter out of range. Mosley, who later complained of muscle stiffness, was rendered ineffective as early as the second round by Wright’s strong jab and tight defense. Mosley’s facial expressions (round 4) were more indicative of the real stiffness; it was the stiffness of Wright’s persistent jab that truly ailed the Sugar Man. For fight fans the entry of Wright into an already fruitful 154-160 pound mix is something to smile about. Winky’s status (like Hopkins) makes it impossible for great fights to be avoided. Winky’s jab also forced Shane Mosley into what many (from a technical standpoint) felt was long overdue, the dismissal of Jack Mosley. It is no coincidence that the man on Mosley’s speed dial is Joe Goosen, Shane is in search of what he abandoned at 154, a jab.

Razor Sharp: The month closed in Arkansas with Monte Barrett and Jermaine Taylor’s impressive display of boxings most important punch. Monte Barrett salvaged his career by schooling what many believed to be the future of the heavyweight division in Dominick Guinn. Guinn, an economic puncher, known for short, crisp hooks was made to look inactive by an increased aggression employed by Barrett. Barrett’s punch output was the result of a swelling confidence made possible by his ability to find Guinn with his jab.

In the headline bout Jermain Taylor gave notice that he is a threat to Bernard Hopkins with a thudding jab that Bouie Fisher will be well aware of. Taylor’s use of the jab, as a spearing power punch provides a more physical threat to Hopkins dominance than anything the 154 pounders have to offer. There is nothing slick about Taylor’s jab, his is a muscular jab with a pulse of its own. Though in need of seasoning Taylor’s educated jab is good enough to keep him on even terms with even the great Hopkins. With Taylor presenting himself as the “young lion” boxing fans may witness one of boxings oldest drama plays in the glamorous middleweight division. If they do not meet, Taylor is still the shoe in as the heir apparent to the Philadelphia badman.

With the month of March coming to a close the preflight antics of Zab Judah lead me to believe the season of the jab is not over. Blessed with enormous gifts Zab Judah is under the impression that his speed and faulty technique is enough to penetrate the unflappable Cory Spinks. Spinks in the spirit of the season will coast to an easy victory by keeping it simple and using what seems to work in every situation, the stick.

Questions or comments,
Martin Wade:
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