Last night, in Hollywood, California, HBO Latino’s “Boxeo d’Oro” featured super middleweight British import Carl Froch, who defies the stereotype of the European fighter as being stiff and robotic. One guesses Froch (now 15-0, 12 KOs) has an impressive library of Roy Jones, Jr. fights that he has studied intensely. Like Jones, he breaks all the rules, holding his left hand well below his waist, or pulling straight out and offering his unprotected mug as a fat bull’s-eye. He’s also partial to lead left hooks and right hands. He’s endowed with an athletic, loosy-goosy rhythm that can’t be learned if it’s not encoded in your DNA.
But let me end any comparisons to Mr. Jones here. Froch’s opponent, Henry Porras, is a Costa Rican who boasts a good record of 30-5-1 with 22 KOs, but it’s padded with 14 winless opponents and another 7 with losing records. When he’s taken a step up, he has usually lost. But he’s a durable sort, with a decent chin, who gives it his all. And even though Froch consistently outclassed him—Porras’ corner threw in the towel (literally) at 2:06 of the 8th round—he landed a number of flush shots, even staggering him midway through the 7th round. (Note to Froch: Roy Jones’ daring, unconventional ring habits didn’t catch up with him until he was 35 and entering his 51st and 52nd professional bouts, when he was starched by such gifted pros as Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson. When someone like Henry Porras is catching you with numerous clean shots at this stage, you’d be wise to go back to basics.)
Froch set the tempo of the fight from the outset, flicking his jab at Porras more to blind him or establish range than hurt him. Sometimes he turned the jab over into a speedy hook or followed with a slashing right hand. These shots came at Porras from an odd angle he never saw coming—one advantage of holding your hands so low--and regularly connected on the left side of his jaw. In the 4th frame, Froch got hit often, not only due to his bad habits mentioned above but because he clearly relishes going toe-to-toe…and when he did, he shot straight from the hip. Two rounds later, Porras got more big shots in, even though Froch was clearly in command of the fight. And once again, around 1:52 of the 7th round, Porras countered some lazy pecking jabs with an explosive three-punch combination: hard right, short left, and a concussive right hook that staggered Froch. It was his best moment in the fight. But such satisfaction was short-lived for Porras, as his effort only seemed to awaken the warrior in Froch. For the next 20 seconds, Froch tagged the opponent’s jaw with hard lefts and rights that he got maximum leverage on. Porras wisely tied up and walked Froch backwards across the ring until the referee broke them up. In the last half-minute of the round, Froch lunged in with telegraphed right hands that a still not recuperated Porras had no answer for. Froch looked at the ref and motioned at his helpless opponent, beseeching him to stop the fight. The ref didn’t take the cue, and the bell rang to end the round.
The Englishman’s corner reprimanded him between rounds for showing such mercy. “Do not look at the ref until he stops it!” the chief second instructed his charge. While Froch’s action showed his humanity, he was also nearly spent, and might’ve felt a growing impotence when he couldn’t put his man down. In the 8th round, Froch picked up where he left off, and a spot-on left uppercut led Porras’ corner to stop the fight at 2:06 of the round. While he has his share of technical flaws, Froch is an exciting fighter that boxing fans on this side of the pond would surely like to see more of. But should he ever fight on HBO Latino again, one hopes for his sake he’s not matched against Librado Andrade.
In the co-feature, Mexican Arturo Morua (22-6-1, 13 KOs) fought Jung-Bum Kim (23-3-1, 18 KOs) of Korea in a battle of jr. welterweights. Believe it or not, Kim has Porras beat in the dubious record department. He has fought 16 opponents without a win, and the ones with a few W’s on their ledger you’ve definitely never heard of. If you have, then your name must be Johnny Bos. Kim’s lone mentionable achievement was stopping Mazakazu Satake of Japan (KO2) last October. (Being very generous, Satake might be considered a top-25 caliber jr. welterweight.) Morua is a different story. He has fought a bunch of name guys—losing often but beating some good guys too, such as Omar Weiss and Carlos Maussa. Further, he is scheduled to fight WBA champ Vivian Harris on June 25 on the undercard of the Mayweather-Gatti PPV.
While I would not describe their fight as boring, and the crowd seemed to enjoy it, each of the 10 rounds it went were exactly the same—it was boxing’s version of “Groundhog Day.” Kim, who never met a straight punch he liked, would charge straight ahead with wild winging hooks and overhand rights. Morua would adroitly jab while backing up, or block/slip the majority of Kim’s haymakers, and then counter easily. And on and on it went. Give Kim credit for being game and showing plenty of chutzpah—he entered the ring wearing shades and wearing a big grin, mugged for the crowd throughout and motioned to Morua to bring it on. Judges had it 97-93 twice and 98-92, all for Morua. (Kim’s corner didn’t have an enswell to tamp down the swelling for their puffy-faced, banged up fighter. What are these people thinking? Have they been taking lessons from Aaron Snowell who, when working Mike Tyson’s corner against Buster Douglas, used a balloon filled with water—or was it a condom?—on the then-champion’s blown up eyes.)
As a treat, HBO Latino/Golden Boy Productions showed the Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Mazonke Fana blowout from the ghastly PPV of couple a couple weeks ago. It seemed appropriate that they showed it, because that’s where the fight belonged in the first place—on HBO Latino.