Fight Notes – June 24th

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Thursday, June 24, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment


San Jose Sharks will not resign goaltender Evgeni Nabokov
OAKLAND'S ANDRE WARD ADVANCED TO SEMIS IN SUPER SIX BOXING TOURNAMENT

Showtime World Boxing Classic Andre Ward Allan Green Oakland
ANDRE WARD EARNED A 12-ROUND UD WIN OVER ALLAN GREEN SATURDAY


- June 2010 might be one of the most significant months for Bay Area fights sports in recent memory. Last Saturday at Oracle Arena, former Olympic gold medalist and WBA Super Middleweight champion Andre Ward (22-0, 13KOs) dominated veteran Allan Green (29-2-0, 20KOs) en route to a 12-round unanimous decision win in the Super Six Tournament.

This Saturday the consensus #1 ranked heavyweight in mixed martial arts Fedor Emelianenko (31-1-0, 8KOs, 16subs) faces off against the consensus 9th ranked heavyweight Fabricio Werdum (13-4-1, 4KOs, 7subs) on a Strikeforce/M1-Global co-promoted card that also features the top woman in mixed martial arts Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, a participant in the 2009 fight-of-the-year candidate Josh Thomson, and what should be an entertaining rematch between San Jose’s Cung Le and Sacramento’s Scott Smith. Many consider Fedor Emelianenko the most dominate competitor in the history of the sport.

Earlier this month also saw the return of professional boxing to San Francisco for the first time in 6 years. Talented free agent Karim Mayfield (13-0-1, 8KOs) and former San Jose Sabrecats arena football player Tony Hirsch (12-3-1, 6KOs) dominated overmatched opponents, and an entertaining Jonathan Alcantara (4-2-1) lost a controversial decision. It was a small scale return to a destination that used to be the cradle of boxing worldwide.

- With a failure to launch for Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, Showtime’s World Boxing Classic Super Six Tournament has been one of the most entertaining aspects of boxing for all the right and wrong reasons. The drama has been at once organic and manufactured, honest and brutally dishonest.

In the first stage alone, fantastically documented on the second video episode of Fight Camp 360, Nottingham native Carl Froch earned a jaw dropping 113-115, 112-116, 111-117 unanimous decision after being thoroughly outboxed by Michigan-born Andre Dirrell. On the same night Germany’s Arthur Abraham possibly ended the career of former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor with a devestating knockout, 2:54 into the final round. It was the second straight brutal, late knockout suffered by Taylor. It was a loss devestating enough to force him out of the Super Six Tournament, eventually to be replaced by veteran Allan Green.

To complete the first of three opening round tournament stages, Andre Ward met the #1 ranked Super Middleweight and tournament favorite Mikkel Kessler for the first title fight to be held in Oakland in 42 years. Polled by Sharkspage.com, boxing insiders Dan Rafael of ESPN and Steve Kim of Maxboxing.com both gave the clear edge to Kessler. Outside of Oakland, few gave Ward an opportunity to even last 12 rounds. Ward proceeded to pick apart the top Super Middleweight in the division, and pick apart the prevailing boxing sentiment with blinding handspeed and pinpoint accuracy. Two fights after outslugging a slugger in Edison Miranda, the multi-dimensional Ward outboxed what many thought was a more complete Kessler. After battering him inside, Ward stopped Kessler in the 11th round to earn the WBA Supper Middleweight Championship.

The fireworks, good and bad, did not die down in the second stage of the Super Six Tournament. 70 miles from his hometown of Flint, Michigan, Dirrell met the then undefeated knockout puncher Arthur Abraham (31 wins, 25KOs, 80.6% knockout ratio) at Joe Louis Arena. Dirrell frustrated Abraham, poured on more offense than he did against Froch, and was dominating the scorecards until Abraham landed an illegal punch to the head in the 11th round. Dirrell had slipped to one knee in the corner, and he was dazed and out on his feet after the blow. A teammate of Ward’s and a bronze medalist at the 2004 Olympics, Dirrell earned a critical 2 points with the win after Abraham was disqualified. In 2 Super Six contests, Andre Dirrell has two of the most unusual results on record.

In the second fight of the second stage, WBC Super Middleweight champion Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler both got what they were hoping for. Limited athletically, Froch got an opponent that would stand in front of him and bang. A humble and respectful Mikkel Kessler, a “gentleman warrior”, got the opportunity to avenge only his second professional defeat and regain the WBC title in front of a vocal hometown Danish crowd. The action was back and forth throughout the fight, but the 12th round was a candidate for round-of-the-year according to Showtime. With decisions all over the map, both fighters tried to end it in the ring without taking more than 2 steps in a row backwards. Froch did not respect the power of Kessler, and he stood firm trying to get off as many power shots as possible. Kessler moved in and out slightly, trying to load up as much snap on his jab and momentum on his overhand right as he could. After the dust settled, Mikkel Kessler emerged with a win and 2 points on a 115-113, 116-112, 117-111 unanimous decision.

That long and winding road ended up in Oakland for the final fight in the second stage of the Super Six. Allan Green was expected to be a difficult opponent. A veteran with a reach advantage, a powerful left hook, and a mean steak every bit as capable as matching that of Ward. The two were orginally scheduled to meet on April 24th, a date that was postponed when Ward suffered a knee injury. At the time Green questioned the validity of the injury, “I don’t think this is a fight Andre Ward and his people ever wanted.”

After his first Bay Area fight in San Jose, Andre Ward said he was not just fighting for Oakland or the east bay, but that he was fighting for the south bay, San Francisco and the north bay as well. With 3 of his last 4 fights in Oakland, Ward is hoping to garner support from those Bay Area fans to help re-establish Oakland as a destination for high profile boxing. The Olympic gold medalist drew 7,818 fans to Oracle Arena for his fight against Miranda in May of 2009, and with a number of Danish visitors 10,277 watched his upset of Kessler for the WBA crown in November.

8,797 fans nearly filled the lower bowl of Oracle Arena for Ward-Green on Saturday night, and unexpectedly the buzz inside the building was a notch higher than it was against Kessler. After a pause to sync up with the Showtime television broadcast, Ward began the first moving well side-to-side while staying out of the range of Green. In the second, Ward started to initiate contact after several clinches.

The Showtime broadcast described him as a volume, more techincal puncher, but from the third round on Ward buried his head into the chest of Green and unloaded from inside. The crowd ooh’d and ahh’d at intermission as slo-mo replays showed left uppercuts and right hooks land flush to the head of Green.

The route was on from the fourth round on. Green landed a left hook in the fourth, which was acknowledged by Ward, but his feet were planted into the canvas. “I did expect a little more from him,” Ward said after the fight. “That wasn’t the gameplan to fight so much inside. We wanted to go inside from time to time during the fight, I saw in the second round he stayed there along the ropes the whole round. I thought if I could stay inside this would be my game, I could really wear him down.”

That was most evident in the fifth and sixth. Ward began stalking Green around the ring, landing 8 straight punches in the fifth before Green let off a shot. The “bullying” continued in the sixth as Ward pushed him into a corner and landed a 6-punch combination. Kessler complained of frequent head buts by Ward, including one that lead to the eventual stoppage. Green said he spoke “jive” inside the ring, and new how to fight an American style of fight. Against Ward, often criticized for a lack of toughness early in his career, he had to deal with a head up against his chin and the occasional high elbow and forearm during scrambles in tight.

“I hit a wall in training camp,” Green told Showtime after the fight. “I had 3 training camps since December (with the postponement). I knew coming into this fight I wasn’t at my best. I trained hard, but I don’t think I did it effectively.” The Tulsa born Green came in two pounds under at 166, while Ward weighed in at 167.75.

The final 40 seconds of the tenth round was slugged out inside of a phone booth in the corner, but the occasional punch by Green was smothered by the volume and pressure from Ward. The Oakland native finished with a 53-170 advantage in jabs landed and thrown, to 17-61 by Green, 214-350 to 131-268 advantage in power shots, and a 267-520 to 148-327 advantage in total punches landed/thrown. Green attempted only 6 combinations (3 in the final two rounds), to Ward’s 42.

It was not a pretty effort by Green, or a spectacular upset for Ward as was his fight against Kessler, but it was a business-like effort. It helped Ward become the first Super Six competitor to advance to the knockout round. “I definitely felt that he stopped trying to win, and I really, really wanted the three points (for a stoppage),” Ward told the media.”I wanted to get the referee to stop the fight. He has had a lot of amateur fights, almost 30 pro fights, he was trying to survive.”

He gave himself a B for his effort, but the strength, power and versatility in his game validates the approach that got him to this point in some respects. Ward often repeats a fighting philosophy of Bruce Lee, “to be formless, like water”. Lee, one of the first martial arts instructors in the United States to train non-Asian students, also broke down the benefits and restrictions of numerous martial arts and put them into practice for his own teachings. Hospitalized after a neck injury, Lee examined and diagramed various attacks in judo, karate, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, kung-fu, and several other styles. Instead of sticking to a strict, formulaic ritual fighting style, he would adapt on the fly given the situation and the opponent in front of him.

“As a matter of generalship you should try to fight a type of contest which least suits the fighting abilities of your opponent,” Lee said in his treatise on martial arts, Jeet Kune Do.

An intellectual boxer at heart, Andre Ward has adapted that style towards the squared circle. It has added significance with the fact that Bruce Lee opened a martial arts school in Ward’s hometown of Oakland in 1964. Lee’s legacy still looms large via students and fans in the city to this day.

The next test will come in the third and final opening round stage of the Super Six against friend and fellow 2004 Olympian Andre Dirrell. Dirrell was in attendance at the fight, and in the post-fight press conference he said that he would have an answer for Ward. Questions about whether it would take place in Oakland, Michigan, or a neutral location will make for must-see viewing on a future Fight Camp 360 episode.

Poole: Andre Ward’s successful WBA title defense ugly, yet beautiful – Oakland Tribune.

“Ward’s a really interesting and unique fighter,” Showtime analyst Al Bernstein said. “He’s so versatile. He and (trainer) Virgil Hunter are so clever. They’re like a football coach and team that know how to change up, depending on the opponent. They find a weakness and do whatever is necessary to take advantage of it.”

The champion fought mostly from in close, neutralizing Green’s punching. Ward consistently walked the Tulsa, Okla., fighter into one corner or another, or against the ropes, jabbing and hooking and reaching down for the occasional uppercut.

- A day up North – Steve Kim for Maxboxing.com.

- Andre Ward will be a guest today on CSNBA’s Chronicle Live talk show along with Earthquakes GM John Doyle and Strikeforce fighter and Sacramento native Scott Smith.

M1 Global Strikeforce MMA Fedor Emelianenko Fabricio Werdum
FEDOR EMELIANENKO TRAINING IN RUSSIA FOR SAT. FIGHT IN SJ - PHOTO M1-GLOBAL

San Jose Sharks will not resign goaltender Evgeni Nabokov
2-TIME BJJ, 2-TIME ADCC HW CHAMPION FABRICIO WERDUM - PHOTO JON SWENSON


Via the Strikeforce/M1 Global Fedor vs Werdum event website, M-1Global.com and Showtime Sports:

STRIKEFORCE/M1-GLOBAL FEDOR VS. WERDUM FIGHT CARD
June 26th, 2010
HP Pavilion, San Jose, CA


Showtime Main Event Broadcast
Fedor Emelianenko (31-1-1) vs. Fabricio Werdum (13-4)
Cris Cyborg (9-1) vs. Jan Finney (8-7)
Scott Smith (17-6-1) vs. Cung Le (6-1)
Josh Thomson (16-3-1) vs. Pat Healy (23-15-0)

Preliminary Card
Yancy Medeiros (8-0-0) vs. Gareth Joseph (4-2-0)
Bobby Stack (6-1-0) vs. Derrick Burnsed (5-0-0)
Bret Bergmark (5-1-1) vs. Vagner Rocha (5-0-0)
Ron Keslar (5-1-1) vs. Chris Cope (3-1-0)

- Fedor Emelianenko, ‘The Last Emperor’, finally directs his procession to San Jose for a Bay Area debut on Saturday. Fedor is a figure many consider not only the top-ranked heavyweight in mixed martial arts, but also the top competitor in the history of the sport. He has cut a devestating swath through 3 MMA organizations (Pride FC, Affliction, Rings), and Saturday night he looks to take his second stroke at the Strikeforce Heavyweight division inside HP Pavilion.

Emelianenko’s confidence is not overbearing. Despite pure knockout power, and explosive takedowns and submissions, he does not need to make a show for the cameras. In fact, a slight smile and a hint of nonchalance may be the kiss of death for an opponent inside the cage.

“Outside his rigorous training schedule — he spends hours honing various boxing and martial arts styles and runs 10 miles a day — Emelianenko’s life can seem at times to more closely resemble that of a traditional Russian peasant,” Michael Schwartz wrote in a January 2009 profile for the New York Times. “He reads Orthodox Christian literature and relaxes at a banya, or Russian bathhouse.”

Emelianenko has emerged from some of the most whithering moments in a ring or a cage, and he often dismissed them as business as usual, just another day at the office. Offensively, he has knockout power in both hands, explosive judo throws, and a peerless submission game. But his strongest attribute may be his ability to make adjustments and take advantage of any opportunity afforded him by an opponent.

In his last two fights, Fedor has mixed in an element of misdirection. After staying on the end of Andrei Arlovski’s punches in the first round of Affliction’s Day of Reckoning event in 2009, Arlovski pressed his luck and attempted a flying knee up against the ropes. Emelianenko lowered the boom with an overhand right that knocked the former UFC champion out in mid-air. Against a game Brett Rogers in his Strikeforce debut in Chicago, a bloodied Fedor timed him coming in and earned a spectacular knockout 1:48 into the second round.

This has to be a daunting prospect for his opponent Fabrico Werdum. In even the best of circumstances, odds for a Werdum win are going to be slim. A submission grappling phenom with size and improved power, Werdum has to take notice of Demian Maia’s recent performance agaist Anderson Silva in UFC 112. Maia has possibly the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu adopted for MMA, but if you can not close the distance on a striker and take him to the mat, it doesn’t matter.

Werdum slugged it out for a unanimous decision win over 6-foot-4, 265-pound ‘Giant Silva’ in 2009 (a meeting that deserved a rematch), but Fedor is on another planet skill-wise. Staying inside on the feet is Werdum’s best option. Surviving 20-30 second increments, Werdum has to stay alive long enough on the off chance a stray neck or an arm presents itself.

- Excellent Sherdog.com reporter Loretta Hunt interviewed several fighters during the media day Wednesday. Cung Le talked about his stunning knockout loss to Scott Smith after dominating him early in the fight, he also cracked on the recent Rampage-Rashad UFC headline fight that failed to live up to overhyped expectations. Porto Alegre, Brazil native Fabricio Werdum was also interviewed by LH. Through a translator Werdum discussed a 7-month delay and turning down a fight after Fedor and M1-Global decided to continue negotiations, talked about how his style of BJJ matched up well with his opponent and how he had experience defeating Fedor’s heavy handed brother Sharkspage favorite Aleksander Emelianenko in Holland.

Also on Sherdog video, San Jose’s Josh Thomson discussed his strategy for Pat Healey, and Fedor Emelianenko spoke with Greg Savage Tuesday in LA. Emelianenko talked about his training camp, his preperation and the work his coaches have done for Werdum, whether he thinks this is a pure striker vs pure grappler matchup, and how he likes fighting in the United States.

- Mini-tale of the tape: Fedor Emelianenko — age 33, hometown Stary Oskol, Russia, weight 232, height 6-foot-0, reach 74 inches, record 31-1-1 (16 submissions, 8 knockouts), style Combat Sambo (International Master of Sport), Judo (black belt and Master of Sport) and boxing, fight team Red Devil Sport Club, history WAMMA Heavyweight Champion (present), Pride FC Heavyweight Champion (2003-2007), Pride Heavyweight Grand Prix winner (2004), Rings Absolute Tournament (2002), Rings Heavyweight Tournament (2001), notable wins including 5 former UFC Heavyweight champions (Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman, Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski, i-Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira) as well as Mirko ‘Crocop’ Filipovic (2005) in the most anticipated bout in MMA history.

Fabricio Werdum — age 32, hometown Porto Alegre, Brazil, weight 242, height 6-foot-4, reach 76 inches, record 13-4-1 (7 submissions, 4 knockouts), style BJJ (black belt), Judo (black belt), fight team Kings MMA/Chute Boxe, history back-to-back Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world SSHW champion (2003, 2004), 2-time ADCC submission grappling HW champion (2009, 2007), notable wins Antonio Silva (2009), Gabriel Gonzaga (2008, 2003), Aleksander Emelianenko (2006), Alistair Overeem (2006).

- One bit of inside baseball to keep an eye on, especially after female boxer Ella Nunez came in 11.5 pounds overweight for a fight last weekend in Oakland. Many consider Werdum’s poor showing against rising contender Junior dos Santos in October 2008 evidence that Fedor is not facing top competition in the division.

Fabricio Werdum weighed in for that fight at 256 pounds, 12 pounds over the 242 pounds he weighed in for a November 2009 bout against Antonio Silva. Being a few pounds over an average weight after an 8-10 week training camp is a warning sign, even for a heavyweight. Werdum rededicated himself to improving his fitness after signing with Strikeforce, and as the photo above shows he was shredded on the scale as a result. According to training videos, he has also been working to add mass.

Other fighters to keep an eye on Fedor Emelianenko weighed in at 232 for his November bout with Brett Rogers, Josh Thomson came in at 153 for Thomson-Melendex II. Thomson mentioned in an interview with CSNbayarea.com that overtraining is a concern for him, and his trainers at AKA are not above kicking him out of the gym. Cung Le came in at 184 for his ‘Evolution’ main event with Scott Smith. It should also be noted that ‘Cyborg’ came in 7 pounds over for a April 2009 fight with Hitomi Akano. A very game Akano came in at a pound and a half under the limit at 143.5lbs.

- Exclusive: Fedor “not looking past” Werdum – Tatame.

- Werdum steps up training for fight vs. Emelianenko — will it matter? – Josh Gross for SportsIllustrated.com.

It seems each time a fighter prepares to meet Fedor Emelianenko in the ring, something changes. Whatever it was he did to earn a shot at mixed martial arts’ top heavyweight fighter is, rather suddenly, not enough.

This power of persuasion is how Emelianenko, the 32-year-old Russian heavyweight who is unbeaten since December 2000, usually begins his march to victory. Well before he can unleash his speed and power, make use of his uncanny leverage and eerie ability to remain calm in the face of giants attempting to rip him from consciousness, Emelianenko claims a distinct advantage by the sheer force of his reputation — even if he says otherwise.

- More notes on Strikeforce, a link to a hockey podcast, and notes on Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski re-signing will be posted soon. Me and Max Giese wil be at NHL Draft in LA tomorrow (Max is there, I am going to be on the road soon.)

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