BoxingWriter Fighter of the Month; September 08

Thus far the Fighter of the Month award has been won by Monte Barrett for his destruction of Tye Fields’ flimsy standing as a heavyweight contender, Antonio Margarito’s thrilling suffocation of Miguel Cotto’s resistance and latterly Cedric Boswell’s destruction of pampered prospect Roman Greenberg. I found the stand out performance in September was much harder to select.

Tough to resist the temptation to pick Breidis Prescott, the unknown puncher from Columbia who dumped over-hyped Lightweight prospect Amir Khan on his richly paid derriere. The long-limbed, hungry contender catapulted himself from the South American circuit to the fringes of world top-10’s. Frank Warren, the promoter of vanquished Amir Khan, has options on Prescott’s immediate future and it will be interesting to see what it is made of his new found repute. It is unlikely to include a return with the Olympic silver medalist.

Speaking of Khan, his next bout could be with Martin Gethin, the English Champion, a man who capitalised on John Fewkes’ poor preparation to stop the touted youngster in 4 rounds. A victory which introduced Gethin to the wider public and could yet serve as the most valuable 12 minutes of Fewkes’ short career too.

If the virtues of patience and hard toil were more prominent criteria, Nicky Cook’s defeat of Alex Arthur would have pushed the Essex man closer to the award too, but in truth the fight was a pick-em match up and lacked the decisiveness of this month’s winner. A warmly welcomed triumph within the sport nevertheless.

Rocky Juarez and Juan Diaz both re-established themselves during September, the latter particularly favourable, prevailing in a tight contest against rugged Jorge Barrios with an 11th round stoppage. A result, like much of Juarez’s career, overshadowed by the endeavours of others on the same bill, Diaz v Katsidis this time.

The following weekend, young Sam Sexton emerged victorious from the second British Prizefighter show, beating favourite Chris Burton in the final. All the fights were more tactical than the preceding debut of the concept and Sexton demonstrated resolve and common sense to reach the final, arguably the first fight to really live up to the billing. It didn’t quite ignite like the first event, won by Martin Rogan.

Lower down the box-office food chain, a note of congratulation should be extended to Anthony Crolla for over-turning a previous defeat to awkward journeyman Youssef Al-Hamidi, one of my favourite circuit opponents. I hope the defeat proves a valuable experience in his development, an unbeaten record isn’t always the most revealing or beneficial aspect of a fighter’s career. I’m sure Crolla and trainer Anthony Farnell both learned a lot from the two bouts and about the strengths and weakness the youngster has.

Victories for veteran’s Juan Carlos Gomez and enigmatic Guillermo Jones should also be mentioned, Gomez winning his second WBC Eliminator to secure a shot at the winner of Samuel Peter and Vitali Klitschko, while Jones won a version of the Cruiserweight title in the opponent’s back-yard and at the second attempt. My liking for the Panamanian is tempered by a fail drugs test following his challenge to Johnny Nelson years ago. But few men could claim world-title shots at Light-Middle (a draw and defeat to Frenchman Laurent Boudouani) and Cruiserweight. 46 pounds separate the two divisions’ limits and Jones began as a Welterweight.

Another bout of practically unprecedented constitute featured trusty work-horse Colin Kenna versus 30 year old Punjab born heavyweight Gurcharan Singh. I cannot think of another fighter from the sub-continent fighting at heavyweight on British shores. He stopped Kenna in the 4th of 8 to extend his unbeaten record to 19. For context, Kenna would probably start favourite against any of Singh’s preceding opponents.

On deadline weekend, Shane Mosley reached deep into his reserves to pluck a left-hook of a lifetime to fell Ricardo Mayorga, and as a fan of the ageing Sugar Shane it would have been easy to opt to afford his 37 year old frame one last accolade. Indeed, an argument could have been made for the much maligned Mayorga who defied critics to prove far more competitive than anticipated and highlight Mosley’s ebbing significance as a major player.

None of these could surpass the achievement of Mexican veteran Juan Manuel Marquez who further embroidered his already rich resume with a knockout defeat of Cuban Joel Casamayor. Crushing Casamayor in the 11th round increased the clamour for a third fight with Manny Pacquiao, the first ending in controversial draw, the second a Pacquiao split decision victory and was, for me, the stand-out performance of the month.

At 35, Marquez has shown a willingness to engage far more than he did in his twenties, the realisation that only through employing a more typically Mexican offensive style could he secure the money-making bouts with Casamayor, Pacquiao et al. The Fighter of the Month for September is Juan Manuel Marquez.

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