Spotting a mismatch from any distance, be you a fan or the World Boxing Council

December 11, 2017 No Comments

The mismatch between Jhonny Gonzalez (l) versus Irving Berry on November 4, 2017, took place at the Municipal Stadium in Chihuahua, Mexico.

The TV announcer’s summation after watching the Jhonny Gonzalez versus Irving Berry bout of November 4, 2017:  “The WBC International super featherweight champion Jhonny Gonzalez had to chase after the Panamanian Irving Berry for 12 rounds to secure his lopsided 120-105 win on all three scorecards. Irving tasted Gonzalez’s power from the git-go and chose to get on his “Bike” adopting a strategy of avoidance at all costs. He may have started the fight in attack mode but he soon resorted to an all-out retreat. Gonzalez’s trademark booming left hook found and dropped the Panamanian hard towards the end of round six, nearly stopping him. But time ran out in that round. In the next round, referee Rocky Burke also took a brief tumble, much to the merriment of the Juarez crowd. A big right wobbled Berry and dropped him in the ninth. Next, a flurry followed by a hard right in the 12th round, again sent Berry to the canvas as Gonzalez tried his best to end the fight. But the wily Berry ran and evaded to somehow make it to the final bell while sporting this angry purple welt under his right eye which was swollen shut even as he applied the ice to it.”

After the win, Gonzalez’s record went to 65-11 while Berry’s record went to 23-8-2. On closer examination, we discovered Berry’s record had been built up by facing inferior opponents. The combined record of his opponents over the 12 years of active participation? 160-123-22. In other words, Berry’s opponents had a win-loss record much, much inferior to Gonzalez’s opponents. Plus, after this current loss, it was noted that Berry had now lost 5 of his last 7 bouts. In other words, he had no business being in the same ring with Gonzalez. He had no business being in contention for that WBC Latino Super Featherweight Title sanctioned by the WBC. The same WBC that was claiming they were doing all they could to stamp out mismatches. As long as that condemnation doesn’t interfere with the way they make their money. 

Along comes this mismatch scheduled for Friday, January 12, 2018, between the Unified IBF and WBC Women’s Super Middleweight World Champion Claressa Shields who plans to defend her 168-pound titles against (what the promoter is claiming to be her toughest opponent to date) the undefeated mandatory challenger Tori “Sho Nuff” Nelson (17-0, 2 KOs).

Nelson (17-0-3, 2 KOs), who won the vacant middleweight title by split decision on July 29, 2011 over Lorissa Rivas (4-1 at the time), has additional victories over previously unbeaten Alicia Napoleon (who built up her record versus opponents with a combined record of 26 wins and 38 losses and Mia St. John who at the time of their meeting was 46-years-old. The now 41-year-old Nelson from Ashburn, Virginia, is looking forward to capturing her second world title in this showdown with the fastest rising star in women’s boxing. Not likely. Not when you’re fighting just twice over the past two and a half years and over the past three years and seven months you have fought just one opponent with a winning record.

The promoter boasted that Nelson is fresh off a knockout win over Latashia Burton from Houma, Louisiana. Burton’s record of 4 wins and 10 losses with 5 of those losses coming by way of knockout and her four wins coming over four winless opponents doesn’t say much for Burton’s pedigree. 

“Ever since Claressa turned pro, I have wanted this fight,” said Nelson. “She’s young and talented, but my experience will make the difference. Since I became a boxer, I have dreamt of being in big fights on television. I am confident I will win this fight and remain undefeated. And I plan to retire as an undefeated world champion.”

Shields, the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (4-0, 2 KOs) will be facing her second consecutive undefeated opponent in the main event of this ShoBox: The New Generation live show at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y. Not to look past Nelson, but this victory will eventually propel Shields into a battle against the WBC middleweight champ Christina Hammer (22-0, 10 KOs), who recently had an easy go of it versus the 36-year-old Gifty Amanua Ankrah (7-5-1) on November 4, 2017, in Munich, Germany. Ankrah, the soft touch from Accra, Ghana, had never beaten anyone with a winning record. Hammer, Shields’ opponent of the future, is currently slated to be on the undercard of this upcoming Nelson vs Shields fight.

In Shields’ last fight on August 4th, she dethroned previously unbeaten Nikki Adler (now 16-1, 9 KOs) to pick up the WBC and vacant IBF titles less than one year after she became the first American boxer to capture back-to-back Olympic Gold Medals. The 22-year-old native of Flint, Michigan, now returns to face Nelson, the so-called seven-year veteran with a considerable edge as it pertains to experience. Keeping to the script: “I’m truly excited to have the chance to demonstrate my skills against an opponent of her caliber (Tori Nelson),” said Shields. “I’m also honored to be headlining the first ShoBox show of 2018, and I know January 12th will be a great night for the fans. This will be the beginning of a historic year for me and for women’s boxing.”

(photo, top, left) Claressa Shields battles Szilvia Szabados in their North American Boxing Federation middleweight championship bout on March 11, 2017, in Detroit. Shields ended up with the stoppage win in the fourth round. (bottom, center) WBO and WBC middleweight champ Christina Hammer (21-0, 9 KOs) came to the U. S. to watch the bout between Nikki Adler (center) and Shields. Hammer, who is from Kazakhstan but lives in Germany, rooted against Adler, who also lives in Germany. “I hope to fight Claressa next year,” said Hammer. Hammer got some advice from Shields as both stood near each other during her post-fight interview. “You better keep your hands up,” said Shields.

As far as Tori Nelson’s claim of having an edge in experience: As an Amateur, Shields began to box at age 11 and compiled a record of 77 wins and just one loss. She then went on to win her first Olympic Gold Medal when she was only 17 years of age in the inaugural women’s boxing competition at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She won her second Gold Medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil before turning pro three months later. And don’t forget all those National Titles, International Titles plus AIBA World Titles which led up to Shields qualifying for the Olympics. 

In March of this year, Shields stopped Hungary’s Szilvia Szabados (15-8 at the time) in a four-rounder in the first women’s main event in premium television history. Shields returned to headline her second ShoBox telecast in August, knocking out the former WBC World title holder Nikki Adler (16-0) in the fifth round to become the unified champion in just her fourth professional fight. The end came at 1 minute, 34 seconds of the fifth round when the referee mercifully ended that mismatch. How much of a mismatch was it? Statistically, Shields landed 136 punches, 118 of them were power punches. Adler failed to land a punch in Round 1 or 5 and landed just six punches the entire fight (two power punches).

Active in her community, Shields is an advocate for several social issues and serves as an inspirational figure in her hometown of Flint, Michigan, a city beset by problems. To summarize the situation: Nelson doesn’t have a ghost of a chance of beating Shields. Hopefully, Nelson, the 41-year-old, will survive this fight. And who is the sanctioning body for this mismatch? That would be the WBC (World Boxing Council) along with the IBF (International Boxing Federation) who in the past claimed they were dead set against mismatches. Once again, those concerns can be overlooked when there is money to be made for the sanctioning bodies.

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