Weekend aftermath: Blow for Cheeseman, while Kovalev returns with a bang
Photo: James Chance/Getty Images
Lee Gormley, Chris Williamson, Callum Rudge and Chris Glover are here with their take on a good weekend for Sergey Kovalev and Sergio Garcia, and a disappointing one for Eleider Alvarez and Ted Cheeseman...
BM: Dose of reality for Ted Cheeseman against Sergio Garcia? Where next?
LG: Cheeseman found out exactly how far the gap is between domestic and European level, with Garcia proving to be a class above with a superb performance. He's still a very good fighter and will want to get back on track quickly this year but this latest outing could have taken a lot out of him, as he took plenty of damage over 12 hard rounds.
CW: Cheeseman should take a long break from the sport to properly recharge and recover. The way he was marching forward face first with no thought for defence last night wasn’t just brave it was foolish. Cheeseman is very young and in hindsight was moved up to European class too quickly, although he can be encouraged that his Matchroom stablemate Charlie Edwards was similarly moved too quickly to world level and yet a couple of years later was watching from ringside last night with a newly-minted WBC world title belt virtually stuck to him.
CR: Yes it was. In previous fights Cheeseman has been able to use his strength and ring generalship to wear his opponents down. Last night he came across a man with a great engine, great feet and solid fundamentals, but he will have to learn to defend himself properly if he’s going to have a long career in this sport, and not just rely on being bigger and stronger.
CG: Back to British level for me. I backed Garcia in this fight as I think he’s a World level operator. Cheeseman is a good fighter, but it was a step to soon in my opinion. A few fights back down at British level would be good to continue his development, prior to a step back up. If immediate motivation is money, then the winner or loser of Fowler vs Fitzgerald could be a good options.
BM: Why do we keep underrating and underestimating European champions who visit these shores?
LG: This overlooking of European level fighters and title holders seems to keep happening with Sky cards. There's a certain level of arrogance in undermining a fighter's record just because they haven't competed in the UK or America. Garcia proved to be another Francesco Patera (who was too much for Lewis Ritson), arriving on the UK scene with little known about him and his career being only based in his native homeland. We've all been at fault for perhaps underestimating such European champions, myself included, regarding Garcia this past weekend, but they keep proving their talents on televised shows.
CW: Ignorance! Those of us with long memories and older bones will remember a number of occasions when streaking British level fighters have been brought painfully back to earth by well-schooled EBU champions. One example I was reminded of last night is when Laurent Boudouani defended this very title (although it was termed light-middleweight in those good ol’ days...) against a then-streaking Andy Till.
CR: Because we don’t see enough of them - long gone are the days when Eurosport or BBC would show European title fights and we could see these guys in action. Also in this country we undervalue the European title, it’s just used to sell tickets en route to fighting for a version of the world championship. It would be nice to see a fighter from these shores win and defend the EBU title instead of vacating it at the earliest opportunity.
CG: Is it our own arrogance that we believe British boxing is above everyone else? Or is it bad matchmaking? I never underestimated Garcia personally as I had researched and studied him. I just feel that many people are a bit naive to the talent that lurks in mainland Europe as its never been promoted to them.
BM: Your take on Sergey Kovalev vs Eleider Alvarez. Was the 'Krusher' written off too soon?
LG: Kovalev looked like he was a washed up fighter in the light of his initial loss to Alvarez and I was one of many to think his career was coming to an end. But he rolled back time to produce probably his best performance (barring the first Andre Ward fight) and gain his most impressive result to date. He's now firmly back in the mix in a stacked division, which is only great for the sport, despite what anyone may think of him personally.
CW: As a long-time fan of Kovalev I loved his performance last night. I’m not being wise after the event in pointing out that taking up the immediate rematch clause suggested the Russian had more character than some gave him credit for and he showed that with a good training camp he is not merely a one-trick bully.
CR: The Krusher put on a fantastic display last night and credit has to go to Buddy McGirt for instilling a game plan and ensuring his charge stuck to it. Kovalev is still vulnerable I feel but he has some miles left in the tank.
CG: James ‘Buddy’ McGirt - what a job he has done in turning Kovalev into a boxer. That was the difference on Saturday night. Kovalev looked like a completely different fighter. McGirt has to take a lot of that credit.
BM: What do you think is the best fight that can be made at light heavy?
LG: There are so many options if the champions are willing to mix and match. Three of the four 175lbs title holders are Russian now and we already have Dmitry Bivol vs Joe Smith Jr to look forward to, so Artur Beterbiev is a potentially interesting fight for 'Krusher'. Although, I'm a huge fan of the current crop of Ukrainians dominating the sport, so I'd love to see a Oleksandr Gvozdyk unification match-up for Kovalev at some point. That would be massive!
CW: You could take any two of the four champions - all from Russia or Ukraine - and make a superb fight, but I’d love to see the inactive IBF champ Artur Beterbiev against compatriot Kovalev in a beautifully violent unification match.
CR: Kovalev v Gvodzyk is the fight to be made at 175lbs, it would be for the WBC, WBO and lineal titles and the number one position in the division. While I’m fans of WBA and IBF titlists Bivol and Beterbiev, both have been treading water of late and need to face each other to be considered the best in the weight class.
CG: It’s hard to say, Kovalev vs Bertebiev would probably be the most explosive to watch, as those two reportedly do not like each other. Technically, Gvozdyk vs Bivol would be good to watch from a purists perspective, however, a man who is part of the camp I am around is Marcus Browne, who is supremely talented and could break the Eastern European dominance of the light heavyweight division.
On another note, a shout out to Richard Commey for finally getting another opportunity to explode onto the world Scene and what a sensational way to do it by stopping Isa Chaniev! Commey has come up the hard way, and to win a world title in such dominating fashion live on ESPN is what he deserves. Now let’s see Vasyl Lomachenko trade with a lightweight monster in Commey!