Yoan Pablo Hernandez vs. Steve Cunningham II: A Beautiful Absurdity

Cunningham-Hernandez II

How was the fight? It was terrific, even if it was absurd.

The first two rounds were pensive — and it was the pensiveness that favoured Hernandez. Cunningham, 35-years-old, showed visible signs of slowing down. You got the feeling that, if only he fought this fight one year earlier, his reaction time would be faster. Hernandez was able to pick his shots artfully.

It was in the 3rd Round that Hernandez picked up the pace. He began tearing into Cunningham with devastating body shots. Shot after shot landed, with Cunningham backing up. Clearly, it looked like Hernandez was going to slowly dismantle Cunningham.

Then in the 4th Round, the absurd happened. Hernandez delivered a hard hook to Cunningham’s jaw. Cunningham was dropped. His legs shaking uncontrollably, somehow he found his way back up.

After nearly being counted out, Hernandez knocked Cunningham down immediately. Cunningham got up again. There was 40 seconds in the round.

Hernandez unloaded shot after shot — trying to keep Cunningham from finishing the round. These were big shots, being delivered to Cunningham’s head and body. Cunningham continued to wobble; the referee was about to stop the fight, but the bell rang to end the round. Somehow Cunningham survived.

What followed was an admirable display of guts. In Round 5, Hernandez tried to close the deal, when Cunningham suddenly clocked him hard with a counter right. Hernandez staggered. From Rounds 5-9, Cunningham outboxed  and outfoxed Hernandez — forcing the younger man to respect him.

Hernandez knew Cunningham could have stolen the fight from him. In Round 10, he adjusted his strategy and made it a dogfight. Both men exchanged punches — becoming more desperate as time went on.

The dogfight reached a crescendo in Round 12. Hernandez delivered a big left hand. Cunningham once again had his legs wobble, but he fought back. Cunningham then teed off — causing Hernandez to stagger. Seemingly dizzy, and with little more than desperation, Hernandez mustered enough strength to blitz Cunningham yet again.

Somehow, both men remained standing. Both men refused to stay down or out. Either man could have been the winner.


The Art of Brawling

The Great Ji-Hoon Kim

“You mean to tell me there’s some sort of art to bashing someone in the face?” asked an incredulous family friend last Thanksgiving.

“Not only am I telling you it’s a science, I’m telling you it’s a beautiful science,” I replied.

I attempted to explain some of the nuances of boxing to her, but her eyes glazed over. So, I realize the challenge I have when explaining its appeal. Boxing cannot be explained, it has to be seen to be appreciated.

Yet, here I am talking about it. Boxing is a integral part of my life. It’s not the Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao’s of the world the hold my interest. My favorite fighters are the lunch box brawlers who show up for a few thousand dollars, yet give it their all every fight.

Kim-Amidu, Part I

The fight between Ji-Hoon Kim and Yakubu Amidu was one such fight. The two of them cannot be more dissimilar.

Kim comes from South Korea, a economic powerhouse that is home to several multinational high-tech corporations. It is a nation that once produced several elite level boxers, but has since seen a drop off in talent.

Amidu hails from Ghana. Indeed, it is a third world country located in West Africa, but it is also the world’s third fastest growing economy. Ghana continues to produce top level boxing talent, including Joseph Agbeko, Joshua Clottey, and Osumu Adama.

In many ways, these fighters represent a new reality of boxing. Boxing talent comes from around the world. It is has become globalized — yet talent continues to come to America in pursuit of a dream.

In part of of Kim-Amidu, we see a back and forth in momentum. Both fighters go full bore offensive.

Kim-Amidu, Part II

As you see, Kim and Amidu are not what you would typically see on a top shelf Pay-Per-View fight. They are not beautifully defensive fighters like Floyd Mayweather, nor do they have the calculated blitzes of Manny Pacquiao.  Rather, Kim-Amidu was a great display of brawling.

By “brawl”, I don’t mean that either fighters were sloppy or lacked skill. Brawling is a legitimate, long storied style in boxing. Some of the most famous boxers in history were brawlers including: Micky Ward, George Foreman, and (the fictional) Rocky Balboa.

Brawling, as a style, seems deceptively simple. A brawler moves forward into the killzone, absorbs punishment, then trades with their own (often) harder, more powerful punches. Of course, there’s more to it than that. Brawling is about foot positioning, forcing your opponent onto his heels, and maximizing torque for hooks and uppercuts.

Kim-Amidu, Part III

What made this fight so fun to watch was that both Kim and Amidu were willing to trade — both being convinced of his ability to out-punch, out-muscle, and out-last the other.

At any moment, either Kim or Amidu could have thrown the knockout punch, the equivalent of a home run swing that kept the verdict of the fight out of the judges’ hands. But in the end, both fighters were standing — doubtlessly due to their grade A chins.

Sadly, By virtue of their willingness to trade all too often, both fighters won’t have long careers in boxing. We will be lucky to watch a few more displays of chutzpah on Friday Night Fights. Perhaps one of them will get a crack at an alphabet championship, but both will probably fade into obscurity.

At least they gave us this fight — a fight that entertains. More importantly, it’s a fight that deserves to be seen.