Zuri Wins A Big One

By Tom Donelson
Updated: August 9, 2008

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Zuri Lawrence suffered a humiliating defeat in his last fight when he faced Darrel Madison and last Wednesday night, he faced Polish fighter Albert Sosnowski.

A big shoulder Polish fighter, Sosnowski had only one lost in 44 fights and with dreams of a heavyweight championship or today boxing world, championships. Lawrence was scheduled to be victim number 44.

In boxing, sometimes the opponent fails to read the script or pay attention to the template. Lawrence viewed this fight as his personal Waterloo and a loss would end his career as even a television fighter.

He would have slipped further into the opponent territory. Sosnowski viewed this fight as his own validation as a worthy contender. There was much at stake.

Lawrence has always been a boxer with a slick jab that overcame his lack of power but later in his career, his left jab disappeared to be replaced with power punching including an ineffectual right.

With virtually no power, Lawrence often threw away his big advantage. Against Sosnowski, he faced a younger stronger opponent but a fighter with questions of his own. Was Sosnowski a built up fighter, facing mediocre opponents or the real thing?

In the first round, Lawrence threw lead rights but he was able to hold his own against Sosnowski and in the second round, Lawrence discovered or rediscovered his left jab, along with a left hook; he staggered Sosnowski once.

The third and the fourth were repeat of the second as Lawrence left dominated the pace of the fight and Sosnowski had no answer.Lawrence right proved ineffectual but it didn’t matter as Lawrence’s left set the pace.

The fifth round was the closest in the fight as Sosnowski strength gave him the edge in the first half of the round but Lawrence’s left again took control and his left started to swell Sosnowski’s right eye.

Starting in the sixth, Lawrence’s right started to find its range. In the first part of the fight, Lawrence would cock his right and this hesitation allowed Sosnowski to block or duck the incoming punch.

As Lawrence’s left became more accurate, he shortened his right and his right cut open Sosnowski’s left eye. At the end of the seventh round, the ring doctor viewed the eye but allowed Sosnowski to fight the eighth and final round.Sosnowski saw his career slipping away and Lawrence was just three minutes from a big upset.

So both men went after each other, but Lawrence hand speed and technique won the eighth and the unanimous decision. Lawrence defeated father time for one evening and kept his career alive.

Sitting next to Harold Lederman is sitting next to history. Known to most boxing fans as HBO’s official judge, Lederman has the reputation as one of the better judges and as a judge, he knows the boxing game. Before the Sosnowski fight, he observed, “Sosnowski looks like a fighter with his broad shoulder but while he looks like a fighter, he is not one.”

He continued to add that much of Sosnowski had been inflated with inferior competition and the Lawrence-Sosnowski reinforced his opinion as well as his opinion of Lawrence strength and weakness. “As he got older, Lawrence moved away from is left jab,” Lederman noted, “At the beginning of his career, he had a nice jab and that jab kept his career going.”

Lederman viewed that Lawrence height and jab often compensated for his lack of power and as Lederman noted, “If he works his left, he can win.” He worked his left and won this fight.

In the Ali Oubaali-Fernandez main event, Lederman told me, “Oubaali has quick hands and power plus he doesn’t fight like a European fighter.” Lederman judgment about Oubaali proved prophetic. In the opening rounds, both fighters cracked each other body but Oubaali quicker hands and bigger arsenal of punches including uppercuts.

His left hooks had more pop than Fernandez and while Fernandez was a game fighter, he lacked Oubaali power and by the end of the third round, Oubaali power wilted Fernandez strength. From this point in the fight, it was Fernandez courage that kept the fight going. After the fifth round, Lederman told me and others around him, “This fight needs to be stopped.”

He added that “The purpose of the commission is to protect the fighter and Fernandez has no chance of winning.” After the sixth round, Lederman got the ring doctor attention but the fight continued until the eighth round. The ring doctor, the referee or Fernandez’s corner refuse to stop the fight and Fernandez continued to get pummeled.

As Lederman observed, “This is the kind of fight that hurt a fighter a career down the road and it is the kind of fight that a fighter finds himself slurring his speech long after his career is over.” Oubaali won the fight and showed that he has the potential to make an impact in the division.

Tarvis Simms fought wily veteran Carl Daniels in a light heavyweight feature. This fight allowed Simms to show his talent as he dominated Daniels including a fourth round knockdown.

The only time that Daniels had any chance was the opening of the third round. Simms, for some inexplicable reason, switched from southpaw to orthodox and this gave Daniels his only glimmer of hope.

Simms switched back to the southpaw stances and from there; it was a Simms easy victory. The opening minutes of the fourth round, a right hand uppercut sent Daniels down and Daniels spent the rest of the fight surviving.

Simms showed that he still had the skills after a year and half lay off. If Sosnowski lost reputation in his defeat at the hands of Lawrence, Derric Rossy lost points for a close victory over Jermell Barnes. Just as Sosnowski was exposed in defeat, Rossy was exposed in victory.

Barnes, with only four knockouts, often hit Rossy with combinations but lost the fight simply because he was more active. Rossy nailed Barnes with numerous shots but never seem to hurt Barnes but as the fight wore on, Barnes punched less and less, thus giving Rossy the victory.

He looked sharp at times but with a soft body and a failure to close the show put Rossy status as a future heavyweight contender in jeopardy.

Lawrence kept his career and while he is still an opponent, a gatekeeper for young prospects to test their skills, he also rediscovered the skills that made him a successful professional.

For Lawrence, it is a simple formula, jab, jab, jab and then hook before throwing the right. Combinations is what made Lawrence a good fighter early in his career and it is what brought him victory.

Ali Oubaali showed the skills of champions. A wily veteran showed a youngster the reality of professional world of boxing in the upper stratosphere. And a young fighter is still climbing the mountain.