Prospect Weekend

By Tom Donelson
Updated: March 8, 2009

Boxing Gloves IOWA CITY — Last weekend was prospect weekend in the boxing world. It began on Friday night as Delvin Rodriquez fought Shamone Alvarez in a must win fight for both fighters.

Alvarez’s only lost was to Joshua Clottey, one of the better Welterweights. Rodriquez is one of those prospects who finally reached the top ten but still have much to prove.

Last summer, Rodriquez had his high and low when he defeated Oscar Diaz in a rough and tumble fight but in the same fight, Diaz ended up in a coma and struggled for life.

Often when a fighter nearly or does kill another fighter in the ring; it changes him. Sugar Ray Robinson admitted as much after killing a man in the ring that he was never the same after that.

The first seven rounds of the fight saw two styles conflicting as neither man could truly gained an advantage.

There were time that Rodriquez kept Alvarez off with his long reach and jab while connecting on a occasional jab and there were times Alvarez got inside of Rodriquez long reach and nailed him with straight left.

Halfway through the eight round, Alvarez appeared to have Rodriquez in trouble as he connected on straight left but Rodriquez connected on a solid right that turned the fight around.

While he injured his hand in the exchange, from this point it became a donnybrook with Rodriquez’s own left the major factor.

In the ninth and 10th, Rodriquez’s jab and left hook started to nail Alveraz repeatedly; thus allowing him to keep the fight in the middle of the round.

In the 11th round, the defining punch decided the fight as Alveraz ran straight into a Rodriquez right and Rodriquez gained a crucial extra point.

He needed for in the final stanza, Alveraz came after Rodriquez as he continually nailed Rodriquez with straight lefts from his southpaw stance.

He survived the round despite being staggered early in the round and nearly off his feet near the end. The scores favored Rodriquez barely, 115-112, 114-113, 114-113.

Two of the judges had the fight six rounds to six rounds apiece but a 10-8 round for Rodriquez in the 11th was the difference.

HBO’s Boxing After Dark featured three prospects at different stages in their career. Robert “the Ghost” Guerrero faced Indonesia fighter Daud Yordan in a fight that ended before it really began.

In the first round, a head butt produced a cut over Guerrero’s right eye. He began the fight with body shots but at the end of the round, Yordan shot a few counters.

While much of the audience came for Guerrero, Yordan in his brief moments showed that he had skills that will serve him well over his career.

The fight ended as a no-decision and nothing seem to solved but it did show that Indonesia is producing some fine boxers in the lower weight divisions.

Victor Ortiz faced the experienced Mike Arnanoutis, a world class contender and simply dominated over the first two rounds.

Ortiz spent the first round feeling his opponent but in the second round, Arnanoutis shot a right hand jab but Ortiz countered with a straight left that sent Arnanoutis head spinning.

Ortiz jumped on his opponent with a five punch combinations. The final two punches ended the fight as a uppercut split the Greek fighter guard and his hands came down while his eyes rolled back.

The referee stopped the fight.

The most intriguing fight of the weekend was James Kirkland challenging Joel Julio. Joel had only lost two fights on decisions to world class fighters and was one of the heavy handed punches in the junior Middleweight division.

For Kirkland, this was his introduction to contender status. This was the fight that would show if he was ready for top ten territory.

Kirkland attacked from the opening bell and Julio moved out of harms way or tried to. Kirkland jabbed and moved forward by unleashing vicious body shots.

Hisonly weakness was his vulnerability to Julio’s right hand. Julio throughout the fight nailed Kirkland with right but Kirkland rarely was bothered as he continued to move forward.

Kirkland walked through those rights but even his trainer, Ann Wolfe, reminded her young charge to be aware of the right and to jab his way in.

The third round was the crucial round as halfway through the round, Julio connected on three solid rights that appeared to stun Kirkland.

In a series of exchanges, Julio stood his ground but while he got his right; Kirkland landed his left hand to face and body.

Both men gave as they got but at the end of round, Kirkland appeared the stronger fighter. This was the closest round of the fight and the only round that could have gone either way.

From this point, Julio moved away from Kirkland’s power shots but he rarely could hurt the Texan. Kirkland broke Julio down and after the six rounds; Julio’s right eye was cut and swollen.

His corner decided enough was enough and stopped the fight.Kirkland pounded Julio worse than other fighter ever did.

While Kirkland showed weakness like forgetting to jab his way or not moving his head out of the way of right hands; he showed that he can take the best punch of one of the hardest punching junior Middleweight.

In a fight where who had the most power and toughness would win and on this night, Kirkland wanted it just little more.

Over the weekend, these prospects made major moves.

Devin Rodriquez used his height and over the last four rounds, he showed determination as he did just enough to beat a quality opponent. In a deep welterweight division, Rodriquez moved in the top ten.

Victor Ortiz took apart a world class fighter and in the process moved from prospect to contender. And James Kirkland, like Ortiz, is no longer a prospect but a legitimate top ten contender.

This was a weekend that many prospects made the jump into contender and top ten fighters. In today’s boxing world, prospects are often given very few chances.

HBO’s Bob Papa mentioned that Julio could not afford to lose two in a row but in the old days, losses meant that a fighter was not just learning their trade but fought tough competitors.

For Julio, three losses should not end his career or take him out of contention. And if Ortiz or Kirkland had lost; the word would have been: overrated.

One reason that many young fighters don’t often challenge themselves is that one loss is treated as the end of the world as oppose to a learning experience.

So what we saw were young fighters taking the next step but in the case of Kirkland, he is a young fighter who still has things to learn.