By Paul Magno | July 06, 2023

Hello boxing fans and dedicated haters. Here’s another week’s worth of my bulbous sack, bulging with gooey, salty truth, in your face. Enjoy. This week, we have comments/questions regarding Spence-Crawford, Vergil Ortiz, Jaron Ennis, excessive clinching, and passing the “eye test.”

July Welterweight Tourney

Hello Paul.

I Hope all is well with you. 

So, this July looks to be the first round of a welterweight showdown, with seven of the top ten welterweights fighting. Ortiz jr. vs Stanionis, Ennis vs Villa, and Spence vs Crawford. Included here also will be Keyshawn Davis. All these match ups with a possible king by next year. Who do you see winning all these? 

And before you say "Crawford by points" and move on, I would like to say that Spence is the bigger man and he is a non-stop pressure machine with mad skills and power. Crawford may hang for a couple of rounds, and probably switch stances, but eventually he will be put on the back foot and just play defense with a victory for Spence. 

I say Boots wins it all

Thanks for the time.

– Brian C.

Hey Brian. 

The pecking order at 147 will be a lot clearer by the end of this month. Ortiz-Stanionis and Ennis-Villa this Saturday might give us an idea of who the “next big thing” at welter is, although it may just confirm that Ortiz and Ennis are still the two prime candidates for that designation. I think both will score decisive victories this weekend. 

I’ll leave Keyshawn out of the conversation for now since he’s still young and presently competing at lightweight. He’ll probably end up at welter, but that’s still a while down the road.

Then, of course, we have Spence-Crawford on the 29th. 

Everything you said about Errol Spence is true. He’s a strong fighter and an underrated tactician. He’s clearly elite-level, so when I hold firm with my prediction of Crawford over Spence via decision, it’s not a knock on Spence at all. And I’ll be the first to say that I would not be surprised one bit if Spence emerges victorious. 

I just see Crawford as the more versatile fighter with the more fluid skill set. If he can’t effectively battle and hurt Spence, he can box his way to a win. Crawford has more of an ability to execute a Plan B and/or Plan C than Spence does. And in a fight like this, where both boxers are executing at such a high level, the ability to change course and work another game plan could be crucial.

Whatever the case, though, I’m definitely looking forward to the fight.

Holding/The Eye Test

Hi Paul

I've been thinking about a couple of things for a while now and would like your views on them, if you have the time, of course.

1. Excessive holding

I've tried to understand what the rules are regarding a boxer holding as a tool to stall the fight. I pulled up the rules for the Nevada Commission and couldn't find anything. Maybe I just missed it. A few fights/fighters come to mind. The Plant-Benavidez fight, to me, was, in the first half of the fight, Plant hitting Benavidez and them actively trying to hold on to him to stop anything coming back at him. This is the same tactic I saw Mayweather employ time and time again. I can understand a fighter holding on when he's hurt, but to use it as a tool to stall or prevent the fight, surely that can't be allowed, can it? Boxing is a sport that we are supposed to enjoy watching and such actions ruin many a fight. I never liked watching [Andre] Ward for the same reason, and [Devin] Haney really stunk up the place doing so in those Kambosos fights. I read somewhere, although it wasn't in any official rules, as I couldn't find any, that it is up to the ref. Well, if so, therein lies the problem for me. Discretion seems to always lean towards the A side or, as you allude to in one of your mailbags, whichever promoter butters the bread of the ref -- a. what are the rules and b. what do you think they should be?

2. The eye test

In an era where less fighters than before are willing to risk their O unless it's a huge payday, it's difficult to gauge how good a fighter is, because often he simply hasn't been in with high level fighters. I felt Benavidez would make light work of Plant (and he would have in my opinion if all the holding hadn't been allowed to happen) and I also favour him against Canelo, but online there was a lot of 'but who has he fought' which was a fair question, so we are left with only the eye test to at least try and gauge how good these fighters are. At 168 we have [David] Morrell who is only 8 or 9 and 0 at this point. To me, to my eyes, he looks like the real deal and as crazy as it sounds I would favour him against Canelo, and have no idea who would win between him and Benavidez. How good do you think Morrell is? And what are you thoughts on the eye test, what things do you look for?

As always, I look forward to Thursdays, whether you answer my questions or not.

Much respect from London

– Omar

Hey Omar.

I’ll tackle these in order.

1. Clinching/holding used to be a lot more prevalent in the old days and, just like now, referees were slow to act on it then, as well. The reason is that clinching straddles the fence of what is or is not permissible in boxing. It’s not actionable, unless it’s “excessive” and there’s no clear definition of what’s considered “excessive.” As such, referees will almost always be conservative when it comes to warnings and point deductions for holding. It’s basic Reffing 101 to remove yourself from being the story of a fight and/or being too much of a factor in the natural flow. The impetus for curtailing the clinching, therefore, falls on the fighter being held. He needs to fight his way out of the clinches and/or wrestle to remove himself to such a degree that the ref HAS to act. Traditionally, clinching only becomes an actionable offense when it turns a fight into a sloppy mess...and it can’t become that sloppy mess when one guy is accepting the clinch, waiting patiently for the ref to break it up. The issue of excessive holding is not one that’s going to be solved by sanctioning bodies or commissions. Trainers have to teach their fighters how to make it a non-issue.

2. I like Morrell a lot and if there’s anyone who passes an “eye test,” it’s him. For me, passing the eye test means that a fighter shows elite-level athleticism and technique, as well as adaptability. He/she executes at a high level at all moments and doesn’t fight down to the level of his/her opposition. There’s just a vibe there when a fighter puts everything together. It’s hard to really put my finger on a definition of passing the eye test, but you know it when you see it. 

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