This past weekend we saw Uzbek hopeful Israil Madrimov (6-0, 5) take a decision win over Eric Walker (20-3, 9). The bout was a lot tougher than anyone expected it to be but left us with a number of take aways to think about and to talk about. With that in mind let us bring you the first in what will be another semi-regular feature, "The Take Aways", where we'll take a look at a recent bout and mention some things of interest relating to it.
1-Gary Ritter blew it!
Lets start with the most obvious one, referee Gary Ritter really blew the call, and looked confused by what was going on in a situation he created. In round 9 a huge, leaping, off balance, left hand from Madrimov landed clean and dropped Walker. Following the puncher an over-balanced Madrimov fell into Walker in his follow through. The referee, who stated the shot was clean, had two clear options here. He should have either given Walker a count, following the knockdown, or taken the bout to the score-cards if he thought an accidental foul played a role, due to the fact that Walker had essentially been knocked out.
Walker lasted the distance, when the bout resumed, but really shouldn't have been in that position.
Whilst Ritter technically followed the WBA's rules here, which we've included below, the reality is that he got it wrong and that the rules need a look at. Walker took a huge head shot, and appeared to be concussed, there is no reason that bout should have gone on any longer, and we're very lucky that Eric Walker is fine.
The rule here is:
"The referee shall be the only authorized person to determine if a foul has produced an injury, and if it was accidental or intentional. The referee shall have the authority to stop a fight and make a decision if he considers that the bout has become dangerously one-sided, or if any of the boxers is in such condition that if the fight continues he is likely to suffer serious injury. "
2-The WBA's rules need changing
As we can see from the above, the rules need changing. That should have been stopped by the local commission or the doctor if the referee wasn't willing to put Eric Walker's health first. Walker took a lot of head shots following the incident and we really are lucky that Walker didn't appear to suffer some serious damage, but there is no reason to have extra risk in an already risky sport.
If the WBA don't want to give the commission and the physician that sort of power then they need to bring in an instant replay for these types of situations. That may have convinced the referee that the shot that was landed should have ended the bout, whether that was by KO or taking us to the cards early.
3-Eric Walker is a genuinely tough guy
A more positive take away is that Eric Walker showed incredible toughness here. He not only saw out the round 9 incident but took a pounding to the body early on, a huge flurry of head shots in round 6, and then some monstrous leather late on. These weren't just shots from an average puncher but were from a legitimately heavy handed guy like Madrimov. These were shots that would take out most fighters and Walker took a lot them. It wasn't really until late in round 12 that he looked like they had taken the fight out of him.
We're not sure what Eric Walker is made out of, but if you can bottle it and sell it to the military you've got yourself a very profitable business.
4-Israil Madrimov can dig deep, but has work to do
It's fair to say that for the first time since making his professional debut Israil Madrimov was given a real test and wasn't able to have things all his own way. Some will say that's a sign Madrimov isn't as good as fans are saying, or isn't as good as the hype. For us however it's not as simple as that.
Firstly Madrimov was forced to dig deep, he looked terrible in rounds 7 and 8, and seemed like a man who had blown his load. The fact he got through that, and dropped Walker in round 9, is something to take real positives from. He gutted out the first tough patch in his career, landed one of the best shots of the year, and showed he can tough it out. That is a major test for a fighter and a hurdle that many fighters don't cross until it's much later in their career.
Secondly Madrimov is still a work in progress, and for us the biggest part of that isn't his talent or ability, but how he uses his skills and the mental side of things. We have often seen him and though he looked bored in bouts, and actually needs to face fighters who come to win to get the best out of him. We dare say that he expected to win very easily against Walker and fought a tactically reckless bout, where he believed the 37 year old Walker was going to break down. For us the bit he needs to improve is that mental aspect, and he needs to realise opponents from here on are actually going to be tough and come to win.
If, or when, Madrimov gets his head in check and uses his skills properly we think we'll see a much, much better performance. We'll see him pace himself better, show off his footwork more and plough forward less. Fingers crossed this was a wake up call there.
5-Fitness during the current situation may be lacking
Whilst the bout was fought at a great pace early on both men seemed gassed at various points. Walker looked exhausted in rounds 5, 6, 11 and 12 whilst Madrimov looked knackered in rounds 7 and 8. Whilst some of that was certainly down to the tempo, and some was down to the conditions they were fighting in, with the temperature in Tulsa not being the greatest to box in, it did seem like general conditioning was an issue. This was brought up by Madrimov in his post fight interview and we do wonder if the less than ideal situation to prepare for the bout affected both fighters. This was one of the most intense 12 round bouts since the sport restarted and we do wonder if fighters are maybe only 80%-90% of full fitness.
We may be reading too much into this, but it is something that we do suggesting keep an eye on going forward. Especially given other things, like David Benavidez missing weight and poor performances in the UK by the likes of Archie Sharpe.
This is one of those things that we expect will show its self as we begin to get more and more competitive bouts, and it could take a bout or two for fighters to adjust to "the new normal".
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).