Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Early Thoughts on Klitchko vs Haye, Cotto vs Clottey & Darchinyan vs Agbeko

By Lee Payton

Photo © Marty Rosengarten / Ringsidephotos.com

Boxing's competitive landscape remains fresh and exciting with three upcoming fights, featuring some of the sport's best.

David Haye had to sign a horrible contract, but he will finally get his mitts on Wladimir Klitschko (pictured right). In a battle of top Welterweights, Miguel Cotto is battling the very dangerous Josh Clottey, at Madison Square Garden. And Vic Darchinyan is facing off with a tough Bantamweight from Ghana, "King Kong" Agbeko.

Here's what I think we can expect when they climb into the ring...

Klitschko vs. Haye

The answer almost seems obvious, which is rare when you've got elite fighters going at it. Here you've got two men who can't take near what they dish. Either could end matters at any point.

The former Cruiserweight Champ from Britain sports a dazzling 22-1 (21) record, which demonstrates not only the explosive power in his fists, but also his lust for the knockout. He's an assassin. The one time he lost as a pro, was when someone could take the incoming without hitting the deck. Granite hard, Carl Thompson soaked up incredible punishment before knocking out the utterly gassed challenger a few years back.

It's the same job journeyman Ross Puritty pulled on Klitschko over 10 years ago. Since then Wlad has left a ton of men senseless on his way to a 52-3 (46) record. Recently, his vulnerability has mostly been tucked away intelligently by Manny Steward, who has preached patience and self-preservation since his arrival. To Wlad, winning comes first. The knockout usually just happens somewhere along the line.

And that difference in mentality should be the decider. In a race to the knockout, gimme the fighter on the attack.

Haye by early KO. Bring on Big Brother.

Cotto vs. Clottey

You've got the dynamic offensive sensation, with questionable whiskers against the steady, unspectacular counter puncher, who apparently can't be hurt. It's an intriguing clash of styles that is sure to bring the best out of both fighters.

Photo © Marty Rosengarten / Ringsidephotos.com

Clottey (pictured left) has really only fought on this level once before, and in that fight he showcased a beautiful counter left hook, as well as a jaw of steel. We've never really seen him hurt before, but he's also never faced an attack like Miguel Cotto's.

Antonio Margarito had a damn good beard, and he took some massive shots before grinding the Puerto Rican down in 11 scintillating rounds, last year. While Clottey seems to have the same ability to soak up punishment, he doesn't apply that type of non-stop pressure. He's more likely to counter an attack from his high guard.

So who wins? In my opinion, that depends on Cotto. Many have been critical of the plan he used in the Margarito fight, but it could serve him very well against this guy. With some movement, he should be able to control the pace of the fight.

I've noticed that Clottey has a little bit of Winky Wright in him. When the opponent fires off a combination with quickness, he doesn't counter, but rather waits for them to finish, and then looks to respond. He also rarely counters with anything but his hook.

If Miguel is disciplined and well-conditioned enough to move a little, fire rapid combinations, and then get out of the way again, he gives himself his best chance to come out on top. I don't think he can win a head-to-head firefight.

Clottey will be there all night. And every time Cotto plants his feet to throw a hook with something on it, he'll be there with his own.

Cotto by gritty decision if he brings his wheels and a healthy fear. Clottey by TKO if Miguel gets too brave.

Darchinyan vs. Agbeko

Photo © Tim Barry / timbarry.wetpaint.com

Vic Darchinyan (pictured right) wants to test his mallet of a left hand against the toughest Bantamweights in the world. He could hardly have picked a tougher assignment than the scrappy Agbeko, who will be making a steep climb in competition.

Agbeko doesn't have the flair, power or mouth of his opponent, but he is a game competitor, who is very capable of the upset. In his last fight, he won a gutty majority decision over southpaw William Gonzalez, so he knows how to dig deep. To come out victorious in that kind of bruising affair is impressive on it's own, though I suspect he did so with a damaged left hand, because he didn't used it at all for long stretches during the fight.

Perhaps Darchinyan's people missed it, like the commentators and most fans. Maybe they assume this is a safe 118 lb debut because of how ordinary "King Kong" looked in the second half. That would be a big mistake. This guy can fight. Can he take Darchinyan's best? I'm not sure.

I'll gamble a little bit and take the slightly bigger man to rough Vic up, on his way to a close decision win. I think Agbeko's got the strength and courage to mess with the outside rhythm that Darchinyan depends on.

e-mail Lee Payton


dread said...

Tough call on Haye. Ballsy pick.

Clottey has about as much offense as prime Ravens. Unless Cotto slips and hits his head on the turnbuckle, this one is his for the taking. Stand outside. Hit Clottey. Repeat.

It would be good to see someone starch Darch. Very exciting fighter. Good analysis.

Lee Payton said...

That's what it comes down to, dread- balls. Haye's got 'em. He'll be the one going for the KO, and unlike everyone else around, he's skilled and powerful enough to pull the trick.

I agree about Cotto. As long as he stays on the outside and uses his speed advantage to rattle off combos, he'll beat Clottey.

However, he's gotta be careful every time he finishes up with his hook, because more often than not, one is going to be coming right at him.

If Agbeko can take the incoming, he's got what it takes to mess with Darch, who depends on a certain amount of space to operate.

dread said...

I think you are right about Haye. But Wlad is remarkably accurate puncher, so this fight is a complete question mark on that front. Haye comes in, eats a right, he could wake up in the next decade. Kudos to both guys for making this fight.

I wonder how much Tony beat out of Cotto? If this is pre-Tony, this fight has all the appeal of Oscar-Jesse James Leija. But, fair enough on your points.