Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tavoris Cloud Brings the Thunder, Juan Urango Brings the Pain

Michael Nelson gives his thoughts on last night's FNF show.

Tavoris Cloud and Juan Urango delivered career performances against game opposition last night in a very solid Friday Night Fights doubleheader. Cloud captured his first world title at 27 years old while Urango retained his IBF strap in the gripping main event.

Cloud's opponent didn't come from the UK to lay down. The grizzled Clinton Woods fought the Tallahassee, Florida native on even terms through the early going, which included a second round that had Woods snapping off a variety of hard uppercuts and straight right hands. It looked like the beginnings of a long night for young Tavoris.

But Cloud found a groove in the middle rounds, being more selective with his punches while landing sharp counters against his taller foe. His James Toneyesque shoulder-roll-right-hand was especially effective in snapping Clinton's head back. Once he began digging in with beautiful triple left hooks - one to the head, one to the midsection, and another one up top as Woods would pull back - he started doing damage. A series of hooks left Woods in serious trouble in the ninth round.

The heart and resiliency he displayed in his trilogy against Glen Johnson though was still evident at 37 years old. Woods refused to go down as Cloud rained blows on him, and came back to hold his own during the championship rounds. Surprisingly, all three scorecards at the end read 116-112, which meant the judges in Cloud's hometown gave Woods most, if not all, of the close rounds. After last week, it was nice to be reminded that hometown bias isn't a guarantee in boxing.

What is guaranteed is action whenever Tavoris steps inside the ring. A showdown with Glen Johnson would be breathtaking. Fights with Jean Pascal or Chad Dawson wouldn't be short of thrills either. Let's just hope he's more active as a titlist than he was as a contender.

Juan Urango had his own set of problems as a belt holder in the main event, getting put on his back for the first time in his career.

The fight went as expected through five rounds. The brute southpaw stalked Randall Bailey and tore into his body while mixing in clubbing right hooks and left hands. Randall tried to maintain distance, paw with his jab, and drop in the occasional right hand.

The script was flipped in the sixth. One of those right hands deposited Urango on the canvas, and for a moment it looked as if he wasn't going to get up. Using the same recovery skills he showed when Nasser Athumani badly staggered him two years ago, he managed to beat the count and make it out of the round without further issue. But he was now sporting a nasty cut and lump under his right eye.

Juan went back to work immediately. He continued chopping Bailey down, taking his older opponent's legs piece by piece with every thudding body punch landed. In the ninth round, Bailey's legs were completely gone as a left hand took him off his feet. He struggled up at the count of nine and suffered a sustained beating until trainer John David Jackson rightly called an end to the proceedings in the 11th.

Urango's flaws are what they are; he has cement feet, and even after seven years of fighters tying him up on the inside, he still refuses to work inside a clinch. He may always struggle against a quick, durable opponent. But match him correctly, and blood and drama will not be far behind.

A dry FNF season ended with a monsoon thanks to all four combatants. Hopefully, it sets the pace for the remainder of 2009.

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Anonymous said...

At last an impartial account of last nights title fight.

Woods did well in there and made Cloud look lost at times, he just didn't do it enough and Cloud proved to BE a strong guy with alot of heart and a worthy winner.

Teddy Atlas on the other hand needs to retire now, before he goes too far.

He had Cloud 12 ROUNDS AHEAD at the end of the fight.

LOLOL....what a prat, EVERY judge had the fight 116-112, I had it 116-111 (5 ROUNDS to Cloud) so what fight was Atlas watching.

Teddy, you are a bonafide idiot and hope to god you are NEVER allowed to judge a fight....EVER!

Michael Nelson said...

Yeah, I rarely agree with Teddy's scorecards. I think he only gave the 2nd to Woods, even though I thought the 5th was a clear Woods round too.