"Latin Fury 9" Demonstrates What Professional Boxing Is All About

By Tim Donaldson
Photos: Chris Farina – Top Rank

Professional boxing is more than a sport in which the participants simply want to win. Unlike amateur boxers who just want to outscore their opponents to move on to the next fight, professional boxers need to do more. Professional boxing is about electrifying the crowd and bringing the fans into your corner. Without the fans, you have no fight.

Juan Manuel Lopez, better known as Juanma, and Olivier Lontchi proved that on Saturday night at Latin Fury 9. Boardwalk Hall was not sold out for this fight, but you would not have known that by the noise level when the main event was about to get under way. Maybe it was not as loud as the Cotto, Clottey fight, but my ears rang for just as long. This was a crowd that backed their fighters. And both sides were vocal. Juanma may have had more fans in attendance, but Lontchi fans were just as loud.

Both these fighters gave their fans something to cheer about. It was clear that they had come to fight, and that is what we, the boxing fans, want to see. Juanma proved again to be a hard hitter. According to the CompuBox Punchstats, in the nine rounds that the fight lasted, Juanma threw 592 punches, 484 of those punches were power punches. That is almost 82%. If you go by punches landed, the percentage is above 86. As you can imagine, Juanma’s fans grew louder with every punch. Throw in the two knock downs and you have the perfect recipe for an electrified arena.

Lontchi’s fans had a lot to cheer about too. The score cards indicate a very lopsided fight. On the cards, Juanma won all but one round. However, Lontchi was never that far out of the fight. Lontchi had come up with a strategy that frustrated Juanma through much of the fight. Lontchi constantly moved around the ring, making himself a hard target, but he would also come in low and get close to land punches. His style of fighting often caused him and Juanma to get tangled up. You could see Juanma getting more and more annoyed as the fight went on. Now maybe this did not stop Juanma. Juanma still threw twice as many punches and connected almost three times more than Lontchi, but Lontchi never backed off.

In the fourth round, Juanma had Lontchi backed against the ropes, but Lontchi battled his way out. From that point in the round, Lontchi became more aggressive. This continued into the fifth round, when Lontchi landed a hard shot to Juanma’s head. Lontchi’s fans were on their feet at this point. Unfortunately for Lontchi, Juanma was able to battle back after this round. He controlled the next four rounds and in the ninth round landed a left that put Lontchi down.

Even though Lontchi’s corner decided to stop the fight after the ninth round, the fans still got an exciting fight.

Earlier in the evening, those in Boardwalk Hall were treated to another good fight. That fight was between Vanes Martirosyan and Andrey Tsurkan. Again, on paper, this looked like a very one sided fight. Martirosyan threw 452 punches to Tsurkan’s 237. And judging by the end results of the fight, Tsurkan’s face was bruised and swollen, while Martirosyan’s face hardly looked touched, anyone who did not see the fight might think that Martirosyan used Tsurkan’s face as a punching bag.

But that is only part of the story. Tsurkan could have easily tried to just stay away from Martirosyan, moving around the ring constantly and maybe coming in to try to land the occasional punch. If nothing else, he would have avoided the swelling. However, Tsurkan knew that he had to fight in close if he was going to be able to have a chance at this fight. Even though Martirosyan had little trouble stopping Tsurkan’s attacks and keeping the pressure on him, Tsurkan kept coming. It seemed at times that Tsurkan was taking more punishment for every punch he landed. He kept it up until the end of the sixth round when his corner decided to thrown in the towel at the advice of the ringside physician.

Isn’t that what we expect as fight fans? If we are going to pay to go see a fight or pay the price of pay-per-view, we want to see a fight. Of course, we would like to see close match-ups, but at the very least, we want to see two fighters who are not afraid to take a punch, who don’t simply run around the ring without hardly throwing a punch while hoping to tire out their opponent.

This is what we want. This is our right for paying the price to see the fight. This is why Yuri Foreman got booed almost from the beginning of his fight against Cornelius Bundrage. Hardly a punch was thrown in the first round. When the first punch was finally thrown after almost two minutes, there were no cheers from the crowd, only boos. Now I have heard of boxers pacing themselves. This was to be a twelve round fight. However, if this was pacing, what did we really have to look forward to by the end of the fight? It seemed as though the only thing that happened in the fight was that Foreman bounced back and forth, forcing Bundrage to chase him. If it were not for the accidental head butt in round three and Foreman’s corner saying that he could not continue, we might have had twelve rounds of Foreman bouncing around and Bundrage chasing him. Foreman might be a good boxer. His record certainly suggests that he is. But the boxing fans are not going to want to pay to see him fight if that is all he is going to do.

Jorge Arce did create some excitement in his fight against Fernando Lumacad. It even looked as though it might be an evenly matched fight at the beginning. In fact, although Arce threw more punches according to CompuBox, he and Lumacad landed the same amount of punches. But in the third round, Arce landed a right to the head of Lumacad, and although Lumacad did not look that bad, he let the count go to ten. Now this is good for the career of Arce, but not so good for Lumacad, especially since he did not look too hurt when he did get up.

Yes, fight fans demand a lot out of their fighters. We want more than a win. We want to be entertained. We want the thrill that professional sports are supposed to give. And to the fighters that give us that, we repay them by buying tickets to their fights and standing behind them.