Statistically speaking, Joey Abell dominated previously undefeated (now 14-1-1) Teke Oruh at the Beausejour Cricket Ground in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia tonight.
Unfortunately for Abell and his many fans, it wasn’t the type of performance we’re accustomed to seeing from him. He seemed tentative throughout the fight, instead of effectively aggressive and devastatingly powerful as usual. At one point the Showtime cameras picked up Abell’s trainer asking him between rounds something like “why is it whenever you hit him with a good shot, you back off?” And Abell’s answer: “I don’t know.”
But though tonight’s performance wasn’t inspiring, it was useful. Abell retains his impressive record and is sure to rise in every meaningful ranking. He has added some character to his career with a 10-rounder (the first of his career) and he showed that his conditioning is fantastic. He also suffered a puffed and blackened eye, but persevered and lasted to the end. And when he finally began throwing combinations in the later rounds, they were impressive – very impressive – but too late to buy him any accolades from the skeptical ringside announcers or savvy fans.
Abell’s management has made it no secret that they believe Abell is the hardest puncher in the heavyweight division. Tonight that got me to thinking about another hardest puncher. Back in June of 1991 Mike Tyson won a unanimous decision after twelve tough rounds with Donovan “Razor” Ruddock. After the fight Tyson enthusiastically told reporters that Ruddock was the hardest puncher he had ever faced; the strongest fist in the heavyweight division. “Like a f***ing mule kick,” Tyson marveled.
But Razor Ruddock was never a great heavyweight. In fact, you (the dear reader) and I (The Fistic Mystic) are among the very few who even remember him. Moral: it takes more that just a strong punch to make a great fighter.
You’d better pull yourself together, Joey Abell. I’ll be pulling for you.