They’re talking about Joey Abell in Philadelphia.
There are two trains of thought on Abell in Philly. One says that he’s the greatest thing to hit town in years, he’s an exciting knockout artist with a good future and a fun present, and everybody should get on the Joey Train. These folks are his boosters, the reason Don Elbaum keeps bringing him back to the Legendary Blue Horizon. They think of Abell as one of their own, and they follow him as closely there (in Philly) as we do here in Minnesota.
The other train of thought says that Abell is a big strong guy with a puffed-up record and bad defense, that the first time he’s in the ring with a top-quality opponent he’ll fold like a Valentine’s Day card. They point out that many men have been able to land punches on Abell, but that most of them just weren’t strong enough to hurt him. These skeptics will also tell you that Abell is only popular because he’s big and strong and white. There’s a “homer” aspect to this perspective, an attitude that Joey isn’t really one of them, and he shouldn’t be getting home-town support from Philadelphians.
Not being from Philly, the Fistic Mystic doesn’t take to either opinion. We feel that it’s a good thing for Minnesota boxing if Abell can establish a base at the Blue Horizon, and we’re as excited as any Minnesotan about the potential for Abell to become a star.
But it’s also true that Abell’s defense is spotty, and it’s true that many opponents have been able to walk right in and land punches on him.
Clearly that’s why he’s been working hard at improving his jab (which is a great defensive tool for a big man) and getting as much ring time as possible.
Think of the riddle he poses to his trainers – he’s never in the ring long enough to learn anything! And how do you teach a guy like that good defense? Put him in the sparring ring and tell him not to throw any punches?
He needs developmental time with guys like his recent opponents, Ratko Draskovic and Maurice Wheeler, and his next opponent, Andrew Greeley.
Draskovic has been in the ring with Audley Harrison, Matt Skelton, Danny Williams, Sinan Samil Sam (twice)…Wheeler has done time with David Bostice, Dominick Guinn, Tony Thompson, Alonzo Butler, David Tua, and DaVarryl Williamson. Sometimes he goes the distance and sometimes he gets KOd, but nobody ever put him down as fast as Abell. And Andrew Greeley went the distance in fights with Kevin Johnson, Malik Scott, Travis Walker, Eddie Chambers, and Chris Arreola.
The Fistic Mystic says: these are the kind of opponents Abell needs time with to learn his craft. They aren’t big punchers but they’re tough and experienced, so they offer the possibility of extending Abell past the first round. They’ve been around the block a few times and they won’t be overawed by his power – at least not before he hits them. And they provide a measuring stick for the media and the public. It’s a fun game (even if not very instructive) to compare boxers’ performances against common opponents, and it gives the chatterers something to natter about.