by Cliff Rold
It’s always the fights first.
Sure, fans might identify their early passion for the sweet science with a particular affinity for their first fistic hero. Dig deep enough and, just guessing, it isn’t the idol that was really the key.
It was a moment the idol provided.
For men of a certain age, it was Mike Tyson leaving bodies strewn about the ring. For others, it might be Matthew Saad Muhammad battling back against Marvin Johnson or Yaqui Lopez; Archie Moore surviving and outdueling Yvonne Durrelle.
It was the fights.
The lasting admiration for the participants flowed naturally from there; the egg before the chicken.
Current IBF Light Heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud (22-0, 18 KO) hasn’t had a moment like that yet. He may never. But, as much as any fighter in the sport under age 30, Cloud has begun building a reputation as the sort of fighter who could.
It’s always the fights first.
And Cloud makes damn good fights.
Matched with the mercurial and but typically Yusaf Mack (29-3-2, 17 KO) on the HBO-televised undercard of the Jr. Welterweight clash between Devon Alexander and Lucas Matthysse (a show also featuring a Heavyweight clash between Bermane Stiverne and Ray Austin), Cloud should make another this Saturday.
Cloud-Mack might just steal the show.
The last Cloud fight on HBO certainly did.
Cloud got by respected veteran Glen Johnson to score his first title defense, including a fifth round assault that saw Johnson hurt than he’d been in at least a decade. It should have been a coming out party, the fight providing the sort of steady thrills that could keep Cloud in the column marked ‘won’t miss next fight’ for any fan.
That was last August. Cloud has fought once since. Pretty much no one outside Miami saw it. Reports indicate an engaging scrap with Fulgencio Zuniga but, especially today, if it’s not on TV (or at least YouTube), did it really happen? Cloud’s fight with Johnson created momentum, screamed to be capitalized on, and wasn’t.
It’s not the first time.
Both of Cloud’s fights prior to Johnson played out to the same pattern. He earned a crack at the IBF belt by retiring former lineal World Light Heavyweight champion Julio Gonzalez in August 2008. In part sitting on his mandatory, Cloud wasn’t seen again until he got his shot at the strap. A full year and change had gone by.
Over twelve rounds, he engaged in a spirited battle with former titlist Clinton Woods, grabbed the honors, sent Woods into the same AARP circles as Gonzalez and then…
Johnson. August 2010.
At least we’re seeing him on TV in June this year.
Cloud’s habit has been to go out, get himself in a scrap, win, have everyone wondering what it would look like to see him with the best of the division, men like Chad Dawson and Jean Pascal and the resurgent Bernard Hopkins, and then fade from the conversation by weight of absence. He’s gone, in three big wins, from “can’t wait to see Cloud again,” to “oh, yeah, that dude, where’s he been?”
That’s not good enough. He’s got the talent to threaten anyone at 175 lbs. He’s got the style to be worth watching try win or lose. This weekend, the Mack fight provides yet a fresh chance to create momentum. If he wins again, and he should be expected to, the chance must be seized.
It’s understood that it’s not easy. TV dates are scarce. There aren’t as many cards as there used to be and his promoter, Don King, doesn’t appear to have the same sway he once did.
Add that Cloud hasn’t had the sort of cultivation, and doesn’t have the built in, established, rabid, ethnic fan foundation, that puts butts in seats the way similarly exciting battlers like Saul Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. do.
But, hey, if Alvarez and Jr. fought more like Mexican great Miguel Canto than Jr.’s old man, the masses might not be so massive for them either.
There’s just no such thing as an action fighter, at the elite level of the game, that can’t be a star.
Cloud needs to be on TV more than once a year.
Because boxing can never get enough of fighters like him, or the fight they make.
But wait, there’s more…
Weekend Standouts: http://www.boxingscene.com/alvarez-broner-golovkin-rise-review-ratings-update--40604
Divisional Ratings Update: http://www.boxingscene.com/forums/view.php?pg=boxing-ratings
Guerrero Gets Upset: http://www.boxingscene.com/grady-brewer-shows-hopkins-spirit-texas-win--40492
Canelo Doesn’t: http://www.boxingscene.com/ready-devil-saul-alvarez-punishes-home--40529
Picks of the Week: http://www.boxingscene.com/boxingscenecoms-television-picks-week--40602
Cliff’s Notes… Lebron jokes? Still funny...Lorenzo Parra announced he is likely to retire. The sad thing is that his body already did awhile ago. We’ll see if his mind has permanently caught up…Green Lantern neither rocked nor sucked and was just good enough to make it possible a sequel could blow the roof off. Sinestro Corps War: The Movie is all we need for the world to be a better place…Arthur Abraham says he think Andre Ward beats Carl Froch. I might agree with him, but common opponent predictions often go awry. After all, Abraham predicted he would beat both of them…If Mikkel Kessler is locked into what is almost a gimme’ versus Robert Steiglitz, then Lucian Bute-Kelly Pavlik is a fine substitute. Super Middleweight can just keep on rockin’ into 2012…Anyone else think Grady Brewer should get a shot at some belt or another before he’s done? Brewer has his share of losses but he’s also given more than a few thrills. He never cashed in on winning the Contender. It would be nice if he be given the opportunity to cash in on the Fernando Guerrero upset. Sure, belts don’t mean much these days in crowning champions, but they get cats paid. Brewer deserves his career services check.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]