Undiscovered Country in Chicago: Lamon Brewster vs. Andrew Golota
By Alex Pierpaoli
originally published 5/20/05 on KOFantasyBoxing.com
Tomorrow night HBO showcases the most lightly regarded of the heavyweight title belts in a bout that could end up being one of the more interesting match-ups in boxing’s unlimited weight class. Boxing’s perennial bad guy, the Foul Pole, Andrew Golota challenges Lamon Brewster for the WBO version of the heavyweight championship at Chicago’s United Center in the live portion of a boxing doubleheader Saturday night on HBO. A taped replay of the Trinidad-Wright pay-per-view of last week is up first on the telecast with the Brewster-Golota main event as the feature.
This third title shot in as many fights for Andrew Golota is likely to be the Polish heavyweight’s last chance at winning a piece of the most coveted prize in sport. And yes, he gets this fight because he’s white and because he’s weird but he also deserves this fight because he’s more than accounted for himself in his two most recent performances.
But after losing to John Ruiz in November for the WBA version of the title, and drawing with Chris Byrd back in April of last year for the IBF title, Golota has all but used up all his vowels, and consonants too, in trying to win an alpha-belt. Is Lamon Brewster the perfect opponent for the under-achieving and psychologically brittle Golota? Or will the Foul Pole bend to pressure in front of his hometown fans and snap in some unforeseen but exotic way as he has so many times before, giving up versus Tyson, Michael Grant; and fouling out twice versus Riddick Bowe.
The edge in skill in this bout goes to Andrew Golota. He has always been surprisingly well conditioned for a big man; Golota had no problem going the distance with volume-punching heavyweight Chris Byrd, competing at the highest level of the sport after a long period of relative inactivity. But Golota seemed to tire or lose interest late versus John Ruiz; who could blame him? But that late round disinterest probably cost Golota that victory after leading on the cards early, scoring two knockdowns of Ruiz in round number two.
Versus Brewster, Golota faces a heavy hitting and very durable but limited fighter with everything to prove. Golota scaled 246 on Thursday, in a sweat suit, a weight that is heavier than usual for him but not more than a few pounds out of the norm. Golota is usually in top form physically but Saturday he’s got the added pressure of fighting in front of his hometown Chicago fans. This time Golota gets a chance at a title there is a sense of nationalistic pride at stake as the United Center will no doubt be crowded with the Polish faithful there to see if their countryman grabs the golden ring or finds another more exotic way to swipe at it and watch it skitter out of his grasp.
It’s always been pressure and his response to it that has been the undoing for the Foul Pole. How he’ll react in a rough, back and forth bout remains to be seen and the smart money says Golota implodes and ends up disqualifying himself.
On his best nights Golota has been a skilled, energetic heavyweight who throws good combinations and a pole axe of a jab that could go a long way in this wide open division if only the man throwing it could stay focused and keep from caving in under the pressures of his own making.
Brewster has gotten to this point more on his durability and a penchant to absorb and to endure rather than a propensity to dish out any sort of violence. In his last bout, most felt he was lucky to escape with a split decision win over a spirited challenge from the lightly regarded Kali Meehan.
Brewster has new trainer Jesse Reid in his corner now; he was disappointed with his own performance in his last fight versus Meehan and made changes to his team. The word is that Brewster has had a great camp and the 224 pounds he scaled at Thursday’s weigh-in is the lightest he’s been since 2002; a fact that suggests Brewster has put in a lot of work in the gym.
Brewster-Golota could turn into an exciting heavyweight brawl for a while, with Brewster’s heavy bombs and durability versus the skilled jab and endurance of Golota. If the intangibles don’t get in the way of this bout, Chicago may actually witness an exciting fight worthy of being called a Heavyweight Championship Bout.
Tito gets beat-o. And badly
The appetizer to HBO’s heavyweight main event from Chicago is a replay of last week’s drubbing of Felix “Tito” Trinidad by St. Petersburg, Florida’s Ronald Winky Wright. Other than Mike Tyson’s upset loss to James Buster Douglas, and subsequent defeat to Evander Holyfield, it is hard to think of another boxing superstar who was so thoroughly exposed to be as one-dimensional as Felix Trinidad was last week. If Bernard Hopkins was Trinidad’s Buster Douglas, then Wright was Tito’s Holyfield. Hopkins, like Douglas in the case of Tyson, had defeated the Puerto Rican superstar with crafty ring savvy and a self-assuredness no one gave him credit for. Despite controlling Trinidad and beating him up over twelve rounds, during the fight there was always a sense Trinidad might suddenly turn things around against Hopkins, the superstar had never been treated like that before. But Winky Wright, like Evander Holyfield showed in the second professional defeat of Mike Tyson, controlled the Puerto Rican superstar from round number one, never let up and never gave a hint that Trinidad had any chance at all.
From the start Trinidad was coming forward and leaning right into the southpaw jab of Winky Wright, and there Tito stayed, stuck there at the end of Wright’s hard right jab. Tito fell for all of Wright’s feints and ate just about every other jab and bolting straight left the Winkster threw at him. The blood running from the nose of Trinidad had to be running down his throat as well, one of the few times this writer could recall seeing Tito tasting his own blood and his own vulnerability. And Winky kept reminding him of it, banging on Trinidad’s nose and lips and cheeks, again and again and again.
After round four Dan Birmingham, Wright’s trainer, told his charge he had Trinidad intimidated and to keep right on busting him with the jab. That’s exactly what Winky did, all night long and Winky even hurt Trinidad him in the sixth; the Puerto Rican’s legs turning rubbery for a moment. But Wright was ever mindful of Trinidad’s power and predatory skills, and Winky kept his wits and didn’t throw caution to the wind in hopes of garnering a knockout.
Bring me a star to fight had been all Winky Wright wanted for so very long. He hoped and prayed for it and when he finally got it he won easily. In the end, beating Trinidad so convincingly was almost better than knocking him senseless; somehow the Puerto Rican had to acknowledge his defeat as he was conscious for every moment of it.
Now with three consecutive wins, two impressive decisions over Sugar Shane Mosley and this all-but unprecedented dismantling of Trinidad, Wright stands beside Bernard Hopkins at the very top of the sport at 154/160 pounds. As unappealing as a prospective Hopkins-Wright bout looks on paper because of the cautious, defensive-minded styles of both men, it’s a necessary encounter that will answer any remaining questions about all things middleweight.
Send comments or questions to Alex Pierpaoli at: KOFantasyBoxing@gmail.com