Hellraiser Boxing News | No Stone Unturned: Celebrating Gatekeepers
Matt Lewis takes a look at a few fighters who might not be world beaters, but graft away at close to that level providing stiff tests for boxers looking to break the top.
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by Matt Lewis
Sometimes, fighters need a bit of a gut check before stepping up to world level. Ring experience against journeymen and early tests against gatekeepers are essential in turning a young prospect into a genuine contender, but there comes a time when you need to face someone who has been on that world stage before, and is capable of holding his own there if given the opportunity to return. Below are just some of those guys who don't always get their share of accolades, yet turn in solid performances time after time, and have on more than one occasion proven that they are better than we give them credit for.
A likeable, good-value Frenchman who established himself as one of his country's premier super-middleweights after winning the French and EBU titles. He spent most of his early career in his homeland (where he enjoyed much success) before venturing to Italy and then later to Britain, where we have seen him appear in prime-time slots on big televised shows, furthering the education of some of our brightest prospects.
Rebrasse has taken big-punching fighters like Callum Smith and George Groves the full 12 rounds in contests they will have learned valuable lessons from, and gave Rocky Fielding an almighty scare when he dropped the Liverpudlian in the second session of their 12-rounder, which he eventually lost via split decision. Rugged, brave and willing to travel, he is welcome on these shores any time.
An excellent serviceman to the sport. He doesn't always win, and when he does it's not always pretty, but Gabe Rosado is capable of giving contenders and champions alike a real examination. Britain's Martin Murray had to work overtime to keep him at bay during their April scrap, and guys like David Lemieux and Peter Quillin were dragged into the championship rounds before they finally managed to dispatch him. Yes, he did get knocked out by Gennady Golovkin, but firstly, so do most people, and secondly, many of his respectable performances came after that defeat, despite most of those performances ending in losses.
Rosado won't be in line for a world title shot anytime soon, but he is the man to provide the litmus test for any middleweight who might be, and a few of those have come very close to coming unstuck.
At only 31, Jones (a veteran of 55 fights) has accrued a huge amount of ring experience. His career has peaked and troughed over the years, but the Oklahoma man has plenty to show for his efforts, and managed to upset the odds on more than one occasion. Kell Brook won a majority decision against him in 2012, but not before he had been put through the wringer by the American in some of the toughest rounds of his career prior to the Golovkin loss.
A knockout defeat in the rematch a year later was seen as evidence of a decline, and he was matched with Blackpool favourite Brian Rose in a match the Brit was picked to win, thus elevating him back to world level. So much for a script; Jones stopped him Rose in the first, and returned to Britain in 2016 to hand prospect Ben Hall his first defeat at Wembley. Jones' style can be one dimensional and a little rough around the edges at times, but that hasn't stopped him from giving good fighters plenty to think about.
All the current talk is of Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, but the rest of the heavyweight division needs guys like Johnson to keep it moving forward, and his contribution shouldn't be dismissed. He fought for a world title in 2009 when he was outpointed by Vitali Klitschko, and has since faced several other fighters who have gone on to win or challenge for world honours. He normally stays around for the duration too; in 8 defeats, Joshua has been the only man to stop him, with guys like Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora being forced to go the distance instead.
Most recently, Johnson faced Francesco Pianeta, who was looking to re-introduce himself to the mix following his second world title defeat. Johnson ended the Italian's 3-and-0 comeback winning streak in the seventh rounds to secure the IBO International title, a victory that both rubbished claims he was a shot fighter, and served as a reminder to all heavyweight hopefuls that he is someone not to be taken lightly.
Posted: 23rd Nov 2017
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