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Kubrat Pulev vs. Tony Thompson: Amateur vs Pro?

pulev1By Ivan Ivanov: Kubrat Pulev vs Tony Thompson – Amateur vs Pro?
Some boxing experts and writers frivolously use the term “amateur’ in a negative sense and seem to forget it has a different meaning in boxing and has little bearing to skill level or attitude to the sport.

“The Cobra” and “The Tiger” seem like good examples how amateur and professional boxing converge, if there is any principal difference at all.

In a previous article I favored Pulev to win due to some skills he carries over from his amateur boxing days – range feel, timing, angle and ring-space awareness – but those skills are typical for good pros as well. Good pros that have been good amateurs. Pulev has made a lot of adjustments to his style since he turned pro but he has not changed or added anything, he only eliminated stuff that wouldn’t work over 12 rounds. You won’t see him dance on his toes, keep a high guard all the time and throw flurries of several scoring shots.

“The Cobra” has learned to conserve energy, move on steady feet and let the hands go only briefly while maintaining high alert, His jab, an asset from the amateur days, has been modified into a power punch. It’s not like he throws it with any great effort and commitment although it starts from the ground with some leg into it for impact. It’s the precise range and sharp timing of the jab that allow Pulev to use the opponent’s weight against him.

When he catches the opponent coming forward, the impact of the shot is supplemented by the opponent’s mass – the bigger the better. Now you won’t fool a Klitschko with it because they do similar stuff with greater effect, but it can be demoralizing to a brawler or a swarmer looking to get inside. Landing a shot is one thing, changing your position afterwards so you can be at an awkward angle for retaliation is different, and Pulev is aware of that. The endless drills and repetitions he had to do as an amateur have ingrained these skills into his muscle memory.

Tony Thompson is a good honest pro that “had his ticket punched” all those years and did not get a break until his first title fight. He worked himself up through rough and tough journey men and he turned out an awkward and slick southpaw. While amateur coaches are very particular about style and form, most pros are allowed to do what is comfortable and natural for them, things they like and enjoy. Thompson’s style is individual and instinctive and that makes him less predictable. He improvises a lot but runs out of ideas if the opponent is disciplined. He lacks the system that amateur boxing instills, routines that are meant to keep you afloat when you are in over your head.

The purpose of the article was to bring up the issue of the pro-amateur standoff; I’ll write something about it if I find the inspiration.

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