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Witherspoon Decisions Releford

Undefeated heavyweight prospect Chazz Witherspoon (21-0, 14 KOs) had a tougher time than expected in winning an eight-round unanimous decision victory over Kendrick Releford (15-10-2, 6 KOs) on Saturday night at the Bally’s Hotel & Casino, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Witherspoon, a slow, methodical-type fighter with very heavyweight hands, but not a real big punch, wasn’t able to break down Releford like he’d done against his previous 20 opponents, and found him self in a dog fight by the fourth round when Releford’s speed advantage began to turn the fight around.

In the first three rounds, it looked as if it were going to be an easy win for the 6’4″ Witherspoon, as he used his excellent jab, left-right combination to easily win the rounds and keep Releford on the receiving end of his punches. However, in the fourth round, Releford began opening up with his fast-punch offense, hitting Witherspoon with numerous big left hooks to the head. To his credit, Witherspoon, who has a head like a piece of granite rock, took the shots remarkably well, but it didn’t stop Releford from winning the round.

Releford continued blasting Witherspoon with fast shots in the fifth round, hitting him with mostly left hooks. Releford had finally discovered that the best way to slow down Witherspoons’s constant pressure was to let his own hands go, keeping them constantly in Witherspoons’ face. When Releford would allow Witherspoon time to set up his offense, he would have tougher times with him, as Witherspoon, the more deliberate fighter, seems to like to fight at a much slower pace. In the 6th round, Witherspoon came back strong, landing 1-2 combinations to the head of Releford.

For his part, Releford looked tired in this round, his punches seeming to have much less power in them than in previous rounds. Witherspoon continued controlling the action in the seventh, as he constantly backed Releford up to the ropes, landing well. However, Witherspoon seemed to negate his own power by standing in close with Releford, not giving himself enough room to get extension on his shots. Even worse, however, by standing in close to Releford, Witherspoon continued to absorb wicked left hooks, the type that would have most certainly knocked out a fighter with a less sturdy chin than Witherspoons’s.

In the 8th round, Witherspoon continued pressing the action, and fighting in close with Releford. As in the previous round, trading shots with Releford in close didn’t help Witherspoon, for he wasn’t able to match Releford punch for punch due to Chazz’s lack of handspeed. Releford out landed Witherspoon by a wide margin in the 8th round, and easily won the round making the fight close in the end.

The final judges’ scores were 78-75, 78-74 and 78-74, all for Witherspoon. It wasn’t an impressive performance by Witherspoon to say the least, and it showed that he needs a lot of work if he plans on stepping it up against the better fighters in the heavyweight division, especially fighters with handspeed and power. I wouldn’t have liked Witherspoons’ chance if had been in there with a fighter like Wladimir Klitschko, as he would have had huge problems with Wladimir’s speed, not to mention his power.

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