Estrada Defeats Whitaker
By Chet Mills: Once beaten heavyweight prospect Jason Estrada (12-1, 2 KOs) earned a dull 10-round unanimous decision over journeyman fighter Lance Whitaker (32-5-1, 27 KOs) on Friday night at the Twin River Event Center, in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Estrada, 27, a former thee-time U.S. amateur super heavyweight champion from 2001-2004, as well as a super heavyweight for U.S. in the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, outclassed a badly weight-drained Whitaker, 35, who came into the fight at 239 lbs, a total of around 40-45 lbs away from his optimal weight of the mid 270s.
It’s unclear why Whitaker, an excellent puncher at 270, would suddenly decide he needed to take off a great deal of weight in order to compete against the younger heavyweights. Certainly, he hasn’t been doing well in recent years, but that has seemed more due to his limited boxing skills than because of his tremendous size. What his reasons, his drastic weight loss accomplished nothing for him other than making him weaker against the high volume puncher Estrada.
It’s too bad, though, for Whitaker would have perhaps had a good chance of beating Estrada with his old power in tack, but without it he was nothing more than a tall, aging fighter with power not much better than the weak-punching Estrada. All the same, Whitaker came close to making it a draw. I scored it five rounds to four in Estrada’s favor. Estrada, at 6’1” 239, looked and fought like a fat Chris Byrd, but without the defensive skills. He piled up a big lead in the first half of the fight using combinations and speed to outland Whitaker by a wide margin.
His punches had no effect other than scoring points without doing much damage to the 6’8” Whitaker. In the second half of the fight, Estrada slowed way down, just as he did in his lone loss against Travis Walker in November 2006. Whitaker, however, seemed to foul up his chances for earning a draw by switching southpaw continuously and making it a point of fighting inside, giving up his height in the process. Still, he was easily outworking Estrada.
In rounds one though three, Estrada through flurries of punches at the slow Whitaker, hitting him repeatedly with flush head shots that Whitaker could do little to get out of the way of. Whitaker, mostly standing straight up, would fire back with his trademark chopping rights, left hooks and uppercuts, but it was clear that his power had drained away along with the 35+ pounds that he had lost in the past year. It was a sad sight to see the way Whitaker, a once excellent knockout puncher, reduced to trading shots with a slapper like Estrada. In the old days, Whitaker would have no doubt walked right through a fighter like Estrada, but given his age and weight loss, it wasn’t about to happen.
In rounds three and four. Estrada continued to land pot shots against the slow Whitaker, catching him often between his own ponderous shots. Whitaker was warned for throwing shots to the back of Estrada (around kidney level) by the referee in the 4th. Other than that, Whitaker threw few other punches in the round and spent most of the time covering up and trying to block some of Estrada’s many punches.
In the 5th round, Whitaker suddenly began to open up with short clubbing right hands and left uppercuts to the head of Estrada. You could see that the punches were bothering Estrada, for he almost completely stopped punching as he tried to cover up and block as many as possible. At the same time, Estrada, who looked to be around 30 lbs overweight, appeared to be gassing out from carrying around a large coat of fat around his body. Ideally, Estrada would be better served to go on a diet and lost 40 lbs like Whitaker and try and compete as a cruiserweight. In my estimation, he has zero chance of beating one of the heavyweight champions now or in the future. He’s too short, fat and weak to defeat fighters like, say, Samuel Peter. Wladimir Klitschko or Ruslan Chagaev.
Estrada came back somewhat in the 6th round and appeared to win the round by being a little busier than Whitaker. The round was very close, however, and could have gone either way. It depends if you like Whitaker’s steady work or Estrada’s pot shots. Given that the fight was fought in Rhode Island, Estrada’s home town, I figured that this round – or any close round for that matter – would naturally go to Estrada. It still didn’t look good on Estrada’s part to being outworked by an older, slower fighter like Whitaker.
In the 8th and 9th rounds, Estrada came back to fight Whitaker to a standstill, with both fighters trading shots on the inside. By this time in the fight, Estrada was incapable of getting out of the way of any of Whitaker’s big shots; hence Estrada was hit a lot in both rounds.
IN the 10th round, Whitaker fought with renewed energy as he went right hand happy, clubbing Estrada over and over with short hammer like right hands to the head and body. Estrada tried throwing back with some shots, but Whitaker shut him down with more right hands as he kept him pinned to the ropes where he pounded him until the final bell sounded.