Cloud Stops Gonzalez
By Tim Cavender: In an outcome that didn’t surprise me in the least, number#5 ranked IBF/WBO light heavyweight Tavoris Cloud (19-0, 18 KOs) took out former WBO light heavyweight champion Julio Gonzalez (41-6, 25 KOs) in the 10th round of a scheduled 12-round IBF title eliminator on Friday night at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, Illinois. Cloud, 26, who has up until this point in his career has faced nothing but the softest of opposition, allowing him to build up an impressive eighteen knockouts in his nineteen fights. Though ranked high in the light heavyweight division, he’d done nothing to earn his high ranking until tonight. After punishing the 32 year-old Gonzalez, who looked at least five years older than that, for nine mostly one-sided rounds, Cloud finally hurt Gonzalez with a big right hand in the 10th, causing him to backup to the ropes where Cloud teed-off on a badly hurt Gonzalez until the referee John O’Brien stepped in and halted the fight at 1:50 of the 10th round.
As much as I’d like to give praise to Cloud for his performance, I wasn’t all that impressed with him. He reminded me a lot of a bigger, slightly slower Jeff Lacy, who had an old opponent in front of him, just perfect for his big winging shots. His boxing skills were nowhere at all, and he was limited to these big wind up swings as he attempted to throw home run punches with every shots. It was lucky for Cloud that he was facing a fighter as old and apparently shot as Gonzalez, for I’d give him no chance of beating other top light heavyweights like Chad Dawson, Zsolt Erdei, Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver.
Cloud has a bad habit of only fighting hard for the last 30-60 seconds of the round, basically conceding the first two minutes of every round. It’s a fact that won’t be missed by IBF light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver, who will be sure to pour in jabs, uppercuts and right hooks to win the first two minutes of the round. In the last minute, you can be sure that Tarver will be moving and trying to tie Cloud up to prevent him from getting his big shots off.
Cloud threw heavy shots in the early rounds, winding up with big right hands and hooks to the body of Gonzalez in the first couple of rounds. Instead of using his boxing skills to fight on the outside, Gonzalez made the mistake of trying to trade with Cloud and ended up taking a lot of big shots because of his poor decision making. Gonzalez hit Cloud with an awful lot of shots in each round, throwing right hands and lefts right through Cloud’s guard.
It wasn’t all that hard, though, because Cloud seems to be a fighter concerned exclusively with his offensive game and has largely ignored every facet of his defensive side. He was lucky that Gonzalez had only moderate power, because if he was dealing with a heavy-punching light heavyweight like Johnson, we’d probably be talking about Cloud’s knockout loss rather than his victory. Both fighters traded big shots in the 4th and 5th rounds, with Cloud getting the far better of the exchanges. It looked as if he hurt Gonzalez with a series of big right hands and lefts in the 5th round, which seemed to spur him on with a flurry of shots as he attempted to score a knockout. Cloud initially hurt Gonzalez with a left hook to the body and then another left hook immediately to the head, staggering him. He would stagger Gonzalez again moments later with another big left hook to the head.
It didn’t work, and he only succeeded in punching himself out and taking a lot of shots for all his work. In the round, he looked like an identical version of Lacy, although not quite as skilled as him. After the round, Cloud remained tired out, breathing heavy and laboring for breath as if he had run a marathon. He staggered Gonzalez again in the 6th round with a big right hand. However, Cloud’s work rate began to drop steadily in this round up until the 10th round, when he finally got his second wind and was able to take Gonzalez out with a flurry of shots.
In rounds seven through nine, the action was much slower, with both fighters throwing much fewer punches than earlier. The crowd began to boo in the 9th round, noticing that Cloud, who now was fighting on the outside and mainly jabbing, wasn’t pushing himself very hard. In the 10th, as was the case in the other rounds, Cloud came on in the last minute of the round and landed some big right hands, and backing Gonzalez up to the ropes.
The referee finally stepped in after Gonzalez got nailed with a particularly hard right hand that bounced him off the ropes. He looked to be okay, but due to the beating he was sustaining, the referee probably felt that it was best to stop the fight then rather then to let him absorb more punishment in the last two rounds. Gonzalez, sporting a bruise under his left eye, walked wearily back to his corner, looking both tired and hurt from all the shots he ate.
It was more than disappointing to see how badly he faded after the 5th, needing a five full rounds to regain his strength before he could start punching authority again. Overall, not an impressive performance from Cloud. I don’t see this guy going anywhere. He might win a couple of more fights in the division but once he takes on a champion, he’ll lose and lose badly.