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Maskaev Defeats Hawkins, Looks Terrible

Oleg MaskaevBy Erik Schmidt: Making his first appearance since losing his World Boxing Council heavyweight title to Samuel Peter in a 6th round stoppage in March, Oleg Maskaev (35-6, 26 KOs) filled Red Square with fans in Moscow, Russia, who came to watch Maskaev win a dull 10-round unanimous decision over journeyman fighter Robert Hawkins (23-12, 7 KOs) on Saturday night. With a combined age of 77 between the two fighters, they both fought as if they were well over-the-hill, with each missing most of them missing often throughout the fight. Maskaev, now 39, landed in the single digits in many of the rounds, and missed an enormous amount of shots each round.

His hand speed, never good to begin with, appeared to have gotten worse since I last saw him fight a year ago. His reflexes and timing looked way off, as if he hadn’t sparred enough while training for the fight. I can’t say I’ve seen him ever this badly off in timing before, and I’m not sure if it was his advanced age or just a case of having an off night. Whatever the case, he was missing over and over again with his shots during the entire fight, and looking painfully slow in the process.

If it wasn’t for the fact that Hawkins looked to be in the survival mode from round one, I could easily see Maskaev losing this fight. If this is what’s left of his once good boxing skills, he needs to seriously consider hanging up his gloves for good. He looked nothing short of terrible with a capital T.

Both fighters looked painfully slow in the first round, missing each other by a mile each time they’d throw a punch and clinching continuously. The clinching was rather annoying because it was so predictable. They’d each throw a punch, and more often than not, miss, and then immediately grab each other in a clinch to get a much needed break. Nothing changed in the next few rounds, except that Maskaev began to miss even more with his shots and look slower. The Russian crowd had absolutely nothing to cheer and were almost stone quiet.

Both fighters stalked each other in the 4th, missing over and over again with big windmill punches, none getting close to landing. Maskaev landed one good right hand in the 5th round, then spent the remainder of the round missing with wild shots. In the 6th round, Hawkins somehow injured his right shoulder and the action was stopped momentarily for the ringside doctor to examine him. Maskaev looked worried during this time and a little disgusted, perhaps knowing how angry the large Russian crowd would be if the fight were to end in this manner.

However, Hawkins gritted it out and continued fighting even with his shoulder causing him pain. After the break, Maskaev’s aim temporarily improved enough for him to land a few right hands. The same for Hawkins, who landed a couple of decent shots, though nothing special. The missing continued in the 7th round, as Maskaev flailed away at Hawkins as if he were invisible to him.

In fact, I was worried whether there might be a problem with Maskaev’s eyesight because I’d never seen a fighter miss as many punches before in my life before witnessing this fight. Maskaev looked worse than watching an untrained schoolboy fight for the first time on the play ground.

It was truly awful to behold. Hawkins grimaced often in the round, and I wondered whether he would be quitting soon. Thankfully, he didn’t because the crowd would have went wild if he had done so. Maskaev landed a couple of punches in the 8th round, missing all the rest. Boring and terrible to watch. In the 9th, Maskaev fought a little bit better, actually landing a small handful of right hands while leaping in with shots.

His style wasn’t the best, because a fighter with good boxing skills would easily catch him on the way in if he fought in this manner against them and would probably knock him out. In the 10th and final round, Maskaev began to get a little cocky looking, trying to catch Hawkins with shots by looking away and then firing a right hand from the distance. It never worked, naturally, as Maskaev missed each time with painfully slow right hands that took forever to get to Hawkins.

I was hoping for Maskaev’s sake that he wouldn’t try it again after missing the first time, because it made him look really old and shot. However, he tried it twice more, missing both times due to his lack of timing, accuracy and speed. It’s the type of move that faster fighters like Floyd Mayweather Jr. or a prime Roy Jones Jr. can get away with, but not an aging heavyweight poor hand speed. As if to compensate for his bad accuracy, Maskaev threw only short punches with little power on them for the remainder of the round of the round.

The final judges’ scores were 100-92, 100-90 and 100-90.

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