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Spence is not the only shark in the pool – Kiram and Horn bite

By Jaime Ortega: A lot of new prospects in the welterweight division claim to be the new revelation of boxing. With Floyd Mayweather Jr. out of the picture and a semi-finished Manny Pacquiao, the table has turned and the welterweight division is now highly competitive and stacked with talent.

They are upcoming prospects that will give much to say in the next year. Everyone should know by now the names of Errol Spence Jr., Artur Beterviev and Felix Verdejo —who look the most promising prospects out the bunch. But far less people are aware of Tewa Kiram and Jeff Horn. Tewa Kiram is a top prospect, and one that might make a lot of noise in the welterweight division. In this piece I will focus on Kiram.

Asian top prospects normally come from Japan and the Philippines, but rarely come from South East Asia; Vietnam, Indonesia, Burma Thailand and Laos are not particularly known for producing successful pugilists. Pacquiao made history on the sport of boxing and set the sport high in Asia; outside of Caferino Garcia –another Pilipino — no other Asian boxer has succeeded like Pacquiao.

Thailand is the land of Muay Thai, otherwise known as the art of the eight limbs — which unlike boxing’s inception in England — Thailand still dominates its worldwide famous blood sport. Throughout the 90’s Thailand financially grew thanks to the influx of tourism and the rise of foreign trainers settling in Bangkok to learn Muay Thai. As a result of foreign influence, Thailand started to multiply its boxing gyms and the sport has grown significantly since the 90’s.

Tewa Kiram is the product of such influence and he looks sharp. I watched him fight live against Alexandr Zhuravskiy in January and Vladimir Baez in July and I learned a few important facts about his pedigree as a boxer.

First: He has the fastest jab in the welterweight division and it’s hard to stop. His right and left have akin quickness.

Second: He has wide shoulders and when he blocks, he is very hard to hit back. Given his body type, his arms and shoulders naturally lock his chin tightly when he defends. His head movement has room for improvement, he depends much more on his reflexes — which he uses well. His body type also makes it difficult for any opponent to hit the body because of his physical bulk complexion. Once could assume that his natural complexion is tailor-made to defend his chin. Lacking head movement, he uses the high-guard which he avidly substitutes for slipping-punches. High guard is an effective Muay Thai technique.

Third: He is explosive and breakdowns his opponents with his lighting jab. He doesn’t like to brawl and he always times his counters – that is a promising sign for a boxer with IQ. He systematically breaks down his opponents and is well conditioned.

Fourth: His foot movement is average, but he does know how to cut the ring well. He looks like a straight forward fighter with lack of bilateral movement.

Fifth: I haven’t seen anyone beat him on the inside. Once he rushes inside, his body type makes him difficult to contain and he outmuscles his opponents with his quickness and knocks them out.

Six: He doesn’t look very athletic, but he can crack with both hands.

Seven: His last fight was low key and he needs to market his name.

Kiram has room for improvement, but he gives anyone in the welterweight division a tough fight — based on my observations no one knocks him out. Thus far he looks like the brightest Asian prospect.

He will be seriously avoided by any top welterweight. He poses a high risk, low reward case. He needs to market his name and train with an American coach to sharpen his style. Unlike other countries, the US still brings all the money in boxing thanks to its promotional networks – a big reason why ducking holds predominant power among boxers — eager to cash-out their brand and make millions.

Spence is now a challenger for the IBF, and it’s unlikely he will fight Kell Brook — who took an unnecessary risk fighting Gennady Golovkin. Spence will likely take the IBF belt, and face Jeff Horn, who called out Spence after stream rolling Rico Mueller. Horn will be the best test Spence has faced yet, but despite his versatility Horns body is suspect and Spence might break him down. Horn has decent head movement and slips punches; he throws a lot of jabs and times them well, so it will be nice to watch how Spence handles it. Spence has fought an elite jabber since the Olympics.

I personally wanted to witness Kiram versus Horn on their primal state, but it is now an improbable scenario –unless of course the unimaginable happens – Horn beats Spence, and Kiram beats Thurman. Like I said, highly improbable! Thurman has an incredibly hard task to accomplish, he is going to face more undefeated boxers with greater skills than Floyd ever faced in his era. The same can be said about Spence. It is very unlikely that either one will retire undefeated; whomever comes on top in this era, he should be ranked higher than Pacquiao and Floyd – it’s a tougher route to glory.

Spence needs to face a few undefeated hungry lions with punching power who will give him a tough test. His wins against Chris Algeri and Leonard Bundu were far from impressive, and he needs a few undefeated hungry fighters in his boxing diet to show his boxing prowess. It’s different when you face an old faded boxer or a fallen star, than when the boxer is on his prime, so he needs to take on the hungry lions.

Kiram is ranked above Spence on the WBA. Spence should consider fighting Kiram, who like Horn is undefeated. Kiram will also be a mandatory for Thurman if of course he wins one more fight. Kiram is no hype and he should start getting more attention –American boxers will duck him. Now Horn will have his chance to showcase his skill against a dangerous Spence. Whomever beats undefeated boxers like Kiram and Horn –might not win a belt tittle—but will boost up their legacy since both are undefeated and can box. The welterweight division is the toughest division.

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