Saturday, June 13, 2015

Silver lining in Mamadjonov's latest defeat

Can Mamadjonov get things right after his latest loss?
By Peter Lim

Houston lightweight Bahodir Mamadjonov suffered his second defeat and first stoppage loss as a pro against Richard Commey in Las Vegas last month. A native of Uzbelistan, Mamadjonov (17-2, 11 KOs) won five of the seven completed rounds before being dropped and stopped by Commey (22-0, 20 KOs) in the eighth round.

What isn't clear is the caliber of fighter that Mamadjonov lost to, so it is difficult to gauge Mamadjov's chin, and by extension, his future in the sport. While Commey's 91 percent knockout rate suggests he is an exceptionally murderous puncher, virtually all of those knockouts came against obscure and mediocre opponents in Europe and Africa. Time will tell whether Commey is the next Golovkin or simply a fighter with a good enough punch to stop 20 of 22 overmatched opponents.

What was clear in Mamadjonov's latest setback, though, was that he unveiled a whole new dimension to his game, an unexpected silver lining that had remained hidden until now. Midway through the fight Mamadjonov, who has fought as a southpaw throughout his career, switched to a right-handed stance from which he effectively outboxed and even rocked Commey on a number of occasions.

What was even more impressive was that he showed versatility as a right-hander, seamlessly alternating between the traditional high guard and cross-armed styles. The downside of course, was that he was caught and stopped while fighting with his left foot forward.

Switch hitters are a rare commodity in the sport of boxing. Fluctuating between lefty and righty, more often than not, has proven to be a liability rather than an asset. The vast majority of trainers discourage their fighters to avoid the ambidextrous style and say either do it to perfection or don't do it at all.

But Mamadjonov, who writes with his right hand, appeared as natural fighting from the orthodox stance as he did as a southpaw. Should he, at age 28, be able to regroup from the loss, go back to the drawing board and master this new-found ability, he just might be the second coming of Humberto 'Chiquita' Gonzalez.