From The Bowels Of BoxRec: Defining “Soft Opposition”

Fans of Friday Night Fights are accustomed to Teddy Atlas providing his honest opinion of the fights on the card, pulling no punches when he considers a fighter in against a mismatched opponent. Atlas is a pillar of integrity for his blunt honesty but he leans a little too tough sometimes, as I feel he did this past weekend when criticizing junior middleweight Demetrius Andrade’s opponent, Geoffery Spruiell.

(The next challenge for Demetrius Andrade?)

Now, I’m not going to defend Spruiell as a particularly tough opponent because he’s not. However, Andrade is forthcoming about the fact that he is taking his professional development slowly, so the types of opponents he has been facing, including Spruiell, are entirely defensible. The combined record of Andrade’s opponents is 59-34-5, so as a whole he’s facing guys who win about 60 percent of their fights. Given the facts that he’s 22 years old and 10 fights into his career, that’s a reasonable level of opposition, even for a fighter with an Olympic background.

As an example of a guy who built his record on truly soft competition, let’s take a look at another fighter who graced American broadcast television this weekend: light heavyweight Alfonso Lopez. Lopez, a 27-year-old native of Cut and Shoot, Texas (yes, his hometown is called Cut and Shoot; thank you, BoxRec), boasts an impressive record of 19-0 with 15 knockouts. Yet Lopez has faced a roster with a very mediocre 197-198-16 tally. Through 10 fights, the story was even worse, as his first 10 opponents managed a mere 34-54-5 record; interestingly, that is a near mirror image of the record of Andrade’s opposition, with a winning percentage hovering around 40.

I hope Teddy Atlas continues his honest appraisal of the fights and fighters he analyzes. By the end of the fight between Andrade and Spruiell, he had even backed off his point, noting that Andrade had not blown out Spruiell as he expected. I thought his comparisons of Andrade to Yuriorkis Gamboa were a bit unfair to Andrade; Andre Ward, another U.S. Olympian who once took criticism from some corners for moving his career slowly, faced opponents with a combined 66-20-4 record in his first ten fights. If Andrade can put together a performance a few years from now like Ward did against Mikkel Kessler, all the criticism will be forgotten.

Chin of the weekend: Armen Azizian – No, Azizian did not fight this weekend. But I had to see who was the only man to withstand the force of nature that is light heavyweight Ismayl Sillakh long enough to hear a decision. Azizian actually was stopped once, by future Marco Huck victim Vitaliy Rusal in May of 2008, retiring on his stool after seven rounds in that fight. Nonetheless, I commend Azizian for surviving the Ukrainian Buzzsaw until the final bell, the only man to do so in Sillakh’s young career.

Name of the weekend: Toddy Junior Ultla Gym – As someone who always loved Thai fighters with names like 3K Battery, Toddy Junior Ultla Gym is right up my alley.

Milestone of the weekend: Daniel Thorpe loses his 100th fight – On a night where David Haye earned arguably his most impressive win as a heavyweight, junior welterweight Danny Randall outpointed Daniel Thorpe on the undercard to hand Thorpe his 100th career loss. It takes a certain quality to make it to triple digit losses in this day and age; what to call that quality, I am less certain. Congratulations, Daniel.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.