Joan of spark
Wayne McCullough says Joan Guzman can still be a major force - as long as he boxes at the right weight.
Last Updated: 05/03/12 12:47pm
Joan Guzman was WBO super-bantamweight champion in the early 2000s.
After just one fight at featherweight he moved up to super feather and won the WBO belt. Then he got a draw against Ali Funeka for the IBF lightweight belt.
In their rematch four months later, he beat Funeka but weighed in 9lb over the 135lb limit and, even though the fight went ahead, he was unable to win the belt.
Guzman has had two fights since, one was a no contest and the other was a quick first-round knockout win. Both fights were fought at light welter or higher.
This past weekend he faced Puerto Rican Jesus Pabon in Hollywood, Florida. This natural light welterweight's record was 17-2 (11 KOs) and he had won some minor belts.
Guzman, still undefeated at 32-0, was hoping to make some noise in this weight class that boasts champions like Lamont Peterson, Erik Morales and Timothy Bradley; they all have upcoming bouts and Guzman wants to get in the mix.
This may have been his last chance to get the big fights so he needed to win in style like he did earlier in his career.
Just into the first round, Pabon, a southpaw, threw his right jab. Guzman countered quickly with a left hook to the chin dropping Pabon to his knees. He wasn't hurt and got up. Guzman should have jumped on him and closed the deal, but he didn't.
Since Guzman has moved up to the heavier weight division he hasn't been knocking guys out, but he is still out-slicking them with his superior skills. In the second, Guzman landed a right uppercut to Pabon's body hurting him but Guzman did nothing but smile.
By the third, it was clear Pabon was at a different level so it was time for Guzman to step up and finish the fight. Pabon pushed forward but got caught by two rights to the head and then a right to the body putting him down for the second time in the fight.
He was able to get up and finish the round, but during the break the body shot was replayed on TV and it was shown to be low.
The fighters met centre ring to start the fourth round and Guzman threw a combination of punches catching Pabon again. He didn't look too badly hurt, more off balance, but he went down once more and the referee called it a knockdown.
Pabon was able to get to his feet and did land some lefts of his own this round, while it looked as though Guzman had switched off.
By the sixth, Pabon was still hanging in there and had gained some much needed confidence, landing some more shots to a tired looking Guzman, who had now started to clown around. During this round, Pabon lost a point for holding but overall it was a lacklustre fight.
About halfway through the eighth, Pabon pinned Guzman on the ropes. Guzman connected with a right and a left that put Pabon flat on his back and completely out, more like the Joan Guzman of old. Pabon was able to get to his feet and was helped onto a corner stool.
In the first seven rounds of this fight, Guzman was slow, sluggish, out of shape and, in my opinion, fighting out of his weight class. Weight issues have been a problem throughout his career and he has missed out on big fights. Light-welterweight is not his weight class, super-feather or lightweight is where he belongs.
Guzman may be 35-years-old but we saw a peek of his old fighting style in this bout, and in the right weight division he could still clean up and be a big star.