When preparing for an upcoming bout, a trainer must properly assess his fighter’s opponent and invent the perfect course of action to take inside the ring.
Generating that recipe for success can be tough depending on the quality of opposition and the characteristics of both fighters.
Styles make fights; but in boxing, bouts don’t always go according to script.
During a fight, a trainer only has seconds to make crucial adjustments and critical assessments of the action. The expertise of any great boxing coach almost always determines the winner and loser of a boxing match.
After years of fine tuning his craft, elite boxing trainer James Gogue sizes up tonight’s main event on HBO between Devon Alexander and Lucas Matthysse in a WBO junior welterweight eliminator bout in Alexander’s home town of St Louis, MO.
“This is a crucial fight for both men,” insists the expert trainer. “The last time both fighters were featured on HBO, they came up short. Although both of these guys are world class fighters, they are very lucky to be fighting on HBO. They both have a lot to prove tonight.”
“The last time we saw Alexander, he fought Tim Bradley in a very uninspired performance,” claims Gogue. “He definitely didn’t perform to his potential. Devon Alexander fought a safety first fight in which he didn’t look relaxed and didn’t let his hands go at any time throughout the fight.”
“The most questionable point of his performance against Bradley was his willingness to quit when he was cut by an accidental headbutt,” points out James Gogue. “Most observers are questioning Alexander’s heart and mental toughness.”
“The first time Alexander was involved in serious adversity, he decided to quit,” states the boxing expert. “I’ve worked with several boxers who have fought through that same kind of adversity and have gone on to win the fight, and did it for less money. His poor showing really raises a lot of questions now about the St. Louis fighter.”
“There is great pressure on Devon Alexander,” states Gogue. “He not only has to win, but he has to look good doing it. He can’t just squeak out a decision after fighting an uninspiring performance. He has to be impressive and this will open up opportunities for his opponent.”
With 28 years of experience in boxing, James feels that the St Louis native is up against the wall.
“Matthysse is one tough customer,” states Gogue. “The Argentine is not only rugged and tough, but he’s also a very skilled technician in the ring. I actually feel that Lucas Matthysse is a better fighter than the highly touted Marcos Maidana. Maidana is very heavy handed and has a great chin, but Lucas is a much more skilled fighter.”
“Matthysse isn’t just a reckless aggressor who throws wild and looping punches,” explains the expert trainer. “He throws short, crisp, and compact punches.”
James displays his brilliance with his meticulous attention to detail when examining styles and fight characteristics; such as fight trends.
“Due to his mature showing against veteran southpaw Zab Judah, I think the Argentine fighter has a very good chance of pulling off the upset,” observes James Gogue. “Most orthodox fighters have lots of trouble when they face a southpaw opponent, but Matthysse was very comfortable and made a case for winning his fight with Judah. He also destroyed an experienced left handed fighter in Demarcus ‘Chop-Chop’ Corley.”
“The only thing he really has to do differently against Alexander is start faster,” examines the experienced boxing trainer. “If he gives away too many early rounds against a fighter who is fighting in his home town, he could run the risk of losing a decision. That’s the key. He has to start putting pressure on the hometown fighter immediately.”
“Matthysse has to place consistent pressure on Alexander and shorten the distance between the two boxers,” explains Gogue. “Devon doesn’t think well when an opponent doesn’t allow him to fight at a safe distance. Alexander doesn’t fight well in the trenches.”
“Devon Alexander is a brilliant fighter if you let him fight at a distance and allow him to use his speed, footwork, and excellent combination punching,” states the Edinburg, TX resident. “Alexander starts to panic mentally if an opponent puts his head in Alexander’s chest and uses an effective body attack.”
“Matthysse has a very good chance in this fight,” states Gogue. “But, so does Alexander.”
Although James Gogue sees faults in Alexander’s game, he still acknowledges his technical brilliance at times.
“The key to victory for Devon Alexander is to box his opponent and stick to his game plan,” explains the expert boxing trainer. “He cannot get baited into a dogfight with Matthysse. He has to use his superior lateral movement and keep his opponent on the outside. Alexander can do this by using his jab effectively and turning the Argentine fighter, while fighting him at angles throughout the entire fight. He must also throw in combination and not just try to land one shot at a time. Make him miss and counter him with effective combination punching at angles.”
“The key to victory for Lucas Matthysse is to stay in his chest and cut off the ring effectively,” states Gogue. “He also has to be careful not to walk into Devon’s great uppercut like Juan Urango. If Alexander can knock-out Urango with that shot, he can hurt anyone. So, Lucas needs to close the distance intelligently without getting caught while coming in.”
“Matthysse must work the body effectively throughout the first several rounds to stop Alexander’s lateral movement,” professes Gogue.
James is experienced enough to realize that many different scenarios can transpire throughout any fight, but the boxing expert has narrowed the realistic possibilities to one final prediction.
“This is a tough fight to predict because both men have a lot to prove and can easily win this fight if they can execute their fight plan,” expounds James Gogue. “Although both men are very capable, I think the home town factor is going to come into play. I predict that Alexander will win a very narrow and somewhat controversial decision.”
Watch Devon Alexander versus Lucas Matthysse in a WBO junior welterweight title eliminator bout tonight on HBO!!