When a big fight rolls into a ‘town near you’ there is much to look forward to. A hardcore fan is able to bask in the joys of having the attention of boxing aficionados focused solely on their small corner of the world, whilst barely leaving the house.
Boxing’s untold stories
Though one of the more overlooked aspects of having ‘The Big Fight’, plus the travelling circus that accompanies it, arrive suddenly on your doorstep is the opportunity to cast a scout’s eye over the up-and-coming talent tucked into the undercard.
Whilst those at home are offered the regular formula of (hopefully) a decent warm-up bout and a fight acting as chief support, usually consisting of a periphery name who is not quite yet able to carry the weight of the show on their own, those that have actually forked out for tickets and piled into the venue shortly after the doors opened can participate in boxing’s version of the proverbial treasure hunt. A perk of being amongst the thousands in attendance as opposed to the millions watching around the world.
Promoters, with an eye to the future, are keen to offer their more talented fighters the chance to find out what life is like performing inside a large arena. The pressures, other than from within, are limited yet the experience invaluable.
For the fans inside the arena the untelevised undercard is an opportunity to nod sagely and filter the mere aspirants from those with genuine promise. Fans may have seen some of the fighters before, others only heard of through word of mouth, whilst some boxers may mean absolutely nothing to a fan during the ring walk, yet can form lasting impressions with the performance that follows.
It was in these circumstances that I first came across cruiserweight Noel Gevor (18-0, 10 KOs). As the 24 year-old began his ring walk as part of the Arthur Abraham-Paul Smith II undercard in Berlin, Germany earlier this year, I knew very little, if anything, about the man who was about to climb into the ring in front of me.
The surname Gevor was somewhat familiar and with good reason. Khoren Gevor was a German-Armenian from Hamburg who had fought Abraham, Felix Sturm and Robert Stieglitz across middleweight and super-middleweight and it seemed logical that the two were in some way related, a quick google search later revealed Khoren is step-father and trainer to Noel and his younger brother Abel.
(Noel showing quality hand speed)
Whilst Noel had had a certain amount of press coverage since my arrival in Germany, I couldn’t claim to know much about his fighting style or attributes, if anything his opponent carried more name recognition as far as I was concerned.
What a difference a year makes
Beginning that night back in February with a solid record of 15-0, including nine wins by knock-out, Gevor defeated Argentinian veteran Alejandro Emilio Valori by an eight round unanimous decision.
The result on paper sounds somewhat unspectacular, particularly considering Valori had been stopped seven months previously inside four rounds by Britain’s Nathan Cleverly. Cleverly would prove later that year that he wasn’t best suited to the cruiserweight division with a tame performance in his defeat to domestic rival Tony Bellew.
Yet all this shouldn’t detract from what was a solid showing from Gevor. His movement, footwork and hand speed were particularly eye-catching for someone fighting at the 200 lbs weight limit.
Gevor didn’t strike me as perhaps the most explosive puncher there has ever been but his punches do carry a certain snap to them, in particular his left-hook which he threw with nice variation to both head and body.
He appeared to be an atypical product of the German boxing system, there was no extravagantly high guard, nor an overwhelming desire to box from the outside and control the range of the fight, even though one suspects that would have been the more successful strategy. Gevor was more than willing to trade with his man on the inside, confident that his hand speed was adequate enough to beat Valori to the punch.
Of course such a strategy brings with it a certain element of risk and so it proved. Valori tagged Gevor a little too much than his corner would have liked, though from a spectator’s vantage point his style made for great entertainment.
Despite the occasional flaws the fight was enjoyable and I left the arena that night having made a mental ‘note to-self’ to keep an eye out for Gevor’s progression over the coming months.
That win back in February, which interestingly Gevor labels as amongst the worst performances of his career, was followed by two further victories this year; a fifth round knock-out of Algerian Mohamed Azzaoui and an eight round unanimous decision over journeyman Lukasz Rusiewicz.
Both wins showed a progression from Gevor with regards to his ring IQ and defensive capabilities. He controlled both fights with a certain maturity, exhibiting his patience and ability to box to a game plan.
This weekend and beyond
Now, with an eye on this weekend and the future beyond, the German continues his busy year with his fourth fight of 2015 this Saturday at the Energie Verbund-Arena in Dresden, Germany, where Gevor will face Argentina’s Daniel Alejandro Sanabria (20-4, 12 KOs) for the WBO cruiserweight ‘international’ title.
The event is headlined by Juergen Braehmer’s defence of his WBA ‘regular’ light-heavyweight title against fellow countryman Konni Konrad.
Win and as well as picking up the first title of his career, Gevor, currently ranked No. 6 with the WBO, should propel himself into the upper echelons of the divisional rankings. However, despite the undoubted progress he has made over the course of this year the 24 year-old doesn’t seem to be in too much of a hurry to hit the big time just yet.
Owing to a limited amateur background, just 30 fights, the German is quite candid about his prospects, insisting, despite a strong ranking, it may be as long as another 12 months before he challenges for a world title.
If his progression continues in this same manner then the world title challenge will duly arrive. Before that Saturday’s fight cannot be overlooked. Not if the transition from prospect to elite fighter is to continue.
(Image credit: Sauerland Promotions)
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