Feature Story

Sylvester-Karmazin collide

By Graham Houston

Germany’s Sebastian Sylvester is one of those hardworking fighters who gets results with conditioning, determination and a solid if unspectacular style of boxing. He keeps his hands up, jabs with authority and, when he feels he has his timing and judgement of distance in place, he begins to come through with the right hand. There is nothing fancy about Sylvester but he has a kind of dogged efficiency.

Sylvester makes a mandatory defence of his middleweight title in Germany on Saturday when he meets Roman Karmazin, the former 154-pound champion from Russia, and it should be a highly entertaining fight for the fans in the arena and those watching live on ARD in Germany.

Karmazin could be considered the more talented of the two men, and the better puncher. He has won four bouts in a row since moving up to 160 pounds, and he earned his chance by stopping the Colombian, Dionisio Miranda, in an elimination bout in January.

However, Karmazin is 37 and I have noticed signs of decline. He had a desperate struggle against Miranda, when he was wobbled in the third round and dropped in the ninth by a fighter who, while a good puncher, is somewhat limited.

Karmazin won the fight on guts and experience. He held on, survived the very shaky passage in the ninth and was fighting back by the end of the round. Miranda, cut over the left eye from the fourth, seemed to be tired and a bit discouraged, and in the 10th Karmazin was able to rally and land a big right hand.

It was a dramatic victory as Karmazin had seemed to be on the brink of defeat in the previous round, prompting Friday Night Fights commentator Joe Tessitore to exclaim: “Absolutely unbelievable!”

That fight was in the Los Angeles area, where Karmazin now lives, and the crowd was with him. On Saturday he is in Germany and going up against a very popular local fighter.

If Karmazin had such an extremely difficult fight at home against Miranda, I have to think that he will find the going tough in Germany.

Sylvester’s chin must be considered suspect after the way he was stopped by Amin Asikainen four years ago — and he was down in the rematch although the referee erroneously ruled it had been a slip. Karmazin can punch, and his right hand will be a threat to Sylvester.

Against this, though, I look at the way that Karmazin struggled against Miranda. It seemed to me that Karmazin wasn’t reacting too well to getting hit — I thought that even Miranda’s jabs were affecting him.

Karmazin’s hand speed was good, but his legs had a bit of the “old fighter” look about them.

I think that Sylvester’s pressure and stiff jabbing can keep Karmazin from getting set to land a big right hand. Karmazin is the better puncher but I think that Sylvester can wear down the older man and perhaps land enough right hands of his own to get the Russian fighter on unsteady legs by the later rounds.

This is Karmazin’s last chance and he will obviously be giving it all he’s got, but I think that his time has passed. I’ll go with Sylvester, and the more I think about it the more I have the feeling that he might be able to stop Karmazin around about the 11th round.

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