© Copyright – 2017 – Victoria Sports News
As tradition has it, when boxers move up through the professional ranks, they pick and choose their opponents in order to bolster their record a little; there is a process to developing the skills. Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Floyd Mayweather all did it.
Coach Rich Le Stage and Victoria’s heavyweight Adam Braidwood (9-1) took on a Mexican Wilfrido Leal, at Western Speedway on Sept 8. Leal, a pugilist on the downside of an even 10-10 record was good for just that – he’s now 10-11. Braidwood, a beast of a man, with boxing skills anew – courtesy of being a keen student with a sharp ear and instruction from Coach Rich Le Stage – knocked Leal out in less time than it takes to order a double-double, black, in the drive-through: 1:10.
Braidwood, a former Canadian Football League defensive end for the Edmonton Eskimos is – or was – a brawler, a willing fighter, who was going to move up the ranks on sheer fury and spittle anyway, but as Le Stage sees it, his opponents are going to get more skilled, so within the confines of the sport with its rules, Braidwood would need to skill-up, as it were. He has.
He looked like a pro in the short time he stared down the dulled eyes of Leal. Snap, the right hand went to the chin faster than the audience could pick it up – his opponent staggered about the ring like Trevor Berbick at the mercy of Iron Mike Tyson in his heyday.
Braidwood won again two weeks later in Edmonton. Considering he was hardly touched by Leal – in fact, Braidwood may not have even exhaled during the fight – the boxing commission wasn’t going to get in his way. Who would? Who can?
It was a fourth-round TKO on September 22nd at Edmonton’s Shaw Centre against Mexican, Christian Larrondo.
“I would call Adams fourth-round TKO a very valuable learning fight,” shared Le Stage. “I think he was a bit anxious being back in Edmonton after the unfortunate Tim Hague incident and this had him sometimes fighting his old brawling style and sometimes boxing the way he’s learning to.”
Braidwood told Jim Hell of the Edmonton Journal, “He’s very tough and I got away from my game plan and it’s something I have to do better. It turned into a street fight. He hit me just as many times as him, I just hit a little harder.”
Le Stage watches over Braidwood as he spars, giving queues on the details. His footwork, his jab, and general movement is superior to the old Braidwood, but up against a challenge, it is natural to revert to survival mode.
Boxing is a sport that imitates art and when the rounds of a fight are painted just so, on the canvas’s palette, well, it’s beautiful and stunning thing in its brutality.
“From a coach’s point, I saw Adam learning the importance of using his jab and footwork and when he did those things how much easier he makes the fight on himself. Although he sometimes got away from the game plan when he chose to get back to it, he fights at a completely different level. When he was boxing he jabbed and went to the body well, at times when it looked like he was just going to brawl he returned to using his boxing skills and finished his opponent with the combinations we wanted.”
The jab controls the opponent, sets him up for a combination or a counter punch; the knockout, that is a touch often so smooth and unexpected, even the winner can pause at the result before heading to the neutral corner, to await the delivery of the message from the ref. Come on, is he out, already?
“Going four rounds against a tough opponent and realizing he has the skills to box and not just brawl anymore as well as being able to make those adjustments in the middle of the fight definitely are huge to add to his experience,” shared Le Stage.
“It’s one thing for a boxer to learn new things in the gym but when they get to feel the difference in the fight that’s when it sticks.”
“I know I have some serious work to do to get my game where I need it to be, but I feel good about the result and my skills are improving at the same time,” added Braidwood.
Braidwood the beast is a natural, he is back in the ring Dec. 8 in Edmonton.