Dierry Jean v Cleotis Perndervais or, to go by their nicknames, Dougy Style vs Mookie What's going on with that? I thought that nicknames were supposed to instill fear in an opponent, and awe in a spectator. Mookie?!? I'll bet whoever came up with 'Dougy Style' never expected Jean to be going into the ring with the more intimidating of the nicknames on display. Anyway, that's all a sideshow. Perhaps one more interesting than the fight, but a sideshow nonetheless. So let's move on. (Although, Bryn, if you want to discuss that stuff at greater length feel free to PM me, but the troops are growing restless so let's drop it for now.)
Anyway - tempting to go by the form book for this one - unbeaten prospect with decent KO percentage against beaten (and previously stopped) prospect with 25% KO percentage. Easy, right? Well no, actually. Simply to follow that through to its logical conclusion gives 'Jean KO'. But is that how we roll, here on Team Wales? Is that the attitude that took us to the top? That kept us at the top? That turned the Nations Cup from Competition to Exhibition? No, dear friends, it is not. The other teams might phone in a performance, but we prefer to bring a little devil, a little flair, an eye for the less-than-obvious, we know when to lead off the front foot, and when to counterpunch. We know when to cover up, and when to swing. We know when to hold, and we know when to open up. It's no coincidence that we find ourselves walking away at the front of the field. So we don't go with the obvious, when the only reason for going with that obvious is that it is, erm, obvious. Well, you know what I mean. So let's put ourselves on the other side of the trade, let's punch a few holes in the obvious, let's apply some facts to the problem, and then see whether Jean is looking at quite such an easy night's work, shall we?
Fact 1: Jean has only ever fought in Quebec. Frankly, he still has to ask his mother whether it is okay to pop up the road for a bag of sweets. Over 90% of his fights have been split between just two venues.
Fact 2: Tonight's fight is in California. All the indications are that Jean travels about as well as a piece of cheddar cheese crossing the desert in a plastic bag in a nomad's pocket.
Fact 3: Pendarvais, on the other hand, is from California and has fought in California, Nevada, Texas and even Mexico. Compared with Jean he's a veritable Phileas Fogg.
Fact 4: Jean has been fighting janitors and postmen. A who's who of who's he's.
Fact 5: Pendarvais played college football at 200lb, and then steadily moved down through the boxing weights from MW-LMW-WW and is now at LWW. His power at LWW is far better than his KO percentage suggests.
Fact 6: Jean is 31. Now, in my book, you don't get to be called a prospect if you are over 30 and have been a pro for seven years.
Fact 7: Pendarvais has been sparring Shane Mosley preparing for this fight (yes, the Shane Mosley), and has sparred him for previous fights. He also helped Mosley prepare for a mooted Cotto fight.
Fact 8: Pendarvais has run into some losses, but he has also operated at a much higher level than Jean.
So there you have it. The other teams will most likely follow the 'obvious'. However Team Wales have brought eight facts (okay, there might be little hyperbole in fact 4, but it's conceptually accurate) into the equation, and together they paint a wholly different picture.
Jean is entirely unaccustomed to deep water, indeed it has rarely been above his knees. Pendarvais is treating this as though he is getting in with Mayweather for the unified title. This is Cup Final. At 26, he knows that his career will either move one way or the other from here. He is well-prepared, he has home advantage, he has the right team around him, and a 31 year-old tourist is coming to town hoping to take what's his. And we all know what happens to greedy, unprepared tourists who stumble into the wrong part of LA.
Pendarvais wins, TKO