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Sports Commentary 3/29/11

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It took some schedule searching and recording but I finally got a look at Matt Remillard’s loss to Mikey Garcia Saturday night in Atlantic City. Some flaws were exposed. The Manchester featherweight, unbeaten going into Saturday’s bout, got off to a strong start, working to his strength, hard, rapid punches to the body, but by the third round the differences between he and Garcia were evident. Garcia has had bouts against quality veterans, Remillard has not. Garcia continues to move in against combinations, Remillard has a tendency to flinch when the second or third punch in succession bears in, allowing the punch to score. He’s particularly susceptible to a left hook at the back end of a combo, and garcia has a pretty good one. Moving away from Garcia’s attacking style kept Remillard from using one of his favorite tactics, the “Mickey Ward”, named for the Lowell boxer immortalized in the movie “The Fighter”, who made it his signature, the tap to the head followed by a left hook to the body, personally taught to Remillard by Ward. By the eighth round Remillard was being soundly beaten. He was knocked down three times in the next two rounds and when his corner called it after the tenth his face was battered and his arms were limp. No one would have blamed the referee if he stepped in and stopped it earlier. Garcia was clearly the better fighter, though he isn’t widely viewed in international circles as world championship caliber, hence his record of twenty five and oh, still without a guarantee of a world title shot. He did strip Remillard of both of his titles, the NABF and NABO belts. While the loss did reveal flaws in Remillard that the caliber of opponent he’s faced until now failed to, it could actually make him a better fighter. There could be legitimate reasons for the loss. He was making his debut for Top Rank, which changed trainers, assigning him to New Jersey veteran “Red” Skownowski, a double edged sword. The move brings Remillard’s past training into question, Top Rank obviously believing a change was in order, this coming after Remillard’s management had already removed John Scully from his corner. So much movement leads to concerns about continuity and listening to so many voices in such a short period can lead to confusion. The far greater concern for Remillard, and Top Rank, however, should be the ongoing, almost secret, legal case against the fighter, who was arrested in january of 2010 and charged with assault in the second degree, breach of the peace/threatening and criminal mischief in an incident in Marlborough involving a former girlfriend. The combined charges could lead to jail time for Remillard, which, at this stage in his career, could be a major setback. Unfortunately, beyond the initial arrest reports there has been virtually no information made public about the status of the case, beyond requests for court continuances. The longer this drags out the more the concerns over it could affect Remillard in training and in the ring. The question now for Matt Remillard, with a 23-1 record and still substantial potential for the future, is will a knockout punch outside the ring be more damaging to his hopes for a title shot someday than the TKO he suffered in the ring Saturday night? With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.

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