Posted on 06/19/2023
By: Sean Crose
Let’s get something straight – Danielito Zorrilla was under no obligation to “stand and fight” when he battled Regis Prograis for Prograis WBC junior welterweight title Saturday night in New Orleans. It seems there are some who are unhappy that the fight didn’t turn out to be the slugfest many had expected. Their disappointment is understandable, frankly, but that doesn’t take away the fact that underdog Zorrilla went to Prograis’ hometown to win, not to please the fans with a slibberknocker – one he likely would have lost.
Zorrilla still ended up losing to Prograis on the judge’s cards, of course, but by employing a defensive strategy that relied on footwork and on maintaining distance, he presented the talented Prograis with a considerable challenge. Prograis, to his credit, rose to the occasion and won the fight, but Zorrilla and his team employed the best strategy they saw fit – and were probably right in choosing the strategy they did. Fans may have preferred to have Zorrilla go out swinging, but the truth is that he had a better chance of winning by trying to frustrate his opponent.
The bottom line is that, great though slugfests are (and Hagler-Hearns is my personal favorite sporting event of all time), sometimes boxers have to employ more than just the power and use of their punches in order to win fights. Ever watch Clay/Ali-Liston 1? Ali avoided punishment throughout. Ever watch Dempsey-Tunney 1? Tunney avoided mixing it up with the most effectively violent fighter of his generation. Ever watch Whitaker-Chavez, or Mayweather-Pacquiao, or Hagler-Leonard? Suffice to say there are many examples of great fighters smartly refusing to “stand and fight” against menacing opponents.
When all is said and done it’s worth keeping in mind that boxing is a sport first and a form of entertainment second. Although an all out war is always preferable when it comes to boxing, full fledged engagement is not always a wise strategy for professional fighters. And professional fighters earn their money fighting to win. That means they can and should employ the best strategy possible so long as that strategy adheres to the rules of the sport. Just look at Ali. Or Leonard. Or Tunney. Or Mayweather. Or…
Without a doubt, Prograis’ New Orleans homecoming bout last weekend was far from a thing of beauty. Zorrilla, however, had every right in the world to legitimately try to score the upset.