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The Grinch Can Fight

By Richard E. Baker on January 11, 2020


From the opening round Kilic proved ineffective and confused. (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

When I was young a boxer of 31 was ready, after 100 to 300+ bouts, to retire. He generally fought several times a month, almost like holding a regular factory job. At 31 he was boxed out, pretty battered and flat-faced. One cannot linger on the past. Time moves on, or boxing fans do, whether they like it or not. I am always surprised to see how many boxers over 30 who are fairly new to the ranks and who enter the ring before really learning the trade.


Steven Nelson (15-0), aged 31, stepped into the ring at the Hard Rock in Atlantic City Saturday night against Cem Kilic (14-0) who, at age 25, has at least gotten an earlier start. Nelson looks about 50 and brought 12 KOs to the show. His toughest opponent has probably been a TKO against DeShon Webster (10-1) two years ago in Las Vegas. Nelson has pulled off the neat trick having fought twice at the MGM Grand, at Madison Square Garden, and at Treasure Island in Vegas. He is a man in a hurry probably trying to delay Social Security. Many decent boxers never fight in such prestigious venues. More power to him. He is another Midwest boxer, the new hotbed since Bud Crawford proved one does not have to be born in L.A., New York, or Las Vegas. There are many corn fed men who can fight. Crawford and he are pals and often fight on the same cards.


I have seen Nelson fight several times. He always looks impressive and gets better each time out. One learns quickly when working with possibly the best boxer fighting today.


Kilic has a different story. Born in Turkey he carried 9 KOs on his shoulders against nondescript opponents. He has fought at the MGM Grand once, beating Marten McGregor (8-1-0) on the last Tyson Fury card. They were now ready to put their undefeated records on the line.


Nelson entered the ring wearing a Grinch mask. His trunks, with hair and eyes, were also of the Grinch variety. Such antics make it difficult to take a fighter seriously. One wondered if he wanted to steal the fight rather than earn the win.


No problem. From the opening round Kilic proved ineffective and confused. Nelson fights with his feet too far apart and throws uppercuts from too far out. Kilic could not take advantage of poor uppercuts except to have them for lunch. Buddy McGirt needs to tell him that one cannot win fights without throwing punches. He needs to be in better shape and to keep his mouth shut before he gets his jaw broken. By round 8 Kilic’s corner had seen enough and stopped the fight. Kilic had no chance of winning.


The disappointing part is Nelson. This friendly and affable man is a joy to watch. At 31 how long can he keep it up? That is the disappointment. Oh, if he were only in his 20s, what a joy he would be. Christmas might come every fight.

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