“Dougy Style” in Need of Defense

Montreal’s Dierry “Dougy Style” Jean stopped Daniel Ruiz in the fifth round Saturday at the Bell Center, his second win since losing to Lamont “Havoc” Peterson in January. Despite earning a knockout, Jean showed some vulnerability as several times he was an easy target for Ruiz. “Dougy Style’s” porous defense offset his speed and offensive flash, and for a man whose nickname gestures to his dancing ability he often looked flat-footed. Given his nondescript opponent, Jean’s susceptibility to punishment raises questions about whether he can excel against the world’s top lightweights.

Last January Jean faced Peterson in Washington DC. It was a huge opportunity for the Montrealer, for while Peterson’s IBF junior welterweight title was being contested it was the step up in opposition that was truly significant. Jean fought gamely but lost to the bigger, more experienced American by unanimous decision. “Dougy Style” absorbed many big shots in this fight, showed a sturdy chin and some fine handspeed, but he lacked the power to dissuade Peterson from coming forward, and once “Havoc” realized this he began to walk Jean down with impunity. It was not, in any way, a poor performance, but a contest which saw Jean defeated by a fighter with a superior pedigree.

Jean trades with Peterson.
Jean was overpowered by Peterson.

A loss like that should be a good teaching tool for a professional. At boxing’s top level, subtle differences in skill take on great importance because the gap in talent between fighters is small. The Peterson bout should have taught Jean that his defense requires improvement, as too often he was content to simply to cover up with his guard and absorb “Havoc’s” punches, rather than use footwork and upper body movement to avoid punishment. It might have been fatigue, belief in his own chin, or just basic indifference to getting hit, but Jean’s defense looked elementary for a world class fighter.

I write this because Jean has some world class abilities. He has excellent physical tools and is armed with speed and punching power. These are traits that can look spectacular against a weak opponent but against an intelligent and experienced professional speed can be timed and neutralized. This is especially so when a boxer does not throw many punches as, particularly against poor opposition, Jean likes to potshot. His work rate ascends when fights become competitive because he is willing to stand and trade, sometimes haphazardly.

His opponent on Saturday, Mexico’s Daniel Ruiz, is not the most formidable professional. Ruiz’s resume is stocked with the names of middling pros (including that of Mario Perez, who Jean stopped in the eighth round this June) but also includes eight losses. He has 22 knockouts in his 32 wins and has now been stopped five times. Ruiz is the sort of boxer the sport cannot live without, the capable but unthreatening professional who talented pugilists rebound against or use to build their records. It is fighters like Ruiz who allow the machinery of boxing to work.

Jean lands a jab against Ruiz.
Jean snaps home a jab on Ruiz.

On Saturday the Mexican imposed himself with surprising effectiveness. Though it was obvious Jean was the faster, sharper man, Ruiz managed to back him up and land combinations and in these moments Jean’s defensive deficiencies were obvious. It’s as if, once his opponent starts mounting pressure, he is content to push his face down into his guard, remain stationary, and wait for the storm to pass. Perhaps this is just confidence in his own chin, or maybe he’s indifferent to pain, but it’s a tendency that will doom him against a more skillful combination puncher.

There was a strange moment in the fifth after Jean’s first knockdown of Ruiz. A splendid jab to the liver floored the Mexican and it appeared the fight would soon be over. But, rather than finish, Jean allowed Ruiz to slug his way back into the fight. Ruiz even landed an overhand bomb flush on Jean’s face in the middle of the ring, which sent him reeling. Undeterred, “Dougy Style” stalked his opponent to the ropes where a another precise left hand to the liver sent the Mexican to his knee once more and this time Ruiz did not beat the count. It was an atypical stoppage in that the second and final knockdown wasn’t preceded by a barrage by Jean, but by a shift in momentum in which Ruiz managed to fight his way back, albeit momentarily. Jean should have finished more emphatically and not have allowed this shift to happen. A more durable and determined opponent might have taken full advantage.

Jean’s toughness is impressive but his willingness to court danger is also reckless. Perhaps he hasn’t refined his defensive positioning because he’s unconcerned with getting punched in the face. This makes for exciting action but will harm him against the elite. I like Jean because he’s a live fighter with sharp offensive skills. He reminds me of a cobra: his erect posture and lightning punches resemble a snake when it lunges to strike its prey. Metaphorically, however, I might be a little off. Snakes are known for their cunning. Dierry Jean could benefit from exercising the same predatory guile.

– Eliott McCormick

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