It's sinister-looking redhead week in boxing (which explains the creepy picture), with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez fighting on pay-per-view against Alfredo Angulo Saturday. As usual during a PPV week, we're going to give the undercard a slightly more detailed preview treatment, as well as look at the rest of the week's fights, such as they are. The Alvarez vs. Angulo undercard is definitely a good one, as PPV undercards go, which may or may not be a reflection of the PPV-worthy status of the main event, we couldn't possibly say (though we can aggressively hint). Jeff Pryor's preview of that fight will be along tomorrow, but let's just jump straight into the rest of it.no comments
(Amir Khan taunted Adrien Broner on Twitter based on how each man fared against Marcos Maidana with the above photo)
Much has made of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. reaching out to the masses to decide on his next opponent on Showtime pay-per-view. The truth, of course, was that he was trying to drum up some excitement for what would be a none too exciting affair, regardless of whether he went with Amir Khan, whom he rejected, or Marcos Maidana, the man he ended up with for May. The story is the same as always: Fans of his technical style will watch because few have his skill set, and those who hate him will watch in the hope he will get knocked out. What is missing is a viable opponent in the division -- Timothy Bradley? Danny Garcia? -- to get the casual fans to dig deep into their pockets.
However, now with talks of Adrien Broner vs. Khan appearing on the undercard -- with the victor potentially facing Mayweather in September -- there is a buzz brewing. The co-feature with the winners facing off with each other has a WWE feel about it, to be sure, but also begins to give the fight game a slim sense of credibility: Someone will earned the right to have the high-profile Mayweather fight next. The problem with boxing at the moment is that it is not enough to win all your fights or be great in the ring; you need to be marketable, have a promoter selling you, be in the public eye, etc. The sense of a co-feature, on a much, much smaller scale to the Super Sixes gives the decision for title fights a sense of legitimacy and allows casual fans to follow the narrative of fighter, build a story and sell the next event, too.
This formula could be a winning strategy for Showtime (which, unlike HBO, doesn't place much value these days on what a PPV undercard can do for anyone, although that might be changing based on Manny Pacquiao-Bradley II having a higher quality than past recent HBO PPVs).no comments
The Guano Apes tried to warn Robert Stieglitz with their performance right before the Arthur Abraham rematch: Don't be flying too close to the sun. But did he listen to the German metal act that named itself after shit monkeys? No, no he didn't.
There were warnings we'd have good fights and/or controversial ones, and this past weekend we got both. The bout between Orlando Salido and Vasyl Lomachenko dominated some of the conversation afterward, so it'll dominate this edition of Weekend Afterthoughts, but we'll obviously talk Abraham-Stieglitz III, Terence Crawford vs. Ricky Burns, Teddy Atlas and of course Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. vs. Brian Vera II.no comments
(Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., left, rekindled the above magic last Saturday on HBO; via)
Sometimes Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. asserts himself in the ring, using his size and brute strength to muscle around opponents en route to slowly beating them down. Other times he just gets high and eats cereal in his hot pink bikini briefs, which both co-hosts of Queensberry Rules Radio can possibly relate to.
Last weekend, Chavez scored a unanimous decision over Brian Vera, redeeming himself in the eyes of many, and extinguishing the torches that accompanied the pitch fork-wielding mob calling for his head. In the co-feature, Orlando Salido served Vasyl Lomachenko a 12 round reminder of the differences between the amateur and professional game.
This week on TQBR Radio, James Foley of Bad Left Hook and TQBR's Patrick Connor recap all of that stuff, and preview the upcoming Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs. Alfredo Angulo card. Even better, this coming weekend seems to signal the end of a dry spell in the sport, as action should get better from here. So let's see how negative and sarcastic we can get about it.no comments
(Brian Vera, left, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., right; credit: Chris Farina, Top Rank)
This action-packed win Saturday on HBO by Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. over Brian Vera inspired very little of the disgust of the first meeting, when Chavez got a decision he didn't deserve, abetted by a weight scandal. This time, Chavez made weight. This time, Chavez deserved to win, which he did by unanimous decision. There were reasons for protest or offense, but they were relatively minor.
Chavez obviously has the bloodlines, he has the ridiculous size and strength. What he has lacked at times is the dedication to his craft, a respect for the sport itself. This time, Chavez made the agreed upon weight -- 168 pounds -- and fought like a man who had improved since his last outing against Vera. The best of Chavez trumped the best of Vera, then.
But oh, it was fun getting to that conclusion for a while. The two men traded enormous power punches throughout, but especially early, peaking in the 3rd. Vera's overhand right was brutal, and might even have briefly wobbled the unwobble-able Chavez. Chavez, meanwhile, massacred Vera's body with lead lefts and punished his head with left hooks and right crosses. Chavez was circling well, was even defending himself better than usual, was boxing well overall -- but Vera was also boxing well, and let's face it, the best defense by Chavez and Vera is the boxing equivalent of facing the Philadelphia 76ers this year: Even the worst opposition is going to rack up big statisitics. Chavez connected on 62 percent of his power punches per CompuBox, which, ouch.
Slowly, Chavez's size and accuracy took over. And that occasion for protest and/or disgust? It emerged in the 7th, when referee Rafael Ramos, without any warning, deducted Vera a point for pushing down on the back of Chavez's head. Yes, yes, Texas would find a way to give Chavez an edge, despite Vera being from the state, because, well, his name is Chavez. And then, again, Chavez would find a way to offend, using the 12th to showboat and play keep-away, a decision booed by the fans. Even when he puts on a quality performance, he has to behave like a punk-ass.
This was a fight that went more or less like it should've the first time: Chavez won by a mysterious 114-113, then 117-110 times two. He's the better fighter when he's on point and, at least as importantly, Vera is a smallish middleweight who fought over his head both this time and last. With the kind of punishment Vera took in these two fights, and has taken over his career, one hopes he got big enough paychecks against Chavez to contemplate retiring soon. He makes as hard a living as anyone in the sport.
Chavez didn't pack San Antonio as he has packed venues in the past. He didn't pack Carson, Calif., either, although he still did big TV ratings. You'd like to think he has his head screwed on straight about being a professional and winning over fans, but he showed up at the Alamodome exceptionally late and the 12th round hot-dogging was fully out of touch. He called out middleweight champion Sergio Martinez afterward, but Martinez, should he beat Miguel Cotto, probably isn't going to move up to 168 for a Chavez rematch, maybe not for anyone. In perfect English -- Chavez finds new ways to baffle constantly -- he also said he'd be down for Gennady Golovkin. This would be an action fight and a half. Golovkin is a murderous puncher at 160, and a quality boxer. We don't know what he would have at 168, which is why folk are intrigued by a meeting with the division's champ, Andre Ward. The Chavez fight would be a serious test of how Golovkin might fare at 168, and despite the diminished fan base for Chavez due to his antics, it's a richer fight than Ward can generate. It might also give Chavez's considerable contingent of haters a chance to see him beaten all to hell. With Golovkin pulling out of his April date due to the death of his father (condolences, GGG), maybe that fight can happen quite soon.no comments
(Orlando Salido, left, Vasyl Lomachenko, right; credit: Chris Farina, Top Rank)
There was nothing wrong with the judges' scorecards in the HBO meeting Saturday between grizzled veteran Orlando Salido and amateur great Vasyl Lomachenko, only with Salido's exploitation of missing weight and all the low blows he threw in the bout. It did the trick: Salido got a split decision win in San Antonio. It was the rare occasion where the judges getting it right was unfortunate.
Salido missed the 126 pound limit by two pounds and didn't bother trying to make it Friday. He then blew up to 147 pounds between the weigh-in and the fight, compared to Lomachenko's fight night weight of 135. That's two divisions' difference. Lomachenko appeared wary of the size advantage from the start, cautious with his punch output. On top of that, the crafty Salido outboxed him early -- he was especially smart in clinches and coming out of them, finding openings Lomachenko couldn't -- so it's not like the cautious Lomachenko approach translated into him racking up points smartly.
Salido's body work throughout was impressive. His low blows, which were legion, were not. Oh, they were effective -- he didn't even get warned until the 8th. They were just a turn-off. Referee Laurence Cole got snookered on some of them, with Salido using his savvy to throw low blows at angles Cole couldn't see. But some of them were obvious no matter where you were standing. Cole is a dolt, plain and simple; after a stretch of him not being involved with any controversy, I suppose we were overdue.
Lomachenko did start to surge in the mid-late rounds, as Salido began to tire, at one point falling down for no apparent reason. And Lomachenko charged for the knockout in the 11th and 12th, doing major damage in the 11th and nearly getting a 10-8 12th because he beat up Salido so severely, nearly dropping him with a straight left. Lomachenko held a ton, which Cole warned him for far earlier than he did Salido's offenses. In the 12th, Salido held on for dear life, and won by scores of of 115-113 and 116-112 to nullify the 115-113 card for Lomachenko.
Much was made about Lomachenko fighting for a title in his second bout. I'm not a fan of the alphabet titles, and I'm not impressed by Salido winning the one he won against Orlando Cruz, who transparently got the title shot not on the merits but because of the novelty of a gay fighter trying to win a bout. It's a stunt title, this 126-pound WBO strap -- what novelty opponent will be found for it next, now that Salido is without thanks to the weight shenanigans? I was impressed, however, by Lomachenko wanting to take on such a wily, hardened pro so early. As it happened, Salido gave him a cruel introduction to several aspects of the pro game. In the pros, you can miss weight flamboyantly and use it to your advantage later. In the pros, if you're fighting in Texas, you'll be subjected to a jurisdiction with a track record of incompetence or worse. In the pros, you'll meet guys like Salido, who knows all the tricks -- above board and below -- and will punish you to the body unlike any amateur will.
There are good fights for both men now, at least. Lomachenko would be wise to slow it down and learn some of those tricks himself, get some experience; that he nearly beat Salido despite all of the ugliness speaks well of his pro prospects. Salido will find opponents with which he can make exciting bouts at 130, a weaker division than 126.no comments
(Terence Crawford [red, white and blue trunks] topped Ricky Burns; credit: Lawrence Lustig, Matchroom Boxing)
Both men started the fight off like they needed to, with the taller Burns continuously pumping out his jab and Crawford responding with uncharacteristically aggressive power punching combinations. For some reason, Crawford more or less disappeared in the 2nd and 3rd, fighting from a southpaw stance that didn't seem to help him much. But by the 4th, when Crawford resumed his aggression and backed up Burns to force him into a defensive shell, it was all Crawford. Burns tried to rally in the 9th, and won the 10th on my scorecard and some others, but Crawford snuffed out his momentum in the 11th and beat him up in the 12th. The score of 117-111 was the same as mine, with the two 116-112 scorecards a touch too generous to Burns.
To hear Sky Sports' Jim Watt tell it, this was a "different" Burns, an underconfident Burns, a Burns worried about the jaw Beltran broke. You'd think he hadn't seen Burns' performances against Beltran (who deserved to win in one of the robberies of 2013) or how Burns was getting dominated by Gonzalez, a fighter with no real track record. Nope, this was the same Burns we've seen lately -- a pugilist apparently past his best days, still capable of showing flashes of grit or effective yet ragged boxer-puncher business. Burns overachieved for a time, and it was an impressive run. These days, he apparently doesn't have it.
For as clearly as he won, for all his speed and schooling, Crawford comes away from the by far best victory of his career a bit of a headscratcher. He had to know that a laissez faire approach was poisonous to his chances of winning on foreign soil, yet showed that attitude early. He turned up the activity from the 4th on, but still had stretches where he didn't keep the pressure on his man; it took Burns catching him with a good one here and there to make Crawford respond with gusto. I wonder if it's about temperament for him, or maybe it's stamina -- in the 12th, he went on full attack, and it didn't take long for him to get winded. Either way, he's in the discussion for the top lightweight in a division that is thin gruel right now. Yet it's hard to imagine him beating Miguel Vazquez fighting like this. As someone with hype as the potential to become the pound-for-pound best American fighter, we needed more from Crawford than we got Saturday. And while he delivered more action than he has of late, Burns had something to do with that, so whatever the nature of his temporary exile from HBO, it's not clear that if lack of excitement was to blame, he solved that problem, either.
On the undercard, blue chip heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua made easy work of Hector Avila, stopping him in one round with a big counter left. Joshua, in just his fifth fight, appears all the world like a potential superstar and has the personality and look to compliment his size, athleticism and Olympic pedigree. But it is very, very early, and we learned nothing from this bout that we didn't know already. Promoter Eddie Hearn and Sky tried to sell Avila as the man who went nine rounds with Dereck Chisora a year ago, neglecting the fact that he'd been stopped twice since, including once in the 1st round, by fighters far inferior to Chisora. Hearn said they'd be looking at Michael Sprott or Matt Skelton next, two reasonable step-ups and reasonably advanced opponents for a prospect at this stage of his career.
Other than the main event, the rest of the card was loaded up with bores and mismatches (which includes Joshua's), save perhaps Scott Cardle's stoppage of Paul Appelby. Usually you celebrate a seven-fight telecast, but it felt interminable because of the nature of the matchmaking.
(Derek Edwards catches Badou Jack; credit: Tom Casino, Showtime)
If we must be inflicted with a zombified verson of ShoBox that fellates the promotional stable of Floyd Mayweather, the least Showtime can give us is match-ups in the spirit of the series, i.e. prospects in tough tests. We got that in two of the three bouts on Friday, with one test too difficult and another just about right. The third, the headliner, didn't rate.
Super middleweight J'Leon Love dominated Vladine Biosse in the main event, cutting up and swelling his face en route to a 10th round technical knockout. Biosse was resilient, I'll give him that, but he was outclassed. With losses to Denis Grachev and Marcus Upshaw, Biosse was no real upgrade over Lajuan Simon, Love's comeback opponent after his narrow win over Gabriel Rosado was turned into a no contest thanks to a failed drug test. Love was faster and sharper from the start, and never really lost a round definitively. He did have to fight through a cut around his left eye that opened in the 4th, but then, Biosse had to deal with a worse cut around his right eye beginning in the 3rd. In the 10th, the referee picked no particular occasion to stop the bout, but the punishment he absorbed overall made the sentiment appropriate. Love hasn't yet reestablished himself as a fighter who will make waves, rather one who might.
Derek Edwards dashed Badou Jack upon the rocks like a newborn in some religious fable, in a result that came more or less out of nowhere. Edwards has played the role of legitimate threat before, but he hasn't flashed 1st round knockout power, and Jack had proven resilient enough against solid hitters like Marco Antonio Periban (majority draw or no). As Jack went to throw a jab, Edwards timed him perfectly and walked him into an overhand right from which Jack never recovered. Jack got up, but was in little shape to continue and the next real combo Edwards landed put him down again and this time the referee saw enough. The undefeated Jack had flashed the potential to become a contender at super middleweight,flawed though he was, and while 1st round knockouts can be flukey, this was deeply discouraging for Jack's chances to move from prospect to top-10 guy.
Junior middleweight prospect Chris Pearson had demonstrated the right stuff coming into Friday, only he had done it against mediocre competition. Lanardo Tyner? That dude is never a picnic. He was no stroll in the park for Pearson, either, who controlled most rounds with his boxing ability and height/reach, except Tyner came on late, dropping Pearson in the 6th and giving him 100 percent hell in the final two rounds, too. One judge gave it to Tyner, 76-75, which was too generous to Tyner; the other two judges gave it to Pearson, 78-73, which was better, although maybe it could've been one round closer. Pearson, one of the more acclaimed Mayweather prospects, got a test he needed and fought through the adversity. That's one of the things a prospect needs, and Pearson now has it. What he does in response to all that will tell the next tale for Pearson.no comments