There's no real big eye-popping moment from this weekend to lead in with a highlight clip, so instead we start the latest recommendation from unofficial TQBR visual consultant Jim. (via)
The trend of the weekend was instead toward "decisions made," from the doctor's decision to stop the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito rematch to the robbery mentioned in the headline and more. As usual, I recommend our prior coverage from the weekend, with works by Gautham Nagesh, Andrew Harrison and yours truly, especially since I've left out any discussion of the British show or Saturday's Showtime card (owing to not having anything else new to say about any of that).
- Cotto's performance and what's next. It must be said that Cotto boxed nearly as well as he ever has, but it also must be said that he did it against a fighter who appears past his best and never was much of a boxer to begin with. Cotto switched directions beautifully, tied up when he needed to, was faster, was more accurate, was tactical when he needed to be and aggressive when called for. He attributed all this to chemistry with his new trainer, and if so, the trainer switch I feared would be a disadvantage turned into the opposite. So excellent was the performance that plenty of folk to start talking about Cotto facing Floyd Mayweather at 154 pounds or rematching Manny Pacquiao. I don't think either of those fights would go real well for him. Margarito wants a trilogy fight in Mexico, but based on how contemptuous Cotto has been toward Margarito since the win -- he said he went over and stared at Margarito after the fight to "taste my victory" -- Margarito can forget that. Rather, I like Cotto against virtually anyone in the division where he's the #1 fighter: Saul Alvarez in particular sounds like a joy, even if I'd rather have Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., plus Cotto-Alvarez would crown a lineal Ring Magazine division champ. It does appear despite the occasionally uneasy relationship with Top Rank over Margarito and the loaded gloves situation that Cotto will stick with his promoter. At times TR has appeared to look at Cotto as something of a nuisance, but they've also built him into a star and gotten him some nice paychecks, so them sticking together makes sense; my one hope hope it doesn't limit Cotto's options to TR-promoted fighters only, what with Alvarez promoted by Golden Boy and many other junior middleweights elsewhere.
- The cheating question. Cotto uttered one of the quotes of the year when asked after the fight about the difference in Margarito's punches compared to the first time: "I'm still awake." Cotto, then, felt vindicated in claiming that Margarito getting busted with loaded wraps prior to the Shane Mosley fight wasn't the first time Margarito loaded them up, including against Cotto the first time. Anyone who wanted to jump to that conclusion -- especially considering how much less marked up Cotto was this time than last time --would be well within the realm of a reasonable assumption. But there are viable alternative theses, is all, among them that Margarito doesn't hit as hard at 154 as he did at welterweight for the first Cotto bout; that Margarito didn't hit Cotto as much this time as last time; and that Margarito might be shot. I really don't know what the case is. I remain deeply suspicious of everything about Margarito, but I'll leave it at "Dunno, does seem fishy, though."
- The stoppage. I was very comfortable with the doctor recommending stopping the fight; Margarito's right eye was totally shut, and the doctor said he couldn't see out of it. Margarito himself said he correctly answered questions about the number of fingers the doc was holding up, so who knows -- although I'm not inclined to think of Margarito as someone with all that pristine a record of truth-telling. I don't think it's a coincidence that the eye swelled up so badly, either. Yes, Cotto did target the eye with left hooks, and landed 86 of them to that spot, according to HBO's figures. But the eye began swelling shut pretty quickly, something totally anticipatable given all the troubles Margarito had with surgeries on it and so forth. I bet if Margarito ever fights again -- and I bet he'll have trouble doing so in the United States once more, especially after what happened with his eye this time -- that eye swells up again, too.
- Cotto vs. Margarito 2 undercard. The undercard was close to as good as advertised, although you might not have known it from listening to the HBO commentary. Brandon Rios went to war with John Murray to get a stoppage win and Delvin Rodriguez went to war for a second time with Pawel Wolak to get a decision win, but HBO's team was preoccupied with talking about the main event during all that. I get it: There was some controversy over the handwraps in the locker rooms and that was a big storyline coming into the fight. But to practically ignore the action in those two fights? I didn't like it. As for the outcomes, it was nice to see Rodriguez finally get a win over a good opponent after a long stretch of coming up short on the scorecards. And Wolak made the right call to rematch Rodriguez, despite the style match-up getting the better of him over the course of the first fight. I don't think anything differently about Wolak than I did before: He's a good junior middleweight spark plug who will make good fights against everybody and have the potential to beat some second-tier guys. His marketability -- especially with his Polish fan backing -- should not take the slightest hit after this. Rodriguez deserves a fight against a top junior middleweight himself, someone in the top 10. Rios: He clearly can't make the lightweight limit anymore, and really showed serious mettle overcoming a week where he barely ate, so there'll be no YURIORKIS GAMBOA! fight, which works for me. Too bad Marcos Maidana is looking at the welterweight division for a fight with Devon Alexander -- the Rios-Maidana dream fight is down the drain, for now. But Top Rank's Bob Arum discussed a potential Mike Alvarado clash for Rios, and that's a fight I'd gladly watch. Murray has some rehab to do after a couple beatings in a row but still retains some level of attraction as someone worth seeing because of his aggressive style. And Mike Jones, he mostly dominated Sebastian Lujan and now figures to fight Randall Bailey for a welter strap. Jones' fight wasn't as boring as I'd read, I didn't think. I like Jones' talent, and his is sporadically exciting, at least.
- Dereck Chisora gets robbed. I don't throw that word around lightly, "robbery." That's what happened Saturday in Finland when Robert Helenius got a split decision victory over Dereck Chisora. Chisora put on the performance of a lifetime in an inspired and intelligent showing. He outworked Helenius throughout and landed all the biggest punches except maybe in three of them (the sum total of rounds I gave Robert), and while the range of "close" rounds could number as many as five if you were being generous, Helenius got the benefit of the doubt in too many of them and even then it wasn't enough to deserve a victory. Helenius promoter has promised Chisora a rematch, which is nice of them, but then, it would've been nice for the right guy to have gotten the decision.
- Felix Sturm-Martin Murray. Here's another decision that has come under scrutiny, what with Sturm getting a draw on his home soil that people don't think he deserved, something that happens a lot with Sturm. Sturm fights are the hardest fights in boxing to score. He usually lands the most head-snapping blows of the fight, but he doesn't land nearly as many blows overall as his opponents. Me, I scored it a draw. But while the formula for beating Sturm is pretty clear -- punch under, around and between his gloves and stay busy -- it's another thing to actually get the decision. Somebody's going to have to knock out Sturm to get a win over him in Germany. And what's with these British middleweights, anyway? Murray, Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker have all exceeded expectations in their recent fights, despite going 0-2-1 in them and arguably deserving to go 2-1-0.
- ShoBox. What's this!? A close decision that went to the guy who wasn't supposed to win?!!! Yes, it actually happened all right, with junior featherweight Jhonatan Romero getting a split decision win over Chris Avalos. I didn't score the fight, although it looked something like a draw to me. That Romero got the win while fighting going backward most of the time was even more surprising. It goes to show that it is possible for an underdog to win, and for a boxer who isn't merely the one walking forward to get a victory. An impressive showing from Romero, who introduces another funny spelling for "John" to the boxing scene showed once more that Avalos hates boxers who move around a lot. Avalos is going to need to either A. Get a whole lot better at boxing, something that doesn't seem likely, especially with his father as trainer or B. Stick to Friday Night Fights bouts against opponents who will engage him without all that fancy business. As for headlining super middleweight Anthony Dirrell, he got a TKO victory thanks to a fluke shoulder injury that Renan St Juste suffered. Dirrell has the same condition as his brother: clearly talented, he is only enjoyable to watch in spurts.
- The rest. From the supermarket to fantasy basketball mock draft chat rooms, I've been hearing a lot of discussion about Cotto-Margarito II in circles I wouldn't normally expect, and the fight did get some attention from the ESPNs of the world. That bodes well for its pay-per-view sales. I wouldn't be surprised to see it land in the 700-800,000 range... The whole "let's bring in Nazim Richardson" ploy by Cotto's team -- Richardson discovered the loaded Margarito wraps before the Mosley fight -- was just that: a ploy... Alexander Povetkin and Jhonny Gonzalez got knockout wins over the weekend, and some others were in action, too.