If you’re one of the people who think that Mike Alvarado was “soft” for “quitting” on the weekend, then boxing probably isn’t the sport for you. Maybe you need something tougher, like Nigerian boxing or “Dembe,” a sport in which itinerant fighters beat each other with hands wrapped in rope. Also, you’re a sicko.
If not, welcome back to The Queensberry Rules for the weekly schedule. There’s a bit going on this week, on both sides of the Atlantic. There were meant to be some fights in Australia too, but Shane Mosley didn’t get paid and left the country. Boxing seems to be pretty good at this kind of thing, but boxing in Australia really excels at it.
It's like a little boink on the chin from the original angle, but Luis Concepcion's left hook that put down Carlos Ruiz this weekend obviously had the impact of more than that -- and the replay from another angle reveals how crisply the shot was thrown and landed. Two years and seven wins from his loss to Hernan Marquez, maybe it's time for Concepcion to try and make some noise against a flyweight contender maybe maybe?
It never hurts to start off with a sweet knockout. However: Most of this edition of Quick Jabs will be devoted to the big main event from this past Saturday on HBO. I recommend reading it while listening to TQBR Radio (which you can do later, or, if you click fast enough, live now) for a kind of immersive, stereophonic experience.
(Ruslan Provodnikov, left, in pursuit of Mike Alvarado; photo credit: Chris Farina/Top Rank)
Usually the Queensberry Rules Radio preview post opens up with some nonsensical picture or reference, if not some borderline infuriating non sequitur. But this week, Ruslan Provodnikov and Mike Alvarado should simply get more and more attention, when possible. It was an outstanding fight, and one that in a way kicks off what should be an outstanding late-year run for fans of gloved combat.
It was like a Rocky movie gone terribly wrong. The hometown hero had been in control. His Russian opponent had looked frustrated and even a little primitive. But junior welterweight Ruslan Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KO) has the kind of power and determination that reconfigures Hollywood endings.
"I knew what I had to do was break him," he said after stopping Mike Alvarado (34-2, 23 KO) in the 10th round of their clash in Denver, broadcast on HBO. "I had to break his will to win this fight and I did that."
Sylvester Stallone couldn't have written it better. "The Siberian Rocky" created his own happy ending in a tense, action packed fight. It wasn't the wild, sloppy brawl that most expected, but I don't think you'll hear many complaints.
(Juan Santiago, left, Juan Diaz, right; credit: Chris Farina, Top Rank)
Juan Diaz once fought like a swarm of angry bees. Unable to hurt anyone with a single punch, he came forward relentlessly and stung as many times as possible. Few can forget the look of utter despair on Acelino Freitas’ face when he quit on his stool after being swarmed, stung, and battered by Diaz in an increasingly one sided fight. Even fewer can forget him giving Juan Manuel Marquez hell in their first fight, at least until Marquez found his timing and range and roared back to stop the Baby Bull.
That fighter is gone, as is so often the case with swarming pressure fighters. They burn out young.
In the third fight of his comeback after a nearly three year retirement, Diaz (38-4, 19 KO) won a unanimous decision over Denver junior welterweight Juan Santiago (14-11-1, 8 KO) by scores of 97-93, 99-91, and 100-90. I scored the fight 100-89 with the 6th round 10-8, as Diaz battered Santiago all over the ring.
In a sport that may have courted the prefix “professional” in a bid to ward off repeated suspicions to the contrary, there can be few boxers as meticulous as Carl Frampton. That the Belfast junior featherweight manages to be as diligent as he is, while simultaneously electrifying an entire city – dare we say country? -- is as revealing as the youthful exuberance he engenders in the typically statesmanlike Barry McGuigan.
European champion Frampton dismantled Frenchman Jeremy Parodi at the Odyssey Arena on Saturday while remaining both measured and explosive – a compelling mix. The little wizard was simply irrepressible before an audience that was bouncing off the walls in appreciation -- stalking Parodi early before breaking down and then silencing the visitor’s impressive defiance with a deadening left hook to the midsection at 2:59 of round six.
There was some outstanding boxing in the 1980s. But as in every other decade of boxing, rankings and sanctioning bodies who created them really mimicked what was loosely considered the fashion of the times: funky, eccentric, and downright embarrassing in hindsight.
The years have been kind to Larry Holmes and Marvin Hagler in terms of perception and all-time rankings; they usually are, however. But in the early eighties, the World Boxing Council threatened to snatch the rug out from under both great champions and leave them sans belts. Holmes would famously ditch the belt, of course, before the organization could act decisively, but a smaller fighter with less influence might be more easily manipulated. A fighter like, say, Bobby Chacon.
Entrenched in legal matters with Don King and still coping with the death of his wife, Bobby Chacon was lined up to defend his WBC junior lightweight belt in his only fight of 1983. Initially, the WBC refused to sanction the rematch between Bobby Chacon and Cornelius Boza-Edwards, demanding that Chacon instead defend against Hector Camacho, who was actually ranked lower than Boza-Edwards, but happened to be promoted by Don King. That King happened to be pals with WBC president Jose Sulaiman probably made no difference. Or maybe some.
By May 16, 1983, Cornelius Boza-Edwards was chest deep in a professional boxing career that saw him turn pro not long after representing Uganda in the 1976 Olympics. His short, yet already explosive pro career had seen him to a record of 38-3 (30 KO), including a stoppage win over Bobby Chacon in 1981.
Having already retired a number of times -- memorably in 1976, after barely winning a decision over David Sotelo in which Chacon hit the deck a few times -- Chacon was using his ninth life in taking on Boza-Edwards once more, even if he had won a belt in the meantime.
After the bout, Chacon said, "[Ringside physicians] kept saying I could go one more round, but they said it for seven rounds. After the 6th round, I knew they wouldn't stop it."
In context, Chacon would need 40 stitches for the cuts over and under his eyes, all told. His left eye was just about completely shut after the 12 rounds were done, his nose was destroyed, and cuts about his eyes likely had a cocktail party. Boza-Edwards wasn't any better for wear, though, having felt the tight grip of the canvas thrice during the evening, during rounds 1, 2 and 12. His cut up physique had no say in the contest.
Richard Steele, who refereed the scrum, would say after Chacon lost his next fight to Ray Mancini in three rounds, that, "The difference there was that Boza-Edwards doesn't punch like Ray Mancini."
Allan Green shocked nobody by putting in a lacklustre performance against Australian's Blake Caparello in Melbourne on Thursday. Green (32-5, 22 KO), who came in six lbs. over the light heavyweight limit, never wanted to fight and lost a fittingly wide unanimous decision.
It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say the high point of the fight was when referee Phil Austin tripped over Caparello (18-0-1, KO 6) in the 11th round. Sadly, it was the only knockdown. Caparello, a tall and awkward southpaw, didn't have the power or the inclination to hurt Green, while Green was, well, himself. He spent most of the time between rounds looking like he was about to burst into tears.
To be honest, I feel a bit sorry for Caparello. This was meant to be his big night (and it was, for all my jokes, a big step up for him) and he was given an opponent who just didn't care enough to even make an effort. He'd probably look much better against a more active fighter. Whether he can make noise at light heavyweight remains to be seen, but anyone with a bit more gumption than "Ghost Dog" would be a good next step.
On the undercard one-time lightweight prospect Lenny Zappavigna earned a dubious unanimous decision over Rivan Cesaire after being roughed up and gruesomely cut.
"I think of all the education that I missed," David Lee Roth once sang for Van Halen, "but then my homework was never quite like this." It's a real pleasure to write a preview for a fight like Mike Alvarado-Ruslan Provodnikov, because it means I was forced to study up on each man's ouevre. And it's an exceptionally violent body of film. Separately, each has been in one of perhaps the two best bouts of 2013 -- Provodnikov in March against last weekend's big winner, Timothy Bradley, and Alvarado later than month against Brandon Rios. Saturday night on HBO, the two auteurs could produce their finest work to date.
Whether they do or not depends on what each of them took from their spring brawls. Did Provodnikov have success in his welterweight bout against Bradley because he has improved so much and can he carry that next-level confidence into a fight with Alvarado -- or was the near-win an anomaly owing to a couple factors not at play Saturday night? Is the controlled puncher-boxer we saw in Alvarado's second and successful showing against Rios capable of a repeat performance -- or does Alvarado lack the necessary discipline? What we know about the two top-10 junior welterweights is that they excel at throwing bombs with their fists and catching them with their face. At 140, Alvarado is more accomplished and Provodnikov probably needs a purely brawling version of the Denver native to thrive; but if Provodnikov is better than we thought he was before the Bradley fight, all bets are off no matter what Alvarado does.
What you won't want to do is miss it. The mile-high potential for action in Colorado Saturday makes Alvarado-Provodnikov one of the potential gems of a brilliant fall HBO season.
You’re probably aware that we usually start these schedules with non-boxing related videos. But god dammit, we’re excited about Mike Alvardo vs. Ruslan Provodnikov this weekend. Look at that water flying off the fighters. Why is there water? Stop asking uncomfortable questions. It looks cool and gets the people going, OK?
There are other things happening as well, would you believe? The replay of Timothy Bradley’s win over Juan Manuel Marquez last weekend, for example, and the debut of one of HBO’s “2 Days” mini-documentaries, this time on featherweight (now junior lightweight) Mikey Garcia. Of course there are also other fights, though none of them hold the promise that Alvarado vs. Provodnikov does (it would be hard).
Mike Alvarado vs. Ruslan Provodnikov, Saturday, HBO, Denver. These junior welterweights are just bad, bad dudes. I mean, I’m sure they’re perfectly nice in person, but they’ve proven time and again that they’re willing throw caution to the wind and fight in a way that suggests they have little concern for their own safety. Tim will have a full preview later in the week, but here’s my short analysis. If Alvarado (34-1, 23 KO) is to win, he’ll need to box a little like he did in his victory over Brandon Rios. If Provodnikov (22-2, 15 KO) is to win, he’ll need turn it into a wild brawl and break Alvarado morally. I see this ending sometime around round 6, either with Alvardo dripping blood or Provodnikov stopped on his feet. Don’t really want to hazard a guess either way. On the undercard, Juan Diaz (37-4, 19 KO) continues his comeback against Denver native Juan Santiago (14-10-1, 8 KO). Santiago is a pretty rudimentary boxer, so it should be a showcase for Diaz, who’ll be able to get in close under Santiago’s reaching shots and unload. Whether “The Baby Bull” wil be able to get the stoppage is the real question, considering his lack of power. Also, when you’re 30 years old, at what point do you stop being known as “The Baby Bull” and just become “The Bull?”
The Rest. Thursday brings a card from Melbourne, Australia, headlined by light heavyweight prospect Blake Caparello (17-0-1, 6 KO), who’s taking on Allan Green (32-4, 22 KO). I wouldn’t normally get excited for an Allan Green fight, but this is a huge step up for Caparello, so who knows what will happen… Then on Saturday there are fights on Fox Deportes from Mexico City, featuring the likes of junior welterweights Roberto Ortiz (29-0-1, 23 KO) and Reyes Sanchez (24-5-2, 14 KO). Erik Morales’ little bro Ivan is also fighting on the undercard… Super middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz (45-3, 26 KO) is fighting in Germany the same night, against Isaac Ekpo (22-1, 16 KO) of Nigeria… Junior featherweight Carl Frampton (16-0, 11 KO) looks to continue on his winning way against Jeremy Parodi (35-1-1, 9 KO) at home in Belfast on Saturday night. It’d be nice to see Frampton step up the competition a notch, as he impressed against Kiko Martinez and no doubt will do here… Undefeated and much-hyped Dominican prospect Javier Fortuna fights off TV in the Dominican Republic, also Saturday… And finally (and on the same night as all the rest) Panamanian flyweight/Paulie D impersonator Luis Concepcion (29-3, 21 KO) fights the awesomely named Carlos Ruben Dario Ruiz (17-2, 10 KO) in Panama City.