Most of the talk in boxing this week has been about two things, and I can’t figure out which has annoyed me more. So, we’ll start with all the talk about Floyd Mayweather’s next opponent, and maybe I’ll be able to figure it out. Floyd has made comments about fighting opponents of a lesser quality than the fighters people really want to see him fight (Kell Brook, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter), and people are getting their panties in a bunch over it far too soon. Even if he does fight opponents of a lesser quality, why do we care? Floyd’s greatness is undisputed at this point, and with his fights being at such a high PPV pricepoint, it’s really up to people to decide whether or not to care. Floyd’s fights are so isolated from what goes on in the actual sport that I can’t fathom getting annoyed by him. Let’s say Floyd does fight a weak opponent like Karim Mayfield. Why is this a problem? The fighters who actually care about proving their greatness will still be able to fight other fighters who care. At this point, Floyd knows how great he is, and everyone does. It’s about cashing a check. If people actually pay to see Floyd’s next fight, then go on to complain about his opponent as they always do, and complain about his performance as always happens, people get what they deserve.
After typing that out, I definitely know that the talk about Oscar de la Hoya coming out of retirement annoys me more than anything else. 42 year old fighters who were washed up when they retired never, ever need to come back to boxing after 7 years away from competition. Worst of all, he’s talking about fighting Gennady Golovkin. Does he want to die? Seriously, boxing isn’t like basketball where there are no consequences to attempting a comeback. I point people to Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Hector Camacho if you want to know what happens to fighters who try to get back in the ring. Leonard was battered by a feather fisted, blown up welterweight after 6 years out of the ring. It was completely embarrassing. Camacho was no longer an elite fighter at the time of that fight, either. Camacho then used that fight to vault into a title shot at de la Hoya, and he got whipped and didn’t even look slightly competitive. Now, imagine Leonard taking that fight with de la Hoya in 1997, and that’s what you’d have with de la Hoya coming back to fight Golovkin. It’s all really simple. Oscar has his health, has finished rehab, and he’s clean now. He doesn’t need to mess up his life and get himself hurt. There’s nothing to gain.
The Week That Was
There were four shows this weekend, the first of which was the PBC on NBC card taking place in Las Vegas. Errol Spence did fight on this show, but did not face Roberto Garcia. Instead he fought Phil LoGreco, and knocked him out in the third round. Was an easy fight for him. Spence does have a lot of potential, I think. Perhaps the most of any fighter under the PBC banner. He throws with power, throws to the body, and is exciting to watch.
In a terrible, yet interesting fight, Shawn Porter picked up a unanimous decision (118-109, 115-111, 114-112) victory over Adrien Broner. I’m trying to think of a place to start, and I guess addressing the incessant fouls Broner committed is the best way. It was absolutely absurd how long referee Tony Weeks took to take a point away from Broner. In the 11th, he finally did, for Broner holding and pushing down Porter’s head. That wasn’t even the worst of it though. He threw two punches behind his back on the break, constantly shoved his forearm into Porter’s face, and was relentless in pushing Broner away with both his hands and forearms. Broner did knock Porter down in the 12th round, but by that point it was just too late for that to turn the scoring in Broner’s favor. Porter won rounds by staying busy, which served him well in the face of Broner’s inactivity. Personally, I had the fight scored 116-110 for Porter, and thought that the 114-112 card was too close. I was afraid that Broner would win a decision even with the fight having gone the way it went, because of how ugly Broner made the bout. There were many rounds where Porter had to hunt Broner down as he was running away from him. It seemed like the NBC commentary team did not expect this. Sugar Ray Leonard in particular was heavily in the tank for Broner and ignored most of the work that Broner was doing.
The thing that annoyed me the most was Broner’s post-fight interview. Where’s the hunger? Instead of wanting to be the best, this guy is talking about people taking his picture and getting his autograph. What a clown. I can’t stand fighters with his level of ability that aren’t focused on being the best. I don’t think he cared that he lost. Later in the week he posted pictures of himself holding a gun on Instagram. This guy is an idiot.
Next up, it was over to Montreal for their card on Fox Sports 2.
In the best fight of the weekend, David Lemieux captured the IBF Middleweight Championship via unanimous decision (115-109 x2, 114-110) over Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam. Lemieux knocked N’Dam down four times, but N’Dam showed great toughness in springing back to his feet and going right back to work. Other than in the second and fifth rounds, I thought N’Dam was at least competitive in every round. It did seem like the fight could be stopped in the fifth after N’Dam was knocked down twice, but he was just too tough. Lemieux on the other hand showed great combination punching early in the fight, and displayed a killer left hook. He was putting his punches together in a ferocious fashion and looked great. I commend the effort of N’Dam, who showed great heart. Lemieux did tire late in the bout and regressed to throwing only one power shot at a time, but given how hard he pushed for a finish, that’s understandable.
In capturing that belt, Lemieux joined Adonis Stevenson as a reigning Canadian world champion, and is the first Canadian-born boxer to win a world championship since Steve Molitor. While Lemieux did win that title, by no means is he an undisputed champion. Gennady Golovkin’s promoter has expressed interest in unifying his belts with this one, and that would be a great fight to see. Two guys who don’t cower from a fight, who will meet each other in the center of the ring and swing until we find out who has more power. I hope that happens. It did sound like it wouldn’t this year, which is sad.
Over on BET, we had the return of Andre Ward, which I didn’t really care about at all.
Ward stopped Paul Smith in the 9th round of a completely one-sided fight, which was to nobody’s surprise. Smith’s corner threw in the towel at a moment in which they absolutely had to. There were a few things wrong with this fight from the get-go. First of all, Smith blew the catchweight by 4.5 pounds. There was then a weigh-in scheduled for the night of the fight, and Smith was over the contracted weight for that too. He also looked pudgy in the ring and was definitely carrying some extra weight. It’s not a fight that should have happened. The craziest thing about it is that Andre Ward cashed a check of $2,000,000. That figure is not a typo. For a fight on BET, that only 9,000+ came to see, against somebody who didn’t belong in the ring with him. Yeah, that really happened. Smith got cut, and Ward worked him over for a few rounds prior to the stoppage. This doesn’t really mean anything. I’d like to see Ward face Sergey Kovalev next, but I doubt that will happen. On the off chance it does happen, I think that’s the best fight that can realistically be made at 175 right now given that Kovalev and Stevenson can’t come to an agreement. Anything would be better than seeing Ward crush cans.
On Father’s Day, there was a PBC card on CBS that featured two intriguing fights, the first of which was very entertaining.
Sammy Vasquez Jr. took a unanimous decision (98-92 x3) from Wale Omotoso, and looked pretty good in the process. Omotoso did cut Vasquez a few times, but Vasquez was clearly the superior fighter and landed more effective power shots. Omotoso just wasn’t willing to throw enough punches. When he did, he landed, but Vasquez showed more speed and ability to evade Omotoso’s more powerful looking punches. The fight had a lot of good action when the two fighters would stand toe-to-toe and trade punches, and in those exchanges, Vasquez would usually land more of them. I’d like to see Vasquez continue to step up in competition, which I expect will be happening very soon. He looked very easy to cut, so it would behoove him to be put in big fights while his skin can still handle getting punched without being instantly opened up.
In the main event, we saw Rances Barthelemy completely dominate Antonio DeMarco, taking a unanimous decision (99-89 x3) as well. It was made clear during this fight that DeMarco had nothing left to give in the ring. He just didn’t look like the same guy anymore. No ability to get inside and throw punches, small activity level, and he couldn’t really take a punch that well either. In the fourth round, Barthelemy knocked him down, and in the ninth, Barthelemy had a point taken away for persistent low blows. That would explain the scoring. Barthelemy did annoy me a little bit, he should have went for a finish. However, as seems to be standard for Cuban fighters, he didn’t. I think that’s just part of their amateur training that kicks in, I can’t think of another explanation. Wasn’t a good fight, and the way the announcers were talking, it sounded like Barthelemy may fight Broner next. That would also not be a good fight. Against Omar Figueroa though, that would be much better.
The Week Ahead
This week we only have one card with one fight worth giving the big preview treatment to, but there is another fight on that card, as well as two other televised cards with showcase bouts for prospects.
The most important card of the weekend is on Saturday, and it airs on HBO at 9:45 PM Eastern. It takes place at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, and sadly, I will not be there.
12 Round Welterweight Fight: Timothy Bradley (31-1-1, 12 KO’s) vs. Jessie Vargas (26-0, 9 KO’s)
Bradley is an interesting fighter on a lot of levels, and it’s sad that most people only know him because of his robbery decision victory over Manny Pacquiao. I’m a fan and have been following his career for quite a while now. So, with a lack of big fights this weekend, let’s talk about him. His first title fight came at 140 pounds against Junior Witter, who was the WBC champion. I thought the fight was very close, and Bradley’s knockdown of Witter in the sixth round made the difference. At the time Witter was top five in the weight class, so this was a big victory. Given that the fight was in England, I was surprised Bradley got that decision. It has also been said that Bradley was down to $11 in his bank account when he traveled to England for his fight that provided him with a $65,000 purse.
After that, Bradley went on to pursue unifcation, and took the WBO title from Kendall Holt via decision after fighting back from being knocked down twice. He went on to vacate the WBC belt, but still held the WBO belt. After a controversial fight with Nate Campbell that ended with a no decision, he fought Lamont Peterson, and took a wide unanimous decision. He looked great in that fight, that was possibly his best overall performance. While Bradley was working on clearing out the 140 pound division, Devon Alexander picked up that vacated WBC title, and fought Bradley in a clash of undefeeated fighters. Bradley won a very boring fight in which neither man looked good, and both guys repeatedly clashed heads with each other to make matters even worse. Still, a win was a win, and after that fight, Bradley changed promoters to his current one, Top Rank. He went on to beat Joel Casamayor in a severe mismatch, and it was time to move up to welterweight having established himself at 140 pounds.
At welterweight, his first fight was against Manny Pacquiao, and as everyone knows he won a terrible decision. For whatever reason, he was placed with Ruslan Provodnikov after that, and they brawled their way through 12 rounds in a great fight that you can find on YouTube. It was the 2013 Fight of the Year. Bradley thought that he needed to prove himself after winning that terrible decision, and he did. Bradley then fought in another PPV fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, and took a close decision from the Mexican legend. After that, it was time to fight Pacquiao again, and he lost very clearly. In Bradley’s last fight against Diego Chaves, I thought he dominated, but the judges were watching a completely different fight. For whatever reason, the only judge who scored it for Bradley had him ahead by only two points. One judge had it a draw, and another had Chaves ahead by four points based on absolutely nothing at all. Anyway, the point of all this is, Timothy Bradley isn’t just the guy who was handed a bad decision victory over Manny Pacquiao. He’s the guy who had no money and made himself millions through sheer hard work and a distinct lack of punching power to this point of his career. A great boxing success story.
As for the fight on Saturday, the first and most obvious thing anyone would notice in looking at this fight is the lack of power on display. I do agree with the idea that Vargas is a light puncher, but I believe that Bradley can punch better than his KO record indicates and that he’s going to put Vargas to the test. In reports leading up to this fight, Bradley has claimed that he’s been working on his power punching, and it has been said that he looks more muscular. The question now is whether or not they’ll be any effects of adding that muscle. Will Bradley tire if he can’t stop Vargas? That’s something we’ll find out Saturday. This is a big step up for Vargas, who fought last against Antonio DeMarco and took a decision from him, but he did lose rounds in that fight. That doesn’t bode too well for Vargas against a pressure fighter like Bradley. I think a fighter needs to have the punching power to put Bradley on his ass in order to beat him. Vargas does not. Vargas is a former champion at 140 pounds, just like Bradley, and he defended his title twice at that weight. Perhaps I’m discounting him, but I think the move up in weight and leap in competition is too much for Vargas. If Vargas does lose, he’ll probably go back down to 140 pounds. I’d think so, anyway. If he wins, there are a lot of big fights available at 147, it’s a stacked weight class. That applies to Bradley too. I think Bradley would make a great challenger for Kell Brook’s IBF welterweight crown, and Bradley has made noise about wanting to fight Floyd Mayweather or Gennady Golovkin. Don’t think either of those will happen, but one can hope!
Prediction: Bradley by decision. Too much will, ability to land punches, and Vargas doesn’t hit hard enough to hurt him. That will alow Bradley to fight at whichever range he prefers, and get inside and use his head to create problems as he usually does for his opponents. It’s not legal to headbutt guys, but Bradley leaves his head in the line of fire, and those things just happen.
Entertainment Grade: B+. Bradley knows he has to be as entertaining as possible, and Vargas will push for the win. I don’t expect a boxing match, I expect a fight. Great way to finish out June!
10 Round Featherweight Fight: Oscar Valdez (15-0, 14 KO’s) vs. Ruben Tamayo (25-5-4, 17 KO’s)
I don’t know why I typed out the records, this is nothing more than a showcase fight. Valdez is being pushed towards stardom and has a very good amateur background, plus his Mexican heritage gives him the potential to have a huge base of fans. Bob Arum was complaining last week about HBO not accepting the fights they had planned for Valdez, but while he was complaining, HBO was in the middle of accepting this fight. That’s funny. The originally scheduled co-feature was between Humberto Soto and Ray Beltran, but Beltran tested positive for an anabolic steroid. Soto was then scheduled to face Jose Felix, but Soto got hurt. We would up with this instead, and I’m cool with it. I think Top Rank will move him about as quickly as they’ve moved Verdejo, and by the look of it, Valdez is just as ready. I love watching prospects who are pressure fighters, and Valdez certainly is exactly that. I don’t want to be bored, I want to be entertained. This fight will also be the 1,000th to air on HBO. That’s a big legacy, and next week, I’ll talk about that a bit more. There are really good fighters at featherweight, hopefully Valdez joins the mix before some of them move up in weight.
Prediction: Valdez by TKO. Won’t take long. Tamayo has been stopped four times.
Entertainment Grade: B. It’s certain to have a finish, which people like to see. Not a competitive fight though.
Predictions to Date: 11-0.
On Friday night, there’s another card promoted by Top Rank, which will air on TruTV at 10 PM Eastern.
I’m not really comfortable previewing either fight, or I would. The lightweight match between Diego Magdaleno and Jose Gonzalez is a good one, though. Both men have challenged for world titles and come up just short, and I believe this fight will determine which one gets a shot at fighting for championships going forward. No idea who will win either. In the main event, Gilberto Ramirez (31-0, 24 KO’s) will be showcased against Derek Edwards. It is anticipated by Ramirez’s promoter that he’ll fight for a world title by the end of the year. We’ll see!
Over on Showtime, we have a triple-header, which serves as a place to showcase prospects on Friday nights. That card starts at 10:35 PM Eastern.
In the main event, we have a fight between middleweight prospect Dominic Wade and 41 year old former middleweight belt holder Sam Soliman. Soliman earned that belt by defeating Felix Sturm, and I don’t really know how. He then went on to lose it to Jermain Taylor, who has since been arrested and appears to be brain damaged. This is a big step in competition for Wade, who has only been fighting club fighters. There’s really no way to tell if he’s any good or not until we see this fight.
This Week’s News
- After losing his fight on Sunday, Antonio DeMarco announced that he was going to hang up the gloves. Hate to say it, but he needed to. He’s only 29 years old, but boxing chews fighters up and spits them out, even at such a young age.
- PBC on NBC last Saturday only drew 2.4 million viewers. This is bad for the concept, but the bright side is that nobody tuned in to watch a terrible fight.
- Marco Huck’s first fight in the US has been confirmed, and he’ll be fighting Krzysztof Glowacki in a mandatory title defense on August 14th. That fight will be on the undercard of Antonio Tarver vs. Steve Cunningham, which is a PBC on Spike show.
- WBA Middleweight Champion Daniel Jacobs is going to defend that title against Sergio Mora, on the undercard of PBC on ESPN, August 1st. I could not care less.
- Juan Manuel Marquez plans to come back in the fall. Now that’s awesome!
This Day in Boxing History
Ingemar Johansson KO 3 Floyd Patterson
The date was June 26th in 1959, and Floyd Patterson was taking on Ingemar Johansson in his first title defense against a legitimate opponent, after having beaten Archie Moore for the heavyweight championship of the world three years previous. This was scheduled to be Johansson’s first fight in the United States, and it was going to be held at Yankee Stadium. People really didn’t know if Patterson was going to be a great champion, and it was still very early in his career. At the time of the fight Patterson was only 24 years old. This was also considered to be the most important match between an American and a European since Louis vs. Schmeling 2.
The first round featured Johansson working a jab and keeping Patterson completely at range, forcing him to resort to throwing leaping power punches that couldn’t connect. Johansson did little other than jab, until throwing a nice straight right hand. According to the commentator, there was speculation that Johansson had an injured right hand before the fight. The second round was similar to the first, and showed no sign at all of what was about to happen. Johansson did mix up his punches more, though. The third round was probably one of the most surprising in the history of boxing. Johansson immediately went out and floored Patterson with a left hook and straight right combination, and Patterson barely made it to his feet. The fight unquestionably should have been stopped, but it was a different era. Patterson turned his back on his opponent after getting up, and Johansson clubbed him right back down to the canvas. Patterson looked in better shape when he got up this time, but Johansson hit him with a right to the temple, and down he went again. Patterson went down for a fourth time, then a fifth and sixth as he could no longer stand. It was nearly the end of the round at this point, but Johansson would hit Patterson with a right hand, and finally the contest was stopped in the seventh round.
By defeating Patterson, Johansson became the first European heavyweight champion since Primo Carnera, and the first Scandinavian heavyweight champion ever. The thing I find most interesting about this fight was the extremely late stoppage. This was not the only time referee Ruby Goldstein was late in stopping a fight, and sadly there were worse results than this. Goldstein was once very late in stopping a fight between Benny Paret and Emile Griffith, and Griffith wound up killing Paret on national television. Boxing faded away from the national spotlight in part because of the events on that day. Johansson and Patterson would go on to fight each other twice more, and Patterson would win both of those fights. Patterson also became the first man to regain the World Heavyweight Championship. After the Patterson fights, Johansson would only fight four more times, then retire at 30 years old. Patterson will be featured here quite a few more times.
Next weekend, I’ll be covering the events of this weekend, in addition to talking about a few random subjects. Sadly, there will be no fights worth talking about that take place on 4th of July weekend. I also haven’t decided what those subjects will be!