A Busy Weekend For Boxing Besides Darchinyan – Agbeko, Featuring Adamek, Cunningham, Sturm, Solis And Others

Adamek_Gunn.jpgThis July is a wasteland for boxing, with only one weekend bringing a seriously sure-fire awesome fight, that being Saturday’s bantamweight bout between Vic Darchinyan and Joseph Agbeko. So naturally, that’s the weekend that gets jammed up with way too many noteworthy bouts. Sigh.

Granted, July 18 was originally supposed to be one of the biggest nights of the year, before Floyd Mayweather pulled out of his welterweight (latest report, WITH SOMEONE MIRACULOUSLY QUOTED ON THE RECORD: 144 pounds) “unretirement” bout with Juan Manuel Marquez, claiming a rib injury. But still. This weekend is jammed awful full. Like with, say, cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek and Bobby Gunn, at right (Justin Caggiano/Main Events).
Normally, I preview all the big weekend fights in my Friday “Quick Jabs” column, but there’s just too much, way too much, to shoehorn into that mothertrucker. Thus, this, here, today. The fight slate, it must be noted, actually gets a head start with a controversial refereeing decision involving featherweight Billy Dib, for which I have attached a video.

Let’s start with Adamek-Gunn, in Newark, N.J. Any other weekend, I’d pay the $9.99 to watch this fight over the Internet through mainevents.com, which is dipping its toe into webcasting with this bout. It’s not that I think Gunn, with his club fighter resume, has much of a chance; he’s mentioned the “Cinderella story” aspect of his quest, but Adamek answered: “It’s really nice to hear fairy tales, but those stories are for children. We are grown men. We are going to teach reality on Saturday.” No, I want to A. send the message to promoters that if you put on a show over the web at a reasonable price, I’ll buy the thing and B. Adamek’s such a fun performer, he’s worth the price of one and a third beers in D.C. Instead, Adamek-Gunn is going head-to-head with Darchinyan-Agbeko, and it just doesn’t compare. And there’s no undercard to speak of. Henry Crawford is a 27-year-old welterweight prospect who’s on the card but failed to actively impress me when I saw him while covering Adamek-Steve Cunningham last year ringside, as his opposition has been awful and as such he’s a bit of a mystery. (Word is the show could sell out. Adamek’s got a good thing going in Newark.)
You can’t mention Adamek-Gunn without mentioning Steve Cunningham-Wayne Braithwaite, which has a strong chance of being the fight of the weekend besides Darchinyan-Agbeko, where it’s on that fight’s Sunrise, Fla. undercard. You won’t see it on television, though, which is upsetting. Cunningham is one of the most likable and under-appreciated boxers in the sport, and he’s been gathering dust (like a lot of Don King fighters do) since his December Fight of the Year-caliber war with Adamek. If he wins this fight, Cunningham will be in line for a mandatory title shot at one of Adamek’s non-Ring magazine belts, thus delivering one of the most coveted rematches in the sport. Although Adamek’s flirtation with heavyweight is getting louder, unfortunately, so we’ll see if that happens. This will be Cunningham’s first fight with Trainer of the Year candidate Nazim Richardson. Braithwaite looked like his career was toast after a trio of KO losses from 2005 to 2007, but last year he bucked his burgeoning “opponent” status when he knocked the daylights out of Yoan Pablo Hernandez. The sense from the Cunningham team is that Braithwaite is dangerous early. Since Cunningham isn’t a big puncher, I suspect Braithwaite will be dangerous all fight long, but Cunningham has some small measure of pop, and he’s a very nice technician, so he should win this one, especially with help from the brilliant Richardson.
Next, let us consider the Friday Night Fights card on ESPN2 in Philly. Matt Godfrey-Shawn Hawk, yet another cruiserweight fight, is the main event, and since I’ve never seen Hawk in action and can’t find any footage of him, I’m not sure what to make of the bout. He’s got a great knockout ratio, but no opponents of note. Really, the fight I’m looking forward to on this card is Shaun George-Chris Henry at light heavyweight, as I’ve been saying for weeks. I can’t pinpoint it, but having seen both of them in action, I like the way they match up. Last time I had a feeling a fight would exceed expectations, it was… Adamek-Cunningham.
Over on ESPN Deportes Saturday night, which I don’t believe is available in the U.S., there’s another good one: Jorge Solis-Cristobal Cruz II at featherweight. For too many people, I think, Solis is just a guy who got knocked out by Manny Pacquiao back in 2007. He’s a lot better than that, and in his most recent fight, knocked out the very tough Monty Meza-Clay. Cruz in 2008 went on a little overachieving streak, upsetting Thomas Mashaba then winning a title belt against Orlando Salido, after a career littered with 11 losses. He’s a volume punching machine who’s better, assuredly, than he was when Solis beat him back in 2003, and fairly easily, by most accounts, but let’s face it — he’s probably outclassed here. I’d be happy to eat my words, since I have an affection for him, but if he loses, it’s been a better-than-expected run.
In Germany Saturday, top middleweight Felix Sturm takes on a legitimate foe in Khoren Gevor. I’d originally crapped on this fight because I only knew Gevor as an Arthur Abraham knockout victim, but he is the #4 ranked middleweight, so that’s my bad. Still, Gevor has a total of one win over a noteworthy opponent, Amin Asikainen, although he was said to have given Abraham some trouble before Abraham landed that mega-vicious head swiveler. The division just isn’t that deep. Given that Sturm is maybe in line for a fight with lineal division champ Kelly Pavlik, he’d better hope Gevor is well on the other side of the depth chart. Given that the winner of Sebastian Zbik vs. Domenico Spada, on the Sturm-Gevor undercard, may soon be in line for a mandatory shot at Pavlik, I think it’s fair to say the division is shallow, but the more I think about it, the more the word “shallow” implies even a modicum of depth. It’s basically a puddle in a desert. The card will be televised in Germany, which means it might be available via stream somewhere Saturday afternoon in the United States.
The last bit of televised business is the lightweight Antonio DeMarco-Anges Adjaho bout on the Showtime undercard. If you ask me, Cunningham-Braithwaite should have been on the televised undercard, especially since it could help set up Adamek-Cunningham II and Showtime has shown some interest in Adamek, but Showtime has some kind of crush on DeMarco. I like DeMarco myself, I just think it’s a weird choice. DeMarco does make for good television fights, and Adjaho does have a decent win on his record over Fernando Angulo, but I have to think Adjaho poses less of a threat to DeMarco than his last opponent, Kid Diamond. Somehow, as deep as the lightweight division is, DeMarco-Adjaho is a title eliminator for the belt owned by — YIKES — Edwin Valero. OUCH. So if DeMarco wins, we’re talking about throwing him in the deep, deep waters, the one-punch-and-you’re-gone-waters, unless by chance Valero moves up in weight for a bigger fight.
The rest: Super middleweight Jesse Brinkley could be in a Reno slugfest with Mike Paschall. Brinkley might end up in a noteworthy bout in one of the top divisions sooner rather than later… Jackson Bonsu and Selcuk Aydin are fighting in some Instanbul welterweight title eliminator for Andre Berto’s belt. Bonsu’s never done a damn thing, lost three fights ago and in his last bout only barely beat Carlos Baldomir (yes, that Carlos Baldomir), while at least Aydin put on a good show in his Shobox debut one fight ago, but I’m sorry, this fight as a title eliminator at welterweight?… Two N’Dous (alternately, Ndou), Lovemore and Philip, go at it in a welterweight bout in South Africa, which I once thought was super amusing, cuz of the N’Dou/Ndou angle. Then I read that Philip had retired after collapsing in the ring and a brain scan
came up worrisome. He was off five years before taking a tune-up tthis year and spent his career at lightweight and below, so suddenly, this fight isn’t so cute anymore. It’s actually a bit of a disgusting scandal, really.

We end on a video courtesy WF. This fight isn’t technically from the weekend — it’s from today — but watch what happens here in this Dib fight. A. The ref rules a questionable knockdown for Dib’s opponent, Kenichi Yamaguchi. This is the most defensible sequence in the whole series — I can understand this screw up more than the others since some punches were attached to Yamaguchi falling — but Yamaguchi slipped, really. B. Dib hits Yamaguchi while he’s down. The referee should have penalized Dib, and Yamaguchi should have been given time to recover from the foul. C. Instead, the referee begins his count, and when he instructs Yamagaguchi to walk forward, he does, his senses seemingly about him. D. The referee counts him out.

So very, very wrong.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.