Above is the conclusion to the flyweight (112 lbs.) battle between Omar Narvaez and Rayonta Whitfield. With the win, Narvaez broke the record for title defenses by an Argentinian previously held by the great Carlos Monzon. Let’s weigh the relative value of that, and revisit all of the jam-packed weekend’s action, in roughly chronological order.
But before we get into all that, I fear I buried the lede in my write-up of another Saturday bout, the junior bantamweight (115 lbs.) Vic Darchinyan-Jorge Arce fight. I must therefore repeat: It is so unbelievably disgusting to me that Darchinyan promoter Gary Shaw won’t let Darchinyan fight who Darchinyan wants to fight and everyone wants to see him fight — Nonito Donaire. And all because of Donaire’s “disloyalty” in leaving his promotional services. Gary, this ain’t middle school. It’s a business. Sometimes, a fighter is going to leave you. In fact, it’s not even all that uncommon in your experience, or any promoter’s experience, for that matter. I understand there are hard feelings, but put that aside and make the best fights, the ones that make you and your fighters the most money, the ones that your fighters want, and the ones that the fans want.
Now. As I was saying.
- Middleweight (160 lbs.) prospect Fernando Guerrero survived the first knockdown of his career to pull out a win on Friday Night Fights, and good for him. I like the way he fights; I think he’s got a bright future, although I wouldn’t put him yet among the elite prospects; but he also has a lot to learn. I’ve avoided going overboard on him beyond saying I like his style and his ability to draw a crowd, and one of the reasons is that he isn’t all that hot on defense. If he can learn that, I might still have questions about his size and ability to take a shot, but none of it means much without the D.
- Also on FNF, light heavyweight (175 lbs.) Yusaf Mack pulled off the upset decision victory over top-10 ranked Chris Henry. I did not see the Guerrero fight and missed many of the early rounds of Mack-Henry, but it looked like a close bout from about round 8 on. Both men seemed tired, and Henry was fouling a lot, his least commendable quality as a fighter. Good for Mack for scoring the biggest win of his career. It’s too bad the fight didn’t turn into the exciting brawl I expected, though. I wonder where Mack and Henry go from here. I wouldn’t write either off, but I’m not sure Mack’s all that good overall and it’s surprising to me than Henry lost to an opponent of his caliber.
- Fun third-tier welterweight (147 lbs.) Jesus Soto Karass pounded another subpar opponent for a decision win on Azteca America, not that I saw that one, either. I’m dropping his hypen; I wish boxers would pick one way to spell their names and just be done with it. The bigger question is, when is Karass going to step up? Fighting, say, a David Estrada like he did a couple fights back suggested an upward arc. I’m not saying he beats anybody major, but surely he could get a bigger-money bout against a top-10 welter if he wanted, right? Or does he make more money being a Mexican attraction fighting relatively soft opposition over and over again?
- On Shobox, lightweight (135 lbs.) prospect John Molina knocked out Joshua Allotey of Ghana (not to be confused with Joshua Clottey of Ghana) with a savage body shot in the 3rd round. Before he did that, Allotey faked that a body shot that felled him had been a low blow, and seemed like he wanted out. Molina obliged him in fashion. Much as with Guerrero, I liked the way the television-friendly way in which this kid fought. He’s a tall lightweight who hits hard and hangs out with the Goosens, so you might think “Diego Corrales,” but he doesn’t show that talent or skill level, and his defense doesn’t exist at all. I could see him being more like a John Duddy. But I want to see him again.
- Shobox headliner super middleweight (168 lbs.) Andre Ward easily and impressively coasted to a decision win over Henry Buchanan, which is not to say Ward was overly laid back about it. It’s just that whereas I thought Buchanan might give Ward some moments of trouble, Ward was worlds better. It’s not surprising that he didn’t knock him out, because Buchanan doesn’t get knocked out and while Ward has good power, he doesn’t have amazing power. I liked virtually everything about Ward’s performance — great assortment of shots, excellent movement to keep Buchanan from getting off, concentration for every second of every round and great comfort level — although I hate that he dangles the left hand like that and think he looks a tad uncomfortable when he switches to southpaw. Ward made Buchanan look tentative, but Buchanan also didn’t seem to bring it as much as he could have. Either way, Ward simply doesn’t need to fight anyone on Buchanan’s level anymore. If he smokes someone like Buchanan that easily, he’s wasting everyone’s time by fighting someone like that again. Step up, Andre. Against someone, anyone.
- On a pay-per-view I didn’t buy, top-10 junior welterweight (140 lbs.) Andreas Kotelnik got a tough decision win over fellow top-10er Marcos Maidana. By the news accounts I’ve read, it may have been the fight of the weekend, and the kind that enhances both men. It would be nice to get a look at either against another other top-10 opponents without having to pay for the privilege in America, yes?
- On the same pay-per-view, injury-prone heavyweight Ruslan Chagaev scored a technical decision win after the 6th round over his opponent, owing to an accidental head butt that bloodied Chagaev. Chagaev is probably now going to get a staph infection in the cut, leading to the amputation of the left side of his face, which will in turn keep Chagaev out of the ring for another year. If and when he recovers, his weird “champion in recess” designation means he’ll probably end up fighting Nicolai Valuev again someday, and if he pulls off a second win over the giant, it’d be hard to think of an opponent more worthy for one of the Klitschkos, assuming they both make it out of their next fights, too.
- I’ve only tracked down three rounds of Narvaez-Whitfield, since the Saturday bout wasn’t televised in the United States, with the other two here and here. But I was very, very impressed by what I saw. Having seen Whitfield before but not Narvaez, I just assumed he’d be the slicker boxer. Not so. Narvaez can box, and he can counter, and his defense was nawce, and evidently he can punch some, too. Not sure about the stoppage on foreign soil, but Whitfield was badly hurt and I can’t complain too much, because it didn’t look like he had a shot at winning. I think you have to take the 15 title defenses thing with a grain of salt, because if your best opposition up to that point — as some said Whitfield was for Narvaez — is a talented guy who nonetheless can’t crack the top 10 in the division according to Ring magazine, that’s grain-of-salt-worthy. At age 33, it’s long overdue for Narvaez to fight a bigger and better name, not that there are a ton of them at flyweight since Donaire is almost certain to move up. But I suppose a late start is better than not getting started at all. Just ask the recently retired Joe Calzaghe.
- I was also very impressed by lightweight Antonio DeMarco’s technical knockout of Almazbek “Kid Diamond” Raiymkulov Saturday on the Showtime undercard. Kid Diamond has been on a career downturn, but he did come in very focused, it seemed, and I even had him up after 9, when he called it quits. DeMarco was being cautious and trying to use his reach rather than relying on his brawling abilities in his first real step up, and while I understand the approach, it was making a lot of rounds too close. But when he did step on the gas pedal, it was extremely fearsome work. I’d put DeMarco in the “television-friendly prospect with talent who may or may not be going anywhere,” and after this win, I think he looks like he’s got enough talent to win an alphabet title of some kind at some point. I like his enthusiasm for the sport and it bodes well for his continued development. At just 23, there’s no need to rush him into said alphabet title bids, but I’m confident he can find the right balance of fighting smart and fighting hard. I can’t blame Kid Diamond for quitting too much; that 9th round assault was mean, man, and his nose may have been broken and I wasn’t even sure they could get his mouthpiece out because it looked like it was jammed into his gums and forcing a lot of blood into his mouth. But after this loss, he probably goes into the “opponent” category, alas. It’s sad because I kind of like Kid Diamond for reasons I can’t determine.
- Not a lot more to say on Darchinyan-Arce, but this win and Calzaghe’s retirement puts him in my top-10 pound-for-pound list, right at #10. He’s very vulnerable in this position, because the men right beneath him, weight-hopping Paul Williams, middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik and light heavyweight Chad Dawson will be in the position to move up after their very next wins. But for now, he’s there. Calzaghe’s departure also opens up a spot in the top 20, which I think has to be filled by Donaire. I’d had Donaire tied with lig
htweight Juan Diaz in an earlier version of the list, but the tiebreaker is that he beat Darchinyan, and Darchinyan keeps moving up; junior featherweight (126 lbs.) Celestino Caballero was also a candidate. So Donaire is at #20 for now, too, given that Diaz would definitely reemerge on the list big time if he beat my #2, Juan Manuel Marquez, in a couple weeks. We’ll do a fuller update of this list later — I’d also done a mini-update after the welterweight bout between Shane Mosley and Antonio Margarito, but Margarito’s hearing for allegedly loading his gloves is Tuesday, and if he did load them, it’ll be hard for me to keep him in the top 20, because there will just be too many questions about every win he’s ever notched.