Look, the choice for Saturday evening was watch a couple mismatches on Showtime, or buy one of a couple pay-per-views that probably wouldn’t have been worth the money. I chose the Showtime mismatches. Super middleweights Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward, set to meet in November in the exciting 168-pound Super Six tournament, both scored early, basically easy knockouts, and didn’t get hurt or cut in such a way that their fight against each other — the best of the first-round match-ups — won’t be delayed or postponed. In so doing, each showcased the skills they have that will trouble the other when that fight happens, but I can’t say it helped build up any excitement for that fight, as their separate fights were meaningless as all get-out.
(I’ll post results for the other major fights of the weekend as they come in, and anyone who saw those fights can fill in the rest of the gang. Watch the end of the article for updates.)
MIKKEL KESSLER – GUSMYL PERDOMO
That went about like I expected. I was a huge Kessler fan before he got goofy, turning down fights with Edison Miranda after agreeing to them and whatnot. Some of it wasn’t his fault; his Danish promoter had his career in shackles. Despite lawsuits by aforementioned promoter, that Kessler was fighting on Showtime at all is a good thing. It would suggest there won’t be any impediments to him fighting on further into the tournament as scheduled.
Gusmyl Perdomo was better than I expected. He was a mandatory title challenger to Kessler, not that he deserved a shot at all. If you went just by his record — lost to Dimitri Sartison, whom Kessler knocked out — then I would have guessed he might not have presented much of an obstacle. Ultimately he didn’t, but it was because Kessler is so, so good, not because Perdomo sucked. I really like Kessler. I know the knock on him is that he’s robotic, and that’s legit. But he’s more versatile than just a 1-2 artist despite how much he fires that jab-right hand, and when that 1-2 lands, it is devastating.
Perdomo hung with Kessler in the first two rounds, using his superior speed, upper body movement and an aggressive, daring work rate to make it close. He may have won the 2nd round, but Kessler was the one landing the much, much harder blows. Then Kessler turned up the heat. In the 3rd, Kessler connected on Perdomo’s shoulder, and, off-balance, went down. In the 4th, he connected to the head with a jarring 1-2 that wobbled Perdomo and threw a couple more power shots with Perdomo against the ropes, and the ref stopped the fight. It was a tad quick, the stoppage, but Perdomo had no chance. You can argue that he “came to win” and engaging was the right idea, as Showtime’s broadcast team did, or you can argue he would have lasted longer and maybe been able to box his way to a decision, it’s just that none of it would have worked. Kessler was a class above.
You know how Joe Calzaghe gave Kessler problems, right? Speed, angles, work rate. A more talented fighter than Perdomo, a more skillful one, might have a better shot at replicating that. Which brings us to the next dude.
ANDRE WARD – SHELBY PUDWILL
This was a far worse mismatch than Kessler-Perdomo. Shelby Pudwill had been knocked out in one round one division south by John Duddy, a fighter with some power but nowhere near the Olympic pedigree of Ward. I guess if the idea was for Ward to get some rounds, he got three of them. Yaaaaaaaay.
Pudwill didn’t punch much, but he did connect on one good right hand that, were it Kessler’s, would have done some damage. Ward showed he had a good chin in his last fight against slugger Edison Miranda, so how much damage is the question. And really, it might not have landed had Ward not so clearly been going for the knockout. After basically unloading his entire sparkly arsenal on Pudwill for three rounds without much in return, Ward in the 3rd delivered a left hook/uppercut that put Pudwill down and opened a big gash on his cheek. The ref had the doctor check out the cut, and Pudwill indicated he wanted to continue, but as game as it was, it just prolonged the beating until Ward waved the ref in to stop it, and the ref did his bidding.
Ward does have speed, Ward does work angles beautifully, and Ward is aggressive with his work rate, the same way Calzaghe was against Kessler. It does set up as a really nice fight. I’m just not sure I needed a pair of mismatches to set it up for me.
(All of the below results are dependent on the reporting of others — Fightnews.com, BBC, plus the Boxing Bulletin and other Twitter friends — so if I described something incorrectly, blame someone else.)
- In the most meaningful fight of the weekend, YET ANOTHER Ivan Calderon fight was stopped because of a cut, and as before, Calderon came out of it with his “0” intact. The pound-for-pound top-10 junior flyweight won by split decision after the 7th against Rodel Mayol in a rematch of their draw. This is the third fight in recent years a Calderon fight has ended thusly. Forget whether the 34-year-old is slowing down. His skin is getting more vulnerable to bleeding for any old reason, like the kid who’s featured in the forthcoming National Geographic show. Junior lightweight Roman Martinez dominated and stopped — in the 9th round — a late replacement opponent of his expected overmatched opponent. Robert Guerrero next, hopefully?
- Well, we got a surprise in the other pay-per-view of the evening. Bantamweight Fernando Montiel suffered a 3rd round TKO loss in a fight that looked like a mismatch. Alex Valdez gets the upset win, after it was originally ruled a technical draw as the result of a Montiel cut. Confusing. Junior middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. got a dominant knockout win over Jason LeHoullier, and the talk now is of him fighting John Duddy in April. We’ll see if it actually happens — this isn’t the first time such talk arose. Also winning: ranked strawweight Donnie Nietes, controversially (scores: 116-112 for his opponent Manuel Vargas, 118-110 and 116-110 for Nietes), and junior bantamweight Z Gorres.
- Friday, U.K. heavyweight prospect Tyson Fury won a controversial decision. The ref who swung the bout to Fury is the same guy who stopped that Calzaghe-Peter Manfredo fight very early. (Just to be clear — I still like early stoppages over late stoppages, if there’s an error to be made.)
- On the Ward undercard, a 217-pound (!) James Toney scored a knockout of Matthew Greer, an opponent against whom Toney could establish nothing of note; he was 12-5 and had lost to Kevin Johnson and Brian Minto. At cruiserweight, Matt Godfrey nearly got upset but pulled out a split decision win — lots of disputed scorecards this weekend, huh?
- Bantamweight Cristian Mijares lost again — the third straight overall and second straight to unheralded Nehomar Cermeno, a shocking fall from grace.