Sergio Mora might be the only fighter I want banned more than Antonio Margarito. For all but a few rounds, he hardly did anything Saturday night; you might say he wasn’t a participant in his boxing match with Shane Mosley at all. Yet somehow he managed a draw in his junior middleweight bout with the future Hall of Famer, who didn’t look all that hot, but at least managed to do something, anything as Mora ran and held.
With the exception of a some of the late rounds, it was a bout that exceeded my expectations for how badly it would suck, and my expectations for its suckiness were high. And while the undercard at least had a few sensational knockouts, it wasn’t anything to celebrate. Somehow, 13,000 fans bought tickets (or were given them) for the show, and I was one of the suckers who was ambivalent about the HBO/Golden Boy pay-per-view card but still bought it at the last minute, hoping for the best or maybe just desperate for some boxing tonight. If you were wiser, I applaud you.
SHANE MOSLEY-SERGIO MORA
I scored the bout 10 rounds to two for Mosley, giving Mora the 10th and 11th, when he came alive and finally began really throwing punches at a tiring Mosley, who was taking very deep breaths in the 9th. I wrote down the 4th and 7th as close. I have a hard time imagining how anyone could score it for Mora, as one judge did, let alone a draw, as another judge did. The other had it a more reasonable 116-112 for Mosley.
From what I’ve heard about press row scoring and from the way people were talking on Twitter, some did see this as a legitimately close bout. I’ll answer them. I’m not the kind of person who believes in scoring activity or aggression if it’s not effective. Mosley was active, and aggressive, but rarely effective. But what did Mora do that was effective at all for most of the fight? There were rounds where he’d land one right hand that was eye-catching, and then do nothing else but circle and hug. With Mosley fighting even a little — and, yes, landing occasionally, as the bigger punch connect numbers would suggest — I can’t see why anyone would give rounds to the ineffective, not-fighting guy over the ineffective, fighting guy.
Since the fight sucked so bad, let’s talk about what it means for both men.
Mora must never fight again on a grand stage. I’ve seen a lot of stink-out performances in my day, but this ranks highly amongst them. And the sad part is that, once he threw some punches, he did all right. So he gets double demerits for showing he had a little talent, which means he sucked when he didn’t have to, which would be tragic if his performance was capable of inspiring anything more than boredom seasoned with a dash of contempt. (Actual post-fight quote: “They were telling me it was a close fight, but I thought I was winning the fight and so because I have so much respect for Shane, I loosened up and didn’t want to hurt him.” How many things are wrong with that sentence? 1. You weren’t winning, or at least, to most of us you weren’t. 2. You actually got more aggressive as the fight went on, not less. 3. What boxer doesn’t want to hurt his opponent? Not permanently, of course, but at all? 4. If Mora thought he even COULD hurt Mosley, well, Mora hasn’t been paying attention to his career-long power deficit.)
Mosley started strongly, I thought. His reflexes looked pretty good against a longer, fast, awkward opponent. But as the fight wore on, he began to look worse for wear. His team surely will say Mora was using his extra weight and size to tire Mosley in clinches, and that he was tired from all the chasing he had to do. But it’s harder to explain that for two fights in a row, including the Floyd Mayweather bout, Mosley had trouble getting his punches off a bit. I guess you could say he fought two defensive fighters, but in both occasions it appeared to me he had openings he didn’t take, as trainer Naazim Richardson has said during or after both bouts. And another thing I’ve seen now is two fights in a row is Mosley’s stamina fading late. You can blame that condition in the Mayweather fight on ring rust, and in the Mora running and clinching, but it’s still not a good trend. At 39, Mosley might still be a good fighter, but he no longer is a great one as far as I can tell.
He’ll want Manny Pacquiao, and maybe the day will come where he’s still a better opponent for Pacquiao than most anybody else, but Mosley would be better off staying at 147 and fighting the second-tier likes of Andre Berto, if he fights anymore at all. I don’t think he needs to retire quite yet, but I bet his career ends long after everyone thinks he should end it. He’s too much of a fighter at heart, as his occasional slurring proves, to hang them up before it’s too late.
SAUL ALVAREZ-CARLOS BALDOMIR
Alvarez gets deserved kudos for his strong finish, with him knocking Baldomir out flat on his face in the 6th of their junior middleweight fight. Baldomir, age 39, hadn’t been knocked out since 1994. And Alvarez is a solid technician with good power, so he’s got that going for him. When he turned it on finally — he could hit Baldomir at will, but was cautious early — he finished with aplomb.
But Alvarez is so, so slow. Only a 142-year old Argentinian who was slow even when he was 25 could make him look fast. Because of that, I would pick everyone in the top 10 of his division to slaughter him. I’m not sure he’s faster even than Alfredo Angulo, who hits far harder and more frequently. Let’s not forget: The worrisome aspect of Alvarez getting decked in May by Jose Cotto is not that he got decked — it happens to prospects — but that he got decked by a natural lightweight who wasn’t much of a puncher in that division.
I think the 20-year-old Alvarez needs to be looked at not as much of a prospect, but as an attraction. With his crowd-pleasing style, unique red hair for a Mexican and generous personality, and with women apparently digging him, he can sell move some tickets. He’s a big deal with Mexican fans. Lately, I’ve been questioning the taste of many Mexican fans — Did you hear how many people turned out for shot Erik Morales’ last fight? Who wants to see a shot former great struggle with people he once would have knocked out in the 1st round? — but they like what they like, I guess. And it’s a good thing when a boxer draws fans to the sport.
VICTOR ORTIZ-VIVIAN HARRIS
This fight confirmed two things for me I already knew: Ortiz, with his improving skills and natural speed and power, can still be a player; and Harris is totally shot. Harris only threw 11 punches in the 1st round, and only connected on one of them. When Ortiz opened up in the next round, he dropped Harris three times, some on less-than-flush punches. When he dropped him again in the 3rd, this time on a flush, compact right hook, the referee appropriately called a halt to the bout.
The key here was to see how Ortiz fared against someone with punching power, something he hasn’t faced since the Marcos Maidana debacle. Harris did land a couple good blows in the 2nd as Ortiz rushed to close the show, but Ortiz wasn’t phased. His other two post-Maidana tests were a confidence-builder against journeyman Hector Alatorre and a heart-tester against the gritty but faded Nate Campbell.
Those are the three tests Ortiz needed to pass to get back in the game against a live body. Now let’s see him do it. Anyone in the division’s top 10 will suffice, although his team has talked about Timothy Bradley or a rematch with Maidana, both bouts I’d be interested in watching.
DANIEL PONCE DE LEON-ANTONIO ESCALANTE
The fight many thought would be the fight of the night turned out to be a one-sided slaughter more akin to the other two undercard bouts, with De Leon beating up then stopping Escalante on a huge right hook in the 3rd that forced the ref to call a halt to it the second Escalante hit the ground.
I’d said beforehand that De Leon was probably the better technician, which friend of the site Irvin Ryan answered might be a trigger for the apocalypse. But there was no “probably” to it. De Leon was loads better, both on offense and defense. Escalante was tough and determined, but nothing else. He had trouble even connecting on De Leon, who countered him when he tried then hammered him with both hands to the head and body no matter how much Escalante ducked or moved.
De Leon’s power, in absence for most of his featherweight run, reemerged. It could come in handy, as could his improved technique, should he get a fight with another big name at 126. He’s supposedly the mandatory challenger now for Juan Manuel Lopez, who flattened him in one round the first time they met, but I wouldn’t expect it to happen soon if ever. And despite the improvement, I see Lopez making easy work of De Leon again if it does.
Some of the week’s other results:
- Featherweight Jhonny Gonzalez got his best win in perhaps six years on Wednesday on an Integrated Sports pay-per-view when he knocked out Jackson Asiku in the 6th round after decking him many times. Look at his record — it’s at least debatable. In that same timespan, he’s had three heartbreaking losses, all by knockout, to Israel Vazquez, Gerry Penalosa and Toshiaki Nishioka. Gonzalez really is one of the underrated action fighters of our time, and his bout with Asiku featured trading early before Gonzalez turned on the power, but his chin has sometimes betrayed him. No matter. I’m a fan. I wouldn’t pick him to beat many of the current crop of deep 126-pounders, but I’d sure enjoy watching him try. On the undercard, brawler Miguel Roman stopped Tyrone Harris in the 5th round, who apparently has a fetish for getting stopped in the 5th round.
- There were some good moments on the big “Magnificent Seven” card in England Saturday. The highlight of them was a pretty cracking bout won by light heavyweight Nathan Cleverly, who stopped Karo Murat in the 10th. Cleverly didn’t have to go on the inside or trade with Murat, but he did, and in showing more guts (stupidity?) and stamina than he needed to, he made a better fight than he should have. Murat was brave, too, but not as busy, and the stoppage probably wasn’t necessary, but academic, as he was losing by a wide margin. Now Cleverly is lined up as the mandatory challenger to Juergen Brahmer, on the weaker side of 175-pound titlists (in fact, Cleverly was ranked ahead of him by Ring magazine, as was Murat). I liked what I saw of Cleverly. I’m always skeptical of younger British fighters until they prove themselves against top opposition from out of the U.K., and Cleverly did that well Saturday.
- In the main event of the Magnificent Seven, cruiserweight Enzo Maccarinelli did his “knock out or get knocked out” routine, this time getting knocked out by Alexander Frenkel. He should consider calling it a day, after getting his career back together a bit — he gets KO’d far too often, and far too savagely. Physically talented Kell Brook didn’t impress that much in a welterweight eliminator against Michael Jennings, but scored a stoppage via a cut in the 5th. Heavyweight Derek Chisora looked pretty good stopping Sam Sexton in the 9th, showing some power and endurance after a middle-rounds fade, so he joins the class of heavyweights good enough to be considered a contender in any division other than one where the Klitschkos exist. Middleweight Matthew Macklin got some static from Shalva Jomardashvili, but eventually wore him down even while moving backward to get a 6th round stoppage. Junior middleweight Lukas Konecny stopped Matthew Hall in the 6th round of quite a brawl, prompting Hall to announce his retirement after. And in the last of the seven, super middleweight James DeGale got a 1st round knockout over Carl Dilks.
- On ShoBox Friday, welterweight Freddy Hernandez continued to win me over little by little, stopping Mike Anchondo in the 3rd round. Hernandez, mystifyingly, seems to be growing faster and more powerful at age 31. Against smaller fighters in his last two bout — Anchondo is a former lightweight, and DeMarcus Corley was a junior welterweight — it makes sense that he’d look more powerful, but not faster. Increasingly, I like his chances against some people at the bottom of the division’s top 10. On the undercard on Showtime, junior lightweight prospect Luis Franco showed he needs a good deal of development from his amateur days, mostly in delivering his punches without slapping, before he can become one of the top-tier recent Cuban exports. His opponent, Wilton Hilario, managed to both impress me with his grit and turn me off with his endless fouling, but he gave Franco a good tough fight, something that will be good for him later.
- Jorge Arce fought to a draw with Lorenzo Parra on Fox Sports en Espanol, or so it seemed — the result was changed to a win for Arce, one of several after-the-fact scoring changes in Mexico lately, in a fishy trend. That would seem to make Arce the mandatory challenger to Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr.’s junior featherweight bout, but as I didn’t see Arce-Parra, I’m not going to say I think it would be uncompetitive; I can only assume it would be. Lightweight Humberto Soto struggled, apparently, to beat Fidel Monterrosa, because Soto kind of blows (I can only assume that’s the reason).
- On Telefutura Friday, Nestor Rocha survived the “loser leaves town” bout with Jose Navarro with a decision win. On ESPN3 Friday, flyweight Wilbert Uicab beat Edrin Dapudong by decision, in a fight where I just can’t pretend to understand the meaning of. And that’s all the updating I’m doing. There were some other bouts out there, but watch Dan Rafael’s scorecard on Monday if you want more details on those piddly things, or go check out BoxingScene or Fightnews.