NEW YORK CITY — Some logistical snafus have made it so I couldn’t watch every undercard bout in full, but I’ve got things sorted out and I’m ringside for the televised portion of the card. Until then, here are some observations on the undercard, plus a note on last night, in chronological order.
The Boxing Writers Association of America awards dinner was interminable, but a good time. I met some good people, like minor TQBR favorite David Estrada, who said he was looking for a welterweight fight with the likes of Saul Alvarez, and hung out with some cool people, like the BoxingScene crew and The Ring crew and a fellow named Mike from West Virginia, who happened to be a reader. Manny Pacquiao, of course, was the star of the night, picking up Fighter of the Year and Fighter of the Decade awards. Here’s exactly what kind of star Pacquiao is: When he gets up to urinate, he causes a stir — people were lined up outside the restroom waiting for him to come out. He delivered a surprisingly good speech. I say “surprisingly” because English isn’t his first language, and the speech was well-written, plus he memorized the thing. Afterward, I hit the legendary Jimmy’s Corner, a haven for boxing people, and then went to Providence for a Top Rank party, where I hung out with the reliably good company of Mady, Lee, Carlos and Jason. Two women tried to alcohol-poison me by goading me to chug everything in sight, but I don’t hold it against them because we had fun.
To the undercard: I caught the tail end of Christian Martinez-Jonathan Cuba at middleweight, and I guess I caught the highlight: After getting dropped in the 4th round, a very wobbly Cuba turned to face the crowd and make a motion like he was jerking off. It’s not the usual thing people do when they’re bleeding and wobbly, but I guess strange things go through people’s heads when they’re half-unconscious. To be honest, it looked like the fight should have ended when Cuba got dropped, because he was in bad shape, but referee Sparkle Lee kinda mangled the bout in several different ways — first she didn’t know that the previous round had ended when it had. Cuba had just been dropped in that round, too, right near the bell, and the ref let the fight continue after the bell, then stepped in for some reason, then changed her mind again, then changed it back. Second, as I mentioned, the fight should have been stopped well before it was in the 4th. Anyway, Cuba got stopped in the same round where he was pantomiming masturbation. That will be his boxing legacy.
I missed a good deal of Abner Cotto’s fight against Edgar Portillo, but I didn’t see anything in the lightweight cousin of Miguel that led me to believe he had the family talent. He won a unanimous decision but Portillo gave him a hard time, as the judges collectively had Portillo winning three different rounds out of six.
I also missed a good deal of featherweight prospect Jorge Diaz’ fight with Jae Sung Lee, but it was quite a dustup, as you might expect from Diaz, if you’ve seen him in action before. Sparkle Lee kind of had a bad night, actually, because Lee took an unnecessarily prolonged pounding in the 6th, and she should have stopped it before she did. Diaz proved once more that he’s can’t-miss as far as slugfests.
In a welterweight fight of little significance — I don’t think either of these guys were prospects — Terry Baterbaugh decisioned Tommy Rainone. Baterbaugh wore trunks that resembled a kilt, FYI.
Puerto Rican lightweight prospect Juan Gonzalez was impressive in a fight where he went the distance for the first time, although his defense could use some work. He’s giant — 5’11” — but he clearly likes to brawl. His opponent, Juan Lucio, was somehow able to survive despite getting wobbled several times and despite not being able to tie up. During this fight, I hung out with TQBR contributor Scott Kraus, whom I met for the first time, and he’s as cool a guy in the real world as he is in the virtual one.
It might have been the least artful of the undercard fights, and it was as competitive as it looked on the scorecards, but junior middleweight Pawel Wolak’s decision win over James Moore was pretty packed with leather-swapping, which is about what was expected of it. Wolak was busier, and that was the difference, but Moore would land crisper punches at stretches. That Wolak is a determined chap, and his pressure had Moore pretty tired early, so for Moore to be competitive late said something about his determination, too.
All of the undercard fights were excellent. None of the prospects were in particularly weak, and all the fights produced action. More like this, please, Top Rank.