The morning after this weekend’s bouts, I said, “I gots me one of those happy boxing afterglows. Just thinking about last night gives me butterflies in the ol’ gut.” The butterflies remain, in part because I’ve watched some of the fights again.
The above clip is of one of the low lights of the weekend, or, at least, one of the wtf lights. My eyes say that welterweight Randall Bailey picked up Said Ouali and dropped him over the ropes. My brain says there’s no good reason for him to do that. Fighting nearer to Ouali’s turf, I suppose Bailey is lucky he didn’t get disqualified, although he’s unlucky about a slow count his team complained about in the 1st round (as slow counts go, it’s slow, but I’ve seen slower).
So let’s talk about last weekend, and next.
- Referees. The referees in the Amir Khan-Marcos Maidana fight and the Abner Mares-Vic Darchinyan fight, Joe Cortez and Robert Howard, came in for some severe criticism this weekend. Cortez was said to be teaming up on Maidana and he and Howard have been accused of unfairly deducting points. Neither performance was ideal, but neither offended me too terribly. Cortez’ point deduction was fair — Maidana literally elbowed Cortez in the chest, pretty obviously, and pretty intentionally, whether it was meant for Cortez or Khan. Howard’s decision was less clear — he had been warning Mares about low blows before deducting him, and Darchinyan had indeed been pushing Mares’ head down to create some of the low blows, but at the moment Howard deducted a point from Mares, Mares had landed three or four of them and I don’t think Darchinyan pushing his head down entitles Mares to THAT. All four fighters got away with some nasty business, despite referees that faced criticism for being overly hands-on, such as Khan pushing down Maidana’s head, Maidana landing rabbit punches, Mares going low and Darchinyan measuring with his jab and using forearms. The most valid criticism, I think, is of Cortez breaking Khan and Maidana excessively, as counted here by Thomas Hauser. The thing is, almost every ref breaks fighters excessively — that is, if one fighter holds another, regardless of whether a hand is free, most refs go ahead and break the fighters apart. If anything, it’s good that Cortez came in for some criticism here because maybe it’ll help call attention to what is an overall common occurrence among refs. And ultimately, I don’t think either ref’s performance had too much of an impact on the outcome of either fight. In the dramatic 10th round of Khan-Maidana, Maidana got plenty of work done without being impeded by Cortez.
- Appeal. That old useless trick is back: Promoter Gary Shaw plans to appeal Darchinyan’s loss in his bantamweight fight against Mares. These never work yet fight outcomes are constantly being appealed. Always. Every week, it seems. 99.99999999 percent of them fail. There has to be some other reason for this other than hoping the appeal works out. Maybe I’ll report on this freelance somewhere — why DO these appeals happen all the time, when they fail so often? Is it about boosting a fighter’s rep following a loss, as in, “Hey, he may have lost, but it was a disputed loss, and we’re going to make a big deal out of it to show how disputed it was so that you don’t ever forget that he didn’t REALLY lose (even though that’s what the judges and people we appealed to said)”?
- Next for Khan. Khan has a variety of options coming off his win over Maidana on HBO, per various articles at BoxingScene. He wants Floyd Mayweather, but I doubt Mayweather fights again until fall if at all. He could do a rematch with Briedis Prescott in England, which would be a nice interim bout while he waits for Mayweather or the winner of one or both fights between Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander. That works best for me, because I want a true junior welterweight champion and the Khan vs. the winner of Bradley-Alexander should do the trick. An in-between approach — less money than for fighting Mayweather, more of a challenge than Prescott — would be to take on Zab Judah. If only because I’d prefer we be rid of Judah, taht option also works for me just fine. (What’s next for Mares, Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko and Yonnhy Perez is already predetermined, since they’re part of the Showtime tournament, in case you were wondering why I won’t revisit that.)
- Victor Ortiz-Lamont Peterson revisited. Between my not-attacking-Cortez-very-much and now what I’m about to say next, sometimes I feel like I’m just going against what most folk are saying, but I’m aware enough of this phenomenon that every time I think it I put it under a microscope and hold it up to serious scrutiny to see if I’m just being contrary for no good reason. But upon re-watching Ortiz-Peterson, I don’t think it was as bad a performance for Ortiz as it’s been made out. It certainly was flawed in that when he was aggressive, he performed better, and sometimes he wasn’t as aggressive as he could have been. But that’s easier said than done. Peterson fought a really nice defensive fight. Ortiz would launch combos and Peterson would avoid every single punch. When he got close, Peterson was better on the inside; when Ortiz fought at distance, Peterson would use his length to superior advantage. There were two things Ortiz could have done better to change all this, but it’s not something he could have done within the fight — it’s something he’ll have to correct now. One, he only ever pawed with his jab. Two, he needs to learn a better inside game. It was the kind of fight that suggested Ortiz is not “back,” and in many ways, the flaws he showed suggested he still never has gotten “there.” But I don’t think he’s hopeless based on this performance, a difficult outing against a good fighter who fought in a style bound to make most anyone look bad. I wouldn’t throw him back in there with Maidana yet, let’s just say that.
- Death in Vegas. Steve Kim has a nice piece here about how Vegas is doing as a fight scene, and the answer is, of course, not good. What’s best about the piece is that it gets into why Vegas continues to be a fight scene. It continues a trend of writers actually interviewing the people on the other side of their sometimes-zealous broadsides (namely, the great villains HBO, Golden Boy, Al Haymon and all the other bugaboos) and wouldn’t you know it, the answers of Golden Boy boss Richard Schaefer are enlightening. Are there still problems with what he’s saying? Absolutely. Like: Maybe all those other locations wouldn’t be booked if you’d planned out your year so that all of your fights didn’t happen in a short two-month time frame. But maybe we — boxing fans, boxing writers, boxing everyone — would all realize that the things we cast in black in white are rarely if ever so, if there was more reporting like this. And maybe we could write better prescriptions about how to heal the sport if we had full information about why people with influence do the things we do — you have to have the diagnosis before you can find the cure.
- David Haye’s cowboy hat. You could see it in the background of the entire HBO broadcast as the British heavyweight sat in the audience. It’s not a good look for him. See, I critique boys’ appearance, too!
- Cristian Mijares and Joan Guzman. Over the weekend, Mijares moved back down to junior bantam and beat Juan Alberto Rojas on Fox Deportes. Maybe that’s his best weight, huh? Also, Guzman once again failed to make weight. Now that middleweight Anthony Mundine has been knocked out, I’m not sure there are any fighters higher on my list of people I want to be knocked out and broomed out of the boxing scene than Guzman. For other results, Dan Rafael has you covered.
- Don King. The promoter got caught with some ammunition in his bag upon returning from his wife’s funeral over the weekend. He said today it was inadvertent. My first reaction was that there was something a touch worrisome about this — what was he going to do with that ammunition? I hope his explanation is correct. And I am belated in offering my condolences to King for the loss of his wife.
We’ll have a full preview of Jean Pascal-Bernard Hopkins no later than Thursday. Until then, here’s the rest of the week/weekend bouts of note:
- Odlanier Solis-Ray Austin/Tavoris Cloud-Fulgencio Zuniga, Friday, Miami. This is about the most decent card of 2010 not to get any television coverage whatsoever. I did say “decent.” Solis and Austin are squaring off for a golden ticket to fight heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko. Solis should pull this out but Austin is by far the best opponent he’s ever faced. Cloud is a top-notch light heavyweight who’s staying busy, and good for him — he’s too often had long stretches of inactivity. Zuniga is the perfect stay-busy opponent: not too hard, not too soft. Also on the card: middleweight Ricardo Mayorga in a return to boxing after a short-lived mixed martial arts quest.
- Marco Huck-Denis Lebedev, Saturday, Berlin Germany. This battle of Ring magazine-rated top-5 cruiserweights stacks up as a real slugfest. If you are looking for one last Fight of the Year candidate in a stretch of boxing in recent months with plenty of them, here you are. Also on the card: Yoan Pablo Hernandez and Ali Ismailov in a cruiserweight eliminator, and heavyweight Alexander Povetkin staying busy as part of the Teddy Atlas plan. I highly recommend finding a stream of this one.
- Erik Morales-Francisco Lorenzo, Saturday, ESPN Deportes, Tijuana Mexico. This was originally to be a junior welterweight bout between the still-popular/faded Morales against his most capable comeback opponent to date, Jorge Barrios. It also could have been a very nice scrap. But then the #1 reason fights are called off — one fighter can’t get into the country for whatever reason — reared its ugly head. Barrios has some legal troubles and a judge won’t let him depart from his native Argentina. Why wasn’t this all worked out far, far, far in advance? Because boxing is retarded. The insertion of Lorenzo is a decent sub, but the fight becomes a ton less interesting for Barrios’ departure, as Barrios is an exciting brawler who’s tested some top-notch guys. Had Morales beaten Barrios and looked good doing it, I might actually have been mildly interested in Morales-Juan Manuel Marquez, but now Morales if fighting a guy most famous for faking his way to a disqualification win against Humberto Soto.
- The Rest. Thursday, Dmitriy Salita begins his comeback bid against Mike Anchondo, in a welterweight bout, while middleweight Gennady Golovkin fights Nilson Tapia for some version of some belt… On Friday, TeleFutura’s Solo Boxeo broadcasts fights featuring featherweight prospects Ronny Rios, Christopher Martin and Gary Russell Jr… Saturday, Fox Deportes airs the latest weight class jump for popular Mexican brawler Jorge Arce, who moves up to junior featherweight… On the Pascal-Hopkins undercard, middleweight Daniel Jacobs and welterweight Paulie Malignaggi try to get back on track.