Most of this year’s Fight of the Year candidates have been thus because somebody had to do it. It’s like, in a lineup of Frankenstein, Quasimodo and the Phantom of the Opera, somebody is the “most handsome,” by default. But now we have two weekends in a row of them. It’s not enough on my end to forget some of the ugliness of the last couple weeks, but it does offer a glimmer of why we bother, as The Boxing Tribune’s Paul Magno put it so well.
- Ricky Burns-Roman Martinez. While I thought Burns would be moderately competitive against one of the top men in the lives-up-to-its-name junior lightweight division, Rocky Martinez, I didn’t genuinely think he would overcome his underdog status, and I most certainly didn’t think he would slug it out so ferociously given his knockout percentage relative to Martinez’. Down in the 1st round, Burns took a great many of the remaining 11 rounds to notch a big upset and combine with Martinez for another Fight of the Year candidate in the wake of the previous week’s Ivan Calderon-Giovanni Segura junior flyweight slugfest. Both men were hurt badly at various points in the fight, so for all of Burns’ deservedly celebrated heroism in Scotland, it’s worth mentioning Martinez had a dose of the stuff himself. I had it a touch closer than the judges, but Burns was the clear winner, not merely the guy with the hometown advantage. Martinez has since claimed he had trouble making weight, and Burns might fight Alex Arthur next to avenge one of his losses, although Burns-Martinez II would be preferable. I hate to say anything negative about these men in light of such an exceptional effort, but both are flawed fighters who in any other division probably wouldn’t be ranked very highly, and as brave as he was, Burns someday might get knocked out if he keeps holding his chin so high in the air. It’s why I probably give the Fight of the Year edge to Calderon-Segura, but if you haven’t seen it yet and can track down Burns-Martinez — promoter Frank Warren is a master of keeping fights off YouTube — you must.
- Felix Sturm-Giovanni Lorenzo. Days after criticizing judges for their inability to correctly fill out scorecards, I declared this middleweight bout a draw only to later realize I gave it to Sturm by one round. Stupid me. Hey, I never said I was the master of math. I don’t get paid for adding up scorecards, either, like them judges. Anyway, I did think this one was closer than the judges did, too, and had it about like the man calling it on ESPN3.com. Sturm fights are a massive pain in the ass to score. He’ll land a few of those really head-snapping jabs and little else, while in the meantime his opponent will hammer away at him, with some stuff getting through but much of it being partially blocked. Lorenzo fought with the proper aggressiveness in the opening rounds and in the final one, but he gave away far too many of the middle rounds for his own good with a slower work rate. It could be he felt some of those stinging shots from Sturm and reconsidered opening up. Lorenzo said he got robbed, but he wouldn’t be the first to think that after fighting Sturm, and Sturm himself has been on the bad end of one result most thought he should have been on the good end of, against Oscar De La Hoya. Sturm’s a sharp fighter but he’s always going to be in closer fights than he should because he’s so cautious even when he’s coming forward. He said he wants to lure Kelly Pavlik over to Germany, where more than 5 million people tuned in to this fight on television, but I severely doubt that will happen. He also said he’s willing to go to the United States again, although I’m not sure what his options are here. I suspect he’ll keep fighting as many top-10 and fringe top-10 guys as he can in Germany until he retires.
- The Rest. There were a ton of other bouts involving top-10 boxers over the past week, but I didn’t see them myself, so you can read about them here. I wish I could comment on all the neato future bouts they set up, but most of them were of the keep-busy variety.