Twice in the last two weeks, I haven’t managed to get a Weekend Afterthoughts column in place early in the week, so once again I’ll combine it with the usual weekend schedule rundown, but I’ll do better next week, promise. Unless I just scrap the whole dang format. I’m feeling a touch stale with some of the running features. This is some wanky beginning to the blog entry, huh? Screw you, “blog” means “web log” and I had to talk about my “feelings.”
First things first: In the video above, check out light heavyweight Karoly Balzsay’s sweet KO, which, while pretty good, wasn’t the sweetest knockout of the weekend. That honor belonged to middleweight Dmitry Pirog, of course. I’ve attached a video of that one below, although I can’t say I’d expect it to stay up very long, given that it was on HBO pay-per-view. The other thing you can do with the video above, maybe, is check out the highlights of the super middleweight clash between Dimitri Sartison and Khoren Gevor, a nice, solid scrap that started slowly but heated up uncharacteristically upon both fighters realizing they could hurt the other. Universum’s YouTube site has the full fight, too.
- Overall HBO/Golden Boy pay-per-view. For reasons that I really can’t fathom, there’s a small backlash in some quarters against the card on Saturday — that some of us were deluded into thinking it was a stacked card when it wasn’t. Honestly, I want to understand. Someone help me. Do it by showing me a card in the last several years that had four fights as meaningful as that one. If you can, I’ll surely realize that I was merely enchanted by the evil mages at HBO and Golden Boy into seeing something that wasn’t there. It’s a simple request. Show me the error of my ways.
- Next for Juan Manuel Marquez. Now that the lineal lightweight champion has gotten back into the win column with a resounding defeat of Juan Diaz, he’s become the most popular pick for a fight with Manny Pacquiao. Marquez looked really good to most everybody, myself included, and he had two close fights with the pound-for-pound king. Unsurprisingly, Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum doesn’t think Marquez deserves it, and basically put up a series of hoops Marquez would have to jump through to get to Pacquiao. Never mind that Pacquiao would make a ton more money fighting Marquez than Antonio Margarito, his November opponent, and that his trainer says Pacquiao could get down to 140 with a bit of effort. That leaves Michael Katsidis, a mandatory challenger for a Marquez alphabet belt, and Amir Khan, a 140-pound titlist. The good news is that those are both excellent fights.
- Next for Pirog. If Marquez revived himself with his win, the newly-minted star of the weekend was Pirog, the hard-hitting, gritty, quirky-styled Russian. There was some semi-justifiable outrage about Pirog not getting interviewed by HBO even though Daniel Jacobs did, and it looked very much like HBO was nurturing its crush on Al Haymon, the Jacobs adviser who’s very close with the network. (Jacobs probably shouldn’t have leaned so heavily on the old “dead grandmother” excuse in that interview, by the way, but let’s not forget that he’s a 23-year-old kid who suddenly found himself in a stressful position. You don’t have to search your memory banks too hard to find occasions where another otherwise-poised youngster said peculiar things during a post-fight interview.) Pirog, for his part, blames himself for leaving for the locker room right away. It’s probably somewhere in the middle — if it had been a priority for HBO to interview Pirog, maybe Pirog doesn’t leave, but Pirog made their job harder by doing what he did. Now, though, there have reportedly been contacts between Pirog’s team and that of Kelly Pavlik and Sergio Martinez. Pretty interesting that the guy became so much in demand; I figured people would run away from an awkward boxer with a nice punch. By the way, I’d described what Pirog did as a “stutter step” prior to KO’ing Jacobs, but to be more specific, note that he switched from orthodox to southpaw to orthodox again before landing the big right.
- Joel Casamayor in the Hall of Fame? ESPN’s Dan Rafael makes the case. I don’t see it. His best win is over Diego Corrales, who might not make it to the Hall of Fame himself, and he lost any number of his biggest fights. Some of his other biggest wins came against fighters who weren’t anywhere near as good yet as they’d become later, like Nate Campbell or Michael Katsidis. I give Casamayor credit for taking those fights, winning some and coming close to winning others, and he has had an excellent career. But I don’t see a Hall of Fame resume. It’s not an absurd case to put him there, it just doesn’t meet my standard.
- Other results. Heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell, junior bantamweight Juan Alberto Rosas and bantamweight Jorge Arce were some of the other weekend winners that we haven’t really discussed. For more on all that, go here. Absent from the list is middleweight Sebastian Zbik, who got a disputed win, but from my viewing of matters it was a close fight.
- Francisco Sierra-Donovan George revisited. I’d promised I’d look at the clip of this super middleweight bout again to see if I’d been erroneous in my original assessment. Watching it a million times, I keep seeing both the jab and right landing after the bell rings, and noticing that Sierra pauses as if aware of the impending bell. It remains hard for me to tell if he starts the combo before the bell rings, but I must correct myself on my stated differential between when the combo starts and the bell rings. It was not a full second, for sure. As such, rather than assuming it was deliberate, I’m inclined to give Sierra the benefit of the doubt. One thing I certainly left out was any praise for Sierra’s performance, as I was more upset by the ending and George’s prolonged beating. Sierra put on quite a display of power punching and showed smarts, too, and I’d like to see him in an ESPN2 headliner next.
The Rest Of The Week’s Boxing Schedule
- Marquez-Diaz II replay, Friday, HBO Latino. There were a fair number of folk commenting on this blog alone who said they wouldn’t buy the past weekend’s pay-per-view card, and those can at least see a replay of the main event for free. If you want to hear the original English-language call of the fight, you can do so by hitting your SAP button. It’s a good fight, worth watching.
- Cory Spinks-Cornelius Bundrage, Saturday, St. Louis. This junior middleweight bout on the undercard of this weekend’s HBO doubleheader won’t be televised. This fight easily has the highest ratio of most-discussed to least-compelling in the last year, as it’s been rescheduled a lot of times. Spinks has been more exciting in recent fights, something you can’t say about Bundrage, but it is a meaningful bout and Don King is to be commended for putting on a card that has three fights of this level of importance.
- Chris Avalos-Christopher Martin, Lateef Kayode-Alfredo Escalera, Friday, Showtime, Hinckley, Minn. For all that’s been bad in boxing in 2010, ShoBox is on one serious hot streak. This is a nice doubleheader in its own right. Avalos is an extremely exciting and pretty talented bantamweight prospect, and Martin — a prospect himself — has a rep as a good boxer. It’ll be interesting to see how Avalos, who likes to bang, deals with a technical fighter with some promise. Kayode is a hard-hitting cruisereweight prospect trained by Freddie Roach that people are kind of high on, and Escalera is a battle-tested graduate of The Contender.
- Antonio Escalante-Edel Ruiz, Friday, TeleFutura, El Paso, Tex. Escalante is a featherweight who has a knack for getting into slugfests, and if you were making a list of the 10 most exciting fighters in boxing, he’d maybe sneak in. Ruiz scored an upset over a comebacking “Bones” Adams in his last bout, but otherwise has gotten beaten by the best guys he’s faced.
- Friday Night Fights, Friday, ESPN2, Chicago. This card has been in heavy flux, and instead of getting a look at welterweight prospect James De La Rosa in the main event, we’ll get more of lightweight Breidis Prescott, who’s had quite his 15 minutes of fame. His opponent is Harrison Cuello, who recently upset Steve Forbes. You can’t win every switcheroo, I guess. A meeting of junior welterweight prospects Prenice Brewer and Patrick Lopez in the supporting bout might be more appealing.
- Gateway to Greatness: The Devon Alexander Story, Thursday, Fox Sports Midwest. As mentioned yesterday, friend of the site Bigmaxy produced this half-hour special in advance of Alexander’s junior welterweight fight on HBO Saturday. Alexander’s story is something else, so it’s worth checking out for that if not out of loyalty to a friend of the site. More info about the special, including replay times, is here.
- The Rest. Fox Sports Net/Fox Sports en Espanol has its most nondescript card of the year Saturday, so nondescript I won’t even bother describing it… Edgar Sosa’s in action at flyweight on Saturday.