(Credit: Tom Casino, Showtime)
ShoBox — Showtime’s program that places prospects in the toughest bouts of their careers — has built up enough goodwill over the years to excuse the occasional non-competitive fight, but they really should’ve known better than to put Frank LoPorto in against Austin Trout Friday, and both fore- and hindsight were 20/20. Trout, a top-10 junior midddleweight, bashed LoPorto with flush power shots like he was a pro baller in a layup line, and LoPorto stumbled around trying to find Trout like he was playing “Marco Polo.” That LoPorto lasted six rounds was a monument to A. His outrageous grittiness (he was knocked down in the very 1st round and survived many an onslaught thereafter); B. Trout’s lack of power, the one ding in an otherwise complete-looking boxer; and C. the cluelessness of the referee and LoPorto’s corner about what the point of continuing was, at least until it finally was called off.
Trout deserved this kind of exposure, and I’d be interested in seeing him face anyone in the division, especially Carlos Molina and Erislandy Lara, both boxer who also have struggled for the spotlight. But this specific fight did him a disservice. If the idea was to make him look good by scoring a big knockout, it didn’t do the job. Had Trout faced someone even five or six levels above LoPorto, that person still would have been about three levels below Trout, and it still would’ve been easy work — and as such, all anyone could notice in this fight was what a mismatch it was, except for the fans who must have made their way over to Texas from Trout’s home base of New Mexico and somehow found something to cheer in this. But then, paraochialism has not always overlapped with good taste.
One other occurence in the fight that must be commented upon. Twice, LoPorto’s head made contact with a Showtime cameraman’s camera. This happens on Showtime far too often; I can think of one very prominent occasion off the top of my head, but it’s something I’ve seen plenty. I’m going to put this in all-caps, because it’s needless, dangerous and just plain stupid: SHOWTIME, TELL YOUR CAMERAMEN TO BACK THE HELL UP.
The undercard fight at least had one good round, the 1st, when Xavier Toliver stormed middleweight prospect Michael Oliveira and had him in trouble, but Oliveira took over thereafter. This one also went on too long. The fight ended, unjustly but blissfully, on an apparent disqualification when Toliver punched Oliveira on the break and the ref waved it off despite never warning Toliver or docking him a point for it or any such thing, only then it was ruled a technical knockout for no good reason. Oliveira, “The Brazilian Rocky,” is raw as all get-out, so it was hard to say anything about his chances of making something of himself other than a nice TV fighter, but he’s popular in his home country and despite being a middleweight might fight ex-semi-retired lightweight countryman Acelino Freitas next. Terrific.
Boxing is probably easier to enjoy on nights like this if you chug a bunch of cough medicine.