If that’s a Knockout of the Year candidate, it’s mainly because of how super middleweight Jean Paul Mendy drops, less because of Lucian Bute’s punch, which kind of clips the side of Mendy’s head, although that’s something that makes it interesting, too. I did find myself once more amused to hear Showtime’s team act, when showing the replay, as if Bute has only recently become a big puncher; dude’s been knocking out fools with one shot, dramatically, KO of the Year-style for a long, long time now.
Welcome to Weekend Afterthoughts, the place you come for evaluations of things that happened days and days ago. Fortunately, there’s grist for discussion, still, of some of the events of those days.
- The scoring of Paul Williams-Erislandy Lara. I posted a link to them the other day in the comments section, but give them a look again. Look at all those 10-10s and scratched out scores and judges giving the 10th and 11th to Williams, somehow. It’s anarchy. Some have suggested the judges knew what they were doing, trying to find a spot to help Williams; but a 10-10 12th round is unnecessary as one of the few rounds Williams conceivably won, when a 10-9 round for Williams would do. Rather, I think the scorecards show signs of nobody having a clue what they were doing. One more “name” observer, RingTV’s Doug Fischer, said he could find a way to score it for Williams, but the paucity of people who actually believe that is telling. Williams’ promoter Dan Goossen has been spinning it like a mother, acting like this is a massive case of groupthink because of HBO commentary or press row chitter-chatter when basically anyone who watched the fight — in person, on television, wherever — thought this was a putrid decision. He’s a promoter, so it’s natural he’d defend his guy, but sometimes it’s a losing cause and you should just shut up and move it along.
- Judging debate. There has been a lot of talk since the fight about how to fix boxing judging and whether this is the kind of thing that turns people off the sport. I’d go back very recently to a TQBR Roundtable where we discussed this question, where everyone made some thoughtful points and suggestions. For instance, it’s a good idea to have state commissions pay judges rather than promoters, obviously, but that simply isn’t going to happen in a climate where states are cutting billions upon billions from their budgets. The most viable suggestion is accountability, and this time, to their credit, New Jersey (after failing to appoint experienced officials) is talking to the three judges who scored this fight to figure out how they arrived at their scores. But boxing has always had bad decisions. It’s had worse ones than this in the past decade, for sure, and that’s post-mob influence. Even if boxing improves the system, they will still exist. Being a boxing fan (and a mixed martial arts fan, for that matter) means that there’s a certain amount of this you have to live with. I wouldn’t be surprised if this kind of decision was another drop in the bucket for some fans to leave the sport. That’s what Sen. John McCain suggested, anyhow, about Williams-Lara. I’m not saying people need to get over it and not do anything; I’m merely being realistic. You can write commissions and complain. You can make your voice heard in public forums. You can boycott fights in certain states or involving certain fighters or promoters or sanctioning bodies, although that, to my mind, in some cases unfairly punishes people who aren’t directly to blame. You can even look into being a judge yourself. It might make a difference, it might not. Sometimes, with bad decisions where fans speak out, rematches are ordered or public pressure builds to make one marketable. Just keep in mind that there’s no really good solution that’s viable that I’ve heard. You have to decide for yourself whether you can live with that.
- Pay discrepancy. It’s only one reporter, and as is too often the case for boxing report, we don’t know how he knows it because he doesn’t even cite a single unnamed source, but ESPN’s Dan Rafael says that Williams made $1.5 million for that fight to $135,000 for Lara and $600,000 for the “Rios-Antillon show,” which we’ll get to in a moment. Originally, he only said that Williams made “more than $1 million,” and then later he said HBO paid $2 million for the “Williams-Lara show” — it’s not clear where the remaining $300,000 or so went outside the Williams and Lara purses… Rico Ramos-Akifumi Shimoda? And if so, does that mean the $600,000 is for Rios-Antillon AND Carlos Molina-Kermit Cintron?… sometimes, it’s hard for a humble reader to make sense of any of this when figures are tossed around without sources, context or parallel constructions. Let’s assume the basic ballpark figure is true, which is a big if. If it’s true, then it’s an absurdly high figure. I was all in favor of Williams getting back on HBO after a devastating loss because he played nice with the network when it insisted he face Sergio Martinez a second time. But I can’t figure out why HBO would pay him $1.5 million for a fight that nobody else would’ve paid a third of that to air. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. If it’s true.
- Next for Lara, next for Williams. Lara went home with a small facial fracture and won’t be able to train for a while. Lara naturally wants a rematch and deserves one, but who would buy that fight? HBO? If so, why? We all know who won it, and there were reasonable doubts early in the fight about whether Williams will ever again be a top-notch fighter — and that’s before we take into account all the damage he soaked up over 12 rounds from Lara. Lara does deserve to be in the mix for some meaningful fight off his effort and stolen victory, and maybe Golden Boy can reward Lara with the fight it suggested he might get if he beat Williams, a scrap with Saul Alvarez. HBO should have him back, either way. As for Williams, his team keeps talking about at third fight with Martinez, but that’s insane. Suicidal, even. It’d be cool if, they insist on Williams fighting on, they man up and give Lara a rematch, even if that’s not what I want for them. Goossen reportedly reached out to Carlos Molina after the fight, but Goossen also suggested — probably sarcastically in an “ain’t karma a bitch” way, since Lara got a questionable draw agaisnt Molina — Lara-Molina II. Whatever opponent they get, I do think it’s time for Williams to say goodbye to trainer George Peterson. I like Peterson’s attitude of taking on all comers, I like him personally and he’s improved Williams overall, if you remember the days when he was significantly more uncoordinated than he is now. But his insistence that they don’t need to change anything about Williams has now been laid completely bare as stubbornness for stubbornness’ sake. I’m not saying a total overhaul is viable for Williams, at this late stage in his career, but somebody who could, say, teach him not to get tagged with 100 percent of the left hands that come flying his direction would be a real boon.
- HBO commentary. There were some things to like about the HBO commentary and some things not to like about it. For all the talk of Williams manager Al Haymon having such influence with the network, it didn’t stop the HBO broadcasting team from casting doubt on the future of one of his fighters in blunt, harsh terms, arguably too harsh. (And if you see the salary of Williams as an example of Haymon’s influence, stop and think for a second how many boxers have been overpaid on HBO in 2011 and whether all of them were affiliated with Haymon.) For example, I’m not in favor of Max Kellerman asking Peterson mid-fight about whether he would encourage Williams to retire. And Roy Jones, Jr. was right to be concerned about all the punishment Williams was taking, after initially insisting that he’d get it going. But Jones isn’t the most credible messenger for that idea, given how he should have hung the gloves up for good back in 2004 but is still fighting on despite four brutal knockouts since and a few other one-sided beatings.
- Don’t mess with Brandon Rios. This dude is building himself up quite a resume for being an exciting fighter and for being a good one. I think he’s knocking on pound-for-pound top 20 status, in fact, having now knocked off three consecutive top-10 lightweights in a row. He’s shown that you can’t escape him, if you’re a boxer — he’s too aggressive and cuts the ring off too well. And he’s shown that you can’t trade with him — he hits harder than you and doesn’t mind getting hit back as much. He’s a beatable fighter with that bad defense, but it’s going to take some kind of beast; I wouldn’t pick current lightweight king and pound-for-pound top-5 Juan Manuel Marquez over Rios, I don’t expect. Rios’ first two rounds against Urbano Antillon are potential Round of the Year candidates, and this is his second consecutive Fight of the Year candidate. That said, I’m still surprised to read that Rios-Antillon only drew 3,700 fans. Depending on what numbers you believe, Williams-Lara drew 2,100 or 3,000, and that was a highly unanticipated fight. You’d have thought with his fan-friendly style, polarizing personality and Mexican heritage that Rios would have done more business than that, but it goes to show once more that building a ticket-seller is an inexact science. Maybe his numbers go up next time; maybe he’s still not well-known enough, toward the beginning of his career like he is.
- Rios-Manny Pacquiao. Yes, Top Rank’s Bob Arum mentioned this fight as a possibility in 2013, and many thought that was overhype. Certainly, suggesting that Rios’ speed was comparable to Pacquiao’s was silly. But if Pacquiao’s still fighting in 2013, and Rios has moved up in weight successfully to welter, can’t you just imagine how good that fight would be? In the meantime, we might have to put up with Rios in against some stinkers. Rios-Marco Antonio Barrera, as Arum and Rios mentioned afterward, is a disgusting idea. I do like the idea of Rios against the winner of Robert Guerrero-Marcos Maidana at junior welterweight, as Rios is a growing boy and is probably going to have trouble making lightweight even once more. And I want to see the Rios-Victor Ortiz grudge match at welter before I see Rios-Pacquiao.
- Carlos Molina vs. Kermit Cintron. Is there anyone in boxing who’s done more with less than Molina, and anyone in boxing who’s done less with more than Cintron? There’s not much about Molina that stands out; he’s obviously capable of withstanding big punches, and is pretty sneaky with his footwork, but he isn’t fast and isn’t all that powerful. Yet he keeps taking care of business, such as when he beat Cintron this weekend to finalize his transformation from “career-long opponent” to “actual junior middleweight contender.” Cintron, meanwhile, is one of boxing’s purest punchers, is very quick for someone with such power and technically has gotten his boxing skills up to snuff over the years. Yet he couldn’t be bothered to throw enough punches Saturday, the latest bit of quizzical mental softness in a career loaded up with such incidents: the quit/cry job in the first Antonio Margarito fight; the strange head butt/10-count issue in the Sergio Martinez fight; the apparent refusal to get up after falling out of the ring against Paul Williams; and now, this. Granted, Molina’s trickiness probably kept Cintron from pulling the trigger so much, and maybe rust from being out of the ring for a while hurt him. But it’s always against the grain to see a superior talent get upstaged by an inferior one.
- Odds and ends. Rico Ramos has to defend his junior featherweight belt next against Guillermo Rigondeaux, per the sanctioning body’s orders, via a news releasse. Those are talented boxers, but their long stretches of cautious fighting punctuated by sudden bursts of excitement makes that an unappealing match-up… Heavyweight Chris Arreola was really down on himself about his performance on Saturday, but nobody else seemed to be as hard on him about it. Still, it’s a good thing he realizes he isn’t ready yet for champ Wladimir Klitschko… Featherweight Jhonny Gonzalez made Tomas Villa spit “up pure blood,” from some body shots, apparently… I’m not liking Rios in leopard-print.
(photo: Tom Casino, Showtime)