TETSUOOOO! KENADAAAAA! Screw that. After the fight above, I’m screaming AKIRAAAA!
Last week’s smash-up between strawweights Akira Yaegashi and Pornsawan Porpramook has edged itself into the crowded Fight of the Year discussion, and maybe deserves to be in the lead. It’s that terrific. The early rounds are merely very good, as Yaegashi mostly controls things, punctuated by the occasional nice exchange; the middle rounds are excellent, as Porn’s pressure begins to slow down Yaegashi and forces him to stand and trade; rounds 7 and 8 are just plain silly, the pugilistic equivalent of the sound of two Harleys revving up and speeding off in a dangerous race; and the finish isn’t bad, either. Watch it now. You’ll regret it if you don’t. Those tiny, tiny 105-pound men bring the pain. (h/t @sweetboxing)
It’s a relatively short edition of Weekend Afterthoughts, but you’ll be busy for at least 37 minutes and 12 seconds thanks to Akira-Porn, so what else do you need?
- More on Hernan Marquez vs. Luis Concepcion II. Alex McClintock had us covered on this fight this weekend, but a few stray thoughts: With this performance, Marquez has put himself in the little-man discussion that features flyweight champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, junior flyweight champion Giovani Segura and junior flyweight contender Roman Gonzalez where no match-up of those four men can lose. Little dudes where it AT of late! BoxingScene’s Jake Donovan also makes the case that Marquez should figure into the Fighter of the Year discussion, and I’d say that without any clear frontrunner right now, he warrants at least an honorable mention. I say those things even though, absent any evidence that a three-knockdown rule was in place, the referee’s stoppage was premature. Concepcion went down hard the third time, but he was getting back up, and after the first fight, he deserved a chance to reverse his fortunes the way fortunes were reversed frequently in the original. (Alex also had the 411 on another of the weekend’s nice fights in a weekend full of ’em — junior featheweight Takalani Ndlovu’s win over Giovanni Caro — but I haven’t been able to give it a look yet myself.)
- 24/7 Pacquiao/Marquez. The good news from the second episode of 24/7 is that Juan Manuel Marquez has stopped drinking his own pee, but he’s affiliated himself with people that might raise questions about what he IS putting in his body in advance of a third fight with Manny Pacquiao. My distaste for confirmed steroid cheat Victor Conte aiming fingers at anyone is sincere, but like a kind of boxing Jose Canseco, he has an eye for this kind of thing that is unique. Angel Hernandez is indeed a fishy acquaintance, assuming — as looks to be the case (via) — that he’s the same as Angel Heredia. (Separately, Pacquiao’s guy Alex Ariza said that Marquez is working with Usain Bolt’s people, and Bolt has encountered allegations of disbelief much like Pacquiao has in some boxing quarters that his achievements are all natural.) How Marquez puts on weight is no small question in this fight; it’s central to whether he can even begin to compete with Pacquiao at 144 pounds, so this adds an element of the untoward to that whole process. It’d be ideal if 24/7, which so far for this edition has been better than my low expectations, shined a spotlight on Hernandez’ past.
- ShoBox. ShoBox just keeps delivering action and tough tests for prospects weekend after weekend, even if once more the headlining fight was marred by a controversial decision this past Friday. I scored it a draw between middleweight prospect Brandon Gonzales and Ossie Duran, and more often than not, other people scored it for Duran. Yet Gonzales nicked it on the scorecards, the kind of thing that tends to happen too often when the “A-side” fighter is in a close bout. Gonzales didn’t impress, but I don’t think he looked as bad as some others thought he did. He has some tools — he’s athletic, he can counterpunch, can fire in combination and has a good chin. But he also was more raw than I expected, given some of the hype — he reaches, pushes and sweeps his punches more than he throws them, his stance is far too wide and more. What’s encouraging for his chances of fixing those things is that he has top trainer Virgil Hunter in his corner, and he showed improvement late in the fight. Duran showed grit and veteran savvy, and it’s unfortunate he doesn’t have the “W” on his record, because mainly he’s come close to beating these prospect-types more often than he’s beaten them. On the undercard, in a fight that was even better than the good main event, welterweight Javier Molina suffered his first loss against a mini-Antonio Margarito in Artemio Reyes, the first loss by a 2008 U.S. Olympian. Molina never really seemed interested in using his feet, instead standing and trading with Reyes. That said good things about his fighting spirit, but it was the wrong strategy — he doesn’t have world-class power, Reyes looks like he can take a punch, and Reyes was the better inside fighter of the pair. If Molina is to recover from this, and there’s no reason to think he can’t (Reyes was a very tough opponent for this early in Molina’s career, clearly), he’ll have to balance boxing with brawling a bit better going forward. Reyes, meanwhile, moves from someone who has a touching story to someone who has the appearance of a tough out for a top-10 welterweight.
- Ivan Calderon struggles. I haven’t seen the fight, but Calderon struggled by all accounts in a return to strawweight to get a split decision over 11-9-1 Felipe Rivas on Saturday. Maybe I’ll track the bout down, but that sentence alone tells me everything I need to know. Calderon had been slowing down for a while prior to his two losses to Segura. Dropping down to 105 pounds doesn’t appear to have fixed anything. There’s nothing too great to be gained from Calderon continuing to fight.
- Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. vs. Nonito Donaire? Junior featherweight Vazquez also won over the weekend, and I’m not thrilled about the talk from Donaire’s camp about fighting Vazquez next. I absolutely support the notion of Vazquez getting another meaningful fight despite his loss to Jorge Arce; I just don’t support him getting that specific more meaningful fight BEFORE Arce, who’s also in line to fight Donaire. And Arce isn’t even high on my list of Donaire opponents. I realize that both men have big fan bases and therefore Vazquez and Arce could be desirable opponents for enhancing Donaire’s marketability, but as a boxing fan my interest is more in seeing Donaire challenged by the best available opponents, and that’s the winner of Abner Mares-Joseph Agbeko II at bantamweight, or, if he’s going to do junior feather no matter what, it’s Toshiaki Nishioka. I don’t mind a Vazquez or Arce fight as a kind of in-between bout, but Donaire just came off a sucky in-between kind of bout against Omar Narvaez, and two in a row is the wrong number.