Weekend Afterthoughts On Fixed Fights, The Stock Of Adrien Broner And More

That's your fight of the weekend above, if you were otherwise busy keeping track of who was banging whom and how seriously between Adrien Broner and Paulie Malignaggi. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk hasn't always done it with ease, and Rakhim Chakhkiev made his life very, very hard, but Wlodarczyk has amassed quite a cruiserweight record. And Chakhkiev showed the hype was not premature. That multi-rematch deal that sounded premature when it was signed? It is starting to sound like a blessing for fans of big-man action.

Alex McClintock already covered Broner-Malignaggi et al, while I covered Friday Night Fights on ESPN2. In this edition of Weekend Afterthoughts, we'll stick mainly to Broner-Malignaggi et al, because that Showtime card has generated a lot of talk.

  • Broner-Malignaggi, the fight. I scored it 116-112 for Broner, the split decision winner, which is closer than I ever expected. It was a good scrap. Malignaggi was right: Broner had never faced anyone like him, and he was overhyped for such an unproven fighter. Sometimes a fighter shows so much "it" factor that we overlook his opposition, because if he's blowing out guys nobody had blown out before, it can mean we're witnesses the birth of a special fighter. It doesn't always. Broner might still turn out to be special, because he has the tools; it's just that Malignaggi, with all his veteran craft and fighting heart, gave Broner a style and grit he had yet to encounter. Broner, too, fought far too conservatively, like maybe he didn't train as fully as he should've in anticipation of an easy debut at 147. He also fought a little dirty, something he didn't need to do unless he's the dick he really is. This feels weird to say, since boxing writers are supposed to be cynical no matter the evidence: Maybe it's time we begin trusting Golden Boy's matchmaking more based on their track record of bouts that people expected to be mismatches or otherwise useless turning out to be competitive, exciting pairings. Marcos Maidana-Erik Morales, Victor Ortiz-Josesito Lopez, Danny Garcia-Zab Judah, Broner-Malignaggi… the list has gotten pretty long.
  • What Broner said afterward. Broner's post fight remarks about taking Broner's "girl" was typical of the classlessness he's shown. The big announced attendance figure of 11,000-plus showed me a couple things. Malignaggi is popular in Brooklyn and brought a big part of the crowd, and the distaste on my Twitter timeline for the pre-fight misogynist antics didn't reflect the broader fan base's lust for drama, especially because Broner had a big cheering section too. To each their own, honestly. Broner has turned me off completely and I won't stop saying so as long as he keeps this kind of thing up; it's like how I can enjoy a WWE heel or a hilarious death in Indiana Jones movies because I know it's all fictional, but rarely is it funny to watch someone gunned down or decapitated in real life the same way the kind of real life soap opera awfulness of Broner's behavior isn't amusing to me either. Another of Broner's post-fight remarks is that he would let the fans pick his next opponent, unless it's Floyd Mayweather, and I honestly wish the fans would pick heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko. One poll has junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse as the pick, which I also love, and I really do like the notion of Marcos Maidana at 147, too. Malignaggi showed that Broner could be outworked, and while the two Argentinians don't have the same bag of tricks as Paulie, we have reason to believe that if they work and hit him as much as Paulie did, Broner will have his hands more full with some two nasty punchers than he did with Malignaggi.
  • What Malignaggi said afterward. Malignaggi got his reformer card pulled with the general public when he, the man with the better connections, won an undeseved decision in a close battle with Pablo Cesar Cano on his home turf. When Malignaggi talks about Broner's superior connections, he's not entirely off, but to blame a 117-111 scorecard that wasn't too far off itself on Broner being attached to powerful adviser Al Haymon strikes me as excuse-making by a proud man hurt by a slight. That he said judge Tom Schreck was in Haymon's "pocket" took it one step further to full-on allegation of corruption, although he kind of backed away from that remark under questioning from Showtime's Jim Gray. There is no one alive these days who doubts Haymon is a powerful figure, no matter what some reductive scribes would have you believe in their latest massacres of straw men. Does Haymon have fight-fixing powers, or fight-fixing abilities? There's no evidence of it from this bout, anyway, because even if he had that ability, he wouldn't have needed to use it for Broner-Malignaggi, which almost everyone scored for Broner. Malignaggi said he might retire without a rematch. If Malignaggi wants to retire, he's welcome to, although he showed he could also still make for some quality match-ups in a loaded 147-pound division.
  • Seth Mitchell-Johnathon Banks II. This is the bout where a number of very credible people, people I admire unreservedly, have whispered or hinted at the possibility of a fixed fight, more so than in any big-stage bout in a long time. It's hard to figure what to make of Banks' mid-to-late fight disappearing act. Before the 11th round began, his corner kept imploring him, "Tell me something," and he stared forward, vacantly. There are a few possibilities. I don't consider "fight throwing" a real serious one, even with the aforementioned Haymon advising Mitchell. The way Banks went after Mitchell when he had him hurt in the 3rd strongly suggested to me that he would've knocked out Mitchell if he could've. Another possibility worth noting is that Banks was determined to counterpunch Mitchell, whose output was so cautious he didn't get that many oportunities for it, and maybe Banks didn't have a plan B. Mitchell never hurt Banks badly, despite a faux-2nd round knockdown that actually was a rabbit punch, but it's also possible that Mitchell — a decent puncher at worst — hurt Banks enough to make him think twice about opening up. Too, Banks has frequently graced fights where both guys do very little. And, if anything, I think there's a chance Banks, as trainer of Wladimir Klitschko, might subconsciously have been contemplating what a second win over Mitchell might do for Mitchell's chances of ever facing Wlad. Subconsciously, though. The showing did nothing for Banks, perhaps a little for Mitchell. The reviews were so bad about the fight being boring that Mitchell didn't exactly up his stock much, but he at least got back to winning and showed he could overcome adversity, although that chin of his is going to be a liability for a duration that could be "forever."
  • Sakio Bika-Marco Antonio Periban. Good fight, this one, as much as a Fight of the Year honorable mention but at minimum it gave us a Round of the Year candidate in the 12th, where both men let the punches fly. Periban showed he was legit after never even having fought 12 rounds before, let alone against a top-10 super middleweight of Bika's enormous meanness, because he landed and took his share of power punches. There's no way Bika isn't trying to head butt on purpose, after having watched how he went about it this time. He lunges forward and falls way down into his punches, then juts his gigantic, rock-hard head up with great force. He does it almost every time. Ironically, legitimate super middleweight champion Andre Ward could be next for Bika if Ward wants a rematch, via alphabet belt politics. Ward, who has been accused of using his own head on purpose, has denied this as ridiculous, as if someone can "practice" head butts. As it happens, I recently learned of a fighter who did just that. In "Unforgivable Blackness," the biography of Jack Johnson, one of the sparring parnters of Jim Flynn said that "He practiced butting and fouling."
  • Sho Extreme. Light heavyweight prospect and U.S Olympian Marcus Browne made easy work of Ricardo Campillo, which, of course he did. Did you see Campillo? One of the funkiest guys you'll witness. His stance was with maximum legs apart, like he was bow-legged from riding too many horses, his movements cartoonish like he was a Mike Tyson's Punch-Out character. Still, there's some buzz about the possibility that Browne is the best of the 2012 Olympians, and he didn't disabuse anyone of that notion with an easy knockout, although I thought he lunged a bit too much for my tastes, even if you can argue he had to against the wide-legged Campillo. The Julian Williams-Joachim Alcine was a more interesting test of a prospect, junior middleweight Williams. As Showtime's Steve Farhood pointed out, Alcine is a former contender who's been a victim of contenders of late, not prospects. Williams was dominating him for the first five rounds with multiple knockdowns, but Alcine showed something like what Malignaggi showed against Broner on a smaller scale: There are levels of fighters, and a veteran with proven skills can be dangerous against an unproven type. We all understand that, of course, but it's a reminder not to overrate someone based on early showings until they prove themselves against a variety of styles and experience levels. Also, Alcine had like two beards, one dark and one gray above it. Never doubt a man with two beards.
  • Odds and ends. Much was made of the shoddy condtion of the ring at the Barclays Center, which was more of a "How does this happen at a high level?" thing than anything that ended up affecting the bouts, fortunately… Don George said on Twitter he'd be moving back up to super middleweight after a poor showing in a loss to middleweight Caleb Truax, citing his difficulties making weight… Fernando Montiel, Juan Carlos Reveco and other vets had wins this weekend; for a full recap, go here.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.