The little boxers of the sport around 108 and 112 are on a superb run of fights the last year or two. Brian Viloria over Giovani Segura and Hernan Marquez; Roman Gonzalez over Juan Francisco Estrada; Estrada over Viloria; Segura over Marquez; and who knows where it ends? Segura-Marquez was a typically high-level slugfest with a dramatic conclusion, thanks to a brutal Segura 12th round left hook knockout in a close bout. Now Segura is lined up for a fight with Estrada. It's a great round robin happening amongst the little men of the sport, and if you aren't up on it all, get acquainted with the latest above. Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi vs. Edgar Sosa is on deck, and Sosa could be in line for Fighter of the Year honors if he wins, coming off victories over Segura and Ulises Solis.
Another man getting some minor Fighter of the Year buzz also fought over the weekend, named Gennady Golovkin. He'll be the focus of this edition of Weekend Afterthoughts.
- Next for Golovkin and his popularity. The middleweight known as GGG is pining for bigger fights now and he's starting to build demand for them. The announced 4,618 in attendance (no paid vs. comp figure yet) in New York this past weekend is a decent figure with no real ethnic or regional fan base to draw upon — although I suspect Curtis Stevens, his opponent, accounts for a big, big percentage of that number. The number that IS impressive is the rating he did for HBO: 1.41 million viewers, third highest on cable this year and up from last time by a healthy amount. The problem with people wanting to fight Golovkin has been his risk/reward proposition. The reward side of the equation goes up if he can prove he's a draw on HBO, enough of one that his opponents can get pretty well paid for the risk of getting beaten all to hell. And if you're a middleweight, the risk becomes a near certainty. I'm of the mind that Golovkin's done enough to establish himself as the most merit-based challenger for lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, and he's done enough to establish himself as a viable option for that match-up to make some money, too. The only real obstacle is that Miguel Cotto would make even more money for Martinez with a more attractive risk/reward profile, as Cotto is a junior middleweight who owns the year's highest cable rating, not the third highest. The second Golovkin wants to move up to super middleweight he'll find more willing opposition among the bigger names, I bet — champ Andre Ward says he is down to fight GGG, while I'm guessing Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. would be willing, too. That's not to say Martinez is unwilling — he has said he is. I just think GGG might have to wait for Sergio, if it ever happens, and the next biggest name at 160 for GGG, Peter Quillin, isn't an option because he fights on Showtime.
- Golovkin Fighter of the Year. Despite some of the chatter, Golovkin isn't a top-tier Fighter of the Year candidate in my book. He's an honorable mention. He has been outstanding in all four fights this year, a higher number than any of the other contenders are likely to have. It's just that he's only beaten top-10 contender in the four. Meanwhile, there's the aforementioned Sosa with his wins over Segura, Solis and maybe champ Yaegashi. Adonis Stevenson unseated light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson and beat another contender in Tavoris Cloud. Floyd Mayweather matched Manny Pacquiao's record of four lineal championships in four different divisions and might have broken the all-time pay-per-view record for the sport. Timothy Bradley got the win of his career over Juan Manuel Marquez and was in a leading contender for Fight of the Year. Danny Garcia became the true junior welterweight champ and burst into the pound-for-pound top 10. Everyone beat better opposition than GGG, is what I'm saying. It's been a great year for him, just not great compared to what else is out there, which is a deep field of contenders for the top fighter of 2013.
- Golovkin speaking English. It's amusing to many in a way that comes off as condescending, how Golovkin speaks English. It's been amusing to me here and there, too, I admit with some shame. Here's the bottom line, though: It's admirable as hell that he wants to speak English and is making a go at it, but it's incomprehensible 90 percent of the time. Until he reaches a level of mastery that is above the gibberish level, then, can HBO have an interpreter on hand? I mean it, I have no ill will toward GGG over this. I just want to understand what he's saying, and I can't.
- Magomed Abdusalamov in a coma. With Frankie Leal's death and what happened to Magomed this past weekend, I second what Springs Toledo said here: "Let’s exhort referees, corner men, and ringside physicians to keep a closer eye on injuries suffered during a bout, and err on the side of caution over our thirst for heroics." I can probably live with myself as a boxing fan if I know avoidable injuries are avoided, and accept the unavoidable ones as a risk the boxers willingly take and understand as part of the job. When avoidable injuries are not avoided, it makes me cringe. It sucks that so many saw Magomed as needing to be saved from himself and pulled out of that fight late, as we discussed in the comments section here, and it didn't happen. I understand the mentality of giving a fighter a chance to win. But at a certain point even a reasonable chance of winning isn't a good trade for the kind of unnecessary punishment Magomed soaked up late in that fight. Big punchers like Magomed get the worst of this deal, too, because they'll always have a chance of winning. What's the point of giving him a chance to win that bout if he pulls out a miracle 10th round knockout and still ends up in a coma?
- Dusty Hernandez-Harrison. I've only caught this highlight clip of the welterweight prospect from the DMV fighting at Madison Square Garden this weekend, so it's hard to leap to many conclusions about his unanimous decision performance. I certainly haven't seen any negative reviews. At a glance, his opponent, Josh Torres seems as though he can fight a bit. Most of Hernandez-Harrison's competition to date has been very, very low level for a top prospect, which I get; he's still only 19. It has, however, made it hard to assess his ceiling. That he's one of the top prospects in the country is undeniable. We've had one bad sign about his ceiling, and here, we have a good sign about it. He stepped up the competition both by record and visible skills and he handled himself well. Another thing to keep in mind is how much Hernandez-Harrison's power might grow as he physically matures. He has a pretty low knockout rate for a prospect who has faced such competition. (Photo below via.)