As we hit midweek, what are you buzzing about most: Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana this coming Saturday, or Lucas Matthysse-John Molina (above, captured by Showtime’s Esther Lin) from last Saturday? I vote Matthysse-Molina, still. It’s the clubhouse leader for Fight of the Year, enhanced by the surprise of getting a brawl of a caliber we didn’t quite expect.
In this extra-late edition of Weekend Afterthoughts, we’ll talk about what’s next for both men, Omar Figueroa’s performance, how stupid it is to get busted for cheating with the same substance twice (hint: very), and more.
- Next for Molina and Matthysse. That Matthysse had the kind of trouble he did with Molina speaks well of Molina’s chances of making something of himself at 140 pounds — he clearly can punch at the weight, as Matthysse said in awe afterward, and his energy level was a touch higher for a somewhat conservative offensive specimen. He clearly has the physical size, as he took advantage of Matthysse’s shorter stature to pop him with counters as he came in. Golden Boy likes the idea of putting him in with Mauricio Herrera, and it’s a good idea. Both guys recently outperformed expectations against the top two junior welterweights in the world and both deserve a return date on Showtime over it. Mattthysse, the winner, comes out a bit less esteemed for having the kind of trouble he did, although credit to him for digging deep. It’s very possible that he’s struggling with making 140, as he re-hydrated to 157 on Saturday. It’s possible he took Molina for granted, since he was already pining for a rematch with champion Danny Garcia beforehand and talking down Molina. It’s possible he is getting some wear and tear as a hittable type. And it’s possible that he was struggling with his confidence early. As I discussed with Corey Erdman on his program on Sirius Satellite Radio, he also isn’t much of a boxer — he’s more a puncher who can box a little than a boxer-puncher, and once he started throwing out his jab he began wresting control of the fight away. If he can’t get a rematch with Garcia, Golden Boy is talking about putting him in with Adrien Broner, assuming Broner wins this weekend. It’s another good idea.
- Dan Goossen vs. doctor scrimmage. It wasn’t totally clear to me on first viewing what exactly transpired between Molina’s trainer Goossen, the ring doctor and referee Pat Russell before the start of the 11th round. Having reviewed it a few times, here are some thoughts: 1. The ring doctor very much should have been checking in and warning Molina about stopping the fight. I wasn’t quite at the “it must be stopped” moment yet, but it was getting very ugly and we were at minimum in the place of an ultimatum — one more round, we’ll stop it if you take more big punches, that kind of thing. 2. Goossen was trying to keep it from being stopped. Given that it wasn’t firmly in the emergency category by my eye, I am not fully outraged by the sentiment. But he was, somewhat, interfering with the doctor by talking over him. He also was annoyed at the doctor putting his hand on him. 3. The doctor told Goossen to “shut up.” Goossen should have indeed shut up, but bedside manner goes a long way, doc. It was a tense moment where the fight was on the line and Goosen’s temper flared at the threat of the fight ending/hand/shut up combo. Ultimately, though, Goossen absolutely should not have pushed the ring doctor over that. The doctor needed to do his job first and foremost, even if Goossen didn’t like what he had to say or how he said it. 4. Goossen had to be restrained so the doctor could do his job, and even after that, as Russell reiterated the doctor’s warning, Goossen was still verbally interfering. In the end it was too much bad behavior by Goossen.
- Next for Keith Thurman and Julio Diaz. After not talking about the option of Shawn Porter until Showtime’s Jim Gray asked about him, Thurman is now identifying Porter as his “#1 option.” Good, good. At 140 and 147, Cold War with Top Rank aside, most of the guys in the Golden Boy lineup are lining up as they should. Porter has Kell Brook to deal with first, which might or might not happen on the Canelo Alvarez vs. Erislandy Lara pay-per-view card in July. Diaz, after the Thurman loss, is retiring. Probably makes sense. Kudos to him for putting together enough of a run at welterweight to get a couple more nice paydays, anyway.
- Omar Figueroa’s performance. We had a lengthy discussion on TQBR Radio about Figueroa struggling in his lightweight clash against Jerry Belmontes. Short version: Yeah, maybe the 0-5 thing in the amateurs against Belmontes came into play, although having a better pro style, as Figueroa did, usually trumps that (see: Miguel Cotto vs. Muhammad Abdullaev); but guys like Belmonte, with that spoiling style, make everyone look less potent, keeping in mind that he was far from unbeatable, having lost three times prior to less acclaimed fighters than Figueroa; and Figueroa, like fellow pressure fighter/volume puncher compatriots Brandon Rios against Richard Abril and Leo Santa Cruz against Alberto Guevara, looked especially bad against movement the way volume punchers tend to look worse than the usual kind of boxer against a slick type. That Belmontes was moving up in weight depeens the sense of pessimism about whether Figueroa was fatally exposed. Santa Cruz struggled less with Guevara and rebounded against boxer-types very well, as he showed against Cristian Mijares. And Santa Cruz seemed genuinely pained and contrite after the Guevara fight for his performance, whereas Figueroa merely seemed annoyed that Belmontes didn’t trade with him much. Figueroa doesn’t have as much ability as Santa Cruz, so if this isn’t to be an insurmountable dent on his future, he’ll need to wrap his head around the idea that at 24, he’s not a finished product and needs to commit fully to questing for improvement.
- Richard Schaefer vs. Oscar De La Hoya. Watching Schaefer’s wife serve as a buffer zone between the Golden Boy CEO and president amused throughout practically the whole Showtime card. It’s sounding increasingly like Schaefer and De La Hoya have irreconcilable differences, primarily over working with Top Rank’s Bob Arum ever again, although they are apparently working on it. Maybe there’s a middle ground here in De La Hoya dealing with Arum and Schaefer dealing with the rest? Certainly Schaefer has done the most work to turn Golden Boy into what it has become, yet just as certainly De La Hoya has the right idea that it’s not good for the fans for the two biggest promoters in the sport to refuse to work with one another. Should Schaefer split from Golden Boy, that would end the Mayweather-Golden Boy promotional alliance, and might set up a more permanent relationship between Mayweather’s semi-existent promotional company and adviser Al Haymon, who is tight with Schaefer and controls most of the Golden Boy stable. One suspects we’d see that company become the de facto Showtime supplier, and the husk of Golden Boy (key chip: Alvarez) moving back over to HBO alongside Top Rank. More fragmentation: Just what the sports needs, right?
- Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather on the Los Angeles Clippers. As if all that isn’t exhausting enough, now De La Hoya and Mayweather are talking buying the Clippers or a piece of the Clippers in the aftermath of owner Don Sterling’s racist audio recording exile. Given Mayweather’s comments about wanting “yellow” Manny Pacquiao to make him a sushi roll and/or eat some cats and dogs, and De La Hoya’s comments about Arum being “one of the biggest Jews to come out of Harvard” — even though both have since apologized — maybe neither would be a big upgrade on the racially liberated thinking front.
- Next for Wladimir Klitschko. The heavyweight champ’s trainer wants him to go on a world tour to places like Australia, after having beaten a man, Alex Leapai, from that part of the world. Uh, OK. Klitschko also wants to get the last alphabet trinket from the winner of Bermane Stiverne-Chris Arreola II, and it makes as much sense as nearly any other fight for him in the division. It might be a while; the winner of Stiverne-Arreola II could have to face Deontay Wilder next, and the winner of that sequence makes even more sense than just the winner of Stiverne-Arreola II.
- Guillermo Jones vs. Denis Lebedev II cancellation. It’s not altogether so hard to get away with using performance enhancing drugs in boxing, since the most advanced testing isn’t mandated — we’re mostly talking piss tests here. It really isn’t hard. It’s too bad, but it’s the truth. So Jones getting busted once is dumb enough. Getting busted twice in a row against the same opponent with the same chemical in his system is some higher order, next level of dumb shit. It’s so dumb it almost comes back around to profound, somehow, like he’s a performance artist doing a masterwork commentary on the nature of PEDs that’s too sophisticated for the average person to understand. Toast to you, Guillermo Jones. We all bathe in the glow of your magnificent stupidity. (Unless the “B” sample comes back clean, or the Russian testing agency turns out to be totally corrupt. Then ignore all this!)