Maybe don’t judge a thing by the first time the thing happens. Saturday’s Showtime card was not as good as the last one featured in this space, either on paper or in practice.
Action-oriented super middleweight David Benavidez was in the main event. So far, so good, yes? His opponent, 36-year-old Roamer (great name!) Alexis Angulo, was more of a measuring stick type than an actual threat, having lost to another top name in the division two years ago, Gilberto Ramirez. The goodness stops there.
Add on a dash of Benavidez-not-making-weight and the beatdown that followed and you get an unsatisfactory headliner. As a measuring stick, however, Benavidez’s battle was a success. Ramirez went the distance with Angulo. Benavidez halted him in the 10th, in a bout that could’ve ended a few rounds earlier. Angulo’s supposed power may have kept him in there too long. Not only did Benavidez force Angulo’s corner to retire, he demonstrated yet more growth as a boxer, particularly on defense.
It’s time for Benavidez to take on the likes of Callum Smith or Caleb Plant, the former of whom would crown a Transnational Boxing Rankings champ. Covid-19 being Covid-19, a fight of that caliber might not be coming anytime soon.
The other thing that sucked about the card was the rest of it.
Rolando Romero scored a silly unanimous decision over fellow lightweight Jackson Marinez, the rightful victor. Saying that requires a caveat: It was, early on, a close fight. Later, starting in the 9th when Romero was bothered by a cut — and perhaps by going past six rounds for the first time — it wasn’t. TQBR’s scorecard read 116-112. The judges’ scorecards were 115-113, 116-112 and 118-110 for Romero, the last one from Frank Lombardi especially eye-opening.
Marinez mainly jabbed and countered, while Romero loaded up on every shot. Maybe the latter impressed the judges somehow, but it’s also a psychological thing that can happen with judges that the “house” fighter did better, and Romero was the hyped guy, the guy attached to Floyd Mayweather and thereby a small degree of separation from the PBC brand that Showtimes affiliated itself with.
It’s also possible that Romero won by a little and he’s just too annoying for fans to give him the benefit of the doubt. He made a name for himself with a sparring session with the even more highly-regarded Ryan Garcia, and has been chirping at him since. He vowed an early KO against Marinez. Not backing up big talk will usually fail to endure you to the hardcores. Especially because he actively looked kind of bad at boxing, what with the pointless wild loading up, the excessively wide stance, the bending down that helped him not at all.
Perhaps even worse, his in-ring mannerisms are grating. He grunts when he punches, something a lot of boxers do, only when he does it he sounds like a small, yapping dog. And the constant scowling may have strained his face muscles to rob him of energy late. Or maybe he has resting scowl face in the ring.
There’s some talk of a rematch. Whatever.
The least sucky part of the card was the opener featuring heavyweight Otto Wallin and Travis Kauffman, not that it was all that good on paper or in practice itself. Wallin might be a fringe top-10 guy, and Kauffman is a proven gatekeeper. Wallin was putting on a bit of a boxing exhibition before it ended prematurely. Wallin doesn’t have a ton of talent, but he uses what he has about as well as could be expected. He kept his jab going, had the better mobility, and put together combinations when he could. He’s neither fast nor slow, but he was faster than Kauffman and exploited it. He is comfortable fighting going backward or forward. He couldn’t beat anybody in the top 5, but maybe he gets another big fight after his unexpectedly decent performance versus champion Tyson Fury last year.
It wasn’t really competitive, which is a sign of suckiness; Kauffman couldn’t figure out how to get inside like he needed to. Also filed under “suck”: Kauffman was fighting without deceased trainer Naazim Richardson, and in the 5th injured his previously injured left shoulder. It’s not that anyone needed to see Kauffman beaten up for x number of rounds, but he was putting on a professional, not-just-in-there-to-be-there kind of performance. Even in a fight that he wasn’t expected to win, it was the kind of thing that might’ve done Brother Naazim proud.
(photo: David Benavidez, left, Roamer Alexis Angulo, left; credit, Amanda Westcott, Showtime)