The pandemic is messing with scheduled cards so much it’s sometimes hard to pick any one “story” to focus on, so this will be the old “empty the notebook” trick:
Despite a solid substitute main event (we’ll return to this soon, then again later), it remains unclear whether boxing in the age of the coronavirus is worth it. Or any sport, really. It’s beginning to feel like the New Jersey Nets will feature two 10-day contract guys, the popcorn salesman and, like, me?
We were supposed to get Jamel Herring vs Jonathan Oquendo on Tuesday, the most significant bout since we’ve had since ESPN returned to boxing in “the bubble,” and, no. Herring has tested positive twice — twice! with negative tests in between! — and there’s talk of rescheduling in August after two postponements. Maybe just don’t bother for a long time, Jamel!
Mikaela Mayer, who headlined against Helen Joseph, was herself following up a Covid-19 postponement, and her trainer Al Mitchell was out this time with it. Mitchell’s 76, perhaps he should largely stay inside and just shouldn’t be training boxers right now? I dunno. That’s a case where he’s more of a harm to himself than anyone else, unlike the jackasses who are all “don’t tread on me!” when asked to wear a mask to protect more vulnerable people.
Back to Herring: That this was the most significant fight to date is a little sad, not to diss Herring, a real contender, and Oquendo, a guy who’s fought a lot of contenders and even beaten one. And the economic conditions are such that we’re just not gonna get very significant fights, because without huge $20+ million gates or pay-per-view revenues, well, we might get to see a guy like Canelo Alvarez, but not against anyone notable. After that, we’re just dependent on elite fighters getting bored and/or having a kind of pride that doesn’t make much sense; “I want to beat the best even if I don’t get paid for it.”
So, as I wrote back when this all started up again, we have to take pleasure in the small things. Boxing fans are used to operating from lowered expectations, so we’ve got that going for us.
Super middleweight Clay Collard is indeed “the best story in boxing right now,” although I’d refer back to the lack of competition for any given “best xxxx in boxing right now” situation. He’s the kind of story that we’d still love in normal times, to be sure: The three consecutive wins over undefeated prospects, the funky-ass way he fights by winging punches from all kinds of foot positions, the ring smarts.
That he got to be the “A-side” was a “makes you smile” kind of moment, and that he got a 2nd round TKO against the excellently named Lorawnt T. Nelson (who put on a game effort) also was that kind of moment.
It’s like every ESPN card right now has to have one surreal/what-the-fuck-was-that moment, and this time it was A. welterweight/pound-for-pound star Terence Crawford doing an interview from his car (we need the story of why… did he just give zero shits? was he on his way home and it broke down? did he think it was the cool thing to do with the kids these days shooting so many videos in their cars?) combined with B. ESPN’s Timothy Bradley advocating for “The New” Ray Robinson — he of the 0-1-2 in his last three fights — as the ideal opponent for Crawford.
There’s not much to say about Ruben Cervera decisioning fellow Clay Burns, other than Burns’ trunks, where he clearly asked the designer, “just give me the highlighter marker color package.”
Super middleweight Javier Martinez didn’t impress this writer in his pro debut, despite some hype. There were some nifty counters, a committed body attack. Unless I’m missing something, though — maybe he was spooked by opponent Jonathan Burrs wearing a lion head into the ring? — he really should’ve stomped his foe, who’s normally listed as a junior middleweight and was in just his fourth pro fight himself. Instead Martinez got marked up and couldn’t finish when he had Burrs hurt, with the caveat that it came at the end of a round.
You’re probably wondering why we’re just now returning, at the end, to Mayer vs Joseph. It’s because it’s going to be disappointing, what I have to say about it.
Here comes the moment where I personally tune out of an article: “I don’t know much about xxxx…”
Feel free to hit the ejection button now. Wouldn’t blame you.
I don’t know much about women’s boxing, I’ll admit, at least not enough to say much about how good Mayer’s competition was outside of what I’ve read or been told. I volunteered for this card with the TQBR team because of my interest in Herring vs Oquendo, expecting I would limit the Mayer stuff to a couple sentences.
The heavy metal band member turned model turned junior lightweight looked pretty sharp to me in a one-sided decision against an opponent who was, if nothing else, persistent, and the bout had an intensity some of the other ESPN bouts have lacked. Compared to other televised women’s fights I’ve seen in the last couple years, I’d put her ahead of Katie Taylor and behind Claressa Shields. Best I can do, sorry.