Manchester, Nov. 23
Manny Pacquaio’s comfortable points win over Brandon Rios was, globally, the big international event of the weekend, but the all-British 168-pound title fight between Carl Froch and George Groves contained the drama, the excitement and, of course, the controversy.
Referee Howard Foster’s decision to stop the Froch-Groves fight in the ninth round, with Groves hurt but showing the presence of mind to hang on, will go down as one of the most unsatisfactory endings in boxing history.
DENVER, Oct. 19
PROVODNIKOV launched an unstoppable onslaught. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
It always concerns me when a fighter fails to make weight at the first attempt, and although Mike Alvarado refused to use weight-making as an excuse you have to think that draining down to 140 pounds played a part in Alvarado’s defeat against Ruslan Provodnikov in Saturday’s junior welterweight title war on HBO.
Alvarado, after coming in one pound overweight at the first attempt, took almost two hours to shed the stubborn excess.
MOSCOW, Oct. 5
KLITSCHKO even applied headlocks. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
It was effective, it got the job done, but in the strictest sense it wasn’t what you would call boxing as Wladimir Klitschko used a mixture of punching and grappling to defeat Alexander Povetkin in Saturday’s dull heavyweight title fight in Moscow.
I must admit, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The term “punch and clutch” is familiar to veteran observers of the fight game but Klitschko took this to a new level as he shut down Povetkin by jabbing him on the outside and leaning on him, smothering him and even placing him in headlocks when his opponent got close.
StubHub Center, CARSON, CA, Sept. 28
CHAVEZ landed the big shots. / Photo: Chris Farina, Top Rank
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. got the decision but Bryan Vera was the moral winner in Saturday night’s main event on HBO. The lopsided scores of two of the judges understandably provoked outrage from Vera’s camp and beyond.
This looked to me like a close, tough fight and in which, as Jim Lampley pointed out, the judges had the conundrum of whether to go for the busier fighter — which, by far, was Vera — or the one landing the heavier punches.
GONZALEZ'S left hook caught Mares by surprise. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
The one-round shocker in Los Angeles on Saturday got me thinking about first-round finishes and upsets.
Even those who felt that Jhonny Gonzalez had a chance at pulling off the huge surprise against Abner Mares probably never dreamed that he would do so with a first-round KO. These things can happen, though — getting “caught cold”, as they say is, I’m sure, what every fighter dreads.
MIURA kept taking it to Thompson. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
On another memorable boxing weekend my personal highlight was the war in Mexico that saw Japan’s Takashi Miura retain his junior lightweight title with a unanimous but brutally hard-earned win over Sergio Thompson in Cancun, Mexico.
Darren Barker’s amazing rally to win a split decision over Daniel Geale, Sergey Kovalev’s destruction of Nathan Cleverly, Giovani Segura’s hell-for-leather onslaught against Jonathan Gonzalez and Enzo Maccarinelli outlasting Ovill McKenzie in a war of attrition were all notable.
ESTRADA came on in the later rounds. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
It’s so much more enjoyable when the TV networks offer simply good fights rather than having an A-side attraction meeting an outclassed opponent, so, for me anyway, Saturday’s presentations by HBO and Showtime got top marks.
HBO’s tape-delay show from Macau, for instance, featured Juan Francisco Estrada, Mexico’s excellent young flyweight who is emerging as one of boxing’s bright new stars, against unbeaten Filipino Milan Melindo. Flyweights on network TV? Perhaps programmers are finally realising that the little men often provide the best fights.
Cosmopolitan, LAS VEGAS, July 19
BEY had the fight won, and then ... / Photo: TOM CASINO for Showtime
Of all the come-from-behind victories you can think of, none was more unlikely and dramatic than the one last Friday when lightweight slugger John Molina, hopelessly behind on points and seemingly at the end of his tether, found the punch he needed to reverse the tide against Mickey Bey.
Often, in these last-round endings, you get the sense that the losing fighter still has a chance.
Foxwoods, CT, June 29
EVEN Golovkin's jabs hurt. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
There are impressive performances and then there are devastatingly impressive ones. Gennady Golovkin delivered the latter when he knocked out Matthew Macklin in the third round on the weekend to retain his middleweight titles.
Golovkin is one of those fighters who makes it all look so easy. His speed, timing, punch-economy and, of course, his sheer power of punch, makes him one of the most formidable fighters in the ring at any weight.
Barclays Center, BROOKLYN, June 22
BRONER landed the meaningful punches. / SUMIO YAMADA
Did Adrien Broner disappoint in Saturday’s welterweight title fight on Showtime or was it that Paulie Malignaggi — not for the first time — had been sold short by the pundits? I think maybe the answer would be: A bit of both.
Broner had promised a “spectacular” performance but instead barely eked out a split decision on the scorecards. Indeed, the fight was one round on one card from being a draw.
CANCUN, May 18
MOSLEY dominated when he backed up Cano / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Ever noticed that the best fights are seldom the PPV main events? Last weekend saw three compelling contests, each tense and dramatic in its own way.
First, let’s take a look at Sugar Shane Mosley, who gave almost a vintage performance in outpointing Pablo Cesar Cano on his opponent’s home ground in Cancun, Mexico, on Saturday night (Fox Deportes).
You’ll sometimes hear older people say “Age is just a number” but fighters such as Mosley, Bernard Hopkins of course and Guillermo Jones (more on Jones later) make you start believing it.
The Alamodome, SAN ANTONIO, April 20
MISSED ME: Alvarez showed defensive smarts. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
One thing that I don’t think very many people expected was Saul “Canelo” Alvarez to outbox Austin Trout in Saturday’s junior middleweight title fight on Showtime. Once Canelo came out and started slipping Trout’s jab in the opening round it set the tone for the fight.
Trout was supposed to be the smarter, slicker boxer here, but Canelo was the fighter showing the superior head and upper-body movement. In the fifth round he had had Trout missing with four consecutive punches and seemed to give a little smile of satisfaction.
Radio City Music Hall, NEW YORK, April 13
RIGONDEAUX backed up Donaire in the 12th. / Photo: CHRIS FARINA. Top Rank
Although the crowd at Radio City Music Hall got restless at the tactical nature of the bout, I enjoyed the exhibition of boxing skill put forth by Guillermo Rigondeaux in his unanimous decision victory over Nonito Donaire on Saturday night. I must confess I wouldn’t have enjoyed it nearly as much had I been a Donaire backer.
Rigondeaux’s win reminded me of a southpaw version of the way Floyd Mayweather Jr. outboxed a taller puncher in Diego Corrales but without the knockdowns and stoppage.
LAS VEGAS, March 30
ALVARADO even switched southpaw. / Photo: Chris Farina, Top Rank
In a boxing match there is often a pivotal moment, an incident that defines the fight. It came, for me, in the third round of the fight between Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios last Saturday.
Rios had been dominating the fight, pressing forward like an army of superior strength pushing back a weaker force, when Alvarado fired back with a right hand that rocked Rios and buckled his legs.
MAGDEBURG, Germany, March 23
STIEGLITZ (left) didn't give Abraham time to think. / Photo: Sauerland Event
You’ve heard the expression “fought like a man possessed”. That’s how Robert Stieglitz fought on Saturday as he swept aside Arthur Abraham in three violent, thrilling rounds to capture the WBO super middleweight title while avenging the defeat he suffered against Abraham last August.
Abraham said before the fight that Stieglitz wouldn’t be able to change his style, but “King” Arthur got that completely wrong. Stieglitz stormed into him with a passion and a fury that he has never before exhibited.