OMAHA, June 28
CRAWFORD blasted back from early difficulties. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
There was an almost yesteryear feel to Terence Crawford’s thrilling knockout win over Yuriorkis Gamboa on Saturday night. We had an American boxer who can really fight overcoming early difficulties to overwhelm a skilled and dangerous opponent in front of a roaring hometown crowd.
The Omaha setting and approximately 12,000 crowd reminded us that a city not normally known as a boxing centre will turn out to support one of its own. It reminded me of the big, enthusiastic crowds we saw when Virgil Hill boxed in Bismarck, ND; Pernell Whitaker in Norfolk, VA or Joe Mesi in Buffalo.
BROOKLYN, June 14
ALGIERI rallied from adversity. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Ruslan Provodnikov landed the heavier blows but the name of the game is still boxing, and Chris Algieri boxed his way to a split but deserved victory in Saturday night’s junior welterweight title fight.
This was a resolute and remarkable performance by the former kickboxing champion from Long Island, NY. Down twice in the first round, his right eye swelling shut from below, nose bloody, Algieri had about the worst start to a fight imaginable.
MGM Grand, LAS VEGAS, May 3
MAYWEATHER won, yes, but didn't look great in so doing. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
So, the result played out the way it was expected to, with Floyd Mayweather Jr. winning a 12-round decision over Marcos Maidana in Saturday’s welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Mayweather did what great fighters are supposed to do — under pressure; he found a way to win.
Yes, I do consider Mayweather to be a great fighter. But TBE — The Best Ever? No, not by a long shot. Not even the best welterweight ever.
MGM Grand, LAS VEGAS, April 12
PACQUIAO dominated the last six rounds. / Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank
I usually jot down the note “Fight over” when I think that a contest has shifted irrevocably in favour of one man. I made this note in the seventh round of the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley welterweight title rematch.
For six rounds, Bradley was in the fight with a chance of winning. When Bradley went to the ropes in the seventh and Pacquiao unloaded a burst of punches on him, though, to me there was going to be no coming back for Bradley.
It was an interesting weekend in boxing, not the least because it showed that a visiting fighter can get a fair deal on the scorecards, with Tony Thompson and Vivian Harris winning on the road against the “house” fighter. Christopher Rebrasse, of France, didn’t need the judges when winning in Italy.
I think it’s a bit of a misconception that the home fighter — or the “promoted” fighter — will automatically get the decision if a fight is anywhere near close.
MAGDEBURG, Germany, March 1
ABRAHAM countered with good form. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
The impression we have of Arthur Abraham is of a heavy hitter who can be outboxed, but Abraham reminded us that he is capable of producing a smart, strategic fight when outscoring his big German rival Robert Stieglitz on the weekend.
This rubber match between the 168-pound rivals was vigorously contested although I was a bit surprised at the split decision. Abraham appeared to be a clear winner, with a last-round knockdown seeming to put the matter beyond doubt.
HUNTINGTON, NY, Feb. 14
ALGIERI stopped Taylor from gaining momentum. / Photo: Star Boxing
It’s wonderful when things go according to plan. Chris Algieri, the unbeaten junior welterweight, was clearly boxing to a well-constructed strategy in his win over Emmanuel Taylor in the main event on Friday Night Fights.
Algieri, the former kickboxing champ who apparently had no amateur bouts, used a style based on speed, athleticism and smart boxing. He used the jab up and down, he moved around the ring but also made frequent attacks in which he let his hands go in eye-catching bursts. Algieri’s left hook to the body was sometimes followed by a head-jerking left uppercut.
San Antonio, Dec. 14
MAIDANA outfought, outpunched Broner. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
The word “exposed” is over-used in situations such as this. Still, that’s the word that inevitably springs to mind when we think of Adrien Broner’s defeat against Marcos Maidana.
I would say that Adrien Broner was exposed to an extent in Saturday’s fight on Showtime, exposed in the sense that he isn’t as good as he seemed to think he was — not even close.
Barclays Center, BROOKLYN, Dec. 7
MALIGNAGGI showed how good he can be when he's in top form. / Photo: TOM CASINO, for Showtime
It’s easy to forget what a good boxer Paulie Malignaggi can be when he’s really focused and ready to fight. Paulie was practically run out of the ring by Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan — although very game — but on his good nights he is always going to be difficult to beat.
Malignaggi had one of his good nights on Saturday when he outboxed and almost outclassed Zab Judah in the main event on Showtime.
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.