Home Depot Center, Carson, CA, June 2
TARVER forced the fight. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Top judges have told me that in a close round they will often give it to the fighter who shows them he wants to win. Antonio Tarver was showing the judges that he wanted to win in Saturday’s cruiserweight title fight against Lateef Kayode and it earned him a draw.
This was obviously a bout that could have gone either way, it was that close. Kayode was awkwardly effective with his surprising strategy of backing up and fighting in spurts. Tarver was moving forward in the second half of the fight but often couldn’t quite seem to pull the trigger on his shots, which isn’t surprising considering that he is 43 years old.
Mandalay Bay, LAS VEGAS, April 14
RIOS was the aggressor. / Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank
We seem to be getting more controversial decisions than at any time in boxing history. At one time, hotly disputed verdicts seemed somewhat rare, although we did have them. Now, as I have often noted, you have to hold your breath every time a fight goes to the scorecards.
On Saturday night, for instance, it seemed that Richard Abril had done enough to get the decision over Brandon Rios in their lightweight fight on HBO, but Rios escaped with a split decision.
KIEL, March 31
ABRAHAM was backed by in-play bettors. / Photo: Sauerland Event
I’ve been busy working on previews for the Fightwriter subscribers and writing for Boxing Monthly, but I’m dropping in to give some thoughts on the past couple of weeks’ fights.
It surprised me that some people thought Arthur Abraham had a close call against Piotr Wilczewski in Germany. I agreed with the judges that Abraham won this fight going away on points.
HOUSTON, March 24
KIRKLAND looked as surprised as anyone at the ending.
Referee Jon Schorle’s decision to disqualify Carlos Molina robbed boxing fans of the chance to see a dramatic, cliffhanger finish in the fight with James Kirkland. It has to be one of the most controversial endings in recent years, perhaps of all time.
The way MC Michael Buffer announced the verdict, the referee had no choice but to disqualify Molina when Molina’s cornerman entered the ring. Yet this was clearly an unfortunate error by the cornerman and there was no malicious intent.
MSG theatre, March 17
MACKLIN gave a great effort. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Matthew Macklin’s courage and commitment predictably wasn’t enough to overcome the remarkable skills of Sergio Martinez but the St. Patrick’s Day middleweight fight provided lively entertainment for HBO viewers in the States and Sky Sports’ subscribers in the U.K.
It was only in the late rounds that Martinez started to outclass Macklin. By the ninth Macklin’s hopes of victory were fast receding but it looked as if he might at least have the satisfaction of completing the 12 rounds. In the 10th, though, Martinez was really blasting the British challenger (with Irish ancestral roots), and two knockdowns in the 11th ended a gritty challenge.
BAYAMON, PR / March 10
SALIDO wouldn't be denied. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
I doubt if we will see a better fight this year than the featherweight championship war in Puerto Rico on Saturday night when Orlando Salido repeated his previous stoppage win over Juan Manuel Lopez. It was a fight that had everything, with shifts of fortune, knockdowns — and a commitment to victory by Salido that was quite extraordinary.
Salido fought furiously and wouldn’t be denied. He was relentless in his attack. Down in the closing moments of the fifth, he came storming back to batter Lopez around the ring in the next round and finally overpowered him in the 10th.
ST. LOUIS, Feb. 25
ALEXANDER even outpunched Maidana. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Devon Alexander promised that he would be a different fighter with added poundage at welterweight and he lived up to his words by pounding out a unanimous 10-round decision over Marcos Maidana on Saturday night. As HBO’s Max Kellerman commented, no one has beaten Maidana this convincingly.
Alexander boxed beautifully, looked strong at 147 pounds and simply would not allow Maidana to get into the fight. Alexander’s zest for combat was questioned after he seemingly bailed out of the fight against Timothy Bradley, but on Saturday night he showed mental toughness.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TEX, Feb. 18
CAMPILLO seemed to outscore Cloud. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
There have been many disputed decisions in boxing’s long history. Some verdicts have been truly shocking, many debatable. The split decision in favour of Tavoris Cloud on Saturday was not one of the worst decisions I have ever seen, but there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that the underdog challenger Gabriel Campillo won the fight.
I thought this was a close yet clear win for Campillo. I had the sound on Showtime muted to be barely audible, just to get a sense of the crowd’s involvement, because, in a fight such as this one, I find commentaries can be a distraction. I watched the fight with total concentration.
Feb. 4 fights
CHAVEZ WAS TOO STRONG. / Photo: Sumio Yamada
In the U.S. the big fight of the weekend was Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. outpointing Marco Antonio Rubio, in Europe it was the cruiserweight championship war in Germany that saw Yoan Pablo Hernandez win a unanimous decision over Steve Cunningham in their rematch.
Chavez looked huge at a fight-night weight of 181 pounds and Rubio couldn’t budge him. Rumours of less-than-ideal preparation (trouble making weight, a drink-driving charge in Los Angeles that was revealed the day of the fight) raised hopes for Rubio backers but this was like boxers from different weight divisions meeting.
DIAZ (left) outlasted Robb. / Photo: Tom Casino, for Showtime
New faces Joel Diaz and Guy Robb provided the most exciting fight of the weekend in the U.S., a sizzling junior lightweight contest that swayed first one way, then the other, before Diaz’s superior punching power prevailed in a seventh-round stoppage victory.
Diaz is what the boxing trade calls a “fun” fighter. His bouts are highly entertaining and his hit-or-be-hit style has been compared to that of John Molina, the lightweight contender who has produced some big-punching performances. I can see the similarity.
Hard Rock, LAS VEGAS, Jan. 13
MARTIN'S jab was effective. / Photo: Chris Farina, Top Rank
After the rather dull year-opener main event between Dyah Davis and Alfonso Lopez, Friday Night Fights served up a scorching 10-rounder in the junior featherweight division as Teon Kennedy battled to a spirited draw against Christopher Martin.
The two last-fight losers gave their all, and no one can ask for more. I love these fights of contrasting styles. Kennedy lived up to the gutsy, hard-fighting Philadelphia tradition. He was aggressive and he was the busier man. Martin, I thought, landed most of the really solid shots. The boxer from San Diego is what old-timers would have called a cutie. He is very good at slipping, blocking and rolling away from punches. Martin did some really classy scoring as he landed punches and then pulled out of range to have Kennedy missing. Kennedy wouldn’t be denied, though, and when he got Martin on the ropes his punch-volume had to be rewarded.
Boardwalk Hall, ATLANTIC CITY, Dec. 17
WARD landed some big hooks. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Two surprisingly close scores in Andre Ward’s dominant win over Carl Froch last weekend showed yet again that you can never be sure how a judge is seeing a fight.
British judge John Keane seemed closest to reality with his score of 118-110 in favour of Ward, while judges John Stewart of New Jersey and Craig Metcalfe of Canada each had Ward winning by 115-113 — one round from a draw on each card.
WASHINGTON DC, Dec. 10
POINTS taken cost Khan the fight. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Lucky winner? Possibly — but while Lamont Peterson got the breaks in his upset win over Amir Khan on Saturday night in Washington DC he fought his heart out and put himself into a position to make the most of those breaks.
I had Khan winning the fight and I have never in many years covering this sport seen a boxer deducted points for pushing his opponent. Yet I have to say Khan had himself to blame for the loss of his 140-pound titles.
TRABZON, Turkey, Nov. 26
AYDIN landed the bigger blows. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Sometimes one punch can change the outcome of a fight, and it doesn’t have to be a knockout blow. Selcuk Aydin clinched victory over Jo Jo Dan in Saturday’s welterweight rematch when he floored his opponent with a right hand in the 11th round.
At the end of 12 hard-fought rounds, Aydin got the unanimous decision to the delight of his hometown fans in Trabzon, Turkey.
MGM Grand, LAS VEGAS, Nov. 12
GIVE AND TAKE: Pacquiao barely won. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
One felt a sense of disappointment over Manny Pacquiao’s performance against Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday night, a feeling that the Filipino superstar should have done better.
In a fight where finality was expected, a sense of closure, Pacquiao once again had to settle for a decision that divided then judges and was open to debate.