Nonito Donaire, Amir Khan, and George Groves won their main event fights on Saturday, but whose stock really went up this weekend in boxing?
Boxing is a sport where fortunes change JUSTLIKETHAT! all the time, including pretty much weekly, at least whenever the world's boxing promoters are doing their jobs and running boxing events. This is going to be a new weekly feature, or pretty much weekly, anyway, at least whenever the world's boxing promoters are doing their jobs and running boxing events.
Some weeks will be busier than others, of course, but I figured this was a fine week to start -- nothing too momentous stealing all the headlines, but a lot of fights with notable names in action.
Whose stock went up this weekend? Whose dropped? Who just stayed where they were but can be discussed anyway?
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I know, I know: He was expected to win and he did, big whoop. Arce was tailor-made for him, big whoop. Here's the big whoop: When's the last time you saw anyone considered by everyone who keeps or doesn't keep or doesn't admit to keeping a P4P list (even just a mental one, only in the air and their brains, tucked away from the world's prying eyes and criticism) to be a top P4P fighter fight not just four times in one year, but against four fighters all ranked in the top ten, in a division that said fighter was not even a part of coming into the year? There is no argument about this, in my view. Nonito Donaire (31-1, 20 KO) is the 2012 Fighter of the Year.
The 20-year-old Silva put in a very brave performance in his loss to Alfredo Angulo, going the full 10 rounds with a man who is often overhyped as some sort of wrecking machine. Still, though I personally feel Angulo is among the more overrated fighters in the game today, there's no doubt that "El Perro" hits pretty damn hard and can be tough to deter. Silva (19-3-2, 15 KO) didn't deter Angulo, but he did hold his ground. There were several moments in the fight when expressions of pain stretched across Silva's smiling face, as he attempted to convince Angulo, the viewing audience, himself, or any combination thereof, that he was in fact, not hurt at all. He fought through some serious hurt, and he never went down.
Deontay "Van" Wilder
Wilder (26-0, 26 KO) kept his win and KO streak alive. Though he heard the boos over the first two rounds against Kelvin Price -- and deservedly so, because the fight sucked and nobody was doing anything -- a right hand bomb ended Price's night and showed the world what kind of carnage Wilder can bring forth with a single punch. Of course, maybe Wilder doesn't really punch like Optimus Prime when he's in against a real opponent, but so what? Boxing's star-making process generally boils down to how much you can convince the public that someone is totally fucking awesome before they have to actually fight anyone good (no-to-low risk, acceptable-to-possibly-someday-high reward), and then if they fail when they're unprepared, we get to turn on them like the jackals that we are. Wilder simply appearing on SHO for the first time and scoring a highlight reel KO is enough to make him more significant than he was yesterday, even if Price isn't very (or any) good.
Nobody knew who in the hell Guevara (16-1, 6 KO) was before yesterday, and now they do. He used the big ass Amir Khan ring to his advantage and made Leo Santa Cruz work harder than Santa Cruz has had to work all year, probably in his entire career. Santa Cruz was a little sluggish -- gee, maybe two world title fights in a month gives some media a hard-on, but might not actually be the smartest thing -- but Guevara boxed well. He came up short, but given that Golden Boy kept Eric Morel in the mix for so long, surely Guevara deserves another chance.
Last night, Diaz (40-7-1, 29 KO) made a compelling argument that he might have a little bit left at 147 pounds. That or he made a compelling argument that Shawn Porter isn't going to be a contender. It's one or the other, or both. The good news for Diaz is he probably bought himself another decent fight soon enough, and he fought well.
Any grown, 154-pound man nicknamed "Beefy" is alright by me, plus his win over Steve O'Meara puts him in line for an eventual fight with British champion Brian Rose. Also, it was a good and competitive fight, the best on Warren's London bill by a sight.
Well, he exists again, so even though he had to grind out a one-armed decision over Aleksy Kuziemski with an injured shoulder, he went up.
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Though it's not Molina's fault that he's 5'6", a lightweight, not anywhere near Amir Khan's level in Gawd-given talents, and hand-picked to make Khan look like he was "back," you simply cannot lose that badly in a premium cable main event and not have the overall perception of you take a hit. It's just how it is. The same California hippies that told us Eloy Perez was anywhere near Adrien Broner's level are guilty as charged for the same crime here, too. You don't get off that easy, hippies.
Granted, I'm probably the world's smallest Glen Johnson fan among people who talk about boxing as much as I do, but yesterday's fight was mostly just sad to watch. Johnson (51-18-2, 35 KO) might still be willing physically, and he'll probably never let himself get out of shape, but a lot is missing these days. His 2011 loss to Carl Froch was his last stand; since then he's been blown out by Lucian Bute in a fight where he barely tried (but still had the audacity to moan about a robbery); lost convincingly to Andrzej Fonfara, who just had his hands full with Tommy Karpency; and now he's been essentially shut out by George Groves. Hopefully no other wiseacre promoter comes up with the idea to sacrifice Johnson to a younger man, but it would hardly be a surprise. Hey! Johnson's over 40 and not very big, what's Danny Green up to?
Any hope that the 37-year-old former basketball player had of being any level of legitimate contender in boxing probably got socked out last night by Wilder. He seems like a nice guy, but it's not there. The Klitschkos have convinced an entire generation of half-ass heavyweight talent scouts that being over 6'6" is enough. It's not.
As I said last night, Porter runs hot and cold for me. Last night the temperature dipped below freezing; Farmer Porter's crops took some damage in his draw with Julio Diaz. Porter (20-0-1, 14 KO) is athletically gifted, but he is impossible to figure out, and not in a good way. As I also said last night, please -- you, me, everyone -- never compare him to Shane Mosley again. He is not Shane Mosley. He is also not Pernell Whitaker, despite his goofy squatting down to avoid shots. He is also not even Andre Berto, really. He's not a bad fighter or anything, but with no identity, he seems like a fighter who nicks stuff from other, better fighters, and hasn't gotten a handle on who he is in the ring yet. I'm not writing off Shawn Porter; Diaz fought better than he has in a while last night, and was a man clearly determined to win. But Porter needs to change something. I have no idea what it is, because I have no idea who he is. He does have this weird habit I wish he'd stop, where he gets stung a bit, squats down, and sort of quietly backs away, like his opponent won't notice him. If he's going to do that, he has to at least wear camouflage trunks.
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Has anybody here seen my old friend Jorge?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He bled on a lot of people,
But it seems the good they age young.
You know, I just looked around and he's gone.
Everyone pretty much knew what was going to happen, and I can't blame the few who held out hope of Arce making it competitive or even lasting very long for thinking the way they did. This lovable, lollipop-eating, eternally blood-soaked SOB gave plenty of good reasons over his career to think he'd once again beat the odds. Personally, I absolutely loved the finish. A knockdown, Arce clearly on his last legs, another shot, Arce waving Donaire in, asking for more, and then getting more in the form of the left hook that ended his career, or so he says.
Khan (27-3, 19 KO) was good, but the jury's out on a lot of these supposed improvements. That's not a knock on Khan, either; a single eight-week training camp with Virgil Hunter isn't going to magically solve all his problems and get him to never make his old mistakes again right off the bat. If Khan is truly going to improve under Hunter, then it's going to take a lot of drilling into Amir's head what he's done wrong. These things won't just disappear over eight weeks' worth of nights. Molina was no real test for him, but as a personal confidence day glorified as a SHO main event, it was probably worthwhile. Amir needed a win; there's no way, no matter how he came off in any interview, that he was still 100% confident in himself. Hunter did a great job in the corner, and for the most part, Amir stuck to a solid game plan that could serve him well. But there are still cracks and leaks that need attention, and I'm sure he and Hunter both know that. There were times when you could almost feel Khan fighting himself on going back to his worse instincts. The big one is one that Khan will tell you a million times before his next fight is a thing of the past: How he reacts to being hurt. Khan talks about this like he always went batshit when he got hit, but it wasn't then, it was when he got hurt. Molina couldn't hurt him -- wasn't big enough, wasn't strong enough. Josesito Lopez, if that fight happens, can, and is. That fight should happen, is my point. It's good for them both, and an interesting matchup.
Groves proved he's every bit as good as Andrzej Fonfara with his win over Glen Johnson. He and Warren should be thrilled they pulled Johnson out of retirement for that one. After a breakout 2011, 2012 feels like sort of a lost year for Groves. Injuries and other crap canceled dates, and all he wound up doing was beating Francisco Sierra and a withered version of Johnson. But he's still just 24 and has only 16 pro fights. Time's not really a-wastin' or anything. Hopefully 2013 is luckier health-wise and brighter in the ring for him.
I still don't see Angulo ever becoming a serious contender, but last night's 10 rounds were good for him, and keep in mind this was really his first fight back from the Kirkland loss last November. (The November '12 win lasted a minute, it was like he got to the gym and knocked over the first guy he saw.)
Leo Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz (23-0-1, 13 KO) should probably go ahead and move to super bantamweight before he overstays his body's tolerance for making the bantamweight limit. He said he didn't feel like himself yesterday (he also apologized for having a bad fight, since Santa Cruz's standards are higher than anyone else in the world, apparently), and he's spoken of going up to 122 for some time now. The only fights that are really out there for him at 118 -- and I'm not saying he's beaten Murderer's Row this year, because it's far from it -- are guys like Anselmo Moreno (which could be fun), and titlists Shinsuke Yamanaka and Koki Kameda, and he's not fighting the latter two. So head on up to 122, I say, and get after it there.
Billy Joe Saunders
Saunders (16-0, 10 KO) had to earn it yesterday against Nick Blackwell, but that's not a bad thing. Among the pretty strong -- both in established fighters and prospects -- British ranks at middleweight, he's really only behind Matthew Macklin, Martin Murray, and Darren Barker now. And eventually, a fight with Chris Eubank Jr could be worth some money, though it may be hard to make, what with Warren's BoxNation and Eubank being with Hennessy on Channel 5. That's right, UK boxing fans, all that stupid shit we've had to put up with in the States for years has really come to your doorstep now at even a domestic level, thanks to the promoter-exclusive contracts all over your TV.
I don't really have anything to say about Arthur Abraham in this article but I wanted to mention him and his win over Mehdi Bouadla, mostly to say that I hope he defends against someone credible next, either a rematch with Robert Stieglitz, or perhaps facing George Groves, who earlier this year pulled out of a WBO title shot.