Let's start with Miguel Cotto. Manny Steward and Larry Merchant talked about it on commentary, but it's worth noting here, too. Cotto has never looked so calm, so confident. Even arrogant. Cotto knew from the walk to the ring -- probably well before -- that Gomez was no match for him.
Watching the fight, it was easy to almost feel bad for Alfonso Gomez, who was way out of his league in there against a world-class fighter. Gomez is not a bad fighter, but his name is built on a win over Arturo Gatti, who had been knocked out a year earlier by feather-fisted Carlos Baldomir. While Gomez's destruction of Gatti was memorable, it was memorable mostly because it was the clear end of the line for a great warrior and star fighter. Gomez brutalized Gatti that night, but would he have ever done so when Gatti was his best? And Gatti was never really a welterweight to begin with.
Alfonso Gomez is as nice a guy as there is in boxing, as hard-working and as gutsy. He's a fine fighter, but anyone that thought he was on Cotto's level was out of their mind. Evidence is firm now in support of that.
Cotto battered Gomez with speed and power from the opening bell, outclassing him all the way. Gomez was down in the second, fourth and fifth rounds, and saved by the bell in the fourth. In the second, a right to the body wobbled him, and while the follow up left hook upstairs didn't land, I think it was a clean (if controversial) knockdown. It was a punch that had him wobbling, not a bump of shoulders or a stepping on a foot.
The fourth round shot that put him on the canvas was solid, and it should have ended there. In the fifth, he was floored in a hard jab to the cheekbone. And it should have been stopped there, too.
Instead, the ringside physician and referee Randy Neumann (the same referee that let Gomez beat on Gatti past that fight's expiration date) let it get to the fifth round bell, and then the doctor seemed to pretend, for Gomez's sake, that he had even thought twice about stopping it. He called it off, and rightfully so.
It was a painful bout to watch. In the fifth, Cotto even seemed like he didn't particularly want to keep wailing on Gomez. It was a world class fighter beating the tar out of a decent pugilist. It wasn't fair, it wasn't close, it was never in doubt, and it probably shouldn't have even happened.
Photo © David Gard / AP
On the HBO undercard, Kermit Cintron looked a lot more relaxed than he did the first time Antonio Margarito beat him in 2005. That is, until Margarito turned up the heat.
I had Cintron winning the first round, as he landed some really good, hard, clean blows. But Margarito was the Tony Margarito of old, pressuring Cintron relentlessly and punching without so much as a moment's break.
Margarito took the rest of the fight, and by the fifth round, it was clear: Kermit Cintron is just not going to stack up to a rugged fighter like Margarito who is willing to take his best shots and keep moving forward. Cintron is definitely a better fighter than he was in 2005. That was clear.
But he doesn't have the mental fortitude to stand up to a true challenge. He battered Jesse Feliciano and creamed Walter Matthysse last year, but neither of those guys match up to Margarito. When Margarito put Cintron's will to the test, Cintron folded like a cheap tent again.
It's certainly not a nice thing to say, but it's true. Cintron resorted to begging the referee to warn Margarito about various fouls, particularly punching to the back of the head that Cintron's ducking down was creating in the first place.
Trainer Manny Steward seemed like he'd all but given up on trying to win the fight entering the sixth round, which turned out to be the final frame of the bout. He implored Cintron to box Margarito, but Margarito landed a left jab, a right to the temple, and then a vicious left hook to the midsection, a combination from which Cintron had no hope of recovering.
Chances are, this means we're going to see Cotto-Margarito in July. And what a hell of a fight that one looks like it'll be. Both were on top of their game and pretty routinely disposed of their opposition on Saturday night.
On Showtime, Chad Dawson's unanimous decision win (116-112 on all three cards) over former champion Glen Johnson was as close as it gets, with both guys fighting very well in bursts. I had it 114-114, and either man getting the official victory would have been an acceptable outcome. Johnson's right hand bothered Dawson many times, but Dawson's speed and movement gave Johnson fits, forcing him into the role of pursuer, a role that got him nailed with quick combos on several occasions.
The only point where either man was in real trouble was the 10th, when Johnson obviously had Dawson in big trouble. Dawson gamely held on and survived the round. It was a hell of a good, competitive, well-fought bout, with no clinching or breaks in action. It wasn't a big, hard-hitting brawl, but it was a damn good matchup.
This would seem to lead to Dawson-Tarver this summer or autumn, but I'll still be surprised if we see Tarver actually sign off on that. Just call it a hunch. No matter how much Antonio Tarver talks, I'll believe that fight is happening when it's actually signed and sealed.
We now begin the one-week countdown to the huge Bernard Hopkins-Joe Calzaghe fight next weekend, live on HBO. We'll be there, and I still can't pick a winner with that one. We'll have coverage all week long, so stick around.