It was a weekend of boxing, alright!
Fighter of the Week: Terence Crawford
Ray Beltran was no pushover, and Ray Beltran didn't fight poorly, either. Beltran did what he could. Which, as it turned out, wasn't a whole lot against Terence Crawford, who firmly established himself as the best lightweight in the world.
That's Crawford's final note at lightweight, too, as he's moving up to 140 pounds. There's even talk of him being an opponent for Manny Pacquiao, which feels rushed, but what doesn't anymore? Tim Bradley was rushed. Chris Algieri was rushed. Without Mayweather or other Haymon fighters available to fight Manny, the options are limited.
Now, the one good thing is that if Pacquiao doesn't fight Mayweather, Jessie Vargas might be every bit as marketable a PPV opponent as Terence Crawford. I mean, that's not particularly good for us, but it does mean that Crawford doesn't have to be rushed in. They can rush in Vargas instead, and give Crawford another fight or two to see what's what at 140.
With Crawford vacating the WBO lightweight belt soon, that will put him in prime position to fight for the WBO junior welterweight title that Chris Algieri was ridiculously stripped of for fighting the WBO welterweight champion, Pacquiao. And if Pacquiao does officially move down, he'd be given a shot immediately, obviously. So the WBO really covered its bases by ousting Algieri. Slick stuff, WBO.
Is anyone itching to watch Crawford pick Ruslan Provodnikov apart?
Fight of the Week: Evgeny Gradovich D-12 Jayson Velez
In a back-and-forth battle with a great style clash, Gradovich (19-0-1, 9 KO) retained his IBF featherweight title over Velez (22-0-1, 16 KO) in the HBO co-feature on Saturday night, with scores of 117-111 Gradovich, 115-113 Velez, and 114-114.
This was a fight where two guys come out looking better. Velez showed he can fight at this level, while Gradovich showed that no matter who he's against or how successful they are, he can keep up his relentless pressure fighting. Robert Garcia must really love training this guy. A rematch between the two would make sense, since it's not like either of them are going to be banging down the doors for money fights, even if they earned a payday after this one.
Bomb of the Week: Tyson Fury RTD-10 Dereck Chisora
Much like last week's Cleverly-Bellew rematch, this fight was better the first time around, before the rematch loser had his spirit broken. Cleverly fought like a man with no confidence against Bellew, losing a split decision, and Chisora fought like a man with no confidence en route to being stopped. More than Cleverly, though, Chisora fought like he just didn't even care to be there. He found out early that Fury was going to be happy to smack him in the face with a jab constantly, and Chisora no longer seems to have the determination to bull his way in. He sort of just walked toward Fury in a haze, occasionally unleashing a wide right hand that Fury could easily avoid. It got kind of sad, actually.
Fury said after the fight that Chisora could have given any heavyweight in the world a run for their money, because Fury understands the benefits of praising opponents after he's beaten them. But this Chisora is done as a relevant fighter, his will cracked in half when David Haye demolished him in 2012. His five wins between that loss and this one showcase a man who can still fight when he wants to, but when it's difficult, he seems to lose the energy and the will to really go after it.
But none of this is anything against what Fury did, either. Chisora didn't come in indifferent, I don't think. Fury made him indifferent by whacking him around in the earlygoing. It was like watching a jaguar make a rottweiler docile by smacking it in the face with its huge paws. That's a weird comparison. I'm not sure a rottweiler would pick a fight with a jaguar. But if they were boxers, maybe.
Insult of the Week: Mickey Rourke
Stroking the ego of a 62-year-old actor was something a group of people thought was a thing worth their time. It was not. The "fight" was the biggest joke of the year in boxing, and no matter what year you're talking about, that says something. Mickey Rourke's "fight" -- against a man now reported to be homeless with mental health issues, and fixed to boot -- was so pathetic and so transparent that it made the Ruslan Provodnikov vs Jose Luis Castillo main event look good.
Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down
Thumbs Up! to the great city of Omaha, Nebraska, home to Saddle Creek Records and raucous fight fans who just love their hometown champion, Terence Crawford. Omaha has just the one guy, but with that one guy, they might have become the best fight city in the States this year, in terms of how enjoyable their audience makes watching a fight on TV. People yelling is fantastic.
Thumbs Down! to everyone involved in the Mickey Rourke fiasco in Moscow. And the Provodnikov-Castillo fight. Except Castillo, he got paid. Good for him.
Thumbs Up! to Tyson Fury, who continues to make improvements and has become one of the best heavyweights in the game. To my eye, he's no worse than the third-best heavyweight in the world right now, behind Wladimir Klitschko and maybe Bermane Stiverne. But we're holding up Stiverne on wins over Chris Arreola, too, so it's hard to be sure. (Arreola's better than most Fury opponents, which is why I'm just saying it's hard to be sure. It's hard to be sure about anyone but Wladimir, honestly.)
Thumbs Down! to boxing TV broadcasts that take forever. Look, I like that BoxNation televises an entire card. Why not? It's all they do at BoxNation. Just boxing. But structure is key here, and putting on a fight like Sykes-Walsh to be followed by Buglioni and Mitchell Smith fights is just asking to make a card feel like it's dragging on forever. Follow the UFC pattern: prelims all together, main card all together. Gavin-Skeete would not have seemed nearly as awful if it had been fight two of the four that we really tuned in to see, instead of fight four after two snore-worthy contests.
Weekly POWER 25!
- Floyd Mayweather (1): Remains the pound-for-pound king.
- Sergey Kovalev (2): A lot of you think I'm overrating Kovalev. I do not. He shut out Bernard Hopkins not because he was a bad style matchup, but because he was a better fighter. This ain't Dawson!
- Manny Pacquiao (3): Now we await the next announcement to indicate that Mayweather-Pacquiao talks are just a bunch of garbage, and then we can get down to the real business: Mayweather-Khan/Alexander and Pacquiao-...Vargas? Crawford?
- Roman Gonzalez (4): If he was ranked No. 2, would you really argue? I don't mean that in, like, an "instead of Kovalev" way, but I just mean if someone considered Gonzalez the second-best fighter in the world today, would you argue? Where do you rank him?
- Carl Froch (5): Probably should fight DeGale, but that's a real risk and Froch badly wants that Las Vegas Dream Vacation next year.
- Timothy Bradley (6): Has Diego Chaves next week on HBO.
- Juan Manuel Marquez (7): Just hangin' out.
- Guillermo Rigondeaux (8): Rigondeaux is now set to face Hisashi Amagasa on December 31 in Osaka. This may be the level of opponent he's going to have to face from now on. Nobody wants him -- fighters, networks, promoters.
- Wladimir Klitschko (9): Klitschko's long-awaited return to American soil possibly coming next. "Long-awaited." The last time he was here, he stunk out the joint with Sultan Ibragimov.
- Gennady Golovkin (10): It's cool how Golovkin fights, and then sets up his next fight, and his team doesn't waste time with fake negotiations for fights they know won't happen.
- Juan Francisco Estrada (11): Estrada fights a tune-up on Saturday. Or a stay-busy, really. He doesn't need tuning up. He needs to stay busy.
- Danny Garcia (12): Danny Garcia did not have a great 2014, but he'd had a great 2011-13, so, y'know, relaxation year. Darkhorse for Floyd next, I guess.
- Terence Crawford (14): A one-spot jump after his win over Beltran, and arguably I could have gone a bit more aggressive. But I don't forget what Garcia has done, or what the other guys up there have done. Crawford appears on his way, but let's not go TOO wild.
- Takashi Uchiyama (13): Loses a spot because Crawford was so good.
- Adonis Stevenson (15): Stevenson faces Dmitry Sukhotsky on December 19, and people are just going crazy with anticipation.
- Mikey Garcia (16): Becomes inactive on January 26, 2015.
- Bernard Hopkins (17): Crazy old man turns 50 in January, will fight at least once more.
- Shinsuke Yamanaka (18): A fight with Rodrigo Guerrero could be in the offing. Or maybe someone else. The world is wild, you guys.
- Omar Narvaez (19): Won't get no respect ever. His faults are real -- too many weak opponents, ugly style -- but so are his strengths -- wins all the time, stays active, is really effective.
- Nicholas Walters (20): You ever get Gary Young's "Plant Man" stuck in your head and then nonsensically replace "Plant Man" with "Axe Man"? AXE MAAAAAAAAAN. SHIRTS.
- Canelo Alvarez (21): Kinda upset we're not getting that Clottey fight now, to be honest. I just wish there was a Canelo fight this month instead of not a Canelo fight. Don't know what you almost got 'til it's gone.
- Kell Brook (22): Still looking like spring 2015 for his return.
- Naoya Inoue (23): If he beats Narvaez, I think he has to be a top 15 guy. I mean, not if it's a robbery. We're talking a clean, clear win here.
- Carl Frampton (24): Would you give him a shot against Rigondeaux?
- Miguel Cotto (25): Bringing up the rear again.