It was a busy, busy, busy weekend of fights, and one that could have been even more so if Lopez-Kambosos had happened as planned.
Lots to talk about, so let’s hop into what could be coming next for the notables in action this weekend.
“The Monster” monstered again, roaring through Michael Dasmarinas pretty much like we figured would happen. Dasmarinas (30-3-1, 20 KO) was never a threat; this was an Apinun Khongsong/Avni Yildirim-level mandatory title fight. It had to happen, but really had no business happening. And considering Dasmarinas beat Kenny Demecillo to get the shot, it’s not like you can go, “Well, he scored a total upset and got there!” This was just the IBF ordering a bad eliminator and giving us a bad mandatory title fight.
Inoue (21-0, 18 KO) is the king at 118. Nonito Donaire and John Riel Casimero are now set to fight on Aug. 14 to unify the WBC and WBO titles, and Inoue has the WBA and IBF. Donaire and Casimero were in the house last night, despite the fact their fight is a PBC-branded Showtime main event and this was a Top Rank card on ESPN. That plants the seed that the Donaire-Casimero winner will get Inoue, and that Guillermo Rigondeaux will shrug and take another check to “step aside” a second time. (He’s 41, let him get his money.)
If that doesn’t come together, Inoue is running out of things to do at 118, and you can probably expect another so-so fight if, indeed, the Donaire-Casimero winner fights RIgondeaux late this year or early in 2022. In fact, the bantamweight options to come next for Naoya other than the Donaire-Casimero winner are so uninteresting that it’s not even worth going into, really. None of them will be seen as having a prayer to beat him. If Kazuto Ioka came up from 115, that might be something, at least. But the other top dogs at 115 are all busy, too, with orders to fight each other some more, and they’re pretty much all Matchroom-affiliated, too. Top Rank’s best in-house option might be Joshua Greer Jr, which — well.
Most expected Charlo (32-0, 22 KO) would stop Juan Macias Montiel on Saturday. He did not, but mostly dominated the fight and won a clear decision. Give Montiel (22-5-2, 22 KO) credit for showing great toughness and doing a little damage of his own on the way to the loss, he gave it the absolute best effort he could. He came to fight and came to win. He was just over-matched.
Charlo is 31 and basically has nobody at 160 to fight within the PBC family. He’s not going to fight Gennadiy Golovkin or Ryota Murata, two other titlists, as they’re headed for one another. The idea for Charlo to face Demetrius Andrade in a WBC/WBO unification has been bandied about a lot, by Eddie Hearn and by Chris Mannix, who has a bizarre obsession with the idea as if the fight would actually be enjoyable to watch. But there are no indications that Charlo wants to fight Andrade, even if — as Hearn says — Andrade would be totally willing to go to a PBC brand (Showtime or FOX) for the fight instead of trying to make it happen on DAZN.
So what then? Charlo could move up to 168. There are better fights with PBC there — even someone like Anthony Dirrell would probably be more interesting than the options he has left at 160. Montiel was already kinda scraping. There’s obviously David Benavidez, who wants the Charlo fight and has called for it, and if Caleb Plant doesn’t fight Canelo, there’s Plant, too.
Charlo would be giving up a belt to move up, though, and may want a title fight quickly to make the move. And with Plant having the IBF and Canelo Alvarez the other three belts in the division, that’s not easy. If Canelo-Plant happens and Canelo wins and has all four belts, that’s not the worst thing. Canelo is not signed with a promoter right now and has no network ties, either. He’s made the smart decision as a true money fighter to look for the best deals available to him for the short-term, then reassess when those deals are done.
The move up might be the one to make. The timing could be right for it. His top WBC contenders are Jaime Munguia (likely won’t happen, politics, etc.), Sergiy Derevyanchenko (been there, beat that), Maciej Sulecki, and Liam Williams. (Montiel was ranked No. 4 going into this fight.) There are no interesting fights for Charlo to make at middleweight right now or in the near future, other than a surprise and getting Andrade or Munguia, both have a low chance of happening.
I have a great deal of admiration for Anderson Silva. I don’t watch MMA as much as I wish I could these days, because I’m pretty tied up most times UFC or even Bellator have cards, but back in my younger days I was a big follower, really liked the sport and still do when I get a chance to tune in.
Anderson Silva’s prime days in mixed martial arts coincided with the peak of my fandom, basically. He was marvelous. He got old, all athletes get old. But he got his chance to get a sorta-relevant boxing fight finally at age 46, and he delivered, flustering and clearly beating Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Chavez should have won. If he’d had any life in his game anymore, he would have. That’s not disrespect to Silva, it’s just that Silva is not a professional boxer. The thing is, Chavez isn’t really anymore either, and hasn’t been for some years now. He stinks. He absolutely reeks. I think he probably has more in the tank than he shows, but he’d have to be willing to access that part of himself, and he isn’t.
Silva’s awkward rhythms and actual effort combined with Chavez’s complete indifference gave Silva a dream night, basically. Anderson says he might box again, and if he does, hey, do the Roy Jones Jr fight. Both have wanted to do it forever. Roy has indicated he’s still interested as recently as March. Maybe you can’t get it sanctioned in the U.S., but you probably could in Russia, where Roy holds citizenship, or somewhere else, maybe Mexico, maybe you even take it to Brazil. Roy’s usually up for adventures.
Jones-Silva won’t be now even what it would have been in 2008 or 2012, but it could still be something as a way for the boys to make some money and just have the meeting they’ve long wanted. Even if you do it as an exhibition, if it’s fun and people enjoy it and even some still want to see it, that’s worth something.
But don’t put Silva in with anyone relevant in 2021. That’s nonsense. He knows that, I’m sure. Chavez was picked for a reason. Jones would happen for a reason.
Munguia’s win over Kamil Szeremeta was about as expected. Szeremeta gave it the old European level try, but he had nothing to bother Munguia (37-0, 30 KO), because Szeremeta is technically sound but not slick, doesn’t move a lot. Fights similar to Munguia in a way, except Szeremeta doesn’t have any power. So two guys who fight pretty straight-ahead and basic, except one can punch and the other can’t, really, the outcome is always going to be what we got.
Munguia is 24 so still young, but anyone still holding out hope that he’s going to dramatically improve should probably let that go. He’s the fighter he’s going to be, he might get a little better at what he does, maybe tighten up sort of basic defense a bit, but he’s never going to be a good defensive fighter. And I think he knows that, too. He knows he’s not fleet of foot or fast with his hands. He knows and accepts who he is, and that’s actually a really good thing, I think. We’ve seen fighters try to tinker too much and change their in-ring DNA, and it just doesn’t work. Jarrett Hurd is a recent example. Dance with what brung ya, as it were.
I’d expect Jaime will fight Gabriel Rosado next if he can’t get a title fight, and unless he gets Demetrius Andrade, I wouldn’t expect a title fight. But the Andrade thing would honestly be a great idea for Andrade if Golden Boy are willing to do it. I’m sure Matchroom and Andrade would, they’d have the confidence that Andrade is simply too slick and skilled for Munguia, but Demetrius always has lulls and Jaime might be relentless enough to take advantage.
I actually kinda love that idea, to be honest, but I don’t expect it. For one thing, Golden Boy might be bracing for a move to working with Triller — though that’s certainly not set in stone — and if we’re all being very honest, Golden Boy do not bring a lot to the table right now. Munguia is a key along with Ryan Garcia (who should be seen as a little bit of a wild card right now) and Vergil Ortiz Jr, and Munguia losing to Andrade before that move wouldn’t be great. So if I were betting, it’ll be Munguia-Rosado. Both want it, Rosado has called for it for a while, and it’s as good and big a fight as it can be right now.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr
Chavez is done as far as anything that matters. I cannot overstate how little interest there is in Chavez (52-5-1, 34 KO) at this point. If you think there still is some because he was on a pay-per-view Saturday, let’s make clear: This was a cheaply-produced, B-level pay-per-view. This was not a PBC or ESPN production or the like. This wasn’t DAZN. And just because you put something behind a paywall doesn’t mean there were a lot of people paying to see it.
More than ever, Chavez, 35, is trading off of his father’s name, in that he literally only gets eyeballs now if his elderly dad is doing an exhibition on the same show. That’s been two of his last three fights, both losses. The other was a club fight in Culiacan that nobody watched. He doesn’t want to fight, puts almost no effort beyond the bare minimum in, and he can’t beat Mario Cazares or a 46-year-old non-boxer anymore. Interest in Chavez has flatlined. He took a major hit when he was so awful against Canelo Alvarez; it wasn’t that he lost, it was that he didn’t try. Most of the remaining fan holdouts seemed to throw in the towel when he quit against Daniel Jacobs in 2019. And any small pockets seem to have given up after his loss to Cazares, where again he basically quit. I’m sure he’ll fight again, but there really isn’t even any name value left in “Julio Cesar Chavez Jr” at this point. If he were a musician, he’d be in his “Lou Gramm of Foreigner tours county fairs” stage.
Here’s a veteran who is not done. His brutal one-punch knockout of Bektemir Melikuziev was the greatest moment of his rugged, hard-fought career, and the 35-year-old Philly vet still has a lot of grit and a lot of desire to be in the ring. His career has been basically the opposite of Chavez Jr’s, they’re the same age and have fought in the same weight classes mostly, but Rosado (26-13-1, 15 KO) was never handed anything from the start, never coddled, has had a lot of tough nights, but still has the drive, spirit, and dedication to go in there and give his best.
It seems likely he’ll probably get that Munguia fight. Gabe’s been fighting at 168 for his last three, but he wouldn’t call for the Munguia fight if he weren’t comfortable going back to 160 for it. He’s not a big super middleweight at all, it’s just been where he could get fights recently.
Mayer retained her WBO 130 lb with a solid win over Erica Farias, a veteran who gave it a real go early, but wound up out-boxed by Mikaela down the stretch.
Mayer (15-0, 5 KO) could jump into the potential World Boxing Super Series tournament at 130, and realistically it’d probably be the best thing if they can also get a good field apart from her. Because Mayer doesn’t have anyone interesting to fight on ESPN. The other titlists at 130 (Terri Harper, Maiva Hamadouche, and Hyun Mi Choi) are all with Matchroom. The only other really notable name at 130 is ex-lightweight titlist Delfine Persoon. I mean, there’s Eva Wahlstrom, but we all know how Mayer-Wahlstrom would go.
This is the general problem the NEW!! generation of women’s boxing are running into now: OK, you’ve done these things. And now what? There still just isn’t a deep pool of talent and the options get limited very quickly. I don’t mean to crap on Top Rank’s promotion of Mayer, they’ve done a fine job, but her career seems likely to stall where it is with them unless she can get one of the other titlists and/or Persoon. And if she gets Persoon and wins, then what?
Esparza won her first world title on Saturday in El Paso, but shouldn’t have. I thought Ibeth Zamora (32-7, 12 KO) deserved the win in that fight, and the 97-92 and 96-93 Esparza cards were particularly awful. Esparza (10-1, 1 KO) seemed a little rattled by the booing from those in attendance at the announcement and in her post-fight interview, not in her words but in her demeanor.
Esparza, 31, is a good fighter, a legit contender, and is fun to watch. She fights very emotionally, always has and probably always will, and I think some of that bit her against Zamora, but the judges gave it to her anyway. In a just world, we get a rematch. Boxing does not exist in a just world, though. The biggest fight would be a rematch with Seniesa Estrada, who has won a belt at 105 and goes for one at 108 next month.
Maybe we see that, but neither of them seem to be rushing to get to it, really. Otherwise Esparza says she wants unification. The other titlists at 112 are Debora Anahi Lopez (WBO), Leonela Paola Yudica (IBF), and Naoko Fujioka (WBA). Neither Fujioka nor Yudica have fought since 2019, and Fujioka is 45.
- Bektemir Melikuziev got a major reality check from Rosado. Melikuziev (7-1, 6 KO) has always fought with a true arrogance to his style and approach, just winging loaded-up shots at over-matched opponents because he was fully confident he truly could just bully everyone. It worked against Rosado for a couple rounds, and then it didn’t, because a veteran timed him and sent his soul from El Paso to the moon for a moment. “Bully Bek” has things to work on. If you’ve seen enough cases like this, and most of you have, it’s at best 50/50 that he will be able to tighten up his game and still be effective.
- Isaac Dogboe and Adam Lopez put on a barnburner on the Top Rank card, with Dogboe getting a majority decision win, no real controversy there. It was a very close fight. Lopez (15-3, 6 KO) remains welcome on screens any time, he’s a marvelous TV fighter. Dogboe (22-2, 15 KO) is a contender at 126, a weird division at the moment, kind of a mess, really. Former titlist at 122, but he was small at 122, and is really small at 126. But Dogboe has definitely shown the Navarrete fights didn’t take his spirit. He’s still got a ton of fight in him.
- Angelo Leo got a win over Aaron Alameda on Showtime. Alameda (25-2, 13 KO) has lost two straight now, but he can fight. It’s too bad he didn’t make weight for this one, that takes a bit of zip out of the performance. If he can still fight at 126, hey, again, that’s a mess of a division, go take a crack at it. Leo (21-1, 9 KO) is just a good, solid fighter. He’s still very much a player at 122.
- Isaac Cruz beat Francisco Vargas, and for how it played out the scoring was fair, Vargas (27-3-2, 19 KO) has been a terrific fan favorite sort of fighter but at 36 he’s about done. That said, Cruz (22-1-1, 15 KO) was wildly dirty in this fight and a referee who wasn’t James Green would have done something about it at some point. Maybe it wouldn’t get to a DQ with a referee in control, because Cruz might have stopped on warnings or deductions, but if he didn’t, he was at “should be DQ’d” level. He can be an exciting fighter and he’s obviously a tough competitor, but him blowing through Diego Magdaleno was the exception, not the rule. I don’t think he’s any real threat to the top guys at 135. Maybe to their beanbags.
- Blair Cobbs is a very fun fighter and did stop Brad Solomon, a firmly established solid gatekeeper. Cobbs (15-0-1, 10 KO) is super flawed, and at 31 he’s flat-out too old to be called a prospect. It’s not like he had some great amateur career or something. I still think Blair “The Flair” is going to get the bad goom from someone. But you know why I think that’ll happen, in part? Because he comes to throw down and give a good show. He’s clearly aware he’s not some amazing defensive fighter or anything, so he throws punches and comes at guys. He says he wants Jessie Vargas (29-3-2, 11 KO), and I like that idea. I think Vargas wins, but hey, maybe not. Jessie is 32, not at his very best anymore, has been kinda half-in, half-out of boxing for a bit. If Cobbs brings heat and Vargas doesn’t have the mind set for it on the night, who knows? And I like that Blair wants to take the crack at someone people know, too. He knows it’s time to try. No matter what, Blair Cobbs is a great TV fighter, welcome on any card I watch.