A couple of weeks ago, as September was wrapping up and October was coming in like every promoter in boxing had fallen asleep, I started this little Sunday “takeaways” idea. As I said then, starting a new weekly feature the week before there would be no need for that feature ran the risk of me forgetting to ever do it again.
But I made a vow to you, personally and directly, that I would set myself a reminder and be back on Oct. 9. I told you to stick it in your pipe and smoke it!
Well, here I am. And this weekend was not what it was meant to be. The cancellation of Eubank vs Benn was not only a debacle, but something that went well beyond the tired “black eye for boxing” phrase. As Lewis Watson put it, it was a chance for everyone, including more “casual” fans in the United Kingdom especially, to look into the dark cesspit of boxing and see this sport for what it really is when you peel back its thin surface layer.
The fact that anyone tried to push that fight forward for Saturday after not only the “adverse findings” for Benn’s drug test, but the BBBofC prohibiting the fight, smacked of both desperation and hypocrisy in heavy doses. And it answered the main question of last week’s podcast pretty emphatically.
So we didn’t get what really was the week’s clear headline fight, one that was going to have a lot to talk about whether you loved or hated it. Now this coming week’s schedule is so stacked with name brand fights — Wilder vs Helenius, Shields vs Marshall, Mayer vs Baumgardner, Haney vs Kambosos 2, Swingler vs Cherdleys — that even if we lose one, there will be a lot to talk about.
Next week, then, this thing will be packed to the gills. Make yourself a nice drink and put the jazz record on a background volume as you relax in your luxurious living room to read it, like a fancy person on a television program sitting down with a nice book.
As for this week, thank the heavens for Showtime and the Premier Boxing Champions, for at least we still wound up with something to talk about.
Sebastian Fundora vs Carlos Ocampo
The basics: Fundora did Fundora business, throwing a bunch of punches and picking up a decision win that I thought was clear, if maybe one card was a bit wider than I think absolutely fair. Fundora (20-0-1, 13 KO) remains unbeaten and still has the interim WBC title, keeping him up front in the queue to face undisputed champ Jermell Charlo.
Thoughts: I liked the fight, and I think Ocampo deserves real credit for a good game plan that he executed as best he could, Fundora is just really hard to fight and also just really good. Referee Jack Reiss will eat up a good bit of the conversation; my thoughts on that were sort of in the middle, and I can see where anyone is coming from, but I would have hated to be in his shoes in this fight. Ocampo (34-2, 22 KO) was competing and also taking some heavy punishment, and Reiss was closest to the action. The Ocampo corner also knew he was taking a lot of punishment. But it was a good fight, really physical, really good pace for most of the bout. Fundora’s so different to everyone else that I think he’s hard to “scout” or judge via performance in some ways. For me, I’m not going to argue with a guy who comes to fight, even if he could be a real brain genius and stand four feet away poking his way to boring 120-108 wins.
Next for Fundora: He won’t be getting Jermell Charlo right away, and he knows that. He’s known it for a while now, which is why he took this fight. Tim Tszyu is first up in the mandatory merry-go-round, and then Fundora will be in line to fight the Charlo vs Tszyu winner, and that fight isn’t taking place until early 2023. The earliest Fundora might get his crack at the real belts would probably be next summer. In the meantime, he’ll probably take another stay-busy.
For Ocampo: Ocampo lost, but he gave a terrific effort, and earned himself another good fight at 154 lbs. Maybe he’ll want to rebound with a tune-up or two, but there’s a lot he can build on from this performance going into 2023. At 26, he still has time to make an impact at 154, and he’s just not going to have to fight anyone like Fundora again, unless he fights Fundora again. Ocampo’s body shots and size — he’s a pretty big 154, no matter what he looked like next to Fundora — could make him a threat to plenty of good fighters.
From the undercard
- Fernando Martinez: The IBF junior bantamweight titleholder proved his win over Jerwin Ancajas in February was no fluke, repeating the victory by pretty much the same scores as last time out. Ancajas (33-3-2, 22 KO) blamed the first loss on a bad weight cut, and said he came into this one in better shape. He fought pretty well, but Martinez (15-0, 8 KO) was just the better man. An ideal fight for Martinez, 31, would be WBO titleholder Kazuto Ioka, who desires unification. But with Martinez on the PBC roster, that may or may not wind up doable. Ancajas also didn’t unify with anyone for years even though 115 has been a really hot division with a lot of standouts. Either way, Martinez is a fun fighter to watch and a welcome addition to any card.
- Carlos Adames: While Juan Macias-Montiel isn’t exactly world class, I thought Adames (22-1, 17 KO) still did an impressive job by stopping him in three. Jermall Charlo didn’t, going a full 12 with Macias-Montiel in the summer of 2021. Charlo’s opposition has been rightly criticized, but I think there’s something to the idea of Charlo not really being terrified of challenges or anything, but simply a true PBC and Al Haymon loyalist, an officer in that army, and he’s just not fighting outside of the PBC umbrella. Leo Santa Cruz has been another guy like this over the years. PBC just have not had middleweight contenders. When Sergiy Derevyanchenko made himself available, Charlo fought him and beat him. PBC clearly were working toward Charlo vs Chris Eubank Jr, and it wasn’t Charlo who decided he needed a fourth career reset in his 30s and moved away from the idea. Adames has made himself a legitimate contender at 160, and he now has the interim WBC belt. Charlo vs Adames is the fight to make for both guys right now — it’s easy to get done, it’s in-house, and the WBC frankly should just order it. It’s also a good fight.
- Egidijus Kavaliauskas: “Mean Machine” took a win over Mykal Fox on the prelims. At 34, he’s still a decent second-tier welterweight, but he is a second-tier welterweight all the same. When he didn’t finish Fox off after two knockdowns in round three, Kavaliauskas (23-2-1, 18 KO) progressively faded, and the fight wound up a fair bit more competitive than the scores will tell you. All the same, he’s a nice addition to the PBC ranks at 147. I’m not gonna pass on Egis fighting Eimantas Stanionis, Cody Crowley, Radzhab Butaev, Rashidi Ellis, Mario Barrios, Custio Clayton, Abel Ramos, Jamal James, or Kudratillo Abdukakhorov. All of those sound like fun fights. He is also, of course, now in the mix to keep Jaron “Boots” Ennis busy, or to get in there with Keith Thurman.