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Watson’s Winners and Losers of the boxing week: Edwards, Berlanga, Zayas, Cobbs, more

Sunny Edwards, Kenshiro Teraji and Xander Zayas impressed as Edgar Berlanga limped over the line.

Sunny Edwards was one of the Winners for last week
Sunny Edwards was one of the Winners for last week
Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

WINNERS

Sunny Edwards

Twitter “bAnTeR” world champion and — less esteemed — IBF flyweight world champion Sunny Edwards rubber-stamped his spot at the top of the 112 lb rankings this past weekend with a comprehensive victory over Muhammad Waseem.

“Showtime” is doing his very best to draw eyes to the often neglected lower weight divisions, with his eccentricity and showboating — and willingness to engage on social media — becoming part of a growing package.

You’ll have to do very well to beat Edwards over 12 rounds at flyweight, a point he has underlined with two successful defences of his world title following his crowning against Moruti Mthalane last April.

A fight with WBC king Julio Cesar Martinez — who had Sunny’s brother Charlie in all sorts of bother in their 2019 NC — would be an absorbing clash of styles and can hopefully be made next.

Xander Zayas

Junior middleweight prospect Xander Zayas took to his first scheduled eight-rounder like a duck to water this past weekend, besting Quincy LaVallais via lopsided scores in the co-feature in New York.

It’s easy to see why many pundits are getting hyped around the career of Zayas.

The Puerto Rican picks his shots beautifully and his punch output is usually enough to swarm and drown his opposition in style.

There’s still plenty for the 19-year-old to learn but he’s well placed to become a force at 154 and 160.

Vasiliy Lomachenko

Not much needs to be said here.

Vasiliy Lomachenko — who recently returned to his home country to defend against the ongoing Russian invasion — has decided to remain in Ukraine, withdrawing from a lightweight title contest with George Kambosos Jr scheduled for June 5.

Alongside Oleksandr Usyk, the Klitschko brothers and many more, Lomachenko has continued to define heroism.

Notable mentions: Alexis Rocha, Kenshiro Teraji

LOSERS

Probellum

Well I guess the cat is finally out of the bag.

Granted, the bag was pretty see-through this whole time, but ignorance can be pretty fucking bliss in the murky world of professional boxing.

But for those who don’t know, the “cat” in this instance is the involvement of Daniel Kinahan – suspected mob boss and the reputed head of a $1.1 billion drugs and weapons cartel – in boxing promotional company Probellum.

Fighters have flocked to Probellum since their formation late last year, using Richard Schaefer and UK-based businessman Ali Shams Pour as the respectable front to their growing organisation.

Who would have thought that it would be the Provincial Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Government of Punjab, Pakistan, Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti, that would confirm Kinahan’s association with the company as he Tweeted some gorgeous photos of the gang this Sunday evening.

Yes, this is boxing’s worst kept secret, but their consistent doubling down on refuting Kinahan’s involvement is becoming pretty embarrassing, if not unsavoury.

I tested the waters in November last year, feigning interest in a content creation role with Probellum and pushing the recruitment team on Probellum’s links with Kinahan and MTK Global.

I was categorically told that these were just “internet rumours” and there was consistent denial that Probellum was Trademark Owned by Global Promotional Management LTD — which, breaking news, it is.

I was then ignored when providing proof, and here we are.

Listen, it’s pretty tough to play the moral arbiter in sport like boxing, but it’s impossible not to feel a little bit queasy anytime MTK Global or Probellum are referenced.

Edgar Berlanga

I know, I know, Edgar Berlanga got the win on Saturday night against Steve Rolls, but listing him as a LOSER this week is merely out of disappointment for his recent nose-dive in performance.

Running 16-0 with first round KO’s as a real fearsome banger turned plenty of heads in the boxing world, but in hindsight, sending the 24-year-old on this run of questionable opposition (that’s me being kind!) has done him no favours whatsoever.

The New Yorker now looks completely obsessed and infatuated with his power and has neglected development in his all-round boxing artillery. Rolls asked plenty of questions of Berlanga although it’s unclear whether the Canadian came to the MSG Theater truly expecting to win.

Put any experienced, well-drilled, fundamentally-sound boxer in front of the “Chosen One” and he will probably struggle. Overhauling fundamentals this deep into an unbeaten pro career will be a hard pill to swallow, but one that will be necessary to reach his full potential.

Blair Cobbs

Everyone loves seeing a mouthy pretender getting knocked down a peg (or three!), especially Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.

Blair Cobbs’ hands couldn’t keep up with his mouth this weekend as the 32-year-old southpaw was handed the first loss of his professional career by an impressive Alexis Rocha.

The unity in the LA crowd wanting Cobbs to taste defeat for the first time in his career was audible as referee Rudy Barragan stopped the fight in the ninth round, copping a couple of instinctual body shots from Cobbs as his spaghetti legs and dazed head attempted to process information.

“Does Blair the Flair look like he gives a shit? I don’t think so,” he said pre-fight in relation to fighting anyone and everyone — he may now have second thoughts about mixing it with the elite at 147.

But then again, maybe not.

Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the BWAA. Follow or contact him on Twitter @lewroyscribbles