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Winners and Losers for the month in boxing: Haney, Bam Rodriguez, Beterbiev, Jake Paul, WBA, Oscar De La Hoya, more

June was an eventful and sometimes odd month for the sport of boxing, with many coming out strong and others looking silly.

Devin Haney was among the clear “winners” this month in boxing
Devin Haney was among the clear “winners” this month in boxing
Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images

WINNERS

Jesse Rodriguez

Like that indie band you claim to have discovered before they breakthrough and start headlining festivals, Bam Rodriguez is one of the hottest sought-after names in boxing after a stellar start to 2022.

Wins over Carlos Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai have seen the 22-year-old rocket from the BBC Introducing Stage to the Pyramid Stage in blistering speed (forgive my belated Glastonbury reference) and slot in at No. 4 in Bad Left Hook’s official unofficial 115lb rankings.

Bam was a big favourite against the experienced SSR, but not many envisaged how the youngster was able to pick apart the Thai fighter with spite, precision and silky smooth footwork, cementing his place as one of June’s big WINNERS.

Plus, there is a real boyish charm in seeing a performance like his, followed up by his Tweet reading: “Bruh I have ZERO snacks in my apartment.”

Akin to imagining, I don’t know, Artur Beterbiev eating an ice cream, or Naoya Inoue playing hopscotch.

Time is on the side of Rodriguez and his ceiling is a beautiful mystery.

Stephen Fulton Jr vs Murodjon Akhmadaliev dreamers

I’ve been accused of playing the “boxing hipster” card when citing my No. 1 pick for realistic match-ups for the rest of 2022, but fuck it, I’ll double-down on my choice down at junior featherweight whilst sipping on a craft beer, wearing an Urban Outfitters beanie and humming Arcade Fire.

Steph Fulton and MJ Akhmadaliev both registered impressive wins in June, moving their potential “uNdIsPuTeD” fight into view at 122lbs and confirming their spots as No. 1 and No. 2 in the division at a canter.

I’m not willing to get bogged down in the possible PBC/Matchroom politics in making this fight — which I know could cause a big stumbling block, but I’m choosing to be an optimist today — but rather revel in a clash of two very exciting styles.

Fulton’s fast hands and jab vs MJ’s output, aggression, and inside work would hopefully blend into a classic.

Jake Paul

I’m not sure how, but Jake Paul is slowly turning the opinion on the boxing world.

Don’t quote me on that — fuck it, quote me on that — but it seems that picking up where he left off in prodding, poking and annoying the Furys is doing his #brand a whole world of good.

He is, by definition, an entertainer, and the 25-year-old seems to have Tommy Fury, Tyson Fury, and John Fury all on strings, en route to securing himself another huge payday against the former in August.

Paul is a very narrow underdog for the Fury fight at 11/10 (+110) and if he manages to beat the Briton/former Love Islander, then I guess we’ve got to start taking him even more seriously?

In truth, we have no idea how good either of these guys are, but enough people seem to care.

Artur Beterbiev

I, like Scott, get very irritated by the insistence of weekly pound-for-pound debates, and I, like Scott, find myself being drawn into an opinion more often than I would like, but I, unlike Scott, would bump Artur Beterbiev comfortably into the top 10.

The Russian wrecking machine is completely terrifying, has knocked out everyone he has ever fought in the pros and is building a very solid resume of victims in the 175 lb division. Anthony Yarde looks to be next, and I for one will be doing all I can to be ringside in October for Beterbiev’s London debut.

June’s win over Joe Smith Jr was Beterbiev at his destructive best, and was more than convincing enough to see the 37-year-old grab a place on the month’s WINNERS list.

Devin Haney

In a toss up for the fifth spot between Devin Haney and Naoya Inoue, the American “Dream” takes it by a nose following his journey Down Under to snatch the lightweight title away from George Kambosos Jr.

Sure, the fight didn’t set the world alight, but Haney’s performance added fuel to the old adage that a good right hand can take you around the block, but a good jab can take you around the world... even to Australia!

I’m still expecting a fair amount of pass the parcel-ing around the 135lb division, as we tip our hat to the fourth different king in three years, but for now, Haney is the man in the driving seat.

LOSERS

Jarrell Miller and the WBA

After a near four-year absence from fighting due to multiple bans, BIIIIG “Big Baby” Miller — breaking the scales at 341 lbs — returned to action at the WBA’s “KO Drugs” event in Buenos Aires.

Yes, that sentence is pretty mental, and the WBA doubled down on this weird hypocrisy by describing Miller on their website as being “inactive” since 2018, rather than choosing to list his cocktail of EPO, HGH, GW501516 and other expected combinations of banned letters and numbers that has seen him slip into heavyweight irrelevance.

Any sensible promoter with a conscience would do well to ignore the “comeback” of Miller, but this is boxing, and “sense” and “conscience” are often too easily corrupted by the grimace of a handful of Benjamins.

Saudi suck-ups

Let me stay on my high horse for just one more section.

Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua 2 heads to Saudi Arabia in August in a well-executed (ahem!!) money-grab.

Of course, it’s not the first time that Joshua or Matchroom Boxing have headed east to the Kingdom, following on from their criticised rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr back in 2019.

Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK’s head of campaigns, said back then, that while they never expected Joshua to be an overnight expert, “if you’re fighting for big money in a country with a human rights record as bad as Saudi Arabia, then you’d be well advised to counter criticism by speaking out about human rights issues.

“The fight is pure sportswashing and that’s why it’s so important to challenge the Saudi propaganda machine and its increased use of sport to gloss over its abysmal human rights record.”

Jakens added: “Joshua has a record of supporting charities here in Britain and we’d hope he’d be prepared to voice concern for people like the jailed Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul.”

Oscar De La Hoya

“Just received a 10 figure offer to sell @GoldenBoyBoxing, what should I do?” Oscar De La Hoya Tweeted early in the month.

If a) this is true, then he’s a LOSER for not accepting there and then.

If b) this isn’t true, then he’s a LOSER for trying the attention-seeking tactics of a teenager trying to attract the gaze of their crush on Bebo.

Sorry, Oscar.

Leonard Ellerbe

While Eddie Hearn revels in playing role of #BantersaurusRex, #ArchbishopofBanterbury and #EricBantona Stateside, Leonard Ellerbe continues to take the bait and bite hard on the British promoter’s antics.

In what is clearly just a typical promotional dick-swinging contest, Hearn and Ellerbe have been enjoying a war of words over the past month, mainly focusing around Hearn’s attempts to conquer the US market with DAZN, and the potential poaching of Gervonta Davis.

In short, Hearn has delivered at least a couple of 10-8 rounds leaving Ellerbe swinging and missing, and failing to notice when the Briton’s tongue is firmly nestled in his cheek.

British sarcasm... AMIRIGHT?!

Don King Productions

Don King’s “FIGHT FOR FREEDOM AND PEACE” show, headlined by Trevor Bryan vs Daniel Dubois, was one of the most bizarre things I have ever witnessed on TV in the late hours of a Saturday night — and trust me, there is healthy competition!

Everything about the event was pure nonsense — including the WBA heavyweight title up for grabs — with the crowd resembling that at a shotgun wedding, where the bride and groom had handed out random invites a few hours before.

Eventual winner Daniel Dubois wasn’t even booked a cab to the fight, so would have had to deduct an Uber fare for him and Shane McGuigan out of his purse, probably questionably assuming that he would get paid.

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