It was an eventful weekend of boxing that was highlighted by championship matches in Glendale, Arizona and New York City. While much of the plaudits will go to the likes of Emanuel Navarette and Amando Serrano, it says here that an equal amount of praise should be given to Liam Wilson and Erika Cruz, whose efforts truly made things memorable.
As they say, it takes two to tango.
Things started off on Friday night at the Desert Diamond Arena where ESPN featured a main event for the vacant WBO 130-pound title between 'Vacquero' Navarette (who was aiming to become a three-division belt-holder) the Aussie, who was tabbed in place of the injured Oscar Valdez.
Wilson was a sizable underdog, and thought to be nothing more than cannon fodder for Navarette. But it was Wilson who held the advantages in height and length, and it was clear early on that under the direction of respected trainer, Barry Hunter, that didn't come for just a participation ribbon.
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
In the fourth round the long-limbed Wilson uncorked a series of whipping punches, punctuated by a left hook that staggered and hurt Navarette, sending him to the canvas in a stunning turn of events. Just like that, a real fight had broken out and Wilson was on the verge of a monumental upset.
Emanuel Navarrete & Liam Wilson Have Fight of the Year, Both Get Dropped, Navarrete Gets KO Win in 9
This was no flash knockdown, Navarette was legitimately buzzed. But in a savvy bit of gamesmanship --- or maybe we can just call it cheating -- he spat out his mouthpiece, and bought himself more time to recover from referee Chris Flores. Keep this in mind, a 10-count, isn't necessarily 10 seconds on the dot. But no fighter should ever be given the 27 seconds that Navarette got to recover.
(It says here, that in instances like this the offending party should be forced to lose a point immediately, and also be forced to box the rest of the round without their mouthguard.)
Wilson was unable to truly capitalize on this window of opportunity and over time the awkwardly effective Navarette just wore down Wilson. Yeah, Navarette is a very flawed technical fighter, but he's good at what he does. Yet it does leave you wondering how he fares at 130 versus naturally bigger men.
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
The next evening it was ladies night at the Hulu Theater at MSG, with a pair of undisputed title bouts topping the bill. Alycia Baumgardner hammered home a decisive 10-round decision over the game Elhem Mekhaled, dropping her twice in the process. 'the Bomb' said she faded down the stretch a bit because she had just begun her....never mind.
With this victory, the undisputed featherweight champion now has a load of lucrative options, including a rematch with arch-nemesis, Mikaela Mayer, who was in attendance. Yeah, these two aren't exactly BFF's.
"I'LL KNOCK HER THE F*** OUT." Alycia Baumgardner post-fight Interview
Then in the main event, Amanda Serrano, slugged it out over 10 frenetic rounds against 'Dinamita' Cruz, who proved to be quite a little firecracker in there. Over the first half of this bout, it was Cruz who swarmed Serrano, and consistently clipped her with the right hook from her southpaw stance.
While Serrano was the heavy favorite, nobody told Cruz, and she kept bringing the fight to the favorite who on this night didn't bother to move her head all that much and paid the price.
Ed Mulholland for Matchroom Sports
But Serrano showed her class by turning things around in the middle and late rounds, by landing the sharper punches that blunted the forward march of Cruz. What also impacted the fight was a clash of heads in the early rounds that cut Cruz, and left her looking like 'Carrie' at the prom. Her face was such a bloody mess, that when she got close to Serrano, she became one as well.
The two never stopped throwing punches. It's fights like this where you can make the argument that woman's boxing is better off having two-minute stanza's as it creates a faster pace, and more action packed affairs.
UNDISPUTED | Amanda Serrano vs. Erika Cruz Fight Highlights
After all the mayhem it was Serrano on top by the tallies of 98-92 (twice) and 97-93. These scores do not reflect just how competitive and hard-fought this bout was. Serrano, now the undisputed featherweight queen, will now go forth with a rematch against Katie Taylor on May 20. Last year the two headlined at the big room of the Garden with Taylor winning by a smidge in what was a watershed moment for female fighters.
To the victor go the spoils, both Navarette and Serrano will move onto bigger and better things. But that doesn't mean that the efforts of Wilson and Cruz should be forgotten about. Yes, winning matters, but despite coming up short in valiant efforts, these two did something that is almost as important -- they made us want to see them again.
Richardson Hitchins (16-0, 7 KOs) was impressive in defeating the previously undefeated, John Bauza (17-0, 7 KOs), over 10 rounds. The former Mayweather Promotions protege' is now under the Matchroom Boxing banner, and it looks like the 25 year old native of Brooklyn, New York, will soon be a player at 140.
Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Sports
Hitchins is a sound technician, with speed and quickness. Bauza, tried his best but was simply unable to solve this puzzle in front of him. He was courageous, but not as courageous as his corner who kept sending him out there in the late rounds as he was really getting banged up.
Emiliano Vargas won a hard-fought four round decision on the Top Rank undercard versus the tough, Francisco 'El' Duque....Arnold Barboza pounded out a 10 round win over Jose Pedraza in the co-main on ESPN...I have to admit Nico Ali Walsh is improving.....Who else was impacted by the power outage in Los Angeles on Sunday?....So who will be the new offensive coordinator for the Miami Hurricanes?....When will Kyrie Irving demand a trade out of Dallas?....I can be reached at email@example.com....