Miguel Cotto had the right idea. On Saturday night, after watching his stable of boxers on the Top Rank undercard at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Cotto, decided to call it a night and head back to Canastota, and get ready for Sunday's festivities associated with the International Boxing Hall-of-Fame.
ESPN camera's showed him as he departed his ringside seat before their main broadcast began.
He didn't miss much.
Because on a card dedicated to the Puerto Rican Day Parade -- and tradition that was spawned in large part due to Cotto's popularity -- there were no future Cotto's on display, unfortunately,
This was highlighted by the struggles of super middleweight hopeful, Edgar Berlanga, who once again struggled against the aged Roamer Alexis Angulo. While the scores were lopsided (98-92 and 99-91 twice), the fight in actuality was much closer. There were times when the plodding Angulo landed solid punches on the retreating Berlanga, whose nose was bloodied early on, and his face marked up.
Mikey Williams for Top Rank
It wasn't too long ago that Berlanga was a bully inside the ring. In fact, much of the buzz surrounding him came because of his 16 fight first round KO streak to begin his career. That streak came to an end last April as Demond Nicholson extended him the eight round distance. But that bout could be chalked up as a good learning experience, and Berlanga did score four knockdowns in that contest.
His troubles really began as he was floored in the ninth round by Marcelo Coceres on the Fury-Wilder III undercard. Since that point, with the cloak of invincibility fully torn off, he has looked downright vulnerable. Berlanga then struggled versus the blown up Steve Rolls in March.
And this past weekend, he seemed very hesitant to even really sit on his punches and throw them with authority. The slugger is now a slap hitter, content to just box safely from the perimeter off his back foot. No longer the intimidator, Berlanga is now reticent to mix it up. You get the sense that his issues are every bit as psychological as they are technical.
Things hit a low point as camera's caught Berlanga trying to take a bite out of Angulo in round seven.
The largely Puerto Rican contingent inside the building seemed largely uninterested by the lack of real drama or sustained action. The truth of the matter is that while the Hulu Theater looked full, Top Rank did have to paper the arena a bit. Fat Joe was probably bored by the middle rounds.
After what we saw on Saturday, this particular date needs to be reserved for Zayas as the headliner from here on out. Here's hoping he never gets sick again in the month of June for the next decade or so.
Meanwhile on the other side of the country, there was a card put forth by Golden Boy Promotions that featured their young popular Mexican, Jaime Munguia, who was matched against Jimmy 'Kilrain' Kelly at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Kelly, who hails from Manchester, England, was a sizable underdog coming in. But what was thought to be a walkover for Munguia, instead was a struggle early on. Kelly was able to box effectively in the early rounds, and beat the slow reacting Munguia to the punch consistently. The way things were going, it gave you Dennis Hogan flashbacks.
Tom Hogan for Golden Boy Promotions
But alas, Munguia's superior firepower turned things around in dramatic fashion in the fifth, as he scored three knockdowns that stanza. This prompted referee Thomas Taylor to wave things off near the end of the round.
While the ending of the fight was emphatic, the overall performance was desultory. Munguia looked lethargic and disinterested at times, while Erik Morales has improved his overall game in recent years, you're left wondering if Munguia himself was a bit bored by his competition.
Tom Hogan for Golden Boy Promotions
Golden Boy has done a good job keeping him active (three outings since November) but after a solid test versus the experienced Gabe Rosado, he has been paired against D'metrius Ballard, and now Kelly in '22. There was some talk a few months ago of him facing current WBC middleweight champion, Jermall Charlo, but those negotiations hit a stalemate as Oscar De La Hoya stated that no such fight could happen unless DAZN was involved.
Munguia, at age 25 is now 40-0. At what point do the training wheels come off?
It's certainly a star-studded lineup that was honored this past weekend in Canastota, with the IBHOF the past two years not being able to do their yearly event to honor their inductees. A tip of the cap to everyone that was enshrined.
But I wanted to spotlight James Toney (who should've been a first-ballot inductee), who was my favorite fighter post-Marvin Hagler in the early-to-mid 90's. He was as skilled, as he was volatile, and he was a true craftsmen inside the ring under the guidance of Bill 'Pops' Miller.
Toney was not just talented, but also tough. Oftentimes you get one, without the other. He was both.
I often refer to him as the last 'full-time American champion' that boxing has had. And some of you will ask what I mean by that. It's a fair question given that most world-class boxers do this as their profession. But mostly they are stuck nowadays fighting twice a year with how the current business model is constructed.
From 1991 to 1994, from the year that he won his first major world title till his loss to Roy Jones, Toney performed 23 times, as he became a household name. And he was a guy that wanted to stay active. He wasn't just satisfied making two appearances on HBO and languishing, he made it clear to Top Rank and his manager, Jackie Kallen, that he was more than willing to do non-title and stay-busy bouts.
He told me last year, "I wanted to fight a lot." Toney explained that while he wasn't getting millions for these bouts as he would on premium cable, he was still banking six-figures per appearance.
Think about this, he had his classic duel with Mike McCallum in 1991. Then his memorable war against Vasiliy Jirov in 2003. How many boxers have had 'fight of the year' candidates a dozen years apart?
I don't think there will ever really be another guy quite like him.
Congratulations to 'Lights Out'.
Among the others who were inducted this year is Bill Caplin, certainly a boxing lifer if there ever was one... Also Dan Goossen, who was instrumental in the late career revival of Toney was honored with induction into the IBHOF....Hiroto Kyoguchi retained his WBA jr. flyweight belt by slicing up Esteban Bermudez in eight rounds in Mexico on Friday night...Speaking of Toney, anyone else remember his classic interviews with Jim Rome back in the early days of 'the Jungle' and ESPN2? Those were incredibly funny -- and profane...I can be reached at email@example.com...