There was a lot of boxing this past Saturday. So much in fact that there were three separate boxing cards on at the same time during the evening, along with UFC 273. With that, I went over to the home of my Montebello High School classmate, Hugo, who set up three screens in his living room (yes, his wife approves!!) and my laptop to view all the action.
So yeah, we were at Fight Central in Whittier, California.
It took awhile, but he was finally able to get all the screens synced with the appropriate networks, and for several hours we were immersed in boxing and MMA. You may be asking just how I was able to focus in on everything at one time, folks....that's why I get paid the big bucks.
Here are some random thoughts on what I witnessed this past weekend.
OLDIE BUT GGGOODIE
- So the action started in the early morning, as Gennadiy Golovkin went to 'the Land of the Rising Sun' to face Ryoto Murata in a middleweight unification bout. And yes, I actually woke up at around 5 a.m (PT) to catch this bout live from Japan on DAZN.
After a slow start, where Golovkin was touched up by Murata, he got going in the fifth round. He started to put his combinations together, going both to the body and head of Murata. It's hard to tell if his relative slow start was a result of corrosion(having just turned 40 the day before) or merely ring rust(having not boxed since December of 2020).
But from the time he hit Murata with a booming right hand that had his opponent's gumshield shooting out of his mouth in the sixth frame, he dominated the fight and battered Murata en route to a ninth round stoppage.
By all accounts it was a solid effort. But Golovkin is judged not by what he is today -- which is still one of the elite middleweights in the world -- but what he was back several years ago. And perhaps that's not fair or logical, given that most boxers are in physical decline at age 40, but his standing in the sport has always been the subject of heated debate.
Ask yourself this: who would you clearly favor over him at this juncture that fights between 160 and 168, against anyone not named Canelo Alvarez?
No, he isn't the same force he was back in 2015, but he's still quite a formidable fighter.
- Also on this card was WBO flyweight titlist, Junto Nakatani, who scored an 8th round TKO of Ryota Yamauchi. Nakatani, who is trained by Rudy Hernandez is a fighter to keep an eye on. Just 24 years old, he is a blue-chip talent. The way he delivers and lands punches is textbook.
- Meanwhile in San Antonio at the Alamodome, it was the return of Ryan Garcia, who had the chore of chasing the reluctant, Emmanuel Tagoe around the ring for 12 laborious rounds. While Tagoe is from Ghana, on this night he was like a Kenyan marathoner. He was beyond negative in there.
Putting that aside, while 'KingRy' scored an early knockdown, as the fight progressed you saw Garcia's fundamental flaws become more apparent.
Golden Boy Promotions
He has a tendency to sacrifice his technique for speed and quickness. Garcia has a lightning fast counter left hook, but he doesn't turn over his right hand all that well. Most of the time it's a slap delivered with a lot of velocity. Also he's very upright in his stance, with very little bend at his knees, and very flat-footed.
Joe Goossen still has a lot of work to do, here. Since Valentine's Day 2020, Garcia has fought just two times. Which isn't nearly enough for a fighter of his age (23) that has less than 25 bouts under his belt. Bottom line, he needs to be active and ply his trade more often.
There are a lot of ingredients to work with when it comes to Garcia. He's got all the requisite quickness and reflexes, legitimate power, and of course he's marketable (nearly 15,000 came out to see him this past weekend), but will Chef Goossen be allowed to cook all this, or will this just be thrown into the microwave?
- I'm not sure who really won between Marlen Esparza and Naoko Fujioka, it looked like a close fight that could've gone either way. But I'm positive that Esparaza didn't win via shuthout (100-90) the way judges Wilfredo Esperon and Jesse Reyes had it.
That smelled like some Texas home cooking for the native of Houston.
- It looks like the end of the road for the well-traveled Gabe Rosado, who was defeated by Shane Mosley Jr. over 10 rounds. He got the most out of his ability, was a resilient sort, and never shied away from a challenge. But on this night, he looked like a guy who had problems pulling the trigger.
- Can we get Azat 'Crazy A' Hovhannisyan another title shot at 122? That guy always brings the heat.
- In what was the most memorable battle of the night was Sebastian Fundora stopping Erickson Lubin in nine rounds for the WBC interim 154 pound title at the Virgil Hotel in Las Vegas.
Fundora is a physical freak, he's right around 6'5, which is tall for a heavyweight, downright unfathomable for a junior middleweight. But instead of using his height and reach to box from the outside, he prefers to put guys through the meat grinder and engage in the trenches.
Esther Lin/Showtime Sports
People need to understand this, while you think he should box, that's simply not him. Fundora is more adept and comfortable from inside the pocket, where he throws a multitude of whipping hooks and uppercuts, that had Lubin's head looking like a double-end bag, at times.
What really makes him tough, outside of his high volume of punches, is that he's also fairly sturdy. While he is rail thin, he's as durable and not easy to knock back on his heels. While he got stunned and sent down by Lubin in a memorable seventh round, Fundora proceeded to take back control in the eighth.
I believe Terence Crawford said it best about 'the Towering Inferno':
- A tip of the cap to Lubin's trainer, Kevin Cunningham, who made the prudent decision to wave off the fight after the ninth round. As you saw the grotesque swelling all around Lubin's face, you knew it was taking an immeasurable toll on him. This might be a fight that has long lasting consequences for the 26 year old, but whatever future he has left in boxing, Cunningham made sure to preserve it.
For that, he got a cup of ice thrown at him. Yeah, that's shameful behavior.
But Cunningham did his job, which was to protect his man.
TOP RANK MIKAELA
- And finally at the Hangar in Costa Mesa, Mikaela Mayer successfully defended her IBF and WBO junior lightweight titles, by conclusively out-pointing Jennifer Han over 10 rounds. Mayer has really developed well as a fighter, and now she isn't just content to box her way to victory, but becoming more and more adept at becoming a pressure fighter.
Mayer versus Alycia Baumgardner would be a female clash I would be interested in seeing.
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
- Thought it was really interesting from Tim Bradley that he suggested to the management of welterweight Giovanni Santillan (who scored a seventh round TKO of Jeovanis Barrazas) that they perhaps look into being the first opponent for Josh Taylor, when he moves up to 147.
According to Bradley, they seemed to not be that receptive to that idea.
Which I find odd, given that Santillan is an experienced fighter (29-0, 16 KOs), and not currently rated by any of the major sanctioning bodies as a welterweight, and is now 30 years old. Also, if there's ever a time to face Taylor -- who struggled mightily in his last outing versus Jack Catterall) -- it might be now.
What other opportunity exists for them?