For the previous predictions of the fights below, click here.
One of the best and most significant nights in boxing this year took place this past Saturday night, with many surprises along the way…
Amir Khan UD Marcos Maidana [HBO]
Original Prediction: Khan, UD
Though this year of boxing has largely been lackluster, most of the great bouts have been compressed to these last few weekends. Amir Khan's unlikely meeting against Marcos Maidana, one of the biggest threats out there, suddenly became the latest candidate for "Fight of the Year"--and was just the second bout that very night to garner that distinction (to be noted later). From the get go, it got intense when Maidana forsook the customary touching-up of the gloves at the beginning of Round 1 to lob a haymaker bomb towards Khan, which missed. He was the aggressor, but Khan showed his freakish hand speed with impactful shots--far better than usual. And in the midst of that flurrying was one great shot in the final seconds that stuck into Maidana's right side that sent him down, which he barely got up from. Maidana made a steady recovery and stuck to his aggressive pressuring, but Khan was still able to move around and throw some impressive offensive.
However, despite a good display of guarding, Khan was allowing himself to get caught by too many punches when against the ropes and showed no head movement to avoid Maidana's uppercuts and hooks. Round 10 made this flaw visible in full when got caught on the chin by strong hook and stumbling stumbled around, clinging for life as Maidana tried to finish him off. Khan got some of his bearings back at the end, but still looked worse for the wear on the way to the stool (reminiscent of Maidana after Rd. 1). Though the last two rounds could have gone to either man, Khan had the edge (mainly by getting more active at the end of both) and would still win by close unanimous decision. It was an incredible match that both heighten and exposed the two. Amir Khan has advanced leaps and bounds from the Prescott nightmare and even since his solid victory over Paulie Malignaggi in a such a short amount of time ever since paring up with Freddie Roach. His sparring with one Manny Pacquiao undoubtedly helped him deal with a brutal guy like Maidana and survive his onslaught. You could also see some of Pacquiao in the way Khan maneuvered around the ring and with his own "punches-in-bunches" style (though it was straight down the middle instead of from all angles). He has a long ways to go until he reaches the level of mastery of his stablemate, but with rate of progression and inate ability, he is certainly on the fast track.
As for "Marcosbot" Maidana, he looked very impressive in defeat and hopefully this will lead to the greater paydays and recognition he sorely deserves. He's a hard, tough fighter that is smarter and more clever than other "come-forward" fighters of his ilk (ex. Antonio Margarito, Michael Katsidis, perhaps Miguel Cotto). He wants a rematch, but I'm not sure the results would swing his way. If Khan committed to the body and bob-and-weaved more, I believe he would have stopped him before the midway point. But since Khan went out of his way to select him for the bout (and though victorious, I still think it was premature), perhaps he should oblige with his request. You never know what could happen…
On another note, everyone needs to stop about referee Joe Cortez being "against" Maidana, particularly in light of Rd. 10, when the fight wasn't halted due to Khan's shakiness. I suppose that must have overshadowed the Rd. 1, when Maidana was in bad straits following that nasty body shot and was just saved by the bell (Cortez could have stopped the action with the way he was wincing in pain). Additionally, Cortez's deducting a point for Maidana's elbow to his chest when separating the two fighters and the warnings for rabbit punching were legit.
Abner Mares SD Vic Darchinyan [Showtime]
Original Prediction: Mares, UD
In what was the Fight of the Night (and candidate for the year) prior to Khan-Maidana, Darchinyan and Mares put on quite the show, but in spite of the former fighting the best he had been in a while and Mares battling Murphy's Law on the side (early knockdown, point deduction for a low blow, bloody gash near the hairline from an accidental clash of heads, falling behind on the scorecards), the young Mexican rallied when he needed to in the championship rounds by dominating an increasingly weary Darchinyan, zapped by body shots and perhaps an aging body. It was a close, captivating match and the Armenian great changed his gangly style enough so that he wasn't left open to counters so easily, looking tighter, but not losing that unorthodox style that has worked for him. But Mares did what he had to to come back and dominate down the stretch when the opportunity lied in front of him, reaching the finals of Showtime's Bantamweight Tournament against…
Joseph Agbeko UD Yonnhy Perez [Showtime]
Original Prediction: Perez, UD
I was watching more of Khan-Maidana, but I still managed to see a good amount of Perez-Agbeko to observe why the latter pulled off the big upset. For one, he looked in great shape, like he was training every single day since last Halloween--when the two last fought and he lost, having not boxed another match until now. Surprisingly, he was the fresher of the two and did a better job in using his aggression to stuff Perez, who looked a little flat compared to before and couldn't fully contend with him. It was still competitive, but Agbeko was the better man this time, claiming his revenge and IBF title back. As salivating as Darchinyan-Perez could be (which might be the undercard of the finals main event), Agbeko-Mares is sure to be a tiptop slugfest between two guys that can go hard at it. At this point, I have Agbeko in a relatively-thin split decision.
Lamont Peterson M-D Victor Ortiz
Original Prediction: Peterson, UD
I caught some of this bout live and during the Sunday replay, but it was definitely the least of the four matches. The first few rounds were uneventful, though Ortiz put Peterson on the canvas twice in the third. Ortiz led early, but Peterson came back later, leading to a draw. I thought the Bradley fight was an anomaly, but perhaps Peterson is not as good a talent as once thought. As for Ortiz, he may appear good on offense, but he still fights scared and looks uninspiring as whole (backpedaling while you have the advantage in the bout?). He does not exuded promise or personal strength and still acts as if he rather not be in the ring. He's the kind of fighter that only blooms if he is doing the attacking, not when he is in it deep. The bout did not generate a whole lot of confidence for me in either fighter for the future, especially with the kind of talent at the top of light welterweight.