Bryant Jennings SD Mike Perez
For two top-ranked heavyweights, Jennings and Perez fought as decently as one might expect from the division this day. In the larger context of history and as potential opponents for Wladamir Klitschko, there was little to be inspired by and even less to be fearful of by the longtime kingpin. The bout primarily consisted of both men lumbering around and throwing punches. There was nothing notable or standout about the affair. Neither asserted themselves as a frontrunner. Neither created any sort of compelling case not only as contenders, but as worthwhile heavy draws.
There was little distinction between the two, beyond Jennings getting the slight better of the exchanges. He may have set himself up for a chance to contend for the heavyweight championship, but if Bryant and Mike Perez represent the future of the division--one so lackluster, yet still so sorrily tied to the public's subconscious as the marquee and measuring stick of the sport--then the future is not looking any brighter…
Gennady Golovkin TKO3 Danny Geale
Once more, Gennady Golovkin proved himself to be the best middleweight in the world by flattening an outmatched Danny Geale inside three. Some, including myself, thought the Australian would have been able to put up more of a fight, but it was not a great shock to see him demolished, either. It certainly did not help that Geale, while relatively fit, did not look to be in optimal shape and his punches looked slow and as if he had pillows affixed to his hands (and that is not taking Golovkin's steely jaw into the equation). It was only a matter of time for Geale, it just came sooner than most.
The TKO became stoppage #27 for the 30-0 Golovkin, but did it serve him or his cause any further? One may consider that he is not the most sought-after opponent due to the damage he is capable of and can only really fight those who are willing to fight him, yet it unintentionally forms a double-edged sword. The Kazakh has become a major draw and a growing household name, and as such, is fulfilling the demands of the public, is he really able to grow as a fighter by taking on these lesser competitors?
Few want to take him on at middleweight, but it is too soon to move up in weight, either. He and his people are taking the right steps by whittling down the number of pugilists standing between him and the ones holding the other belts, but how many that will take and for how long remains to be seen. And as good, powerful, and skilled as Golovkin is, he still requires more robust testing (something he has yet to truly receive) and refining.
He is solid, but there is a part of his way of fighting that feels deficient and open for exploiting. He is not complete yet, and all it would take is the right opponent to turn everything on its head, be it a bad style match-up or by the hands of a master or wily old veteran fighter. That is just how the sport of boxing is, sometimes more so than any other. Golovkin is no more immune to it than any other, so his growth and path ahead is less certain than many tend to believe…
Brandon Rios DQ9 Diego Chaves
Normally, I appreciate referees keeping order and making sure the combatants stay untangled and unruly. I could understand Ref. Vic Drakulich's desire for an orderly, clean fight, and Rios-Chaves was anything but--even on paper--but his level of involvement was heavy-handed, at best. Warnings and reprimands for the various jawings, grappings, shoves against and over the ropes, and more were warranted, but enough so to demand a disqualification? Drakulich may have possessed the overall right intentions and was likely not trying to make himself the star attraction by being the "tough sheriff", but still became all of those things in the ring, rather than having the two heated fighters just duke it out and letting them fight out of the clinches and holds (unless it goes on too long or gets too raucous--like any other fight).
The Chaves DQ was unfortunate, as he and Rios were having a very good and close back-and-forth brawl. Rios' power and concrete head made for a good foil against Chaves' greater speed and skill level. It was largely the former's inside game versus their the latter's outside, but Chaves had a better time fighting close than Rios did from a distance. Regardless, the fight had yet to resolve itself and Chaves' single-round lead on two of the judges scorecards (vs. Rio's own on the other) was indicative that it was still either man's to gain. Considering it was good action and HBO loves a good Rios fight, the chances would be good, but first, one would have to get past his promoter: the increasingly-protective Bob Arum…
Danny Garcia KO2 Rod Salka
Danny Garcia, after escaping from Puerto Rico with some heritage/hometown cooking in the form of a majority decision over Mauricio Herrera in March, needed to win his bout against unknown Rod Salka in a dominate and certain fashion. And this did not factor in the face-saving he needed to do after his inexcusable attempt of making the bout a title match--which was rightfully nixed.
In the end, Garcia performed exactly like he needed to. Though he was awarded the victory, one would be hard-pressed to find a handful of people that felt he deserved it over the trouble-making Herrera. In essence, it was actually a loss, because of public sentiment and because he lost much of the shine and momentum he truly worked hard for over the past two years defeating Amir Khan, Zab Judah, and, in his breakthrough performance, Lucas Matthysee. Though undefeated and sporting a strong list of opponents, not a whole lot of love permeates from many a boxing scribe, due in part to Garcia (and, particularly, his loudmouthed father/trainer) and also his lack of standout attributes (though it is also what has made him a dangerous fighter, something discussed in the preview for the Matthysee fight).
Title nonsense aside, this past Saturday's fight was the kind a fighter takes as a form of "damage control" following a significant poor showing and regain their footing both as a fighter and a draw. A bout against someone like Salka is much more a "showcase" than a real fight or challenge, but as seen so often, fighters take the opportunity more as an easy night's work and do not put forth their top effort, and resulting in either an unspectacular exhibition cum sparring session or a much harder fight than anticipated.
It was highly important that Garcia, with far more working against him than for, put everything behind him and impose himself on Salka in a very strong manner. He did this in an emphatic fashion, by taking it seriously and sticking a ready Salka with sharp, hard, and precise shots all over. He was gunning for a first-round KO, but was chipping away at him with accuracy, and thus the end came quick as Garcia crushed Salka in the head with three hard, good-looking knockdowns, the last one clinching it.
No punching bag reps. No sculpture-making. No resting. It was short and sweet, as it should and had to be. The bout may be forgotten in the coming years of his career, but Garcia would have been labeled a "joke" by (much?) more people had it even reached past the fourth round. Given the lead-up and the incoming wave of jeers that awaited him (and still came, regardless, from some), not to mention the potential loss of drawing power, the Salka bout turned into Garcia's most important one second to Matthysee.
With this one roadblock now removed, it is imperative now that he fights again by at least November against a top contender to avoid an expected, though impressive, rout from spoiling into him taking "the easy route" after an unexpectedly-tough fight in Herrera. The pressure was alleviated some, but a potentially heavier spell will be upon him soon if he does not act right.
:Fri.08.08.14: - Want to know why Norbert Nemesapati looked like he wanted to be somewhere else after Jason Escalera survived a shaky first round to pound him out for the remainder of their eight-rounder? Just look at his record. Undefeated records look nice, but they can be the equivalent of lipstick on a pig (or, for a more modern twist, extensive plastic surgery on an unattractive figure). Escalera's bears some resemblance, but he has the edge in competition (both in terms of location and who he fought, among them Edwin Rodriguez. It was a losing effort, but Escalera might have been the better from it, so hopefully Nemesapati will be, as well).
:Fri.08.08.14: - I was too late to catch much of the allegedly far-better of the two Friday night telecasts, Fox Sports 1's. I mean, it couldn't have been that hard to top what went down on ESPN2. At the very least, that one had the riotous/very sad
:Fri.08.01.14: - Andre Dirrell returned once more to the ring and won a fifth round stoppage over Vladine Biosse. He looked good and healthy, but more importantly, he appeared to be much less cocky and more humble. He knows he's missed out on a lot and the window is narrowing after his strings of injuries and inactivity, despite being only 30. Here's to best of luck for him (and this is coming from a long-time detractor of his)…
:Sun.08.10.14: - And finally, behold, the greatest fight in recorded (and unrecorded) human history--move aside Hagler-Hearns, Gatti-Ward trilogy,