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BORGES Floyd Was Great, But It Wasn’t A Fan-Friendly Scrap

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Predictions of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.’s looming demise at 36 were clearly overblown but what beyond a display of his defensive wizardry was gained in his one-sided victory over Robert Guerrero Saturday night?

Well, you could start with the $32 million guaranteed paycheck he left the MGM Grand Garden Arena with after being awarded a well-deserved but far from crowd pleasing 117-111 decision that retained his WBC welterweight title and lifted his record in world championship fights to 21-0.

You could also point out that those who feared Mayweather’s legs had begun to desert him saw them on full display all night, a number of times moving him so quickly off the ropes that Guerrero fell into them while trying to muster an attack against an opponent who had already fled the scene.

Even the disappointed Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KO) had to give Mayweather (44-0, 26 KO) props for his elusiveness if not his boldness not long after his volcanic father had bellowed from inside the ring after the fight ended: “He ran like a chicken!’’

“He was definitely on his game tonight,’’ the younger Guerrero conceded. “He really moved in the ring tonight. He’s very slick, very quick. He has a great defense. That’s why he’s undefeated. He did his thing.’’

The problem was “his thing’’ was roundly booed by the crowd of 15,222 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, many of whom grew increasingly bothered by Mayweather’s refusal to engage. With his father back in his corner after a 13-year absence, what also returned was the passive, defensive shell Floyd, Sr. had schooled his son in so well as a young boy that he became the best defensive fighter since Pernell Whitaker.

Unfortunately, with that also came the displeasing absence of offense that limited Whitaker’s popularity with the boxing public. Mayweather suffered from the same for a number of years but after his father’s absence he began working with his uncle Roger and slowly became more offensive minded.

Naturally that led to being hit more often than in his early days as well but it also made him far more popular as he began to punish opponents not only by embarrassing them with his slick defensive maneuvering but also with the stinging results of his fast hands.

This reached its height-nadir in his last fight, a win over Miguel Cotto a year ago in which his lip and nose were bloodied despite winning a clear decision. Mayweather said that experience led him to ask his father to return to his side, putting aside the well-documented differences between them that once led them not to speak for seven years.

The elder Mayweather’s revival had three immediate results: his brother Roger was derailed and did not work his nephew’s corner Saturday night after working with him in training camp; his son was seldom touched by the flailing  Guerrero; and the crowd was bored half to death by the absence of anything resembling either risk taking or aggression.

Mayweather attributed some of that to a claim of injuring his right hand after repeatedly landing it square in the face of Guerrero, a southpaw vulnerable to such a punch. He insisted this was why he did not score a knockout late in the fight, especially in the eighth round when he seemed to stun Guerrero but didn’t work hard enough to close the show that round.

“People thought the layoff would play a factor but it did not,’’ said Mayweather. “I felt I got hit by too many shots against Cotto. I had to bring the defensive master back – my father.

“I was boxing smart. After the Cotto fight I realized my defense was not as sharp as it should be. The less you get hit the better. The great thing about my father is he says if you’re winning and not taking punishment keep doing it.

“The last thing my father told me was ‘I’m gonna tell you what’s going to get him – right hands all day.’ I went out and executed the game plan delivered to me. I showed the world I could still box. My defense is still there.’’

That was made obvious not only by the half dozen or so times Guerrero reached out to hit Mayweather only to find him gone as he fell into the ropes punching air, but also by his 11 per cent connection rate with his jab and 19 per cent overall connection rate (113 of 581) according to CompuBox statistics.

Just as telling, in his first two appearances as a welterweight Guerrero averaged 71 punches per round. Against Mayweather that was nearly halved to 48, a sign that Mayweather’s elusiveness, agility and reflexive reaction time had caused Guerrero to grow tentative and unwilling to punch.

”If you call that running you must be blind,’’ Mayweather Sr. said in response to Guerrero’s father/trainer, Ruben, claiming Mayweather “ran like a chicken’’ all night. “Floyd just made his son look like a fool all night.’’

Certainly as the fight wore on Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KO) found it more and more difficult to find Mayweather. Even when he had him on the ropes or in the corners, Guerrero had trouble creating safe punching distances, often being tied up by Mayweather or punching from too far away at an apparition who kept sliding off, often slipping behind him before he could land.

Yet as brilliant as his defense was, Mayweather’s offense was absent much fire beyond a steady stream of right hand leads his father told him would decide the fight. They did, repeatedly going unblocked as they slammed into Guerrero’s face often enough to finally put a divot above his left eye but they were seldom accompanied by a following left hand and even less often did he try to press his obvious advantages.

Instead Mayweather boxed like he was working for Mutual Life, working the actuarial tables of risk reduction. While that earned him an easy victory it also earned him the enmity of the crowd and, in the end, it is the crowd that pays you.

They began to boo midway through the fight and that persisted into its final rounds and after the final bell tolled. Seemingly unmarked and uncaring, Mayweather said if his right hand was ready he would return on Sept. 14, which would be the quickest he’d been back in the ring in 13 years.

Whether anyone is there to watch or, more significantly to his benefactors at SHOWTIME, whether 1.3 million people (SHOWTIME’s break even point on Mayweather’s six-fight contract) are willing to again pony up $70 to watch what appeared to be a shadow boxing exhibition by a Quaker remains to be seen.

 

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Jermell Charlo Unifies Super Welterweights Via Solar Plexus Punch

David A. Avila

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WBC super welterweight titlist Jermell Charlo knocked out IBF and WBA titlist Jeison Rosario with a knockout punch delivered to the solar plexus on Saturday to add two more belts to his collection.

“I’m definitely bringing home the straps,” said Charlo.

Shades of Bob Fitzsimmons.

Back in 1897, Fitzsimmons used the same solar plexus punch to dethrone Gentleman James Corbett for the heavyweight title in Carson City, Nevada.

In another casino city Charlo (34-1, 18 KOs) floored Dominican Republic’s Rosario (20-2-1, 14 KOs) three times at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. He and his brother co-headlined a heavy duty pay-per-view card with no fans in attendance on the Premier Boxing Champions card.

Charlo jumped on Rosario quickly in the first round when he charged and clipped him with a left hook to the temple. Down went the two-belt champion for the count. But he got up seemingly unfazed.

For the next several rounds Rosario was the aggressor and put the pressure on Charlo who was content to allow the Dominican to fire away. Occasionally the Houston fighter jabbed but allowed Rosario to pound up and down with both fists.

After allowing Rosario to get comfortable with his attack, suddenly Charlo stopped moving and connected with a short crisp counter left hook and right cross in the sixth round. Down went Rosario again and he got up before the count of 10.

Charlo said it was part of the game plan.

“I’m growing and I realize that the knockout will just come,” he said.

Charlo was in control with a patient style and allowed Rosario to come forward. But the Dominican was more cautious in the seventh.

In the eighth round Charlo jabbed to the head and then jabbed hard to Rosario’s stomach. The Dominican fighter dropped down on his seat as if felled by a gun shot. He could not get up and convulsed while on the floor. The referee Harvey Dock counted him out at 21 seconds of round eight.

“That jab that got to him must have landed in a vital point,” said Charlo after the fight. “I hope he recovers and bounces back.”

Charlo now has three of the four major super welterweight world titles.

WBC Super Bantamweight Title

Luis Nery (31-0, 24 KOs) captured the WBC super bantamweight title by unanimous decision over fellow Mexican Aaron Alameda (25-1, 13 KOs) in a battle between southpaws. The war between border town fighters was intense.

Nery, a former bantamweight world titlist, moved up a weight division and found Alameda to be a slick southpaw with an outstanding jab. At first the Tijuana fighter was a little puzzled how to attack but found his groove in the fourth round.

But Alameda, who fights out of Nogales, Mexico, began using combinations and finding success.  A crafty counter left uppercut caught Nery charging in a few times, but he managed to walk through them.

In the final two rounds Nery picked up the action and increased the pressure against the slick fighting Alameda, He forced the Nogales fighter to fight defensively and that proved enough to give the last two rounds for Nery and the victory by unanimous decision. The scores were 115-113, 116-112 and 118-110 for Nery who now holds the WBC super bantamweight world title. He formerly held the WBC bantamweight title.

Roman Wins

Danny “Baby-Faced Assassin” Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) managed to rally from behind and defeat Juan Carlos Payano (21-4, 9 KOs) in a battle between former world champions in a nontitle super bantamweight clash. It wasn’t easy.

Once again Roman fought a talented southpaw and in this fight Payano, a former bantamweight titlist, moved up in weight and kept Roman off balance for the first half of the fight. The jab and movement by the Dominican fighter seemed to keep Roman out of sync.

Roman, who fights out of Los Angeles, used a constant body attack to wear down the 35-year-old Payano and it paid off in the second half. Then the former unified world champion Roman began to pinpoint more blows to the body and head. With seconds left in the 12th and final round, a left hook delivered Payano down and through the ropes. Sadly, the referee missed the knockdown. It didn’t matter as all three judges scored it identical at 116-112 for Roman after 12 rounds.

“I made some adjustments and picked up the pace and got the win,” said Roman who formerly held the WBA and IBF super bantamweight world titles.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Jermall Charlo UD 12 Derevyanchenko; Figueroa and Casimero Also Triumphant

Arne K. Lang

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Jermall Charlo UD 12 Derevyanchenko; Figueroa and Casimero Also Triumphant

The Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, was the site of the first pay-per-view boxing event in the United States since the Fury-Wilder rematch on Feb. 22. There were six fights in all, five of which were title fights and the other a title-eliminator. They were divided into two tiers but bundled into a package that cost approximately a dollar a round with a facile intermission tossed in at no extra charge.

The headline attraction of the first “three-pack” – and the most anticipated fight of the evening – found WBC world middleweight champion Jermall Charlo defending his title against Sergiy Derevyanchenko. The Ukrainian gave Gennady Golovkin a hard tussle when they fought in November of last year at Madison Square Garden – GGG won a unanimous decision but the scores were tight and many thought Derevyanchenko deserved the decision – and the expectation was that tonight’s match would also be very competitive.  But it really wasn’t although the rugged Derevyanchenko rarely took a backward step.

The fight went the distance and there were no knockdowns, but Charlo buckled his knees at the end of round three and Derevyanchenko ended the fight with cuts above both eyes. The judges had it 118-110, 117-111, and 116-112.

With Canelo Alvarez apparently headed to 168 and GGG showing his age at 38, one can make a strong case that the undefeated 30-year-old Jermall Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) is now the top middleweight in the world. Derevyanchenko, who was 23-1 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing before turning pro, saw his pro record decline to 13-3 with all three losses in middleweight title fights.

The middle fight of the first tier was a lusty encounter between Mexican-American super bantamweights Brandon Figueroa and Damien Vazquez. Figueroa, one of two fighting brothers from the Mexican border town of Weslaco, Texas, was a huge favorite over Vazquez, a Colorado native who moved to Las Vegas as a freshman in high school and had fought extensively in Mexico where he made his pro debut at age 16. But Vazquez, the nephew of former three-time world super bantamweight title-holder Israel Vazquez, came to fight and gave a good effort until the fight turned lopsidedly against him.

In the middle rounds, Figueroa’s high-pressure attack began to wear Vazquez down. Vazquez had a few good moments in rounds six and eight, but when his right eye began swelling from the cut above it, he was fighting an uphill battle. He took a lot of punishment before referee Gary Rosato halted it at the 1:18 mark of round 10.

Figueroa, 23, successfully defended his WBA 122-pound title while improving his record to 21-0-1 with his 16th KO. Vazquez declined to 15-2-1.

The lid-lifter was a WBO bantamweight title defense by John Riel Casimero with Duke Micah in the opposite corner. Micah, from Accra, Ghana, came in undefeated at 24-0, but Casimero had faced a far stronger schedule and was a substantial favorite.

A Filipino who was been training in Las Vegas under Bones Adams, Casimero took Micah out in the third round. The Brooklyn-based Micah was somewhat busier in the opening frame, but the tide turned quickly in favor of the Filipino. Casimero hurt Micah with a left hook in round two and went for the kill. He wasn’t able to finish him, but Micah was on a short leash and referee Steve Willis was quick to step in when Casimero resumed his attack after the break. The official time was 0:54.

Casimero (30-4, 21 KOs) was defending the title he won last November with a third-round knockout of favored Zolani Tete in Birmingham, England. He was slated to fight this past April in Las Vegas against Naoya Inoue, but that fight evaporated as a result of the coronavirus. After the bout, Casimero called out Inoue (and others): “I’m the real monster,” he said. “Naoya Inoue is scared of me. You’re next. I would have knocked out anyone today. If Inoue doesn’t fight me, then I’ll fight Guillermo Rigondeaux, Luis Nery, or any of the top fighters.”

Check back shortly for David Avila’s summaries of the remaining fights.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Mairis Briedis and Josh Taylor Impress on a Busy Fight Day in Europe

Arne K. Lang

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In the busiest weekend of boxing thus far in 2020, there were fights of note all over the map in Europe. The most compelling was held at the Plazamedia Broadcasting Center in Munich where the long-delayed WBSS cruiserweight final pit IBF world cruiserweight title-holder Yuniel Dorticos against Mairis Briedis. Both had only one loss on their ledger, that coming in a semifinal of Season One of the WBSS tourney.

Heading in, Briedis was recognized as the more well-rounder boxer. Dorticos had a style somewhat similar to Deontay Wilder, meaning that he was over-dependent on his big right hand. It figured that Briedis would fight with extreme caution, using his faster hands and superior footwork to keep out of harm’s way, but to the contrary he wasn’t afraid to trade with Dorticos and actually landed the harder punches. At the end, he captured the IBF belt and the more coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy with a majority decision. The judges had it 117-111, 117-111, and a confounding 114-114.

The first fighter from Latvia to win a world title, Briedis (27-1, 19 KOs) is now a two-time world cruiserweight champion. He previously held the WBO cruiserweight belt, but vacated it rather than adhere to the organization’s mandate that he give Krzysztof Glowacki a rematch. (Their first fight, a TKO 3 for Briedis, was very messy and he was fortunate that he wasn’t disqualified.) Dorticos, the Cuban defector, returns to his adopted home in Miami with a 24-2 record.

Briedis, 35, may own only one piece of the world cruiserweight title, but at the moment he is clearly the topmost fighter in the division.

York Hall, London

Apinun Khongsong’s first engagement outside the Orient didn’t go well for him. The 24-year-old Thai boxer with an Muay Thai background was out of his element against WBA/IBF champion Josh Taylor who dismissed him in a hurry with a “solar plexus punch” that would have made Bob Fitzsimmons proud. The punch from the left-handed Scotsman sent Khongsong to the canvas writhing in pain and he was down for several minutes before he was able to stand upright. The official time was 2:41 of the opening round.

Taylor, the Tartan Tornado, was making his first start since October of last year when he won a 12-round majority decision over Regis Prograis in a Fight of the Year candidate. His next fight may be a full unification of the 140-pound belt with Jose Carlos Ramirez in the opposite corner. Both he and Khangsong entered today’s fight with 16-0 records, but Taylor, who scored his 13th knockout, was in a different league.

Undercard Bouts of Note

In a 10-round bantamweight contest, Charlie Edwards (16-1, 1 NC, 6 KOs) out-classed British countryman Kyle Williams (11-3). The referee awarded Edwards nine of the 10 rounds. Edwards, 27, previously held the WBC 112-pound title but was forced to relinquish it because he had trouble making the weight.

York Hall has been a jinx for David Oliver Joyce, the 33-year-old super bantamweight from Mullinger, Ireland, who is 0-2 in this building and 12-0 elsewhere. Joyce failed to last three rounds today in his match with Ionut Baluta. A Romanian who fights out of Bilbao, Spain, Baluta knocked Joyce down with a big left hook and then swarmed all over him when he arose, forcing the referee to intervene. The official time was 1:49 of round three.

It was the sixth straight win for Baluta (14-2, 3 KOs) and his third straight over a once-beaten opponent.

Riga, Latvia

Riga native Richard Bilotniks successfully defended his version of the European 175-pound title and advanced to the finals of the Golden Contract Light Heavyweight Tournament with a one-sided 10-round decision over Hosea Burton. A late bloomer who won only four of his first eight pro fights, Bilotnicks 30, won every round on one of the scorecards and eight rounds on the others to advance record to 17-5-1. Burton, who lost for the second time in 27 starts, let down his cousin Tyson Fury who flew to Latvia to cheer him on.

Struer, Denmark

At an arena in the city of Struer, hometown lass Dina Thorslund had a harder time than expected with Nina Radovanovic, but the Serb got no respect from the judges who didn’t see fit to award her a single round. Thorslund (15-0, 6 KOs) successfully defended her WBO world 122-pound title.

In the chief undercard bout, heavyweight Filip Hrgovic (11-0, 9 KOs) moved a step closer to a world title opportunity with a second-round blast-out of late sub Alexandre Kartozia. There was no need to count when Hrgovic leveled Kartozia with a big right hand.

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