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30 OCTOBER 2014

 

Mexican Independence Day: Winners and Losers


Martinez and Chavez jr exchange punches(Chris farina)
Martinez and Chavez jr exchange punches(Chris farina)

By Jason Pribila: The sport’s two most powerful promoters simply refuse to get along. Their feud has cost boxing fans the opportunity to see many attractive match-ups, and the latest trend of counter-programming is forcing that same shallow pool of customers to take sides and choose what fights they will spend their time and money on. Adding to the mess is that HBO and Showtime seem to have chosen their sides and enable their promoters of choice to continue to run the sport as separate entities.

 

While competition exists in the NFL and NCAA football there really is not a comparison. Friends can gather on a Saturday Night or Sunday afternoon and sit in their favorite watering hole while watching as many games on as many TVs as their eyes could see. I don’t remember the last time I watched boxing in a public venue. Other than in a big city or go-go bar, it simply cost too much for a proprietor to pony up for a PPV when they could satisfy a majority of their patrons by televising major sports. There is no boxing “Red Zone” channel.

 

So on Mexican Independence Weekend, Top Rank Inc. and Golden Boy Promotions put on competing shows a few blocks away from each other. One featured a solid undercard with a weak main event, while the other had a superior main event, and a typical PPV undercard. Yet, despite their best efforts to divide the sport further; the fighters involved took it upon themselves to give us a memorable night of fights that we won’t soon forget.

 

For a change, I woke up on the Sunday after a PPV and didn’t have to start my day answering such typical text messages as: “What a joke!”, “Boxing is dead!”, “Get a Life!”, and “Now will we get Pacquiao – Mayweather?” This gave me a time to watch some of the action I missed, and begin to jot down my notes of Winners and Losers:

 

Losers:

4. Josesito Lopez: The deck was stacked against Lopez, and the kid went down swinging despite being out-manned and out-classed. However, the clock struck midnight on this story when Victor Ortiz quit on his stool. There is no question that Lopez deserved another big money fight after pulling the upset of the year, but by being beaten so soundly by “Canelo” he proved to be more Baldomir than Balboa.

 

3. Golden Boy Promotions: They deserve credit for continuing to load up their undercards. However, their stubbornness robbed their fighters the chance to be viewed by the largest possible audience. This card seemed jinxed when Paul Williams had his unfortunate accident. They can’t be blamed for James Kirkland’s poor career management skills. And, they have been bitten twice by betting on Victor Ortiz. However, by refusing to budge off this date they robbed their brightest prospect the chance to get a date for himself against an opponent who would helped his career to move forward. Alvarez called out Floyd Mayweather after the fight, but I don’t see anyone that he has been matched with that would prepare him to face a “B-level” opponent much less the sport’s elite.

 

2. Stephen Espinoza: When he was hired to be the new head of Showtime Sports, many observers were concerned because he had become known in the sport by being the lead attorney for Golden Boy Promotions. Since he took over, he has done some good things; but it has also become clear that Golden Boy Promotions has become the drink to Espinosa’s straw. Again, he had no control that Alvarez was forced to face his fourth choice, but he could have had the common sense to avoid going up against the most anticipated PPV not featuring Mayweather or Pacquiao.

1. Freddie Roach – The Hall of Fame promoter has not forgotten how to train overnight, but his losing streak continues. Sure he deserves credit for getting Chavez Jr. in position to challenge the division’s elite, but for eleven rounds he had no answers on how to slow down Martinez. He took part in another 24/7 that showcased another one of his fighters who trained when he wanted to, and he also got dropped from Amir Khan. Not a good stretch for Coach Roach.

 

Winners:

Honorable Mention: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez: He did what he was supposed to do, but his recent stretch of opponents hasn’t seemed to have done much for his career development. He is in position to call out Mayweather or possibly face Miguel Cotto; but he may find that moving up from a “C-level” fighter to an A-lister could be as difficult as the leap that Lopez attempted by facing him.

 

 


6. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.:  Sure he gave us a final round that we won’t soon forget, but the fact remains that he provided nothing other than being a punching bag for Martinez for 11 rounds.  Still Chavez Jr. deserves credit for not giving up on himself, and fighting his way into contention for a lucrative rematch.

 

5. Roman “Rocky” Martinez – Miguel Beltran Jr.:  Martinez and Beltran fought their way to an exciting split decision that could have gone either way.  Martinez won a vacant junior lightweight title and should enjoy a second reign, and although Beltran came up short for the second time, he is an exciting fighter who will get another shot in a division void of stars.

 

4. Leo Santa Cruz:  Santa Cruz systematically broke down veteran Eric Morel in the Showtime televised opener.  He stopped a game veteran who went the distance against Abner Mares by dominating from the opening bell.  He also just signed with the powerful Al Haymon.  Get used to seeing Santa Cruz as he climbs up the mythical pound for pound list.

 

3. Top Rank Inc.:  Often criticized for allowing too many fights die on the vine, they deserve props for putting together Chavez Jr. – Martinez at the perfect time. For their efforts they have been rewarded with the best possible outcome.  Either a rematch that will exceed PPV sales, or they could follow an even more popular Chavez up the scale where a can’t miss fight with Kelly Pavlik waits.

 

2. Marcos Maidana – Jesus Soto Karass:  This cross-roads fight was simply the best fight of the evening.  Maidana vowed to move back down to junior welterweight after being out-classed by Devon Alexander, but he instead joined with trainer Robert Garcia, and showed why, if matched correctly, he remains one of the most TV-friendly fighters in the sport.  Soto-Karass was steam-rolled by Gabriel Rosado in January at 154-lbs and perceived a spent bullet.  He got another chance at a meaningful fight and again proved that he is a tough out for anyone willing to trade with him at welterweight.

 

  1. Sergio Martinez:  “Maravilla” finally got the big fight against the opponent he wanted to beat more than anyone he has ever touched gloves with.  Along the way he put on a clinic for eleven rounds against a guy who looked to be at least three divisions heavier than the natural junior middleweight.  When his shining moment was threatened to be stolen from him, he dug in and stood in the middle of the ring and fought like a champion.  Martinez may have started late, but he has given the middleweight division a bona fide star that deserves all the accolades he receives.
  2.  

Martinez did pay the price for this victory.  He was taken to the hospital to treat a left hand that he may have broken in the fourth round, as well as tearing ligaments in his knee when he got knocked down in the final round.  I feel that while everyone is talking about a rematch, these injuries will prevent it from happening.  I feel that the amount of time it will take for Martinez to rehab his knee will leave Chavez with no choice but to move up to super middleweight.  That will leave Martinez with an even juicier fight against Miguel Cotto when he returns.

 

Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He could be reached for questions and comments at pribs2000@yahoo.com.  He may also be followed on twitter @PribsBoxing.

 

September 18, 2012

Alvarez takes out Lopez
Alvarez takes out Lopez
Maidana battles Soto Karass
Maidana battles Soto Karass
Gonzalez hits the deck
Gonzalez hits the deck
SantaCruz and Morel exchange punches
SantaCruz and Morel exchange punches


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