By Jason Pribila: In conjunction with the celebration of Cinco de Mayo, the first Saturday of May has been the day set aside for a big time boxing event. For years fighters like Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have performed on this date, and promoters avoided putting on shows anywhere near it. 2013 was different because we had major cards going head to head on HBO and Showtime in venues like New York, Argentina, and England.
There were several reasons why boxing fans were treated to such a loaded schedule on the last weekend of April. The fact that HBO will be on the sidelines next weekend allowed them to move forward with a scheduled split-site triple-header. Showtime had originally planned on airing Garcia-Judah in February, but a Garcia injury forced the postponement. And finally there is little buzz about Mayweather-Guerrero. Let’s face it; this is Mayweather’s least threatening opponent since Carlos Baldomir. Guerrero is unknown by many, and he hasn’t exactly lit up the screen during previously aired episodes of “All Access”.
There is also the fact that this weekend featured dangerous challengers in the main event. Something I can’t say about next week. So before we drink our first iced cold mint Julep, let’s take a look back at the weekend that was and was not.
5. Sergio Martinez: Another fight that saw the middleweight champion literally limp his way to the finish line is not exactly what we expect from a fighter that burst on to the scene when he won the 2010 Fighter of the Year. However, we are reminded that he burst onto the scene at 35 years old. He was coming off knee surgery that obviously affected his conditioning for this bout against Britain’s Martin Murray. However, he avoided a nightmare, and although he’ll be out for the rest of 2013 he’ll have plenty of time to soak in the fact that he was welcomed home as a hero by over 40,000 of his countrymen.
4. Showtime: Their rival went on the air first with a better supporting card. Chances are that most viewers would have stayed tuned to HBO while the Showtime card was being recorded. Instead, viewers were able to enjoy the Martinez-Murray card before changing the channel in time for the Showtime main event. The fact that Judah made a dramatic final stand was a bonus for the Showtime brass.
3. Danny Garcia: Garcia got off to a “Swift” start and was punishing Judah through eight rounds. He was then able to survive getting buzzed and fought to the final bell keeping his undefeated record intact. Garcia now gets to sit back and watch the Lamont Peterson and Lucas Matthysse battle for the right to face him later in 2013. I like Garcia to grind out a victory over Peterson, but his bravery would cost him against Matthysse. Styles make fights, which what makes the sport and this division, so much fun to watch.
2. Zab Judah: Brooklyn native with a recognizable name who will provide a test before eventually crumbling to the rising star. There was no question why Judah got this assignment, and everything was going according to plan early. It was tough to watch the first half of the fight. Judah looked much like he did against Amir Khan. What looked like he was setting a trap soon looked like a guy that could not pull the trigger. He did the Kostya-two-step early, and later got floored in the eighth. However, rather than losing his cool or looking for an easy way out, Judah fought back. Hurt Garcia and ended the fight looking like the fresher fighter. He exorcised plenty of the demons that plagued him earlier in his career and earned the respect of a foe that did not show him any in the build up to the fight.
Much like Freddie Krueger and Jason Vorhees before him, Judah will be back for yet another “Final Chapter”.
1. Bermane Stiverne: On a weekend that saw many underdogs come close, Stiverne was the only one to finish the deal. By flooring Cristobal Arreola early and then outfighting him to the finish, Stiverne put himself in a great position. He either gets a title shot and eventual beating at the hands of Vitali Klitschko, or he will get to fight for a vacated belt in the event Big Brother retires. In a division that is wide open, Stiverne showed that he improved enough to be a player.