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31 AUGUST 2014

 

Weekend Wrap-Up: Winners and the Texas State Athletic Commission


Magdaleno impressed against Beltran Jr  (Tom Casino)
Magdaleno impressed against Beltran Jr (Tom Casino)

By Jason Pribila: I usually reserve my “Winners and Losers” articles for major pay per view fights. However, after a weekend that saw boxing shows airing on ESPN2, Showtime, HBO, and NBC Sports Net, I was hopeful for enough material to warrant a column. The Texas State Athletic Commission once again ensured that I’d have plenty of words to write under the list of losers.

 

However, with Major League Baseball about to offer up its first pitch of the season to compliment the early Spring weather that we have enjoyed on the East Coast, we’ll start off on a positive note as we look back at the weekend was.

 

Winners:

 

7. Diego Magdaleno (22-0, 8KO): The junior lightweight contender put together his best performance to date against his most accomplished opponent, Fernando Beltran Jr. Magdaleno is known as a stick and move boxer, which explains his modest KO total. However, on this night he sat down on his punches, and he continued to throw with bad intentions even after he took a knee during a flash knockdown in the fourth round. He brushed himself off, won the rest of the round and the fight en route to a round seven TKO. Junior lightweight is a division ripe for the taking. Adrian Broner’s connections and hair brush have guided him to the top spot, but a guy like Magdaleno could certainly keep him company in the future.

 

6. Johnny Garcia: Of the many Garcia’s who fought this past weekend, the Holland, Michigan native was the least likely to get his hand raised. Although no one should be surprised to see an upset on ShoBox, rarely does one come from a dude with a mullet fighting as the B-side to a decorated amateur with the credentials of Yordenis Ugas. Garcia, however, simply wanted this fight more. His will, especially after getting dropped in the fifth round allowed him to get the benefit of the doubt by judges who favored his aggression to the economical output presented by Ugas. I had Ugas winning by a few points, but have no issue with the split decision verdict.

 

It’s been a pretty bad month for Top Rank Inc. and the Cuban fighters in their stable.

 

5. Carlos Molina: The chaotic ending to what could have been Molina’s biggest win as a pro, ended abruptly when referee Jon Schorle disqualified Molina because one of his cornermen entered the ring during a confusing sequence of events that took place at the end of the tenth round. The controversy will play out, as Molina’s team has protested that the ruling be changed to a “no-contest”, but one could be certain that Kirkland’s team will look elsewhere for their next opponent. Also, if there is an eventual rematch, one could be certain that it will take place with a third man in the ring who will be forewarned about allowing Molina to get away with the illegal tactic of holding his opponent. The fact is that Molina faced a very beatable version of Kirkland, and he probably won’t get the same opportunity any time soon.

 

4. Bryant Jennings: Talk about coming out of nowhere! Jennings salvaged the inaugural Fight Night broadcast on NBC Sports Net in January when he took a fight on short notice to face fellow undefeated Maurice Byarm. On Saturday, Jennings faced former title holder, Sergei Liakovich, who was originally supposed to face Eddie Chambers in January. Jennings jumped on the always game Liakovich, and used his speed advantage to land combinations to the defensively challenged foe. One of Jennings’ several head shots seemed to break the Belarus native’s nose. He was allowed to continue, but Jennings turned up his offensive output, and forced Liakhovich’s corner to stop the fight after 9 rounds.

 

A young, active, American heavyweight who is always in shape and willing to throw punches? Main Events and Peltz Boxing may have discovered a species thought to be long endangered.

 

3. Main Events – Peltz Boxing: Although it was unfortunate that the second installment of Fight Night on NBC Sports Net went head to head against a solid HBO card, those responsible for putting the card together should be proud of their results. It appears that putting regional draws in the ring against evenly matched foes still has a place in boxing. When there is rooting interest in a local fighter, people will still come out and buy tickets. The enthusiasm remains steady from the opening bout until the final bell. If anyone had been channel surfing on Saturday, they no doubt would have stopped on NBC Sports Net to see what all the excitement in the arena was all about.

 

Brooklyn represented well, and I personally can’t wait to see if my hometown of Bethlehem, PA could respond when boxing returns to the Sands Casino on June 1.

 

2. Zab Judah: “Super” has become the Freddy Krueger of the junior welterweight division. Each time he is counted out, he comes back with a solid performance. Fighting in front of his hometown of Brooklyn for the first time as a pro, Judah dominated Vernon Paris from the opening bell. This performance was a far cry from what he offered against Amir Khan last summer. On that evening in Vegas, Judah had the look of a guy who could no longer pull the trigger. On Saturday night, Judah once again showed that if matched correctly, he remains a tough out for anyone in the loaded junior welterweight division.

 

1. Danny “Swift” Garcia: Garcia made his hometown of Philadelphia proud by graduating the crash course of prize fighting presented by veteran Eric Morales. Garcia showed a great deal of respect to the Mexican warrior, who had entered the ring 3-1 following a two and a half year retirement. Garcia was ahead on the cards when Morales started to apply pressure during the championship rounds. Garcia was breathing through his mouth, as his nose appeared to be broken. Garcia erased any hopes Morales had of rallying down the stretch when he landed a left hook that dropped Morales in the 11th round. Morales rose and made it to the final bell. Garcia’s dreams have come true, and if he could combine the lessons learned with the confidence that goes along with holding a world title, expect Garcia in meaningful fights in the near future.

 

 


Losers:

 

4. Jose Luis Castillo:  The former lightweight champion was actually scheduled to fight on the undercard of Morales-Garcia, however, he again failed to come close to making weight for his match against Jose Cotto.  I can’t imagine another promoter seriously considering Castillo’s inclusion to a fight card after he has burnt fans, opponents, and promoters by continually failing to make a contracted weight.  It is a shame that Castillo is not financially secure enough to walk away from the sport or the buffet line.

 

3. HBO Broadcasting Team:  Yet again the trio of Lampley, Kellerman, and Steward were in unison as they clearly favored Morales during his main event against Garcia. Morales fought admirably, and his quickness once again surprised all who questioned his ring return at junior welterweight.  However, the job of the announcing crew is to call the action and not cheerlead.  Garcia got little or no credit for landing the cleaner punches from the opening round and throughout the evening.  It felt as if their cheerleading was even impacting Howard Lederman’s ability to score the fight.

 

Also, as unpopular as open-scoring is, they seemed determined to let the audience know what the scores were following the fourth and eighth rounds.

 

2. James Kirkland:  The ebb and flow of James Kirkland’s career almost hit another speed bump before he was given an unwarranted victory via disqualification.  Kirkland never seemed to be in the fight until he showed a little spring in his steps in round nine, which was followed by a solid three minutes in the tenth that saw him score a knockdown at the end of the round.  However, we can not ignore what our eyes told us through the first eight rounds.  Kirkland needs to be carefully matched moving forward.  He is a brawler who will always be at a disadvantage when a boxing match breaks out.

 

What is even more disturbing is that Maxboxing’s Steve Kim tweeted that he was told by Kirkland’s manager, that Kirkland weighed as much as 198 lbs between this and his last fight.   If that report is accurate, then Kirkland once again showed that he is not fully committed to being a professional around the clock.  Few fighters have had career longevity when they choose to fight like James Kirkland.  After what I saw on Saturday night, I’m guessing that his candle may burn out sooner rather than later.

 

1. Mess in Texas:  Rather than singling one person out, I thought I’d just secure space for the entire Texas State Athletic Commission on the top step of the podium.  We have referee Jon Schorle, a time keeper, an inspector, and, of course, Gale Van Hoy.

 

When a desperate Kirkland landed enough shots to finally drop Molina at the end of the tenth round, confusion and chaos ensued.  The first issue was that the bell rang to end the round prematurely.  This is excusable because Molina was falling as the round came to a close.  Schorle correctly began to give Molina an 8-count, but he then incorrectly disqualified Molina when one of his cornermen tried to enter the ring during the count.  By following the letter of the law, Schorle cost fans in the arena and on television the chance to witness what could have been a dramatic final six minutes.  Instead, he disqualified a fighter, because his corner was entering the ring after hearing the bell ring.

 

Many have asked where the inspector was who was assigned to Molina’s corner.  Surely, it was his job to prevent cornerman, Orrin Askennette from climbing up on the ring apron.  This wasn’t a case where Askennette became over zealous and attempted to interfere with the count or proceedings.  He entered the ring ass-first.  He certainly should not have been confused with “The Ultimate Warrior” or even an enraged Roger Mayweather, who entered the ring without penalty in 2006 after Zab Judah hit his nephew below the belt line.  All Schorle had to do was to call time out, inform the judges that the knockdown counted, and send the fighters to their corners for a minute between rounds.  No harm and especially no foul.

 

Schorle was momentarily taken off the hook when it was revealed that ringside judge Gale Van Hoy had Kirkland ahead by a point following round nine.  Had he scored the tenth, Van Hoy would have had Kirkland ahead by three points.  How many heinous cards is Van Hoy allowed to turn in before he is disciplined and removed from his post?  Why is this guy in a position that will impact the careers and earning potential of young athletes?  This guy should have been reduced to being the answer to a trivia question after he ignored what he saw when Paulie Malignaggi fought Juan Diaz in Houston.  Instead, he remains a punch line whenever he is assigned to a major bout.

 

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 and followed on twitter @PribsBoxing.

 

 March 27, 2012



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