By Derek Bonnett: The state of boxing has become a real shame in 2012. In the wake of high profile performance enhancement test results including Lamont Peterson, Andre Berto, and Antonio Tarver, just a few of the myriad examples in recent history, boxing fans are full of doubt. The prefight fight build-up and post-fight fall out all seems to gravitate toward someone cheating the system because they looked too good for their age, too strong, or filled out too quickly. In the past several weeks, Brian Viloria, Robert Guerrero, and Juan Manuel Marquez put in stellar performances and continued to turn back the odds on their careers. Should we suspect that there is something more behind their super human showings?
At 32, Viloria, a flyweight, has been looking like a pound for pound gatecrasher at an age when most great flyweights are retired and waiting on their hall of fame ballots to come in. Instead, he has been dropping and stopping top-flight opposition in the most dominant run of his career against the best opposition he’s faced. Is Viloria like fine wine or is he the product of a dirty last ditch effort to capture the glory the former Olympian could not attain in the first part of his career. Guerrero’s family story dominates most of the press leading up to his bouts, but in the wake of his welterweight victory over Andre Berto, fight-fans have wondered just how the former featherweight champion, who was known to be inconsistent in his efforts, has found his recent stride. The lightweight and welterweight versions of Guerrero make one wonder how he ever got outmuscled by the likes of Gamaliel Diaz and Orlando Salido at featherweight regardless of the circumstances surrounding each bout. Is Guerrero a cheat or has his plight allowed him to elevate his game and transcend his former ceiling of potential as a professional? Juan Manuel Marquez fought thirty-six rounds with Manny Pacquiao and hit the canvas four times while only managing to buzz the Filipino phenom on several occasions. However, in the fourth installment, the thirty-nine year old Marquez rocked Pacquiao consistently and put him down for two of the most emphatic knockdowns of the year. The KO he recorded over Pacquiao will surely seal the KO of the Year race tightly. But, where did this Marquez come from? Had he been inching closer and closer to Pacquiao since they first hooked up in 2004 or are we to dwell on the fact that Marquez employs Angel Hernandez, Ussain Bolt’s trainer, who is known to have supplied Victor Conte’s clients with performance enhancing drugs?
Like many crimes, suspicion of guilt is often just as damning as hard evidence. I want to believe in the insurmountable powers of the human will, but the era we live in makes us skeptical of all our sports icons who begin to look too good. This scenario reminds me of Larry Merchant’s summation of Oscar De La Hoya’s use of a mariachi band to endear himself to more Mexican fans: "It stinks."
On Monday, December 3, at North Bangkok University, Bangkok, Thailand, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai stopped Safwan Lombok in four rounds of a bantamweight bout. The stoppage came at the :44 mark and put three safe bantamweight wins between Rungvisai and his March 115-pound title fight loss to Yota Sato. Rungvisai elevated his ring credentials to 23-5-1 (9). Lombok fell to 1-18-1 and lost for the fourteenth consecutive time.
For the moment, Rungvisai held onto his number six bantamweight ranking, but he needs quality of wins to go along with quantity of wins if he is to advance up the SecondsOut ladder in 2013.
On Tuesday, December 4, at Bodymaker Collosseum, Osaka, Osaka, Japan, Koki Kameda won a controversial split decision over Hugo Ruiz in a twelve round WBA bantamweight title bout. The three judges scoring saw it 116-113 and 115-113 for the champion, but were contradicted by a 117-113 score for the challenger. Kameda raised his record to 29-1 (17). Ruiz dipped to 31-2 (28).
Kameda kept his number four ranking among SecondsOut’s top 110-pounders. Due to the closeness of the bout, Ruiz climbed from eight to five. The five through seven contenders each fell one ranking.
Also on the card, Tomoki Kameda stopped Ray Las Pinas in four rounds of a super bantamweight bout. The end came at the 1:23 mark. Kameda raised his ledger to 26-0 (17). Pinas dropped to 17-7-4 (11).
Kameda won for the third straight time outside of the bantamweight division. Therefore he will no longer be ranked at bantamweight and will be considered a 122-pounder where he waits to become ranked.
On Thursday, December 6, at Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Ji Hoon Kim fell victim to the unlikely run of Raymundo Beltran in a ten round lightweight bout. Both fighters hit the canvas in the opening round, but Beltran prevailed by scores of 98-92 twice and 97-94. Beltran improved his dossier to 27-6 (17). Kim dropped to 24-8 (18).
Beltran entered the SecondsOut lightweight ranks at number eight. Kim exited for the time being.
On Friday, December 7, at Texas Station Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Jessie Vargas defeated Vito Gasparyan by unanimous decision in a ten round welterweight bout. The three judges scored the bout 98-90 and 98-91 twice. Vargas won for the fourth time this year and elevated his record to 21-0 (9). Gasparyan dropped to 14-3-5 (8).
Vargas held onto his number seven ranking among SecondsOut’s top welterweights.
On Saturday, December 8, at BOXEB, Herning, Denmark, Mikkel Kessler scored a TKO over Brian Magee in three rounds of a WBA super middleweight title bout. The end came at the :24 mark. Kessler raised his record to 46-2 (35) and claimed the regular title. Magee dropped to 36-5-1 (25).
Kessler held onto his number two 168-pound ranking at SecondsOut and positioned himself for high profile rematches with Andre Ward and Carl Froch.
Also on this date, at Orient Theater, East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa, Nkosinathi Joyi made a successful comeback with a TKO against Walter Rojas in a minimumweight bout. Joyi ended the night at 2:13 of round number one. Joyi fought for the third time this year, matching his busiest twelve months since 2006. He improved his record to 23-1 (16). Rojas fell to 19-3-1 (18).
Joyi held his number four ranking among SecondsOut’s top minimumweights.
At Olympia, Kensington, London, United Kingdom, Carson Jones fought to an eight round draw with Lee Purdy substitute Dean Byrne in a welterweight bout. The bout was determined by a single count of 76-76. Jones fell to 34-9-3 (24). Byrne now stands at 16-2-1 (6).
Jones fell out of the SecondsOut welterweight rankings with the sub-par performance.
Also on this night, at MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Manny Pacquiao suffered the likely KO of the Year winner against Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth bout. Pacquiao hit the canvas in the third and sixth rounds. Marquez hit the deck in the fifth. The end came at the 2:59 mark of the sixth round. Pacquiao still leads the series 2-1-1, but Marquez owns the most emphatic win of the series. Marquez raised his ledger to 55-6-1 (40). Pacquiao dropped to 54-5-2 (38).
Marquez jumped from number one at 140 pounds to SecondsOut’s top welterweight. Pacquiao fell from first to fourth. Robert Guerrero moved from fourth to third.
Also on the card, Javier Fortuna defeated Patrick Hyland in a twelve round interim WBA featherweight title bout. The unanimous scores favored Fortuna 118-110, 116-112, and 115-113. Fortuna raised his numbers to 21-0 (15). Hyland dipped to 27-1 (12).
Fortuna was previously ranked in SecondsOut’s 130-pound division. He now stands at number nine at 126 pounds to fill a vacancy left by Celestino Caballero who was removed for inactivity.
Also on the card, Miguel Vazquez outpointed Mercito Gesta in a twelve round IBF lightweight title bout. Vazquez was in command of the action throughout and lifted his ledger to 33-3 (13) while posting his fifth title defense. It was his fourth victory in 2012. Gesta dipped to 26-1-1 (14).