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.
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.