Saying that a Floyd Mayweather Jr -Amir Khan fight would “have a huge crowd of Brits showing up wherever the fight would take place,” Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefersaid that he would “have to see if that fight can be done.”
“With Amir, there is no secret that he and his team are pursuing a Mayweather fight, and Floyd Mayweather, right now, is enjoying his time off. We’re working on it to see if, in fact, it can be done.”
I’d stress this doesn’t necessarily make it a done deal; Mayweather Jr has floated possible opponent names in the past to see what the reaction is only to choose someone else (Devon Alexander was the last to get that treatment), but with Schaefer and Golden Boy saying it rather than someone from the immediate vicinity of Mayweather Jr this is bit more solid a commitment.
In the most high profile bout of the weekend Adonis Stevenson hunted down and eventually stopped a game but outmatched Tony Bellew in six rounds. Stevenson has always had power and athleticism but under the tutelage of first the dearly departed Emanuel Steward and now Javon Sugar Hill he’s added a level of craft and finesse to his work. No-one’s going to mistake him for the second coming of Sugar Rat Robinson but he’s no longer the crude and limited puncher his early career indicated. Bellew himself has also gone through a transformation, starting his domestic career as a pure slugger with limited stamina and a questionable chin largel down to the vast amount of weight he cut. He suffered a wake-up call in a bout with Ovil McKenzie where he was dropped twice and since then has adapted his style to be more of a mobile boxer puncher, using lateral movement and a high workrate to avoid, bemuse and frustrate opponents.
The bout had some bad blood going into it as Bellew based his pre-fight hype around Stevenson’s less than enamouring past (he has a conviction for essentially pimping) and there was the sort of handbags that every so often appear at boxing weigh ins, but rather than the bout exploding into some massive brawl from the off, instead it quickly fell into a pattern. Stevenson stalked Bellew while Bellew looked to hit, move and counter. For a couple of rounds Bellew had some real success, finding a home for his own right hand, but Stevenson was winning rounds based on activity and in truth there was always a sense that it would only take one shot from the Canadian to end it. That sense was proven correct in the sixth when Stevenson dropped Bellew with a left hand and then finished him with another two lefts in the follow up flurry that had Bellew out on his feet. Stevenson was the deserved favourite and did nothing to particularly stand out but it was still a solid performance from a much improved boxer.
We all know that Mosely has little left and it was apparent from the opening bell. There was one good punch in the second round and a few nasty looking bodyshots but they were few and far between. Mundine controlled the bout on both the inside and the outside, spiking Mosely with a sharp jab and a straight right and then sneaking in shots on the inside including some tasty uppercuts. Mundine comfortably won every round and at times actually seemed to wobble the notoriously iron chinned Mosely. Mention was made in Mosely’s corner of an injured back and eventually the referee called in the doctor and stopped the bout due to back spasms. It was an underwhelming ending to the bout but in truth Mosely had shown nothing and it was better to get him out of there then let him take another 100 punches to the had.
I’ve deliberately avoided writing anything too substantive on the subject for a day or two. All too often people immediately reach for their keyboards (a testament to the times we live in) whenever something like this happens and before you know it there’s a thousand voices screaming a thousand things. I wanted a chance to sit back, clear it from my mind (helped out by Pacquiao’s performance the same night) and then rewatch the entire bout a few times before putting my thoughts on paper.
But anyway, let’s focus on the big point straight away.
The stoppage was early. Not quite ridiculously early, but pretty close to it. Early even by Britain notoriously quick standards. It was early and it was wrong and it should never have happened. Let’s keep that in mind throughout.
You know a doorstop attached to the wall? One the sits there unmoving, has the door crash into it again and again, get chipped, splintered and broken down… but every so often you stub your toe on it? That’s Brandon Rios. He was a cricket ball bowled by the England team; more in hope than expectation and then blocked, parried, hit and occasionally smashed to long on while sticking around for over after over despite the damage done to it… and every so often glancing painfully off a hand.
Manny Pacquiao won and won easily. He was too quick, too sharp, too accurate, too fast with his hands and feet and too slick. That’s not really surprising. If a bigger, stronger, more powerful and more experienced Margarito… a man who had actually shown the ability to track down fairly quick boxers previously… couldn’t really do anything to Pacquiao there was no reason to suspect Rios would be able to. The pre-fight discussion was all about how Rios was tailor made for Pac and the fight simply showed that to be true. Rios was slow, flat footed, befuddled by movement, defensively weak and simply outclassed. He tried to box in the first round and that didn’t work. He went back to his brawling and didn’t do much better. He had no answers to Pacquiao’s speed, to his combinations or to his movement. Frankly I wouldn’t have objected if his corner pulled him out after about seven rounds… there was no indication anything would change going forward and… unsurprisingly… it didn’t.
Somewhat understandably in the light of Pacquaio vs Rios and Froch vs Groves, there hasn’t been a vast amount of interest in the other bouts going on this weekend. That’s somewhat unfortunate as there’s a pretty decent card from Germany this Saturday night that may well be worth a watch.
The main event sees Yoan Pablo Hernandez defend his IBF 200lbs title against Alexander Alekseev. Hernandez had a solid amateur career and appeared to be well set for a great run as a pro until a surprising upset loss to Wayne Braithwaite. He quietly rebuilt his career and then burst back into prominence with two wins over Steve Cunningham to win and then defend the world title he now holds. The second bout in particular was a great bout to watch. A good athlete, technically sound and still fairly young, the only real questions about Hernandez have been the standard accusations against defected Cubans; gorged on freedom does he really care about his boxing career that much?
Alekseev’s career mimics Hernandez’ in some ways. An excellent amateur himself, highlighted by winning a world title, he’s seen his progression as pro stalled by some key losses, notably being demolished in short order by Denis Lebedev. A fairly stereotypical European boxer with an upright style, Alekseev uses his jab and straight right well but tends to struggle when opponents can really pressure him.
I’ve complained before about some pretty underwhelming undercards in boxing, and here we are with yet another pretty underwhelming undercard. It consists of two showcase bouts where amateur stars will beat boxers who shouldn’t be in the ring with them, one heavyweight bout that should on paper be fairly exciting but doesn’t really mean much in the division and a world title rematch between two boxers no-one really likes or wants to see.
Can you tell my excitement? Predicted winners in bold with analysis under the cut…
People have come to know Froch well over recent years. At first glance he’s a brawler with decent power, an iron chin and an unbreakable will and to this day some people have written him off as simply being nothing more then that. But the truth is, that’s not the case and while no-one is mistaking him for Willie Pep reborn he has a certain amount of class and guile in his ring craft. He can use his jab well, put together powerful combinations, box on the inside and outside and has some underrated footwork. There are still holes in his game of course; his punches have a little too much loop to them, his head movement (and general defence) is at best limited, he still has a tendency to lunge forward into shots and he struggles to transition quickly between ranges and from offence to defence… but over the last few years he’s shown quite how talented his is.
Yes, Pacquiao is coming off a brutal knockout loss. And yes there was another controversial loss before that. And yes, in all honesty he hadn’t looked that great in the two bouts before that. Considering his level of competition and the situation he’s in, he’s allowed to have a soft bout for his return.
But this soft? And for people (in the US at least) being expected to pay for it?
It looks like the fairy tale career of Martin Rogan may be over.
Considering what’s happened in boxing recently and my own struggles with the sport it seems a little poor taste to glorify in a KO but there’s no doubt that Rogan’s recent loss to German prospect Erkan Teper is one of the most brutal I can recall in recent times.
If the footage of the stoppage itself wasn’t bad enough, one can look to the consequences. While thankfully there at least appears to have been no serious head injuries or brain trauma, Rogan still suffered a pretty significant broken jaw which, in his own words, required it to be put together “like a jigsaw” and leaves him with “more plates in my face and neck than we have in our cupboards”.
With all that in mind, and his own follow up that he’d had a great career and went out with a bang (figuratively and literally), it looks like it’s the end for “Rogie”. And the man is utterly correct. He did have a great career and should look back on it with pride.