Though there were no blockbuster PPV boxing matches, Saturday night was filled with significant results in the fight game. Allow me to run through the results and weigh their significance.
The Super Six bout between hometown Andre Dirrell and Arthur Abraham played out very unexpectedly. Abraham was a strong favorite heading into the fight but he started slow. Starting slow proved to be a bad idea against a green but talented guy like Dirrell because he gained confidence as the fight went on. Dirrell piled up a nearly insurmountable lead on the scorecards so he got on his bike and ran to protect his lead. A desperate Abraham was having his best rounds while Dirrell was in retreat, and a come from behind knockout punch seemed plausible. In the 11th Dirrell slipped on a wet ring advertisement and Abraham blasted Dirrell illegally when he was down. Dirrell was knocked out from the punch so Arthur was disqualified, putting an end to the fight.
I was shocked to see Abraham getting beaten so decisively against a largely unproven guy in Dirrell, especially since Andre laid an egg against the less talented Carl Froch. Dirrell is growing up before our eyes in this tournament. He has surpassed Abraham as one of the favorites to win the tournament with this surprising victory, assuming that the effects of the illegal KO punch do him no permanent damage.
Andre is not guaranteed a spot in the next round though with only 2 points, so he will have to win his next fight. I am eagerly looking forward to the next two Super Six bouts: Andre Ward vs. Allan Green and Mikkel Kessler vs. Carl Froch. So far this has been an excellent tournament. Thanks Showtime!
In an HBO bout much less interesting than what Showtime was airing, Marcos Maidana knocked out pushover Victor Cayo very predictably. The junior welterweight is not devoid of talent so there is no excuse for not matching Maidana against a good opponent.
On the undercard of the HBO match, Joan Guzman and Ali Funeka had unfinished business to settle. If you remember, Guzman and Funeka fought to a controversial draw last November in a match that most felt Funeka won. Funeka started out as a slight favorite, but after the weigh in when Guzman was an astonishing nine pounds overweight, Funeka because a bigger favorite. Being overweight is usually a sign of being out of shape. However in this case, Guzman may have pulled a Jose Luis Castillo and used his extra poundage to his advantage.
Guzman scored a minor upset by winning a split decision in another debatable verdict. Despite the win, you have to wonder where Guzman goes from here. He obviously needs to move up one, or possibly two, weight classes. Moving up in weight will cause him to lose effectiveness and he is already looking past his prime. This may be the last major victory for Joan Guzman, a once master boxer.
Speaking of being past their prime, Erik Morales had an encore fight against second rate Jose Alfaro. Morales, at least, put on a good show for the fans who purchased the match and won a decision. I recommend checking out the fight if you can find a replay or video; there is some nice back and forth action. Morales’s career as a elite boxer are over, but he still knows how to put on a show.
In the UFC PPV over the weekend, Georges St. Pierre won a boring unanimous decision over some random guy. St. Pierre used ground game and wrestling tactics, reminding me why I prefer boxing over MMA.
The most important fight of the UFC card, and ended up being the most explosive fight of the night, was the heavyweight bout between Shane Carwin and Frank Mir. Carwin blasted Mir with a series of uppercuts while in a clinch against the cage, toppling the former champ while earning a shot at Brock Lesnar. Carwin has won all of his fights by 1st round KO. Despite his surprisingly old age of 35 (I thought he was younger since he is relatively new to the UFC), Carwin looks like he will be a good match for Lesnar with his similar size, athleticism, and power.
Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin is now the biggest fight that can be made in the UFC, with the exception of maybe Lyoto Machida vs. Quinton Jackson. The UFC heavyweight scene is moving into respectability, especially with studs like Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos waiting to fight the winner of Carwin vs. Lesnar. The absence of MMA’s top heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko is not as glaring anymore.
In the final match worth mentioning over the weekend, Pongsaklek Wongjongkam won his old WBC Flyweight belt back after being written off a couple years ago. Wongjongkam schooled and embarrassed undefeated, arrogant hot shot Koki Kameda over twelve rounds.
Despite fighting exclusively in Asia and thus not fighting the very best opposition, Pongsaklek has many supporters arguing his hall of fame status. Personally, I greatly respect Wongjongkam but think he is just short of being a hall of fame inductee. This huge win over Kameda in Japan is a step in the right direction. One more win over a top 5 ranked opponent would be enough for me to support his entry into the hall of fame; perhaps a unification bout against Omar Navarez or a fifth match against rival Daisuke Naito would be enough to change my mind.
Abraham Foul On Purpose?
So I watched the fight between Arthur Abraham and Andre Dirrell. They showed the replay in slow motion several times of Abraham hitting Dirrell while he was down. The guy was knocked out cold twitching on the canvas. Such a brutal foul and a brutal punch he deserves to be disqualified. I know he deserved losing, but do you think Abraham did it on purpose. In slow motion it seems like he may have, but in real time it happened pretty fast. What do you think Brian? Did Abraham hit Dirrell while he was down on purpose? If so, should he be banned from the tournament or suspended from boxing?
Only Arthur Abraham knows for sure if he did it on purpose. I agree with you that the referee made the right decision by disqualifying Abraham. He hit Dirrell with an illegal shot, whether he did it on purpose or not, and Andre was unable to continue due to that illegal shot. The ref had no other choice but to declare Dirrell the winner.
So did Abraham do it on purpose? Perhaps. However I do not think that he should be banned from the tournament. Arthur was frustrated and desperate because he was losing the fight badly. He only had one round to do something drastic. I think he realized that Dirrell was either down or at least had slipped and was unable to defend himself, yet it happened so fast that he did not have enough time to switch off his killer instinct. Things like this happen in competitive sports in the heat of the moment.
Arthur’s punishment was losing the fight, now everyone should move on and start thinking about the next fight. Maybe these two will meet later on in the Super Six to settle their bad blood.
Who Wins Super Six?
Who do you think wins the Super Six based on what we’ve seen so far?
Before the tournament started I said that the seasoned European boxers were the easy favorites here, especially Mikkel Kessler and Arthur Abraham. Both of them have been definitely beaten so far. Their conquerors, Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell should probably be considered the front runners now. Funny because I considered these two unproven Americans as in over their heads and dark horses before the tournament started. They have proven that they can hang with anyone in the world and are ready for prime time.
This tournament has shown parity and even match ups. Anyone can win this still. That includes those who have recorded a loss already and Carl Froch, who I sometimes dismiss. If I had to pick one favorite I would go with Andre Ward because he looked sensational against Kessler in the first round. Obviously that could change with one swift power punch to the jaw from Allan Green.
Roy Jones vs. Bernard Hopkins
Who do they think we are trying to sell us this geriatric battle on Pay Per View? What is the tag line? “Fight for the last pill of Viagra”? “Battle over the last can of prune juice”? “A rematch from last week’s shuffleboard game”? I don’t know about you Brian, but I don’t care about this fight between two boxers who are way to old to be in a fight that I care about. Are you looking forward to this one at all?
The official tag line for the Roy Jones vs. Bernard Hopkins long overdue rematch is “The Rivals”. I like your tag lines better though; they seem more appropriate. I don’t care about this fight either. Neither man is very relevant anymore. Roy Jones is so far past his prime that I fear for his life. He should have retired 5+ years ago due to a combination of declining skills and not reacting to punches well.
Hopkins, despite being older, is in much better shape. I think the difference between the current form of Hopkins compared to the slightly younger Jones has to do with their fight styles and skill sets.
Jones was great because of his speed, reflexes and athleticism. Those traits fade rapidly as you get older and we saw an extremely rapid descent from Roy. I’ve never seen a decline as frighteningly rapid as Roy Jones. He went from #1 pound for pound to bottom feeder in a period of about two fights.
Hopkins was great because of his technical boxing ability, ring intelligence, and strength. Bernard experienced the same decline in speed and reflexes, however he relied on those physical attributes far less than Jones did. That is why, when matched against the right opponent and fighting style, Hopkins can still compete on a world class level. He is still able to do what he did best in his prime even if he can’t keep up with some of the energetic young boxers. Hopkins can still capitalize on his opponent’s flaws and execute a flawless game plan.
In one of the pre-fight press conferences the veteran trainers of both future hall of famers said that Jones vs. Hopkins II will be a “thinking man’s fight”. To me, that means that his will be a boring fight that goes the distances between two guys who can’t pull the trigger anymore. I’m curious to read about who wins (I’m expecting a Hopkins unanimous decision) but I’m not going to suffer through watching it live.
David Haye vs. A Grizzly Bear
Big (kind of) heavyweight championship fight this weekend. John Ruiz vs. David Haye for Haye’s WBA strap. Who do you like and why?
David Haye remains the most interesting (even if not the most qualified or dangerous) opponent for one of the Klitschko brothers. A loss here derails him and leaves the Klitschko’s with even less options. Haye has not impressed me with his fights at heavyweight so even though Haye is a favorite against Ruiz on Saturday, I won’t be confident in my prediction.
John Ruiz, as much as everyone hates him for his boring style, is a tough opponent. He is experienced, determined, and makes you look bad. Haye will be tested. Ruiz preys on big, slow, uncoordinated “modern” heavyweights and exposes their lack of skill fighting on the inside. Haye, a former cruiserweight, might have the kind of power and fast hands to get to Ruiz the way that David Tua did, but I doubt it. I don’t think that he is skilled enough on the inside to avoid Ruiz’s clinches. Like Hasim Rahman, Haye needs space to throw his punches.
I expect a typical John Ruiz fight, with David Haye winning a close and controversial decision. I know Haye’s hardcore fans are predicting an early round KO, but I just don’t see it. I hope I am wrong because an entertaining or knockout win from Haye would be great in promotion for a Klitschko fight, but I don’t think Haye is good enough.
Old School Appreciation and Pacquiao vs. Arguello
Enjoy reading your boxing column, and think you are spot on. I have been a boxing fan over 65 years and retired here to The Philippines about five years ago. I’m not Pinoy but have become a real Pacquiao fan. Some of my best boxing memories are of Sugar Ray Robinson, Joey Giardello. Carmen Basilio, and Bobo Olson.
I also was a big fan of Alexis Arguello. Alexis and Pacquiao when Alexis was in his prime would have made an interesting fight.
I have all of Bert Sugar’s (The Hat) books and publications. Thanks for keeping your mailbag free of all the vulgarities one see’s on some boxing sites. Will look forward to reading every week. Take care and God bless.
Thanks for the nice email. I wanted to include this in my mailbag this week as a thanks for supporting my column. You mentioned some truly great fighters in the golden age of middleweight boxing. That era of middleweights was probably the best and deepest division in the history of boxing. I envy you that you were able to watch the immortal Sugar Ray Robinson fight live.
Alexis Arguello vs. Manny Pacquiao – Now here is a mythical match up that would be awesome. These guys would be throwing some wicked shots. I would pay to see this fight now matter what the ticket prices were. Arguello’s height and reach, throwing those atomic bombs for punches, could give Pacquiao major problems, although I think Manny would be a slight favorite because of his underrated defense in being able to avoid power punches.
Thanks everyone for reading RSR. I look forward to reading your emails. Have a take about the world of boxing or the UFC? Don’t be shy, send them on in.
Take care all.