Welterweight: 2013, Dec 16-22

I’ll discuss the events of the past weekend in descending order of magnitude.

 

In the Showtime Championship Boxing main event from San Antonio on Saturday, Marcos Maidana gave, I would hazard, the large majority of boxing fans an early Christmas present by shutting the mouth of the unceasingly loquacious Adrien Broner.  Broner was as likable as ever, simulating a certain act at one point while Maidana’s back was turned that would threaten to lose me the family-friendly status that I hope will allow me to participate in WordPress ads at some point if I were to report on it fully.  Maidana quite literally returned the favor later in the fight.  The difference is, he had already beaten the fight out of Broner by them, while Broner’s actions were bravado entirely of the false variety.  Quite simply, Maidana beat Broner up.  He mugged him.  There were a few competitive rounds, but it wasn’t a competitive fight.  Broner went down in the 2nd and 8th, and deserved another 10-8 in a particularly rocky 9th round.  Maidana lost a point in the 8th for a headbutt, and that’s the only point that he clearly missed out on in the whole fight.  I did give Broner the 12th in a close call, but that was the only round that I thought he had much of an argument for.  118-106 was my card.  The really awful judges (almost a redundant statement for a Texas fight) had it 117-109 (Levi Martinez), 116-109 (Nelson Vazquez), and a patently ridiculous- almost offensive- 115-110 (Stanley Christodoulou).  There was buzz immediately that this might be the upset of the year.  Really?  Maidana was #4 in the division, give or take, by any reasonable measure.  Broner?  True, he is and/or was the legitimate lightweight Champion, but that’s two whole weight classes to the south.  At Welter, he beat Paulie Malignaggi in a rather close decision.  Malignaggi improved his stock dramatically since then by beating Judah, but at the time he could be viewed more as a guy coming off what should have been a dominant loss to Pablo Cesar Cano than anything else.  In short, Broner had earned little or no credibility anywhere north of 135 at more than a fringe contender level.  Those who considered Maidana an underdog of any magnitude whatsoever were speculating at best, or buying into undeserved hype at worst.

 

On the rather stacked undercard, #13 Keith Thurman justified his own hype in a big way.  Thurman- who had to make an adjustment and mix in some boxing to overcome big strong welterweight Diego Chaves in his last fight- applied that adjustment from the opening bell against another big strong welterweight in Mexican brawler, #6 Jesus Soto-Karass.  I’ve seldom seen such plainly visible growth in a young fighter over such a limited span of rounds.  This time, he mixed boxing with power from the start.  He showed the ability to throw and land huge shots from a posture of movement, which is a pretty rare ability.  As for Soto-Karass, he showed big-time heart and plenty of desire, as expected, but ultimately couldn’t handle Thurman’s concussive counter shots.  Up 78-73 on my card, Thurman closed the show with a stoppage of a broken opponent in the 9th.  This fight effectively  the progression of Thurman from a prospect to a contender and star.

 

#11 Josesito Lopez looked, frankly, really bad in his narrow Friday victory over Mike Arnaoutis, who entered the fight with the profile of a shopworn veteran journeyman.  Arnaoutis looked strong and fresh early against Lopez, who was clearly not sharp.  He dropped Lopez in the 3rd after trading the first couple rounds.  Lopez started to get into the fight after the knockdown, though, and won four of the last 5 completed rounds as I saw it.  In the 8th, Arnaoutis suffered a pretty bad cut over his left eye from a head clash.  After the round, Arnaoutis was very adamant that he couldn’t see, though in my decidedly non-expert opinion, it looked like the blood had been stemmed and was flowing entirely to the left of the eye to the extent it was flowing at all at that point.  I personally believe that Arnaoutis could see well enough to continue, and yet knew that his best rounds in the fight were behind him.  His best chance for victory, as he could reasonably have calculated, was to go to the scorecards at that point, since it had very obviously been close to that point.  Now maybe I’m totally wrong and he really couldn’t see.  If that’s the case, he not only did the prudent thing, but did so honorably.  I just didn’t really see any signs with my untrained eye to suggest that he couldn’t see.  He wasn’t blinking abnormally or anything like that.  But I don’t want to belabor the point.  One judge, Thomas Taylor, had it exactly as I did, and the other two (incorrectly, I believe) had it a round wider.  If Arnaoutis was taking a calculated risk to get out of the fight, it didn’t help him win, and so the point is largely moot.  Lopez, for his part, dodged a bullet.  If this was a case of under-preparedness as opposed to a sign of physical decline, then it should serve as a valuable lesson cheaply learned.

 

Returning to Saturday, fringe contender Leonard Bundu of Italy by way of Sierra Leone put on a fine performance against a very gritty and determined English gatekeeper in Lee Purdy, in London.  Purdy came out strong, and took three of the first four rounds as I saw it.  But it was a brisk pace and a tough fight.  Bundu proved physically strong, and showed more classy boxing ability than Purdy as the rounds wore on.  By the 8th round, Purdy had lost his edge completely, and had faded to the point that he was no longer competitive within the rounds.  It was every inch a war of attrition, and Bundu conclusively outlasted his man.  When the dust settled, Bundu had poured about as much punishment into 12 rounds as it’s possible to do, and referee Juergen Langos quite aptly rescued Purdy in the closing seconds.  You might wish that Purdy had gotten a chance to finish the fight with only 10 seconds remaining, but this was an instance where you had to protect a helpless fighter.  10 seconds or not, Purdy was about to get badly hurt.  

 

And in a strictly stay-busy fight on Friday, Mexican champion (well, if you don’t count Marquez, Soto-Karass, Cano, and maybe a few others, anyway) Alvaro Robles stopped sub-.500 journeyman Miguel Angel Lopez at the beginning of 6.

 

Maidana doesn’t really have room to improve in the rankings at the moment, as his loss to Alexander holds him back from having any chance to eclipse Pacquiao at present.  Thurman parks right behind Maidana at #5, pushing Porter back a place.  Soto-Karass falls to #12, while Berto slips back to #13.  Bundu slips back into the rankings at #20, meaning that Jo Jo Dan exits after two weeks in.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in Current Position-Weeks in Top 10 if applicable-Weeks in Top 20)
Champ: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (190-222-222)
Last Fight: 9/14/2013- W* (MD12) vs. #2 JMW Saul Alvarez (at JMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Floyd will likely be back on both May 3 and September 13, with Amir Khan being rumored as the May 3 opponent.
1) Timothy Bradley (10-10-80)
Last Fight: 10/12/2013- W (SD12) vs. #1 Juan Manuel Marquez
Next Fight: Unknown
Bradley-Pacquiao II is very likely for April 12.
2) Juan Manuel Marquez (10-110-110)
Last Fight: 10/12/2013- L (SD12) vs. #17 Timothy Bradley
Next Fight: Unknown
After retirement was mentioned a couple different times, Marquez now says he intends to fight twice in 2014.  He wants a tune-up in Mexico City, followed by a rematch with Bradley.
3) Manny Pacquiao (10-263-263)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- UD12 #5? JWW Brandon Rios
Next Fight: Unknown
See Bradley’s notes, above. 
4) Marcos Maidana (2-28-28)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- UD12 LW Champ Adrien Broner
Next Fight: Unknown
After his 12-round beatdown of overhyped Broner, Maidana has set himself up for a big opportunity.  Malignaggi indicated interest in the winner, for starters, and Shawn Porter also seems interested.
5) Keith Thurman (1-1-41)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- TKO9 #6 Jesus Soto-Karass
Next Fight: Unknown
After beating Soto-Karass, Thurman issued what amounts to a challenge to the entire division.
6) Shawn Porter (1-2-2)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- UD12 #5 Devon Alexander
Next Fight: Unknown
All indications are that Porter will fight his mandatory, Kell Brook, next, though he has also indicated interest in Maidana.

7) Robert Guerrero (2-56-73)
Last Fight: 5/4/2013- L (UD12) vs. Champ Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Next Fight: Unknown
Guerrero wants Pacquiao next.  I see his style as potentially problematic for Pacquiao, which probably renders the match-up unlikely at this time, when combined with his lack of a recent win.
8) Kell Brook (2-138-138)
Last Fight:10/26/2013- TKO4 Vyacheslav Senchenko (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
See Porter’s notes, above.
9) Devon Alexander (2-95-95)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- L (UD12) vs. Shawn Porter (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
10) Randall Bailey (4-4-4)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- W (DQ8) vs. Humberto Toledo (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
11) Josesito Lopez (4-78)
Last Fight: 12/13/2013- W (TD8) vs. Mike Arnaoutis (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Hopefully his great struggles against Arnaoutis aren’t the result of wear and tear taking their toll on Lopez and his career.
12) Jesus Soto Karass (1-47)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- L (TKO9) vs. #13 Keith Thurman
Next Fight: Unknown
His results are now decidedly mixed, but I suspect Soto Karass will continue to get decent TV fights, since his fights are almost always entertaining, and  always a test for his opponent.
13) Andre Berto (1-56)
Last Fight: 7/27/2013- L (TKO12) vs. #11 Jesus Soto Karass
Next Fight: Unknown
 
Berto’s shoulder surgery will keep him out until sometime in 2014.
14) Paulie Malignaggi (2-2)
 
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- UD12 #8? JWW Zab Judah
 
Next Fight: Unknown
 
Malignaggi expects a big money fight in the wake of his handy victory over Judah.  He is interested in Maidana.
 
15) Chris van Heerden (2-79)
Last Fight: 3/2/2013- UD12 Matthew Hatton (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Amidst conflicting reports variously suggesting he would fight in February in the US or in South Africa, the truth has emerged.  He’s starting a 3-year contract with a US promoter, and supposedly has a fight planned for early in the new year.
16) Luis Carlos Abregu (2-34)
Last Fight: 4/27/2013- UD10 Antonin Decarie (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Abregu’s plans for an October fight have been scrapped, as he recently had 2013-ending hand surgery.  The WBC is looking to match him with Antonin Decarie when he returns.
17) Jan Zaveck (2-210)
Last Fight: 10/19/2013- UD8 Sebastien Allais (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
As expected, Zaveck had little trouble with French journeyman Allais.
18) Ruslan Provodnikov (2-40)
Last Fight: 10/19/2013- RTD10 #3 JWW Mike Alvarado (at JWW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Provodnikov proved against Alvarado that the Bradley fight was no fluke.  He’s a big-time fighter now.  Mostly it’s all rumor at this point, but there has been speculation of his fighting Rios or Marquez.  He said he would refuse a fight with Pacquiao, a friend with whom he shares a trainer.
19) Pablo Cesar Cano (2-14)
Last Fight: 9/14/2013- W (SD10*) vs. Ashley Theophane (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Cano said after the 143-pound catchweight win against Theophane that he intends to seek title contention at 140 now.  I must say I’m surprised by the move, considering he failed to make weight for one of his biggest fights at 147 against Malignaggi.

20) Leonard Bundu (1-1)
Last Fight: 12/14/2013- TKO12 Lee Purdy (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Bundu retains his European title and undefeated record with the impressive effort over Purdy.

 

The Week Ahead:
Saturday
Frankie Gavin vs. Bradley Pryce; Leeds, England; BoxNation (UK)
Promising undefeated British prospect Gavin gets a decent test in serviceable journeyman Bradley Pryce.  Pryce’s record is that of a relatively low-level opponent, but he gets a fair amount of credibility for giving Sergey Rabchenko a good deal of trouble recently.
 

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