By Saúl Berríos-Thomas
From old fighters putting the finishing touches on their legacies to young guns beginning their journeys this week had everything. Some fighters proved they deserve the next step and some fighters showed they were not ready for the opportunities they were given.
The main event on Showtime “Championship Boxing,” from Brooklyn, N.Y., was a welterweight clash scheduled for 12 rounds or less. The “Battle for Brooklyn” featured Zab Judah (42-9-0-2, 29 KOs) and Paulie Malignaggi (33-5, 7 KOs). Judah came out fast and forced Malignaggi back. In round two only 15 seconds into the round Judah landed a hard left. It was ruled a knockdown, but their feet clearly got tangled, which would suggest it probably shouldn’t have been. Judah won the first three round by jabbing and moving. He was accurate and sharp. After round three he hit a wall. He looked exhausted and he stopped moving. Malignaggi moved and started landing. Several fans seated around me in the pro-Judah crowd hoped that it was a ploy to bait in Malignaggi. Judah, who was perceived to have more power, never did turn the jets back on though, much to the dismay of said fans. Malignaggi began to have some fun once he realized Judah was done. He even taunted a little bit more than he maybe should have. Judah looked like a fighter who shouldn’t be fighting anymore. When it was obvious to everyone that he needed the knockout he couldn’t get it. He could land punches he just didn’t have the power he used to. Judah never gave up and battled against Malignaggi, but in the end Malignaggi was the better man on that night. The fight went 12 rounds and the judges had it 116-111, 117-110 and 117-110 all for Malignaggi. Paulie Malignaggi won by unanimous decision in his hometown of Brooklyn.
The co-main event was a 12 round welterweight fight. Devon Alexander (25-2, 14 KOs) faced Shawn Porter (23-0-1, 14 KOs). Porter was aggressive early showing Alexander he belonged in the fight and that he was there to take his title. Alexander fights slow fights with tons of clinching and several head-butts. Porter did something early that paid dividends throughout the fight; during the clinch he punished Alexander’s body. Alexander was bloodied early as he usually is and the blood streaming down his face bothered him all night. While porter never really hurt Alexander he definitely bothered him. Alexander is a good, but not great fight. Porter has the potential to fight at the next level and even though this was a tough fight that didn’t make him look great, it was one he needed to win. Alexander needed a knockout and he just could not get one. The fight went 12 rounds and the judges had it 115-113, 116-112 and 116-112 all for Porter. Shawn Porter won by unanimous decision.
The second fight was a super welterweight bout set for 12. Erislandy Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs) faced Austin Trout (26-2, 14 KOs). Trout is a good fighter, but he is not the tactician that Lara is. Lara is a supreme talent especially defensively. Unfortunately Lara tends to neglect offense in favor of defense and movement around the ring. Lara outscored Trout because Trout failed to make it a brawl. Trout had a lot of trouble finding Lara to land anything effective. Lara was winning each round even though many of them were close. Lara has decent power that may have kept Trout hesitant. In round 11 with 45 seconds left Lara landed a thunderous right hand that dropped Trout. Trout got up, but it didn’t much matter as he was ahead by so much on the cads already. This is the most frustrating thing about Lara. He has brutal power, but he often neglects to use it. The fight went 12 rounds and the judges had it 118-109, 117-110 and 117-110 all for Lara. Erislandy Lara won by unanimous decision.
The first fight in Brooklyn was a 12 round super middleweight bout. Anthony Dirrell (26-0-1, 22 KOs) faced Sakio Bika (32-5-3, 21 KOs) for Bika’s title. Bika threw his wild punches early and often, but Dirrell avoided them for the most part. Dirrell landed hard punches early. Bika loves to make fights dirty and cause mayhem. Dirrell’s power staggered Bika several times. Dirrell threw fewer punches, but he was much more accurate and many of his shots were counters. With 45 seconds remaining in round 5 Dirrell landed a beautiful right hand that buckled the knees of Bika. Dirrell followed with a right and left that dropped Bika. Bika was continually dirty and it hurt him in round 11. After a big low blow the referee took a point from Bika. The fight went 12 rounds and the judges had it 114-112 Bika, 116-110 Dirrell and 113-113. The fight was a draw, which allowed Bika to keep his title. I have no idea how anyone who even watched three rounds of this fight could score the fight 114-112 for Bika. Dirrell clearly dominated the fight.
The main event on HBO “Boxing After Dark,” from Atlantic City, N.J., was a super bantamweight fight scheduled for 12 rounds. Guillermo Rigondeaux (13-0,8 KOs) faced Joseph Agbeko (29-5, 22 KOs) for Rigondeaux’s bevy of titles. Rigondeaux was more aggressive than he has been in his career. Agbeko was more hesitant than he has been in his career. That led to Rigondeaux looking to land harder punches. Agbeko completely shutdown, he was no longer looking to win the fight. Rigondeaux was controlling every facet of the fight. Rigondeaux was barely even hit in the fight, he landed most of his punches and he moved where he wanted when he wanted. Some people may say that Rigondeaux has a boring style, but I think that he wins fights and that is what makes him great. The style can be slow at times, but the tuned boxing eye can see all of the little things in those lulls that make the fight what it is: the faints, the foot movement, the shoulder movement and the eye movement. Rigondeaux was trying to step up the pace and trying to go for the knockout, but his brain, which is programed to always make the smartest boxing move, would prevent him from going all out. Agbeko had moments, but he was unwilling to follow them up so they were basically useless. Rigondeaux was unable to score the knockout, so the fight went the distance. The judges scored the fight 120-108, 120-108 and 120-108 all for Rigondeaux. Guillermo Rigondeaux won by unanimous decision.
The middle fight on HBO was a 10 round junior middleweight matchup. James Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs) faced Glen Tapia (20-1, 12 KOs). The fighters exchanged a lot of punches early. Tapia was getting the better of the exchanges in the first round. After Kirkland warmed up he started to land hard shots as well. Tapia was hurt in the second round after Kirkland was hurt in the first. The third round went back and fourth as both fighters continued to exchange thunderous blows over and over again. They were standing toe-to-toe and brawling. Kirkland began to takeover the fight as Tapia wore down from Kirkland’s Punches. Before round four Tapia was warned that the fight would be stopped if he took any more big shots. Tapia, in true warrior fashion, loaded up and tried to knock Kirkland out with the first punch of the round. The fight was brutal as Tapia continued to take punishment. After 30 seconds of round six Tapia was trapped in the corner and took a lot of hard punches that was the moment that the referee decided to stop the fight. James Kirkland won by technical knockout at 38 seconds of round six.
The first fight on HBO was a middleweight bout set for 10 rounds. Matthew Macklin (30-5, 20 KOs) faced Lamar Russ (14-1, 7 KOs). Russ’ length gave him an advantage that caused Macklin problems early. It was a close fight as Russ was scoring the jab, but when Macklin got inside he was able to land the harder shots. Macklin started to take control as Russ tired and started to get hit more. Macklin out landed and out threw Russ, but Russ has potential. Russ was just not ready for this fight. The fight went 10 rounds and the judges had it 96-94, 98-92 and 97-93 all for Macklin. Matthew Macklin won by unanimous decision.
The main event on Showtime “ShoBox: The New Generation,” from Shelton, Wash. was a 10 round super middleweight match. J’Leon Love (16-0-0-1, 9 KOs) faced Lajaun Simon (23-5-2-1, 12 KOs). Love came out early and put some leather on Simon. The movement and hand speed of Love gave him the ability to throw Simon off his game. Love thoroughly dominated the entire fight. Love did not, however, throw many power punches early. With 15 seconds left in round six Love landed a right that hurt Simon. Love followed up with two right hooks that sent Simon to the canvas. Simon went down and the fight was over. J’Leon Love won by knockout at 2:48 of round six.
The co-main event on Showtime was a super middleweight bout scheduled for 10 rounds. Badou Jack (16-0-1, 11 KOs) faced Rogelio Medina (31-5, 25 KOs). Medina the 25-year old veteran worked the body well and was more aggressive early. In round four Jack landed a hard punch that stunned Medina. Jack got some energy from the punch and had his best round to that point by far. Medina also got some energy from the exchange and he taunted Jack a bit. After the bell they gave each other a glare acknowledging the battle they were in. Once Jack got the confidence he was able to land more punches, but Medina was not scared of his power. With two minutes left in round six Jack landed a counter right on the button that dropped Medina. Medina got up from the knockdown but was back down 15 seconds later. Medina had the heart of a warrior, which allowed him to fight through the damage. He almost escaped the round, but with thirty seconds left a barrage of blows from Jack finished the fight. Badou Jack won by technical knockout at 2:30 of round six.
The second fight was a 10 round lightweight bout. Mickey Bey (19-1-1-1, 10 KOs) faced Carlos Cardenas (20-7-1, 13 KOs). Bey was coming off of a knockout loss in his last fight, which was also his first loss. Bey was able to land early and often on Cardenas, who was fighting his first fight in the US. Bey doesn’t have one punch power but he can easily wear opponents down with his strong accurate punches. Bey did take a few punches, but Cardenas had no power. With a minute remaining in round three Bey landed a left body shot and quickly followed it with a quick left head shot that finished Cardenas. Mickey Bey won by knockout at 2:22 of round three.
The first fight on Showtime was a junior middleweight matchup set for 8 rounds. Chris Pearson (13-0, 10 KOs) fought Acasio Ferreira (14-1-1, 12 KOs). Ferreira had an odd style that made it difficult for Pearson to find him early. Pearson remained composed and moved well. Once he started to land it was clear he was the better fighter. With a minute and a half remaining in round one Pearson landed a stiff left hand that staggered Ferreira. Pearson moved in and finished Ferreira quickly. Chris Pearson won by knockout at 1:44 of round one.
Rigondeaux is one of the top three boxers in the world. Similar to Andre Ward he is neglected because his fighting style is perceived as boring. This is a huge mistake. Boxing is kept alive by the intelligent fans that love the sport. Those fans love fighters like Rigondeaux and Ward who show how to dominate the sport without taking massive amounts of punishment. There is absolutely no reason these fights should be given away on free TV while a fight like Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez is on PPV. Don’t get me wrong I hate paying for PPV fights, but if I am going to anyway I want to pay for quality.
Courtesy Photo – Zab Judah and Paulie Malignaggi, both from Brooklyn, fought on Dec. 7 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.