By Saúl Berríos-Thomas
The momentum in a boxing match tends to twist and turn, resembling the rollercoaster life that boxers often live. This weekend that was more apparent than ever as several of the fights had rapid changes in momentum. In the end the twists and turns are what compel us to watch.
The main event on Showtime “Championship Boxing” from Detroit was a junior middleweight division fight. Cornelius Bundrage (24-5, 11 KOs) faced Ishe Smith (32-4-0-1, 19 KOs). Bundrage was able to get the early advantage in a very rough fight. Smith who has always been a fringe contender, but Bundrage has been in a higher class for a while. Nobody really stepped up and took control of the fight through the first half of the fight. Bundrage’s awkward style was keeping Smith from setting up his attack. Smith was able to do some damage to Bundrage later in the fight. Bundrage was still able to do some damage, even through the blood flowing from a cut over his eye from a head- butt. The fight was very close, but the feeling was that Smith was getting very close to realizing his dream. Smith has been in the boxing world for a while and has never held a world title. The fight went all twelve rounds and once again the judges were asked to give a decision. The judges had the fight scored 116-111 Smith, 114-113 Bundrage and 116-111 Smith. Ishe Smith won by spilt decision. Smith became the first world champion as a native of Las Vegas. Floyd Mayweather made a promise to Smith, while Mayweather was incarcerated that one day he would get Smith a title fight.
The first fight on Showtime on Saturday was a middleweight match. J’Leon Love (15-0, 8 KOs) was up against Derrick Findley (20-9, 13 KOs). Love is one of the more impressive prospects in the sport right now. Love has very quick hands, especially for his size. Love has good, but not great, power. Love started off very slow, perhaps as a result of his main trainer being sick and unable to attend, and also possibly as a result of the late change of opponents. In round four Love found his groove and started to break down Findley. Love was poised and controlled while going on the attack. In round five Findley countered and started to go to work on Love. Love seemed to be unable to really work his jab, which is how he sets up his offense. Love was never in any serious danger and was doing enough o win rounds, but was unable to showcase his true talent. The fight went to the scorecards where the judges scored the fight 100-90, 99-91 and 99-91 all for Love. J’Leon Love was victorious by way of unanimous decision.
The main event on NBC Sports Network “Fight Night” from Long Island was a heavyweight clash. Vyacheslav Glazkov (14-0-1, 10 KOs) faced Malik Scott (35-0-1, 12 KOs). Scott has a great jab for a heavyweight and he was able to use it to keep Glazkov at a distance. In round four Glazkov landed his first good punch. Scott took the punch well, but Glazkov’s power was immediately apparent. Scott was not using his jab as well midway through the fight, but Glazkov was not able to find his spots. Scott was able to stop Glazkov from using all the power he has with his jab. Scott may not have put on the greatest show, but his technique allowed him to dominate a very good fighter. The fight went to the cards. The judges had the fight scored 98-92 Scott, 96-94 Glazkov and 95-95 a draw. This is another example of horrible judging. Scott clearly had an advantage throughout because he was able to control the fight and land many more punches. The fact that this fight was a draw is not just incorrect, it is such an obviously wrong decision that the only explanation is that there is foul play involved. Vyascheslav Glazkov and Malik Scott fought to what the judges incredibly called a draw.
The co-main event on NBCSN “Fight Night” was a junior welterweight fight. Chris Algieri (16-0, 7 KOs) faced Jose Peralta (10-2, 6 KOs). Peralta the much smaller man wanted to get inside. Algieri was using the jab effectively early to control the pace of the action. Peralta was able to land some hard shots and implement a good attack to the body. The fight was competitive from the beginning as both fighters were landing good shots. Algieri was wearing down just a little bit more than Peralta. Peralta still had a lot of power behind his punches in the middle rounds because even though Algieri was landing a lot of shots, they didn’t have much power behind them. In round seven Peralta stopped doing what had been working for him. He started backing up as opposed to the consistent attack that he had been using earlier in the fight. Algieri saw the opening and started to capitalize. Algieri started to take over in the last few rounds. Peralta seemed tired and was unable to effectively land the punches he had been in the beginning of the fight. Algieri was able to adapt to whatever changes happened in the fight, he was able to box outside and inside and he was even able to slug it out for a few rounds. The fight went to the scorecards and the judges had it 96-94, 97-93 and 98-92 all for Algieri. Chris Algieri won by unanimous decision.
The main event on Showtime “ShoBox: The New Generation” was a junior lightweight fight. Art Hovhannisyan (15-1-2, 8 KOs) fought Alejandro Perez (17-3-1, 11 KOs). The two are good friends who have sparred together regularly. The fight was very close form the beginning. Neither fighter has extreme power. Both fighters were landing good punches throughout. The fighters were very tired by the end of the fight. Many people expected it to be an easy victory for Hovhannisyan, but that was not the case. Both fighters gave it their all, but Perez was able to make adjustments during the fight to make his fight-plan work. The fight went to the scorecards. The judges scored the fight 96-93, 96-93 and 95-94 all for Perez.
The first fight on “ShoBox” was a matchup of two undefeated middleweights. Willie Fortune (15-1, 7 KOs) and Tureano Johnson (14-0, 10 KOs) met in the ring for the opening bout. Johnson, the former Bahamian Olympian, and Fortune met in the middle of the ring after the opening bell and immediately started trading hard punches. Neither guy was too keen on defense. Johnson doesn’t have the cleanest mechanics, but he has a knack for finding his opponent with his hard shots. Fortune has an awkward style that makes it hard for him to be hit, but aside from his style his only real defense is that he doesn’t stop punching. Johnson’s left was finding the target early because Fortune was not doing anything to deter it. By round five there was blood coming from the mouth and nose of Fortune and he was getting almost no power behind his punches. Johnson was nullifying anything Fortune did with his powerful left. Johnson started to slow a little bit and by round seven both fighters appeared to be exhausted. Johnson dominated every round of the fight, but Fortune was tough and endured all of the punishment. Johnson was able to land a very high percentage of his punches. The fight went to the judges’ scorecards. The judges scored the fight 80-72, 80-72 and 80-72 all for Johnson. Tureano Johnson won by unanimous decision.
The main event on ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” from Washington D.C. was a junior welterweight bout. Kendall Holt (28-6, 16 KOs) challenged Lamont Peterson (31-1-1, 16 KOs). Peterson was not very aggressive early, perhaps as a result of a combination of ring-rust from time off and respect for Holt’s power. With 20 seconds left in round four a combination of shots landed on Holt and sent him to the canvas. Holt was able to survive the round, but the damage had clearly been done. After that round Peterson found his confidence and started to execute his fight-plan. Peterson did some serious damage to Holt over the next few rounds and was wearing him down for the final blow. In round six, with about a minute left, Peterson had Holt cornered and Holt went down to a knee as a result of an accumulation of the punishment. Holt appeared ready for the fight to be over, but the referee let the fight continue. It proved to be a decent decision because in the next round Holt was able to come out and land some effective punches on Peterson. In round eight Peterson finally cracked Holt’s defense and was able to throw any punch he wanted and land it to hurt Holt. With about a minute twenty remaining in the round after Peterson had thrown at least 15 straight hooks, most of which landed, the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. Lamont Peterson won by knockout at 1:18 of round eight. Holt is an interesting fighter. He doesn’t have what you might call sexy tools, he is not the most powerful or fastest fighter, but he continues to win and his hard work gets him an advantage in the ring. Only time will tell if his lack of overwhelming skill can be overcome by a strong work ethic and a lot of heart.
Floyd Mayweather’s deal with Showtime is important to the sport for several reasons. First healthy competition between TV networks will force the networks to make the best fights. Second Mayweather’s deal includes six fights over the next three years, which means he intends on being active. More Mayweather is a good thing for all fight-fans; whether you love him or hate him it is always exciting to watch. Also it gives Mayweather an outlet to showcase his fighters, many of which have struggled because they have not been with the big time promoters. This was the case for Love, who was finally able to get the attention he deserves on Saturday. Finally, a move like this could be the beginning of a change in norm for the boxing world that could lead to some changes that would allow fighters to be bale to fight the best opposition, regardless of promotion companies.
A parting thought that ventures slightly out of the world of boxing, but remains in the world of combat sports. UFC 157 took place on Saturday. It was a historic event because it was the first time a women’s fight headlined a UFC pay-per-view. It was also the first defense of the first women’s championship. Ronda Rousey was successfully able to defend her title. Rousey beat Liz Carmouche in the first round with her signature armbar. The reason I am addressing this is because I think having women competing in combat sports is a positive. It is great to give girls everywhere a hope that they have a future in these sports. This overlaps into the world of boxing because in the 2012 summer Olympics the only US boxer to bring home a gold medal was middleweight Claressa Shields. Also notable was that in the same weekend the first woman ever to earn a pole position in the Nascar Daytona 500, Danica Patrick, also managed to become the first woman ever to finish in the top ten in the “Great American Race.” Giving women everywhere a chance to take part in the sports that we love is nothing but a positive.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. speaks during a news conference Thursday, Feb. 21, in Detroit. Mayweather said he is excited about both a weekend fight he’s promoting as well as his lucrative new deal with Showtime. Mayweather, who was in Detroit for a news conference ahead of Saturday’s junior middleweight title bout between Cornelius Bundrage and Ishe Smith, likened his Showtime agreement to a matrimonial modification.