By Mateo Banegas
Quick Take – Top quality show in the Alamo (12/14/13)
Showtime closed out its boxing schedule for the year with a card that showcased some great fights and fighters that are sure to bring boxing fans joy in 2014. Here are a few quick takeaways:
- San Antonio is quietly becoming the boxing stronghold and midway stop between the Big Apple and Las Vegas. With Golden Boy Promotions continuing to collaborate with former fighter and current boxing promoter, Jesse James Leija, the team keeps building on the huge fan base in the Southwestern US to promote top-notch boxing cards in the Lonestar State.
- Leo Santa Cruz (25-0-1) showed that he belongs at the top of the super bantamweight division, successfully defending his title against a strong opponent in Cesar Seda (25-1). The latest in a legacy of exciting bouts between strong fighters from Mexico (Santa Cruz) and Puerto Rico (Seda), Santa Cruz started to solidify the win in the championship rounds. With this win and the impressive domination of Victor Terrazas in August 2013, Santa Cruz has positioned himself well for his next fight to be a title unification bout against one of the most dangerous tacticians in boxing, Guillermo Rigondeaux (13-0). Although Rigondeaux is coming off of a lackluster win against Agbeko on Dec. 7th, a bout against a pressure fighter like Santa Cruz may just be what the promoters need to try and make it happen.
- Keith “One-time” Thurman (21-0) put a stamp on 2013 with a strong win against the eternal-underdog Jesus Soto Karass (28-8-3). Following a great win over Argentina’s Diego Chaves in July, which gained him the WBA interim welterweight title, Thurman defended his belt against a strong opponent in Soto Karass. Thurman had an impressive fight, landing several power punches and working the body of Soto Karass. This fight pushes Thurman into the spotlight of star-packed welterweight division, against whom Thurman stands as a dangerous challenger. One fight for Thurman that looks to be like an incredible match-up would be against recently crowned IBF beltholder Shawn Porter, who is coming off a big win over Devon Alexander on Dec. 7th.
- “El Chino” Maidana quiets Adrien “The Problem” Broner on Saturday night, as Maidana (34-3) outboxed Broner (27-0) in grand fashion. This was the end-of-the-year title fight everyone was looking toward. Widely acknowledged as the biggest test of Broner’s career, the dangerous Argentine proved many correct in giving Broner the first loss of his career. This fight tested Broner’s ability and power against one of the hardest punching and toughest boxers in the division. Maidana worked Broner’s body all night and landed devastating left punches that dropped Broner twice. While Broner’s quickness, movement and defense have worked against his previous opponents, Maidana was able to cut off the ring and remain on the offensive to limit Broner’s effectiveness. At the end of the fight, Maidana proudly donned a crown, and belt, as the new WBA welterweight champion. Given Maidana’s heavy-punching style, fights against the likes of Thurman or Porter would be great for the fans. And even though I would love to see Maidana against Bradley or Pacquiao, I am not convinced that he could be successful facing either of these two opponents.
Regardless, the welterweight divisions continue to stand as the backbone of boxing at the moment, providing endless quality fight potential for fans of the sweet science. Given the seemingly endless talent around this weight class, the next year for boxing looks promising.
Quick Take – TopRank in Macau (11/23/13)
- Top Rank is having a hard time put together quality, exciting cards. Months ago, during the big joint venture between Showtime and GoldenBoy, CEO Richard Schaefer proclaimed that they had the best fighters in the game, and that their chief rival TopRank would have a hard time putting together worthy fight cards. Well, he may have been right, and last night was just the most recent example. While the main event went the way many thought, the undercard was just okay, failing to produce fights that were exciting. This trend looks to continue on December 7th, a date on which TopRank/HBO is showcasing a weak fight card headlined by Rigondeux vs. Agbeko that will fail to take viewers away from a star-studded card by GoldenBoy/Showtime with Judah v. Malignaggi, Alexander vs. Porter, and Trout vs. Lara.
- Felix “El Diamante” Verdejo may be the next Puerto Rican star. During a rare time in the sport of boxing, when none of the major championship belts are held by a Puerto Rican fighter, this young man may quickly change this trend. He greatly outperformed his opponent, Petchsamuthr Duanaaymukdahan, in a one-sided lightweight bout last night in Macau. His has a great style and, if he keeps developing and learning to use his size, will be a force to reckon with in the future.
- Zou Shiming may be a star in the far east, but I don’t see him reaching the level of stardom or fan base in the US. The two-time gold medal Olympian won in convincing fashion last night in Macau, but I don’t think he could beat the likes of featherweight titlist Juan Estrada.
- Tor Hamer quitting was a huge disappointment to all. Especially to Andy Ruiz, whose TKO win meant that he didn’t even get into his rhythm, as Ruiz claimed to be “just warming up” by the time Hamer gave up as he sat on the stool in his corner.
- Billy Dib may have had his last chance to be considered a serious boxing contender. Dib was rocked by Evgeny Gradovich last night and was taking a beating when his corner threw in the towel. As Jim Lampley stated, Dib’s future as a boxer may not be done, but it might be best for him to return as a fighter that stays in his home country of Australia – after the likes of Anthony Mundine.
- I don’t know if Pacquiao is the same as the old Pacman, but his speed and ring movement were too much for Rios. Pacquiao’s “stick and move” approach was highly effective. Even Rios admitted that Pac’s quickness was something he had couldn’t overcome. However, even in victory, Pac’s statesmanship shined through in his post-fight interview, as he commended Rios for his status as a good fighter and punching power. I am very curious to see what comes next for both fighters. For Rios, he still sits well positioned and could go for a third bout against Alvarado or a potential barnburner against Provodnikov. For Pacquiao, he could try to avenge his “loss” to Bradley or go for a fifth fight against Marquez. While a fight between Pacquiao and Provodnikov would be interesting, I don’t see Pac’s camp agreeing to what could be a dangerous fight for him, particularly after that knockout loss to Marquez (and we all know that Provodnikov would likely bring the pain). Only time will tell.