This weekend in boxing featured a national hero in China, a 2-time welterweight champion looking to re-right his place within the division, someone named “The Mexican Russian”, a flyweight championship showdown, and an avoided knockout artist who only needs “One Time” to show you this is true.
But none of that theatre could match what will probably be remembered as the most gut-wrenching fight of the year (if not “thee” fight-of-the-year).
Omar Figueroa vs. Nihito Arakawa
“This is what I looked forward to since the beginning,” Figueroa said. “It was incredible. We both took a beating. It was just a great fight.”
If you’ve got Showtime and can’t find anything in demand under the “Action” section, go to sports and find this fight. Do it. These two beat the hell out of each other in a way that would make Rocky cringe. What killed me about these two, is how after each bell they both did a bunch of grinning and genuine glove tapping, even as faces swelled and blood dripped.
It was insane.
No way did Figueroa, the lightweight dynamo from South Texas, dominate his Japanese foe the way the scores indicated. This fight conjured the likes of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, the Arturo Gatti/Mickey Ward saga, Bobby Chacon, or even the now action training great Freddie Roach.
If these two never fight each other again (OMG), or achieve of another fight of this magnitude again, they’ll always have this epic in video archives.
Andre Berto vs. Jesus Soto Karass
So much for the addition of Virgil Hunter and the re-tooled version of Berto. Where? Andre was just as muscle-bound as he’s always been or more, employed the same technique and had the same chin issues.
No- he didn’t break out the Mayweather “D” this time, but the problem is he didn’t break out any defense at all.
Andre Berto is what he is; a very good athlete and a decent all-around fighter, who might be able to sell a workout video. Most fighters could not have endured what Berto did last night- but he wasn’t supposed to be most fighters.
The former 2-time 147lb champ was repeatedly hit and rocked by the largely pedestrian- but tough as nails- Jesus Soto Karass, who had an umbrella for any storm Berto offered, and then proceeded to hit him with [it], and everything else.
While the stock of Soto Karass immediately went up, Berto’s is now un-buyable. He can take solace in the fact that he was able to become champion of the world while engaging in some of the most memorable shootouts in recent memory.
But while he still has one- he needs to let the sport go.
Estrada vs. Melindo
Proving I’m not even close to omniscient, I had Melindo gunning down Estrada in about 10 rounds. But I didn’t know two things…
#1. Juan Francisco Estrada is far tougher and far more refined than I thought would be able to be.
#2. Milan Melindo was not nearly as tough as he thought he was, and wasn’t able to really hurt the champion.
They might be the two best flyweights on the planet, but in dispatching Melindo via UD, the WBO/WBA champion dropped and nearly stopped his challenger, while putting a wide distance between them.
Thurman vs. Chaves
Keith Thurman thought he would stop Argentinean brick Diego Chaves in about 2 rounds with relative ease. The fact that he didn’t, and endured a pitched battle (which included a possible nose break)- was actually more impressive. His 10th round conclusive knockout win, may have given him the pedigree to advance to near superstar heights.
Chaves was never going to be a walk in the park, and he’s cut from the same cloth as Lucas Matthysse and Marcos Maidana. Thurman really wants Maidana badly- but he might have to settle for Matthysse if he gets past Danny Garcia.
We’ll take it.
The Zou Shiming Show
We saw “The Mexican Russian”, IBF featherweight champ Evgeny Gradovich, win a fistfight with Mauricio Munoz. This comes on the heels of snatching the title from tough Billy Dib earlier this year. He did it in the electrifying atmosphere of The Venetian Resort Hotel in Macao, China, as Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios looked on (to promote their November war).
But they weren’t there to see him.
China’s 32-year-old, 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist was making his 2nd appearance in the pro ranks as the star attraction. We’ve all seen Pacquiao come out at the height of his power and popularity, but I’ve never seen a reception like that. And yes, that was Freddie Roach behind him in his own gear.
Dude was treated like an absolute *RoCk-StAr!*
Now if only he can “fight like a star”- because Freddie’s got some work to do. He doesn’t seem to have shocking power and his defense is limited. Is he an action fighter? Yes. But worthy of the adulation of billions?
You answer that.