A full and delightful weekend of boxing this weekend. Pound-for-pound players Terrance Crawford and Naoya Inoue decimated their opponents as expected, with a handful of other bouts adding to one of the more packed weekends of quality boxing in recent years.
Biggest Winner(s)–David Benavidez, Raymundo Beltran
Benavidez (18-0, 17 KOs) is simply becoming a force in the 168 pound division. His dismantling of Porky Medina (37-8, 31) is especially impressive in light of the fact that Medina was so very competitive in his bout with James DeGale in April 2016. In my opinion, the most exciting bout of the weekend as both fighters were intent on inflicting damage upon the other. Benavidez showed poise and patience, and gave Medina a methodical beatdown, culminating with a multi-punch combination that left Medina unable to continue. The fight could have been stopped at least a round earlier, as the damaging effects of Benavidez’ work both upstairs and to the body had taken the fight out of Porky, who was down in rounds six and seven as well. Next up for Benavidez, in theory, is the winner of Callum Smith-Anthony Dirrell, who fight for the WBC title on September 9th for the title that Badou Jack vacated.
Beltran (33-7-1, 21 KOs) unleashed the punch of the weekend on Jonathan Maicelo (25-3, 12 KOs). The first round can only be described as an “only in boxing” fiasco. Beltran was down after a hard headbutt from Maicelo. Unfortunately, the ref David Fields blew the call and gave Beltran a count as if it were a knockdown (instant replay, anyone?). At the end of the round, Beltran caught up with Maicelo and dropped him with a punch. David Fields blew this call too, and ruled it a slip. Fortunately for Beltran, he was able to right all of those wrongs with a crushing left hook in round two. No count was needed, as Maicelo was unconscious when he hit the canvas. With the win, Beltran is supposed to be in line for the winner of the IBF title bout between Robert Easter-Denis Shafikov bout being held June 30th.
Biggest Loser(s)–Jose Uzcategui, the Dirrell family
Uzcategui (26-2, 22 KOs) snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Leading on two scorecards, chasing an unwilling dance partner in Andre Dirrell (26-2, 16 KOs), Uzcategui seemed well on his way to winning the interim IBF belt at super middleweight (James Degale is still recovering from his bout with Badou Jack), when a beautiful left hook at the end of a three-punch combination changed everything. The funny thing is, it was Uzcategui’s left hook, dropping Dirrell to the canvas, that was his own undoing. The punch landed just after the bell had sounded to end round 8. Dirrell collapsed from the punch, and referee Bill Clancy disqualified Uzcategui. It appeared to be overkill, as Dirrell seemed as if he could have continued, and at worst Uzcategui should have received a point deduction.
Andre Dirrell seems to be a reluctant fighter. As he did versus Arthur Abraham, he chose to win from the canvas that with his ability. After the knockdown, which was a quality punch, Dirrell popped up to his knees, prepared to beat the count. Luckily for him, referee Bill Clancy appeared to inform him that if he stayed down, he would win by DQ. That was all the incentive Dirrell needed to flop to the canvas as if he had been shot. Practice makes perfect, as he learned from his acting job against Abraham.
The Dirrell Family-the less said the better, but the actions of Anthony Dirrell and uncle Leon Lawson are deplorable. Emotions can run high, and it is understandable to be upset when family seems to have been wronged, but the situation seemed to be under control after Andre Dirrell had spoken to and hugged Uzcategui after the bout. The obvious sucker-punch on Uzcategui by Lawson need to be addressed swiftly and harshly.
Other Notes… Terrance Crawford (31-0, 22 KOs) looked superb in literally toying with the 2012 Gold Medalist Felix Diaz (19-2, 9 KOs). Hopefully a bout with two-belt holder Julius Indongo or Manny Pacquiao is arranged soon….Naoya Inoue (13-0, 11 KOs) continued to roll with a third-round stoppage of Ricardo Rodriguez (16-4, 5 KOs). Here’s hoping that a match can be made with Roman Gonzales or Francisco Estrada….Gary Russell (28-1, 17 KOs) put on an impressive display against game Oscar Escandon (25-3, 17 KOs). Although referee Harvey Dock chose to stop the fight rather than issue a count on Escandon, he probably saved Escandon from further punishment….I would love to see a fight between Russell and Jorge Lara. Lara (29-0-2, 21 KOs) used his relentless pressure and punching to stop Mario Brones (28-6-2, 22 KOs) on the Benavides-Medina undercard…. Gervonta Davis (18-0, 17 KOs) continues to impress, destroying Liam Walsh (21-2, 14 KOs) over three rounds. Going overseas to defend his crown is a step that many others have chosen to avoid….Hassam N’Dam (34-2, 21 KOs) upset Ryota Murata (12-1, 9 KOs) for a WBA middleweight title. The WBA has already decried the decision. Not defending the decision, but Murata could have helped his cause by letting his hands go… Kiryl Relikh (25-3, 16 KOs) appeared unfortunate to lose a decision to Rances Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs). Don Risher had it scored a ridiculous 117-109 for Barthelemy. Apparently throwing twice as many punches and landing twice as many punches do not hold much weight with some judges….Fights coming up this week include Kell Brook vs Erroll Spence, George Groves vs Fedor Chudinov. 2017 continues to spoil us fight fans.