A bevy of boxing on all platforms
As I like to say, there was a bevy of boxing on this past Saturday, which started in the afternoon and didn’t end till the evening. And you could see the fights from all over across different platforms.
For me, my day basically started out as I got in a workout at Wild Card Boxing Club, where no heavy bag was safe from these lethal hands. As I got back home, after lunch, I was on my laptop, on which I watched the card from the U.K., which featured the bout between American Maurice Hooker and Terry Flanagan for the vacant WBO 140-pound title and the return of undefeated former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, which was streamed by Showtime on its Facebook page and YouTube channel.
I’ll say it again; Showtime is doing an incredible job of servicing the boxing fans and this is just another example. Not only did it provide a consistent, high quality schedule on its network but it’s now regularly streaming international fights that we’d other wise have to…*ahem*…”find on the radio” here in the United States.
Again Showtime is being Netflix while others have become Blockbuster Video.
As for the fights, Hooker-Flanagan was a hard-fought affair and Hooker earned a well-deserved split decision on the road. From my vantage point, it looked like he was busier than “Turbo” and, at times, was able to out-box Flanagan and keep him at bay. Word is Hooker will now join the World Boxing Super Series junior welterweight tournament.
The featured fight on this card was Fury’s return to the ring versus Sefer Seferi, which was farcical and comical at best. At times, the “action” was non-existent and there was one point in which a fight broke out in the audience, at the Manchester Arena, and Fury seemed more interested in that brwal than his own bout. Honestly its hard to blame him; at this juncture, just about everyone else watching this would have rather seen that than this charade. I actually fell asleep before this bout was mercifully waved off but this quick nap came in handy, as I had to get over to the Staples Center for the night’s card, which featured the rematch between Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares.
But there was another card on, at the same time, from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and the undercard stream on ESPN+ began. And being a subscriber to the app, I was able to watch the early bouts. As I took my Uber to L.A. Live, the bout featuring Maxim Dadashev was on my cell phone. (That’s one of the things I like about the ESPN+ app: It transfers to other mobile devices.) Dadashev, who is managed by Egis Klimas, put in a workmanlike effort against Darleys Perez and stopped him in the 10th and final round. Dadashev is a solid fighter, the type who will eventually challenge for a title at 140 in the near future.
I get my credential at the Staples Center (where I have not been at for at least a couple of years) and soon, I’m inside the Chick Hearn Press Room, where the official announcement is made for the July 28 lightweight unification bout between WBC lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia and IBF beltholder Robert Easter Jr. Richard Schaefer, the head of Ringstar Sports, who will be handling this event called it “the best fight of the summer,” and while this media gathering was held, I watched Shakur Stevenson butcher Aelio Mesquita in two rounds on ESPN+. Stevenson is starting to look more and more like the blue-chip prospect he was hyped to be, as he came out of the 2016 Olympics, as a silver medalist.
As I arrive at press row, I find I’m having problems logging onto to the wi-fi network. Yeah, I need a new laptop and I need to invest in a mobile “hotspot” because this is far from the first time I’ve had issues getting onto the network from press row. Now this was a buzzkill because my plan was to watch the Showtime fights from my ringside perch and the Terence Crawford-Jeff Horn bout on my computer. Thankfully Michael Shepherd of TopClassBoxing.co.uk was right in front of me and had no such issues and I had a front row seat to his ESPN+ feed that, for the most part, looked crystal clear. So I had two sets of major fight cards right in front of me.
Yes, this is boxing in 2018.
The Jose Pedraza-Antonio Moran fight was a pretty good one, with Moran making a strong push in the middle rounds and pressuring the Puerto Rican, who then turned the tide in the late rounds to win a 10-round decision. Pedraza will now most likely face WBO lightweight titlist Ray Beltran, with the winner of that bout to eventually face WBA champion Vasiliy Lomachenko (hopefully on December 8).
During this fight, the Showtime broadcast began and the opening bout was a junior middleweight contest between Jermell Charlo, the defending WBC champ, and former WBA beltholder Austin Trout. Charlo opened some eyes by coming in a full lion’s get-up that was basically Sharif Bogere 2.0. “Lions Only” indeed.
What was interesting is that, about a minute into the bout, the Los Angeles crowd started booing. Yeah, tough crowd. The fight wasn’t great but it wasn’t horrible either. There were pockets of action and Charlo scored a pair of knockdowns against Trout, who was swimming upstream all night to survive – which he did. While the result went in the books as a majority decision (as one arbiter, Fernando Villarreal, had the fight a draw at 113-113), Charlo was the clear winner. This fight wasn’t that close, in reality.
However what was really eye-opening was how vociferously Charlo was booed by the audience inside the Staples Center. Yeah, I get it; the large majority of the crowd was Mexican and Mexican-American but this fight wasn’t that bad. Last I checked, Charlo who pressing and trying to make the fight. These barbarians were treating Jermell – a native of Houston – as if he wore an Astros uniform into the ring. Yeah, those dastardly Dodger fans were probably besmirching the name and reputation of our fine city.
So to the Charlos, on behalf of my city and its people – my apologies.
OK, on a serious note, this is why Jermell and his brother, middleweight contender Jermall, who have become real personalities in the sport, need to be showcased now in Texas, where they will play to a more hospitable and appreciative throng. It’s clear, on this evening, that the overwhelming majority of the crowd was here to see Santa Cruz-Mares again and anything short of Marvelous Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns wasn’t going to be received well beforehand.
During this time, the main event in Las Vegas began and, as expected, Crawford dominated Horn to capture his third major world title in as many weight classes. Horn, the Cinderella story of 2017, with his upset victory over Manny Pacquiao, heard the clock ring midnight in the harshest way possible by the gifted Crawford, who ended up stopping him in nine. It was every bit the one-sided affair, as expected.
Many fans and observers are now crowning Crawford but the reality is Horn is a fighter who is tougher than he is good. I call these fights the “Chris Rock” variety – those in which a talented fighter does what he’s supposed to. There’s a reason Omaha’s finest opened up as a 16-to-1 favorite. He’s really, really good and Horn…isn’t. Make no doubt about it; Crawford is among the sport’s elite but it’s premature to crown him as the best welterweight over one Errol Spence Jr.
It brings me to this: Will that match-up, along with others that involve Crawford, and the quality 147-pounders on the other side of the street, ever come to fruition? For the time being, my guess is you’ll see some in-house pairings for “Bud” that involve Jose Benavidez Jr. and Egidijus Kavaliauskas.
So will Crawford be an island unto himself? This will be Top Rank CEO Bob Arum’s challenge moving forward, to bridge the gaps that exist and reach across the aisle to make meaningful fights for one of his prized clients.
Going back to the ESPN+ stream, the feed was really good throughout till the ninth round, when it suddenly went out on Shepherd’s computer, about a half-minute before the stoppage. This wasn’t exactly the boxing version of the “Heidi Game” but, as I perused Twitter, there were others who decided to at least do the seven-day free trial and had some issues logging on.
— ramiro (@bloggerboxing2) June 10, 2018
— Mike C (@MJCericola) June 10, 2018
Looks like I might miss my first @budcrawford402 fight in years cuz I cant reset/remember my password from 11 years ago when my daughter wanted to watch Hannah montana outtakes on Disney. Put me down for $100 ppv over this free App shit. @RagingBabe or @steveucnlive can u help?
— Mike C (@MJCericola) June 10, 2018
Im in the same boat,didn't even realize Disney and damn espn Plus app are connected SMFH & I guess there are a lot of ppl in our predicament because after creating a new email/passcode I can't get logged in,Its stuck loading each time I try,futhuck this,Showtime it is!
— Joey Coglioni (@SquareCircle101) June 10, 2018
Personally I’m still having issues on both my phone (an Android) and laptop, on which, at times, I still have to log out of my Spectrum cable and ESPN.com accounts and then log back in to get ESPN+ going again. It’s obvious there are some issues to be worked out with this app but it’s also clear that, if you are a hardcore boxing fan and if you want to continue to see most of the meaningful fights, both domestically and abroad, you will need these over-the-top platforms, whether you want them or not. This looks like the wave of the future and this is the clear direction of not just boxing, and sports in general, but all of entertainment.
The night of boxing ended with Santa Cruz-Mares II and it looked a lot like their first hook-up, in 2015. If they fought a hundred times, they would have a hundred pretty good fights. But it also seemed like the WBA featherweight titlist would probably win a hundred times. He’s just simply too tall/long and active for Mares, who can stay with Santa Cruz for four or five rounds but finds it impossible to keep pace with him over twelve:
What keeps their fights from being filed under the “great” category is the real lack of power from both men. Yeah, they can hit each other a ton but neither have particularly heavy hands and the threat of a stoppage (or even knockdowns) doesn’t really exist between the two. However that shouldn’t diminish their efforts over 24 rounds together. While Mares spoke of a third chapter, by winning twice, Santa Cruz has basically closed this book.
There is talk of him facing WBC featherweight beltholder Gary Russell Jr. and WBO featherweight ruler Oscar Valdez called Santa Cruz out on social media. Santa Cruz-Valdez would be a fight that could really fill Staples Center but, again, the usual boxing politics and alliances are in the way with that particular fight, as Valdez is promoted by Top Rank.
At the post-fight press conference, from the looks of Santa Cruz’s bruised and marked visage, it was evident that, while he won clearly, this was another hard night at the office for him. He’s a guy who has certainly never been hesitant to stick his nose into a pile and doesn’t have the eraser to end things quickly. His bouts are usually long, grinding affairs. He’s as honest a fighter as there is.
With that, the long day/night of boxing had come to an end.
I had Santa Cruz up 116-112 on my scorecard…Hearing there is a good chance that the Jaime Munguia-Liam Smith fight, on July 21, could end up in the Los Angeles area. I’m crossing my fingers…Word is that Viejas Casino near San Diego will be hosting a regular set of boxing cards…I went to McDonalds after the fights (hey, I was starving!) and I was wondering if they are ever going to bring back the McDLT…So LeBron to the Lakers, right?…Really enjoying “Succession” on HBO…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.