Boring After Dark at the Forum
It was a rather uneventful show at the Forum, on Saturday night, where Lucas Matthysse and Jorge Linares notched victories. While they both won (against Tewa Kiram and Mercito Gesta, respectively), they failed to truly impress or entertain.
Boos could be heard throughout at the Forum, in Inglewood, California, which curtained off its upper levels on this evening. For long stretches, you could just feel the restlessness of the audience, which was announced at just over 6,000.
Matthysse, who was the night’s headliner on this HBO broadcast, scored an eighth round stoppage over Kiram – who was no Sisraket Sor Rungvisai – or even Terdsak Jaendaeng.
But while “The Machine” captured his first major world title (the “regular” version of the WBA welterweight belt) he often times looked a bit slow and sluggish in trying to corral the Thai boxer, who employed an abundance of lateral movement. While Matthysse, 39-4 (36), still has heavy hands, it’s clear that he has lost a few inches off his fastball. “I’m really happy. (Kiram) moved really well and he was really big. That’s why it was hard to cut the distance. I didn’t feel his power, so that’s why I was able to find him later and stop him,” he said in the immediate aftermath of his latest win.
Yeah, he has a version of a welterweight title but even his biggest advocates (of whom I would be one) would have a hard time seeing him face any truly elite 147-pounders in the world. It’s not clear just what direction Golden Boy Promotions will go with Matthysse. It says here that a fight with a faded version of Manny Pacquiao would be a good one, a battle of two fighters with a history of making entertaining bouts, who are both past their prime.
Matthysse said of his future plans, “I’m here for the best and biggest names. I want the rematch with Danny Garcia or Manny Pacquiao. Those are the big fights I want, though, of course, that will be up to (manager) Mario Arano and Golden Boy Promotions.”
The co-feature saw Linares having a relatively easy time against Gesta, who, at times, tried to push the pace but was simply a bit too small to really trouble the Venezuelan stylist consistently.
Moving forward, there has been a lot of talk of Linares – the reigning WBA lightweight titlist – facing Mikey Garcia (who is still the WBC beltholder in this weight class, despite his most recent fight against Adrien Broner and his upcoming bout against IBF junior welterweight titlist Sergey Lipinets) or WBO junior lightweight titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko, who is planning to move up to 135.
“Like I said to (Golden Boy Promotions founder) Oscar De La Hoya, I don’t want to mention names for my next opponent. You know what’s nice? That people mention my name. That’s fine that they mention my name but let’s get them in the ring. Let them get in the ring with me,” said Linares, who improved to 44-3 (27).
Regardless it’s time for Linares and Golden Boy Promotions to reach across the aisle and make one of these bouts. While Linares is certainly a stylish and elegant fighter, the actual accomplishments fail to measure up to his reputation. It’s more than time for him to have a defining fight, at age 32. Yes, there will be political issues in making these match-ups but the public and the HBO subscriber base is running out of patience, in seeing these perfunctory title defenses.
Looking at the B-sides, this past weekend, you see that Kiram was a WBA mandatory and Gesta was an in-house boxer for Golden Boy and, in both divisions (welterweight and featherweight), the majority of better known boxers are/were aligned with other networks and promoters. There is a vacuum that exists for both Golden Boy and HBO, regarding Matthysse and Linares, and HBO is stuck here in televising bouts that may not be the most appealing to its audience.
GBP has a nice roster of young prospects but they are still a few years away from competing at the world-class level, unfortunately. Currently in this three universe set-up that exists, in the sport, HBO currently has the short end of the stick, while Premier Boxing Champions/Showtime has the largest selection of fighters across several weight classes and just recently rolled out an expansive schedule for the first half of 2018. Top Rank took Vasyl Lomachenko and undefeated two-division champion Terence Crawford to ESPN last year.
HBO has strong roots in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions and has created a successful niche with it’s “SuperFly” series. However Matthysse and Linares suffer from a lack of realistically available options.
Both won this past weekend but where do they go from here?
For the good of the sport – maybe to the other side of the street.
Meanwhile in Latvia, it was a spirited affair between Oleksandr Usyk and Mairis Briedis, in the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament. Usyk, who sets a fast tempo and rolls downhill like a snowball with his activity was able to advance to the finals and add the WBC belt to his WBO strap by defeating Briedis in a close majority decision. He will face the winner of next week’s bout between IBF titlist Murat Gassiev and WBA beltholder Yunier Dorticos.
No, it wasn’t Evander Holyfield-Dwight Muhammad Qawi I but it was the type of fight you’d have no problems watching again and being entertained with (which, to me, is the highest compliment you can pay a fight or fighter). If you haven’t seen the fight yet, there are various links of the complete bout floating around on YouTube.
This may be a rhetorical question but just how much stronger would the current HBO boxing line-up look if it had bought the rights for the World Boxing Super Series semifinals and finals?
As I previously mentioned, there was an announced attendance of 6,143 at the Forum, which is actually a much better figure than expected. Tickets were priced as low as $10 (although with those demonic “service fees,” you pay more) and there was a much larger crowd on Saturday night than there was back on September 23, when Linares faced Luke Campbell.
Would Golden Boy have been better of just going to a smaller venue? I was told that the Forum was the only available venue in the area this weekend.
The bigger point is, while Matthysse and Linares are very accomplished prizefighters, their dance partners didn’t do much to move the needle with the public. Yes, the opponents absolutely matter. (Well, most of the times they do.)
Meanwhile the “SuperFly2” card, on February 24, at the Forum is selling very well.
Speaking of which, I’m told the March 3 card featuring Sergey Kovalev and Dmitry Bivol-Sullivan Barrera, at the Theater, at Madison Square Garden, is doing solid numbers at the box-office…The Forum is now the undisputed king of tailgating for boxing events. If you don’t believe me, ask Mr. Boxing Guru (@mrboxingguru on Twitter) who organizes these gala events…Was that Pro Bowl thrilling or what?…CanesInsight.com without Peter Ariz?! Say it aint so!…By the way, that ceviche that was at our Forum tailgate is now on my pound-for-pound list…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.