A full day and night on Showtime

 

I recently wrote about the recent (mis)fortunes of the HBO boxing franchise in 2018; however there are no such issues on the other side of the street, where Showtime Sports is thriving. And they once again provided another solid night of sports and entertainment with a day/night doubleheader of sorts, this past weekend.

 

Some thoughts on what took place…

 

– If there was ever a time when a draw was a just decision, it had to be the dead heat between WBC light heavyweight titlist Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack. On my card, Stevenson won five of the first six rounds, while Jack (who started slowly) won five of the last six frames and had Stevenson holding on for dear life, in the closing seconds of this fight, at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.

 

The official cards read 115-113 for Jack and two at 114-114 to make it a majority draw.

 

The bout was fought at a painfully slow pace in the beginning but, as “Superman” Stevenson started to look more like Clark Kent, in the second half of the fight, we saw a pretty dramatic finish. Jack came on strong and, at times, looked like he had Stevenson on the verge of at least hitting the canvas. Perhaps the most dramatic moment of the fight was in the 10th, which Jack controlled early, when Stevenson suddenly uncorked a straight left to the gut of Jack, that had him writhing in pain.

 

It was interesting to see that, on this night, Stevenson’s body shots had more of an effect on the challenger than any punch upstairs and it was perhaps his saving grace. For Jack, it’s another bitter draw (his third overall and two in the last three bouts). You could easily argue that he should have had his hands raised against James DeGale and now Stevenson but slow starts have plagued him.

 

As for Stevenson, even as he was banking early rounds, he looked rather slow and lethargic. His body also looked a tad soft. To many eyes, he looked every bit his 40 years and looks like he has gone backwards physically. This was just his third bout since 2015 and, to a certain degree, he seems to have died on the vine. Versus Jack, he still possessed heavy hands (they say those are the last things to go), lacked explosion and the ability to accelerate into this punches, as he had in the past. While watching, I said to myself, “Dmitry Bivol beats both of these guys handily.”

 

Regardless while there was a lot of chatter between the two combatants about a rematch, the reality is the WBC mandated that whomever came out of this weekend’s bout would have to face its interim titlist Oleksandr Gvozdyk next.

 

So yeah, let the games begin.

 

– The split-site telecast for Showtime on Saturday, began at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland where Gary Russell Jr. held back the spirited effort of Joseph Diaz Jr., by the scores of 115-113 and 117-111 twice. This bout was contested at a high level of skill and I was pretty entertained by it.

 

Diaz set the table well, in the first half of the proceedings, with a committed body attack but, in the second half of the fight, Russell showed his experience and class by utilizing his jab and movement, combined with multiple flurries that preoccupied Diaz and slowed his work rate for long stretches. However Russell got visibly fatigued in the final round and Diaz was able to finish with a flourish. But it would be too little too late and Russell ultimately retained his WBC 126-pound strap.

 

For Russell, this was his, by far, his sternest test since losing to the gifted Vasiliy Lomachenko and Diaz will come out of this a better fighter for this experience.

 

– OK, let me make this clear: Russell legitimately won this fight but there were times it looked like it was two-on-one in there versus Diaz. Time and time again, local referee Kenny Chevalier (or was it Shove-alier?) would make it a point, after clinches, to put his hands on Diaz and then push him back. It was clear as day that he was doing all he could to blunt Diaz’s momentum and make him work harder to close the gap.

 

There were times when Russell would initiate the clinch and yet Diaz was forcibly restrained and then pushed back by Shove-alier.

 

This was some “Dangerous” Danny Davis and Earl Hebner stuff here.

 

I was told by a source that Golden Boy Promotions had raised objections over the appointing of this referee. Well, I can see why.

 

And I wasn’t the only one who noticed this; Randy Gordon (who, at one point, was the head commissioner of the New York State Athletic Commssion) tweeted the following during the fight:

 

 

 

 

– Showtime provided a live stream in the afternoon from the U.K., which featured the bout between IBF featherweight titlist Lee Selby and Josh Warrington. And despite being a 4-1 ‘dog, it Warrington conclusively out-fought Selby, over 12 rounds, in front of a partisan crowd at the Elland Road Football Ground in Leeds.

 

Selby was thought to have too much skill and savvy for Warrington but the challenger was simply too tenacious for Selby, who was a bloody mess for much of the fight due to cuts. He fought gamely to stay in there but, in the end, there really was no doubt who won this fight.

 

Yet this bout was ruled a split decision as, somehow, judge Alan Davis had Selby on top 115-113. Thankfully, however, Phil Edwards (116-112) and Frank Lombardi (115-113) scored it for the deserving Warrington, who may now be in line for a showdown with former two-division titlist Carl Frampton.

 

 

FINAL FLURRIES

 

Was a good one between Hekkie Budler and Ryoichi Taguchi, on Sunday, in Japan, as Budler overcame the late charge of the Japanese fighter to capture the IBF and WBA 108-pound belts on enemy turf…Did you really count out LeBron James in this series?…So is it now Johnny “Canadian Football”?…I binged-watched “Cobra Kai” on YouTube Red and thought it was excellent…I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.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.

 

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