Last week in boxing: Title tussles in Texas
* Returning to the 154-pound division, former WBC middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, 48-1-1 (34), scored a ninth round knockout over Liam “Beefy” Smith, 23-1-1 (13), to claim Smith’s WBO junior middleweight title on Saturday night in front of 51,240 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. While it is clear that Alvarez is the biggest draw in boxing, he is also quite vocal that he feels he is the sport’s best fighter. After the fight, in an interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman, Alvarez said, “Whether people like it or not, I am the best in boxing right now.”
* Kellerman’s post-fight interview also revealed boxing’s ever-present politics. While the boxing world has listened to IBF/WBA/WBC middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin and Company insist he is waiting to face Alvarez as soon as possible, Canelo denied this.
“Just a few months ago, we offered (Golovkin) twice, three times what he normally makes,” said Alvarez, “and he didn’t take the fight.”
While it’s difficult to know exactly whom or what is holding up a Golovkin-Alvarez fight, my guess is it isn’t “GGG.” That’s not to say it’s Alvarez either but I highly doubt Golovkin is balking at a mega-fight and a mega-payday.
* The whole boxing world was focused on Arlington, Texas, last weekend, so Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward showed up to hype their November super-fight at light heavyweight.
Said Ward: “Everyone knows what Kovalev brings to the table. He is a good champion and beat good opponents. He is the real deal. I never take away from my opponents. Everyone has a breaking point and can be defeated. Guys like Kovalev, big punchers. I will say this: His name is ‘The Krusher,’ so when things get rough, he’s got no plan. The only thing will be to fight hard.”
Said IBF/WBA/WBO champion Kovalev: “This is a new level, new test. I am really excited. It’s a big test for me and I plan to go through and pass the test. My goal is to get this win and be the best. The winner will be the best, pound-for-pound. I must be ready for everything. This is the fight of my career. Now I am ready to prepare for Andre Ward. I must be ready for 12 rounds.”
* Middleweight Chris Eubank Jr. is getting a reputation for talking the talk but not walking the walk. Eubank has vacated the British title and pulled out of a mandatory defense against Tommy Langford, citing a training injury. After the IBF No. 5, WBA and WBC No. 2 and WBO No. 9 Eubank left a big-money world title fight with Golovkin on the table, promoter Frank Warren snapped up rights to a Eubank-Lanford domestic title clash at a BBB of C purse bid. Warren was not happy and publicly blasted Eubank after being informed of the situation.
* Middleweight Willie “El Mongoose” Monroe, Jr., 21-2 (6), of Rochester, New York, won a 12-round unanimous decision over “King” Gabriel Rosado, 23-10 (13), of Philadelphia for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental title in the co-main event supporting Canelo-Smith. The pre-fight hype between the two fighters got heated throughout the week with Rosado claiming the fight “was personal” and promising to “deliver a knockout.” But, the fight failed to produce the sparks fight fans hoped for.
* Cruiserweight Oleksandr Usyk, 10-0 (9), dethroned previously unbeaten WBO world champion Krzysztof Glowacki, 26-1 (16), by unanimous decision on Saturday night in Gdansk, Poland.
* Former IBF junior middleweight champion Ishe Smith, 29-8 (12), scored a close, 10-round majority decision over Frank Galarza, 17-2-2 (11), on Friday night at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
* Japanese southpaw Shinsuke Yamanaka, 26-0-2 (18), retained his WBC bantamweight belt with a seventh round victory over mandatory challenger and two-time titlist Anselmo Moreno, 36-5-1 (12), Panama, on Friday in Osaka, Japan.
* Thirty-five-year-old Hozumi Hasegawa, 36-5 (16), stopped WBC super bantamweight champ Hugo Ruiz, 36-4 (32), after the ninth round to claim his third world title between two divisions on Friday in Osaka, Japan.
* Happy Birthday to Hall of Fame broadcaster Al Bernstein, who turned 66 this past week.