The War Report: Angels with Dirty Faces (Week 11, 2017)
In the two biggest fights of the weekend, the victims of defeat handed in the lasting performances of a memorable night in boxing’s Mecca.
Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Daniel “The Miracle Man” Jacobs didn’t get the nods from the judges Saturday night at Madison Square Garden but, in their own ways, sparked the imagination of boxing fans and answered questions that will forever be embedded in their minds when talking about the current elites of the sport.
The more accomplished of the two, Gonzalez – a God-fearing Nicaraguan, fighting with a bereaved heart – suffered a torturing loss riddled with controversial scorecards. Jacobs – a heart-inspiring American who has already cheated death – fell short on the cards, as well, but by making a feared beast look ordinary, opened debate on his argument for winning and, most of all, proved he belongs among the elite.
Many believed they did enough to win but their faces told a different story when compared to their counterparts. Forever, their record will show losses on March 18 but their performances, in a vacuum, were far from just having a bad night.
Fight of the Week
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai MD 12 Roman Gonzalez (WBC 115) | March 18 – New York City, New York
Gonzalez, 29, was calm after suffering an opening round knockdown from a precise body shot from Srisaket, under the left armpit. He even relished Steve Willis’ 10-count while on a knee but proceeded to impose his will in the following round with his trademark combinations. A fight broke out but it was abruptly halted in the third after an accidental clash of heads produced a cut above Gonzalez’s left eye. It immediately leaked down his cheek and, as he looked up at the screen above the ring, gasps from those ringside could be heard as they saw what he saw.
Otherwise known as Wisaksil Wangek, Srisaket, 42-4-1 (38), a forward pressing southpaw from Thailand, couldn’t keep his head from making contact with Roman’s. In the final moments of the fourth, Gonzalez suffered a nasty gash on his scalp as a result and it was the worst of the two lacerations inflicted on him in the fight. Gonzalez answered back with perhaps his best round in the fifth but, early in the sixth, time was halted by Willis as the occurrence happened yet again.
Aside from these inadvertent breaks, action never let up in the super flyweight contest. Srisaket kept up with Chocolatito, as the fight wore on, and, with sheer determination and superior conditioning, was able to land enough one-twos to keep the rounds close. With Gonzalez’s face a bloody mess, however, the perception of a beaten man was in plain sight as they went toe-to-toe but seeing that same face let his hands go was awe-inspiring.
Nearly 2,000 punches were thrown between these little guys of boxing and they offered a thrilling example of what these 115-pounders can produce in a ring. According to CompuBox, Gonzalez out-landed Srisaket in 10 of the 12 rounds, set a super flyweight record of landing 372 power shots (previously held by Jose Navarro at 365), and greatly outnumbered his opponent in the final punch tally: 441 (43.5%) to 284 (30.2%).
The most important numbers weren’t in Gonzalez’s benefit, however. Two scores of 114-112 in favor of Srisaket overruled the 113-113 draw and there was a shocking gasp before a round of boos from the crowd, as they witnessed Chocolatito suffer his first defeat in a fight they’ll never forget.’
Gennady Golovkin UD 12 Daniel Jacobs (IBF/WBA/WBC 160) | March 18 – New York City, New York
This HBO pay-per-view main event wasn’t a scintillating action fight, like its co-feature, but it was a very competitive contest with stakes as high as its importance and. in front of a buzzing crowd. Along with Srisaket-Gonzalez this Saturday night, HBO (10:00 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT) will replay Golovkin-Jacobs, giving boxing fans a chance to relive Golovkin’s toughest test to date.
Amir Mansour MD 10 Travis Kauffman (200+) | March 17 – Reading, Pennsylvania
KO of the Week
Alexander Dimitrenko KO 1 Adrian Granat (200+) | March 18 – Malmo, Sweden
Sammy Valentin TKO 1 Jesus Alvarez Rodriguez (147) | March 17 – Tampa, Florida
Fighters of the Week
Roman Gonzalez, 46-1 (38)
There were already signs of his invincibility wearing off in his first fight at 115 pounds and, while this loss furthered that argument, Gonzalez put together an unyielding performance of toughness.
The pain he endured could best be seen on the stool between rounds. As his corner put pressure on his cuts, Gonzalez winced in pain as he looked up to the heavens, perhaps thinking of his late trainer who suddenly passed away a few months ago. For that reason, March 18 was destined to be an emotional night for Gonzalez but it ended up being one of heartbreak. “Robbery” is a word that wouldn’t be a reach, when describing the final decision, and “uplifting” is one of many words that can characterize Gonzalez’s heart.
Daniel Jacobs, 32-2 (29)
“GGG” – the mark of the beast, at first glance, but the working moniker for unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin. Every performance from GGG, beforehand, gave the impression of a living, breathing monstrosity in boxing but Jacobs looked square in the eye of this beast and boxed a smart enough fight to end Golovkin’s 23-fight KO streak. Jacobs didn’t exactly exorcise the beast but “The Miracle Man” tamed him, something no man had been able to do.
At fight’s end, Jacobs fell to his knees with his hands hanging on the top rope, thinking he may have just pulled off the upset, with a smart, tactical performance. It reflected his story of being unable to use those same legs one morning and to later find out about the cancerous tumor wrapped around his spine.
Fighting out of Brooklyn, New York, Jacobs overcame a fourth round knockdown that seemed to be the beginning of Golovkin’s 24th straight knockout. He remained relaxed, however, and, in the following round, unexpectedly switched to a southpaw stance that seemed to make Golovkin think more than fight. The jab with which Golovkin had success early on wasn’t as effective, and his body attack was now non-existent. Jacobs wasted no energy in his defense and, by not running away from Golovkin, ended up landing more power shots by fight’s end (144-126).
Jacobs fought the fight of his life but not even that was enough to topple Golovkin. Still, he managed to make GGG turn in an underwhelming performance – the first of a career full of dominance so far. Jacobs turned in an impressive one in comparison and a rematch with this beast is warranted.
Michael Conlan, 1-0 (1)
On St. Patrick’s Day, Conlan, Belfast, Ireland, put together a memorable pro debut at the Madison Square Garden Theater and kicked off a big boxing weekend in New York City with an atmosphere that’s sure to follow wherever he goes. Conlan, 25, stopped Tim Ibarra in the third and, while he showed flashes of a willingness to entertain, it was more than just that. Boxing got to see the effects of a well-promoted card and just how much influence an atmosphere can have on a fight.
Hostile Agent of the Week
The Irish UFC superstar accompanied Conlan to the ring on Friday night and was surely a big influence on the raucous scene that unraveled. McGregor, who’s looking to bring Floyd Mayweather Jr. out of retirement, made a point to stop by the media section after the fight and berated them with a headline grabbing rant.
This wasn’t unexpected from McGregor – who fights with the same intensity in the Octagon – and his hostility outside of it has brought immense popularity. It will likely get him a big money fight with Mayweather in the end – no matter how outrageous it may seem.
From this past week and in order of weight class
World title bouts
Gennady Golovkin UD 12 Daniel Jacobs (WBA/WBC 160) | Golovkin defends the unified WBA and WBC middleweight titles – his IBF belt was not on the line. (Jacobs missed the sanctioning organization’s required weigh-in.).
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai MD 10 Roman Gonzalez (WBC 115) | Srisaket is the new WBC super flyweight titleholder.
Amir Mansour MD 10 Travis Kauffman (200+) | 114-114, 117-111, 115-113
Alexander Dimitrenko KO 1 Adrian Granat (200+)
Junior Fa MD 10 Daniel Tai (200+) | 100-90, 98-94, 95-95
Steve Cunningham UD 6 Felipe Romero (200+) | 60-54, 60-54, 60-54
Firat Arslan RTD 2 Gezim Tahiri (200)
Robert Stieglitz SD 10 Nikola Sjekloca (175) | 115-113 RS, 114-114, 113-114 NS
Dominic Boesel TKO 6 Sami Enbom (175)
Ahmed Elbiali TKO 1 Jackson Junior (175)
David Brophy TKO 7 Zac Dunn (168)
Sergiy Derevyanchenko TKO 5 Kemahl Russell (160)
Gary O’Sullivan RTD 3 Ronald Montes (160)
Andy Lee UD 8 KeAndre Leatherwood (160) | 80-72, 79-73, 78-74
Mark DeLuca KO 8 Travis Scott (154)
Chordale Booker UD 6 Moshea Aleem (154) | 59-55 twice, 58-56
Kermit Cintron TD 5 David Grayton (147) | 49-46, 47-47 twice
Jamontay Clark RTD 5 Gaku Takahashi (147)
Fabian Maidana TKO 2 Elias Vallejos (147)
Sammy Valentin TKO 1 Jesus Alvarez Rodriguez (147)
Samuel Vargas UD 10 Armando Robles (147) | 97-93, 98-92, 99-91
Danny O’Connor MD 8 Michael McLaughlin (147) | 79-72 twice, 76-76
Alex Saucedo TKO 2 Johnny Garcia (140)
Aik Shakhnazaryan UD 12 Al Rivera (140) | 116-113, 115-113, 115-114
Aidar Sahribayev TKO 6 Gabino Cota (135)
Ryan Martin TKO 8 Bryant Cruz (135)
Teofimo Lopez KO 2 Daniel Bastien (135)
Horacio Alfredo Cabral UD 10 Logan McGuinness (135) | 98-92, 98-92, 98-92
Robson Conceicao TKO 2 Aaron Hollis (130)
Michael Conlan TKO 3 Tim Ibarra (122)
Declarations of War
Fights made official this past week
Khalid Yafai vs. Suguru Muranaka (WBA 115) | May 13 – Birmingham, England
This week’s boxing schedule (world title bouts in bold)
Thursday, March 23
ESPN2 (10:00 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT) | Fantasy Springs Resort & Casino – Indio, California
Jason Quigley vs. Glen Tapia (160)
Randy Caballero vs. Jesus Ruiz (122)
Marlen Esparza vs. Rachel Sazoff (112)
Saturday, March 25
Showtime (6:00 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT) | Manchester Arena – Manchester, England
Jorge Linares vs. Anthony Crolla (WBA 135)
CBS Sports Network (9:00 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT) | Kansas Star Arena – Mulvane, Kansas
Nico Hernandez (pro debut) vs. Patrick Gutierrez (112)
Tramaine Williams vs. Eduardo Garza (126)
Neeco Macia vs. Cesar Soriano (154)
beIN Sports Español (11:00 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. PT) | Palenque – Chiapas, Mexico
Jorge Paez Jr. vs. Daniel Sandoval (154)
Emmanuel Navarrete vs. Francisco Gabriel Pina (122)
In order of weight class
Thursday, March 23
Hasim Rahman Jr. (pro debut) vs. Brian Imes (200+) | Randolph, New Jersey
Tureano Johnson vs. Fabiano Peña (160) | Indio, California
Skender Halili vs. Jonathan Batista (154) | Randolph, New Jersey
Mauricio Herrera vs. Hector Velazquez (147) | Indio, California
Daniel Franco vs. Christopher Martin (126) | Los Angeles, California
Friday, March 24
Ray Robinson vs. Claudinei Lacerda (154) | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Josh Taylor vs. Warren Joubert (140) | Edinburgh, Scotland
Saturday, March 25
Tyron Zeuge vs. Isaac Ekpo (WBA 168) | Potsdam, Germany
Brian Rose vs. Jack Arnfield (160) | Manchester, England
Marcus Morrison vs. Jason Welborn (160) | Manchester, England
Dusty Hernandez-Harrison vs. Matthew Strode (154) | Washington D.C.
Charles Manyuchi vs. Qudratillo Abduqaxarov (147) | Singapore
Deniz Ilbay vs. Angelo Frank (!47) | Potsdam, Germany
Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Francisco Contreras (130) | Juarez, Mexico
Martin Joseph Ward vs. Maxi Hughes (130) | Manchester, England
Emmanuel Rodriguez vs. Omar Narvaez (118) | Fajardo, Puerto Rico