Knockout Nation: Cotto-Margarito War Games Official, Byrd Finished, Mijares Unifies, Pacman against Hatton and De La Hoya , The Cuban Hawk Lives
July 26th is known in many Latin countries as the symbolic date signifying the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. For boxing fans, the hope is this date with provide a revolution for future match making in the welterweight division, as Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito have agreed to face off this summer in Las Vegas.
In a stacked welterweight division marred by political grudges and selective match-making, Cotto and Margarito go into this fight to settle one issue; who is the better man? The PPV bout promises fireworks as both men are damaging punchers who apply relentless pressure. Cotto is coming off an easy stoppage of Alfonso Gomez while Margaritos last victim was former champion Kermit Cintron. The contest wont be a WBA/IBF unification bout, as the IBF will not allow Margarito an optional fight before facing their mandatory challenger Joshua Clottey.
Safe money for this bout will be on Cotto, who is the superior boxer and has fought better caliber opponents in top 10 welterweights Carlos Quintana, Zab Judah, and Shane Mosley. However, Margarito makes up for his lack of technical skill with consistent pressure in the later rounds combined with an iron will and chin. These attributes have been sufficient to break down most of his opposition thus far.
Look for Cotto to outbox Margarito fairly easily in the opening rounds, only to have the Tijuana Tornado swarm the Puerto Rican star in the middle rounds. Here Cotto will be forced to prove his strength with his great bodywork to gain Margaritos respect. There will be a least a handful of moments where Cotto will be badly stunned, likely from a Margarito uppercut on the inside. However, Cotto has shown he can fight smart even when hurt, and hell likely weather the storm and box well off the back foot (like he did to close out the Mosley fight) to squeeze out a tight but clear unanimous decision.
Byrd Battered in Light Heavyweight Debut
After years of taking bombs from 200 plus pound men, Chris Byrd had an epiphany. Why continue to struggle against larger men when they were lucrative matchups below in the light heavyweight division? Logic dictated that if he could take shots from heavyweights, he surely would be able to handle punches from a smaller weight class.
Unfortunately, boxing can be a cruel reality. The newly slimmed down Chris Byrd (40-5-1, 21 KOs) was dispatched in shocking fashion, suffering a 9th round TKO at the hands of Shaun George (17-2-2, 8 KOs) this past Friday.
From the first round, it was obvious Byrds huge weight loss was a mistake. The former IBF champion was noticeably lethargic during any engagements with George, many times reacting far too late to punches to avoid them. Towards the end of the round, Byrd was badly hurt by two right hand shots and dropped. A dejected Byrd rose and walked slowly to his corner, his face showing that he realized early on he was in for a long, painful night.
In the middle rounds, George continued to have his way with Byrd, landing the right hand to the body and head at will. Byrd proved a stationary target as his head and leg movement were non-existent. His once sharp jab was reduced to a pawing push, likely the result of the large weight loss affecting his strength.
By the ninth, Byrd had nothing left, and George moved in for the kill. The damage began with a counter left uppercut, which George followed up with a straight right that crumbled Byrd to the canvas. The awkward landing dislocated his left shoulder, but a game Byrd rose immediately to meet his fate. George pounced with a barrage of right and left hooks to drop Byrd again, causing referee Jay Nady to call a halt to the bout with less than 20 seconds remaining.
Deep down most boxing fans knew this result was a strong possibility. Chris Byrd wasnt going to magically become a fast, sharp punching light heavyweight after dropping forty pounds and coming off brutal punishment in successive stoppages to Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin. Even in those losses he showed no head movement, speed, or footwork to avoid punches.
Last Friday Byrd was weak, lethargic, and had little punch resistance; everything youd expect from a shot fighter. Hopefully he calls it quits, and we should at least be thankful he didnt decide to make his debut against someone like Glen Johnson.
Last weekend featured an HBO Boxing After Dark showcase in which three talented prospects delivered in their coming out parties for the junior middleweight and super featherweight divisions.
First up was Anne Wolfe trained junior middleweight James Kirkland (22-0, 19 KOs), who started off the card with a stunning first round knockout of durable veteran Eromosele Albert (21-3, 10 KOs). Kirkland came out with guns blazing and was able to overwhelm Albert with quick, sharp straight lefts on the inside.
In the sophomore feature, a patient Alfredo Angulo (13-0, 10 KOs) wore down a game Richard Gutierrez (24-2, 14 KOs) to score a well earned fifth round stoppage. After good back and forth action early, Angulo hurt Gutierrez with an overhand right before forcing a stoppage on a right hand-left uppercut combination in the fifth.
The main event saw touted 2004 Olympian and Cuban defector Yuriorkis Gamboa (10-0, 8 KOs) outwork Daniel Jimenez (23-4, 14 KOs) to a unanimous decision win of 99-91, and 97-92 twice. The inexperienced Gamboa kept his hands dangerously low throughout the bout, which resulted in him suffering an unnecessary fourth round knockdown on a counter straight right. However, Gamboas skill level carried him for the remainder of the bout, particularly his speed and high work rate.
Expect these young prospects to kept developing and adding intrigue to their respective divisions.
Cristin Mijares Unifies WBA/WBC Titles at 115
Cristian Mijares (35-3-2, 14 KOs) put on a dominating performance last Saturday defeating Alexander Munoz (32-3, 27 KOs) to unify the WBA and WBC titles at bantamweight.
Despite some bombs landed by Munoz early on, Mijares calmly took over the bout with jarring counterpunching and feinting which kept Munoz off balance and guessing for the majority of the bout. The ninth round featured Mijares hurting Munoz badly with a short left hook just before the bell sounded.
Despite the emphatic performance, Mijares was awarded a dubious split decision 116-111, 115-112, and 113-115. The final score screams corruption, as the judge was hand picked by the WBA (Munozs title) and had protested the other selected judges before the bout.
Hatton/Malignaggi This Weekend
Ricky Hatton and Paulie Malignaggi return to action this weekend to gear up interest for a possible showdown.
Hatton will take on the solid but limited Juan Lazcano while Malignaggi engages tough Lovemore NDou in a rematch.
Look for Hatton to win in a bout that will resemble his fight against Juan Urango. Lazcano is durable and Hatton will be content to coast and grapple in the later rounds if he cant get Lazcano out of there. Malignaggi should pull out another decision win over NDou due to his speed, but hell take punishment as NDou will be able to get inside more.
Freddie Roach Talks Bouts with Hatton and De La Hoya for Pacquiao
Even with a PPV bout against David Diaz in June, Manny Pacquiaos trainer is already looking ahead to more high profile, lucrative bouts.
Freddie Roach informed www.fightfan.com that he would like Pacquiao to fight Ricky Hatton and then Oscar De La Hoya:
Im the one who wants a Hatton fight. They were talking about a potential Oscar fight but I think Manny and Hatton are about the same size and height. If we could get Hatton at a catch weight of 137 or 138 pounds it would be a competitive fight. That fight would be a big sell because both guys sell pay-per-views and its a great match up with both guys having similar styles. Id love a Hatton fight for Manny and I think its one he could win. Hatton has to get by Juan Lazcano first and thats not an easy fight and Manny has to get by Diaz.
Pacquiao has no business fighting at 140 and above, but money talks. And because of money the man below will likely not get the shot he deserves at the big names.
Nate Campbell: Politics as Usual
After years of tough setbacks (some self-inflicted), Nate Campbell still cannot catch a break. After dismantling top lightweight Juan Diaz to capture the WBA, WBO, and IBF titles, Campbell has been denied the opportunity to face the linear RING champion Joel Casamayor. Instead, that luxury goes to Juan Diaz, who was able to secure the bout through the shrewd political negotiations of Golden Boy.
Campbell recently spoke about these issues with Casamayor and other fighters around his division.
Tyson Receives Standing Ovation at Cannes Festival
Former champion Mike Tyson debuted a new documentary called Tyson, detailing the up and downs of his life to the Cannes Film Festival.
The film details Tysons life without pretenses: from his chaotic relationships with women to his career low points against Buster Douglas and Evander Holyfield.
The piece met with critical acclaim and Tyson receiving a rousing standing ovation from all those in attendance.
Throwback Fighter of the Week: Kid Gavilan
When speaking of legends and top fighters of the welterweight division, one must mention the name Kid Gavilan. The Cuban Hawk was an exciting fighter who fought all the top names of his era. He defeated
Ike Williams (2X), Beau Jack, Tony Jairno, Carmen Basilio and Johnny Bratton to win the welterweight crown. He made seven defenses before losing in a highly controversial bout to Johnny Saxton, in which 20 of the 22 ringside observers agreed he had won. Gavilan also lost a very close, competitive decision to Sugar Ray Robinson.
Gavilan is credited with inventing the bolo punch, popularized in modern times by Sugar Ray Leonard. Gavilan claimed to have perfected the punch after the technique he used for cutting sugar cane back in his native Cuba.
Kid Gavilans final record stands at 107-30-6, 28 KOs.