Saturday night saw a variety of action in the boxing world, from the lackluster return of Guillermo Rigondeaux to the high-drama shootout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura and finally a showdown between two of the biggest names of the sport. Solid action carried through most of the night and many shifts were made in the boxing world by the end. Here’s a recap for those that missed it!
Canelo Alvarez Outmuscles Miguel Cotto over 12 Rounds
The long awaited showdown between Miguel Cotto and Canelo Álvarez added another bout to the long line of matches in the Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry. Álvarez entered the ring at an unspecified weight, but looked to have a good 10-15 pounds over Cotto. The first three rounds of the fight were much more academic than most fans had expected, but Cotto began to open up around the 5th. The former champ did a good job of establishing the tempo with a consistent jab, but the weight advantage of Álvarez made it akin to shooting an elephant with a peashooter. Action picks up in the 8th round and showed more of the firefight that fans had both wanted and expected, but it became clear that Cotto would likely be knocked out if he continued to trade. He spent the rest of the fight attempting to outbox the Mexican, but found only moderate success. It was Álvarez controlled the tempo with his size, and found a home for a number of effective punches, namely a sneak left uppercut.
Judges scored the fight 117-111, 119-109, and 118-110 in favor of Canelo Álvarez, all of which were pretty atrocious scorecards. The right guy won the fight, but certainly not by those margins. It is a complete disregard of the spirited effort put on by Miguel Cotto, and quite honestly, a bit discrediting of the hard-fought win by Álvarez. In the post-fight interview, Canelo expressed both an interest and willingness to take on Gennady Golovkin in what would be a spectacular unification bout between the lineal champion and recognized champion. Let's just hope it's not set at some ridiculous catch-weight.
Francisco Vargas Scores Spectacular KO in Shootout Against Takashi Miura
Before Takashi Miura's defense of his 130lb WBC title against Francisco Vargas, HBO analysts said that on paper, this was going to be a good fight. After seeing the two trade punches over 9 rounds, I'd go a step further and say that fight epitomized exactly what the sport is about.
The fight opened up with more action in the first round than the entire bout shown previously to this one. Seconds into the match, Vargas landed one of the most direct right hands straight into Miura's face, and buckled the Japanese fighter to nearly put him down. Miura somehow hung on through the round and began to find his rhythm as the fight went on. In the 4th, Miura put Vargas down hard on the canvas for the first time in his career and opened a huge gash beneath the right eye. Momentum shifted back and forth between the two fighters, but the eye of Vargas began to look grotesque and doctors would check in after every round. By the end of the 8th, it looked as if Miura sealed the win by putting Vargas against the ropes and opening with a flurry of hard punches. Had the round gone on for another 15 seconds, the fight would have been called.
But then came the beauty of boxing. Early in the 9th, Vargas came out hard and put Miura down after landing a crisp combination. Miura somehow rose to his feet and was able to stammer around the ring for a few more seconds, but a series of unanswered blows forced referee Tony Weeks to step in and stop the fight. Replays later showed that the glove of Miura had touched the canvas and should have been called a knockdown, but the Japanese fighter was too anxious in getting up, and took the two additional punches that put him in real trouble. It was a great example of how a fighter's pride can cost them.
Said in the telecast during the fight, Vargas had earned the moniker while training in the Wild Card gym and world-renowned trainer Freddie Roach labeled him "El Bandito" for coming in as a virtual unknown and getting the best of some of the top fighters in the gym. Vargas did not in any way "steal" the belt from Miura, but certainly stole the show by putting on the best fight of the evening.
Guillermo Rigondeaux Dominates Drian Francisco in Uneventful Fashion
Guillermo Rigondeaux made his first appearance in 11 months against last-minute opponent Drian Francisco, and if there's anyone that said Rigondeaux's return has been long-awaited, then most viewers could have waited a bit longer. The Cuban Gold medalist landed a few hard power shots early in the fight, which to the misfortunate of most viewers, made his opponent timid to engage. Rigondeaux is a highly polished defensive counterpuncher, meaning he does just enough to win a round and prevents his opponent from engaging, which was more or less how the fight played out. Half-way through the fight, a friend asked if something had happened because the crowd began to make noise, and I told him they were booing because nothing was happening.
To Rigondeaux's credit, he gave a spectacular display of footwork, and one of the biggest reasons Francisco was unable to be effective was due to his inability to place himself in an advantageous position in the ring. That being all said, this was probably one of the more boring matches in boxing history. Neither fighter landed more than 100 punches throughout the 10 rounds, and Rigondeaux won by scores of 97-93, and 100-90 twice. The most exciting thing that happened was probably the controversy surrounding the 97-93 scorecard. Rigondeaux certainly didn't do his marketability any favors with this performance.
Ronny Rios Outpoints Jayson Velez
The Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry opens up with Ronny Rios taking on the undefeated Jayson Velez in a 10-round featherweight fight. On paper, this was a good fight to be made. On fight night, that prediction followed through. The two opened up showing an even display of skills, and Rios comes on in the 3rd round and unleashes a healthy attack to the body, leaving Velez chasing his adversary around the ring. Watching closely, one can see a good example of keeping distance in Rios as punches whiz by with minimal distance.
The fight shows a solid display of trading punches and picked up at the midpoint. It's actually quite an eventful matchup, but some air was taken out of the fight due to both fighters not being as well known in the boxing world. Rios won the bout with scores of 97-92, 95-94, and 96-93 and handed Velez his first career loss. Both fighters were pretty solid and hopefully can make some noise in the division later down the line.
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