This was an interesting weekend in boxing, as big names disappointed in both performance and opponent choice, while unknowns became must-see fighters by way of hellacious battles and top-notch displays of speed.
The biggest fight of the weekend was, unfortunately not the most exciting, as Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez remained undefeated, and retained his WBO super middleweight title with a unanimous decision over Roamer Alexis Angulo in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The fight itself, was not very good, and warranted ESPN’s Dan Rafael to mockingly tweet ZZZZZurdo, and to eventually sum up the match with the simple but succinct line, " Bad fight." Ramirez was not entered in the World Boxing Super Series boxing tournament, per the decision of his promoter “Top Rank” and has faced mostly soft competition of late. After the fight, he criticized his own performance, then expressed a welcome desire to fight the likes of Callum Smith, George Groves and James Degale.
At least for the people of Oklahoma City, the undercard of that fight featured a great match that some are calling a fight of the year contender, with the fourth round considered a round of the year contender, in undefeated super lightweight Alex Saucedo's seventh round TKO of Leonard Zappavigna. The fight was a vicious one, with both fighters bloodied, but it was Zappavigna whose cuts and swelling were bad enough that his corner felt the need to throw in the towel in the seventh round. With the loss, Zappavigna (who was fighting in Saucedo’s hometown) announced his retirement, while the Abel Sanchez trained Saucedo expressed a desire to fight Maurice Hooker, the undefeated WBO super lightweight champion from Dallas, Texas.
On Friday, in Cancun, Mexico, welterweight Rashidi Ellis stayed unbeaten by winning a 10-round decision over Alberto Mosquera. Lynn Massachusetts’ Ellis moved to 20-0 with the victory, which came rather easily with judges scoring the bout 97-92, 98-92, and 98-91 with Ellis having lost a point for a low blow. Ellis, who goes by the nickname “Speedy” was used to emulate Amir Khan's handspeed for Canelo Alvarez. He headlined the card on ESPN and will look for an even bigger stage in the future.
In Belfast, 26-year-old featherweight Mike Conlan (best known for flipping off the Olympic judges who cheated him out of a clear victory at the 2016 games) moved to 8-0 with 5 knockouts by decisioning Brazil’s Adeilson Dos Santos in Conlan’s hometown. It was a decent win for the young fighter, but was not without controversy as the man who represented Ireland at the Olympics, had a Union Jack placed next to his name by BT Sport, which angered Irish fans.
And finally, in Uncasville, Connecticut, the man who finally forced Bernard Hopkins to retire, Joe Smith Jr. knocked his opponent Melvin Russell down twice, before finishing him in the opening round. After the fight, Smith Jr. called out Sergey Kovalev, a fight that quite honestly, the pride of Laborer's Local 66 is not deserving of. Russell was 11-4, and a win over this level of fighter does not say much about Smith Jr. Smith was coming off of an 11-month layoff after suffering a broken jaw against Sullivan Barrera, but after being exposed by Barrera he would need to face a legitimate contender before he could think of fighting a marquee name like Kovalev.
Those were the big fights of this weekend, stay tuned this week for a preview of next weekend, as well as a roundup of the week’s big news in boxing.
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