Everything You Need to Know About the Weekend in Boxing

By James Kinneen Nov 25, 2019

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In each fight, Deontay Wilder has 36 minutes to land his straight right hand. While his boxing skills are limited and he doesn’t have the wide array of weapons other great finishers have had, Wilder’s power is already being talked about as possibly the best boxing has ever seen. So, while Wilder looked sluggish and timid over the course of seven rounds against Luis Ortiz and found himself down 59-55, 59-55, and 58-56 on the official scorecards (we had Ortiz up 5-1), one big right hand meant none of that mattered. Wilder landed his one big shot, and Ortiz was suddenly the victim of a 7th round knockout.

Wilder has only been boxing since he was 20, so he will likely never be as polished as those that started as children. The question is whether he can depend on his power to the point that he doesn’t need to worry about giving away rounds trying to find his rhythm and find the opening for his one perfect shot. So far, he has stopped all but two opponents as a professional. Against Bermane Stiverne, Wilder was far superior as a fighter and cruised to an untested decision win, making the knockout nothing more than a moot point. So, while you likely watched the fight last night figuring the 40-year-old (but rumored to be far older) Ortiz was going to fade and find himself an easy target for an eventual Wilder knockout, would you feel that comfortable with Wilder down four rounds to Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua or Andy Ruiz?

What about Tyson Fury? Lost in the excitement of the final round knockdown and Fury’s amazing recovery was that most people felt Fury had banked enough rounds to deserve the victory as long as he made it to the final bell. Wilder got very lucky to earn a draw rather than lose a decision, which has distorted the narrative around him and his apparently un-survivable power. Luckily, rumor has it the Fury rematch is coming in February (Fury tweeted “Wilder has nothing more than a punchers chance vs me, I’m gonna school even more than the first fight. #BUMCITY” after the fight and there are report the contract is already signed) so we’ll see if Fury can bank enough rounds that even another huge 10-8 round from Wilder won’t be enough to salvage the fight for him.

While Wilder (and his Prince Charming outfit) won via a one-punch knockout, things went the other way for his brother Marsellos. Against former MMA journeyman Dustin Long, Wilder ate one left hook on the chin that ended a fight he was well in control of. It didn’t seem like a huge shot, but it was enough to give the younger (and obviously far less talented) Wilder his second stoppage loss in seven fights.

Santa Cruz Bores in Easy Decision Win

Leo Santa Cruz was too good to come close to losing to Miguel Flores on Saturday night, but wasn’t good enough to earn a stoppage win. Such has often been the case with Santa Cruz, who has frustrated fans with three straight unanimous decision wins against guys they weren’t especially happy to see him against in the first place (though Mares made some sense, as it was a rematch of a tough Santa Cruz win). This weekend, Santa Cruz made his debut at super featherweight against Miguel Flores, however Flores had wanted to fight him at featherweight so it’s not like Santa Cruz was facing someone significantly larger than him. Santa Cruz dominated the fight while Flores had a point taken away for holding in the eighth round, punctuating how thrilling the matchup was throughout. While Santa Cruz would go on to win the vacant WBA Super featherweight belt via a unanimous 117-110, 117-110, 115-112 decision, the fight inspired boxing media members to do their best to describe how bored they were, with The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger opting for the yawning sloth gif, ESPN’s Dan Rafael going with the classic “zzzzzzzzzz” and ESPN’s other boxing writer Steve Kim opting to cleverly declare “Leo Santa Snooooze, amirite?”

Even though Santa Cruz picking up a title in his fourth weight class wasn’t especially interesting, his next fight could be. After the bout, Santa Cruz said he wants to face either Gervonta Davis or Gary Russell Jr. But if you need to know how bad boxing is in making the biggest fights possible, consider this: Santa Cruz said he wants to fight Russell Jr. and Russell Jr. has said he wants to fight Santa Cruz so badly, that he filmed himself threatening to choke out Santa Cruz’s dad. The odds that fight actually happens? Not great.

Rodriguez Opts Not to Fight Over the Limit Nery

Is Luis Nery the man to beat Naoya “The Monster” Inoue at bantamweight? We don’t know, seeing how this weekend Nery couldn’t make the bantamweight limit (just like he couldn’t against Shinsuke Yamanaka last year). As a result, Emmaneul Rodriguez opted to cancel the fight rather than face an over the limit Nery and the bout was cancelled. While some may fault Rodriguez for the decision, this was a huge fight for him fresh off a loss to Inoue, and nobody would remember (or care about) Nery being one pound over if he won the fight in dominating fashion. It was a good call, For Nery, it’s time to figure out what’s going on and why he can’t make 118.

Ceja and Figueroa Fight to a Draw

If Emmanuel Rodriguez was having any second thoughts about his decision on fight night, hopefully he tuned into the Brandon Figueroa-Julio Ceja bout. After Ceja was more than four pounds over the 122-pound weight limit, Figueroa opted to fight him anyway (he couldn’t lose his WBA title regardless of the result). In a back and forth bout, Figueroa and Ceja traded huge shots with Ceja looking like the bigger, stronger man because he was the bigger, stronger man. In the end, the two had combined for the fourth most punches landed in the division’s history. One judge scored the bout 116-112 Ceja, one had it 115-112 Figueroa, while the third judge scored the bout 114-114, resulting in a split draw.

After the bout, Figueroa said that they need to have the rematch (Ceja agreed), but if the two fought at the weight they were supposed to, he didn’t think the fight would have ended up being very close at all. Whether that’s true or not, hopefully the 22-year-old “Heartbreaker” learns that sometimes cancelling the fight and accepting that you’ve wasted a training camp is a better idea than going through with it and risk losing to a bigger man.

Smith Gifted Decision Over Ryder

Callum Smith might have been looking ahead to a possible Canelo Alvarez bout, or he might have known the judges weren’t going to let him lose to John Ryder in his hometown. Either way, this weekend he was absolutely gifted a decision win that allowed him to keep his WBA 168-pound title, despite being thoroughly beaten by John Ryder over the course of 12 rounds.

Fighting in his own hometown of Liverpool, England, Smith was consistently backed up and pressured by the far smaller Ryder, who dominated the early rounds before fading a bit later in the fight. Still, in the end, most felt Ryder deserved the decision, only to hear that Smith somehow won a unanimous, 117-11, 116-112, 116-112 decision. Even in Smith’s hometown, the decision was met with some booing and boxing social media was far from pleased with the perceived robbery. If not for the Wilder fight taking all of boxing’s mainstream attention this weekend, the decision would have been a far more severe black eye for the sport.

As bad as the decision was, perhaps the person that ended up looking the worst after the fight was Tony Bellew. Yes, the former Usyk knockout victim and star of the first “Creed” movie said after the fight that Canelo Alvarez is a master at the medium distance (not infighting like Ryder) so about the Mexican superstar that just stopped Sergey Kovalev, Bellew declared “I don’t believe for a minute that he will want Callum Smith.” People scorched Bellew for the statement on social media, and rightfully so. Alvarez would walk through Smith at any range.

Alvarado Takes Cancio’s Title in Rematch of 2015 Bout

The feel-good story of Andrew Cancio, the fulltime gas worker turned world champion ran into the feel-good story of Rene Alvarado reeling off seven straight wins after a 4-6 stretch had the Nicaraguan considering his future in the sport, this weekend. And, although in 2015 Cancio stopped Rene Alvorado, this time the script would be switched.

Alvarado dominated Cancio, cutting him above the eye in the third frame and winning all but one round on the three judges scorecards en route to an 8th-round stoppage victory. Considering just four years ago Cancio stopped Alvorado, it was a pretty shocking turn of events which netted Alvorado the WBA “Regular” junior lightweight title. Unfortunately, for Alvarado, Santa Cruz’s win lessened his new title, as Santa Cruz is now the WBA’s “Super” champion at the weight class.

Can Dominates Robles By Throwing Record Number of Punches

In what was ultimately a unanimous 120-108, 119-109, 118-110 decision win over previously unbeaten Manny Robles III on Saturday night, Xu Can set the Compubox featherweight record by throwing 1526 punches over the course of 12 rounds. While it’s a fun record to have, it also highlights how little power Can has. In 18 professional victories, he has only stopped three opponents.

After the fight, the WBA “Regular” featherweight champion (who may become the full champion depending on what weight class Santa Cruz opts to fight at) called out Josh Warrington for a unification bout (Warrington is the IBF champion). That fight seems unlikely, because Warrington and Shakur Stevenson have supposedly been looking to face ach other, and Stevenson is a far bigger name than Can.
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