Weekend Boxing Results, Nov. 11

By James Kinneen Nov 11, 2019
For better or worse, it was the biggest fight of the weekend, so we might as well start out by talking about the six-round bout between YouTube celebrities KSI and Logan Paul.

Officially, KSI won the fight via split 55-56, 56-55, 57-54 decision, but referee Jack Reiss’ move to take two points away from Paul for holding KSI’s head down to land an uppercut and hitting the British rapper while he was on the ground had many fans of the controversial social media sensation crying foul. According to Paul’s fans, those two points were pivotal and ultimately decided the match. KSI fans pointed to their own refereeing “mistake” in response to the criticism: a shot to the top of Paul’s head that knocked him down but was officially ruled a slip. Who would have thought that in a matchup between two novice boxers famous for their YouTube videos that it would be the longtime veteran official who came out looking like an amateur?

What did this fight do for boxing? Opinions are mixed. ESPN’s Steve Kim wrote an article calling the event “a win for boxing” because it got the sport trending on social media, which professional matches rarely due these days. Others talked about how some kids may take to boxing training themselves to be like their YouTube heroes. While both those ideas might be true, the event was terrible for boxing as a whole, and it had nothing to do with Logan Paul or KSI. The professional fights featuring two world champions were why the card was terrible for the sport.

Saunders Finishes Coceres in 11th Round

With a chance to show YouTube fans what the highest levels of professional boxing look like, Billy Joe Saunders turned in an unimpressive and uninspired performance that had the crowd booing him throughout. Against little-known Argentinian Marcelo Esteban Coceres, Saunders boxed reasonably well -- though he was only up two points on two judges’ scorecards and down on the third’s at the time of the stoppage -- but did not do much to excite the crowd. Finally, in the 11th round, Saunders stepped up the pressure, dropped Santiago with an uppercut and landed a flurry that sent Coceres to the canvas a second time, ending the bout.

To his credit, Saunders acknowledged the fight was poor: saying “There's no excuses. The performance [was] not worthy [of] Canelo [Alvarez] or [Daniel] Jacobs. I knew in my head I had to get him out of here. My timing was off, my movement was off, everything was off. I wanted to impress the crowd. Hopefully, you enjoyed the KO. [It was] all I could do tonight.” While Saunders acknowledged he did not look great, Eddie Hearn would not acknowledge the matchup was a horrible decision for Saunders’ American debut. Hearn said the problem was that Saunders had a throat infection.

Either way, Saunders wants Alvarez to fight him at 168 pounds, where Saunders holds the WBO title. That idea is apparently being considered by Alvarez’s team, with reports indicating there have already been preliminary talks between the two camps. Whether that happens or not, it would have had a much better chance of happening had Saunders gained millions of new, young American fans in his latest outing.

Haney Decisions Santiago, Blames Shoulder Injury

Saunders was not the only professional boxer to disappoint a crowd of non-boxing fans, as newly crowned WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney also turned in a performance that had the crowd booing him throughout. Facing undefeated but untested Dominican Alfredo Santiago, Haney struggled with his opponent’s awkward style and a supposed shoulder injury early in the fight, turning in an unimpressive and unmemorable first title defense. In the end, Haney won a unanimous 120-107, 120-107, 120-107 decision.

What did the Logan Paul-KSI card do for boxing? The most interesting fight was the one between the amateurs, not those featuring world champions. Anyone who watched the card and was not a boxing fan before likely came away with a lesser opinion of the sport as an entertainment vehicle, and even the boxing “fanagers” who love to talk about how much money their favorite fighters make were confronted with the fact that Saunders, a world champion, made significantly less money to box for 12 rounds than two YouTubers did for six.

The optimist might say people who do not watch boxing got a taste of the sport, and now, they will become fans, right? Maybe, but who are these supposed people who are not familiar with boxing or do not yet have an opinion on whether or not they enjoy the sport? While Ultimate Fighting Championship fans will tell you that Forest Griffin-Stephan Bonnar got people to watch the UFC for the first time, that fight was in 2005. YouTube literally was not a thing yet, so it is not surprising that people may very well have never seen MMA before Griffin-Bonnar. In 2019, people can find any video anytime; it is highly doubtful that potential lifelong boxing fans have never stumbled across a boxing match. Hopefully, these potential fans stumble across better fights than Haney-Santiago or Saunders-Coceres.

Iraq War Veteran Herring Defends Title in Close Decision

On a card that was absolutely buried under all the Logan Paul-KSI hype, Iraq War veteran and 2012 Olympian Jamel Herring survived a late onslaught from the previously undefeated Lamont Roach Jr. to defend his title via unanimous, 117-111, 117-111, 115-113 decision.

Carried to the ring on top of a military Humvee, Herring dominated the first half of the fight with his jab, while Roach was content to wait for counter opportunities. Roach came on strong in the later rounds, especially in the 11th, where he landed a huge right hook that had Herring in serious trouble. Unfortunately for Roach, he could not follow up on the big shot, as Herring survived and the challenger’s best opportunity to win was lost.

After the fight, Herring, the reigning WBO super featherweight champion, called out WBC titleholder Miguel Berchelt, WBA champion Andrew Cancio and British legend Carl Frampton. Berchelt wants to fight Oscar Valdez -- the man who kept him out of the Olympics -- so that fight seems unlikely. Frampton is scheduled to fight Tyler Mcreary in two weeks, while Cancio is facing Rene Alvorado later this month, so both of them will be on the same timeline as Herring, assuming they win.

Pulev Decisions Overmatched Booker

After his fight with 12-year ex-convict Rydell Booker, Kubrat Pulev was blunt about what took place: “I am [on a] different level. Respect for my opponent, but I was really good, and I showed everybody that this is world level and I must fight the [Andy Ruiz-Anthony Joshua 2] winner.” While it is true that Pulev was on a different level from Booker, being on a different level in comparison to the rest of the heavyweight division means scoring a knockout. Pulev settled for a unanimous 99-91, 98-92, 98-92 decision.

There is not much to say about this fight. Booker was a 38-year-old fighter who did not fight between 2004 and 2018 due to a drug-related prison sentence, and Pulev has only lost to Wladimir Klitschko as a professional. With the win, Pulev remains the IBF’s mandatory opponent for the Ruiz-Joshua winner, but a highlight-reel knockout victory would have gone a long way to making sure that fight was appealing.
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