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Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on Saturday moved up two weight classes to knock out Sergey Kovalev, the reigning WBO 175-pound champion. It was a career-defining performance from Alvarez and has many boxing pundits talking about his ranking on the current pound-for-pound list, his ranking on the list of boxing’s all-time greats and whether or not he is already the best Mexican fighter of all-time. It was almost ruined by one of the worst business decisions in boxing history.
Dazn decided that it would wait until the end of the UFC 244 headliner between Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal to air its main event. Even without that fight going to the judges, the decision meant the crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, which paid to watch live sports, had to sit around watching the UFC event on the jumbotron while waiting for it to end. Meanwhile, Alvarez and Kovalev literally laid on the couch wrapped and gloved once they were sick of hitting the pads in anticipation. By the time the fight started, it was well past 1 a.m. ET, and many fans had lost interest due to bodily fatigue.
While Mike Coppinger is claiming the move worked -- it is unclear if Dazn was his source or someone else -- and that subscription signups jumped after the UFC card, there is no way to tell if that is real or a case of the decision makers covering for themselves. Make no mistake, it was an embarrassment for boxing.
Making boxing fans wait for an entirely different sporting event to end makes no sense, but if it was an all-time matchup, you could make the argument. However, neither Nate Diaz nor Jorge Masvidal entered the cage as a champion. The BMF title is closer to the “best listener,” “class clown” and “most improved” awards everyone gets in preschool than it is to a world championship. Not to mention, how is your undefeated world champion who wrestled bears as a kid not the baddest motherf----- on your roster? Is he really not “badder” than a 34-year-old, 11-loss fighter because he doesn’t flip off the camera and smoke marijuana in public like an “edgy” 13-year-old at The Warped Tour? The truth: Dazn nearly ruined its best fight of the year between two current champions and likely hall of famers by bowing down to a pretend belt that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson handed out. Luckily, Alvarez’s performance bailed out Dazn.
If you liked Kovalev in this fight, you thought he would be too big for Alvarez and would keep him at the end of a stiff jab, though you were likely worried about his ability to win a decision and his tendency to gas in the later rounds. If you liked Alvarez, you figured he could work Kovalev’s body and capitalize on his aging gas tank at some point late in the fight. While Kovalev looked great, kept Alvarez away with his jab and led on many people’s scorecards heading into the championship rounds -- we had him up seven rounds to three going into the 11th -- he was clearly tiring. In the 11th round, Alvarez pressed and landed a right hand-left hook-right hand combination that sent Kovalev down and out. The scorecards had Alvarez up on two of three cards -- the third had the fight a draw -- at the time of the stoppage, which meant Alvarez was likely headed to another controversial decision had he not scored the knockout.
Where do the two fighters go from here? Kovalev should probably retire, while Alvarez’s future is far more interesting. ESPN’s Steve Kim claims there are talks of his staying at 175 and fighting Dmitry Bivol. That would be interesting, seeing how they are both slick boxers and a win would likely mean Alvarez would face Artur Beterbiev to hold every title at the weight class. Moving back down to 160 is the move most people expected, but Alvarez would risk pulling a Roy Jones Jr. when he dropped weight after moving up to heavyweight.
No matter what comes next for Alvarez, this was an all-time great performance from an all-time great fighter. If only more people had been awake to see it.
Garcia KOs Duno in First Round
One of the reasons the Kovalev-Alvarez fight featured such a torturous wait for fans in Las Vegas was because Ryan Garcia knocked out hard-hitting Filipino Romero Duno in the first round. While he is a star on social media, many boxing fans had questioned his performances in the ring when compared to other young stars, like Devin Haney. This may be the performance that gets hardcore boxing fans on board with Garcia, though the knockout was not all that aesthetically pleasing.
Duno had never been stopped in 22 professional fights, so it was odd to see him go down on a right hand to the top of the head, then find himself unable to keep his face off the canvas. Still, all credit to Garcia for a great performance on his biggest stage. After the fight, the 21-year-old said he wants to fight better and better competition, and Haney has been calling him out lately. That would be a great fight, but it is doubtful Golden Boy Promotions is willing to take that risk anytime soon, unless somehow the appearance on the Logan Paul card makes Haney as big a name as Garcia.
Berchelt Stops Sosa in Round 4
Miguel Berchelt is elite. Jason Sosa is not. It was really that simple, as Berchelt’s left hooks to the body and thudding right hands to the head dropped Sosa in the second and fourth rounds and caused Sosa’s corner to throw in the towel in the fourth.
After the fight, the WBC super featherweight champion, who has now stopped 15 of his last 16 opponents, called out a fellow Mexican in the undefeated Oscar Valdez. The 28-year-old Valdez supposedly kept Berchelt off the Olympic team in 2012 by being the higher-ranked fighter, even though the two never fought. Berchelt is quickly becoming a must-watch fighter. Hopefully fans tuned into ESPN to see him demolish Sosa.
Ancajas-Rodriguez Canceled Over Visa Issues
On a stack weekend of boxing, it may end up being good news that little-known Mexican fighter Jonathan Rodriguez could not obtain a visa and had his fight with Jerwin Ancajas called off.
Apparently, Rodriguez was training in one part of Mexico while his visa was issued out of his home city, which caused problems. Ancajas said he would either reschedule the fight or just move on and face someone else -- a good indication of how excited most people were about Rodriguez as an opponent.
Castano Stops ‘Lucky Boy’ Omotoso in Fifth
Brian Castano, the undefeated Argentinian with amateur wins over Errol Spence Jr. and Sergiy Derevyanchenko was supposed to show us how good he is by becoming the first man to ever stop Wale Omotoso as a professional. He became the first man to stop Omotoso as a professional and called out all the champions at 154 pounds soon after, but nobody who watched the fight came away all that impressed with his win. Why? It came after Omotoso suffered an unfortunate injury.
“Lucky Boy” became an ironic nickname when Omotoso hurt his left shoulder after it got caught on Castano’s collarbone. Omotoso was losing the fight, but for Castano to have really made an impression on a weekend featuring far bigger names than his, he needed to score a dazzling knockout. An injury stoppage over a guy who had already lost four fights as a professional may not move the needle enough to get him a title shot, but Castano is definitely a guy to monitor moving forward.
Cancio Rebounds, Defeats Salka
Rod Salka lost again. This time, the man the Internet mockingly calls “Rod the God” fell to Alex Saucedo, the former WBO super lightweight champion who was looking to bounce back from his first professional loss to Maurice Hooker about a year ago.
Saucedo landed a beautiful left hook to the body off an outside slip that dropped Salka for good in the first round. The referee then stopped the fight, which upset Salka since he figured he was going to get up and keep fighting. Either way, it was a nice bounce-back win for Saucedo and another stoppage loss for Salka.
Crolla Ends Career in Decision Win
Anthony Crolla won a majority 95-95, 98-92 and 97-93 decision over Frank Urquiaga in his hometown of Manchester, England, then immediately retired at age 33.
Crolla held the WBA lightweight title for a while in 2016 but had been faltering lately, with two losses to Jorge Linares in 2016 and 2017 and a knockout loss to Vasiliy Lomachenko in April.
Taylor Becomes Two-Weight Champion
Already holding four world titles at 135 pounds, Ireland’s Katie Taylor beat WBO 140-pound champion Christina Linardatou via a unanimous 96-94, 97-93, 97-93 decision, making the 33-year-old a two-weight world champion.
Taylor, 15-0, boxed well early but tired late, which is not a great sign given her age and the types of names -- Cecilia Braekhus and Amanda Serrano -- she has talked about fighting in the near future.
Debuting Holyfield Nets Easy First-Round TKO
Evander Holyfield’s son, Evan Holyfield, had an easy knockout win in his professional debut.
There was not much to the fight, and the referee clearly did not want it to go on much longer despite Holyfield’s opponent -- the 0-1 Nick Winstead -- not being all that hurt. Still, it was a nice start for the super welterweight and son of a legend.
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