Boxing After Dark: Theater of the Expected

By Robert Ecksel on January 20, 2013
Boxing After Dark: Theater of the Expected
Garcia is a textbook fighter, as eloquent as they come nowadays. (Chris Farina/Top Rank)

There’s ample historical precedent for fighting through the pain. There might even be precedent for fighting when it’s hard to breathe…

“A boxing promise is like Confederate money, worthless and out of date.”—Joe Frazier

Saturday night at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, the tripleheader broadcast by HBO Boxing After Dark featured three title fights that were action-packed but noncompetitive.

Maybe we should expect nothing less. No promoter wants to risk his property. No network wants to risk its investment. But when a fight card is billed, properly as it turns out, as three championship fights, we’d also like for there to be championship competition to pump up the narrative.

In the first fight of the night, Rocky Martinez (26-2-1) defended his WBO super featherweight title against Juan Carlos Burgos (31-1). Burgos, fighting out of the blue corner in black trunks with multicolored trim, established early on that he was the superior boxer-puncher. He took charge by dictating the pace, landing the heavier shots, and going to the body so the head might die.

Martinez, fighting out of the red corner in blue trunks with red trim, fought as though his reputation, no less than his title, was on the line. He had his moments, for which we are grateful, but it was a sloppy performance as Burgos methodically broke his man down both physically and psychologically. At the bout’s end it was obvious that Burgos had punched the fight right out of his opponent. The reading of the scores, this once, was a formality.

But nothing is ever simple in boxing. It’s the one sport where up is down, black is white, good is bad, right is wrong, and art is commerce. Needless to say, so regularly does it occur, two of the three judges got it wrong, and one of the two judges got it very wrong. Waleska Roldan scored the fight correctly, 117-111for Burgos. John Signorile had it a114-114 draw, which might be acceptable during Christmas when the spirit of giving is in the air. But Tony Paolillo had it 112-116, inexplicably in favor of Martinez. We don’t as a rule advocating shooting of any kind, but just this once we’re willing to make an exception.

The fight was ruled a draw and Martinez undeservedly retained his title.

In the second fight of the night, WBA/IBO middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (25-0) successfully defended his title against the game but outclassed Gabriel Rosado (21-6). Golovkin, fighting out of the red corner in white trunks with green trim, looks like he’s all that he’s been cracked up to be. He may be just what the doctor ordered for our ailing sport. He has superb balance, heavy hands, and a serial killer instinct. Blend that holy trinity with a winning personality and boxing has someone to not only watch, but someone to admire.

Major props need to be given to Rosado. Fighting out of the blue corner in blue trunks with red, white and blue trim, he gave it his all and then some. Golovkin drew first blood in round two, second blood in round three, and third, fourth and fifth blood as the fight progressed. When the fight was finally stopped at the end of round seven, Rosado’s face was his red badge of courage, a mask of red death. It was, of course, only blood. Bleeding is the least of a boxer’s concerns. But HBO is a family network and as such embraces family values or some variation thereof. There is True Blood and there is TRUE BLOOD, and the two are worlds apart. But that said, in deference to the squeamish, there’s not an ounce of quit in Rosado. He moved up in weight to tangle with the best of the best while other bests of the best are avoiding GGG like the plague.

Let’s give a round of applause to Gabriel Rosado, loser and still champion.

In final fight of the night, Orlando Salido (39-12-2) defended his WBO featherweight title against budding superstar and #1 ranked Mikey Garcia (31-0). The 32-year-old Salido, fighting out of the red corner in black trunks trimmed with gold, was expected to give the 25-year-old all he could handle. But Garcia, fighting out of the blue corner in white trunks with blue trim, took the veteran and soon-to-be former champion to school.

Garcia is a textbook fighter, as eloquent as they come, the very embodiment of what it means to be a sweet scientist. He stays cool, calm and collected under any and all circumstances. His long arms and educated jab keep would-be pursuers like Salido at bay. But that’s not all. He can also punch and punch hard. Garcia dropped his opponent twice in round one, once in round three, and again in round four. Being that far down in the scorecards left Salido with little choice but to go for broke—and he did exactly that in round eight when he broke Garcia’s nose with what was ruled an accidental headbutt. There was much debate as whether the headbutt was in fact accidental or not. There was next to no debate as to whether the fight should be stopped.

In the post-fight interview, Mikey Garcia, looking a little worse for wear, spoke about the stoppage, as the crowd booed lustily in the background.

“It’s not as good a feeling as I might have had,” he said. “Accidents like this happen all the time. You’ve seen this shit. It’s accidental. I told him, ‘You gave me the opportunity to fight for your world title. I’m glad you gave me the opportunity. If you want that rematch—you fought your heart out, you’re a true warrior—I’ll give you that opportunity just like you gave me. It was an accidental headbutt. You didn’t intend for this to happen.’”

Garcia was gracious and generous. That should have been that. Max Kellerman would have been wise to leave well enough alone. But he was not, and he did not, and asked Garcia if he had broken his nose before.

“This is the first time. I fought with a broken thumb once. But it’s hard for me to breathe a little bit, so the referee and doctor came and took a look and said it’s broken. It’s not as painful as the headbutt, but it’s hard to breathe.”

I’m in front of a keyboard, not in the ring, and am not suggesting that Garcia should have continued fighting. That’s for him and his corner and the doctor and referee to decide. But there’s ample historical precedent for fighting through the pain. There might even be precedent for fighting when it’s hard to breathe. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s the feminization of boxing, as some have suggested, any more than it’s the feminization of masculinity itself. But it was an unsatisfying end to a not wholly satisfying night of boxing, and someone needs to tell it like it is.

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  1. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo (aka) Gimpel 06:34am, 01/22/2013

    raxman-Right on all counts….I still say JMM couldn’t have handled the three on those nights for the simple reason that for all his skills he wouldn’t have been strong enough mentally or physically and as a result there more than likely wouldn’t have been any call for a fourth go round…..that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

  2. raxman 08:04pm, 01/21/2013

    irish - the pacquiao that clobbered mosley? the mosley that in his two previous fights had been schooled by mayweather and got a gift draw vs mora? as for cotto and margarito those guys are stylistically perfect for pac. even now put pac in with someone that comes straight at him and he’ll jump in all day and land 4punch combos on them but (amongst other things) pac’s lack of a jab means he has a load of trouble against fighters that can step in a direction other than straight forward - oh and cotto and margarito fought pac at a weight drain catch weight which didnt hurt either. so yeah jmm back then would’ve been the same trouble for pac he’s been every other fight
    and didnt you hear both fighters passed the post fight drug test

  3. Don from Prov 01:12pm, 01/21/2013

    I agree with your first assessment—or intinct—Bodyshots
    The Garcia family was a little over-eager to get to the cards, IMO

    A few years ago Bute was winning every second of every round, until the 12th
    And Sergio Martinez was reminded that it ain’t over until it’s over

  4. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo (aka) Gimpel 01:10pm, 01/21/2013

    raxman-Here’s a pop quiz for you….if the pre Memo Hernandez JMM was in the ring instead of Manny on the nights Pacquiao clobbered Mosley, Margarito, and Cotto would he have prevailed against any or all? Answer: Heck no….most likely he would have been zip for three…furthermore these fights would have sent him into retirement years earlier and a fourth fight with Manny would have been the last thought on anyone’s mind except maybe Arum’s!

  5. the thresher 06:16pm, 01/20/2013

    raxman, wait til he sends Geale down under. Feeling me on this?

    :)

  6. Bodyshots 03:09pm, 01/20/2013

    i forgot to consider a glaring factor about last night’s stoppage. it was a game-changing headbutt not legal punch that broke Garcia’s nose. combined with the fact that Garcia was decking Salido at will and the stoppage seems perfectly respectable. for whatever reason, i found myself questioning Garcia’s grit(?) for not continuing like a Marquez but the nature of the punch makes it a completely different situation. the gentleman-fighter from Oxnard may proceed with his professional integrity intact.

  7. raxman 02:57pm, 01/20/2013

    ted - you do love jumping on board these power punchers before theý have proven themselves against worthy opposition. bute. bam bam rios. and now GGG who although he looks the goods he’s doing it in one of, if not the, weakest divisions in boxing. he can beat all the guys you mention and it won’t prove a thing - he needs to get his ass 8 pounds north and fight some live opponents. the guys is a former amateur world champion and olympic silver medalist and 25 fights into his pro career he’s fighting gabriel rosado????? come on.

  8. the thresher 12:34pm, 01/20/2013

    “When the flu struck Golovkin earlier this week—rendering the champion bedridden as late as Thursday—talks of cancelling Saturday’s fight began in private. Yet Golovkin’s condition improved after he ate dinner following Friday’s weigh-in and the fight went on. Golovkin is a seek-and-destroy fighter at his best in attack. While Rosado initially stuck to the game plan of unpredictable movement and keeping his back off the ropes, the challenger enjoyed his best moments when he put his punches together in the fourth round and had Golovkin moving backwards. Yet the striking disparity in power—think light arms vs. weapons-grade—ultimately spelled Rosado’s doom. “It’s true that I was sick this week, but there’s no excuses,” Golovkin said afterward. “I felt good with my power and I wore him down in the fifth and sixth. This was not a statement for me, but it’s a win.”

    Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mma/news/20130120/madison-square-garden-boxing-tripleheader-gennady-golovkin/#ixzz2IY9cvGdD

  9. the thresher 11:45am, 01/20/2013

    Sandro, first he will dispatch Pirog and then Quillin. Then he will be ready to retire Martinez.

  10. SANDRO CAVASIN 11:07am, 01/20/2013

    I’d love to see a golovkin vs martinez right now but isn’t gonna happen, great performance by the russian, I’m a martinez fan so if he could in the near future beat this guy he’ll become one of the greatest but beat this GGG won’t be a walk in the park.

  11. THE THRESHER 10:25am, 01/20/2013

    BTW, GREAT JOB ROBERT!!

  12. the thresher 10:24am, 01/20/2013

    I got splattered by Rosado’s blood all the way up here in Northern NH. Every time GGG landed a punch, major blood spurting damage was rendered. GGG is what being heavy-handed is all about. He is truly a killing maching, but a likable and affable one. That makes him doubly dangerous. The quintessential baby-faced assasin.

    Meanwhile, Max’s attempt at an interview places him further down into The Boxing Interviewers Hall of Shame. Can someone like Merchant give him a few pointers?

  13. Bodyshots 09:37am, 01/20/2013

    as the writer stated, inexplicable. at least in any official or credible sense. i’ll leave it to the conspiracy-theorists to speculate about the rest but i will continue to disregard the “official” scorecards while they continue to make a mockery of my favorite sport. a superb performance by Burgos, bogus scorecards notwithstanding, and a gritty performance by Martinez as well. he faded but never truly wilted. meanwhile, i’ve also become somewhat mystified by these gentleman-fighters from Oxnard who love and live to fight another day(?). in the same situation, Marquez disregarded the scorecard courtesy and proceeded to finish the job v. Jaca. better? worse? don’t know but fight-fans always get their money’s worth with Marquez.

  14. Rick 01:04am, 01/20/2013

    The scoring of the Burgos-Martinez fight was atrocious. I hope he can afford to file an appeal though it will do little good. It’s stuff like that that keeps happening over and over and over that makes one wonder if boxing is truly as corrupt as it would seem. Of course they will get it wrong from time to time but it’s gotten downright ridiculous. When will enough be enough? Since HBO and Showtime holds the purse strings they should put a little more pressure on these so called commissions to clean this mess up. Cause without their money and tv spots people would lose a lot of money. And people wonder why athletes take up other sports as opposed to boxing. Why bust your ass and work hard for something just for some old creep at ringside that’s most certainly on the take to just hand your just due to someone knowing they will never be held accountable. Sorry for the rant but it just disgusts me.

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