The Week That Was (April 16-22, 2013)

By Teron Briggs on April 22, 2013
The Week That Was (April 16-22, 2013)
Canelo made his shots count as he landed 43% of his power punches. (Casino/Showtime)

At the bout’s end, Canelo made it clear who he wants to fight next. “How many times do I have to say it? Mayweather is who I want…”

Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas, USA

Canelo gives Trout a boxing lesson to remember at the Alamo

“He shocked us, I was prepared for a different fighter,” Trout said. “I tried to pressure the action and change things up, but he kept changing.”

Austin Trout wasn’t the only one shocked by the performance of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on Saturday night in front of 38,000 jubilant and adoring fans at the Almodome in San Antonio, Texas. The still only 22-year-old freckled face, red-haired junior middleweight WBC and newly crowned WBA champion turned in the best performance of his career as he improved his pristine record to 42-0-1 (30 KOs) with a unanimous decision victory over the previously unbeaten Austin Trout (26-1, 14 KOs).

Canelo Alvarez has accomplished a number of things in his short career including becoming the youngest junior middleweight champion in the history of the division, at the ripe old age of 20 in 2011, and defeating a number of former champions. In racking up those victories he claimed the scalp of future Hall of Famer Shane Mosley and former undisputed welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir. However, boxing observers argued that the best fighters he faced, Mosley, Baldomir and Kermit Cintron, were past their prime. They claimed his other notable wins, like those against Matthew Hatton and Josesito Lopez, were against fighters were too small to compete with him. Despite his accomplishments, the verdict was still out on whether or not Canelo was truly an elite fighter. Using an educated jab, precise yet hard punching and surprisingly effective defense, Canelo clearly earned the victory over a highly skilled young champion, whom many had chosen to defeat him.

“Austin Trout is a difficult fighter, but little by little I figured out how to fight him,” a proud Canelo told the press after the fight, as he sported the WBA belt he captured from the Los Cruces native. Arguably, the most surprising aspect of Canelo’s victory was his ability to make in-fight adjustments against a fighter many assumed had the higher ring IQ. Though Trout threw over 300 more punches than the pride of Mexico, Canelo made his shots count as he landed 43% of his power punches. The fighters took turns winning rounds early in the fight as each attempted to establish his dominance. Most of the action took place in the middle of the ring, as the two men engaged in a fight that was at times a barnburner and at others an intriguing chess match. The biggest knock on Canelo’s fight game prior to the bout was the belief that he eschewed defense, in lieu of showcasing a dynamic offense. Surprise, surprise, Canelo actually has a little Willie Pep in him. The Mexican slugger used some excellent upper body movement to avoid a number of Trout’s power punches, as the former WBA champion was only able to land 27% of his big shots. Trout’s most effective defense turned out to be his offense, as his continued onslaught of punches forced Canelo to focus on his own defense.

In the seventh round of a very close fight, Canelo landed the punch of the night when he connected with a bazooka-like straight hand that knocked Trout back a few steps before falling forward. It was the first time in his career Trout was down. “He caught me with a good shot,” Trout would say afterwards.  It wasn’t the only “good shot” he was caught with as Canelo stunned him a few other times with some stiff left hooks. Over the final rounds of the fight the two traded hard shots as each man earnestly attempted to gain the upper hand. When the final scores were read, no one was surprised to see Canelo awarded the decision 116-111, 115-112 and 118-109. Due to the WBC policy of allowing open scoring in championship bouts in Texas, the fighters and viewers at home were made aware of the official scorecards after the fourth and eighth rounds.

I won’t take away from this excellent fight by going on a long drawn-out rant about how much open scoring takes away from watching a fight, but I will say this much. Open scoring does not prevent inept or corrupt scoring, as Saturday night proved, and it unfairly plays a role in how the fighters perform. After the eighth round, it was announced that Canelo was up on all of the cards, with judge Stanley Christodoulou somehow having him pitching a shutout. For the final four rounds of the fight both corners knew the position their fighter was in and that undoubtedly shaped the instructions that were given to the fighters between rounds. Since Canelo knew he was up big after eight rounds, don’t you think his people told him to fight cautiously so that he wouldn’t give away the fight? Christodoulou obviously had a horrible card but whether we were informed of it after four rounds, eight or twelve—there was nothing that could be done about it. Instead, all of the suspense was removed from the reading of the scores at the end of a fight that everyone but Christodoulou thought was close.

Austin Trout has nothing to hang his head about. He lost to one of the sports’ most talented fighters in a close fight where a few adjustments might have given him the win. With Al Hayman behind him, Trout will fight for a title again. If there are any doubts about who Canelo wants next he made that clear after the fight, “How many times do I have to say it? Mayweather is who I want.” If Mayweather gets past Robert Guerrero on May 4th hopefully we’ll see Mayweather vs. Alvarez in the fall.

Omar Figueroa destroys Abner Cotto in one round

Budding lightweight star Omar Figueroa (21-0, 17 KOs) steamrolled the previously undefeated Abner Cotto (16-0, 7 KOs) in one explosive round of action.

Texas native Figueroa entered the ring to huge roars from the massive crowd on hand, and left to even more cheers after he scored a shockingly easy one-round knockout. The hard punching prospect had stopped seven of his opponents in the first round and 16 of the first 20 within three rounds, but 25-year-old Abner Cotto of Caguas, Puerto Rico was suppose to be different. The second cousin of boxing superstar Miguel Cotto, Abner had a decorated amateur career and a perfect record as a pro. Unfortunately for Cotto, his credentials didn’t impress Figueroa and he treated him no differently than he treated his first 20 opponents, charging at him from the sound of the opening bell.

Figueroa landed 20 of his 44 power punches in the round as he dropped Cotto twice, both with left hooks, and forced the referee to step in and save the man from Puerto Rican.

Cotto and his people were certainly shocked by the way this fight ended and must reassess his level of competition at this point in his career. For Figueroa, to say the sky is the limit would be an understatement.

Madison Square Garden Theater, New York, New York, USA

British heavyweight Tyson Fury makes his American debut in style

It was far from easy Saturday afternoon on NBC, but the pride of the UK,Tyson Fury (21-0, 15 KOs) picked himself off the canvas to record a huge knockout victory over former cruiserweight champion Steve “USS” Cunningham (25-6, 12 KOs) in seven exciting rounds.

To say Tyson Fury talked a lot leading up to the fight is like saying Linsday Lohan has issues with drugs, you can’t possibly overstate it. “There’s nobody that can beat me,” the big Irishman said. “If Steve Cunningham can beat me I will retire tomorrow evening.” And Fury had more brash comments to make before his American debut. As a matter of fact, he was still talking midway through the first round, as his imposing size and reach allowed him to take an early lead over the man he was six inches taller than and outweighed by 40 pounds. 

In the second round, Cunningham finally made Fury shut his big mouth. He cracked the 6-foot-9 heavyweight upside his head with a huge overhand right that dropped the behemoth flat on his back. Though the crowd at The Theater at Madison Square Garden was pro-Fury, loud chants of “USA, USA” could now be heard throughout the arena. The previously high spirited crowd was now as hushed as Lakers’ fans were when 5x champion Kobe Bryant tore his ACL a couple of weeks ago.

Cunningham, a natural cruiserweight with only 12 knockouts in his career, wasn’t supposed to be able to hurt a man Fury’s size. Sensing he had gotten his opponent in trouble, Cunningham tried to go for the kill but was unable to land the coup de grace. Fury made some slight adjustments, and proceeded to lean on the much smaller man in an attempt to tire him out. Cunningham still had his moments, as he rocked Fury with a straight right hand as the big man marched forward in the fourth round. A point deduction from Fury for a headbutt in the fifth round turned out to be inconsequential.  The fighters exchanged big shots over the next few rounds, as Cunningham’s speed allowed him to land his fair share of blows and Fury’s size allowed him to absorb them. By the seventh round, Cunningham was starting to noticeably slow down, and to his credit, Fury stepped it up. The end of the fight started with a gut wrenching right to Cunningham’s midsection that forced the smaller man against the ropes and into the corner. As Fury once again draped his 250-pound body on top of Cunningham, he ripped off a hybrid right hook/uppercut that dropped USS like a handful of wet napkins. Eddie Cotton administered a count as Cunningham attempted to rise, but the courageous former Navy servicemen simply didn’t have the strength to get to his feet.

The knockout was so good that it made ESPN SportsCenter’s top 10 plays.

It was a sad ending for a warrior like Cunningham who simply doesn’t have enough size to compete with the top heavyweights in the division. Where he goes from here, his second consecutive loss and fourth in his last five fights, is anyone’s guess. Say what you want about Fury, but he put on quite a show, which is rarity among heavyweights these days. With the win, he becomes the IBF #2 ranked heavyweight and will now face the man rated at #1, Kubrat Pulev. They will fight for the right to get knocked out by IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko.

Curtis Stevens uses hooks, not kryptonite to beat Superman

“The perils of overwork are slight compared with the dangers of inactivity.”—Thomas Edison

Fighting in front of his hometown crowd, Brooklyn, New York, native son Curtis “Showtime” Stevens (24-3, 17 KOs) notched his third consecutive victory with a satisfying eight-round unanimous decision over middleweight gatekeeper Derrick “Superman” Findley (20-10, 13 KOs). It marked the second time Stevens has won this year and as hard as it is to believe, the first time he’s fought twice in a calendar year since 2009.

Although he previously fought at super middleweight, it seems that the 5-foot-7-inch Stevens found a home in the 160-pound division. Stevens and Findley apparently decided to leave their jabs in the dressing room, as the two evenly sized fighters went toe-to-toe for several rounds with Stevens usually giving more than he received. In the fourth round, Stevens landed several vicious hooks to the head which stunned but never hurt Superman. The iron chinned Findley, who has never even been down as a professional, refused to let Stevens become the first to do it. Though he was somewhat competitive, the man nicknamed Superman clearly didn’t have the talent to keep up with the once very promising fighter from Brooklyn.

Findley was a gatekeeper before the fight and will return to being a gatekeeper after it. Stevens is now ranked in the top 10 at middleweight by the WBC and IBF and if he continues to stay active and win, he could conceivably get a title shot before the year is out.

Wembley Arena, Wembley, London, United Kingdom

Cleverly routs Krasniqi to retain his WBO belt but fails to excite

WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly (26-0, 12 KOs) has been clamoring for awhile for the opportunity to fight living legend Bernard Hopkins. Humdrum victories like the one he recorded over the pedestrian Robin Krasniqi (39-3, 15 KOs) at Wembley Arena makes it difficult for anyone to argue that a man completely unknown in the States deserves the right to face Hopkins.

As the scores indicated, Cleverly dominated Krasniqi. Two judges had him winning 120-108, while the third judge scored it 119-109. Cleverly’s Promoter, Frank Warren, said it best when he said, “He (Cleverly) was in a bit of a comfort zone at all times.” Krasniqi didn’t have enough offense, or the kind of repertoire to unnerve Cleverly and the champion never attempted to stop his inferior foe. So viewers on EPIX in the United States were forced to watch him toy with the challenger for 12 rather dull rounds. There were no knockdowns and neither man was seriously hurt during the bout.

Cleverly has a mandatory due against another questionable opponent, Jurgen Brahmer. But his team wants him to face a high profile fighter against Bernard Hopkins? I don’t think boxing fans anywhere are holding their breath waiting for that one.

Dereck Chisora looks bad in comeback win

Returning to the ring for the first time since getting starched in five rounds in July of 2012 by David Haye, Dereck Chisora (16-4, 10 KOs) scored an easy but difficult to watch ninth round TKO over no-hoper Hector Alfredo Avila (20-13-1, 13 KOs). I won’t be too hard on Chisora for his performance because in his three fights prior to this he faced the cream of the heavyweight crop—Robert Helenius, Vitali Klitschko and David Haye. Hopefully when his level of competition rises, so will his performances.

Arena Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico

Juanma Lopez crushes late sub in two rounds

Former WBO super bantamweight and featherweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez (33-2, 30 KOs) scored his 30th career knockout, as he continues his march on the road back to relevance following two devastating losses to Orlando Salido. He scored a knockout of late sub Eugenio Lopez (31-24, 25 KOs) in the second round.

Tropicana Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA

Fortuna knocks Zamudio out cold

On ESPN Friday Night Fights, Javier Fortuna (22-0, 16 KOs) showed viewers that propping up a fighter’s record on paper only sets him up for a terrible failure. Fortuna won the fight but lost the war as he was stripped of the WBA interim featherweight title because he failed to make weight. Unfortunately for Miguel Zamudio (25-1-1, 13 KOs), not only did he lose the fight, he also lost consciousness. Early in the first round, a huge left hand dropped Zamudio, who had accumulated his sterling record by feasting on bums in Mexico. Fortuna wasn’t done though, because with about 1:10 remaining in the opening round he landed a sick left hand that stretched Zamudio out cold and sent him to the hospital.

What a punch by Fortuna! That’s the way you’re suppose to take care of an overmatched opponent. Hopefully going forward he will be matched tougher.

Follow Teron Briggs on Twitter @teronbriggs.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

2013-04-20 Tyson Fury vs Steve Cunningham

2013-04-20 Curtis Stevens vs Derrick Findley

2013-04-20 Nathan Cleverly vs Robin Krasniqi

2013-04-20 Dereck Chisora vs Hector Alfredo Avila

2013-04-20 Juan Manuel Lopez vs Eugenio Lopez

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  1. bk don 06:42am, 04/24/2013

    Thanks for the kind words Frankie, Matt and Ted, they’re much appreciated. There are a number of very good writers on this site.
    The Watson Twins themselves are probably pretty useless however their fathers friend and business partner, Al Hayman, is certainly one of the most powerful men in the sport. I don’t believe Trout would’ve gotten a shot at Cotto or Canelo if it wasn’t for his backing and ties to Golden Boy/Showtime.

  2. Matt Mosley 12:01pm, 04/23/2013

    Matt from Yorkshire. No worries, Ted.
    I hope i get to be your age and still be as sharp.  :)

  3. Ted 11:53am, 04/23/2013

    But are you matt from yorkshire or a matt miller?  Or Matt Rogers? I have 12 Matts on my list not counting my son.  I get this screwed up all the time.

    Dementia is a bitch!

  4. Matt Mosley 11:49am, 04/23/2013

    Ted, you have my email address. You send me an email to your articles every week!  :)

  5. Ted 11:21am, 04/23/2013

    Matt Mosley, they are Sam Watson’s sons. Sam works for Heyman but I’m not sure what he does either—except looking like a geek. If you send me your email address, I will send you two photos of the “Annoying Watson Twins” (as they are known) that will shake you up and make you stand up and take serious notice.

  6. Matt Mosley 10:40am, 04/23/2013

    Is that what they are called, “the Watson twins”?
    Hate ‘em. They have the kind of faces that you just want to punch, or at the very least slap - hard.
    The very defintion of hangers-on.
    WTF is their tie to boxing anyway????
    I wouldn’t trust them or their rat-faced father as far as i could throw ‘em.
    And i agree that dumb skeleton face isn’t cool, as the guy who wears it thinks it is, it’s just dumb and childlike.
    Grow up morons.
    Sorry, but all of those mentioned are the type of people i can’t stand:
    Phonies, trying so hard to be cool.
    BTW, nice article Mr Briggs.  :)

  7. kid vegas 08:13am, 04/23/2013

    Teron, Trout needs to shed himself of the Watson Twins who are the most useless morons on TV, but the Mexican skeleton-clown who smokes cigars comes pretty close. Trout will come back as you point out but Saul Alvarez now can pick and choose and wait out Mayweather.

  8. Ted 04:23pm, 04/22/2013

    Thanks Teron. CRISP AS USUAL

  9. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 12:22pm, 04/22/2013

    Teron Briggs-Clean as a whistle reporting as always! Which reminds me….God Bless Danny Jacobs who is cancer free at this time….but enough with the setups already….at least get someone who can fight back so we can see just how far back Danny has come…these are much less talented fighters (human beings) on the receiving end of his cracking hard punches and they deserve a little compassion too!

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