The Week That Was (Dec. 2-8, 2013)

By Teron Briggs on December 9, 2013
The Week That Was (Dec. 2-8, 2013)
Kong looked more like a damsel in distress than a feared beast. (Chris Farina/Top Rank)

After a scintillating co-main event, Rigondeaux and Agbeko gave the few remaining fans at the ballroom little to cheer about…

Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA

Rigondeaux pitches a perfect shutout through 12 rounds

Call him boxing’s version of Sandy Koufax. Undefeated WBA and WBO super bantamweight titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux (13-0, 8 KOs) shutout former champion Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko (29-5, 22 KOs) en route to a 12-round whitewash. In the main event of a HBO tripleheader from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, former Cuban amateur standout Rigondeaux toyed with and outclassed former two-time titleholder Agbeko. The final judges’ scorecards had the champion winning all 12 rounds of the bout by identical scores of 120-108.

After a scintillating co-main event, Rigondeaux and Agbeko gave the few remaining fans at the ballroom little to cheer about. It was the second fight in a row that the Cuban made a world-class competitor look like a novice, after he widely outpointed former titleholder Nonito Donaire last April. It marked the fourth loss in the last six fights for Agbeko, who twice held the IBF bantamweight belt.

Few boxing observers gave the Ghanaian-born Agbeko any chance to beat one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. The biggest question heading into this contest was could he make it a fun and competitive bout. At the end of the night, the resounding answer was no. King Kong looked more like a damsel in distress than a feared beast.

Rigondeaux’s nimble footwork, quick hands and ring generalship were simply too much for the 33-year-old fighter now residing in the Bronx, NY. Round one of the fight resembled rounds two through 12 as they featured the southpaw Rigondeaux hitting Agbeko with multiple shots, then simply stepping to the side to avoid Agbeko’s few counterpunches. The Bronx fighter looked as helpless as the Chicago Cubs in 1965 when legendary Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax retired 27 consecutive batters without allowing anyone to reach base.

Agbeko’s performance, the worst in his 15-year career, was historically bad. Somehow, he managed to land only 48 punches over 12 rounds of inaction. According to it was the second lowest total for a 12-round title fight in the 28-year history of CompuBox punch stats. I sat ringside for the fight and I don’t remember Rigondeaux getting hit with one flush shot all night. There were probably a little over 1,500 fans at the start of the fight, over half of which left by the eighth round when it became clear Agbeko had no chance to win.

This might have been the last shot at a world title for the man who began his career in 1996 and won his first belt in 2000. If it was, Agbeko has given us some memorable performances including his 2009 successful title defense against Vic Darchinyan and his 2010 victory over Yonnhy Perez to regain the belt he lost to him in their previous bout. Fans either marvel at Rigondeaux’s supreme talent or complain about the lack of action in his fights. Both camps have their points. Rigondeaux is certainly one of the top three defensive fighters in the sport and because of that his opponents are often clueless on how to attack him. Rigondeaux talked of giving Nonito Donaire a rematch, but based on how Donaire has looked recently few fans have much interest in seeing that fight. Rigondeaux’s promoter, Top Rank, is going to have a hard time finding opponents who can engage in competitive and fan-friendly fights with the Cuban.

Kirkland brutalizesTapia before stopping him in six breathtaking rounds

In one of the most vicious and barbaric fights of the year, James “Mandingo Warrior” Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs) violently stopped previously undefeated Glen “Jersey Boy” Tapia (20-1, 12 KOs). Kirkland vs. Tapia was as highly anticipated as the recent return of LA Lakers injured superstar Kobe Bryant and the fight that had fans salivating over it exceeded those lofty expectations.

From the moment this fight was announced a little over a two months ago I knew that I had to cover it, despite the fact that a major boxing promotion was taking place the same night at the Barclays Center, just minutes from my house. Kirkland’s brawling style has earned him a reputation as one of the sport’s most thrilling combatants. Tapia, though he had never fought on the world-class level in his five-year career, had displayed a tendency to mix it up with his opponents.

The Jersey Boy, born and raised in Passaic, didn’t have the support of the whole state behind him, but it certainly felt like it based on the raucous atmosphere they created on the Boardwalk. Tapia entered to a standing ovation from the boisterous crowd that rarely found a dull moment to sit down during the fight.

After a nearly two-year hiatus from the ring, due to promotional issues and another run in with the law, Kirkland showed no ring rust at all. From the opening bell, he pounced on the 23-year-old Tapia, attacking him like a wild dog going after a cub. However, Tapia won the first round on all three judges’ cards with accurate punching as he too fought like he wanted to end things early. The fever pitch of the crowd never let up in the round as the two slugged it out like two street fighters.

In round two, Kirkland took control. His punch output increased as he threw rapid-fire combinations, punctuating them with booming power shots that all seemed to connect. Chants of “Jersey Boy” rang out through the arena but the vocal crowd could do little to help the hometown kid. A stinging straight left hand badly hurt Tapia before the end of the round.

Though Tapia still had success landing his shots, the Mandingo Warrior was simply relentless. He continued to throw devastating head and body shots that repeatedly hurt Tapia, who refused to back down.

The subsequent rounds became more and more one-sided as Tapia’s right eye began to close and Kirkland fought like the Energizer Bunny, somehow averaging more than 100 punches thrown per round. Unfortunately for Tapia, by the fourth round he was starting to unravel faster than the 2013 Washington Redskins. The ringside physician checked in on the Jersey Boy after the fourth and fifth rounds as the amount of punishment he was absorbing had become alarming. It would all end in a flurry of unanswered punches in the sixth round, which forced referee Steve Smoger to literally jump between the fighters to stop the battering, just as Kirkland landed one final wicked shot that knocked the life out of Tapia’s body.

After the savage fight Tapia was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons and was released shortly thereafter. Hopefully the beating that he took isn’t the type a fighter can’t recover from because Tapia seems to possess a bright future in the sport. For James Kirkland, despite all of the issues he has outside of the ring, his arrests over the years and the countless headlines he garnered, he remains one of the most exciting fighters in boxing today. With tough-as-nails trainer Ann Wolfe in his corner, the super welterweight is undefeated, with his one career loss coming when they briefly parted ways. Afterwards, Kirkland stated, “I came back and redeemed myself. I’ll fight anyone.”

Macklin wins humdrum 10-round affair over Russ

Former unsuccessful three-time title challenger Matthew Macklin (30-5, 20 KOs) scored an unimpressive, unanimous decision victory over unknown late replacement Lamar Russ (14-1, 7 KOs) in the opening fight of the HBO Boxing After Dark tripleheader.

It was the first fight for Macklin after his crushing third round knockout loss to WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin in June of this year. Russ served as a last minute replacement for Willie Nelson, who pulled out of the fight due to an elbow injury.

It was Russ’ first and possibly last appearance on HBO. By the middle rounds of this fight, possibly content with his efforts in the early rounds, he seemed to stop trying to win. Russ opened up a cut over Macklin’s left eye, but after some rough early moments, the Irishmen dominated the fight. Macklin didn’t land any game changing punches in the late rounds but landed more than enough sharp jabs and glancing power shots to win. At the end of the 10 rounds the judges gave Macklin a unanimous decision victory by scores of 96-94, 98-92 and 97-93.

Macklin kept his faint title hopes alive with the win, but he needs to beat another top contender before getting a shot at a belt, despite his promoter Lou DiBella insisting, “The only fight that makes sense is Felix Sturm versus Matthew Macklin.”

Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York, USA

The Magic Man makes Judah disappear at the Barclays

In the battle for Brooklyn bragging rights, Bensonhurst’s Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi (33-5, 7 KOs) easily handled Brownsville’s Zab “Super” Judah (42-9, 29 KOs) to win a unanimous decision by scores of 116-111and 117-110 twice. Either Malignaggi turned back the hands of time and put on a performance for the ages, or he beat up an aged fighter.

Both fighters entered the contest after losing their previous fights to world champions at the same arena. Malignaggi lost his WBA welterweight belt to Adrien Broner in June of this year and Judah failed to dethrone WBA/WBC junior welterweight titleholder Danny Garcia in April.

Though Judah was the first southpaw Paulie had faced in almost seven years, you couldn’t tell by how effortlessly the Magic Man avoided the former undisputed champion’s vaunted left hand. Malignaggi, who many thought had lost a stepped in recent lackluster showings, displayed the kind of nifty footwork that might have the producers for Dancing with Stars calling him soon. He didn’t run, which he has been accused of in recent bouts, he simply outmaneuvered a slow and lethargic Judah.

A second round flash knockdown from a straight left hand might’ve been the only bright spot of the night for Judah. Even that came with a bit of a caveat, as it appeared Malignaggi tripped over Judah’s foot, after being clipped with a punch. The part-time Showtime commentator, who’s never at a loss for words, bitterly complained about the knockdown ruling though his cries fell on deaf ears. With that aside, Malignaggi dominated the fight, raking over Judah with pinpoint precision as he targeted his head and body. Whenever Judah would try to set his feet, to position himself to unload his power, the Magic Man would disappear right before his eyes. “He stayed outside with his jab and he kept his distance good,” said Judah afterwards. “I couldn’t really pick his timing up.”

Malignaggi, who has only seven knockouts in 38 fights, stalked Judah like a man with the punching power of former Brooklyn heavyweight champ Riddick Bowe. Malignaggi’s trainer, Eric Brown, summed up the fight when he told his charge in-between rounds “This kid (Judah) aint got nothing for you.”

If Zab Judah were a Brooklyn alley cat then this setback to Malignaggi should’ve been his last stand since it was the ninth loss of his career. Judah either didn’t see the openings to capitalize on, or at 36 years old and with tons of mileage on his fighting odometer, he didn’t have the reflexes to act on them. The Magic Man entered the ring with new partner Al Haymon’s associate Sam Watson and left with a number of attractive future options. “I’m looking for the bigger fights,” he said. “I want a fight with that bitch ass Broner. Whoever brings the most money. There’s a lot of potential. My personal preference is the winner of Broner vs. Maidana fight.”

Shawn Porter pulls off an upset and takes Devon Alexander’s IBF title

“I think I was able to control the fight with my experience and because I’m the bigger guy,” Porter said. “We did what we had to do. The opportunity was there and I stepped up to the plate.” Porter (23-0 14 KOs) stepped up to the plate and took it from Devon Alexander (25-2, 14 KOs), just like he took his IBF welterweight title in this co-main event on Showtime Championship Boxing.

The Akron, Ohio native successfully captured his first world title, in his first fight of significance and handed Alexander a huge setback.

Porter dictated the action by physically mauling and manhandling the technically superior Alexander. Porter consistently beat the St. Louis native to the punch and never allowing him to get comfortable in the ring. Alexander was rocked in the third round by a number of hard right hands from Porter, who had the champ cut and bleeding in the fourth round. An accidental head-butt opened up a gash over Porter’s eye, but the undefeated new titleholder remained undaunted in his pursuit of victory. The judges scored the bout in Porter’s favor 116-112 twice and 115-113.

“I am disappointed,” said Alexander after the bout. “I didn’t follow the game plan as much as I should have. He was rushing in and I didn’t capitalize on that.” Alexander was at one time mentioned as possible future opponent for Floyd Mayweather. This loss eliminates him from that discussion. Porter certainly had his best outing as a professional and could face mandatory challenger Kell Brook of Sheffield, England next.

Lara wins WBA super welterweight title over Trout in boring fight

In a sight as cringe worthy as the 2013 Brooklyn Nets, who call the Barclays Arena home, Erislandy Lara (19-1, 12 KOs) retained his WBA title over former titleholder Austin Trout (26-2, 14 KOs) over 12 lopsided rounds.

The less said about this fight the better. Just know that these are two of the best super welterweights in the world, but unfortunately their respective styles made this a horrible matchup. Both Trout and Lara are above average southpaw counterpunchers, with decent power who have beaten top-level competition in recent years. There was little expected in terms of action when this bout was put together and it ended up displaying as many fireworks as Easter. That wasn’t a typo.

After a fun fight to open the televised portion of the show, more on that later, the crowd began booing this bout from the opening round. That booing would seemingly only subside when the fans dozed off during the contest, which lasted 12 rounds but seemed more like 112. The fight was fought in the (718) area code of Brooklyn, but Trout’s punches seemed to land in the (516) area code, which is Long Island for you non New Yorkers.

Lara was too quick and too savvy for Trout, who looked like he was punching in the East River. The two highlights of the fight for fans at home were the Showtime cameras close up of the still attractive Brooklyn born actress Rosie Perez, sitting ringside, and Lara’s 11th round knockdown. Trout ate a sharp straight hand that literally dropped him face first to canvas. He would recover to make it to the final bell at the end of the 12th round. The scorecards favored Lara 118-109 and 117-110 twice. The fight wasn’t that close.

It was the second straight loss for Trout, who dropped his title to superstar Canelo Alvarez in April of this year. Though Trout wasn’t competitive in this fight, as a recent titleholder, he should be able to get another somewhat marquee fight in the near future. Lara knows what he wants next, “I dominated Trout and I dropped him. Now we have to make a fight that everyone wants to see which is me against Canelo!”

Bika outslugs a game Dirrell to remain WBC super middleweight champ

Rising from an early knockdown, Cameroon-born and current Australian resident, Sakio “The Scorpion” Bika (32-5-3, 21 KOs), barely escaped Brooklyn with his title after his fight with Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell (26-0, 22 KOs) was declared a draw.

Bika has been in the spotlight for a number of years serving as the B-side opponent to a number of top name fighters including Andre Ward and Lucian Bute. Dirrell, despite being named the mandatory for Bika’s WBC title after winning 26 of his first 27 fights, was the unknown entering the fight. The best opponent he had faced in his career was Anthony Hanshaw, who went 12 rounds with a 40-year-old Roy Jones.

Dirrell made the most of his first world title shot. He raced out to an early lead and scored a fifth round knockdown of Bika that almost ended the bout. The Dog was as composed as a Saint Bernard in the face of Bika’s wild and unorthodox attack. Bika smiled and laughed in the first few rounds as Dirrell’s right hands repeatedly peppered his face.

Maybe the knockdown served as a wake-up call for Bika, because he was a different man over the second half of the fight. Though at times fought dirty, he had a point taken away in the 11th and was warned in the 12th round that he was an infraction away from being disqualified, his attack proved effective. Bika literally put his head down and marched into Dirrell’s chest, hitting the Flint, Michigan native with some blistering body shots and hooks. Dirrell appeared to ham it up in the final round, thinking that he had won the fight. Only one of the judges agreed with him, scoring the bout in his favor 116-110, while the other two cards read 112-114 for Bika and 113-113 even.

Dirrell stormed out of the ring following the decision, though he would later tell Showtime interviewer Jim Gray he wanted a rematch. I’ll second that emotion.

Porsche Arena, Stuttgart, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany

Sturm reclaims title with shocking second round blowout of Barker

The only recent sports outcome more shocking than this was New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano leaving the team to get a more lucrative contract someplace else. Former titleholder Sturm, (39-3-2, 18 KOs), considered by many to be on his last legs due to recent subpar performances, upset IBF middleweight champ Darren Barker (26-2, 16 KOs) when he steamrolled over him in two rounds.

Sturm, who is immensely popular in his home country, gave German fans plenty to cheer about when he blitzed and brutalized Barker before forcing the champion’s corner to throw in the towel. Two big right hands dropped Barker in the second round after a decent start to the fight, the first possibly reinjuring a previous hip ailment. Wobbled and barely able to walk forward Barker’s corner saved him from further abuse as Sturm appeared ready to pounce on his prey.

After being taken from the arena on stretcher Barker told reporters retirement is very likely in his near future. He cited recent injuries that had prevented him from fighting at his best. Sturm hasn’t had a fight outside of Europe since losing an extremely debatable decision to Oscar De La Hoya in 2004 and doesn’t seem likely to anytime soon.

UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Wlodarczyk keeps WBC cruiserweight title with stoppage win

Krzysztof “Diablo” Wlodarczyk (49-2, 35 KOs) retained his WBC belt with a sixth round victory over 44-year-old Giacobbe Fragomeni, when the latter retired on his stool in-between rounds.

The fight marked the third time the two had meet. They fought to a draw in 2009 in Italy and Wlodarczyk stopped Fragomeni in the eighth round of their 2010 rematch. Fragomeni wasn’t ever down in this bout but he was beaten from ring post to ring post before deciding to call it.

Follow Teron Briggs on Twitter @TeronBriggs

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

James Kirkland TKO Glen Tapia Post Fight Interview Max Kellerman

Austin Trout Knocked Down By Erislandy Lara - SHOWTIME Boxing

Dirrell Knocks Down Bika - SHOWTIME Boxing

Felix Sturm Vs Darren Barker Full Fight HD

06.12.2013 - Krzysztof Wlodarczyk vs Giacobbe Fragomeni III

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This is a place to express and/or debate your boxing views. It is not a place to offend anyone. If we feel comments are offensive, the post will be deleted and continuing offenders will be blocked from the site. Please keep it clean and civil! We want to have fun. We want some salty language and good-natured exchanges. But let's keep our punches above the belt...
  1. librado catipay 11:58am, 12/15/2013

    i want pacman and money mayweather to big figth in the world

  2. bk don 12:23pm, 12/10/2013

    Clarence, it’s been almost 25 years since do the right thing. lol I think allot of people haven’t seen Rosie in much since then so it’s good to see she’s still looking good.
    Ted - If i wasn’t tweeting for the website I might have fallen asleep myself.
    Pete- thanks! It was a very active boxing wknd and there are a couple of fights I didnt’ get a chance to incl, namely the Shobox stuff & the Chris John upset, b/c I was unable to watch them.

  3. Larry Link 07:33am, 12/10/2013

  4. Yoandi espinosa 12:25am, 12/10/2013

    I think that with not posting my comment ,you show exactly what is wrong ,with too much biased opinion and ego at the same time

  5. Pete The Sneak 04:55pm, 12/09/2013

    @pao… Boxing still is a sport of skill, smarts and determination. I don’t know what boxing fans of which you speak of that enjoy watching only the kind of fighters that take lots of hits and throw unskilled punches…You sure you’re not talking about the UFC? Boxing is about styles, and the Mandingo Warrior’s style overcame Tapia’s. Simple as that. I’ve seen Tapia fight before and make no mistake, the boy has skills to go along with his heart. But if your game plan is to attempt to go toe to toe with Kirkland while laying on the ropes, yeah, chances are you will “take a lot of hits.”...Peace.

  6. pao 02:32pm, 12/09/2013

    ok, of course this is your opinion. Probably you prefer the tapia-kirkland fight where the mandingo fought the perfect match for him. Tapia a young boxer who has a lot of heart but doesn’t have good boxing skill, takes a lot of hits and has bad defensive abilities. boxing used to be a combination of skill and heart, now boxing fans prefer the kind of boxer that takes a lot of hits and throws a lot of unskilled punches

  7. Ted 02:27pm, 12/09/2013

    Teron, I am a tad surprised you did not go after Smoger.

  8. Ted 02:24pm, 12/09/2013

    “There were probably a little over 1,500 fans at the start of the fight, over half of which left by the eighth round when it became clear Agbeko had no chance to win.” I was fast asleep by then dreaming about Kirkland slaughter.

  9. Clarence George 01:48pm, 12/09/2013

    Excellent synopsis and analysis, per uje, but I was somewhat taken aback (and, all right, amused) by “the still attractive Brooklyn born actress Rosie Perez.”  Was “still” strictly necessary?  Never mind not pairing a lady’s comeliness with a knockdown!  Chivalry may not be dead, but it certainly caught a cold with that one.  How about, instead, “that apotheosis of womanly pulchritude, Rosie Perez” or “boxing’s very own mellifluous poem, Rosie Perez”?

    Additional suggestions available upon request.

  10. Pete The Sneak 12:01pm, 12/09/2013

    Teron, another neat, precise and to the point recap of a pretty active & busy Boxing weekend. Thanks!...Peace.

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