The Week That Was (Nov. 18-24, 2013)

By Teron Briggs on November 25, 2013
The Week That Was (Nov. 18-24, 2013)
Pacquiao, the one-time pound-for-pound king, returned to the sport with a vengeance.

More than 7,000 miles from that bone-chilling scene in Las Vegas, Pacman made it clear that not only is he back, but he might be as good as ever…

Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort, Macao, Macao S.A.R., China

“He’s back. The fighting pride of the Philippines.”

Grandiose ring announcer Michael Buffer has never sounded as eloquent as when he said those words following Manny Pacquiao’s (55-5-2, 38 KOs) utterly one-sided thrashing of former lightweight champion Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios (31-2-1, 23 KOs). After an almost one-year hiatus from the ring, following a horrific knockout loss to rival Juan Manuel Marquez in December of 2012, the one-time pound-for-pound king returned to the sport with an emphatic win over the formerly tenacious yet suddenly tamed star from Oxnard, California.

The last time one of the most beloved stars in the sport was seen in the ring he was lying flat on his face after being brutally knocked out cold. The questions that arose immediately after that stunning setback wasn’t when Pacquiao would return but could he.  More than 7,000 miles from that bone-chilling scene at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Pacman made it clear to the boxing world that not only is he back, but he might be as good as ever.

Both fighters entered the ring at the Cotai Arena after losing their previous bouts, with Pacman a loser of two straight. It should be noted the first loss was a highly controversial decision to current titleholder Timothy Bradley that almost no one but the two clueless judges had the Filipino losing. Rios lost a razor sharp decision to top contender Mike Alvarado in March after beating him in a Fight of the Year candidate in October of 2012.

Though a former top champion, Bam Bam was considered the perfect foil for the superstar because he was expected to be aggressive and easy to hit. His aggression was stymied by Pacquiao’s brutally effective offense and for 12 rounds he was frighteningly too easy to hit. Pacquiao’s speed and superior technique were evident in the first round as he outlanded the bigger and slower Rios 20 punches to 5. Somehow, it only got worse for Rios who made his long awaited debut in the welterweight division after struggling for years to make the lightweight limit. He simply couldn’t get his offense kick-started as the almost 35-year-old Pacman bounced around the ring like a teenager as he consistently remained out of harm’s way.

As early as the fourth round in the fight it was clear that the only way Rios might have a chance to win was if his conditioning coach Alex Ariza could come to his rescue. Ariza, who formerly worked for Team Pacquiao, made headlines when he karate kicked Pacquiao’s Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach a few days before the bout in a video that went viral around the world. Pacman did admit to HBO’s analyst Max Kellerman after the fight that Bam Bam briefly hurt him in the fifth round, but he was dominant for every minute of every other round. It was like Groundhog Day, minus Bill Murray, for the remaining rounds of the fight as Rios was never able to get Pacman out of his comfort zone. Pacquiao landed blows at will while Rios displayed an excellent chin but little in the way of skill. By the latter half of the fight, the contest was devoid of drama as it was clear Rios would need a miracle to win. The only question in the championship rounds of the fight, a minor WBO belt was at stake, was would Rios’ trainer throw in the towel and prevent his bloodied and battered fighter from taking unnecessary punishment. He did not, so Pacman had to work a full 12 rounds for his $18 million dollar payday.

“I trained my heart out. Manny is quick. I did train for quickness, but he is so quick,” said Rios at the post-fight presser. It was only the second loss of Rios’ career and the first time in 30-plus fights he was not competitive. At the age of 27, with an engaging personality and fun fighting style, Rios will certainly have another opportunity in the boxing spotlight. Pacquiao said after the fight, “This is still my time. My time is not over.” For Pacman, his fans and the brain trust behind his career it must’ve been a huge sigh of relief. He rebounded from a devastating knockout and did so in impressive fashion. His promoter at Top Rank, Bob Arum, said he would return in April of 2013 in the US against an unnamed opponent.  Once again talk of a mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather began but I won’t waste your time or mine discussing it at least until some kind of negotiation can be broached.

Gradovich retains IBF title with ninth round stoppage of Dib

In March of this year, Evgeny Gradovich (18-0, 9 KOs) won a hard-fought split decision victory over Billy Dib (36-3, 21 KOs) to claim his first world title. Gradovich only had a month to prepare for that fight, but in this rematch he had a full training camp to prepare and it showed as he schooled the fighter from Sydney, Australia, before stopping him in the ninth round.

Gradovich, nicknamed the “The Mexican Russian” for his ultra aggressive style, steamrolled Dib to retain his IBF featherweight title. Gradovich not only out-slugged Dib, but he also outboxed him as he landed 203 punches to Dib’s 73. Dib’s lack of punching power prevented him from slowing down Gradovich, who averaged 70-plus punches per round and emptied out his entire offensive arsenal in the fight. He landed straight punches, uppercuts and hooks as Dib’s face began to disintegrate from the beating.

In the sixth round Dib was floored while retreating to the ropes by a vicious right hand. In-between rounds his trainer, Billy Hussein, warned him he would stop the fight if Dib continued to take a beating. Hussein kept his word as he stepped into the ring during the ninth and forced the referee to halt the contest.

Dib suffered the first knockout defeat in his career and was not the least bit competitive in the fight. Good luck to his promoter, hip-hop star 50 Cent who was notably absent from his corner, in finding marquee fights for a fighter with a less than exciting style and little punching power. Gradovich, who is trained by Rios’ trainer Robert Garcia, put on the most splendid performance of his career on the biggest stage he had ever fought. He has a number of options with some marquee names and titleholders in and around his division and all under the same promotional banner, Top Rank.

Undefeated heavyweight prospect Ruiz Jr. makes Hamer say No Mas

Tor Hamer (21-3, 14 KOs) came out in round one of this heavyweight tussle like a man on a mission determined to pull a upset, but when the going got tough, he decided to get going, home. Promising Mexican-American heavyweight prospect Andy Ruiz Jr. (21-0, 15 KOs) recorded possibly the best win of his career when he forced Hamer to quit on his stool between the third and fourth rounds.

Hamer, a fringe contender at best, is best known for winning the UK Prizefighter Tournament in 2012, but he certainly didn’t deserve a prize for his performance Saturday night. In the first two rounds he landed a number of hard right hands that seemed to surprise the undefeated Ruiz. Hamer, who looks like he stepped off the cover page of Flex, especially in comparison to the chubby Ruiz Jr., didn’t resemble the underdog early on. However, a couple of well placed body shots by Ruiz Jr. in round three hurt the New York based fighter. The crowd had no idea how much he had been hurt until Hamer appeared to tell his corner he was “done” after the round as he refused to come out for the start of the fourth.

Maybe once a quitter always a quitter, because this wasn’t the first time Hamer walked away from a fight when faced with adversity. He quit against Ukrainian prospect Vyacheslav Glazov in December of last year after four rounds of a tough fight. To add insult to injury, his promoter Lou DiBella tweeted after the fight “this is an embarrassment” and released Tor from his contract via Twitter. Despite the stoppage win Ruiz’s stock took a hit from his shaky performance. If the Tor Hamers of the world can have this kind of success against him, what could the elite of the division do?

Zou Shiming wins his third pro bout

Zou Shiming (3-0, 3 KOs), winner of Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012, thoroughly outclassed Juan Tozcano (4-1, 1 KOs) over six lopsided rounds.
An icon in his native China, Shiming is the man most responsible for the three Top Rank cards held in Macao in 2013. He turned in the most thorough performance of his career as he repeatedly hurt but never dropped the unknown Tozcano.

Shiming will return to the ring on February 22 of next year against an undetermined foe.

Phones 4u Arena (formerly M.E.N Arena), Manchester, Lancashire, United Kingdom

Froch awarded premature TKO victory over Groves

Few things in life that are premature are good, ask the mother of a preemie baby or a man’s dissatisfied sexual partner. The same can certainly be said for a premature boxing stoppage. Referee Howard Foster short-circuited a sparkplug fight between WBA/IBF super middleweight champion Carl Froch (32-2, 23 KOs) and George Groves (19-1, 15 KOs) in the ninth round when he stepped in to “save” Saint George. At the time, Froch had begun to land some hard shots to Groves’ head that the latter was unable to answer.  It was a bit of a surprising turn of events after the previously undefeated Groves had raced out to an early lead in the fight with his accurate punching.

More than 21,000 exuberant British boxing fans packed into the Phones 4u Arena in Manchester to watch the hugely popular Nottingham native Carl Froch defend his titles against London native Groves. It was the 11th time Froch was defending his titles and the first time in Groves’ five-year career he was challenging for one. Froch had faced and beaten a who’s who of the top 168-pound fighters in the last few years, including brutal stoppage victories over former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor and former super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute.

Things got off to a bad start for Froch in round one as Groves landed a crisp left-right combination that knocked him down for only the second time in his 34-fight career. Froch, an unorthodox fighter with an awkward style, telegraphed most of his punches which were wide and slow. Groves worked behind a sharp jab as he repeatedly landed multiple blows before Froch sometimes even threw one. The first four or five rounds were all Groves as he stunned the pro-Froch crowd by battering their hero. After six rounds, Sky Sports had the champion trailing on its unofficial scorecard by five points.

In the eighth round there was a subtle turn of the tide as Froch resorted to roughhouse tactics in an attempt to break Groves’ rhythm. Foster warned both fighters for hitting on the break when things began getting snarky. A visibly tiring Groves allowed Froch back into the fight while the champion fought with a renewed sense of purpose. A number of hard shots by Froch in the ninth round hurt Groves, causing him to stumble. Foster viewed it as an end to the fight and immediately jumped in to stop it. Groves could be seen vehemently protesting as the fans in attendance began booing the premature stoppage.

“I think I’m a victim of my chinny reputation and a victim of a Froch’s supposed punch power,” Groves said after the contest. Though he lost the fight, he certainly won over the fans and media with his outstanding performance. For Froch, at 36 years of age you have to wonder how much he has left in the tank after a wonderful career. Though he said he believed the stoppage was justified, he did say he was open to a rematch if it made sense.

WBA super bantamweight titleholder Quigg demolishes Silva in two

The best thing that Argentinean native Diego Oscar Silva (29-3, 15 KOs) had going for him was his red Mohawk hairstyle that made him resemble an exotic animal. But there was nothing exotic about the beatdown that Lancashire born Scott Quigg (27-0-2, 20 KOs) handed him on this night.

By the end of the first round Quigg was landing crucial head and body shots that clearly were hurting Silva. The Argentinean displayed horrible balance that left him defenseless after throwing his own punches. A beautiful left hook to the body, followed by a short uppercut to the chin dropped Silva to his knees in the second. Unfortunately for him, he beat the count and got back to his feet with little time remaining in the round. Quigg then delivered a huge overhand right that knocked Silva flat onto his back. He would lie there in agony for a few minutes, with his arm covering his face, before the referee summoned for help.

It was the second title defense for Quigg who said afterward he wanted to “seek out big fights and try to unify the title.”

Stechert Arena, Bamberg, Bayern, Germany

Leapai upsets Boystov to win 10-round decision

Denis Boystov (33-1, 26 KOs) was previously the number one rated WBO heavyweight contender in the world and was on the short list of opponents to face heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in his next fight. After losing this contest to the lightly regarded Alex Leapai (30-4-3, 24 KOs) Boystov’s top ranking is now gone and so is any chance he had at facing Dr. Steelhammer.

Boystov, whose nickname is the “Russian Mike Tyson,” resembled Iron Mike, but the version of Mike who was stopped by the pathetic Kevin McBride in his last fight. This was a clumsy bout that featured a ton of clinching and grappling and very few clean exchanges. The shots that landed all seemed to come from Leapai, who appeared to fling more than throw his shots. Boystov looked weary and exhausted by the late rounds as he was dropped in the ninth round by a short left hand. Boystov barely escaped the 10th, as Leapai pressed for the knockout.

The 27-year-old Boystov compiled his stellar record fighting unknowns and gatekeepers so few were excited to see him in line for a shot at Wladimir’s title. Maybe he overlooked Leapai, thinking he would be no more than a tune-up. The Samoan Leapai earned his best career victory and earned another shot a name fighter.

Hernandez starches Alekseev in round 10 to retain IBF title

If there’s an ESPN top 10 plays of the week in Germany this knockout certainly made the list. Juan Pablo Hernandez (28-1, 14 KOs), a Cuban native now fighting out of Halle an der Saale, Germany, retained his IBF cruiserweight title with a scintillating knockout victory over Alexander Alekseev (24-3-1, 20 KOs) in the 10th round of their 12-round bout.

Hernandez is a good fighter who doesn’t get any press in the States because all of his fights have been in Germany. He won his IBF belt in a title fight with Steve Cunningham in October of 2011. Prior to this fight with Alekseev, he was forced to step away from the sport for 14 months to deal with a recurring hand injury.

This battle of southpaws was all Hernandez until the last few rounds. The titleholder dropped Alekseev with a straight left hand in round two and then again in round five with an overhand left. Alekseev was game but clearly outgunned as he found few openings early. In the seventh round he began to find success, as Hernandez seemed to take his foot off the pedal. Alekseev was having another good round in the ninth, before Hernandez rocked his world with a wicked right hand. The right landed cleanly on Alekseev’s face and stretched him flat on his back leaving him senseless. The referee waived off the fight without a count.

There aren’t many good cruiserweight fighters in the world but Juan Pablo Hernandez is certainly one of the few.

Follow Teron Briggs on Twitter @TeronBriggs

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Manny Pacquiao's win over Brandon Rios: fight highlights - Pacquiao v Rios

Carl Froch vs George Groves full fight in HD 23.11.2013

Denis Boytsov vs Alex Leapai full fight in HD 23.11.2013

2013-11-23 Yoan Pablo Hernandez vs Alexander Alekseev [1/3]

2013-11-23 Yoan Pablo Hernandez vs Alexander Alekseev [2/3]

2013-11-23 Yoan Pablo Hernandez vs Alexander Alekseev [3/3]

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  1. Ted 06:22am, 11/26/2013

    Simply a great effort Teron. You covered all the bases so well that I may be forced to “steal” from you.

  2. Procopy 06:48pm, 11/25/2013

    But as I have observed during the fight, many of the punches that Manny has landed are really not that strong. Maybe it is because that Rios is always covering up and Manny cannot really hit him with really solid punches or that Manny is quite cautious during the fight.

  3. Ezra Salkin 03:42pm, 11/25/2013

    It’s fascinating how different opponents have interpreted Pac’s physical brilliance. Some are daunted by his power, others his speed. Oscar, like Rios, said he didn’t really feel his punches but the problem was that they came from everywhere, like he was fighting three people. David Diaz echoed the same sentiment. On the other hand, Mosley said Pac’s speed is just decent but he’s the hardest puncher he’s faced in his whole career. Bradley echoed the same thing, that he wasn’t fazed by the speed, but that every blow is a “death shot.”

  4. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 12:35pm, 11/25/2013

    Teron Briggs-These sum ups are straight forward, spot on accounts of just what went down this past weekend….which reminds me….it’s already started….Rios is saying that Alvarado hits harder than Manny…if that’s the case why the high tight guard…..why not go all out commando like Froch?

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