Twists and Turns in Boxing

By Ted Sares on June 2, 2012
Twists and Turns in Boxing
How can a fighter who is constantly pummeling his opponents take too many punches?

There does seem to have been a subtle shift with top fighters now stepping up more often and signing to fight one another…

“I wasted all my f*cking time going to Miami for this motherf*cker to not show up. I wasted my training, my preparation to get ready for this piece of sh*t and he’s not showing up. That’s a slap in the face. And it’s disrespectful too. Not only that, but to all his fans and everybody. I think it’s disrespectful.”—Brandon Rios

As Larry Merchant recently opined, “Fights and fighters are bubbling up…Maybe it’s an unintended consequence of Mayweather and Pacquiao not fighting (each other) but it’s good for the sport.”

Yes, all of the sudden there does seem to have been a subtle shift with top fighters now stepping up more often and signing to fight one another. Maybe it started with rugged James “Mandingo Warrior” Kirkland muzzling fearsome Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo down in Angulo’s home country of Mexico. Undefeated Vernon Paris went into Zab Judah’s Brooklyn nest as a favorite and came away a beaten fighter, but he deserves kudos for going into that nest. When undefeated IBF super middleweight champion Lucian Bute and former champion Carl Froch agreed to get it on at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England, fans stood up and said “wow.” Fighting away from his comfort zone in Canada, and in Froch’s hometown no less, is something for which Bute should be highly commended even if he was savaged by The Cobra. Underdog and unknown Filipino Sonny Boy Jaro is now champion after his stunning KO upset of Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and that’s not a bad thing for boxing either. Tough Orlando Salido went on the road to Puerto Rico again, and just like the first time, he left Juan Manuel Lopez out on his feet. Major props to Salido!  Miguel Cotto came to fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a fan-friendly outing. Antonio Tarver will see if he can rekindle the magic when he mixes it up with undefeated and Freddie Roach-trained cruiserweight Lateef Kayode on June 2 and that simply adds to a host of fan-friendly excitement that has been on tap for boxing fans.

In a fight made in heaven that had fans drooling, sensational Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios (29-0-1) and equally sensational Youorkis Gamboa (21-0) were supposed to duke it out in the main event at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. At stake would have been the vacant WBA lightweight world championship belt. This was the best fighting the best.

Rios

If the Brothers Klitschko practice serial slaughter and do it by systematically breaking down their opponents before finishing the massacres, Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios is that rare breed of boxer who, until recently, is all action all the time. As soon as the bell rings, he begins stalking his opponents relentlessly with punishing hooks and heavy-handed uppercuts in the manner of a prime Antonio Margarito or even Nigel Benn. Once he has his man in dire straits, he closes matters with an uncommon intensity. He turned the face of one of his recent opponents—game Englishman John Murray—into a bloody and gory mess.

One of the criticisms of Rios is that his defense is somewhat porous and that he takes too many punches. That’s pure poppycock. How can a fighter who is constantly pummeling his opponents take too many punches? The notion of a great offense being a good defense applies to Rios. Moreover, he has a solid ring IQ acquired by engaging successfully in an inordinate number of amateur bouts and that makes him even more dangerous.

On the public relations side of things, Rios also has managed to repair much of the damage he did when he mocked Freddie Roach’s Parkinson’s and he has done this by electrifying fans with his ring scintillating performances—that is until recently.

A U-Turn

“This would have been a hell of a fight, but what can we do?”—Bob Arum

So thanks to men like Rios, Bute, Froch, Kirkland, Alvarado, Ward, Kessler, Ortiz, Cotto, Berto, Mayweather, and others, it appears there might be some hope for a boost in boxing through better matchmaking and a maybe even a subtle turn towards the best fighting the best. But then Yuriorkis Gamboa turned out to be a no-show at pressers in Miami and Los Angeles and that put his highly touted fight with Rios in extreme jeopardy until it was eventually scuttled. “There’s no contract and there is no fight,” Gamboa said flatly. “I never thought that things would wind up this way, but there was never a contract and there was never a signature…agreeing to fight…on April 14.” Thus, the first U-Turn.

Rios, who has never been one to mince words, responded angrily by saying, “Let’s give the fans what they want. Let’s give the world what they want…This coward (Gamboa) didn’t want to fight. He never wanted to fight…If he wanted to fight, he would have showed up to a press conference where he was supposed to be going.” 

While the underlying issue here might be about fighters not honoring agreements and contracts and the practice of networks, promoters, managers, etc. conceding and collapsing to the whims and wishes of the fighters, the show will go on with or without Gamboa because it should. If not, the fans will be forever held hostage to prima donnas who think their celebrity is license and/or entitlement to do whatever they want, regardless of their word or their signature. An interesting albeit unintended consequence of this matter was that Brandon Rios turned out to be the good guy while Gamboa, who backed himself into a corner (no pun intended), came out smelling like something less than a rose.

A Double U-Turn

“I thought I won by four or five rounds. It never crossed my mind that I could lose.”—Richard Abril

“It was not my best fight but I did fight well. 140 lbs. is where I am going—140 here I come…”—Brandon Rios

On April 14, 2012, a flat—maybe drained—Brandon Rios (30-0-1, 22 KOs) had absolutely nothing to offer in the ring, but still managed to “win” against awkward Cuban Richard Abril (17-3-1, 8 KOs) by the incredible scores of 117-111 (Abril), and 116-112 and 115-113 (Rios). Abril completely dominated the bout at the Mandalay Bay. The fight was not close; not even remotely close. Abril used his height and reach to keep Rios at a distance most of the night, and was reaching Bam Bam with precision punches. It was another in a growing number of bizarre and shoddy decisions. Boxing promoter Lou DiBella reportedly said the result showed that boxing was a “corrupt, self-destructive industry.”

Adding to Bam Bam’s about-face, he came in two pounds overweight during the weigh-in, and was unable to lose the weight to get to the 135-pound limit. Accordingly, he was ineligible to win the interim WBA lightweight belt, which was up for grabs in this fight. And to make bad matters worse, Rios had to give a portion of his purse to Abril. This was the second straight bout that Rios has come in overweight; he originally lost the WBA title on the scales during his fight against the aforementioned John Murray in December. 

Thankfully, rugged and crowd pleasing “Mile-High” Mike Alvarado (33-0) tangled with slick Mauricio Herrera (18-2) on the undercard in a brutal and grueling closet classic which the undefeated Alvarado won.

If Rios wants to straighten things out, one way to do it would be to go to war with Mike Alvarado at 140 pounds, but as exciting as that prospect is, it would not carry the gravitas of a fight against the super fast and highly skilled Gamboa. After all, what could be more fan-friendly than when the “best” fight the best? But Gamboa’s tentativeness and Bam Bam’s laziness now suggest that this wish won’t occur. Inexplicitly, Rios is now scheduled to fight Mauricio Herrera in July; the same Herrera who absorbed heavy punishment while losing to Mike Alvarado. 

In the meantime, Rios twists and turns and goes from bad guy to good guy and then back again to bad guy.

The Curse of Postponements

Meanwhile, the Seth Mitchell-Johnathon Banks fight is off due to an injury to “Mayhem,” and the same is true for Saul Alvarez vs. James Kirkland as the “Mandingo Warrior supposedly reinjured his shoulder. “Canelo” is now seeking a new opponent. The curse of the postponed fight also struck when Enzo Macarinellli reinjured his hand and pulled out of his mandated rematch with a “gutted” Shane McPhilbin. The Peterson-Kahn rematch folded after Lamont admitted the use of something he should not have been using, and Berto-Ortiz went sayonara for possibly the same reason. An enticing IBF super middleweight title eliminator between Adonis Stevenson and Edwin Rodriguez won’t be happening, as Edwin’s team has reportedly passed on the fight. And Sergio Martinez appears doubtful that his fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Junior will actually take place.

One bright spot: WBO titlist Dmitry Pirog will face Gennady Golovkin on August 25 on HBO, but given what has been going on, I would not bet on it—again no pun intended.

It seems boxing always finds a way to be its own worst enemy.

Note: Portions of this article appeared in the May 2101 edition of Boxing World Magazine for which the author is a regular contributor.

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  1. Dax Ferguson 02:59pm, 06/05/2012

    Hey Ted, sure enjoyed the pics of Bob Satterfield. He was/is one of my top ten favorites of all time. i can remember his fight with Ezzard Charles as if it was yesterday, on black & white tv. I absolutely thought he was going to ko Charles in that first round, came damned close!

  2. Don from Prov 08:41am, 06/05/2012

    As far a lacking Nasty-
    You ain’t a Klit.

    Anyway, you’re a pretty nice guy.
    Despite what you may think about yourself.

  3. The Thresher 02:45pm, 06/04/2012

    I don’t lack nasty. Take that to the bank!!

  4. Don from Prov 01:32pm, 06/04/2012

    A 90-year-old would bite Hayden.

    I fear that you are mixing up desire—

    with a true and ferocious frenzy…..

    And that is what’s missing in Klit fights.

    They’ve got the identify, plan, and stalk down: It’s the nasty that them boys lack.

  5. The Thresher 11:54am, 06/04/2012

    Man, that’s really sick. On the other hand, I’m sure Hayden (Klit’s former girl friend) may have a few bites.

  6. Don from Prov 09:25am, 06/04/2012

    Oh yeah??

    Show me the bite marks on the butt.

  7. The Thresher 03:17pm, 06/03/2012

    Sure it does. They ice their opponents like serial killers do their thing. They identify, plan, stalk, and kill. Vitali does it brutally while Wlad does it suddenly.

  8. Don from Prov 06:39am, 06/03/2012

    “serial slaughter”—

    I love it.
    But don’t know if the term fits the Klits.
    Anyway, good article, & we can all hope—
    (about tough matches taking place)

  9. The Thresher 11:28am, 06/02/2012

    If Rios was going to fight Gamboa in a blockbuster, why not fight Alvarado in a perceived blockbuster at 140?

  10. The Thresher 11:26am, 06/02/2012

    Bodyshots, I think Alvarado has taken too much punishment in his last two fights. He was mashed and mangled by Prescott for most of the fight and pulled it out after the Colombian bomber gassed. Both guys took way too much in that one. And then after the Herrera war, I mean just how much can a guy take?

    Meanwhile Rios pretty much had his way with the Engishman and didn’t really take much punishment from Abril who fought from the outside and gave lots of angles. I think Rios was drained in that one.

    Point: Rios whips Alvarado based on their respective styles but may have more issues with Herrera who fights more like Abril.

    Nothing in the Murray slaughter made me think Rios was slipping. Rios has just been too weak around his weight loss training. Obviously, his body is made for 140 and not 135.

  11. Bodyshots 11:03am, 06/02/2012

    that was a Sick give-and-take war between Herrera and Alvarado but to be honest, i was becoming more concerned with “Mile High’s” apparent gluttony for punishment. his war v. Prescott was no walk in the park. more like a determined march through a dangerous hood. IMO, Herrera will be a tough matchup for Rios even IF Brandon recaptures his previous ferocity and form. Herrera’s already got that experience v. Alvarado and i don’t think that even a revived Rios can exceed Alvarado’s 140lb ferocity. this is no set-up but a competitive tune-up that will give Rios the opportunity to either regain his previous form or reconsider his career options.

  12. The Thresher 09:16am, 06/02/2012

    Pug, I’ve been getting a lot of great comments via e-mail re the photos. Miles Davis, a close friend of Satterfield’s, was a great boxing fan and could really make the speed bag sing.

  13. The Thresher 09:14am, 06/02/2012

    Bodyshots, great points. It was a bad gamble on Gamboa’s part not to go ahead. As for a 140lb debut vs. Herrera being hardly inexplicable, point taken. Herrera is a slick fighter. Still, he took some mean punishment at the hands of Mile High. If Rios waxes Herrera and carries his power to 140, all kinds of things open up for him and he can then get back on the straight and narrow. IMO, I think Rios was drained vs. slipping.

  14. The Thresher 09:10am, 06/02/2012

    Irish, many thanks good buddy. I redid this piece about 5 times to keep up with the fast moving event. Poor Robert was going bonkers.

  15. The Thresher 09:09am, 06/02/2012

    Charlie, losing Paul Williams is one of those unfortunate steps back, for certain. A big setback.

  16. Bodyshots 09:08am, 06/02/2012

    what Gamboa did was not only cowardly, disrespectful, and dishonorable, it was STUPID expecially considering how difficult it became for Rios to make 135lbs one last time. it would have been Gamboa’s best chance to catch a compromised Rios. no matter how well-trained or prepared Rios could’ve been, it was already obvious from the Murray fight that he was no longer a lightweight. meanwhile, a 140lb debut v. Herrera is hardly inexplicable. unless one doubts Rios’ willingness to fight the best. otherwise, it’s a very competitive tune-up v. an equally-game opponent following Rios’ lackluster performances in his last two bouts. a smart way to determine whether Rios was weight-drained or is actually slipping.

  17. pugknows 08:52am, 06/02/2012

    Oh my God, what great photos on your email. Thanks, Ted

  18. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 07:07am, 06/02/2012

    Ted Sares-On top of your game for sure…it’s all a mirage anyway…fighters bring up other fighters names that they know they’ll never fight and now matches are made and cancelled the next friggin’ day! Golovkin/Pirog will go off as scheduled tho’ I’d rather see them hammering others.

  19. CharlesN 06:31am, 06/02/2012

    You bring out good points Ted.

    To me it seems that boxing takes one step forward, then two steps back.

    Then there are times when it seems two steps forward and then one step back. But on the whole, there are redeeming fights out there.

    Losing Paul Williams, is one of those unfortunate steps back.

  20. The Thresher 06:00am, 06/02/2012

    Agreed, regrettably.

  21. jofre 05:32am, 06/02/2012

    Ted, you hit the nail on the head. “It seems boxing always finds a way to be its own worst enemy.”

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