(Keith Thurman punches Jesus Soto Karass; photo credit: Tom Casino, Showtime)
The best thing about this past weekend for many was simply that Adrien Broner got beat up. But the best thing that could happen as a result of it going forward is a meeting between Broner's conqueror, Marcos Maidana, and the man above, Keith "One Time" Thurman. Mouth-watering.
We'll discuss that option and more yet from this past weekend, such as what's next for Leo Santa Cruz, the NBC Sports card and so on.
- Broner's performance(s). As comeuppances go, what happened to Broner Saturday was pretty epic. But if he's learned anything from it, he's not showing any signs. After his loss he vowed to party as if he'd won, and went on and on about some phone line where people could call him to pay him to appear in a nightclub. You can maybe attribute that to someone who had his bell rung like never before and left the building in an ambulance, but it's at least as likely that Broner, a fool before Maidana stomped him, remains a fool yet. Despite all this, he retains the confidence of Golden Boy and the encouragement of Floyd Mayweather, if not Floyd's uncle Roger. As a star, he was undiminished coming into Saturday night, netting an audience of 1.3 million according to a Showtime news release, the third highest figure since Showtime began tracking them back in 2009. Will he retain that kind of appeal going forward? A certain number of fans watched Broner with aspirations of watching him get whooped, and now they have had their wishes fulfilled, their itches scratched. And with his mindset being what it is, chances are he'll be getting whooped again the next time he faces a welterweight of any quality. (I do not think he's really a welterweight, but odds are bad that he will realize such a thing.)
- Maidana's performance, and next. Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer put Maidana's name into the mix as a future Mayweather opponent down the line, and why not? Mayweather probably dismantles him easily, but you can say the same about anyone Mayweather might fight, and at least we know Maidana won't stop coming. Another option is a rematch with Broner, although Schaefer, at least, recognizes Broner might be suited for lower weight classes. Schaefer also mentioned Shawn Porter — OK, maybe, but Porter needs to fight Kell Brook soon to keep his belt — and Thurman, a subject we'll get too shortly. Whatever his chances against that crew, Maidana has helped himself by hiring Robert Garcia, a trainer whose improvement of Maidana is his best achievement of recent years outside of merely taking on big-name fighters. Maidana is not sophisticated, per se, but he's gotten much more sophisticated than he was pre-Garcia. Whether his performance might have been enhanced by whatever strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza was jamming in his face Saturday, I cannot say. It certainly looked suspicious, but on the other hand, I'm skeptical that anyone would be so stupid as to slip a fighter something with cameras on him. Ariza's denials are also not especially convincing. Reportedly, an investigation by Texas authorities is underway, as it should be. Justice is the most important aim, but like many fans I don't want anything to happen that could soil Maidana's victory, so let's hope Maidana and Ariza are innocent.
- Keith Thurman-Jesus Soto Karass. Soto Karass has proven competitive, at minimum, against a whole array of welterweights of late. The difference between those guys and Thurman is that Thurman has both power and a certain level of mobility and technical capability. The combination made it so Soto Karass' hot streak was ended decisively and outside of the 1st round, uncompetitively. Yes, Thurman-Maidana is the fight to make for Golden Boy next, because destruction. The Golden Boy/Showtime vs. Top Rank/HBO feud is starting to strain the number of available top match-ups; Thurman-Maidana is an exception to that.
- Leo Santa Cruz-Cesar Seda. Santa Cruz is a junior featherweight beast with any opponent who can't box carefully for 12 rounds, a tamer animal with an opponent who can. Based on his record, Seda didn't really figure to contend with Santa Cruz, and in truth, he didn't, much — the scorecards were closer than the reality of the bout. Yet he was able to box him pretty well, and as such Santa Cruz struggled to be his usual knockout, volume-punching self, as we last saw with Alberto Guevara. Cristian Mijares, who is owed a shot at Santa Cruz's belt, could very well give Santa Cruz that exact kind of trouble, something that makes the fight intriguing. And while it was commendable to see Brian Kenny talk up a Guillermo Rigondeaux fight on Showtime, we all know it won't happen because of the HBO/Showtime divide. Thus: The universe of match-ups is becoming problematic after a great year of boxing in the Cold War era.
- Beibut Shumenov-Tamas Kovacs. Shumenov's comeback fight against the unknown Kovacs served its dual purpose of getting Shumenov back in the ring and giving Showtime a showcase fight for Beibut during which they could talk up a Bernard Hopkins bout. Shumenov did his job impressively, even with the caveat that his opponent was there to help him do just that. Shumenov probably is the best available opponent at light heavyweight for Hopkins, not the "best opponent" — that would be either champ Adonis Stevenson or Sergey Kovalev. For the third time tonight: We can't get those fights because of the Golden Boy/Top Rank feud.
- The rest. Juergen Braehmer turned in a workmanlike but comprehensive victory over Marcus Oliviera, even without the advantage of a bunk knockdown in the 10th. It was a quality win for Braehmer over an undefeated light heavy coming off a win over Ryan Coyne… On NBC Sports, heavyweight Amir Mansour delivered a hard-hitting show in a stoppage of Kelvin Price. He's rather hittable, is Mansour, but he's mean, he can punch and he's a good interview. That could make him a good opponent for a higher-end heavy soon enough… Former welterweight contender Josesito Lopez struggled to beat Mike Arnaoutis. All the grueling fights, and the two consecutive knockout losses, might have caught up to him… Try as I might to track down the wins of middleweights Martin Murray and Sam Soliman, I haven't been able to do so yet, but the consensus from those who watched was that Murray didn't look very good and Soliman did.