The above fight is one of two to get Fight of the Year buzz from this past weekend, buzz that was overshadowed by the absolute disgrace that was the Showtime tripleheader headlined by Danny Garcia vs. Rod Salka. For my money, the video of Francisco Rodriguez, Jr. vs. Katsunari Takayama doesn’t really start taking off toward FOTY candidacy until the 8th round, with the 8th through the 11th excellent and the 12th kind of breathtaking for the sheer volume of punches thrown by men who had no energy left at all. As we keep saying: If you hold size against a boxer, you’re missing out on some of the best the sport has to offer these days. We’ll get to the video of the other FOTY possibility later.
Our man Patrick Connor had us covered for Garcia-Salka, as well as for the undercard supporting bouts of Lamont Peterson-Edgar Santana and Danny Jacobs-Jarrod Fletcher. We’ll touch on them slightly — for instance, why did Garcia think that “Purge” mask would be cool, or is it possible that the same guy who thought it was acceptable to fight Salka or dress like this has generally bad taste? — but we’ll also touch on the things we didn’t cover this weekend: the shows on Fox Sports 1, NBC Sports, ESPN2 and more. In no particular order:
- Sho Extreme. We’re long past the time of Anthony Peterson needing to shit or get off the pot. The lightweight scored a 1st round knockout over his latest mismatched opponent, only his fourth opponent since a loss in 2010. He looks pretty steady against this level; time to move up another one or two… Junior welterweight prospect Zachary Ochoa deserved to lose, or at least deserved to suffer a draw, against Luis Alberto Cervantes, but instead two judges gave him every round and another every round but one. Cervantes was more aggressive and did a lot of damage to Ochoa’s body. Too bad for Cervantes that Ochoa is from Brooklyn, where the fight was being staged.
- NBC Sports. Another poorly scored bout: Heavyweight contender Vyacheslav Glazkov deserved to lose against Derric Rossy, although at least this time two of the judges had it close — one a draw, one a narrow win for Glazkov, another a bizarre 98-92. Rossy has shown the occasional ability to beat fellow gatekeepers or journeyman and legitimately challenge authentic contenders, but the talk of rededicating himself apparently was real, although also Glazkov ain’t tremendous… Vasily Lepikhin is a light heavyweight prospect to watch after crushing Robert Berridge in the 5th round — he’s tall and composed… Heavyweight prospect Joseph Parker is coming along nicely as he showed during his latest knockout win, although he could stand to tighten up his defense when on the attack.
- Friday Night Fights. The ESPN2 card was kicked off by a bout thrown as flagrantly as it could be thrown; 6’6″ Chinese heavyweight Zhang Zhilei hit Curtis Lee Tate in the shoulder within seconds of the bout beginning and down he went for good. Zhang’s promoters were apologetic. It’s highly plausible in situations like this that nobody is asked to throw anything — it’s even likelier that someone showed up for a paycheck and decided he didn’t want to take much punishment for it in a bout he knew he couldn’t win. Tate’s purse should be taken by the Nevada commission. See for yourself… Willie Nelson is pretty good at winning rounds when he’s not getting dropped and wobbled. Unfortunately for the junior middleweight, he’s often getting dropped or wobbled. He beat Luis Grajeda and deserved to, but every Nelson fight against anyone of any ability whatsoever is a total crapshoot.
- FS1. Iron Mike Productions is building up a solid track record of putting on good shows and/or putting its guys in tough. Sammy Vasquez, Jr., profiled here by Matthew Paras, handled a very difficult test from James Stevenson, in a bout that had a number of terrific rounds. The video of Monty Meza-Clay vs. Alan Herrera is below, and it’s a doozy — a back-and-forth war with a dramatic finish.
- Showtime fallout. Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza was all kinds of pissed at Golden Boy’s Oscar De La Hoya for leaving the show early, and for not doing much to promote the card. Dan Rafael also quoted Espinoza as calling the lack of promotion a “chicken shit move,” a tweet since deleted, for some unexplained reason. Seems like an unwise thing to say publicly about the main promoter your work with, even if Oscar really did leave early, which if he did is hypothetically a bit lame for a guy trying to establish how dedicated he is to promoting now after letting his personal problems sideline him. Unless, of course, a family member was on the death bed. It might suggest that the Golden Boy/Al Haymon divide is widening, as junior welterweight champ Garcia, junior welterweight contender Peterson and middleweight Jacobs are Haymon-managed fighters. It raises a lot of questions about who’s pulling the strings (probably Haymon) but also what Golden Boy is doing about it (which is harder to understand). Golden Boy’s Eric Gomez made an amusingly half-hearted stab at defending Garcia-Salka, but then bailed out twice on an interview when pressed. Garcia was as tone-deaf as ever, calling it a “legendary” night and bragging about his mask and Jadakiss. (As far as efforts to defend the bout go, Espinoza’s “Salka’s kind of like Mauricio Herrera” was the closest to passable, but still very, very far from acceptable, because there was nothing acceptable about Garcia-Salka.) Garcia-Peterson has to be next. It’s a bout that didn’t need a set-up, and couldn’t have benefited from this one; fans are more turned off by Garcia than ever after this weekend.
Some other prescriptions from this weekend, besides getting to Garcia-Peterson already: Get the exciting little fighters who are facing off against top opponents on TV and keep them there; give Cervantes another shot at a TV date against a another prospect; put Rossy back on TV again, too, and let’s see if he can keep up his rededication and get the win he deserved Saturday; bring everyone from FS1 back to the airwaves, too.