There’s a tendency when something odd happens in boxing for fans to turn to conspiratorial thinking. It’s understandable. Boxing has earned a lot of that from its followers. Saturday night’s Showtime Pay-Per-View main event between Jermell Charlo and Jeison Rosario, though, probably deserves the benefit of the doubt in a blend of two different kinds of “razor” axioms, Occam’s and Hanlon’s.
It’s quite possible to look at Rosario gulping for air after a rare — unprecedented? — body jab KO at the upper ranks of boxing, and conclude the simplest explanation, and one without evil intent at its root, is that Rosario got caught just right by one of the more interesting weapons in the sport.
Rosario rose to the #1 spot in the junior middleweight division deservedly, but he’s a touch fragile for someone who’s risen to that level, suffering knockdowns and a knockout loss prior. And if he was faking what occurred in the 8th round, well, give the man his EGOT.
This was just a cool ass knockout, most likely.
Floyd Mayweather is credited for making the body jab a more popular punch. It’s hard to pull off, given that you have to bend down, from length, thereby exposing yourself to counters. It was a delightful part of Mayweather’s arsenal. By all accounts, it hurts plenty. If a jab to the head disrupts an opponent’s rhythm, then the body jab is said to do doubly so. And because it’s rarely thrown, it gets the benefit of “the punch you aren’t ready for” effect, that effect being, it hurts more than when you can anticipate it somewhat, and roll with it, or brace for it. The version Charlo pulled off seemed exceptionally painful.
It was a reasonably contested account, and a fun one, up to that point, even if the A-side, Charlo, was fully in control. (There was not a single fight on the card Saturday that didn’t match that description, to varying degrees.)
Charlo was in control owing to two knockdowns, one in the 1st and one in the 6th, both brought about by punches near the top of the head. Guess the Charlo twins were all in “fuck the chin, man” mode, what with Jermall wobbling his opponent earlier thanks to a weird shot to the back/top of his head.
The Charlos are a fascinating case. Once upon a time they were viewed as “boring” by some, a rep they mostly didn’t deserve. Sure, they occasionally opted against taking risks that would lead to sensational KOs, but they still managed to do it a lot anyway. Yes, Jermell had a setback with the loss to Tony Harrison, but he vengeance-ified that shit real hard. The admiration on Twitter on Saturday and Sunday, however, suggests they’ve largely left doubters or critics behind.
It’ll be worth watching how good their pay-per-view numbers are. It’s still hard to tell if they’re in any way “popular,” and there are political impediments with promoters/networks for both men in their respective divisions. Both are now at least arguably the best fighters in their divisions. They’re each on the cusp of pound-for-pound acclaim, if not there already. They just need a chance to prove themselves at the box office and against big-name foes, two things that go hand-in-hand at this juncture of their careers — it’s hard to obtain proof of one without the other, and vice versa.
On the undercard of part II: Luis Nery officially moved up to 122 pounds, and either didn’t bring enough power in the move up when he’s not serially coming in overweight or testing positive for drugs, or the well-bechinned Aaron Alameda wasn’t about to budge. Either way, he got the decision. In the same division, Daniel Roman had his own troubles with the upward-moving Juan Carlos Payano, at least until the 35-year-old began to fade late and Roman built momentum. He scored a knockdown late that wasn’t called such, but didn’t need it for the judges to award him the victory.
(Photo: Jeison Rosario, foreground, crawls up after a body shot from Jermell Charlo, background; Amanda Westcott, SHOWTIME)