Competition Curbing

In a streak of recent mismatches, boxing fans have borne witness to an assortment of talented fighters dominating their opponents simply because they had taken easy fights.  On the positive side, each fight amounted to a showcase for the marquee fighter’s talent and because they were all successful in these less competitive matches, their future bouts of consequence are assured. Fans at least have those to look forward to, and considering the number of well-known fighters who competed in August, it was a good month for boxing overall.

The first event in the World Series of Sad came at the beginning of August when Sergey Kovalev trounced formerly undefeated Blake Caparello by second round TKO.  Initially the contest appeared to have potential when Caparello landed a straight right that caused an off-balance Kovalev to touch the canvas with a glove, but he quickly recovered and scored three knockdowns in the next three minutes.  Next, Daniel Jacobs realized a dream and achieved a legitimate accomplishment by winning a vacant middleweight title by beating Jarrod Fletcher after surviving bone cancer.  Fletcher fought well despite being obviously outmatched from the beginning, maintaining his form and working to stay in the fight, but Jacobs was sharper and stronger, and eventually scored a serious knockdown that left Fletcher open for a wild flurry that ended the fight in the fifth round.  The co-feature bouts on the card showcased Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia.  Peterson scored a late-round TKO against Edgar Santana, whose experience included no one of consequence, after racking up points in every round.  This would be an understandable opponent if Peterson had just come off his recent loss to powerhouse Lucas Mathysse, who has since been dethroned, but he successfully handled a legitimate challenge against Dierry Jean months ago, so the choice was somewhat less appropriate.  Similarly, Garcia took a pass with the fairly inexperienced Rod Salka. Just a year ago Salka was taking on Osnel Charles at lightweight, whose record at the time was an unenviable 9-5-1, but 15 months later, Salka’s got a match with one of the top junior welterweights in boxing.  Finally, in an ironic twist of fate, Deontay Wilder’s first competitive fight was scheduled against Bermane Stiverne, which would have been a great matchup for both fighters, had Stiverne not pulled out, leaving an overweight Jason Gavern to fill in by being pummeled around the ring until he had had enough, capitulating between rounds four and five.

It seems silly to us that these fighters are on premium cable putting on an exhibition as if it were any other day at the gym, but we should also appreciate the possibilities that are now more likely to become reality as a result of these fights.  First, Hopkins watched critically as Kovalev pounded his way to an early victory and accepted a fight with the formidable slugger on the condition that he won that night.  Hopkins has performed miracles in the ring in recent years, beating legitimate opponents comprehensively who were half his age, but defeating a lion like Kovalev would be truly remarkable and set him apart from every other active fighter. While an unlikely scenario, the competitive spirit and historic potential behind the fight make it tantalizing.  Daniel Jacobs called out Peter Quillin, whose recent success has brought him into the spotlight.  Both fighters are active punchers in the ring, with considerable power to accompany their developing technique.  While less of a main event than some of the other potential matches, it would definitely be one to watch.  While analysts tell us Al Haymon isn’t any more likely to make the Garcia-Peterson match now that they’ve completed their “stay active” fights, neither fighter necessarily has the luxury of fighting unknowns for very long if he wants to maintain a fan base.  Garcia-Peterson would be great to watch.  Wilder might be persuaded to make another attempt at the Stiverne fight, and if he did, we’d probably see the first exciting heavyweight match I can remember in recent years.

Speaking of bad fights leading to good things, the Anthony Dirrell-Sakio Bika rematch wasn’t so bad, really.  The fight itself was dreadful and dirty, but referee Jack Reiss made it worthwhile with classic instructions such as “Stop complaining, dude!”  If you haven’t seen it, check it out and turn up the volume so you can hear the part that’s worth your time.

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