The Biggest Winners and Losers from Boxing's Huge Saturday
It was, to say the least, a big Saturday for boxing.
A heavyweight title fight in Germany. A major pay-per-view card in Las Vegas with a giant-sized main event and a strong undercard stocked with champions, former champions and hot prospects.
But that doesn't mean everyone will wake up Sunday morning happy.
Here, we take a look at the big winners—and the big losers—from the night that was.
Winner: Wladimir Klitschko
The Ukrainian behemoth arrived as champion and left the same way, polishing off previously unbeaten—and conspicuously untested—Italian export Francesco Pianeta with eight seconds remaining in the sixth round of a barely competitive bout.
That said, by scoring three knockdowns of a younger man considered at least on the fringe of contention by the major sanctioning bodies, Klitschko showed that he still belongs at the top of any legitimate opinion-based heap of heavyweights.
And, with the 14th successful risk of the IBF and IBO titles he won from Chris Byrd in 2006, he takes one six-foot, six-inch step closer to the numerical defense watermarks established by Joe Louis (26) and Larry Holmes (20)—a fair accomplishment for any fighter, regardless of opponent.
Loser: Wladimir Klitschko
He knocked out an unbeaten contender. He maintained an unbeaten streak that stretches back seven years. And he defended his initial pair of heavyweight belts for the 14th time.
Still, you’d be hard pressed to find many outside of Germany who cared enough to watch.
Barely available in the United States on the EPIX cable network, the latest in a series of dominant Klitschko victories did little to enhance the big man’s reputation beyond what it had already been—robotic, safety-first European with obvious skills, but no compelling magnetism.
Short of an emergent American or his older brother, Klitschko’s simply stuck without a dance partner.
Winner: Paulie Malignaggi
Sure, his WBA world welterweight title is considered a bauble compared to the weight of the jewelry that Mayweather and Guerrero were competing for, but Malignaggi was the clear winner in the opening salvo of banter with imminent challenger Adrien Broner, whom he’ll meet on June 22.
Broner arrived for a live Showtime interview with a juvenile T-shirt with the message “Hey Paulette” on the front, prompting Malignaggi to immediately pounce with “You remember the movie Rocky, where they had an Adrian and a Paulie? Which one was the girl?”
Loser: Adrien Broner
Not only was Broner beaten to the punch when it came to comedy, but he had little else to offer in terms of analysis of either Malignaggi or the main event involving his mentor, Mayweather.
And, to top it off, Broner looked huge. He fought at 135 pounds in his last fight and is jumping to 147 to face Malignaggi, but it appeared Saturday as though he’d need to cut some weight to get within range of the welterweight area code.
“He looks like he’s been training at the buffet,” Malignaggi said on Showtime.
Winner: J'Leon Love
The unbeaten Detroit middleweight may or may not have deserved the decision—two judges were for him, one judge and most of the crowd were against him—but he established himself as a legit commodity at 160 pounds against former world title challenger Gabriel Rosado.
Love was cruising through five rounds with a superior skill set, was dropped to the seat of his pants by a counter right in the sixth and gamely survived through the final four rounds against a suddenly determined foe.
The choice of opponent was questioned by some heading in, but Love proved he belonged and will get at least a few honorable mention votes for 2013’s fight of the year.
Loser: Gabriel Rosado
The Philadelphia middleweight had won seven straight from 2010 to 2012 before running into dominant middleweight title-holder Gennady Golovkin a few months back. The arguable scorecards against Love made it two straight defeats.
Though clearly frustrated, Rosado did take the high road in post-fight interviews while never wavering from his belief that he won the fight. He somewhat dismissed Love’s offer to do a rematch, instead insisting he had nothing to prove and that he deserved another world title shot.
Maybe so, but another win is going to be needed to make that case.
Long considered the second banana of the two premium cable boxing options, Showtime used the year’s first superfight-level pay-per-view event to illustrate how much the gap has closed.
With Mayweather in the fold for 30 months—along with talents like Mares, Canelo Alvarez and Danny Garcia thanks to an alignment with Golden Boy Promotions—it seems many of the best fights to be made will be on Showtime’s air or its PPV broadcasts.
Going forward, having Peterson/Matthysse in a couple weeks and both Maidana/Lopez and Malignaggi/Broner in June will continue the momentum.
It still has the familiar “Network of Champions” moniker and still has the very good announce team of Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman, but Saturday nonetheless continued a rough stretch.
Having Mayweather ply his trade with another logo on the screen and launch a new documentary franchise to compete with 24/7 program is the latest bitter pill after the untimely death of analyst extraordinaire Emanuel Steward in October and Manny Pacquiao’s shocking KO loss two months later.
Outside of Froch/Kessler on May 25, none of the upcoming lineup measures up to what Showtime’s got in the pipeline.
Winner: Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Perhaps one day, he’ll convince people that he’s at close to what he says he is—one of the greatest fighters of all time. But in the meantime, it seems Floyd Mayweather Jr. will simply have to go about his business winning fights, and leave those chats for others.
The 36-year-old had the weekend’s top billing going in and certainly was its top performer going out, after winning nine of 12 rounds on all three official scorecards in an offensive and defensive masterpiece against hard-charging and tough-talking Robert Guerrero.
Presuming the hand injury he discussed after the fight is nothing significant, the win keeps Mayweather atop the sport in terms of pound-for-pound acumen and pay-per-view dollars. It clears the way for an ultimate showdown with unbeaten Canelo Alvarez either this fall or next spring.
Loser: Top Rank Boxing
While a Guerrero win would have put the eternal kibosh on the microscopic chance that a Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao fight ever occurs, it more than likely would have brought a giant smile to the face of a promoter who’s been “Money’s” biggest critic since he stopped being his biggest fan.
What it also means is that the balance of power in the sport still remains on the side of Arum’s other nemesis—Golden Boy Promotions—because Mayweather’s next register-bursting event is likely to come in either September or May with Oscar De La Hoya’s latest prize, Canelo Alvarez.
Admittedly, while Arum does have plenty of young guns in his holster—in addition to Pacquiao—the perception remains that the most important fights in both the short and long terms will run though Oscar’s office in Los Angeles, not Bob’s in Nevada.