The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of August 2
Danny Garcia made a pair of statements (in fashion and in the ring) on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, wearing an oddly creepy mask to the ring before dismantling and stopping former world champion Paulie Malignaggi.
What were some of the goods and bads of Garcia's first foray into boxing's talent-laden welterweight division?
We also take a look at the wild (out of nowhere) round-and-change shootout between Daniel Jacobs and Sergio Mora.
Did Jacobs get lucky when Mora's injury forced him from the fight early in the contest?
Next, we turn our attention to the burning questions that will dominate boxing conversations in the week ahead.
What the heck is Adonis Stevenson thinking with his next opponent?
What's holding up an announcement of Floyd Mayweather's September fight?
And, finally, when and where can we expect Manny Pacquiao to return to a boxing ring?
These are the hottest boxing storylines for the first week of August!
How Do We Rate Danny Garcia's Welterweight Debut?
Garcia, the recognized junior welterweight champion, finally took the plunge to compete at full welterweight with his one-sided stoppage of Malignaggi, a veteran two-time champion, on Saturday night in front of a hostile crowd at the Barclays Center.
The end came late in the ninth round with Malignaggi hopelessly behind on all three scorecards and bleeding from cuts above and below his right eye. It was hard for the hometown crowd to see one of their favorite local sons get saved by the referee, but it was 100 percent the right call.
Malignaggi, after a long and successful career, should call it quits. His legs and reflexes, long the trademark for a fighter who was never blessed with natural punching power, were clearly gone, and there's no reason to continue after a career with many hard fights.
So how do we rate Garcia?
He wasn't terribly sharp with his punches and often bordered on the sloppy with his winging, loaded-up shots thrown from his shoelaces that could've cost him against a puncher with more pop than the Magic Man.
Garcia landed cleanly to Malignaggi on several occasions but never seemed to have him in any sort of significant trouble of going down or out. It certainly wasn't Shawn Porter, who blitzed and bombed Malignaggi into vicious submission in his last fight 15 months ago.
No, this was more a fight about what Malignaggi could no longer do than what Garcia did well.
Let's not completely pile on Garcia, however.
He did take care of business in a hostile environment by walking down his foe and eventually chopping him down. There's obvious room for improvement and possible cause for concern, especially when the guy standing across the ring is someone like Porter or Keith Thurman, both possible future foes.
But on this night, after a couple of close calls, he can rest easy with a decisive victory under his belt.
It's just one that's unlikely to have the other high-profile fighters in the division shaking in their boots.
Did Daniel Jacobs Get Lucky?
Not really, no.
Jacobs and Mora engaged in a brief-but-exciting shootout on the undercard of Garcia-Malignaggi at the Barclays Center on Saturday night. The Brooklyn native, who became the first cancer survivor to win a world championship last summer, came out in the first round and drilled his challenger with a counter right that dropped him hard to the canvas.
Things appeared to quickly be spiraling out of control for Mora, a former junior middleweight titlist best known for his stint on The Contender reality series, but the veteran rose from the mat, dusted himself off and immediately dropped Jacobs with a left hand to even the score.
The crowd loved the back-and-forth action, which continued until the end of the frame in a definite contender for Round of the Year.
Jacobs was in command during a more tempered second round. He landed the harder, heavier shots, and once again dropped Mora with a right hand to the temple along the ropes which forced his foe to an awkward landing on his right foot.
Mora was able to struggle to his feet, but he was unable to walk and clearly in no position to continue. The landing was pretty ugly, and he claimed in the ring during a post-fight interview that he heard something pop on the way down and likely had a broken ankle.
You never want to say never in a professional prizefight, but you had the sense ringside that even had this continued it would've just been a matter of time. Mora's knockdown was impressive, but he's not known for that type of power and probably would've found it hard to replicate the feat.
Jacobs was closing the gap and landing the bigger shots, so he gets to advance to an anticipated showdown with former middleweight titlist Peter Quillin, so long as the latter can get past the dreaded "TBA" in September.
The Stevenson-Karpency Farce
Stevenson tweeted last week that he would make the next defense of his lineal and WBC Light Heavyweight Championships against Tommy Karpency on September 11 at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto.
The fight will be broadcast on CBS as part of Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions series, and it represents the latest in a growing string of disappointing opponents for the lineal champ since he left HBO for Showtime and Haymon early last year.
Karpency is nothing more than a club fighter with absolutely zero business in the ring with Stevenson.
His lone claim to fame is a split-decision win over former light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson last October in Connecticut. But Dawson, who had lost two of his previous three fights, was an out-of-shape shell of the fighter who briefly ran the division before stoppage losses to Andre Ward and Stevenson ruined him.
Karpency has been totally outclassed in his other notable challenges.
Andrzej Fonfara stopped him, Nathan Cleverly won every round for a shutout decision and Karo Murat dropped him and beat him by five points on all three scorecards.
Stevenson's stock has dropped precipitously since he shocked the world with a one-punch demolition of Dawson to win the light heavyweight title in 2013. He walked away from a presumed showdown with fellow titlist Sergey Kovalev to join Haymon, and his opponent selection has been pretty awful since.
He blew chances at high-profile fights with Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal (both subsequently beaten by Kovalev), settling on Fonfara, Dmirty Sukhotsky, Sakio Bika and now Karpency. It's no wonder that Kovalev has seized the mantle as the people's champ and best fighter at 175 pounds.
Before you even say it, yes, Kovalev's last opponent (Nadjib Mohammedi) was pretty awful, but at least it has the justification of being a mandatory defense to keep his IBF title and came on the heels of back-to-back wins over Hopkins and Pascal.
Stevenson and/or his team picked Karpency.
And he's built up none of the type of good will that gives him a pass for that choice.
This is a terrible, Rod Salka-esque fight.
What's the Snag with Floyd's Next Fight?
It's now August, which puts us just about six weeks out from pound-for-pound king Mayweather's next and (at least, so he says) last bout as a professional prizefighter.
Rumors have been flying around almost since the scorecards were read confirming his lopsided vanquishing of longtime rival Manny Pacquiao in May, but, given how close we are, the lack of concrete information is pretty stunning.
You need a certain minimum amount of time to promote a prizefight, especially one which, in the wake of recent reports, will be on pay-per-view rather than free television as originally suspected, and we're either inside or very close to that window.
Mayweather-Berto on PPV, already a hard sell to the public, is becoming more and more difficult by the day.
So, what gives?
Berto remains the leading name to land the fight, which speaks volumes in and of itself, but is it possible that someone (Showtime? CBS?) has gotten cold feet about the potential monetary gain/loss of that proposition?
Doubtful. Mayweather calls his own shots.
Rick Reeno of Boxing Scene reports that the hold-up could be over Mayweather's contract with the network.
The pound-for-pound king has consistently held to the story that he will retire after reaching 49-0 (or 48-1 if Berto pulls off a Buster Douglas-like upset) and concluding his exclusive six-fight deal with the network, but few are willing to take him at his word.
Reeno reports that CBS is negotiating a three-fight extension with Mayweather, which would grant them the right to televise any future fights, should he elect to press on for win No. 50 and beyond. That would also shut out another network (HBO) from making a huge financial offer to snag him back.
Ah, things suddenly make sense.
I'm still not sure how they market a Berto fight this close unless they decide to put it on CBS, where it belongs.
Welcome Back, Manny Pacquiao?
It's been a truly terrible year, at least from a boxing standpoint, for Pacquiao.
The Filipino icon and future Hall of Famer dropped a wide unanimous decision to longtime rival Mayweather in the "Fight of the Century" this past May. He only made matters worse during post-fight festivities when he incessantly blamed the loss on a bum shoulder suffered in training camp.
It was a bad look, which some questioned openly, but Pacquiao did have shoulder surgery to correct a torn rotator cuff that will keep him out of action until the first quarter of 2016.
He recently engaged in a little spat with longtime promoter Bob Arum, who, per Boxing Insider, called his fighter unprofessional for missing follow-up doctor's appointments and said he doesn't consider him an active fighter at the moment.
The Manilla Bulletin (h/t Edward Chaykovsky of Boxing Scene) reports that Pacquiao's longtime adviser Michael Koncz believes the fighter is recovering much more quickly than expected and should be able to return to the ring in late February/early March next year.
Arum has been wanting to put on a fight card in the luxury city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and Pacquiao has been floated as a headliner for that card, possibly against Amir Khan.
There's a certain logic to that. It solves more than one problem and gives Arum a new luxury destination (joining the Chinese gambling Mecca of Macau) to stage fights and probably make more money than he would stateside.
Pacquiao returning in a high-priced playground, largely away from the many fans and media who criticized him for his post-fight excuses, against a high-profile opponent?
Kevin McRae is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. You can follow him on Twitter @McRaeWrites.