The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of August 30
What an interesting last week of August in the boxing world.
In this week's edition of the hottest storylines in boxing, we take a look back at Leo Santa Cruz's big rivalry win over Abner Mares and the questions it answered for each fighter going forward.
Next we move on to the interesting (to say the least) show that was Shane Mosley's second win over Ricardo Mayorga.
Does this mean anything in the grand scheme, and what the heck was up with all those odd musical numbers?
Then we turn to things coming up in the weeks ahead by looking at Adrien Broner's next fight, Andre Ward's possible spot on the Miguel Cotto vs. Canelo Alvarez undercard and Saturday's upcoming rematch between Jamie McDonnell and Tomoki Kameda.
Let's get right to it.
What Did We Learn from Santa Cruz vs. Mares?
Santa Cruz definitely deserved the win over Mares on Saturday night, but it was much, much closer than the wide 117-111 (twice) scorecards would indicate.
Mares came out like a storm in the first round, swarming Santa Cruz and disrupting his rhythm by attacking with the type of relentless abandon we haven't seen from him since his knockout loss to Jhonny Gonzalez in 2013.
Santa Cruz seemed a bit off kilter from the attack, but he was able to stay calm and eventually turn the tide by using his jab and reach (both huge natural physical advantages against the smaller man) to keep Mares at bay and pick him off on the way inside.
Once Santa Cruz adjusted his game plan and stopped allowing Mares to simply truck inside and throw big, if not always effective, flurries, the game totally changed. He raised the cost of his opponent's actions, and it paid off.
We learned a lot from this fight, which was good—not great as some are saying—and definitely the best of the PBC lot as we come close to the end of its first summer.
Mares showed he still has the skill and mentality to compete at a top level. That wasn't certain coming into this fight.
His tank is far from empty.
What else did we learn? Santa Cruz is the real deal.
He silenced many of the critics who felt he was softly managed to avoid this type of fight so that he wouldn't be exposed. He took everything Mares could dish out, weathered the storm and took a close but relatively clear win.
The guy whom we all loved a couple of years ago, before going into boxing's witness protection program, is back.
Let's just hope he stays here.
Did Shane Mosley Prove Anything?
New decade, same result.
Mosley knocked out Mayorga on a body shot in Round 6 of what can only be described as an odd fight and an odd night on pay-per-view. The card featured some decent boxing (prospect Joel Diaz Jr. won a one-sided slugfest against Luis Arceo, and Maureen Shea and Yulihan Avila delivered a nice scrap for a women's title) mixed with odd musical (if you can call it that) and bikini boxing interludes.
The Forum in Inglewood, California, which is just miles from where the larger, more prominent PBC card was taking place, seemed, let's say, sparsely attended. We have no idea what the PPV figures (at $49.95) are going to look like.
So, let's leave that to the side.
Mosley, for what it's worth, looked decent in the ring after a nearly two-year layoff following his loss to Anthony Mundine in November 2013. He, at least, seemed to take things seriously and landed right hands to the Nicaraguan madman's dome whenever he let his hands go.
Mayorga, who was out of shape and presented little resistance beyond his hand-dropping-clown act in Round 3 where he made a non-PG motion toward his crotch, is clearly toasted as a professional fighter. It's amazing that he made it as far as he did on pure toughness and a large set of a certain part of the male anatomy.
Mosley will no doubt truck on after this win (whether that's a good idea is not the point), but it's hard to see where he lands a significant fight. According to BoxingScene.com via Sky Sports, Mosley is hoping for rematches with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, but those have less-than-zero chance of happening.
Why Is Adrien Broner Getting Another Title Shot?
It's a great question.
Broner is one of boxing's ultimate poster boys for entitlement (joining Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.) and will face former titlist Khabib Allakhverdiev on October 3 for the WBA Junior Welterweight Championship vacated earlier this summer by Danny Garcia.
There are (of course) complications before this bout can go off as planned.
ESPN.com's Dan Rafael reports that Top Rank, which represents Jose Benavidez Jr. (who is the WBA's interim titleholder) has asked the WBA to revisit sanctioning Broner and Allakhverdiev as a title bout when its man has (by the WBA's rules) the right to compete for the vacant belt.
That's a whole different bowl of mess, so we'll leave it to the side for now and assume the bout goes forward.
Neither Broner nor Allakhverdiev has any business competing for even the watered-down version of a world championship the WBA straps around a few hundred people (slight hyperbole) per year.
Broner decisively lost to Shawn Porter in his last fight, looking uninterested, unprepared and completely lost in the ring on fight night. He was there to clown and tell everyone how much like Mayweather he is (he's not at all) rather than prove anything of his own in the ring.
His opponent isn't much more deserving.
Allakhverdiev lost his last fight to Jessie Vargas, and that fight will be a year-and-a-half in the rearview mirror by the time he steps in with Broner.
That the WBA is sanctioning this as a title fight is literally ridiculous.
Neither guy has earned the opportunity at even this largely meaningless and watered-down world title.
Will Andre Ward Fight on Cotto-Canelo Undercard?
Ward, the undisputed champion at 168 pounds, appears headed for a slot on the undercard of Cotto's huge middleweight title defense against Canelo in November at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Boxing Scene reports that the WBA has received and approved a request from Ward to make a voluntary defense of his title in November. His mandatory is Fedor Chudinov, who is scheduled to face Frank Buglioni on September 26 in London.
Ward returned on June 20 after taking nearly two years off from the ring to fight in court with his late promoter Dan Goossen and easily stopped Paul Smith in his first fight since November 2013. That bout took place at 172 pounds (which called into question whether Ward was leaving the 168-pound division behind) and was nothing more than a tuneup for bigger and better things down the road.
No opponent has been floated yet, but one shouldn't expect anything much above the level of Smith, given that Ward is still working his way back into the swing of things after another long layoff and has big-money fights on the horizon.
Gennady Golovkin is the one that most seem to want, but at least for now, it appears more likely that Sergey Kovalev and the light heavyweight division will beckon Ward sometime early in the new year.
And for those hating on GGG and his team for saying last week, per Victor Salazar of Boxing Scene, that Ward isn't the A-side and can't dictate terms: Take a look at who is headlining a pay-per-view and who will fight in a support bout for his better-known stablemate.
Can McDonnell and Kameda Deliver the Goods Again?
McDonnell scored a minor upset to retain his WBA Bantamweight Championship over Kameda in what was easily one of PBC's best contests in May. The Brit hit the canvas in the third round but rallied for a narrow unanimous decision in a fight that legitimately could've gone to either man.
The two will do it once again Saturday as the co-feature (but best fight) on a PBC card on CBS from Corpus Christi, Texas, with the ho-hum fight between Anthony Dirrell and Marco Antonio Rubio (Zzzzzz) the main event.
Most expected that McDonnell, a twice-beaten fighter from Doncaster who hasn't lost in more than seven years, would be no match for Kameda, a rising star from Japan who trained in his craft while living in Mexico and earned the nickname "El Mexicanito" (the little Mexican).
Kameda's two brothers are world champions (and he's a former champ), and he'll be looking to avenge the first defeat of his career.
McDonnell wasn't expected to return to the bantamweight division after the win (Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg, among others, are a division north) but elected to give it another go and try to prove his win was no fluke.
This is a tremendously exciting rematch that is flying almost completely under the radar, and it is eminently more watchable than the bleh main event it will precede.
If you only have time to watch one fight this weekend, choose this one.