Random Thoughts from the Sports Arena

Random Thoughts from the Sports Arena
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Dec 17, 2012) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Tom Casino / SHOWTIME)
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Leo Santa Cruz (Right) - Alberto Guevara (Left)
For a boxing writer in the Southern California/Los Angeles area, it was a bit of nirvana this past Saturday as a day-night doubleheader was staged by Golden Boy Promotions at the L.A. Sports Arena. This reporter drove onto the premises at just before noon and didn't depart till just a few minutes before 11 p.m. (when a few more hours of boxing on HBO awaited him on the DVR).
 
Yeah, it was a full day of boxing that was broadcast by CBS, SHO Extreme and Showtime from this venue.
 
Some random thoughts on what was witnessed, heard and observed…
 
-  Leo Santa Cruz successfully defended his IBF bantamweight title against Alberto Guevara, who gave a game effort throughout their 12 rounds. But eventually, Santa Cruz's steady pressure and volume carried the day. That said, the movement Guevara exhibited will be a blueprint for future foes of “Teremoto.” The bottom line is you can't let him work in a straight line and plant his feet. You have to keep turning him and making him move laterally.
 
Also, this being his fifth fight in 2012 (and his second in less than six weeks, as he performed on November 10th at the Staples Center), he did look a bit flat. One thing I observed when I saw Santa Cruz at the gym a couple of weeks ago is he was still layering his gym attire, meaning he was having some problems making the bantamweight limit. Looking at his tight physique, he just looks like a guy who is begging to move up in weight. Santa Cruz has basically been a bantamweight his whole career and is now 24 years old. It's probably that time.
 
He's had his obligatory first title run and I think 122 pounds is where he'll really get in the mix versus the marquee names of the sport.
 
-  CBS got back into boxing and there was a bit of panic from the boxing fans as Butler and Indiana went into overtime (you just knew they would, right?). Now, I don't have the Nielsen ratings but from a content perspective, they got a good, solid scuffle that went rounds (which Santa Cruz is always good for). Santa Cruz got invaluable exposure and CBS got a real prizefight. The downside is that because of the late start time, Joseph Diaz's pro debut was not shown nationally.
 
Oscar De La Hoya's Toy Drive
Oscar De La Hoya's Toy Drive
Oscar De La Hoya's Toy Drive
Oscar De La Hoya's Toy Drive
Oscar De La Hoya's Toy Drive - LA
Golden Boy Promotions 2012 Holiday Toy Giveaway In Los Angeles
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All GBP Photos © Tom Hogan - Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions
Later on that evening, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told the assembled media he was hoping Golden Boy could do a show a quarter on CBS going into 2013.
 
-  Amir Khan's victory over Carlos Molina is what I've called in the past a “Chris Rock.” In other words, he did what he was supposed to – let’s not give him too much credit. But Khan will always be a guy who's gifted but flawed, dangerous yet vulnerable at the same time. It's what makes him a fascinating guy to watch because at his best, he flashes an extraordinary amount of talent. Yet his deficiencies (mainly low punch resistance) have gotten him beaten by the likes of Breidis Prescott and Danny Garcia.
 
The main thing Virgil Hunter has to do is keep enforcing what suits Khan’s skill set, preach situational boxing and having a better sense of distance and spacing in the ring. And even then, he'll still find himself in harm's way against most legitimate junior welterweights.
 
He just can't help himself.
 
There is a lot of talk of a rematch with Garcia. It doesn't look like the timing will work out for the first half of 2013. But there is talk of Khan facing Josesito Lopez in April. Just my opinion, that's a perfect measuring stick. Lopez is a solid 140-pounder who will constantly bring the heat and provide a real threat. It also does pretty good business in Los Angeles.
 
-  Alfredo Angulo didn't just get hit with everything versus Jorge Silva - including the kitchen sink; he got hit with the faucet, the oven mitts, the refrigerator, the microwave and the stove. In other words, he got banged around pretty good by Silva, a gutty welterweight who didn't quite understand he was there to be the cannon fodder, not actually shoot a few rounds himself. But “Perro,” being the naturally bigger boxer, was able to withstand the oncoming leather, took control of things late and won a hard-fought 10-round decision.
 
This has to be a bit alarming for Angulo. No, he's never been Willie Pep but he was supposed to make some defensive improvements under the watchful eye of Hunter. But his shortcomings may not be masked by any trainer. And to execute some of things Hunter believes in, you have to at least a modicum of quickness and athleticism, things Angulo lacks. Right now (and perhaps forever), his bouts are wars of attrition.
 
-  I don't know what to really think of Deontay Wilder. Yeah, he might be America's best young heavyweight but that's akin to being the fastest Korean sprinter - in other words, it ain't saying much. Yeah, he can punch and he looks the part; I just can't shake the image of him getting knocked down by Harold Sconiers a few years back.
 
Wilder says he's ready for big things. I'd just like to see how he does against a seasoned pro who will take him into deep waters.
 
-  Julio Diaz flat-out proved me wrong (yeah, it happens), I gave him very little chance to be competitive against Shawn Porter but over 10 entertaining innings, he may have done enough to emerge victorious over the undefeated prospect. The fight was ruled a draw but most ringsiders had “The Kidd” on top. For much of the second half of the fight, he was the aggressor (which is alarming for Porter given Diaz is really a natural lightweight) and was consistently beating Porter to the punch with his still smooth combinations.
 
Diaz still can beat a certain level of guy but this is also puts into question Porter’s overall upside and ceiling. If you're the goods, you're expected to beat Diaz decisively at this stage of the game. I get the sense it will only get tougher for him going into the future.
 
-  At the post-fight press conference after the Khan-Molina fight, Schaefer announced that a deal was in place to have Bernard Hopkins face IBF light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud on March 9th, pending IBF approval. Honestly, I'm good with this fight. If there's one thing Cloud does, it’s bring a fight with him. It’s certainly a much better match-up than some of the other fights that could land on the Showtime schedule (and this is presumably an option though HBO is also showing interest in this bout), namely, Peter Quillin against Jermain Taylor (speculated for February 9th at the Barclays Center) and Paulie Malignaggi versus Shane Mosley (which is being seriously discussed for late April at the same venue in Brooklyn).
 
Just think about it; Jermain Taylor and Shane Mosley are “this close” to getting slots on a premium cable network - which is OK...if it were 2005.
 
Taylor is a danger to himself at the world-class level and Mosley…well, didn't he retire after getting beaten decisively by Saul “Canelo” Alvarez back in May? He has not won a fight since January of 2009 and beyond that, take away one shot against Floyd Mayweather, his fights have been pretty dreadful. It's OK to not win every fight but when every fight is hard to watch, well, that's something entirely different. Yes, Mosley still has a marquee name (which the networks love) but unfortunately, that's all he has left. [Editor’s note: Not unlike everything else in life, boxing schedules are subject to change. As this article went to press, Maxboxing was informed Jermain Taylor is out and Fernando Guerrero is in to face Peter Quillin]
 
-  Looking at the way the Showtime schedule is set up for the first half of 2013, the golden trend is continuing. On January 26th, they have Lucas Matthysse versus Hank Lundy headlining their card. Then on February 9th, they have the grudge match between the whole Garcia family and Zab Judah. March 9th might see Cloud vs. Hopkins (if HBO doesn’t nab the fight) and the late April broadcast will feature Paulie Malignaggi. All four are under the auspices of Golden Boy Promotions.
 
As Bill Belichick would say, it is what it is.
 
-  An announced crowd of 6,109 was at the L.A. Sports Arena (“The House of Ralph Lawler”) and Schaefer announced this venue would certainly be considered in the future when others weren't available. Honestly, I don't mind one bit. It's still a very serviceable venue and it's local. It beats going to some far-flung Indian casino. But they really do need to work on their wireless internet connections. There was a lot of frustration ringside as our connections kept going out (wanna see boxing writers panic? Take away the ability to tweet from ringside - trust me; I'm a perfect example). Also, they don't seem to have central air in this building (completed in 1959) and during the winter months, make sure you bring a jacket and sweater. It's as cold as a meat locker in that place.
 
-  Gotta hand it to Golden Boy; in addition to the Toy Drive Event they did throughout the week (which brightened the holiday season of many who are less fortunate), they also staged a “Fan-fest” between the two sets of fight cards on Saturday afternoon. It was well-attended and the most popular facet of this event was the autograph line which saw the likes of Santa Cruz, Quillin, Garcia and Adrien Broner, among many other GBP boxers, give out their John Hancocks to appreciative fans.
 
I've always felt boxing needs more events like this and had fallen behind in this regard to the UFC. Let's hope we see more of these functions in the near future.
 
HBO
 
OK, I got home and my day of boxing wasn't done as I had the HBO broadcast to view. Some thoughts on that...
 
-  Just rewatching that stunning knockout of Manny Pacquiao by Juan Manuel Marquez; not only did Pacquiao get a bit greedy but from a technical standpoint, he made a huge mistake in his alignment as a left-hander. Throughout the night as he threw his punches and shaded to the right (which would be Marquez's left), he had great success. But when his front foot was on the inside of Marquez's, it was the Mexican who found a home for the right hand.
 
Gil Clancy would've had a field day analyzing this (no one was better at explaining the dynamics of a southpaw-orthodox match-up better than this guy).
 
In that last fatal sequence, Pacquiao came inside the front shoulder of Marquez, his head on the wrong side, basically boxing himself in (and his foot was also stepped on). He came right down a tunnel in front of an oncoming train he…well, never saw coming. In baseball, they'd say Pacquiao “hung a curve.”
 
Speaking of which, for most of the year, Nonito Donaire had been pitched around by a series of cautious opponents who didn't want to risk the fate that befallen Fernando Montiel. But all Jorge Arce knows how to do is to come with the high, hard one (call him the Mexican Mitch Williams). And predictably, he got stopped in spectacular fashion in three frames by the “Filipino Flash.”
 
This is why Top Rank wanted so badly to make this fight happen: to give Donaire - who just might walk away with 2012 “Fighter of the Year” honors - his mojo back.
 
As for the broadcast itself, it was historic and sentimental because it was the final one for Larry Merchant after 35 years on the job (http://www.maxboxing.com/news/other-boxing-news/merchants-swan-song). I thought he went out in grand style and showed why he would be missed and why these telecasts will never be quite the same.
 
Merchant told George Foreman (his former sparring partner on the air),”George, you big flatterer,” after he lavished praise on him during the broadcast. Then after Donaire's dominant victory, he pressed him on who he really wanted to face next (to which Donaire admitted he wanted to fight Abner Mares), then asked him if he would press his promoter on the issue to make it happen.
 
Merchant being Merchant till the very end.
 
FINAL FLURRIES
 
I thought the HBO montage of Merchant (complete with the “Rocky” music and footage of him with Don Dunphy) was outstanding...“The Fight Game with Jim Lampley” was very good. Lamps took a firm stance on PEDs in boxing and the segment with Merchant was very fitting...Remember, boxing returns to NBC next Saturday afternoon when the rematch between Tomasz Adamek and Steve Cunningham takes place...I can't lie; I had two hot dogs from one of the vendors outside the Sports Arena on Saturday night. Hey, I was starving...Could the Bears really be freefalling to a point where they don't make the playoffs? I wonder what Jim Mora has say about this...Quietly, Cam Newton has had a pretty good second half of the year for Carolina...Russell Wilson has even surpassed my expectations in Seattle this season...Is Adrian Peterson human?...Can someone please clear out Norv Turner's office?...

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