Boxing delivered the goods on three continents on Saturday, April 27, with exciting, competitive main events in the United States, Argentina, and the United Kingdom. Here's a rundown of what went down on Saturday.
Danny Garcia UD-12 Zab Judah
Judah (42-8, 29 KO) did once again come up short on the big stage, but in all honesty, this was one of the more gutsy, admirable performances of the 35-year-old's career. Zab started a little slow, got into some real trouble fairly early in the fight, and then, just as he seemed to be picking up Garcia's timing, he was decked in the eighth round on a counter right hand.
Garcia (26-0, 16 KO) looked firmly in control. The old story with Judah is he's got the talent, but lacks the mental game, for whatever reasons. And there was a familiar expression on Zab's face when he got to his feet after the knockdown, too: One of a defeated, frustrated fighter, who would either search for a way out, or survive the rest of the fight.
To his great credit, he did neither, and in the championship rounds, the veteran, fighting at home in Brooklyn, made an uncharacteristically valiant charge, hurting Garcia and showing great signs of life. In the end, Garcia won on scores of 114-112, 115-112, and 116-111. BLH scored it 115-111 for Garcia.
It was a fight that lived up to its pre-fight hype, and also in a nice turn, didn't feature any unfortunate examples of the bad blood that developed between the camps. When the fighters started the bout, there was some reluctance to touch gloves. When the 12th round was about to begin, they did it with no hesitation. And when the final bell rang, they embraced and expressed respect for one another.
Garcia cements himself, at the moment, as the best 140-pound fighter in the world with this win, but a bigger test awaits if he does indeed face the winner of May 18's fight between Lamont Peterson and Lucas Matthysse. As for Zab, he might never get back over the hump, but he'll have another fight on this level soon enough, and this time, I think we can say he earned it in the ring.
Also in Brooklyn: Fernando Guerrero was game but outgunned against WBO middleweight titlist Peter Quillin, dropped four times overall and stopped in the seventh round ... Danny Jacobs kept his comeback rolling with a dominant win over Keenan Collins (KO-4).
Sergio Martinez UD-12 Martin Murray
Sergio Martinez's return to Argentina, his native country, didn't go entirely as planned, as the 38-year-old middleweight champion had to dig deep to edge out a decision win over England's Martin Murray. Martinez won on scores of 115-112, 115-112, and 115-113. BLH had it 114-113 in favor of Murray (25-1-1, 11 KO).
Both men had an argument for the win, but Murray's team reportedly didn't take major issue with the decision, though those things sometimes change the next week when the fighters review the tape. Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KO) came off the canvas in the eighth round and pulled out the fight down the stretch, but there were major signs that the end is near for Sergio.
We said in the preview that when the reflexes and speed on a fighter like Martinez begin to erode, they can get into trouble fast. Roy Jones Jr, again, is a prime example of this. Sergio has always had technical flaws, but he had such great balance, speed of hand and foot, and counter-punching ability, along with underrated power, that he was able to overcome that.
It's not to say that every fighter has to be great fundamentally, but guys like Sergio or Jones do hit the wall, and when they hit it, they hit hard. Jones went from a debated decision over Antonio Tarver in 2003 straight into back-to-back KO losses to Tarver and Glen Johnson. After that first fight with Tarver, the old Roy Jones never returned.
Is Murray the Tarver to Sergio's Roy? Maybe, but we won't know for sure any time soon. Martinez broke his hand in the fight tonight, and promoter Lou DiBella says he's probably out for the rest of the year. Injuries had piled up and it's no secret anymore that Martinez's body is physically failing him, at least as far as remaining an elite boxer. The bell is tolling.
Apart from the boxing, though, this was just a spectacular event overall. Consider that there were no huge promoters involved here -- Lou DiBella, Sampson Lewkowicz, and Hatton Promotions put this card on, and it was as great an atmosphere as you're likely to see in a fight this year. Somewhere around 50,000 fans (or perhaps less than that, but still a load of people) jammed into a football stadium, chanted and sang, and gave Martinez a hero's welcome.
The weather was so bad that the fight was pushed up from a likely 10 pm EDT start to 8:30, so that they could make sure it actually happened. There was rain, high wind, and yet the fans remained. When Martinez appeared for his walk to the ring, he was suffocated by fans trying to rush to him, and security had to surround Martinez and inch him to the ring. It was really quite a sight the whole way through. It was a special night for boxing in Argentina.
Also in Buenos Aires: Luis Carlos Abregu outpointed Antonin Decarie in a welterweight bout. This was supposed to air on HBO, but only highlights made it on the air, as this fight also had to run earlier than anticipated due to the weather.
Also on HBO (from California): Bermane Stiverne scored an upset over Chris Arreola, and earned a WBC heavyweight title shot. Stiverne put Arreola down hard in the third, and won on scores of 117-110, 117-110, and 118-109.
Amir Khan UD-12 Julio Diaz
Speaking of surviving, Amir Khan's return home to the UK also wasn't great, but he did enough to get the win, and like Martinez, had to get up off the mat to do so. Khan (28-3, 19 KO) was dropped in the fourth round, and from there on, the fight carried the familiar nervousness of an Amir Khan bout: Will he get hit hard enough that he can't get out of trouble?
Diaz (40-8-1, 29 KO) fought like he knew he needed a KO, which was probably smart. He was on the road, but in the end, he lost by fair scores: 114-113, 115-113, and 115-112. BLH had it 113-113, with Diaz getting a second 10-8 round when he battered Khan round the ring later in the bout.
But if Diaz hadn't been loading up for power shots, would he have come close to the upset? No, probably not. Khan's advantage in speed was enough that Diaz would have had a very, very hard time managing to box his way to a decision. His greatest hope was to hurt Khan, and he did. He just didn't hurt him enough to get him out.
There are questions about whether or not there's really anything different about Amir now that he's with trainer Virgil Hunter, a defensive specialist. Some don't think Hunter is really all he's cracked up to be, and that his great success with Andre Ward is really more Andre Ward's great success with Virgil Hunter, and there have always been skeptics, like deposed trainer Freddie Roach, who believe Amir Khan simply is who he is, and there will be no major change in his approach.
That, it seemed on Saturday, is probably true. Khan allowed himself to get reckless, got hit more than he'd like to, and though he won the fight, it was a lot closer than it should have been if we're still going to consider Khan an elite fighter. But time will tell. This was only the second fight for the Khan-Hunter pairing, and it's too early to declare the partnership a failure.
Also in Sheffield: Deontay Wilder stopped Audley Harrison in 70 seconds, which surprised nobody ... Anthony Ogogo and Amir's younger brother Haroon Khan made successful professional debuts.
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