By Cliff Rold
Since the last ratings update, we’ve seen a four-fight Showtime event, a clash of veterans in Mexico, the return of a former titlist rebounding from a knockout loss and, perhaps, the end for three likely Hall of Famers.
Erik Morales and Rafael Marquez may continue a little longer, but with knockout losses to Danny Garcia and Cristian Mijares respectively, it’s clear their real end is here. For Flyweight Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, the end should have been clear when he was stopped by journeyman Sonny Boy Jaro earlier in the year. A knockout loss to a stay busy foe he’d bested twice before is a career obituary.
As a special note, fans that missed the Rodrigo Guerrero-Sebastian Gauthier on the undercard of the hard-hitting Lucian Bute-Denis Grachev clash should check to see if Wealth TV has an archive for it. It was a fantastic little Bantamweight clash and one of the best brawls of the year.
Let’s got the report cards where applicable and the ratings update for everything else.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Rafael Marquez B-; Cristian Mijares B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Marquez B+; Mijares C+/Post: B; B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Marquez C; Mijares B/Post: C; B+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Marquez A; Mijares B+/Post: A; A
Marquez got off to a good start in the first two rounds, showing particular fury late in the first when he lost a point (per WBC rules) for an accidental headbutt that resulted in a Mijares cut. Mijares hurt him in the third and used movement in rounds like the fourth and sixth in spots to control tempo.
There were still plenty of firefights. Mijares, wisely, glued his glove to his face for most of the first seven rounds. He wasn’t going to let Marquez win with his right hand. It still got through plenty and Mijares was ready with whipping counters. Both men did good work to the body.
Mijares was, at his best, a sound reflexive defender and showed flashes of that Saturday, making Marquez miss in spots when he wasn’t using his legs to force Marquez to follow him around the ring. When he did get hit, Mijares took the shots well, buckling only once under a right hand and coming right back. Mijares has typically had a sound chin when Vic Darchinyan isn’t hitting it.
All in all, it was a sound fight. Was it a sound finish?
Marquez, who had been stunned late in the eighth, was hurt badly and Mijares was pouring it on. Given his reputation for a vulnerable chin, and age, one could understand the hook while also seeing reason to let it go on. The result was still in doubt, the fight was close, and Marquez never hit the deck.
It was a judgment call best avoided by not getting hurt. It was too late for that for Marquez.
The rebuilding of Mijares continues and, matched right, he could be a titlist once again. He doesn’t look like he has the speed anymore to have a chance against a Nonito Donaire but, given his deep reservoir of experience, Mijares might make a sound test for a Guillermo Rigondeaux who needs some more names to increase public pressure for his own hopes for a Donaire fight. He has also been mentioned for a shot at 126 lbs. against titlist Daniel Ponce De Leon. That would be a pick ‘em fight.
As to Marquez, at 37 he’s just taking brain cells away from his future. He isn’t going to get less hittable in the future and his chin won’t get better. He had a hell of a run. If he walks away now, he’ll be able to remember it with pride. Let’s hope he does.
Here’s a quick look back at the big Showtime four-fight show and short thoughts on each clash.
Let’s go to the report cards.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Erik Morales B; Danny Garcia B+/Post: C-; B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Morales B; Garcia B/Post: C; B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Morales C; Garcia B/Post: D; B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Morales A+; Garcia B+/Post: C; B+
Pre-Fight: Speed – Randall Bailey B; Devon Alexander A/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Bailey A+; Alexander B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Bailey C-; Alexander B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Bailey B; Alexander B/Post: D+; B
Pre-Fight: Speed – Paulie Malignaggi B+; Pablo Cesar Cano C/Post: B; C+
Pre-Fight: Power – Malignaggi C; Cano B/Post: C; B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Malignaggi B+; Cano C-/Post: B; C-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Malignaggi B+; Cano B+/Post: B+; B-
Pre-Fight: Speed – Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam B+; Peter Quillin B/Post: B+; B+
Pre-Fight: Power – N’Jikam B; Quillin B/Post: B-; A
Pre-Fight: Defense – N’Jikam B-; Quillin B/Post: C; B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – N’Jikam B+; Quillin B+/Post: B; A
Cliff’s Notes…Morales just doesn’t have it anymore but it doesn’t mean Garcia didn’t impress. Fighters get better as they go and Garcia has done nothing but improve over the last year. We haven’t seen the best of Garcia yet…Devon Alexander needs a dance partner. He can be in decent fights, but if he’s fighting a puncher who won’t throw, it brings out the least watchable side of him…The card here said Malignaggi edged Cano by a point, 114-113, but credit to Cano for scoring a clean knockdown. Few have done that to Paulie, who battled back with grit. Malignaggi’s guts are always underrated. Cano’s gut was too big and he should wonder what might have been…N’Jikam proved not to have the beard he needed to beat Quillin. He still won his share of rounds (final tally here was 6-5-1 in rounds for N’Jikam but 114-109 on score for Quillin) and showed tremendous bottom in getting back up five times and never accepting defeat. Quillin, conversely, made himself a player in a class rich with youth and getting better by the fight.
Report Card Picks 2012: 57-18
Cruiserweight: Former titlist Firat Arslan came close to upsetting Marco Huck and returns to the top ten for the first time in a long time. Lateef Kayode exits.
Light Heavyweight: So, it turns out Denis Grachev’s win over Ismayl Sillakh was no fluke. He gave Bute everything he could handle and more. While the card here saw Bute a winner at 115-113, Grachev only gained in defeat. This is a real contender at Light Heavyweight and remains in the ratings.
Middleweight: Quillin gets a nice bump off the best win of his career, into the top four and in the conversation with anyone at Middleweight. N’Dam only slips a little off a gutsy performance.
Welterweight: Alexander and Kell Brook, viciously victorious overseas against Hector Saldivia, get slight bumps. Bailey exits. Chris Van Heerden debuts at ten.
Jr. Welterweight: Erik Morales leaves the top ten and, even in a week of controversy about banned diuretics, gets a salute for a truly great tenure. It may not have been his last fight, but it’s not much longer until the finish line. Ajose Olusegun returns to the top ten after a one-week absence.
Lightweight: He might have won but Miguel Vazquez didn’t look good doing it against Marvin Quintero, especially in comparison to other outings from top Lightweights recently. Vazquez slips from the top slot and now rests behind Antonio DeMarco and Ricky Burns.
Jr. Lightweight: Takahiro Ao was shocked by journeyman Gamaliel Diaz and slips hard while Diaz enters the ratings for the first time.
Featherweight: Marquez exits the top ten and Javier Fortuna enters. Mijares could have been considered here, but the initial weight reported for the Marquez fight was Jr. Featherweight and Mijares is likely to continue there.
Jr. Featherweight: Mijares moves up from the ten slot and Alejandro Lopez, who upset former titlist Takalani Ndlovu, enters the top ten.
Bantamweight: The retirement of Eric Morel makes room for Christian Esquivel to return to the top ten. Shinsuke Yamanaka, with three strong wins in a row and a Knockout of the Year contender against Tomas Rojas, moves up a slot to number two.
Jr. Bantamweight: Rodrigo Guerrero re-enters the top ten in place of Oleydong Sithsamerchai on the strength of his win over Gauthier (albeit above the division limit).
Flyweight: During the week, a big shock came from Thailand. Former two-time lineal World Champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam looked old in losing his title to Sonny Boy Jaro in what remains the upset of 2012. Now, this: He loses to a Rey Migreno he beat twice already in stay busy action. Fighters get old. Flyweights get old earlier most of the time and their slips can be dramatic. This is one of those times. The 35-year old Wonjongkam has said he’ll retire and he should. Is he headed to Canastota? He’s got five years, at least, to find out. For those who missed, here’s another chance to look back at what was a commendable career: http://www.boxingscene.com/measured-against-all-time-pongsaklek-wonjongkam--50390. Giovanni Segura returns to the top ten.
Strawweight: Kazuto Ioka’s choice to vacate his WBA belt earlier this month leaves an opening for a clash between rated Jr. Flyweight Ryo Miyazaki and former titlist Pornsawan Porpramook. Keep an eye out there. Ioka remains rated at 105 until he officially debuts in the higher class.
The full results of note and impact on the ratings are a click away.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]