By Cliff Rold
Fighters groomed to be stars face a double-edged sword. They enjoy the luxury of notoriety, particular management, and early riches.
They are also the men all others want to face to have a shot at the kind of money people get into the hurt business for. They can be the object of jealousy from fans and fighters alike who think they get to the head of the line before they earn it.
22-year old Saul Alvarez went a long way to silencing the latter group on Saturday night. While the fight was a scoring nightmare, and the official cards will do nothing to assuage the idea his is a gilded career, two things were certain.
Alvarez landed the best shots of the fight. Alvarez arrived as a major league star. And Alvarez proved he was up to the task of meeting a prime, legitimate, top-level fighter in the Jr. Middleweight division.
Let’s go to the report cards.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Trout B+; Alvarez B/Post: B; B
Pre-Fight: Power – Trout B; Alvarez A-/Post: B-; A
Pre-Fight: Defense – Trout A-; Alvarez C/Post: B; B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Trout A; Alvarez B/Post: A; A
While this corner saw Trout winning the bout on points, Alvarez winning in and of itself was no robbery. That said, some of the official scoring was preposterous. 118-109 with Alvarez winning the first round (one of the most clear rounds of the bout for Trout) was comical.
It was a contest that asked what one liked. Trout was more active for most of the rounds. Alvarez landed harder but seemed to wait for long stretches to make those bombs happen. There were so many close rounds that a swing of 9-3 either way was possible. Bobby Hunter at Fight Score Collector provided a graphic display in collecting the media scores and laying them out here: http://fightscorecollector.blogspot.com/
What Alvarez did won the day and now he moves forward. He’s a dramatically improved fighter over the last few years and he showed a lot to get excited about Saturday. The punch he dropped Trout with in the seventh was just naked power. His hands, against a quick foe, proved quicker in some spots. He also showed off good head movement, avoiding a lot of the jabs coming back at him. Late in the fight, electing to play defense, Alvarez even got a little showy.
He also took plenty of hard leather. Trout didn’t shy from combat. He stayed close and landed some stiff stuff at close quarters. While not a huge puncher, Trout rocked Miguel Cotto with similar stuff last year. Alvarez never really blinked at the head shots.
He did show some reacting when Trout committed to the body. Most fighters do. He responded well to that too. We knew he had a killer left. His right hand was what stood out Saturday.
Trout was also creditable on Saturday. He set the pace of the fight for almost all of the twelve rounds. He came in knowing he wasn’t likely to score a knockout and showed real grit and stamina. He deserved better than two scorecards that had him seemingly out of the fight after six rounds. He deserves to get another big fight down the road and remain a player at 154 lbs. Let’s hope he’s not lost in the shuffle.
Let’s also hope this can be the end, Stateside at least, of the abortion that is open scoring. Had neither man known where the fight was heading into the championship rounds, might we have seen Alvarez still looking to finish his man? As it was, Alvarez boxed well but mostly safe. There was no impetus to go for broke and Trout was playing for a knockout against his strengths. Boxing has enough scoring problems after the final bell.
Scoring doesn’t need to a problem during a fight too. Saturday was a very good scrap. Did open scoring keep it from accelerating to greatness? It surely didn’t help.
Report Card Picks 2013: 10-13
The rest of the weekend action was worth what ultimately was nine hours and change in a row of boxing on television. Beginning with NBC and ending with Solo Boxeo, it was a long and enjoyable marathon…Nathan Cleverly is so past ready for a big fight. He won lopsided against Robin Krasniqi, a more decisive victory than expected. He has exceptional speed and workrate, if not a ton of power. Cleverly said he wants to know if he’s more than just another champ. Let’s find out…Say what some will about Heavyweight Tyson Fury but, really, what’s not to like? He’s flawed, a little obnoxious, can crack, and makes for good fights. He’s taken heat for getting dropped, but he’s not the first rising Heavyweight it’s happened to against a veteran foe. The point was he got up, got back in it, and won. Steve Cunningham, the former Cruiserweight champion, did well enough at 36 to make one wonder if he shouldn’t have been at Heavyweight a long time ago. A younger Cunningham might have fared differently. Too many smaller Heavyweights have been convinced that the size gap is so much different than it used to be. It’s not…Finally, for the many who surely missed it, go check out Victor Terrazas-Cristian Mijares. The split decision title war at 122 lbs. was dramatic to the last. From here, it appeared Mijares may have edged it out, especially with a dramatic late knockdown but Terrazas as victor was fine. If they want to do it again, hey, the sooner the better.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]