by Cliff Rold
There is nothing better than a puncher’s duel.
A nice one might have been born on Saturday night.
As Curtis Stevens left Saul Roman stretched across the ring floor, social media was aflame with wonder about a fight with rising Middleweight titan Gennady Golovkin. Then Stevens went and called Golovkin out.
Check please and sign us up.
The one question lingering about Golovkin is what happens when he takes a monster shot. The best man to ask that question is fellow titlist Peter Quillin but politics impede that match. The next best puncher available might be Stevens and only caution about moving the resurgent New Yorker could hold up a showdown.
With risk comes reward. Risking Stevens against Golovkin could pay off huge for a fighter written off years ago.
Or it could just result in an edge of the seat battle while it lasts. Either way, it’s as good a choice as exists for the fall.
Make mine Golovkin-Stevens.
With that said, after a slow weekend we turn the page back for some overdue thoughts on one of the best weekends boxing has seen in recent memory just two Saturday’s ago.
Feel free to ask for more than July 27th. There’s nothing wrong with shooting for the stars. Just know…
…it doesn’t get much better than that.
The spotlight was heavy on two Saturday cards with Showtime’s setting the US airwaves afire with a tripleheader as good, action wise, as any aired in recent memory. Seriously, try to think of the last time three fights were that good on the same show (with a special nod to the insanity at Lightweight between Omar Figueroa and Nihito Arakawa).
And in the Showtime main event, one of the sport’s grittiest veterans got a career victory to add the extra ounce of narrative boxing can never get enough of.
Let’s go to the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Berto A-; Soto Karass C+/Post: A-; B-
Pre-Fight: Power – Berto B+; Soto Karass B/Post: B; B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Berto C; Soto Karass C-/Post: D; C-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Berto B; Soto Karass B/Post: A; A
So it turns out Jesus Soto Karass is far from being on a lower level than former Welterweight titlist Andre Berto, or at least what’s left of Berto. Beginning in the very first round, when Berto’s legs showed buckle for the first time, one could tell it was going to be a long night for the former Haitian Olympian.
Wars with Luis Collazo, Victor Ortiz, and Robert Guerrero all took miles off Berto. Karass probably doubled those miles, earning the honors of being the first man to stop Berto. Berto might have heard the final bell, might even have been awarded an absurd decision based on scores still in the air before the final round.
But Berto made a mistake.
He dropped Karass with a body shot in round eleven. When Karass rose, he fought with the fire of a man who wasn’t going to let his moment get away. He tore into Berto and beat on him for the rest of the eleventh. In the final round, he found the hook to end matters.
There could be some argument about the stoppage. Berto rose quickly and has shown the ability to endure in the past. That said, there was nothing wrong with ending it there given the look of Berto’s legs or the punishment he’d taken.
Karass, only two fights removed from a knockout loss to Marcos Maidana, find himself a viable title foe for any of the beltholders below Mayweather right now. For instance, he could be matched with the two WBA titlists in class he hasn’t faced yet (Maidana excluded) like Adrien Broner and newly crowned interim titlist Keith Thurman (victorious by knockout on the undercard versus Diego Chaves). He would also be an intriguing opponent for IBF titlist Devon Alexander.
If not a title shot, he could also be an excellent action foe with Golden Boy stablemates Ortiz and Guerrero. Call it a “Beat Berto” round robin.
As to Berto, this guy needs a return to a diet of careful opposition, men along the lines of Steve Forbes and Freddy Hernandez. It was the sort of foe he used to be criticized for but he needs it now. If he’s going to continue, he needs a chance to see if he can recharge and also to see if he can find some technical solutions.
He can’t keep taking beatings and expect things to get better. He may already have taken more beatings than a career can recover from.
Aside from the excellent Showtime action, a note is also merited for the action from Macau earlier in the day, broadcast on delay by HBO2.
Featherweight Evgeny Gradovich performed better than expected and appears to be growing as a fighter. He’s got the feel of someone who will be a guy whose reign picks up momentum as he finds his ceiling. This could be fun.
And the best discovery of the last year in the lower weights continued to shine at Flyweight. Juan Francisco Estrada is, based on quality wins, the Fighter of the Year so far in 2013. It likely won’t hold, not with fights like Matthysse-Garcia and Mayweather-Canelo still coming. The only fight he could take, and win, to keep the hunt hot is a rematch Roman Gonzalez.
Gonzalez would be a tall order.
Regardless, he had a skilled opponent in Milan Melindo and after a rocky first half he did what a young champion should: he found his groove, turned it on, and pulled away. It wasn’t a great fight but it was plenty damn good. Let’s hope this young man stays on US TV for the foreseeable future.
Zou Shiming, the headliner in Macau, might not ever be a great fighter (though he looked a little better than in his debut). But, if his headlining is what it takes to get the currently fantastic Flyweight division on HBO, then bring him out as often as possible.
Report Card Picks 2013: 31-17
There are some updates to not in the division ratings.
Cruiserweight: His career-making win over former Heavyweight title challenger Eddie Chambers earns Thabiso Mchunu
Welterweight: In victory, Keith Thurman gets a slight bump in the standings. Jesus Soto Karass was also considered and should be considered next out.
Jr. Welterweight: Hank Lundy bumped Ajose Olusegun from the ratings with his win three Friday’s ago…but that doesn’t mean Lundy gets a spot. Instead, entering the top ten is Viktor Postol who beat Lundy in March.
Bantamweight: Tomoki Kameda enters the ratings in a big way with a win over Paulus Ambunda. Ambunda drops to ten, dislodging Stephane Jamoye.
Flyweight: Melindo performed well enough in defeat to remain in the top ten. Estrada remains in the number one contender spot to lineal champion Akira Yaegashi. In a better world, we’d see them square off and it would be a corker.
The full results of note, more moves, and the total impact on the ratings are a click away.
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]