by Cliff Rold
As far as weekends meant to keep time go, boxing could have done worse. With the spotlight turned, at the championship level, on the lowest weight divisions, boxing got healthy action at Jr. Flyweight and a hint at Strawweight as well, made more intriguing by the family affair it represented.
The family in this case was the brothers Garcia, WBO interim 105 lb. titlist Raul and new WBO 108 lb. beltholder Ramon. They are unlikely to dominate their fields the way the Klitschko’s do at Heavyweight. They are probably not on their way to joining Rafael and Juan Manuel Marquez in the Hall of Fame.
Still, that’s got to be a hell of a family reunion conversation starter. Raul Garcia, who previously held the IBF belt at 105, would be even more interesting if he went back after the belt he once held. Nothing against the WBO belt at 105; it’s holder, Donnie Nietes, may be done in boxing’s smallest class. If one can get a belt in the lowest classes, it’s a living. However, no champion can take real pride in the distinction knowing someone else, in their division, makes the same claim at their expense.
Raul Garcia losing his first belt to Nkosinathi Joyi by near shutout in March 2010? Yeah, that’s still just sitting there, isn’t it?
Fat chance seeing any of that culminate in a genuinely significant clash at Strawweight. It’s hard to muster the will to make fights so few will pay to see.
In stark contrast, Jr. Flyweight has often been a field of high drama since its birth in the 1970s. It’s been lucky in terms of just the right blend of talent, regional alignments, and exciting fighters. While it is losing its leader to Flyweight, and Giovanni Segura would be shocking if ever seen at the weight again, this last weekend showed off its attributes.
The WBO has already shifted their title recognition, one of three new titlists crowned on Saturday. Ramon joined brother Raul by walking through Jesus Geles. With Nietes moved up and likely to stay, a showdown is likely to be soon. If not, the division has a powerful Latin flavor.
Ulises Solis, on a second try, overcame the ugliness Luis Lazarte brought to bear and regained the IBF belt he wore from 2006-09. It marks a career recovery from the stoppage loss that ended that first reign, though there was never any shame in the outstanding clash Solis had with Brian Viloria.
And then, finally, was the end of Cinderella’s night. Gilberto Keb Baas added his 21st loss to the ledger but went down swinging, the unlikely WBC beltholder losing his strap to an Adrian Hernandez on the way up.
This Saturday, when Manny Pacquiao is getting his big check to fight Shane Mosley’s shell, these little battlers will be far from the larger fistic mind. For one week though, they loomed largest. What does it mean for the ratings?
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]