By Cliff Rold
One showed no ill effects from a devastating loss in his last fight.
The other looked a long way from the agony of defeat anytime soon.
Saturday night, the US boxing scene was a tale of two titlists who exited with big wins. Still, questions remain. They will be answered in fights ahead. For now…
Let’s go the report cards.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Lamont Peterson B; Dierry Jean B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Peterson B; Jean B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Peterson B-; Jean B/Post: B; B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Peterson B; Jean B/Post: B+; B
The key to beating IBF 140 lb. titlist Lamont Peterson likely remains what it has always been. You have to get on him early and make it stick. Timothy Bradley built an early lead and held Peterson off in what ended up a fine fight. Amir Khan almost did it but came up a hair short (if with some controversy). Lucas Matthysse blew him out.
Dierry Jean didn’t get the memo. Jean came out boxing and didn’t start letting the leather fly until late in the second round. By the time all out warfare broke out in the third, Jean’s best chance at victory may already have passed him by.
Peterson was warmed up. When Peterson is warmed up, he’s a meat grinder. One of the best pressure fighters in the game, Peterson has a knack for whacking the body and timing his offense upstairs from there. By round six, he was letting it all hang out. Jean rallied in the eighth, but the die was already cast.
For Jean, the loss will be disappointing but it need not be crippling. He has plenty of tools. What he lacked, as he acknowledged, was experience. Peterson was a big step up from the level he’s been fighting. Peterson had to struggle through a loss to Bradley and a draw with Victor Ortiz to get better and break through. Jean needs to stay challenged in the ring. We likely haven’t heard the last of him.
Peterson mentioned the possibility of a fight with lineal and unified titlist Danny Garcia. After Garcia’s win over Matthysse, there will some who see Garcia a prohibitive favorite. This could be a case where styles make fights. Garcia doesn’t present the same lethal power threat Matthysse did to Peterson. It doesn’t mean Peterson would win but a Garcia-Peterson fight has the sort of style mesh that could make a classic.
It’s a fight worth hoping for if Garcia doesn’t move up a class looking for Floyd Mayweather first.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Mikey Garcia B; Juan Carlos Burgos B-/Post: B+; B
Pre-Fight: Power – Garcia A-; Burgos B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Garcia B; Burgos C/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Garcia A; Burgos B/Post: Same
While Peterson-Jean met expectations for a good, hard fight, Garcia-Burgos was a disappointment. No, there was never any reason to think Garcia would lose but, based on past form, Burgos giving him a good fight was a reasonable thought.
For a few rounds he did, even rocking Garcia late in the second. Garcia shook it off and easily separated himself. Burgos was still firing in spots even late in the fight, and occasionally landing, but he was proven out of his league.
The issue now is just what league Garcia is in. Let’s be honest: 130 lbs. is not a minefield right now. There are some good fighters, but the class is among the most shallow in boxing. The best in-ring opponent for Garcia at Jr. Lightweight, Takashi Uchiyama, exists in what might as well be a parallel universe. It’s the fight any hardcore fan should want to see, but it’s also a fight with little market.
Uchiyama won a war with Daiki Kaneko late last year and has earned the right to be considered the de facto top man in class. Garcia would be as much a danger to him as the opposite is true. This is a case where profligate titles and markets for ‘world champions’ works against the sport side of boxing. Business is great, but great fights are better.
Instead we may get Garcia moving in a manufactured fashion towards Manny Pacquiao if Pacquiao keeps winning at Welterweight. It’s a hard idea to take serious right now. Some may point and say, “Hey, Pacquiao did it (moving from Featherweight to Welterweight and rocking it).”
The difference is Pacquiao was fighting monsters like Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and Juan Manuel Marquez before Oscar De La Hoya thought he cherry picked the right little guy to keep him relevant. Orlando Salido, Rocky Martinez, and Juan Carlos Burgos ain’t Barrera, Marquez, and Morales.
We know Garcia is very good, but we don’t have a clue just how good he is yet because he doesn’t have the opposition yet to know for sure.
One can see why they’d want to move Garcia up sooner than later. The big money isn’t there at 130 or 135 right now. 135 will have some better fights as potentially Terrence Crawford and Denis Shafikov emerge, but is that in line with the Garcia matchmaking clock?
It may not be.
Report Card Picks 2014: 5-1
On the Peterson undercard, Jermell Charlo looked very good against Gabriel Rosado in winning a lopsided decision. The upside is that, in passing his first big test, we can assume we haven’t yet seen the best of Charlo. When Rosado started a little rally late, Charlo handled it well. The best is yet to come for the skilled youngster…Bryant Jennings took another step towards contention with a late stoppage of Artur Szpilka but let’s hold the ‘best American Heavyweight’ chatter for the moment. Jennings still hasn’t reached the legitimate contender level of opposition. Neither has Deontay Wilder or Andy Ruiz. There are some American hopefuls out there, but none has proven to be a best anything yet…Marco Huck rid himself of the Firat Arslan question in style. One question remains for the longest reigning Cruiserweight beltholder: will he get a unification fight before the call of Heavyweight cash gets too loud to ignore?
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]