By Lyle Fitzsimmons
Some notes, nuggets and non-sequiturs gathered in the midst of the best sports Saturday of the year – Derby Day followed by Mayweather night.
Magnificent Mayweather: One day, perhaps he’ll convince people that he is what he says he is—one of the greatest fighters of all time. In the mean time, it seems “Money” will simply have to go about his business winning fights, and leave those chats for others. To these eyes, the one-sided clinic against Guerrero simply added to a pile of evidence I’d already considered beyond reasonable doubt, that he’d give any welterweight of the past 30 years (and yes, that means Leonard, Hearns, Duran and Benitez, too) anything they wanted and more.
A Mouthful of Ruben: Maybe, just maybe, a couple dozen looks at Saturday’s replay will convince a certain fighter’s father of what the rest of us (including his son) seem to understand—that Mayweather was the better man regardless of what form the action took. When the fighters were stock still in ring center, Mayweather landed cleaner, sharper shots. When the action moved to the ropes, Mayweather had an answer for everything Guerrero asked. And when the champion chose to incorporate lateral movement, the supposedly too rough and too tough Guerrero had nothing in his toolkit to do anything about it. Funny how it looks a lot different when it’s not Selcuk Aydin, huh? And as for his whines that the champion “ran like a chicken,” perhaps he can explain exactly who it was that battered his kid’s face to a reddened, bloody mess. Better yet, maybe he can do so back in the obscurity from which he crawled, so none of us have to listen.
Wlad’s a winner: Scoring three knockdowns of a younger man considered at least on the fringe of contention by the major sanctioning bodies, Klitschko showed that he still belongs at the top of any legitimate opinion-based heap of heavyweights. And with a 14th successful risk of the IBF and IBO titles he won in 2006, he took one six-foot, six-inch step closer to the numerical defense watermarks established by Joe Louis (26*) and Larry Holmes (20).
[Editor's Note: Historians insist Louis made 25 title defenses; NYSAC archives recognize a previously listed exhibition with Johnny Davis in Nov. 1944 as a sanctioned world heavyweight championship fight, a fight not included in most historians' notes]
Magic from Malignaggi: The brash Brooklynite was a clear winner in the opening salvo of banter with imminent challenger Adrien Broner, whom he’ll meet on June 22. Paulie’s Rocky-related retort to Broner’s juvenile T-shirt was spot on, and his analysis throughout the rest of the Showtime telecast lifts him to the top of the list current/former fights moonlighting as TV broadcasters.
Bonbons for Broner: He fought at 135 pounds in his last fight and is jumping to 147 to face Malignaggi at the Barclays Center, but it appeared Saturday as though Adrien would need to cut some serious weight just to get within range of the welterweight area code. “He looks like he’s been training at the buffet,” Malignaggi adroitly said.
Love for Love: The unbeaten Detroit middleweight may or may not have deserved the decision—two judges were for him, one judge and most of the crowd were against him (I gave it to Rosado by a point, by the way)—but, win, lose or draw, he established himself as a perfectly legit commodity at 160 pounds against former world title challenger Gabriel Rosado. The choice of foe was questioned by many, but Love proved he belonged and will get at least a few honorable mentions for 2013 fight of the year.
On with the Showtime: Long considered the second banana of the two premium cable boxing options, Showtime used the year’s first super fight pay-per-view to illustrate precisely how much the gap has closed. With Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the fold for 30 months—and talents like Abner Mares, Canelo Alvarez and Danny Garcia close behind—it seems many of the best fights to be made will be on Showtime’s air or its PPV broadcasts. Add in the fact that it’ll mean Jimmy Lennon instead of Michael “Look at Me” Buffer, and it’s a win-win for everyone.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week’s title-fight schedule:
WBA minimumweight title – Osaka, Japan
Ryo Miyazaki (champion) vs. Carlos Velarde (No. 7 contender)
Miyazaki (18-0-3, 10 KO): First title defense; Sixteenth fight in Osaka (12-0-3)
Velarde (23-2-1, 13 KO): First title fight; Two fights past eight rounds (2-0)
Fitzbitz says: “Velarde making long trip, step up in class for inaugural title fight, which won’t end as successfully as he’d like.” Miyazaki by decision
Vacant IBF bantamweight title – Doncaster, England
Jamie McDonnell (No. 1 contender) vs. Julio Ceja (No. 3 contender)
McDonnell (20-2-1, 9 KO): First title fight; Twelve-fight win streak since 2008
Ceja (24-0, 22 KO): First title fight; First fight outside Mexico
Fitzbitz says: “Everything about the fight says go with the more experienced local, but for some reason my head insists it’s the young, slugging challenger.” Ceja in 9
WBC light flyweight title – Toluca, Mexico
Adrian Hernandez (champion) vs. Yader Cardoza (No. 10 contender)
Hernandez (26-2-1, 16 KO): Second title defense; Unbeaten in Mexico since 2008 (10-0)
Cardoza (15-4, 5 KO): First title fight; Never fought outside Nicaragua
Fitzbitz says: “Veteran multiple-class champion continues five-year unbeaten run on home turf against first-time traveling wannabe.” Hernandez in 7
WBO lightweight title – Glasgow, Scotland
Ricky Burns (champion) vs. Jose A. Gonzalez (No. 1 contender)
Burns (35-2, 10 KO): Third title defense; Unbeaten in Scotland since 2006 (14-0)
Gonzalez (22-0, 17 KO): First title fight; First fight outside Puerto Rico
Fitzbitz says: “Challenger brings a nice record and a worthy KO rate, but Burns should beat him with style on his Scottish home turf.” Burns by decision
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full- fledged title-holder -- no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Last week’s picks: 4-2
2013 picks record: 23-17 (57.5 percent)
Overall picks record: 486-169 (74.2 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.