Weekend Review: Diaz’s big night
Paulie Malignaggi (right) made things difficult for Juan Diaz with his quickness and mobility but Houston's hometown hero got the job done. Photo / Joe Cordova-FightWireImages.com
Juan Diaz: The hometown hero deserves more credit than he might receive after he outpointed Paulie Malignaggi on Saturday in Houston. This turned out to be an extremely difficult matchup for Diaz, who had to chase down a much faster man who also is a very good boxer and can take a punch. He won the fight because he did what he always does – plowed relentlessly forward and kept throwing hard punches the entire fight, in spite of a nasty cut in this case. Nothing Diaz does is particularly pretty but he almost always gets the job done. And he’ll do better in the future against fighters who are more willing to trade punches with him.
Gale Van Hoy: The more I think about it the angrier I get. Malignaggi gives everything he has – putting his very life at risk, as all fighters do — and at worst loses a very close fight. Texas judge Van Hoy then scores it an absurd 118-110 for Texas fighter Diaz, which is an insult to boxing, Malignaggi and people with clear vision. Bottom line: Van Hoy is incompetent ÔÇª or worse. Malignaggi told the world what he thought of the boxing business after the fight. I know there are fans thinking the same thing, particularly after seeing Van Hoy’s score. The e-mails to that effect are already rolling in.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Paulie Malignaggi: I have a confession: I thought this was a lousy matchup. I thought Diaz would walk through Malignaggi’s feeble punches and destroy him. Boy, did Malignaggi prove me wrong. The New Yorker put on an excellent display of boxing against one of the toughest customers in the sport. I thought Malignaggi won 115-113. Sadly, he predicted before the fight that he was set up to be screwed. And he was. He’s so disgusted with boxing that he might decide to walk away and no one would blame him. Assuming he continues, after that performance, he must still be taken very seriously.
BIGGEST WINNER III
Robert Guerrero: The former two-time titleholder from Gilroy, Calif., was a disgrace five-plus months ago when he “quit” against Daud Yordan. Now he’s a three-time titleholder after outclassing Malcolm Klassen on the Diaz-Malignaggi undercard. He was confident going into the fight because he had his first training camp in years in which he could focus 100 percent on boxing. And it paid off. He dominated a world-class titleholder with a perfect game plan and the ability to pull it off. No disrespect to Diaz, Malignaggi or Daniel Jacobs but Guerrero was the best fighter on the Houston card.
Malcolm Klassen: The then-titleholder travels half way around the world — from South Africa to Houston — in hopes of building his reputation in the United States and is brimming with confidence going into the first defense of his belt. Then, when the bell rings, he is immediately rendered almost helpless by a far-superior boxer. Ouch. Now, certainly frustrated and probably embarrassed, he must go back home and begin the rebuilding process. We might not see him in these parts again.
Instant replay in Nevada: Nevada probably should’ve done this sooner but they did it and they did it right. Officials will now be able to determine with reasonable accuracy whether fights end as a result of legal or illegal blows in important fights. And, because the use of instant replay will be limited, the basic structure of the sport (three minutes of fighting, one minute of rest) will not be affected. The first time it’s used and rectifies a questionable call by a referee, we’ll all be thinking the same thing: “What took so long?”
SMARTEST STRATEGIC MOVE
Dino Duva: The New Jersey-based promoter is partnering with the Chinese amateur boxing program to guide the professional careers of that nation’s best fighters. Duva, who was at ringside when Chinese boxers won two golds, a silver and a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, apparently reasons that the most populous country on earth could produce a mother lode of untapped talent. One Chinese fighter, silver medalist Zhang Zhilei, has already begun training in the U.S. Others are soon to follow.
MOST INTERESTING MATCHUP
Tomasz Adamek-Andrew Golota: The all-Polish matchup on Oct. 24 in Poland is likely to happen unless HBO comes up with more money for an Adamek-Bernard Hopkins fight early next year. Fighting Golota would be a significant gamble for THE RING cruiserweight champion, who is much smaller than his hulking countryman. Golota isn’t what he used to be — whatever that was — but he certainly has the power to hurt the naturally smaller man. The guess here is that Adamek is slick and resilient enough to avoid trouble against a faded contender. If he isn’t, his head could land in the fifth row. Now, if the fight happens, we have to figure out a way to watch it.
MOST INTRIGUING RE-TREAD HEAVYWEIGHT
Lance Whitaker: When Whitaker knocked Oleg Maskaev throw the ropes and out in 2001, many of us wondered how far this behemoth (6-8, 250) could go. Turns out it wasn’t very far. He was outpointed by Jameel McCline in his next fight and never again beat a recognizable heavyweight. However, at 37, he’s winning and looks as fit as he ever did. He knocked out someone named Mathew Ellis in the first round Friday in Redondo Beach, Calif., which doesn’t mean much. If he can continue to win, with his size and power, it could mean a lot. He probably would fare no better than anyone else against the Klitschko brothers but he probably matches up with them physically as well as anyone.
HBO blow-by-blow announcer Bob Papa: “Boxing After Dark and the moon is coming out,” said Papa, referring to Malignaggi’s falling trunks in the eighth round.
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]