Weekend Review: Big nights for Khan, Ortiz
Victor Ortiz's one-sided victory over veteran Nate Campbell on Saturday was a solid step in the right direction after his knockout loss to Marcos Maidana less than a year ago. Photo / Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos-Golden Boy Promotions
Amir Khan: The combination of Khan’s natural gifts and the guidance of trainer Freddie Roach is producing something very special. The former Olympic silver medalist from England overwhelmed a very good, experienced professional in Paulie Malignaggi on Saturday in New York. He thoroughly outboxed a born boxer, demonstrating skills that only a few fighters in the world possess. This victory doesn’t make him a star. He must beat the 140-pound likes of Marcos Maidana, Timothy Bradley, Devon Alexander and Victor Ortiz to reach rarefied air. If he can beat such talented opponents — and that’s a big if — he could take his place among the best fighters in the world. I think he will.
Paulie Malignaggi: This should really be labeled “MOST-GRACIOUS LOSER.” Malignaggi was overwhelmed by a fighter who is superior in every way and probably is finished as an elite contender. However, he should be proud of both his effort and his post-fight interview. He made no excuses and praised Khan for his performance, even punctuating the interview by saying he looked forward to watching the top 140-pounders fight one another. That type of humility is all too uncommon in boxing. Malignaggi rubs some people the wrong way with his mouth but on this night, at least, he was a class act. Malignaggi would make a terrific broadcaster if can learn to speak more slowly.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Victor Ortiz: Nate Campbell’s reluctance to fight and his ability to take hard punches probably robbed the junior welterweight prospect of a chance to look spectacular. And, yes, Campbell looked all of his 38 years. That said, Ortiz deserves a great deal of credit for a very strong, disciplined performance against a wily veteran. Campbell can still beat most competent 140-pounders. Ortiz is light years beyond competent, though. His punches are fast, hard and accurate and his footwork is impressive. And I believe he learned an important lesson in his KO loss to Marcos Maidana: He boxes first and slugs second. That’s who he is as a fighter. I think he’s capable of accomplishing great things.
BIGGEST LOSER II
Nate Campbell: A young, in-his-prime Campbell might’ve been able to hang with Ortiz. This version of him had no hope. He clearly has lost a step and he seemed to have difficulty letting his punches go. The only aspect of his game he can be proud of was his ability to take hard punches from a naturally bigger man. That’s not much of a consolation, though. Campbell has nothing to be ashamed of. The three-time titleholder built a well-deserved reputation as a crafty, tough lightweight and then junior welterweight who could give anyone trouble into his mid-30s. To ask him to compete against a young lion like Ortiz at 38, though, was a bit too much.
Four-man 140-pound tournament: Khan seemed to love the idea of an informal four-man competition, with him fighting Marcos Maidana, Timothy Bradley fighting Devon Alexander and then the winners fighting each other. I love the idea too. The semi-final fights would be tremendous. I think Khan would outbox Maidana but the Argentine can end any fight an instant with his power, particularly in light of Khan’s questionable chin. I’d pick Alexander over Bradley because of his power but that’s really a pick-em fight. And then imagine the build up to the fight between the winners. It would have the feel of the Super Six tournament.
Top Rank and Golden Boy: I would still be shocked if Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are able to come to terms on a fight in November for several reasons, including their positions on drug testing. The promoters seem to be going into negotiations with a bit of strategy that could serve them well: Don’t negotiate the fight in the media. That often leads to clash of giant egos, as it did during the talks for a March 13 fight that fell apart. Those of us who would like to see the fight can only hope that the gargantuan amount of money the fighters stand to make supersedes their egos this time.
SECOND BEST U.S. DEBUT
Sergiy Dzinziruk: New country, new promoters, same Dzinziruk. The Ukrainian southpaw, now co-handled by Gary Shaw, used a wicked right jab and some hard lefts to break down and stop game late-replacement Daniel Dawson on Friday. It was the sixth defense of his 154-pound title. Dzinziruk, reminiscent of fellow Ukrainians Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, isn’t a crowd pleaser but he seems to be extremely fit and cooly efficient. Dawson, decent but overmatched, had no chance in this fight. And remember: Dzinziruk hadn’t fought in 18 months because of a contract dispute with former promoter Universum. I think Dzinziruk could give any 154-pounder trouble.
BEST CAREER SAVER
Julio Diaz: The two-time lightweight title holder had lost two in a row and three of five going into his junior welterweight fight against Herman Ngoudjo on Friday night. The losses were to good fighters but such lack of success placed him on the brink of extinction as a contender at 30. How did Diaz respond? With a solid victory over one-time contender in a similar position. Diaz didn’t look spectacular but fought a smart, disciplined fight against a fit, much-stronger opponent. Diaz fights in perhaps the deepest division in boxing, so it will be difficult for him to rise back to the top, but at least he gave himself a chance.
Kevin Mitchell: The Londoner obviously was embarrassed that Australian Michael Katsidis whacked him out in three rounds in front of the home fans, feelings that are understandable. However, he made a mistake by letting the excuses fly afterward. He said that training didn’t go well, that he had some late nights and that other “rows” contributed to his difficulties in the ring. Here’s the reality: He got his ass kicked by a better fighter. Every fighter who loses can come up with a plausible excuse. The most-sportsmanlike among them keep such thoughts to themselves and give their opponents credit, as Malignaggi did.
Amir Khan, as quoted by The Associated Press: “I remember going back to the corner in round 10, and Freddie said, ‘Go and send a statement to the world and send this guy off.’ And I sent him off.”