Weekend Review: Good (Angulo’s return) and bad (Guerrero’s injury)
Alfredo Angulo: The junior middleweight contender from Mexico didn’t have much of a chance to shake off ring rust against Joseph Gomez on Saturday in Mexicali, Angulo’s first fight in 13 months. Lopez survived all of 1 minute, 24 seconds, the victim of a fight-ending body blow. Still, Angulo took an important step. He got back into the rhythm of fighting again, he got back into the ring and he took care assured himself of a big fight soon. The handlers of Angulo (20-1, 17 knockouts) and Vanes Martirosyan (30-0, 19 KOs) are negotiating to meet in a WBC title-elimination fight, with the winner due a shot at Saul Alavarez’s 154-pound title. So, to recap the past year: Angulo has gone from an intractable impasse with former promoter Gary Shaw, visa issues that have prevented him from entering the U.S. and the long layoff to a new promoter (Golden Boy), a tune-up bout and the promise of big fights ahead. He and his attorney also are working on getting his immigration problems resolved so he can fight in the U.S. Yes, “El Perro” appears to be back.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Demetrius Andrade: Andrade (14-0, 9 KOs) and Grady Brewer (28-13, 16 KOs) put us to sleep with an uneventful fight in the finale of Friday Night Fights, Andrade winning a one-sided 10-round decision. The fight was entirely forgettable. It was also important for Andrade, who passed his most-significant test as a pro on national television. Brewer is 40 years old and at the tail end of his career but remains a capable fighter, as he proved by stopping contender Fernando Guerrero in his previous fight. The fact Andrade was able to handle him so easily says a lot about the prospect’s ability. His jab is a thing of beauty. Now the gifted 2008 U.S. Olympian must maintain his momentum by taking the next step up in competition, perhaps fighting a fringe contender in his next bout. The guess here is that he’ll have little trouble against an opponent on that level and is destined for big things.
Hank Lundy: The 27-year-old lightweight prospect looked like a complete fighter in his sixth-round KO of David Diaz on the Andrade-Brewer undercard. We know Lundy primarily as a slick boxer, which he demonstrated again on Friday. He also showed a willingness to stand and fight against a rough opponent even though he was KO’d three fights earlier (against John Molina) and had been knocked down in the fourth round by Diaz. The end came with a single straight left that laid Diaz out, the perfect way to punctuate a fine performance. I must temper my enthusiasm for Lundy’s performance because Diaz isn’t quite the fighter he was a few years ago – he’s 2-3 in his last five fights – and has fought sporadically. And I still wonder about Lundy’s chin, which led to his only defeat. He sure looked as if he could evolve into a legitimate contender on Saturday, though.
David Diaz: The former lightweight titleholder almost certainly is in decline. He has lost to Manny Pacquiao, Humberto Soto and now Lundy in his past five fights over three years. One could argue that he’s hanging on at 35. The man will be a warrior until the day he dies, though. We saw that against Lundy. He held his own for the first several rounds and then put Lundy down in fourth, following up with a vicious attack in an attempt to take Lundy out. He failed but gave us a breathtaking moment. Then, in spite of a horrible cut that appeared to open late in the fourth round, he continued to attack with the passion of a fighter who loves what he does. Diaz was stopped in the end, leaving his future in doubt. He has nothing to be ashamed of, though. He gave us one more great show. And we probably haven’t seen the last of him. He obviously has plenty more fight left in him.
Robert Guerrero: Hasn’t Guerrero had to deal with enough setbacks? The two-time titleholder had to pull out of a compelling Aug. 27 fight against Marcos Maidana because of what appears to be a partial tear in his rotator cuff, just another in a series of problems he has had to deal with. Of course, his biggest challenge was coping with his wife’s successful battle with leukemia. He also has had to overcome a number of boxing-related setbacks – promotional problems that kept him out of the ring for about 11 months; the cut that ended his fight with Daud Yordan, after which he was accused of quitting; and now this. Guerrero has a great attitude. His wife’s illness allows him to keep such relatively inconsequential setbacks as injuries in perspective. Still, this is serious. He could be out of the ring until next year because of this. The boxing gods should be kinder to him.
MOST WRONG … AND RIGHT
Christy Martin’s lawsuit: Martin lost an appeal to overturn referee David Mendoza’s decision to stop her fight against Dakota Stone on June 4, Martin claiming that she was somehow the victim of sex discrimination. She was hoping the loss would be ruled a no-contest. I don’t agree with her contention, which is pure speculation and an attack on Mendoza’s integrity and professionalism. However, I do agree that the fight shouldn’t have been stopped even though Martin had a broken right hand. A fight should be stopped only if a boxer is defenseless. And Martin, who was winning the fight, was defending herself just fine with one hand. Plus, countless fighters suffer hand injuries during fights and are allowed to fight on. It’s part of the game. Mendoza was overly protective, just not for the reasons Martin claimed. Martin also claims that Mendoza required her to punch with her injured hand to prove it was OK. If that’s true, either he or the rule that allows such a thing was grossly out of line. He should be censured for that or the rule should be changed. Bottom line: Let fighters fight if they’re able to defend themselves.
Pending Mares-Agbeko rematch: Sometimes the movers and shakers in boxing get it right, particularly when they feel the pressure of public opinion. That appears to be the case here. The handlers of Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko are in negotiations to make an IBF-ordered rematch of their controversial fight Aug. 13, won by Mares even though he landed a career’s worth of low blows. Referee Russell Mora failed to penalize Mares, spoiling what otherwise was a compelling fight. Of course, Agbeko wanted to do it again because he and almost everyone else believe he unjustly lost his bantamweight title. And Mares had no choice but to accept the rematch if he wanted to keep his belt. Still, I believe he sincerely wants to prove that he’s the better fighter. He should be commended for that. What will happen in the rematch? All eyes will be on Agbeko’s belt line. Mares must correct the flaws the resulted in the low blows. The same with Agbeko’s proclivity to push Mares’ head down, which contributed to the fouls. I think Agbeko will win. He won the second half of the first fight in spite of the low blows. He seems to be the physically stronger fighter. We’ll see.
Andre Berto’s comments: Countless fighters have said after losing a fight that “I don’t want to take anything away from my opponent” and then proceed to do so. Berto is the latest. The former welterweight titleholder gave Victor Ortiz credit for his victory in April in an interview with RingTV.com but then he and new fitness advisor Victor Conte blamed it, in effect, on overtraining and anemia. I have no idea whether their claims are true. And I don’t care. I always say that every fighter who loses can come with some kind of excuse. This was Berto’s. The proper thing to do is keep your mouth shut, correct whatever problem you claim to have had and then come back stronger. To do otherwise is to detract from the glory of the victor – Victor Ortiz, in this case. Oritz fought his heart out that night. He earned an important victory. No one, not even Berto, should say: “It was a great performance but ….”
Agbeko, on the prospective rematch with Mares: “Now he's going to have to face me with a fair referee and fair judges and everything, and he's not going to enjoy fighting me this time. The next time, he's going to see the real King Kong.”