Martirosyan, N’Dam are the big winners: Weekend Review
Vanes Martirosyan: The longtime junior middleweight contender fought Willie Nelson on the Rances Barthelemy-Fernando Saucedo card Saturday night with a lot at stake and a heavy heart, which made his victory all the more impressive. Martirosyan was promoted by Dan Goossen, who died Monday from liver cancer. He dedicated the fight to Goossen and said he gained strength during the action thinking about him. That’s not difficult to believe. The principals engaged in a spirited, give-and-take battle between two highly skilled boxers, one that demanded a great deal from both men. Martirosyan emerged victorious – 97-93, 97-93 and 96-94 – in part because he seemed to land the harder punches. He connected on 158 of 375 power shots compared to 105 of 329 for Nelson, according to CompuBox. The victory keeps Martirosyan (35-1-1, 21 knockouts) on track for a second title shot. The former U.S. Olympian lost a split decision to Demetrius Andrade for the vacant WBO title in November. Martirosyan’s fans have waited a long time for what they believe is an inevitable world title; he has been fighting professionally for almost 10 years. They might not have to wait much longer. And what about the loser? A strong performance against a very good opponent keeps Nelson (23-2-1, 13 KOs) in the mix.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Hassan N’Dam: N’Dam and Curtis Stevens were in a similar position when they met Wednesday in Santa Monica, California: Win or face a rebuilding process. In the end, Stevens is the one who must re-evaluate his career. N’Dam, the former WBO middleweight titleholder from France, thoroughly outboxed the much shorter Stevens to win a one-sided decision – 119-108, 116-111 and 116-111 – and become the mandatory challenger for the winner of the fight between IBF titleholder Sam Soliman and Jermain Taylor next Saturday. Stevens’ only hope of beating N’Dam was to find a way to get inside his long reach but he failed miserably to do so, with only a few exceptions. The New Yorker seemed lost in the fight. In fact, the light-punching N’Dam, who won the fight primarily with his jab, also landed at least as many hard shots as Stevens did. N’Dam (31-1, 18 KOs) can now say with credibility that he has bounced back from his devastating six-knockdown loss to Peter Quillin in 2012. His future is bright. Stevens (27-5, 20 KOs) has now lost badly in two of his past four fights, having been stopped by Gennady Golovkin last November. He probably needs to make some changes to pump life into what’s left of his career as an elite fighter.
Goossen: The news of Goossen’s passing hit me hard, as it did so many in the boxing business. I got to know Dan in the early 1990s, when he ran the family-owned Ten Goose Boxing promotional company in the Los Angeles suburb of Van Nuys and I covered boxing for the Los Angeles Daily News. I cut my teeth in the sport covering his cards, which featured the likes of Gabriel and Rafael Ruelas and many other big names. I always admired Dan’s energy and passion, as well as his sharp mind, which I believe was often underestimated. But the one thing that stands above everything else for me was his humor. For example, he would call me periodically at the Daily News pretending to be an irate reader or some other bogus character just to give me a hard time. He was so good at it that it always took me a few seconds to figure it out. And I always laughed. Dan made it all so much fun. Those were great years for me, my favorite in boxing. Dan and I drifted apart in recent years, as he became a major player in the sport and I moved on from the Daily News. But he always had a special place in my heart – and always will. Rest in peace old friend.
Barthelemy (21-0, 12 KOs) could’ve beaten Saucedo in his sleep, which is what their fight Saturday induced among those watching. The Cuban won every round on every card in an utterly uncompetitive first defense of his IBF junior lightweight title, which he won by outpointing Argenis Mendez in July. Saucedo (52-6-3, 8 KOs) tried but was grossly overmatched. Barthelemy is good but I can’t imagine he made too many fans on Saturday. ÔÇª I won’t say that former light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson (32-4, 18 KOs) is finished but his split-decision loss to Tommy Karpency (24-4-1, 14 KOs) was a big blow. Dawson has an excuse: He evidently injured his left shoulder early in the fight, which forced him to fight one-handed. Still, he has now lost three of his past four fights. And this one came against a limited opponent. I suspect he’ll get another chance. He had better not blow that one or we will have seen the last of him. For the record, Karpency deserves a lot of credit. He fought well.
I selfishly want Jorge Arce to continue to fight forever. I wasn’t the slightest bit surprised that the little warrior was knocked down three times and stopped by Jhonny Gonzalez (57-8, 48 KOs) on Saturday in Los Mochis, Mexico, although I figured he’d go a little sooner than the 11th round. I’m also not surprised that Arce seemed willing to lay his life on the line to remain in the fight. He was cut and hurt several times but, as is typical of Arce, that only made him more determined or even angry that he was put in that position. Arce had taken undue punishment when Johnny Callas decided to save him from himself and stop the fight at 2:43 of the 11th. I’ve never seen anyone who fights harder than Arce (64-8-2, 49 KOs). If only all boxers had his heart. … Cruiserweight Oleksandr Usyk (5-0, 5 KOs) of Ukraine continues to roll as a pro. The 2012 Olympic heavyweight champion stopped tough, but overmatched Daniel Bruwer (24-6-1, 21 KOs) in seven rounds Saturday in Lviv, Ukraine. Usyk seems to be a clever boxer and good athlete with heavy hands. I have to say, though: I hate the hair.