Monday morning QB: Gassiev, good Bud … but lay off the Fridays!
An embarrassment of riches was experienced this past weekend, with the airwaves flooded with boxing content Friday and Saturday. OK, part of me is the curmudgeon who grumbles that all these programmers are goofballs for being married to Friday night at the fights. C’mon, y’all, Friday ain’t alright for fighting, not if you are seeking a less-graybeard demo. The kids are out rocking and rolling and only the sweet science addicts and elders and home-bound because of circumstance or choice (cough, cough, having children to look after) are inside …
That said, it’s wisest to look for those silver linings in life, because pockets of gloom are always present to fixate on, and who wants to be around depressives?
ESPN had content Friday, and Tony Harrison’s effort against everyman-looking Pablo Munguia didn’t excite the Twitter masses. Why is 21-0 Harrison fighting his cab driver, someone candidly if snakily posted. Guy had a point; this was an exercise in record-building, and likely did no one any favors, save for maybe Munguia (age 36; now 20-7, stopped four times, loser of three of last four) who craved a paycheck, but paid for it in brain cells, getting stopped out in the third.
Boxing ran on Fox Sports 1 as well, with Roc Nation dipping its footises in the TV waters once again. They ran a show at Foxwoods, just down the block from the ESPN/LouDiBella show at Mohegan Sun. I was curious to see what the Roc headliner was all about. Cruiserweight Murat Gassiev (21-0, 15 KOs) came highly recommended to me by his trainer, “Honest” Abel Sanchez, who tutors smiling assassin No. 1 Gennady Golovkin, so I watched the Gas Man, ands then asked Abel for his grade after the Russian scored a TKO 9 win over concrete-bearded Felix Cora (25-7-2, 14 KOs).
I thought I saw a future champ. Yes?
“He is a young work in progress. Murat is 21 years old with about 30 amateur fights. We are going to push him fast. He has the character, along with good IQ, for absorbing teaching,” Sanchez said. “I like to make sure that when he becomes champion his skills are good enough to make defenses until moving him up to heavyweight.”
What grade did you give him?
“For what we were trying to accomplish with this experienced opponent, I would say a B, not that he is at a B level yet, but what and how he followed our plan of attack,” Sanchez said.
Hey, that Cora has a helluva chin! “And a brave corner!” said Sanchez.
How good could he be? And when does he fight next?
“He has great upside because of his age. I can work him hard and fight him often. Hopefully his management team can strike a deal with a major promoter or network, then we will have an idea of his next fight,” Sanchez told me. “We will see how he develops and grows in the next 2-3 years – height and weight of a medium-size heavy with speed, power and the determination to be the best all around complete fighter – he’s fun to watch, has good offense and defense, decent power. He can be an entertaining heavyweight.”
Not to be overlooked, boxing also ran on CBS Sports Network. Heavyweight prospect Jarrell Miller (12-0, 10 KOs) smashed down an overmatched foe, and then junior middleweight Irish-born Aussie Dennis Hogan (21-0-1, 7 KOs) got a UD 10 win over Philly’s Tyrone Brunson (22-5, loser now of three straight). The Greg Cohen promotion ran in Minnesota, so it was good for MN fight fans to get to see some solid scrappers in action. I touched base with Cohen to get his take on the event. “It was great,” he said. “It was a total sellout, just under 2,500. The town of Hinkley has a population of 1,500! The fights were good. It was a good mix, had some prospects with impressive KOs. The main event was a competitive fight, some had it for the other guy. I thought the quality of the broadcast was ESPN or ShoBox level, if not better. And the broadcast team meshed, seemed like they’ve been working together for years.”
Next show is May 29, Friday night, site to be announced within 48 hours. Lateef Kayode (20-0, 16 KOs) will meet Nick Kisner (14-1-1, 5 KOs) in a cruiserweight tangle. Both men are promoted by Cohen.
It would be nice to see some of this content to move off Fridays so we could spread the wealth around and allow fight fans not to be over-burdened with content on one night, in my mind. Cohen said some cards will be off Friday nights, but he noted ESPN will be moving off that night. “And we’re going to get better each time out!”
Then, on Saturday, HBO and Showtime went head to head. (They still haven’t taken my advice and gone with coin flips to determine who gets what weekend, grrr.) The masses were chattering for months about a surefire Fight of the Year – on paper – clash between ultra-aggressors Lucas Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov. Can’t miss clash, all agreed. They butted heads and gloves and will and skills in Verona, New York, and the bout was a solid square-off, though because Matthysse showed a mobility edge, it didn’t have the ebb and flow trading atmosphere as much as some expected, and thus probably won’t grab the FOTY honor.
Terence Crawford will take 2014 Fighter of the Year honors Friday night at the Boxing Writers Association of America awards dinner in NYC, by the way …
Top Rank exec Carl Moretti told me that 26-0 Bud, just up from 135, looked and felt really comfortable at 140.
“I was impressed with the performance,” Moretti said. “The move to 140, he clearly showed the strength [and] the speed were there. He was more comfortable the whole week. And he showed it against a very fit Thomas Dulorme. He looked like one of the best, if not the best at 140.”
And OK, so if I start to get excited and start thinking of Bud versus Floyd Mayweather, should I be quarantined for rabies?
“Nah,” Moretti said. No rabies shots, no psych assessment for me.
He is looking forward to Bud getting the BWAA award, then hitting Vegas for May 2, and then they will sit down and plot the course. But no, no option should be off the table, whether that be a fight vs. Matthysse, or Floyd or whoever. “I don’t think there is a bad fight you can make at 140 for Terence,” Moretti said. “And Provodnikov didn’t disgrace himself, he’s going to plant his flag in that division for awhile.
The world being what it is, so much buzz attached to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., off his loss to Andrew Fonfara on Saturday, on Showtime.
Junior is a lightning rod, someone they talk about, someone they care about, someone many love to hate. Many see a poor little rich kid, a screwup who gets unearned chances because of who his daddy is. He didn’t acquit himself well Saturday, whining to the ref, getting whacked around by Fonfara, then stating that he thought he was winning up until the time he quit on his stool after nine rounds.
I saw someone saying that’s the last time on a big stage for the kid. Nah, not even close; we all want to see if he can rebound, or his story arc will stay in a similar vein. He will be back on a big stage, that you can be sure.
Talk to me, friends, what were your takeaways from Friday and Saturday’s tangles?
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