Brooklyn, N.Y., Dec. 7
Paulie Malignaggi UD 12 Zab Judah, welterweights
A fight between two slick, fast, skilled fighter with a lot to lose in front of their hometown crowd ended the way it was supposed to: the slickest, fastest, and slightly more skilled (aided indeed by his youth) scored a mildly entertaining decision when Malignaggi (32-5, 7 KOs) outscored Zab Judah (42-8, 29 KOs) in a fight that was more about neighborhood bragging rights than anything else. Both fighters have been champions and are now in the stage of trying to milk the last drop of money out of their careers, with Malignaggi having the best chance to land the division-wide dream match with Floyd Mayweather thanks to his limited power, his solid boxing style, his large following and his made-for-TV pre-fight antics. The fight was a tad closer than the 116-111 and 117-110 (twice) scorecards, but the win was clear enough for Malignaggi to stay in the run for an even bigger payday.
The winner goes on to: holding on to his ticket to the Mayweather Sweepstakes for as long as possible, perhaps with another dominant win in the near future to reinforce his argument.
Shawn Porter UD 12 Devon Alexander, IBF welterweight title
It wasn’t pretty, but is it ever when Devon is around? Alexander (25-2, 13 KOs) is as skilled and athletic as anyone in this madly talented 147 lb division, but he always rubs the fans the wrong way with dominant yet unentertaining performances, with a dash of dirt thrown in for good measure. In Porter (22-1, 14 KOs) he got a taste of his own medicine, perhaps in the “extra strong” variety. Porter was as slick and skilled as the champ, but he wanted the fight more and he took it to Alexander from round one, with mixed results. The close scorecards of 115-113 and 116-112 (twice) gave Porter the deserved nod, and a championship belt that he could turn into a million-dollar payday if his managerial team gets the job done right.
The winner goes on to: Mayweather is the moon for him, but he can be shooting for a unification with another champ at 147 with extreme confidence and then swing for the fences on his next fight.
Erislandy Lara UD 12 Austin Trout, WBA interim junior middleweight title
In a baseball-crazy country like Cuba, I am sure the local baseball fans cried when Lara became a fighter. If this guy was a pitcher, he’d be throwing perfect games every other day, on two-days’ rest. Lara (19-1-2, 12 KO) is athletic, fast, and has a fantastic balance, but his greatest asset is his pin-point accuracy, as Trout (26-2, 14 KO) found out during this unanimous decision that the New Mexico native probably spent wondering what in the world hit him. Lara connected sparsely and cautiously, but his output had such control and precision that the 118-109 and 117-110 (twice) scorecards were just an afterthought. It was not the prettiest match of the night (in a night of not very explosive fights) but seeing Lara dominate so comfortably was just eerie.
The winner goes on to: As the man who beat the man who beat Cotto and almost beat Canelo, Lara can now look to reposition himself to challenge either one of them with great chances of success. Good luck trying to sit either one at the negotiation table, though.
Stuttgart, Germany, Dec. 7
Felix Sturm TKO 2 Darren Barker, IBF middleweight title
He was hitting slump after slump, especially against British visitors. But this time, Sturm (38-3-2, 17 KO), a former two-time champ, took the bull by the horns and rushed out of the gates on a mission to overwhelm Barker (26-1, 16 KO) and take his IBF middleweight championship, which he did with a devastating TKO at 2:09 of the second-round. Clearly hurt by the dismissive comments about his last string of weak performances (such as losing his title against Daniel Geale after getting very close decision wins against Martin Murray and Matthew Macklin), Sturm chose to make a statement in front of his hometown crowd, and he is now officially back at the top of the picture at 160 with the kind of performance that leads fan to ask for more.
The winner goes on to: Luring Gennady Golovkin to fight in Germany will be tough, but if Sturm manages to do that, he could be the one guy to give GGG a serious run for his money with his superb mix of experience, power and stamina.
Zihuatanejo, Mexico, Dec. 7
Hugo Cazares MD 12 Julio Cesar Miranda, junior featherweights
Zihuatanejo is the place where Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman met again in the final scene of the classic “Shawshank Redemption, and redemption is exactly what Cazares (40-7-2, 27 KO) achieved in this gutsy performance against one of Mexico’s true warriors in Miranda (37-10-2, 29 KO). The very mixed scores of 116-112, 115-114 and 114-114 reflect the heat of the battle, and the fight lived up to everyone’s expectation with a back-and-forth effort in which Cazares simply overpowered his foe in key moments to grab more attention from the judges. Other than dragging himself through a sewer towards freedom, he did everything in his power to win this one and live to fight another day. Which he will, and hopefully against tough hombre Leo Santa Cruz if he gets his wish.
What to look for in this fight: Our forecast was correct: Cazares barely managed to escape with the victory, and he’ll be finishing the paint job on that abandoned boat on the beach to sail on to bigger and better opportunities after this solid performance.
Cordoba, Argentina, Dec. 7
Julius Jackson TKO 9 Nicolas Lopez, middleweights
John Jackson TKO 8 Jorge Miranda, junior middleweights
Carlos Adan Jerez UD 10 Samuel Rogers, junior middleweights
The “Hawk’s Flock” (a boxing team comprised by two sons and a nephew of former world champ Julian “The Hawk” Jackson) took a dangerous trip to Argentina to gain some exposure and a tough opposition, and they got their wish on both fronts, returning to their native US Virgin Islands with a 2-1 overall record. The Jackson brothers took the lion’s share of the deal, as Julius Jackson improved to 17-0 (13 KOs) with a TKO in nine rounds against previously undefeated Lopez (10-1, 4 KOs) and his brother John Jackson moved on to 18-1 (15 KO) with an eight-round stoppage over a very experienced Miranda (51-16, 20 KOs). Their cousin Rogers was not so lucky, as he heads back home with the first blemish of his career courtesy of a 10-round unanimous decision loss at the hands of Jerez (38-16-3, 18 KOs) in what was a very entertaining fight.
The winner goes on to: getting a few more opportunities perhaps in the South American/Spanish market, thanks to their involvement with Sampson Boxing.