Tuesday, March 10, 2015

“Premier Boxing Champions” Series Off To A Solid Start

The debut of the “Premier Boxing Champions” series had much anticipation. Not only did the debut feature two interesting bouts as its main attractions, but it also had historical significance as it was the first time in nearly thirty years that the NBC network would be televising the card, which would bring Boxing back to primetime.

On March 7th the Boxing world focused on the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada to see two fights, which could lead to some intriguing bouts later this year. In the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division former three-division world champion Adrien Broner faced former world title challenger John Molina Jr. Broner’s ability to dictate the pace and control the action with his jab while mixing in crisp combinations was the story of the fight. For the majority of the twelve round bout Broner got his punches off first, was able to make Molina miss with his offense, and had the ability to tie his opponent up for the most part whenever Molina would get on the inside.

With the exception of the third round where Molina was able to get close to Broner and land solidly with his right hand and able to let his hands go, this was quite frankly a Boxing clinic by Adrien Broner. Prior to this card I stated that it was logical to assume that Molina’s best chance for success in this fight was to implement a similar approach to what Marcos Maidana was able to do against Broner. Molina however, could not find a way to pressure Broner consistently and could not find a way to let his hands go regularly throughout this fight, which ultimately resulted in a near shutout twelve round unanimous decision for Adrien Broner.

Although there may be some who were not entertained by Broner’s approach in this fight, for Boxing purists it was a great performance by a fighter who could be in line for a shot at a fourth world championship in as many weight classes. As for what is next for Adrien Broner, Broner stated in a post-fight interview that he will be fighting on June 20th in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.

It is unclear as of this writing as to who Broner’s potential opponent could be. This observer however, believes that Broner could face the winner of the April 11th fight between unified WBA/WBC Jr. Welterweight world champion Danny Garcia and IBF champion Lamont Peterson, in a fight that will be fought above the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight limit. Although the fight, which will be broadcast by NBC as part of the “Premier Boxing Champions” series will be a non-title bout, it is logical to assume based on Broner being rated in the top five of both the WBA and WBC, as well as rated in the top ten in the IBF’s Jr. Welterweight ratings that Broner off of an impressive performance against Molina could face the winner that fight.

Whether or not Broner will fight for a world championship in his next bout remains to be seen, but I believe with three straight wins since moving down in weight from Welterweight to the Jr. Welterweight division he should be in the discussion of potential challengers for the winner of the fight between Garcia and Peterson.

The second half of the doubleheader featured a bout to determine interim/regular champion status in the WBA’s Welterweight ratings. Undefeated top contender Keith Thurman, who entered the fight designated as holding interim/regular champion status faced former three-time world champion Robert Guerrero.

Prior to this card I stated that this was a fight that I felt could go either way due to both fighters ability to box as well as their willingness to stand and go toe to toe with their opponents. It was a fight that some thought may produce fireworks. It did not disappoint.

From the opening bell both fighters were willing to engage. Although both fighters had their share of moments, it was Thurman’s hand speed, harder punches, and well-balanced attack to the body and head of Guerrero that gave him the edge. An accidental clash of heads in round three resulted in severe swelling on the left side of Thurman’s forehead. Despite the swelling, Thurman remained aggressive and continued to bring the fight to Guerrero.

Even though Guerrero had trouble with Thurman’s hand speed, Guerrero was effective periodically throughout the fight when he was able to land spurts of offense on Thurman. The primary difference in this fight in my eyes was the power and hand speed of Thurman as well as Thurman’s lateral movement and ability to return offense almost immediately after Guerrero would land his punches.

In the ninth round Thurman dropped Guerrero with a flush right hook. Despite being hit with a punch that would have likely ended the night for some fighters, Guerrero showed his mettle and got up from the knockdown and survived the round. In addition to suffering the knockdown Guerrero was also cut above the left eye. The always “Game” Guerrero however, fought on and attempted to rally in the late rounds, but it was Thurman who would go on to win a convincing twelve round unanimous decision.

With the win Thurman not only retains his interim/regular champion status in the WBA’s Welterweight ratings, but he also as I suggested prior to this fight could theoretically be in line to face the winner of the scheduled May 2nd Welterweight unification bout between WBC/WBA champion Floyd Mayweather and WBO champion Manny Pacquiao. There is no dispute that Mayweather and Pacquiao remain the two central figures of the Welterweight division. It can be argued however, that no matter who wins the fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao, should it take place that Keith Thurman could well be the future of the division. We will have to wait and see what the future holds for Keith Thurman, but for a fighter who is unbeaten in twenty-six professional fights, with twenty-five wins and twenty-one of those wins coming by knockout Keith Thurman is a fighter not to be taken lightly and should not be overlooked as a potential opponent for Mayweather or Pacquiao.

The debut of the “Premier Boxing Champions” series did have much anticipation prior to its inception. This observer believes this card more than lived up to that anticipation and with several dates lining up for the series involving NBC, as well as Spike TV, CBS, and Bounce TV, this could the start of a new era for the sport and it’s fans.  I for one am excited to see what the future holds.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

The Boxing Truth® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

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