Friday, September 20, 2019

Belated Mexican Independence Day Weekend 2019 Thoughts

Following an exciting card that took place at the Theater in Madison Square Garden on September 13th highlighted by undefeated Lightweight contender Devin Haney continuing his rise and a battle between two world champions that will ultimately serve as another step forward for Women’s Boxing, Mexican Independence Day weekend 2019 in the sport of Boxing concluded with another exciting night of Boxing action. The weekend however, was not without its share of controversy.

One of the cards that took place on September 14th from the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA that was broadcast on digital sports streaming network DAZN was to have featured the return of undefeated Lightweight prospect Ryan Garcia as he looked to continue his own rise toward contention in the 135lb. Lightweight division against Avery Sparrow of Philadelphia, PA. The fight, which was to be the semi-main event of the card headlined by undefeated WBO Jr. Middleweight world champion Jaime Munguia’s title defense against Patrick Allotey did not take place. This was due to Sparrow being arrested the day before the fight on an outstanding warrant stemming from a domestic dispute that occurred in Philadelphia in April of this year.

While the news of what ultimately became a cancellation of the fight seemed to come out of nowhere, other issues arose in the aftermath. While the circumstances that have happened in the days since could likely be a column in of itself, there was what amounted to an in pass between Garcia and his promoter Golden Boy Promotions, which was unable to secure an agreement for the unbeaten prospect to face a substitute opponent, who at one point was rumored to be Lightweight contender Romero Duno. With Garcia not competing, the card went on. Duno was successful in his previously scheduled bout in scoring a seventh round knockout over Ivan Delgado.

 Women’s WBC Super-Middleweight world champion Franchon Dezurn scored an impressive ten round unanimous decision over Maricela Conejo, a rematch of a fight from September of last year, which was also won by Dezurn. It was a rematch however, that came as a result of original opponent Alejandra Jimenz, the current Women’s WBC Heavyweight world champion pulling out of the fight due to issues securing a visa to travel from Mexico for the fight.

What impressed me about this fight was not only the willingness of both fighters to take a fight on short notice, but also their willingness to exchange with each other. Dezurn’s first title defense did not come easily as Conejo landed some effective counter punches and hooks throughout the fight. Dezurn’s consistent jab and ring generalship, and seemingly harder punches were enough for her to get the nod from the three official judges. The hard-fought victory for Dezurn however, also earned her status as a unified world champion in adding the vacant WBO world championship to her crown.

Coming out of this fight, it would not surprise me to see Dezurn possibly seek another opportunity against Claressa Shields, whom she has fought as both an amateur and professional and who remains her only professional loss to date. I was however, looking forward to the interesting style match up between Dezurn and Alejandra Jimenz, if the fight took place as originally scheduled. The possibility certainly exists that Golden Boy could attempt to make that fight again in the near future, so Dezurn has two viable options, in this observer’s eyes.

The main attraction at the Dignity Health Sports Park on this evening came in the form of undefeated WBO Jr. Middleweight world champion Jaime Munguia, who defended his title for the fifth time against WBO number thirteen contender Patrick Allotey. As I stated in previewing this fight,  that this was the biggest opportunity of Allotey’s career and if he could pose a challenge to Munguia, it could be an interesting fight to watch. The first two rounds of the fight gave the appearance that, that would be the case as the challenger was able to establish movement and land short combinations on Munguia. Over the course of the fight however, Munguia’s bigger size and more rounded skills gradually broke Allotey down as the champion scored two knockdowns in round three and once more in round four before the challenger’s corner stopped the fight.

Munguia’s fifth defense of his Jr. Middleweight world championship will likely be his last as he now will move up to the 160lb. Middleweight division. While the Middleweight division is deep in terms of talent depth, Munguia will likely enter the division in the mix for a potential world title shot. When that fight will come and whim that will be against remains to be seen.

The weekend of Boxing action concluded in Las Vegas, NV as undefeated former Heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury faced undefeated European Heavyweight champion Otto Wallin at the T-Mobile Arena. As I stated in previewing this fight, the challenge for Wallin would be to combat Fury’s elusiveness and awkward style.

Despite some dismissing Wallin as a credible opponent prior to the fight, he showed that he was not awed by Fury, nor was he awed by fighting in a main event in Las Vegas. What impressed me about Wallin’s approach in this fight was he put pressure on Fury from the opening bell and brought the fight to the former Heavyweight world champion. A left hook by Wallin in round three however, became the story of this fight as it opened a deep gash over Fury’s right eye.

Quite frankly, at this point in the fight having seen similar gashes occur throughout my career covering the sport, I felt that it was only a matter of time before the fight would be stopped. Not only because of the size of the gash over Fury’s eye, but also because of the blood involved, which I believed had to be affecting Fury’s vision. Thoughts began to immediately come to mind of the gash Vitali Klitschko had suffered in his challenge of Heavyweight world champion Lennox Lewis in June 2003.

Although Klitschko put forth a very “Game” effort in a fight that I had him winning on my unofficial scorecard, the fight was ultimately stopped after six rounds. In this case, I felt Wallin was ahead in the fight, but there was also a controversy that emerged in this fight as it appeared for a time that the cut, which video replays confirmed was caused by a punch was ruled as being caused by an accidental clash of heads. This would be corrected by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) during the course of the fight.

Despite being at a disadvantage, Fury showed his resilience and mettle fighting through a gash that never stopped bleeding and gradually working his way into the fight and outworking Wallin over the middle and late rounds to earn a twelve round unanimous decision to remain undefeated. This ultimately proved to be a more difficult test for Fury than some had believed would be the case. Although I felt an aspect of offense that would have served Wallin well after causing the gash was largely absent from his strategy, a jab, Walin did prove to as I said prior to the fight that you simply do not know what to expect when two unbeaten fighters enter the ring to do battle.

Wallin may have suffered the first loss of his career in this fight, but he certainly established himself as a contender on the world level in defeat. As for Fury, the gash he suffered will likely delay plans for a rematch between himself and undefeated WBC champion Deontay Wilder sometime in 2020 assuming Wilder is successful in his upcoming rematch with top contender Luis Ortiz, which could take place in November.

Overall Mexican Independence Day weekend for the sport of Boxing produced several interesting stories that will be followed in the days, weeks, and months to come. Among those stories will be the continued career of Ryan Garcia and it needs to be pointed out that while this column was in development, it was announced that Garcia had worked out his differences with his promoter Oscar De La Hoya and his company Golden Boy Promotions. With this announcement, it was also announced that the unbeaten Garcia will face Romero Duno on the undercard of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’ challenge of WBO Light-Heavyweight world champion Sergey Kovalev on November 2nd in Las Vegas. One of many stories that this observer looks forward to seeing what happens next.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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