Friday, October 28, 2022
Thursday, October 27, 2022
Tuesday, October 25, 2022
Ever since the influx of social media celebrities led largely by brothers Logan and Jake Paul began to enter the sport of Boxing one persistent question has continued to be asked, are they legitimate fighters or are they strictly appealing to a segment of the population for whom Boxing is a casual interest at best, a novelty? Although Jake Paul has compiled a record of 5-0, with 4 Knockouts in Boxing’s Cruiserweight division, he has yet to face someone with legitimate Boxing experience with his wins coming against a fellow social media influencer, a former NBA player, and two former Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) world champions, one of whom Paul fought twice. The second of those bouts against Tyron Woodley came as a result of a planned bout against unbeaten Cruiserweight prospect Tommy Fury, a boxer falling through due to Fury coming down with an illness and injury.
As most know, Paul attempted to reschedule the bout with Fury to take place in the month of August in Madison Square Garden, but for the second time, Fury was unable to hold up his end to bring the fight to fruition this time due to travel restrictions preventing him from traveling from the United Kingdom to the United States for the bout. Although this should not be viewed as something of Paul’s doing, the fact that a fight against a fighter with a Boxing background fell through twice followed by replacement opponent Hasim Rahman Jr. being disqualified from the bout by the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) due to difficulties cutting weight in an attempt to move down from the Heavyweight division to face Paul, criticism of Paul and questions regarding whether he should be taken seriously as a boxer remain.
Following the fall through of both a second attempt to fight Tommy Fury and a planned substitution being KO’d by the NYSAC, Paul will go back to the well once again, this time against another former MMA world champion in the form of former longtime Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight world champion and future Hall of Famer Anderson Silva. A fight that will take place on October 29th at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ and will headline a Showtime Pay-Per-View card here in the United States. On the surface, this seems like, yet another novelty bout based largely on the fact that Silva is forty-seven years old and is several years removed from his competitive prime in combat sports.
The irony however, despite Silva’s Hall of Fame career in the sport of MMA is he actually began his combat sports career as a professional boxer and boasts a record of 3-1, with 2 Knockouts to his credit, which in an odd way presents something akin to what Paul would see if he took the conventional route to begin his Boxing career. Although Silva’s Boxing resume is not a long one, he did score an eight round split decision win in June of last year over former WBC Middleweight world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Silva’s last bout in a Boxing ring was a first round knockout over fellow UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz in September of last year on the undercard of the highly controversial bout between Boxing Hall of Famer Evander Holyfield and UFC Hall of Famer Vitor Belfort. Although that entire event is something that should be viewed as a bad moment in the history of the sport for several reasons, Silva nonetheless did show that he still had punching power at an advantaged age as he quickly took Ortiz out in eighty-one seconds. The obvious criticism of that particular fight even though Silva did produce a devastating knockout is he was facing someone in Ortiz, who did not have Boxing experience.
The question that should be asked as this scheduled eight round Cruiserweight bout approaches is whether Silva still has enough in him to hopefully provide a bit of a test of the twenty-five year old Paul. While Paul has scored knockouts of MMA world champions Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley in his aspiring career, both of those men had wrestling backgrounds before entering the Boxing ring to face Paul. If there is a difference for this fight even though he will again be facing someone who’s primary sport is not Boxing is, at his best, Anderson Silva was a devastating fighter that could hit opponents with both his hands and feet, resulting in several brutal knockouts in his Hall of Fame career.
Even though Paul has not taken the conventional route into Boxing, it should be pointed out that he is still very much a work in progress and if Silva has any semblance of his hand speed and punching power that he had during his prime years in the sport of MMA, this could prove to be a test that some including Paul himself may not expect. This observer believes that the answer to what Anderson Silva will bring into this fight will be answered very early as Silva has always been a slick fighter that looks to bait his opponents into making mistakes and attacking suddenly. Even with limited Boxing experience, Silva does hold a significant edge in overall combat sports experience compared to Jake Paul who is still a novice learning the sport. As such and keeping in mind the skills Silva has displayed both in MMA fights as well as in the Boxing ring, it is crucial that he use every bit of his experience to test Paul and make him uncomfortable. Jake Paul meanwhile has shown a solid right hand in his previous five bouts and it is logical to think that he will be looking to land what has proven to be a primary offensive weapon for him in this fight.
Although criticism will likely remain of Jake Paul as well as the concept of what has been dubbed “Influencer Boxing” regardless of the outcome of this fight, if Paul wins those advising him should say that it is time to focus on facing fighters with a primary Boxing background exclusively, if indeed he wants to be taken seriously as a boxer. For all his boasts, which like it or not does draw attention about how he wants to be taken seriously and hopes to become a world champion down the road, without focusing on facing boxers, and to be specific, fighters that will not only help him develop, but also if successful help him move up the ranks, same as any boxer attempts to do, he should not talk about facing anything resembling the top stars in the sport of Boxing, because frankly even though he has proven to be a good promoter, there will come a point where the novelty and curiosity of Paul will wear off. For the time being, it remains to be seen if Silva will be able to provide the unbeaten Paul a test.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Paul vs. Silva takes place on Saturday, October 29th at Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ. The fight can be seen on Showtime Pay-Per-View in the United States for $59.99. The event will be available through the Showtime app on mobile, tablet, and connected streaming devices/Smart TVs as well as through digital combat sports streaming network and pay-per-view platform FITE beginning at 9PM ET/6PM PT. Paul vs. Silva will also be available through traditional cable/satellite providers. Contact your cable/satellite provider for ordering information.
To order and stream on the Showtime app, download the Showtime app on your streaming device of choice or visit www.SHO.com/PPV to order and for instructions on how to download the Showtime app.
To order on FITE, download the FITE app on your streaming device of choice or visit https://www.fite.tv/watch/paul-vs-silva/2pbx1/ to order and for instructions on how to download the FITE app.
The Boxing Truth® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.
Follow Beau Denison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison
Sunday, October 23, 2022
Saturday, October 15, 2022 turned out to be one of the most anticipated days on the Boxing calendar in the latter months of the year. What was largely to be highlighted by the return of former longtime WBC Heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder, the day turned out to offer a little of everything for any Boxing fan. This was due to the postponement of the highly anticipated Women’s world championship unification doubleheader which featured undefeated world champions Claressa Shields and Savanah Marshall meeting for the Undisputed Middleweight championship of the world and an intriguing Jr. Lightweight unification bout between Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner putting their respective world championships on the line in the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight division as the co-main event being moved to October 15th due to the original date of the card September 10th being moved one month following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8th.
While some Boxing fans particularly on social media voiced we’ll call it displeasure at the postponement, likely both out of anticipation of the two world championship bouts, as well as not understanding the significance of the circumstances throughout the United Kingdom following the queen’s passing, and also for the fighters created a question of what impact would the postponement have on them as the card was postponed a mere day before it was to occur at London’s O2 Arena, both bouts lived up to every possible expectation and one might argue were quite similar in how each fight was fought in terms of how competitive they were. In the first of the two bouts, Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner engaged in a ten round give and take battle.
The general ebb and flow of the fight consisted of Baumgardner seeming to land the cleaner, more effective punches, particularly power punches in the early rounds. A weapon in her arsenal that turned out to be noteworthy throughout the fight that I felt gave her an edge was how she was able to land overhand rights. Mayer however, was able to change the way the combat was being fought in the middle rounds. She was able to do this largely by using her jab to control distance and create opportunities to throw and land hooks and combinations behind the jab.
While the two minute round length in which fights in Women's Boxing are fought often serve more as a detriment than an asset particularly in regard to the task of scoring, what this created was the ideal scenario of a close fight that could be scored either way and as I often have said through the years, will often come down to what a judge prefers in their own criteria based on clean punching, effective aggressiveness, ring generalship, and defense. This was a car where I felt that Baumgardner landed the harder punches and did just enough to fend off the rally that Mayer was able to put together in the middle and late rounds to get the decision. At the end of the ten round world championship bout, I had arrived with a scorecard of six rounds to four or 96-94 in points for Baumgardner. It was not surprising to see scorecards resulting in a split decision in favor of Baumgardner with two official judges scoring a 96-95 scorecard in favor of each fighter with the third judge scoring seven rounds to three or 97-93 in favor of Baumgardner making her the winner and new unified world champion in the 130lb. Jr Lightweight division.
Often times on a full card of Boxing, a fight like this which was exciting and highly competitive is enough to satisfy even the most jaded of Boxing fans. The fans in attendance at the O2 Arena would be treated to another great fight as Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall took to the ring to determine the Undisputed Middleweight championship of the world.
For ten rounds, the two world champions engaged in a toe to toe battle that frankly could have been fought in a phone booth as there was little to no separating between the fighters and that made it very difficult to tell who had the upper hand. This was due to the moon-stop pace that the combat was fought. As exhausting as it had to be for the fighters, it was also an exhausting fight to watch.
Although it was difficult to determine who had the upper hand, there was one subtle difference that proved to be the difference. Shields threw every punch in combination and, despite getting tagged with some heavy shots from Marshall throughout and seeming to allow Marshall to take control in sports where she chose to sit against the ropes, the sheer volume of offense by Shields proved to be too much for Marshall on this evening as Shields would earn a convincing ten round unanimous decision to become the Undisputed Middleweight champion of the world.
With the win, Shields put herself in a class by herself as being the only fighter in history male or female to successfully become Undisputed world champion in three separate weight divisions having previously fully unified the Super-Middleweight and Jr. Middleweight divisions prior to this fight. Although I would certainly like to see a rematch between Shields and Marshall, I wonder if Shields will attempt to go up to the 175lb. Light-Heavyweight division next. As is often the case for fighters that are able to move up and down the weight scale and compete at the highest levels of the sport, the question for Claressa Shields will likely be when and where she will find her ceiling in terms of how far she can move up or down in weight and at which weight she feels most comfortable. For someone who has also embarked on a career in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), it’s clear that she is a generational fighter and no matter what she does going forward in either sport, we are seeing something that has not been done before and will likely see Shields become a first ballot Hall of Famer when her career is over.
Following the Women’s world championship unification doubleheader, the focus shifted to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY where two former world champions looked to bounce back from setbacks. First, it was former IBF Super-Middleweight world champion Caleb Plant in his first fight since losing to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in a unification bout last November facing former WBC Super-Middleweight world champion Anthony Dirrell.
What was an at times ugly fight to watch due to several instances of holding and clinching throughout the fight, Plant showcased his movement and hand speed in spots throughout and generally seemed to get the better of the action in this observer’s view. Plant however, would surprise everyone by producing what may be viewed as a candidate for Knockout of the Year at the end of 2022. Despite not being known for his punching power, Plant produced a devastating knockout of Dirrell with a left hook to the body followed by a left hook to the head combination that sent Dirrell down and out on the canvas. Although Plant was stopped by Alvarez last year, many would say that he accounted himself well in defeat and coming off of what was the first loss of his career, he needed a statement-making performance to show that he remains a player in the 168lb. Super-Middleweight division. Something that he was able to accomplish in such a fashion that it could well lead to a rematch with Alvarez down the line.
While under most circumstances a knockout like the one Plant produced would be the center of discussion in the days following, the Plant-Dirrell bout served as the co-main event for the return of former longtime WBC Heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder, who was returning to the ring following his second knockout loss to Tyson Fury in October of last year as he faced former European Heavyweight champion Robert Helenius.
Although the premise of this fight centered squarely on what version of Deontay Wilder would be entering the ring following two knockout losses to Fury and to be more specific, what effects those two fights had on him, frankly we did not get an answer to those questions, at least not in this fight. Helenius began the bout willing to engage with Wilder and trying to apply pressure on him. Wilder suddenly brought an end to the fight by throwing a perfectly timed counter right hand that caught Helenius on the button as he was coming forward sending the former European champion down on his back. The fight was immediately stopped.
Simply put, there is not much you can say about a fight that ends with one punch, but for the near completed round that Wilder and Helenius shared the ring together, there appeared to be no ill effects for Wilder. For his part, Helenius did appear to have a good fight plan and was holding his own before simply getting caught in the closing seconds of the first round.
While there are still questions that should be asked in regard Deontay Wilder, the win of Helenius puts him in position to fight former unified IBF/WBA/WBO/IBO Heavyweight world champion Andy Ruiz in what would be a final elimination bout to determine a new mandatory challenger for the world championship currently held by Tyson Fury. Ruiz put himself into position to fight for the mandatory spot by scoring a twelve round unanimous decision over former world title challenger Luis Ortiz in September. Although the unofficial four-man WBC tournament to determine a mandatory challenger was not made official, it seems like a bout between the former world champions Wilder and Ruiz makes the most sense for both seeing as both are aligned with the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) group of promoters and on the surface that fact would give the appearance that it is an easy fight to make.
Fury meanwhile has spent the last several months following his successful fifth round knockout of Dillian Whyte in April, retiring, then un-retiring, then retiring again, and un-retiring again, all the while negotiating with fighters for potential fights. Fury has since signed to face former world title challenger Dereck Chisora in his next title defense on December 3rd. Although Fury has defeated Chisora twice before, one may question whether Fury’s heart is truly on continuing his career or on other ventures. Chisora meanwhile, is enjoying a bit of a resurgence and will be getting his second opportunity at a world championship should the planned third bout between the two come off as planned.
For both Wilder and Ruiz, the focus should be on getting their own fight finalized for early 2023 and for the winner of that fight trying to force a bout with the winner of the planned Fury-Chisora III bout. For now, stay tuned for the continuation of the Heavyweight division.
Finally, the day of action on October 15th concluded with the second encounter between undefeated Undisputed Lightweight world champion Devin Haney and former Undisputed Lightweight champion George Kambosos in Melbourne, Australia. A rematch that was contractually stipulated prior to Haney defeating Kambosos for the championship back in May of this year.
In that fight, Haney out boxed Kambosos over twelve rounds to earn a convincing twelve round unanimous decision to win the championship. The question going into this rematch was a simple one. Could Kambosos approach this fight differently in such a way that it might change the outcome this time around? For part of the second encounter, Kambosos did try to force the fight on Haney rather than trying to box him as he did in the first fight. This included the former champion periodically being able to catch Haney with flush hooks to the head throughout.
As the fight progressed however, Haney as he was able to do in the first fight, was able to find his rhythm and proved to be too slick and too quick for Kambosos, ultimately Boxing his way to a twelve round unanimous decision to retain his championship in his first title defense. While much of this fight seemed to be formulaic as it progressed, I feel that this was a case of the old adage of “Styles Make Fights” as opposed to the performance of George Kambosos.
From a stylistic standpoint, Devin Haney may simply have a style that for a fighter with George Kambosos’ style proves to be a difficult puzzle that he struggles to solve. Although Kambosos has now lost two fights to Devin Haney, he is still a player in the 135lb. Lightweight division and could well find himself challenging for a world championship five pounds up the scale in the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division down the line.
As for Devin Haney, his future could also be in the Jr. Welterweight division in the near future, but it is likely that Haney may be looking for a potential title defense against former unified three-division world champion Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko will return to the ring on October 29th when he faces unbeaten contender Jermaine Ortiz in Madison Square Garden. Even though Lomachenko is a significant favorite going into that fight, it is likely that Haney will wait until the outcome of that bout before entering potential negotiations with Lomachenko for a potential bout in 2023.
While such days such as October 15, 2022 prove to be of great value to Boxing fans due to the amount of bouts spread over multiple cards offered, some may say that it is both a blessing and a curse from the standpoint of the fan needing to decide what they will watch first, what they might watch on delay, or what they are not interested in watching. Although in the current age we live in where thanks to digital streaming, the option to watch any sporting event on one’s own schedule has never been easier and will likely only improve with time, a challenge for promoters and networks will continue to be trying to get as many eyes on whatever bouts they are presenting as possible in terms of live viewing. When you also factor in that two of these cards, the Wilder-Helenius and Haney-Kambosos II cards competed head to head against each other, with one on pay-per-view and the other on ESPN+ and the main ESPN network here in the United States, in addition to the plethora of other sporting events taking place including, but not limited to the MLB playoffs, the beginning of the National Hockey League (NHL) season, and finally College Football among others, you can see the dilemma such scheduling can present for some Boxing fans who are likely fans of other sports as well.
While yours truly personally loves marathon Boxing days like the one we saw on October 15th, and even though it might be unrealistic to expect networks and promoters to try and schedule around other sports, the reality is, it will continue to be an issue for some fans and ultimately, make effect both viewership and buy numbers for the sport. It is therefore something that even as technology improves and provides the fan/consumer with more options that networks and promoters will have to combat if they want their events to be successful.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
The Boxing Truth® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.
Follow Beau Denison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison
Friday, October 21, 2022