Sunday, October 23, 2022

October 15, 2022 Was A Memorable Day For Boxing


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:




No comments:

Post a Comment