Last weekend on HBO we witnessed two fights, two mismatches, and two knockouts. While HBO match-making may have missed a beat with the fights on Boxing After Dark, at least the fans were entertained . . . while it lasted.
The week prior we were blessed with Arturo Gatti and Francisco Bojado in separate bouts, but I'll gladly watch Antonio Margarito and/or Rafael Marquez headline instead of either Gatti or Bojado based on what we saw. Margarito and Marquez stuck to what got them under the HBO spotlight in the first place – stalking and hurting their opponents with the belief that they will hurt you more than you will hurt them. They did.
Gatti and Bojado used to have that same mentality. Two weeks ago they did not, and it made for a long night. Both boxers have been under the tutelage of new trainers who have changed they way their boxers used to fight, and taken away our excitement level and the fighter's marketability in the process. Here is to hoping Marquez and Margarito don't go looking for help from the likes of trainers Floyd Mayweather Sr. or James 'Buddy' McGirt anytime soon.
On the issue of match-making from last weekend, the truth is you never can be sure what you are going to get from some fighters under the bright lights. On paper, at least, undefeated Canadian Hercules Kyvelos might have belonged near, if not in, the same ring as Antonio Margarito. He held wins over Fitz Vanderpool – who gave Fernando Vargas fits in their recent fight – and had just defeated Ener Julio. Kyvelos found out that he in fact did not have the pedigree to share the ring with Antonio and is now 'wasting away in Margaritoville' after slightly more than one round of absorbing some punishing shots. In the co-feature Rafael Marquez had no trouble finding Peter Frissina who chose to stand in front of the power punching Mexican and trade. Marquez had suffered his three losses by knockout so one can only assume that Team Frissina felt that was the only way to beat him. Fortunately for us they may have overlooked Marquez' 27 knockouts in 30 wins, which now becomes 28 in 31 after just over 3 minutes of work.
Looking back to the previous week it was uncanny how we used to get the action-packed fights out of Gatti and Bojado in the way we got them from Margarito and Marquez. It has been two long years since Gatti walked through an opponent named Terron Millett in less than four rounds and shook Millett from 'contender' status to 'spoiled goods'. When Buddy McGirt got a hold of 'Thunder' Gatti that all changed. Arturo was transformed from a face-first action packed bomber to a dancing boxer who works behind the jab and looks to win 'rounds' rather than just fights.
Remember when Francisco Bojado was 9-0 with 9 knockouts and never had been past three rounds? Bojado was unprepared in his tenth fight – a combination of too much time with the girlfriend, too little time in the gym, a little bit of fame gone to his head and waistline – and lost. Since that eye-opener Bojado chose to place the blame on trainers and made a change rather that accept that if he doesn't do his roadwork he will be exposed. The once-exciting young fighter has now gone the distance in six of seven fights and finds himself under the watchful eye of Mayweather Sr.
There was a time when Arturo Gatti was the most exciting fighter in the sport, or at least the fighter who was going to be in the most exciting fights. Many felt Francisco Bojado was the one to take over that claim as he had been knocking out opponents and getting into bloody wars. Those were the good old days, or so it seems, when boxers boxed and fighters fought. Improving a few boxers and prolonging their careers is good for them, but it doesn't necessarily improve the sport.