Fans waiting to see Miguel Cotto in his comeback fight, eager to see if the ghost of Antonio Margarito haunted the Puerto Rican hitter, took in some undercard action at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
Irish-born New Yorker John Duddy (26-0) handled Minnesotan Matt Vanda (39-9) in a middleweight tussle. Decent round one for both guys. Vanda pumped a jab, and dug in a couple hooks. Duddy feinted, and parried, and jabbed more than we’d seen before. Work with Pat Burns looked like it paid off. He didn’t wait for a receipt so much either, in the second. Duddy fought smart in the middle rounds. The action wasn’t so scintillating for the fans, who thought this one would be a tradefest. Duddy isn’t so wide with his shots under Burns, that’s another difference we saw at MSG.
The fans booed for a spell in the sixth; they would’ve preferred the old Duddy to this refashioned version. Vanda perked up in the seventh; he closed the distance and perhaps took the round. Duddy responded in the eighth, with tight one-twos. Vanda wasn’t fighting like a man who was down bad, but he did in the tenth. He hurt Duddy twice, but couldn’t seal the deal. The old Duddy might have gotten crazy and sloppy, but this one held it together and exited the round in one piece. The two fighters smiled and hugged like old frat buddies afterwards. The scores were 99-91, 99-91, 97-93, UD for Duddy. The Irishman, who is trying to shrug off a management beef with his patrons the McLoughlins, who he has accused of financial mismanagement, did what he needed to do: win. He enjoyed a 254-703 to 190-474 punchstat advantage.
Pole Pawel Wolak met Arizona’s Norberto Bravo in a six round junior middle beef. These were two rough and tumble types, unafraid to take two to give one. Bravo is less keen on moving his head and he ate shots when he got caught on the ropes. Bravo was caught in a corner in the third and wasn’t answering to the degree the ref, Pete Santiago, thought he should’ve been, so the fight was stopped. The time was 1:33. Pawel is now 23-1, with 16 stops, and Bravo drops to 27-17-3.
There was a too lengthy intermission after the Wolak fight. Boxing still hasn’t figured this format out. Why aren’t there mini movies, promo films, offered in between the bouts. A newbie fight fan comes to the Garden, because they’ve heard about Miguel Cotto, and want to see what he’s all about, and take in a live fight card. Instead of whetting their appetite, the producers throw the boxers in the ring, and 90% know nothing or next to nothing about them. Make the people care! Educate them, and they will become more invested in the boxers. There aren’t typically fight programs available at most of these events. Hey, you guys have heard this rant before. Does it always just fall on deaf ears? 20 minute waits in between bouts, in this day and age, when people are used to constant stimulation, does not cut it. And no, music over the PA doesn’t qualify.
Matt Korobov, a Russian lefty, went to 4-0, with 4 KOs, as he took down Brooklyn’s Cory Jones (4-5), another lefty. The two-time world amateur champ was a washout at the Beijing Games, where he was expected to be perhaps the most dominant fighter. The crowd booed him at MSG a few times, until he got more aggressive. Then, he regressed and the boobirds pecked away again. Jones is a survivor type, who mainly looks to stay alive to fight another day. In the fourth, the survivor got clipped with a short right hook, and he was done. The time was 2:59.
New Yorker Maureen Shea took on Peruvian Kina Malpartida in a scrap for the WBA super featherweight title. Mal went down in the first but things then settled down. Mo’s got slow hands but she’s accurate and busy. Well schooled in the basics, she slips well, but Mal certainly found her mug with hooks and right crosses throughout. Mal took some shots to the body along the way. In the tenth, she sent Mo down. She was up at six, but the ref didn’t like the look in her eyes, and stopped it. It was a right cross, and Mo went down face first. The stop by ref Eddie Cotton came at 1:35 of the tenth. Mo is 13-1, and Mal rises to 9-3.