There was a standing room only crowd of 9,323 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, for Saturday night’s fight card featuring Gennady Golovkin vs. Marco Antonio Rubio and Nonito Donaire vs. Nicholas Walters. Before the telecast, it was clear that Golovkin and Donaire were going in different directions. After the telecast, it was clearer.
Donaire has moved from being hailed as “the next Manny Pacquiao” and honored as the 2012 “Fighter of the Year” by the Boxing Writers Association of America to “let’s reevaluate his status.”
Nonito has an engaging personality, he’s an exciting fighter, and he can whack. But he’s technically flawed in that he (1) doesn’t cut off the ring against elusive opponents as well as he should; (2) has trouble setting up his power punches unless an opponent is trading with him; and (3) often over-reaches on his power shots, which leaves him vulnerable to counters.
Walters, a Jamaican knockout artist with 24 wins and 20 stoppages in 24 bouts, was expected to test Donaire. The established betting lines were close to even money on the bout.
Once the bell rang, Walters was the aggressor throughout. Donaire fought more cautiously than he usually does. When Nonito stayed on the outside, Nicholas outjabbed him. And when Donaire stopped moving to exchange, Walters outpunched him. The one bright spot for Donaire came at the end of round two. After getting hit with a low blow, Walters decided to trade low and was rocked by a hard left hook up top.
Other than that, it was all Walters. Donaire had never been knocked down before as a pro, but his glove touched the canvas for an official knockdown when he was jarred by a right uppercut at the end of round three.
Late in round six, there was a more definitive knockdown. Donaire lunged forward after overreaching on a left hook, missed, and got hit high on the back of his head behind the ear with a nasty overhand right. Nonito went down face first on the canvas and rose on unsteady legs. Referee Raul Caiz Jr appropriately stopped the fight.
“He overwhelmed me and he knocked the s— out of me,” Donaire conceded afterward.
That set the stage for Golovkin-Rubio.
Golovkin is the World Boxing Association “super” middleweight champion. Danny Jacobs holds a bogus WBA “world middleweight championship” belt.
Rubio had won the vacant World Boxing Council “interim world middleweight championship” in April of this year by beating Domenico Spada of Italy. Spada qualified for that “championship” bout by beating Sandor Ramocsa (12 wins in 33 fights), Norbert Szekeres (13 wins in 40 fights), and Marijan Markovic (4 wins in 25 fights) during the preceding 21 months.
Prior to Golovkin-Rubio, the WBC announced that it was sanctioning the bout for its “interim world middleweight championship.” That sanction meant the WBC could enrich its coffers by collecting another sanctioning fee. Rubio then showed his respect for the belt by weighing in 1.8 pounds over the 160-pound limit.
Going into the fight, Golovkin’s record stood at 30-and-0 with 27 knockouts. Rubio’s ring ledger showed 59 wins, 6 losses, and 3 draws. Marco Antonio had won a couple of rounds in going the distance in a losing effort against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in 2012. Three years before that, in his only other world championship bid, he was knocked out in nine rounds by Kelly Pavlik. The odds favoring Golovkin over Rubio were in the range of 50-to-1.
In the ring, Gennady always seems to be in control. This time was no different. Prior to the bout, Jimmy Tobin labeled the match-up a “sanctioned slaughter” and noted, “You can hit Golovkin. That much has been established. Taking what he offers in return thus far has proven too much to ask.”
That was certainly true of Golovkin-Rubio. Midway through round one, Rubio had tasted enough of Golovkin’s power that he was noticeably less aggressive than he’d been in the opening minute of the bout. By the midway mark of round two, it was over, courtesy of a left hook that landed high on Marco Antonio’s temple and deposited him on the canvas for a ten-count.
Miguel Cotto is currently the WBC “world middleweight champion.” In theory, Golovkin is now the mandatory challenger for Cotto’s belt.
The chances that Cotto will fight Golovkin are about as good as the chances that New Jersey governor Chris Christie will run a sub-four-minute mile. Cotto will avoid Golovkin. And the WBC will sanction Cotto’s next bout (which will be against someone else for some form of WBC championship). The WBC will say that this is for “the good of boxing.” Of course, a substantial sanctioning fee will be involved.
So let’s simply say that, right now, Gennady Golovkin is the best middleweight in the world. Anyone else who claims to be a “world champion” at 160 pounds is a pretender.
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On May 4, 2013, J’Leon Love won a split-decision over Gabriel Rosado in Las Vegas to capture one of boxing’s many regional belts. Then Love tested positive for Hydrochlorothiazide, a banned substance that’s used as a weight-loss aide and also to mask the presence of performance-enhancing drugs in a fighter’s system. The result of Love-Rosado was changed to ”no decision,” and J’Leon was suspended for six months in addition to being fined $10,000 by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
At his NSAC hearing, Love admitted that he’d used Hydrochlorothiazide, but testified that it had been to lose weight and that he hadn’t known it was illegal. He further testified that the drug had been given to him by his strength and conditioning coach, Bob Ware.
What action did the Nevada State Athletic Commission take against Ware?
Zilch. And when Floyd Mayweather fought a rematch against Marcos Maidana on September 13, one of the men in his corner (he also wrapped Floyd’s hands on fight night) was Bob Ware.
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In recent months, a great deal of attention has been paid to the dangers inherent in youth football. But little has been said about the perils of amateur boxing.
Take a look at: http://fusion.net/story/21483/the-little-fighters/
It’s a disturbing study of how poorly regulated youth boxing is today. The text is excellent and the videos are outstanding.
Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at email@example.com. His next book (Thomas Hauser on Boxing) will be published later this month by the University of Arkansas Press.