In this new section of The Sweet Science, we step back and take a critical look at the fights that took place on the previous weekend, we compare our own previews with the way the actual fights went on, and we take your opinions and questions (along with those of special guests) to create a final analysis to another weekend of boxing. Follow us every Monday at #MMC and @TheSweetScience , and send us your thoughts at email@example.com
Maidana’s Photo Op Gone Wrong. Very Wrong.
A very disturbing event took place last week that went largely underreported by the English-speaking media: former welterweight titlist Marcos Maidana, during a visit to Colombia to attend the WBA annual convention and see his brother Fabian fight Johan Perez in the customary “KO to Drugs” card that accompanies the convention, had the ill-advised idea of taking a very provocative picture with John Jairo Velazquez, a.k.a. “Popeye,” one of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar’s most feared hitmen, responsible for dozens of deaths and fresh out of a 23-year stint in prison. In the picture, Maidana is holding two pistols and embraces Velazquez.
The comment says “I am visiting the general of the mafia,” and the entire publication was promptly erased to be replaced by a short video of Velazquez standing alongside a more somber and subdued Maidana, as Velazquez goes on a short rant vindicating Maidana’s rejection of drugs and his own experience as a man who repented from his old ways. “Regardless of inopportune jokes, this is the true message that ‘Chino’ wants to share,” said the comment on the video, but it was too late: the picture had already gone viral and the damage to Maidana’s image was done.
Maidana now faces an intense backlash over his choice of words and acquaintances, as well as his poor choices when endorsing, tacitly or explicitly, the actions of Velazquez, one of Escobar’s closest collaborators during his reign of terror.
“An athlete has every door opened in front of him,” said Velazquez in that short video posted on Maidana’s team’s Instagram account, “but for a drug dealer, there are three doors only: the hospital, the jailhouse or the cemetery.” We can only hope that Maidana will choose more wisely from now on.
Wild Fight, Wilder Attitude
The Wilder-Stiverne had a terrific build-up, complete with a shouting match at the scales and all the shenanigans of two hungry fighters with something to prove trying to psyche their opponent. But Wilder took the whole thing to another level after he scored the first knock-down. His hands at waist level daring Stiverne to punch him, his wide, looping punches, and his defiance of referee Arthur Mercante Jr.’s orders (which could have cost him a point or even a DQ were indicative of one thing: his frustration over his numerous cancellations and postponements was real, his desire to lay a beating on Stiverne was very real, and his challenge of Anthony Joshua is VERY real. It will be very interesting to see what the immediate future holds for the Bronze Bomber after such a devastating performance, but it is hard not to feel excited about it.
How Much Does That Thing Weigh?
A lot was said about Stiverne’s 30 lb weight “advantage” over Wilder (there is no such thing as that in the heavyweight division, where more weight usually means less speed and vice versa, without sacrificing punching power in either case), but very little was said about the unshapely hair sausage (?!?!) dangling from the back of Stiverne’s head. Sure, the weight of a bunch of braided hair is not too much, but once that thing starts shaking around with each punch, the centrifugal force of that weight surely takes a toll on his neck and head, and it adds a risk factor both for himself as for his foe (Stiverne could have easily hit Wilder in the eye with it coming off a clinch or something). Call me insensitive, but I would have cut that thing off before the fight or there would be no fight at all.
Breazeale Wins the Battle of the Bulgin’
The heavyweight division has a weight problem. Athletes are bigger and bigger every day, and the size of the current champions is a testimony to that. The WBC’s idea of creating a new division above cruiserweight and then move the bigger guys into a new super heavyweight division starting at 215 lbs-ish is not a bad idea, given the disparity in some of these cases. But as we mentioned earlier, the more weight you carry, the less speed and mobility you’ll have. And this is one reason to doubt that there is a strategy in both Dominic Breazeale and Eric Molina’s flabbiness around the middle. Sure, you gain power with weight, but doing so in such an unnatural and unathletic way is just too much. It may be OK when two similarly flabby fellas are matched together, but in an eventual fight against a more athletic fighter the difference becomes just too much to make the fight competitive – and even safe. Food for thought: stay away from the dessert buffet.
Let The Hammer Ring
The Loma-Rigo thing is upon us, but there is a similarly big bad matchup brewing on the other side of the gender gap, and it could end up being just as interesting. And more so since female middleweight champion Christina Hammer delivered a devastating win on Saturday when she demolished Ghana’s Gifty Amanua Ankrah, stopping her after four rounds to send a message to two-time Olympic gold medalist and world super middleweight champion Claressa Shields.
David Avila, the editor of our female boxing sister site theprizefighters.com, gives us the skinny:
“Christina Hammer let the world know she’s ready to invade the USA and prove that Olympic gold medals are nice but her world title belts are better. The expected clash with Claressa Shields will have to wait as an announcement was just made that Shields will first meet fellow American Tori Nelson. Then the Germany-based Hammer would follow later in 2018. The world of female prizefighting eagerly awaits.
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