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 #MMCatTSS and @TheSweetScience , and send us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Taylor-made Invitation
The customary exchange of niceties after a fight is a time-honored tradition in boxing, and there are very few instances in which the combatants fail to kindly greet each other with respect after a fight, no matter how brutal it may have been. But Josh Taylor took the whole thing to another level on Saturday night at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh, Scotland.
After becoming the first man to stop Mexico’s rugged long time lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez, the 26-year-old unbeaten Scottish sensation approached his foe to offer him a post-fight pint with a universal gesture that needs no translation, especially for two cerveza-loving countries.
Not sure about whether Vazquez was in the mood for it, or even if the meet-and-drink thing ever took place, but the betting line for that opened at 100-1 on “Yes” in my book.
Gone with the Hurricane Wind
Unfulfilled promises are a dime-a-dozen in boxing, and we could fill an entire encyclopedia with the names of fighters that never really made the cut after being touted as the next big thing since the invention of the remote control. And it would appear that Puerto Rican star-in-the-(still?)-making Felix Verdejo is on its way to become a poster boy for this bunch.
Hailed as the reincarnation of fellow Boricua superstar and namesake Felix Trinidad, “The Diamond” was the entire package, inside and out of the ring. But just as an excellent article from the folks at La Esquina Neutral reminded us this week, after more than five years as a pro, Verdejo is nowhere near the championship territory that other fellow London 2012 Olympians like Anthony Joshua, Oscar Valdez and many others have already occupied.
The main argument of the article is that Verdejo has been unable to deal with the pressure of becoming the face, the hope and the flag-bearer of Puerto Rican boxing even before becoming a professional. He is still on track to become a world titlist of some sort and to have a nice and lucrative run as a professional fighter. For now, we can only hope that the hurricane winds that wiped out most of his island-nation’s infrastructure have not also taken his desire and his talent away as well.
The King Has Queen Clothes
Full disclosure: although I am not a true proponent of machismo (that untranslatable Spanish word that extols macho-like virtues above all), I do admit that I like my heavyweights big, burly and manly. And although I am not yet old enough to say that “there ain’t no more men like the ones of my generation” I have no problem remembering that the heavyweight championship was once considered the peak of masculinity at its strongest, toughest and roughest. That’s probably why I had to keep my button on the remote control to change the channel every other minute while watching Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller running around the ring in a mohawk haircut and a red skirt in his fight against Mariusz Wach. Yes, I am all for everyone expressing their own personality and taste in clothing in any way they see fit anywhere they want. But the heavyweight division is not one of those places, in my own personal taste. Just put some pants on. Seriously.
No Red Carpet for Mike Tyson
Speaking of misguided masculinity, former heavyweight champion and convicted felon Mike Tyson was denied entry into Chile last week for “violating immigration laws,” apparently by failing to disclose his past as a convicted rapist. South American newspapers featured pictures of Tyson being unceremoniously escorted by immigration officials into a detention room where he was informed that he wasn’t welcome in Chile. But the problems didn’t end there for Iron Mike. As soon as he was released and allowed to leave the country, he wanted to travel to Argentina, a place that he visited numerous times in his new role as a celebrity dancer on TV shows and stand-up comedian. But lo and behold, he was denied entry to that country also. No word on where Tyson is headed now, but it might be a while before he is seen somewhere below the equator in the near future.
Matthysse Aims for the Belt, Again
Although there is nothing official yet, the rumor mill is abuzz with the possibility of former titlist Lucas Matthysse facing Thailand’s Tewa Kiram for the WBA “regular” welterweight title sometime in January in California.
Supposedly, contracts have been drawn and signed at the recent WBA Convention in Medellin, Colombia, and it will be a matchup between two devastating KO artists, with Matthysse risking a record that includes 38 wins and 4 losses with 35 KOs, while Kiram is unbeaten in 38 fights with 28 of those coming by way of knockout.
The usually reclusive Matthysse isn’t responding to requests for comment so far, but it is clear that this is the chance he has been waiting for a long time, and the possibility of starting his 2018 campaign with a title belt in his hands in such a lucrative and attractive division should be a reason for all of us to expect a year of great matchups, even better than the already excellent 2017. Fingers crossed.
Check out more boxing news and features at The Sweet Science