The Saturday Showtime card kept Raskin awake almost the whole time, which is a compliment to that network. (Hogan)
If you missed Part I of the dramatic return of the Raskin running diary yesterday, click here, laugh a little, cry a little, and then come right back to this page. Now without further delay, let’s get to Part II, live from my living room by way of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center:
10:30 p.m. ET: No one will ever accuse Paulie Malignaggi of possessing impressive pop, but he sure gets an impressive pop from the local crowd as he appears on the big screen and begins his ring walk. Unfortunately, he’s being led to the ring by some rapper I don’t recognize (new Twitter friend @BarberOvDaYear tells me it’s a Brooklyn rapper named Maino) and the sound system is terrible and it’s killing the buzz of Paulie’s grand entrance. I’m trying to process the fact that The House That Jay-Z Built lacks quality rap acoustics.
10:33: Pablo Cesar Cano wins the battle of ring entrances just by having that guy with the mariachi outfit and the skeleton mask waving the Mexican flag for him.
10:35: Your referee for Malignaggi-Cano: Steve Smoger. Watch and learn, Mercante.
10:42: Cano is cut on the left eyelid during the second round (ruled the result of a punch), and a closeup in the corner reveals that it is a wide, nasty one. Cano, who weighed in 1.2 pounds over the welterweight limit and thus is ineligible to win Malignaggi’s alphabet belt, could have used that cut the day before to bleed his way down to 147. Oh well, hindsight’s always 20/20, right?
10:47: Nice shot at ringside of Zab Judah, a.k.a. “the guy Garcia should be fighting in tonight’s main event in Brooklyn instead of a Mexican opponent he defeated comfortably seven months ago.” Seated next to Judah is publicist Kelly Swanson, getting herself some quality screen time. Eat your heart out, Fred Sternburg.
10:58: This fight is quite good and seems about even here in the sixth round, but I’m starting to nod off anyway because, well, we’re getting into past-my-bedtime territory. And if I want to power nap for two minutes, then dammit, that’s just what I’m going to do. Yet another perk of being at home and not on press row.
11:00: At the midway point, Farhood and Bernstein both have Cano ahead 58-57, while Trout shockingly has it 60-55 for Malignaggi! Trout then proceeds to defend his card with some weak BS about Cano having to take the title from the champion. I’m enjoying the broadcast stylings of Trout less and less as this card wears on. (For the record, of the boxers Showtime has tried out since suspending Tarver, Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson was easily my favorite.)
11:03: We get another closeup of Cano’s cut in the corner heading into the eighth round, and, yikes, it’s gotta be about three-quarters of an inch wide. This prompts me to tweet something that can not be repeated in a family-friendly column such as this one. But you can go ahead and scroll through my Twitter feed if you want. You’ll know it when you see it.
11:14: Cano lands a couple of excellent left hooks in the 10th, but Tompkins declares it a good round for Malignaggi as the bell clangs. In all honesty, I’m not paying close enough attention to score the fight accurately. I’m too busy fighting off sleep, taking notes for this running diary, tweeting, and congratulating myself on my popular off-color tweet from 11 minutes earlier. (One guy even declared it “tweet of the year.” I was thinking more along the lines of “tweet of the century,” but I suppose I’ll settle for the understated compliment.)
11:19: With 20 seconds to go in round 11, a perfect right hand over the top from Cano lands on Paulie’s chin and drops him! Malignaggi gets up and says he’s fine, but that one punch turned this into a situation where it’s now going to feel like a hometown robbery if Paulie gets the decision. (Although, again, I should make clear that I’m not scoring carefully. I’m just saying it feels like Cano is ahead.)
11:23: At the final bell, the fighters share an authentic embrace and then both get carried around the ring on their cornermen’s shoulders. I check the scoring of people I follow on Twitter, and not a single person has Malignaggi winning.
11:26: So, of course, the judges have Malignaggi winning. One judge scores it 118-109 for Cano, which seems fairly ludicrous, while the other two both give it to Paulie, 114-113. The crowd boos passionately. Yes, the Brooklyn crowd boos the decision going to the Brooklyn fighter.
11:28: Malignaggi scores some points after the fight when Gray, as he tends to do, leans on the crutch of building his questions around the punch stats, and Malignaggi responds, “CompuBox, a lot of times, they gotta get their LensCrafters on.” The punch stats are an interesting point of discussion and analysis, nothing more. They do not tell you who won the fight. (Although I’m sure if the stats had come out in Malignaggi’s favor, he would have offered them up as proof that the decision was correct.)
11:39: As the main event fighters make their way to the ring, the Showtime crew tip-toes around the Morales/USADA controversy. They’re acknowledging the facts, but nobody seems to want to offer an opinion on it. Personal aside: Morales and I are just about the same age and he won his first title less than a week after I began my career in boxing journalism. Over the ensuing 15 years, my hair has changed color considerably more than his, but his nose has changed shape considerably more than mine.
11:45: The main event is underway! Phew. I was certain Garcia was going to pull out at the last minute rather than face a weight-drained old man for a million dollars.
11:47: To the soundtrack of “Dan-ny! Dan-ny!” chants, Garcia gets the better of a well paced opening round, though “El Terrible” does land one particularly crackling counter left hook.
11:56: Garcia buckles Morales’ knees with a right hand at the bell to end round three, and Erik stumbles back to the wrong corner. My opinion that this rematch would be a waste of everyone’s time is on its way to being validated.
11:58: As round four begins, Cortez weighs in with his analysis. Thank goodness he’s here to let us know that the ref will be watching Morales closely.
11:59: A perfect left hook from Garcia causes Morales to do a 180-degree pirouette, then coil back 180 degrees in the opposite direction and crash to the canvas with his body hurtling halfway through the ropes. Before ref Benji Esteves can begin to count, one of Morales’ cornermen runs into the ring, then runs back out, but Esteves waves off the fight. It could be ruled a disqualification, but instead it goes into the books as a knockout. Whatever it is, it’s a sad scene. GBP is going to have a hard time moving forward with plans for Garcia-Morales III.
12:04 a.m.: As Gray interviews him, Garcia asks him in which round the knockout came, and Gray says it was the fifth. Actually, it was the fourth. I guess that information wasn’t conveniently listed anywhere in the punch stats. Meanwhile, Garcia comes off as a tremendously likeable guy. Some folks might find his dad abrasive, but I wouldn’t hold that against Danny. And we should get used to seeing Garcia’s face and hearing him interviewed because with two months to go in the year, he’s the leading candidate for Fighter of the Year honors.
12:08: Morales more or less announces his retirement (again) in his interview with Gray, saying something about an easy farewell fight in Tijuana and then that will be the end. BK thanks Morales moments later for “years and years of warrior-ship.” Every boxing fan on the planet co-signs that one.
12:14: Kenny wraps up the telecast, and I get to go to bed. This long night of fights offered a representative sample of the best and worst that boxing has to offer. We got two very good fights, one of which ended in a mildly controversial hometown decision; we got one painfully boring fight; and we got one brief, depressing mismatch. And ultimately, we got a reasonable argument in favor of the Showtime quadrupleheader: You give ’em enough quantity, and odds are you’ll also give ’em some quality.
Hope you enjoyed the running diary. Let’s do it again when Garcia vs. Judah makes “history” at the Barclays Center in February.
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?