I actually had some trouble figuring out what date to put up top. Today's the tenth, the weekend's action started on the eighth, but ultimately I figured the main events were on the ninth. So there you go.
Friday, July 8th
Jesus Gonzalez (27-1, 14 KOs) UD12 Francisco Sierra (24-4-1, 22 KOs)
Former can't-miss prospect Jesus Gonzalez, trying to reach his former potential in a comeback bid, took a nice step forward in a grueling fight against Mexican slugger Sierra. Sierra is alternatively best known for being blown out by Edison Miranda in one, or for laying a hellacious beat-down of Donovan George that ended with George out cold from a shot that landed a split-second after the bell (the referee ended up docking Sierra two points, and he won a technical decision). He also was a full weight class heavier than Gonzalez, as he could "only" drop 12 pounds in the week's notice he received for the fight, coming in 8 pounds over the 168 lbs contract weight.
This fight was mostly controlled by Gonzalez, but it was a ton of fun the whole way through and saw both fighters on the canvas (Sierra in the fourth, Gonzalez in the fifth). It's easily Gonzalez's best win of his comeback, and he looked pretty good, but also like someone who still was a long way away from Andre Ward quality. Why mention Ward particularly? Because Gonzalez actually is the last man to beat Andre ... when they were 12. Fun trivia fact, but Ward would obliterate Gonzalez in any rematch.
Yuandale Evans (15-0, 11 KOs) TKO6 Emmanuel Lucero (26-7-1, 14 KOs)
Evans scored four knockdowns en route to a stoppage win over former title challenger Lucero. Lucero is the midst of a comeback of his own after struggles with alcohol, and while he was never particularly competitive, he was game as all get out and kept trying to take the fight to the younger man. Evans looked like someone with promise -- if nothing else, he has the physique of a bona fide contender -- but while Lucero was a decent next step, he isn't big enough or good enough to give us a real feel for the Cleveland-based fighter's potential.
Also, Evans' nickname is "Money Shot". Really.
Janks Trotter (5-0-1, 5 KOs) TKO2 Arturo Crespin (6-2-1, 2 KOs)
This was a rematch of Trotter's one blemish (a technical draw after a headbutt), and it was clear that Trotter -- the fighter with a name voted most likely to be shared by a Jedi Knight -- made it evident that he was the dominant force in the ring. Again, Crespin gave it his all, but he was knocked down in the first and then utterly starched in the second. Trotter was a former Canadian amateur standout before he decided he wanted to work on an oil rig for awhile, but now he is apparently back in the game. Who knows -- he could have the tools to actually make some noise.
Saturday, July 9th
Lucian Bute (29-0, 24 KOs) TKO4 Jean Paul Mendy (29-1-1, 16 KOs)
As expected, Bute annihilated Mendy, who got this shot after getting the shit kicked out of him by Sakio Bika, who then proceeded to get himself disqualified hitting Mendy while he was down. I love Bika, but he does have a habit of being his own worst enemy sometimes. Anyway, Bute has already beaten Bika, and Bika was obliterating Mendy, so this wasn't expected to be particularly competitive. And it wasn't -- after three easy rounds, Bute knocked Mendy out cold in the fourth. He's now looking at a likely match against Kelly Pavlik back in Montreal in what I think may prove to be Pavlik's last stand -- Bute is just too good at 168, and Pavlik (a) isn't a true Super Middleweight and (b) isn't what he used to be, unfortunately.
Carson Jones (31-8-2, 21 KOs) TKO6 Germaine Sanders (27-10, 17 KOs)
Two of my personal favorite spoiler-types squared off in Oklahoma last night, with Jones -- who was slated to be Antonio Margarito's comeback opponent before Texas remembered that he was still suspended -- coming away with the knockout victory. Sanders has been around for a long time, mostly as a gatekeeper sort. Though he's now lost seven straight, they've been against brutal competition, including Shamone Alvarez, Jesus Soto-Karass, Mike Jones, and Randell Bailey. It was also only his second stoppage loss (the other coming in 2002 against famous banger Teddy Reid).
Jones, for his part, feels like he's been around forever, but he's actually only 24. That's probably because he's in the ring so often -- a whopping 24 fights since 2008 (he turned pro in 2004, so it wasn't just puffball fights for a new guy either). He's probably best known for busting the bubble of knockout artist/hype job Tyrone Brunson, but has been quietly putting together a decent resume. He's an honest, hardworking sort who comes to fight. He can be maddeningly inconsistent -- there are some really shaky losses amongst those eight defeats -- but he's also got some decent wins and I've seen him flash real skills. I root for him because any break he gets will be entirely of his own doing. This was a solid win over a solid gatekeeper, and I'd like to see him step up again.
Carlos Molina (19-4-2, 6 KOs) UD10 Kermit Cintron (32-4-1, 28 KOs)
Speaking of hard-working guys you can't help but root for. I love Carlos Molina. He only had six amateur fights, and he could easily be 24-1 instead of 19-4-2. His draws are against exceptionally talented Erislandy Lara (in a fight I and most others thought he won) and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (in a fight I assume Molina won because in any JCC fight I automatically give the other guy an extra two rounds compared to the judge's scorecards). His losses include a majority decision loss to JCC in the rematch (see above for what I think of that), and another majority decision and a split decision loss. Meanwhile, he's unbeaten since 2008 and just notched up a career best victory.
And it's not luck. He's a very active fighter, but it isn't just swarming -- he varies his punches very well, really commits to the body, and is defensively quite slick and tricksy. He has a little more power than his KO percentage would suggest, but still not much -- enough to buzz a guy if he catches him flush, but not enough to KO anybody by anything other than an accumulation of punches. But that's really the only aspect of his game that isn't a solid B+. I'd love to see him against Pawel Wolak or Cornelius Bundrage (some folks mentioned Alfredo Angulo, but I think that's an awful style match-up for Molina).
As for Cintron, he did not look good at all coming off a 14-month layoff. He couldn't get his punches off, on the rare occasions that he did they didn't land, and even when he did connect they just didn't seem to carry that concussive force they used to when Cintron was fighting at welterweight. It is a big step back for Cintron, even granting that Molina should be seen as a bona fide contender now, and I'm not sure where he goes from here. It's true to that Molina looked good last night, but Cintron also looked bad. It's that simple.
Brandon Rios (28-0-1, 21 KOs) TKO3 Urbano Antillon (28-3, 20 KOs)
Can you say Hagler/Hearns? I can. Three rounds of non-step, punishing action that ended when Rios caught Antillon early in the third. Antillon got up and bravely tried to keep fighting, but he was never able to shake-off the effects of the knockdown, was put down again, and the fight was stopped shortly thereafter as Antillon wobbled around the ring while breaking from a clinch. Prior to that, though, we had nine minutes of sustained, in-the-trenches action that lived up to expectations. It's greedy of me to wish it could have gone longer, but I do -- it was that much fun.
Both fighters deserve to and assuredly will grace our TV sets in future fights. But Rios in particular may well be the best lightweight in the world out there. And you couldn't pick a more exciting fighter to hold the label. The kid loves to bang, and you know in any Brandon Rios fight he will be there to hit and be hit.
Rico Ramos (20-0, 11 KOs) KO7 Akifumi Shimoda (23-3-1, 10 KOs)
I didn't see this fight, but what I heard Ramos was fighting tentatively and being thoroughly beaten in the first half of the fight, only to turn it around with a sensational one-punch knockout to take the title from Shimoda. That, to me, sounds like Gerry Penalosa's similar one-punch knockout over Jhonny Gonzalez, except that "Penalosa" and "fighting tentatively" ought never be seen in the same paragraph as one another (Penalosa was getting beaten handily in that fight, but not for lack of effort).
Max Kellerman declared "all sins are forgiven", but I'm not sure about that -- it could have been a lucky punch. Credit to Ramos for having the ability to throw it, and for hanging in there and turning it up in the seventh round, but I'd still be worried about the lackluster performance during the rest of the fight.
Paul Williams (40-2, 27 KOs) MD12 Erislandy Lara (15-1-1, 10 KOs)
Folks are saying this is a robbery, and from what I saw they're right. I missed the first three rounds, but from what I'm told those were all clear Lara rounds, and making that presumption I had it nine rounds to three for Lara. I don't think Williams looked "shot", but I don't think he looked great either, and that overhand left by a southpaw is apparently his permanent kryptonite.
There's just not that much to be said about the fight itself. Lara looked stronger, faster, more powerful, and slicker in there. He deserved the "W". He didn't get it. The three judges at ringside were relatively inexperienced and did not have a good reputation in the major fights they have scored. The nicest thing you could say was that they were mesmerized by Williams' typical volume, even though most of those punches didn't land or had no snap. Meanwhile, Lara landed overhand left after overhand left to noticeable effect.
Unfortunately, you can't overturn decisions just because the scorecards are substantively appalling. But one hopes that the New Jersey commission looks into this and takes a hard look at whether any of these three judges deserve to be ringside in the future. The boxing public and, especially, the boxers themselves, deserve better.