Bizarro world boxing in Tulsa, Oklahoma last night. Zahir Raheem was exciting! Allan Green was boring! There were no decisions of questionable merit! Very strange.
Zahir Raheem (29-2, 17 KOs) KO1 Ricardo Dominguez (23-3-2, 15 KOs)
Everybody, myself included, was less than thrilled to see that Raheem was being shown on ESPN2 again. After all, in his last outing he completely stunk up the joint fighting Cristobal Cruz, which followed a similarly dull and dismal performance against Popo Freitas. Raheem just has been boring to watch, tying up over and over and over again until I wanted to gouge my eyes out.
But I'll be if he don't look fun last night, putting Dominguez away with an excellent left hook. Sure, the fight lasted less than 80 seconds. And fine, Dominguez probably could have gotten up had he had any interest in fighting. And Dominguez has a padded record, with only seven victories over fighters with winning records. But credit where credit is due. Raheem landed a good shot, and for the brief time the fight continued, he looked sharp and aggressive.
Of course, it's easy for Raheem to let loose against a fighter he outclasses to the degree he does Dominguez (though the gap was even more significant over Cruz). I mean, John Ruiz looked exciting when he fought Otis Tisdale. So, like with Ruiz, the question is whether this is a real change in Raheem's fighting style, or an exception due to overmatched opposition. For his career's sake (and my own viewing pleasure), I hope it's the former.
Carson Jones (13-5-1, 7 KOs) MD6 Jose Luis Gonzalez (11-2, 9 KOs)
Jones avenged two amateur losses to Gonzalez and ended a three fight skid with an exciting and deserved decision over Jose Luis Gonzalez in the best fight of the night. It was a perfect styles-make-fights match-up, as the bigger, stronger Gonzalez squared off against the smaller but quicker Jones.
Jones' losses have been to good competition, so his record probably makes him look a bit worse than he is, but he still has serious flaws as a fighter. He relies on his uppercut way too much, for starters, and more dangerously shoots it from way too far outside. And he spent far too much time standing in front of the stronger Gonzalez when he should have been using his speed to move about. But he showed tremendous heart and came back from adversity (he lost rounds two and three rather decisively) to score the victory here. Gonzalez certainly didn't look poor tonight, and I doubt anyone would object to a rematch between these two.
George Tahdooahnippah (9-0-1, 8 KOs) D4 James Cook (10-3-1, 7 KOs)
This was a step up for Tahdooahnippah, and I can't say he passed with flying colors. It's not that he "escaped" with a draw -- though it was a close match, I'd say if anything the bout leaned in his favor. But Cook was an opponent hand-picked to lose in spectacular fashion to a 9-0 fighter with 8 KOs. Cook had been knocked out in each of his three losses, and not by particularly promising fighters (one was 7-21). Worse yet, he hadn't fought in over three years prior to this bout. Simply put, Tahdooahnippah should have smoked him.
Instead, the "Comanche Boy" looked rather wild and technically unsound. Again, he wasn't losing (except the last round where Cook opened up on him), he just didn't look particularly impressive. If Tahdooahnippah is going to go anywhere, he needs to get back into the gym and nail down his fundamentals, because he needs to beat folks like Cook if he's to go anywhere. If anything, he's lucky that he was exposed by a fighter who still wasn't skilled enough to hurt him.
Allan Green (26-1, 18 KOs) UD10 Rubin Williams (29-3-1, 16 KOs)
YAWN. Green handily won a unanimous decision in a fight that primarily consisted of him and Williams looking across the ring at each other. Green demonstrated a pretty smart jab, but nothing else in an incredibly dull affair. Even the 9th round knockdown came off a jab -- it wasn't too hard, Williams probably was just surprised to see a punch actually come his way. Indeed, the most interesting part of the bout was probably listening to Teddy Atlas try and speculate as to why Green continually was looking down at his feet (something that did not affect him this fight, but which a stronger Super Middleweight could make him pay for in dramatic fashion).
Green can be exciting, but last night all his worst instincts were on display. I came out of tonight with significantly less respect for him than I did before. However, I do want to see him in with a top 168 pounder, because for me it's win-win: the "good" Allan Green would make it an explosive, competitive fight, and the "bad" Green would get deservedly spanked. Either way, I'd be happy.
Meanwhile, tonight brash New York slickster Paulie Malignaggi (23-1, 5 KOs) defends his junior welterweight title against tough Herman Ngoudjo (16-1, 9 KOs). I think a lot of writers aren't giving Ngoudjo the credit he deserves. Malignaggi is experienced against high-level fighters, but Ngoudjo is no slouch in that department either. A lot of folks thought he beat Jose Luis Castillo in the last fight Castillo fought well in. He owns a (razor-close, true) decision win over Randall Bailey, and has fought surprisingly tough competition for a fighter in only his 18th pro fight (he won the NABF crown in only his ninth fight). Malignaggi is a very slick boxer, but he's beatable if you can catch with him, and he doesn't have the power to keep folks off him. Ngoudjo will pressure the New Yorker, and try to make it a rough fight. I still think Malignaggi has the advantage, but I don't think Ngoudjo should be written off. This should be fun.