Let’s face it, not everyone has time to read individual fight reports for everything that happened in a given weekend. When televised fight cards pop up on a continent or two, it can be tough reading paragraph after paragraph about each remotely meaningful fight that happened.
That’s what the Weekend Briefing is for.
The main takeaway from this weekend is that the favorites won. Most of the good stuff was buried a tad on undercards or presented as co-features, but they were worth enduring the worst of it. Usually.
HBO – Salle des Étoiles, Monte Carlo, Monaco
Heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz stayed unbeaten with a disappointing unanimous decision over Malik Scott, and feel free to blame both fighters for the lackluster affair. Scott avoided engaging and averaged a catatonic 13 punches per round, while Ortiz failed to cut the ring off well and flailed plenty. Nobody had an encouraging performance, including bumbling referee Jean Robert Laine, who neglected to wipe Scott’s gloves off after any of the umpteen times the Philadelphia native hit the deck for one reason or another, and hilariously shrugged at Scott’s performance.
Ortiz, now 26-0 with 22 knockouts and 2 No Contests, might not get another fight in before he turns 38 in March of 2017, but it’s not as if he would need to learn much or improve much to do well in today’s heavyweight division. He’s surprisingly quick and sharp for a fighter his size, he’s a good counterpuncher, and he’s a southpaw. It’s disappointing, however, that he wouldn’t simply step forward and throw without stopping when he met no resistance. There was no danger in attacking with more conviction and more fire than he showed; Scott is not a puncher and rarely set his feet. Perhaps Ortiz needed the rounds, but we didn’t need to watch them. Lastly, was Malik Scott’s corner completely unprepared? For whatever reason, they brought a tall bar or kitchen stool rather than customary short stool, like Ortiz had. Scott, weird stool and all, falls to 38-3-1 with 13 knockouts.
On the undercard in Monte Carlo Jamie McDonnell, 29-2-1 with 13 knockouts, defended his WBA bantamweight belt by controversial unanimous decision over Liborio Solis. McDonnell was mostly unable to fend off Solis despite looking to be a division or two larger than the Venezuelan challenger. As the Sky Sports crew rightly pointed out several times, Solis easily countered a lazy jab from McDonnell with a snapping right hand in just about every round. McDonnell finally rocked Solis in the 9th with a left hook and had more success finding his range with his jab and by using his shoulders and forearms inside, but rounds 11 and 12 likely belonged to the challenger. Solis shook his head in disbelief when the decision was announced, and his record is now 25-5-1 with 11 knockouts.
Jason Sosa retained the WBA super featherweight belt with a unanimous decision over Stephen “Swifty” Smith in Monaco, marking the third continent Sosa has fought on in under a year. Sosa lhas the kind of fighter’s attitude that just doesn’t allow him to get hit without wanting to retaliate, and that makes him good television. He fights out of Camden, N.J., just like the “Camden Buzzsaw” Dwight Muhammad Qawi, so perhaps it’s not surprising that he fights with purpose and goes to the body like he does. Despite going down in round 2, Smith showed that Sosa isn’t without vulnerability, as his fighting instincts both leave him open at times and sap his energy. He closed the bout fighting in bursts and with his right eye quickly closing, but… you should see the other guy. Smith’s right eye was sliced open, but the rest of his face was marked up and bruised. Though marred by excessive clinching in the last half, it was a fun scrap and both should be welcomed back onto television. Especially Sosa, who has entertained a ton in his last few and improves to 20-1-4 with 15 knockouts. Smith, 24-3 with 14 knockouts, rallied nicely but fought an uphill battle.
Spike – Liacouras Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In a fairly pointless headliner of what was otherwise a good card, fighter non grata Danny Garcia improved to 33-0 with 19 knockouts with a 7th round stoppage of Samuel Vargas. There’s no point in being roundabout with it. The fight got Garcia a win and some rounds, and it put mileage on Vargas’ odometer. That’s it. Otherwise Garcia has had two meaningful fights in three years and is poised to take on another one when he apparently faces Keith Thurman in March of 2017. Thurman-Garcia is a good fight, but not something that needs a stay busy fight or a tune-up. Given the Premier Boxing Champions stable, Thurman-Garcia is the kind of fight we could and should be getting frequently. Vargas’ record goes to 25-3-1 with 13 knockouts.
On the undercard Javier Fortuna scored his second win since losing to Jason Sosa last June, though he almost didn’t make it through the 1st round before winning a unanimous decision against Omar Douglas. Fortuna, now 31-1-1 with 22 knockouts and 1 No Contest, ran into a counter left hook in the opening round that put him down hard. Then the Dominican beat the count and walked Douglas into lead right hooks and sharp left hands for most of the remaining rounds. Douglas exhibited very little head movement and followed far too much, and after having Fortuna hurt early in the fight, he likely waited too long to capitalize. He nonetheless has good punching power and walked through some heavy fire in the late rounds, and both are difficult, if not impossible to teach. Fortuna is back to being a solid super featherweight contender rather than claiming to have a championship belt, and that’s closer to the truth. Douglas’ record fell to 17-1 with 12 knockouts, but he shouldn’t have been knocked too far off track by the loss.
Between the opening bout and the main event Maryland native “Swift” Jarrett Hurd proved to be far too much for Jo Jo Dan, who generally fights at welterweight and was out out of his depth one division north. The undefeated Hurd earned his 19th win and 13th by stoppage as Dan just couldn’t handle his power and was staggered a handful of times. Finally Dan’s trainer Otis Grant stepped in to end matters during round 6, marking Dan’s second stoppage loss in three fights and bringing his record to 35-4 with 18 knockouts. He has some pondering to do. Hurd, on the other hand, has defeated two recognizable names and one undefeated former Olympian in his last three fights. It seems the only way for him to go is up.
So it wasn’t the best weekend ever, but it surely wasn’t the worst. Bigger things are on the horizon, however, and the boxing world trudges on.