Grading the Undercard: Believe It Or Not!

Jorge Linares vs. Antonio DeMarco (12 rounds, vacant WBC Lightweight Title)
Just a couple years ago, Linares (31-1, 20 KOs) was a two-weight champion who was being lauded on HBO as the next great pound-for-pound entrant. Then he was brutally dispatched in the first round by Juan Carlos Salgado and was off the radar for a long time. DeMarco (25-2-1, 18 KOs) is a teak-tough Mexican brawler that was showcased extensively on ShoBox on his way up, then served as the last KO victim of Edwin Valero. This is a good test of where both men are at in their careers. We favor Linares to get his career back on track; he's just more gifted than DeMarco, although his chin now will forever be suspect.

Grade: B+

Danny Garcia vs. Kendall Holt (12 rounds, junior welterweight)
This may not turn out to be the most entertaining fight on the undercard, but it is undoubtedly the most interesting. Garcia (21-0, 14 KOs) is a supremely-hyped Golden Boy prospect who is undefeated, talented, and charismatic (think Victor Ortiz three or four years ago). Former junior welterweight titlist Holt (27-4, 15 KOs) has put his career back on track after losing badly to Kaizer Mabuza a year ago, most notably chilling Julio Diaz several months back with a left hook that could go down as the KO of the Year. Holt, you'll remember, came within a hair's breadth of putting Timothy Bradley to sleep in their unification bout. Can Garcia handle Holt's power? Which Holt will show up? Does Garcia have the goods? We'll all find out on Saturday.

Grade: A

Paulie Malignaggi vs. Orlando Lora (10 rounds, welterweight)
No offense to Paulie (29-4, 6 KOs), because we like him and we like to see him fight, but his fights, although not boring in the traditional sense of the term, aren't the most exciting because they usually entail him breaking one of his fragile hands (or both) and fighting more defensively as a result. Also, his recent opponents since he was destroyed by Khan haven't exactly been inspiring: Jose Miguel Cotto on the Morales-Maidana undercard, and now Orlando Lora (28-1-1, 19 KOs). We'd like to see him against recent Golden Boy signee Devon Alexander.

Grade: B


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Saturday Roundup

Sergio Martinez: In terms of luring a big name like Miguel Cotto or Floyd Mayweather into a fight, Martinez perhaps put on the best kind of performance for his future, looking sloppy and potentially vulnerable against Darren Barker while still having enough to finish off the disciplined Englishman late. Grade: B-

Darren Barker: The European champion definitely deserves kudos for his sharper punching and the fact that he was able to outbox the unorthodox Martinez for several of the rounds, but in the end, his lack of workrate ruined any chance he had to win. Often, he would crowd Martinez without throwing, more and more relying on a high guard to protect himself against combinations as the fight progressed. The last knockout punch, in fact, went through his guard, which by that time had been weakened by repeated blows. Grade: B+

Andy Lee: Lee set himself up for a possible shot at Martinez--he seems to be one of the few people willing to call out the Argentinean--by avenging his only professional loss to Brian Vera, in a fight Lee took almost purely for personal reasons. Vera tried his best to pressure Lee and make him uncomfortable, but the Irishman stayed disciplined this time, executing Emmanuel Steward's advice to perfection. His ability to stick to a gameplan and box technically for the most part suggests that Lee has vastly improved since his one loss to Vera back in 2008. Grade: A

Brian Vera: Vera's standing didn't take a hit at all with the loss. He just couldn't get past Lee's reach to wreak his usual havoc, but Vera will remain a formidable "truth test" for anyone that gets in the ring with him, as recent victim Sergio Mora discovered. Grade: B

Toshiaki Nishioka proved he is the best 122 lb'er in the world by beating the legendary Rafael Marquez over twelve rounds at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Nishioka was just too fresh for the old Mexican warrior, who was moving down in weight to try to recapture a title he'd previously held. The impressive win sets up Nishioka for a potential superfight with Nonito Donaire in the second-half of 2012. Grade: A

Rafael Marquez: Marquez for his part showed he still has a bit of gas left in the tank, although not enough to beat someone as talented and in-prime as Nishioka. He could still make some noise against lesser opponents, though, and would be a tough out for any up-and-comer or contender. Grade: B

Juan Manuel Lopez: Juanma got some of his swagger back this weekend, pole-axing Mike Oliver in two rounds. A good, solid performance from the exciting Puerto Rican that may help to get his career back on track, although he still isn't where he was at before the shocking setback against Orlando Salido. Grade: A-

Busted: Arthur Abraham (Speeding)

Busted (a.k.a. When Boxers Go Bad) presents its first case: former longtime middleweight titlist and Super Six tournament participant Arthur Abraham was cited for speeding on the Berlin highway, apparently setting the standard against which all future German speeders will be measured, an astounding 230KM/hour in a 80KM/hour zone. That's almost three times the limit--a serious flouting of the law. Abraham was in the Ferrari we saw him driving on Fight Camp 360, and German authorities are saying his license may be revoked for three months and a fine up to 1360 euros administered due to the serious nature of the offense. For his part, Arthur says he was speeding because he was late for an awards ceremony at which he was an honoree.

Who In The World Is Darren Barker?

And does he have any sort of shot this Saturday against the consensus pound-for-pound number three, middleweight champion Sergio Martinez? Psychologically, he sounds up for the challenge:

The fight from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City will be preceded by a rematch between Andy Lee and Brian Vera that has been a very long time coming. We like Lee to win a decision against the tough but limited Vera this time around.

aaaaaaaand.... We're Back!

First off, my apologies for the lengthy downtime. I wrote some bad code, and on top of that I unfortunately installed a series of updates that all went wrong. In short, I had an ugly mess to sort out. I am so happy to say Eye On The Ring is back up! We won't be down for a long time like that again.

While we were away a number of fights happened. Vitali Klitschko vs. Tomasz Adamek and Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Victor Ortiz are open for cards, comments, and ratings.

Right before the site went offline, we added an official Boxing Talk Forum, so check that out. It's a perfect place to discuss the Mayweather Ortiz outcome, I'm curious what you all have to say about that one. The forum thread on fights we are missing here on the site is still going too, let us know what you'd like to see. And we also added a calculated Controversy Rating to the fights, based on user cards that is still somewhat new. That calculation will get more interesting as more fan cards are entered.



Another Ghost Disappears

A long with January, August is traditionally the slowest month of the year for boxing, the "off-season," so to speak, of a sport with no seasons. However, with today's news that Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero has pulled out of his August 27th fight against Marcos Maidana due to a possibly torn rotator cuff, thus forcing Golden Boy to cancel the entire show (which was to be the biggest TV boxing event of the month), what fans have been left with is an even more empty August than usual, given that out of the three major fights of the month, two have been cancelled and the third resulted in a controversy shitstorm that did nothing but hurt the sport. Let's quickly recap:
  1. First, Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik pulled out of his tune-up bout against Darryl Cunningham citing unhappiness at the size of his purse for his following fight, forcing cancellation of a Youngstown, Ohio card which was to be telecast on Shobox (yes, August is so slow a month that a tune-up fight on Shobox is one of the major fights). Pavlik was getting the entire $50,000 budget from Showtime as his purse for what was presumably a glorified sparring session, and Top Rank was paying out of pocket to foot the bill for the rest of the card. I think there's a very good chance we haven't heard the last of bad news from the Pavlik camp, now that it sounds like the promoter, the manager, the trainer, and the fighter are all on different pages.
  2. Second, last week's final of the Showtime Bantamweight Tournament was so egregiously officiated by Russell Mora (we all know the details, so I'll skip the recap) that the fight generated the kind of media buzz a clean fight at 118 lb. never would have, no matter how exciting--in other words, it was all bad. It was so bad that we got immediate action from both a sanctioning body (the IBF ordered a mandatory rematch to take place in the next 120 days) and a fight commission (Keith Kizer of NSAC said that Mora would not be reprimanded, and would instead be moved down to ref lesser fights while he undergoes re-training), which, as boxing fans know, are organizations that are usually as quiet as the Sphinx when we want them to react.
  3. And today, another Ghost pulls out, cancelling a televised HBO card that was set to be the marquee boxing event of August 2011, not the least of which was because it included Seth Mitchell, a guy I'm curious to see now that we've been told ad nauseum that he is the next great American heavyweight. I understand Golden Boy pulling the plug on the show, given that it was set to take place in San Jose, close to Gilroy where Guerrero is from. It's just unfortunate news in a month that could've used a dose of something good instead (like what was presumably going to be an excellent, competitive bout).

Ah well, I feel better now that I've complained. Here's to a great September.

Russell Mora Administers Another Black Eye To Boxing

We've had two sport-killing outcomes in boxing the last two months: first, the horrendous decision handed down in the Paul Williams-Erislandy Lara fight that got all three judges immediately suspended; and now, last night's bantamweight title fight between holder Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares being completely and utterly ruined by shambolic, blatantly biased officiating from Russell Mora. Given the spotlight that Showtime gave to ripping Mora after the fight--Jim Grey's interview with Mora stands out in particular--I think it's safe to say that it will be a very long time before we see him in the ring as the third man in a major fight again. I haven't heard much about Marlon B. Wright since the first Bute-Andrade long count, and that was three years ago now.

But even if Mora gets suspended, the injustice he perpetrated remains. The only way to set this straight is with an immediate rematch, which Mares sounded completely up for afterwards, although his handlers were a little less enthusiastic. Richard Schaefer mentioned a possible fight with Nonito Donaire instead, which seems extremely unlikely given that Donaire would probably blast Mares out in a couple rounds and then vacate the belt immediately to move up to super bantam. Why not milk Mares for a couple defenses instead once the 900 lb. gorilla in the division has left?