COMMENTARY | Anyway you look at it, Saturday was a great day for true fight fans. There was a little bit of everything-- From heavyweight thunder to hardcore brawling to technical expertise. From the early afternoon to late night, boxing fans had their fill of quality action. Here are seven observations to take away from Saturday's action:
-- Only good things can happen when two prime, world class fighters are matched against one another in a meaningful bout. That much was affirmed by Abner Mares' (25-0-1, 13 KOs) unanimous decision victory over Anselmo Moreno (33-2-1, 12 KOs) in a bout for Mares' WBC junior featherweight title. An interesting clash of styles produced a solid twelve rounds of quality action as Mares' offensive surges met Moreno's defensive mastery. Ultimately, Abner Mares proved himself to be the better man Saturday night and, in the process, may have finally established himself as an elite-level fighter with pound-for-pound credentials. Moreno, even in defeat, remains one of the sport's best talents and will likely return to bantamweight to continue defending his WBA world title.
-- The headbutt-provoked nine-round technical draw between Erislandy Lara (17-1-2, 11 KOs) and Vanes Martirosyan (32-0-1, 20 KOs) may have been anticlimactic, but there was at least one person celebrating the no-winner ending. Saul Alvarez, who was being forced to defend his WBC junior middleweight title against the winner of this "final" eliminator, is now free to fight the opponent of his choice while the organization decides what to do and while Martirosyan's eye heals. Honestly, Alvarez may have found a way out of the defense anyway, but this draw makes things a lot less messy for him.
-- One of the few things you can count on in boxing is that there will always be a steady supply of young Mexican talent arriving on the scene. IBF bantamweight champ, Leo Santa Cruz (21-0-1, 12 KOs) showed his class and talent in stopping the tough Victor Zaleta (20-3-1, 10 KOs) in nine rounds on the Mares-Moreno undercard. So, add the 24-year-old Santa Cruz's name to a growing list of next generation, 20-something Mexican talent that includes Antonio DeMarco, Abner Mares, Saul Alvarez, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and Hernan "Tyson" Marquez.
-- When it comes to fighters like Alfredo Angulo (21-2, 18 KOs), ring rust is almost a laughable term. Just take "El Perro," point him in the right direction, and let him go. Even with a year between fights, Angulo will always be tough, competitive, and hardcore-- Just ask Raul Casarez (19-3, 9 KOs), who couldn't even make it past the first minute of his fight with Angulo. "El Perro" against anyone at junior middleweight is great fun.
-- Welshman, Nathan Cleverly (25-0, 12 KOs) looked the part of an exciting, talented 25-year-old prospect in his TKO 8 victory over Shawn Hawk (23-3-1, 17 KOs) at The Staples Center in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Cleverly is the reigning WBO world light heavyweight champion with four defenses under his belt. An effort needs to be made to step up his level of opposition or simply admit his role as a regional champ with world champ privileges.
-- Wladimir Klitschko (59-3, 50 KOs) looked sharp and focused in his heavyweight title defense against Poland's Mariusz Wach (27-1, 15 KOs). The one-sided unanimous decision could've been predicted, but the most surprising aspect of the bout had to be Wach's chin. The 6' 8" Wach took some extremely heavy shots and still managed to stay upright. Obviously overmatched on Saturday, there's no reason to completely dismiss Wach's chances at national/regional success with just a little more experience.
-- Call it ring rust from being inactive for about eleven months, call it a poor match-up of styles, but no matter how you explain it, the Robert Helenius (18-0, 11 KOs)-Sherman Williams (35-12-2, 19 KOs) ten-round heavyweight contest was a painfully dull affair. For the record, Helenius won a one-sided unanimous decision, but most fans were surely TKO'd by boredom well before the late rounds.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
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