Saturday's boxing action offered no big-time drama or sport-rattling upsets, but it did affirm the rise of several young fighters while re-establishing the presence of a couple of well-known veterans. Here's a look at the letter grades assigned to Saturday's biggest winners:
Frankly, Jorge Arce (61-7-2, 46 KOs) was not meant to be a competitive opponent for Saturday's fight. This match-up was more human sacrifice than prize fight, meant to top off a very nice 2012 for Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs) with a highlight reel knockout and, perhaps, seal the deal on Fighter of the Year honors. Arce was tailor-made for Donaire in both temperament and ability, and that became painfully obvious after Saturday's three-knockdown, KO victory for "The Filipino Flash." Still, Donaire did what he was supposed to do, fulfilled the matchmaking destiny and took no significant punishment along the way. The argument can be made for Donaire as Fighter of the Year, but this Arce fight should have very little to do with the honors. It was as close to a set-up as possible without actually being a fix. Donaire was just so much better and absolutely proved it.
Khan (27-3, 19 KOs), alongside new trainer Virgil Hunter, came back with a victory Saturday night in Los Angeles after two straight losses. The former junior welterweight world champ and Olympic silver medalist looked similar to the "old" Amir Khan, despite stating that he would be debuting a new, more cerebral, more cautious style. However, against light-hitting lightweight import, Carlos Molina (17-1-1, 7 KOs), Khan had little to concern him and was free to batter the naturally smaller fighter without fear that a sharp counter-shot would send him to "woozyville." After ten one-sided rounds dominated by Khan's hand speed and controlled by his reach, referee Jack Reiss saw fit to stop the contest before the opening of the eleventh.
To say that heavyweight prospect, Wilder (26-0, 26 KOs) has been in against soft opposition would be the understatement of all understatements. The Olympic bronze medalist has beaten a succession of journeymen and no-hopers a full level below the normal journeymen and no-hopers that usually pad the records of young fighters. With that said, take Saturday's opponent, Kelvin Price (13-1, 6 KOs), and his status as one of Wilder's better opponents, with a huge grain of salt. Price was tentative and painfully off-balance throughout the contest, with legs spread wide and poor punch-throwing technique. His undefeated record was especially puzzling as he proved he had nothing to offer in his bout with Golden Boy's next heavyweight prospect. By the time Wilder finally stopped Price in the third round of the sloppy, one-sided showcase, the crowd was supremely grateful. Wilder, as a fighter, still has a long way to go, but he is big and strong and American, so he'll get every chance to prove himself eventually.
After his impressive one-round knockout of Raul Casarez in his first fight after being released from an immigrant detention center, fans were anxious to see how "El Perro" would fit into the jam-packed junior middleweight division. However, Saturday's performance against Jorge Silva (19-3-2, 15 KOs) may have put things into proper perspective. Angulo (22-2, 18 KOs) looked fine when throwing punches, but otherwise looked slow-footed and relatively one-dimensional in his ten-round unanimous decision victory. Angulo is better than what he showed Saturday night, but the question is-- How much better?
UK super middleweight prospect, Groves (16-0, 12 KOs), passed the biggest test of his young four-year career Saturday by taking a one-sided twelve-round unanimous decision over veteran "Road Warrior," Glen Johnson (51-18-2, 35 KOs). The veteran had his moments, but the 24-year-old Brit was clearly the sharper of the two and won the fight by being the more active, more aggressive fighter. With the win, Groves takes one step closer to the division's international main stage and a world title shot.
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 as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
Sources: HBO Boxing, Showtime Boxing, Sky Sports