Making the Rounds: Showtime's intriguing fall slate; Estrada's 7-second KO under scrutiny

Kevin IoleCombat columnist
Yahoo Sports
A weekly look at boxing's hottest topics.
A weekly look at boxing's hottest topics.

Reaction to Showtime announcement

Last week, after months of silence, Showtime announced a large slate of fall bouts with several interesting matches.

My quick observation was it’s a huge mistake to go on pay-per-view and there are a lot of intriguing fights that were announced. 

“This is a really high-quality schedule with five months of meaningful fights, competitive fights and fights that are really going to determine champions and challengers for the foreseeable future,” said Stephen Espinoza, Showtime’s president of sports and entertainment programming. “We weren’t going to come back just for the sake of coming back. We wanted to come back at a high level with meaningful fights, with fights which would remind the public why they’re excited about the sport of boxing.

“So we put together a schedule week after week of competitive fights with big names, with meaningful fights. Before we know it, this sport is going to be back where it should be in terms of momentum and positive energy.”

Of course, that’s a self-serving take, though there are a lot of good fights.

Here are seven takes on the fights Showtime announced:

7. Thumbs up to the co-feature on Aug. 15 between Rolly Romero, a lanky power puncher who goes hard after the body, and Jackson Martinez, for the WBA interim lightweight title. Romero is 11-0 with 10 KOs and I believe he has the potential to become an attraction.

6. They’re saving the best for last: Of all the fights Showtime announced, the one I’m most interested is the main event on Dec. 12, a bout for the WBC bantamweight title between unbeaten Nordine Oubaali and Nonito Donaire. This should be pure fire, another in a long line of classic Donaire bouts.

5. The Oct. 24 pay-per-view featuring Gervonta Davis against Leo Santa Cruz is just odd. It’s for the WBA super featherweight title as well as for the WBA lightweight belt. Given Davis’ documented history of failing to make weight, who wants to bet that he misses 130 easily and that this is only a lightweight title fight?

The match is good on paper, but Santa Cruz is toward the end of his career, and size is an issue, so it’s not the compelling fight it might otherwise have been. I don’t think Santa Cruz at this stage and at this weight has the pop to force Davis to respect him.

Plus, has Showtime forgotten about the video of Davis yanking his girlfriend from a charity basketball game and dragging her backstage? During a pandemic, when money is tight, you’re going to spend it on that guy? We’ll see. Color me highly skeptical.

Leo Santa Cruz, shown here on Nov. 23, 2019 in Las Vegas, will headline a Showtime Pay-Per-View on Oct. 24. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)
Leo Santa Cruz, shown here on Nov. 23, 2019 in Las Vegas, will headline a Showtime Pay-Per-View on Oct. 24. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

4. Speaking of PPVs, Showtime has a good card scheduled for Sept. 26, but it seems to me to not have a chance to sell much on PPV. Jermall Charlo will face Sergiy Derevyanchenko for the WBC middleweight belt. Jermell Charlo will face Jeison Rosario in a super welterweight unification bout. Brandon Figueroa will fight Damien Vasquez in a super bantamweight title fight and Daniel Roman will also compete in a 122-pound bout.

This is the deepest of all the cards announced and there is a lot to like, but again, PPV? It’s coming two weeks after Mike Tyson’s pay-per-view and say what you want, Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. have 50 times the name recognition of all these fighters combined. Plus, it’s a week after UFC 253, and while the boxing/UFC crossover isn’t high, the UFC will impact the sales of this somewhat.

3. A lot of folks won’t know them, but the bout between Sergey Lipinets and Kudratillo Abdukakhorov on Oct. 10 will be a fun one. This could wind up being one of the best three fights of the series when we look back on it.

2. I’m eager to see Jaron “Boots” Ennis in a tough bout. Showtime hasn’t announced his opponent, but he’s 25-0 with 23 KOs and is one of the sport’s top young prospects. There are a lot of good welterweights on the rise and Ennis is at the top of that list.

1. I want to keep an eye on David Benavidez, who will fight Roamer Alexis Angulo on Aug. 15 for the WBC super middleweight title in the main event. The super middleweight division has a great list of champions with Callum Smith, Caleb Plant and some guy named Canelo Alvarez there. Benavidez has star potential and this could be a breakout fight for him.

Everyone takes blame for Estrada-Adkins mess

Seniesa Estrada is a promising young fighter who has the potential to develop into one of the best in the sport. Miranda Adkins is not. Yet, inexplicably, they were matched Friday on a Golden Boy card streamed by DAZN in Indio, California.

It was a disaster, as the 42-year-old Adkins stayed in her corner with her guard high when the bell rang while Estrada stormed across the ring, fired a combination at the head and Adkins went down and out.

It lasted seven seconds and was an utter mismatch not worthy of discussing, but DAZN’s social media team threw clips of the “fight” all over social media, prompting an outcry.

Andy Foster, the executive officer of the California State Athletic Commission, and Roberto Diaz, the matchmaker for Golden Boy, both took the blame for the poor quality of opponent.

Foster said when he watched an Adkins fight on tape, he put into his notes that he didn’t feel she was very good. But he approved the fight anyway, knowing the pool of potential opponents was limited and Estrada’s March fight had been canceled.

“The buck stops here and this is on me,” Foster told Yahoo Sports. “I blew this one. I thought [Adkins] would do a little more and she was 5-0 with five KOs, so that told me that maybe she’d improved since that video I’d seen. But no one else here is to blame. I had the ability to say no and I didn’t. I approved it and it was a mistake.”

Golden Boy president Eric Gomez and Diaz each offered mea culpas. Gomez said “anyone who watches our fights knows that’s not the kind of fight we like to make.”

Diaz walked Yahoo Sports through the process of finding a replacement for Jackie Calvo, who pulled out two weeks earlier with a leg injury. Diaz said he hopes to bring Calvo back in August to fight Marlen Esparza.

Diaz said he tried to get Anabel Ortiz, the WBA minimumweight champion, but with travel restrictions because of the pandemic and the short notice, it couldn’t be done.

“I can’t blame the commission for this,” Diaz said. “But obviously, this isn’t the kind of fight we wanted or expected. [Adkins] froze and it just looked bad. There’s not a big pool of women out there on short notice like there are men. So we hoped that she’d be able to go rounds but it didn’t work out.

“I’ve made thousands of fights out there and this is my reputation. I saw all the comments on social media. Most of the time, we’re known for putting our fighters in very tough. … I was disgusted by the fight, honestly. But as bad as it was, I was grateful that Miranda was able to get up and walk away on her own. She’s healthy, she’s going to be fine. It looked brutal, but at least there was no injury.”

Golden Boy high on Ellis

Rashidi Ellis is 22-0 with 14 KOs but his progress in the welterweight division has been slowed somewhat by illness and injury. He’ll return to action on Aug. 28 in Indio, California, when he faces veteran Brad Solomon in arguably the toughest test of his career.

Ellis and his brother, Ronald, have served as sparring partners for Canelo Alvarez. Gomez raved about Ellis’ potential.

“He has all the talent in the world,” Gomez said of Rashidi Ellis. “He has fast hands and he can punch. He’s a world-beater when he’s healthy. He had some setbacks and then slowed his progress down, but we think he’s going to be right up there with all of the top guys in that weight class. He has so much ability that if he can just stay healthy, I have no doubt everyone is going to be talking about him.”

He said it

“We tested around 170 people and only had two positives. There is a tremendous amount you have to do to make it safe for everyone, but this was a good start. I think it went very, very well and there were no fighters who tested positive. When we first started testing, we did it at Quest Diagnostics and they had a big backup, so there was a long wait [for results]. But we got a private lab and things then went very well.” — Eric Gomez on Golden Boy’s July 24 show, which was its first since the pandemic began.

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