Showtime Does It Again: The 3 Things To Take Away From This Weekend's Boxing Action

The record-breaking crowd in Carson’s Home Depot Center this past Saturday got its money’s worth. Spectators were treated to two co-main events that delivered the action the promoters promised — something that can’t be said with enough frequency in boxing. Saturday’s night fights also further increased Showtime’s boxing stock while leaving fans hungry to see each of the main-event fighters again, especially those who ended the night in bitter, and in one instance, brutal defeat.

Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo vs. Erislandy Lara: Let's all learn what a "hematoma" is

I was shocked when this fight was made. The style match-up seemed all wrong for the fan-friendly Angulo, whose footwork can be clumsy and whose come-forward style seemed to be tailor-made for Lara’s slick boxing and expert counter-punching. Angulo would surely bring his best, but would that be anywhere near enough?

A year ago, Angulo was serving the last days of a seven-month stay at the El Cerrito immigration detention center. Since then, he’s scored a first-round knockout against an unknown and had a unanimous decision performance that seemed to belie the potential for greatness he had before his detention. After that, he’s matched with one of the top boxers at 154 lbs, Lara, a guy that won 320 fights, while only losing 10, in the amateurs? It seemed like a recipe for disaster.

Man, was I wrong! By the second round I was thoroughly surprised by how Angulo managed to catch up to Lara, how despite his slow hands, Angulo was landing hard body shots, and how Lara kept on getting pinned on the ropes. Then came Angulo’s beautiful left hook that sent Lara to the canvas for the first time in his career. A few rounds later, Angulo sat Lara down again with another hook. Despite a cut over Angulo’s left eye and heavy swelling, it looked like Angulo could close the show, but as shocking as Angulo’s ability to reach Lara was, Lara’s own recuperative powers amazed. Lara looked far better in the minutes after each knockdown than he did in the rest of the fight.

Ultimately, Lara’s well-placed left hands created a hematoma so big over Angulo’s left eye, images of Carmen Basillo started to flash before me. Then, suddenly, after a stiff blow in the 10th, Angulo turned his back on Lara and called off the fight. Later, we’d learn that Angulo was in immense pain, possibly due to a shattered orbital bone. Angulo fought a brave and viciously exhausting type of fight, something all fans should applaud. Although he lost the fight, he certainly hasn't lost an ounce of marketability.

Lara is now on the cusp of a big-money fight. A date with Austin Trout, Miguel Cotto or even Canelo Alvarez may be in his near future, yet the blush is off the rose. Watching Lara’s boxing get neutralized by Angulo surely emboldened those who may have once been afraid of Lara’s amateur pedigree. Fortunately for fight fans, that means we’re now more likely to get the fights we want to see.

Marcos Maidana vs. Josesito Lopez: Because now we know who will fight the winner of Broner/Malignaggi

There was little chance that this fight wouldn’t end in a bang. Maidana is a hard-hitting Argentine that loves to brawl and makes little pretense about it. Lopez earned himself the nickname “Riverside Rocky” after taking a last-minute fight against Victor Ortiz, where he ended up breaking Ortiz’s jaw. This fight had to be explosive. And it was.

The first round was a trainer’s round. It was the few minutes of the fight when Maidana tried to use the jab that his new trainer, Robert Garcia, had been helping him develop when Lopez tried to fight tall and lanky, employing the boxer's craft. Their noble efforts didn’t last long. In round two, there were some hard exchanges, and by round three the slugfest was on. The more Lopez banged, the better he did. In the fourth he showed that he had the power to hurt Maidana, who spent much of the second half of that round on his back heels.

But the Argentine would not be denied. In the sixth round, Maidana stalked his prey and knocked Lopez down with a punch to the temple. Once in the corner, Maidana landed four unanswered punches before the referee stopped the fight. It was an early stoppage. For Riverside Rocky, another two seconds were warranted. He’d earned that much time. Even without it, though, everyone watching knows that the grit and action Lopez showed virtually guarantee him more paydays on Showtime. They are well-deserved.

Maidana takes his victory and lays in wait of the winner between Adrien Broner and Paulie Malignaggi, who fight on June 22 (where I’ll be ringside). I’d pay to watch Maidana fight either man. If you saw Maidana fight on Saturday, I’m sure you would too.

The HBO Card Addendum: Because besides that knockout, an addendum is all it deserves

HBO’s card on Saturday night only deserves to be an addendum. If it weren’t for Adonis Stevenson’s shocking knockout, I would have nicknamed the card “The Quiet in Quebec.”

From the start of the broadcast I knew I was in for a disappointing night. The promoters, in their infinite wisdom, thought it would be a good idea to have a bright red canvass that made it difficult to stare at for long periods of time. Then, no one decided to tell either Yuriorkis Gamboa or Darleys Perez that wearing trunks and shoes the same obnoxious red would make it hard to watch them fight.

Added to that, Gamboa continued the mediocre display he started in his last fight, which was his first after a long layoff due to a contract dispute with Top Rank. Oh, and apparently no one told Perez that he was supposed to make Gamboa look good, so he didn’t. He moved and landed more than what 50 Cent (Gamboa’s promoter) probably wished he had and guaranteed we wouldn’t see a knockout.

After another lackluster victory, the mystique that once surrounded Gamboa is all but gone. The “cyclone” of Guantanamo is a brisk wind at this point. Right now, Gamboa's, and his promoter's, calls to fight Floyd Mayweather and Adrien Broner sound absolutely absurd.

If Gamboa had been the end of the night, HBO would have earned a D on its report card. But Adonis Stevenson made the most of his debut in the elite ranks. He threw three punches in his 75-second fight with Chad Dawson. That’s all he needed. The super-middleweight stepping up to light-heavyweight knocked out Chad Dawson with a left hand that landed above the ear. Dawson beat the count, but one look at his dead eyes and the referee put a stop to the action. The would-be “tune-up” fight, as Dawson called it in a press conference, may have turned out to be Dawson’s last hurrah. It might be too much to say Dawson is a shot fighter, but whether he’s got enough left after back-to-back knockouts to compete at the elite level is a serious question he needs to ask himself.

And Stevenson? Well, with knockout power like his, it’s easy to see why many people would avoid him. Personally, I’d like to see him fight Carl Froch. Stevenson has more of a chance against him than against the boxing IQ of Andre Ward. Or, can you imagine a fight against the equally feared power-punching machine from Kazakhstan, Gennady Golovkin? Asking for a fight like that, in a year that has already given us such good fights, might be tempting the wrath of the boxing Gods. But victory belongs to the bold. You hear that? Make that fight, oh powerful ones. Make that fight.

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