The opening bell: Canelo-GGG II in jeopardy
Even more than the weekend fights, the biggest discussion in boxing centers on Canelo Alvarez's two failed drug tests, his subsequent temporary suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and his scheduled April 10 hearing that will determine the future of the fight against Gennady Golovkin.
I know most people think that the hearing is a dog and pony show and that the commission will rubber-stamp Alvarez's license and participation in the May 5 rematch at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas because it is a massive fight and will have tremendous economic impact on the region. While I think there is a chance the commission will allow the fight to take place, I believe the bout is in grave jeopardy of being canceled based on my conversations with some of those involved.
The commission knows it's in a no-win situation.
If it allows the fight, many will say the commission did it just for the money. If it kills the fight, it'll be blamed for ruining an economic bonanza. Golovkin plans to fight there on May 5 regardless of his opponent, so some money will remain from whomever he might fight.
As one person involved told me over the weekend, the commission just has to do what's right. If Alvarez goes unpunished, it sends a horrific message that a boxer can get caught with banned substances but still be allowed to fight for eight figures. If you don't think the commission could cancel the fight, remember years ago that it declined to license Mike Tyson for far less of an issue than positive drug tests, sending the fight with Lennox Lewis, the biggest in boxing history at the time, elsewhere. This is serious enough that HBO didn't use its Saturday fight telecast to promote the May 5 pay-per-view and left it off its calendar of events.
This is serious, folks. If the fight is canceled, there is nobody to blame except Alvarez and his trainers.
Weekend star: heavyweight Dillian Whyte
Whyte has been calling out world titleholder Deontay Wilder for some time, and while Whyte has wins against Dereck Chisora (split decision) and no-longer-formidable Robert Helenius, he remained best known for getting knocked out by Anthony Joshua in the fight before AJ won a world title in 2015.
But now Whyte (23-1, 17 KOs), of England, has his best victory, one seen in the United States on HBO, which only increased its impact. On Saturday in London, he bludgeoned Australian Lucas Browne (25-1, 22 KOs), 38, who once claimed a secondary title that ended up being erased by a failed drug test. Nonetheless, while Whyte, 29, was the favorite, few thought he would destroy Browne the way he did. He cut him over the left eye in the first round and beat the living heck out of him until putting him away with an absolutely crushing left hook at 37 seconds of the sixth round (KO of the year alert!). Browne was out cold, face-first on the mat, so referee Ian John Lewis had no need to finish the count.
How one-sided was it? Per CompuBox stats, Whyte landed 109 of 269 punches (41 percent) and Browne only 36 of 172 (21 percent).
The next step: After the fight, Whyte again called out Wilder. While we all wait for Joshua-Wilder (assuming Joshua beats Joseph Parker on Saturday), there's also a chance each will fight again before an early 2019 fight. Wilder-Whyte, while not necessary, would still be a fan-friendly fight.
Breakout performer: Tyron Zeuge
The least publicized of the super middleweight world titleholders is Germany's Tyron Zeuge, 25, but he made a big statement in his third defense, a mandatory rematch against rugged Isaac Ekpo, 35, of Nigeria, on Saturday in Hamburg, Germany.
One year earlier (almost to the day), Zeuge was fortunate to keep his title by a fifth-round technical decision after he was cut by an accidental head-butt in the third round. But in the rematch, Zeuge looked terrific in a one-sided second-round destruction of the Don King-promoted Ekpo.
Zeuge scored a big knockdown on a left-right to the head in the final seconds of the first round and then pummeled Ekpo with a series of shots, including multiple clean overhand rights to drop him again in the second. Ekpo beat the count but could not continue, and referee Mark Nelson stopped it at 23 seconds.
The next step: There's no obvious major fight sitting there for Zeuge, but any unification fight would be interesting. I say bring on Mexico's Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez (37-0, 25 KOs), who needs a significant fight of his own.
Prospect on the rise: Ryan Garcia
Beto Duran and Bernard Hopkins recap the rematch between Jose Martinez and Alejandro Santiago that again results in a draw.
"Kingry," who wants to fight for a world title this year -- a long shot at best -- took a mild step up in competition on Thursday in Indio, California, and dazzled against the much smaller Fernando Vargas (32-14-3, 21 KOs), 29, of Mexico, who challenged for a bantamweight title in 2016. All it took was a beautiful short left hand to the chin to drop Vargas, who leaned into the shot, late in the first round. He tried to get up but was in bad shape, and referee Jerry Cantu properly waved the count at 2 minutes, 55 seconds.
The next step: Garcia is a tremendous prospect with skills and charisma, but he has a long way to go. He'll likely next fight on the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin II card on May 5 in Las Vegas, assuming the fight isn't canceled due to Alvarez's two positive drug tests for clenbuterol.
Déjà vu fight
You think junior bantamweights Jose Martinez (20-0-2, 13 KOs), 25, of Puerto Rico, and Alejandro Santiago (15-2-4, 7 KOs), 22, of Mexico, are evenly matched, or what? In November 2016, they fought to an eight-round draw in Ponce, Puerto Rico. They met again on Saturday at the same venue as their first fight, and guess what ... they fought to another draw.
This time around, it was over 10 rounds with one judge giving the fight to Martinez 96-94, one scoring it 96-94 for Santiago and the third scoring it 95-95.
Naturally, each thought he won. It was close, but it appeared that Santiago, with a strong final few rounds, should have been the rightful winner by a close margin.
The next step: Perhaps we'll see a third fight. If so, let 'em go until there's a knockout.
Fights you may have missed
Saturday at Marseille, France
Cruiserweight Arsen Goulamirian (23-0, 15 KOs) TKO11 Ryad Merhy (24-1, 20 KOs). Goulamirian, 30, of France, claimed a secondary cruiserweight belt by doling out a beating over the second half of the fight against Merhy, 25, of Belgium, and stopping him at 51 seconds of the 11th round when referee Guillermo Perez Pineda stopped the fight. Goulamirian was ahead 96-93 on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage.
Junior middleweight Michel Soro (32-2-1, 21 KOs) W12 John Vera (18-1, 11 KOs), title eliminator, scores: 120-107, 119-108, 118-109. Soro, 30, of France, dropped the Roy Jones Jr.-promoted Vera, 29, of Fort Worth, Texas, in the seventh round and cruised to a lopsided win that sets him up for a rematch with secondary titlist Brian Castano (15-0, 11 KOs), 28, of Argentina. Castano won a split decision over Soto in an interim title bout last July.
Friday at Hollywood, Florida
Bantamweight Reymart Gaballo (19-0, 16 KOs) W12 Stephon Young (17-1-3, 7 KOs), wins an interim bantamweight title, scores: 118-109, 117-110 (twice). Gaballo, 21, who comes from Manny Pacquiao's hometown, the City of General Santos in the Philippines, hurt Young, 29, of St. Louis, in the third round and stayed in control en route to the decision.
Former bantamweight titlist Juan Carlos Payano (20-1, 9 KOs), 33, of the Dominican Republic, survived a third-round knockdown against Mike Plania (14-1, 7 KOs), 21, of the Philippines, and won by scores of 97-92, 97-92 and 96-93.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, welterweight Roberto Duran Jr. (1-0, 1 KO), the son of legend Roberto Duran, made his pro debut, scoring two knockdowns and stopping Miguel Morales (0-1), of Orlando, Florida, at 2 minutes, 21 seconds of the fourth and final round.
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