Saul Alvarez was unable to KO veteran Lovemore N'Dou but got in a good 12 rounds of work Saturday in Mexico. Photo / Eztel Espinosa-Hoganphotos-Golden Boy Promotions
Nonito Donaire: Could Donaire have had a better night? The Filipino-American looked sensational against former titleholder Wladimir Sidorenko, putting the overwhelmed Ukrainian down three times and stopping him in the fourth round. Sidorenko, a talented veteran, simply couldn’t handle Donaire’s under-appreciated speed, undeniable power and considerable size and reach advantages. With the victory, Donaire earned the right to challenge for Fernando Montiel’s 118-pound title on Feb. 19 in one of the most-compelling possible matchups in the lighter weight divisions. If Donaire can beat the equally talented Mexican – and the feeling here is that he will – he will have truly become of the sport’s elite champions.
BEST UPCOMING FIGHT
Donaire-Montiel: I hope the fans can appreciate how great this matchup is. Donaire has scary talent. RingTV.com colleague Doug Fischer compared him to a young Roy Jones, extremely athletic, ridiculously quick and more powerful than people realize. He can see his opponents launch punches and, because of his speed and reflexes, land his own before they can. And he’s particularly dangerous at bantamweight because he’s a big 118-pounder. Sidorenko is a very good fighter but was helpless on Saturday because of all of the above. Meanwhile, Montiel is a dynamic, complete fighter who can outbox you or take you out with one punch. Plus, he’ll have a significant edge over Donaire in experience. It doesn't get much better than this fight.
Humberto Soto-Urbano Antillon: The perfect matchup between a slick, but tough boxer against a relentless pressure fighter produced a dazzling fight on Saturday in Anaheim. Antillon, obviously in incredible condition, stalked Soto for 12 solid rounds and scored consistently despite taking considerable punishment. Soto outboxed Antillon, landing the crisper punches, but had to use every ounce of his resolve to fend off his brave opponent. Soto won on the cards 115-112, 114-113, 114-113, meaning the fight would’ve been a majority draw had Antillon not lost a point because of low blows. I had Soto winning 116-111, or eight rounds to four. The bottom line, though: This was a riveting fight. Soto said afterward that Antillon requested a rematch and he was inclined to give him one. The fans would love that.
BEST UPCOMING FIGHT II
Soto-Brandon Rios: Stand by for another war when these two meet early next year. Rios is similar to Antillon in that he aggressively pursues his opponents, which should make for another fast-paced, entertaining fight. However, Rios will be much bigger than Soto on fight night and punches much harder than Antillon, which could be bad news for Soto. I would never count out the talented Mexican, though. He demonstrated again how talented and resilient he is. And he’ll have one distinct advantage: experience. Soto has had 63 fights (and one no-contest) even though he’s only 30 years old. The fight was scheduled to take place in February but promoter Bob Arum believes it might be pushed back to allow Soto more time to recover from his grueling effort against Antillon.
Mikey Garcia: For what it’s worth, the younger brother of trainer Robert Garcia took out Oliver Lontchi in six rounds on Saturday in Anaheim while Juan Manuel Lopez needed nine rounds to do the same. No one is saying that Garcia is approaching Lopez’s level. Observers are starting to say that the kid has some serious potential, though. He fought with the patience of a veteran as he tracked the veteran from Cameroon, a very good boxer, and finished the job in the fifth round in emphatic fashion once he hurt him. He looked like a seasoned pro. Robert Garcia won a major title at 22. Mikey won’t be able to duplicate that feat because he turns 23 on Dec. 15. However, his time is coming soon.
BEST LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Saul Alvarez: Some fans undoubtedly were disappointed that “Canelo” was unable to knockout Lovemore N’Dou, who has never been stopped, on Saturday in Veracruz, Mexico. It always looks good to become the first to take out a well-known opponent. However, Alvarez’s handlers said before the fight that they want him to get some rounds because the 20-year-old is still a work in progress. And that’s what he got, 12 rounds against a wily veteran who is a capable boxer and knows how to survive. Alvarez, who won 35 of 36 rounds on the three official cards, will be a better boxer for the experience. And, yes, many more knockouts will come.
Chris John: The undefeated Indonesian easily outpointed Fernando Saucedo on Sunday in his native Jakarta, John’s 12th consecutive title defense (which includes a draw against Rocky Juarez last year and a victory Juan Manuel Marquez in 2006). John has held his featherweight title for 6½ years, a remarkable run. He has demonstrated that he wants to make his mark in the U.S. by fighting Juarez here twice, the draw and a one-sided decision in a rematch. Let’s hope he comes back soon and faces some of the biggest names in and around his division. He has the talent to be on pound-for-pound lists. He just needs to prove it more outside Indonesia.
Pacquiao vs. Mosley: Promoter Bob Arum, heading soon to the Philippines for Manny Pacquiao’s 32nd birthday on Dec. 17, reportedly will present three names to Pacquiao for his next fight: Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Andre Berto. Bet the house that Mosley will get the nod. Michael Koncz, Pacquiao’s advisor, and Top Rank officials made it clear that Marquez is not their man. They don’t think he’ll draw as many TV viewers as Mosley and, Koncz said, he’s asking for too much money. Berto simply doesn’t have the name recognition they're looking for. Mosley is the best-known of the three and probably deemed less dangerous than Marquez. Pacquiao will make the final decision, Koncz said. Unless he surprises us all, he’ll beat up Mosley in April.
Evander Holyfield vs. Brian Nielsen: The fact that Evander Holyfield is obsessed with winning the undisputed heavyweight championship again at 48 is admirable on some level; a man needs goals. The problem is, one, he almost certainly no longer has the ability to realize his objective. And, two, fighting a 45-year-old who has been out of boxing for eight years – ugh! — will lead nowhere. Holyfield will earn some cash (which is what this really about) and get his name out there to some degree but that’s it. No one wants to see this unfortunate fight, which is scheduled for March 5 in Denmark.
Humberto Soto, when he was asked after his war against Urbano Antillon about his pending fight against Brandon Rios: “All I can think about right now is resting.” He earned the rest.