Lateef Kayode (right) put Matt Godfrey down three times en route to a one-sided decision victory.
Mayweather-Ortiz: The Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Victor Ortiz fight, announced this past week, could turn out to be a mismatch. Mayweather is the most-gifted fighter in the world while Ortiz, only 24, remains a work in progress. We all agree that Mayweather should be fighting Manny Pacquiao, his principal rival. That’s not possible right now, though. And Ortiz is a fascinating alternative. He lacks experience but he has youth, hunger, quick hands, punching power and more guts than some believed before his war with Andre Berto. Plus, he’s a hot commodity after that victory. Ortiz probably won’t win but he deserves a chance to shock the world. And he certainly is a more-compelling choice than a used-up shell (Shane Mosley) or undersized veteran (Juan Manuel Marquez). Prediction: The fight will do 1.5 million pay-per-view buys, meaning the public will also have bought into it.
Death of Genaro Hernandez: Hernandez, who died last week after a three-battle with cancer, was universally regarded as one of the most-friendly figures in boxing. Everyone loved him. He also was a man of great character. One now-famous incident illustrates that. He was punched in the throat and injured after the bell ending the seventh round against Azumah Nelson, the then-WBC 130-pound titleholder. The challenger was told he would awarded the belt by disqualification if he couldn’t continue. Hernandez declined, saying that’s not how he wanted to become champion. He quickly recovered and went on to win a decision and take Nelson’s title. Boxing has lost a wonderful fighter. It has lost an even better person.
Tyson in Hall of Fame: Mike Tyson’s epic run atop the heavyweight division ended when he was only 23 and he never beat a great fighter in that fighter’s prime, both of which are knocks against him. The positive outweighs the negative, though. He was the youngest ever to win the heavyweight title (at 20) and successfully defended nine times against the best heavyweights of the day before losing to Buster Douglas. He also regained a title six years later, defending once and then losing it to Evander Holyfield. And, just as important, he dominated the sport like few before him. He evolved from a hard-punching prodigy to an international icon in the blink of an eye, securing his place among the most-important boxing figures ever.
MOST DESERVING II
Chavez in Hall of Fame: Julio Cesar Chavez started his career 89-0-1, with victories over some of the top fighters of his day and a gift draw against the great Pernell Whitaker. He was 31-4-2 in titles fights during reigns in three divisions. And he finished his career 107-6-2 (86 knockouts). Those are all-time great numbers. Chavez received another gift when he hurt Meldrick Taylor in the final seconds of a fight he was losing when referee Richard Steele stopped it with two seconds remaining, a remarkable victory (even if you disagree with the stoppage) that Chavez called the most-significant of his career. It solidified his position as an authentic hero among Mexican fans, who revere him to this day. Everyone agrees: He’s one of the greatest ever.
Tszyu in the Hall: The Russian-born Australian was 15-2 in title fights over two reigns as a junior welterweight beltholder. He held a 140-pound title for most of the 11-year period from 1995 to 2005. Clearly, he was one of the most-successful boxers of his time. He also fought with great passion, which made him fun to watch. The flaw in his resume? His opposition. Tszyu’s most note-worthy victories probably were a 10th-round TKO of Miguel Angel Gonzalez (to win his second title) in 1999 and a sensational second-round knockout of Zab Judah in 2001. Those are nice victories but hardly eye-catching. Does he belong in the Hall. Depends how you look at it.
Luis Del Valle: Del Valle was the most impressive among a number of prospects who fought over the weekend. The former Puerto Rican amateur star faced his most-significant test against capable Dat Nguyen and passed easily Saturday in New York, where Del Valle lives. He thoroughly outboxed Nguyen with remarkably tight technique for a boxer with only 12 pro fights and explosive, accurate punches that would’ve wreaked havoc on the face of any opponent. Del Valle (13-0, 10 KOs) must pass more-stringent tests before we can anoint him a legitimate title contender but so far so good. He’s an exciting prospect.
Lateef Kayode’s future: The cruiserweight contender is strong and a remarkable physical specimen. He looks like a champion. And he has a good track record so far: He’s 17-0 (with 14 KOs) after easily outpointed veteran Matt Godfrey on Friday in Santa Ynez, Calif. He is in the Top 10 of all four major sanctioning bodies, which means a title shot is around the corner. How will he do? That depends on who he fights. An opponent willing to engage Kayode will have problems with him. An opponent with quick feet and good skills could give him trouble because of his limited boxing ability. The victory on Friday was a good sign for him: Godfrey is a pretty good boxer and Kayode handled him fairly easily. The jury is still out.
No KOS on Friday Night Fights: The favorites in the co-featured fights — Kenny Galarza and Thomas Dulorme – entered the night with a combined record of 25-1 with 24 knockouts. So what happened? Two decisions. Galarza (15-1, 14 KOs) escaped with a split decision over capable Irving Garcia but didn’t look particularly good. Perhaps he was rusty, fighting for the first time in nine months. Perhaps he’s not as good as he looked in stopping his first 14 opponents. Dulorme (12-0, 10 KOs) wasn’t able to take out badly faded veteran DeMarcus Corley but won a near-shutout decision. The 21-year-old Puerto Rican might be one to watch.
Mike Tyson, speaking at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony: "I've got to be goofy about this or I'll get emotional up here." Tyson was in the process of honoring the two men who started him on his career, mentor and father figure Cus D'Amato and social worker Bobby Stewart, who introduced him to D'Amato during Tyson's time at the Tryon School for Boys.