This column is usually penned by Michael Rosenthal. However, our intrepid co-editor is on assignment in Germany, where he will cover the Wladimir Klitschko-David Haye heavyweight championship on Saturday. So this week, dear readers, you’re stuck with me, but fear not. The Weekend Review will return to its rightful owner next Monday.
DEVON ALEXANDER: The former junior welterweight beltholder picked a hell of an opponent to rebound against following the first loss of his career, the disappointing effort against Tim Bradley in January, which prompted some fans to question his heart. Alexander received a stern test from Lucas Matthysse at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo., on Saturday, and the native of nearby St. Louis barely passed it with a controversial split nod that many fans viewed as a blatant hometown decision. The heavy handed contender from Argentina exposed Alexander’s flaws (a repetitive offense and amateurish style) but the hard 10-round bout also revealed a lot about the 24-year-old southpaw’s character, including his resolve (he got up and handled himself after getting dropped in the fourth round), resilience (he took a lot of punishment in rounds seven and eight) and heart (he dug deep and rallied in the final two rounds). Are these intangibles enough to overcome his technical and stylistic flaws? Only time will tell.
BIGGEST LOSER (ON POINTS)
LUCAS MATTHYSSE: Don’t get it twisted, folks. I’m not calling Matthysse a “loser.” Anyone who read last week’s Gym Notes column on Matthysse or the Head-to-Head analysis for the Alexander fight knows that I’m very high on the underrated Argentine contender. Many fans consider Matthysse, who dropped a controversial split decision to Zab Judah last November, to be 30-0. I’m one of them. I thought he won six rounds against Alexander, along with a 10-8 round in the fourth, which should have ensured his victory. Should have in a perfect, fair world, which we all know does not exist. In this world, Matthysse — the opponent facing a Don King fighter on a King-promoted card near that fighter’s hometown — needed a KO to ensure his victory. Ya know what? Matthysse, who has the highest KO percentage in the 140-pound division, was capable of doing just that. He should have gunned for a knockout. He took his foot off the gas pedal in the ninth round after punishing Alexander in the seventh and eighth rounds and it cost him a victory. It did not, however, hurt his stature in the sport or his standings in THE RING’s ratings. In fact, Matthysse advanced from No. 9 to No. 7 in the magazine’s 140-pound rankings.
BIGGEST WINNER II
FELIX STURM: The long-reigning WBA middleweight beltholder was fortunate to win a split decision against Matthew Macklin in his hometown of Cologne, Germany, on Saturday. Sturm was outworked in every round by his spirited challenger, who constantly pushed the German titleholder back on his heels. However, Sturm blocked a significant percentage of Macklin’s shots and the 32-year-old veteran returned fire in the form of accurate, head-snapping combinations. Sturm didn’t have enough of those explosive bursts per round to merit the decision in the eyes of most observers, but he got the nod nonetheless and now finds himself in position to challenge RING champ Sergio Martinez in a big fight sometime next year.
BIGGEST LOSER (ON POINTS) II
MATTHEW MACKLIN: Again, I’m not calling Macklin a “loser.” The hardnosed 29-year-old contender from Birmingham, England, beat Sturm on my scorecard. I thought he won at least seven rounds with his relentless pressure and constant volume-punching attack. Yes, Sturm managed to block a lot of punches, but not all of them (especially the body shots). Macklin says Sturm promised him a rematch later this year. Let’s hope Sturm keeps his word. Macklin deserves another shot at a title. If Sturm-Macklin II is not made (and, gee, what a surprise that would be) I’d love to see the tough Irishman get a crack at WBC beltholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Now that’s a fight! It would be the first time both combatants threw more body shots than head punches.
HERRERA MD 10 DALLAS: So which decision sucked worse, Alexander over Matthysse or Sturm over Macklin? It says here that the majority decision Mauricio Herrera was awarded over Mike Dallas Jr. in the 10-round Friday Night Fights main event from Temecula, Calif., on Friday was the worst jobbing of the weekend. It didn’t produce the public outcry that the higher-profile bouts between top contenders produced, but Dallas, a junior welterweight prospect who was coming off a knockout loss, boxed and fought his ass off against Herrera and was simply not given credit for his effort by the official judges. The 95-95 tally and the 96-94 score for Herrera, a game spoiler who just didn’t do enough to merit the victory, were slaps to Dallas’ face. Fritz Werner’s God-awful 98-92 score for Herrera was a ruthless kick directly to Dallas’ family jewels. I agreed with ESPN commentator Teddy Atlas’ 97-93 score for Dallas.
JOHN MOLINA: The hard-punching lightweight prospect, who stopped Robert Frankel after five entertaining rounds in the FNF main event on Friday, can be out-boxed by pretty much anyone. However, the 28-year-old Covina, Calif., native’s punching power makes up for much of his technical deficiencies and often results in dramatic fights. Frankel was sticking it to Molina for four rounds but his face looked like it had been bombarded by bricks by the end of the fifth round. It was literally chopped up, and not from head butts. The damage was done by the plodding puncher's heavy mitts. Molina is vulnerable but dangerous. He’s also a lot of fun to watch.
NICK CHARLES: Nick Charles’ untimely passing on Saturday after a courageous and inspirational two-year battle with cancer was a painful blow to all boxing fans who enjoyed his insightful commentary over the years and especially to those who were lucky enough to have met him. Anyone who met Charles, liked him, a lot. That’s the kind of human being he was. Steve Farhood, Charles’ longtime ShoBox broadcast partner, had this to say about his good friend:
“I suppose that one man’s life is no more significant than another’s, but to deny that Nick was special would be foolish. Nick often said that you judge a man by how he treats someone who can do nothing for him. He was generous of spirit and overflowing with life, and if you spent five minutes with him, chances are it was an impressionable, if not meaningful, encounter.
“A perfect set of pipes and the best hair in the business undoubtedly helped Nick succeed in television, but his warmth, which viewers instantly felt, and his natural curiosity, which they instantly sensed, separated him from most other broadcasters.
“Nick lived a public life, so perhaps it was fitting that he chose to battle cancer in front of the cameras. His message was a simple one: We’re all going to die. Until that happens, keep doing what makes you happy, focus on the short term, and love those closest to you with all your heart.”
FARHOOD: “My best friend died today, and I’m surprised at what saddens me more than anything else: that more people didn’t have the opportunity to know Nick Charles.”