NEW YORK — Former lightweight titleholder Jim Watt was a ringside commentator in The Theater at Madison Square Garden for Britain’s Sky Television during Saturday night’s 11th-round knockout by RING middleweight champion Sergio Martinez over challenger Mathew Macklin.
Macklin’s loss was the latest in a long streak by fighters from the United Kingdom abroad, including that by Amir Khan, of England, who was dethroned by Lamont Peterson as IBF/WBA junior welterweight beltholder in December. Also in December, Carl Froch, of England, lost his WBC super middleweight belt in the Super Six final to RING champion Andre Ward.
Others such as Darren Barker, Dereck Chisora, David Haye, Matthew Hatton, Brian Magee, John Murray, Martin Murray and Ryan Rhodes have also fallen in the past year and a half.
“It’s not going well for fighters for the United Kingdom at the moment. We’ve been through a run of losing world championship fights and other fights over the last year, which was a pity,” said said Watt, 63, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland, but fought the latter part of his career out of England.
Watt (38-8, 27 knockouts) won 12 of his last 13 fights, nine of them by knockout, before retiring after a 15-round unanimous decision loss to Alexis Arguello that dethroned him as WBC lightweight beltholder in June of 1981.
Among Watt’s biggest triumphs were those over Howard Davis by decision in June of 1980, and Sean O’Grady by 12th-round knockout in November of the same year.
WATT PICKS KHAN TO AVENGE HIS LOSS TO PETERSON
Also at ringside was Khan (26-2, 18 KOs), who will be in Los Angeles on Monday completing the third and final stage of a three-city tour promoting his May 19 rematch with Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KOs) that will take place at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.
Peterson and Khan were in London on March 13, and in Washington, D.C., on March 15 before Khan came to New York for last Friday’s Martinez-Macklin weigh-in and then attended their fight.
“I think that Amir Khan is a terrific fighter and he’s one of the brightest stars that we have out of the UK at the moment. I think that he underestimated Lamont Peterson the last time out, and that he won’t underestimate him this time. But the problem is that I think that it’s a tougher job for Amir this time,” said Watt.
“Because Peterson learned how to beat Khan the last time during the fight. I think that he switched tactics and he learned how to defeat Khan. Now he goes in to the fight knowing how to beat him from the last time. He just out-toughed Amir. He just drew Amir into the wroing kind of fight. He made Amir stand his ground, he cut the ring off and he imposed himself on Amir Khan.”
Watt, nevertheless, believes that Khan will reverse the results in the return bout with Peterson.
“Without the two point deductions, Khan would have hung on to the titles and probably should have, but that’s all part of the game. Amir Khan complained because he was verbally warned several times,” said Watt.
“But I think that Khan will be able to come back and that he will fight better and that he will have a far better plan this time. He will take the challenge much more seriously this time. It’s going to go the full 12 rounds, I would expect that Khan will use his skills and not be drawn into a fight and that he will win on points this time.”
EDWIN RODRIGUEZ PROVES MORE THAN JUST “LA BOMBA” AGAINST DONOVAN GEORGE
But Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KOs) flipped the script, using his jab and his movement while occasionally trading with George (22-2-1, 19 KOs) on the way to a solid unanimous decision victory.
“I think that he’s one of those fighters where his nickname makes him, but I make my nickname. I’m more than just ‘La Bomba.’ I’m a boxer-puncher, brawler, and I proved that today,” said Rodriguez, who won, 96-94, 97-93, and, 99-91, on the cards of judges Don Ackerman, Woleska Roldan and Glenn Feldman, respectively.
“I had a great camp working on our defense. Donovan George is a very strong fighter and he has a very good punch, so we were looking to capitalize on the mistakes he makes because he does get wild. We came up with a different fight and a different style for this specific fight, and it worked out perfectly.”
Rodriguez was able to display his overall skills against George, and received a “10” on a scale of 1-to-10 from his trainer, Ronnie Shields.
“I think that coach Shields was telling me to fight that type of fight. That type of gameplan and that type of defense. I just saw everything coming,” said Rodriguez. “I had good head movement and it was a great feeling in there. I had fun. I did what I was told to do and it was a great night.”
Rodriguez, nevertheless, displayed a welt over his right eye that he said came from a head butt.
“I think that he hit me with a few good right hands, but I’m clean. He was a very good puncher and he kept me awake. But it was a big stage and I didn’t have any room for mistakes. I was stunned at one point when he hit me in the back of the head with a right hand in the ninth round,” said Rodriguez.
“But like I said, when he hits me with his best shot, I’m going to look at him and smile, and that’s what I did. I look at him and stuck out my chin and said, ‘hit me right here.’ I made him miss, laughed, and just got right back to my gameplan. I’m very focused.”
Rodriguez said that he was tempted to go toe-to-toe in the 10th round.
“I was very tempted, but we had a great training camp working on the way that we wanted to fight this fight,” said Rodriguez. “I came too far and had worked too hard to let three minutes change my whole career and change my whole life. So I stayed focused and I had a great training camp,” said Rodriguez.
“Ronnie just kept putting that into my head and I just think that the way that he taught me for this camp, there was nothing that Donovan George could have done to be able to get me off my gameplan. Because Ronnie Shields is that good of a teacher that I really didn’t have a choice but to fight the way that I was taught in the gym, because he just kept it natural.”
Promoter Lou DiBella, who handles Martinez, Macklin, George and Rodriguez, had told RingTV.com that the Rodriguez-George winner could be in line to face either RING champion and WBA/WBC titleholder Andre Ward, or even be a consideration for the winner of a bout between Lucian Bute and Carl Froch that is scheduled for May 26.
“I’m ready for a lot of the good fighters in the super middleweight division. I’m not going to mention any names. I’m going to let my promoter promote and my manager manage and I’m going to just do the fighting. Every fight, I’m just trying to get better, and I think that I did that tonight by coming in with a whole different style,” said Rodriguez.
“Like I said, there are so many big names. My manager keeps saying, ‘Mikkel Kessler,’ but, like I said, there are a lot of good fighters in my weight class. I’m just happy to be in such a talent-packed division. Also, I did my job tonight ot be recognized and to be seen by the people as one of the top fighters and that I’m ready to fight any of the guys in the top 10.”
How much better can Rodriguez get?
“The sky is the limit. On a scale of 1-to-10 as far as where I am skill-wise, I think that tonight, I would give my performance a 7 or an 8. I’m just wanting to keep getting better. I’m hungry,” said Rodriguez.
“I want to be the best. I’m always going to be looking at ways to get better than tonight. There is always room for improvement. I’m one of those fighters that is very judgmental of my talent and I always think that I can do better. “
ATTORNEY: SHOWTIME SHOULD MAKE TAVORIS CLOUD FIGHT GABRIEL CAMPILLO IN A REMATCH
Although the IBF has denied his request for light heavyweight challenger Gabriel Campillo to be granted an immediate rematch with titleholder Tavoris Cloud, who won a controversial, Showtime-televised split-decision on Feb 18 in Corpus Christi, Texas, the attorney who acted on Campillo’s behalf wants Showtime to “do the right thing and call for a rematch.”
“The networks should say to Cloud, and his promoter, Don King, that if he wants to be back on, that he should fight Campillo again,” said Leon Margules, who, along with co-promoter Sampson Lewkowicz, appealed the decision to the IBF and the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. “They should do the right thing and call for a rematch. That’s what the networks should say.”
Margules sent a letter to IBF President Daryl Peoples and Championships Chairman Lindsay Tucker “formally asking them to order an immediate rematch under rule 5-K” of the organization’s rules governing Defense of a Title.
In accordance with the rule, “The Championships Chairman and The President in their discretion may direct two contestants to engage in a rematch for the championship within a perscribed time.”
Campillo rose from two first-round knockdowns and appeared to take control of the fight, using his boxing skills to cause deep cuts around each of Cloud’s eyes.
Cloud was, nevertheless, awarded an unpopular verdict, 116-110 (eight-to-four in rounds) and 114-112 (six-to-six) on the cards of judges David Robertson and Joel Elizondo, respectively. Judge Dennis Nelson had it for Campillo, 115-111.
Margules said that Texas’ investigation is ongoing.
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Photos by Ester Lin, Showtime
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com