Danny Garcia: Garcia deserves credit for outpointing faded legend Erik Morales to win the vacant WBC junior welterweight title – his first belt — Saturday in Houston. The victory will lead to bigger and better things for the 24 year old from Philadelphia. That said, he was lucky to have been matched with a vulnerable titleholder. Garcia (23-0, 14 knockouts) made the fight more difficult than it had to be by fighting tentatively for much of it. He doesn’t throw straight punches, which gives his opponents extra time to avoid them. And his battered face was evidence that he took many hard shots against an all-but-shot opponent. To be clear, Garcia is a good fighter. He’s far from the top tier, though. He’ll need to refine his technique and strategy if he’s going to become an elite fighter. If he doesn’t, he’ll be eaten alive by top 140-pounders like Timothy Bradley, Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan.
Erik Morales: The 35-year-old future Hall of Famer had looked like an aging boxer with a keen mind and enough residual ability to win important fights, as he proved in his impressive comeback. On Saturday, he looked only like an aging boxer. We saw flashes of the great champion he once was but flashes usually don’t win fights, particularly against capable and strong young fighters like Garcia. I wonder whether Morales (52-8, 36 KOs) could hire a hot-shot fitness guru and give it one more shot. At the same time, this might be the perfect time to walk away. He culminated the comeback and his remarkable career by becoming the first Mexican to win titles in four weight divisions, a wonderful way to close out a career. And, on Saturday, it looked as if he had very little left. He might be one guy who left it all in the ring.
Ending of James Kirkland-Carlos Molina fight: The scenario wasn’t complicated. Kirkland put Molina down in the final seconds of the 10th round, which required referee Jon Schorle to continue his 10 count after the bell sounded. One of Molina’s cornerman, who heard the bell, stepped into the ring as he normally would between rounds. Schorle then disqualified Molina on a technicality: The cornerman stepped through the ropes while the fight was in progress, which is against the rules. Schorle made the right decision based on strict interpretation of the rules, as I understand them. However, I believe the decision violated the spirit of the rule. It was an honest mistake, made amid confusion, and Molina gained no competitive advantage because of it. If it were me, I would’ve overlooked the gaffe. I can’t be too critical of Schorle, though; he did his job as he understood it.
James Kirkland: To say Kirkland (31-1, 27 KOs) was fortunate is an understatement. The junior middleweight contender looked lost against a superior boxer in Molina in spite of suspect scoring, which left him in position to win a decision going into the final rounds. As astute reader Wenbo Du pointed out, if we give Kirkland a10-8 round in the 10th, the scores would’ve read 96-93 (Molina), 95-94 (Molina) and 93-96 (Kirkland). That means Kirkland, who was coming on, would’ve won at worst a split decision if he won both the 11th and 12th rounds. In other words, Molina might’ve been robbed. Of course, to be fair, Kirkland might also have scored a knockout. In the end, he didn’t have to do anything but watch. He lucked out when Molina’s cornerman entered the ring at the wrong time. Still, we saw what we saw. Kirkland was schooled, which doesn’t bode well for him. We know what he can do when someone comes at him, as Alfredo Angulo did. We also know that he’ll have problems with a clever boxer who also is resilient, as Molina is. I can think of no fight in which a rematch is more appropriate. If it happens, Kirkland will have a tough time avoiding a similar fate. He has work to do.
Carlos Molina: The loss was only the latest in a series of tough breaks for the talented fighter from Chicago, who some believe was on the wrong end of bad decisions in big fights against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (twice) and Erislandy Lara. Then, after building a lead against Kirkland, his cornerman and strict interpretation of the rules cost him what would’ve been an important victory. We all know how good Molina (19-5-2, 6 KOs) is, though. He doesn’t have much power but he has demonstrated time and again that he is a clever boxer and a tough guy, which makes him difficult for anyone to handle. The hope here is that he doesn’t get discouraged. His time will come eventually. It usually does for a fighter of his ability.
Zab Judah: I’m not sure what to make of Judah. He was embarrassed by Amir Khan, who stopped the 34-year-old former titleholder in five rounds in his previous fight. I thought Judah (42-7, 29 KOs) was more or less finished. And then on Saturday in his home town of Brooklyn, N.Y., he dominated then-unbeaten prospect Vernon Paris before stopping him in the ninth round. I don’t want to read too much into the victory because Paris (26-1, 15 KOs) was largely unproven. Still, Judah clearly demonstrated that he retains many of the skills that made him a six-time titleholder. I don’t think he would be the top 140-pounders – Khan, Lamont Peterson and Timothy Bradley – but might still be better than anyone else when he’s at his best.
Bert Sugar: The fedora. The cigar. The colorful pants. The drink in his hand. The booming voice. That’s the image many have of the author, boxing writer, historian and bon vivant, who passed away from cardiac arrest on Sunday. Bert was much more than that, though. He was a gifted and prolific writer whose way with words have been an inspiration to me for 20 years. His knowledge of boxing history was unparalleled, as he often recounted detailed moments from the distant past off the top of his head. And, most important to me, he was a good friend who was filled with warmth and good cheer. One of my great memories in boxing will always be the precious times I sat at a bar with Bert and just talked about life. Boxing and the world has lost a wonderful man.
Promoter Lou DiBella, about Bert Sugar: “The Bert Sugars and the Angelo Dundees, you don’t replace them. That saddens my heart, because the business has become less colorful and less fun. Bert Sugar was a brilliant guy. I mean, he was erudite, he was well read. He knew everything about so many things. Bert managed to make a living by simply being Bert. He was a celebrity by being Bert. That hat, that trademark cigar, those crazy pants. There wasn’t a bar stool that he didn’t like, and there wasn’t a guy that didn’t like sitting next to him. I’m proud to say that I sat next to him at many a bar stool.”
Photo / Naoki Fukuda