Canelo Alvarez: Austin Trout said a great deal when he was asked what went wrong against Alvarez on Saturday in San Antonio: “He shocked us,” said Trout, who lost a unanimous decision. Indeed, this wasn’t the Alvarez who had primarily used aggression and power to feast on overmatched opponents. This Alvarez outboxed the boxer, using his improved defensive skills and punches that were considerably harder than those of Trout to win a close fight and the RING junior middleweight title. The fight wasn’t as compelling as many in Alvarez’s past, the only truly dramatic moment being his seventh-round knockdown of Trout. That couldn’t have pleased his fans. But it was an impressive performance by Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 knockouts). Trout also said the young Mexican is “a complete fighter,” which is quite a compliment from someone who knows his business. And Alvarez should only get better if he maintains his focus. Could he beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the near future? Probably not. But he would be given a better chance after what we saw on Saturday.
Austin Trout: Trout (26-1, 14 KOs) undoubtedly was as surprised as any of us by Alvarez’s shifty tactics. He clearly expected his foe to march toward him and present a more stationary target, which would’ve allowed him opportunities to score with counterpunches. The fact that Trout wasn’t able to adjust effectively when Alvarez took a different tack was surprising given his reputation. After all, Alvarez was good but not exactly a boxing wizard. I thought Trout was better than that. And so did he, apparently; he was clearly frustrated with himself immediately after the fight. Trout experienced the spectrum of emotions in consecutive fights, enjoying the high of his impressive victory over Miguel Cotto only to taste bitter disappointment at the Alamodome. He isn’t the type of fighter – or man – to stay down, though. He is talented and dedicated to his craft. He said afterward that a fighter learns more from a loss than a victory, which obviously is true. He has more world titles in his future.
The scoring disparity: Alvarez-Trout was the type of fight that produces a wide disparity in scoring. One fighter (Trout) landed slightly more punches, according to punch stats, while the other (Alvarez) landed the harder blows. That made scoring difficult. Many (most?) of the rounds were so close that they could’ve gone either way. Even the round in which Trout was knocked down could’ve been scored 10-9 because he seemed to win the rest of the 3-minute period. That’s why credible observers had scores that ranged from 116-111 for Alvarez to the same score for Trout. That said, I didn’t see a one-sided score for either fighter. I scored it 114-113 for Alvarez, giving six rounds to each fighter and scoring the seventh round 10-8. The knockdown was the difference in my eyes. I thought Alvarez landed the more-telling blows. And while Trout was more active overall, I thought too many of his punches missed the target and few were memorable. For the record, I don’t know what judge Stanley Christodoulou was watching. 118-109 for Alvarez? That’s 10-2 in rounds. C’mon.
Tyson Fury-Steve Cunningham: The result probably was predictable given Fury’s size advantage – six inches in height and 44 pounds – but few would’ve expected the scrap we saw Saturday in New York City. Fury (21-0, 15 KOs) hit the canvas like a felled redwood when an overhand right by Cunningham (25-6, 12 KOs) found his chin in the second round. The big Englishman demonstrated his resilience and determination by rising to his feet and ultimately wearing down Cunningham at least in part because he was too big and strong for the former cruiserweight titleholder. Fury ended matters at 2:55 of Round 7 with a clubbing right that put Cunningham down and out. Could Fury compete with a Klitschko? … Sorry, I was laughing out loud. Fury is a crude boxer with surprisingly little power for his size. He’s entertaining outside the ring and very limited inside it. We should enjoy him while we can. Someday soon he’ll end up like Cunningham.
Nathan Cleverly: It’s too early to anoint Cleverly the next Joe Calzaghe. A victory over a relative unknown like Robin Krasniqi, even one as impressive as Cleverly’s near-shut out decision on Saturday in London, doesn’t mean all that much. Krasniqi (39-3, 15 KOs) hadn’t lost a fight in seven years but had never met an elite opponent before this weekend. That said, Cleverly (26-0, 12 KOs) looked extremely sharp. The WBO light heavyweight titleholder fought with great passion and skill to dominate almost every second of every round, which is impressive even against a second-tier opponent. One reason Cleverly fought with such urgency is that he’s on the cusp of a major event, whether that’s against Bernard Hopkins or Beibut Shumenov in a title-unification fight. Cleverly would be a difficult matchup for Hopkins for the same reasons the old master struggled against Chad Dawson – skills and quickness. And Cleverly probably would outclass the strong but limited Shumenov. This could be Cleverly’s time.
Javier Fortuna-Miguel Zamudio: The featherweight title fight was ugly before it started Friday in Atlantic City, N.J. First, Fortuna (22-0, 16 KOs) lost his meaningless “interim” WBA tiltle on the scales after failing to make the 126-pound limit before stopping Zamudio at 1:08 of the first round. Unprofessional. And, second, it became apparent almost immediately after the opening bell that Zamudio (25-2-1, 13 KOs) had no business in the ring with a killer like Fortuna. Zamudio had a good record but had never faced a world-class opponent or fought outside his home region in Mexico. The matchup exposed the horrible flaws in the corrupt sanctioning-body system of selecting top contenders, which is based on money more than merit. Zamudio, who was taken out of the ring on a stretcher, could’ve been killed because of others’ greed. And ESPN, which televised the fight, needs to be more vigilant in assessing matchups beforehand. What a disaster.
Omar Figueroa(21-0-1, 17 KOs) appears to be one to watch. The Texan stopped Abner Cotto (16-1, 7 KOs) 2:57 into their lightweight fight on the Alvarez-Trout card, Figueroa’s fourth first-round stoppage in five fights. Fourteen of his 17 KOs have come within two rounds. … Englishman Liam Walsh (14-0, 10 KOs) is another lightweight to keep an eye on. He fairly handily outpointed capable Scotsman Scott Harrison (27-3-2, 15 KOs) on the Cleverly-Krasniqi card. Dereck Chisora (16-4, 10 KOs) stopped 38-year-old Argentine Hector Avila (20-13-1, 13 KOs) in nine rounds in his comeback fight on that card. … I’m not sure what to make of Celestino Caballero, who three years ago was considered possible pound-for-pound material. Caballero (36-5, 23 KOs) had beaten Jonathan Barros in a rematch and Satoshi Hosono in consecutive fights to regain momentum but then lost a split decision to capable Robinson Castellanos (18-9, 11 KOs) on Saturday in Panama.