Marcos Maidana: Maidana is a testament to what can happen if you continue to plow forward, which he has done after each of his losses and in virtually every minute of every fight. The slugging Argentine obviously couldn’t have cared less that Adrien Broner was supposed to be one of the next great stars. He attacked savagely from the opening bell and didn’t stop until his hand was raised in victory, putting Broner down twice and hurting him on a number of occasions in the process. Maidana (35-3, 31 knockouts) won both the WBA welterweight title, his first major belt, and elusive respect. Maidana had always been perceived as a tough, relentless brawler with uncommon power but limited boxing ability. That was evident in losses to Andreas Kotelnik, Amir Khan and Devon Alexander, each of whom outboxed Maidana to win clear decisions. No one saw what happened on Saturday coming yet Maidana pulled it off with the help of trainer Robert Garcia, proving that he is more than just an exciting fighter.
Adrien Broner: OK, I don’t want to kick a man while he’s down – even Broner. Facts are facts, though: The self-proclaimed heir to the great Floyd Mayweather Jr. got his ass kicked by a tough, hard-punching opponent with so-so boxing ability. Was Broner overestimated all along? Probably. He has speed and skills. And he demonstrated on Saturday that he has some heart, as well. He has work to do, though. One, he couldn’t adjust to Maidana’s awkward, swarming style. Other fighters (Kotelnik, Khan and Alexander) were able to cope with it. And, two, he doesn’t throw enough punches. Maidana out-threw him 964 to 400. That might work if you have Mayweather’s defensive skils. Broner doesn’t. All that said, Broner is far from finished. The talent is there. And now he’ll be hungrier than he was, maybe even a tad humble. He’ll most likely learn from this disappointment and become a better fighter. And he might think about going down to 140 pounds, a more natural weight for him. I can see him succeeding there and then moving back up to 147 when the time is right.
Maidana-Broner Round 8: Maidana was in firm control of the fight when Broner went down a second time from a left hook, although he didn’t appear to be seriously hurt. Still, as one might expect, he held Maidana to give himself time to fully recover. And he didn’t let go. He had Maidana’s arms firmly locked – with referee Laurence Cole nowhere to be found – and Maidana decided the best way to break free was to butt Broner with his head. Bad idea. He lost the point he gained with the knockdown. Broner’s reaction was even more dramatic, although he won’t win any awards for his acting. He behaved as if he were knocked silly by the butt, first writhing on the ground and then standing in the corner with a forlorn look that said, “I don’t know if I can continue.” The fact is the butt did minimal if any damage. Broner obviously considered using it as a way out of a brutal fight he was losing. To his credit, he finally decided to take his beating like a champion.
Keith Thurman: I don’t believe Jesus Soto Karass was as much of a threat to Keith Thurman as some people seemed to think. He’s as tough as they come but slow and fairly easy to hit, which good fighters should be able to exploit. That said, Thurman (22-0, 20 KOs) served up a masterpiece on the Maidana-Broner undercard. He did it all – took Soto Karass’ best shots, thoroughly outboxed the Mexican with far superior speed and skills, and hurt him badly in the end. Thurman put Soto Karass down with big left in the fifth round and ended the fight in the ninth with five hard, accurate punches in succession, which prompted referee Jon Schorle to save Soto Karass (28-9-3, 18 KOs) from further punishment. It was one of the best performances in a year chock-full of them. And here’s something scary: Thurman, only 25, seems to improve every time he walks into the ring. I don’t see him or anyone else beating Mayweather just yet, but everyone else should be put on notice.
Leo Santa Cruz: The WBC junior featherweight titleholder just doesn’t give his opponents an opportunity to breathe, which leaves them little chance of beating him. The victim this time was the talented Cesar Seda, who had the athleticism and skills to compete with Santa Cruz but was smothered by relentless pressure on the Maidana-Broner undercard. Santa Cruz (26-0-1, 15 KOs) threw 829 punches, a slow night for him but more than enough to keep the naturally smaller Seda (25-2, 17 KOs) on the defensive all night. Once again, the Angeleno simply outworked his opponent to win convincingly and retain his 122-pound title. I believe Santa Cruz has his limits. Someone his size with unusual speed and ability probably will be a bit too much for him to handle one day. That opponent will have to work extremely hard to get that done, though. Seda would agree with that.
Beibut Shumenov: The Kazakhstani hadn’t been in the ring in 18 months, which is a long layoff for a boxer. If he experienced any rust, however, it didn’t show against Tamas Kovacs on the Maidana-Broner card. Shumenov and Kovacs were engaged in an uneventful first round when, BAM!, the fight turned in an instant. A wide left hook with seconds to go in the round knocked the then-unbeaten Slovak on his behind and it was an uphill battle for him from there. Shumenov put Kovacs down again in the second and once again the third, which ended the fight. We shouldn’t read too much into the victory, as Kovacs (23-1, 14 KOs) obviously is very limited. It was an excellent return to the ring, though. Next? Shumenov said in the ring afterward that he would be willing to fight Bernard Hopkins, which was probably one reason Golden Boy brought Shumenov into the fold. Can he hang with Hopkins? Highly doubtful. Shumenov (14-1, 9 KOs) has fought only 15 times, 49 fewer than Hopkins. And he’s not particularly quick or athletic, which are necessary qualities to beat Hopkins – even at 49.
On Friday in Indio, Calif., Josesito Lopez (31-6, 18 KOs) bounced back from his knockout losses to Canelo Alvarez and Maidana by defeating Mike Arnaoutis (24-10-2, 11 KOs) by an eighth-round technical decision in a welterweight fight. Arnaoutis, once a junior welterweight contender who is now 3-8 in his last 11 fights, was cut over his left eye by an accidental head butt. … Kubrat Pulev (19-0, 10 KOs) stopped journeyman Joey Abell (29-7, 28 KOs) in five rounds Saturday in Neubrandenburg, Germany. The 6-foot-4½ Bulgarian apparently is as big a threat to heavyeight world champion Wladimir Klitschkko as anyone. … Briton Martin Murray, coming off his controversial loss to Sergio Martinez in April, gave a listless performance against Sergey Khomitsky (28-10-2, 11 KOs) but narrowly emerged with an eight-round decision Saturday in London. … German Juergen Braehmer (42-2, 31 KOs) defeated Marcus Oliveira (25-1-1, 20 KOs) by a unanimous decision on the Pulev-Abell card. Braehmer hasn’t lost since Hugo Garay outpointed him in 2008. As colleague Martin Mulcahey pointed out, the 35-year-old former WBO 175-pound titleholder could’ve accomplished much more if not for breaks in his career because of legal issues.