A critical look at the past week in boxing
Naoya Inoue did it again.
I don’t want to make too much out of his third-round knockout of Michael Dasmarinas on Saturday in Las Vegas because the Filipino is levels below the Japanese star. I have to gush, though.
The skills. The explosiveness. And, oh, the power. He brings it every time he steps into the ring.
Inoue didn’t need much time to corner his spry prey at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, putting Dasmarinas (30-3-1, 20 KOs) down for the first of three times with a wicked left hook to the body in Round 2. Two knockdowns later, fight over.
Inoue (21-0, 18 KOs) is human. Nonito Donaire proved that by pushing him to his limits in 2019. However, we should keep something in mind: He suffered a broken orbital bone in that bout and still defeated a future Hall of Famer.
Indeed, as if Inoue hasn’t collected enough accolades, he also proved in the Donaire fight that he’s unusually tough.
Inoue is ranked No. 3 on the Boxing Junkie pound-for-pound list, behind only No. 1 Terence Crawford and No. 2 Canelo Alvarez. Every time I watch him fight, I wonder whether he should be higher on the list.
You have to ask yourself: If weight weren’t an issue – which is the basis of pound-for-pound — would you really pick Crawford or Alvarez to beat Inoue? Get back to me on that.
Let me get this out of the way: There was nothing “bad” about 160-pound titleholder Jermall Charlo’s performance against Juan Macias Montiel on Saturday in Houston.
Charlo defeated a capable, fit opponent by a near-shutout decision, which is a success by any standard. He can now look forward to pursuing bigger fights in the middleweight division, where he said he plans to campaign for now.
That said, it’s reasonable to ask – based on what we saw Saturday – whether he might be vulnerable against the likes of Gennadiy Golovkin, Demetrius Andrade or even young Jaime Munguia.
Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs) demonstrated once again that the skill set is there; he outclassed Montiel (22-5-2, 22 KOs) in that department. He has poise, a product of his experience. And he took everything a big puncher threw at him, which shouldn’t be overlooked.
The question I have about Charlo after Saturday centers on his punching power at middleweight. He seemed to wobble Montiel twice in the middle rounds but couldn’t do it again, which allowed the Mexican to have his best rounds in the last third of the fight.
That was surprising and possibly a reason for concern. I keep wondering: If he doesn’t have the power to deter his top rivals, will that catch up to him at some point?
He was able to outbox Sergiy Derevyanchenko, which proved he could beat a top-tier 160-pounder convincingly. Maybe his elite skillset combined with average power is enough to make him the undisputed middleweight champion.
Or maybe a better boxer than Montiel and one with more power than Derevyanchenko will take Charlo down, although that fighter might not exist at 160 pounds. That could mean his biggest tests will come at 168 one day.
The Isaac Cruz-Francisco Vargas fight on the Charlo-Montiel card turned into a mess almost from the start.
Vargas, who was in back-to-back Fights of the Year in the mid-2010s, turned what could’ve been an entertaining brawl into a disappointment by deciding not to engage the younger Cruz much of the fight and lost a one-sided decision.
Excessive holding and wrestling repeatedly halted the action. And, most important, clashes of the fighters’ heads – whether intentional or accidental – resulted in a disturbing ending.
The last of many head collisions, with about 30 seconds remaining in the fight, caused a ghastly cut above Vargas’ right eye. The action was stopped so the ring doctor could have a look. And, at the urging of referee James Green, he made the wrong decision to allow the fight to go on.
I get the thought process: With only seconds remaining, why not give Vargas a chance to win on the scorecards?
The reason is that one punch can turn a horrible cut like Vargas’ into something more serious. I’m not a doctor. And I wasn’t standing in front of Vargas. It just seemed to me that the doctor – whose identity I don’t know – put competition ahead of Vargas’ welfare, which was a mistake.
The fight ended with a wild flurry from Cruz (22-1-1, 15 KOs) that resulted in the bloodied, almost helpless Vargas (27-3-2, 19 KOs) hitting the canvas, an appropriate ending to an unfortunate fight.
Jaime Munguia (37-0, 30 KOs) looked sharp and strong against a decent opponent in Kamil Szeremeta (21-2, 5 KOs) on Saturday in El Paso, Texas. The Mexican methodically dismantled his Polish counterpart until the fight was stopped after the sixth round. Munguia is developing into a threat to anyone at 160 pounds. The question now is whether he’ll be able to lure his rivals into the ring. … One option for Munguia if he can’t get an immediate shot at a title is 35-year-old veteran Gabriel Rosado, who turned in a Knockout of the Year candidate on the Munguia-Szeremeta card. Rosado (26-13-1, 15 KOs) seemed to be on his way to losing against hot super middleweight prospect Bektemir Melikuziev (7-1, 6 KOs) when the Uzbek walked into a perfect right hand and ended up flat on his face in the third round. You have to be happy for Rosado. The gritty Philadelphian has almost always fallen short in his biggest moments. Not this time. And the victory assures him at least one more important fight. … Texas judge Eva Zaragoza needs a talking to. Angelo Leo (21-1, 9 KOs) and Aaron Alameda (25-2, 13 KOs) engaged in a close 10-round, 122-pound fight, one that I and one judge scored 95-95. Another judge scored it 96-94 for Leo. Zaragoza? She scored it 98-92 for Leo, eight rounds to two. That tally was an insult to Alameda. Leo might’ve done enough to win but he didn’t take eight rounds. I hope officials in Texas officials came to the same conclusion. … Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (52-5-1, 34 KOs) has a habit of getting things wrong, including positive drug tests, missing weight and more. And he added to the list on Saturday in Guadalajara, Mexico: He was beaten by a 46-year-old former MMA star with two pro boxing matches in his distant past. Anderson Silva (2-1, 1 KO) defeated Chavez, 35, by a split decision. Embarrassing.