New Champ Rey Vargas, Chisora Continues Entertaining Ending
Well, that was awkward.
Rey Vargas is now a two-division world champion, as he defeated Mark Magsayo en route to a 12-round decision to win the WBC featherweight world title. The fight was a Vargas special.
Despite throwing more power punches than usual, Rey Vargas has a way of detracting from action, which he uses as a skill to win fights, but often tests the patience of fight fans. With Vargas’ frame of five-feet, ten-inches, he is a massive featherweight, as he uses his height and reach to their extremes forcing opponents to have to overcommit on punches are use an active jab that can be timed when trying to get in. As a result, a lot of time in which both fighters are waiting.
The most meaningful exchange saw Magsayo drop Vargas in round nine, but was unable to finish the fight, as Vargas now is a world champion at featherweight, and will be a tough awkward champion, looking to spoil future contenders hopes. Vargas feels like a new era, Miguel Vasquez or Carlos Molina in that he just makes fights tough.
Where he goes I don’t know? A fight against Brandon Figueroa would be fun, but Figueroa’s flaws might be tough to overcome to beat Vargas who fights so tactically. A Vargas vs. Leo Santa Cruz fight could be a thing to see, but I am not sure the fight itself would be all that fun to watch. Vargas is a spoiler, who is very talented, as he continues his run as boxing’s Ichabod Crane.
The sentiment for the card seemed clear to me, as Showtime Sports didn’t even put a recap video on their YouTube page, hinting at the historical value of the fight furthered the sport, but the entertainment quota might not have been what many had wanted. In short, it might be better to read the result and tune into the next fight, than put together a summary of video clips of all three bouts.
Two Mexican warriors did battle as Brandon Figueroa’s featherweight debut was a success against Carlos Castro, who had a new coach in Robert Alcazar in his corner, as Figueroa recorded a sixth-round knockout. That being said, Figueroa dropped Castro in the third round, but that seemed to only anger Castro who fought back gallantly as we saw many flurries of action of the two trading at close proximities that merited loud cheers from the crowd. Figueroa is fun, but also reckless, as a big question persists how long can he fight in such a reckless and fun manner before it catches up with him.
The end would see Castro unloading on Figueroa who was on the ropes only for him to turn the tides and stop Figueroa on the ropes after turning Castro and placing him on the ropes. Some thought it was too soon, but others didn’t. In the end, the guy who was winning the fight won the fight, so regardless of how much you love the stoppage, at least it didn’t change the perception of the perceived outcome.
That being said on the Showtime card, and one of the judge’s scorecards had Carlos Castro up at the time of the stoppage by two points, meaning my perception of the fight was not what some saw, hence the outrage. I saw a great fight from Castro with Figueroa imposing himself on himself upon Castro with youth, speed and power, as he was getting the better of many rounds with a knockdown thrown in for good measure, whereas some saw Castro outboxing Figueroa, who was mauling his way forward.
I think it is safe to say Brandon Figueroa is one of the most exciting featherweights along with Emanuel Navaratte and Leigh Wood, as he looks to bring a ton of exposure to this division. A fight against Leo Santa Cruz, or Rey Vargas would be something to watch. Figueroa is nearing the point of being a headliner and a star on his own, and I am not made as he will carry the top bill in a rightful manner.
Lightweight Frank Martin stopped Jackson Marinez in the tenth and final round of their scheduled ten-rounder as he dropped him in the ninth round. The bout was mostly ugly. Some of Martin’s flaws came to light, as Martin who is still relatively new to boxing at only nine years into the sport, at times was getting hit too clean with a right hand, which needs to improve. Martin reminds me of Gary Russell Jr., just without the elite hand speed, movement, or the combination punching of Russell Jr. which probably comes from Martin keeping a bit wider base in his stance which makes it harder for him to sequence punches together.
I say all that to say, Martin is like a triple-A baseball player, who is extremely good, an all-star at that level, and as he emerges into the MLB, it will take time for us to find out where he fits in, and how he adjusts. The transition will not be as seamless as fighters with deeper amateur backgrounds. His coach, Derrick James set a solid timeline of late 2023 as when Martin could fight for a world title and I am on board with that timeline. His promoter, welterweight champion, Errol Spence Jr., loved the idea of a Rolly Romero fight. That to me seems pretty dangerous given how clean Martin was hit with right hands in this fight.
A dominant showing for Michell Banquez seemingly didn’t matter as a ten-round decision went to local favorite, and San Antonio, Texas’ own, Ramon Cardenas. Going into the bout Ramon Cardenas was #5 in the WBA bantamweight world rankings, and now Cardenas should continue towards the top of the division, despite a dubious win on the cards.
When looking at bantamweight post-Naoya Inoue who is clearly the best guy in the division, and seemingly at some point might move on to yet another division, because of his sheer dominance, we have Eros Correa, Lee McGregor, Jason Moloney, Saul Sanchez, and Gary Antonio Russell as the potential next wave of names, and tonight Banquez made a case that he could be in the mix with any of them. With the win, Cardenas as well now by default will be in the conversations as well, but seems like he will need to improve.
Going into the bout, both fighters had the same record of 20-1, as a fight between Ramon Cardenas and Gary Antonio Russell would be a solid TV fight that I feel would create a true world title contender as well. Though it was a good fight, I just saw the bout as a 98-92 or 97-93 type win for Banquez, who now will have to regroup after fighting the fight of his life. Boxing can make you so burnt out.
Rashadi “Speedy” Ellis made his PBC and Showtime debut by stopping game club show journeyman Jose Maruffo in one round. Maruffo’s upset wins have come between 137-140 lbs, this fight was contested at 147 lbs, with Maruffo taking the fight on essentially a day’s notice, thanks to the great matchmaker Ron Katz who got Maruffo on the card last minute. Hopefully, Ellis gets an exciting world-class opponent soon.
This performance should get him back in the world rankings of multiple sanctioning bodies as well.
Off-television, Samuel Arnold III won his fight by KO.
Chisora Is Way Too Much Fun!
Derek Chisora upset Kubrat Pulvev in a fight that might sneak into some year-end award lists for a fight of the year contender.
I wrote about Chisora on Saturday on NYFights.com, and why I think Chisora matters, if you like how I write, you can read it here.
The end result was seemingly an afterthought as Derek Chisora and Kubrat Pulev beat the hell out of each other, as both past-prime heavyweights made an agreement to punch each other as much as possible, and not being able to move as much as years prior probably helped with that as well. Was it entertaining – yes! Did it matter for the top of the division – no!
Chisora has mastered the art of putting on good fights, so much so that the result of his bouts have become arbitrary. Even if Chisora had lost this bout, many would have felt he won in their eyes, and was wronged by the system, which speaks to the working class mantra he fights for. Instead, the judges got it right and awarded Chisora the bout, which seemed the fair verdict, as Chisora will continue on, doing the Derek Chisora thing.
The bout itself was a 1/3 boxing, a 1/3 wrestling and 1/3 a tough guy contest.
As the men got tired, the punches landed cleaner as the two heavyweight contenders, who probably lose to the very best contenders or emerging fighters in the division gave us a great fight in and of itself though it is void of any roadmap or context for excitement beyond they gave it all they had in the ring on this night.
One of the unsung heroes, Rudy Hernandez, the cut man of Pulev, who also served as Mike Alvarado’s coach in the second fight against Brandon Rios which Alvarado won. Hernandez stopped the cuts on Pulev’s face to allow him to continue, and make it to the finish line.
In the end, we saw a split decision go to Chisora, as the first fight was a split decision for Pulev, with the cards reading 116–112 for Pulev and the other two being 116-112 and 116-114 for Chisora.
After the bout, Chisora made reference to Deontay Wilder as Chisora is clearly in the category of being a fan-favorite looking to maximize his profits from here on out. As boxing sees more and more stars retire, we have to admit – Chisora is more than likely one of the top fifteen stars the sport of boxing has for better and for worse. Chisora’s limited skillset and accelerated age mean quite simply he has to fight big money fighters only, as at this point it is possible for him to lose to a contender and not even someone at the top of the sport.
For Pulev, this furthers his shame in the sport, after some misconduct charges in America, fighting on a bizarre bout on a Triller card, Pulev seemingly now will be a guy brought in to lose to emerging talent, if he continues as this was his chance to propel himself into a Joseph Parker or Joe Joyce-type fight, and he didn’t do it. This one will hurt for Pulev and Pulev fans.
I highly doubt after this fight either guy retires, as the world saw it as two older fighters last stand, but both of them probably saw it as a way to prove they still had more left in the tank. As most aging heavyweights only retire after a brutal knockout loss.
The DAZN undercard card was a test of patience more than anything.
154 lbs contender Israil Madrimov, whom a lot of pundits are very high on for his pro debut win over Vladimir Hernandez and his World Series of Boxing win over two-time Cuban gold medalist Arlen Lopez, fought to a technical draw against Michel Soro, in what would’ve been a final eliminator for the WBA 154 lbs world champion, meaning the winner would have been mandated to fight Jermell Charlo.
Madrimov looked as good as ever, not moving as much as in past fights, and throwing punches judiciously. That being said, at 27-years-old, Madrimov quite possibly could have had his best performances against Soro in a fight no one really wanted to see, besides the sanctioning bodies.
It is important to note that Madrimov’s ninth-round KO win over Soro was one of the most egregious errors ever, as Madrimov knocked out Soro well after the bell, and the bout has still yet to be overturned. It almost felt like Soro getting cut over his eye from a head clash in the third round was the boxing gods’ way of getting retribution for one of the worst decisions of the year. That being said, Madrimov has the hallmarks of being a top-5 fighter in the division, he is worthy of praise and excitement, but his 2022 will be remembered for his three fights with Michel Soro, a stern veteran contender, who is given him a tad more trouble than one would hope for an exciting contender in the division.
Though Soro, who is 34-years-old, is far from old, Soro is also not someone I consider in his prime either. Meaning a year of Madrimov’s potential prime was spent on a trilogy most fans were not all that invested in, but fluke injuries and liberal usages of time brought us to this point.
Ramla Ali got a win, as Ali is a pure boxer, who is skilled, but now we have to see where she evitably goes, as her style would tell you she was an elite amateur, but she would hit a ceiling with certain fighters internationally like Skye Nicolson, as Ali’s first-round exit from the 2020 Olympics against Claudia Nechita was shocking to say the least. Though the two are at different weight classes, Ali at 122 lbs, and Nicolson at 126 lbs., that could inevitably could be a marquee bout in the future, as they have very similar styles.
That being said, Ali is improving from fight to fight. Ali also has a compelling life story that if, and seemingly when she wins a world title, would make for a great feel-good story for streaming platforms as well.
Caoimhin Agyarko defeated Lukasz Maciec via a 10-round decision for the vacant WBA super welterweight international title. What does that mean for the division? Guys like James Metcalf, Troy Williamson, Kerman Lejarraga all hold rankings in that division in the top-15 and the co-main event just fought for the #1 contender spot for that belt. So one of those fighters will probably face Agyarko in the future
The YouTube portion of the Matchroom card, which are often fun, saw Fabio Wardley stop a guy in two rounds, in a weird fight, that appeared to show Wardley is a fun puncher, but his best assets are based on his age and athleticism as opposed to his intellect in the ring. Essentially meaning he has a ceiling, one of which might be nearing any fight now.
Cesar Francis outpointed a seasoned veteran in Ray Beltran to get a ten-round decision, as Francis proved he could defeat a former world champion.
In the co-main event, Curtis Harper best known for giving Chris Arreola a hard fight, and leaving the ring in a PBC televised card on national TV after the bell rang, got a majority decision win over Christian Thun, a heavyweight being developed under the ProBox banner. Harper dropped Thun, and Thun lost a point as well in the fight. Final scores were 75-75, 78-72, and 76-73 with two of the three going to Harper.
Marques Valle got a third-round KO.
Cruiserweight contender Brandon “Bulletproof” Glanton picked up a KO win on this card. Glanton should be nearing a world title shot in the future.
Devany Cuevas Torres defeated powerlifter Stefi Cohen. A part of me wants to still see the novelty fight between Stefi Cohen and Avril Mathie on some type of card that could pay them for their social media influence as well as their time spent in athletics.
The nightmare continues for former world champion Patrick Teixeira as Magomed Kurbanov dropped him in the first round en route to a one-sided decision win. Patrick Teixeira was a world champion prior to losing the belt to Brian Castano, and essentially a year later is riding a disqualification loss followed by the type of loss that damages your earning potential on foreign TV.
Gleb Bakshi, a talented 2020 Olympian, got a first-round TKO in his pro debut. The middleweight is a brute of a man, and could be an interesting and at times frustrating prospect to keep an eye on.
Czarina “The Black Rose” McCoy won a fight in Mexico.
Sharif “C3” Rahman got a first-round KO in Kansas, Sharif Rahman is the brother of Hasim Rahman Jr., who fights Jake Paul in a month.
MMA in 500 Words Or Less
The young ate the old as Rafael Fiziev stopped Rafael dos Anjos in the fourth round of a fight that only a true MMA fan would watch or love, on ESPN. I just happened to see it by flipping channels.