GUEST ARTICLE: Weekend Boxing – What We Learned

By Paul Mason (@PaulMason1986)

This weekend saw plenty of action here in the UK and Stateside, with plenty of talking points along the way! Here I review the main bones of contention from a busy schedule.


Big Drama Show For All The Wrong Reasons In Las Vegas

Where we should have been talking about the fantastic spectacle and fight that was the WBC, WBA (Super), IBF and IBO Middleweight Champion, Gennady Golovkin against pound for pound starlet Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. After twelve rounds of intense action that you couldn’t take your eyes off, we should have been reflecting on a fantastic victory for “GGG”. However, yet again we were left to discuss the officials scoring the action.


One judge, Adelaide Byrd, somehow scored the fight an incredible 118-110 to the Mexican. To put that into context, she scored the fight ten rounds to two in favour of Canelo. This is not even explainable. I have watched the fight three times now, and although it was not a one sided contest in Golovkin’s favour, he did more than enough to get his hand raised, in my opinion by two rounds, 115-113, which is the same score returned by senior Nevada judge, Dave Moretti. That was including me giving Canelo the first three rounds as well.


Boxing has provided some top quality fights in 2017, and the eyes of the world were on the sport on Saturday. This was a night where controversy certainly wasn’t needed, but it’s exactly what it got. To be brutally honest, Adelaide Byrd needs to be investigated by the relevant authorities as soon as is possible. Teddy Atlas made an impassioned argument for corruption post fight, and some of the things he said were with foundation. A 118-110 score is unexplainable, unless she had the identity of the boxers confused. Even still this would still have been a wide scorecard. It will be interesting to see how the fallout plays out from here.


Saunders Back In Action

Billy Joe Saunders returned to the ring after a nine month hiatus for only his second fight in just under two years. The Hatfield man retained his WBO Middleweight Title via a unanimous decision, in a scrappy affair over the unambitious Willie Monroe Junior. Monroe was on the retreat for the majority of the contest, and it was hard for Saunders to look good in the contest. The main thing is he came through, and he would have had high hopes of a crack at the winner of Golovkin v Canelo, but that is now seemingly on the shelf for the time being, as a Vegas rematch between the two seems inevitable.


This leaves Saunders left to potentially defend his Title in December, but there is currently no mandatory obligations in place. Number one according to the WBO rankings last month, is the big punching Canadian, David Lemieux, and this would be a very attractive alternative for Billy Joe. The other options would seemingly be the domestic voluntary defence route, against someone like Tommy Langford, the WBO number 11 who was overwhelmed by Saunders’ previous mandatory challenger, the now incarcerated Avtandil Khurtsidze. Conrad Cummings is also in the WBO top 15 should Saunders require an opponent for the date.


Saunders will be keen to kick on now, and fight a lot more regularly than he has done in the past two years. He has also floated the idea of moving up a division, but I’m sure he will keep a keen eye on the movements of GGG and Canelo before he makes his next move.


Who Next For Dangerous Dubois?

Daniel Dubois picked up a second belt on Saturday night. He added the Southern Area Heavyweight strap to the WBC Youth Title he won in his last fight, by destroying the helpless AJ Carter at the Copperbox. Carter was down from the first meaningful punch of the fight, and three times in all, eventually out cold  for the third knockdown, and in need of medical attention. It is hard to not get excited about the future prospects of the 19 year old Dubois, and he has been matched well thus far in his career. It’s how he and his team can now make the steps up, and entice more and more quality opposition for “Triple D”.


It would have been good to see him in next with someone like Ian Lewison, but Lewison has opted to face the debutant, and Olympic silver medallist from Rio in 2016, Joe Joyce at the Indig02 in London next month.


Nathan Gorman meets Nick Webb for the English Title in a battle of unbeaten Heavyweights in Newcastle next month, and there is also the vacant British Title on the line on October 6 when Sam Sexton and Gary Cornish meet in Edinburgh. The winners of both of these contests could interest Dubois, and they are very winnable fights for him. I imagine that he will have a couple more contests before being put forward for these fights.


Rock And A Yarde Place

A man in a similar position to Dubois, but further down the line in his professional career, is Anthony Yarde. The man did as he please in forcing Norbert Nemesapati to be pulled out at the end of the third round. Yarde is now eager to kick on, but the current domestic scene at Light Heavyweight is dominated by Matchroom fighters. The British Champion, Frank Buglioni, meets Commonwealth Champion, Callum Johnson on the big Joshua v Pulev bill in Cardiff at the end of October. Yarde’s promoter, Frank Warren claimed in the aftermath of Saturdays win that a substantial offer was made to Buglioni to fight Yarde, but this was turned down.


This may force Warren and team Yarde down the European Title route, as both primary and secondary World Champions at Light Heavyweight are elite World Class Operators. Andre Ward is WBA(Super), IBF and WBO Champion following his two wins over Sergey Kovalev in the summer. Adonis Stevenson is WBC Champion, and Badou Jack is now the WBA “Regular” Champion, following his dominant stoppage win over Nathan Cleverly last month.


The European Champion is the two time World Title Challenger, Karo Murat, and this could be an option if Warren is willing to entice the German based Armenian into defending his Title in the UK. He has worked with Murat in the past for Nathan Cleverly’s defence of his WBO Title against him in Birmingham back in 2010. I’d like to see this type of acid test for Yarde, as he clearly has the potential to be a mainstream Champion.


The Copperbox Is An Impressive Boxing Venue

I was covering the action on Saturday for World Boxing Wall. It was my first visit to Stratford and the Copperbox. I have to say it’s a perfect arena for boxing. The two tier arena is impressive, and the atmosphere and acoustics were great.


There have been a few cards held here already, but the uniqueness of the venue makes it stand out from some of the conventional arenas around the country. Frank Warren has an exclusive agreement with the Copperbox, so expect to see more shows here in the near future.


Smith Advances In The World Boxing Super Series

Liverpool’s Callum Smith moved into the semi-finals of the Super Middleweight version of the World Boxing Super Series on Saturday night, with a unanimous, but hard fought points victory over the previously unbeaten Swede, Erik Skoglund. Skogund gave a good account of himself, and also gave Smith the hardest test of his career, bloodying Smith’s nose in the fifth round. Smith knocked down Skoglund in the eleventh with a big left hook, but settled for a wide (117-111, 117-110 & 116-112) points win at the Echo Arena, to move on to a semi-final clash with the winner of the Juergen Braehmer v Rob Brant contest.


I like the concept of the Super Series, and hopefully other weight classes will follow suit, as it will force the best to fight the best. The ultimate aim is for there to be one undisputed Champion per division, but as we all know, this is always easier said than done.

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