March 18th, 2017 – Madison Square Garden
The Boxing Tribune was at Madison Square Garden to watch unified Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin take on his biggest challenge in Daniel “The Miracle Man” Jacobs. But the sold out crowd had more than one fight to sink their teeth into. Here is a recap of Saturday’s fistic fireworks.
Serhii Bohachuk (2-0, 2 KOs) vs Yasmani Pedroso (1-1, 1 KO) – Welterweights
Bohachuk came forward early, but Pedroso fired effective combinations and slipped to the side, even landing a nice right hand over the lowered left of Bohachuk. The Ukrainian pressed on, taking several good shots but eventually dropping Pedroso with an overhand right in the third round. Pedroso bounced back up, traded left hooks, and got clipped perfectly on the button. He collapsed to the canvas and the referee waved off the bout without much hesitation.
Jay Carrigan-McFarlane (2-0, 2 KOs) vs Matt McKinney (3-2-2, 1 KOs) – Heavyweights
Carrigan-McFarlane burrowed in, leaning to the right and throwing shots from short range. He was expecting to lean over and out of the way of McKinney’s right hands, but it wasn’t working, and McKinney’s straight right found a home throughout the fight. However, the Scot did manage to wobble McKinney with a right of his own near the close of the first round. In the second half of the bout Carrigan-McFarlane seemed to get his timing down, and he was the better fighter in the clinch. In the end the judges liked McKinney’s clean right cross counters, and gave Matt McKinney a majority decision victory.
Andy Lee (34-3-24 KOs) vs KeAndrae Leatherwood (19-3-1, 12 KOs) – Middleweights
Neither man wanted to lead this fight, Lee by nature of being a slow starter and Leatherwood by knowledge of Lee’s right hook counter. The most significant blow landed in the first round was an apparent clash of heads. Boos started to filter down from the upper deck.
The majority of the fight took place in the middle of the ring, with each man studying the other and seemingly landing more studious crosses than probing jabs. It looked to me like Lee was either very rusty, or very focused on getting some rounds in after spending 15 months off. Leatherwood has good hand speed and landed his fair share of right crosses on Lee’s chin, but the Irishman Lee walked away with a wide unanimous decision victory. Next he will try to secure a summer fight with a top contender in the Middleweight division.
Ryan Martin (17-0, 10 KOs) vs Bryant Cruz (17-1, 8 KOs) – Lightweights
For Martin’s WBC Lightweight Continental Americas Title
The opening bout of the Pay-Per View program was nothing short of a showcase for Ryan Martin, who looked in every way the composed and concussive boxer-puncher that Americans have come to expect of their prospects. Martin hurt Bryant Cruz in every round, notably landing two head-swiveling left hooks in the first round that had me wondering whether the fight would last into the second.
Cruz was game throughout and displayed real whiskers, but Martin was a level above. His counters were accurate and his left to the body seemed to reach behind the guard no matter what angle it was thrown from. In the fourth and fifth rounds Martin appeared to let up, allowing Cruz to stay in the fight. When he did have his man hurt he rarely went down to the body. He was scoring and doing serious damage, but from where I sat the fight could have ended in the fifth if only he stepped on the gas a little more. By the seventh I began to wonder if Martin harbored some secret ill will toward Cruz, and was carrying him in order to inflict further punishment. In the eighth, the referee had no choice but to intervene when Martin landed a flurry of unanswered punches.
Martin commented in the post-fight press conference that his body is still making 135 well. If the shoe fits he needs to keep wearing it, because his range and pop can be stunning to watch live. With a few more fights he could develop into a true contender if he works on finishing his foe.
Carlos Cuadras (35-1-1, 27 KOs) vs David Carmona (20-3-5, 8 KOs) – Super Flyweights
I think more was expected from Cuadras in this fight, particularly considering what a fantastic bout he had with Roman Gonzalez last year. Cuadras is happy to engage in a scrap if his opponent brings it to him, but his style is not naturally aggressive. Cuadras resorted to showboating in order to force the action, and Carmona paid him back with a three-punch combination below the belt that made me cross my legs. Cuadras ate a counter in the sixth round that nearly put him off balance, and was hurt to the body in the seventh, but otherwise controlled a tactical fight that continually teased at a brawl. The judges gave a unanimous decision to Cuadras with scorecard of 97-93, 96-94, and 96-94.
Roman Gonzalez (46-0-0, 38 KOs) vs Srisaket Sor Rungvisai 41-4-1 (38 KOs) – Super Flyweights
For Roman Gonzalez’s WBC Super Flyweight Title
Heading into this fight the questions on my mind were whether Sor Rungvisai had anything more than a puncher’s chance, whether he would be able to take the number and variety of shots that Chocolatito would undoubtedly land, and whether a strongly pro-Gonzalez crowd would sway the judges in swing rounds. The answers turned out to be Yes, Yes, and an emphatic NO.
Rungvisai was the aggressor early, focusing on the body and walking the smaller Gonzalez down. Chocolatito stood in the pocket, bobbing from side to side and trading, when all of a sudden a right to the body sends him off balance and careening to the canvas. From that point on, all bets were off. A clash of heads opened a cut over Chocolatito’s right eye in the third. Rungvisai continued to press, at times looking like he had Gonzalez in hot water, but the Nicaraguan champ always answered back and re-established himself.
The middle rounds saw Sor Rungvisai take an astonishing amount of damage and walk through it all, continuing to work. In the sixth, after a third head clash again stopped the action, referee Steve Willis took a point from the Thai challenger for head-butts. With the exception of the 11th round the final third of the fight belonged to Gonzalez, despite his face being a blood-smeared visage. The defending champion simply landed the cleaner, harder shots, and many more of them. Compubox had Gonzalez outlanding Sor Rungvisai 441(44%) – 284 (30%) overall and landing a junior bantamweight/super flyweight record with 372 power shots over 12 rounds.
I scored the fight 115-111 in favor of Gonzalez, but the judges had it a majority decision, 113-113, 114-112, and 114-112 in favor of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. The new champion’s pressure, durability, and big punches evidently swayed the judges in his favor. The 115-pound division has been thrown into disarray, and we are all left wondering how it will be put back together.
Gennady Golvkin (36-0, 33 KOs) vs Daniel Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs) – Middleweights
For Golovkin’s WBA, IBO and WBC Middleweight Titles
At the Tuesday media teleconference I asked Daniel Jacobs whether he felt confident that he would come in under the 10-pound rehydration limit mandated by the IBF for their version of the Middleweight title. He answered me that his team had put him in a good position to do so, and that he was “coming for all the belts.” Four days later Jacobs missed the secondary IBF weigh-in, forfeiting his challenge for Golovkin’s IBF title. But to echo Meat Loaf, “three out of four ain’t bad.”
The glory and the “W” belong to Gennady Golovkin, who took a close unanimous decision victory, but the story of the night is how well Jacobs battled the most feared man in the division. We know Jacobs has athleticism, size, and a big punch, but it was his ability to stay composed, escape from pressure, and force Golovkin back with combinations that won him so many rounds.
Even after crumpling to the canvas in the fourth round Jacobs stayed in the fight. The fundamental errors that kept him from looking like an elite fighter in the past – low left hand, lazy jab, looping and inaccurate right – were either fixed or covered up by his good traits. His punches were straighter and crisper than I have ever seen from him. As Golovkin cut off the ring, Jacobs often found a way out with his legs or fought like mad to disengage, reset, and resume giving ground slowly.
Golovkin, to his credit, won the fight by establishing his accurate and powerful jab, though not nearly to the extent he was able to against his last opponent at The Garden, David Lemieux. While Lemieux could be found with nearly every punch in Golovkin’s arsenal, Jacobs’ deft head movement often had the unified champion’s punches whizzing through open air. The champ appeared to be headhunting at times, and would have benefitted from a steady body attack.
In the end, Golovkin landed more total punches, 231 (38%) -175 (32%), but Jacobs landed more power punches, 144 (39%) – 126 (49%). There were many close rounds, and I scored the fight 114-113 in favor of Jacobs, though I admit I gave Jacobs the final round. Looking at the compubox stats, I don’t know what I was watching. Golovkin out-landed Jacobs 31-15 overall and 23-13 in power shots in the 12th round. The judges scored the bout 115-112, 115-112, and 114-113.
Golovkin improves to 37-0 with 33 KOs, and looks on towards a possible unification fight with WBO title-holder Billy Joe Saunders and a potential dream fight against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in September. Jacobs falls to 32-2 (29 KOs), but made more than a good account of himself. He expanded his fan base and hopefully finds big opportunities down the road.