LOS ANGELES, CA — It was billed as a war. Marcos Maidana and Josesito Lopez delivered that spades. In the end, Maidana overcame several perilous moments to score the bout’s only knockdown in the sixth, and quickly stopped Lopez with a barrage of power shots against the ropes.
The co-main event wasn’t too shabby either, with Alfredo Angulo and Erislandy Lara going through several momentum changes before the accuracy of Lara’s stabbing straight left produced a grostque orbital bone fracture that immediately stopped the contest.
It was a memorable night that sure didn’t start off as one via the snoozer that was Jermell Charlo vs. Demetrius Hopkins. Let’s get right to the highlights.
LARA DROPPED TWICE AND PULLS VICTORY FROM DEFEAT: I was one of the people very adamant that Angulo stood very little chance of winning this fight. How could a guy that let Kermit Cintron of all people outbox him off the backfoot possibly deal with a technician on Lara’s level?
For the first two rounds, that seemed to be the case. Lara was on the move as expected, changing directions on a dime to keep Angulo from getting leverage on his shots. Lara was shooting the southpaw straight left down the middle, and several times Angulo was stopped in his tracks with his head snapping backwards. However, Angulo was plowing forward and whenever Lara took a rest on the ropes, El Perro uploaded hooks to the body.
The body-punching of Angulo was relentless; every time Lara stopped and covered up, he took at least 4-5 shots downstairs in addition to clubbing shots on his arms and gloves. The first pronounced momentum shift for Angulo came in the fourth when Lara, perhaps getting too cocky, got caught with his hands down and dropped by a hook. Angulo tried to pounce, but Lara’s footspeed was still good enough in his buzzed state to get him through the round.
For the rest of the fight, the bout became the viewer’s preference — Angulo’s pressure and body-punching, or Lara’s defense and still-supurb straight left counters? Both strategies were clearly taking a tool. However, Angulo appeared to be pulling ahead when another hook dropped Lara in the ninth. This one was worse with Lara having to hold and run to get through the round.
Yet in the very next round, Lara put an end to the drama with his umpteenth left hand, which this time caused Angulo to recoil in immediate pain as his left eye socket swelled to grotesque levels. Lara landed another as Anuglo completely turned him back and stopped fighting, giving the referee no choice but to call the bout.
ANGULO A QUITTER?: There was no shade on Twitter last night for Angulo quitting, and I doubt we’ll see any in the coming days. I can’t even imagine the surge of pain that went through him based on how badly that eye area got. Sure, we’ve seen numerous guys fight through that injury (Paulie Malignaggi, Shannon Briggs, Antonio Margarito and most recenty Denis Lebedev), but an orbital bone fracture varies per person and we have no idea at the extent of Angulo’s damage.
The main worry at this point is Angulo’s career. We’ve see with Margarito and Briggs that it effectively ended theirs. Angulo’s looked pretty bad, and at the very least he’ll be out of the ring for a long time, maybe even until this time next year. It makes Lara’s statement to Angulo before the fight even more potent.
I’m a technical fighter. I’m a technical fighter and he’s a brawler, and we’ll see who has the longer career.
LARA VS. COTTO, ANYONE?: As for Lara, he showed a toughness that we don’t often see from Cuban fighters since they’re able to avoid dogfights most of the time. The body-punching was clearly getting to Lara, but he never panicked nor abandoned what was working (that left hand). What Lara does need to address is a better inside strategy. The constant movement every round is tiring, and instead of just stopping and letting Angulo wail away, a few more clinches could have given him a true breather sans the punishment.
I would love to see Lara in there with Miguel Cotto, as this was a title eliminator. If I was advising Cotto, it wouldn’t be the fight I’d want coming off the Trout defeat. But when has Cotto ever picked the “smart business decision” over the more challenging fight? Cotto has never pulled a Mayweather and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see him face Lara before the year is out.
As for who would win, you have to give Lara the edge. The merciless Cotto that cut down another southpaw stylist in Carlos Quintana years ago is long gone. This is a higher weight with Cotto having much more mileage on him. However, the Cotto who gave Mayweather hell last May can make this one very, very interesting. If Lara doesn’t improve on the mistakes he made against Angulo, a Cotto win is not out of the cards. I’d love to see it.
MAIDANA THE MANIAC: Just minutes after seperating Josesito Lopez from his senses, there was a small discussion on whether the referee had jumped in too soon. Maidana had brought Lopez to his knees off a doubled-up right hook, and summarily blasted Lopez repeatedy against the ropes when he got up. Lopez was trying to fight back but getting the worst of the exchanges. When asked if the stoppage was fair, we got an answer with classic Maidana flair.
Good job by the referee, but I wanted to hit him some more.
Maidana, like Brandon Rios, is just one of those guys that is more feral animal than human in the ring. His pain tolerance and desire to inflict abuse in just more pronounced in his makeup than the average fighter. Getting hurt more often than not makes him come back stronger. Lopez badly folded him to the body in the fourth with a left hook, and in nearly every round landed 2-3 jarring, haymaker right hands. Maidana would take some time to compose himself and go right back into Lopez’s grill with his own power shots.
The main difference was that Maidana knew to hold when hurt, and was much more compact and consistent with his power shots. You don’t normally marvel at the accuracy of someone like Maidana, but his looping hooks around and through Lopez’s guard were excellent.
Props to Josesito Lopez for yet another thrilling battle. But as I said last night, brawling with Marcos Maidana is never the most sound strategy. When he worked behind the jab and used his range to keep Maidana on the outside, he had his best rounds. But we all know the old Tyson adage; “Everyone has a plan until they get hit.”
LOPEZ BACK TO 140, MAIDANA VS. MATTHYSSE?: Lopez weighed 145 for yesterday’s fight and made it clear in the post-fight interview that a return to junior welterweight would be his best move. He’ll be welcomed back in a division with lots of interesting matchups on the table with other guys looking to rebound from tough losses (Lamont Peterson and Zab Judah, for example).
On the other hand, Maidana can make exciting matchups with pretty much everyone at welterweight. He can look at the Berto-Soto Karass winner, an Amir Khan rematch, or the big proposed matchup with countrymen Lucas Matthysse. I’d like that fight to marinate for a bit as Matthysse has unfinished business at 140 against Danny Garcia.
Let’s hear your thoughts. Did you enjoy Showtime’s card, and what future matchups would you like to see for the victors?