CARSON, CA — Despite running close to 2 a.m, last night’s Golden Boy triple-header proved to be worth it with two competitive bouts from Alexander vs. Soto Karass and Lomachenko vs. Russell, and a bloody, Fight of Year level slugfest between Robert Guerrero and Yoshihiro Kamegai. Through all the subplots, the prevailing theme is everyone had something to prove. And those who felt the most pressure to succeed delivered in spades.
BATTERED GUERRERO OUTLASTS KAMEGAI: Let’s sum up this fight very quickly — these two beat the hell out of each other. From round one, Guerrero opted to sit in the trenches to bull and beat down Kamegai in the same fashion he did Andre Berto. Problem was, Kamegai could match Guerrero in strength and during the exchanges proved to have faster hands in the first half of the fight (Guerrero held the power edge). Kamegai invested heavily in body shots, which several times froze Guerrero for vicious hooks and uppercuts to the head.
The savage fighting was on mostly even terms until the sixth, when a slashing right uppercut from Kamegai cut and swelled Guerrero’s left eye shut. Combined with the relentless body punching, Guerrero was in dire straits from most of the next two rounds as Kamegai’s spirit was invigorated by the grisly sight of his work.
Going into the championship rounds, Guerrero’s better overall talent gave him the edge necessary to pull slightly ahead. He caught Kamegai was multiple head-snapping counter lefts, and those sporadic shots were crucial in stalling Kamegai’s offense and giving Guerrero the punching room to dominate at mid-range. Still, Kamegai never stopped coming and gave Guerrero all he could handle in the 11th and 12th rounds.
The scores were 116-112 and 117-111 twice for Guerrero, who admitted he had planned to box coming in.
“I didn’t want to get caught into his style, but right out the gate I did,” said Guerrero. “I’m not a runner. I will fight.”
Guerrero also took a little jab at Keith Thurman, a fight he turned down several months back. He said he planned to “see him in concert,” I guess implying he viewed him as some type of pretty boy singer over a fighter.
We might as well forget about that fight anytime soon, because Guerrero is going to need significant rest. His target return should be around February 2015.
As for Kamegai, he’s earned another TV date. After his own rest, he can make a thrilling action fight with another fighter on the card that was game in defeat, Jesus Soto Karass.[youtube http://youtu.be/vUdqe8PbBbg]
ALEXANDER ENTERTAINS IN DECISION OVER SOTO KARASS: Devon Alexander made good on his promise to make an entertaining fight as he strategically boxed and brawled his way to a unanimous decision over Jesus Soto Karass. Alexander came out on his toes firing hard right hooks and straight lefts. Karass found his best success when he went to the body, but couldn’t capitalize since Alexander easily evaded Karass’ powerful but slow head shots.
Alexander stunned Karass with a right hook in the fourth and unloaded a barrage of power shots. Karass would have a few more moments (notably the end of the sixth were he pounded Alexander to the body), but Alexander was just too fast and skilled for the 10-round decision to ever be in doubt. The scores read 97-93 and 99-91 twice for Alexander.
Opponent-wise, it’s hard to say where Alexander goes from here. He looked good, but he remains a high-risk, low-reward fighter. I don’t see guys like Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman risking their 0’s against a tricky fighter who isn’t a draw. Alexander might have to settle for Paulie Malignaggi (if he opts not to retire) or Zab Judah.[youtube http://youtu.be/xE1-5fYftfw]
LOMACHENKO EQUALS HISTORY WITH RUSSELL WIN: Vasyl Lomachenko became the second fighter in boxing history to win a major title in their third fight with an impressive decision over previously undefeated Gary Russell.
Going in, I picked Russell to win a decision. Within the first minute, I knew my pick was in serious trouble. For all of Russell’s speed, Lomachenko needed less than 60 seconds to start timing Russell’s jab and shooting counter hooks. The opening set the tone for most of the rounds — Russell firing fast, but ineffective pitty-pat shots, with Lomachenko patiently picking when to land thudding hooks to the body and occasionally upstairs.
The bout turned from tough to dangerous for Russell starting in the fifth, when Lomachenko doubled him over with a few well-placed body shots. The impressive thing to note here was that Lomachenko was able to lead with these shots and still get back out of range before the faster Russell could retaliate.
If you’re looking for an area to criticize Lomachenko, you’ll find it in the middle rounds. Whether due to fear of fatigue or just over-thinking, Lomachenko would inexplicably take entire rounds off. While Russell wasn’t landing any effective punches, these rounds almost certainly went to Russell just on sheer activity.
Any chance of Russell pulling off the victory evaporated in the championship rounds. Lomachenko hurt him badly with body shots (again) in the 10th, and rattled him on his heels with left hooks and uppercuts during the 11th. If the 12 had been about 30 seconds longer, the bout probably ends in a TKO as Russell was stumbling against the ropes following a blistering assault of power shots.
There was one pathetic score on Lisa Giampa’s part (114-114), but thankfully the other judges had it right in scoring it 116-112 for Lomachenko.
Ironically, in the end it was Russell’s lack of experience against credible opponents, not Lomachenko’s, that enabled the latter to get this win.
If I’m advising Lomachenko, I’d keep him away from Guillermo Rigondeaux. But with the opponents Vasyl has fought so far, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the kid take the challenge.[youtube http://youtu.be/4mqyNoZhD8E]