Photo Credit: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME
What a difference a year makes. In 2013, Amir Khan was going life and death with the likes of Julio Diaz and literally begging for crumbs off Floyd Mayweather’s multi-million dollar pay-per-view empire. Tonight, Khan can make his challenge from a place of strength now that he’s secured the biggest win of his welterweight career in embarrassing Devon Alexander to a lopsided unanimous decision (120-108, 119-109, and 118-110) win at the MGM Grand.
MY DISTANCE, MY RULES: Khan established the battlefield as a mid and long-range contest, where Khan’s advantages in speed, height and reach made Alexander a sitting duck. Khan hit him at will with jabs, straight rights and mixed in a few hard body shots to keep Alexander guessing. When Alexander got inside, Khan was easily able to lock him up in clinches.
Alexander’s attempts to force the action made Khan look even better. He succeeded in tagging Alexander with counter left hooks. And with Alexander not possessing KO power, Khan was able to withstand the few times Alexander landed any consistent right hooks or straight lefts.
CREDIT TO VIRGIL: There has been a debate that Virgil Hunter’s measured style had robbed Khan of utilizing his natural physical gifts. This fight showed that their years together are starting to pay dividends. No, it’s not the wild Khan that goes for broke to get KOs. But it’s a smart Khan that frustrates opponents and keeps his most damning weakness (the chin) out of harm’s way.
CINCO DE KHAN?: “I really believe I earned my shot against the best fighter in the world, which is Floyd Mayweather,” Khan said in his post-fight interview. “I believe he’ll have problems with my speed, movement and accuracy. I’m going to leave it to my team and let’s hope we get that fight.”
Under usual circumstances, the idea of Mayweather-Khan on Cinco de Mayo 2015 sounds appealing. But with confirmed talks of Mayweather-Pacquiao and Canelo-Cotto competing for that date, Khan’s appeal falls to a distant third. As for the actual fight, nothing Khan’s win makes me believe Mayweather shouldn’t be the favorite.
Keith Thurman (24-0, 21 KOs) UD12 Leonard Bundu (31-1-2, 11 KOs): Keith Thurman picked the worst time have an underwhelming performance. Although he was never in danger of losing, Thurman’s shutout unanimous decision (120-107 on all cards) drew the constant ire of arena fans who booed the lack of action.
Thurman had scored a nice knockdown in the first with a sweeping left hook thrown from the southpaw stance. Bundu showed his mettle by landing a few left hooks any time Thurman would attempt to force the action with flashy combinations. This kept Thurman tentative to throw engage and relied on his speed advantage by potshotting from safe range. It piled up the points, but resulted in a monotonous pattern that produced booing as early as the fourth round.
For someone who called out Mayweather not even 24 hours earlier, this fight showed that Thurman needs a bit more seasoning when it comes to defense and offensive variety. Not surprisingly, Thurman and Bundu pointed fingers at the other for the dull nature of the fight.
“Bundu was a smart fighter,” Thurman said. “He was tricky and he switched. He came to not get knocked out and he was able to do that, but he was unable to win rounds. It was hard to time him because he was always switching it up, but we boxed smart. It was a great learning experience.
“He was moving too much,” Bundu countered. “I don’t want to say he was running, but he was running. I got surprised in the first round when he dropped me, but I was fine after that.”
As for what’s next, Thurman acknowledged Marcos Maidana ringside and that he’d welcome the fight. That’s the type of bout I’d commend a young fighter like Thurman for taking.
Abner Mares (28-1-1, 15 KOs) RTD5 Jose Ramirez (25-3-2, 15 KOs): This bout was a brawl from the outset with Mares’ superior skill allowing him to tee off inside with hooks. Mares scored three knockdowns with left hands and was able to strafe Ramirez at will with tripled left hooks. Ramirez looked demoralized after the last knockdown in the fifth but kept going to the bell. In the corner, he made it clear he’d had enough.
“Ramirez was a tough guy,” Mares said. “He took a lot of shots and he gave me a few, too. My corner was like, ‘Abner what are you doing? Use your distance.’ But I wanted to knock him out.”
“All I know is I’m going to be a four-time world champion. I’m going to conquer the featherweight division. Abner Mares is back. I want my rematch against Johnny Gonzalez. It’s going to happen.”
While exciting, there are concerns for Mares. He landed numerous flush power shots and Ramirez hardly blinked through most of them, making it clear that Mares’ power has been left at bantamweight. He’ll essentially be tasked with fighting perfect defensive and offensive fights against bigger, longer, more powerful and skilled guys like Lomachenko, Walters and Rigondeaux.
A Leo Santa Cruz bout is Mares’ best bet, and even then I believe Cruz’s size and workrate will eventually wear him down. The other wildcard bout is Mares’ insistence on rematching Jhonny Gonzalez. With the way Ramirez was occasionally able to get in clean left hooks, it’s hard to envision a Gonzalez rematch ending any differently.
Jermall Charlo (20-0, 16 KOs) TKO3 Lenny Bottai (22-3, 9 KOs): This was a clear showcase fight with Bottai being a 37-year-old regional fighter from Italy that looked about two weight classes smaller than Charlo. A dripping cut opened above Bottai’s left eye in the second and he was dropped hard by a left hook in the third for the TKO defeat. Charlo is now the #1 contender for Cornelius Bundrage’s IBF junior middleweight title.
UNDERCARD (SHO EXTREME) RESULTS
Victor Ortiz (30-5-2, 23KOs) TKO3 Manny Perez (21-11-1, 4 KOs): The two brawled for most of the first round. This wasn’t wise for Perez, who was naturally much smaller and with only 4 KOs to his credit. He quickly started breaking down under Ortiz’s massive array of power shots. The second round became more one-way traffic, and Ortiz scored an early knockdown in the third that lead to the corner stoppage.
Jermell Charlo (25-0, 11 KOs) UD10 Mario Lozano (27-6, 20 KOs): Charlo took a wide decision win over Lozano via unanimous scores of 100-90. After catching a few hard left hook counters that bloodied his nose, Lozano stayed on the outside where Charlo could control the action with jabs and long rights. The only time Lozano found success is when Charlo tried to lead. On those occasions, Lozano would land an isolated counter left. BeatsBoxingMayhem also scored the bout for Charlo 100-90.
Errol Spence Jr. (15-0, 12 KOs) TKO Javier Castro (27-8, 22 KOs): Castro took the fight on 3 weeks notice and was beat from pillar to post for most of the contest. Spence got a 10-8 round on my card in the first by landing 75% of his power shots. Through three rounds, Castro had only landed 12 punches to 150 from Spence. Castro was able to last until the 5th until the barrage of punches was too much to ignore, prompting referee Robert Byrd to stop it. Spence finished the bout landing 71% of his power shots, and landing 260 total shots to just 23 from Castro.