By Sean Crose
It was high time for a solid night of boxing and HBO was hoping to deliver on Saturday night with its broadcast from the StubHub center in Carson, California.
Not only was Gennady Golovkin, rising star extraordinaire, going to face the seasoned and rugged Mexican veteran Marco Antonio Rubio, Filipino legend Nonito Donaire was going to try to get his faltering career back on track by facing the fearsome Nicholas Walters. Unlike rival network Showtime, HBO was giving boxing fans quality matchups.
The Donaire-Walters fight was truly explosive. Fans who didn’t know who Walters was a week ago surely know his name now, for the man looked simply awesome in the featherweight bout. At first, it looked like the battle was anyone’s to lose. Walters looked crisp and sharp, but Donaire was clearly determined. Both men landed – and took – hard shots.
As the fight wore on past the early rounds, however, Walter’s jab and potent power punches started taking their toll on his famed foe. Indeed, Donaire, who not so long ago at all was considered one of the best boxers on earth, started looking like fruit that was beginning to rot. His face bloody and puffy, the poor man literally started to resemble Robert DeNiro during the more gruesome scenes of Raging Bull.
It was all over before the seventh round. A thunderous punch to Donaire’s head sent the one-time superstar onto the mat, completely down and out. Sure, Donaire was up by the count of nine, but the referee mercifully put an end to the proceedings before serious damage was done.
Needless to say, Walters was nothing but gracious in victory – just as Donaire was nothing but gracious in defeat. These were not only courageous competitors, these were gentlemen, as well. Adrien Broner could take a lesson from these two.
As for the main event, it was going to have to be quite impressive if it were to top Donaire-Walters. The first thing to note about Golovkin-Rubio was how incredibly popular Golovkin was with the fans at the StubHub Center. This was all the more surprising because Rubio, a Mexican, was fighting in California – a state with an enormous Mexican population. Yet it was Golovkin, not Rubio, who was the star of the night.
Golovkin fought like a star, too, obliterating his opponent in under two rounds. HBO analyst Max Kellerman indicated that he felt Rubio sat out the count. This simply wasn’t true. Golovkin hit so hard, so destructively, that Rubio simply didn’t stand a chance.
It’s time to call things like they are – Golovkin, not Saul “Canelo” Alvarez – is the man who should be facing Miguel Cotto next. He won’t be, and that’s really no big deal, because GGG isn’t going anywhere. Still, after Cotto and Alvarez do battle (and, let’s face it, they’re sure to do battle soon enough) the winner has got to face this guy. Neither Cotto nor Alvarez are known to run and hide, which means Golovkin has got a huge battle waiting for him in the future – so long as he keeps going like he does.
Overall, it was a successful night of boxing – one HBO should be well pleased with. The fans should be pleased, as well, for this was the kind of televised card that should be aired on pay cable all the time. Saturday’s ratings may not end up being through the roof, but a steady stream of such broadcasts will likely bring in eyeballs over the future. Good fights should bring in good numbers. It’s that simple. The good folks over at Showtime should most certainly take note – though it’s probably doubtful that they will.
Not that the people at HBO will mind.