By Jackie Kallen, Ringside
When it was first announced that there were two big fights on the same night, at the same time, in the same town, the cynics claimed it would be disastrous. Those who believe that boxing is dead (or dying) said that Vegas was too small a city to fill two arenas for boxing. Wrong! Both fights sold out.
Most fans thought the Chavez, jr./Martinez fight would be the one to go to. It was whispered that Canelo was good, but not ready to headline his own show at the Grand Garden Arena at the MGM.
However, the Canelo/Lopez fight card is the one that appealed most to me. I felt pretty sure that Martinez would take Chavez, jr. to school, so I chose to go to the fight with the better undercard. I am really glad that I did.
As I expected, the title fight between Leo Santa Cruz and Eric Morel went as predicted. Morel was out-classed and looked rather pathetic. Mercifully the ref stopped the fight after five rounds. I hope Morel gives some thought to calling it a day.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Maidana/Karass fight. It only lasted into the eighth round before referee Kenny Bayless stopped it and declared Maidana the winner. But Karass had his moments and won a few rounds along the way.
When Maidana dropped Karass in the seventh, the writing was on the wall. But Karass was a game warrior and certainly did his best. There were some lively exchanges and Karass has nothing to be ashamed of.
The Jhonny Gonzalez/Daniel Ponce de Leon bout was terrific. These guys were toe to toe from the first bell. An accidental head butt opened a gash on top of Poince de Leon’s head in the second round. Although it was a nasty cut, he kept right on fighting. At times they looked like Rock ’em Sock ’em robots.
Emotions were high and after the fifth round, they both continued throwing punches. Gonzalez went down (and halfway through the ropes) in the 6th round and Ponce de Leon could taste victory. His confidence soared and he looked fresh and hostile as he walked back to his corner.
As I mentioned in my preview article, Gonzalez has had some bad luck against southpaws and I believed this could be the determining factor.
Ponce de Leon clearly won the seventh round and it all came to an end in the eighth when the two clashed heads and Gonzalez got a bloody cut over his right eye. The ref called for the ring doctor, who agreed he could not go on. Since it was an accidental head butt, they went to the scorecards.
All three judges had Ponce de Leon ahead. He became the new WBC Featherweight Champion. It was a heartfelt win for him.
The main event was, in my opinion, proof that Canelo is everything I have been saying he is. He is the hottest thing to come out of Mexico since tamales. He is a star. Not to say that Josesito Lopez was the toughest man he could have fought. But coming off of a solid win against Victor Ortiz, Lopez deserved the shot.
Once the fight started, though, it was apparent that Lopez was in way over his head. He tried, but he was overpowered from the get-go. Canelo’s left hook to the body is gruesome and he connected it at will. Lopez was up and down like a yo-yo. Dropped in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounds, he kept coming back. I have to give him credit for digging deep and putting his heart into it.
The ref finally put a halt to the punishment in the fifth round. Those body punches took their toll and Lopez knew that Alvarez was no Ortiz. There would be no upset here and he would not be shocking the world. I like Lopez and think he is a classy, gutsy boxer. But Canelo is a beast. Plain and simple.
Like the fearless warrior that he is, he has his eyes on Mayweather. “Money” is probably one of the top 3 boxers of our time. But I have a feeling he will steer clear of the redheaded monster for now. Maybe Cotto or Kirkland will take a shot at him, but right now he looks pretty damn unbeatable.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen