By Jackie Kallen
It wasn’t exactly a stellar weekend for a handful of boxers who saw their best days flash before their eyes. It has to be as painful emotionally as it was physically for the three who came out on the low end of the stick.
In Zab Judah’s case, few expected him to beat undefeated Danny Garcia. Though he boasted going in that he was a “new, improved” fighter, that did not prove to be the case. In a pretty damn good fight, he did rally in the later rounds. But the knockdown in the 8th round and his weak performance in the middle rounds were enough to cost him the fight.
This had been a heated match-up from the very beginning. There was no love lost between the two and even Garcia’s father Angel got into the fray. But after the highly entertaining fight, there was mutual respect all around. There is even talk of a rematch. I’m not sure that Judah would have the tools to win it, but I’m sure there are some who would pay to see it.
For the most part, though, it was a hot young stud taking on a long-in-the-tooth older warrior. Youth dominated in the end.
The same can be said for James Toney’s loss to Lucas Browne in Australia. At 44, with his skills in a diminished state, Toney is still eager to fight and was only too happy to travel halfway around the world to face the 6’5″, unbeaten hulk. With only 16 pro fights under his belt, I’m sure Toney felt the younger man was no threat. He was wrong.
The Aussie was more active, more confident, and had the crowd in his pocket. A heavy Toney, looking obviously thicker than in his glory days, did his best but came up short. The scores reflected that he did not win many rounds. One judge had it 120-108 for Browne. A second one saw it 119-109 and the third judge scored it 117-111. Any way you slice it, it may be an omen that James needs to think about another way to make a living. I love the guy, but having lost two out of his last three is not the way he should want to go out. He was an amazing champion and should be remembered for his many exciting moments in the ring during his reign as a middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight. He gave the boxing world so many thrilling nights. I want to focus on those and not see him continue to go out of the country only to come home with a loss.
As for Chris Arreola, who is one of my favorite figures in boxing, his dreams of becoming the next big thing in the heavyweight division came crashing down as he lost to the relatively unknown Bermane Stiverne. The 32 year old Arreola went into this title eliminator bout with high hopes and a ton of confidence. I was rooting for him. But that wasn’t enough.
The Haiti-born Stiverne, promoted by Don King, connected soundly in the third round, crushing Arreola’s nose and leaving it looking like a flattened pancake dripping blood instead of maple syrup. I’m sure that impeded his breathing but that is no excuse. He looked soft in the middle and was cleanly out-punched and out-jabbed. To his credit, though, Arreola gamely fought on through the fight and gave it his best. His best just wasn’t good enough to outpoint the hungry Stiverne.
Whether or not Stiverne will prove to be a viable prospect in the heayweight division remains to be seen. But the win over Arreola was a good step in the right direction. As for Arreola, he will have to sit down with his promoter Dan Goossen and try to decide where he goes next.
This is a cruel business and there is almost always a winner and a loser. No fighter likes to leave the ring with an L on his record. But for some, it signals the end of a career. In many cases, the fans see it before the fighter does. Pride is a strong emotion and boxers are loaded with it. For that reason, there are those who stay in the game too long. Not every man is a Bernard Hopkins.
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