By: Sean Crose
HBOs Boxing After Dark returned Saturday night with a double header from LA’s Forum. Things started off with Jorge Linares (43-3) defending his WBA lightweight crown against (31-1-2) Mercito Gesta. The first round was tight, but Gesta closed the chapter landing some well aimed, sharp shots. The second was also close, but Gesta landed hard in spots with crisp punching. By early in the third, it looked as if Linares’ timing was a bit off. Still, it was in the third when Linares himself started landing effectively. There was nothing particularly telling about the fourth, though Linares didn’t appear particularly in his rhythm.
Photo Credit: HBO Boxing Twitter Account
Things picked up at the end of the fifth, though Linares had appeared to have developed an edge in the bout. The sixth was, like the rest of the bout up until that point, close. Yet Linares looked to be developing a workmanlike points lead. By the seventh, Linares was tossing off bursts of punches that were holding off Gesta. Gesta, however, was game and was having his moments. By the eighth, it was clear that the fight had entered a form of cruise control, with Linares in almost something of a holding pattern.
The ninth and tenth were essentially showcases for Linares’ greater strength. Gesta simply wasn’t strong enough to hurt the man, nor skilled enough to dazzle him. Linares’ was landing hard, no doubt, but he either didn’t have the power or desire to put a bow on things. The eleventh wasn’t all that different from the previous rounds. This had much to do with Linares’ consistency, which was effective, if not necessarily thrilling. Linares made sure Gesta wouldn’t shock the world in the 12th, assuring himself a unanimous decision win.
In the main event, Lucas Matthysse (38-4) faced off against the obscure, yet undefeated, Tewa Kiram (38-0) for the WBA welterweight title. The first round was a feeling out process, as Kiram was tossing a sharp jab as Matthysse tried to work his way inside. Kiram kept firing the jab in the second, as Matthysse kept moving forward. By the fourth, the fight took on the look of Dempsey-Tunney, with the well known veteran fighter searching for former glory while the taller, more defensive minded man, hit and moved effectively.
The crowd started to boo in the fifth, but it was hard to fault Kiram for engaging in such a smart fight. Kiram was making sure he was winning rounds while Matthysse wasn’t able – for whatever reason – to rise to the occasion. After the 6th, HBOs team indicated that Kiram had been sniffing from a jar that was taken from his corner and was then given to the California Athletic Commission in order for the authorities to ascertain what was inside. The commentary team spoke of the tedious nature of the bout in the 7th.
In the 8th, however, Matthysse finally found his mark and dropped Kiram to the mat. Kiram got up and fought gamely….only for Matthysse to send him down again – and out. Just like that, the fight was over.