Three Takeaways from the Weekend: Life Off for Josh Taylor
By: Jonah Dylan
When Anthony Joshua finally knocked out Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round of their 2017 fight of the year, everyone watching knew they were witnessing the birth of a superstar. The famous call from Adam Smith was “Lift off for AJ!”
It wasn’t a knockout, but it felt like a similar moment for Josh Taylor on Saturday in London.
Taylor and Regis Prograis put on a show in London. It was, as they say across the pond, brilliant. And it was a star-making performance for Taylor. Stateside in Reno, Shakur Stevenson just dominated Joet Gonzalez in a fight that didn’t exactly live up to the massive hype it had coming in. Still, we learned a lot about a ton of different fighters.
1. Josh Taylor is a superstar and should be getting pound-for-pound recognition
I’ll admit I thought Prograis would win this fight. This was obviously considered a 50-50 fight, but it seemed like the needle was leaning slightly toward Prograis. He’d just dominated everyone in front of him coming into this fight.
He wasn’t dominated in any way, but Taylor was just too good. Prograis fought a solid fight and has nothing to be ashamed of, but I think we just underestimated how good Taylor’s boxing is. He never really allowed Prograis to get on the inside, at least until the last few rounds when he already had the fight won on the cards. It felt like Prograis was fighting Taylor’s fight most of the night.
There had been some clamoring for Prograis to be on P4P lists before this fight, so it’s only fair we say the same for Taylor now, especially if you look at his resume. Three of his last four opponents have been former champions and he’s won convincingly against them all. I think it’s fair to slot him in around nine or 10.
As for what’s next: I’d favor Taylor ever-so-slightly against Jose Ramirez, but that’s clearly the fight to make. Ramirez will make at least one mandatory defense first, but Taylor-Ramirez is the fight to make for the back half of 2020.
2. Shakur Stevenson is the best featherweight in the world. Full stop.
Listen, I’m not saying you can’t argue for or Gary Russell Jr. or Josh Warrington or whoever (for what it’s worth, I don’t see the point of ranking Russell. He’s made it clear he won’t fight more than once a year and won’t fight anyone of consequence). I just think Stevenson is a level above.
People will say Joet Gonzalez isn’t the best opponent, but he was an undefeated prospect with a lot of hype behind him. Stevenson made him look silly, and the fight was really never in doubt. The 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist has elite movement, hand speed and defense. At 22, I say he beats anyone at 126 and anyone at 130 save for Miguel Berchelt. He’s already that good, and he’s only getting better.
I like the Stevenson-Josh Warrington fight a lot. Warrington would be the underdog in a world title fight yet again, but there would be a lot of high-level stuff here. The Warrington- Kid Galahad fight makes me think this might be an ugly battle, but Stevenson moves a lot more than Galahad.
Stevenson is headed to 130 sooner rather than later, but I’d like to see him stick around for one more fight against Warrington.
3. Dereck Chisora-Aleksandr Usyk would be a really interesting fight.
If I’m Usyk, I’m waiting for Joshua-Ruiz II and assuming the winner will vacate the WBO belt. That means Usyk would fight for a vacant title, though against who is a tricky proposition because the WBO rankings are messy after Usyk. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being Usyk-Dillian Whyte for that belt.
Still, Chisora is a fun guy to watch no matter who he’s in with. Saturday’s fight against David Price wasn’t the most entertaining on Price’s part, but Chisora still made it into a good scrap, as they say. He’s gonna come forward and press the action no matter what, knowing full well he might get caught – like he did by Whyte in their rematch last December.
Against Usyk, Chisora wouldn’t have ot be too worried about the power coming back. Usyk would try to move and avoid Chisora’s onslaught early, probably waiting for the Brit to wear down. It would probably work, and I’d favor Usyk, but it would be a good test of where he’s at as a heavyweight. He’d have to show he could take shots from big punchers and prove he can use his speed and defense to avoid taking too much damage against bigger guys.
If Usyk wants to fight for a world title in his next fight, he can. If he doesn’t think he’s ready and wants to test himself against a legit heavyweight, Chisora is the perfect next opponent. Regardless, sign me up for Chisora against literally anyone.
Follow me on Twitter @TheJonahDylan.
Japan’s Naoya “Monster” Inoue Becomes 3-Division World Champion
By: Ken Hissner
Japan’s Naoya “Monster” Inoue, now 16-0 (14), won the WBA World Bantamweight title on May 25th stopping champion Jamie McDonnell, 29-2-1, of the UK @1:52 of the 1st round at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan. This is the third division title Inoue has won.
In Inoue’s next to last fight in December of 2017 Inoue defended his WBO World Super Flyweight title for the seventh time stopping Yoan “Yo Boy” Boyeaux, 41-4, of Beaune, France, at 1:40 of the 3rd round at the Bunka Gym, in Yokohama, Japan.
In the sixth fight of Inoue’s career he won the WBC World Light Flyweight title stopping Adrian “Big Bang” Hernandez, 29-3-1, of Toluca, MEX, at 2:54 of the 6th round in April 2014. He made one defense.
In December of 2014, Inoue knocked out the former WBO Flyweight champion Omar Andres Narvaez, 43-1-2, of Chubut, Argentina, to win his WBO World Super Flyweight title @3:01 of the 2nd round. Narvaez still holds the all-time record of 27 title defenses. In Inoue’s only bout outside of Japan he fought in the US stopping Antonio Nieves, 17-1-2, in September of 2017 at the Stub-Hub Center, in Carson, CA.
Inoue has wins over three current world champions including WBA Super World Bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett, 19-0 (9), of Belfast, No. Ireland, the WBO World Bantamweight champion Zolani “Last Born” Tete, 27-3 (21), of Eastern Cape, So. Africa and IBF World Bantamweight champion Emmanuel “Manny” Rodriguez, 18-0 (12), of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. All were in the World Boxing Super Series.
In Inoue’s only non-stoppage wins in his fourth fight he won the Japanese Light Flyweight title defeating Ryoichi Taguchi, 18-1-1, over 10 rounds. The other decision win was defeating David “Severo” Carmona, 20-2-5, of Mexico City, Mexico, over 12 rounds in a WBO World Super Flyweight defense.
The WBC title is vacant. Their No. 1 contender is the WBC Silver champion Nordine Oubaali, 14-0 (11), of France who on June 23rd will meet the No. 2 contender Tassana “Petch Sor Chitpattanna” Sanpattan, 46-0 (31), of Roi-Et, Thailand. The site has not yet been announced. Neither fighter has fought outside his country.
From 2010 to 2012 as an amateur Inoue competed in five major tournaments winning but one of them. He was 13-4 losing to Cuban Yosvany Veitia twice, Iran’s Masoud Rigi and Kazakhstan’s Birzahn Zhakipov of which none of these three ever turned professional.
Since Inoue has defeated the WBO, IBF and WBA Super World champions in the past they may not be too eager to unify titles fighting him. He just turned 25 in April so he is young enough to wait them out or possibly move up the Super Bantamweight division. The four world champions are the IBF’s Ryosuke Iwasa, 25-2 (16), of Chiba, Japan, WBC’s Rey Vargas, 32-0 (22), of Otumba, Mexico, WBA Daniel “Danny the Baby Faced Assassin” Roman, 24-2-1 (9), of L.A., CA, and the newly crowned WBO’s Isaac “Brave-Son” Dogbe, 19-0 (13), of Accra, Ghana. The No. 1 WBA contender is the interim champion Reymart “Assassin” Gabalo, 19-0 (16), of General Santos City, Philippines.
So the future is very bright for the 3-Division champion Inoue who joins two other current multi-division champions. The IBF World Super Lightweight champion Mikey Garcia, 38-0 (30), of Moreno Valley, CA, is a 4-division champion who in July defends his title against the IBF World Lightweight champion Robert Easter, Jr. He held the WBO Feather, WBO Super Feather and WBC Lightweight titles. The WBA Super World Lightweight champion is the Ukraine’s Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko, 11-1 (9), of Oxnard, CA. He also held the WBO Feather and Super Feather titles.
So as you can see there are many opportunities in the future for Japan’s unbeaten newly crowned WBA World Bantamweight champion Naoya “Monster” Inoue!
3 Olympic Boxing Gold Medal Winners in Papp, Stevenson & Savon!
3 Olympic Boxing Gold Medal Winners in Papp, Stevenson & Savon!
By: Ken Hissner
Hungarian southpaw Laszlo Papp won Olympic Gold Medals in boxing in 1948, 1952 and 1956. When the Communist country of Hungary finally allowed Papp to turn professional in 1957 he was not permitted to box other than in Europe. Boxing promoter Lou Lucchese informed this writer that when he tried matching middleweight champion Joey Giardello with Papp the FBI showed up on his door step in Leesport, PA, questioning his interest in Papp. The fight was never made.
As a professional Papp was 27-0-2 (15), and became the European middleweight champion in 1962 and defended that title six times before being forced into retirement for refusing to coach the Russian boxing team in 1962. He boxed in Germany, Austria, France, Spain and Denmark. He defeated four Americans with the most known being Ralph “Tiger” Jones.Papp passed away in 2003 at the age of 77.His amateur record was 301-12-6 and was inducted into the IBHOF in 2001. In Helsinki, Finland in 1952 he defeated American Spider Webb. In 1956 he defeated future world champion Jose Torres.
Cuban Teofilo Stevenson was the Olympic Gold Medal winner in 1972, 1976 and 1980. Cuba withdrew from the Olympics in 1984. In 1972 he avenged a loss in the 1971 Pan Am Games to American Duane Bobick defeating him in the Olympics. He was awarded the Val Barker Trophy as the best boxer in the Olympic Games. In 1976 he defeated future world champion John Tate. He won World championships in 1974 defeating American Marvin Stinson and in 1978 defeating future world champion Tony Tubbs. In 1982 he lost to future world champion Francesco Damiani.
In the Pan American Games Stevenson in 1975 defeated future world champion Michael Dokes for the title. In 1979 he defeated American Rufus Hadley for the title. In USA-Cuba meetings he defeated Jimmy Clark three times and Tyrell Biggs the 1984 Olympic Gold medalist twice. He defeated American Philipp Brown in 1979. He was 302-22 in the amateurs. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 60.
Cuban Felix Savon won Olympic Gold Medals in 1992, 1996 and 2000. 362-21 was his amateur record. In 1992 he defeated American Danell Nicholson and Nigerian David Izon. In 1996 he defeated Luan Krasniqi. In 2000 he defeated American Michael Bennett and future world champion Russia’s Sultan Ibragimov. He defeated David Tua and future world champions Lamont Brewster and Shannon Briggs. Savon is 49 years-old.