When the Danny O’Connor-Jose Ramirez fight got cancelled after O’Connor’s bad weight cut, the opportunity for another fighter to rise to the occasion and make a huge statement this weekend arose. Unfortunately, nobody did, and the weekend was a largely forgettable one in the world of boxing. However, there were a few good wins from a couple of notable fighters that do warrant mention.
On the Fresno, California, card which was supposed to be headlined by the Ramirez-O’Connor matchup, the fight between Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Juan Carlos Abreu was moved to the main event spot. Kavaliauskas, the Lithuanian former Olympian who goes by the nickname “the mean machine,” remained undefeated by winning a unanimous decision over the Dominican, despite suffering a cut due to an accidental headbutt in the fight’s opening round. The fight was a rather dull one, with neither fighter looking especially impressive and Bob Arum complaining about the referee allowing too much holding in a post-fight interview.
Arum expressed a desire to see Kavaliauskas face Terence Crawford in October, which would be a terrible fight and a waste of everyone’s time. Crawford is simply on another level from anything but boxing’s elite of the elite and watching him face a man who isn’t a big enough name to appeal to casual fans nor a good enough fighter to offer him a legitimate challenge would be absolutely pointless. It will probably happen.
On the undercard Andy "The Shark" Vences, San Jose, California’s undefeated junior lightweight outpointed Reading Pennsylvania’s Frank De Alba by a wide margin but wasn’t pleased with his performance and freely admitted “I didn’t live up to my hype.” Despite his self criticism. It was a good win for the 27 year-old, whose record moved to 21-0-1 with 12 knockouts. Vences’ last fight was a majority draw with Erick De Leon, a fight he believes he should have won, which would likely have propelled him to a title shot. It was good to see him bounce back from that disappointment.
Speaking of not living up to the hype, Gabriel Flores Jr. beat, but was not able to stop James de Herrera, a man who sported a 4-4 record going into the fight and had been stopped in three of those losses. It’s no need to panic for Flores, who was fighting in his home state of California for the first time, after having to wait to turn 18 to fight there (yes, he’s that young), but it would have been nice to see the Stockton native close the show and build more of a buzz about his career.
If you thought Daniel Cormier’s knockout of Stipe Miocic was the only win for pudgy guys in combat sports this weekend, then you must have missed Andy Ruiz’s decision victory over Kevin Johnson. Mexico’s Ruiz easily outboxed but never came close to stopping New Jersey’s Johnson, but that may have been the point as Johnson was reportedly chosen as an opponent specifically to give Ruiz, who has taken significant time off from fighting, some good rounds (Johnson made it to the final bell against both Vitali Klitschko and Tyson Fury). After the fight Ruiz called out Jarrell “Big Baby" Miller by ironically (but unintentionally) stating “I'd love to face Jarrell Miller or any of the big guys out there.” Either way, in a world where the heavyweight champion looks like this, it’s good to see a few guys that look like this and this do well too.
There wasn’t much outside of the Fresno card worth noting, but in Astana, Kazakhstan, Beibet Shumenov won the previously vacant WBA “regular” cruiserweight title in a 9th-round stoppage victory over Turkey’s Hizni Altunkaya. Shumenov is not as good as fellow countryman Gennady Golovkin, nor does he have a signature fight like Vassily Jirov’s epic 2003 battle with James Toney, but with wins over B.J. Flores, Montell Griffin and William Joppy and a spirited effort in a loss to Bernard Hopkins, Shumenov should absolutely be mentioned among the surprising number of Kazakhstani boxing greats.
And that was pretty much it for this weekend. But while this was far from a marquee couple of days in the boxing world, next weekend we get to see the hard-hitting Lucas Matthysse face off against whatever is left of Manny Pacquiao. That one could be a lot of fun, very sad, or somewhere in between. But, no matter what it will be very interesting to watch.