Garcia Debuts at 147 by Dispatching Malignaggi
Danny Garcia began his welterweight campaign by ending Paulie Malignaggi’s career, topping Malignaggi with a ninth-round technical knockout.
Garcia, most recently the champion at 140 pounds, had fought slightly above that weight in his past two outings before officially making the move up all the way into the 147-pound division. His first opponent there was Malignaggi, who formerly held world titles at junior welterweight and welterweight but was long past his best days. After all, Malignaggi had been out of the ring for more than a year after a bad loss to Shawn Porter in 2014 left him dealing with post-concussion symptoms.
Malignaggi returned, saying he missed competition. He wasn’t truly competitive against Garcia, though. His boxing skills were still good enough to make Garcia miss at times or to block Garcia’s shots. Malignaggi couldn’t dodge or defend them all, nor did his shots have anywhere near enough power to give Garcia pause. Garcia tactically and patiently broke Malignaggi down, landing when and where he could before opening up with more activity in the eighth round.
The referee, Arthur Mercante Jr., told Malignaggi before the ninth that he wasn’t going to let the fighter take too much more. So when Garcia continued to land clean while Malignaggi offered little in return — and with no chance of Malignaggi coming back to win — Mercante jumped in and waved things off. Malignaggi, whose pride overflowed when he couldn’t finish fights in the past, didn’t complain about this stoppage.
He’ll retire for good and return to the broadcast booth, where he can work without getting punched in the head. Garcia will move toward fights against a deep group of 147-pound fighters, trying to distance himself from a pack that wants to take over the division (if not the sport) after Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao hang up their gloves.
Jacobs Beats Mora After Thrilling Opening, Bizarre Ending
The first round between Daniel Jacobs and Sergio Mora was sensational. The fight ended abruptly and perhaps inconclusively one round later when Mora fractured his ankle, giving Jacobs a win by technical knockout.
Halfway through the opening round, Mora threw a left hand to the body but brought his glove back too low. That left an opening for Jacobs’ right, which landed flush and put Mora down. Mora easily beat the count but began to move, and Jacobs pursued in the mistaken belief that Mora was still hurt and wanted a respite. Jacobs essentially ran into Mora’s left hook and went down himself.
Jacobs knew he had been reckless and went back to work in the second round. He didn’t know that the bout wouldn’t last much longer. As the round was nearing its end, Jacobs landed a right to Mora’s body as Mora ducked forward. Mora began to move to his right along the ropes. Jacobs landed a right hand to the head just as Mora was about to put his right foot down — at an odd angle and a good distance away. Mora’s leg went out beneath him and he went down. He got up but was badly injured and indicated that he wanted the fight to be over.
It’s literally a tough break for Mora, a former 154-pound titleholder who has long believed that he wasn’t receiving the opportunities he deserved, and who thinks that this bout should be ruled a “no contest” instead of a loss. He also wants a rematch with Jacobs after he heals. Jacobs doesn’t see a sequel as being necessary. This was his eighth win since he miraculously returned in 2012 from cancer that had left him unable to walk and fearing for his life. His next fight will likely be against a fellow 160-pounder from Brooklyn, Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin.
Kovalev Overpowers Mohammedi, May Defend Against Beterbiev Next
Sergey Kovalev did exactly what he was expected to do by making quick work of Nadjib Mohammedi, an overmatched challenger who’d had enough of the power-punching light heavyweight titleholder before the third round was over.
Kovalev was actually the first one to hit the canvas, tripping over Mohammedi’s foot early in the second round. Mohammedi wasn’t going to have the power to do it for real. He landed a right hand clean about a minute later, and Kovalev responded with a quick right of his own that had Mohammedi hurt and in retreat. Kovalev followed with several shots, putting Mohammedi down. It was immediately clear that this fight was the mismatch it had been perceived to be.
Even though Mohammadi had won a fight to earn the right to challenge for Kovalev’s world titles, he otherwise didn’t belong in the same ring. He wouldn’t stay in the ring much longer. Kovalev wasn’t rushing to end things, but in the final minute of the third round he landed a right hand and a hard jab that sent Mohammedi to the canvas once more. Mohammedi put his glove to his eye, reacting as if he’d been thumbed in the eye or was otherwise injured. He rose just as the referee reached 10. The fight was over.
Kovalev is still no closer to facing 175-pound champion Adonis Stevenson, thanks to politics of this sport that are aggravating and too complicated to explain within this space. There are other options, although a rematch with Jean Pascal, who Kovalev beat by technical knockout earlier this year, won’t be next. Pascal struggled to a controversial decision win over Yunieski Gonzalez on the Kovalev-Mohammedi undercard. Kovalev’s team has put out an offer to face Russian rival Artur Beterbiev in a fight in their home country this November. A proposed fight with 168-pound champion Andre Ward probably wouldn’t happen until late 2016.
Shumenov Takes Disputed, Dreary Decision Over Flores
Beibut Shumenov pulled off a unanimous decision win over BJ Flores that was almost as hard to watch as it was for Flores to take. Shumenov’s victory puts him in line for a cruiserweight title shot against Denis Lebedev, while Flores gets pushed farther back in line.
Flores felt as if he pushed the action against Shumenov, and it’s true that he did while Shumenov often opted for being elusive rather than being effective. Flores did land more punches than Shumenov, though neither truly landed much at all. Nevertheless, the judges unanimously favored Shumenov, a former 175-pound titleholder who lost to Bernard Hopkins in 2014 and then moved up to the 200-pound division late last year.
Shumenov is now in position to challenge Lebedev, who hails from Russia. And even if that fight doesn’t happen, there’s potential for Shumenov to vie for the belt held by Marco Huck.
Flores’s career has been frustrating to watch, from his gradual development to periods of inactivity over these years. He’s only lost twice, but at 36 years old time could be running out. Like the aforementioned Malignaggi, Flores has a gig as a television commentator. But unlike Malignaggi, Flores likely feels as if he still has plenty to prove and much more to give.
In other action: Juan Carlos Payano defended his bantamweight world title against three-time American Olympian Rau’shee Warren, winning a split decision in the first episode of “Premier Boxing Champions” on Bounce TV.