Who Won the Weekend? Glory to Ukraine, Sláva Ukrayíni!



Who Won the Weekend? Glory to Ukraine, Sláva Ukrayíni!
Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

After the busiest boxing weekend of Summer 2022, NYFights is overdue for a “Who Won The Weekend?” recap. Yes, there is one obvious candidate, but we always provide diversity of thought.

Oleksandr Usky Delivers for National Pride

Oleksandr Usyk was simply too skilled for even a improved version of Anthony Joshua. Photo: Showtime Boxing

Oleksandr Usyk was simply too skilled for even a improved version of Anthony Joshua. Photo: Showtime Boxing

Abraham Gonzalez: Oleksandr Usyk won the weekend for all the reasons many will say, but I have to give Zhilei Zhang some of those flowers as well. Zhang was really impressive on Saturday night, and most thought he did enough to beat Filip Hrgovic, but unfortunately, he came up short. Nevertheless, he put on a great performance and one that will line him up for future fights involving the division’s biggest names. There is victory in defeat, and Zhang proved to be a legit contender.

David E. Phillips: Oleksandr Usyk won the weekend with his relatively basic (one blind judge aside) decision over Anthony Joshua. It wasn't the most exciting fight over the weekend, but it was the most important. Usyk has now consecrated his position as one of the top PFP fighters in boxing, even if one has to question how long a small guy like him can hold up with opponents who are going to be so much bigger than he is (Wilder being a notable exception).

Every Monday, posts The Who Won the Weekend column.

Colin Morrison: It has to be Oleksandr Usyk! Besting Anthony Joshua for the second time to defend his unified heavyweight crown for the first time. The Ring Magazine title was added to Usyk's collection, and an undisputed bout against Tyson Fury seems to be on the horizon. That will make both men fabulously wealthy, but hopefully it can be done without sports washed petro-dollars.

Matthew Aguilar: Undoubtedly, Oleksandr Usyk. Like Evander Holyfield over 30 years ago, all the gifted Ukrainian does is win. Regardless of whether his opponent is bigger or more powerful, he uses his own unique brand of brains, movement, and subtle techniques to overwhelm his opponents with mental pressure. Gather ‘round, folks, because we are watching the prime of a special fighter.

A Heavyweight Golden Age?

Pete Carvill:  I don’t think anyone walked away with the weekend. Starting with Usyk-Joshua as a fight, it looked for a few seconds around the halfway mark that it was going to be a dud with Usyk’s ankle seemingly getting injured. Then an entertaining last third gave way to what I thought (from a smoky Berlin bar) was the right call in a close, split decision. But no one wins from this because I think the weekend saw Joshua turn the corner into the backend of a career where he’s always going to be on the right side of the bracket, a forever opponent to whoever’s coming up. And I suspect that for Usyk, this may be his last good night – a taller, heavier Fury is likely to beat just because of the size differences and, in the long term, I don’t know how much longer Usyk’s body, smaller than all his rivals, is going to hold up – especially after all those hundreds of fights as an amateur.

On a related note, are we in some kind of heavyweight golden era again? We’ve got Fury, Usyk, Joshua, and Wilder at the top, with Dubois, Joyce, and Hrgovic on the way up. Not to mention Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz, who could still do something in the division. That’s a lot of good match-ups!

Questionable Cards – Again

What did you say your scorecard read, Glenn Feldman? Photo: Showtime Boxing

Marquis Johns: The biggest winner this past weekend was the shotty judging across the planet In these pugilistic contests. Wherever you are Glenn Feldman in Jeddah or anyone with a crayon ringside in the United States, some of the most subjectively terrible cards were handed in to date. Scorecards that were so bad, ones that were “Christmas-tree’d,” would’ve been more accurate.

These scorecards cards were awful. These scorecards were so bad it justifies the fringe state boxing is in as It limits the outrage and blowback.

Just a level of incompetence continues to go unchecked, unphased, or with any consequence as usual. It’s a note held longer than anyone singing the country’s National Anthem about boxing. This latest round of boxing matches highlighted the flaw in these cards and how it just derails any action told in the ring.

Does anyone think Joshua won eight rounds Saturday?
What fight did they watch for those double 100-90 cards in San Diego?
Any justice for Batyr Akhmedov following his latest jam shot in Hollywood?
We know the answer to those questions, sadly. When will it change?

Michael Woods: Glenn Feldman. Not because he won anything, but because I wanted an excuse to mention him. His card for the Usyk v Joshua 2 bout was atrocious, and he needs to be examined for that error. He won’t be. We will move on and caterwaul again this weekend, or the following one, about another judge turning in another joke card.

Undercard Glory Coast to Coast

Dominican fighters Alberto Puello (left) and Hector Garcia brought their small island nation glory. Photo: Showtime Boxing

Jacob Rodriguez: The weekend was won by a pair of Dominican fighters. Hector Garcia and Alberto Puello won world titles in their respective weight classes. The Dominican Republic went from having no current world champions to having two of their fighters win championships on the same night. Puello’s win is a historical achievement because he became the first Dominican fighter to win a title in the junior welterweight division.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal: The category is “Lessons Learned” from your Southern California correspondent.

First, Brandun Lee got off the deck after getting drilled in the third round of his bout with Will Madera to survive a scare. Lee proved he could compose himself and gather his wits, winning by unanimous decision. It’s a vital lesson for aspiring champions to learn, and not all of them get the chance due to cautious matchmaking. This will serve Lee well against more formidable opposition.

In the Protect Yourself At All Times category, undefeated lightweight prospect Ruben Torres of South Central Los Angeles (19-0, 16 KOs) scored the final knockout of a long day of boxing Saturday in the seventh round against Cristian Baez of Venezuela. Thompson Boxing’s main event from Corona, California got underway just before midnight. Torres dropped Baez early in the round. Baez complained to referee Thomas Taylor as he was administering the count. Taylor released the two fighters with Baez still griping. Torres fired off a wicked left hook, and Baez was out cold, dropping with stiff legs to the canvas. Warning: You might want to lower the volume. You're welcome.

Anyone else getting Victor Ortiz and Floyd Mayweather flashbacks? Taylor later confirmed he’d cleared both men to continue, and Torres seized his opportunity. It’s worth watching to hear broadcast team Beto Duran, Rich Marotta, and editor Doug Fischer of Ring Magazine reduced to howls of ringside delight.

Gayle Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist and the only woman journalist who is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). She is West Coast Bureau Chief based in San Diego, California.