At the beginning of a week where super fights Fulton vs. Inoue and Spence vs. Crawford will take place, my thoughts drifted to the other bouts taking place on these two cards, along with the persistent problem of bad judging too often marring the sport.
The strength of these two matchups means that they will, quite rightly, have the focus of just about all the media attention on them.
The other side of that coin is the boxers on the undercards which have been put together for these two promotions will go largely unnoticed.
Considering who will fight under these two mammoth bouts brought me to thinking about undercards in general and how they are viewed in this era.
I guess this is the way of things in the sport. You are an undercard fighter and only noticed by the most hardcore of fans and in-depth media outlets, until your star has ascended and you are suddenly the headliner.
It’s the way it has always been in boxing. It’s fluid and it gives fighters on the way up something to aim for.
Likewise it provides a living for journeyman fighters, who are kept busy in bouts against up and coming prospects.
It feels to me that in this day and age, with so many entertainment choices, many casual viewers of the sport will only tune in for a main event, therefore missing the undercard action and the development of some of tomorrow’s headliners.
Even people who buy tickets to attend the fights don’t bother watching the supporting bouts. Very often arenas are sparsely populated when the undercard fights are taking place, only filling up in time for the main event.
This Week’s Undercards In Focus
Starting with Tuesday’s Tokyo card, the support bouts are made up of mostly Japanese novice pros continuing their early learning and development in the paid ranks.
But who is to say one of them won’t emerge as the next Naoya Inoue or Kazuto Ioka?
Yoshiki Takei (6-0, 6KOs) taking on Ronnie Baldonado (16-4, 9KOs) of the Philippines in an eight rounder at super bantamweight looks like an interesting step-up contest for Takei, who hails from the same part of Japan as Inoue, Kanagawa Prefecture.
The chief support bout features featherweight world champion Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba (12-1, 7 KOs) taking on home fighter Satoshi Shimizu (11-1, 10 KOs). It always adds quality to a card when a current world title holder can be used to beef up the package of fights on offer.
Ramirez should come through but he may face some adversity from his veteran opponent.
Moving on to Las Vegas on Saturday. Spence and Crawford’s undisputed welterweight title fight also features a world title clash in the chief support slot.
Ring legend Nonito Donaire (42-7, 28 KOs) will box Alexandro Santiago (27-3-5, 14 KOs) for the vacant WBC bantamweight title. This bout was moved from headlining a July 15 card in Las Vegas to improve the July 29 card.
Further down the TGB Promotions card, prospects Jose Salas Reyes, Demler Zamora, Justin Viloria and Jabin Chollet will look to impress and continue to climb the rankings.
Yoenis Tellez (5-0, 4 KOs) against Sergio Garcia (34-2, 14 KOs) looks like a statement of intent from the backers of Tellez. They must be confident their man can get past the veteran Garcia at this early stage of his professional journey. It should be interesting. Hoping bad judging doesn't taint this one.
Watch The Full Cards If You Can
The takeaway is that for each individual fighter, every fight matters. Whether up in lights on the marquee or buried deep on a card and boxing at 4pm local time, each encounter shapes every fighter who boxes at the pro level. Investing time watching the undercard fights will have you ahead of the curve when it comes to identifying the boxing stars of tomorrow.
If time allows, afford the undercard fights the respect they deserve by watching. If you use social media – yak about them on those platforms. This site and a few others always cover what happens below the headline attraction.
With very few exceptions, every boxer who has ever laced them up started at the bottom of a card and worked their way up – it’s the way it should be. Boxing stardom has to be earned.
Lee McGregor Suffers First Career Defeat, No Bad Judging Here
Scottish super bantamweight Lee McGregor (12-1-1, 9 KOs) went down to defeat in his first fight on home soil in almost four years on Friday night.
McGregor topped a Wasserman Boxing card at Meadowbank Sports Centre in his home city of Edinburgh.
Opponent Erik Robles of Mexico was able to lure McGregor into his type of fight, exactly the type of fight McGregor should have done everything to avoid being drawn into, and secured a close but unanimous decision victory.
The ringside judges called it absolutely correctly on the night, so fair play to Mikael Hook of Sweden, Terry O’Connor of England and Giulio Piras of Italy for a job well done, no bad judging in this one.
As for McGregor, he can come back from this setback.
At 26-years-old, he’s no longer a young prospect, but he has the skills to recover and have success at British and European level at the very least.
As a young pro, McGregor looked to have all the tools to be very successful. He lived up to his nickname of “Lightning” with his speed and explosiveness in the ring. Now it will be interesting to see how strong his will is to rebound from this defeat.
His homecoming headlining fight didn’t go the way he or his fans wanted but hopefully Wasserman Boxing can keep the Scotsman busy in the coming months. Perhaps a few fights on some of their undercards will help McGregor rebuild some confidence and continue to learn and develop in the pro game.
More Embarrassing Judging Ruins Another Big Fight
From the good judging seen in Edinburgh on Friday to some truly woeful stuff in Shawnee, Oklahoma on Saturday.
My colleague Gayle Falkenthal summed it up perfectly in her fight report.
It was a clear case of George Kambosos Jr. benefiting from being the better connected fighter against Maxi Hughes.
The former unified lightweight champion from Australia was outboxed by England’s Maxi Hughes but was declared the winner thanks to the efforts of ringside judges Josef Mason, Gerald Ritter and David Sutherland.
All three judges are residents of Oklahoma and were appointed by overseers at the FireLake casino site, it's my understanding.
The three of them need their backsides kicked into next week.
The scores of 117-111 and 115-113 in the Aussie’s favour were downright disgraceful.
Even the 114-114 drawn card returned by Mr. Sutherland was scandalous. Kambosos Jr. could be considered lucky at being awarded four rounds of that fight – let alone the 9, 7 and 6 he was awarded by the ringside pencil pushers.
I’m not even going to have a go at the oversight body in Oklahoma. It’s not exactly a hotbed of boxing activity but I’m not going to go down the road of suggesting that was the main factor as poor judging occurs everywhere – even locations which host boxing regularly like California, New York, Nevada and the UK witness horrendous judging.
Nothing Will Happen After Bad Judging, As Usual
The three judges in question last night are all experienced, each with hundreds of ringside assignments under their belts.
I can’t believe that they couldn’t see Hughes ticking all the boxes of landing the cleaner punches, being better defensively, being the (much) better ring general and demonstrating far more effective aggression.
If these concentration allergic individuals with questionable eyesight can’t do the job properly then they should be replaced.
This is another issue facing boxing. There doesn’t seem to be any capable judges coming through, which is why it is always the same names working the fight cards – often they judge numerous fights on the same card. The sport seems to have a real problem training and developing new judges.
As I type this, Simon and Garfunkel are playing on my music system. Specifically The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) which contains the lyric “I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.” (EDITOR NOTE: If you feel like hearing that tune, click here. This is the 1981 Simon and Garfunkel Central Park mega-concert. “Feelin Groovy” is the second song in the encore. “The Boxer,” if you care, is the last song they do before the encore.)
Perhaps Messrs Mason, Ritter and Sutherland were dropping off at ringside last night. It would be one way of explaining their cards.
Unfortunately, nothing will happen and these officials will probably have judging assignments next weekend.
To quote another Paul Simon lyric: “Silence like a cancer grows,” from The Sound Of Silence, the wider public will be met with a wall of silence on this.
It’s always the same after a poorly judged fight. The silence from the boxing powers is deafening.
We will never learn exactly how those judges justify the scorecards they submitted.
Meanwhile Maxi Hughes has been robbed of potential higher earnings and title fights further down the line. It’s so frustrating. At the very least there should be a rematch.