Views From the Couch: Boxing Opinions From Marquis Johns
Been a hot second since I dropped a “Views” piece here, and I figured it's time to change that. Boxing is once again in full swing, with many fight cards for at least the next nine weeks, which gives even this slub something to banter about. 2023 for fight fans has been a good one so far, with what feels like weekly Fight of the Year conversations week after week. For those new here, usually, I used these as a soapbox to provide a Yelp review of the sport. Boxing opinions, y'all–this one REALLY touched nerves this week. This time around, it's all good, and here's why. March is here. Who's fighting?
March has a slate worth watching, and it begins this weekend with Brandon Figueroa (23-1-1, 18 KOs) taking on Mark Magsayo (24-1, 16 KOs) this Saturday in Ontario, California, on Showtime. The card puts two super featherweights in a classic crossroads fight to see who will capture the interim WBC Super Featherweight strap. For Magsayo, it's a chance to regain the title daddy won from Gary Russell Jr in 2022. Figueroa has an opportunity to become a two-division titlist, and going into this one is the slight favorite. (Click this fine piece on Brandon by Abe Gonzalez, now doing great work at Big Fight Weekend, as an appetizer before you tune in.)
Both kept it civil in the buildup but expect action once the bell sounds.
“I'm not a big talker, but there's going to be a knockdown in this fight. We're ready to take advantage,” Magsayo said at Thursday's final presser.
Two former champs looking to bounce back in the Cali heat 🥵#FigueroaMagsayo is SATURDAY on @Showtime @BrandonLeeFig @markmagsayo_MMM pic.twitter.com/0RO8mlUMfn
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) March 2, 2023
More boxing opinions: The end of the month has a big-time anticipated match-up between David Benavidez and Caleb Plant on pay-per-view. Easily the Fight of the month between the top in the Super Middleweight division. In a banner year already for soundbites and quotes, Plant using davidbenavidez.com as a site to sell merch leading up to the fight is elite troll game brilliance and something he's been planning for a while now.
“This is something that has been in the making. I bought that domain back in 2018 because I knew one day we'd be fighting. It's just a card I kept in my back pocket, and I got other cards in my back pocket as well,” Plant explained to Sean Zittel for Fighthype.com.
While the Fight occurs on the 25th of this month, we have the rest to see what Plant will pull out of his “back pocket.” If buying the domain name was the beginning, one can only imagine what next Plant will pull out.
Another contest on my radar that same day is the return of Lawrence Okolie as he defends his WBO Cruiserweight title against David Light. Okolie (18-0, 14 KOs) will have his first Fight with new trainer SugarHil Steward in over a year. Light (20-0, 12 KOs) got here the mandatory way and defeated Brandon Glanton by a split decision in December to do so. Interested to see what happens with the winner of this Fight in who they will challenge next in a thin division.
Take the newly crowned WBC champion in Badou Jack (28-3-3, 17 KOs) off that list, as he has a mandatory next-up against Noel Gevor Mikaelyan (26-2, 11 KOs). Mikaelyan, for those unaware, is promoted by Don King and resides in Miami, Florida. What a hot potato the belt would have been ongoing from Ilunga Makabu (promoted by Don King) to Jack currently and possibly back to a King-promoted fighter again in Mikaelyan, should he face and defeat Jack.
Let the fantasy booking begin.
Jake Paul Lost, What's Next?
Jake Paul (6-1, 4 KOs) lost to Tommy Fury (9-0, 4 KOs) by split decision Sunday, and for everyone saying he wasn't a real boxer, you missed the aftermath proving that he was. Between COVID in training camp, and questioning the scorecards in-ring post-fight, he seems like a natural. I didn't need to be won over, but Paul's motivational message in defeat is one I've read on Facebook:
“Don't judge me by my wins, judge me by my losses. Congrats to Tommy, his team and his family. Thank you to everyone that tuned in. Saudi Arabia thank you as well. I will be back,” Paul stated on social media following the loss.
I'm pretty sure I've read that from friends going thru a challenging relationship or time but losing a relatively boring fight behind the atmosphere and backdrop of a fancy “WBC Cares” dinner party in Saudi Arabia isn't this. Paul said they'd run it back as there is a rematch clause. Given the time it has taken for this Fight to materialize since Jake Paul turned pro, we'll see if that goes through. If Fury doesn't go for the 2nd Fight, Paul will be OK with whoever is in line next. Either way, the frontman of Most Valuable Promotions will be back, and we'll all be waiting.
Final Observations/Boxing Opinions
–New IBF junior welterweight champion Subriel Matias–check out the Gayle Falkenthal report on his win over Jeremias Ponce–will be a problem to whoever is on the opposite side of him.
I wrote last year about his arrival, and his presence is one to be revered. Will it lead to a unification fight with Regis Prograis? Spark up the hopium that it does, but a fan asked the WBC champ Prograis about it, and he was not impressed.
It’s levels to this https://t.co/WE9Qhtjzym
— Rougarou (@RPrograis) February 26, 2023
–So far, the front-runner for Knockout of the Year must be Liam Smith sending Chris Eubank Jr. into another dimension in January. It was a shot no one saw coming and showed in the fourth-round stoppage.
–As I mentioned, there have been plenty of good fights so far. My Fight of the year leader heading into March is Artur Beterbiev vs. Anthony Yarde. It's too early to see if that holds up and how this year looks; it shouldn't. Some already will disagree with that pick.
—Creed III is out in theatres, and while I'll leave the site review to Captain David Phillips here, I expect this film to be good. The way Creed 2 ended, it couldn't be any worse.
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