After a week of fire and theater highlighted by the WWE circus that brought MMA to boxing, the “sweet science” got back to business with Saturday night’s mega-card on HBO Boxing After Dark.
(Los Angeles) It was like revisiting the 80’s with Jack Nicholson in the building.
Fight fans jet lagged by the 4-city foul infested promotion of Floyd Mayweather V Conor McGregor were rewarded with an action-packed evening of prizefighting at The Forum in Inglewood presented by Golden Boy Promotions.
All kinds of ring legends hit the scene for fight fans, as Bernard Hopkins, Roberto Duran and Julio Cesar Chavez made cameos. On hand to promote the September 16 Canelo V GGG superfight were lead trainers Chepo Reynoso and Abel Sanchez.
In the same arena that Magic Johnson and the “Showtime” LA Lakers made famous, WBC super featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt (32-1, 28KOs) made a case for battle with WBO super featherweight champion and pound-for-pound star Vasyl Lomachenko, with a flashy 12 round unanimous decision over a gritty Takashi Miura (31-4-2, 24KOs).
After dropping the southpaw Japanese star early, the Mexican sensation dialed up movement and solid ring generalship to put the dangerous Miura in check. As was the case with his title winning effort over Francisco Vargas, Berchelt waged war with Miura, surviving occasional straight left blasts while winning nearly every exchange.
Let’s hope Top Rank CEO Bob Arum starts exchanging texts with Oscar Dr La Hoya about Lomachenko V the powerful Berchelt.
SMITH & WEST’D
Before this fight, the HBO crew of Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman and Roy Jones Jr called Sullivan Barrera V Joe Smith Jr, as the Long Island product suffered a punishing defeat via 10 round unanimous decision.
Smith bounced a left hook off the head of Barrera in the first, but couldn’t find the magic that finally retired B-Hop and wasted Andrjez Fonfara. Barrera outboxed, battered and mauled Smith in a classy win for his father and a much needed one for Main Events.
BUTT JEZREEL THOUGH…
WBA super featherweight champion Jezreel Corrales (22-1, 8KOs) escaped with a 10 round majority decision over ultra-tough Robinson Castellanos (23-14, 13KOs) following a massive clash of heads in the 10th, but I didn’t think he won.
Flashy and colorful beyond his dyed blonde hair with purple trunks, the Panamanian displayed elements of a poor man’s Aaron Pryor while being beaten up for large portions of the fight. I sat next to Orlando Salido during the scrap, and like Salido, don’t let the record of Castellanos fool you. Yuriokis Gamboa found out after being mugged and forced to quit by Castellanos. In LA slang someone might introduce themselves and say, “Wassup fool?” That fool can FIGHT.
Both men hit the canvas, starting with the champion, but Castellanos scored two other knockdowns with more authority. It was a rough and tumble fight affair between southpaw and orthodox fighters; featuring low blows, elbows, intense exchanges and drama. Rumored to be on the radar of IBF super featherweight champion Gervonta”Tank” Davis (who’s on the undercard of Mayweather V McGregor and would destroy Corrales) I hope this one gets a deserved rematch.
THE RETURN OF MERCITO GESTA
Freddie Roach has a real prize in lightweight warrior Mercito Gesta. Back off the shelf following surgery, the Filipino badass pounded veteran Martin Honorio until the referee halted things in the 8th round. Gesta would be a tough out for anyone at 135, and I’m looking forward to the next chapter in his career. Great night of boxing at The Forum.