I'll give you what you called forjust let me get in my zone
_ The Weeknd, “The Zone”
No one stood in his way. Friday night at Hulu Theater inside Madison Square Garden exclusively on DAZN, WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade (27-0, 17KOs) stopped Russian strongman Artur Akavov (19-3, 8KOs) via disturbing 12th round TKO; a result that sent promoter Lou DiBella into the ring with an induced labor and a mouth full of “WTF!?” sauce flying from his lips. His target, the usually steady referee Arthur Mercante Jr., well, had an off night.
With about :30 seconds left in a fight he was clearly losing on points, a still competitive Akavov (cut and battered, but undaunted) was rescued by AMJ for reasons I'm not sure God understands. Anyway, “Boo-Boo” gets the win, but always seems to step in doo-doo for not giving fans that significant moment for style points.
A middleweight of heavyweight dimension, Andrade presents a 160lb Lennox Lewis from the southpaw stance in substance with variety. The problem is, it will take a great fighter to see how good he is, because he only does just enough to defeat basic opponents while failing to cross the threshold of “OMFG, I can't wait to see that guy fight again!”
After booking Canelo Alvarez Vs. Daniel Jacobs for May 4, Matchroom Boxing promoter extraordinaire Eddie Hearn (he of the discerning eye and flanked by new DAZN star WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol) can align “Boo-Boo” with any elite fighter close to 160. That means Canelo, Triple G, David Lemieux, Jermall or Jermell Charlo, Jarrett Hurd, Tony Harrison… anyone. After years of promotional purgatory, Andrade wants an escape to superstardom, but needs to be more emphatic in the ring. A finisher's mentality probably gets rid of Akavov legit in about six.
This was a loaded card. Just before Manny Pacquiao and Adrien Broner wage war on SHOWTIME PPV (9pm ET/ $75) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, fans were able to download the DAZN app for free on Friday and watch Puerto Rican female boxing legend Amanda Serrano (36-1-1, 27KOs) capture yet another division title, this time the WBO super flyweight strap in less than a minute while breaking the ribs of Eva Voraberger.
I'd love to see her try to break Katie Taylor.
Chris Algieri (23-3, 8KOs) was back– and maybe needs to turn around and go back home. I had him narrowly getting by David Gonzalez, 96-95.
The crowd pleasing TJ Doheny successfully made the first defense of his IBF super bantamweight title, and Jorge Linares returned after dropping a FOTY worthy war with world #1 Vasyl Lomachenko. Turns out this is the reason I've eschewed fight week in Vegas for Pac/Broner.
I'm standing next to fellow NYF writer Chris Glover– after shaking hands with DAZN color analyst/super all-time great Sugar Ray Leonard, and a serious debate about the veracity of Errol Spence Jr V Mikey Garcia (at best, that's Hopkins V De La Hoya 2) gets shut down by none other than Pablo Cesar Cano, who's absolutely blitzing Jorge Linares in 1st round.
Eight months removed from giving Lomachenko his toughest test as a pro, in a packed Madison Square Garden of full spectacle and regalia, Linares gets blasted and starched like so many times at 140 to become a shot fighter…. (snap your fingers) just like that.
He probably knew.
Sure, Linares was able to bounce Abner Cotto a few months after Loma, but if you revisit that performance through squinted eyes, it becomes apparent that he'd lost something. A certain something Cano and his braintrust were able to exploit in devastating fashion. Lomachenko (along with Oleksander Usyk) trains at a level surpassing elite that borders on suicidal. Linares killed himself to prepare for Loma, before literally being bodied– never fully recovering. Boxing is combat, and the shrapnel remaining in various parts of his body coming in was just too much to bear. And then Cano shot him.