Maurice Hooker Survives Knockdown to Beat Alex Saucedo in Oklahoma CityAlex Saucedo’s hometown crowd was supposed to propel him to a victory, in the end it may have been his downfall. Early on in his fight with WBO Super Lightweight Champion Maurice Hooker, Saucedo looked great. The 5-foot-11 Hooker could not keep Saucedo off him, and no matter what Hooker tried, he could not do anything to thwart Saucedo’s pressure. Then, in the second round Saucedo dropped Hooker with a clean right hand on the chin. With the crowd going wild, Saucedo looked to close the show, only to find that Hooker had recovered remarkably well. With Hooker finding his rhythm in the ensuing rounds it appeared that Saucedo had fatigued himself going for the knockout, and that Hooker was taking over the fight.
This change of circumstances culminated in the seventh round, with Hooker knocking Saucedo onto the ropes resulting in a standing eight count after the referee determined the ropes had kept Saucedo on his feet. A few seconds and a few straight right hands later, and the referee stopped the fight saving a wobbly Saucedo from taking further damage. It’s impossible to know if Saucedo’s desire to please the crowd or Abel Sanchez’s inability to train fighters to be anything other than aggressive brawlers intent on early knockouts played a role in the fight. Still, Saucedo is young and should rebound from this defeat quickly.
Present at the fight was Jose Ramirez, the WBC Super Lightweight Champion, who entered the ring and expressed a desire to fight Hooker in a unification bout. Let’s hope that fight happens.
Jaron Ennis Destroys Ray Serrano in Two RoundsAccording to Compubox, Ray Serrano landed four punches on Jaron “Boots” Ennis. I find it far more likely that the Compubox guy accidentally leaned on the button four times, because this fight was not even close. From the beginning, Ennis who opted to wear a hideous purple fur and fringe robe that maybe worse than the pink one he wore for his last fight, was clearly better than his fellow Philadelphian. Ennis knocked down Serrano a total of four times, with the slick Southpaw even scoring one knockdown while fighting in an orthodox stance. With the win, Ennis moved to 22-0 with 20 knockouts, while Serrano fell to 24-6. With all due respect to Serrano, Jaron Ennis needs to fight an elite welterweight in his next fight. Anything less would be a waste of his, and our time.
Mean Machine Scores Impressive Third-Round Knockout, But Terence Crawford Too Distracted to CareWith Terence Crawford seated ringside, Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas put on a show, stopping previously undefeated Nicaraguan Roberto Arriaza in the third round. Arrieza was doing well early in the fight, aided by an accidental headbutt that caused a cut over Kavaliauskas’ right eye. However, in the third round “Mean Machine” came on strong, landing a series of hard punches until Arriaza took a knee, at which point Kavaliauskas landed a clean left hook in a moment reminiscent of “GGG”-David Lemieux. Referee Gerald Ritter somehow missed the late punches and counted out Arriaza who remained on his knee. After the fight, Arriaza called for a rematch citing the uncalled foul, while “Mean Machine” looked forward to a match with Crawford.
Except, Terence Crawford did not seem to care about Kavaliauskas. Instead, “Bud” spent his time looking for Errol Spence Jr. who was also present at the fight, tweeting him to “come say hi” and eventually confronting him. That fight is the one we are all looking to have happen and considering how a chance encounter at a basketball game led to the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight, having the two meet face to face cannot be a bad thing. Still, that fight is hugely unlikely to happen anytime soon, so we’ll have to enjoy “Mean Machine” vs. Crawford and Spence vs. Garcia instead.
Brandon Rios Beats Canelo’s Brother in Exciting FightSometimes exciting fights happen because two elite fighters are in the primes of their lives. Sometimes exciting fights happen because one elite fighter is shot and one was never that good to begin with. Such was the case on Friday, when Brandon Rios and Ramon Alvarez fought for an exciting nine rounds. Ramon Alvarez was landing very clean shots on Rios in the early goings; however, it was clear that Alvarez is not a particularly powerful puncher as Rios walked through his shots and continually applied pressure despite getting tagged so often. Eventually the pressure got to him as Rios hurt Alvarez in the eighth, then finished him in the ninth. Brandon Rios won’t (and shouldn’t) be facing the level of opposition he has in the past when he was getting beaten by guys like Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley Jr., but he is still exciting enough that when he fights people should watch. And he proved that this weekend.
315-Pound Jarrell Miller Stops Bogdan Dinu in FourWeighing in at a svelte 315 compared to the 317 pounds he weighed against Tomasz Adamek, Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller was supposed to walk-through little-known Bogdan Dinu. Instead, Dinu more than held his own during the opening rounds of the fight, but in the end, Miller was too big and too strong to be held at bay forever. Miller would knock Bigdu down twice in the fourth round, but Dinu would get up only once.
After the fight Miller announced he was looking for a fight against a British fighter, specifically naming Dillian Whyte, Anthony Joshua and David Price. Miller’s weight will continue to be a question mark, but against lesser opponents like Dinu it was not an issue.
Claressa Shields Cruises to Decision Win, To Face Femke Hermans on Dec. 8 HBO ShowClaressa Shields was always going to beat Hannah Rankin. A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Shields was just too good of a fighter for the 28-year-old from Scotland to ever stand a chance. The question was if she could either knockout Rankin or dazzle the crowd in a way that would get casual boxing fans invested in her next fight. Unfortunately, she didn’t.
Shields was clearly better than Rankin, and in her second fight with John David Jackson easily cruised to a unanimous 100-90, 100-90, 100-90, decision victory. After the fight, it was announced that Shields would be fighting on HBO’s final boxing card Dec. 8, when she will be facing Femke Hermans at 160 pounds. Should she win that fight, she is expected to face Christina Hammer on Showtime sometime in 2019. Both of those fights would be easier to get excited about had Shields been a little more exciting against the overmatched Rankin.
John Rincon Beats Emmanuel Williams in Shameful BoutAnd finally, ESPN+ aired a fight on the Hooker-Saucedo undercard between John Rincon and Emmanuel Williams. Although both fighters were inexperienced, Williams was legitimately the worst boxer I have ever seen, he couldn’t move, he couldn’t punch; at best he looked like a drunken teenager who just YouTubed “52 Blocks.”
It was shameful that this kid was in the ring, and though I understand the financial needs of the sport and respect his courage, I wish somebody had been honest with him about his chances on Friday night.