Daniel Santos, who looked dreadful losing a lopsided decision to maligned Yuri Foreman, chose a bad time to turn his back on professionalism. His poor showing against Foreman obscures some of the fine efforts he has produced in the ring for nearly a decade. Over the course of his erratic career, Santos has fought and won on the road and as the underdog, claimed a bevy of Alphabet Soup trinkets, and defeated quality fighters like Yori Boy Campas and Antonio Margarito. Three of his last four fights entering the Foreman bout, including a one-punch KO of undefeated titleholder Joachim Alcine, were entertaining scraps, but for his efforts, the Puerto Rican southpaw was labeled boring by many of the same folks who think Chad Dawson is Captain Marvel and secretly prefer to watch celebrity boxing matches.
Underestimating and undertraining is a lethal combination and it was clear from the opening bell that Santos did not have an ounce of respect for Foreman. It was also clear that he was woefully out of shape. Inactive for over a year, Santos doubled his chances of losing by reportedly shedding seven to eight pounds in the week leading up to the fight. By the time the opening bell rang, Santos was weighing over 170 pounds and had the quivering flab to prove it. Chasing Foreman around the ring requires legs and stamina, and Santos was short on both. Above all, he was short on dedication for the first time in what my be the last time he enters the ring.
As for Foreman, the aspiring rabbinical student was actually more aggressive than usual against Santos, and even scored two knockdowns in the fight. This is more action than some overpaid HBO straw dummies provide, but it is unlikely Foreman will ever overcome the stigma of being a favorite target of forum ranters worldwide. But consider this: The New York Times reported that Foreman earned just over $40,000 for his title shot on the undercard of a blockbuster pay-per-view event. After the IRS, management, and trainers get their cut, Foreman will be lucky to take home $15,000 for the biggest night of career. Compare that to the millions a humdrum performer like Chad Dawson has earned headlining HBO and Showtime events in near empty casinos. Obviously, not all boring fighters are created equal.
Usually Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fights are fairly entertaining, but his by-the-numbers waltz against unknown Troy Rowland was truly awful and served as a prime example of why having squash matches on mega events is a silly idea. Boos shook the MGM Grand when the final bell rang and deservedly so. Rowland, baleful and pallid, resembled a subsistence farmer, and he punched about as hard as an old woman in a Grant Wood painting might have. His simple task—-to be pummeled spectacularly by the name brand fighter–was thwarted by the fact that Chavez Jr. came into the ring out of shape. Not only was Chavez Jr. in poor condition, but he was also disinterested, a byproduct of Junior realizing, just like everyone else, that Rowland was a patsy. More often than not, in one way or another, set-ups backfire. When the favorite is given a piñata to take whacks at, three things are bound to happen, and none of them are good: The piñata survives and makes the favorite look like a schlemiel; the piñata is blown out so quickly that even casual fans realize the piñata is a piñata; the piñata somehow finds a way to win.
Chavez Jr. is not really that different from many of his contemporaries; he is a moderately talented fighter making a comfortable living without having to step up in class. In the end, however, Chavez is more than just living comfortably; he is fighting comfortably as well.
The Super Six World Boxing Championship continues on Saturday night when Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward meet over twelve rounds in Oakland, California. Despite all the intrigue surrounding the tournament, its publicity and prestige, the Super Six, alas, has not been able to rise above the muck boxing is typically mired in. Already poor decisions, incompetent officiating, and lawsuits have reared their grotesque Hydra heads to mar the opening stages of the event. Now, with the Kessler team protesting the appointment of California officials for his bout with Ward, who hails from Oakland, you can add contractual violations into the mix as well.
In addition to the shenanigans outside the ring–which any boxing observer comes to expect and greets with a shrug of his shoulders–we have also not seen fighters raise the level of their game to match the expectations raised by the worldwide stage of the event. True, Arthur Abraham annihilated Jermain Taylor with a shot that resembles something Lee Ermey might have demonstrated on an episode of Lock n’ Load, but before landing the goodbye punch with only seconds remaining in the fight, Abraham fought as conservatively as he usually does. Jermain Taylor was still Jermain Taylor: Competitive for five or six rounds before getting that lost puppy look in his eyes and getting cold cocked. Carl Froch, if anything, appeared clumsier than ever, and Andre Dirrell, jobbed by the judges or not, had only one purpose in mind when he stepped into the ring in Nottingham: Drop a stinkbomb and drop it hard. Here is hoping that the rest of the bouts measure up to the hype and prestige originally predicted for this unprecedented tournament. This is a big stage and it will not do for the fighters to keep flubbing their lines.
Tags: ANDRE DIRRELL ARTHUR ABRAHAM Boxing Captain Marvel CARL FROCH CHAD DAWSON Daniel Santos Grant Wood HBO JERMAIN TAYLOR Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Pinatas Professionalism Rabbi Stinkbombs Super Six Troy Rowland Yuri Foreman