image: Chris Farina/Top Rank

10 & Counting: On Nonito Donaire, Saul Alvarez, Derek Chisora, & Soto-Antillon

*****

Nonito Donaire played Godzilla in downtown Tokyo against Wladimir Sidorenko at the Honda Center last Saturday night, scoring a brutal fourth round stoppage that left Sidorenko looking like the victim of something truly awful.

Well, he was, actually–a bantamweight reenactment of Dempsey-Willard.

Despite the fact that only three rounds were completed, it was a sadistic mistake to send Sidorenko out for the fourth. And he paid for it dearly by absorbing a thunderous straight right that appeared to shatter his nose. Sidorenko went down from the pain and the rivulets of blood that poured forth from his nostrils were enough for referee Marcos Rosales to halt the slaughter. You would never know that Sidorenko is, in fact, a competent prizefighter by the way he was all but stuffed headfirst into a trash barrel by Donaire. Fernando Montiel, his scheduled HBO opponent for next February, is more than competent. But even a world-class operator like Montiel must have watched Donaire disassemble Sidorenko with eyes wide shut.

*****

Boxing fans (and that includes most of the media, comprised as it is of folks who cannot wait to clap and drool simultaneously) are easily excited, for the most part, and find enthusiasms with alarming regularity. In the case of Saul Alvarez, all it seems to take is being a redhead and having a euphonious nickname, “Canelo.” Teddy Davis and Oscar Rankin were redheads, but who cared about them? The last redhead to make any noise in boxing was Danny “Little Red” Lopez, who once graced the cover of Sports Illustrated dressed in Native American garb. (Of course, this was when boxing was a major sport with mainstream coverage and not the cult afterthought it is today, covered by a pseudo-press corps dopey enough to vote Sylvester Stallone into the Hall of Fame.)

Saul Alvarez, needless to say, is no Danny Lopez, and when Alvarez outpointed ambitionless Lovemore Ndou over 12 pedestrian rounds on HBO Latino, it brought to mind the following question: What are all those people doing in that arena? Alvarez is young and talented—not gifted—but his popularity verges on inexplicable. As it is, Ndou was his second consecutive opponent closing in on 40, and even with an age advantage of 19 years, Alvarez never came close to putting him in trouble. Alvarez puts his punches together well, if not speedily, and seems to be thinking inside the ring. These are both pluses—but how many other fighters share these attributes?

*****

Urbano Antillon gave all he had in trying to wrest a lightweight trinket from Humberto Soto, but came up short via unanimous decision in a bruising scrap. Antillon had all the heart, conditioning, and determination in the world, but Soto had the edge in skill, rattling off uppercuts and combinations from round to round with flashy regularity. Late in the fight it looked like Soto might wilt from the pressure, but he came back with hard shots to take the play from Antillon every chance he got. Desire and desperation seemed to over fuel Antillon, who made origami out of the rule book by butting, throwing low blows—for which he lost a point—mauling, and even ju-jitsu tossing Soto to the canvas.

But this is the difference between a fighter like Antillon and Andre Ward: Antillon was far less talented than his opponent and he was never boring. Antillon fights dirty to get an edge on a superior foe and to get his opponent to abandon technique. Ward seems to do it merely to slow down the action.

*****

Derek Chisora, scheduled to be abused by Wladimir Klitschko in just four days, has a better chance of surviving an airplane crash in the Sahara than he does of beating Klitschko. In fact, his chances are less likely than those of longshot Jason Litzau before Litzau upset one of those silly “P-4-P” figments, Celestino Caballero. Litzau, though limited, had at least swapped blows with world-class opposition and he was facing an opponent two divisions above his best weight class.

Chisora, on the other hand, has beaten only UK opposition and has no real intangible to fall back on, except, perhaps, eccentricity. He simply does not look like he belongs in the same hemisphere as Klitschko does, much less the same ring. Chisora is a big heavyweight, however, and it only takes a single blow to turn around a fight among the big boys, but that looks like the only hope Chisora has entering this bout. At least Chisora has promised to attack—with dirty tactics, if necessary—and that might make things interesting for as long as they last.

*****

Read about the life of Eddie Machen, a gifted heavyweight who never reached his potential because of a shaky psychological make-up. He died, in mysterious circumstances, at the age of 40.

Tags: Boxing Danny Lopez Derek Chisora Humberto Soto Jason Litzau Nonito Donaire Saul Alvarez Urbano Antillon WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO

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