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AFTERMATH: Donaire-Vazquez Jr., Chavez, Jr.-Rubio, Hernandez-Cunningham, Gutknecht-Uzelkov

****

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. pounded out a unanimous decision over game but outgunned Marco Antonio Rubio at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Chavez Jr., now 45-0-1-1(31) has so obsessed fringe media members and their doppelgangers—forum beasts—that there is almost no point in bothering to read anything about him any longer.

Over the last few days, it has been insinuated that Chavez took PEDs or diuretics, that Rubio tanked it, that Chavez “ducked” a post-fight drug test, and that there is a vast conspiracy involving the WBC and the Texas athletic commission to make sure that Chavez got away with using banned substances. Anybody who knows anything about boxing knows that commissions are usually staffed by political hacks and that these commissions are object lessons in cronyism, dishonesty, conflict of interest, ineffectuality, and corruption. However, more than anything, these state agencies are often comprised of bumbling fools. Ditto sanctioning bodies, where deceitfulness is often merely idiocy dressed up in villainous sackcloth. Only in boxing can such limited imaginations make millions, and this is proven by the fact that sanctioning bodies are actually bankrolled by their victims. Even so, not everything in boxing is sub rosa or cloak and dagger. These people—commissions and sanctioning bodies—are, for the most part, nincompoops. Or is that something to be argued?

Nor is Chavez the first fighter to gain so much weight from the weigh-in to fight night. Arturo Gatti, for example, used to enter the ring as a middleweight when he was fighting at junior welter. Last year, according to HBO, Fernando Montiel answered the opening bell against Nonito Donaire weighing 134 pounds, which works out to the same percentage of body weight gained by Chavez after the weigh-in. And the fact that Chavez was arrested for DUI? You mean to say some fighters are impulsive, have problems with the law, and drink too much? Well, that certainly is a new one.

As for the fight itself, Chavez fought hard, worked the body diligently, imposed his significant size advantage, and, when he saw the fight was close on the cards due to the bizarre WBC open scoring system, turned up the heat in the last two rounds to beat a pretty fair professional in Rubio, now 54-6-1 (47), before a crowd of over 14,000 spectators. But, hey, who cares about any of that?

****

It was harder than expected, perhaps, but Nonito Donaire successfully moved up to the junior featherweight division by belaboring Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. over 12 rounds for a voodoo split decision and another vacant title. Scores were 117-110, 117-110, and a straitjacket-worthy 112-115. Vazquez, Bayamon, Puerto Rico, tightened up his defense considerably for this fight and picked his shots to avoid leaving openings early. Still, Donaire managed to hurt Vazquez with a serio-comic left in the third round and dropped Vazquez, 21-2-1 (18), in the 9th. Vazquez recovered well and went on to push Donaire over the last three rounds, scoring with jabs and rights and mixing it up with “The Filipino Flash” along the ropes.

Donaire hurt his left hand sometime during the early rounds, but showed some flaws that had little to do with an injury. For one thing, it makes no sense whatsoever to see a world-class fighter moving into the power zone of his opponent as Donaire did most of the night against Vazquez, who throws a neat straight right with a minimum of motion. Somehow, Robert Garcia, who apparently will not be content until Antonio Margarito is maimed in the ring, allowed Donaire, now 28-1 (18), to commit this error for most of the 36 minutes of the fight. With compact punches, including a ramrod jab, Vazquez was able to leave Donaire a bruised mess at the end of the night.

In addition, when Donaire began to clown during the middle rounds it brought to mind the frustration he showed against Omar Narvaez last December. Donaire, San Leandro, California, is a special talent, but he often seems to think all of his foes should play tar paper shack to his hurricane winds as soon as the opening bell rings. When that fails to happen Donaire is reduced to whipping single shot after single shot at his opponents. Of course, the gruesome injury to his left hand probably had something to do with his ineffectiveness late, but similar scenarios played out against Rafael Concepcion and Narvaez. A little concentration will go a long way for Donaire, who is next scheduled to face ringworn Jorge Arce in what looks like an American Medical Association special.

****

In a rematch of their abbreviated dust-up last October, Yoan Pablo Hernandez and Steve Cunningham faced off at the Fraport Arena in Frankfurt, Germany, on Saturday, with Hernandez earning a unanimous decision to retain his WHO cruiserweight title. Scores were 115-111, 116-110, and 116-110. For the first three rounds, Hernandez, now 26-1 (13), pressed the action behind hard southpaw one-twos while Cunningham looked to box and pick his shots. About halfway through the fourth, an arcing counter-left dropped Cunningham like a man who had stepped through a trapdoor. After flopping on the canvas, Cunningham, incredibly, beat the count but remained on rubbery legs. Another left put him on the deck almost immediately, and referee Eddie Cotton looked at him closely during the mandatory count. Hernandez tore after Cunningham again, but his follow-up was sloppy, and Cunningham managed to survive until the bell. In the fifth round, Hernandez inexplicably exchanged pawing jabs instead of going in for the kill, allowing Cunningham to recover.

Little by little, Cunningham, Philadelphia, began to claw his way back into the fight, but he did so inelegantly, falling in after throwing combinations, and missing with many of his shots. One of his most bizarre tics is holding his left hand above his head and then jabbing–like a man throwing a hatchet–from his temple. This tip-off allowed Hernandez to anticipate much of what Cunningham was about to do. Still, Hernandez, Havana, Cuba, but now fighting out of Germany, seemed a bit nonplussed after Cunningham rallied and decelerated in the late rounds on his way to a unanimous decision victory.

A 2004 Olympian, Hernandez is a solid all-around southpaw whose roundhouse punches—along with a strange bolo left—are two flaws he should be able to correct in the gym. With the IBF allotting its top two slots to NOT RATED, Hernandez has an awful lot to look forward to. Except for Troy Ross, the cruiserweight rankings are littered with mediocrities: Shane Cameron, Garret Wilson, Antonio Tarver, etc. It looks like Cunningham, who slips to 24-4 (12), has slowed down considerably since his shootout with Tomasz Adamek in 2007, but his biggest liability remains a chin that is about as dependable as a congressional supercommittee. Cunningham has now been dropped seven times over his last half-dozen bouts. He has shown resilience in never having been stopped in his career, but, at 35, his best days seem to be over.

****

World-class woofer Edison Miranda dropped a decision to Isaac Chilemba at the Texas Station Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, in an ESPN2 main event. With the loss—his fourth in his last seven fights—Miranda creates a whole new subcategory of boxer: the loudmouthed loser. Having been outpointed, knocked silly, and disqualified over the last couple of years by every grade-A and grade-B fighter to answer the bell against him, Miranda, 35-7 (30), continues to bray for the benefit of websites that specialize in “Fighter X Rips/Shreds/Blasts Fighter B” headlines.

It took a few rounds for Chilemba, Johannesburg, South Africa, to warm up, but when he did, Miranda, now fighting out of Carolina, Puerto Rico, was rendered, as usual, impotent. A gash suffered in the third round did little to help Miranda, and by the end of the night he was simply following Chilemba around the ring like a dog searching for his chew toy. Chilemba, now 19-1-1 (9), is a junk artist who might confuse a few of the better light heavyweights for four or five rounds before they catch on to the joke.

****

Whenever two undefeated fighters meet in the ring, boxing observers all over cyberspace spring simultaneous erections. After all, these are “prospects!” Good grief, as if a fat zero cannot be manufactured in boxing as easily as a bat produces guano. Rances Barthelmy, notched a unanimous decision over Hylon Williams in a desultory eight as the chief support to Friday Night Fights. Williams, Las Vegas, is the kind of amateur standout who has never gotten used to the fact that a double-end bag is not his opponent in a professional bout. Barthelmy, Miami via Arroyo Naranjo, Cuba, will actually switch stances within a foot or two of his opponent. In the end, it was Barthelmy who pressed the action and landed the telling blows. While Williams posed and repeatedly shook two featherdusters in the air, Barthelmy tried to inflict damage, which he did with some precise uppercuts. Final scores were 79-73, 80-72, and 79-73.

****

On the Hernandez-Cunningham undercard, Eduard Gutknecht, fighting out of Gifhorn, Germany, won an uneventful 12-round decision over Vasylov Uzelkov for the European Boxing Union light heavyweight championship. This was the kind of fight that might have been labeled a “scientific exhibition” in the old days. Uzelkov was featured on TCS a couple of years ago after his futile struggle with Beibut Shumenov in an empty parking lot:

All fighters deserve respect, but watching elemental Beibut Shumenov and inept Viacheslav Uzelkov tangle in a near-empty parking lot in Leemore, California, left The Cruelest Sport searching for re-runs of “River Monsters.” Uzelkov, 22-1, entered the ring as the favorite last night simply because Shumenov is a limited talent, to put it mildly. Who could have imagined that Uzelkov would actually beat Shumenov, hands down, in the “limited” department? Incredibly, Uzelkov does not even know what foot to lead with. Half the time, he would step forward with his back foot first and leave it parallel with his left, the gait of a man who might have to walk the line on a roadside for a highway patrolman.

Since then, Uzelkov has learned to move his feet better, has learned to bounce up and down occasionally, and has learned to bob and weave from nearly 6 feet away from his opponent. Gutknecht, who lost a decision to Robert Stieglitz in 2010, showed the kind of punching technique that would have trouble disturbing a wind chime. He does, however, move around the ring with Eastern Bloc finesse. Both men warred with the ferocity of sparring partners, and Gutknecht, now 23-1 (9), wound up with the decision at the final bell by scores of 117-111, 115-114, and 116-112. Uzelkov, 25-2 (12), is Ukrainian.

****

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Tags: Edison Miranda Eduard Gutknecht Isaac Chilemba Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Marco Antonio Rubio Nonito Donaire Steve Cunningham Vyacheslav Uzelkov Wilfredo Vazquez Jr Yoan Pablo Hernandez

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