AFTERMATH: Tarver-Kayode, Quillin-Wright, Trout-Rodriguez, Santa Cruz-Malinga, & Bika-Davis


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On Saturday night Showtime aired a quadruple-header—creatively named “Four Warned (?)”—from the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. This card, which included a prelim broadcast on Showtime Extreme, was like going to the Monkey House in the Bronx Zoo and watching marmosets hurl excrement at the plate glass. Anything that stuck on the glass was yours to admire. Well, maybe it wasn’t that bad. Still, boxing is not baseball, where the vagaries of a structured schedule occasionally mean one cellar-dweller team will face another on national television to the dismay of nearly all involved. No, someone chose these fights—featuring a 43-year-old commentator, an anonymous South African out of the ring since 2010, a 40-year-old pug who has not won a fight in six years, and a second-rate albeit ubiquitous cruiserweight—and paid top dollar for them. Only in boxing are four mediocre events better than one or two good ones.

Apparently, getting Stephen Espinoza to buy a fight based solely on its merits is as hard to do as it is to hit the numbers two days in a row. It remains to be seen what Ken Hershman has added to HBO, but what he has subtracted from Showtime is astonishing. Showtime Championship Boxing has been dominated this year by Al Haymon and Golden Boy Promotions, who have a yoke hold, it seems, on Espinoza, and they will not let go until the former GBP lawyer is blue with cyanosis.

Ironically, “Four Warned” managed to bring together a slew of promoters—like something out of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This motley crew, which included Joe DeGuardia, Greg Cohen, Gary Shaw, Lou DiBella, and Golden Boy Promotions, gathered under the most favorable circumstances imaginable: looting the coffers. Trying to get some of these guys to work together for important or crowd-pleasing fights is nigh impossible, but when there is a cheap dollar to be made, they will fly first class to meet beneath the lip of a roiling volcano.

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In the insignificant main event, a desultory 12-rounder between Antonio Tarver and Lateef Kayode ended in a fitting deadlock. Has a worse fighter than Lateef Kayode ever been given such a push by a premium cable giant? After a series of undeserved ShoBox gigs, Kayode, who has been lampooned here before, got a headline slot and performed with the same mediocre panache we have all come to know and love. And how does he repay Showtime? By talking about how a rematch with Tarver ought to be on HBO. Kayode, 18-0-1 (14), is as talented as he is coherent, but that sort of stuff never seems to matter in boxing. “I fuck he up,” indeed.

The 43-year-old Tarver, once a world-class operator, thought he could win based solely on his reputation, and by the time he realized that he was Antonio Tarver and not Muhammad Ali, it was too late. It was gangbusters for the last half of the fight—at least compared to the first six rounds—but the judges were probably too sleepy to bother caring about naming a winner at that point. Now 29-6-1, Tarver will continue to fantasize about one of the Klitchkos. What Kayode does next is of no particular interest here.

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Now that Austin Trout has thrown his lot in with some backroom “Don Dada” types, he will have the chance to be dull and undistinguished for a lot more money and on bigger platforms than usual. Trout, 25-0 (14), outpointed a jaded Delvin Rodriguez over 12 stupefying rounds for the whatsis junior middleweight championship of Las Cruces, New Mexico. For Rodriguez, 26-6-3 (14), his shot at the Big Time, if you want to call third-billing on a Pawn Shop card the Big Time, came way too late. From TCS last December:

Despite being bilingual, photogenic, and an ESPN highlight-reel mainstay, Rodriguez has never caught the eye of the exclusive boxing powerbrokers who might as well be operating out of the Ravenite Social Club in Little Italy circa 1989. Naturally, this means that Rodriguez has had to be a real prizefighter over the last decade or so, and not one of these premium network creations who own enough stock in Smoke & Mirrors to retire comfortably for the rest of their lives. It is incredible that none of the boxing capos had the sense to sign and guide a personable East Coast Dominican with TNT in both hands. Without the proper connections, Rodriguez has had to fight in pick ‘em matchups, has had to go on the road for his biggest opportunities, and has come up on the short end of more than one (or two or three) noxious decisions. Unfortunately, his shot will come three or four years too late. Rodriguez, who turned pro during the Y2K craze, no longer has the legs he once did. In addition, the explosive power he showed at times at 147 pounds is not readily apparent at junior middleweight. When the Big Time arrives, Rodriguez may not be able to capitalize on it, but he has certainly earned the opportunity.

As for Trout, he is all finesse in the ring. So neat and pacifistic are some of his southpaw moves, however, that you forget you are watching a blood sport and not a Bohemian Polka contest.

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Busy Leo Santa Cruz, 20-0-1 (11), put the boots to Vusi Malinga on the Showtime opener, notching an easy 12-round decision against a fighter not seen in the ring since 2010. A wizened-looking Malinga, reputedly 32, neutralized any possible advantage he had in being a southpaw by standing right in front of Santa Cruz and doing his best wooden cigar store Indian impersonation. Seemingly unable to move either his head or his feet, Malinga, 20-4-1 (12), seemed content to be pounded into mealie pudding. Now and then he waved his hands around and occasionally he landed an uppercut in close. Santa Cruz, who won the Golden Boy bantamweight title, is fun to watch, but his odd habit of tapping his waistband repeatedly with both gloves during the action will catch up to him sooner or later. After all, there should be a solid professional out there somewhere that can take advantage of such a tic, no?

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Peter Quillin, the latest Twitter stuporstar, beat a walking Las Vegas nostalgia act in Ronald “Winky” Wright via unanimous decision in a fairly lively 10. Incredibly, Wright did not break out singing “My Girl” or “The Shadow of Your Smile” at some point mid-fight. Wright, inactive for over three years, last won a start when My Space was all the rage and the recession was still waiting in ambush. As for the fight itself, it was scintillating if your expectations were low and included two or three bottles of Old Crow. Although he dropped Wright in the fifth, Quillin, 27-0 (20), was not good enough to run an inactive 40-year-old has-been out of the ring. Even so, Quillin will soon have a greased path to topnotch money based on his connections, his obnoxious attitude, and a nickname he ought to give back to the rolling dead. Wright, now 51-6-1 (25), performed as well as he could have given the straitjacket circumstances he continuously finds himself in, but he was overmatched the minute he signed a contract to face Quillin. Wright has reportedly retired, which leads one to wonder what his status was over the last three years.

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An apparently intimidated Dyah Davis let Sakio Bika run amok for nine rounds before “Ali” finally caved in for a TKO loss in the 10th. Although Bika, 30-5-2 (21), still throws punches the way an aborigine throws a woomera, he is tenacity personified and hits as hard as a kangaroo kicks. Bika hurled one UFO after another at his timid opponent and finally closed the show with about a minute left in the fight. Davis, who slips to 21-3-1 (9), did little throughout and managed to land only a handful of blows. With the loss, perhaps this spells the end of heartrending Davis press releases linked to Howard Davis, Jr., which is just as well, since Davis, Jr., was one of the most famous washouts of the 1980s. Davis, Jr., however, was a gifted boxer and the same cannot be said for his son, who seems like a nice young man. He should stop trying to make something out of nothing. Of course, making something out of nothing is one of the Ten Commandments of boxing, so no one should be surprised to see Dyah Davis back in the ring soon, looking for all the world like he would rather be somewhere else. Join the club, Dyah.

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Tags: ANTONIO TARVER Austin Trout Delvin Rodriguez Dyah Davis Featured Lateef Kayode Leo Santa Cruz Peter Quillin Popular Sakio Bika Vusi Malinga Winky Wright

  • jet79

    Hi CA,
    This is excellent; I always appreciate when I have to google a reference or three.
    And it’s much better than the fights were.
    I enjoyed watching Santa Cruz: he tried to do what you’re supposed to do with an aged, inactive, opponent, and he was a real charmer in his post fight interview. Good for him for distinguishing himself on a pretty good platform. Bika is fun to watch because he does everything from taking out his gumshield to holding with a crude malice. But the rest was shit. I was asleep before the main event could knock me out. Maybe if there were more punchers on the card, and each fight didn’t go the distance, I would’ve enjoyed it more. My concern (in trying to retain my eternal optimism), is that the card won’t be seen as a rough draft, or a chance to learn or improve, because that’s not the motivation. Espinoza got drunk at a party and everybody raided his stash. And he’ll hit the bottle again, put the lampshade on his head, and get punked anew. Everybody loves the life of the party, generally for selfish reasons.
    At least I don’t pay for Showtime. Had an excellent beer that night though. 

  • dennis wise

    Shit, that was a fun read. Thanks. “I fuck he up,” indeed had me rolling-  along with about 10 other lines. 
     
    Can you recall a worse decision than Winky Wright’s in turning down the rematch with Taylor, taking the fight 10 pounds north with Hopkins? It seemed impossible to win a decision against Taylor at that point, but I would still have figured Wright would have won the rematch.  He could have tooled on Pavlik and Miranda and whoever else in some interesting scraps for a lot of money.  
     
    Am I a bad person for wanting to see a Klitschko Tarver fight?
     
    Showtime is irredeemable.  They can’t succeed on a smaller budget playing servant to the haymon and company.  

  • thenonpareil

     @Colonel_Mustard Hi, 
    thanks for writing.  This whole Kayode thing makes no sense to me, but, as a consumer, my opinion is irrelevant.   Little by little fans are being cut out of the boxing equation so that managers, promoters, and networks can work their special kind of nefarious magic.  Not only is the cruiserweight division owned by Europe, but there would be no money incentive for any Germans to fight Kayode, since Kayode only exists in the minds of Showtime. 
    Thanks for the compliment.  I think what separates this site from others is that there is no traffic quota to adhere to and the people here generally write when they feel like it. That ensures quality.  I’m not trying to run a panoramic site here, and there are lots of blogs whose omniscience seems calculatedly phony to me.   Anyway, I’m glad you like TCS. 

  • thenonpareil

     @jet79 Hi JT, 
     
    thanks.  I fell asleep during the card, too.  I had to watch most of the action on tape the next day.  I had a feeling this would happen, so I set up the good old VCR.  
    Dyah Davis can’t fight a lick, so I wasn’t too excited about seeing Bika on there, but he at least comes to the ring with malevolence.  Santa Cruz has a nice work rate and some good bodywork; I’d like to see him against someone who can fight.  In fact, I’d like to see 99% of boxers against someone who can fight.  
    It’s not Espinoza’s fault Ortiz-Berto II fell through, but there has been only one fight on Showtime this year worth paying attention to on paper: Salido-Lopez II, a Top Rank fight.   You’re luck not to pay for this shit.  I’m close to done with Showtime.  When I cancel my subscription, I’ll make sure to post the hard copy on TCS.  
     

  • thenonpareil

     @dennis wise Hi Dennis, 
    Kayode is useless except in post-fight interviews, I guess.  
    I’ve never understood Winky Wright, and I doubt I ever will.  For me, he spent the last 8 or 9 years bitching and moaning and crying–despite having his own go-between company, Winky Promotions.  These shell promotional firms of the early 2000s were created specifically to cut out interference from established promoters, who like to bend network execs over barrels.  In other words, he had plenty of fights of his choosing to make, but preferred to kvetch.  He was a good boxer and could have beaten just about anyone at 154-160, but decided to be a bonehead.  
    Tarver couldn’t even beat Lateef Kayode…what’s he going to do against a Klitschko???? 
    Showtime is so bad, you almost want to watch Solo Boxeo instead….

  • thenonpareil

     @method13 Hi method13, 
    Thanks.  Seriously, this card was a joke.   What  people don’t seem to understand is that someone had to say, “Hey!  This fight sounds good, let’s put it on!” and a network suit had to say, “I agree, fantastic!  Our subscribers will love this!  How much do I have to pay for the privilege of airing Vusi Malinga, Winky Wright, Lateef Kayode, etc.?” Unbelievable….

  • thenonpareil

     @AirdrawnDagger Hi, 
    thanks, buddy, I appreciate it.  Listen, you’re going to hear a lot more about Trout from now on, since he signed with Al Haymon.  He’s talented, just dull, which is what a small crew of SUPERIOR BOXING MINDS equate with BOXING GREATNESS.   I feel bad for Rodriguez because he’s been paying dues forever and the best they could do for him is put him in the ring with a southpaw stinker as third-billing. Mind-boggling.   It’s a shame he never had decent management or a decent world-class promoter. DeGuardia knows what he’s doing on the local level, but he doesn’t  have the financial muscle–or the fighters–to make the kind of noise he’d like.  
    Santa Cruz really was ripping shots to the body.  Nice to see that kind of commitment from a young fighter.  Malinga won’t be getting out of bed for a week, I think.