I podcast and write to cope with my continuing struggle to play guitar.
I may never be heralded, universally, as the hardest working one-man podcaster on the planet. However, I do put in some work.
Last week I logged 15 hours of windshield time traveling from Dayton, Ohio to Oxon Hill, Maryland to cover SHOWTIME Boxing’s Gary Russell Jr title defense against the determined Oscar Escandon. No, I did not aid or abet Andre Dirrell’s trainer, and uncle Leon Lawson, as I returned to the great Midwest. I had plenty of trunk space, it was an overnight trip, but along with everybody else I am unaware of the whereabouts of Mr. Lawson.
Unfortunately, I departed for the DMV with a bad sinus infection, and returned with an even worse sinus infection, so I didn’t get a the chance to wrap up my articles from the SHOWTIME triple-header. Russell Jr’s punishing display of rapid power-punching over the outgunned Escandon was an easy write. I was disappointed that referee Harvey Dock waved off the fight after Escandon wisely stepped away from Russell Jr to take a knee at the :59 mark of round seven. Not enough fighters go down in that situation, and try to give themselves a quick break to resume fighting. That said, more unnecessary punishment was imminent for Escandon. Russell Jr’s punch ratio neared 11- to 12-to-1 at times. Wasn’t Escandon’s courageousness what we expected to see from Julio Cesar Chavez?
The Andre Dirrell versus Jose Uzcategui fight for the interim IBF world super middleweight title featured a controversial ending everybody is well aware of at this point. I thought SHOWTIME Boxing’s Paulie Malignaggi summarized the fight, up to the disqualification, accurately as he said something to effect that both fighters were simultaneously fighting the best fight for each of them to win the fight. I’m paraphrasing but Dirrell and Uzcategui were engaging in a way that left the slimmest of margins of error.
I believe Uzcategui was growing increasingly frustrated as Dirrell’s defense sharpened up over rounds three through six. Dirrell’s improved comfort level resulted in increased trash-talking as the Flint, Michigan native began stabbing Uzcategui’s body with right jabs from his southpaw stance, and he also connected with a couple of lead left hands.
At the time of the disqualification Uzcategui led 77-74 and 77-75 on two cards, while the third judge had the fight 76-76. The Venezuelan’s connect totals picked back up significantly in the 7th and 8th, while Dirrell landed his highest number of punches (13) in the fight in the 8th per the CompuBox. My major question is, what kind of shape would Dirrell have been in to start the 9th round had the final left hook of Uzcategui’s three-punch combination not landed? He had to have been impaired to some degree for his hands not to have even been up at the arrival of the last punch.
We will see what kind of impact the DQ, and the subsequent sucker punch from Lawson, has on the career of Uzcategui. Dirrell’s performance isn’t likely to serve as the impetus to spark the public’s interest in a rematch with IBF champion James DeGale, but with the departure of the division’s former WBC champion Badou Jack, super middleweight needs something as its list of champions refreshes.
Finally, last week’s opening fight featuring two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy, in his debut at 140-pounds, versus Kiryl Relikh was a great back-and-forth title eliminator. The three judges criminally panned the rugged effort of Relikh with the wide margins in their scorecards. I found fault in Relikh’s effort over the final two championship rounds, but even a more spirited 6-minutes couldn’t have overcame judge Don Risher’s 117-109 card. Relikh did allow Barthelemy – coming off a layoff of 11 months – to take a breather in the 6th round after scoring a knock down against the Cuban in the fifth. Two of the three judges gave the sixth round to Barthelemy.
On to this week’s Pay Me No Mind podcast.
Kell Brook vs Errol Spence Jr.
Errol Spence Jr’s gym mate Jermall Charlo’s twitter handle is @FutureOfBoxing, but if you listen to most folks in boxing’s media, the phrase “future of boxing” is more consistently attributed to Spence. Former world junior middleweight champion Charlo is certainly not the fighter to shake a stick at, but the 2012 Olympian with the laid back personality and southern drawl who’s been resoundingly putting away common opponents his older welterweight peers went the distance with, just seems to have the total package. I mean after all, Jermall and his tight-knit relationship with his younger twin brother Jermell haven’t ingratiated themselves with the media and boxing fans as they boldly promote their “lions only” mantra.
Today, 27-year old Spence (21-0, 18 KOs) has the opportunity to fully captivate the fans of boxing if he is successful in taking the IBF welterweight crown from Britain’s Kell Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) in Sheffield, England. Fans can catch the fight live on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing at 5:15 PM ET/2:15 PM PT.
Spence enters the fight, his first bid at a world title, as a -225 favorite against the 31-year old Brook per CBS Sports’ Brian Campbell. I, personally, don’t want to “abandon” Brook while he’s trying to accomplish what’s been deemed as the impossible. In September of 2016 Brook unexpectedly went up two weight classes to fight middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin – one of boxing’s most feared fighters – and thrilled fans and experts for the better part of five rounds before a broken right orbital bone ended the Special One’s big night. Now, Brook returns to welterweight to defend his title in what many experts are saying is a terrible decision, coming down in weight to face a young lion like Spence. Well, both men were on-weight yesterday, with Brook weighing just a quarter of a pound more than Spence.
My prediction. I don’t see Brook doing any one thing exceptionally well enough to turn back Spence for twelve rounds. I personally haven’t seen Brook fight with the violent punching power I believe he’s going to need to convince Spence to become resigned to fighting at mid-range or on the outside. Spence doesn’t fight at the frenetic pace of a Shawn Porter, but I feel his size and consistent punching power will gradually degrade Brook, and later in the fight, possibly rounds 9 or 10, the U.S. southpaw may have the opportunity to stop Brook. I’m hoping for a great fight, with more suspense than a NBA Conference Finals game, but I’ll take Spence by TKO near the 11th round.
As I mentioned earlier, due to my sinus problem I didn’t get to post my Russell Jr versus Escandon card story in a timely manner. So, this week’s guests reflect my efforts to counter punch what was going on with me physically. Press play and enjoy two live interviews I did at Oxon Hill, MGM National Harbor with former two-division world champion and SHOWTIME Boxing analyst Paulie Malignaggi, and this week’s featured guest current IBF world super welterweight champion Jarrett “Swift” Hurd.
Malignaggi previewed the Brook-Spence Jr (starting at 1:13:25) title fight, touched on a realistic expectation for fight fans in the event the Floyd Joy Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight is finalized, and as a PMNM exclusive the Magic Man discussed whether he was ever in his feelings about not getting that life-changing, or tax bracket altering, call from The Money Team.
Undefeated super welterweight champion Hurd also broke down Brook-Spence (starting at 2:06:37), and added what division he thinks Spence is likely to campaign at in the near future. Swift talked about which 154-pound champion he would most like to face in unification bout, and discussed a training camp alternative activity that his team is relying on for stamina and endurance. I may have forgotten to ask champ whether he ever saw American Flyers (1985) – one of the most unsung sports movies.
To further help me out with a look at the Brook-Spence title fight, I had on a trio of first time guests. Up first (at 51:13)is Texas-based boxing writer Peter Nieves (@pnieves90), a member of the deep staff over at Round By Round Boxing. Nieves spent some time in Spence’s camp before it moved to Amir Khan’s gym across the pond, so he provides some insight on The Truth’s preparations for Brook.
Beating the Odds With Beeb and Ringside Reporter host Joe Habeeb (@jhabeeb1) joined the show (starting at 1:22:10) to provide some important aspects to key in on for Brook-Spence as well as June’s Andre Ward versus Sergey Kovalev rematch. On last Sunday evening’s Ringside Reporter episode we Habeeb saw the Dirrell-Uzcategui fight vastly different. So, we revisited the fight, its controversial ending, and maybe I had to walk back a thought or two.
This week’s final guest is Californian businessman and boxing promoter “Big” Bern Valenzuela. I met Bern back in December when he brought John Delperdang to Cincinnati, Ohio to face Philly veteran boxer Hank Lundy for the vacant UBF world lightweight title. Since that meeting, I’ve come to respect Valenzuela as a stand up guy, a loyal and caring promoter, and a Mexican with some excellent taste in R’nB music. “Big” Bern called in to talk about Mexican boxing and his people’s love for the sport. He’s also getting a second crack at Lundy next week when his fighter Daniel Evangelista Jr. heads to the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ to face Hammerin’ Hank in his own backyard. Oh, and with all the recent reports of a possible July 29th showdown between undefeated lightweight Mikey Garcia and Adrien “The Problem” Broner, I had to get Big Bern’s candid thoughts on one of boxing’s greatest rivalries.
You might have heard that next Thursday night NBA fans will be treated to Game 1 of the second Finals rematch between LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers and Steph Curry and his Golden State Warriors. I give my half-hearted prediction, but I also let it clearly be known I’m not a NBA fan. Foremost, I am a Detroit Pistons fan, and the NBA needs to put some respeck on my time October through April, if they want me to be all excited come June. And, why isn’t there any NBA postseason equivalent to the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl XLIX star Chris Matthews? Check out these sports topics and some thoughts on Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant in the podcast’s first hour.