Another week of boxing is in the books, and we had plenty going on even if there was no Super Mega Fight.
We saw Shakur Stevenson miss weight and win. We saw Joe Joyce establish himself as a top contender. We saw Maxi Hughes do it again. We saw Floyd Mayweather exhibit. And much more!
I’ll be doing these on Sundays from now on, or on Mondays on the rare occasion there’s a notable Sunday fight. Basically just a little recap and “next day” discussion spot.
Now, admittedly, starting this out a week before there’s nothing on the schedule means I run the risk of forgetting to do it ever again, but I’m ahead of you there, I’ve already set a reminder for Oct. 9. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it, buddy.
The basics: Stevenson picked up a deserved and clear win over Conceicao, but a lot of the shine was taken off the fight on Thursday, when Stevenson missed weight and made no effort to come back to the scales with the two-hour window to cut 1.6 lbs. Stevenson’s WBC and WBO titles went vacant on Thursday and will stay that way since Conceicao didn’t win them, and Shakur is off to the lightweight division.
Thoughts: Fighters grow out of divisions, I’m not as fist-pounding, vein-popping outraged as some people get about this kind of thing, but Stevenson is just going to have to take the criticism on the chin and move on. People are going to be annoyed by it. In the ring, it was business as usual, but Stevenson is starting to pick up more negative reviews — that he gets hit more than his supposed “force field of incomparable defense” would let on, that he just doesn’t have much power, which isn’t likely to improve going up in weight, etc. Part of that is natural and more “personal,” people get sick of hype, and ESPN and Top Rank have laid it on thick with Shakur, and part of it is perfectly valid critique.
Next for Stevenson: As things stand now, the lightweight division actually offers Stevenson two potential big fights: Devin Haney and Vasiliy Lomachenko. Both are back in October. If both win as they’re expected to do, it has been believed that Haney vs Lomachenko will follow. If Haney won that fight, there’s every chance he goes up to 140, he’s a big lightweight and will probably outgrow the weight sooner than later. Anyone with PBC (so Tank Davis and Isaac Cruz, very notably) are not on the table to face Top Rank fighters. I think there’s more of a chance that Stevenson fights someone for a vacant WBO belt next year than there is that he fights Haney, but things could change.
For Conceicao: You may not be that interested, but Conceicao should get a chance at one of those vacant belts, either the WBC or WBO. He didn’t have to go through with that fight on Friday, but he did. He could have said nope, taken his full paycheck, and waited for a more winnable fight, because he would have gotten an order. And I think he should still get one.
From the undercard
- Keyshawn Davis: The 23-year-old looks like the real deal to me at 135, and he’s even saying he might be interested in dipping down to 130 and going after one of those Shakur-vacated belts. That’d probably be a big jump in class, but Davis (6-0, 5 KO) does not lack for confidence, and he’s said repeatedly he wants to move fast. He looked good against Omar Tienda, which everyone expected he would.
- Henry Lebron: Beating Andy Vences solidly over eight rounds is the best win yet for Lebron (17-0, 10 KO), and the 25-year-old Puerto Rican junior lightweight should probably start getting a move on into 10-round fights now. When he’s on his game, he’s slick and sharp, quick and can punch enough to keep opponents honest. It’s a division that just opened up in a big way. He’s not ready for a world title fight, but he could be within the next year if they start pushing to move up the ladder a bit more. They’ve been somewhat cautious so far, but I thought he looked good here.
- Misael Lopez: To me, Lopez (14-1, 5 KO) certainly doesn’t look like any super duper future contender or top star, but if you missed his prelims win over Orlando Gonzalez, it’s worth a watch. Good fight, one of the best of the weekend, and easily the best on this show.
The basics: Joyce stopped Parker in the 11th round of a damn good fight between heavyweight contenders, with Joyce doing his best to break down Parker, and ultimately succeeding, but Parker gave this everything he had and left nothing in the ring.
Thoughts: Parker (30-3, 21 KO) fought well, probably the best I’ve seen from him in quite a while. Joyce (15-0, 14 KO) was just better, and once again lived up to his “Juggernaut” nickname. I actually thought the fight was very competitive from the standpoint of scoring round-by-round; I had Joyce up 96-94 at the time of stoppage, but it always felt like his fight, and you could have scored it a little wider. To me, I usually can’t score a round to someone just because they don’t seem to get hurt while getting cracked in the head, with their opponent doing the actual better work on the whole.
Next for Joyce: Joyce is 37, but it’s a young 37. And the man flat-out may have one of the best chins truly of all-time, like, nothing seems to bother him at all. Parker can punch, he’s not feather-fisted, and he landed some shots that would have at the very least stopped basically anyone else in their tricks for a moment, maybe even crucially turned the tide of the fight. But Joyce just walked through them. What do you do with that? Other than Tyson Fury, I think Joe Joyce makes for an absolute handful, a night of hell for any other heavyweight on the planet right now.
For Parker: At 30, Parker still has a future, but it’s sort of a limited future. It’s felt that way for the last couple of years. He’s not going to beat Fury, Usyk, Wilder, AJ, or Joyce. He had chances with AJ and Joyce and lost clean and clear. Boxxer now have him signed up to fight on Sky Sports coming off of a loss before he ever actually got on that network. We have maybe seen the best Joe Parker can do, but at the same time, he’s still going to be a relevant fighter for a while, I think. At the very worst, a very high-end gatekeeper. If you can beat Parker, you are in the top-end mix. If you can’t, you aren’t.
From the undercard
- Amanda Serrano: Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KO) did not have near her best night against Sarah Mahfoud (11-1, 3 KO), but it was still enough to win a deserved decision and add the IBF featherweight title to the WBC and WBO belts she brought to the bout. Serrano will likely face WBA titleholder Erika Cruz next for the undisputed crown.
- Anthony Cacace: The 33-year-old “Anto” will call himself world champion after lifting the IBO junior lightweight title from Michael Magnesi. Few will really recognize him as such, and surely he’ll want bigger belts — if nothing else, they’re bigger fights and bigger paydays — but it’s hard not to feel good for Cacace (20-1, 7 KO), a 33-year-old battler who was distraught when he lost a spot on the Fury vs Whyte undercard in April. To come back with this sort of win on a big card must have been a great feeling, and it was a damn good fight with Italy’s Magnesi (21-1, 13 KO), too.
The basics: Hughes continued his surprising run into the lightweight top 10 with a majority decision win over former featherweight titlist Galahad (28-3, 17 KO). The scores were 114-114 on one card, then 114-113 and 116-111 for Hughes on the other two, meaning a 10th round deduction against Galahad for using his head kept this from being a split draw.
Thoughts: The 32-year-old Hughes (26-5-2, 5 KO) really has no business being where he is in his career, or at least that would be your thought when you look back to where he was after a 2019 loss to Liam Walsh. Starting with an upset win over Jono Carroll in 2020, Hughes has been on a roll, and has become a legitimately better fighter, too, gaining in confidence all the way through seven straight wins now. Is he a serious threat to the very top fighters at 135? No, I don’t think so. But he’s earned his place in the discussion, doing everything he can.
Next for Hughes: Hughes has the IBO belt, which again, no offense, but means little to most in the boxing world. But Matchroom don’t have a lot available at 135, either. Zaur Abdullaev might be an interesting matchup, so would Argentina’s Gustavo Lemos, but is he going to get a Tank Davis fight, or the winner of Haney vs Kambosos? Probably not, no, and promoter Eddie Hearn’s idea to get him a fight with Ryan Garcia this past summer has come and gone with Garcia moving to 140. We’ll see, but even with the run he’s on, the political landscape makes it tough for a true “big fight.” Honestly, it could be a rematch with Galahad.
For Galahad: Same with Hughes, rematch is possible. This two-division jump was a calculated risk for Galahad, and it didn’t pay off, resulting in a second straight loss for him. He’s 32 now, and he’s in a tough spot. You could rehab him with tune-up opponents, but how much is that worth at his age, and what sort of future does anyone really see for him?
From the undercard
- Terri Harper: Speaking of division jumps, Harper (13-1-1, 6 KO) basically went from 130 to 154 to lift the WBA title from Hannah Rankin. I said before the fight that I expected this would pay off, because frankly speaking, the talent level over 140 in women’s boxing is just not very good, and we’ve recently seen former Harper foe Tasha Jonas do this exact same jump in weight and win two world titles. I know Amanda Serrano probably doesn’t want to, but she could win world titles at 147 — especially if Jessica McCaskill is giving those belts up — and 154 and add more divisions to her record if she wanted. A Harper vs Jonas rematch for three belts at 154 sounds almost silly, but that’s where we are as something that could be possible.
- Solomon Dacres: Dacres (5-0, 1 KO) gave about the least inspiring prospect performance you’ll see, going a full 10 with Ariel Esteban Bracamonte. Listen, Bracamonte is a tough dude and will fight anyone, I know he weighs 300 lbs and never looks good in jeans, but even more than just going the distance, Dacres just did not look like a serious heavyweight prospect in this fight. Worth noting that Frazer Clarke stopped Bracamonte inside of two rounds on July 30, too. Dacres is not in league with Clarke.
The basics: 45-year-old Mayweather did another one of his exhibitions, this one of the “green light” variety and not the type where you hold Logan Paul up after tagging him a little too hard, or you play pat-a-cake with your buddy Don. Asakura, like Tenshin Nasukawa in 2018, came to fight. When Mayweather decided he’d seen enough of the effort, he ended it in two.
Thoughts: It was a pretty fun broadcast, because RIZIN are — whatever else you might say about them — professionals at putting on Japanese MMA shows, and Japanese MMA shows can be very fun. It was a nice, full crowd in Saitama, and Asakura tried the best he could. I learned a new song I enjoy.
Next for Mayweather: Another exhibition, likely in November or December, in the Middle East, possibly Abu Dhabi.
For Asakura: MMA.