Cruiserweight Doldrums

Cruiserweights are not always easy to love. They don’t quite hit like the real big men, yet their size means fights can still adopt the violent aspects of your average heavyweight scrap. The cruiserweight division needs help, but dreadful wins by Andrew Tabiti and Michael Hunter on ShoBox might have done it more harm than good.

Tabiti, now 13-0 with 11 knockouts, was simply far more consistent than Keith Tapia and he also managed to score a flash knockdown just before the bell in round eight. Both fighters had to cope with consistently meddlesome referee Jay Nady early in the fight, but in many cases for good reason as the match began as a tussling, elbowing, headbutt-laden affair. In round two Tapia even yelped, “He keeps grabbing!” to Floyd Mayweather, who was sitting ringside at this Mayweather Promotions card.

Tabiti and Tapia were far more entertaining at the weigh-in.
Tabiti and Tapia were more entertaining at the weigh-in.

The excessive clinching couldn’t deter judges from awarding a commanding decision to Tabiti, who showed promise in smaller doses between long stretches of being drawn into a stifling, physical fight. Perhaps Tabiti’s inability to impress was a style issue, but truly arriving as a contender would have required a more emphatic win. Meanwhile Tapia, who falls to 17-1 with 11 knockouts, also failed to impress.

In the co-feature, Michael Hunter was unable to force Isiah Thomas to actually engage and thus fans were left watching Hunter flail away as Thomas executed some kind of spastic defense round after round. Though he improved to 12-0 with 8 knockouts, Hunter’s approach was predictable and his punches often missed, resulting in another bout filled with collisions and nonsense. The panicky holding and jerking about of Thomas (15-1) made the match all but unwatchable.

Hunter victorious.
Hunter victorious.

The majority of world class cruiserweights hail from outside the U.S. and historically the division has been more of a bridge to competing at heavyweight than anything else. Featuring four unbeaten American cruiserweights on the same card probably sounded great in theory, but it wound up being just a grim reminder that the U.S. is poorly represented in the higher weight classes.

Also on the broadcast, Romanian super middleweight Ronald Gavril stopped Juan Novoa in the fourth round with a nice body shot followed by a combination upstairs, bringing his record to 16-1 with 12 knockouts. Welterweight Sanjarbek Rakhmanov, 4-0-1 with 3 knockouts, was the victim of a minor upset when he fought to a six round draw with Alfonso Olvera (7-2-1).                — Patrick Connor 

4 thoughts on “Cruiserweight Doldrums

  • May 14, 2016 at 3:53 pm
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    Patrick, what an awful display for the casual fan who may have stumbled across this card. “Doldrums” is the perfect word for it. While Jay Nady provided some comic relief, it was a headscratcher the way he dealt with the fighters in the main event. I can’t ever recall Nady acting that way.

    Reply
    • May 14, 2016 at 9:44 pm
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      Nady is one of those referees you tend to notice during fights, and I’ve never been a fan of that. He was on a terrible one last night, though. Was looking forward to this card so it was a letdown for it to just drag on, but it happens. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  • May 15, 2016 at 7:10 pm
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    This card was terrible, but in fairness none of those guys are close to being elite right now, and there was a much more compelling CW fight this same weekend, between Breidis and Durodola. The lack of American talent and the division’s association with Europe is a huge obstacle for generating interest in the US, but level of American interest shouldn’t be considered the sole measure of a division’s worth – I actually think it’s one of the more competitive and entertaining weight classes right now, with lots of good match-ups on the horizon: Usyk vs. Glowacki, Makabu/Bellew vs. Breidis (with the winner of that probably facing Drozd if he recovers), and guys like the always fun Lebedev, the emerging Gassiev etc in the mix. Folks who just dig good boxing, regardless of nationality or hype, should find plenty to savour at CW over the next year or two methinks.

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    • May 21, 2016 at 9:06 pm
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      The winners of this card were supposed to have been making a serious step toward contention, which bodes ill for the cruiserweight division in the US on some level. I thought I’d conveyed that in the article, but apparently not. Thanks for reading though

      Reply

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