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.
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.
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