Ten Things We Learned Last Night

1. HBO really, really wants Terence Crawford to be a star. The commentary last night by Max Kellerman and Roy Jones was so transparently pro-Crawford that even innocent movements were celebrated as ‘increased ring awareness,’ whatever that means. The only thing missing were some pom-poms and chants of Go! Terence, Go! from the HBO crew. Max Kellerman discredits himself by constantly shilling on his employer’s behalf, which is a shame as he could be a positive voice for boxing if he rescued his brain from the clutches of HBO’s control-freak producers.

2. Terence Crawford probably is a star. All that said, Crawford’s performance last night was undeniably impressive. He fought patiently and when presented with the opportunity he finished Dulorme authoritatively. Crawford has the brains and talent to hang with, and maybe become, the world’s best 140 lb fighter. He also vindicated Max’s hyperbole, which surely pleased everyone at HBO. The Omahan’s career may very well be about to take off into the stratosphere given his extraordinary attributes, his ever-improving resumé, his undefeated status, the backing of HBO, and what looks like a healthy field of potential opponents on his side of the boxing tracks.

Terence Crawford, Thomas Dulorme
Crawford was impressive.

3. Ruslan Provodnikov is as limited as he is tough. Anyone who doesn’t have any admiration for Provodnikov’s grit and guts should just stop watching boxing, but even his most ardent fans have to admit he’s glaringly one-dimensional. There may be no one in the sport tougher than this Siberian hard man, but his lack of speed and combination punching skills will likely stop him from becoming anything more than a tough guy against whom the most talented test themselves. That said, if he can dent Timothy Bradley’s chin, you know he’s always got a puncher’s chance.

4. Lucas Matthysse can execute a fight plan. While it was an exciting, brutal fight, Matthysse-Provodnikov didn’t turn into the war most envisioned because the Argentine didn’t let himself get dragged into a slugfest, which would have only benefited Provo. Instead, he fought a smart, patient fight, and picked Provodnikov apart with sharp power shots. That being said…

Matthysse outpoints Provo.
Matthysse outpoints Provo.

5. Lucas Matthysse’s jab is now his ace in the hole. Never before had we seen The Machine employ his left hand with such authority. Against Provodnikov, the Argentine’s left jab was sharp, frequent, and stabbing, and single-handedly may be responsible for his biggest win to date. Not only was that punch a scoring machine, the jab also served to disrupt the Russian’s rhythm, keep him at a distance, bust up his face, and also created openings for follow-up power punches. Before his fight with Danny Garcia, we were used to seeing Matthysse blast his way through his opposition, but if future engagements see him employ his left jab with as much discipline and conviction as he did against Ruslan, it’ll add  a whole new facet to the South American’s fearsome game, and a much bigger chance of success against more technically-sound opponents like, say, Terence Crawford.

Matthysse's new weapon.

6. Come to think of it, maybe it’s time for a super-lightweight Super Six tournament. Or, wait. Let’s make it a Super Eight tournament. After all, we’ve completed almost half of it. Let’s do the rest: Provodnikov vs Peterson, Herrera vs Matthysse, Crawford vs Broner, and Garcia vs Algieri. Or maybe Provo vs Garcia, Broner vs Matthysse, Crawford vs Algieri, and Herrera vs Peterson. Whatever the match-ups, this tournament is already off and running and bound to only get more entertaining.

7. We now have indisputable evidence Chavez Jr. was nothing but a weight bully. The Son of the Legend looked like an assassin when he drained himself to make the middleweight limit only to rehydrate 15-20 pounds the next day and beat up on smaller opponents like a wild cat feasting on a leg-less rodent. But last night, the first time he actually fought someone his own size in Andrzej Fonfara—a light heavyweight who isn’t even renowned for his punching power–Chavez Jr. folded faster than Superman on laundry day. His combinations ineffective, his jab nonexistent, and his defense sorely deficient, Julio had no answer for Fonfara’s challenge. Which brings us to …

8. It’s long past time boxing restored the same day weigh-in. Nothing less than the integrity of the sport is in serious question if boxing continues to let fighters mock the whole idea of weight divisions. This has to stop. For evidence as to why, Chavez Jr. is Exhibit A.

777FONFARA 888
Fonfara looked sharp.

9. Andrzej Fonfara is for real and has to be considered a serious threat for anyone at 175. Beating up JCC Jr. does not merit this as much as how he dominated Son of a Legend in such authoritative fashion. This performance, along with the tenacity he showed against Adonis Stevenson, bolsters his case for being a major player in the division. Fonfara against Pascal, Chilemba, Eleider Alvarez or even Kovalev are all intriguing and competitive matches. Further, can people please stop using the Fonfara fight as a reason to downgrade Stevenson? Contrary to biased reports, the fight was competitive but not close, with Stevenson winning at least seven rounds and seriously hurting the tough Pole several times, not to mention flooring him twice.

Say 'buh-bye' Julio.
Say ‘buh-bye’ Julio.

10. Son of the Legend’s career and reputation likely cannot be rescued. Chavez’ decision to not come out for the tenth stanza made fans at the StubHub center boo and shower the ring with beer cups, and while we would never endorse such hooliganism, who could blame them? They’d just seen their compatriot, who they had supported in spite of numerous gaffes and embarrassing circumstances, quit on his stool. And all the while, they had been missing the Matthysse vs Provodnikov fight on HBO!

But it wasn’t just the quitting part which made fans angry; it was the attitude Chavez displayed from the opening bell. He whined to the referee throughout the fight regarding supposed infringements from Fonfara, three times in round one alone. What kind of macho man does that? The fact is Chavez Jr. got so used to having other people—the referee, his dad, Bob Arum, the WBC, HBO network execs, the judges—solve his ring problems for him that the moment he was faced with a genuine challenge, he had no fight left in him. If there’s any justice in boxing, Chavez’ career at this level of the sport should be over. Simply put, Chavez can kiss his star-power and any big bucks from future matches buh-bye.

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