Opening Bell: Middleweight reality
Most would view unified middleweight world champion Canelo Alvarez and former unified champion Gennady Golovkin as the best fighters in the 160-pound division. But with former titlist Daniel Jacobs coming off a decision loss to Alvarez in May and planning to move up to super middleweight, that means the next-best middleweights are titleholders Demetrius Andrade and Jermall Charlo, in whichever order you want to put them.
Both of the undefeated former junior middleweight titleholders looked sharp in one-sided decision wins in hometown defenses on Saturday night to, hopefully, put themselves in position for more meaningful matches than they just had.
The fights Andrade and Charlo had were decent enough on paper but were nothing to get really excited about, and, looking ahead, it's hard to see where they go from here for something significant, especially since a unification fight between them is so unlikely.
Andrade (28-0, 17 KOs), 31, fighting for the first time in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, in the DAZN main event, was masterful in a whitewash of solid contender Maciej Sulecki (28-2, 11 KOs), 30, of Poland, knocking him down in the first round and winning 120-107 (shutout) on all three scorecards to retain his title for the second time.
Charlo (29-0, 21 KOs), 29, fighting for only the third time in his hometown of Houston (and for the first time in a title bout or as the headliner) in the Showtime main event, similarly dominated "Contender" reality series winner Brandon Adams (21-3, 13 KOs), 29, of Los Angeles, to the tune of 120-108, 120-108 and 119-109 scores.
Charlo said he hurt his left hand in the second round but still was able to dominate Adams, who was buckled by a jab in the fifth round and nearly went down after Charlo landed about 10 unanswered shots and forced him to grab on.
It was the first defense for Charlo, who a few days before the fight was elevated from interim titlist to full titleholder when Alvarez was reclassified by the WBC with the ridiculous designation of "franchise champion."
Whatever titles any of these guys hold, we want to see the best against the best. It is probably too much to ask for a unification fight between Andrade and Charlo because the match is not yet big enough to overcome the political divide of Andrade being with promoter Eddie Hearn/DAZN and Charlo being with Premier Boxing Champions. But that would certainly be an intriguing fight between two brash, unbeaten American fighters with world titles who are both very talented.
It's unclear what either will do next. Andrade was very vocal after his fight, calling out Alvarez and Golovkin for fights that are very makeable because of their affiliation with DAZN. One problem: Neither Canelo nor GGG, who could fight each other for a third time in the fall, have shown serious interest in facing him. Alvarez had talked about fighting for the undisputed title without ever mentioning Andrade's name, but now that's out the window with Alvarez being relieved of one of his belts.
Charlo, who had been an Alvarez mandatory opponent, was not likely to get that fight anytime soon, and now the mandatory situation no longer exists because of Alvarez's new designation.
There is no natural PBC opponent for Charlo to make a significant fight with. Both Andrade and Charlo want bigger fights but did not mention facing each other. They want Canelo or GGG.
"Where's Canelo? Where's GGG? What's the holdup?" Andrade said after his win.
"Canelo has done a great job of being a champ -- Golovkin also," Charlo said after his victory. "Those guys are at the top, but there's always a young underdog and a lion ready to take over. That's me."
If Andrade and Charlo really want to force the issue and create public demand for either fight, they could take the gamble and fight each other, with the winner emerging as the guy the public would demand see fight Canelo or GGG.
Commey scores two knockdowns in 1st round
Richard Commey sends Ray Beltran to the mat with a left-right combo and then shortly after he pins Beltran against the ropes for a technical knockdown.
In what is a de facto tournament to crown the first undisputed lightweight world champion of the four-belt era, titleholder Richard Commey impressively dispatched former titlist Ray Beltran in the eighth round of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN main event on Friday night in Temecula, California.
Commey, making his first title defense, was going to keep his belt, win or lose, because Beltran was 136.8 pounds, well over the 135-pound limit and ineligible to claim the title. But the fight went on, and Commey (29-2, 26 KOs), 32, of Ghana, put on an impressive display as he mostly dominated Beltran (36-9-1, 22 KOs), 38, a Mexico native fighting out of Phoenix, who said he would move up to junior welterweight.
Commey dropped Beltran four times -- twice in the first round, once in the fifth and again in the eighth. Although Beltran landed some solid shots, Commey was in control all the way, and when he floored Beltran for the fourth time, referee Edward Hernandez Sr. waved it off at 54 seconds of the eighth round.
Sitting ringside for the fight was red-hot rising contender Teofimo Lopez Jr. (13-0, 11 KOs). The 21-year-old 2018 ESPN prospect of the year will challenge Commey for the belt later this year as long as he wins a title eliminator against Japan's Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0, 12 KOs) on ESPN+ on July 19. Lopez is the heavy favorite.
"That was a great performance by Commey, who showed why he is a great champion," Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. "Beltran showed courage and resiliency. Teofimo Lopez has a job to do against Nakatani, and if he takes care of business, Teofimo will challenge Commey for the title in what will be a tremendous fight."
The next step: On the other side of the unofficial tournament bracket are pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko, owner of two lightweight world titles, and Luke Campbell. A deal is being finalized for them to meet for Lomachenko's two belts and a vacant title on an ESPN platform in London on Aug. 31. If the heavily favored Lomachenko beats Campbell, Lomachenko would face the winner of Commey/Lopez/Nakatani for the undisputed title in early 2020. Most expect that fight to be against Lopez, and Lomachenko-Lopez would a major ESPN pay-per-view fight.
Fights you might have missed
Saturday at Houston
Junior middleweight Erickson Lubin (21-1, 16 KOs) TKO4 Zakaria Attou (29-7-2, 7 KOs), title eliminator.
Lubin, 23, a southpaw and the 2016 ESPN prospect of the year from Orlando, Florida, had an easy time with the massively overmatched Attou, 37, of France, to set himself up for an eventual mandatory title shot at the belt held by Tony Harrison. Lubin won his third in a row by stoppage since suffering a huge first-round knockout loss to Jermell Charlo in a challenge for a junior middleweight title in 2017.
Attou suffered a right biceps injury in the third round before Lubin drilled him with 17 unanswered punches along the ropes for a knockdown in the fourth round. Attou beat the count, but his corner threw in the towel and referee Jon Schorle stopped it at 1 minute, 19 seconds.
The CompuBox statistics for the fight were wildly in favor of the dominant Lubin, who landed 51 of 177 punches (29%) while Attou connected with only 6 of 86 (7%).
Featherweight Claudio Marrero (24-3, 17 KOs) W12 Eduardo Ramirez (22-2-3, 9 KOs), title eliminator, scores: 118-110, 116-113, 116-112.
Marrero, a former interim titlist, lined himself up for an eventual world title shot with a fairly dominant performance against fellow southpaw Ramirez in the Showtime opener. Marrero, 30, of the Dominican Republic, relied heavily on his right hook and combinations to hold off Ramirez in a crowd-pleasing bout. He bounced back from a competitive decision loss to Tugstsogt Nyambayar in January.
Ramirez, 26, of Mexico, saw a two-fight winning streak end. He had gotten a shot at then-featherweight titlist Lee Selby in London in December 2017 and lost a lopsided decision in a fight in which he was not eligible to win the belt because he missed weight.
Saturday at Mashantucket, Connecticut
Cruiserweight Chad Dawson (35-5, 19 KOs) W8 Quinton Rankin (15-6-2, 12 KOs), scores: 80-68, 78-72 (twice).
Long-faded former light heavyweight world champion Dawson, 36, of New Haven, Connecticut, fought at 178 pounds, so technically a cruiserweight, in his first fight in 27 months, since a 10th-round knockout loss to Andrzej Fonfara in March 2017. Dawson, a southpaw known for twice beating Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson as well as Bernard Hopkins and Tomasz Adamek, got the lopsided decision but had to survive a fifth-round knockdown on an uppercut.
Referee Mike Ortega docked two points from Rankin, one in the fifth round for swinging at Dawson while he was down and one in the seventh round for hitting on the break. Rankin, 32, of Charlotte, North Carolina, had a three-fight winning streak come to an end.