OK, the fights. It has been a long time since I’ve seen a full boxing card and the undercard was interesting enough to make the main event worth the buy-in. So, I did. Also, the price of beer was in my range and I didn’t have to drive to Olympia to watch it in a theater.
You have Mauro “Mamma Mia” Ranallo, Al Berstein and Paulie Malignaggi on the mic to call the fights. Ranallo is excellent and was very much so on this night. He was prepared, spot on and enthusiastic. Berstein is such a pro, tough to say anything bad about him. Malignaggi wasn’t bad and this was the first time hearing him.
Steve Farhood is the on-air scoring commentator. I’ll take Harold Lederman every day and twice on Sunday.
One side note: I met Jimmy Lennon Jr. when he called the MMA fights a few years back in Tacoma. Great guy, great conversation about boxing and the mix with MMA in recent years.
Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather
The walk-up for both fighters was really fun. McGregor all business as he walked into the arena and to the ring. Hands up, full of confidence. The crowd is pro-McGregor, big time.
Mayweather came out in a ski mask, like a thief. Here is your heel. There are boos coming down as he’s walking out. The rules are traditional boxing. Here. We. Go.
The ref is laying down the law: you are both pros and champions. This is a boxing fight. The Irish crowd is singing, loving the early action.
McGregor came out fast early and took a good Mayweather punch early. McGregor is always busy early, getting a good uppercut with 35 seconds left. McGregor won the first round. That uppercut was pretty, a counter punch that Bernstein noted that punch is a rare thing against Mayweather.
Second round: Another fast McGregor start, took another good Mayweather shot and is keeping the pressure up. Mayweather isn’t moving much, which is weird, like he’s saving energy. Give that to McGregor again, who is pushing the pressure. 2-0 McG.
Third round: Mayweather was smiling at the camera, looking fresh and easy. McGregor is working hard and it showed in the corner. McGregor’s reflexes have shown through, hits behind the head. He’s been warned. The crowd is “ole ole ole” for McGregor. Still good for McGregor. 3-0 McG.
Fourth round: “South of the equator, to the peninsula” – Mauro Ranallo on McGregor’s possible low blow on Mayweather. Close round. Mayweather has come out of his shell and is beginning to throw punches. Not hard, but good placement by Mayweather. McGregor is still keeping pressure on. And, McGregor is landing good punches to Mayweather and it is registering. 4-0 McG.
Fifth round: Jab and angles are in McGregor’s advantage so far. McGregor’s jab is very, very good in MMA, so that has translated very easily here. The different angles, because of McGregor’s arm length and shifty stance, is making Mayweather work hard. A lot of clinches and close “phone booth” fighting by both here. Mayweather’s punches are hitting, but not weathering McGregor. That is key. Mayweather is in a fight and that is something very few people expected. Farhood gave it to Mayweather and has it 3-2 McGregor. I have it 4-1 McG.
Sixth round: Mayweather has opened up on McGregor. Good flurry of punches by Mayweather. McGregor weathered the storm and stuck his tongue out. Fun fight. Both had their moments, but Mayweather got the best in his flurry. He is waking up. I think he used the early rounds to save energy for the later rounds. 4-2 McG. (3-3 Farhood).
Seventh round: Mayweather is getting more punches in. McGregor is beginning to eat more punches and is beginning to show some wear, especially fatigue. McGregor is still in this, but he is breathing hard. 4-3 McG. (4-3 May Farhood).
Eighth round: Mayweather is continuing to turn and show his back when McGregor comes in to punch. It is frustrating McGregor, because it is blatant. Both are now trading punches. Close round. Tough to score. Go 5-3 McG.
Ninth round: This is where the money will be won here on out. McGregor has only gone 25 minutes once in the octagon. Mayweather lives in the late rounds. Good start for McGregor, hurting Mayweather twice in the first minute. It is a boxing match, but McGregor is gassed. He is struggling in this round. He looked up at the clock and looks weary. Mayweather is stalking him. This is intriguing drama. Mayweather won the round late, 5-4 McG, but McGregor is in uncharted territory. This is going to be great.
10th round: Mayweather took the offense, punched three hard shots to McGregor and the ref stopped it. He never went down, but he was gassed out.
All in all, Mayweather stepped up in the final five rounds to take the fight. McGregor went 8 1/2 rounds hard and then gassed out. The stoppage was the right call, because he would have been hurt. McGregor said he was fine, but the ref made the call.
Worth the money, even at the price range, for this one. That may not be popular, but I can say that I saw the best Mayweather fight I’ve seen in his career. And, I saw McGregor stand toe-to-toe with a boxing legend in the ring. As a McGregor fan, if you didn’t guess beforehand, I’m super happy all the way around.
Mayweather, TKO win, 10th round (1:05)
Here is what I wrote about the undercard. The best fight was the second one.
Gervonta Davis vs. Francisco Fonseca (IBF Jr. Welterweight title?)
OK, here’s my rant: Make weight. If you can’t, go to a weight division where you can. Period. I noted weight and weight gain in the Cleverly-Jack fight below, but here is where it gets irritating. Davis, the IBF Junior Welterweight champion, missed weight by 2 pounds. He was stripped of his title, but Fonseca can win it if he wins the title. Davis can’t win the title back, here at least.
Davis will still get a payday, but he should be fined heavily. Sorry, that’s part of the deal. Ask wrestlers, they know it, too. Make weight.
OK, the fight: Davis is the faster, more crisp fighter. One of the younger US fighters in the upper levels right now and he looks good. The fluffy, Cookie Monster-esque trunks by Davis, however, makes it hard to take him seriously. Fonseca is throwing punches and keeping himself in the fight. After five rounds, it is close, but Davis is leading.
Oh, at 8:20 p.m. PDT, it was announced on Twitter that the main event will be held up because of PPV feed trouble in California, Florida and other states. Ouch. That is a very bad look.
After six rounds, Davis is in control. Of course, that happens when you don’t have to work to lose the weight to make weight. Sorry… not sorry. He’s impressive and he’s more free-flowing in this fight. Farhood had it 5-1 Davis. Fonseca is a nice fighter, but he’s being outpointed by Davis. If Davis was against a more accomplished, more top-level fighter, which Fonseca isn’t (truth), Davis would have been eating those fuzzy trunks.
In the eighth, Fonseca got hit and grabbed Davis. It looked like he was going down, but Davis hit him in the back of the head to get him off of him. The ref counted him out at 10, a KO. In the replay, Davis punched Fonseca in the back of the head, then pushed him while he was down. Fonseca looked like he was trying to sell it and the ref counted him out.
In other words, what a shitty ending to a fight that was lacking in drama and circumstance. Davis wins by KO in the eighth. A sucker punch win for Davis. Ugh.
Nathan Cleverly vs. Badou Jack (WBC Lt. HWY championship)
Cleverly came into this fight as the champion. Jack is a former super middleweight champion and he came into the fight night at 187 pounds. He made weight on Saturday, which makes me wonder if he is at his true fighting level. Cleverly is at 182, which is only 8 pounds heavier than the weigh-in.
OK, I mention that because some fighters can keep their speed and stamina with the up-and-down in weight in a short amount of time. Cleverly’s weight gain is less than Jack’s and Cleverly came out firing early. Jack produced some counter attacks.
Mauro described Cleverly’s jab hitting Jack’s head as “the proverbial Pez dispenser.” Nice. McGregor showed up on the big screen between the second and third rounds. What was in the arena at the time (not many), they went nuts.
By the way, he Tweeted out a photo of him and his son, who was wearing a three-piece suit for the fight. Honestly, that’s awesome on a lot of levels. Here it is:
In the fourth round, Jack began to really press his advantage. His hard body shots began to make their marks on Cleverly, who began showing signs of breaking down. This won’t make the full distance, because Jack is taking over. Cleverly’s belt is in peril right now. Final 45 seconds was all Jack, who has pounded Cleverly into a bloody mess (nose). Farhood 4-0 to Jack.
Body shots kill. Tell that to any boxer, MMA or kick boxer and to your grandmama — hit the body hard and often. In the fifth round, Jack is throwing all of the punches. Cleverly’s face is a mess and the ref stopped it late in the fifth. Cleverly wasn’t responding and Jack landed several uppercuts for the win.
So, what do I know. The weight gain didn’t matter. Never mind.
Jack TKO win, 5th round. New WBC Lt. HWY champ.
Andrew Tabiti vs. Steve Cunningham
Tabiti is the younger, up-and-coming fighter who stepped up against a veteran in Steve Cunningham. Both fought a very close fight, but Tabiti landed some very good combination series through the middle rounds.
Tabiti is a member of Mayweather’s gym/camp and entered the fight 14-0. There is a bit of a pedigree with him working there and it showed on this night. Cunningham is 41 years old and a two-time cruiserweight champion. Tabiti’s hard combos and quick hands dominated the first half of this fight and Cunningham showed his age.
In fact, those combos were crisp, direct and delivered with purpose. He didn’t need to throw a lot of punches to win this, which is more of a knock on Cunningham. Cunningham never had the room nor the time to deliver his game plan – land anything. This went the distance, Farhood had it 9-1 to Tabiti and you can’t fault that line of thinking. I was very impressed with Tabiti, especially dominating a fight where he didn’t need to show off his chin or his strength in taking a hard punch.
Tabiti, UD win, 97-93/100-90/97-93. NABF and IBF cruiserweight title.