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  “Star Power” Leaves A Lot Of Questions

By Barbara Pinnella

Regardless of whether you were at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, or watching on your television sets, “Star Power” offered up a lot to the viewers. There were good fights and controversy, and what was taken away from the night depended on the individual.

I was at Staples, and as everyone reading this must know by now, the main event there was the fight between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Alfonso Gomez, and was for the WBC Super Welterweight title. The fight was scheduled for 12 rounds. The fans were heavily behind Alvarez, with chants of “Canelo” erupting throughout the course of the fight. It was a departure from the norm for Gomez, whose fan friendly style has made him a favorite of the crowd at most of his fights. But it was obvious that for many, Canelo is the future of boxing.

For the most part, round one was a slow one, and already the crowd was getting a bit restless, throwing in little whistles and jeers. Slow or not, it was Alvarez who was scoring the most points in the opening round. He put an apostrophe on that when, seconds before the end of the round, Saul dropped Gomez with a straight jab.

In the second both men picked it up a bit and scored some points. Alvarez was still the more aggressive of the two, but Alfonso displayed more work as well. He seemed a little more comfortable in the ring and was letting his hands go more often.

Round three was the strongest for Gomez. He connected with both hands and was a lot more active. Saul however, took all the punches and seemed unfazed. And when he did strike back, he was as fast as a snake.

Both men threw and landed punches in the fourth. This was probably the most active round of the fight. Gomez landed several punches in little combinations, but it was Canelo who finished stronger in the closing seconds of the round.

Saul threw a lot more power punches in round five, and they were hitting home. Alfonso was trying to stand tough, but the power of Canelo was too much to throw off. Alvarez was also able to let Gomez hit him, then just come back for more.

Round six saw Alvarez continue his onslaught. He would take the bigger punches from Gomez and then just throw back in retaliation. Near the end of the round, a big right hand by Canelo hurt Alfonso. Saul jumped in for the kill, reigning blows on him until the referee stepped in and stopped the fight at 2:36.

It was a stoppage that Gomez said was too soon. “I’ve been bloodied, I’ve had both eyes swollen shut, and I’ve still fought,” Alfonso said. “I believe the ref was looking for an opportunity to stop the fight. He hit me hard, but I was OK. The ref asked me all the questions and I answered correctly.

“But it is what it is. I took the opportunity and made the most of it. I wanted to go the distance, I wanted to continue. But I’m here,” he said at the press conference with a slight smile and shrug of his shoulders, “sitting before you. The fight was closer than a lot of people thought it would be.”

When asked what’s next for him, he replied, “I have no idea. We’ll have to talk about it. I’m ready for anything.”

Canelo had this to say; “I’m very happy with the fight. We worked very hard, and we knew it would pay off in the end. I did my job in the beginning. I hit him hard in the first round. I knew it was just a matter of time.”

With regard to the fight being stopped too early, Alvarez said, “It’s not my job to judge the referee.”

He concluded by thanking all of his fans for their support, and was glad that he didn’t disappoint them. He also said that he will fight anyone, any time.

I want to run down the undercard fights from Staples before I say a little bit about the Vegas fights. All of the undefeated fighters in the four fight undercard at Staples kept their win records intact.

In a Super Welterweight fight scheduled for four rounds, Hugo Centeno (9-0, 6 KOs) earned the unanimous decision victory over Alfredo Rivera (1-9). Almost immediately at the opening bell, Centeno caught Rivera with a left hook and dropped him. Rivera would get up and try valiantly to stay in the contest for the duration, but he was obviously outmatched. The fans did appreciate his efforts though, and many were siding with the smaller man throughout, cheering for him whenever he would connect. Alfredo was nothing if not game. In the end however, the judges saw it 40-35, and 39-36 twice for the slicker Centeno.

Middleweights took to the ring in a bout scheduled for four rounds, but it took only 1:26 for Ray Rivera to stop Rudy Gonzalez. Both of these men were making their professional debut, and Rivera made his statement well. A strong and well-placed right hand followed up by a left hook dropped Gonzalez, and the fight came to an immediate end. It was hard to tell just how good Rivera might be in that short a time frame, but I’m sure we will be seeing him again soon.

Antonio Orozco (12-0, 8 KOs) had his way with Fernando Rodriguez (6-6, 3 KOs) in a Welterweight fight that did last the scheduled six rounds. But Orozco just dominated his opponent from the get-go. He would hit Fernando at will, from all sides, and with all punches. His combinations were fast and furious. I must give credit to Rodriguez for his staying power, but there was no way he could match up with Antonio. At the end of the final round both fighters continued their battle after the bell, making it necessary for the referee to grab one of them to put a stop to it. The judges all saw the fight the same way, a dominate 60-54 across the board for Orozco.

The opening bout was a Featherweight contest between Mikayl Arreola (18-0, 10 KOs) and Juan Sandoval (5-7-1, 3 KOs) that went the scheduled six. At first it seemed as if Arreola would have to work for his victory, as he was dropped in the first round. But he came back the more effective and competent fighter. The judges awarded that. Even with the knockdown, the scores were 58-55 twice and 57-56 for Arreola.

Running over to Vegas for a moment here, for the much hyped fight WBC Welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs) and Victor Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs). I think most people thought the fight would end in a knockout and not go the 12 rounds, but I certainly don’t think that anyone could have predicted the finish that we saw. Mayweather controlled the show, landing punches and hurting Ortiz. The powerful right hand of Floyd was accurate and frequent and there was nothing Victor could do to stop it.

Victor was able to get some shots in, but the damage they did was minimal. When he did lash out with combinations, Floyd was able to block most of them. Whether out of frustration, a moment of stupidity, or both, in the fourth round Ortiz dove in with an intentional head butt, for which he got a point deducted. But that was the least of his worries. He would have been better off to poke a rattlesnake with a stick.

The repercussion of his actions came immediately. While still apologizing for the head butt, time was back in. Floyd saw the opening and took it. As Victor was still standing in front of him with his hands down, Mayweather caught him with a left, and as Ortiz looked toward to referee, that heavy right hand put him on the canvas. A surprising finish to this most anticipated fight.

For this journalist the fight of the night had to be WBC Super Lightweight title fight scheduled for 12 rounds between warhorse Erik Morales (52-7, 36 KOs) and the young and then undefeated Pablo Cesar Cano (23-1-1, 18 KOs), who was filling in for the ill Lucas Matthysse. With his victory, Morales became the first Mexican fighter in history to win four titles in four weight divisions.

Cano came to fight, there was no doubt about that. In fact, rounds one and two went to Pablo on two of three scorecards, as he was not afraid to trade with Erik. But then Morales came alive. He was the aggressor in the third, and a crisp right hand opened up a cut over the left eye of Cano in the fourth.

A brave Pablo came back again in the fifth, keeping Morales on the ropes for most of the round and doing more damage than Erik was. But in this back and forth show of will and skills, Morales grabbed back the control in the sixth. His left hand found its target throughout most of this round.

In the seventh Cano came back again. It was Erik who bled this time, as he suffered a cut on his left eyelid. But each round that Pablo found the strength to come back he paid dearly for that aggression in the round to follow. Morales pounded the face of Cano in the eighth and the blood really began to flow from his left eye and his nose.

This was something that the young Cano had never experienced before. He couldn’t see, he couldn’t breathe, and Erik’s fists continued to find their target on Pablo’s swelling face. This continued into round 10 as well, and at the end of that round the ring doctor was called over to assess the damage. On his advice, the fight was stopped. The cut on the eyelid was about an inch long, and in photos it was hard to differentiate between his swollen eye and the cuts.

But all the credit to Morales here. With his white trunks now pink with the blood of both fighters, Erik proved that he was indeed a warrior in every sense of the word, and huge congratulations to him.

About the only thing that I was a little disappointed in was that there was no time to show those in attendance in Los Angeles the fight between Josesito Lopez (29-4, 17 KOs) and Jesse Vargas (17-0, 9 KOs). Having seen Lopez in action several times, I did expect this to be one of the big fights of the night and had really wanted to see it. But I understand it was a good fight with Vargas remaining undefeated and Josesito being on the losing end of a split decision.

So at the end of the day there are a lot of questions that can be asked regarding the event called “Star Power.” Was the Canelo / Gomez fight stopped too soon? What about the intentional head butt done by Ortiz? Was it two good punches or two cheap shots that Mayweather used to put Victor down and ultimately out? Did Lopez legitimately lose that fight, or was he just in “Mayweather Country”? Just what the hell went on with Floyd and Larry Merchant? And finally, will we ever really know the answers to any of these questions?

What I do know is that the crowd was hot into the big matches, and that I had a super time covering the event. The food was really good, the norm for Golden Boy events. Don’t laugh, food’s important, people!

Congratulations to all the winners, and a big shout-out thanks to a couple of you – you know who you are!

Be safe and God Bless,
Viva La Raza,
Barb.



 

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