Boxing: PPV Hangover- Mayweather, Garcia, Matthysse, Theophane and......Smith, I guess

First things first.
The most recent example of boxing's nonpareil talent for defacing its grandest edifices with warm, sloppy handfuls of dung, CJ Ross' scorecard for Mayweather vs Canelo:

More often than I'd like event fights ought not be introduced by the bombastic Michael Buffer or the dusty cadences of Jimmy Lennon Jr, but by a resurrected Rod Serling intoning the mantra of his most famous creation:

Scoring the entirely one-sided drubbing Mayweather laid on Canelo a draw should be outside the realm of possibility.  It's a score not even Canelo's mother would be bold enough to try and pass off- for a professional boxing judge to squirt it out on an official scorecard is indefensible.

Short of being counted out by the ref, you cannot lose a fight any more definitively than Canelo did to Mayweather.  These sorts of (predictable, recurring) scoring shenanigans are one of the systemic problems preventing the sport from broadening its appeal.

And it isn't as if the other two scorecards covered their judges in glory- finding three rounds to give Canelo is a feat worthy of Joseph Smith's magic glasses, while finding four seems to expose a lack of fervor- if you're going to screw the pooch that hard, why stop short of impregnating it with a 114-114 draw?
Credit Ross with the courage of her convictions- she fucked ALL THE WAY up, no queasy half-measures.

From my seat (a few feet away from a high def television the size of a tipped-over refrigerator) it was an obvious whitewash, 120-108.  The vagaries of scoring being what they are, you'd expect this or that judge to find one or two pity rounds rounds to give Canelo.  Three is pushing it, four is ridiculous and embarrassing, in a just universe a freaking draw would cause the offending judge to spontaneously combust on the spot.  

I take no credit for the accuracy of my main event prediction- there is no glory in simply noting what Floyd has done to each of his previous opponents over the past few years.  Rather than 'Money' he should go by the nom de guerre 'The Hypnotist', as by the middle rounds of a given fight his opponents have been reduced to veritable somnambulists, trailing him around the ring, refusing to punch for fear of his pinpoint reprisals.

Scoring shenanigans aside, it was a worthwhile match despite the absence of competitive drama.  There is joy to be had watching an artist operate at the peak of their ability, and as the legitimate lineal champion at 154 Canelo was a meaningful canvas. Such comprehensive destruction of a worthy champion can only burnish Floyd's all-time credentials.

The undercard was vastly superior to what has become the norm for these 'superfight' promotions over the past decade or so, which I have a feeling may inspire another post.

The opening bout, Cano vs Theophane, was entertaining & surprising.

When you see a 33 year old journeyman at the bottom of a fight card, you don't expect much. It looked like a setup for Cano, even more so after the first three rounds, which were dominated by Cano and included a couple of near knockdowns that seemed to presage an early exit for the game but limited Theophane, who's moderate handspeed was not helped by punches that were uniformly wide and looping.  But around the 4th, he found a groove- in spite of absorbing a powerful shellacking over the early rounds, he began landing hard shots of his own winning his share of rounds.  Cano's early lead held up, but it was one of those well matched bouts where two fighters with limitations bring out the best in one another, a tribute to the matchmaker's art.

Next up came the weakest of the evenings entertainments, Ishe Smith vs Carlos Molina, the feel good story vs. the hard luck case.  This bout illustrated that fundamental adage "styles make fights".  Both have had entertaining bouts in the past, but their styles proved almost entirely incompatible, leading to endless tangling, grappling and clashes of heads (some intentional, some not).    Smith landed the cleaner, harder shots and he took the bout on my informal scorecard, but an apparent lack of urgency subdued whatever complaint I had with the result.  It was a messy fight to watch and difficult to score...but when in doubt I favor the fighter landing the better blows.

The best of the evening's bouts was the one that had hardcore fans in a lather from the moment it was announced, Danny Garcia vs Lucas Matthysse.  Odds favored the challenger Matthysse, who has been on a terrific roll of KOs against quality opponents, establishing him as one of the singular power punchers in the sport. 

Garcia was unimpressed with that pedigree, absorbing his share of hard punches in the early stanza without any apparent ill effect, and while not able to establish a fluid offense he was landing some shots and hanging around.  Matthysse for his part was landing regularly while showing a remarkable ability to slip Garcia's return fire & negate his dangerous left hook.

I had 
Matthysse up early with the looming possibility of taking full control when one of those quirks of fate which often characterize boxing changed the complexion of the bout- something caused Matthysse's right eye to swell nearly shut over the course of maybe 30 seconds.  And in an inexcusable lapse, his corner was not equipped with an endswell, a smooth lozenge of steel which is kept in a bucket of ice and used to smooth away swelling of the sort afflicting Matthysse.  Instead, his corner attempted to rub the swelling away with a thumb, which was about as efficacious as when Team Tyson attempted to treat his swelling in the Buster Douglas fight with a rubber glove filled with ice cubes.

With his opponents right eye effectively closed from the 7th round on, Garcia found a home for his hook on the blind side, and also benefited defensively from the lack of depth perception- Matthysse's offense was notably less consistent & powerful over the final stanzas.  Garcia began throwing in combination, with most of them landing on his impaired opponent.  Matthysse fought to the end, launching a frenzied barrage in the 12th that Garcia to his credit answered in kind rather than playing it safe by clinching or retreating.

A splendid match, one of those highly anticipated fights that delivered completely on its promise.

So four fights, one great, one historic, one good, and one stinker.
An evening well spent, and if every PPV card could be relied on to deliver this level of entertainment I'd happily buy them all.

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