BASN’s Weekend Boxing Notebook

By Tom Donelson
Updated: February 15, 2009

Boxing Gloves IOWA CITY — Young prospect Alfredo Angulo fought veteran Cosme Rivera, who showed up with just four days notice. Originally, Angulo was to fight Ricardo Mayorga, but he pulled out.

In the first round and part of the second round, Rivera boxing confused Angulo and Angulo right eye was cut by a head butt (even though the referee called it a punch but subsequent replays showed otherwise.)

This could have changed the nature of the fight but in the last minute of the second round, Angulo’s power took control. From that point, he simply overwhelmed Rivera with his punching power.

In the third round, Angulo threw a left hook that wobbled Rivera halfway through the round. He attacked and pounded Rivera all over the ring but Rivera remained standing at the end of the round.

And to show this was not a fluke, Angulo continued the onslaught in the next round. The third and fourth rounds were as close to 10-8 as one could find without a actual knockdown; that how dominant Angulo was in those round.

Rivera did not go down simply because he proved he could take a punch. Every punch Angulo connected hurt his opponent. Rivera grimaced with every punch and every punch seemed to move him; whereas Rivera punches did little to impact his opponent.

In between the fourth and fifth round, Rivera told his corner that he was exhausted but his corner sent him out. All they did was delay the inevitable as Angulo jumped on Rivera and trapped him in the corner.

In the first minute, Angulo could not miss and Rivera had nothing left in him. The referee finally stopped the fight as Rivera stood helpless on the rope. For Angulo, this was impressive performance as he connected one of every two punches and in a division filled with solid fighters but not superstars; Angulo has the opportunity to become a star.

If Angulo showed the possible future, the Sergio Martinez-Kermit Cintron fight was glimpse of the present. In a fight that was equally theatre and chaos; Martinez played the role of Joe Calzaghe, as he used his southpaw stance to confuse Cintron.

Like Calzaghe, Martinez used his quickness and unorthodox styles to out fight Cintron except on two score cards. One judge had it 116-110 (I had it 117-110 and HBO’s Harold Lederman had a similar score), but the other two had the fight as a draw.

One only had to wonder which fight they were watching for they simply missed the action in front of them. Martinez landed more punches plus added knockdown of the Cintron in the seventh round.

Like in the first fight, there was mistake in determining the cause of a cut.

The replay showed that a Martinez left caused the cut but the referee stated otherwise. While the referee took a point from Martinez for hitting behind the head, this should not have made any difference as he easily out boxed Cintron.

Cintron came away with a draw in a fight and his career still is alive; while Martinez was robbed of a hard earned victory.

Nate Campbell had the opportunity to make a statement in the light weight division with three of the lightweight titles in hand and a shot at the winner of the Marquez-Diaz fight in two weeks.

Instead, he lost all of his title before he stepped in the ring as he failed to make weight. Off by three pounds, Campbell was closer to being a junior welterweight than a light weight.

Ali Funeka had the opportunity to walk with the belts if he could upset Campbell.

Funeka never stepped foot out of South Africa so this was major step in the young fighter career and in the first three rounds, Campbell’s experience demonstrated its edge.

In the second round, Campbell unleashed a series of body shots in the opening minute of the round before an overhand right sent Funeka reeling and a second right sent him down. Funeka got up but Campbell pounded some more and it appeared that maybe, just maybe, Campbell would win this fight easy.

In the fourth round, Campbell decided that he could win with just one punch and his early knockdown of his opponent gave Campbell a false sense of security. Funeka upped his work rate and from the fourth round through the ninth round.

He boxed and jabbed effectively; throwing jabs to Campbell face and occasional body shots which sapped the older Campbell’s strength. Funeka not only survived the early round barrages but he also took control of the fight.

With three rounds left, Funeka looked like he was just three rounds from a big upset and in the tenth, the South African nailed Campbell with two punches for every one the Floridian connected.

The 11th round saw Campbell start off with solid body shots and Funeka looked tired for the first time in several rounds. With a minute left in the round, a Campbell overhand right sent Funeka down for the second time and it was survival time once again for Funeka as Campbell looked like he was fighting for his career as an elite fighter.

With the bell ringing, Funeka wobbled back to his corner as he survived a full minute of being pulverized. Campbell began the 12th round as he ended the 11th as he nailed Funeka with an overhand right that slowed down Funeka again and followed up with more body shots.

In a fight that appeared close, the two knockdowns tighten up the fight and with one minute left, Campbell geared up for one final attack. Funeka threw punches with nothing left on them as Campbell’s punches came with more authority. The fight ended with this being anybody fight.

HBO’s Harold Lederman had the fight a draw and I agreed with him but what we thought matter little since it is the judges’ card that mannered. Campbell took a majority decision in a close fight and looking at the final punch stat showed the judges dilemma.

Funeka was the busier fighter, but Campbell connected on a few more punches and the two knockdowns determined the outcome. Funeka was also the better technician, but Campbell had the more powerful punches and those power punches determine the outcome.

This was a fight that could easily have been scored in Funeka’s favor but unlike the Martinez-Cintron fight; this was a legitimate decision.

This evening made the case for replay as the referee twice made the wrong call on whether punches or head butts caused cuts. It was case that referees not being in the right place to make the right call and yes, referees don’t see everything.

There are times that referees need assistances just as they need them in other sports. In both cases, the result could have been changed dramatically. In the first fight, Angulo’s cut came as a result of a head butt not a punch as the referee noted, if the fight was stopped due to the cuts; this would have resulted in a Angulo defeat.

In the second fight, the cut was actually due to a Martinez punch and not a head butt. This would have resulted in the fight going to the scorecard and noting how the judges missed this bout; who knows what the judges would have decided at a the time of any stoppage.

As for Nate Campbell, he is moving up to junior Welterweight and he still has enough star power and skills to land up a big fight; maybe a title shot for one of the various belts.

However, his failure to make weight denied him a big opportunity to put his own stamp on the light weight division. Ali Funeka showed himself to be a resilient fighter and at 6-feet-1, he has enough of a frame to grow and enough boxing skills to challenge the elites of the 135-pound divisions.

Funeka fought an excellent fight for his adventure out of his native South Africa.

As for Sergio Martinez, he showed that he has the skills to be one of the best junior middleweights but on this night, he won the fight in the ring but not on the score card and unfortunately for him, it is scorecard that determines the results.

So he has a draw on his record and that draw will keep Cintron career alive. As for Angula, we may have seen a future star in the junior and even Middleweight division.