A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
A Trio Of Close Fights
Paul Malignaggi, the flashy boxer and native Brooklyn fighter, found himself the underdog against Adrien Broner, who came up two weight division to make his own statement. Just as big was the new Barclay Center becoming the new Madison Square Garden as many intriguing fights have already occurred this past year.
The first bout featured Marco Periban facing Sakio Bika for Andre Ward WBC Super Middleweight title, who lost his title due to inactivity. (As if anyone will really view the winner as a real champion since neither fighter are in Ward’s class.) The undefeated Periban was making his first attempt at a world title against the veteran Bika, going for a title for a third time.
Periban traded punches with the hard punching Bika over the first nine minutes as both fighters to managed to connect on punches in what proved to be competitive close rounds. In the fourth round, Bika used a double jab to set up effective right hands while Periban connected on left hooks.
Bika threw his right hand with abandon and through the first five rounds, many of those rights missed; which was good for Periban. At the halfway mark, this was anybody fight in which both fighter had their moments. During the eighth round, Bika nailed Periban with a solid right followed by left hook for the best punches of the bout. At this point,Bernard Hopkins told his Showtime collegues hat he favored Bika due to Bika’s harder punches. There was an accidental headbutt near the end of round which followed by a toe to toe confrontation between both fighters but Bika got the better of his exchanges.
Going into the final round, Al Bernstein noted that while they had Bika ahead, each round was close and could be judged the other way. In the final round, Periban nailed Bika with several shots that stagger Bika but at the halfway mark, Bika responded with a rally of his own before both men simply winged shots at each other and as the final bell sounded; both men were exhausted by their effort. As for compubox, they were close with no real advantage by either fighter.
114-114, 116-112 and 115-113 was scored in favor of the winner of Sakio Bika, a majority decision. This was a close fight and the scores reflected it. Of course, the real champion is Andre Ward, WBC sanctioning body notwithstanding.
The second bout featured Seth Mitchell who was looking to revenge his loss to Jonathon Banks, who knocked the previously undefeated Mitchell out. Mitchell started cautiously and Banks threw a few jabs but he didn’t push the issue either.
With thirty seconds left in the second round, a Mitchell upper cut staggered with an uppercut and a right hand to back of the head followed sent Banks down for a brief count and Banks complaining of being hit behind the head.
Banks got more aggressive after being hit by a Mitchell left in the early part of the third. Banks nailed Mitchell with several rights that staggered him and nearly sent Mitchell down as the bell sounded. Banks began the fourth with two more rights that hurt Mitchell again. Mitchell managed to land a solid left and right at the end of the round.
Mitchell slowed the action down and even hurt Banks with a couple of shots in the fifth round. After a couple of inconsequential rounds, Banks managed to stun Mitchell with a couple of rights in the eighth round but Mitchell landed a left hook near the end of the round. Throughout the ninth round, Mitchell and Banks stood in close quarters with Banks back to the rope. Mitchell landed some effective body shots with Banks doing very little.
Al Bernstein summed up Mitchell dilemma as he noted that Mitchell is fighting for marketability and Mitchell caution style had the fans booing but then it kept Mitchell from being knocked out. This caution style dominated the final round as Mitchell seemed survival was the best strategy and Banks simply allowed Mitchell to survive by not being aggressive. Banks strategy was to counter Mitchell and while he landed a few more punches, he threw far less punches. Banks squalid his opportunity to put his own stamp within the heavyweight division by not pursuing a more aggressive path in the second half of the fight despite the fact he had fought five fights at 12 rounds and his opponent none coming into the fight. The score was 115-112, 117-109, 114-112 in favor in Seth Mitchell.
Paul Malignaggi and Adrien Broner now faced off for the main event in Brooklyn new cathedral for boxing, the Barclay Center. Malignaggi started jabbing over the first minute of the first bout as Bronner merely stood still and wait for opportunity.
Malignaggi threw more punches over the first six minutes with body shots but Bronner managed to land three right hands in the second round. Bronner landed a left hooks that sent Malignaggi back to the rope but Malignaggi continued to pot shot his stronger punching opponent. Bronner started to land his power shots and continued to walk down Malignaggi.
In the fifth round, Malignaggi started to slow down and Bronner landed a higher percentage of his punches. This continued into the sixth round as Bronner power started to take hold as Malignaggi punches slowed down along with his legs.
In the seventh round, Bronner changed his style as he moved away from his shoulder roll to a more straight forward peek-a-boo that allowed him to go on the offensive. Bronner’s combinations were landing with more frequency as he started to take control of the fight and stalk his prey. Throughout the ninth round, Malignaggi took Bronner right hands flesh; showing Malignaggi toughness but Bronner power was forcing Malignaggi to retreat.
Malignaggi continued to throw punches in bunches in spite of being pounded by the stronger punching Bronner in the tenth round. The final round saw both men fighting hard with Malignaggi throwing punches but getting nailed with solid power shots. Bronner connected on a few more punches and was nearly twice as accurate whereas Malignaggi threw more punches. Showtime team had Bronner winning by 116-112, 115-113, and 115-113 for Bronner.
The judges had it as a split decision 115-113, 113-115 and 117-111 in favor of Bronner. I agreed with Steve Farhood and his score 116 to 112. Bronner won this bout by walking down Malignaggi and cut the ring off to force Malignaggi fight. Bronner won the fight, Malignaggi protest notwithstanding.
Bronner showed he is a good fighter and at 23 years, he has potential to be great. Potential to be great is not the same as being great.