Get ready for HBO Boxing After Dark on Saturday, June 4: Vargas vs. Salido with a look back at the consensus 2015 Fight of the Year: Francisco Vargas vs. Takashi Miura.
HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney make their fantasy draft selections for the ultimate PPV card of active boxers, and are joined by their editor Michael Gluckstadt who chooses the winner.
Watch today's press conference live at 4 PM ET, 1 PM PT.
HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney discuss Canelo Alvarez's stunning one-punch knockout of Amir Khan.
Photos: Will Hart
By Kieran Mulvaney
For the best part of six rounds, Amir Khan did everything he needed to do against Canelo Alvarez. He jabbed, he boxed, he circled, he moved, he threw brief combinations and retreated out of range. But, round by round, minute by minute, inch by inch, the bigger, stronger Alvarez reeled him in, stepping ever so slightly closer, timing his punches just that little bit better until one booming right hand rendered the former lightweight instantly unconscious and brought his brave assault on the middleweight championship to a sudden end.
Entering the contest, there was no doubting Khan's talent or pedigree; the 2004 Olympic silver medalist had beaten the likes of Marco Antonio Barrera (albeit a faded version thereof) and Devon Alexander and had taken a pair of world titles at 140 pounds. The questions surrounded his ability to withstand what Alvarez was likely to throw at him, given that the Briton had been stopped at lightweight and junior welterweight and was stepping up two weight classes to take on a champion who had long established his own class and who one year ago violently knocked out bona fide middleweight James Kirkland.
Yet, there were uncertainties about aspects of Canelo’s arsenal, too. Notably, there was his lone loss and two closest wins – to Floyd Mayweather and against Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara – the common denominator of which was those opponents’ relative fleetness of foot and fist. Alvarez, it was said, was fine against face-first sluggers such as Kirkland; against better boxers, he struggled. Khan, it was said further, had the capacity to be such a boxer, but could he do so for 12 full rounds without feeling the full force of the Alvarez offense?
Anyone who doubted Khan's ability to put up a good fight would have had those doubts disabused in the bout’s opening seconds, as Khan (31-4, 19 KOs), after throwing a few rangefinder jabs, launched a lightning fast right hand that thudded into the side of Canelo’s head. A pair of flurries from Khan was mostly blocked by Alvarez, but Khan had set the tone and won the opening round. He won the second, too, stabbing Canelo with straight left/right combinations while Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KOs) missed wildly with left hooks that, in contrast to Khan’s rapid fire punches, looked as if they were being thrown through treacle.
“He is a fast fighter and I knew things would be competitive in the beginning,” said Alvarez afterward, “but I knew they would come to my favor as the fight went on.”
That prediction appeared on the verge of coming to fruition in the third, as Alvarez had more success in backing up Khan, and landing thudding hooks to the Briton’s body in an effort to slow him down. A hook to the midsection bent Khan over at the start of the fourth, but then the challenger returned fire with spearing jabs and rapid combinations to regain the initiative. The fifth was close, Alvarez again targeting the Khan body and landing with far more success when he did so than when he aimed for the jaw; Khan’s swiftness remained the principal factor separating the two as he demonstrated by landing a left/right and then slipping beneath an Alvarez left.
But at the end of that round, Khan returned to the corner with a cut above one eye, the harbinger of greater Alvarez success. Early in the sixth, the Mexican landed his first clear punch of the night, a hook to the jaw that momentarily froze Khan before he returned to throwing his combinations. But Alvarez was in range now and more confident of being able to land; and toward the end of the sixth, he shuffled forward a half-step or two, bent at the knees and launched an overhand right that exploded on Khan’s jaw.
If Khan had not been knocked out immediately by the punch, he surely was by the impact of the back of his head crashing into the canvas as his limp body collapsed to the floor. Referee Kenny Bayless didn’t even bother to count. The time was 2:37 of round six.
Momentarily triumphant, Alvarez stood and looked down on his foe in obvious concern. His victory had come about with brutal totality; like his countryman Ricky Hatton against Manny Pacquiao in this same city seven years previously, Khan lay prone and completely unconscious. He did eventually arise, with considerable assistance, and evident uncertainty about his surroundings; but when he fully regained his senses, he threw down another challenge at Canelo’s feet.
“I got in the ring with a big guy, and unfortunately I didn't make it to the end,” he said. “I showed my balls tonight by getting in the ring with Canelo. It’s time for Canelo to face GGG.”
That, of course, means Gennady Golovkin; while Alvarez is the lineal middleweight champion, Golovkin is the people’s champion, and a showdown between the two is clearly the biggest fight to be made in boxing today.
Khan’s trainer Virgil Hunter was even more adamant.
“We took the risk,” he declared, “and now [Canelo] needs to stop hiding. Amir set the tone. Fighters should fight each other.”
Having spent part of fight week dismissing Golovkin’s credentials, Canelo struck a more defiant tone afterward, stating that he had invited the Kazakh, who was sitting ringside, to get into the ring. When questioned why, he spat that, “In Mexico, we don’t fuck around. I don't fear anyone. We don't come to play in this sport. I fear no one in this sport.”
Asked if that meant he would face Golovkin later this year, Canelo boasted, “Right now. I will put the gloves on again,” and the crowd, which lingered long after the final bell, roared.
This was the first fight to be held at the new T-Mobile Arena, and Khan had hoped to use this occasion to make history. He fell short, albeit bravely, but the postfight bravado suggested that history was just around the corner. Opening night was an appetizer; the main course is still to come.
Photos: Will Hart
By Eric Raskin
In his first fight back since a lopsided loss to Gennady Golovkin last October, David Lemieux got to the play the role of GGG against overmatched Glen Tapia, walloping the brave but limited “Jersey Boy” until Tapia’s corner threw in the towel 56 seconds into the fourth round and ref Russell Mora had no choice but to end the contest.
Lemieux and Tapia are cut from a similar cloth—both exciting punchers, not overly adept at defense—and Tapia learned the hard way that anything he could do, the man from Montreal could do better. A beautiful left uppercut from Lemieux late in round one set the tone, and the 27-year-old Canadian was in full stalker mode by the second. Even his jab was scoring flush, and about the best you could say for Tapia was that his chin was holding up impressively.
Lemieux (35-3, 32 KOs) began mixing in punches to the body in the third, and his combinations grew increasingly confident as he seemed to be utterly unworried by the return fire he might face. The 26-year-old Tapia (23-3, 15 KOs) did sneak in one particularly nice jab midway through round three, earning a nod of acknowledgement from Lemieux, but that was the underdog’s last good moment.
Early in the fourth, a left hook (followed by a relatively inconsequential cuffing right) dropped Tapia for the first time in his career, and though he beat the count easily, his corner had seen enough—much to the frustration of Tapia. “I wasn’t that hurt,” he insisted. “I’m kind of mad at Freddie [Roach] a little bit.” If anything, Tapia’s corner swung in completely the opposite direction as when he suffered his first loss, against James Kirkland; on that night, he took a frightful beating, and his new team wasn’t going to go down that road again. Despite his disappointment, Tapia offered praise for his opponent: “He caught me with a good hook. He’s quick. I felt really slow and I just couldn’t get off.”
“It’s just the beginning,” Lemieux said after kicking off a new winning streak. “I’m young in the game and I’ve got a lot of great accomplishments to accomplish.” He proceeded to call out the winner of the evening’s lone remaining bout, Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan. “[I want] the top guys, of course. The main event seems really good, hopefully [I can fight] the winner of that.”
Photos: Will Hart
By Kieran Mulvaney
A year and a day since he appeared to have thrown away his once-promising career, Frankie "Pitbull" Gomez showcased the skill and aggression that had marked him down as a future star as he dominated veteran Mauricio Herrera over ten rounds in a welterweight contest.
On May 8 last year, Gomez weighed in a staggering six and a half pounds overweight for a scheduled junior welterweight contest against Humberto Soto, forcing the bout’s cancellation and causing many of those guiding his career to warn him of the need for a drastic and immediate shift in his approach to the sport. It was not his first transgression: he had been jailed in 2012 for theft and sentenced to probation two years later. Yet his promoter Oscar De La Hoya stuck with him, clearly seeing something in his troubled protégé; and on Saturday, Gomez finally demonstrated what that was.
Herrera had lost before, five times in fact, but rarely decisively. Indeed, his most recent two reversals, to Jose Benavidez and Danny Garcia were, depending on your perspective, anywhere from debatable to larcenous. But he was never in this bout with Gomez (21-0, 13 KOs), who swarmed him from the opening bell on his way to winning all ten rounds on all three judges’ scorecards.
Herrera sought to establish a conventional offense, stalking forward behind a stiff jab, but Gomez was having none of it, pivoting away from his opponent and launching power punches in bunches from every angle. His lead left hooks to the body and the head repeatedly doubled Herrera over, leaving him in range for a tremendous right uppercut that Gomez landed over and over.
The veteran Herrera (22-6, 7 KOs) was marked under the left eye as early as the second round, and under the right not long afterward. He was unable to resist the younger Gomez, who one minute fired three straight left hooks to Herrera’s head, and then brutalized his body along the ropes. This latter form of assault became the dominant theme of the fight, Herrera frequently retreating to the ropes of his own accord, unable or unwilling to expend the energy to stay off them, and awaited an attack that Gomez was happy to provide.
Generally, after launching a flurry, Gomez would step back, looking to reset; it was at these points that Herrera would have been well advised to counter with an attack of his own, but far too often he stayed rooted to the spot, conceding the inevitability of more incoming artillery.
Herrera stepped up his punch output in the second half of the bout, as Gomez perhaps tired just a little, but it was to no avail, as Gomez simply sidestepped most of his attacks and responded with vicious counters. A determined last-round stand from the veteran resulted solely in his walking into a violent buzzsaw that rocked his head in multiple directions, and although he made it to the final bell, the reading of the scores was a formality.
Photos: Will Hart
By Eric Raskin
Earlier in his career, Curtis Stevens went by the nickname “Chin Checker.” In the opening bout of the Canelo Alvarez-Amir Khan pay-per-view at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Stevens checked undefeated Patrick Teixeira’s chin. And it did not pass inspection.
Now known as “The Cerebral Assassin,” Stevens certainly lived up to the latter part of that moniker as he dispatched Teixeira violently in the second round, after only four minutes and four seconds of one-sided action. The end came when the 5’11” southpaw Teixeira stepped in and landed a left uppercut, only to be countered by a crushing right hand from Stevens. The 31-year-old veteran from Brooklyn, perhaps best known for a knockout loss to Gennady Golovkin in 2013, took a page from GGG’s book, as the finishing punch was somewhat reminiscent of Golovkin’s knock-you-out-while-hit-me blow against Daniel Geale. The 25-year-old Teixeira beat referee Tony Weeks’ count, but he couldn’t follow his instructions to step forward steadily, and the bout was correctly called off.
Teixeira never looked comfortable in the fight, as the shorter Stevens spent the opening round surprisingly out-jabbing him and countering the Brazilian at every turn. Stevens (28-5, 21 KOs) hurt Teixeira (26-1, 22 KOs) about a minute into the fight and patiently waited for the opportunity to hurt him again. He didn’t have to wait long.
“The young lion was trying to take over the jungle,” Stevens told HBO’s Max Kellerman afterward, “but it wasn’t happening tonight.”