Saturday, December 15, 2018

DAZN and Canelo take a bite out of the Big Apple: Luis Cortes offers his takes on the big Canelo and DAZN event from the Mecca of Boxing

By Luis A. Cortes III, Ringside 

If there were any questions about the start power of Canelo Alvarez, tonight's crowd of 20,112 inside of the big room at the "Mecca of Boxing," Madison Square Garden answered those questions and silenced any doubters. Usually the "Mecca" is shaken by a pro Puerto Rico crowd whenever one of the island's marquee fighters takes to the ring in the Big Apple. This time, New York City and the Garden sounded as if it had been transported to 1801 South Grand Ave., site of the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. Green, white, and red were the colors of choice and were worn with pride to accent Canelo Alvarez head bands and Mexican flags. From the moment Ryan Garcia entered the ring, New York City became Canelo country, much in the way Las Vegas has over the past several years.

For DAZN, their first fight of an eleven fight deal with Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions was pushed as any pay-per-view show would have been in the past, even though during the promotion, Golden Boy and DAZN would have liked you to believe otherwise. Especially inside of the arena as they showed the fighters entrances into the building, pre-fight interviews, various shots of Canelo warming up, and there was a clear effort to show the long list of A-list celebrities who sat ringside to get a glimpse at the Mexican star. Of course with all of the fan fare and promotion the one key telling sign of success will not be the filled out arena, but just how many paid subscriptions this showcase for Canelo was able to generate. For all of the pre-fight banter that pay-per-view is dead, the bottom line is that generated subscriptions are all that matters, much in the way pay-per-view buys were to determine a fighters true monetary value.

As Expected, Alvarez Mauls Fielding in Three to Capture WBA Super Middleweight Crown

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (51-1-2)(35) was greeted to a national hero's welcome of sorts by a raucous crowd, which by the time of the main event was at capacity. Rocky Fielding (27-2)(15) seemed to be almost an after thought. For Fielding, he was casted in the role of the peasant about to be thrown to the lions inside of this coliseum simply known as "The Mecca." Would this Rocky be able to channel the power and determination of the two most famous fighters with the name Rocky (despite one being a fictional)?  Or would this fight simply be the coronation, yet another accomplishment for the biggest draw south of the heavyweight division, and his triumphant invasion of the east coast?

Before the end of the first round, everyone in the arena and streaming from home got their answer.  A digging left hook to the body forced the naturally bigger Fielding to take a knee. He gamely rose to his feet and made it out of the round, but it was clear that Canelo would take his time in order to break down Fielding. While Fielding had the advantage in size, that was the only thing he could call an advantage. Another left hook to the body floored him a second time and it only seemed as a matter of time before the lion devoured the poor peasant. The mauling came to an end in the third round when a right cross dropped Fielding. Although he rose to his feet, Canelo threw a beautiful body shot, uppercut combination that forced Fielding to take a knee for the final time. The referee called a stop to the beat down at the 2:38 mark of round number three.  

Was this event and especially the main event worthy of subscribing for a free month to DAZN, instead of paying upwards of eighty dollars on pay-per-view? Sure it was. What will be the big question coming out of this is if keeping the subscription once the free month comes to an end and viewers are forced to pay $9.99 a month worth the effort? One thing will be key to answering that question: Who are the names that Canelo will be matched against, starting in May of next year. We already heard that Danny Jacobs, the IBF middleweight champion is not being considered, but will his name be considered for September? What stops subscribers who were driven to the application because of Canelo from canceling and picking it back up when they feel he fights someone worthy to be across the ring from him? Finally, will fighters of that caliber like Jacobs or Golovkin even be affiliated with DAZN for those fights to be made?  

Farmer Easily Outclasses Fonseca: Proves His Elite Value for Future Mega Showdowns

With David Lemieux unable to compete against the tough Terino Johnson due to health issues, IBF Jr. Lightweight Champion Tevin Farmer (28-4-1)(6) was given the opportunity to co-headline this card, giving him possibly the biggest stage of his career to showcase the skills and craftsmanship that has many boxing insiders stating that his star power is on the rise for big things in 2019. Farmer has been vocal about his wishes to test his skills against another champion in the division, Gervonta Davis, in a fight that would most certainly be a classic boxer vs. puncher fight. Before his wish is granted and is even considered, Farmer would have to take out Francisco Fonseca (22-2-1)(16), who's only professional loss was to the aforementioned Davis in August of 2017.

Through six minutes it was clear that Farmer's technical superiority was going to be the tale of this fight. Farmer may have a lack of pure natural power in his gloves, but he makes up for it with his ability to throw the right punches at the right time. Every time he makes a move, whether it be for a defensive or offensive reason, he lets his hands go, landing at least one telling punch. While other fighters take themselves out of punching range after landing their lead punches, Farmer always remains inside or just on the edge of what is considered the "pocket," which is the area where both fighters are in range to land punches. He is comfortable in this area and easily slips and dodges his opponents shots with upper body movement.

Half way through this fight, Farmer showed why at this point in his career his skills have graduated to the level where only other elite level fighters with aggressive styles will pose a serious threat to dethroning him and stopping his streak of victories. Farmer glided to an easy twelve round decision to end a more than successful 2018, despite having his first fight in August. All three judges scored the fight 117-111 in favor of Farmer.

Ali Decisions Herrera

Just over a year after his career defining victory in this same arena over future Hall of Fame champion Miguel Cotto, Sadam Ali (27-2)(14) returned to action in the welterweight division. It was his first fight back at his natural weight since beating Cotto, but losing the title he won in a devastating fashion to Jamie Managua in his first title defense. Mauricio Herrera (24-8)(7), the crafty veteran, was standing on the other side of the ring, who like Ali, was in need of a statement victory.

As expected though a boxing match (not fight), between the two cagey veterans broke out as both fighters chose to move and try to land pot shots on their foe. After half of the fight (or lack there of), most of the loud cheers from the crowd came when the big screen showed Canelo in-between rounds. At times, it seemed as if both fighters were going to sit down and exchange combinations, but each time that looked to be the case, one of the fighters would decide to get back on their toes and move. Ali at least tried to get into exchanges behind his jab, but Herrera was happy to pop his jab and try to clinch when he lost whatever advantage he had from a position standpoint. When the bell sounded to end to bout, both fighters were greeted with a passive applause. 100-90, 99-91, and 98-92 were the scores all in favor of the winner Sadam Ali.    

Garcia Does What He is Supposed to by Blowing Out Rodriguez in Five

Ryan Garcia (17-0)(14) got the crowd energized with his easy victory over Braulio Rodriguez (19-4)(17). After sitting through several fights, the pro-Mexico crowd was ready to burst into celebration mode and they got their opportunity in the first round when Garcia landed a sharp left hook that floored Rodriguez. With the knockdown coming late in the round, Rodriguez survived and decided to move away from Garcia for the next two rounds. Garcia remained patient and opened up early in the fourth landing powerful combinations that hurt Rodriguez throughout the round. This set up the end in the fifth round as Garcia decided to open up and landed another left hook that dropped Rodriguez for the count of ten at the 1:14 mark of round number five.

With Devin Haney, Teofimo Lopez, and Ryan Garcia, all being on different levels and promoted by different major companies, it is going to be interesting to see how the future of the lightweight division shakes out during each of their rise to the top, as well as when they are forced to fight each other, either at lightweight or at higher weight classes.    

Undercard Results:

Katie Taylor (12-0)(6) easily outpointed Eva Wahlstrom (22-1)(3) over ten rounds to retain her IBF and WBA lightweight titles. After the fight, she stated she would love a unification fight with Amanda Serrano.

Lamont Roach (18-0-1) (7)  out worked the rugged Alberto Mercado (15-2-1)(3) to easily earn the victory. 79-71 and 78-72  (twice) were the scores as Roach continues his march up the super featherweight rankings.

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