Boxers Already Searching for Redemption After Poor 2014 Performances
Malik Scott spent years building up a stellar record as a competitor in the heavyweight division. Victor Ortiz is a former pay-per-view headliner.
But after quick knockouts earlier this year, it will be tough to build an audience for either fighter again
Prizefighting is a brutal sport, and not just for the obvious reasons. The physical damage sustained can be extremely cruel. But the margin of error for a poor performance can be even crueler.
If a baseball player takes an 0-5 collar with three strikeouts, he's still got another game to play the next afternoon and a line-drive double at the proper moment or a walk-off home run will erase any lingering hangover from his poor performance the day before.
Even in football, the player usually has next week.
But boxers at the championship level compete two to four times a year. A disappointing showing for a fighter lingers in the public's memory for months and can throw his entire career off track.
8. Khabib Allakhverdiev
I've got Khabib Allakhverdiev at the very bottom of this list because things could certainly be much worse for him. On the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley undercard, he got his first significant exposure in North America, dropping a very exciting fight to Jessie Vargas.
It was a close enough fight that HBO's Harold Lederman thought Allakhverdiev should have won, as did I. Fans will be interested in seeing the tough-nosed Dagestan native fight again.
Still, Allakhverdiev suffered his first professional loss and dropped his WBA "regular" light welterweight world title. So on balance, the night was a negative experience for him. He allowed Vargas to establish a great jab early, and he ate too many left uppercuts throughout the fight.
While I thought Allakhverdiev won, it was definitely much too close to call a robbery. Vargas did a lot right in the fight, and Allakhverdiev's performance was flawed.
He will be hungry to do much better his next time out.
7. Curtis Stevens
On the one hand, Curtis Stevens came away from his fight with Tureanao Johnson earlier this month with a final-round TKO that saved victory in the last minute of the fight. It improved his record to 6-1 since 2012, with five of the victories coming by stoppage.
On the other hand, Johnson had won virtually every round of the fight, banging Stevens up and pushing him around. The Round 10 stoppage was very questionable, and I virtually never question stoppages.
Stevens definitely deserves credit for connecting with a monster left hook when he needed it. He backed Johnson up and had him in trouble. But Johnson had fought out of worse spots earlier in the fight.
He didn't look like he was "out on his feet" to me. He didn't respond like he was when the fight was waved off.
Losing to Gennady Golovkin last year had done little to lower Stevens' reputation. He had still knocked out four of six opponents since 2012 in the first round, and GGG starches everybody.
The fight with Johnson probably did more to build Johnson's reputation than diminish Stevens'. The previously unbeaten Olympian from the Bahamas looked like a potential contender.
But questions will hang over Stevens going into his next fight, just as his career was gaining major traction.
6. Daniel Ponce De Leon
Daniel Ponce De Leon lost to Juan Manuel Lopez by Round 1 stoppage back in 2008. It was a major setback loss, but he had come back in the years since, losing only to Yuri Gamboa, Adrien Broner and Abner Mares while also winning the WBC featherweight title from Jhonny Gonzalez in 2012.
When Ponce De Leon met Lopez in a rematch last March, both fighters were viewed as on the downside of their careers. Lopez had lost his featherweight title to Orlando Salido in 2011 by TKO and was stopped in the rematch a year later.
In June 2013, Mikey Garcia had smashed Lopez in four.
But in his rematch with Ponce De Leon, Lopez channeled his old, explosive self, battering Ponce De Leon and stopping him in two. It will very likely be Ponce De Leon's last high-profile fight.
5. Danny Garcia
It would be a mistake to call Danny Garcia's victory over Mauricio Herrera last March a robbery. The fight was close, and since Garcia was the undefeated champion, it's not surprising that the decision went to him.
But it was hardly the performance he had hoped to put on fighting in Puerto Rico for the first time. The Philadelphia native was visiting the boxing-obsessed nation of his parents, hot off the most impressive win of his career, a decisive unanimous-decision victory over dangerous Lucas Matthysse last September.
Ultimately Garcia has stayed unbeaten, and another impressive win will be all it takes to put the memory of his struggle against Herrera behind him. But for now, the disappointing performance lingers over him.
4. Argenis Mendez
Thanks to a questionable decision by the Minnesota Athletic Commission to overturn Argenis Mendez's knockout loss to Rances Barthelemy in March, Mendez retains his IBF super featherweight title. But that boardroom decision doesn't really erase what happened in the ring, where Barthelemy battered Mendez, dropping him twice in the second round.
As the video demonstrates, Barthlemy's final blows did land after the bell. But Barthelemy was in the process of delivering a flurry at a moment when his killer instincts had taken over, and it was the referee's job to be in the position to separate the combatants in such a situation.
Whatever anybody thinks about the fight being changed to a no-contest, nobody can deny that Mendez was getting his clock cleaned. Mendez is a young fighter and will have the opportunities to redeem himself.
But for right now, he's a world champion in name only.
3. Adrian Hernandez
Adrian Hernandez entered this year the reigning WBC light flyweight champion and arguably the top fighter in the world at 108 pounds. Since 2008, his only loss had been to the extremely experienced Kompayak Porpramook in December 2011.
And he'd avenged it by TKO the following October.
So one of the biggest surprises in boxing so far this year has been his TKO loss earlier this month to 5-0, 21-year-old Naoya Inoue of Japan. Inoue had a pretty decent amateur career and has now stopped five of six opponents.
So maybe we're seeing the emergence of a new phenom from the ranks of the little guys. But losing to a fighter with such paltry experience is a major setback for a seasoned professional like Hernandez.
2. Victor Ortriz
No so long ago, Victor Ortiz was being elevated to the upper echelons of the sport. In 2011 he captured the WBC welterweight title from Andre Berto in a Fight of the Year battle. That fight earned him a pay-per-view shot at Floyd Mayweather.
In Round 4 of the Mayweather fight Ortiz came unhinged, first throwing a blatant flying headbutt at the pound-for-pound king, then dropping his guard and attempting to give Mayweather an apologetic hug. With his arms outstretched and attention lapsed, Mayweather knocked Ortiz out.
Still, Ortiz was next floated in June 2012 as a high-profile opponent for Saul Alvarez. All he had to do was win a June 2012 fight with Josesito Lopez.
Instead Lopez broke Ortiz's jaw, forcing him to quit after Round 9. After that Ortiz took off more than a year, even trying his luck as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars.
When Ortiz returned to action last January against veteran Luis Collazo he appeared to be his old cocky self, telling Boxing Scene's Dan Ambrose that it "disgusted him" to watch boxing, because there were so many top fighters "who didn't belong there. I could beat all of them."
Instead, for the second straight fight, Ortiz stumbled in what was billed as a tune-up. Collazo jumped all over the purported "A side" fighter Ortiz, knocking him out in the second round.
1. Malik Scott
I doubt anybody actually expected Malik Scott to upset Deontay Wilder when they fought in March. Wilder came in with a perfect 30-0 record, with all 30 wins coming by stoppage inside the first four rounds.
But on paper Scott looked like the best opponent Wilder had faced. The 6'5" Scott is among the best boxers in the heavyweight division. He was expected to give Wilder a test.
Instead he went down with shocking ease, falling to a hook-cross combination just 96 seconds into the fight. The final right hand didn't even land flush, prompting allegations of a fix.
It's irresponsible to officially accuse a fighter of taking a dive without solid proof. I'll say only that Scott didn't look like he was there to win. From showing up at the weigh-in wearing a paper bag on his head to standing flat-footed at the end of Wilder's jab, Scott played the part of opponent and stepping stone, not determined challenger.
It's too bad, because a good performance would have left Scott in position to get more big fights. I thought he was robbed in his draw against Vyacheslav Glazkov last year, and Glazkov's victory over Tomasz Adamek earlier this year has rocketed him up the rankings.
A rematch between Scott and Glazkov could have draw a lot of interest. But after his performance against Wilder, nobody's clamoring for Scott's return now.