Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Punch 2 the Face Podcast

Brandon Stubbs and I hosted another edition of the Punch 2 the Face Podcast this week. We talked about the Broner-Granados card, previewed and gave our picks for Wilder-Washington, Harrison-Hurd, Thurman-Garcia and Brook-Spence, and we also lamented Roy Jones' ongoing boxing career. Click on the links below to listen:

Blog Talk Radio link
iTunes link
Stitcher link

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
@snboxing on twitter
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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Opinions and Observations: Broner-Granados

Adrien Broner's sometimes-mentor, Floyd Mayweather, likes to say that there are levels in boxing. To Mayweather, it doesn't matter how much heart or determination a fighter has; what's paramount is the innate collection of skills and talent that a boxer possesses. In his view, the more talented fighter, which of course would be him in any hypothetical construct, should always win. 

Mayweather's "levels" philosophy has been parroted throughout boxing over the previous few years by many of his sycophants and others who should know better. In truth, fighters with inferior talent win bouts all the time. Boxing presents dozens of examples every year where, to invert a hackneyed phrase from the sport, skills don't necessarily pay the bills. It should also be mentioned that the two opponents who gave Mayweather his most difficult fights, Jose Luis Castillo and Marcos Maidana, had innate talent levels significantly beneath Mayweather's. 

Nevertheless, the "levels" construct still persists in boxing. It's not that Floyd's necessarily wrong in his beliefs and philosophies but upsets happen all of the time in boxing. Talented fighters fail to reach their potential. A top guy can struggle with a certain type of style. Ultimately, the variation of boxing styles is one of the sport's draws. There are ways to beat an expert boxer, a knockout artist or a supreme athlete. Talent is and will continue to be crucially important but strategy, preparation, execution and personal intangibles will always play a role in determining who wins a given contest. 

As for Adrien Broner, the essential disconnect with his career is that many expected him to be fighting on the elite level, where rare breeds like Mayweather reside. From a certain perspective, Broner can look at his career to this point as a success. Winning titles in four divisions by the age of 27 isn't an easy feat. However, there certainly is a "yes, but" to many of Broner's accomplishments. Many of his title fights, especially above lightweight, were cherry-picked encounters against lesser opponents. He's blown weight a number of times and has lost two titles on the scales. At 140 and above, Broner has never been regarded as the best in his division despite securing championship belts. 

Since leaving lightweight in 2013, Broner has amassed a record of 7-2. He lost to Maidana, who dropped him twice at welterweight, and Shawn Porter, who thoroughly outworked him, despite a Broner-mandated catchweight of 144 (this was in hopes of draining Porter, who had spent most of his professional career fighting at welterweight and above). Broner also eked out decision wins against Paulie Malignaggi (for a title) and Adrian Granados on Saturday. With different judges, it's certainly possible that Broner could be 5-4 in this run – that’s no one's definition of an elite fighter. 

Granados has a hard luck record of 18-5-2. All of his losses have been either split or majority decisions against him. He certainly beat Kermit Cintron in 2013 yet could only muster a draw on the scorecards. He knocked out rising prospect Amir Imam in 2015. He recorded majority decision losses to Frankie Gomez, who was one of the top prospects in boxing when they fought in 2011, and to Felix Diaz, a talented Olympian who beat Sammy Vasquez and many felt bested Lamont Peterson. Granados has victories over five undefeated fighters (an impressive number – Broner has only beaten two) and conceivably could've gotten notches over a few more. In short, Granados has been matched tough and he's been competitive in all of his bouts. 

What I'm getting at is that Broner and Granados, in fact, fight at similar levels at 140 and above. Broner has been competitive but not dominant against titleholders at these weight classes and Granados has exhibited the same type of form. Thus, it wasn't shocking that Saturday's fight was as close as could be. The final scores were 97-93, 96-94 (Broner) and 97-93 (Granados) but even the split decision doesn't do the competitive nature of the fight justice. Maybe seven or eight rounds of the bout were swing rounds where either fighter had a legitimate case of winning. 

The bout ultimately came down to Granados' aggression and punch volume vs. Broner's accuracy and clean counters. I scored it a draw. It seemed that social media was fairly evenly split on the fight's winner. 

There are some who ripped Broner after the match for going life-and-death against a fighter who had a number of blemishes on his professional record. However, that contention diminishes both fighters. Granados is one of those guys, like Orlando Salido, who is far better than his record suggests. He almost always has been the B-side in major fights and has been brought in to lose. We know how boxing works. The B-side is far less likely to receive the benefit of the doubt in close bouts. Granados is a solid B+ fighter. On the right night, he could give most top junior welterweights and welterweights a run for their money, and maybe even beat them. And it's certainly possible that he won on Saturday. 

As for those who continue to disparage Broner, he fought as well as he could on Saturday. He didn't dog it in the ring and he dug down to pull out the last few rounds of the fight. Even when bested by Porter, he still got a final-round knockdown. When Maidana beat him pillar-to-post early in their fight, he staged a mid-round rally. He fights; he doesn't quit. Ultimately, Broner's fiercest critics have failed to recalibrate his true talent level. Similar to Granados, he's a B+ fighter above 140. He doesn’t have the power to hurt top fighters and his punch volume remains paltry. He's susceptible to anyone with a decent work rate and self-belief. That's his level. 

So if Broner's only an entertaining B+ fighter, what's the crime? The sport needs big personalities and fighters who bring in viewers. Does Broner have too high an opinion of himself and his talents? Probably, but that's certainly not a unique trait among professional athletes. People tune in to his fights. Maybe they like his flamboyant antics. Others really want to see him lose. Pure boxing fans love to watch his clean counters. It's not as if Broner isn't a real fighter in the ring. He just hasn't reached the lofty perch that many expected for him half-a-decade ago. 

Ultimately, many talented fighters don't reach their potential. And although Broner hasn't lived up to expectations, he certainly has provided many entertaining fight nights. Yes, his out-of-the-ring lifestyle has contributed to his professional shortcomings, but again, that's not exactly a unique position in or out of boxing. Broner continues to compete and entertain and as long as he remains in this position (and is matched carefully), he'll be an asset to the sport. 

The problem that Broner and his team face at welterweight is that there are very few easy fights for him. With his low-volume punch output and defensive lapses, he's a threat to lose to any top-15 guy in the division, and Broner's only relevant if he continues to win more often than not. There are some good fights out there for him at his level, such as Amir Khan, Andre Berto and Lamont Peterson, but he could lose at any time. Still only 27, Broner's going to need Al Haymon to do his best work to stay relevant into his 30s. 

Finally, after the fight, I had a little spat with Mark Kriegel, a sportswriter who contributed taped interviews with Broner and Granados to the Showtime broadcast. Kriegel tweeted out after the bout that Granados essentially lost the fight at the negotiating table. The match was originally scheduled for 142 lbs. but Broner insisted on moving the fight up five pounds to 147. Granados also wanted a 12-round fight but Broner and his team demanded it be for 10. 

What's so rich about Kriegel's tweet is that he knows that Granados had no leverage. Granados has been a B-side opponent fighting for scraps his whole career. Was he suddenly going to walk away from a career-high payday of $250,000 so he could fight in six months for $30,000 at a club show in Chicago? Was Granados an Al Haymon favorite? Did he bring the TV date? Essentially, Granados had no bargaining power. The deal was 10 rounds and 147 lbs., take it or leave it. Granados did what 99% of boxers would've done in his position – he accepted the fight, even if conditions were less than ideal. 

Kriegel's been around boxing long enough to know that Granados had no good choices. To pretend that Granados and/or his team somehow failed because they negotiated poorly is a startling misrepresentation of the realities of the sport. Granados’ situation leading up to the fight provides another example of the “Plight of the B-Side.”

Furthermore, Kriegel's position is incomplete. One main reason why Granados lost is because judge Steve Weisfeld scored it 97-93 for Broner. Now, I can assure you that Weisfeld is one of the best officials in the sport. I'm not saying that I agreed with his card on Saturday, but he's been one of the most consistent and accurate judges in professional boxing over the last 20 years. He's not a "Haymon judge" or a guy happy to be earning a few extra bucks and getting a room. He's a pro. Somehow he found seven rounds to give to Broner. He’s not on the take; he just saw a particular fight one way. Perhaps a judge like Dave Moretti, who favors aggression more, would see the fight differently. 

Granados lost because of the “Plight of the B-side” AND the mechanics of the sport. Yes, he faced a screwjob in negotiations leading up to the fight but also, a fair, out-of-state judge preferred Broner's cleaner work. That's boxing. Saturday's result wasn't a robbery. Legitimately, both fighters had a case to be the victor. Unfortunately, the loss was a(nother) case of bad luck for Granados. 

Hopefully U.S. networks won't abandon Granados because he has talent and makes for good TV. And at worst, he fought one of boxing's Golden Geese on essentially even terms in a headlining fight. Less than two years ago, he was still appearing in six-rounders. So, Saturday was a disappointing loss, but now he's on the map. That's progress.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
@snboxing on twitter
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Contact Adam at:

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Opinions and Observations: Easter and ShoBox

Let's start off with some positives. Robert Easter, Jr. cuts an imposing figure in the ring. At 5'11" with power and athleticism, it will take an excellent lightweight to beat him. He possesses a solid jab, a cracking right hand and a developing left hook. He seems to be a well-conditioned athlete. Even though he already has a title belt, at 26 and with only 19 professional fights, there still exists the possibility that he hasn't reached his ceiling. 

If Easter is content with his existing level, the "titleholder" one, then his current efforts will suffice. However, if Easter wants to make the jump to the elite echelon in the sport, he must improve in a critical area: he has to learn how to finish fighters. 

As I noted after his last fight, Easter almost dropped a decision to Richard Commey because he couldn't put his opponent away. Easter landed a devastating right hand at the beginning of the final round; Commey was essentially out on his feet. Yet, Easter couldn't finish Commey off. He smothered himself along the ropes and couldn't find the appropriate distance to land a finishing blow. He allowed himself to get tied up and consistently sailed right hands over Commey's head. Eventually, Easter would win the fight by a split decision but by being unable to end Commey's night, he left the decision to the judges, placing himself in danger of losing the fight. 

On Friday, Easter dropped an undistinguished foe, Luis Cruz, three times. In the 10th and 12th rounds, Easter had more than half the round to work with to finish Cruz off and yet the same issues that manifested in the Commey fight returned. With an opponent ready to go, Easter again misjudged distance and couldn't find the range to finish Cruz, who was offering essentially nothing in return. Swinging wildly at certain points and smothering himself at others, Easter, because of his inadequacy in finishing a fighter, allowed Cruz to survive. 

If I'm being particularly hard on Easter it's because the ability to close is a skill that can be taught and learned in the gym. It's not that Easter lacks the power or offensive arsenal to stop opponents; however, he completely loses form in these potential fight-ending scenarios. This is a skill that Easter will have to acquire for the next level. Commey, a limited banger, dropped Easter and found him repeatedly with right hands. What I'm getting at is that it's not as if Easter is so dominant that he'll never need to stop an opponent to win a fight. 

With excellent talents such as Mikey Garcia, Jorge Linares and Terry Flanagan in the division, Easter can't always guarantee that he'll be up on the cards. A 10-8 round is fine but that's not enough to ensure a victory (see my comments below on Rau'shee Warren's fight on Friday). 

From range and in the middle of the ring, Easter is certainly an imposing fighter. However, an inability to finish fighters could be his fatal flaw. Hopefully Easter's team drills him on the fight-ending scenario. It could be the one thing holding him back from being elite. 


To say that things were going swimmingly for Rau'shee Warren in the first round of his fight against Zhanat Zhakiyanov would be a massive understatement. Warren, an athletic southpaw who won a bantamweight title last year, had a fantastic opening to the fight, dropping his foe twice. It looked like the early knockout was just one or two punches away from happening. 

However, Zhakiyanov found a way to stick around. And by the third round, he started to time Warren with right hands from distance. Even though Warren had significantly faster hands thank Zhakiyanov, his offensive attack was becoming predictable. With Warren beginning exchanges with a single lead left or a right hook, Zhakiyanov made the necessary adjustments. In addition, Warren, who possessed superior foot speed, remained in the pocket when not throwing, enabling Zhakiyanov to land with off-angled right hands.  

As the fight progressed, Warren let Zhakiyanov march right into close range without worrying about return fire. Warren's jab stayed holstered. His legs were often an afterthought. He countered here and there but by the middle of the fight it became clear that Warren would have trouble overcoming Zhakiyanov's offensive surge. 

This bout was essentially won/lost in the respective corners. Zhakiyanov, trained by former champion Ricky Hatton, didn't let his early adversity dissuade him from sticking to his game plan. He fought from the right range, trapping Warren along the ropes and hammering him to the head and body with power punches. Warren, trained by Barry Hunter, didn't use his feet enough to evade his opponent and rarely bothered to jab or throw combinations, tactics that would've helped keep Zhakiyanov at bay. 

Zhakiyanov wound up winning a split decision. He certainly deserved credit for persevering after a rocky start. However, Warren just as much lost the fight as Zhakiyanov won it. Having a four-point advantage after two rounds, Warren refused to play to his strengths, which allowed for his lead to be whittled away. A stronger corner would've re-emphasized what Warren needed to do to secure the win, but that didn't happen. Now Warren and Hunter will be left to ponder how they let a fight that they should've won slip away. 


Like Rau'shee Warren, Terrell Gausha was a 2012 U.S. Olympian. However, his career has been much slower to develop than that of his teammate. Even though he's already at the advanced age of 29, Gausha was relegated to the opening bout of Friday's Bounce TV broadcast, against journeyman Luis Hernandez. Gausha's fighting peak should be now and yet prior to Friday he had only recorded 19 professional fights in the four-and-a-half years since the Olympics, including just two in 2016. (Warren had fought even less frequently, but at least he had received title opportunities.) 

Many boxing observers have been critical of Gausha's manager, Al Haymon, for not keeping his fighters active enough (and often deservedly so) but sometimes a manager or a promoter knows that he doesn't have the goods. And after watching Gausha get dropped by a third-rate pressure fighter on Friday, you could see why he hasn't been on the fast track.

Even after badly hurting Hernandez later in the fight, Gausha couldn't put his opponent away. Like Easter's foe, Hernandez had no business lasting the distance in the fight. 

The junior middleweight division features a number of excellent fighters and it's doubtful that Gausha will be added to that list. Lacking a killer instinct, a consistent work rate or elite-level power, Gausha's future seems to be title "opponent." Yes, he certainly has skills but he'd be a big underdog against any titlist at 154 lbs. 


The ShoBox main event on Friday featured a dandy of a match between Ivan Baranchyk, a pressure-fighting knockout artist (an unusual combination) from Russia against Abel Ramos, a boxer-puncher from Arizona. Both fighters had distinct advantages: Ramos – boxing skills, accuracy, a larger punch arsenal and range; Baranchyk – power and conditioning. 

Each hit the canvas in a fabulous third round. Baranchyk launched a beautiful overhand right that sent Ramos down and Ramos later connected with a nifty left hook below the neck that dropped Baranchyk. Baranchyk again knocked down Ramos in the fourth and the fight eventually settled into a pattern – one that made for great television viewing. Ramos would pepper Baranchyk in the middle of the ring with stinging combos but by the end of the round Baranchyk would unload on Ramos against the ropes with ferocious right hands and left hooks. 

Eventually, Baranchyk's power proved to be too much. Ramos' face fell apart and by the latter rounds, his shots had lost much of their steam. Baranchyk wound up winning a deserved unanimous decision. On one hand, he remains an undefeated, hard-hitting prospect. However, it's become apparent that he'll have difficulty at range. 

At just 5'7" and with short arms, Baranchyk has few weapons in the pocket or from the outside. He lacks consistent offense from distance and usually will just eat shots attempting to come forward. That approach is fraught with risk. Granite-chinned pressure fighters can win with that style but Baranchyk has already been down twice in his career; he's vulnerable from the outside. 

However, hitting the canvas isn't necessary a death sentence for a fighter. It certainly didn't end the careers of Juan Manuel Marquez or Orlando Salido, both of whom always managed to get back up after being sent down. To this point, Baranchyk has shown impressive recuperative powers after getting dropped. 

On the plus side of the equation, Baranchyk features fight-stopping power. At close range, his right hand and left hook are weapons that could take him to the top of the division. If he learned how to disguise those shots a little better, either with feints or by setting them up with the jab, the results could be even more devastating. It will be interesting to see if Baranchyk believes that he needs to round out his offensive skill set. As of now, he's an exciting one-trick pony. And make no mistake; it's a hell of a trick. However, as he's seen in his last three fights, he'll face opponents that can take him the distance and trouble him at range. Having power isn't always enough. 


In the opening bout of the ShoBox card, Jon Fernandez, a fluid, hard-hitting prospect from Spain, stopped Ernesto Garza III in the third round. At this level, Fernandez is an exciting offensive talent. His combinations flow seamlessly and he features a menacing right uppercut. 

Fernandez's team includes notables such as former middleweight champion Sergio Martinez and promoter Lou DiBella, so there are some significant expectations for him. At just 21, Fernandez is already 11-0 with nine knockouts. As of now, he's fighting around the junior lightweight division but with his 5'11" frame, expect him to grow into his body over the next few years. I wouldn't be surprised to see him settle into junior welterweight in the near future. 

It's still too early to project what type of fighter Fernandez will become. He certainly got hit some on Friday. As with any prospect, enthusiasm should be tempered appropriately, but he can punch and he can certainly put shots together. It's a start. 

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
@snboxing on twitter
SN Boxing on Facebook
Contact Adam at:

Monday, February 6, 2017

Pound-for-Pound Update 2-6-16

Several changes have been made to the Saturday Night Boxing Pound-for-Pound List. On New Year's weekend, Naoya Inoue dominated former 115-lb. champ Kohei Kono, stopping him in the sixth round. Only 23 and with just 12 professional fights, Inoue continues his rapid ascension in the Rankings, moving up from #11 to #8.

Leo Santa Cruz earned a hard-fought majority decision victory over Carl Frampton last month to regain the featherweight title that he'd lost to Frampton in July. After their two fights, it's clear to me that both Santa Cruz and Frampton are top-20 talents in the sport. With the win, Santa Cruz reenters the Rankings at #16 while Frampton drops one spot to #17.

After a long hiatus, Mikey Garcia also rejoins the pound-for-pound list with a third-round demolishment of lightweight titleholder Dejan Zlaticanin. Garcia has now won titles in three weight divisions. Had he remained active and unbeaten during the last three years, he would rank even higher in the SNB Rankings; for now, he reenters the list at #18. With the two new additions to the Rankings, both Shinsuke Yamanaka and Rances Barthelemy exit.

The complete Saturday Night Boxing Pound-for-Pound List is below:
  1. Roman Gonzalez
  2. Andre Ward
  3. Sergey Kovalev
  4. Manny Pacquiao
  5. Terence Crawford
  6. Gennady Golovkin
  7. Saul Alvarez
  8. Naoya Inoue
  9. Juan Estrada
  10. Tim Bradley
  11. Guillermo Rigondeaux
  12. Vasyl Lomachenko
  13. Adonis Stevenson
  14. Donnie Nietes
  15. Danny Garcia
  16. Leo Santa Cruz
  17. Carl Frampton
  18. Mikey Garcia
  19. Carlos Cuadras
  20. Keith Thurman
Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
@snboxing on twitter
SN Boxing on Facebook
Contact Adam at: