Monday, October 22, 2018

SNB Stock Report

This weekend featured three major fight cards with title bouts at middleweight, junior lightweight and bantamweight, and a high-profile World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) clash at cruiserweight. So after all the dust settled, whose stock went up (+), whose went down (-), or whose stayed the same (no change)? Find out in the SNB Stock Report. 

Demetrius Andrade (+) Andrade beat late replacement Walter Kautondokwa to earn a vacant middleweight belt. He scored four knockdowns and cruised to a wide decision victory. On the plus side of the ledger, he displayed sharp punching and his power looks like it will play at middleweight. On the other hand, he carried Kautondokwa in the latter rounds and didn't really try to finish him off when the opportunity was there for the taking. In addition, Andrade touched the canvas during a rare double knockdown. Fortunately for him, referee Steve Willis missed the call (more on him below) and Willis also failed to discipline Andrade for hitting Kautondokwa while he was already knocked down (Andrade could have been disqualified). Ultimately, Andrade's performance puts him in a position for a bigger fight, but there were a number of head-scratching moments as well. In short, Saturday was a microcosm of his career: loads of talent on display, and several confounding choices. 

Rob Brant (+) Not all that much was expected for Brant heading into Saturday's fight against Ryota Murata. Top Rank was already making plans for Murata to face Gennady Golovkin in a middleweight mega-fight in Tokyo next year. Furthermore, Brant looked completely overmatched last year in his super middleweight WBSS fight against Juergen Braehmer. Brant's team pointed out prior to Saturday's fight that he was undefeated at middleweight – to a collective yawn might I add. But they had the last laugh as Brant put together the performance of his career to upset Murata and win a wide unanimous decision. Brant, working with trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, executed a brilliant game plan, using angles, volume and grit to get the better of Murata. In addition, Brant showed a solid beard. He took a number of big shots from Murata, but always came back swinging. Overall, it was a career-defining performance and he should be in line for a decent payday in 2019. 

Maxim Dadashev (no change) Dadashev, an Egis Klimas-managed junior welterweight, was seen by some as a serious prospect. Entering Saturday's fight against old war horse Antonio DeMarco, Dadashev featured a nifty record of 11-0 with ten knockouts. Yet, there Dadashev was in the second half of the fight eating right hooks and clinching to buy himself some time. The optimist would say that Dadashev got some needed rounds and seasoning. He's a good athlete and features excellent hand speed. But the pessimist might watch Dadashev's performance on Saturday and wonder what would have happened if someone fresher and more menacing than DeMarco was landing that cleanly on him. Ultimately, Dadashev won a competitive unanimous decision, but more was expected of him. 

Yuniel Dorticos (no change) When last we saw Dorticos in February, he lost a war to Murat Gassiev in the semifinals of the cruiserweight WBSS. The fight was clearly one of the best of 2018. Now entering a new WBSS tournament, Dorticos had a tougher-than-expected fight against Mateusz Masternak, winning a close unanimous decision. Dorticos looked a little sluggish and his vaunted power failed to materialize in the fight. Credit Masternak for beating expectations, but it's fair to ask just how much the Gassiev fight took out of Dorticos. 

Tevin Farmer (+) It's rare when Tevin Farmer scores a knockout; before Saturday his last one was eight fights ago against Daulis Prescott. Yet there Farmer was on Saturday, raising his hands in glory – in the fifth round! It was just Farmer's sixth knockout of his career. Farmer uncorked a beautiful rear hook to James Tennyson's liver in the fourth round and then finished him off with a lead right hook in the fifth. Overall, it was one of Farmer's most offensive-oriented performances on the world level. Farmer continues to improve and he would be a handful for any of the other junior lightweight titlists. 

Jason Moloney (+) Although Moloney lost to Emmanuel Rodriguez by a split decision, his performance should guarantee another big opportunity at bantamweight in 2019. Moloney was down early in Saturday's fight due to Rodriguez's accuracy, punch selection and athleticism. However, Moloney kept plugging away and in the championship rounds, he was the one getting the better of the action. His sharp counters and committed body attack gradually reduced Rodriguez's output and ambition. Nevertheless, the judges got it right. Moloney had several fine moments in the fight, but Rodriguez was the rightful winner. Still, if Moloney is matched right, he definitely could pick up a belt at 118 in the future. 

Ryota Murata (-) Murata fights as if he has A+ power. Patiently walking down his opponents, when he lets his hands go, almost all his shots are hard. His approach could work at the top level if he actually possessed such power; but he doesn't. Rob Brant consistently beat Murata to the punch on Saturday and used Murata's style against him. As Murata would contemplate whether to let a right hand go, Brant would paste him with a quick three-punch combination and then get out of range. This same exact scenario occurred dozens of times throughout the fight. Yes, Murata did land a few of his bombs, and perhaps the scores were a little too kind to Brant, but Murata didn't do enough to win the fight. Even the best knockout punchers have to know how to win fights on the cards; Brant made Murata look one-dimensional on Saturday. 

Emmanuel Rodriguez (+) Rodriguez is an excellent fighter and it's a shame that because of the bantamweight seeding in the WBSS that he'll have to face Naoya Inoue in the semifinals. In my opinion, those are the best two fighters at 118 at the moment. Rodriguez turned away a spirited effort from Jason Moloney on Saturday. Featuring a large arsenal of punches, excellent movement and imposing physical dimensions, Rodriguez did his best work in the first nine rounds of the fight. Perhaps he took his foot off the gas a little or was getting a bit winded by the end of the fight. Nevertheless, he put forward a commendable performance in the best fight of the weekend.   

Steve Willis (-) The rule for hot dogs is this: it only works when you back it up in the ring. Yes, referee Steve Willis is a showboat. He knows that eyes are watching him in the ring. He's aware of all of the .gifs and memes that are circulating on social media. He's a minor cult hero among the boxing hardcore. However, all of this ceases to be amusing when he misses a knockdown and fails to penalize a fighter for hitting an opponent who was already on the canvas. Willis was dreadful during the Andrade fight. Maybe a little less mugging and a little more humility is needed at this juncture. Willis has been a fine world-class referee for some time, but his work on Saturday was far from satisfactory. 

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of saturdaynightboxing.comHe's a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
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