Sunday, July 14, 2019

SNB Stock Report 7-14-19

After a compelling weekend of boxing around the globe, it's time for another edition of the SNB Stock Report. See which fighters stock rose (+), dropped (-) or remained unchanged (NC). 

Ryota Murata (+) When Murata last stepped into the ring, he was comprehensibly beaten by Rob Brant in one of the major upsets of 2018. On Friday he rematched Brant, this time in his home country of Japan. The results couldn't have been more different. Landing an enormous right hand in the second, Murata dropped Brant and unlike the first fight, he kept his foot on the pedal. After Brant beat the count, Murata followed up with a series of pulverizing power shots, forcing referee Luis Pabon to wave the fight off. It was a stunning reversal for Murata and puts him back into the middleweight mix. 

Rob Brant (-) Brant started Friday's fight with the same type of high-volume approach that allowed him to beat Murata in last year's contest. However, instead of using his legs and angles like he did in 2018, he stood and traded more. Murata got the best of a particular exchange with a hard right hand in the second and Brant subsequently hit the canvas. After the action resumed, Brant failed to tie up Murata and he was unable to recover. It's now back to the drawing board for the American middleweight.  

Ken Shiro (+) Junior flyweight Ken Shiro demonstrated further proof on Friday why he is one of the best fighters in boxing. Dismantling the capable Jonathan Taconing in four rounds, Shiro displayed a master class in how to defeat a pressure fighter. Throwing cracking lead right uppercuts, using quick lateral movement, scoring with short counters, Shiro ended the fight by beautifully evading Taconing's pressure, creating an angle where Taconing was out of position and then landing a pulverizing straight right hand. It was expert stuff. Japan's Shiro fights in a fantastic division that deserves more fanfare. Make sure to keep him, and the 108-lb. division as a whole, on your radar. 

Photo Courtesy of Golden Boy Promotions

Rey Vargas (+) It wasn't necessarily pleasing to the eye, but Vargas boxed his way to a points victory over former bantamweight champion Tomoki Kameda. Vargas outworked Kameda throughout the fight, doubling up on his punch volume, and he used excellent footwork to evade trouble through most of the bout. Although Kameda landed the occasional flashy shot, Vargas did a good job of limiting Kameda's output. The California crowd wasn't enthralled with Vargas's work off the back foot, but it was effective. After the fight, Vargas called out fellow 122-lb. titleholder Daniel Roman for a unification match. 

Tomoki Kameda (NC) Kameda was a trendy upset pick prior to Saturday's fight. But the same issue that plagued him against Jamie McDonnell resurfaced against Vargas: he just doesn't let his hands go enough. On a punch-for-punch basis, perhaps Kameda was as good as Vargas on Saturday, maybe even better. However, as the B-side that gets out-worked two-to-one, Kameda didn't give the judges enough to consider. He remains a tough, capable contender, but until he lets his hands go more freely, expect more frustrating nights against top opposition. 

Diego de la Hoya (-) It was sink or swim time for de la Hoya, who was facing one of the toughest tests of his career in the rugged Ronny Rios. De la Hoya matched Rios's intensity during the first five rounds, but it was clear that Rios's punches were having more of an effect. In the sixth, Rios landed a beautiful right uppercut that sent Diego to the canvas. After making it to his feet de la Hoya wasn't able to continue. On paper this seemed to be a notable upset, but it really wasn't. De la Hoya had plateaued over the last 18 months. In addition, he had had weight issues outside of the ring. It wouldn't be surprising if Diego takes a lengthy break from the ring and moves up to featherweight upon his return. 

Ronny Rios (+) Rios has had a Jekyll and Hyde career. He's been stopped by Robinson Castellanos and Azat Hovhannisyan. His commitment to the sport has wavered over the years. He's had management problems. But he's also had impressive performances in beating Andrew Cancio, who's now a 130-lb. champion, former title contender Jayson Velez and Roy Tapia. On Saturday Rios was in great shape and there to win. He matched Diego de la Hoya punch-for-punch in the first five rounds, displaying considerable inside fighting skills. In the sixth he landed a blistering right uppercut, and that was all she wrote. It was a career-best performance from Rios. Here's hoping that he remains dedicated to the sport; when motivated he can be a formidable spoiler.  

Photo Courtesy of Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Shakur Stevenson (NC) Stevenson did what was expected on Saturday, knocking out late-replacement Alberto Guevara in the third round. Guevara, who was a capable contender two divisions south at 118 pounds, didn't possess the physical dimensions or, in truth, the desire to compete on Saturday. As for Stevenson, his next-level athleticism and technical skills are among the best in boxing. What he still needs are rounds and credible opponents. At just 22 and with 12 pro fights, he's already talking about a title shot. Perhaps it wouldn't hurt him to face another determined opponent before he competes for a belt. With that said, sometimes for the very best prospects normal rules don't and maybe shouldn't apply. 

Jamal James (NC) James had a tougher-than-expected fight against former lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco on Saturday. They went to war in the early rounds. As the fight progressed, James clearly was getting the better of the action. He won a wide decision (perhaps a little too wide), but DeMarco pushed him throughout the fight. James is clearly talented enough to defeat the trial horses and gatekeepers at 147, but it's hard to see him defeating any of the current titleholders. Eventually he will get a shot at a belt, but without a huge punch and with significant defensive deficiencies, it's hard to see him becoming a champion. 

Antonio DeMarco (NC) It's always enjoyable to see an old warhorse make one more run. DeMarco was one of the best lightweights in the world back in 2012. In the interim, he lost a bunch of fights, announced his retirement and even sprung an upset in 2017 against undefeated prospect Eddie Ramirez. On Saturday nobody told DeMarco that he was supposed to lose against Jamal James. He wound up giving James all he could handle in the early part of the fight, with fierce power shots and a frenetic pace. Over time DeMarco took too many big shots; he lost by decision. Despite the defeat, he gave a great account of himself. Maybe this will finally be the end of the line for him, but there's always a place in boxing for a durable vet who comes to fight. 

Daniel Dubois (+) In a highly anticipated matchup of undefeated British heavyweight prospects, DuBois knocked out Nathan Gorman in the fifth round with a fantastic double jab/straight right hand combination. It was a spectacular performance for Dubois, who showed not just impressive physical and technical dimensions, but also the ability to make adjustments and think his way through a fight. At first Gorman was countering every right hand with a left hook. But Dubois eventually neutralized that shot, by feinting the right and landing the left hook to the body, or by incorporating a double jab before throwing the right. At just 21 Dubois (12-0, 11 KOs) is already one of the top heavyweight prospects in the sport and Saturday's victory was a significant step in his development. 

Nathan Gorman (-) Gorman entered Saturday's fight against Daniel Dubois with a Plan A: Counter every straight right with a left hook. In the first few rounds he had intermittent success with this approach, but as Dubois started to make adjustments, Gorman was stuck doing the same thing time after time. Gorman can handle himself in the ring, but for now, he's going to have to add more dimensions to his offensive attack. It's fine to be a counterpuncher; however, the best counterpunchers can land with a variety of punches. That's Gorman's challenge. 

Joe Joyce (NC) On one hand Joyce outpointed Bryant Jennings to notch the most notable win of his career. But he didn't look all that impressive in doing so. Joyce essentially won the fight on punch volume and applying effective pressure. Although he's now working with the capable trainer Adam Booth, Joyce's problems remain: he has poor hand speed and he telegraphs his punches. At 33 there's not much time for Joyce to develop further. He does have power and knows how to fight, but his weaknesses in the ring are the types of physical attributes that aren't correctable. He's not suddenly going to get faster or become more of an athlete. In short, he is what he is. Joyce is somewhat of a draw at the box office and has an Olympic pedigree. His team might as well push him as fast as they can and hope that they can catch lightning in a bottle with a big right hand. 

Bryant Jennings (-) Jennings dropped a competitive fight against Joyce on Saturday. (Ignore two of the scorecards; there's a good case for Jennings winning five or so rounds in the bout.) But as the away fighter he didn't show the type of urgency needed to get the victory. Although he landed decent left hooks throughout the bout and mixed in combinations on occasion, there wasn't enough offense from him. There was a little too much safety-first in his performance. Now 24-4, coming off consecutive losses and at age 34, it's unclear where Jennings goes from here. He lost a winnable fight on Saturday and didn't display the type of consistent offensive effort needed to defeat top heavyweights. 

Sunny Edwards (+) Junior bantamweight Edwards easily defeated Hiram Gallardo on Saturday. Perhaps that was expected, but Edwards, in just his 12th professional fight, looked world-class in doing so. Expertly switch-hitting and fighting off the back foot, Edwards's movement, defense and punch variety consistently flummoxed Gallardo. Edwards fights in a division of killers, but expect him to challenge for a title belt in the next 12-15 months. Although he may lack pop, his considerable boxing skills and movement make him an interesting addition to the 115-lb. division.

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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