With the completion of the first three weeks of ESPN's summer boxing series, it's time for another edition of the Saturday Night Boxing Stock Report. The Stock Report shows which fighters' stock went up (+), down (-) or remained unchanged (NC) based on their most recent performance. Let's get started!
Shakur Stevenson (+)
|Photo Courtesy of Mikey Williams|
Stevenson did what was expected of him against the overmatched Felix Caraballo, scoring two knockdowns and winning via a sixth-round stoppage. However, his performance highlighted some impressive new dimensions. He stayed in the pocket and sat down on his shots much better than he has throughout most of his pro career. In addition, Stevenson's combination punching and body work demonstrated a new-found ferocity. He wasn't throwing shots to score points; he was trying to administer hurt. Refreshingly, Stevenson didn't play with his food or fight down to the level of his opposition. He exhibited no signs of ring rust, which might have been expected during his lengthy layoff. Overall, he looked sharp. At 14-0 and still just 23, Stevenson should have more room for growth. It will be interesting to see if he remains at 130 lbs. or drops back to 126 to defend his featherweight title.
Jason Moloney (+)
Moloney exhibited fantastic inside fighting skills to grind down late-replacement opponent Leonardo Baez over seven rounds. With a keen understanding of his preferred range, Moloney stayed inside Baez's long reach. In the trenches he cracked Baez with power shots throughout the match. Ultimately, Baez didn't answer the bell for round eight. Moloney has displayed excellent intestinal fortitude in his high-profile bouts. In the bantamweight World Boxing Super Series, he was down big to Emmanuel Rodriguez before making a spirited push in the second half. It wasn't enough to get the win, but he showed tremendous poise, self-belief and craft to get back into the bout. Against Baez, Moloney had to fight just two days after his brother received a hellacious beating in the ring. But there was no psychological let down against Baez, which speaks to Jason's strong intangibles. Still, he does require some work on his defense. He's lucky that Baez didn't possess more power. Moloney got caught with a number of clean left hooks when pulling out.
Joshua Franco (+)
In this month's best fight, Joshua Franco pulled away in the second half of the bout to defeat Andrew Moloney in a battle of grueling trench warfare. Franco was down early in the fight, with Moloney's volume and footwork troubling him. However, Franco landed a number of fantastic counter left hooks to get back into the match. As the fight progressed, Franco went on the march, attacking Moloney to the head and body and pressing the action. Ultimately, the fight came down to power and punch resistance, and Franco was superior in both aspects. He scored a knockdown in the 11th round and went on to win a competitive unanimous decision. Franco's record of 17-1-2 might not dazzle, but make no mistake; he's an excellent fighter. His performances against Moloney and Oscar Negrete have provided him with the seasoning to compete at the highest level of the 115-lb. division.
Andrew Moloney (-)
Considering Andrew's spirited effort in defeat against Franco, the minus symbol next to his name might be harsh. But he took such a beating, with damage to both ear drums and a cracked rib among other injuries, that he won't be back in the ring any time soon, a significant setback for his career. Moloney fought too overconfidently early in the match. He was landing at will and he tried to impose his will on the inside. But he was met with a lot of return fire, and by the time he tried to fight Franco on the outside, it was already too late. Overall, he was too eager to trade and was seemingly over-impressed with his power. Moloney possesses top-ten talent at 118 lbs., but he needs to gain a better understanding of his strengths and weaknesses in the ring.
Emanuel Navarrete (NC)
|Photo Courtesy of Mikey Williams|
The junior featherweight champion stayed active with a non-title fight against the overmatched Uriel Lopez and scored a sixth-round knockout. After a sluggish start, Navarrete displayed his characteristic frenetic attack, with powerful body work, odd-angled shots and multi-punch combinations. After winning his title, he has now fought five time in ten months, but not one of these opponents will be remembered. It's time for him to get another real challenge. It remains to be seen whether he will stay at 122 lbs. or move up to featherweight. But enough of these stay-busy fights!
Miguel Berchelt (NC)
Similar to his Mexican countryman Navarrete, Berchelt, who has a belt at 130 lbs., took a non-title fight against a poor opponent. The unlucky but brave victim in this case was Eleazar Valenzuela. Berchelt fired off scores of menacing left hooks and won by a sixth-round stoppage. Berchelt wants to face former featherweight champion Oscar Valdez next, and that's a fight which should generate fantastic action for boxing fans.
Gabriel Flores (NC)
In the early rounds of his fight against Josec Ruiz, Flores seemed to have turned a corner. Instead of over-moving, he planted himself in the pocket, fired off a number of impressive power shots and even scored a knockdown. However, as the fight progressed, he reverted to form, and used his legs and long-range boxing skills to pull away for an easy unanimous decision. Throughout the fight, his trainer (his father, Gabriel Sr.) repeatedly admonished Gabriel to hold his ground against the hard-charging Ruiz, but it's clear that Flores isn't yet comfortable with taking more chances on the inside. Flores (20 years old and now 18-0) has great legs and stellar hand speed, but he needs to become more proficient fighting at mid-range and on the inside. Until that time, he will remain a tantalizing prospect, and not a fully-formed top fighter.
Jessie Magdaleno (NC)
Magdaleno won by disqualification in the 10th round. His opponent, Yenifel Vicente, had already lost three points for various infractions, and referee Robert Byrd had seen enough. Magdaleno scored two knockdowns in the fight from quick counter right hooks and had built a lead on the cards. However, there were also large portions of the fight where he was passive in the ring, barely letting his hands go. In addition, Vicente fired low blows at Magdaleno throughout much of the fight and it's concerning that Magdaleno didn't try to take manners into his own hands at any point. Magdaleno once had a title at 122 lbs., and his skills are apparent, but he doesn't seem to be fighting with a lot of confidence. His passivity in the ring is a recent phenomenon, and one that needs to be expunged if he entertains notions of being a world titlist again.
Mike Plania (+)
|Photo Courtesy of Mikey Williams|
Chalk this one up to the Top Rank matchmakers. The relatively unknown Plania was brought over from the Philippines to give bantamweight contender Joshua Greer a stern test. When the fight was announced, oddsmakers were unimpressed, with Greer initially installed as an over 10-1 favorite. But as more people started to research the fight, they said to themselves, hey, this kid can fight, and the odds started to close in a hurry. And Plania rewarded those who jumped on the initial betting lines. Scoring two knockdowns with wide left hooks, Plania took control of the fight. He displayed impressive poise for a young fighter and featured a variety of offensive weapons. Greer did come on a little in the second half, but Plania had done enough to win the fight on the scorecards. Almost everything Plania throws is hard and he doesn't light up the punch counting stats, but his power is real. At just 23 years old, he looks to be another significant player in the fascinating bantamweight division.
Joshua Greer (-)
This had been coming for some time. Greer had difficulty in his last three bouts. For this fight, he trained back in Chicago and returned to a former coach. But, in the first round against Plania, he was in trouble once again. He couldn't adjust to the trajectory of Plania's wide hook and was dropped; the same punch also led to his knockdown in the sixth. Eventually Greer realized that he was much safer on the inside and he had good moments on his front foot. However, he had already lost too many rounds to win the bout on the cards. Greer is a type of fighter who has superior athletic talent that sometimes can mask defensive deficiencies. He has flashy speed, but gets hit far too often at this point in his career. With Top Rank as his promoter and J. Prince as his management, he will get additional opportunities, but he has lots of work to do in the gym to succeed at the next level.
Christopher Diaz (+)
Diaz turned in a strong performance against Jason Sanchez, winning a wide unanimous decision. He controlled the pocket, threw a strong right hand and featured a variety of boxing skills that haven't always been part of his offensive attack. Diaz has yo-yoed between 126 and 130 lbs. throughout his career and believes that the lower weight may serve him best. He remains a capable fighter as long as an opponent engages him in the pocket. To me, he has the makings of a top gatekeeper at featherweight and junior lightweight, and I don't mean that as an insult. He's going to beat the fighters that he should beat, and will most likely lose to the most talented guys in these divisions. But if he can avoid taking too many clean shots, he will have a lengthy career as a B-side to the stars and up-and-coming prospects.
Abraham Nova (NC)
Facing a spoiler in Avery Sparrow, Nova's high-profile opportunity on ESPN was almost...well, spoiled. Although Sparrow landed very little in the fight, his jab and movement prohibited Nova from opening up with combinations, especially in the early rounds. In addition, Nova fought as if he had too much confidence in his power, seemingly surprised that after he landed a shot, Sparrow would continue unaffected. Once Nova realized that more effort was required to win, he did connect with some impressive power punches and overall, he had a stronger second half. He won the fight by a unanimous decision, but his performance didn't answer many questions about his future prospects in the sport. Nova features an impressive record (19-0, 14 KOs), but against unimpressive opposition. Although he possesses power and physicality, he doesn't yet understand the finer points of how to apply his skills in the ring. Top Rank has talked about matching him next against former 130-lb. champ Masayuki Ito, and that fight would present a stern test for Nova.