Naoya Inoue destroying an overmatched Michael Dasmarinas in three rounds isn't newsworthy. Throughout Inoue's career, he has amassed a high percentage of quick knockouts; 14 of his 21 victories have occurred in the first half of his fights.
But what struck me about Inoue on Saturday was his clinical effectiveness. Like a master surgeon dropping by the ED for a quick case before his afternoon tee time, Inoue performed his duties with minimal fuss or time wasted. A left hook to the body dropped Dasmarinas in the second round and with that Inoue found exactly what he needed to solve this particular opponent. Additional left hooks to the body resulted in two more knockdowns in the third round, and that was that. After the knockout, there was no bravado, no dead-eyed stare, no chest-pounding. Inoue left it to others to supply the hype.
|Photo courtesy of Mikey Williams/Top Rank|
Inoue didn't put a foot wrong on Saturday night. There was no carrying an opponent, no playing with his food, no getting in rounds – just destruction. He doesn't get paid for overtime and he fights like it.
What separates Inoue from other top knockout artists is that he doesn't need to overexert himself. He's not loading up on punches or flailing wildly. He has the hand speed, power, accuracy and confidence to know that his opponents won't be able to withstand his best. His first gear is so devastating that there's often no need for anything extra.
Before I get into my opinions of Jermall Charlo's performance against Juan Montiel, let's dispatch with the official particulars. Charlo won by a wide unanimous decision and he battered Montiel throughout large portions of the fight. Ultimately, Montiel, crude and tough, refused to go down, and after absorbing a beating, he slung wild power punches that seemed to surprise Charlo and all those watching at home. The fight was an entertaining watch. And even though Charlo did not win by the expected stoppage, he dominated his overmatched foe.
But there is a "however" here. During Friday's weigh-in, Charlo initially missed weight by 0.4 lbs., which was unusual for him. And watching his performance on Saturday, it was clear that he was far from his best physically. In his previous fight, Charlo was masterful on his feet against capable contender Sergiy Derevyanchenko. Taking subtle steps back to counter, making quick pivots, creating space to throw, Charlo epitomized a top boxer-puncher that night.
|Photo Courtesy of Esther Lin/Showtime|
Against Montiel, Charlo was not that fighter. There were few of his quick pivots and turns. Instead of creating angles to throw, he was winging power shots without setting the table. His jab, which can be dominant, played no more than a supporting role. He was all upper body and no legs. Charlo can be a cerebral fighter, but on Saturday he looked as if he was in a tough man contest, throwing each shot harder than the previous one. When it became apparent that the knockout wouldn't occur, he didn't settle back into boxing or try subterfuge or deception to unlock his opponent, he just continued with more of the same.
In the back third of the fight, Charlo looked gassed at multiple points. He fought Derevyanchenko, a tougher and better opponent, ably through all 12 rounds, but against Montiel at times he resembled a spent bullet. It's clear that he planned for the early stoppage against Montiel and not much else.
Saturday was an off-night for Charlo and as off-nights go, this wasn't a particularly bad one. He won probably 10 or 11 rounds and he provided his hometown fans with a lot of excitement. But I'm sure that he and trainer Ronnie Shields know that his performance was far from his sharpest.
Charlo possesses the talent level to be among the elite in the sport. But Saturday's performance wasn't an example of that. He took an opponent lightly, abandoned his considerable boxing abilities, got hit with some shots that he probably shouldn't have and tired down the stretch. Hopefully this will be a lesson learned because he can be much better than he showed on Saturday.
It's no secret that Gabe Rosado was brought into lose against hard-slugging Bektemir "Bek the Bully" Melikuziev. After all, that's Rosado's role in the sport. He's the "opponent" who gives good rounds and if the fight is close, most likely he won't get the decision.
In the first round Bek peppered Rosado with power shots, especially straight lefts to the body and right hooks. A Bek onslaught at the end of the round forced Rosado to take a knee. Rosado has been known for durability throughout his career. In his 13 losses (a number of them dubious) he had only been knocked out once in the first half of a fight, and that was 12 years ago. Yet early on Saturday he looked in trouble. Perhaps at 35 Father Time was starting to catch up with him.
Bek had a strong second as well, landing what seemed like dozens of straight left hands to the body. But Rosado, whose ring craft has always been underrated, started to notice something. Bek's straight left to the body involved a hitch. He would pull his left hand back slowly and pause for a brief moment before throwing it. During this motion, the left side of his body was completely unguarded.
In the third, Rosado again recognized the pattern. And this time, when Bek cocked his left hand back, Rosado immediately threw an overhand right, catching Bek flush. Bek splattered on the canvas and Rosado high-stepped it to the other side of the ring; he knew what he had just done. Bek tried to beat the count, but his effort was in vain. And in an instant, the old vet dusted the prized prospect.
|Photo courtesy of Stacey Snyder|
The term "exposed" isn't one I use often. It's a loaded word that means different things to different people. But in this case, let's use it in a limited context. Rosado exposed a flaw in Bek's offensive delivery. It's possible that Bek would have ironed out the problem in subsequent fights, but maybe he wouldn't have. Rosado has never been known for his power, but his eyes, scar tissue all around them, won that fight. He saw the opening and pounced on it.
In a career of ups and downs, Saturday was one of the highlights of Rosado's career. He landed the type of shot he can tell his family about for generations. And it was a firm reminder that there's more to the Gabe Rosado story than hard-luck losses.
Let's end with an appreciation of two excellent prizefights that took place on Saturday: Angelo Leo-Aaron Alameda and Isaac Dogboe-Adam Lopez. Both fights ended in majority decision victories (for Leo and Dogboe), with a scorecard that was too wide for the winner. But this isn't about the officials; it's about four fighters who performed to the best of their abilities and treated fans to two memorable battles.
Leo, a former junior featherweight champion, was back in the ring for the first time since losing his title to Stephen Fulton, and he had his hands full with the boxing prowess of Alameda. Leo and Alameda in fact took turns as the aggressor and the skillful boxer. Leo, known as a pressure fighter, displayed impressive boxing skills while Alameda, more of a technician, walked Leo down effectively through portions of the fight. In the end I had no argument with Leo winning the fight. Overall, it was the type of well-contested battle where both boxers left the ring elevated in stature.
Dogboe-Lopez was a tale of two halves with Dogboe starting out strong, seeming to have the edge in power and hand speed. But as the rounds progressed, Lopez weathered the storm and started taking it to Dogboe on the inside with every punch in his arsenal. I think that Dogboe was fortunate to come away the victory. And if you haven't seen the fight, check out the 10th round; both gave it all they had in the final three minutes. Yes, both are missing key ingredients at featherweight's top level (Dogboe, punch resistance; Lopez, punching power), but as that final round showed, they don't lack heart. It was a wonderful fight and I'd love to see a rematch.