Sweet Science Scene: Memorable moments and not so memorable in a weekend filled with action

Michael Rueda
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Photo: Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

It was an active week in the world on the Sweet Science Scene with four major cards between the U.S. and the UK. This is great news for fans of the Sweet Science and meant a heavy dose of TV.

The multitude of cards provided some great moments but also opened the door for some absolute disasters. We received a clear-cut winner in one trilogy and another trilogy that didn’t live up to expectations. The Sweet Science was also given a moment where a prospect became a bonafide contender and the grandson of the greatest fighter who ever lived made his pro debut.

Franco – Moloney trilogy ends with a bang

Franco outpoints Moloney Sweet Science scene boxing
Joshua Franco closes the loop on his trilogy of fights with Andrew Moloney with a unanimous decision Saturday in Oklahoma.

In the Top Rank/ESPN card from Oklahoma, the trilogy of fights between Joshua Franco and Andrew Moloney concluded. Franco emerged the winner via unanimous scores from all three judges at 116-112. The victory gave Franco a record of 2-0 (with a no-contest) in the trilogy. Both fighters stuck to their game plans early, but Franco made the better adjustments to pick up the victory. The win was made doubly special for Franco. He was then named the mandatory match-up for the fight winner between Juan Francisco “El Gallito” Estrada and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. With all fighters currently tied to DAZN, it should be easy to make. Also, on the card consensus top Jr welterweight Arnold Barboza picked up a victory over rugged veteran Antonio Moran. Karlos Balderas picked up a major stoppage victory in his Top Rank debut. The other big moment during the show was Nico Ail Walsh’s debut – the grandson of Muhamad Ali picking up a victory. It was a solid performance as he won via first-round TKO.

Ortiz Jr wins over Kavaliauskas on Golden Boy/DAZN card

In the Golden Boy on DAZN card from Frisco, Texas, Vergil Ortiz Jr left an emphatic mark with his victory over former title challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas. Following a second-round in which he was stunned, Ortiz steadily pushed forward, eventually dropping Kavaliauskas four times en route to the win in round eight. Ortiz has completed his ascension from prospect to a contender and now must wait for his next move. The other marquee match-up on this card was closing the trilogy of fights between Roger Gutierrez and Rene Alvarado. In January, both warriors gave us a great fight and most expected the same. That wasn’t the case as both fighters were more cautious and avoided exchanges as Gutierrez emerged as the winner for a second time.

Sweet Science California style as Bantamweights duke it out

The third major Sweet Science card in the U.S. this past week was from Carson, California, with the main card being all Bantamweight fighters. The card was drawing buzz as many fans of the Sweet Science were interested, but it did not live up to expectations after the first fight.

In that first fight, former champion Rau’shee Warren stopped Damien Vazquez in two rounds after an absolute beating. The knockout blow was worth seeing over and over if you’re a Sweet Science junkie like we are.

The Co-Main event was between Gary Antonio Russel, looking to establish himself as a true player, and former Champion Emmanuel Rodriguez. This match ended in 16 seconds as a result of a nasty clash of heads. No fighter was truly at fault, but it took a quick and bad turn. Each fighter expressed that they would love to run it back once they are cleared to go. The main event was talked about a lot as WBO Champion John Riel Casimero took on veteran and avoided Guillermo Rigondeaux in a fight that had plenty of intrigue but was, in truth, a horrendous fight. There were moments in this fight for Rigondeaux actually just ran to avoid exchanges and left fans constantly booing. The scorecards were read, and discussions came to wonder if it was a robbery and, to be honest, it was tough to judge as they landed a combined 91 punches between both. If we’re honest, the memory of the fight should be wiped away and never brought up again. Also, in England, rising prospect Joshua Buatasi picked up a stoppage victory.

Sweet Science Quick Hits

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  • It seems that negations between Canelo Alvarez and Caleb Plant for the undisputed Super Middleweight championship are happening again. This comes a few weeks after the previous attempt crumbled before both sides could not come to an agreement. Following the previous debacle, Canelo was in talks to meet light heavyweight Dmitry Bivol, but that also did not happen. It seems like the attention for this fight has turned for November if and when the negotiations have ended. Sweet Science aficiandos must again play the waiting game on this one.
  • The Jr Lightweight title match between WBO Champion Jamel Herring and former Featherweight Champion Shakur Stevenson has been signed and become official. See Sweet Science fans, good fights can be made without drama – sometimes.The match is due to take place October 23 at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. This a big fight for both fighters. In the case for Herring, it will be his fourth title defense and a chance to make himself available for a possible unification should he win. If Stevenson same things as well as his first real marquee fight and a chance to also label himself a two-weight World Champion.
  • Another Week and another card knocked down by Covid. David Benavidez was due to face former champion Jose Uzcategui in a Showtime main event August 28, but Benavidez tested positive for covid. It continued a trend over the summer for the Sweet Science in which another fight or card was lost due to Covid. Benavidez obviously let down as he was going to be fighting in his hometown and his brother would be fighting on the card. It was announced that the card would be rescheduled for another date.

Not to be Rueda but…

Comparing current fighters to legends has become an old hat. Comparing current fighters to the older Floyd Mayweather or Pernell Whitaker isn’t productive. For a couple of years, I’ve heard that Shakur Stevenson and Devin Haney are reminiscent of a young Floyd Mayweather.

Honestly, it’s not even close.

Mayweather had an era of “Pretty Boy Floyd” where he absolutely beat down fighters. It was at the 130 and 135 weight which Stevenson and Haney fight in. This is not to discredit these fighters, but it’s not fair to put them in the same class with a legend like Mayweather because, right now, neither one is near close to the dominant fighter Floyd was – especially at that weight.

Then we have people who say the performance Guillermo Rigondeaux delivered was Mayweather or Whitakeresque.

And, again, and emphatically, no.

Rigondeaux had moments where he clearly ran and when he made his opponent miss. They did not return a counter shot or make him pay. Mayweather and Whitaker, when they dodged punches or avoided blows, would do what they needed to do with a counter shot, and if they hurt, you believed they would finish you. The old saying is “hit and not be hit,” which is true, but in the Sweet Science, it’s also called prize FIGHTING, so you have to fight or make a statement and Mayweather and Whitaker definitely did more often than not. What Rigondeaux did was nowhere near beautiful, the Sweet Science or technical mastery. It was an all-around waste of the main event spot.