Fights in Five: Vargas wins, a Vijender appears

VargasKameda_Hoganphotos3The best of last week’s boxing action, in five minutes or less. (Yeah, kinda like Jimmy John’s.)

Rey Vargas UD12 Tomoki Kameda: Vargas isn’t a fun watch (more on that here), and Kameda – who was supposedly all-in to avenge an amateur loss to Vargas – didn’t consistently do enough to force the issue in Saturday’s tangle for Vargas’ junior featherweight title. Trainer Nacho Beristain stood firm before the fight that he didn’t want his guy to “go out of his way to please somebody,” and Vargas obliged. His jab won him a decision, if not a single fan.

Shakur Stevenson KO3 Alberto Guevara: At this point, Stevenson’s Olympic pedigree, undefeated record, explosive style or long-term potential are sort of beside the point. He’s a jagoff who has made it exceptionally easy for fans to root against him. Making it exceptionally difficult to do that on Saturday was his opponent: Guevara was a late replacement for a no-hoper and, predictably, was made an easy meal. If Stevenson gets his public wish – a featherweight title challenge of Oscar Valdez or Josh Warrington – it’ll be worth watching, if only to learn whether karma really is a bitch.

Ronny Rios KO6 Diego De La Hoya: Rios had already had a bite at the apple, dropping a 2017 decision to Vargas in the latter’s first title defense, so at 29 and with two more losses on his record, he likely bought a new lease on his career with this upset. Rios’ chin-rattling righthanded uppercut sent De La Hoya to his knees in the sixth and punctuated what had been a fun, physical battle. De La Hoya had been climbing the ranks at 122 pounds – a 2017 win over Randy Caballero being most notable – so this was a blow to the mythmakers who’d foolishly hoped he’d live up to the legacy of cousin Oscar.

Daniel Dubois KO5 Nathan Gorman: Eleven knockouts in 12 fights – all wins – is creating that special musk of too-early buzz for Dubois that is very much the heavyweight division’s brand. Dubois bloodied and toppled Gorman in the third, then finished him in the fifth, competently setting up his power with the jab. Dubois has plenty of time to figure it all out, but because Gorman – a 23-year-old prospect – wasn’t just a throwaway opponent, the 21-year-old Brit may move fast.

Joe Joyce UD12 Bryant Jennings: Joyce, unlike Dubois, is on the clock. The 33-year-old, who took up boxing at 22 and turned pro only two years ago, handled his business and remained undefeated in outpointing veteran contender Jennings 115-112, 117-110 and 118-109. But when you’re trying to draw attention for a Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua rumble, going the distance with Jennings (Joyce’s first non-stoppage) has all the effect of revving the engine on your Vespa.

Amir Khan TKO4 Billy Dib: Don’t worry – we won’t waste much time here. Khan traveled to Juddah for a massive payday in a glorified exhibition, dropping Dib in the second and taking him apart in the fourth with a flurry that prompted Dib’s corner to throw the towel. Khan is saying a November return to Saudi Arabia for a Manny Pacquiao fight is already in the can – the ultimate confluence of money-grabbing and washedness, which means it’s probably true.

Joshua Greer Jr. MD12 Nikolai Potapov: Greer’s gimmick is his “Night, Night” pillow, but the bantamweight contender-in-waiting had to stow it after this performance – a different kind of sleeper. Whether Greer deserved the 116-112, 115-113, 114-114 decision – Potapov didn’t exactly seize the day – he is now (theoretically) in line to face titlist Naoya Inoue. That (again, theoretical) matchup would mark the best opponent either fighter has faced to date.

Vijender Singh TKO4 Mike Snider: I am absolutely here for the Vijender Singh Show, starring a 33-year-old Olympic bronze medalist, Indian politician and Bollywood star. Singh showed a bit of toughness and power in his U.S. debut, though Snider was several (long) steps away from a serious proving ground. Don’t care. Give me more Vijender.

Vito Mielnicki Jr. KO1 Tamarcus Smith: A 17-year-old from New Jersey making his pro debut, Mielnicki smoked Smith with a bang-on right hand before either fighter had a chance to work up a sweat. A suburban high school boxer nicknamed “White Magic” could be a wet dream for advertisers, so expect to see plenty more Mielnicki if he stays busy and keeps passing basic early-career checkpoints.

(Photo: Tom Hogan, Hoganphotos / Golden Boy Promotions)

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