Big Upsets, Big KO’s, and Underdogs Earn Their Keep a February 13th Recap

Sorry for the half assed post I am putting out but Valentine’s Day weekend cut into my boxing watching and DAZN has been giving me some technical issues. I have not watched all of the fights from this past weekend but I caught the two most talked about fights and Anderson vs Ibeh of course. The weekend was already plagued by COVID as Joe Smith Jr. was denied a shot at the WBO light heavyweight crown when Maxim Vlasov tested positive. Joseph Diaz Jr. came in three pounds overweight in his IBF 130 lb. title contest with Shavkat Rakhimov and lost his belt on the scales which put a dark cloud on that event too. Perhaps the most shocking was former IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington getting completely blown out by unknown Mexican fighter Mauricio Lara. Lara landed his left hook with total impunity dropping Warrington in the fourth round and again in the ninth. The knockdown in the ninth was brutal and may likely be the KO of the Year and also is an early contender for Upset of the Year. Warrington dropped his IBF belt when he failed to secure a fight with China’s Xu Can and was ordered by the IBF to face mandatory challenger Kid Galahad whom he defeated in a disputed split decision. He has been speaking of future big fights the last two weeks and was happy to be free from facing his mandatory challenger. Lara was viewed as a tune up for the house fighter making his first appearance in the ring since 2019. Lara remained active though in obscurity he entered the ring five times in 2020. Warrington’s usually explosive offense did nothing to deter Lara who thrived off of left hooks, especially in between Warrington’s work. A common exchange in this fight would go: Warrington scores two shots and Lara slams a left hook to the head following those shots. It was somewhat reminiscent of what has happened to Amir Khan where he would fire off a rapid combination and not move his head or retract his hands to a safe place and get tagged. Warrington was in a lot of danger in the fourth but got leeway as the hometown fighter. When he hit the canvas in the ninth he made a hard impact with the floor and was down for several minutes. In what was a scary moment, he received oxygen and made it to his feet regaining his consciousness. There have not been any statements on what Warrington is going to do next but Lara made a massive statement and will likely be rewarded with a big fight. Warrington however has lost plenty of the clout he built up in the last few years since his war with Lee Selby to claim the title and his offensive storm to defeat Carl Frampton.

Jared Anderson KO’s Kingsley Ibeh in 6

I cannot think of a better result for Jared Anderson this past Saturday. He got in much needed rounds reaching the sixth round for the first time in his career and scored a highlight reel knockout. Along the way the young prospect displayed an outstanding jab that dominated the fight and took the play away from Ibeh. Anderson could have won the fight behind his jab alone as his fast hands beat Ibeh to the target over and over. A two punch combination at the end of the first drew blood from Ibeh’s nose, the Nigerian was hit clean often in the opening round. He did test the young prospect’s chin with a wound up bomb, common in his unorthodox arsenal but Anderson did not flinch. In fact he smiled and kept that grin over the course of six rounds as he fought in a very comfortable mindset. He was rarely out of position and showed terrific poise in controlling an unorthodox opponent with heavy hands. Ibeh was dangerous until the end, he was completely out gunned but swung hard blows when Anderson lingered in range. Ibeh fought a self preservation type of style as he backed around the perimeter of the ring with his defense tightened and his lands positioned to throw with power. He did not have the ability to open up and attack Anderson and Anderson did not sell out to allow Ibeh to have his chances. Anderson continued to peck away and take what he could get from behind a Mayweather/Toney type of shoulder roll defense as he wore Ibeh down. Though there was tension given the punching power on both sides, the fight was a lot of waiting and measuring. Eventually, Ibeh was tired and on the defensive and Anderson began to land regularly until he forced a final exchange with Ibeh and sent him down with a hard left hook. A great KO for a young heavyweight coming up and a good message to send around the division. A hard punch, fast hands, accurate punches, good reflexes, a shoulder roll defense, and some flash; I think ESPN may have something with Anderson but time will tell.

I will say I have a huge respect for Ibeh who is very inexperienced and fought until the end and was swinging at Anderson rather than holding to survive. I just hope that this nasty knockout loss does not discourage him from boxing on. He has had a late start in this sport but he has shown plenty of promise, in his last fight he drew undefeated Italian Olympian Guido Vianello. I felt he won that fight and has shown improvement and dedication to achieve something in this sport down the road if he continues to hone his craft.

Joseph Diaz Jr. fights back to a draw but loses his title belt

Diaz Jr. finally won a a professional world championship roughly twelve months ago against Tevin Farmer. The 2012 Olympian was my favorite contestant from that class of fighters and I felt with his youth and pro style that he would go far in the professional ranks and maybe even be the stand out of that squad. He took a long route to his first belt, eight years and one failed bid at featherweight saw him challenge the active IBF 130 lb. titlist Tevin Farmer. Diaz Jr. came up short but fought respectably in his bid for the WBC Featherweight title when facing Gary Russel Jr. He had something of a breakout against Farmer as he overcame a very bad cut to out work and batter Farmer around the ring. He won a dominant decision but like the above Warrington, he was shelved after that and sat idle as the boxing world saw some major ripples. The ripples have also been happening all around his weight class with young stars emerging and his name has been absent from a lot of that discussion. DAZN talk shows featured Diaz and his exiting of the agreed upon rematch with Farmer and the two fired back at one another in the media. I accused Diaz of looking past Rakhimov and the three and a half pounds he was overweight by seemed to lend credence to that assertion. I do not want to underappreciate Rakhimov and the performance he put in by outworking Diaz and forcing a draw but Diaz did not seem fully prepared and conditioned. Diaz did win the majority of the closing four rounds and snatched a draw out of the jaws of defeat. Though he did not keep his title he was able to at least leave with out a loss. This will be a black eye for Diaz who was looking toward bigger things but without the L and now being a beltless free agent he may be able to pursue some interesting fights.

Moral of the story:

Do not ever overlook your opponents!

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