By Jereme Warneck
HBO PPV Recap
The Battle of East & West: Pacquiao vs. Hatton
May 2, 2009
MGM Grand-Las Vegas, Nevada
There were about 6,500 fans at the weigh-ins and 5,000 fans were turned away at the door. Of the people that made it inside the building, the majority were cheering for Ricky Hatton. For the match there is a sellout crowd of 16,262 that also appear to be slightly pro-Hatton.
1. Junior Middleweight (154 pounds) 4-Round Match:
Erislandy Lara (4-0, 3 KO's, 155 pounds) vs. Chris Gray (11-7, 1 KO's, 156 pounds)
Lara had a stellar amateur boxing career that peaked when he took home the gold medal for his native Cuba in the 152-pound division at the 2005 World Amateur Championships.
The Cuban's amateur boxing career ended when he tried to defect at the 2007 PanAm Games. However, the Brazilian government caught Lara and decided to send him back to Cuba. The Cuban government then banned Lara from boxing indefinitely. This forced Lara to defect to Mexico on a speed boat. From Mexico, Lara went to Germany and began his professional career with a 4-round unanimous decision victory over Ivan Maslov on July 4, 2008 at the Bueyuek Anadolu Hotel in Ankara, Turkey.
Lara's last match was a knockout victory at 1:09 of round 1 over Keith Gross on February 20, 2009 at the University Center Arena in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. After shaking off the rust from being out of the gym for about a year against Maslov, Lara has stopped his last 3 opponents in the first round.
Lara is unranked by The Ring magazine and ranked by boxrec.com as the number 203 boxer in the world at 154 pounds.
Gray is here to lose. He only holds 1 win over an undefeated boxer. That opponent, Jared Hidalgo, entered the match 0-0-1, and is Gray's only knockout victory. The knockout in that match came at 2:20 of round 4 on November 26, 2004 at the Grand Casino in Gulfport, Mississippi. That was Gray's second professional match.
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana resident has the potential to go a few rounds in this match. Gray only has 2 knockout losses, and he has gone the distance in his last 6 matches. However in the match before that, Gray was knocked out by Ed Paredes at 2:20 of round 6 on December 11, 2007 at the Crazy Horse Saloon in Miami, Florida. Therefore, Gray should be durable enough to last until round 2 or 3.
Gray's last match was a 4-round unanimous decision over Maximino Cuevas on February 13, 2009 at Miccosukee Resort & Gaming in Miami, Florida. That was a rematch of a match the 2 had on November 17, 2007 at the Club Med Sandpiper in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Gray won the first match via 6-round unanimous decision. Cuevas used the intervening time to go 1-2 with both losses coming by second round knockout. Gray used the intervening time to move up in weight and officially weighed in 6.5 pounds heavier then Cuevas.
Gray is unranked by The Ring and ranked by boxrec.com as the number 135 boxer in the world at 154 pounds.
At 26-years-old, Lara is 7 years younger then the 33-year-old Gray. Gray has the height advantage standing 5' 10" tall, while Lara stands 5' 9" tall. Lara has the reach advantage with a 24" arm length measured from the armpit to the end of the fist, compared to the Gray's 23.5" arm length. Both boxers have unofficially rehydrated to 162 pounds approaching match time. Lara will box out of the southpaw stance, and Gray will employ the orthodox stance.
The Nevada state rules are in effect for this match. The only major change from the unified rules of boxing is that the match will go to the scorecards after 3 rounds, if it has to be stopped due to a cut caused by an accidental foul instead of after 4 rounds. All of the judges keeping official score of this match from ringside are from Nevada. The referee is Tony Weeks. Harold Lederman will be HBO's unofficial scorekeeper for this event.
Lara uses his very accurate punching to win round 1, 10-9. Gray's body is very soft and Lara is targeting it with straight left hands. Lara wins round 1 on Lederman's scorecard, 10-9. The Cuban easily wins round 2 on Lederman and my scorecard, 10-9. Lara has shown a very bad habit in the first 2 rounds of this match. He regularly drops both hands to adjust his trunks, while he is close to his opponent. However, Gray is not attempting to punch while Lara's guard is dropped. A better opponent will take advantage of all the opportunities Lara gives them to land free punches. This is also counter-productive for Lara, because he is pulling his trunks down, lowering his belt line. At the end of round 2, the top of Lara's trunks are probably 3" lower then they were when the match began. That means he is going to have a harder time getting low blow calls against his opponent. Gray appears to throw more punches in round 3 then he has in any of the other rounds. However, Lara still wins round 3 easily on Lederman and my scorecard, 10-9. Lara wins round 4 on Lederman and my scorecard, 10-9. We both have Lara winning the match, 40-36.
The official decision courtesy of the legendary Michael Buffer is that the judges have scored this match: 40-36, 40-36, 40-36, all for the winner by unanimous decision and still undefeated, Erislandy Lara. The win moves Lara to 5-0 with 3 wins coming by way of knockout.
The final punchstat numbers have Lara landing 108 of the 217 total punches he threw, for a very good 50% total connect percentage. Lara landed 69 of the 106 power punches he threw, for an excellent 65% power connect percentage Gray only landed 11 of the 149 total punches he threw, for a horrific 7% total connect percentage. That works out to less then 3 total punches landed per round. That shatters every record for futility in a match that has been recapped. Gray landed 10 of the 54 power punches he threw, for a 19% power connect percentage.
Lara is already very polished, because of his outstanding amateur background. He is great defensively. Lara showed the ability to punch very accurately in this match. He still has some flaws, primarily the bad habit of playing with his trunks. Lara could also work at a faster pace against this type of opponent to potentially get a knockout. Otherwise there was very little to criticize about his performance in this match. Lara's next match is listed as an 8-round match against Jessie Nicklow on May 22 at the Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami, Florida as part of an ESPN Friday Night Fights event.
Gray was completely over-matched against Lara. He showed more skills then expected by not delivering the knockout the promoters had hoped he would. However, Gray belongs boxing on the undercards of local club shows, not on PPV. That is likely where his next match will be.
2. Middleweight (160 pounds) 4-Round Match:
Matvey Korobov (4-0, 4 KO's, 161.5 pounds) vs. Anthony Bartinelli (20-12-2, 13 KO's, 161 pounds)
Korobov had a highly decorated amateur boxing career where he took home the gold medal for his native Russia in the 165-pound division at both 2005 and 2007 World Amateur Championships. The Russian represented his country in the 165-pound division at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympiad, but was upset in the second round.
Following the Olympics, Korobov turned pro and has become one of Top Rank Promotions most highly regarded prospects. With Top Rank there is the potential to do some very big things with the Russian, because they control the belt in this weight class with Kelly Pavlik. Therefore, they have been moving him steadily against opponents with increasing amounts of experience in every match. Korobov' first opponent entered their match having already competed in 2 pro matches. The Russian's second opponent had already done 4 pro matches. Korobov' third opponent had 6 professional matches to their credit before facing him. To keep up the pattern, Korobov' fourth opponent had 8 pro matches before facing the Russian.
Korobov' last match was a technical knockout victory 2:59 into round 4 over Cory Jones at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
Korobov is unranked by The Ring and ranked by boxrec.com as the number 258 boxer in the world at 160 pounds.
Bartinelli, who enters this match with 34 professional matches on his resume, does not match the profile of Korobov' usual opponents. There is a reason for this. Bartinelli is coming in as a very late replacement. Rodrigo Aguilar was supposed to play the part of opponent in this match. Aguilar has competed in 9 pro matches and is coming off a knockout loss to Lara.
The Phoenix, Arizona resident is a substantially better opponent for Korobov then Aguilar. Bartinelli has suffered some early knockouts, but he has also been in the ring with legitimate opposition. On June 25, 2002, Bartinelli won a 12-round split decision against Charles Davis to pick up a regional belt at 168 pounds. However, Bartinelli would be knocked out at 1:30 of round 1 by Enrique Ornelas challenging for 2 fringe world titles at 168 pounds on September 21, 2002. Bartinelli's more recent experience against solid opposition was an 8-round unanimous decision loss to Elvin Ayala on Jan 23, 2009 at the Plaza Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Bartinelli's last match was an 8-round unanimous decision loss to Albert Onolunose on April 2, 2009 at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, Maryland.
Bartinelli is unranked by The Ring and ranked by boxrec.com as the number 203 boxer in the world at 168 pounds.
At 26-years-old, Korobov is 3 years younger then the 29-year-old Bartinelli. Both boxers stand 5' 11" tall. Bartinelli has the reach advantage with a 23.5" arm length, compared to the 22.5" arm length of Korobov. Korobov will be the heavier boxer in the ring having unofficially rehydrated to 170 pounds approaching match time. Bartinelli has only unofficially rehydrated to 166 pounds approaching match time. Korobov will employ the southpaw stance and Bartinelli will ox out of the orthodox stance.
The Nevada state rules are in effect for this match. The home areas of the judges keeping official score of this match from ringside are not announced. The referee is Robert Byrd.
With 23 seconds to go in round 1, Korobov lands a huge right hook that sends Bartinelli's mouthpiece flying out of his mouth about 30 feet into press row. Bartinelli is still standing, though. Korobov displays big punching power with both hands in winning round 1, 10-9. It is unlikely that Bartinelli finishes round 2 standing. Lederman scores round 1 for Korobov, 10-9. Korobov finishes a combination with a straight left hand to score a knockdown with 2:09 to go in round 2. Bartinelli's eyes looked completely glazed over as he fell back into the ropes and he may not beat the count. Bartinelli is able to stand, and is allowed to continue with 1:56 to go in the round. However, Bartinelli is very unlikely to make it out of this round. Korobov trapped Bartinelli in a corner and forced the referee to move in to stop the match with 47 seconds to go in round 2. It was a good stoppage by the referee.
The official outcome courtesy of Michael Buffer is that at: 2:15 of round 2 the referee has called a stop to this contest making the winner by technical knockout and still undefeated, Matvey Korobov. The win moves Korobov to 5-0 with now 5 wins coming by way of knockout.
The final punchstat numbers have Korobov landing 57 of the 72 power punches he threw, for an astounding 79% power connect percentage. Bartinelli landed only 1 of the 13 power punches he threw, for a poor 8% power connect percentage.
Korobov showed a lot of potential in this match. He has a lot of punching power in both hands. Korobov smartly paced himself after the knockdown and did not punch himself out going for a quick finish. The Russian is tentatively scheduled to box next in an untelevised 4-rounder on the undercard of the Miguel Cotto-Joshua Clottey event on June 13 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. Then comeback quickly with another 4-rounder on the undercard of the Kelly Pavlik-Sergio Mora pay-per-view on June 27 from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Assuming the Russian performs well in both matches, he should start facing better opposition. Of the 2 prospects that have been on this PPV so far, Korobov appears to have a lot more upside.
Bartinelli showed a tremendous ability to take a punch lasting that long against the young Russian. He will now likely to continue playing the role of opponent to rising prospects. Bartinelli is a good boxer to showcase young talent against on ESPN events. He can probably do that for years.
In between matches Jim Lampley, who is doing play-by-play of this event for HBO, is going to interview Ann Wolfe. Wolfe is the acclaimed trainer of James Kirkland, who was supposed to box in the next match. However, Kirkland is currently in jail in Texas for felony weapons possession and violating his parole. Wolfe said that she was disappointed in Kirkland, but hoped he would be able to resume boxing at some point. She also said she hoped to start training more male boxers based on the success she had in the ring with Kirkland.
3. Middleweight 8-Round Match:
Daniel Jacobs (15-0, 14 KO's, 163 pounds) vs. Michael Walker (19-1-2, 12 KO's, 162 pounds)
Jacobs was a top amateur boxer that was expected to make the 2008 United States Olympic team. However, he was upset in the Olympic trials and forced to turn pro early on December 8, 2007 as part of the untelevised undercard of the Ricky Hatton vs. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. PPV.
The Brooklyn, New York resident's last very high profile match was on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao vs. Oscar De La Hoya on December 6, 2008. Jacobs defeated Victor Lares by technical knockout at 2:44 of round 2 in that match. The New Yorker dropped Lares with a combination with 29 seconds to go in round 2. Lares stood up and appeared fine to continue, before the referee reached 10. However, the referee saw that Lares was over-matched and did not have the desire to continue. Therefore, the referee wisely waved off the match. A full recap of that can be found here: http://www.number1contender.net/the-latest/2009/5/1/recap-of-daniel-jacobs-vs-victor-lares.html
Jacobs' last match saw him land a huge right hand to score a knockout victory 1:29 into round 2 over Jose Varela on April 24, 2009 at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois. The match, 8 days ago as part of an ESPN Friday Night Fights event, was the boxing version of WWE's "Beat the Clock Challenge" for Jacobs. There is a limit on the number of rounds a boxer can box in a certain time period. Had Jacobs gone into round 7 of that scheduled 8-rounder, he would have not been able to compete on the PPV. It would have been silly for Jacobs' people to risk his availability for the PPV in that match. However, Jacobs found out less then 2 weeks before the PPV that he would be replacing Kirkland. If Jacobs withdrew from the match with Varela to work the PPV instead at the last minute, that would have gotten him suspended in Illinois. It is against the rules to no show a match. That is considered defrauding the ticket buying audience, who paid to see the advertised card. However, Jacobs people did not tell him that he needed a quick knockout in that match. Jacobs is so powerful, that the early knockout came naturally.
Jacobs is unranked by The Ring and ranked by boxrec.com as the number 42 boxer in the world at 168 pounds.
Walker was originally brought in to lose this match to Kirkland in spectacular fashion at 154 pounds. The late change in opponent means he can lose this match in spectacular fashion at his normal weight of 160 pounds. Walker has a heavily inflated record that has shown heavily in his last 5 matches. The Chicago native has gone 1-1-1 in his last 3 matches. Those 3 matches were against 2 solid opponents that each had over 30 wins on their record. Prior to that, he had knocked out his previous 2 opponents. They entered their matches with him with records of 9-15 and 9-14-1.
Walker's last match was an 8-round majority decision win over Antwun Echols on October 3, 2008 at the Radisson Star Plaza in Merrillville, Illinois. That was a rematch of a majority draw Walker had with Echols on February 29, 2008 at the Paragon Casino & Resort in Marksville, Louisiana.
Walker is unranked by The Ring and ranked by boxrec.com as the number 71 boxer in the world at 160 pounds.
At 22-years-old, Jacobs is 8 years younger then the 30-year-old Walker. Jacobs has the height advantage standing 6' 1" tall, while Walker stands 5' 7" tall. The New Yorker has the reach advantage with a 24.5" arm length, compared to the 22.5" arm length of Walker. Both boxers have unofficially rehydrated to 169 pounds approaching match time. Both boxers will employ the orthodox stance.
The unified rules of boxing will be in effect for the remainder of the event. All of the judges keeping official score of this match from ringside are from Nevada. The referee is Vic Drakulich.
Jacobs had Walker hurt in the final 30 seconds of round 1 and nearly finished the match at that point. However, Walker was able to survive round 1. Jacobs wins round 1 big, 10-9. Lederman scores round 1 for Jacobs, 10-9. The New Yorker works at a deliberate pace and easily wins round 2, 10-9. Jacobs wins round 2 on the Lederman scorecard, 10-9. With 54 seconds to go in round 3, Walker locks Jacobs in a clinch and sends the young boxer hard to the ground with a cross between a belly-to-belly throw and a hiptoss. Jacobs stands up and is dusted off with 45 seconds to go in the round. The referee rules that Jacobs is fit to continue. Then the referee calls timeout before the action can resume. Jacobs needs his cup put back in place. It was moved out of position when he hit the mat and rolled. The referee is also using this opportunity to issue a stern warning to Walker for a number of things. If Walker flagrantly holds or throws Jacobs again the Chicagoan is going to be docked points. It is taking a while to reposition Jacobs cup, and Jacobs could use the break. The hard fall probably knocked the wind out of him. After about a 1 minute break the action is finally resumed. Jacobs wins round 3, 10-9, and leads on my scorecard after 3 rounds, 30-27. Lederman scores round 3 for Jacobs, 10-9, and has him winning after 3 rounds, 30-27.
Jacobs wins round 4, 10-9. The New Yorker seems to have realized that the brawling Walker is not going to be knocked out quickly. Therefore, Jacobs has decided to box more on the outside and conserve his energy. Jacobs has never gone 8 rounds before in his career. This is only the second time in his career that an opponent has forced him to box into round 5. The New Yorker takes round 4 on the Lederman scorecard, 10-9. With 2:11 to go in round 5, there is a vicious accidental clash of heads. The head butt causes Walker to turn around and walk away from Jacobs. The referee then moves in to call timeout with 2:07 to go in the round to check both boxers for blood. Neither boxer is bleeding. However, Walker is grimacing in tremendous pain. The referee calls for the action to resume after a roughly 10 second pause in the action. Jacobs out-works Walker to win round 5, 10-9. The more active Jacobs wins round 5 on Lederman's scorecard, 10-9. With 46 seconds to go in round 6, Jacobs goes to the mat for the second time in this match. The referee correctly rules it a slip. Walker only used a minor push to put Jacobs down that time, so it will not result in a point deduction. The action is resumed with 43 seconds to go in the round. Jacobs uses his superior boxing skills to win round 6, 10-9 and is ahead in the match after 6 rounds on my scorecard, 60-54. Lederman scored round 6 for Jacobs, 10-9, and has him winning the match after 6 rounds, 60-54.
This is the first round 7 of Jacobs' career. Jacobs wins an uneventful round 7 on Lederman and my scorecard, 10-9. The arena is starting to get very full at this point. Based on the general crowd murmur and the action in the ring, more people are probably discussing Wayne Newton's greatness as a worker then focusing on this match. The busier Jacobs easily wins round 8, 10-9, and wins the match on my scorecard, 10-9. Jacobs takes round 8 on Lederman's scorecard, 10-9, and wins the match on the Lederman scorecard, 80-72.
The official decision courtesy of Michael Buffer is that the judges have scored this match: 80-72, 80-72, 79-73, all to the winner by unanimous decision and still undefeated, "The Golden Child" Daniel Jacobs. The win moves Jacobs to 16-0 with 14 wins coming by way of knockout.
The final punchstat numbers have Jacobs landing 225 of the 767 total punches he threw, for a 29% total connect percentage. Jacobs landed 155 of the 448 power punches he threw, for a 35% power connect percentage. Walker landed only 82 of the 424 total punches he threw, for a 19% total connect percentage. The Chicagoan landed 73 of the 328 power punches he threw, for a 22% power connect percentage.
Jacobs was good here against a durable opponent. He showed solid boxing skills and excellent conditioning. This was easily the most difficult match of Jacobs' professional career. Jacobs has the most pro experience of the prospects on this PPV, but he is the youngest by 4 years. There is no need to rush him. Therefore, it would be best for him to return after a short break possibly on the undercard of the just announced July 18 PPV in another 8-rounder against a slightly better opponent. (See below for details on the July 18 PPV.)
Walker was the best of the opponents on this PPV, so far. That is somewhat faint praise. He has an excellent ability to take a punch. Walker's more then 10 total punches landed per round average in the loss were the best any opponent has done on this PPV. The Chicagoan's major problem is he is far too small to be competing at 160 pounds. At 5' 7" tall, Walker would be a smaller boxer at 147 pounds. Ideally at that height he should be at 140 pounds, but definitely no higher then 147 pounds. At 160 pounds, Walker can do nothing more then be an opponent for young prospects. The weight class Walker competes in for the rest of his career will control what type of success he can have in the sport.
4. WBC Super Featherweight (130 pounds) 12-Round Championship Match:
Humberto Soto (47-7-2, 1 NC, 30 KO's, 130 pounds) (c) vs. Benoit Gaudet (20-1, 7 KO's, 129 pounds)
Soto won the full version of this title when it was vacant via 12-round unanimous decision over Francisco Lorenzo on December 20, 2008 at Parque Andres Quintana Roo in Cozumel, Mexico. The Tijuana, Mexico resident had already won the vacant interim version of this title by defeating Gamaliel Diaz via technical knockout at 10 seconds of round 11 on October 11, 2008. This title was last held by Manny Pacquiao, who vacated the belt to move up to 135 pounds. Soto is making his second defense of the full version of this championship.
Soto matches are frequently marred by fouls. The champion has been in 5 major matches where fouls played a major part in the match. Soto was on his way to defeating Lorenzo for the interim version of this title on June 28, 2008 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, when he was disqualified at 2:43 of round 4. The Tijuana resident had just scored his second knockdown in round 4, but then followed up with a glancing punch to the downed Lorenzo. That punch did little damage, but referee Joe Cortez in a move that was widely criticized disqualified Soto. However, the WBC refused to recognize Cortez' disqualification. They cited the Vickie Guerrero precedent of Undertaker vs. Edge at WrestleMania XXIV and retroactively decided that the title change did not count. The WBC decided their title cannot change hands on a disqualification and said the championship remained vacant. That is when Soto had to face Diaz and in that match, Diaz was docked 2 points for holding in round 10.
This will be Soto's most high profile match since he lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Joan Guzman on November 17, 2007 at the Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was the main event of an HBO Boxing After Dark show that featured the replay of the great Shane Mosley vs. Miguel Cotto match from the previous week's PPV. Guzman controlled the match from the opening bell. Soto could barely muster any offense against Guzman. In the later rounds, Guzman seemed disinterested in doing much punching. Guzman seemed to favor playing to the crowd over punching. However, the crowd was not receptive to Guzman's antics and it made the match very boring. This show ran very long and the match did not end until well after 12:30 AM local time. The lone highlight of the live portion of this HBO BAD broadcast was Bob Papa laughing as he was unable to get through the read for the show coming on after boxing, "Katie Morgan on Sex Toys". A full recap of that match can be found here: http://www.number1contender.net/the-latest/2009/4/30/recap-of-humberto-soto-vs-joan-guzman.html
Soto's last match was a technical knockout victory at 2:38 of round 4 over Antonio Davis on March 28, 2009 at the Plaza de Toros in Tijuana, Mexico. It was the featured undercard match on the Tijuana Thunder PPV that was being main evented by Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. The great Mike Sempervive already wrote a tremendous recap of that match as a members only feature at f4wonline.com and it can be found here: http://www.f4wonline.com/content/view/8803/105/
Soto is The Ring's number 1 contender to their vacant championship at 130 pounds.
Gaudet is a native of Quebec and appears to have been brought in to lose in spectacular fashion to one of Top Rank Promotions rising stars. Despite living just north of the border, this is Gaudet's first match in the United States. Gaudet has spent the majority of the last 2.5 years competing in 8-round matches against mediocre competition. He has only taken 4 matches that were scheduled for longer then 8-rounds in his career, and all of them were against very inexperienced opponents. The most veteran opponent Gaudet has faced in a lengthy match had competed in only 20 professional matches. That opponent, Alberto Garza, was coming in off a draw and a loss.
Gaudet's last match was an 8-round unanimous decision over Genero Trazancos on March 13, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. To qualify for this title shot, Gaudet won every round on all of the judges' scorecards, which sounds impressive. Unfortunately, Gaudet made Trazancos look the best he had in years. Trazancos was coming into the match off 4-straight knockout losses dating back to March 4, 2005. The last 3 knockouts came before the end of round 5.
Gaudet is unranked by The Ring, and ranked by boxrec.com as the number 38 boxer in the world at 130 pounds.
At 28-years-old, Soto is 1 year younger then the 29-year-old Gaudet. Gaudet has the height advantage standing 5' 8.5" tall, while Soto stands 5' 7.5" tall. Both boxers have a 23" arm length. Soto will be the heavier boxer in the ring having unofficially rehydrated to 141 pounds approaching match time. Gaudet has only unofficially rehydrated to 137 pounds approaching match time. Both boxers will employ the orthodox stance.
The home areas of the judges keeping official score of this match from ringside are not announced. The referee is Jay Nady.
With 2:33 to go in round 1, a lunging left hook drops Gaudet to the canvas. Gaudet answers the referee's count successfully and is allowed to continue with 2:17 to go in the round. That appears to have been somewhat of a flash knockdown. Gaudet got up quickly from the knockdown and his eyes look clear when he resumes boxing. Soto knew Gaudet was not hurt much by the knockdown and did not rush to finish the Canadian in round 1. However, the knockdown still gives round 1 to Soto on Lederman and my scorecard, 10-8. With around 1:30 to go in round 2, there is a scratch on the bridge of Soto' nose. It appears insignificant and should play no part in this match. Soto wins round 2, 10-9. Lederman scores round 2 for Soto, 10-9. Round 3 is close and Gaudet may have won it by being more active, 10-9. However after 3 rounds, Soto leads on my scorecard 29-27. Soto wins round 3 on the Lederman scorecard, 10-9, and is ahead in the match after 3 rounds on Lederman's scorecard, 30-26.
Soto lands the more powerful punches to take a close round 4, 10-9. Lederman scores round 4 for Gaudet, 10-9. With around 1 minute to go in round 5, there is some swelling developing under the left eye of Soto. Soto landed a good right hand that had Gaudet badly hurt in the first minute of round 5. That may be enough to win round 5, 10-9. However, at this point Gaudet is looking more in control of this match. Emanuel Steward, who is doing color commentary of this event for HBO, believes Soto may have been injured in round 5, because the champion's body language changed during the round. Soto wins round 5 on Lederman's scorecard, 10-9. The busier Gaudet wins round 6, 10-9, but after 6 rounds Soto is ahead on my scorecard, 58-55. Lederman scores round 6 for Gaudet, 10-9, but Soto leads on his scorecard after 6 rounds, 58-55.
With 1:04 to go in round 7, Soto takes a hard left hook to the groin and crumples onto the mat. The referee calls time with 1:01 to go in the round for Soto to recover and to admonish Gaudet. The punch appeared accidental, but probably does not make Soto feel any better. On replay it is clear that Gaudet's head was being pulled down when he threw the left hook that ended up low. Had Soto not been illegally pulling down on Gaudet's head, the champion would not have been hit in the groin. Soto takes about 45 seconds to recover and is ready to continue. The champion lands the harder legal punches to win round 7, 10-9. Soto wins round 7 on the Lederman scorecard, 10-9. The champion lands several good power punches to win round 8 on Lederman and my scorecard, 10-9. With 1:13 to go in round 9, Soto lands a right uppercut out of nowhere to knockdown Gaudet for the second time in this match. Gaudet never saw the punch. This was not a flash knockdown. It also does not receive much of a crowd pop, because the 2 boxers have seemed to be actively working to put the crowd to sleep for the last several rounds. Gaudet successfully answers the referee's count. There is 58 seconds to go in the round when the action resumes. With 37 seconds to go still in round 9, a hard right hand sends Gaudet down for the second time in the round and third time in the match. The referee was waving off the match as Gaudet was staggering and before the Canadian had hit the mat. Gaudet protested the stoppage from his knees. However, that was a good stoppage by the referee.
The official outcome courtesy of Michael Buffer is that at: 2:25 of round 9 the referee has called a stop to this contest making the winner by technical knockout and still WBC Super Featherweight Champion of the World, Humberto "La Zorrita" Soto. The win moves Soto to 48-7-2 with 1 no contest and now 31 victories coming by way of knockout.
The final punchstat numbers have Soto landing 159 of the 443 total punches he threw, for a 36% total connect percentage. Soto landed 109 of the 273 power punches he threw, for a 40% power connect percentage. Gaudet landed 111 of the 519 total punches he threw, for a 21% total connect percentage. The vanquished challenger landed 87 of the 278 power punches he threw, for a 31% power connect percentage.
Soto was underwhelming in his performance in this match. He was looking for an impressive win here to spring-board him into bigger matches. The most likely being against Juan Diaz at 135 pounds. However, that match appears unlikely following this performance. The most likely next match for Soto will be another defense of his title against a lesser name opponent.
Gaudet was unexpectedly impressive in this match. He does not have much power. However, Gaudet's strong performance here should earn him more television exposure. Gaudet is the perfect type of boxer to be showcased on Showtime's ShoBox series.
5. IBO Junior Welterweight/Ring Junior Welterweight (140 pounds) and The Ring's Number 1 Pound-for-Pound Ranking 12-Round Championship Unification Match:
Ricky Hatton (45-1, 32 KO's, 140 pounds) (140-Pound) vs. Manny Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KO's, 138 pounds) (Pound-for-Pound)
Pacquiao assumed the mantle as The Ring's number 1 ranked boxer in the world following Floyd Mayweather, Jr.'s "retirement" in June 2008. Pacquiao is making his second defense of this title.
Hatton won his IBO title when it was vacant in a wide 12-round unanimous decision victory over Juan Urango on January 20, 2007 at Paris Las Vegas in Las Vegas. The previous champion was Stevie Johnston who vacated this belt, because it is a relatively meaningless trinket. Hatton is making his fourth defense of this belt.
The Englishman won The Ring Championship at 140 pounds by retiring future Hall-of-Famer Kostya Tszyu on June 4, 2005 at the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester, England. Hatton's relentless body punching and physical brawling style caused Tszyu to quit on his stool after round 11. The technical knockout win at 3:00 of round 11, was voted the greatest match in the history of Great Britain and spring boarded Hatton into being named The Ring's Fighter of the Year for 2005. Hatton is making his sixth defense of this title.
Hatton's father and grandfather both played professional soccer for Manchester City. However, Ricky was not an adept soccer player. Hatton was drawn to combat sports. He grew up doing kick boxing and watching pro-wrestling. Even as a child, he was a reckless brawler. The Mayweather/Hatton 24/7 showed some great home movies of him charging recklessly at another child in an 8-year-old kick boxing competition. Hatton transitioned to boxing, but stayed the brawler. That style lead him to solid amateur boxing success where he won 8 national amateur championships. Unfortunately, that style is not suited to tremendous success in international amateur competition. Therefore, Hatton turned pro at 18-years-old and took the nickname of one of his favorite pro-wrestlers, Bret "Hitman" Hart. (The highlight of Pacquiao/Hatton 24/7 had to be Ricky's son Campbell Hatton playing soccer in Manchester with Ricky's father. Campbell was sporting a John Cena wristband and after blocking a kick from his grandfather made Cena's "You can't see me" hand gesture. That scene was even replayed at the end of the final episode of the Pacquiao/Hatton 24/7 mini-series. If WWE does not send that child boxes of Cena gear as product placement, they are missing a golden opportunity.)
The Englishman's only other time headlining a PPV in the United States is his only loss. On December 8, 2007 at the same building that is hosting this event, Hatton lost via technical knockout at 1:35 of round 10 to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Hatton forced Mayweather to perform at a level he never had to earn the knockout. However in the end, Mayweather used Hatton's aggression against him. Mayweather frustrated Hatton, and Hatton's emotions got out of control. Hatton became recklessly aggressive and that lead to his downfall in the match. The Englishman ran out of gas throwing punches that did no damage and that set up the knockout. A full recap of that match can be found here: http://www.number1contender.net/the-latest/2008/11/23/recap-of-ricky-hatton-vs-floyd-mayweather-jr.html
Hatton followed that up with a dominant, but at times frightening 12-round unanimous decision win over Juan Lazcano on May 24, 2008 at City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester, England. The event broke the post-World War II attendance record for a match in Great Britain. Unfortunately, the crowd that night thought they saw their hometown boxer on the decline. Hatton was very hittable in that match. Lazcano nearly knocked Hatton down and potentially out in round 10. However, some friendly refereeing and veteran savvy bought Hatton about 1 minute to recover. A full recap of that match can be found here: http://www.number1contender.net/the-latest/2009/5/3/recap-of-ricky-hatton-vs-juan-lazcano.html
The back-to-back disappointing performances for Hatton caused him to change trainers. At the advice of his new promoter, De La Hoya, Hatton switched to the father of the only boxer to defeat him as a pro, Floyd Mayweather, Sr. Hatton's last match was his first match with Mayweather and a great performance. Hatton won via technical knockout at 48 seconds of round 11 over Paulie Malignaggi on November 22, 2008 in the same building that is hosting this event. In the match, Hatton used his jab a little better and had better head movement. However, for all intensive purposes looked like the same old ultra-aggressive Hatton. Hatton has said prior to every match for the last several years that he is going to box more. However, as the match wears on he reverts to brawling. It makes him a fan favorite and seemingly destined for a short career. A full recap of Hatton-Malignaggi can be found here: http://www.number1contender.net/the-latest/2009/4/28/recap-of-ricky-hatton-vs-paulie-malignaggi.html
Hatton has made substantial changes for this training camp. He is notorious for ballooning up in weight between matches. However, this time he stayed in better shape after the Malignaggi match. Hatton usually has an 8-week training camp to prepare for matches. In an effort to improve his defense and be in top form for this match, Hatton has had a 12-week training camp in preparation for Pacquiao. Hatton has spent the last 5 weeks before the match in Las Vegas and regularly been running at altitude. He is reportedly in the best shape of his life.
Hatton is The Ring's 140-pound champion and ranked by the magazine as the number 8 boxer in the world, pound-for-pound.
Pacquiao turned pro very young to help his family. The Filipino boxer reportedly took his first match at 16-years-old on January 22, 1995 for a $2 payday.
Pacquiao's last match has been called the greatest sports victory in the history of the Philippines. On December 6, 2008 in the same building that is hosting this event, Pacquiao ended the career of the legendary future Hall-of-Famer De la Hoya. After round 8, De La Hoya's corner threw in the towel. Pacquiao entered the match as roughly a 2-to-1 underdog. HBO asked a panel of experts to predict the outcome of the match. Of the 9 expert predictions posted on HBO.com, all 9 picked De la Hoya and 7 picked De la Hoya by knockout. The technical knockout loss at 3:00 of round 8, was only the second of De La Hoya's 45 match professional career. However, no one had ever dominated De La Hoya like Pacquiao did that night. Pacquiao set new records for power punches landed in a round against De La Hoya in round 7. The match became hard to watch at the end as Pacquiao finished with a 59% power connect percentage. In a memorable scene, the 2 boxers met in the center of the ring and Pacquiao told De La Hoya, "You are still my idol." In a true passing of the torch moment, De La Hoya responded by saying, "No, now you're my idol." Pacquiao was then joined for his celebration in the ring by the Vice President of the Philippines. There were also a governor and several mayors who had flown to Las Vegas to support Pacquiao. A full recap of Pacquiao's historic victory over De La Hoya can be found here: http://www.number1contender.net/the-latest/2009/4/29/recap-of-manny-pacquiao-vs-oscar-de-la-hoya.html
Pacquiao returned home from the victory over De La Hoya to parades and greater national acclaim. He was already a superstar in his country with a number 1 single and starring roles in movies and on television. However, the win over De La Hoya has brought him a completely new level stardom. There is talk Pacquiao has become so popular he may one day become the president of the Philippines. This new level of stardom caused Time magazine to name Pacquiao 1 of the 100 most influential people in the world on Thursday.
This has Pacquiao saying his biggest concern going into this match is overconfidence. ESPN's Kieran Mulvaney pointed out that whenever a competitor is worried about being overconfident, it means they already are overconfident. Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, has said Pacquiao should win by knockout in 4 rounds or less. Roach won virtually every 2008 trainer of the year award possible primarily for the work he did with Pacquiao, and is not a fool. The veteran trainer knows how to sell a match and his antics are nothing more then an attempt to play to the cameras. Roach is training Pacquiao for a long physical match. Roach's boasting has created a pseudo-rivalry with Mayweather, Sr. (The boxer who wins this match's trainer is going to be presented with a 5' trophy as the "Best Pound-for-Pound Trainer in the World" as a joke.) It has provided a myriad of quotes and some entertaining television. It may be helping to sell the match, and take a lot of the pressure off of Pacquiao. However, if Pacquiao has bought into the hype that he should win by quick knockout, the Filipino could be in for a lot of trouble should this match not go his way early.
Pacquiao is The Ring's number 1 ranked boxer in the world, pound-for-pound, and the magazine's number 5 contender to their vacant championship at 147 pounds.
Both boxers are 30-years-old. Pacquiao has the height advantage standing 5' 6.5" tall, while Hatton stands 5' 6" tall. The Filipino has the reach advantage with a 23" arm length, compared to the 22" arm length of Hatton. Hatton will be the heavier boxer in the ring having unofficially rehydrated to 152 pounds approaching match time. The Filipino has only unofficially rehydrated to 148 pounds approaching match time. However, that is the same weight Pacquiao entered the ring at against De La Hoya and it worked out fine for him that night. Pacquiao will box out of the southpaw stance and Hatton will box out of the orthodox. The Filipino enters this match as a slightly more then 2-to-1 favorite over the Englishman.
Two of the judges keeping official score of this match from ringside are from Nevada and the other is from Florida. The referee is Kenny Bayless. There has been issues with refereeing in Hatton matches in the past. However, Bayless refereed Hatton's last match so there should be no problems here. As a disclaimer, Joe Cortez had refereed Hatton's last match before he faced Mayweather and was expected to be fine. Instead, there was a lot of controversy with the way Cortez officiated that match.
Now for the celebrity roll call: Jack Nicholson, Jeremy Piven, Denzel Washington, Cedric the Entertainer, Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon are here. Jay-Z is in the crowd talking to Diddy. President Clinton is reportedly somewhere in the building.
The national anthem of the Philippines is being performed by Martin Nievera, and as it is performed Pacquiao is shown smiling backstage. "God Save the Queen" is being performed by the legendary Sir Tom Jones. The United States national anthem is being performed by Jazmine Villegas. (Is it ever possible to get a really big name singer to do that anthem?) Oddly, Ricky Hatton has chosen to walk to the ring first. Officially his belts are the line and that entitles him to walk out last. However, Hatton considers this match his challenge for the pound-for-pound title. Therefore, he will walk to the ring first. Hatton has changed his entrance music for this match. The Englishman always walks to the ring to "Blue Moon" by Supra. That is the club song of Manchester City. Except this time he is coming out to a song that calls the boxer "Ricky Fatton". That is the derisive nickname the English press have given Hatton, because his weight has historically ballooned up to 180 pounds between matches. Finally once that song ends and Hatton is in the ring, "Blue Moon" begins to play. However, the change in entrance music has thrown off the normally boisterous cheering from the Hatton fans. Pacquiao is now going to enter accompanied by "The Animal" Batista. Batista is standing next to the boxer in the tunnel and dwarfs him. The top of Batista's head cannot even fit in the frame of the same camera shot with Pacquiao. Frankly, Batista looks like he would be much more dangerous in the ring then Pacquiao.
A short counter-right hook drops Hatton with 55 seconds to go in round 1. Hatton successfully answers the referee's count and is allowed to continue with 44 seconds still to go in round 1. The Englishman is in serious danger of not making it out of round 1. With 8 seconds to go in round 1, a torrent of punches capped by a straight left send Hatton to the canvas for the second time in the round. Hatton is badly hurt. The Englishman recovered quickly and takes his time standing at the referee's count of 7. The referee allows Hatton to continue and the boxers manage to exchange combinations with no time left in the round. Round 1 was the worst case scenario for Hatton. He appears completely unable to deal with Pacquiao's hand speed. Pacquiao wins round 1 on everyone's scorecard, 10-7. It seems likely that Pacquiao will score the knockout in round 2. With 7 seconds to go in round 2, Hatton is hit with a left hook and appears to have been knocked unconscious. The referee started to count. However, he then went over to look in Hatton's eyes. Hatton is lying flat on his back with his eyes half-open. He is completely unconscious. That will undoubtedly be the knockout of the year. After about a minute, Hatton has woken up, but clearly has no idea where he is. The punch knocked Hatton out. Hatton then took additional damage as the back of his head hit the canvas, because he could not brace himself. After another 2 minutes, Hatton is up on his stool. Hopefully they do not interview him. Hatton is clearly not going to have a clear head if they talk to him now.
The official outcome courtesy of Michael Buffer is that at: 2:59 of round 2 the winner by technical knockout, new IBO and Ring Junior Welterweight Champion of the World and still the Number 1 Pound-for-Pound Boxer in the World, Manny "Pac Man" Pacquiao. The win moves Pacquiao to 49-3-2 with now 37 wins coming by way of knockout.
The final punchstat numbers are shocking as Pacquiao landed 73 of the 127 total punches he threw, for a ridiculous 57% total connect percentage. Hatton landed only 18 of the 78 total punches he threw, for a 23% total connect percentage.
Pacquiao said in his post match interview that he was surprised the match was somewhat easy. The champion said he surprised Hatton with the right hook in round 1 and that was a big factor in the match. Pacquiao said he would be willing to face Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
They are now going to interview Roach. Roach said he knew it was over after round 1 and that the match would not go much longer. The trainer said Hatton does not adjust well during matches. Roach said he would be open to a Pacquiao-Mayweather, Jr. match.
HBO tried to interview Hatton. However shockingly, Hatton does not feel well after being knocked unconscious. Therefore, Hatton is going straight back to his dressing room. Then after he changes, Hatton will go by ambulance to the hospital where he will spend at least 1 night. (The initial brain scans performed at the hospital have revealed that boxer suffer no damage.)
Pacquiao was amazing in this match. He now has 3 straight knockouts in 3 separate weight classes. This win gives Pacquiao a title in his sixth different weight class. That ties the record held by De La Hoya. It also makes Pacquiao the first boxer in history to hold the lineal championship in 4-different weight classes. Pacquiao continues to showcase new abilities in every match. The addition of a right hook to his repertoire makes him even more dangerous. Pacquiao's speed is remarkable. Hatton could not see the punches coming in this match. Pacquiao is so fast and slick defensively that Hatton could barely land any punches in this match. Hatton is an elite boxer, but looked amateurish against Pacquiao. Pacquiao's next match will be in the main event of the December PPV.
Hatton was completely out-classed in this match by the best boxer in the world. His head movement was poor and he showed no improvement over the Hatton of old. There is probably nothing positive Hatton or his fans can take away from this match. Hatton will probably take a rebuilding match then go after another title at 140 pounds. The Englishman is probably still an elite boxer. However, Floyd Mayweather, Sr. has recommended Hatton retire. Someone asked Carl Froch his opinion on the matter, for no apparent reason, and the boxer, who is older then Hatton, said he thought the Manchester native should retire. However, Hatton is probably still the best boxer at 140 pounds not named Pacquiao. Hatton will need to spend the next few years proving that. The Englishman gave an estimate of the minimum number of matches he has left in him a while ago. After tonight, that number is down to 4. Hatton is going to need a long rest after the beating he took tonight. He will probably return to action in November. Assuming Hatton takes a rebuilding match, he will have 3 chances to show people he can still go out on top.
The undercard of this PPV was dreadful. The main event will be replayed next week. It is worth catching to see Pacquiao continue to prove why he is the best in the world. However, Hatton fans should avoid it at all costs. They will simply find it very sad.
News and Notes: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. officially "unretired" for the second time on Saturday. He is returning to action on HBO PPV on July 18 at the same building that hosted this event against Juan Manuel Marquez. Marquez is moving up from 135 pounds to face Mayweather at a catch-weight of 143 pounds. Making that weight should be no problem for Mayweather, because he is probably a natural 135-pounder himself. Mayweather's great boxing skills have allowed him to succeed at the higher weight classes despite being undersized. The winner of that match appears on a collision course with Pacquiao for the big December PPV. Mayweather's return could not come soon enough. Boxers having boring matches about respect is getting old. A boxing analyst was asked about why they thought Mayweather, Sr. did not go after Pacquiao's perceived character issues to cut truly great promos. They responded that Senior was not really in a place to criticize on many of those issues. When it comes to Junior and being a man in a glass house throwing stones, Junior's theory is that he has enough money to buy more windows.
There have been some substantial changes coming out of the 3 major shows from last weekend. To begin here are the changes in The Ring's rankings: Cory Spinks has moved up 1 spot and is now The Ring's number 3 contender to their vacant championship at 154 pounds. Following Froch's impressive win, he has jumped up 3 spots and is now The Ring's number 3 contender to their vacant championship at 168 pounds. That win made Froch only the eleventh boxer in recorded history to score a final round knockout when trailing on the scorecards in a title match. The loss to Froch moved Jermain Taylor down 4 spots in The Ring's 168 pound rankings to now be their number 9 contender in the weight class. Allan Green's win over Carlos De Leon, Jr. combined with Taylor's loss, elevated the Oklahoman 1 spot in the rankings to assume the mantle as The Ring's number 7 contender at 168 pounds. Due to Gerry Penalosa's knockout loss to Juan Manuel Lopez at 122 pounds, he has dropped 4 places in The Ring's 118-pound rankings and is now the number 10 contender to vacant championship in that weight class.
The most major change coming out of last weekend involves a boxer who won and still remains out of The Ring's rankings. Devon Alexander defeated Jesus Rodriguez to become a mandatory challenger to one of Timothy Bradley's belts at 140 pounds. Bradley had 2 weeks to decide to face Alexander or forfeit the title. Bradley has chosen to forfeit the title. He was looking to face the winner of tonight's main event. Now he is more likely to face Lamont Peterson who in a more lucrative mandatory title defense then a match with Alexander would provide. Alexander will now face Junior Witter to determine a new belt holder.
This is not a change, but amusing. Joe Calzaghe re-iterated his position to the South Wales Argus, that he is never going to face Froch. Calzaghe said that he was tired of Froch using his name to get free publicity. The Welshman continued by saying that even if he were to come out of retirement it would not be to face Froch who is not in his league. Calzaghe pointed out that no one in Britain saw Froch's victory over Taylor, because it was not televised there. The all-time great concluded with an all-time great quote saying of Froch, "He's my stalker."
Last weekend also featured Malignaggi's first match back, since his knockout loss to Hatton. Malignaggi won an 8-round unanimous decision against Chris Fernandez on the undercard of Froch-Taylor. The Brooklyn, New York native returned to action with a new trainer, Sherif Younan. Malignaggi fired Buddy McGirt, because McGirt threw in the towel for him against Hatton.
Finally, HBO took home a number well deserved Sports Emmy's for their boxing coverage on Monday. The Emmy for Outstanding Edited Sports Special went to the revolutionary De La Hoya/Mayweather 24/7. The Emmy for Outstanding Camera Work went to Mayweather/Hatton 24/7. The Dick Schaap Writing Award went to Mayweather/Hatton 24/7. There is a lot of television watching required for this job, and by far the HBO 24/7 series are the most enjoyable shows I get to watch all year.
The next recap will be of the May 9 HBO World Championship Boxing event featuring Chad Dawson vs. Antonio Tarver II.
Boxing and Video Game Correspondent for f4wonline.com
Hidden Valley Lake, CA