Commentary

Alvarez stops Baldomir, steals the show

Originally Published: September 20, 2010
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Saul AlvarezMark Ralston/AFP/Getty ImagesA star is born: Saul Alvarez proved he's one to watch by stopping Carlos Baldomir.


A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:

Saturday at Los Angeles
Junior middleweight
Shane Mosley D12 Sergio Mora
Scores: 116-112 Mosley, 115-113 Mora, 114-114
Records: Mosley, 46-6-1, 39 KOs; Mora, 21-1-2, 6 KOs

Rafael's remark: First things first: What a miserable, terrible, odious, hideous fight. It was so bad that how about we all just consider Saul Alvarez's tremendous knockout of Carlos Baldomir to have been the main event, with this eyesore serving as the walkout bout? Most of the 13,591 who filled Staples Center would probably agree since they spent a good portion of this fight booing. It was a shame that such a great boxing weekend in Los Angeles, which was celebrating the Mexican bicentennial, had to end this way.

As if the fight didn't royally stink enough -- mainly because of Mora, who wasn't there to fight like a serious professional -- the decision was just as bad. It boggles the mind that anyone could have had Mora actually winning, as judge Kermit Bayless did. Even Mora's own corner was telling him he was way behind. Bayless was working his first notable fight. He needs a refresher course at judge school before getting another significant assignment. Even the draw on the experienced Lou Moret's card was out of line. David Denkin's 116-112 card for Mosley was well-scored. How could anyone have had Mora actually winning, or even drawing? He didn't do anything, unless you count holding, grabbing and running. Mosley was busier, more accurate, faster, he put his punches together more and was the aggressor for virtually the entire fight. That was obvious to the naked eye. The CompuBox statistics backed up that notion, showing Mosley to have landed 161 of 522 blows (31 percent) to Mora's 93 of 508 for 18 percent. In power shots, Mosley landed about double what his fellow Southern California foe did.

Mora, 29, the former junior middleweight titlist who blew weight by three pounds by officially weighing 157, put a nail in his career coffin with a performance that was so bad he probably will never get another big TV fight. It's too bad, too, because he's a good guy with a personality and good boxing skills that helped him win the first season of the reality series "The Contender" in 2005. He has made a decent fight here and there, but when he fights in the style that he did against Mosley, it's almost worse than watching John Ruiz at his worst. So to see Mosley -- who didn't fight a perfect fight by any means but did way more than enough to deserve a clear decision -- get outright robbed was despicable. HBO's Jim Lampley, perhaps as outspoken as he has ever been, summed up the decision like this as the pay-per-view telecast closed: "Atrocious. Absolutely atrocious. A joke. A travesty. An injustice. A terrible decision. Horrible. … This fight was not a draw. This decision sucks." That's strong stuff, and he was 100 percent right.

Although Mosley, the former three-division champ who turned 39 on Sept. 7, got robbed, he fought better than he did in May, when Floyd Mayweather dominated him in a near-shutout decision. He has clearly lost a step, but still has a big enough name and respectable enough ability that he very well could still get a significant fight. He'd like Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather again or a rematch with Miguel Cotto.

If you missed the pay-per-view, HBO Latino will replay Mosley-Mora along with the Alvarez-Baldomir and Victor Ortiz-Vivian Harris undercard fights at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday. Tune in to see the exciting knockouts on the undercard and then quickly change the channel. You've been warned.

Junior middleweight
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez KO6 Carlos Baldomir
Records: Alvarez, 34-0-1, 26 KOs; Baldomir, 45-13-6, 14 KOs

Rafael's remark: Alvarez is already a big star in Mexico. The 20-year-old phenom has charisma, an exciting style and obvious talent. But would he be able to translate his popularity in Mexico to the United States as he raises his level of competition? So far, so good. Alvarez beating Baldomir, the 39-year-old former welterweight champ, was not any surprise. It was fully expected. But to see Alvarez score a spectacular knockout against a fighter with a reputation for an iron chin was very impressive. With the heavily Mexican crowd roaring for him throughout the fight, Alvarez dominated Argentina's Baldomir, who is so slow. Alvarez took his time and didn't waste a lot of punches as he broke Baldomir down. Alvarez was dishing out a lot of punishment in the sixth round when he landed a tremendous left hook on Baldomir's chin. Down he went, face first. He tried in vain, but was glassy-eyed and could not beat referee Jose Cobian's count. Baldomir had only been stopped once previously, and that was 16 years ago in his seventh professional fight. So Alvarez gets a lot of credit for not only getting the stoppage, but for notching the clean 10-count in a knockout of the year candidate that will be part of his highlight reel for years to come. Baldomir tipped his cap to Alvarez, saying he had never been hit like that in his career, and he has fought some excellent fighters. It seems, however, that he is at the end of the line. He thrilled many in 2006, when he pulled off a massive upset of Zab Judah to win the welterweight title and added a second gargantuan upset of the late Arturo Gatti later in the year before losing the title to Floyd Mayweather and a vacant junior middleweight title bout to the late Vernon Forrest. With that kind of experience, this was a very solid win for Alvarez. Other than maybe speed, Alvarez seems to have all the ingredients it takes to become a superstar and, perhaps, a significant champion someday.

Junior welterweight
Victor Ortiz TKO3 Vivian Harris
Records: Ortiz, 28-2-1, 22 KOs; Harris, 29-5-1, 19 KOs

Rafael's remark: Ortiz, the 23-year-old potential star, returned to his personal house of horrors, the Staples Center, and at least exorcized some of the demons. In June 2009, he and Marcos Maidana met there for an interim belt, and it was a terrific, all-action fight. But Maidana proved to be too much for Ortiz, who quit in the sixth round. Then he made matters worse in his shocking postfight television interview in which he basically said he didn't think he deserved to get beat up the way he had been and that he might quit the sport. Ortiz, of Ventura, Calif., was vilified in some quarters, and may hear about that fight for the rest of his career. But he is slowly putting it behind him as he racked up his fourth win in a row since the Maidana fight by crushing Harris, 32, of Brooklyn, N.Y. Harris, a former titleholder, just can't take a punch at all anymore, as he was dusted in the battle of fighters with the same "Vicious" nickname. Harris was never in the fight. Ortiz dropped him three times in the second round, each time with a different kind of punch. He finished Harris in the third round, dropping him again as referee Raul Caiz Sr. called it off without a count. While Harris' career is essentially over now, at least when it comes to any sort of notable fight, Ortiz's is bright. He fits into the picture in a hot 140-pound weight class that is going to have a lot of good fights coming up involving Devon Alexander, Timothy Bradley Jr., Amir Khan, Maidana, Ortiz and Zab Judah. There are so many good fights that can be made in the division and Ortiz is right there for any of them, especially after such a strong performance against Harris.

Featherweight
Daniel Ponce De Leon KO3 Antonio Escalante
Title eliminator
Records: Ponce De Leon, 40-2, 33 KOs; Escalante, 23-3, 15 KOs

Rafael's remark: On paper, this is the fight that looked like it had the potential to be the most action-packed when Golden Boy put together the pay-per-view card. But Ponce De Leon, 30, the former junior featherweight titlist from Mexico, must not have gotten the memo. Instead, he went out and ended matters early against Escalante, 25, a native of Mexico living in El Paso, Texas. Ponce De Leon is still a raw fighter with limited skills, but he can bang with the best of them, as Escalante found out. Ponce De Leon appeared in command when he unleashed a superb left-right combination to Escalante's jaw, dropping him flat on his back, causing referee Tony Crebs to stop the fight without a count. What a tremendous knockout. Mark it down as a KO of the year candidate. The victory makes Ponce De Leon the mandatory challenger for titlist Juan Manuel Lopez, who is scheduled to defend his belt against Rafael Marquez on Nov. 6. If Lopez wins, it would set up a rematch with Pone De Leon, whom Lopez knocked out in the first round in 2008 to take his junior featherweight belt. Ponce De Leon has won six fights in a row since that defeat, five of which have come since he moved up to featherweight. Escalante was simply outclassed. He has made several exciting fights on smaller Telefutura and ESPN2 cards, and that's probably where he is headed back to in the wake of the loss.

Junior welterweight
Frankie Gomez KO3 Ricardo Calazada
Records: Gomez, 6-0, 6 KOs; Calazada, 2-3, 1 KOs

Rafael's remark: Fight by fight, Gomez, of East Los Angeles, is gaining the kind of experience that a star amateur needs when he moves into the pro game. Gomez, just 18, turned pro in April after a stellar amateur career, which included a U.S. national title and a silver medal at the amateur world championships in 2009. As a pro, he's aggressive and poised and appears to have a thirst for combat. Calazada, 20, of Las Vegas, never stood a chance. Gomez dropped him with a left uppercut in the third round. Later in the round, Gomez dropped him again, and referee Pat Russell called it off without a count as Calazada lost his third fight in a row, but first by stoppage.

Saturday at Culiacan, Mexico
Junior featherweight
Jorge Arce D10 Lorenzo Parra

Scores: 95-95, 98-93 Arce, 97-94 Parra
Records: Arce, 55-6-2, 42 KOs; Parra, 31-2-1, 18 KOs

Rafael's remark: Mexico's Arce, 31, the popular, but fast-fading, former junior flyweight titlist and junior bantamweight titlist and Parra fought to a draw, but if it was only that easy. There was some confusion at ringside and the bout was originally announced as a draw with no scores being read. They were later revised with Arce getting the nod after the "Top Rank Live" telecast went off the air. Then whatever error had been made was found and it was changed back to the draw that it had been in the first place. Got that? Arce, who has won four fights in a row, claimed a vacant junior bantamweight belt in January with a seventh-round technical decision win against Angky Angkota, but quickly relinquished the belt and moved up in weight. He was facing Parra, 32, of Venezuela, who had a nice run with a flyweight title from 2003 to 2007 before being stripped for failing to make weight against Takefumi Sakata. As usual, Arce was the aggressor and Parra was more defensive, even running at times. Arce is rarely in a bad fight, but Parra's defensive style made this one of those times, and the booing crowd let them know it. Parra's most aggressive move was holding and hitting Arce in the seventh round, which drew a point deduction from referee Juan Jose Ramirez. Parra did pick up his offense -- relatively speaking -- in the final few rounds to apparently draw closer. Originally, the bout was supposed to be a 12-round title eliminator with the winner getting a mandatory shot against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., however, without explanation, it was cut to a 10-rounder, which was fine, because neither of these guys deserve a title shot based on their recent performances.

Lightweight
Humberto Soto W12 Fidel Monterrosa
Retains a lightweight title
Scores: 118-109, 115-112 (twice)
Records: Soto, 53-7-2, 32 KOs; Monterrosa, 23-2, 18 KO

Rafael's remark: Soto has ducked quality competition for some time now and maybe there's a reason: He's getting a little long in the tooth, as this unimpressive, foul-filled victory showed. Soto, 30, of Mexico, is a former junior lightweight title holder who moved up to lightweight and claimed a vacant belt in March against David Diaz, who was given the shot by the rancid WBC, which went against its rules by skipping over higher-ranked fighters. Then the WBC broke its rules again by allowing Soto not one, but this second optional defense instead of following the usual rule it has that says when a fighter wins its vacant belt, the first defense is supposed to be a mandatory. In any event, Soto was matched with Colombia's Monterrosa, 22, who had compiled his glossy record against a collection of nobodies. The result was a close but ragged fight in which Soto did not look very good but carried the day with his activity level. There were a ton of fouls from both guys (like the low blow that floored Monterrosa in 11th round, for example) and a slippery canvas that caused both guys to go down. Of course, because this was a WBC title bout in Mexico, the organization's awful open scoring system was used in which scores were announced after the fourth and eighth rounds. So Soto and everyone else knew he was ahead, although one judge had it even after eight rounds. Monterrosa lost a point in the ninth round for what looked like a head butt-low blow combo (ouch). This fight isn't going to make the DVD pick of the week -- ever. Monterrosa, whose two losses have come in Mexico and France, the only times he's fought outside of Colombia, saw his four-fight winning streak end. Soto won his ninth fight in a row since Francisco Lorenzo's Oscar-worthy acting job on a late punch in 2008 got Soto disqualified. Top Rank's Bob Arum has talked about matching Soto with Marco Antonio Barrera, but who knows if he'll really pull the trigger. Top Rank also promotes other top lightweights, such as titlist Miguel Acosta, Miguel Vazquez and contender Brandon Rios. There are solid fights to be made, but Soto has been treated with kid gloves for ages and it doesn't look like anything is about to change.

Friday at Los Angeles
Bantamweight
Nestor Rocha W8 Jose Navarro
Scores: 79-73 (three times)
Records: Rocha, 23-2, 8 KOs; Navarro, 27-6, 12 KOs

Rafael's remark: In July 2009, Rocha, 28, of Montebello, Calif., was blitzed in the first round in Japan challenging Hozumi Hasegawa for a bantamweight title. He bounced back for a win in July and was trying to keep it going. Navarro, 29, of Los Angeles, four times fought for a junior bantamweight world title and came up empty each time (although he was robbed in a split-decision loss in his first title shot in Japan against Katsushige Kawashima in 2005). So the Southern California fighters met in the main event of Telefutura's "Solo Boxeo Tecate" card in need of a win if they were going to get remotely close to another shot. Navarro, a 2000 U.S. Olympian, was in more desperate need than Rocha, having lost three in a row before winning in May. Turned out that Rocha was the better man while Navarro's career continued to slip away, having now lost four of his past five bouts. Rocha took the fight to Navarro from the opening bell. His right hand was working well and he was backing Navarro up. Rocha landed enough shots to produce swelling around Navarro's right eye in the second round. It got steadily worse. By the fourth round, Navarro's eye and cheek were badly bruised and his eye was almost completely swollen shut. He couldn't see Rocha's shots coming, but he was game and didn't stop fighting. Rocha eventually opened a cut near Navarro's right eye, which just made matters worse. It was surprising to see Navarro, who has had problems with swelling before, make it to the final bell. He's tough and has a good chin, but with so little power and the losses mounting, where is he going?

Friday at Primm, Nev.
Welterweight
Freddy Hernandez TKO4 Mike Anchondo
Records: Hernandez, 29-1, 20 KOs; Anchondo, 30-3, 19 KOs

Rafael's remark: Mexico's Hernandez, 31, who lives in California, has been living on the fringes of welterweight contendership and is looking to make a move. Maybe he got a step closer to a major fight with a solid win against Anchondo. It's Hernandez's second consecutive win against a former titleholder by knockout. Anchondo briefly held a junior lightweight title in 2004 and early 2005. Hernandez also stopped former junior welterweight titlist DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley in the fifth round in February. He needed one round less to subdue Anchondo, 28, of La Puente, Calif., who was out of boxing from mid-2007 to mid-2009 before making a comeback. He had won three fights since returning before running into a nasty right hand from Hernandez in the fourth round. Hernandez, using his five-inch height advantage and six-inch reach advantage, was winning the fight when Anchondo, whose defense was not good, got clobbered with a right hand. It badly staggered him and he went down moments later on a delayed reaction. Referee Robert Byrd allowed the fight to continue, but told Anchondo he needed to see something. Hernandez was pounding Anchondo, who was not showing anything -- other then wobbly legs -- and Byrd stepped in at 1 minute, 38 seconds to end the "ShoBox" main event.

Junior lightweight
Luis Franco W8 Wilton Hilario
Scores: 80-71, 78-73, 77-74
Records: Franco, 7-0, 5 KOs; Hilario, 12-2-1, 9 KOs

Rafael's remark: Franco, 27, was a 2004 Cuban Olympian who defected in 2009 and now lives in Miami. Like many of the recent Cuban defectors from the island's outstanding amateur ranks, Franco is being moved quickly. And why not? He had around 400 amateur fights, spent eight years on the Cuban national team, went 2-2 against teammate Yuriorkis Gamboa, now a unified featherweight titlist, and also owns an amateur win against teammate Erislandy Lara, a fast-rising junior middleweight. Franco did not have too many problems with Hilario, who was game and gave an excellent effort but just does not have the skill set of Franco. Franco outboxed him, although they both fought a little dirty by using their heads. In the eighth round, just before the end of the fight, an accidental head butt opened a cut around Hilario's left eye. And when the fight ended, Hilario threw one more punch at Franco, who was hot-dogging it by pretending to kiss Hilario. It was that kind of chippy fight. Hilario, 27, of the Dominican Republic, who has faced some good opponents, dropped his second fight in a row; he also lost a 12-round decision in a regional title bout to fringe contender Martin Honorio in March.

Wednesday at Las Vegas
Featherweight
Jhonny Gonzalez TKO6 Jackson Asiku
Records: Gonzalez, 46-7, 40 KOs; Asiku, 26-4, 14 KOs

Rafael's remark: Gonzalez, 29, of Mexico, headlined this small pay-per-view card from the Las Vegas Hilton on Mexican Independence Day, and gave his countrymen something to cheer about in a one-sided but entertaining victory. Gonzalez is a former bantamweight titlist who was knocked out in the third round challenging Toshiaki Nishioka for a junior featherweight title in Mexico in May 2009. Gonzalez has won six in a row since at featherweight, including his stoppage of Asiku, 31, a native of Uganda based in Australia. Gonzalez knocked Asiku down in the fourth round and again in the fifth round, which he showed great heart to survive. In the sixth round, Gonzalez continued to dish out punishment, rocking Asiku with a left hook and hammering him with a flurry, leaving referee Kenny Bayless no choice but to stop the fight. Gonzalez's winning streak at featherweight, and the fact that he makes exciting fights, could put him into the mix for a more meaningful fight in a hot division that includes Juan Manuel Lopez, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Chris John. Fights like those are what Gonzalez wants.

Wednesday at Manchester, N.H.
Junior middleweight
Demetrius Andrade KO2 Dave Saunders

Records: Andrade, 11-0, 8 KOs; Saunders, 9-10, 6 KOs

Rafael's remark: Andrade, a 2008 U.S. Olympian and 2007 world amateur champion, is one of boxing's most promising prospects, but has had some turmoil in his camp. The 22-year-old recently split with his father Paul Andrade, who had served as trainer and manager. Demetrius, of Providence, R.I., now is trained by David Keefe, a longtime assistant to his father. So with that drama as the backdrop, Andrade faced Cincinnati's Saunders, 34, who was there to lose his eighth fight in a row in the main event of "The Fight to Educate" charity card. It was Andrade's first scheduled eight-round bout, but he didn't need the additional rounds to take care of business. Andrade, with superior speed, power and everything else, attacked him with combinations to the head and body from. Just before the second round ended, Andrade landed a combination that dropped Saunders face-first. He was motionless for several minutes until finally leaving the ring under his own power.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.