Sitting in the MGM’s Sport’s Book I tried to understand how bets are made and won. You see I’m not a Vegas regular and have never made a bet outside of the friendly wager with friends. I settled on betting $20 on my local Seattle Mariners to beat a tough Astros team. The Mariners were the underdog despite playing at home and having a good starting young pitcher who’d been performing well. (I’d go on to win this bet and feel like a million bucks for getting some extra cab money to get me back to the airport the next morning.) I decided to look check in on the line for the Broner/Porter fight and to my surprise Broner was given the underdog title on paper that morning. However, the gentlemen sitting next to me pointed to the screen above and showed the money now favored Broner.
I told them I thought Porter would have the better night but I was wary on the catchweight and the judges scoring the fight on top of being a poor post-college student to dull out another $20. They seemed pleased with my further explanation on why I thought Porter would win and that Broner was the betting favorite probably because Floyd Mayweather Jr. put heavy money on him sometime that morning. I didn’t stick around to see if they made the bet but I hope they went home with smiles on their faces like I did.
Rarely do we have the luxury of three special fights in one night. The one condition to our luck of the draw was that they were on three separate cards in three different locations on three different television stations. As I was covering the Broner/Porter fight from Las Vegas I couldn’t just switch stations to tune in like the fans at home. In the media tent following the fight I begged to no avail to have the PBC broadcast switched to the Ward/Smith fight as it was just getting underway. My twitter feed was the next best thing as I read along with the updates to the David Lemieux fight as well.
Boxing was at it’s best Saturday night. Too often fans are forced to wait months or even over a year to see their favorite fighter and even then it may only be against a fair weather opponent. The ranking order hardly moves either unless there’s an upset or by some chance two of the top ranked guys actually meet which is in stark comparison to other sports where all the teams play often and against everybody in the league to an extent. But last night was different. Two top fighter’s from the area of the welterweight division fought; a middleweight championship was on the line for two of their divisions best; and one of the best pound for pound boxer’s made his long awaited return to the ring after a lengthy legal battle with his now former promoters.
“Is that Justin Bieber?” Yes, it was. Minutes later Andre Iguadala, the NBA Finals MVP walked right by me with a squadron of his recently crowned champion teammates. The stars were out in full force in Las Vegas Saturday night to witness the rare matchup of two of the division’s biggest names go at it- even though it was at a catchweight. An exciting flurry of combinations and jabs from Porter got the “oohs” from the crowd while the power shots from Broner got the “ahhs.” A surprising 12th rd knockdown from Broner had the crowd in an uproar and left everyone including Sugar Shane Mosely who had helped train Porter with the same feeling I had earlier in the day at the sports book- that the judges would somehow miss what Porter had accomplished for the majority of the rounds.
Maybe because the fight was televised nationally on NBC the judges were on their best behavior for this night as all judges favored Shawn Porter with the win. Porter now puts himself again in the top echelon of the division after successfully rebounding from losing his IBF championship title last year against Kell Brook. He used his time at the post-fight presser to call out Floyd Mayweather Jr. and said he’d go for a rematch against Brook if he can get one.
Meanwhile in Oakland, Golden State Warrior superstar Steph Curry walked to the ring carrying Andre Ward’s WBA title as BET got a taste of championship boxing. The champ looked sharp in his first fight in over a year and a half and broke Paul Smith down to the point where his corner was forced to throw in the towel to avoid further punishment. Under new promotional guidance from Jay Z and his Roc Nation, we should expect to see Ward back in action before the end of the year against a tougher opponent. Not bad for a return.
The most action on this heavy hitting night came from Montreal and David Lemieux. He was awarded a shot at the vacant IBF title and made the most of his chance by knocking down Hassan N’Dam four times in route to a decisive unanimous decision victory. The win paints a target on his back for ‘Triple G’ who’s looking to unify the division’s championship belts. Word has it Lemieux’s promoter Golden Boy Promotions will be getting a call from ‘Triple G’s’ people on Monday to discuss the possibility of a unification bout.
Beyond next week’s Bradley/Vargas fight the summer doesn’t hold too many truly competitive fight’s that’ll help define the rankings and championship outlook as much as last night did. ESPN will be airing an intriguing matchup on August 1st with Danny Garcia going up against well rested Paulie Malignaggi. With PBC holding more fights and Showtime and HBO always doing their thing we can hope for more competitive cards coming our way this September. But for one night last night boxing was at its best.