Last night, boxing fans had dual cards featuring high-level talent and competitive matchups littered with storylines. Whether a fan watched one event and watched the next later, or watched both at the same time, they were treated to something special.
Rarely do we see the consensus underdog, and less talented boxer make the necessary adjustments in an instant rematch to overcome the better foe. Leo Santa Cruz did that while making a majority of the boxing world remember who he is and what he is capable of in boxing. For the first time, he stayed with a disciplined game plan that didn’t suit his natural fighting style, but it was exactly what he needed to do to win the bout.
Leo Santa Cruz’s win over “rival” Carl Frampton was sweet revenge for the southern Californian native. Not in a malicious way but in the truest and purest form of competition; two elite athletes, with incredible talent in their primes, facing off until there’s a definitive winner. It’s what the sport was built on.
The “other” main event of the night featured someone who embodies the ethos of the often-overused term warrior. Francisco Vargas, who will go down in the memories of fans and pundits who watched him, as an elite brawler who made fights special in ways few people can attain; became a victim of that double-edged sword of the fight game.
Miguel Berchelt, a young powerful boxer who hasn’t faced the years of abuse that Vargas has simply beat Vargas into submission. It was similar to when the old lion of the jungle gets taken over by the younger predator, pure natural selection. The young eat the old, and in boxing that’s a mantra. He seems to have unrelenting power and the IQ to know how to place his most devastating shots. Can he reign supreme over 130lbs.? Or will he face a similar destiny to the King he just overthrew?
The prodigal son has returned to boxing. Mikey Garcia who
had a hiatus from the sport for two years due to promotional issues has finally come back in style. He had one tuneup against Elio Rojas before facing divisional boogeyman, Dejan Zlaticanin. In the first fight back that X factor and eye test that Garcia passed before, didn’t seem present. However, he made the most of this title fight and co-main event exposure. He thoroughly outclassed a relentless Zlaticanin before icing him with a three-punch combination.
Garcia reasserted himself into boxing’s most talked about champions with this win and matchups against talents such as Vasyl Lomachenko, Robert Easter Jr., Jorge Linares, Terence Crawford, and etc. all seem like massive fights and ones that would be at a level of technical skill fans rarely see.
Three title fights, three new champions. The sport is a state of utter dynamism, and with a trilogy based on pure athletic competition seemingly set, a new young wrecking force in a talent rich division, and the return of the potential the next “great” in boxing reminds us all why we continue to watch this chaotic sport.