There was plenty of boxing on American television this past weekend. Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions presented cards on network television on both Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. On BET, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation presented the return fight for pound-for-pound star Andre Ward, as the “Son of God” stopped British fringe contender Paul Smith.
Unfortunately, David Lemieux and Hassan N’Dam’s clash for the vacant IBF middleweight title in Montreal got squeezed out of the scheule. On paper, it was a can’t-miss fight and with Lemieux promoted by Golden BOy, I’m surprised HBO didn’t take it up. They missed out, because the fight is destined to end up on everybody’s short list for the 2015 Fight of the Year.
N’Dam once again showed that he is one of the most resilient fighters in the sport, withstanding four knockdowns to force a surprisingly close fight. Perhaps the most impressive thing about his performance was the way he continued to move so well late in the fight, still up on his toes and circling after absorbing round after round of punishment to his body from the hard-punching Lemieux.
Lemieux locked in with his left hook early and landed it consistently, all night long. Now that he has the IBF belt around his waist, he should be a compelling opponent for fellow knockout artist Gennady Golovkin.
In a battle between two talented young, former champions on the come-back trail, Shawn Porter was able to impose his relentless and physical style on Adrien Broner and earn a unanimous decision, despite Broner’s ability to score a Round 12 knockdown. Broner frankly appeared lazy in the fight, simply relying on grabbing and clinching, rather than trying to maintain the space he needed to counter with an active jab and busy footwork.
I wrote in the headline above that Broned was humbled in the fight, but that fact seemed somewhat lost on his in his post-fight interview. Broner continued to brag about the fact that he was financially well off and that everybody still wanted his autograph, rather than reflect on what he had done wrong in such a crucial, crossroads fight. To my mind, Broner is a sad representation of every bad stereotype of the millenial generation he belongs to, assuming he is entitled to things that he has yet to actually earn.
Porter is almost the exact opposite of Broner. A gifted athlete in his own right, he’s a relentless worker who allows his fists to do his bragging. He’s the sort of young man who would be doing well no matter what path he chose.
Iraq War veteran Sammy Vasquez is another young man of outstanding character. The welterweight contender stayed unbeaten on the undercard of Sunday afternoon’s PBC card when he beat gate-keeper Wale Omotoso, even as his face turned to a crimson mask, due to accidental headbutts.
I don’t generally watch boxing from the perspective of being a fan for individual fighters. But I served as a mechnaized infantryman in the first Persian Gulf War, so it’s impossible for me not to cheer for a fellow grunt like Vasquez.