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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: QUICK (S)HITS

By Paul Magno | October 14, 2019
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: QUICK (S)HITS

This week, we’re making this column entirely Quick (S)hits—random musings from me to you after a fight week where, frankly, there wasn’t a whole lot to write about.

-- On Thursday, fight fans awoke to the news that Errol Spence Jr. had been in a terrifying-looking car crash in Dallas. But, despite the photos of his ripped-to-shreds Ferrari and the downright scary security cam footage of the single-vehicle, multiple flip accident (and him being thrown from the car in the process), it appears that all is well with the IBF/WBC welterweight champ. Apparently, there were some bumps and bruises and facial lacerations, but nothing was broken and none of the injuries were considered life or career-threatening. 

Not long after the news of the accident there came the predictable sermonizing and finger-wagging from the holier-than-thou types. Spence wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Was he speeding? Was he driving after a night of partying? Was he intoxicated? 

Well, despite some rumors bouncing around, we don’t know the answers to the questions regarding his sobriety at the moment of the accident. The only honest way to handle this is to leave all the legal stuff to the police and be grateful for Spence and his family that the car was the only casualty in all of this. 

I will say, though, that fighters, by their very nature, are born risk-takers and you’re never going to breed fast cars, gambling, and other risky behavior out of their DNA. The drive that sends them INTO battle when most “regular” humans look for ways OUT of battle is the same drive that has some stepping on the accelerator for extra speed. 

-- The only card of real note in the US this weekend was a dark, dreary, downright dingy DAZN show at Chicago’s Wintrust Arena headlined by Aleksandr Usyk’s official heavyweight debut. 

The dark cloud was cast on this card early on when super welterweight Patrick Day suffered a brutal tenth-round knockout at the hands of Charles Conwell and was carried out on a stretcher. Day reportedly suffered convulsions on the way to the hospital where he underwent emergency brain surgery. As of this writing, he was in a medically-induced coma. 

That kind of tragedy makes everything that happens afterward a bit pointless and anticlimactic, but it sure didn’t help that everything after that WAS pointless and anticlimactic.

-- In the co-feature of that DAZN card, WBA light heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol turned in his fourth straight he’s-not-a-beast-after-all performance, carrying a there-for-the-paycheck Lenin Castillo a full twelve rounds before taking an obvious unanimous decision victory. 

At one time, Bivol was considered a rising monster in the 175 lb. division and one of the most fearsome young offensive fighters in the game. However, since a tougher-than-expected outing against Isaac Chilemba in August of last year, the Russian has been straight-up Ambien.

On Saturday, one got the feeling that Bivol could’ve blasted away Castillo any time he wanted, but he was content scoring with the occasional judge-friendly offensive burst and not taking the risk of pushing further forward —even though Castillo clearly offered no threat. 

Bivol says he wants the chance to unify against the other champs in the division, but, with another flat performance under his belt, who the hell is clamoring to see him again?

-- In the DAZN main event, Aleksandr Usyk warmed up and then forced a corner stoppage against sad-looking journeyman/late replacement Chazz Witherspoon after seven increasingly one-sided rounds. The only slight glimmer of hope that this might not be the one-sided farce we all were expecting as in the very first round when Witherspoon clipped the former unified cruiserweight champ and clearly got his attention (At least, I think it was in the first round…please don’t make me go back and watch this fight again). But, after that, it was all Usyk, who did what he wanted to do and at the pace he chose to do it until the wheels fell off Witherspoon’s battered, tattered 38-year-old cart. 

What did we learn about Usyk and his chances at being a heavyweight elite from this fight? Absolutely nothing. It was just an empty payday and schedule-filler for someone who needed a bit of a workout.

-- More and more, DAZN is looking like the place where really good fights happen by total accident. With the exception of Jose Ramirez-Maurice Hooker, every other good fight this year came as a result of the underdog flipping his script in the role of fall guy to upset (or nearly upset) the house fighter (and I’m thinking specifically of Andy Ruiz-Anthony Joshua and Sergiy Derevyanchenko-Gennady Golovkin). 

To be fair, though, there are some solid, competitive-looking bouts on their rest-of-year schedule such as Regis Prograis-Josh Taylor, Saul Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev, and, of course Andy Ruiz-Anthony Joshua 2. So, I guess you take the good with the bad. 

-- Tyson Fury will “fight” WWE big man Braun Strowman on an October 31 show in Saudi Arabia after two pretend skirmishes on WWE TV. 

"This is something I've always dreamed of. I am lifelong WWE fan and this is a fantastic opportunity for me,” Fury told wrestling writer Dave Meltzer.

"When I go to Saudi, I am still going to be undefeated, I am going to knock Braun Strowman out… He's meeting a guy who has the best hands in boxing. He don't want none of these hands."

And, most likely, Strowman won’t “get” none of those hands because, you know, it’s fake fighting. The only chance of Fury hurting his hands is if they get cramped up endorsing that fat Saudi-sponsored WWE check.

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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