In his wildest dreams, Stephen Espinoza could have never come up with the explosive ending he got for Showtime’s 2013 boxing schedule. Throughout the year he’s managed to not only compete effectively with the fights on HBO, but he’s actually managed to beat them on several fronts. Despite his fantastic year, no one could have expected the entertainment value delivered by Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana. It was one of the craziest fights in years.
Why? For four reasons, the four hip pumps delivered by both fighters to each other throughout the fight. Boxing is no stranger to craziness. In fact, boxing fans kind of like it. It’s because of how this fight was built up, how it played out, who the fighters were, and the dry humping that Broner started in the very first round and Maidana returned in the 11th that this fight makes it onto my top five “WTF Moments in Boxing” list. The aftermath of both fighters' hip gyrations wasn’t nearly as explosive as the others on the list, but because I’m fairly sure no boxer has ever humped another in the middle of the fight and then been humped by that same fighter, it has to make the list. But I digress.
Adrien Broner and Marcos Maidana delivered on all fronts. It was fight where the marketing was exceeded by the action on fight night.
During Showtime’s documentary show, "All Access," Maidana’s trainer, Robert Garcia, perfectly dissected Broner’s early-round boxing approach: He’s slow to start, analyzing his opponent’s game plan, and keeps his punch output low. At the beginning of fights, Broner is at his weakest. Maidana capitalized on that fact with ardor — hurting him early and smothering him with effective pressure and thunderous punches. Then in the second, Maidana became the first man to introduce Broner to the canvas.
From then on, Broner took the best the Argentinian slugger could muster — thudding body blows, winging left hooks and the occasional super uppercut that once reminded me of something out of Street Fighter.
The would-be heir to Floyd Mayweather’s throne never managed to adjust the way his “big bro” always seems to. Broner showed some improvement in the middle rounds, particularly four through six, but never seemed to take full control despite flourishes of his amazing hand speed and the several hard, clean punches he landed on Maidana. In the wake of the fight, Maidana admitted — although poor translators did not report to interviewers — that Broner did manage to hurt him in certain rounds. As everyone watching the fight saw, however, Maidana would not be denied.
After a round of where Broner’s flashy hands were on display and Maidana’s own punches seemed to be losing steam, Maidana landed another power left hook that sent Broner to the canvass. As he stepped in for the kill, Broner tied up Maidana in what every high school wrestler knows as a “double overhook,” stopping all of Maidana’s momentum. Or so he hoped. Struggling to get his hands free, Maidana lifted his head and pressured it against Broner’s jaw to pull his arms free.
Broner’s reaction was worse than any spectacle ever seen on a soccer field, where it seems that players are always in search of Oscars with their overwrought exhibitions of pain and injury.
Maidana lost a point for his transgression. Broner should have lost a point for his terrible acting.
Regardless, the fight continued in much the same fashion as before, with Maidana outworking and out-landing Broner, who survived with the help of his quick feet and effective clinches, not to mention the repeated use of his forearms and shoving technique.
Only moments after the final bell rang and the scores (115-110, 117-109, 116-109) announced Maidana’s unanimous victory, Broner hopped out of the ring and marched out of the arena with serious determination. Although it was quite clear that Broner had taken a shellacking during the fight, there wasn’t anything obvious that would have prevented him from staying for the customary post-fight, in-ring interview. If you make a career of attracting fans with the size of your boasts and bravado, you should have the courage and conviction to allow that sizable mouth to speak after a loss.
Whether anyone could have heard Broner speak over the deafening sounds of San Antonio’s Latino fans in attendance is another matter. You can be sure that they, and the millions watching at home, will be flying to, betting on and buying tickets for Maidana’s next fight.
With a dominant performance like Maidana’s, and his ability to overcome Broner’s imitation of Floyd Mayweather’s shoulder roll, there are already talks of whether Maidana has earned a ticket to the Mayweather sweepstakes.
Maidana is certainly more deserving of the fight than suspected front-runner Amir Khan. The English fighter has lost two of his last four fights, and his recent victories were against either slower/smaller opponents (Carlos Molina) or unimpressive/disputed (Julio Diaz). Despite that, Khan does draw fans, and that is what has really put him on the list of potential match-ups for Mayweather. But with Maidana’s victory, it’s difficult to argue that Maidana has not just inherited the faith of the boxing-loving Latino community for at least his next fight. With Mayweather’s fight tentatively scheduled for a Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo, the Maidana fight makes more sense — even though Maidana is Argentinian. (The differences between Hispanics are quickly forgotten in the fervor of a good fight.)
Christmas is around the corner. Boxing fans have been good; they’ve been loyal to their sport. Let’s hope Santa Mayweather gives them what they really want, what they really deserve — an all-action fighter with grit and heart enough to bring the fight to Mayweather in a way that only one man so far has been able to do (Jose Luis Castillo). Let the Englishman earn his shot at Mayweather with a victory people actually care about.
“WTF Moments in Boxing”
Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe vs. Elijah Tillery (1991)
It didn’t take long for Big Daddy to show Tillery who the puncher really was in their fight. Bowe knocked him down with a left hook near the end of the first. Tillery survived. The bell run shortly thereafter, and Big Daddy threw a punch clearly after the bell. Tillery reacted with more than the usual punching. After things got crazy in the ring, even Bowe’s manager got in the mix. In case you haven’t seen how things played out, I don’t want to ruin it. Time to hit the play button.
Evander Holyfield vs. Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe (1992)
Crowned the new undisputed heavyweight champion after beating Buster Douglas, Holyfield set out to defend his title against a primed and ready Riddick Bowe. Seven rounds in and Bowe was well on his way to securing his eventual unanimous decision, and then it happened — maybe the most bizarre occurrence at a title fight ever. Although not as exciting as some of the other events on this list, it deserves its spot on pure strangeness alone.
Riddick "Big Daddy" Bowe vs. Andrew Golota (1996)
This heavyweight meeting ended in one of the craziest ring riots ever broke out. The hell unfolded after Golota was disqualified for his repeated low blows, which sent Bowe to the canvas numerous times. Once Golota was disqualified from the fight that he was clearly winning, Bowe’s friends jumped in the ring and came after Golata. It makes the skirmish that developed in Mayweather vs. Zab Judah look like a schoolyard clash.
Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield (1997)
The first fight between these two was several years too late, and Tyson was several 8-balls of cocaine too deep to even think about getting in the ring with Holyfield. Regardless, the fight got made, and Tyson lost. In the rematch, only three rounds in, Tyson could no longer handle Holyfield’s clinching, which resulted in one of the most shocking acts by a boxer inside the ring.
A former college wrestler, Taekwondo black-belt, and wannabe boxer, Paul Navarro (aka Fight Like Sugar) is now a full-time lawyer, part-time fight scribe, and high school wrestling coach.