It was a busy weekend in boxing, from the spectacle event that saw Jake Paul beat Anderson Silva, to victorious returns for living legends Vasiliy Lomachenko and Katie Taylor, a breakout for William Zepeda, and the train still a-rollin’ for Kiko Martinez.
So what all did we see this weekend, and what might come next for many of the names we saw in action?
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The basics: Paul beat Silva by decision over eight rounds, a decision that was fair. I had it 4-4 in rounds, but an eighth round knockdown made the difference for Jake on my card, and the official judges didn’t even technically need that.
Thoughts: I tend to agree with what Teddy Atlas laid out during and after the fight, that Paul (6-0, 4 KO) has clearly, obviously learned and grown as a fighter, and that there’s no reason to not “take him seriously” anymore if you’re willing to take the vast, vast, vast majority of notable prospects seriously after they’ve had six pro fights. No, Jake has not beaten top-level competition, but neither has almost anyone within six pro fights. I am not telling you he’s a blue-chip super-talent; I am telling you that you will see worse prospects showcased on major broadcaster shows all the time. This was Paul’s best win and best performance to date. He has natural power and he has clearly worked hard and taken this seriously. The difference between the fighter he is now and the fighter he was against Nate Robinson, AnEson Gib, or Ben Askren is very clear.
Next for Paul: Jake called out Nate Diaz and Canelo Alvarez. Plenty of work was done throughout the night on social media to set up the fight with Nate Diaz, including backstage footage of brawls and slaps and whatnot. Canelo is not going to fight Jake Paul, certainly not next, though every fight that goes by with Jake winning and Canelo getting older, the closer that becomes to a possible reality somewhere down the road. I’d expect Diaz, though, with an outside shot at a trip to the United Kingdom to fight Tommy Fury, if there is enough money there and Paul actually thinks Fury won’t pull out for a third time, whatever the reason may be.
For Silva: The 47-year-old Silva had already mentioned plans to take part in a jiu-jitsu tournament next, and that’s probably what he will do. Silva intends to fight until he simply cannot anymore, basically, in one form or another. He is a beloved, universally respected legend of combat sports. To me, Anderson can do whatever he wishes.
From the undercard
Ashton Sylve: The Paul-promoted 18-year-old lightweight stopped Braulio Rodriguez in 61 seconds. It’s important to note that Rodriguez hadn’t fought in three years and was never as good as his W-L record suggests, but he did put in quite a, uh, performance here. We’re a long time from really finding out what Sylve (8-0, 8 KO) does or doesn’t have, but he’s gonna be getting some spotlight. Truth be told, Paul does not put effort into things or people he doesn’t believe in. Sylve should be on your radar now.
Uriah Hall and Le’Veon Bell: Hall, who beat Bell by four-round decision, gave his opponent credit and called out Jake Paul; he’d be an emergency opponent for Paul at best right now. Bell should be given respect for trying something, switching gears from anything to an attempt at a boxing career in your late 20s and early 30s is not easy. He had ideas, he’s clearly trying to put in work. Do I think he has a real boxing career ahead of him? No. But he’s the world-class athlete, too, not me.
Alexandro Santiago: Santiago’s win over Antonio Nieves wasn’t easy, and it ended oddly with Nieves’ corner stopping a fairly competitive fight after seven rounds, but it’s a win, and Santiago (27-3-5, 13 KO) is a top 10-ish bantamweight, which is a division set to potentially open up big-time in 2023. If Naoya Inoue beats Paul Butler on Dec. 13 to go undisputed, it’s widely expected he’ll vacate all four belts and move up to 122. Santiago’s name could be in the hat, at least.
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The basics: Lomachenko gutted out a decision win over an extremely game Ortiz, who had retired Jamel Herring in his last fight but still came in a huge underdog. Ortiz showed that he has real skills, coming up short but solidifying himself as a real contender at 135.
Thoughts: This was not easy for Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KO). Watching after the fact, I had the same 115-113 card for Loma that Wil Esco did on our live call, and that one of the judges had. The 117-111 card Lomachenko received was simply too wide; I’d agree with Devin Haney and many others on that. Ortiz (16-1-1, 8 KO) really showed something here, some real top-level skills, and there could be a very bright future for him.
Next for Lomachenko: It most likely will be an undisputed title fight with Haney, who says he’s ready to make the deal “if it makes sense,” which is what he says because he knows about six pre-programmed lines for interviews. Interviews are not his strong suit. The boxing part of boxing is his strong suit, and his size, youth, and skill set are going to make him a huge challenge for Lomachenko if they do meet in the spring of 2023 as I’d expect right now. But it’s a great fight, it’s the top two guys at the weight, it’s what we should want.
For Ortiz: I think Ortiz showed more in this defeat than in any of his wins, and he’s had some solid wins. Lomachenko may be getting older, may be small at 135, but he is still a magnificent technician, and Ortiz never got truly overwhelmed. I thought in the back end the moment may have gotten just slightly too big for him, but this is marvelous learning material for Jamaine, too; if he takes this for the great showing it was against an elite fighter, he has a chance to get even better. Absolutely no shame here for Ortiz, he raised his profile to everyone watching and acquitted himself nicely.
From the undercard
Robeisy Ramirez: As one of the world’s chief Robeisy Ramirez believers for the last decade, dating back to the 2012 Olympics in London when the Cuban was just 18 and winning his first of two gold medals, it greatly pleases me to see Ramirez (11-1, 7 KO) really starting to deliver on his promise. Matias Romero may be no top contender, but Isaac Cruz and Michel Rivera didn’t stop him up at 135; Cruz had a hell of a time with him, in fact, back in 2021. Robeisy Ramirez is a threat to anyone at 126 lbs. I’m saying it now: He’s arrived, he’s for real, and he can beat anyone in the world at this weight. There’s talk of Ramirez fighting Isaac Dogboe for the soon-to-be vacant WBO title next year, with Emanuel Navarrete set to go up to 130 to face Oscar Valdez for a vacant belt at that weight.
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The basics: Taylor did what she does, retaining her undisputed lightweight championship with a 10-round win over Argentina’s Carabajal, who was there to win but just the second-best fighter in the fight.
Thoughts: Taylor (22-0, 6 KO) was the clear winner here; I thought she won every round, though Carabajal (19-1, 2 KO) did better than I feared she might, wasn’t nearly as totally out-classed as I worried, and was not just there to cash a check. But Taylor was too good, which is generally the case with Taylor. Katie’s 36 now, and she’s no longer near her very peak, being honest, but I also think her very peak probably came in her amateur days, maybe even about a decade ago now. That she’s still a top two pound-for-pound fighter says a lot about how great she really is.
Next for Taylor: Eddie Hearn and Taylor both want the Amanda Serrano rematch, but more than that, their plan is to run Croke Park in Dublin. Taylor is a legitimate, true national sporting hero in Ireland, and she deserves that proper professional homecoming. Croke holds about 80,000 people, they could do huge numbers there. If it’s the Serrano rematch, I honestly think they’ll sell every single ticket they can make available. If it’s someone else — you still probably get there or come close. Alycia Baumgardner, who has three belts at 130, and Chantelle Cameron, who fights Jessica McCaskill for undisputed at 140 on Nov. 5, were mentioned as other possible opponents. Any one of them would be a great fight, but I also hope for the Serrano rematch, and frankly, Serrano fighting for a dead crowd on a Queensberry undercard last time out might make her more open to getting the deal done, if the money is right and all that.
For Carabajal: I mean, no idea, really. I barely knew a thing about her before Saturday, other than what her BoxRec page could tell me, and that weren’t much. She could fight on as a contender at 130 or 135, though I don’t think she’d beat any of the best fighters at either weight, being honest.
From the undercard
Kiko Martinez: The 36-year-old Spanish fan favorite once again held the gate. Now 44-11-2 (31 KO) following a dominant stoppage win over Jordan Gill, Martinez again holds the European title at 126 lbs, and it was an IBF eliminator. Josh Warrington has that belt at the moment, and there’s frankly no selling Warrington vs Martinez 3, but it could go vacant, or Luis Alberto Lopez could beat Warrington in December — don’t count that out, by the way — and he also mentioned Leigh Wood as a potential foe, and Eddie Hearn brought up Mauricio Lara. Martinez has made a tremendous, 18-year career out of beating opponents up to a certain level, and bringing his best even in defeat against the real higher-end foes. If you can beat Kiko Martinez, you’re world class. If you can’t, you aren’t. Gill, as hard as he tried and as tough as he was taking a beating, didn’t get close on Saturday.
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The basics: Zepeda dominated Diaz, scoring his biggest and best career win via one-sided decision.
Thoughts: I really thought Diaz (32-3-1, 15 KO) would have a bit too much in his all-around game for Zepeda (27-0, 23 KO), but that wasn’t the case. It wasn’t anywhere near the case. Zepeda looked fantastic here, did every bit of the job you could hope for him to do, and this was not a competitive fight. The fight was fought north of 135 lbs, but it was a weight both agreed to in the deal, so you can’t really “blame” that. Zepeda looks like a real contender in a very good division.
Next for Zepeda: We’ll see. The truth is, Golden Boy don’t have a ton for him; maybe Javier Fortuna, but that would be seen as a step back, a step sideways at the very best. Ryan Garcia is at 140, and if Golden Boy/DAZN do not get a deal done with Showtime/PBC for the Tank Davis fight, then Zepeda becomes a potentially attractive opponent for Garcia — if Garcia doesn’t again go into deep beef mode with Golden Boy, which would be the, what, third time? Fourth? But I look forward to seeing Zepeda again. He showed improvement, some wrinkles in his game I hadn’t seen before, it was just a really, really good performance. And there are lots of good fights potentially available at 135, including Zaur Abdullaev or Maxi Hughes, even if neither gets anyone hooting and hollering just at the idea.
For Diaz: Realistically, JoJo should probably be at 130, and he flirted with going back down in weight this year, but can he? Last time he tried to make that weight, he left a world title vacant on the scales and had to move up to 135. Diaz is a good fighter, but he’s also taken a lot of tough fights. That’s great, in one sense, but it also takes a toll. Whatever weight, he might want to consider a “get-well” fight next after a little time off to reset himself.