ESPN Vasyl Lomachenko vs Guillermo Rigondeaux, Michael Conlan vs Luis Fernando Molina, Shakur Stevenson vs Oscar Mendoza, and Christopher Diaz vs Bryant Cruz
BY KID HERSH
From the Madison Square Garden Theatre in New York came Top Rank on ESPN boxing.
First up was Shakur Stevenson (3-0, 1KO) vs Oscar Mendoza (4-2, 2KO's). The referee was Sparkle Lee. The first round opened up with Timothy Bradley saying that he wished Shakur would sit down on his punches more. Shakur did just that in the first round as he stung Mendoza with hard punches - mostly straight lefts - but he still needs to turn over the punch to generate more power yet. The fight was stopped, prematurely, in the second round as Stevenson was grunting away and throwing punches in bunches, or should I say more so one at a time, at Mendoza. Again - I am not impressed yet with Stevenson. Sure, he is a talent to watch, but he has a long ways to go yet as I see it. Lets see some rounds out of him and adjustments made.
Before the next fight Terence Crawford came on to stir the audience with his typically scintillating interviews that capture the world by storm.
Next up was Christopher Diaz (21-0, 13KO's) vs Bryant Cruz (18-2, 9KO's). The referee was Harvey Dock. It did not take long for Diaz to score a knockdown in the very first round off of his powerful punching that started with a right hand to the chin followed by a left hook. Cruz rose and shook it off very quickly and Diaz showed patience as he did not waste energy going for the kill on a very tough fighter. In the second round Diaz was patient and powerful yet again as he bided his time and exploded at the end of the round, scoring the second knockdown of the fight with a left hook to the back of the head that made Cruz's legs go jumpy like a fish out of water and down to the canvas. He rose only to go down again from an onslaught of punches. He got up at eight and made it through the remaining seconds of the round. Diaz was also going to the body and showing extreme patience, looking like a very complete fighter. The fight was over very early in the third round after he scored a fourth knockdown. He looked absolutely amazing, a new star may have been born tonight.
Michael Conlan (4-0, 4KO's) vs Luis Fernando Molina (7-3-1, 2KO's). The referee was Arthur Mercante Jr. In the first round Conlan was picking his spots and was even turning between southpaw and orthodox, perhaps due to getting tagged with a right hand from Molina. Conlan fought the second round completely from the southpaw stance and also had his hands at his waist for the majority of the round as he was showboating while firing off lead lefts when Molina tried to walk in range to throw. Conlan continued dominating the fight but not really hurting Molina and instead outboxing his man. The fight would go the distance with Conlan winning the shutout decision.
Main event time featuring Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1, 7KO's) vs Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11KO's). The referee was Steve Willis. In the first round it was mostly a feeler, with Lomachenko showing great footwork in circling Rigo, who was mostly judging the distance from his typical stance with his standard guard - which is almost nonexistent except for him going off of reflexes. In the second round the fight was turning ugly as Rigo was holding behind the head and hitting while Lomachenko was pushing whenever he could. The third round was more of the same, with Lomachenko stop not sitting down on his punches but instead looking to score at this point in the fight. Rigo was continually bending at the waist so far down that Loma had no target but the back of a head to swing at. Rigo was docked a point two minutes into the sixth round but that mattered not, seeing as how he has not landed more than three punches in any round and was losing by a landslide. Rigo would pack it in in between rounds and quit the fight, claiming a hand injury. This is now the fourth opponent in a row that has quit on Lomachenko. In the post fight interview he had a nice quip, saying perhaps his nickname should be "NoMasChenko".
After the fight we were then witness to the worst boxing broadcasting of all time as Teddy Atlas and Stephen A Smith went back and forth in a ridiculous manner where the audience no doubt changed the channel. It is this exact type of stuff that is so ridiculous and engulfs boxing, that hinders the sport from generating new fans. There is zero professionalism.