The stars continue to align as rising talent continues it’s trajectory unabated in professional boxing. Cuban expatriates Guillermo Rigondeaux and Erislandy Lara both saw dominating victories within the last week, outpointing and stopping opponents to embark on a bright 2016. Canelo Alvarez’s November 21st victory against Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto catapulted the Mexican fighter’s name into many pound-for-pound best lists. And Errol Spence Jr. continues his meteoric rise with a skillful technical knockout of Alejandro Barrera. Boxing fans would not be remiss to celebrate at the potential for great things in the coming year.
November 21st, Mandalay Bay Resort at Las Vegas, NV
Guillermo Rigondeaux left his calling card in the ring at Mandalay Bay Arena last Saturday. That being his befuddling boxing skills and a unanimous decision victory. Thus far in his professional career, crowds have come to expect that from him. Among boos from a restless audience, the 2-time Olympic gold medalist gave a performance fit for any boxing purist. He dominated every angle of space in the ring, timed his punches perfectly and countered beautifully with his left hand punches. Opposite Rigondeaux, Drian Francisco showed an innovative mind by using lateral movement to get into close range with the Cuban boxer. Many times Francisco landed shots flush on Rigondeaux’s face from both offensive and defensive stances, and impressive feat considering Rigondeaux’s prowess as a defensive-minded fighter. Unfortunately, despite a clear hunger to fight Drian Francisco was not awarded the victory. Rigondeaux continues his undefeated professional career at 16-0 with stride unbroken after more than a year-long latency in professional fights.
November 25th, Hialeah, Florida
Erislandy Lara has not lost a step since his controversial loss to Canelo Alvarez last year. He was brought on board with NBC’s Premier Boxing Champions roster of fighters, and has since used every professional occasion to demonstrate how he got to the top echelon in boxing: being a dead shot sniper in the ring. No matter how tight the guard of an opponent, Lara will find an opening to slot his straight left hand punch. Four days after the Canelo-Cotto event, Lara met Slovenian Jan Zaveck in the ring for 2.6 rounds before a stoppage of Zaveck. In what was largely a departure from his established style, Lara planted his feet for the entirety of the fight rather than use his crafty circular movement. One can only speculate whether that was because of negative remarks about the fan-friendliness of Lara’s style or because the ring canvas was still damp from that afternoon’s rain. But regardless of the impetus of the relative lack of movement, it was a pleasure to behold Lara throwing sharp counter-punches at close range. Considering he has put forth all stellar performances in his recent fights, Lara may just have the potential to step back into the boxing limelight in 2016.
November 28th, The Bomb Factory at Dallas, Texas
Errol Spence Jr. is a man of his word. This 25 year-old has had no reservations in touting his ability, though he is able to consistently (in each of his professional fights) back up his claims not only by being victorious, but by doing so in spectacular fashion. His latest fight against Alejandro Barrera saw him score a stoppage at the half-way point in the fight after a flurry of accurate punches by Spence invited the referee to put a stop to the action. For a man who claims to be hungry to fight the best in the welterweight division, Spence is certainly going about his work the right way. Having fought four times in 2015 and five times in 2014, he is surpassing any quotas of volume of opponents. And at 19-0 as a professional, his is an immaculate portfolio. The next step may be to put this fighter on a pedestal where the entire boxing world can have the treat of watching him perform.