SAN DIEGO, May 2, 2015 – The undercard fights on the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao megafight card took criticism for being weak, and we can’t argue with this. The promoters weren’t under any pressure to add strong matchups. Since there was tremendous, unprecedented demand for the main event, there was no real need to attract more of an audience.
So Top Rank could put up a few of its rising stars to help build up their visibility in front of a huge audience, against fighters who would test but not push or threaten them.
Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine (4-1,1 KO) showed why fans love to watch him fight. He had a solid outing against the veteran Gamelier Rodriguez from Puerto Rico (27-3-3, 17 KOs) to retain his WBO featherweight title with a stoppage at 50 seconds of Round 9.
Lomachenko took the first few rounds slowly to study Rodriguez. In round 4, he got to work. He was the far busier and far more accurate fighter, breaking down Rodriguez with body work and a variety of punches.
Seeing the replay of the ten count by Robert Byrd when Rodriguez took a wicked body shot by Lomachenko, it was a good stoppage. Byrd was looking right at Rodriguez, and the veteran referee assessed Rodriguez wasn’t able to continue even though he did stand up.
Lomachenko is a smart fighter with pinpoint accuracy and the confidence of a champion. When he has a chance to fight better quality opponents and win solid outings, he should be on his way to the top 10 pound for pound list in 2015.
Lomachenko is the first to say so. He told HBO’s Max Kellerman, “I agree that I have to fight someone notable. I don’t think I’m top five pound for pound, I have to beat some champions to get to that spot.” One of those champions could be the hard hitting Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters of Jamaica, who put on a spectacular show against Nonito Donaire last October.
The second undercard fight was also at lightweight. Leo Santa Cruz of Mexico via California had little trouble with Jose Cayetano, a Tijuana construction worker who took the fight on just a few weeks’ notice. Nevertheless, Cayetano went the distance with Santa Cruz, showing determination and toughness. Not bad for a guy who doesn’t box and train full time. The judges gave Santa Cruz a unanimous decision with scorecards of 100-90.
“Next time we’re going to work harder and look for bigger fights,” said Santa Cruz.
It was a disgrace to have such a lackluster, lopsided match-up sharing the stage with Mayweather and Pacquiao. No disrespect to Cayetano, he never gave up and gave it everything he could. He showed how tough he is, taking all the punishment Santa Cruz could dish out.
Santa Cruz needs to pick on someone at his own level next time, like Abner Mares. Fans are going to grow disenchanted watching Santa Cruz in contests like this, no matter how talented he is.
Staging a fight like this in front of a packed arena full of fans seeing boxing in person for the first time and people watching who coughed up good money for pay per view doesn’t help grow the sport. Promoters are loathe to risk a boxer’s record against tough opponents, but it doesn’t help boxing long term when a boring contest is seen by so many casual fans.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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