Weekend Wrap — Burnett, Prograis Step Up
By Donavan Leonard – This weekend in boxing was low on marquee names but still held plenty of action. Ryan Burnett (17-0, 9 KOs) of Northern Ireland continued his ascent through the paid ranks, capturing the IBF Bantamweight title from England’s Lee Haskins. It was a dominating performance, with Burnett dropping Haskins in the 6th round and again in the 11th round. Unfortunately there has been more talk about the absurdity of judge Clark Sammartino’s scorecard than about the fight itself. While the other two judges scored the bout 119-107 for Burnett, his card read 118-108 for Haskins. It is believed that he confused the fighters, which is hopefully the case. His scorecard made an impression on British Boxing Board of control commissioner Robert Smith, who stated that Sammartino will no longer be allowed to judge fights in his country.
Regis Prograis (20-0, 17 KOs) looked very sharp as he took apart previously unbeaten Joel Diaz Jr, now 23-1, 19 KOs). “Rougarou” looked every bit as savage as his Louisiana werewolf moniker implied. He was quicker, harder-punching, and just better at every phase than Diaz. He held his hands low, used upper body movement, and then repeatedly exploded into Diaz with hard lefts. After four knockdowns in round 2, the referee called a halt to the one-sided thrashing. Afterward, Prograis called out Terence Crawford, Adrian Broner, Viktor Postol, and anybody else willing to face him. With his lefty stance, unorthodox style, and incredible quickness, he will not be an easy task for anyone in the division. That includes Crawford.
Winner–Burnett In a showcase bout in his home country, he was able to secure the IBF title. Not only did he have to overcome an incompetent scorecard, but he finished the fight with two large cuts on his head. Both Burnett and Haskins were bloodied from butts, but the 3-inch gash over Burnett’s right eye was by far the worst. He stayed poised and didn’t play into the emotions of the crowd or panic from the sight of his own blood as younger fighters sometimes do. His reign may be a short one, as the next highest rated contender is highly-touted Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez (16-0, 11 KOs), but he can enjoy winning the title in front of his fans. That is truly a dream come true.
Loser–IBF No statement has been released by the IBF yet in relation to Sammartino’s scorecard, but the fact that the scorecard made it to the ringside announcer’s mic is disappointing. Perhaps one of the officials could have looked at the score and asked Sammartino if he meant for the scoring to be as he recorded it, pointing out that Burnett was in the red trunks and that Haskins was wearing the white trunks. The goal is to “get it right”, not to protect the egos of referees or judges who are as susceptible to mistakes as any other human. In this instance, the IBF did not get it right.
Other Notes…Congratulations to Marco Antonio Barrera, Evander Holyfield, and to the family of Johnny Tapia on their inductions into the Hall of Fame. I would not have included Tapia, but I am not sure that any fighter has show more passion in the ring….Daniel Jacobs has been mentioned as possibly being on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez. I hope it is a “live” opponent, which I seriously doubt due to the purse demands that would be made. I would prefer Taureano Johnson-David Lemiuex, both Golden Boy Promotions fighters…An eliminator between Jermall Charlo (the puncher) and Jorge Sebastian Heiland has been ordered, and may take place in July. This is a good measuring stick for Charlo…Still in the middleweight division, bizarre story of the arrest of Avtandil Khurtsidze on racketeering charges. The WBO title fight with Billie Joe Saunders is off, and Saunders will be looking for a new opponent and a new date.
Thoughts and prayers for Daniel “Twitch” Franco, who at the time of this writing is in a coma from injuries sustained in his kayo loss to Jose Haro. This is another reminder that the danger these warriors face each and every time they step into the ring is real. Let that not be forgotten.