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Beterbiev, Miller and Roman shine, Vargas disappoints

Image: Beterbiev, Miller and Roman shine, Vargas disappoints

By Mike Smith: Matchroom Boxing USA promoter Eddie Hearn’s DAZN card last Saturday had three good efforts by IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev, heavyweight contender Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller and WBA super bantamweight champion Danny Roman and one bad effort from welterweight Jessie Vargas.

Unfortunately the fights weren’t likely high profile enough to attract a lot of American subscribers into paying $10 to subscribe to DAZN to see those guys fight last Saturday night at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois. Hearn still needs to sign a major star or two like Mikey Garcia, Saul Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin for him to get boxing fans to subscribe in huge numbers.

Artur Beterbiev vs. Callum Johnson

The star on the night was IBF 175 pound champion Artur Beterbiev (13-0 13 KOs) with his exciting 4th round knockout win over his IBF mandatory challenger Callum Johnson (17-1, 12 KOs). The fight was stopped at 2:36 of round 4. Johnson was hurt and unable to continue fighting after hitting the deck in round four.

The only reason Johnson was Beterbiev’s mandatory is because none of the other contenders ranked above him wanted to face the Russian fighter. Beterbiev, 33, knocked Johnson down twice in the fight in dropping him in rounds 1 and 4. The fight was stopped by referee Celestino Ruiz after Beterbiev connected with with a big left that put Johnson down in the 4th. What’s interesting is Johnson was ahead on all three of the judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage. The judges had Johnson up by the scores 29-27, 28-27 and 28-27. I don’t know if you can find too many boxing fans that would agree to Johnson being ahead at the time of the stoppage. Johnson fought well in round two after knocking Beterbiev down with a mighty left hook to the head, but he didn’t do well in round 1 or 3. Beterbiev knocked Johnson down with a right hand late in the 1st round. Before the knockdown, Johnson had some good moments. However, that was canceled out by Beterbiev knocking Johnson down. In round three, Beterbiev came back to fight well after being hurt in the 2nd round.

Overall, Johnson and Beterbiev both fought well. Johnson’s stamina gave out on him a little after the 3rd round. Johnson made a mistake of trying to press Beterbiev too hard in the 4th, and he was caught by a couple of hard shots from him that put him over. The shots shook Johnson to his boots, and he couldn’t get up from the knockdown. If there was a trophy to be given out for the best fighter on the card, it would have to be Beterbiev for the way that he performed after being badly hurt by the powerful Johnson in the 2nd round. The left hook that Johnson hit Beterbiev with in that round would have knocked out a mule. It was a tremendous punch that Johnson put everything into, and it bowled Beterbiev over. Beterbiev showed that he’s got a good chin in getting up from the knockdown. The shot should have kept Beterbiev down, but he took it and fought well in the last seconds of the round. Johnson obviously didn’t believe that Beterbiev was badly hurt, because he didn’t even try and go after him in any real way.

The disappointing performance came from Jessie Vargas (28-2-2, 10 KOs) in fighting to a 12 round draw against Thomas Dulorme (24-3-1, 16 KOs). Vargas came into the fight as the A-side and the favorite to win over high level journeyman Dulorme. Hearn signed Vargas in a salvage project to try and turn him into world champion again, but the way that he fought against Dulorme, it’s going to be an uphill climb and likely will end in utter failure for him and his his optimistic promoter. Vargas appeared to lost five out of the first six rounds against the faster and more powerful Dulorme. Vargas hurt Dulorme in the 10th round and put him down. A determined Dulorme got back to his feet and finished the round strong in hurting Vargas. Dulorme fought well in the 11th, and then knocked Vargas down with a big right hand in the last 15 seconds of the bout in the 12th. In the end, it looked like Dulorme had won 9 of the 12 rounds. However, the judges scored it 115-111 for Vargas, 113-113 and 113-113. The 115-111 score was out of touch with the fight that had taken place. Vargas did not win that many rounds in the fight for the judge to score it that way.

Jessie Vargas vs. Thomas Dulorme

The poor performance from Vargas failed to dissuade his promoter Eddie Hearn from his goal of matching him against WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter in his next fight. Despite Vargas being held to a draw by Dulorme, Hearn maintained that he thought his fighter Vargas had won, and that he still was going to try and put together a fight against WBC champion Porter. It was Vargas’ second draw in his last two fights, and not the type of fight that you want to see from someone that you’re trying to set-up for a world title shot. Hearn has the money to get Vargas a title shot against any of the champions. But it puts Porter in a situation where he’s going to look bad in defending his WBC title against a fighter with two draws in his last two fights, and a record of 1-1-2 since 2016. How do you justify defending your title against a fighter that has won only once in his last four fights, and been arguably given two gift draws? I don’t think you can make an argument in favor of Vargas rating a world title shot against Porter. Hearn’s theory for Vargas deserving a title shot against Porter is that Jessie is ranked higher than the other contenders in the World Boxing Council’s top 10 ranking, and that he won’t lose his current ranking because he didn’t lose the fight.

Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller vs. Tomasz Adamek

Coming into the fight with a 90-pound weight advantage, the 317-lb. Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller (22-0-1, 19 KOs) literally threw his weight behind every punch he threw in knocking out Tomasz Adamek (53-6, 31 KOs) by a 2nd round TKO. Referee Mark Nelson stopped the fight after Adamek went down n round 2. The time of the stoppage was at 0:51.

Miller landed a monstrous uppercut that put the 41-year-old Adamek down in round two. Adamek’s face had a look of, ‘I don’t want anymore,’ when the referee looked down at him to see if he would be getting back up after being dropped by the 30-year-old ‘Big Baby’ Miller. The fight was supposed to be a mismatch, so it wasn’t that much of a surprise that Miller was able to knock the 227 lb. Adamek out. The only real surprise was how quickly Miller was able to stop Adamek. The Polish fighter had never been knocked out so quickly during his career.

Adamek didn’t say anything about wanting to retire after the fight, but it’ possible that a loss like this might be the catalyst for him to walk away from the sport. Adamek’s loss to Miller ending a three-fight winning streak. Adamek had lose twice in 2014 to Vyacheslav Glazkov and Artur Szpilka. In 2016, Adamek was knocked out in the 10th round by Eric Molina. The difference was that Adamek wasn’t competitive at all against Miller. It was a two-round wipeout for the American fighter Miller. In Adamek’ losses to Glazkov, Szpilka and Molina, he was fighting well and giving those guys problems. Adamek didn’t match-up against Miller due to the size and power disadvantage. If Adamek is going to make a retirement decision, he needs to base it on losing to a guy more his own size. Adamek doesn’t belong at heavyweight. That much is certain. If he lost some weight and went back down to cruiserweight, he’d have a better chance of competing by facing guys his own size. Adamek lacks the size and power to be fighting at heavyweight. It’s understandable why Adamek moved up to the weight class in the first place, since the money is better in this weight class than it is at cruiserweight. But Adamek is now at the point in his career where he’s not going to keep getting paydays because he’s losing too frequently. He needs to go back down to his old weight class at cruiserweight to compete against guys his own size.

Danny Roman vs. Gavin McDonnell

World Boxing Association World super bantamweight champion Danny Roman (26-2-1,10 KOs) successfully defended his WBA 122 lb title in beating the much taller 5’10” Gavin McDonnell (20-2-2, 5 KOs) by a 10th round knockout. Roman and McDonnell went to war from the first round until the finish in the 10th. Roman looked very good in making the fight thrilling to watch. He left no doubt who the better man was in stopping the 32-year-old McDonnell.

Eddie Hearn needs to sign Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin

Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn’s card last Saturday night showed more than anything that he badly needs to sign either Saul Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin to his stable to help him bring in subscribers to his DAZN platform. Canelo’s youth and popularity make him a better guy for Hearn to sign than Golovkin, who at 36 doesn’t have much time left in the sport. Hearn already has British heavyweight Anthony Joshua and unified cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk in his Matchroom stable. However, neither of those fighters are well-known or popular in the U.S despite being quite talented fighters. Canelo might not be nearly as good as Usyk or Joshua, but he’s got more boxing fans in the U.S than they do. Hearn needs Canelo for him to bring in the subscribers to his DAZN platform. Hearn needs to open up his piggy bank and empty it out to get Canelo to sign with him to try and make his DAZN deal a success. It would be a gamble on Hearn’s part to do that, but it might be the only way his DAZN deal is going to work for him. Hearn reportedly is on a short leash and only has two years to try and make a success out of his DAZN deal. Even though Hearn signed an eight year deal with DAZN, it’s said that the 2-year mark is when it could be over if he’s not doing well. If Hearn can get Canelo, then that might be all he needs to make DAZN a success, as long as the Mexican star doesn’t get found out by the other fighters at 160. A lot of fans think Canelo was saved from defeats in his two fights with GGG due to his popularity and not because of what he did inside the ring. Canelo might run out of look soon with the judges doing a better job of scoring his fights. If that happens, his career could go belly up.

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