(Luis Carlos Abregu connects on Thomas Dulorme; photo credit: Carlos Baeza, Thompson Boxing)
No matter what kind of hype Puerto Rican welterweight Thomas Dulorme had accumulated as a prospect, no matter the insanely premature comparisons to Felix Trinidad, no matter the other legendary names HBO commentators were unnecessarily throwing out during the main event Saturday night, Dulorme was still just a largely untested prospect. And when he faced by far the best competition of his career, Luis Carlos Abregu, he failed that first authentic test. Abregu was smarter, more experienced, tougher and had better timing to overcome an opponent with a flashier set of physical attributes. These things happen in boxing, and they wouldn't look so embarrassing if people wouldn't get so carried away pumping up unproven commodities.
It was, at least, an interesting thing that happened on an otherwise drowsy HBO card. Neither Miguel Vazquez's win over Marvin Quintero nor Karim Mayfield's win over Mauricio Herrera ended as dreadfully as they began, but the sum total of each was like chugging a bottle of NyQuil.
LUIS CARLOS ABREGU-THOMAS DULORME
I'll confess to having been impressed by Dulorme before, because he had demonstrated a lot of speed and a lot of power so far. His best opponent, though, was DeMarcus Corley, and Dulorme was a noticeably less shiny object against a crafty vet. One of the best prospects in boxing, coming into this fight? Sure. But a lot of guys are good prospects and end up bad contenders, and it's what happens in fights like this that decide such matters.
Abregu played the role of crafty vet Saturday. He hasn't always come off as a crafty type before, but against Timothy Bradley in his lone prior loss, he had shown hitherto unrevealed intelligence in making that fight more competitive than the worst fears. Here, he took a couple rounds to gauge Dulorme's speed and find some openings. Dulorme really never opened up with anything powerful, so it's unclear whether he tasted some measure of Abregu's power early and didn't want to mess with it, or if Dulorme knew his own chin was questionable and didn't want to mess with anything risky during his HBO debut, or if Abregu's better-than-expected defense was giving him fits.
Whatever the case, in the 3rd round, Abregu found his opening with a long right hand to the side of Dulorme's head and Dulorme didn't handle it well — his eyes rolled back in his head when he hit the canvas like his pupils were responding to him bouncing down to the mat. Dulorme survived despite being shaken up again once he rose, and in the 4th Abregu was pouring it on. Dulorme switched to southpaw, and that, somehow, worked. He won the 5th, then switched back to orthodox in the 6th, and promptly lost that round. Go figure. In the righty stance, Abregu was landing his right at will; he had said he noticed Dulorme carried his left too low and made him pay.
The end came in the 7th with another knockdown, this one from an Abregu flurry where the final punch was a left hook. Dulorme's corner stopped it. It was the right call from a corner that might need some work — they couldn't get their man to get out of the way of that right, they couldn't get him to stick with what worked when he went southpaw, and the least they could do is keep their woozy fighter from a worse beating.
Dulorme was one of promoter Gary Shaw's big hopes, and he was visibly disdainful during the fight of what Dulorme was doing. Shaw has always matched his fighters ambitiously, and that was the case here; sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't, with the early returns being that this one didn't. Dulorme is fast and does hit hard, and he is merely 22, so I'll never count someone like that out after a loss in his first real step up. That Dulorme wasn't ready yet is, at least, now completely obvious. He'll need to work on his defense if he is to be rebuilt, and his chin might be a real problem for building him back to anywhere near the level of hype he was picking up.
Abregu said afterward that he wanted a Bradley rematch, which is unrealistic; Bradley's turning down huge money fights against more acclaimed opponents these days. But Abregu rightly deserves another shot at a top welterweight after this upset win, and he fights in an exciting enough fashion that it ought to be on TV, too.
KARIM MAYFIELD-MAURICIO HERRERA/MIGUEL VAZQUEZ-MARVIN QUINTERO
Mayfield-Herrera was a visibly less awful fight than Vazquez-Quintero, not that it wasn't miserable over the first half. It was like these four men were on some kind of Ugly Boxing Match Scavenger Hunt, with Vazquez-Quintero crossing off the "running/low punch output" line and Mayfield-Herrera crossing off the "mauling/clinching" line. Both fights seemed to put even the card's promoter, Shaw, in a sleepy stupor at ringside.
Mayfield is in love with his overhand right, and there is at least some basis for his affection. He landed it at will against Herrera, a high-pressure, low-defense sort who was eager to comply with Mayfield's overhand right affair. After a few rounds, the clinching died down some and Mayfield landed enough power punches to make it an OKish fight, while Herrera surged back with punch volume; Herrera's manliness was pretty impressive in the 9th in particular, when he came out harder than ever one round after getting pounded with nasty shots in the 8th. The fight could've been close, but Mayfield won a unanimous decision where the widest scorecard was 118-110. I'm not sure if Mayfield — whose musclebound frame might hurt his stamina, and who needs a more diverse arsenal to make much noise at junior welterweight — did enough entertainment-wise to warrant an HBO return. Herrera, meanwhile, is a solid opponent for all types of brawlers and up-and-comers, as he'll win some and lose some against each kind of fighter, and he'll try his damnedest along the way.
The less said about Vazquez-Quintero the better, probably. It's a contender for the worst fight of the year, even though Vazquez stopped running so much and finally decided to start engaging with meaningful blows after the 8th or so. Quintero at least was pressing forward early, but he also wasn't throwing many punches himself. It ended in a split decision victory for Vazquez (I had Vazquez and Mayfield winning, by the way), where Vazquez was exceedingly timid and Quintero was more competitive than he had a right to be. If anything, Quintero probably helped his stock, though, while those who hadn't seen Vazquez before could rightly wonder whether he was the best the lightweight division had to offer despite a consensus #1 ranking. Perhaps more importantly for his career, Vazquez was hoping this HBO appearance would win him a bigger-money fight, but it was so terribly ugly a performance that he could be banished from the airwaves altogether until he proves he can again grace a TV screen without painting a reverse masterpiece.