Felix Verdejo got himself a little HBO shine Saturday thanks to that knockout, via a highlight clip that's rare for such an inexperienced fighter. Also probably because he does have the makings of a future action star, down the line. Also probably because HBO and Top Rank are buddies right now. Top Rank found an easier mark for Verdejo in his second fight than the first time around, which contributed to the knockout. The circle is complete.
Besides the topics in the headline, we'll also revisit Miguel Angel Garcia's corner lobbying for their fight to be stopped, the problem of bad judging and other weekend results.
- Next for Mikey Garcia. Garcia's upside as a fighter appears tremendous — he does everything well and now he's beaten a top-notch opponent in Orlando Salido. Here's what we know about his present: Garcia now has a claim as the best featherweight in the world; it's down to him or Chris John. On one hand, Garcia beat the #1 man, but John and Salido were neck and neck and it's kind of a toss-up between John and the man who beat Salido. Either way, he has at least a claim. What he does next will be helpful to determining what he does with his upside. He wants Yuriorkis Gamboa, and I think that's a fight that pretty much anyone would like to see, but for some reason the rumor is of Gamboa facing welterweight Timothy Bradley. That's an absurd fight because Gamboa would be moving up so much in weight even if the bout was at 140, and my only hope is that it's hype meant to keep one or both men's names in the news. Celestino Caballero said he wants to face Garcia, and that's about as good as it gets for Garcia outside of a Gamboa bout. Caballero exited the featherweight Transnational Boxing Rankings due to inactivity, not because he's not one of the best feathers when he is active.
- Orlando Salido's complaint. Salido is livid about Garcia's team using his broken nose as an excuse to beg out of the fight. Opinions are divided on this; everyone seems to agree that it was a smart move by trainer/brother Robert to press for the fight to be stopped given the injury and the fact that the bout was going to go to the scorecards as a result of the accidental head butt, but not everyone agrees that it worth the tradeoff in perceived cojones. Salido himself said he broke his own nose in the fight. I lean toward thinking it was a bad call from the Garcia corner, but I would say that Salido's complaint about a broken nose that came during the fight is a bit different from a broken nose that was suffered as a result of a foul. Anyway, maybe I could be up for a Salido rematch down the line if Salido reestablishes himself with another big win.
- Next for Juan Carlos Burgos and Roman Martinez. Burgos wants a rematch, which he has demanded via news release, and I can't blame him. Martinez is looking at defending his featherweight strap elsewhere and I can't blame him*. I do hope for Burgos' sake that the WBO orders the rematch, because he deserved that victory. Martinez's next opponent might instead be Diego Magdaleno, who I think would take Martinez pretty easily. Thus the asterisk — Martinez probably knows (despite his protests about thinking he won the fight) that he lost to Burgos and might again, but Magdaleno probably beats him with even greater ease.
- Bad judging. That brings us back to this intractable problem. Brent Brookhouse has commendably been trying to stir action on the epidemic of bad judging; it's as worthy an effort as is out there. But this is a hard, hard problem to uproot. Part of it is that it's the nature of the sport for there to be bad decisions; another part of it is a lack of proven judging talent; another part of it is judges not being penalized very often for rendering bad decisions; and all of these things are interrelated. I'd encourage folk to follow' Brent's lead and take action, and failing that to continually speak out about the bad judging, because what else is there to do? We can accept the problem silently or fight it, one way or another, even if the results are likely to be the same either way, namely that bad judging isn't going away. One option at least gives a chance.
- Next for Gennady Golovkin and Gabriel Rosado. Golovkin plans to return in March and June, in Europe in March and then probably back on HBO in June. The only person right now saying he'd be willing to fight Golovkin is fellow middleweight Darren Barker, and I would gladly watch Golovkin-Barker on HBO. Barker's last HBO performance caught some heat for being boring, some of it valid and some of it an overreaction, but he'd be a real test for Golovkin stylistically and that would be interesting to watch, IMHO. Barker is more interested in Andy Lee, which is a higher reward, lower risk fight anyway. Rosado, meanwhile, is still in line for a junior middleweight mandatory challenge to Cornelius Bundrage, but as much as I'd be interested in Saul Alvarez-Austin Trout in May, I think Rosado makes a hell of a lot more sense for Alvarez in May — just enough boxing ability to test him and help him warm up (very) slightly for a possible Floyd Mayweather showdown, but also tough and likely to produce action, and a challenge but not one as likely to result in Alvarez being beaten as would Trout.
- Sergey Kovalev-Gabriel Campillo. Kovalev turned in a "wow" beatdown against a top light heavyweight on NBC Sports this weekend and now has to be considered a real threat in the division. Should Tavoris Cloud make it past Bernard Hopkins, Kovalev-Cloud is a nice dust-up between power punchers. With Chad Dawson-Jean Pascal II looking like a go in May, he'd also be a good opponent for the winner of that fight. All you can do is feel bad for Campillo; if he'd gotten the decision he deserved over Cloud last year, maybe he would have been on HBO or Showtime rather than having lost in a tough fight for what is probably less money back on NBC Sports.
- Curtis Stevens-Elvin Ayala. Stevens moved down to middleweight after a long layoff due to some promotional difficulties and took out Ayala with ease on the NBC Sports undercard Saturday. One of the original "Chin Checkers" crew, he is only 27, so he could still make some noise and is generally a tough out even in losses. That said, NBC Sports' commentating team got carried away with how big a win it was and what it meant, because while Ayala is usually harder to get rid of than a 1st round KO (unless you're David Lemieux, I guess), he's still basically a journeyman. Right now, Stevens is a gatekeeper until he proves he's something more. But at minimum, he'll be an entertaining, hard-hitting fighter who makes sense in a variety of match-ups.