By Anthony “Zute” George – What kind of year will boxing produce in twenty, double-deuce? Indeed, anyone’s guess. However, Showtime has gotten off to a good start here on American television. It started off on ShoBox, where six undefeated prospects laced ‘em up against each other. Indeed, solid matchmaking on paper. However, what looks good on paper can soon go awry in the sweet science. That is not the case this time around, as all three fights produced entertaining dividends. I, for one, cannot wait to see more from Luis Nunez, Otar Eranosyan, William Foster, Carlos Arrieta, and Edwin De Los Santos. I would not turn the channel if Starling Castillo landed another television fight as well.
Showtime Championship Boxing also had a triple header for their initial telecast of 2022, which did not disappoint. The card featured longtime champion, Gary Russell Jr.; watching him work the squared circle is always a treat for boxing fans. Russell squared off against undefeated Mark Magsayo. While the fight will not make it on anyone’s shortlist for fight of the year, it was a solid fight worth the fan’s time. We got to see a young and hungry fighter win his first world title, and, in defeat, we saw everything that Mr. Russell was made of. Valiantly competing against a strong two-handed aggressive fighter, with one arm.
The in-between-round coverage of the fight was equally good. As both Team Russell and Freddie Roach, Magsayo’s trainer, are always compelling, the scope of the battle made it exponentially more pleasing. That being said, both undercard fights outperformed the main event.
Sakaria Lukas came as close as you can get to being the first Cinderella Story of double-deuce. Fighting to a draw against top contender, Tugstsogt Nyambyar. Truth be told, Lukas probably earned the glass slipper regardless of the official result of a draw. Also, in a compelling rematch, Subriel Matias stopped Petros Ananyan to avenge his only loss. It was a blood and guts battle fights fans appreciate and do not mind laying out cash to watch. Or perhaps, in these times, crypto.
Who does not want to see more from all four undercard performers? Matias leads the pack for me. As he has all the ingredients to have boxing fans regurgitating the two most sought-after words of all matchmakers, promoters, and television executives, ‘more, please.’
Allow me to put on my matchmaker’s hat and suggest a fight between Matias and Regis Prograis in the Spring. Make it happen.
These Showtime telecasts were not free of controversy, however. We must address the elephant in the room that is referee Eddie Claudio’s eyesight. It is one thing to blow a knockdown call, which caused Lukas the decision, by the way. It is a whole other animal to not acknowledge this blunder after three instant replays of a clear punch that dropped Tug. If Commissioner Larry Hazzard wants to justify all the shine of his luster, then Claudio can never referee again. I say this with caution because I know how much the boxing world sings Mr. Hazzard’s praises. I have no desire to debate that status; however, dishing out the proper consequences to Claudio is his opportunity to receive acclaim for a tangible act. I will say no more. As of this writing, I have not heard of any disciplinary action on the matter. If there was any, the coverage Claudio’s consequences are as elusive as Money Mayweather when he is on the ropes.
On the positive side, if Showtime, which has featured boxing since 1986, is any kind of measure for what we are in store for this year, we are off to a good start. We have seen fighters not afraid to risk their O, plenty of heart, solid action, upsets, and world-class talent. More, please.