Hope and Despair

By Richard E. Baker on June 10, 2020

Since accepting the fight Caraballo never had a chance. (photo: Top Rank via Getty Images)

Tuesday, June 9th, boxing returned to ESPN television. Sure, the fights were not much, a few young scrappers getting a bit of paid exercise, but something is usually better than nothing. Seeing an empty venue is odd, the black background strangely quiet. Boxing, like sex, without screeching seems unusual. Such is the world today.

 

The main event featuring Shakur Stevenson (13-0-0) against Felix Caraballo (13-1-2) was predictable. Since accepting the fight Caraballo never had a chance. He put up a decent fight given his skills and he was game. No one expected him to win, and he didn’t as he went down in round 1 and was later KO’d with a body shot. Stevenson is too fast for most opponents and will be for some time.

 

Calvin Metcalf (10-3-1) and Quatavious Cash (11-2-0) attempted to stage a show in a quiet and uninspired way. Metcalf was game enough, mostly throwing arm shots, but enough of them to prove interesting. He attempted to keep inside. Cash stayed outside and threw the harder shots. A clash of heads left Metcalf bleeding in round 2. The cut was first deemed from a punch, then using instant replay (finally) from a clash of heads. Metcalf refused to take a backwards step and often punched with one foot in the air, not really an exhibition of power and not nearly as graceful as Baryshnikov’s various flights. The bout was finally stopped because of the cuts and went to the scorecards with Cash emerging the winner. If Cash had Metcalf’s enthusiasm he might make a mark in the sport.

 

Guido Vianello (6-0-0) stepped into the ring against “Chubby” Don Haynesworth (16-3-1) to show why his 6 bouts have all been by KO. The ball of fat was down in the first round, his body spreading across the canvas like honey from a dropped beehive before he scooped himself back together to beat the count, only to have the fight stopped in an effort to save his life. Vianello, and the commentators, fumbled in an effort to justify this farce as a real fight with a credible opponent. And the Oscar goes to...

 

Jared Anderson (3-0-0) is being exposed as the next real deal, a heavyweight destined for fame and fortune. There was a time if anyone started touting the accolades of a neophyte after just 3 fights, he would have been laughed out of Dempsey’s Restaurant, or the Neutral Corner, as an idiot. Such statements either reveal the sorry state of the sport, or, the fact that during the lack of fights I have been getting my boxing fix by watching classic fights. After watching the old champions, viewing new fights can be a letdown. Johnnie Langston (8-2-0) attempted to offer some opposition by stepping forward at the bell. He was KO’d in round 3. Anderson looked good and appears to have decent, although newly acquired pro skills. What may pull him up the ladder is his attitude. All indications show he is fairly level-headed and not swamped by all the BS thrown at him. He is articulate, humble, intelligent and soft spoken. Who knows, maybe he is the next big deal.

 

If these fights were designed to attract new fans, they failed dramatically. Anyone who might have been curious about boxing will be better served with professional wrestling where the winner is chosen, in writing rather than implied, before the bout. ESPN deserves credit for the attempt. They have a series planned in the near future and they are quick learners. If they do not do better people will continue to wear masks at their fights, even after Covid-19 passes.