After twelve rounds, the scores were 118-109, 119-109, and 120-108, but his right eye showed the result of being in a real fight.
Vikram Birring at ringside
For seven rounds, Jermall Charlo pummeled Juan Macias Montiel with a variety sharp punches in front of a hometown audience, nearly stopping him in the sixth. But in the eighth round, something strange happened. Montiel landed a volley of awkward punches that momentarily stunned Charlo for the first time in his professional career.
This was supposed to be a walkover fight for Charlo (32-0, 22 KO), a defense against an opponent with four defeats on his ledger; the first boxing match headlined by a Houston boxer at Toyota Center in ten and a half years. However, Montiel (22-5-2, 22 KO) isn’t just any Mexican that is brought over to lose. He is part of boxing royalty in Los Mochis, Mexico. His uncle Fernando was a three division world champion, and his gym also produced fellow world champions Jorge Arce and Hugo Cazares. And twenty-two knockouts in twenty-two victories means he carries power in his fists, despite the lackluster opposition.
At first, one wondered what kind of training Montiel did, as he continually switched stances and threw punches from a variety of angles. However, the end of the first round was an epiphany of sorts, as Montiel threw back after Charlo nailed him. The Mexican was not here to lay down.
That mentality did not help him in the next several rounds though, as he was nothing more than a punching bag for Charlo’s accurate, hard punches. Besides the occasional right, Montiel was simply absorbing punishment.
In the fifth and sixth rounds, Montiel was wobbled and referee Jon Schorle could have stopped the bout without any complaints from anyone besides Montiel’s trainer, who seemed to be the bravest person in the arena at that point.
But as aforementioned, Montiel landed a wild combination in the eighth round that startled Charlo. This was a first for Charlo, as he is known for having an iron chin.
This pattern continued in the next two rounds, Charlo would do well from distance for the majority of the round, but Montiel threw an unusual combination from varying angles that momentarily stopped Charlo in his tracks. The man that was on spaghetti legs earlier was now trying to spoil the party.
Charlo boxed well in the last two rounds and controlled them besides a Montiel combination in the eleventh. After twelve rounds, the scores were 118-109, 119-109, and 120-108, but his right eye showed the result of being in a real fight.
The experience was a learning one, as Charlo learned down the stretch not everyone can be knocked out. When he boxed from distance, he was in complete control. However, Montiel took advantage of breaks in punching to get close and throw (and land) punches from the floor to the ceiling. To prepare for such unconventional boxers is impossible, and to fight them can be even harder.
The observation is that Charlo is better served to stay at middleweight for some time, as super middleweights will be even bigger and stronger. One must remember that he started at welterweight, and has taken in time to adapt to each division before moving up. The logical next match would be against Chris Eubank Jr., as Gennady Golovkin is tied up with Ryota Murata, and Demetrius Andrade and Jaime Mungia are signed to rival networks.
But he showed he can sell tickets in his hometown. Though the arena wasn’t totally full, it was mostly occupied on the lower bowl, a remarkable achievement for a guy that was fighting in outdoor bull rings and hotel ballrooms a decade ago.
For Montiel, though he absorbed a beating, his perseverance catapulted his stock as a legitimate contender. A rematch with fellow Mexican Jaime Mungia would be the logical next match, two flawed but hungry young boxers trying to build their names in the boxing world.
The first thought that came to mind when a man wearing a cowboy hat with a vest emblazoned “El Bandido” was: “Francisco Vargas is still boxing?”
As the rounds went by against fellow Mexico City resident Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz (22-1-1, 15 KO), the next thought was “How is he not bleeding yet?”
That questioned was proved moot with thirty seconds left in the tenth (and final) round, as a headbutt opened a disgusting cut above Vargas’s (27-3-2, 19 KO) right eyelid. The doctor shockingly allowed the bout to continue, probably to give Vargas the satisfaction of finishing the bout, but anyone with an ounce of common sense would have stopped it then and there. Vargas was headbutted a few more times and dropped with a few seconds left.
This is the difference between a “boxing doctor” and one that has nothing to do with the sport. Their sense of logic warps because of the machismo associated with boxing. Commissions would be wise to have a rotation of doctors instead of the same doctors for every major card in the state. The Hippocratic oath is to protect patients, but boxing doctors seem more worried to preserve the aura of boxing, or whatever remains of it.
Angelo Leo (21-1, 9 KO) and Aaron Alameda (25-2, 13 KO) boxed ten uneventful yet even rounds, but judge Eva Zaragoza was apparently daydreaming of future assignments, as she gave a visibly swollen Leo a bizarre scorecard of 98-92. The other two judges had a more reasonable 96-94 and 95-95 in a bout nobody really deserved to win. This is the issue of promoters paying judges, as they feel the need to give scorecards that favor the “house” fighter to generate future work. The system is broken, and probably nothing will change. But ignoring the problem is worse than saying nothing at all.
One time promising local prospect Miguel Flores (24-4, 12 KO) was very fortunate to be handed a decision victory against Mexican journeyman Diuhl Olguin (15-17-4, 10 KO). Flores tried to box from the outside, but Olguin walked through his punches and marched forward, waking up the crowd with occasional punches that shook Flores. When the scorecards of 75-77, and 77-75 were read, his own hometown booed the decision, which basically says it all. Hopefully Flores has kept and/or invested his money wisely, as it seems his future as a boxer is up in the air.
Final note, Tillman Ferttita would have been better served to watch the show from home, as the second his face was shown on the big screens, a fierce cascade of boos rained upon him. Fifty-five defeats is unacceptable to a proud basketball city that is already hungry for glory after a quarter century without even a trip to the NBA Finals. Surely the billionaire can dig into his deep pockets and make something happen.