• Steve Bunce

Wlad and Floyd have a tough act to follow

Steve Bunce April 30, 2013

Big fights on three countries, tragedy and triumph, blood and guts, dazzling debuts and an all-but-certain swansong - fight weekends don't come much better than that. Yet after all we saw in Sheffield, Brooklyn and Buenos Aires on Saturday night we could be in for an even bigger double-header this weekend when Wladimir Klitschko and Floyd Mayweather return to the ring.

But first, a recap on a fantastic night's action across the globe. Certainly the greatest seat-of-your-pants moment came at Sheffield's Motorpoint Arena, as Amir Khan picked himself up off the canvas in the fourth and survived being hurt late on to beat Julio Diaz over 12 rounds. In many ways, this was just the fight Khan needed. His partnership with Virgil Hunter is still a work in progress, and now they know exactly how much work still needs to be done. Then again, in many ways it was also just the fight he could have done without!

Anthony Ogogo provided the night's glamour with a stunning one-punch knockout of Kieron Gray. Forget about luck, the kid meant it - he slipped to the side, ducked his had over and threw it. Had Sugar Ray Leonard done the same in a world title fight it would have been one for the ages. What an incredible shot, and what a way for him to make his mark on the big leagues.

And as one former Olympian's professional career got off to the best possible start, another was surely finished. Heavyweight upstart Deontay Wilder needed just 70 seconds to see off Audley Harrison, who didn't throw a single punch. I think even Audley recognises that it's over now. Wilder, by the way, is now 28 fights unbeaten with 28 stopped or knocked out.

Then in New York, Danny Garcia retained his WBA and WBC light-welterweight titles by beating Zab Judah in his own back yard, but you wouldn't have been able to pick the winner to look at them after their brutal bloodfest. After all the trash talk in the build-up to the fight the pair smashed each other to bits while the Brooklyn natives screamed for Judah and the crowds, who had taken the buses up from Philadelphia, chanted 'Danny! Danny!' Garcia took it on points, but both men were assessed by plastic surgeons before they reached the post-fight press conference.

For raw heroics and fanatical crowds, however, you have to go to Argentina, where Martin Murray put on a display beyond heroism to so nearly beat Sergio Martinez as 50,000 people watched in the midst of an outrageous storm that forced the fight forward by two hours.

Nobody gave Murray a chance but a brilliant tactical display, put in place by Oliver Harrison, made Martinez look old at times. Murray floored the WBC middleweight champion twice, and had the second been ruled as a knockdown - as it should have been - then he outcome might have been different. How the WBC missed it is beyond me. They were even employing TV replays, which in theory were there to pick up mistakes by officials. Even after reviewing the replay of Martinez's 10th-round fall they still said it was a slip by Martinez. It wasn't - it was a knockdown. That would have given Murray the round and fight would have been a draw.

The result is neither here nor there, however. Murray said straight away after the fight that Sergio Martinez was the better man on the night - so not only is the St Helens native a hero in the ring but humble outside of it.

Martin Murray floored Sergio Martinez twice - but only one was ruled a knockdown © AP

Murray needs to line up Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker next, but Stop Press: It Will Not Happen. Both Macklin and Barker enjoyed a certain standing in the British middleweight scene because they had fought Martinez; both got stopped in the 11th. Macklin's now got a title fight against WBA champion Gennady Golovkin, while Barker's being pushed into another high-profile middleweight fight as he chases a world title fight of his own.

Murray can bounce straight back into a world title fight, don't worry about that. He'd beat WBO champion Peter Quillin, who knocked out Fernando Guerrero in Brooklyn on Saturday, and he'd probably beat Australian IBF champion Daniel Geale. Who knows how good Golovkin really is - we'll find out when Macklin gets in with them. Still, it is one of the great shames of the last three years that Macklin, Barker and Murray have not made it to the ring together.

What a weekend that was, and what a weekend ahead. Few Klitschko fights look easy on paper, but they make all challengers look like easy pickings in the ring. Pianeta arrives unbeaten and knows this is his chance. He's the one that has to take a risk to win - but when you take a risk against Vitali or Wladimir you get caught. If you go there to survive, as so many out-of-shape Americans have done in the past, you can generally go the distance and lose.

Of course, there's an exception to every rule, and Manuel Charr's fight with Vitali Klitschko broke the mould for all the wrong reasons. At first Vitali looked bemused by the Lebanon-born German, then he looked insulted, and rightly so. He thoroughly outclassed Charr, who offered nothing. And now Charr is fighting David Haye in Manchester on June 29.

Haye-Charr looks like a perfectly reasonable fight. As far as Haye is concerned, Charr ticks all the boxes as a stepping stone to the Klitschkos: he has fought Vitali, he's good-looking, and he's a good talker with a decent back story. That's what a David Haye opponent needs.

Vitali Klitschko made light work of Manuel Charr, David Haye's next opponent © Getty Images

Haye will try and get Charr out of the ring quicker than Vitali did, and he probably will. That hasn't stopped some websites and newspapers pointing out that Charr is ranked above Haye and saying that this is a risky fight. That is complete garbage - as we've said in this column before, the rankings are irrelevant. We have No. 1 contenders in this country in various rankings who have never beaten anybody behind them in the top 20!

Anybody who puts Manuel Charr above David Haye in any rankings, outside of the Charr household, is a delusional lunatic. We've got six heavyweights in Great Britain who would beat Charr - I think Anthony Joshua in his first professional fight would be able to deal with him. David Haye is a top fighter, Manny Charr is a beautiful opportunist who's had some wins to set up the Vitali fight, and has bounced from that into another big fight. Good luck to the smiling big guy.

But is Charr a valid opponent for David Haye in front a crowd of around 15,000 in Manchester? The answer is a resounding yes. David Haye could face anybody in Manchester: he's the attraction. The fight was announced two months ago and he's only just announced his opponent.

But back to Saturday and the MGM Grand, where Robert Guerrero takes on Floyd Mayweather. Now this will be a fight, because Mayweather's reactions and skills are starting to diminish with age. He is still the best fighter in the world but now he can be caught, and Guerrero is a very astute and clever fighter - he's also not afraid to turn to dirty tactics, something that Floyd really dislikes. So I can see it turning ugly, especially if Guerrero gets his elbows working on and around Floyd's eyes.

On this week's Pod we caught up with Anthony Ogogo on the back of that impressive professional debut victory, and Peter Fury fills us in on Tyson's plans following his victory in New York over Steve Cunningham. Deontay Wilder sang Tyson a song - is he interested in a duet? Listen in to find out.

Until next week - adios.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Steve Bunce Close
Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.