Chris Weidman defeated Anderson Silva once again, this time by TKO after Silva’s leg snapped in the second round.
Weidman’s UFC 168 victory means he retains his UFC middleweight title.
Vitali Klitschko’s decision to vacate his WBC heavyweight title has created a scramble among boxers eager to fight for the coveted belt. On Tuesday, top contenders Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder engaged in (another) vulgar exchange on social media, while Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola both have made cases that they deserve a title shot.
How will it sort out? Here’s a suggested scenario:
Make Stiverne-Fury for the vacant title: Last April, Bermane Stiverne (23-1) beat Chris Arreola in a WBC eliminator, establishing Stiverne as the No. 1 contender on the WBC rankings. Whether he earned the right to be in an eliminator is debatable — boxing insiders get a good laugh out of the WBC’s monthly rankings, as they often appear to ignore merit — but Stiverne did win the fight.
Tyson Fury (21-0) is ranked No. 8 by the WBC, but his résumé is more complete than that of anyone ranked above him, a list that includes Bryant Jennings, Mike Perez and Dereck Chisora. Fury owns wins over Chisora, Steve Cunningham and Kevin Johnson in the last two years. His activity — he has not fought since stopping Cunningham last April — has been limited by the postponement and ultimate cancellation of a fight against David Haye. Still, among heavyweight contenders, Fury is as worthy as any to fight for a vacant title.
Make the new titleholder face the winner of Arreola-Wilder: Quality heavyweight fights in the U.S. have been scarce in recent years; Arreola-Wilder would be one of them. When Arreola (36-3) is in shape — as he was during a first-round destruction of Seth Mitchell last September — he can be very good. What he lacks in technique he makes up for with an iron chin and crushing power. Deontay Wilder’s list of opponents is pathetic, and he has been wobbled by non-punchers in the past. But he also possesses thundering one-punch power and, at 6-foot-7, Wilder (30-0) has the kind of size that is difficult to match up with.
It’s a classic crossroads matchup: Arreola, 32, the aging contender against Wilder, 28, the untested Olympic bronze medalist just entering his prime. It’s a fight Showtime would snap up in a heartbeat and it would produce a winner worthy of a title shot.
Whoever emerges gets Wladimir Klitschko: Make no mistake, Klitschko is dying to unify the titles. When Vitali held the WBC belt, Wladimir said all the right things. Privately though, Wladimir badly wants to unify the titles. Klitschko figures to be tied up with mandatory defenses for the first half of 2014, leaving would-be WBC contenders to fight it out for the title. Whoever comes out of that scrum will not only be battle tested against two legitimate heavyweight opponents but will have an increased profile that will undoubtedly create a bidding war among premium networks to secure the rights to the fight.
– By Chris Mannix
NEW YORK — Three thoughts on Paulie Malignaggi’s unanimous decision win over Zab Judah:
This was all Paulie. Billed as the Battle of Brooklyn, Malignaggi dominated. In a battle of two fading former titleholders, Malignaggi, 33, appeared to have far more left in the tank than Judah, 36. Malignaggi boxed well, moving in and out, peppering Judah with shots, landing 36 percent of his punches (220 of 607) to Judah’s 24 percent (121 of 498). Save for a questionable second-round knockdown, Malignaggi was in complete control.
The three judges scored it 116-111, 117-110, 117-110. SI.com scored the fight 117-110 for Malignaggi.
A prevailing storyline coming into the night was that Malignaggi wasn’t interested in fighting anymore, that he was ready to move full time onto his next career as a commentator for Showtime and Fox Sports. But Malignaggi was the more engaged fighter on Saturday, refusing to back down. Malignaggi is in the winter of his career, no question. But it doesn’t look like he is ready to retire just yet.
“This definitely allows me to continue boxing,” Malignaggi said. “With a loss, I don’t know if I would have wanted to continue.”
Malignaggi has options. Golden Boy has a deep stable of fighters at 147 pounds, and with Saturday’s win Malignaggi put himself in the mix for fights with all of them. Shawn Porter, who upset Devon Alexander on the undercard to win the IBF welterweight title, is a possibility. And next weekend features a pair of appealing 147-pound fights in Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana (Malignaggi says he wants the winner) and Keith Thurman-Jesus Soto Karass. There is also Danny Garcia, who appears headed out of the 140-pound division.
It’s amazing, really, that Malignaggi (33-5) is still a legitimate factor. Three years ago Malignaggi’s career appeared over after a bad loss to Amir Khan. He talked of fighting in Europe, while his then-promoter, Lou DiBella, suggested he get into broadcasting. Yet here Malignaggi is, outlasting the bigger punchers, fighting on longer than some bigger names. It is quite an accomplishment.
Bad Zab. There is an oft-used phrase among people who have been associated with Judah’s career: You just never know which Zab you are going to get. Some nights, Judah is as tough as any fighter in his class, a sweet blend of speed and power. On others, he can appear disengaged, disinterested and be totally outclassed. On Saturday, we saw more of the latter. Before the fight, Judah promised to go after Malignaggi, spouting that he had no fear of Malignaggi’s power. What we got was a tentative jab, one outboxed a out power-punched (98-54) by a lighter puncher.
“It just wasn’t there,” Judah said.
Judah’s career can continue — Golden Boy’s aforementioned stable needs opponents, and Judah (42-9) still draw decent ratings on the network and helped draw a reasonable 9,363 to the Barclays Center — and it probably will. But his days as a legitimate threat at either 140 or 147 pounds are probably over.
– By Chris Mannix, SI
NEW YORK – The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a Paulie Malignaggi-Zab Judah matchup is this: It hasn’t happened yet? For years, Malignaggi, 33, and Judah, 36, have fought in similar weight classes. Both are from Brooklyn. Both are appealing to television networks. Yet it’s only now, in the winter of their careers, that a matchup is made.
“[A fight] really didn’t come to mind,” said Malignaggi, who will face Judah on Saturday night at the Barclays Center (Showtime, 8 pm ET). “We were in different weight classes and at different places in our career. But people started mentioning it and talking around Brooklyn the past year or two. But I still didn’t think the fight had any chance of happening because we were still in different weight classes and kind of had different goals for our careers.”
Circumstances have a funny way of changing that. Last April, Judah dropped a unanimous decision to junior welterweight titleholder Danny Garcia. Two months later, Malignaggi lost a split decision — and his welterweight title — to Adrien Broner.
With dwindling options, Malignaggi and Judah turned to each other.
Said Judah: “In my preparation for moving forward [after losing to Garcia], to do what I do [my promoters, Golden Boy Promotions] said Paulie. I said ‘Paulie, nah, Paulie is my homeboy.’ But then I was like, ‘Hey, you know this is an opportunity that you’ve got to take for boxing.’ So I guess we’re here now.”
Neither fighter is a stranger to tense promotions. Malignaggi and Broner engaged in a vulgar back and forth. Members of Judah’s and Garcia’s teams brawled at the introductory press conference and nearly came to blows again at an autograph signing session in Brooklyn a few days before the fight.
The buildup to this this bout, however, has been tame. Press conferences are cordial. The weigh-in on Friday ended with winks and smiles. Malignaggi and Judah have a long history — Judah coached Malignaggi as a teenager during the Empire State Games – and both profess respect for the other’s accomplishments.
“Number one, I admire Paulie because he’s from Brooklyn,” Judah said. “He stands up with that Brooklyn pride. He represents Brooklyn wherever he goes. He talks about it and keeps it fresh in people’s ears and eyes. Number two, he’s a fighter. I respect that every fighter has the heart and audacity to climb into the ring and take on competitive fights, so you’ve got to respect him as a human being.”
Added Malignaggi, “The admiration I have for Zab came from trying to follow in his footsteps coming up. I saw him accomplish things that I had the goal to accomplish. I watched Zab accomplish each and every one of them before me. It was an admiration and a motivation to see someone from my city, from my borough, accomplish these things and get some credibility and notoriety doing the same thing that I do. When somebody does it so close to home they automatically get that admiration when they’re older than you, and you see them accomplishing those things and you kind of want to follow in their footsteps.”
Ultimately, this fight is significant for both men. The winner will likely earn a high profile 140- or 147-pound title shot. The loser will be pushed one step closer to retirement.
“It’s not hard to get up for a fight like this,” Malignaggi said. “I know I have what it takes to be a world class fighter. I know what it takes to get back to the top. Winning a fight like this and getting myself a chance to get another world championship in my career is something I don’t doubt.” — CHRIS MANNIX
NEW YORK — Former unified junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan — the leading candidate to face Floyd Mayweather next May — sat down with SI.com on Wednesday to discuss Mayweather, his pairing with Virgil Hunter and the criticism that his weak chin will prevent him from ever becoming an elite fighter again
SI.com: So, you are fighting Floyd Mayweather…
Amir Khan: That’s your first question, huh?
SI.com: Well why beat around the bush?
AK: Well it’s a fight I’d love to have. That’s what I’m supposed to say, right? Floyd is the best fighter out there and you would love to see how you fight against the best. I’m not going to shy away from that fight. Styles make fights and I know for a fact that I will do better than most of the guys that he has fought. I’ll beat him. My speed and movement will give Floyd problems. I’m not taking any time off. I know that’s a fight that will change my life. That’s why I’m so focused on winning it.
SI.com: What about the argument that you have not earned the fight?
AK: Well who else out there can give Floyd problems? No one. Danny Garcia? Floyd has fought many opponents like him. I have a style that has given him problems before. I’m an orthodox fighter who is quicker than him and faster than him. And if Floyd wants to be a global superstar, he has to fight me. It will make him popular in the UK and the Asia area.