IF YOU carefully read between the lines there was more at stake than Alberto Machado attempting to regain his ‘Regular’ WBA super-featherweight championship from Andrew Cancio. It gave us an insight into how we might expect Anthony Joshua to fare when he rematches with the man who relieved him of his heavyweight titles, Andy Ruiz, because the situations of the four are eerily similar.
Last February, Cancio was considered a no-hoper against unbeaten champion Machado, much like Ruiz was with Joshua. Both underdogs were expected to offer some resistance but be stopped in the early to middle rounds. Even that appeared to be optimistic thinking once the matches began when Cancio was dropped and hurt in the first round, Ruiz in the third.
As both favourites moved in for the finish things started to suddenly unravel for them: Joshua was hurt by a counter blow, Machado simply got tired. The body language of Machado and Joshua was poor before they were pulled out, each having gone down multiple times.
The one thing both defeated fighters had going for them was an immediate rematch clause. Machado invoked his and Joshua intends to, but it might be wise if he reconsidered.
Cancio’s first victory over Machado had been inspiring. A technician for a gas company in Southern California, journeyman Cancio continued to hold onto his day job while training for his first defence on Friday (June 21). A man of great pride, Cancio, 30, wanted to prove against all else that his victory over Machado was no fluke.
Machado, 28, had other ideas. He spoke of how refocused he now was, correcting the previous errors in his preparation. Surely a Machado in top form would do the business the second time around or so it was thought. And to make regaining the title even sweeter he’d do it at The Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, the place where Machado had been dethroned.
What was not taken into account was the extra confidence winning the belt had given Cancio, 21-4-2 (16). He attacked hard from the outset forcing Machado to box at a torrid pace. Machado landed his best punches and cut Cancio, but the champion was relentless. By the end of the second round Machado’s legs started to betray him. A left hook to the body then floored Machado for a seven count in the third. When he got up referee Raul Caiz stopped it at 1-01. Both weighed 130lbs.
The target date for the Joshua-Ruiz rematch is November 16. Reportedly Joshua wants to exorcise his demons by insisting it be held at Madison Square Garden, where he lost his crowns. If indeed that scenario unfolds it would be a triumph for emotion over logic.
Returning to the same venue was disastrous for Machado, now 21-2 (17). When the going got rough, flashbacks of the first fight had to have resurfaced; that could have contributed to yet another loss in confidence.
Joshua would be stepping into the ring again with Ruiz just a month longer than Machado did with Cancio. Machado needed more time to psychologically recover from his loss, Joshua might as well. Not that the venue would have necessarily mattered anywhere Cancio and Machado fought, but Joshua should take notice and understand that rematching Ruiz at MSG will be added pressure.
So many people have tried to spin Joshua’s loss, the latest being Freddie Roach who last week criticised the Brit’s training team saying he has seen no improvement since the Wladimir Klitschko fight. Roach offered his services. Whether there would be interest from Joshua’s side of the pond is unclear, but if there is he should consider that Roach is Machado’s trainer and failed to make a difference against Cancio.
It was not a good night for San Juan’s two favourite sons. In what can accurately be described as yet another massive upset, Mexico’s Elwin Soto, 15-1 (11), came from behind to dethrone WBO junior-flyweight champ Angel Acosta, 20-2 (20), stopping him at 23 seconds of the 12th and final round. Both weighed 108lbs.
Acosta led on all scorecards by 107-101, 106-102 and 105-103 when a counter left hurt him and it was quickly terminated. Referee Thomas Taylor’s stoppage certainly can be debated.