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Bryan win improves record, fails to create intended buzz

Baker Geist Updated
2047   0   1   0

It's hard to describe what fans in the semi-filled W.D. Packard Music Hall were expecting to see Saturday night. Perhaps they came to take in a night of boxing or perhaps they were driven by nostalgia, the chance to take in a Don King fight card that, in the promoter’s heyday, would’ve most likely found a home in one of the hotels on the Vegas strip instead of Warren, Ohio.

Turns out fans got both. The event featured plenty of boxing matches sprinkled in between tributes to King’s glory days on top of the boxing world. However, despite his endless claims throughout the week promising an event packaged as a “Homecoming” or “Return to Greatness,” there is one thing fans didn’t see: The future of the heavyweight division.

The task of continuing King’s legacy in the heavyweight division — one that for decades defined his stable of fighters — has fallen on the shoulders of relatively unknown World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight champion Trevor Bryan (22-0, 15KOs), who, despite his best effort, continually falls short of being seen as a legitimate threat to topple those widely regarded as the division’s best.

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It’s not entirely Bryan’s fault. After all, he can only fight who’s placed in front of him.

On Saturday night, the man placed in front of him was Jonathan Guidry, an undefeated Louisiana native who brought optimism, an undefeated record, and an enthusiastic cheering section to the biggest fight of his career. Still, Bryan — who holds a heavyweight title in one of boxing’s four major sanctioning bodies — was expected to make the kind of statement that would create a marketable demand for him to fight World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight champion Tyson Fury or England megastar Anthony Joshua.

Guidry had other ideas. The short, stalky, fighter continually made things difficult. He fought effectively on the inside, landing body shots throughout the middle rounds while often dodging the slow right hand Bryan hoped would deliver fight-ending force. Bryan was forced to work behind a jab, which eventually enabled him to land the right hand, although it lacked the power to knock out Guidry, even though he was hurt in the fourth round before being knocked down in the final seconds of the 12th. Despite moments of success, the judges were split on Bryan’s performance. Scores were 118-109, and 116-12 for Bryan while the third judge turned in a 115-112 scorecard favoring Guidry. I scored the fight 115-112 for Bryan.

Yes, a win is a win, and Guidry (17-1-2 10KOs) fought hard. However, if Bryan can’t dominate a fighter of Guidry’s caliber, is he ready to match up against Deontay Wilder, Fury, Joshua or any of the highly ranked heavyweights?

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It’s a tough case to make, but Bryan tried his best to do so after the fight.

“Trevor Bryan is here to stay. ... I’m here, I’m going to get better (and) I’m going to keep improving on my skills,” the WBA champion told Ray Mancini, before explaining his future plans. “I’m taking my talents overseas, man. All those guys (ranked) in the top three, I’m going (after), which is Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and my mandatory challenger (Oleksandr) Usyk. I want to make those fights. I deserve those fights.”

But even for an eternal optimist like King, such goals seem lofty.

“I think (Trevor) has to go back to the drawing board, but he did a tremendous job,” King said of his fighter. He then credited Guidry before turning the attention back to Bryan.“But if the knockdown didn’t come, he would’ve had a problem. Anybody that comes, I believe Trevor can get him, and we’ll call out Tyson Fury Deontay (Wilder) whatever’s out there. “But he has to be ready and let that right hand go.”

After 22 fights, it’s clear Bryan needs more than just a right hand to have any chance at unifying the heavyweight division. Better conditioning, a more frequent fight schedule and consistent matchmaking are just the start of what’s required.

Putting him in with the division’s elite right now could very well turn a career for a man marketed as “the dream” into a downright nightmare.

Junior Makabu enters the Canelo Alvarez sweepstakes

In the night’s main event, WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga “Junior” Makabu successfully defended his title with a split-decision victory over Thabiso Mchuno. After the fight, Makubu called out Canelo Alvarez as it’s been rumored that a move up to cruiserweight might be in his plans, although no formal decision has been made.

“Canelo! I’m going to box and knock you out, baby!,” Makubu said following his victory.

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