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               === Saturday night's all right for Golden Boy ===
 
 By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing Editor
 
 Cape  Coral,  FL - Musings compiled  while trying to cobble together coherence
 after a 40-round TV marathon:
 
 First off, I think we can all agree.
 
 After what looked in the run-up to be an unmitigated disaster -- complete with
 failed  drug  tests, failed weigh-ins and  failed ticket sales -- the suits at
 Golden Boy Promotions deserve kudos for a four-fight premium cable combination
 that  was big on  drama, big on action and big on violence ... and equally big
 on whetting appetites for the next course.
 
 The  Quillin-N'Dam match was a rousing success and perhaps worthy of a return.
 The  Malignaggi-Cano match pushed the boundaries of judging acumen and ensured
 both principals will get additional spotlights, both foreign and domestic. The
 Garcia-Morales  match  made its  winner a  party to the  "Fighter of the Year"
 discussion and rightfully convinced its loser that his title-chasing days were
 done.
 
 Heck,  even the  Alexander-Bailey snoozer  provided a  service by  ridding the
 championship   level   of  a  dubiously  qualified  one-hit  pretender,  while
 reintroducing   a  guy  with  sufficient  two-division  street  cred  to  make
 legitimate matchups with the other tough-guy elites in the neighborhood.
 
 And  by the  time it was all over  ... did anyone still care about weights and
 drug tests?
 
 Me neither.
 
 Taken  individually,  the middleweight  title  fight  was certainly  the  most
 entertaining  of the  night and  its result  legitimized the  at-times-halting
 approach  taken  during  an  88-month,  11-day excursion  from  pro  debut  to
 championship belt for Peter Quillin.
 
 Maybe it's just me, but even at the relatively young age of 29 (compared to my
 ancient-feeling  43), it  feels  like  I've been  reading  press releases  and
 hearing breathless promises about this kid since he was a preschooler.
 
 I  used  to think, "Ehhh  ... cute  retro nickname. Let  me know when he beats
 someone."
 
 And when he whipped the 40-year-old hologram of Winky Wright a few months ago,
 I was only as impressed as is justified by a 10-round nod over a guy without a
 win in nearly six years.
 
 But  after  watching him repeatedly  bounce a credible  foe off the floor with
 precise  shots, stand  his ground when that  same foe staged a gutty rally and
 then ultimately close the deal with two more knockdowns when the outcome could
 conceivably have been in question ... I can make it official.
 
 I'm a believer.
 
 My  scorecard, which  read 115-110 (7-5 in rounds) for Quillin afterward, says
 so.
 
 And  while I doubt he's ready for the Sergio Martinezes of the 160-pound world
 just  yet -- who is? -- sign me up to watch him take on anyone laying claim to
 belts  of  the non-WBC  variety, specifically Mssrs.  Daniel Geale and Gennady
 Golovkin.
 
 Suddenly,  I get the feeling I'll be reading those freakin' releases for a few
 more years.
 
 I'm  sure I'm in the  minority -- so what else is new? -- but you can count me
 as  one who  found  the  Malignaggi-Cano bout  nearly  as  interesting as  the
 middleweights, albeit for different reasons.
 
 At 160 pounds, you had young, conditioned guys eager to prove they belonged on
 the  big stage.  Sometimes that makes for a pedestrian fight. Sometimes it's a
 Pier 6'er.
 
 Fortunately for Oscar and Co., they got the latter.
 
 But in the welterweight get-together, the union of rugged, unpolished bull and
 more-skilled,  less-powerful matador yielded what it almost always does on the
 highest  end  -- a completely compelling  contrast of fighting and judging ...
 complete with the sort of late rally that N'Dam mounted.
 
 It  wasn't  Gatti-Ward, or  even Rios-Alvarado,  but I was  glued from bell to
 bell.
 
 You've  got to  hand  it  to Cano  for  shrugging off  a  ghastly  cut in  his
 opponent's backyard, literally. And Paulie deserves some love for climbing off
 the deck in the 11th round and riding out the 12th to send it to what some saw
 as controversial scorecards.
 
 The  knockdown was enough for me to make Cano a 114-113 winner -- I had it 6-6
 in  rounds -- but  it's a lazy, cliched stretch to just assume the two 114-113
 cards  in the  Brooklynite's favor  were of  the "hometown"  variety, as  many
 nonetheless did after the fact.
 
 In  most close fights, a window of reality exists for a round or two in either
 direction.  So in  this case  anything from  115-112 for  Cano to  114-113 for
 Malignaggi  --  that's 7-5  for either  guy -- would  legitimately stand up in
 court, regardless of where the fight had been contested.
 
 If a result falls somewhere in that area, it's reasonable.
 
 And sometimes, the local kid really does deserve it.
 
 Of  course,  if the  118-109 outlier  read afterward by  Jimmy Lennon had gone
 Malignaggi's way, I'd consider an argument that locale played a role.
 
 But to look at that fight and claim the only way the champion won seven rounds
 was if the judges were influenced by his hometown -- that's just ridiculous.
 
 This week's title-fight schedule:
 
 SATURDAY
 
 IBF lightweight title -- Verona, NY
 
 Miguel Vazquez (champion) vs. Marvin Quintero (No. 1 contender)
 
 Vazquez  (31-3,  13 KO): Fourth title  defense; Seventh fight in United States
 (5-1)
 
 Quintero  (25-3,  21 KO): First  title fight;  Eleven straight fights ended by
 stoppage (9-2)
 
 Fitzbitz  says:  "Lefty slugger  may present sporadic  concerns, but the guess
 here  is  that the  incumbent is  skilled enough to  avoid danger while posing
 questions his foe has never answered." Vazquez by decision
 
 WBC super featherweight title -- Tokyo, Japan
 
 Takahiro Ao (champion) vs. Gamaliel Diaz (No. 4 contender)
 
 Ao  (23-2-1, 10 KO): Fourth title defense; Held WBC title at 126 pounds (2009,
 zero defenses)
 
 Diaz  (36-9-2,  17 KO):  Third title  fight (0-2);  Sixth fight outside Mexico
 (3-2)
 
 Fitzbitz  says:  "Challenger has  climbed back to  relevance with 13-fight win
 streak,  but the tendency  he's had to fall short at the highest levels should
 continue here -- especially on the road." Ao by decision
 
 Last week's picks: 5-1
 
 Overall picks record: 437-148 (74.7 percent)
 
 Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who has written professionally
 since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and
 posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at
 fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him on Twitter: @fitzbitz.
 
 10/25 10:17:13 ET


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