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Jurmain McDonald (say who?) Forged the TSS 2022 Upset of the Year

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  • Jurmain McDonald (say who?) Forged the TSS 2022 Upset of the Year

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    Upsets come in two varieties. There are those that occur on a big stage. They become part of sports lore. But there are also upsets that take no cognizance of the significance of the event. We might call these empirical upsets. They stand tall by virtue of being quantified by a betting line.

    They were no grand upsets in 2022 in mega-fights, certainly nothing of the magnitude of Braddock-Baer, Douglas-Tyson (the mother of all upsets) or even Ruiz-Joshua I. The most notable upset with a world title belt on the line occurred on Cinco de Mayo weekend in Las Vegas where pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez came up a short in a bid for Dmitry Bivol’s WBA light heavyweight diadem. Those betting on the Russian were able to lock in 4/1 odds and while this was a very juicy “return on investment,” one couldn’t fairly call it a massive upset.

    That swerves us toward an empirical upset and none were more stunning than Jurmain McDonald’s second-round stoppage of Evan Holyfield on a Triller Promotions card at the LA (okay Inglewood) Forum on May 14.

    Being the son of a legendary boxer was a heavy weight on the shoulders of Evan Holyfield, but early returns suggested that Evander’s kid, a junior middleweight, just might be a chip off the old block. In his pro debut at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, he knocked out his opponent in 16 seconds. He was 9-0 (6 KOs) heading in to his match with McDonald who brought a 6-5 record and had been stopped three times. Those six wins came against opponents who were 1-9-1 in the aggregate.

    TSS correspondent Tarrah Zeal was at ringside subbing for West Coast Bureau Chief David A. Avila who was down the road in Carson covering a competing event, the rematch between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano. In round one, noted Zeal, McDonald repeatedly beat Holyfield to the punch, catching him with a variety of punches. In round two, McDonald knocked Evan down with a booming right hand to the jaw. Holyfield lay face first on the canvas as referee Raul Caiz Jr started counting to "10." Caiz discontinued his count after reaching “8” and waived the fight off. The official time was 1:56 of round two.

    Jurmain McDonald had a cup of coffee as a basketball player at Missouri’s tiny Westminster College before leaving school to provide for his growing family. He is a union electrician in Jefferson City, Missouri, hence his nickname, the Fighting Electrician, a moniker he discarded in favor of “Shocker” after upsetting Evan Holyfield.

    McDonald, who turned 33 back in June, wasn’t able to build on his moment in the sun. He’s had two fights since springing his shocker and lost both. As for Evan Holyfield, he is slated to return to the ring in February in Daly City, California. His promoter, Main Events, has arranged a (hoped-for) confidence-restorer, a match with a 3-2 opponent who appeared on the same card as Holyfield-McDonald and was knocked out in the opening round by Fernando Vargas Jr.

    Evan’s humbling misadventure hasn’t dimmed his aspirations. “Hope I didn’t disappoint too many folks, but I promise I’ll make up for it,” he said after the fight. “Definitely still have my sights on being a world champion.”

    Back in the days when Las Vegas had a monopoly on legal sports wagering, no bookmaker would have touched the Holyfield-McDonald fight. It simply wasn’t worth the bother. But as the landscape changed and the scrum for market share became more intense, the betting menu was elongated. Several on-line bet shops offered 15/1 (+1500) odds on Jurmain McDonald. There were undoubtedly very few takers, but for our purposes that was irrelevant. In an off-year for memorable upsets, the journeyman from the “Show Me” state of Missouri, formerly the Fighting Electrician, topped the list.