By Eric Armit
-Saul Alvarez halts Sergey Kovalev to win the WBO light-heavyweight title
-Miguel Berchelt retains the WBC super feather title with crushing victory over Jason Sosa
-Javier Fontana wins clash of former champions with second round stoppage of Jesus Cuellar
-Brian Castano gets injury win over Wale Omotoso but already looked on his way to victory
-Ryan Garcia, Javier Molina and Alex Saucedo all score one round wins
-Felix Cash retains the Commonwealth middleweight title with stoppage of Jack Cullen
-On a good night for East European fighters Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov, Magomed Kurbanov, Evgeny Tischenko, Bakhram Murtazaliev and Meiirim Nursultanov all record wins
WORLD TITLE SHOWS/ MAJOR SHOWS
Las Vegas, NV, USA: Light Heavy: Saul Alvarez (53-1-2) W TKO 11 Sergey Kovalev (34-4-1). Light: Ryan Garcia (19-0) W KO 1 Romero Duno (21-2). Super Welter: Bakhram Murtazaliev (17-0) W PTS 12 Jorge Fortea (20-2-1). Welter: Blair Cobbs (13-0-1) W RTD 6 Carlos Ortiz (11-5). Middle: Meiirim Nursultanov (13-0) W PTS 10 Cristian Olivas (16-6).
Alvarez vs. Kovalev
Alvarez stops Kovalev in the eleventh round to win the WBO title and become a four-division champion-in some eyes.
Kovalev worked with his jab occasionally curling a right around the high guard of Alvarez. He also scored with a couple of straight rights but was not really letting his hands go. Alvarez was padding forward behind his guard not throwing much and came up short with a couple of left hooks late.
Score: 10-9 Kovalev
Kovalev took the second almost exclusively with his left jab. He kept poking his jab through gaps in the guard of Alvarez and moving before Alvarez could counter. Alvarez threw moiré punches than in the first but was swishing air by Kovalev’s movement. He did connect with a left hook but Kovalev also found the target with his right.
Score: 10-9 Kovalev Kovalev 20-18
Kovalev kept moving and jabbing. Some of the jabs were short, some were blocked but others were getting through. Kovalev also threw an occasional combination and connected with rights. Alvarez was just not throwing enough punches and was not crowding Kovalev enough.
Score: 10-9 Kovalev Kovalev 30-27
A much closer round. Alvarez threw more punches and connected with some heavy shots particularly a right hook to the body. He also got through with some jabs and a couple of combinations. Kovalev stuck with his jab and move but was not committing himself enough and most of his jabs fell short.
Score: 10-9 Alvarez Kovalev 39-37
Official Scores: Judge Julie Lederman 38-38, Judge Dave Moretti 39-37 Alvarez, Judge Don Trella 39-37 Kovalev
Another close round but this one was Kovalev’s. He was throwing bundles of jabs and although not heavy punches they were scoring Alvarez was throwing one punch at a time and although he landed a quality left hook it was not enough. Kovalev ended the round strongly mixing in left hooks to the body with straight rights.
Score: 10-9 Kovalev Kovalev 49-46
A better round for Alvarez. He was stepping in with his punches and connected with a heavy combination to the head early. Kovalev was really just prodding with his jab and Alvarez was able to leap in quickly with trade mark left hooks to the body.
Score: 10-9 Alvarez Kovalev 58-56
Kovalev was throwing twenty punches for each one thrown by Alvarez. Many of Kovalev’s jabs were again short or blocked and Alvarez connected with the heavier punches and finished the round strongly to only just edge it.
Score: 10-9 Alvarez Kovalev 67-66
Clearly Kovalev’s round. After a lively start from Alvarez Kovalev dominated the action with his jab. At one point Alvarez suddenly walked away. One moment he was coming forward and then he backed off and walked across the ring looking to get Kovalev to come forward. He tried to lure Kovalev into a trap and even tried some rope-a-dope tactics but Kovalev was careful getting some punches through but not standing and trading.
Score: 10-9 Kovalev Kovalev 77-75
Official Score: Lederman 77-75 Alvarez, Moretti 78-74 Alvarez, Trella 76-74 Alvarez
Once again it was quantity versus quality. Kovalev continued to stab out his jab but some of the snap had gone out of it. Alvarez was able to get closer and looked to have rocked Kovalev briefly with a right to the head as his heavier punches gave him the round.
Score: 10-9 Alvarez Kovalev 86-85
Alvarez upped his pace from the start in this one. He was getting closer and sinking in left hooks. For the first time in the fight he trapped Kovalev in a corner and although Kovalev countered him with a good right Alvarez landed a much heavier right of his own. Kovalev was slowing and Alvarez recognised it.
Score: 10-9 Alvarez Tied 95-95
Kovalev looked heavy-legged as Alvarez piled on the pressure in the round. For a spell Kovalev fired home some quick, accurate combinations but Alvarez kept stalking. A thumping right to the head wobbled Kovalev and a left hook had him stumbling with a following right to the side of the head dumping him on the floor against the ropes with his right arm hanging out over the bottom rope. The referee immediately waived the fight over. Magnificent power performance from Alvarez but he is only a four-division champion if you include the secondary WBA super middle title which he won by beating Rocky Fielding-and I don’t. Where next for the Mexican wonder? It would be nice to think he would give Gennady Golovkin a third fight but this win keeps Alvarez in the driving seat and money will decided his next opponent. At 36 it might be time for Kovalev to walk away. He won himself a second life when he beat Eleider Alvarez to regain the WBO title and he could earn good paydays against Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol but he has had a great career and it would be good to see him retire.
Garcia vs. Duno
Garcia wrecks Duno in just 98 seconds. Duno bustled forward bobbing and weaving trying to get past the much longer reach of Garcia but was being caught with rights to the head. Duno managed to get inside briefly and rough Garcia up but once again Garcia was connecting with rights. Garcia began to tee-off on a static Duno and yet another right sent Duno back and down. Duno rolled up to his knees but was scrabbling around on the canvas and the referee waived the fight over without a count. Another outstanding performance for the 21-year-old “Flash” who has 16 wins by KO/TKO and victories over Jayson Velez, Carlos Morales, Braulio Rodriguez and Jose Lopez. This wins gets him the vacant WBC Silver and WBO NABO belts. Going in he was rated WBA 4/WBO 6/WBC 8 and he looks certain to be fighting for a world title in 2020. First inside the distance loss for Duno who had won his previous twelve fights. His nickname is “Ruthless” but it could just as easily be “reckless” for the way he walked onto Garcia’s counters but as he is 5’5” with a 68” reach facing a fighter who is 5’10-“with a 70” reach there is not much else he could have done.
Murtazaliev vs. Fortea
Murtazaliev wins an IBF eliminator with decision over Spaniard Fortea. Murtazaliev’s jab had turned Fortea’s face red before the end of the first round. The tall Russian increased the pace from there connecting with hooks, uppercuts and straight punches. Fortea stuck to his uneven task and countered well with uppercuts and hooks of his own starting a swelling on the left cheek of Murtazaliev. The strong Russian continued to pound on the Spaniard who was spending more and more time trapped against the ropes as he lacked the power to keep Murtazaliev out. Later in the fight Fortea managed to spend a little more time in the centre of the ring trading punches with Murtazaliev and put up a creditable losing performance as Murtazaliev had won 11 of his last 12 fights by KO/TKO. Scores 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110. Murtazaliev was rated IBF 6(4) and Fortea No 8(6). By beating Fortea Murtazaliev now qualifies to fill one of the vacant No 1 or No 2 spots in the IBF ratings which makes a mockery of the ratings. Fortea was given the No 8 spot for winning the interim IBF title with a decision over Navid Mansour even though neither fighter was rated when they fought and as a reference BoxRec have Fortea at No 126 in their world ratings and Mansour No 158!
Cobbs vs. Ortiz
In a clash of southpaws Cobbs overcomes a flash knockdown in the first to batter Ortiz into retirement after the sixth. A left from Ortiz in the opener saw Cobbs knocked off balance. He had to touch the canvas with a glove to stop himself from going down and was given a count. Cobbs recovered to take the second but was shaken by a left from Ortiz in the third. Cobbs was in charge in the fourth and fifth and floored Ortiz with a right in the sixth and Ortiz retired at the end of the round. Cobbs, a 29-year-old from Philadelphia has won his last six fights with the draw on his record being of the technical variety. Mexican Ortiz suffers his fourth loss in a row,
Nursultanov vs. Olivas
A competent, workmanlike performance by Nursultanov as he wins every round against a combative Olivas. The Kazak fighter showed a sharp, accurate jab and impressed when he put his punches together. Olivas stuck to his boxing but never found an answer to the accuracy and stunning power of Nursultanov’s jab. Pressure from Olivas brought Nursultanov a warning for holding in the fourth and although he was winning every round he was not able to subdued Olivas who made the Kazak fight hard in every round. An array of high quality hooks and uppercuts had Olivas hurt and backing up in the sixth but he did not fold and although Nursultanov continued to dominate the closing rounds Olivas was still trying to come forward to the end. Scores 100-90 for Nursultanov on the cards of the three judges. The 26-year-old former Kazak amateur champion and outstanding WSB performer is No 10(8(with the IBF. That is not really justified on the basis of his opposition so far but he has talent and will bear watching. Mexican Olivas suffers his fourth loss on the bounce all against unbeaten fighters.
Carson, CA, USA: Super Feather: Miguel Berchelt (33-1) W KO 4 Jason Sosa (23-4-4). Super Light: Javier Molina (21-2) W KO 1 Hiroki Okada (19-2). Super Light: Alex Saucedo (29-1) W TKO 1 Rod Salka (24-6).
Berchelt vs. Sosa
In the sixth defence of his WBC title Berchelt has an easy night against a brave but under-powered Sosa.
Sosa made an aggressive start coming forward trying to get close but Berchelt was moving well and finding gaps for strong jabs. Sosa continued to press but Berchelt started to put together some quick combinations. Sosa connected with a left hook and a right but Berchelt responded with a series of punches at the bell.
Score: 10-9 Berchelt
Sosa took the fight to Berchelt and fired some useful hooks. Sosa stumbled as he tried to get inside and was off balance, Berchelt strode forward firing left hooks and as an off-balance Sosa went back Berchelt connected with a strong left hook and a right and Sosa toppled to the canvas. Sosa took his time getting up and after the eight count both were throwing wild punches and Sosa went down but it was rightly ruled a slip. Sosa tried to trade with Berchelt but Berchelt was putting together multi-punch combinations of sweeping hooks. Sosa was rocked time and again as he walked in.
Score: 10-8 Berchelt Berchelt 20-17
Sosa had a much better round. He was swarming forward with hooks and uppercuts and landed early with a left hook to the body and a right to the head. He was anticipating Berchelt's attacks and although Berchelt fired some bursts of punches his work rate had dropped and it was Sosa’s round. Felt like Berchelt eased off after his exertions in the second
Score: 10-9 Sosa Berchelt 29-27
Sosa was storming forward in this one until Berchelt began to let his hands go. He hurt Sosa with a big right and Sosa was cut over his left eye. Berchelt was winding up the combinations and Sosa was walking into a storm of swinging hooks and uppercuts. He kept coming but was being pounded to head and body until a left hook to the body saw him drop to one knee. He was up at nine and was allowed to continue. Berchelt battered Sosa with series after series of hooks until Sosa’s corner threw in the towel to save their man. The 27-year-old from Cancun has won 15 of his last 16 fights inside the distance and has an impressive 87% KO/TKO ratio. A fight with No 1 Oscar Valdez would be a great fight but Berchelt vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko would be even better. Sosa, a former holder of the secondary WBA title, showed guts and determination but that was not enough against the fire power of Berchelt.
Molina vs. Okada
After being upped to the joint main event when the Jerwin Ancajas vs. Jonathan Rodriguez fight fell through Molina grabs his chance to make a statement with spectacular blow out of Okada. The round opened with the usual prodding and probing with jabs until Molina unleashed a lightning quick right cross that staggered Okada. Molina jumped in with a right and a left and Okada tumbled back a few steps and went down. He was up quickly shaking his head to indicate he felt he had just been off balance and did not deserve a count. When the action restarted he tried to punch with Molina but was caught but a hard, short right. A left then unhinged his legs and a crushing right to the head put him down with the referee immediately stopping the fight after just 65 seconds. The 29-year-old former 2008 Olympian, who beat Danny Garcia in the US Trials, has lost crucial fights in the past to Artemio Reyes and Jamal James but will look to use this win as a springboard to the world ratings. Second crushing loss in a row for Okada having been floored three times in losing to Ray Beltran on a ninth round stoppage in February.
Saucedo vs. Salka
Yet another first round finish in this one. Sauceda was throwing bombs from the off. He clipped Salka with a left hook to the head and pressed hard. Salka had a genuine complaint over a punch to the back of the head but it was ignored and as they traded punches in the centre of the ring Salka threw a right. Saucedo saw the opening and landed a wicked left hook to the body. Salka stood still for a split section and then backed from the centre of the ring to the ropes and went down clutching his right side in obvious agony. That was enough for the referee who rights ruled the action over. Saucedo starts to rebuild after losing on a seventh round stoppage against Maurice Hooker for the WBO super light title in November last year. Salka, 36, was having his first fight since retiring after six rounds against Francisco Vargas in April 2018.
Oxon Hill, MD, USA: Light: Javier Fortuna (35-2-1,2ND) W TKO 2 Jesus Cuellar (29-4).Super Welter: Brian Castano (16-0-1) W RTD 5 Wale Omotoso (28-5,1ND).Feather: Ranfis Encarnacion (17-0) W KO 1 Emmanuel Dominguez (26-9-2). Welter: Ryan Karl (18-2) W RTD 5 Bergman Aguilar (15-6-1). Super Light: Gary Antuanne Russell (12-0) W TKO 2 Juan Huertas (14-3-1). Bantam: Gary Antonio Russell (16-0) W TKO 1 Sam Gutierrez (16-26-6).
Fortuna vs. Cuellar
Fortuna wins clash of former holders of the secondary WB featherweight title as he floors Cuellar twice on the way to a stoppage victory in a fight for the vacant WBC Continental Americas title. Sometimes Fortuna can be a frustrating fighter to watch but Cuellar s typical aggressive tactics forced the Dominican to trade punches in a short but entertaining match. In the opener Cuellar was pitching punches trying to overwhelm Fortuna. He had some success connecting with a left hook and a hard right but was leaving himself open to counters and as he released another right Fortuna beat him to the punch with a right hook that sent Cuellar tumbling down on his backside. He beat the count but was on the ropes and under fire at the bell. Cuellar was driving forward again in the second until Fortuna drilled him with a straight left and a right hook which sent Cuellar sliding sideways. He grabbed the ropes to stop himself going all the way down and was given a count and then Fortuna unloaded punches from both hands until the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. Southpaw Fortuna, 36, had a frustrating 2018 as he lost a split verdict to Robert Easter for the IBF lightweight title and then his fight with Adrian Granados ended on a No Decision after Fortuna injured his arm when he fell out of the ring. This has been a better year as he outpointed the 32-1Sharif Bogere in February and was No 3 with the WBC going into this one. Argentinian Cuellar, 33, has now lost three big fights with Abner Mares and Gervonta Davis beating him in WBA title fights.
Castano vs. Omotoso
Castano makes a good case for getting a shot at the WBA title as he beats Omotoso who is way behind on points when forced to retire with a shoulder injury. Castano has come a long way from the wild banger he was when he first turned pro. In the first he stalked Omotoso shooting some useful jabs and quick straight rights. Omotoso was on the back foot jabbing well but Castano looked threatening with his rights. Castano was fired up in the second launching furious attacks and connecting with shots to head and body with Omotoso countering when he could but taking plenty of punishment. Omotoso was on the front foot and matching Castano for the first two minutes of the third but then Castano cut loose. He bombarded Omotoso with furious combinations and by the end of the round Omotoso was trapped on the ropes and shipping straight rights hooks and uppercuts. You could make a case for Omotoso winning the fourth. He was able to slot home jabs and get through with rights and Castano did not really let his hands go until very late in the round and Omotoso was never in any trouble. Castano lit the fuse early in the fifth and went onto the attack. Omotoso missed with a jab which went past Castano’s head. As Omotoso drew his arm back it got tangled at an awkward angle with Castano’s arm and Omotoso stepped back from the action grimacing with pain and shaking his left arm. From that point Castano drove the Nigerian around the ring with Omotoso countering when he could but was being bombarded with heavy shots. During the interval the doctor carried out an extensive examination of Omotoso’s shoulder and was not happy to let him continue. Argentinian Castano had held the secondary WBA title but vacated it over a dispute regarding the contract for his defence against Frenchman Michel Soro. Castano was concerned that the his money for a previous defence against Soro was delayed and he wanted the purse for the return put into an escrow account before the fight .Soro’s team refused and the WBC took their side forcing Castano to vacate the title. He is No 2 with the WBA but also in the top ten with the WBC and WBO so could go in their direction. Unfortunate loss for Omotoso. He had only one fight in 2017 and was inactive in 2018 but had fired himself into the ratings with a crushing third round victory over Curtis Stevens in August. At 34 not too many more chances will come his way.
Encarnacion vs. Dominguez
Early night for Dominican prospect Encarnacion as he blasts out Dominguez inside a minute. A left followed by a thunderous right felled Dominguez for the count. The 25-year-old Encarnacion makes it thirteen wins by KO/TKO. He fills the No 12 spot with the IBF. Mexican Dominguez came in on the back of four wins in his last five fights.
Karl vs. Aguilar
Karl gets off the floor to beat an injured Aguilar who retires at the end of the fifth. The fight started badly for Karl when he was caught in the first by a thunderous over hand right that had him pitching forward and almost out through the bottom ropes. He beat the count but unknowing had a big advantage as Aguilar damaged his left hand just prior to the knockdown. Karl went on to dominate the fight with a much higher work rate and with Aguilar unable to use his left. By the end of the fifth the pain was too much for Aguilar and he was forced to retire. The Texan “Cowboy” has won 5 of his last 6 fights including reversing the one of his two losses. Costa Rican-based Nicaraguan Aguilar takes his fourth loss in his last five appearances.
Russell vs. Huertas
The Russell brothers don’t believe in hanging about particularly Antuanne. He ended this one in the second round to maintain his 100% record of wins by KO/TKO. He belaboured poor Huertas in the first and then overwhelmed him early in the second. Pressure forced Huertas into a corner and then Russell whacked away until Huertas dropped to one knee and stayed there for the full count. The 23-year-old Rio quarter-finalist has taken less than 22 rounds for his twelve wins. Panamanian Huertas just did not have the punch to get Russell’s respect and this is his second defeat by KO/TKO
Russell vs. Gutierrez
Antonio has actually had to go the distance for some of his wins but he took less time than Antuanne to end this one. An overhand right to the head floored Gutierrez in the first and the referee immediately stopped the fight. Twelfth win by KO/TKO for Antonio. Brothers Gary and Gary Antuanne both qualified for the Olympic Games but Gary Antonio did not. Although current WBC featherweight champion Gary qualified he did not fight at the 2008 Games as he collapsed before his first fight suffering from dehydration. Poor Gutierrez is 0-6-1 in his last 7 fights and Antonio deserves better opposition than this.
Las Vegas, NV, USA: Super Feather: Xavier Martinez (15-0) W KO 1 Jessie Cris Rosales (22-4-1). Super Light: Richardson Hitchins 10-0) W PTS 10 Kevin Johnson (7-1).
Martinez vs. Rosales
If you blinked you might have missed this one as Martinez blasts out useful Rosales in just 21 seconds. Martinez rocked Rosales with the first punch he threw. It was a straight right to the head that had Rosales hurt. He tried to move away but a right cross thudded onto the side of his head and Rosales went down heavily. His head thudding onto the floor and he ended up spread-eagled on the canvas with the referee instantly waiving the fight over. Devastating punching from the 22-year-old from California and his seventh win in a row by KO/TKO. Martinez turned pro at 17 after winning a bronze medal at the US Youth Championships on the way to compiling an 85-10 record in the amateurs. Rosales was 21-0-1 in his first 22 fights but it is now 4 losses in his last 5 fights but all of the losses have come against top level opposition including Jhonny Gonzalez and Shakur Stevenson and the win was a good victory over Ibrahim Balla in Australia.
Hitchins vs. Johnson
Hitchins continues to climb as he goes ten rounds for the first time with a unanimous decision over Johnson on ShoBox. Johnson was busier but could not match the quickness and accuracy of Hitchins who used a strong jab and worked the body well in the early rounds. Johnson staged a strong finish but Hitchins had enough rounds in his pocket to be able to ease his way to victory. Scores 97-93 twice and 96-94 for Hitchins. The 22-year-old from Brooklyn just lost out at the US Olympic Trials for Rio but then entered the World Qualifier representing his parent’s country of origin Haiti and qualified through that route only to lose to Gary Antuanne Russell who had beaten him at the US Trials. The Mayweather Promotions youngster shows real promise. Johnson’s other loss came at the hands of Rio gold medal winner Fazliddin Gaibnazarov but he had won his last two fights.
Izegem, Belgium: Welter: Meriton Karaxha (26-5-2) W PTS 12 Mikkel Nielsen (8-2). Albanian-born Belgian Karaxha collects the vacant WBFederation title as he takes unanimous decision over Dane Nielsen. After a couple of close rounds Karaxha’s higher work rate and better accuracy gave him the edge and he built a good lead digging left hooks to the body and putting the Dane on the back foot but Nielsen remained competitive throughout. The Dane took the fight at only a few days notice and was expected to tire over the late rounds. He lost a point in the eighth for a butt then actually finished the stronger but was unable to bridge the gap and Karaxha was a clear winner. Scores 116-111 for Karaxha on the three scorecards. The 27-year-old former Belgian champion is 8-0-1 in his last 9 fights but struggles when he tries to move up. Credible display for Nielsen taking account of his short preparation but he suffers his second loss in a row, Steve Jamoye was to have fought Karaxha but he was stopped by Conor Benn on 26 October and as a result was not eligible to box until 10 December.
Oshawa, Canada: Super Light: Steven Wilcox (22-3-1) W RTD 3 Gustavo Torres (9-7-1). Canadian champion Wilcox gets a win as Mexican Torres retires after three rounds citing an injury. Wilcox struggled to master the taller southpaw Torres but his crisp counter punching gave him a distinct edge and Torres was under pressure at the end of the third of what promised to be an entertaining fight. The 29-year-old Wilcox is 6-1 in his last 7 fights including a loss to Darragh Foley and a victory over Roody Pierre Paul for the National title. This was only the third fight in the last two years for Torres and his third inside the distance defeat.
Bangkok. Thailand: Super Welter: Teerachai (43-1) W PTS 10 Salehe Mkalekwa (14-8).*
Teerachai (Tewa Kiram) gets ten rounds of undemanding work against Tanzanian Mkalekwa winning all the way but never really getting out of second gear. Mkalekwa showed reasonable skills but as with so many Tanzanian it is all show and little substance. Teerachai was content to work in bursts and Mkalekwa lacked the power to be a threat. Scores 99-91 twice and 100-90. Teerachai, who lost to Lucas Matthysse for the vacant secondary WBA welter title in 2018, has won five in a row but is nowhere in the ratings. Four losses in his last five for Mkalekwa having lost in contests in Eswatini (Swaziland), DRC and Egypt.
Ekaterinburg, Russia: Super Feather: Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (15-0) W PTS 12 Abraham Montoya (18-2-1). Super Welter: Magomed Kurbanov (18-0) W PTS 12 Diego Chaves (27-5-1). Cruiser: Evgeny Tischenko (6-0) W RTD 6 Issa Akberbayev (20-1). Super Feather: Mark Urvanov (17-2-1) W TKO 3 Evgeny Chuprakov (21-2).
Yaqubov vs. Montoya
Yaqubov wins wide unanimous verdict over a strong and determined, but limited Montoya. Mexican Montoya pressed hard in the first two rounds coming in behind his jab but southpaw Yaqubov was quicker showing smart movement and countering with lefts to the body. He was straying low and was warned three times to keep his punches up and finally cleaned up his act after a final warning. Montoya had a good third as he pressed for the full three minutes outworking Yaqubov and connecting with straight rights and left hooks. Yaqubov lost his mouthguard and was warned as it looked deliberate. Yaqubov strung together some flashy combinations in the fourth but also lost his mouthguard twice and the referee deducted a point from him. This was turning out to be a fast-paced entertaining fight with Yaqubov showcasing some excellent skills and Montoya relentless but controlled aggression. As the fight progressed Yaqubov was opening up more driving through left hooks to the body and straight rights and he kept his jab in Montoya’s face. The Mexican was willing to walk through Yaqubov’s punches but rarely landed anything heavy and began to slow. Yaqubov was warned again for a low punch in the ninth and a clash of heads saw a cut open high in the hairline of Montoya. The referee decided that the cut was not a danger so did not deduct a point from Yaqubov and Montoya was under heavy pressure at the end of the round. Yaqubov had a swelling over his right eye but it was not a factor and although Montoya continued to march forward he was just too slow and Yaqubov flitted around him dabbing out punches and using clever footwork to differ the angle of his attacks as he boxed his way to victory. Scores 118-110 for Yaqubov on all three scorecards. The 24-year-old Tajik boxer, the WBC No 10, was defending the WBC International title for the second time. He has silky skills but now needs to move up against higher level opposition. Montoya, the NABF champion, was unbeaten in his last 18 fights and had beaten a couple of reasonable level fighters in domestic contests but was outboxed all the way here.
Kurbanov vs. Chaves
Kurbanov takes unanimous decision over experienced Chaves. This was a slow-paced fight that never really caught alight with neither boxer committing himself fully to attacking but instead they fought in bursts. Kurbanov was the busier of the two taking the fight to Chaves. The Argentinian is an clever, crafty boxer and he was skilful in defence and scoring with quick counters. Kurbanov was warned for hitting to the back of the neck in the second and again at the start of the sixth. The pace picked up a little as the fight progressed with Kurbanov looking to have Chaves hurt in the sixth and he outscored Chaves in the seventh and eighth. He also took the ninth scoring with some meaty left hooks but was finding Chaves and elusive target and was again warned for a punch to the back of the head and he eventually lost a point for that. Kurbanov scored with clubbing punches in the tenth and almost threw Chaves out of the ring with a wrestling move in the eleventh as both fighters tired. Kurbanov was stronger in the last and was a clear winner. Scores 117-110, 116-111 and 115-113 for Kurbanov. The 24-year-old Ekaterinburg-based “Black Lion” won the vacant WBO International belt. No big names yet but he has beaten some credible opposition and is rated WBA 9/WBC 10. The 33-year-old Chaves is a former interim WBA welter champion. He fought a split draw withTim Bradley but more recently had lost to Jamal James and to Thulani Mbenge for the IBO title.
Tischenko vs. Akberbayev
Olympic gold medallist Tischenko gets an inside the distance victory over Akberbayev. Tischenko had edges in height and reach and Akberbayev never really found an answer to those. Tischenko was able to get through with southpaw jabs and long lefts to the body. He seemed content to let Akberbayev come forward but after scoring well late in the third he upped his pace in the fourth and in the fifth. He met a Akberbayev charge with a left to the body and simultaneously Akberbayev's head thumped into Tischenko’s chest and the combination of those two collisions sent Akberbayev down. He was not badly shaken but he shipped some heavy punishment in the sixth and retired in his corner at the end of the round. The 6’5” Rio heavyweight champion has four wins by KO/TKO. His height and southpaw style will give opposition problems but he is yet to be really tested. Kazak Akberbayev, 35, has impressive looking statistics but was having his first outing since December 2017 and never really got into this fight.
Urvanov vs. Chuprakov
Former WBO title challenger Chuprakov was the favourite here but he never looked the part. In a slow first round Chuprakov crouching and hiding behind a high guard just circled the perimeter of the ring hardly throwing a punch. Urvanov tracked Chuprakov and landed some left hooks to the body . Chuprakov was a bit more active in the second but not much and Urvanov began to find the target with hooks late in the round. Chuprakov worked from the centre of the ring in the third just pushing out jabs. Urvanov stepped inside with a left hook to the head and suddenly Chuprakov’s legs wobbled. Urvanov drove him to the ropes and kept throwing hooks with both hands and with Chuprakov not punching back the referee stopped the fight. Big win for the 23-year-old red-headed Russian “ Canelo” he has lost only one of his last 19 fights and that was to Yaqubov in 2018. He wins the vacant WBO International title which will net him a rating. Chuprakov was pitiful. Some very conservative matching brought him 21 wins and a fight with Masayuki Ito for the WBO super feather title in December but he lost every round before being stopped in the seventh.
Manchester, England: Middle: Felix Cash (12-0) W TKO 8 Jack Cullen (17-2). Super Bantam: Qais Ashfaq (8-0) W TEC DEC 7 Joe Ham (16-2). Light: Anthony Crolla (35-7-3) W PTS 10 Frank Urquiaga (13-2-1).Feather: Gamal Yafai (17-1) W TKO 3 Lee Clayton (10-4 ). Heavy: Martin Bakole Ilunga (15-1) W TKO 2 Rod Hernandez (13-9-2).
Cash vs. Cullen
In the first defence of his Commonwealth title Cash batters the resistance out of a game and competitive Cullen for an eighth round stoppage. Cullen made good use of his longer reach to stab home jabs early in the first. Cash then connected with five consecutive overhand rights the last of which caused Cullen to drop to one knee. He jumped up quickly and although Cash threw and connected with plenty of hard shots Cullen fired back with jabs and left hooks to the bell. Cullen chose to ignore his physical advantages in the second and third to go toe-to-toe with Cash. Both landed some cracking shots but Cash was getting the better of the exchanges in what was turning into a war. A clash of heads opened a small cut by the left eye of Cash in the third. The strength and pressure from Cash began to tell in the fourth and fifth. Cullen was still landing some cracking punches but Cash was landing more and working solidly to the body. Cash was pressing hard in the sixth with Cullen banging back but he seemed to be tiring and at the pace these two relatively inexperienced boxers were setting it looked unlikely to go the distance. Cullen was on fire at the start of the seventh raking Cash with hooks to the body and he was on his way to winning the round until the last thirty seconds. Cash forced Cullen to the ropes and connected with a couple of clubbing rights before getting through with too hooks to the body that saw Cullen fall to his knees. After the count there was less than ten seconds remaining in the round but enough time for Cash to land a solid right to the head. Cullen was now cut over his left eye and bleeding from the nose. He tried to trade punches with Cash in the eighth but Cash brutally beat the resistance out of Cullen and he was reeling under Cash’s punches when the referee stopped the fight. The 26-year-old Cash gets win No 8 by KO/TKO and will now be looking to move up in the level of opposition. English champion Cullen played his part in an entertaining all-action scrap but Cash was just too strong for him in the end and at 6’4” his future may lie in a higher division.
Ashfaq vs. Ham
Former Elite level amateur Ashfaq wins his first pro title with a technical decision over Ham. Ashfaq had outboxed Ham hardly letting the Scot get into the fight and looked to be on his way to victory after flooring Ham in the third. In the sixth a clash of heads saw Ham emerge with a bad cut over his left eye. He made it to the bell but a time out was called at the start of the seventh round and as Ham’s cut was too bad for him to continue it was decided on the scorecards with Ashfaq winning on scores of 70-63, 70-64 and 69-64. Ashfaq wins the vacant WBA Continental title. Ashfaq had beaten Ham in the quarter-finals of the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Ashfaq was English and British champion and won silver medals at the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships losing to Michael Conlan in both competitions He fought at the 2016 Olympics but did not medal. Ham was a 5-time Scottish champion as an amateur and competed at the Commonwealth and European Championships. His other pro loss is against unbeaten Tyrone McCullagh. Ham is from the Gorbals. This is a area of Glasgow that has been much enhanced now. In the old days it was said to be the toughest city in Europe and the only one where the milk delivery lorries were fitted with a rear gunner!!
Crolla vs. Urquiaga
Crolla brings the curtain down on his career with a less than impressive majority decision victory over Urquiaga. The fight started badly for Crolla when he suffered a cut over his left eye in the first round and was rocked briefly in the third. A lively, busy and confident Urquiaga did enough to establish a lead over the first half of the fight but then Crolla took over. The former holder of the secondary WBA title had too much experience and skill for the Spanish-based Peruvian and the early pace he had set caught up with Urquiaga and he faded badly. Scores 98-92 and 97-93 for Crolla and 95-95. A tremendously popular and respected pro Crolla had to overcome career threatening injuries to fight his way to a title. Urquiaga’s only other defeat was on a very close decision against Edis Tatli for the European title in August last year.
Yafai vs. Clayton
Yafai returns to the ring with a quick win. In his first bout for 14 months Yafai floored late substitute Clayton twice in the third round to force the stoppage. Gamal is then younger brother of WBA super fly champion Khalid. Southpaw Clayton had won his last four fights.
Ilunga vs. Hernandez
Ilunga gets his fifth win in a row as he halts Hernandez in two rounds. The Scottish-based Congolese puncher was just too strong for Hernandez from the start. By the second he had Hernandez cut and in full retreat. With Hernandez against the ropes he landed a solid right and as Hernandez tried to escape a left hook sent him staggering across the ring and down heavily and the referee stopped the fight without a count. Since losing to Mike Hunter in October Ilunga has shown considerable improvement with inside the distance victories over Mariusz Wach, Ytalo Perea and Kevin Johnson. Hernandez had scored good wins over 16-0 LaRon Mitchell and 17-0 Onoriode Ehwarieme and last time out lost a creditable close points decision to Joey Dawejko in July.
Buenos Aires, Argentina: Welter: Maximiliano Veron (12-3-1,1ND) W PTS 10 Diego Ramirez (21-2). Veron upsets the odds with unanimous decision over Ramirez. Ramirez tried to box his way to victory here and made it close over the early rounds. Over the second half of the fight Veron upped his pace and battled past the guard of the taller Ramirez scoring with a variety of hooks and uppercuts and rocking southpaw Ramirez with neck-snapping shots. A late stoppage looked a possibility but Ramirez survived. Scores 97-93 for Veron on the three cards. Veron was 0-4-1 in his previous 5 fights and was not rated in the top ten nationally so No 1 Ramirez was a big favourite. Veron lifts the vacant IBF Latino title. Ramirez, the WBO No 9 had lost only one of his last twenty fights and had scored wins over Bradley Skeete and 26-3 Nestor Gonzalez.
Toowoomba, Australia: Super Light: Jamie Hilt (11-4-1) W TEC DEC 9 Cairo George (18-2). Hilt wins a “world” title at 39 as he takes unanimous technical decision over New Zealander George to collect the vacant WBU belt. A clash of heads left George with a cut that was too severe for the fight to continue and it went to the cards with local fighter Hilt in front 89-82, 87-84 and 87-86. Local fighter Hilt, the Australasian champion, did not turn pro until he was 35 and has tended to lose when he steps up too far. George has a heavily padded record with his previous six opponent having combined records of 7-22.
Mariakerke, Belgium: Cruiser: Bilal Laggoune (25-1-2) W TKO 3 Elvis Smajlovic (10-8-2). Welter: Mohamed El Marcouchi (23-2) W PTS 8 Ivan Njegac (12-11). Cruiser: Youri Kayembre Kalenga (25-6) W TKO 2 Ermin Avdic (12-8).
Laggoune vs. Smajlovic
Laggoune returns to action after almost thirteen months out. He had no trouble with the very modest Bosnian Smajlovic stopping him in the third round. Laggoune’s only loss is a split decision against Doudou Ngumbu in 2017 and the 27-year-old Belgian will be looking to rebuild towards a European title fight. Smajlovic had won his last four bouts but is 1-2 in visits to Belgium.
El Marcouchi vs. Njegac
US-based Belgian El Marcouchi wins every round against Croat fighter Njegac. Scores 80-72 twice and 80-71 for the BeNeLux champion (a title for fighters from Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg). He has lost only one of his last 22 fights and that was on a disqualification. Poor Njegac is 2-8 in his last 10.
Kalenga vs. Avdic
In his first fight since March Kalenga provides an early finish. The French-based Congolese fighter has gone through a rocky period so a much needed win over Bosnian Avdic on a second round stoppage. A former challenger for the WBA and IBO cruiser titles had lost 3 of his previous 4 fights including a seventh round retirement defeat against unbeaten Pole Michal Cieslak in March. Fifth loss in his last 6 fights for Avdic.
Koblenz, Germany: Light Heavy: Leon Bunn (15-0) W PTS 12 Enrico Koelling (26-3). Bunn holds on to his IBF International title with a career best victory over Koelling. It was a close fought battle between two Germans who just may be heading in opposite directions. Bunn was stepping up in class whereas Koelling was trying to retain his high level status after defeats in very hard, high profile, fights against Artur Beterbiev for the vacant IBF title and a close decision loss to Dominic Boesel for the European title in October. There was very little between them over the first half of the fight but the busier and more accurate Bunn forged in front over the late rounds to take a deserved verdict. Scores 116-112 twice and an almost insultingly wide 119-109 all for Bunn. The 27-year-old Bunn was a star on the Bundesliga boxing and ended his time as an amateur with a 80-25-7 record. Winning the IBF International title has netted him a No 8(7) rating with that body. Despite the loss Koelling, rated No 11 (10) by the IBF is not by any means over the hill and will be back in top level action next year.
Tokyo, Japan: Super Welter: Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1) W TKO 4 Koki Koshikawa (9-2). Matsunaga retains the Japanese title with stoppage of Koshikawa. The challenger made a fast, aggressive start but the southpaw skills and good movement from Matsunaga quickly blunted Koshikawa’s attacks. Matsunaga took control in the second cutting Koshikawa over his right eye with a punch. Koshikawa piled forward in the third but was wide open and soaking up counters from the champion and although he attacked again in the fourth he was soaking up counters and was a well beaten fighter when the fight was stopped in the fourth. First defence of the Japanese title and tenth win by KO/TKO for the 33-year-old Matsunaga. Koshikawa had won his last five fights but was moving up to ten rounds for the first time and his lack of experience showed.
Keta, Ghana: Bantam: Joseph Agbeko (37-5) W TKO 9 Gabriel Ochieng (20-8-1). Super Bantam: Isaac Sackey (24-1-1) W PTS 12 Michael Nyawade ( ).
Agbeko vs. Ochieng
Agbeko makes a successful defence of his WBO African title with stoppage victory over useful Kenyan Ochieng. The 39-year-old former IBF champion has won his last eight fights and still dreams of another world title fight. Ochieng was 18-2 in his previous 20 fights mostly against domestic opposition.
Sackey vs. Nyawade
Sackey boxes his way to points win over Nyawade to regain the WBO African title. He lost the title to Wasiru Mohammed in October in a fight that not only cost him his title but also snapped his 23 fight unbeaten run. Kenyan Nyawade has done most of his fighting recently at super feather and light so must have taken off some weight for this one. He was 6-2 in his last 8 fights.
Fight of the week (Significance): Saul Alvarez’s win over Sergey Kovalev gives the Mexican more options
Fight of the week (Entertainment): Felix Cash vs. Jack Cullen. It didn’t go the distance but it was action all the way
Fighter of the week: Saul Alvarez
Punch of the week: The overhand right from Bergman Aguilar that floored Ryan Karl in the first was a beauty. With honourable mention to the final right from Javier Molina that finished Hiroki Okada and the gut busting left hook from Alex Saucedo that cut Rod Salka in half.
Upset of the week: Unsung Mark Urvanov stopping former world title challenger Evgeny Chuprakov was one but Max Veron (11-3-1) beating Diego Ramirez (21-2) was also unexpected
Prospect watch: Super Feather Xavier Martinez 15-0 with 11 wins by KO/TK
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features