After the TV cameras stopped rolling at the Staples Center, following the 12 round classic between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, there was one more world title bout to take place. That bout featured Filipino Mark Anthony Barriga (9-1, 1) and American Carlos Licona (14-0, 2) with the two battling to crown a new IBF Minimumweight champion.
Sadly for two fighters the audience had shrank, from a few million international viewers to just the handfuls left in the venue for what was essentially a world title bout that acted as a walk out bout.
Thankfully among those in the venue was the excellent Ryan Songalia, who posted a series of tweets regarding the fight, and it seems like it was the most competitive contest on the show, with the two men matching other incredibly well. Licona was the naturally bigger man, the taller, rangier and harder hitting fighter whilst Barriga was the more technically gifted, the one landing the more eye catching shots, but also the one struggling to really leave an impact on Licona.
According to the tweets posted by Mr Songalia the two really hard to split, with both men having some clear rounds, but a number of rounds were a toss up. This was always going to make life tricky for Barriga, given he was fighting in the US in the same state that Licona lives in.
In 2016 we saw the WBA Minimumweight title being won by Knockout CP Freshmart (19-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] as he over-came Nicaraguan fighter Byron Rojas (25-4-3, 11) in a mandatory title fight. Today the two men met again, this time with Rojas as the mandatory challenger to Knockout's title. Sadly however the bout was an unmemorable wrestle-fest, much like their first, with fouls, holding, lunging, and very messy work through out, much like their first bout which started well but became one of the most gruelling 12 round watches of recent memory.
Rojas started this bout looking sensational. He looked sharp, huge and powerful as he established his work very early, fighting at a high work rate and almost coming out like a fighter who knew he had to make an early impression. By round 2 however that work rate had slowed, and it allowed Knockout to get inside and work away up close, going to the body of the challenger, and even hurting him with a body shot.
Sadly round 3 was the start of the bouts messy down fall, with Rojas struggling to create distance, and Knockout doing everything he could to get inside, leading with the head, going low and generally spoiling. It made life difficult fro Rojas who was unable to create space, and often unable to free himself from the holding of Knockout.
Rounds 4,5 and 6 all followed a similar pattern, with a lot of holding and messy action, neither man clearly distinguishing themselves from the other. It seemed, perhaps, that Knockout was edging them, but a strong case could be that he was also the one responsible for the lack of action with Rojas at least looking to fight, rather than wrestle. Sadly for Rojas his frustrations became clear in round 7 when he suffered a cut to his right eye and seemed to argue with the referee. It seemed Rojas had also gotten annoyed by the style of the fight.
Knockout Finally started to have eye catching success in round 8, and that success lead to more success in rounds 9 and 10 as he began to let combinations go, and slurry the Nicaraguan, who looked tired, and frustrated. It seemed like Knockout wanted to go for the finish, and make a statement. In round 11 however Rojas began to land clean shots, including a massive right hand that would have taken down a lesser man, that was the start of a good round for Rojas who seemed to also do enough to take the final round, as Knockout cruised through the last 3 minutes.
At the final bell Knockout rush to celebrate in the corner whilst Rojas seemed to know he wasn't getting the decision. Something that was confirmed when the cards were read out as 115-113, 117-111 and 116-112, all to Knockout who retained his title, but once again bored fans.
For a fighter with such a great moniker Knockout really has failed to deliver excitement in recent bouts, and we do wonder how good he really is. On this performance he's better than Rojas, but not by a lot, and he's certainly not an exciting fighter to watch
The penultimate HBO card saw Kyrgyzstan born Russian Dmitry Bivol (15-0, 11) [дмитрий бивол] headlining, as he successfully defended the WBA Light Heavyweight title against former champion Jean Pascal (33-6-1-1, 20), who proved to be much gamer than expected.
The opening moments of the fight saw Pascal coming forward, but it was short lived ambition from the 36 year old Haitian-Canadian, who seemed to stop in his tracks when he was caught with a right hand late in the round. Although Pascal wasn't out and out hurt the shot it did seem like his confidence and desire disappeared almost instantly.
In round 2 Bivol began to land more consistently, using his excellent and busy jab. That jab was then used to set up all of Bivol's work, as he methodically broke down Pascal with clean shots to head and body. Pascal, to his credit, did have some moments but they were few and far between early on as Bivol slowly and carefully chipped away at him, seemingly scoring a knockdown in round 4, though it was ruled a slip.
In round 8 Pascal suddenly came alive, catching Bivol with a wild shot and following it up with hard, looping sloppy hooks. He seemed to Bivol who, for the first time, look a little worried, before holding and regaining his composure. It was Pascal's only chance, and it cost him as he seemed to put everything in to the follow up, which Bivol survived, before returning fire with interest.
The start of round 9 was delayed due to the tape on Pascal's glove, giving him additional time to recover his gas before the round began. That extra rest proved to be useful for Pascal who seemed again had moments in round 9 as he upped the tempo, at least for burst, and found the range for his jab and his hook in what was another good round for the challenger.
Bivol seemed like he had had enough of Pascal in round 10 as he upped the pace and began unloading straight shots on to the head of Pascal. Pascal dug in deep and survived the onslaught before pushing Bivol back. Bivol picked up the pace again in round 11 as Pascal was made to look slow through the round, due to Bivol's movement and output, both of which picked up during the round.
Going into the final round it seemed clear that Pascal needed a KO to win. He had done enough to take a round or two, but wasn't even close to being level on the scorecards. Despite Pascal needing a KO it was actually Bivol who was pressing the action in the final round, and it seemed like Pascal was happy to just see out the final bell, something very few expected from him.
At the end of the bout there was no doubting the winner, Bivol had been a clear winner. He had however taken far more shots than he'd have wanted, and ended up with a nasty bruise under his left eye, and had clearly not had the result he was wanting. Sadly for Bivol this is the second bout where he's failed to really shine this year, and although still unbeaten there is clear work to be done before he attempts to unify.
For those interested in the score cards, they were 117-111 and 119-109, twice for Bivol.
In recent times the Kyoei boxing gym has been overshadowed by rival Teiken, who have basically been the big success story of Japanese boxing for the last few years. Today however Kyoei claimed their 13th "world champion" as Tomoki Kameda (36-2, 20) [亀田和毅]claimed the WBC "interim" Super Bantamweight title, with a clear decision win over Spanish based Dominican puncher Abigail "bebe" Medina (19-4-2, 10) at the Korakuen Hall.
The first started perfectly for Kameda, who dominated the early rounds with his speed, movement, and ring IQ. In fact through 4 rounds it was almost impossible to even try to make an argument that Medina deserved anything. The Japanese fighter moved too well, landing all the shots of note and really was good value for his 40-36 lead, a score that was publicly announced after the 4th round.
Medina then began to come alive, losing round 5 but looking more live and becoming more and more aggressive, particularly in round 6 and 7, both rounds in which he upped his work rate and forced Kameda on to the back foot. It was good work from Medina, but seemed like it was a case of needing a KO, and by round 8 Kameda had re-found his groove, boxing and moving brilliantly, landing flush combinations. Kameda's performance in round 8 saw him leading 78-74 after 8 rounds, and looking like the man who had began to sort things out.
Kameda again shone in round 9, as he once again found his distance and landed flashy combinations. He struggled to keep up his success however and Medina did enough get himself back into the fight in round 10, but by then he really did need a KO to win, he was too far behind with too little time to catch up to the Japanese fighters.
Knowing if he stayed on his feet the bout was in the bag Kameda knew what he had to do, and saw out the final 2 rounds to take the unanimous decision with scores of 117-111, twice, and 116-112.
With the win Kameda sets up a bout with WBC "regular" champion Rey Vargas, in what could be a very interesting match up. Sadly his lack of power did again rear it's head, and talk of a bout between Kameda and Naoya Inoue, which has been raised recently from Kameda's father Shiro Kameda, doesn't look as appealing with the knowledge Kameda's power really isn't there at world level, unlike Inoue's.
Few gave Filipino icon Nonito Donaire (39-5, 25) any chance in his WBSS quarter-final bout against the unbeaten #1 seeded Ryan Burnett (19-1, 9). Amazingly, though bizarrely, Donaire managed to get the win to advance to the tournaments semi-final and become the WBA Bantamweight “super” champion.
We mentioned “bizarrely” because the end of the bout was indeed bizarre, with Burnett injuring himself and needing to retire from the bout between rounds 4 and 5.
The fight started competitively, much more so than expected. Burnett had the edge in speed, something that everyone expected, but Donaire looked dangerous and had moments in the opening round. It was Donaire who pressed forward, though did have to eat some solid single shots from Burnett, who looked tiny compared to the Filipino.
The second round saw Burnett look better than he had in the opening round, looking sharper and crisper, with a brilliant right hand landing clean early in the round. Though Burnett looked good he was cornered at one point in the round and it seemed like Donaire's pressure was having some effect, and he was pulling Burnett into his fight.
In round 3 Donaire had success in cornering Burnett more often and his pressure really did show through, as he caught Burnett on a pretty frequent basis. Burnett still looked the crisper fighter, and he landed a really 1-2 mid way through the round, but he was cornered late and forced to eat some solid shots as Donaire let his combinations go.
Donaire continued to press in round 4, and despite falling short with a number of shots the pace began to slow and suit him. Burnett, really was slowing massively and doing little. Even when Donaire fell short there was little coming back from the champion. Sadly towards the end of round 4 Burnett turned his body, and went down in agony with what seemed like a back injury. He got back up but was a damaged fighter and Donaire knew it as he looked for a finish.
Burnett's toughness saw him see out the round, but rightfully he was pulled from the bout between round 4 and 5, and then left the ring on a stretcher.
We hope the injury is something that won't keep Burnett out of the ring for long, he's a really talented young fighter and it would be a huge shame if this effects his career long term. For Donaire it's a huge win and sets up a semi-final with Zolani Tete in the new year. If he gets through that and Naoya Inoue can get past Emmanuel Rodriguez we may end up with a huge WBSS final for Asia.
The Light Flyweight delivered another action packed bout earlier today as Filipino Randy Petalcorin (29-3-1, 22) battled against heavy handed Nicaraguan Felix Alvarado (34-2, 30) in a bout for the vacant IBF Light Flyweight title, which had been given up by Hekkie Budler earlier this year. On paper the bout matched one of the best pure boxers in the division against one of the most destructive in a bout that really looked fantastic on paper.
For fans of Alvarado they would have known exactly what to expect from the Nicaraguan, and he fought true to form, bringing his trademark intense pressure. In the opening moments Petalcorin coped with it well, moving around the ring and fighting smart with sharp counter shots, but couldn't force Alvarado backwards or really get his respect.
The second round saw Alvarado pick up the pace, and really take the fight to the Filipino who failed to ever create space in a round that instead saw him being pinned against the ropes. It was a huge show of confidence from the Nicaraguan who looked like a monster. Petalcorin managed to have a better round 3, as he created some space, but was again on the back foot and forced to take some big shots from the Nicaraguan. To his credit Petalcorin landed some tasty counters, creating a welt under the right eye of Alvarado, but he was never able to get Alvarado's respect.
Round 4 saw more pressure from Alvarado as he continued to hunt his man, though his success was limited at times as he began to look sluggish, with the intensity dropping. The lower intensity allowed Petalcorin to have some moments in round 5, especially early on, but he was on the receiving end at the end of the round as Alvarado's pressure began to ramp up. That pressure continued to get more intense from Alvarado in round 6 as he began to really dig heavy body shots into the local favourite. Petalcorin rode a lot of shots well, and even landed some of his own clean counters, but it was clear that the damage was accumulating on the Filipino, who was being forced to take some massive body shots.
In round 7 Alvarado's pressure finally broke through as he dropped Petalcorin in the corner. The Filipino gritted it out and got back to his feet but was dropped again not long afterwards. He looked spent but got to his feet again and fought fire with fire, trading blows with Alvarado. In the trading sequences Petalcorin landed a huge head shot, but was taken apart by body shots, and was dropped again. This time the bout was stopped.
After coming up short to Kazuto Ioka and Juan Carlos Reveco this was third time lucky for Alvarado, who looks like he will be very hard to dethrone, though would make for brilliant fights with Angel Acosta or Hiroto Kyoguchi. For Petalcorin he's young enough to bounce back, but his performance here saw him really struggle with the pressure, and he will have to pick a smart route to a title if he's to go all the way.
In one of the biggest shocks of 2018 we saw Ryota Murata (14-2, 11) lose the WBA “regular” Middleweight title, as he was soundly out pointed by mandatory challenger Rob Brant (24-1, 16). In a bout that was Murata's worse performance as a professional, which seemed to be a case of the Japanese fighter looking towards the future and over-looking the man he had in front of him. The lure of a big money bout with Gennady Golovkin at the Tokyo dome seemed to be on his mind through out, whilst he, and his team, likely though Brant had no chance to upset the apply cart.
From the opening round it looked like Brant had the ideal game plan, he was using a very sharp jab, a high level of activity and smart movement. His shots weren't hurtful on a single shot basis, but the first 2 rounds he unloaded with so many shots that he left Murata bloodied from the nose and swollen around the left, and in a hole. Murata's usually tight guard was being split time and time again by Brant who unloaded with such volume that shots were getting through, whilst Murata did little in return. Murata merely smiled through the shots, and did little to fight back.
In round 3 we saw Brant slow dramatically, and Murata had one of his best rounds as he connected to the body of the challenger. It was about the only round Murata won as he began to be out worked through the rest of the bout. He had moments, but seemed to fight like a man with only a single gameplan, and it all seemed to come down to landing a knock-out blow with a big right hand. The movement, and continual busy jabs from Brant, prevented Murata from really getting his distance or timing. Instead the Japanese champion only ever really managed to land single shots, whilst eating combinations in return.
By the middle of the bout Murata's right eye would be marked badly, to go with the swelling around the left and he was looking very much like a man who was getting worked over. His guard was being penetrated time and time again, and that was when he even had it up. All too often he was caught with his hands down by the fleet footed Brant, who avoided being cut off by the lumbersome and clumsy foot work of Murata.
Going into round 8 it seemed like Murata would need a knockdown at the very least, a knockdown that never looked likely. Instead it was Brant that seemed more likely to get a knockdown as he rocked Murata several times. It was too easy for Brant to land hard straight shots as Murata became more predictable and easier to counter. The body shots and inside work we'd seen from Murata in the past just weren't there with any consistency, there no jabs being thrown to set up his right hand and instead he was throwing the right hand in hope of landing clean. Given the fact he could never really set his feet against the agile Brant he never had any chance of landing the right hand cleanly.
As we hit the championship rounds Murata was needing a KO, and he know it. The need for a KO didn't make him change his tactics at all. Instead he kept lumbering forward, as Brant seemed to get his second wind, and at times in both rounds 11 and 12 Murata was hurt. He had moments in both rounds, but they were few and far between as Brant easily and clearly out worked him.
Going to the scorecard there was no doubting the winner, with the judges delivering cards of 118-110 and 119-109, twice, in favour of Brant.
We need to wonder what really went on in camp for Murata. His game plan was totally off, it seemed like he under-estimated Brant whilst focusing on the rumoured Golovkin bout and he totally under-delivered. Brant fought to the perfect gameplan, but it was a gameplan that wasn't ever put under-threat due to Murata's inability to switch styles, his failure to deal with Brant's jab and his lack of activity.
With his 33rd birthday coming in January we're unsure what Murata has left in his career, but it's obvious that if he's to return in 2019 he needs to seriously think about what he wants from the sport. This is his first legitimate loss, with the other being a really bad robbery against Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam, but it's hard to see what he has. He took a lot of punishment here and looked old, slow, clumsy and incredibly out of sorts. His popularity may be able to secure a rematch but his reputation has been badly damaged by this performance.
For Brant the door has opened for some big money matches, and we suspect there will be a number of fighters chasing a bout with him. This was a great performance but we suspect the leading contenders will see him as a lesser fighter than he looked here, against a man who looked terrible.
The World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) Season 2 began today and actually kicked off with a tape delay bout in the Light Welterweight division. The bout saw WBA champion Kiryl Relikh (23-2, 19) facing off with former IBF champion Eduard Troyanovsky (27-2, 24) in what looked like an excellent match up on paper. Sadly the bout didn't quite manage to have the fireworks expected of it, though still managed deliver a competitive and compelling contest between two well matched fighters. Just not one that quite managed to deliver the explosive action we had anticipated.
The first round was a close one with Troyanovsky getting his jab into the face of Relikh who looked to come in and make the fight a more active back and forth. It was a risky strategy from the Belarusian but one that showed his belief in his own durability. Relikh's belief in his physical strength saw him often being the man who pressed the action, but there was always a worry that Troyanovsky would land a brutal right hand, something he has done in the past even when being out boxed.
Relikh's insistence on coming forward was clumsy at times but saw him landing some solid left hands whilst Troyanovsky managed to land the heavier looking shots, particularly his jab and his counter shots. It looked like both men were dangerous, and both had the potential to stop the other, but neither man could ever quite land their cleanest and hard shots.
As we entered the middle rounds things began to get a touch sloppier, but the bout was hard to take your eyes off with Relikh continue to march forward, looking to land heavy shots but taking the occasional hard single shot from the big punching Russian challenger.
With Relikh applying all the pressure Troyanovsky was essentially fighting as a back-foot counter puncher, with a low output but landing clean hard punches as Relikh came in. Relikh's pressure had a break through in round 9 as he pinned Troyanovsky on the ropes and unloaded. Despite being under heavy pressure Troyanovsky countered well, landing a huge uppercut and a massive hook, but couldn't discourage the champion who kept marching in.
The final rounds saw the intensity drop but for the most part Relikh continued to be the aggressor, that was until the final minute, when Troyanovsky's power really hard it's first break through, hurting Relikh who backed off. It was the clearest round for Troyanovsky, thanks to a perfect 1-2 that really stunned Relikh and allowed him to take control. By then however it was too little too late.
The general feeling was that Relikh had always been the aggressor. Troyanovsky made great use of his jab through out, but was often looking the less hungry fighter and in the end this proved to be the difference, with Relikh taking the unanimous decision, with close card of 115-113 from all 3 judges.
After the fight Relikh was unhappy with his own performance, stating he hunted too much for the KO. Troyanovsky, who went 12 rounds for the first time in his career, seemed proud of his performance and a case could have been made the if he was just a year or two younger he'd have take the win here.
It's not often that Japanese fighters, fighting in Japan, get a chance to show case themselves. Today however we saw the WBSS turn their focus to Yokohama and the world got a chance to see WBA "regular" Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥] show how devastating he is. The Japanese sensation was taking on former "Super" champion Juan Carlos Payano (20-2, 9) in what was a WBSS quarter final bout and Inoue's first defense of the WBA title.
Sadly for fans expecting a real show case of Inoue's skills, speed, and movement this wasn't the bout to show them off. Instead this was a 70 second blow out that saw Inoue really only land 2 punches, a brutal 1-2 that dropped Payano for the count.
The bout started with both men jostling for position. Inoue applied some pressure with his footwork from the off. Payano rushed in as he tried an attack but failed to land anything. A few seconds later Inoue threw a hard jab and followed it with a right hand, that dropped Payano hard. The Dominican wouldn't beat the count, and never looked like he was close to it.
With the win Inoue pogresses to the semi-final of the WBSS and shows that he really is the “Monster” with back-to-back opening round wins at Bantamweight.
Whilst Payano had never been stopped before there is an argument that he wasn't really a great opponent. He was 34 years old, had fought just once in the last year, had been dropped twice, and had never faced a world class puncher like Inoue. That however shouldn't take away from how impressive Inoue was, how destructive he looked and how he set two new Japanese records, extending his current stoppage run to 7 fights at world level and scoring his 11th stoppage win at world level, breaking records that he had previously tied with Yoko Gushiken and Takashi Uchiyama, respectively.
Earlier today the boxing world turned it's attention to Yokohama for the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS), which featured a notable non-WBSS title bout. That was the opening bout of the broadcast, and fans saw WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (14-0, 8) [拳四朗] put together a career best performance as he picked apart Filipino challenger Milan Melindo (37-4, 13). Becoming the first man to stop the Pinoy veteran and cementing his place as one of Japan's top fighters, doing so in front of a global audience.
The opening couple of rounds were moderately competitive as the two men tried to figure out their range and timing whilst having the battle of jabs. The speed of Kenshiro seemed to be the difference, but Melindo certainly had moments, including landing some solid body jabs in the opening round and a good right hand in round 2. He was however out landed, out sped and out moved for much of the opening two rounds.
In round 3 Kenshiro began to up the pace, finding more space and landing his jab with ease, following it up with the occasional right hand as he began to really strengthen his control of the bout.
The champion moved up a gear in round 4 and really began to give the challenger a pounding, finding a home for his body shots, and using his feet to make Melindo clumsy whilst landing jabs, rights hands and and even the occasional left hook. It looked like Melindo was being chipped away at with Kenshiro just putting on the boosters. Melindo's suffering would worsen in round 5 as Kenshiro picked up the action, landing more and more frequently with the right hand. The shots weren't KO quality shots, but they were the stinging type of shots that do damage, and the damage was showing on Melindo's nose after round 5.
Melindo's face became more damaged in round 6 as Kenshiro began to put more and more combinations together and really unloaded on to the head and body of Melindo, who had no answer at all. The shots left Melindo cut around the left eye and with a clear mouse under the right eye, worsening his fortunes. The Filipino looked like a mentally defeated man, and every moment of success he had was neutralised instantly with Kenshiro hurting him in return.
It looked like the champion really wanted to become the first man to stop Melindo as we entered round 7. Melindo began to back up more and give Kenshiro the chance too catch him on the ropes, which he did in eye catching and spectacular fashion, wobbling the Filipino several times before the action was halted. The cut on Melindo's eye had worsened and the referee took him over to the doctor who stopped the bout, saving Melindo from further punishment.
With this win Kenshiro has now recorded 4 defenses of the title, with the last 3 coming by stoppage. With wins over Ganigan Lopez, Pedro Guevara and now Melindo he has a solid claim to being the #1 man at 108lbs.
For Melindo the beating was a bad one. It may not send him into retirement, but probably shows he's got too many miles on the clock to become a 2-time champion.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.