Courtesy of boxrec.com
Earlier today in the US Nihito Arakawa (24-3-1, 16) attempted to become just the fifth Japanese fighter to claim a world title on American soil. Unfortunately for Arakawa he ran into one of the most promising and most exciting young talents in America in the the form of Omar Figueroa (22-0-1, 17), a guy with "superstar" and "PPV" written all over him.
Going in to the bout Figueroa had a reputation for wiping out opponents in the first 2 or 3 rounds. He had scored 8 opening round victories and 15 in the opening 2 rounds. The betting favoured him to do a similar job against Arakawa, despite the fact Arakawa is one of the genuine tough guys of boxing.
With the reputation for early victories it was fair to suggest that Figueroa had real question marks over his stamina. He had been 8 rounds twice and 10 rounds just once. The obvious game plan from Arakawa's camp was to see out the early rounds and then try and drown Figueroa late in the contest.
With the game plan being obvious Arakawa didn't try and hide what he was going to do and started the bout by trying to smother Figueroa and holding him every time a big punch was landed. The worked fine to help see the Japanese fighter through the opening round though it was already obvious that Figueroa had the sort of power to hurt Arakawa, something he did at least once in the opening stanza.
In the second round Arakawa attempted to move his game plan on a stage and started to push Figueroa backwards as if to suggest that he was the man and Figueroa was the boy. Forcing Figueroa on to the ropes was likely a plan to help smother him though with the hand speed and unreal power of Figueroa it unfortunately didn't work and Arakawa was again hurt. This time his legs went to jelly and he was really struggle to tie up Figueroa, something he appeared to just do before Lawrence Cole started a count. This was despite there being a "no standing 8 count" rule in effect.
Arakawa continued to push his young adversary on to the ropes where he attempted to tee-off. Unfortunately for Arakawa he was was unable to land enough to really bother Figueroa who fired back his own flurries that seemed to shake Arakawa up on a regular basis. Oddly Figueroa was able to square up and still manage to generate extraordinary power on his shots.
With the fight being fought at a brilliant pace and often up close it seemed only a matter of time before heads would clash and that's what happened in round 5 with an accidental clash leading to a cut on Figueroa's nose. Despite the cut Figueroa continued to unload combinations. Oddly this round was probably the closest in the first half of the bout and a case could have been made to have given it to the Japanese fighter.
Unfortunately for the Japanese fighter his success in round 5 was soon forgotten with Figueroa rocking him to his core in round 6. Once again Arakawa tried to hold and seemed to manage to clinch whilst remaining on his feet though was, for the second time in the fight, given a standing count.
The success from round 6 for Figueroa seemed to give him a huge boost and he came out firing on all cylinders in round 7. It seemed clear that Figueroa still believed he could stop Arakawa despite the fact he was starting to lose the snap on his shots.
Thankfully for the fans Arakawa managed to survive through the storm of round 7 and fought back hard in round 8 as he started to re-establish himself in the fight. Arakawa's fight back seemed to be ended later in the same round after a series of body shots had him reeling before the bell came.
Amazingly Arakawa refused to genuinely go down and fought back hard in round 9 as Figueroa appeared to be start to wilt. The America still had power in speed in his shots but they were becoming less frequent with only an odd burst of punches every so often as his feeling the pace.
With Figueroa clearly tiring and fighting in the 10th round for just the second time in his career it was now Arakawa's chance to turn it on. Unfortunately the body shots from Figueroa and the general pace of the fight had taken it's toll on Arakawa who was starting to look just as exhausted as Figueroa. Despite this Arakawa went on the offensive and looked for the stoppage that he clearly needed.
After having limited success in round 10 Arakawa managed to have a clear round in round 11 as we entered the championship rounds. This was the first time Figueroa had been so deep into a fight and it showed as he had very little energy left and did very little other than cover up and survive.
The final round saw Figueroa doing almost the same as Arakawa had done in the opening round. He held on, he spoiled and he threw some shots back but nothing major as he concentrated on seeing out the final bell. Unfortunately for Arakawa he was unable to close the show in the way that he'll have wanted to.
With the 2 knockdowns against Arakawa it was clearly going to be a decision victory for Figueroa who took it by scores of 119-107 and 118-108 twice. We had it 117-109 to Figueroa so cannot complain with the result, even if the 119-107 card was certainly a bit harsh.
Despite the loss it's fair to say Arakawa and Figueroa both made new fans tonight's and both threw their names into the hat to be "Fight of the Year 2013". Do not be shocked if this is replayed repeatedly on youtube over the next week or so.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Filipino challenger Milan Melindo (29-1, 12) took on the best Flyweight on the planet in Juan Francisco Estrada (25-2, 18), the WBA "super" and WBO champion, and whilst he came up short he proved that he belonged on the world level.
The Mexican champion, who incidentally won his world title in the same venue back in April by defeating Brian Viloria, went in as a clear betting favourite. Despite this Melindo seemed unfazed by the under-dog tag and after a quiet couple of rounds he started to come to life.
Using his excellent handspeed and crisp straight shots Melindo began to force Estrada back and even appeared to rock the champion as he began to his feet in the bout. It appeared, from round 3 onward that the challenger was up to the task and through the middle section of the fight he really showed why so many in the Philippines rave about him as he rattled off wonderful combinations on Estrada.
Although much of the bout was a high speed chess match it was clear that Melindo had both the speed and the boxing brain to hold his own with Estrada who at times actually seemed to run from the challenger. It was also surprising that Melindo appeared to have the power to hurt Estrada, something that Brian Viloria and Roman Gonzalez both struggled to do.
Unfortunately for the challenger he was often being tagged in the body by hard single shots from the champion who is one of the sports truly under-rated body punchers. These shots appeared to be taking their toll in the latter rounds with Melindo's offense becoming less and less notable from 9 onwards as Estrada began to bully a tiring challenger.
With Estrada coming on strong Melindo was going to have to fight off a determined champion and whilst he was holding his own in the trenches in round 10 he was clearly running out of gas.
As Melindo's work rate decreased and Estrada continued the charge Melindo was forced to take the power of Estrada who dropped him in round 11 as he started to turn the screw on the challenger. Melindo was again rocked in round 12 as Estrada tried to force an early conclusion though the Filipino showed his fighting spirit and saw out the final round.
Although the Filipino had fought his heart out and many felt he had pushed the champion all the way the judges seemed unimpressed by Melindo and had Estrada as a run away winner, claiming a lopsided decision as a result.
The scorecards may make fans, and Melindo himself, feel he was thoroughly outgunned though in all honesty most neutrals who watched the fight will know that he gave Estrada as tough a contest as Viloria did just a few short months ago.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
The always fun to watch Evgeny Gradovich (17-0, 8) successfully retained his IBF Featherweight title with an impressive and fun to watch 12 round decision victory over Mauricio Javier Munoz (26-4, 12).
The bout was Gradovich's first defense of the belt he won earlier this year when he upset Billy Dib and it was obvious that he wanted to put on a show for the fans. The bout may have been a long way from home but the "made for TV" fighter didn't seem to care and he waged war with Munoz.
The Argentinian challenger, much to his credit played his part to create an all action bout with the fighters taking it in turns to come forward and bang away at each other. Unfortunately for Munoz however he often looked like an inferior replica of Gradovich with the "Mexican Russian" being faster, more skilled, bigger and more energetic.
Sadly for Munoz the fact he was cruder and less over-all developed than Gradovich allowed the Russian to do as he wished. He mixed up coming forward and brawling with boxing and even brawling on the backfoot with Munoz effectively walking into a hail storm of shots.
Despite the Argentinian being forced to eat a lot of leather he was never really in any trouble until the last round when his energy levels were clearly running low and Gradovich went on an all out offensive to try and put a exclamation mark on his performance. Unfortunately he didn't have the time or the power needed to get Munoz out before the final bell.
With the first defense behind him it's fair to say that Gradovich is a fighter that is going to be hard to dethrone. He's not the most technically solid fighter but he's a developing fighter who clearly has an impressive engine, seems durable and has a bucket load of heart. It's going to take a very special fighter to dethrone him and if recently turned pro Vasyl Lomachenko is eying him as an easy title the Ukrainian probably needs second thoughts.
For Munoz this is his second loss in a world title bout following a stoppage loss in 2011 to Toshiaki Nishioka, the then WBC Super Bantamweight champion. It's fair to say that he's shy of genuine world level, though with his style I think it's fair to say that Asia will welcome him back if he wants to fight some of their top fighters somewhere down the line.
The ever popular Koki Kameda (31-1, 17) successfully retained his WBA Bantamweight title earlier today by winning a wide decision over Filipino challenger John Mark Apolinario (17-3-3, 4).
Koki, the first ever 3-weight world champion from Japan seemed to hardly break sweat as took control of the bout from the opening round. There wasn't much action from the off but what there was came mainly from Koki who applied intelligent and controlled pressure. Although Koki himself wasn't throwing much it appeared that Apolinario was throwing even less as Koki stalked and picked his spots when Apolinario was backed on to the ropes.
Offensively it was astute from the champion who, when called upon to be defensive knew what to do as he put his hands up and allowed the powder-puff punches of the challenger to bounce off his guard. It was obvious that when Koki came forward he was effective, not the most exciting but effective, when Apolinario came forward however there little effectiveness and little clean that landed.
In the middle Apolinario did manage to make one or two rounds interesting, though that had more to do with the fact that Koki seemed to be sleep walking through the contest rather than forcing the pace of the bout to step up. The few times Koki did put his foot on the gas he appeared unable to miss with his wicked southpaw left hand.
Despite it being Koki's straight that had caught the eye through much of the contest it was actually a right hook that that put Apolinario down in round 10. Although the challenger appeared to have recovered quickly and even seemed to race over to Kameda following the mandatory 8 count he offered little to no offense in the rest of the round.
With the bout all but sealed on the cards going in to the the final round it was nice to see Koki going up another gear as he searched for the finish that the fans had been wanting. He managed again to drop the Filipino challenger though his assault came probably a round or two too late with Apolinario still having the toughness to see out the attack and reach the final bell.
Following several poor performances and questionable results this was nice to see Koki actually looking confident and relaxed in the ring. Sure Apolinario is far from a genuine world level opponent though it was the type of performance that should help Koki remember why he's a world champion. Don't get us wrong Koki wasn't without faults here but he certainly put on a controlled yet dominant performance, that perhaps only lacked the exclamation point of a stoppage
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Russian born German Robert Stieglitz (45-3, 25) made the first defense of his WBO title since reclaiming the belt from Arthur Abraham in March of this year.
Stieglitz, facing the relatively unknown Japanese fighter Yuzo Kiyota (23-4-1, 21) was a big favourite though with the punching power of Kiyota there was hope that Japan would land it's first ever WBO champion and it's first Super Middleweight champion.
Sadly for both Japan and Kiyota tonight wasn't there night.
The bout started in an awfully scrappy manner with very few clean shots. What was landed seemed to be jabs by Stieglitz though almost every connect was a hold by one man or another as the action failed to catch fire.
It was obvious from the off that when the fighters were able to work it was Stieglitz who was the classier fighter showing his experience at the highest level, unfortunately however the scrappy nature of the bout prevented him from showing those skills early on.
Thankfully the middle rounds saw the fight finally come to life as both men appeared to realise they were in a boxing contest. Unfortunately for Kiyota he seemed to have a lot of pent up frustration from the holding and was deducted a point for hitting on the break and almost tried a judo throw at one point.
Unfortunately for the Japanese fighter as the distance grew and the bout became more active the champion really started to take over with his fast flurries and accurate combinations. The flurries started to take their toll on the Japanese fighter who's only real offense came in wild right hands that rarely connect.
One thing that did connect were the fighter's heads which collided in round 8 opening up a nasty cut over the right eye of Kiyota. Unfortunately the cut always appeared like a fight ending one and although the doctor allowed the bout to continue on into the 10th round he eventually called the action with Kiyota's face covered in claret.
As the cut was caused by a clash of heads we went to the scorecards though with Kiyota's limited success there was only ever going to be one winner on the cards.
Courtesy of boxrec.com
Just 12 months ago Russian Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-0, 9) was a fighter only known by the truly hardcore fans. Right now however Allakhverdiev is one of the top names in the Light Welterweight division.
Allakhverdiev further solidified his position amongst the top fighters at 140lbs as he made the first defense of the WBA title that he won last November.
In the opposite corner to Allakhverdiev was former 2-time world champion Souleymane M'baye (40-5-1, 22) of France.
Although Allakhverdiev is known for his all action style this bout started very slowly. Both men spent the opening round waiting for the other man to make a move this lead to one of the worst rounds of the year.
Thankfully in the second round we did see some action as the Hawk swooped late with an assault that sent M'baye down to the canvas. Unfortunately Allakhverdiev didn't really build on his knockdown and instead the two men spent much of the following jockeying for position whilst throwing little. It did seem that what was thrown in these slow periods was mainly shots from M'baye, though at no point did he make Allakhverdiev worry.
Although M'baye was able to have some success it often appeared that Allakhverdiev had the ability to put his foot on the gas at any moment and really shake up the challenger. He showed this at the end of round 5 when he really unloaded for the first since the knock and then showed it again in round 8 when he dropped M'baye for a second time.
With the Russian well ahead it appeared as if M'baye may crumble and just fade away in to retirement with out arguing. Instead M'baye fought back hard and made a real case for taking round 9 despite having been dropped in the previous round.
Unfortunately for the Frenchman round 9 really was his last hurrah as Allakhverdiev took charge again in round 10 then unloaded with a relentless attack in round 11. M'baye spat out his gum shield as the Russian went in for the kill, unfortunately for the French fighter this merely delayed his demise which came only seconds later as the Russian forced the referee's hand.
The result here probably spells the end for M'baye who has had a long career though for Allakhverdiev the future is really bright and we'd not be shocked to see him in with another notable fighter early next year.
Courtesy of boxrec.com
Filipino "Tiger" Merlito Sabillo (23-0, 12) made the first defense of his WBO Minimumweight title as he disposed of the tricky but negative Colombian challenger Jorle Estrada (17-7, 6).
Sabillo, who had claimed his title in Colombia in March was facing a second successive Colombian fighter. Unfortunately for the Filipino fans Estrada was nothing like Sabillo's previous Colombian opponent Luis De La Rosa.
The Sabillo v De La Rosa fight was a memorable action bout with both men trying to claim the world title. This however was one man trying to defend his belt against a man merely trying to survive as opposed to win.
Estrada was negative from the opening round and appeared out of his depth after just a minute. Sabillo had seen enough in the first 60 seconds to know that he had nothing to fear from Estrada and instead of working his own jab he started to fire off lead left straights, several of which connected and made Estrada even more set on avoiding a fight.
With Estrada using his legs more than his hands Sabillo went to work on the challenger's midsection and appeared to hurt him there through many of the early rounds. Unfortunately every time Sabillo managed to hurt him, Estrada managed to just do enough to recover until the bell came and offered him some security.
You could tell through the middle rounds that Sabillo was getting frustrated at the negativity of his opponent but he kept applying intelligent pressure and targeting the body when he was in range. Unfortunately due to Estrada's movement the action was kept mostly to singles but Sabillo was making sure they counted every time they landed.
After a very poor round 7 in which neither man did much, despite Estrada promising a knockout in the round, Sabillo started to go back on the front foot and appeared to hurt Estrada once again.
With Estrada's body being the clear target and with Sabillo knowing he could hurt him there the champion set his feet and landed a monster shot to the gut early in round 9. The shot, which was thrown with more bad intentions than any other in the bout, crumpled Estrada to the canvas where he spat out his gum shield and took the 10 count.
We are expecting Sabillo to defend his title again early next year though the opponent seems to be down to ALA. Incidentally the WBO "interim" Minimumweight title is being fought for in a week as the unbeaten pair of Julian Yedras and Carlos Buitrago face off, maybe one of those would make an ideal dance partner for Sabillo (they would certainly make a more suitable one than Estrada).
With out trying to sound too harsh about Estrada, we hope we never have to see him again after this negative performance.
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.