The journey of Randy Petalcorin (22-1-1, 17) has been a long one. He turned professional way back in March 2009 and was pencilled in as a potential world champion way back then. Now, almost 5 and a half years later, he has managed to take a big step towards being a recognised world champion as he is now the proud owner of the WBA interim Light Flyweight title.
Petalcorin won the title earlier today as he travelled to Shanghai and over-came Panama's Walter Tello (20-8, 8), in turn taking his first big chance and grasping it with both hands.
From the off Petalcorin looked the better fighter whilst Tello looked like a man who knew his chances would be limited. Rather than fight fire with fire Tello tried to make the fight frustrating for Petalcorin and catch him with counters whilst fighting with a defensive and cautious mindset.
By the end of round 4 the fight was becoming a lost cause for Tello who was losing round after round courtesy of Petalcorin's sharp jab. It was then that the Filipino amped up the work rate, moved up a gear and started to have ever growing success. This caused Tello to become even more defensive. The smart defensive work and counters from earlier in the bout were vanishing with Tello beginning to do little more than surviving.
At the end of round 6 it seemed likely that we were going to head towards a shut out though Petalcorin wanted more than to just win the title. He wanted to impress. And that's exactly what he did in round 7 as he scored the bouts only knockdown with beautiful combination of razor sharp shots. The Panamanian got to his feet before the count though referee Raul Caiz Sr had seen enough and waved off the bout.
The performance was a great one from Petalcorin who was in control of the bout from the opening round with his south paw jab and counter uppercuts. He was, however still made to work for the victory which was certainly not given to him from Tello. At the end however Tello was out classed and although the stoppage was questionable few would argue with Tello have had a shut out through 6.
From what we understand the new "interim" champion is likely to be lined up for a world title fight against "regular" Alberto Rossel early next year.
(Image courtesy of the13thround)
After non-stop complaints by boxing fans who had tuned in to see the predictably mismatched action on Showtime we then got the hardcore fans who moved on to the action from Mexico which always looked like the best part of the weekend. That was because we had two of the best Minimumweights on the planet trading leather to become a unified champion, a champion of champions.
The fight pitted Japan's Katsunari Takayama, the IBF champion, against Mexico's Francisco Rodriguez Jr, the WBO champion. We knew it was going to be good, in fact we knew it was going to be great. And if we're being honest the fight exceeded even our high expectations in many ways, though one thing did leave us with a sour taste, more about that later however.
Going in the bout was going to be decided on two things. Did Takayama have the speed and stamina to out work, out move and out land Rodriguez? And did Rodriguez have the power and strength to hurt Takayama? At the end we ended up having both questions landed in the affirmative leading to a thoroughly compelling and action packed fights that, if compubox was in use, could have set punch number records.
In the opening round it was clearly Takayama's speed and movement that decided who won it. Rodriguez looked slow and sloppy though very strong as the pro-Mexican crowd chanted "Chihuas", the Mexican's nickname. In the second round however things became more competitive with Takayama starting the round very well before being rocked in the final 30 seconds or so. Takayama was already being warned for holding, despite the holding being kept to a real minimum, and was already being forced to stand his ground and trade. Although we gave Takayama round 2 we could understand others scoring it to Rodriguez, it was one of those plain old "swing rounds".
Unfortunately for Takayama round 3 wasn't a swing round as the Japanese fighter was dropped. He was up as quickly as he was down but the round was still going to be a 10-8, though he did make a good effort of trying to erase the knock down, in fact if he was at home the chances are he may have managed to have won the round making it a 10-9. Away from home however that never really happens.
Although rounds 1 and 3 were clear cut not many of the others were and rounds 4 and 5 were both swing rounds impossible to call for certain either way. Takayama tried to win them on work rate alone, unloading flurries to the body up close ad measuring with a jab as he picked his raids carefully whilst Rodriguez tried to claim them with the heavy handed assault that he's going to make his trademark over the decade. Both rounds really were rounds that you could argue for either man with great give and take.
Going into round 6 the scorecards really could have said anything. They could have been 48-47 to Takayama or 49-46 to Rodriguez depending on your reading of the fight. In fact it could well have been 49-48 if you'd have scored the 3 close rounds in the most fair manner you could, giving them each as 10-10 rounds, and we know it's rare but they really were impossible to split.
In round 6 we saw Rodriguez charge at Takayama in the early stages as he moved through the gears for the first minute of the round. Amazingly however for the final 2 minutes Takayama backed up the Mexican in what looked to have become a clear round for the Japanese fighter and a major turning point with Rodriguez then looking very tired. The exhausted look on Rodriguez continued in round 7 as Takayama appeared to easily bag another round and appeared to be on his way to unifying the titles. Rodriguez looked all in as if his assault to begin round 6 was him cashing in his chips.
Amazingly the Mexican suddenly looked refreshed in round 8 as he hurt Takayama at several points. Takayama was looking ready to go as the fight swung, yet again. By the end of the eighth it seemed almost certain that Takayama was on his way to being stopped and his usually bouncing toes were now flat feet, his work rate has dissipated and he appeared to be kept in the fight on heart alone.
The heart of Takayama seemed to kick in again in round 9 as he was forced to stand and trade almost from the off as Rodriguez came out in search of a stoppage. Luckily for Takayama he was able to recoup his legs a little bit as Rodriguez continually threw some wild shots that missed by a mile, though when he connected Rodriguez really did look to hurt the Japanese fighter who stood his ground for the last 40 seconds as the two men went toe-to-toe. They started round 10 as they ended round 9, stood in front of each other unloading shots, showing reckless abandon in he search of that punch that would drop their foe and help them to victory. At the end of the round both men seemed to be looking for hail Mary's.
Going in to the championship rounds it seemed like the fight had swung just enough in the favour of Rodriguez that the titles were going to stay in Mexico. Suddenly however at the start of round 11 drama, and a little bit of controversy, struck as Rodriguez went down in his corner. Was it a knockdown or a slip? It was ruled a slip though on replay it was a hard one to call and had it been ruled a knockdown it would have neutralised the one scored by the Mexican in round 3. By the end of the 11h the knockdown/slip question was all but forgotten as the men stood trading and flailing punches at each other. It was insane as both men just stood firing bombs at each other as if the fight needed to be won by knock out.
The final round saw Takayama slip in exactly the same corner as Rodriguez's incident in the previous round. That slip was early on but for the following 2 minutes they men against stood toe-to-toe trading, bombing each other and trying to score the stoppage they may well have felt they needed. They were fighting themselves to a standstill as the insane and hyper-active fight continued to be fought in the most impressive of manners. It was a war and it was amazing to watch.
After 12 rounds the general view here was that Rodriguez had nicked it by a round or two, being helped by the crowd to just sneak the majority of the swing rounds. When the first score was read out as 116-111 we nodded in the agreement, then a score of 119-109 was read as our stomachs turned before a final card of 115-112 made us nod in agreement. The cards, which all favoured the Mexican seemed to get the right winner but we were left genuinely baffled by the wide card which seemed to be very off, even for a bout that had as many swing rounds as this one.
Takayama looked dejected having failed in his attempt to collect the grandslam whilst Rodriguez rightfully celebrated winning what could go down as one of the fights of the year. Sensational bout.
Takayama, who fell to 27-7-0-1 (10) is now 2-3-0-1 on the road and may well think twice about ever fighting outside of Japan again. He has been a road warrior but may well feel that it's not worth travelling when some judges, such as John Madfis on this occasion, have seemingly marked their cards before the fight has began. In fact he may well call it quits or try to secure a rematch back in Japan. For Rodriguez, now 15-2 (10), this leaves him as one of the top dogs at 105lbs following back to back wins over Merlito Sabillo and Takayama.
As for the Minimumweight division we're now poised for a few interesting months. Talk of a rematch between these two is something Takayama and fans would likely love, WBA champion Hekkie Budler is set to defend his title against former WBC champion Xiong Zhao Zhong, current WBC champion Oswaldo Novoa is set to defend against the unbeaten Wanheng Menayothin in Thailand in November and we're also expecting a WBA interim title fight between Carlos Buitrago and Knockout CP Freshmart in October. Whatever happens in the coming months this division is going to be red hot at the top and possible deeper, especially if Kosei Tanaka gets his wish and gets a fight with OPBF champion Ryuji Hara. What a time to be a fan of the Minimumweight division.
(Image courtesy of Nakazato Boxing)
In this sport we get mismatches, regularly. Sometimes they happen early in a fighters career as they are finding their place in the sport and developing their skills, these mismatches are excused by various parties for a multitude of reasons, such as being a "learning fight" or "allowing a fighter to adapt to the professional style". At the world level however we shouldn't be accepting mismatches for world titles, no matter who he fighters involved are.
Sadly on Saturday we got a horrible mismatch in the political mind field of Crimea, an area that is claimed by both the Ukrainians and the Russians.
Whilst the area is a hot political topic and one that neither side seem likely to back down from any time soon, the fight in the ring was the complete opposite, it was a walk over victory for the heavy handed Russian Dmitry Chudinov (14-0-2, 9) who battered, beat up and broke down the thoroughly out-classed and out manned Mehdi Bouadla (30-6, 11) to retain his WBA interim Middleweight title.
Bouadla, who had taken Gennady Golovkin the 8 round distance way back in 2007, was really just taken to the grinder here and was yo-yo'ed off the canvas as Chudinov did as he pleased. That saw Bouadla dropped in the opening round, then twice round 2 and 3 before the referee put the poor Frenchman out of his misery and stopped the bout. A blessing for Bouadla who looked certain to go home as a broken man if this was allowed to continue.
For Chudinov more is now expected of him than bouts like this. Rather than seeing him face has beens we want him to face real opponents be they fellow champions, like Golovkin or Miguel Cotto, or just top contenders like Daniel Geale, Felix Sturm, Matthew Macklin or David Lemieux. Sadly however if he's going to continue to fight in political zones then we're unlikely to see Chudinov in any sort of real fight, despite his backer being incredibly well off and able to pay huge sums for opponents.
Just a day after agreeing terms to fight Bernard Hopkins in November we saw Russian power puncher Sergey Kovalev (25-0-1, 23) successfully retain his WBO Light Heavyweight, despite being dropped in the opening round, very unexpectedly.
Kovalev was fighting against the unbeaten and somewhat tricky Blake Caparello (19-1-1, 6) who looked confident in the opening by using his jab well as Kovalev stalked. Surprisingly, though as mentioned above, Kovalev did go down in the opening round, though on replay it was clear that Kovalev had his foot stood on causing him to lose balance before the shot was landed by Caparello.
Although Kovalev looked frustrated times in the opening round he appeared to be settling in to his rhythm prior to the bell.
As we all know when Kovalev is in the groove he is destructive and we saw it here as he dropped Caparello with a clean body early in round 2. From then on it was a case of just how long Caparello could survive.
It turned out that Caparello's survival instincts weren't great and instead of holding, moving or doing anything to survive he stood in the corner, waved in Kovalev and acted as if he had no idea how to survive in the ring. Kovalev obliged the willing victim and went on the offensive with very calculated pressure and picked his shots excellently sending Caparello down again...and then again as the referee, Sparkle Lee, was forced to wave off the bout.
With such a quick victory it will likely be a quick return to the gym for "Krusher" who will working with his team to put together a gameplan to defeat Hopkins who was ringside for the bout.
(Image courtesy of Main Event)
Some fights make give us low expectations and we end up having the fight we expect with little in terms of highlight action. Other fights however end up being better than expected and the WBA "regular" Light Welterweight title fight this past Saturday certainly exceeded expectation with both men giving their all. Despite some major question marks from the judging panel which again managed to over-shadow a very good fight.
The fight saw defending champion Jessie Vargas (25-0, 9) start off fast against Russian challenger Anton Novikov (29-1-0-1, 10) before being forced to slow his work rate courtesy of Novikov's body shots. The slowing of Vargas appeared to let Novikov back in to the fight and he appeared to win the next 3 to tie the bout off going into the second half of the contest. From then on however things became more and more competitive with neither man really establishing themselves as the boss for more than a few rounds at a time.
The back and forth, not just of rounds but actually in the rounds themselves was great to watch with both men appearing to trouble the other at times but neither really being all that hurt, in fact Novikov's legs straightening was as close as we get to a knock-down as the lack of power from both men showed it's self. Thankfully however the lack of power, which could have destroyed the bout in some ways, actually helped the bout with both men looking happy to take one if they were to land one, in fact both guys were happy to take 2 or 3 if they felt comfortable in landing the same in return.
By the later rounds Vargas was being admonished by his corner as they seemed to feel he was letting the title slip away. Round after round his corner were asking him what he was doing whilst he was being out landed, out hustled and generally given a very hard time by the Russian visitor. As well as struggling to keep the pace Vargas was also struggling to keep shots north of the border with several shots landing clearly below the belt. There was never any time in which 1 fighter appeared to look comfortable.
Sadly however Novikov he had battles outside of the ring that he was never going to win and when the score-cards were read out as 118-111, 118-111, 117-111 it was clear he was never going to win the fight with out scoring a knockout, in fact there every chance he was going to be jobbed even if that happened.
We have no problem with Vargas winning, but it was close and 115-113 either way would have been acceptable, in fact 116-112 either way was understandable. How any judges had it wider is a mystery though should make it clear that fighting Vargas in Nevada isn't worth the effort. This is the 4th or 5th time he has been given the nod in a close fight and it seems it will be impossible to dethrone him there.
We're glad that the fight was unexpectedly good, we're ashamed of the judging however.
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.