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.
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.
On Friday night in Oakland we saw IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20) escape with his 6th defense thanks to a fortunate draw against little known Mexican Alejandro Santiago Barrios (16-2-5, 7).
On paper the bout was a mismatch. The champion had won his last 17, he was in the form of his life, and looked like one of the top fighters at 115lbs whilst Santiago was a relative unknown who had never fought at this level and was taking a notable step up. In reality however it was the challenger who looked the rounded and accomplished fighter.
In the opening round Santiago proved he was not the patsy many had anticipated. Instead he was a smart fighter. Despite the smaller man it was his jab that was landing, and it was he who was controlling the range, totally neutralising the southpaw jab of Ancajas whilst using smart footwork to get in and out. That footwork of Santiago not only worked for him when he was neutralising Ancajas but also when he was letting his own hands go, and after a few rounds he had found the range for his right hand and his left hook. Ancajas on the other hand was often limited to his straight left, which he landed to the body and head.
Many of the rounds were competitive but it always seemed like Santiago was doing enough to take the rounds. He was however leaving the judges an opportunity to give rounds to the slightly busier Ancajas, who's shots were less effective but but seemed to be more consistent. Sadly for Ancajas whilst he was doing more, he was very predictable and looked like a fighter who lacked real fire or a plan B. There no real change in intensity from Ancajas, no change in tactics and at no point did he ever really cut off the ring. Instead he continued the same thing over and over, whilst getting timed by Santiago.
What Santiago really did well was pick up the pace late in rounds, and there was a number of close rounds in which he upped the ante late on and left the lasting impression. It was something that Ancajas could never do, and when he tried to respond he was made to look messy and looked like he was either hurt or flailing at the air.
When we reached the final bell it looked like Santiago had won a clear but competitive bout. He seemed to feel that he'd clearly won as well, celebrating on the corner posts whilst Ancajas looked like a man who knew he hadn't deserved to retain his title. Boxing however does give us some whilst cards, and the first had Ancajas winning 116-112, a bizarre score. The second card had Santiago winning 118-111, another bizarre score but one that seemed to go to the right guy. The deciding had it 114-114 resulting in the draw.
The result really was as good as Ancajas could have got. He kept his title, but got a real scare, and seemingly got very fortunate. His stock has dropped as a result of the draw, despite remaining a champion, and it's clear that he should be guided away from certain fighters in the division. As for Santiago this was a performance that would have put him on the map. It could cause him problems, as he looks a nightmare to fight, but it's the performance that shows he belongs at world level, something few actually expected. The Mexican is unlucky not to be the new champion but will almost certainly get another in the future.
Japan's Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3, 16) [岩佐 亮佑] has a reputation of coming up short against the best Southpaw's he's faced. That proved to be the case again today when he lost the IBS Super Bantamweight title to Australian based Irishman TJ Doheny (20-0, 14) via unanimous decision at the Korakuen Hall, with the loss following previous defeats to southpaws Shinsuke Yamanaka and Lee Haskins.
The champion, defending his belt for the second time, had a good start. Both men looked to feel the other out but it was a right by Iwasa that caught the eye as he wobbled the challenger, and left him with a nasty cut on his right cheek. It seemed an almost perfect start. He was however unable to capitalise and the following round a busier, quicker and sharper Doheny was about to out work a one paced Iwasa, who landed another good right hook but spent too much of the round stalking and not enough actually fighting.
Rounds 3 and 4 were also good ones for Doheny who out landed Iwasa and landed some really eye catching head shots. Although Iwasa again had moments he refused to move through the gears, and the good shots he was landing were rarely followed up on, whilst Doheny actually let his hands fly in bursts. By the end of round 4 the challenger wasn't just cut but also swollen under the left eye, but showed little worry of Iwasa's power, often circling with his hands down.
Iwasa managed to have more success in round 5, when he began to feint less and through more. Doheny seemed to feel the power more often, and it certainly seemed like Iwasa had more power than the supposedly heavy handed Doheny, but it against seemed like Iwasa was too concerned on single shots and not his combinations. The Japanese fighter has a really potent straight left hand, but he did little to set the shot up, and seemed to be willing to look for perfect shots as opposed to taking a risk or two.
Round 6 was a stand out round as the two men went tit for tat. Doheny had the early success, and and had a big attack about a minute into the round. Iwasa fired back, and seemed to rock Doheny at one point before fighting back. It again seemed to show that Iwasa was the puncher in the fight and that Doheny's reputation as the puncher wasn't right, but it was Doheny who always seemed to engage the attacks and force the fight. In fact round 7 was another good one for Doheny, who landed a brilliant combination late in the round. The challenger was spoiling up close, but but knew what he had to do to get shots off and to smother Iwasa.
Iwasa had a better round in round 8, as the two both let their shots go with more freedom than they had earlier on. It was clear that neither man was too confident that they were in the lead, but it was Iwasa who was beginning to land more, letting his shots go in bunches and landing some crunching body shots with Doheny's blood from the cut began to drip down his face. The good round from Iwasa was again neutralised by Doheny having a good bounce back round, as he once again out worked the Japanese fighter.
Round 10 was one of the most competitive rounds of the fight. Doheny started really well, but Iwasa managed to come on strong, landing a fantastic right hand late in the round before a body shot seemed to hurt the challenger. The success there was finally built one by Iwasa who had an amazing round 11, his best round, as he finally moved through the gears, let his shots go and hurt Doheny, who looked to be running on fumes. The body shots looked like they had knocked the gas out of Doheny who clinched, spoiled and even wrestled Iwasa to the floor as he tried to see out the storm.
It looked like Doheny was going to be there for the taking in round 12, but amazingly he had his second wind, just when he needed it, and he out worked Iwasa through the round. Iwasa, did little when he really needed to let it all go.
Sadly for the Japanese fighter his failure to fight fire with fire in round 12, among other rounds, was the difference between the two men and Doheny was a worth decision winner, with the judges scoring the bout 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 in favour of Doheny.
Sadly those watching on ESPN+ in the US had a narrative from Teddy Atlas of a robbery, it wasn't. The right guy win, though 117-112 is wide of the mark the other two scores are spot on, with the best Iwasa could have hoped for was a draw. He let Dohney have his way too much, and the destructive Iwasa who claimed the title in eye catching fashion against Yukinori Oguni was nowhere to be seen here.
A huge Sunday of fights kicked off earlier today with an IBF Flyweight title fight, that saw Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24) being crowned as the new champion as he narrowly out-pointed Muhammad Waseem (8-1, 6) in a pulsating and action packed bout.
The contest started well Mthalane who brought the pressure early on and forced Waseem to fight his fight, with the two men trading blows at close range. Waseem tried to keep up with the veteran but Mthalane was finding gaps and landing the cleaner shots through the first 3 rounds as he got off to a perfect start.
Knowing he was behind Waseem changed his game plan, moving more, finding angles and stopping Mthalane from dictating the tempo and distance of the contest. It lead to round 4 being very close before Waseem clearly took the following two rounds, showing his boxing skills as well as his ability to stand and fight. The change in tactics showed that Waseem could make life easy for himself, but by round 7 it seemed like Mthalane was getting a read on the movement of Mthalane and he was starting to counter more and cut the distance, as he had earlier in the bout.
Mthalane would continue to be consistent with his work, there wasn't anything different from him but we was landing consistently, finding a home for his left jab, his left hook and his right hand. Waseem, who seemed to land to the body much more than the South African, wasn't quite getting the snap on his shots to do damage the damage that he was wanting to do.
The two continued to trade a lot of leather through to the championship rounds before we saw Waseem land his best shot, dropping Mthalane in round 11 with a dynamite left hand that dropped the South African. Sadly for Waseem there wasn't enough time left to jump on Mthalane who beat the count.
Having dropped Mthalane in round 11 it seemed like Waseem was going to jump on the South African in the final round.. Instead it seemed that Mthalane was even to it in what was a sensational round of back and forth action, which saw both men looking hurt. Waseem had been hurt in the middle of the round, but came back strong and had a swollen Mthalane badly hurt at the very end of the fight.
Given the close and competitive nature of the fight a decision could have gone either way as we went to the cards. The scores of 114-113, twice, and 116-110 could, conceivably, had gone to either man but unfortunately for Waseem went to Mthalane, who is now a 2-time champion.
For Waseem there will be serious questions asked. Why did he pick up the pace so late? Why did he drop the angles that he used in the middle rounds? Why didn't he pick up the tempo a little earlier? Despite those questions he impressed, he went 12 rounds with one of the most under-rated fighters in the sport and ran Mthalane razor close. There is a real chance that, given a second world title fight, Waseem will come on top with the experience from this loss.
After 93 years with out an all Filipino world title bout we had one late on Saturday, as IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-1, 20) recorded his 5th defense and over-come mandatory challenger Jonas Sultan (14-4, 9). Sadly, given the long wait for an all Filipino world title fight, this wasn't a bout that will sit in the memory for long.
The bout saw the more skilled, and crisper, Ancajas boxing well behind his jab early on. There was little from Sultan early on as Ancajas proved to be too quick, too sharp and too naturally long for Sultan. The challenger would, at times, look to sneak inside but would be punished for any real sign of aggression he showed. Ancajas's foot work was brilliant early on, and whilst the intensity of his output was limited the skills on show were impressive ans he landed jabs, solid left hands and went to the body with regularity.
The one sided yet drama free nature of the bout saw the fans quickly turn on the fight, booing the relative lack of action. The boos from the crowd didn't really change the action, which continued to be straight forward for Ancajas until round 8, when Sultan finally managed to have some success, as Ancajas seemed to switch off.
With Sultan knowing he needed to turn it around he put his foot on the gas in round 9, and finally seemed to win a round as Ancajas began to look as bored as the crowd sounded. The champion would also seem to be switched off in round 10, but even then it never seemed like Sultan could have any sustained success, and Ancajas continued to land his jab and move well as he continued to keep the challenger at bay.
The action did manage to heat up in the final two rounds, but by then it was a forgone conclusion and there was no doubting that Ancajas had done enough to take decision, which the judges went on to confirm with 3 wide cards in favour of the champion, who secured his 5th defense.
It seems likely that Ancajas will be eyeing up a unification bout with WBA champion Kal Yafai, who also defended his title on this show, and that fight would be an interesting one, with more action than this all-Filipino one.
Last year was a huge one for Japanese boxing, with fighters like Hiroto Kyoguchi and Daigo Higa bursting into the world scene, and there was a great string of results for the county which ended the year as one of the dominant forces in global boxing. The year's final show saw Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一] defeat Milan Melindo to unify the WBA, IBF and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight titles. Today, almost 6 months later, Taguchi returned to the ring to try and make his first defense, taking on former WBA Minimumweight champion Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10).
Budler, who had actually lost to Melindo last year in an IBF title fight, started this fight like a man possessed and quickly took the fight to Taguchi. The Japanese fighter tried to respond but often seemed to slower fighter and was about half a step behind the busier, more aggressive and eye catching Budler. The South African kept up the intense pressure through the first half of the fight, badly hurting Taguchi in round 4 and bursting his nose in what was a really strong round for the challenger.
Budler's success came from getting inside on Taguchi and working the combinations, with Taguchi struggling to return fire. The movement of Budler was fantastic as he ducked out out of the way of headshots and turned Taguchi, giving him angles that the champion simply couldn't respond to. Taguchi tried, and battled through the bloodied nose, but really struggled to match the out put and success of the challenger.
By the mid-way point it seemed like Taguchi was going to need something very special to turn the fight around and he wasn't really looking like he was able to do it. He was having success with big single body shots, but wasn't really able to follow that up.
The second half of the fight saw the pace slow down, and this helped Taguchi, who managed to hurt Budler in round 9, and leave the challenger with a bloodied nose. It was the first clrar round for Taguchi in some time and although Budler fought back well after being hurt, it was a very clear round for the champion. Taguchi build well on that success and seemed to do just enough to take round 10 and 11.
Knowing he had to be behind, even if it was close, Taguchi went all out in round 12 and quickly hurt Budler before sending him down, in a decision ruled as a slip. Taguchi would continue to press and attack through the entire round whilst Budler was in survival mode, holding, spoiling and taking punishment as Taguchi hunted a remarkable come from behind win. Sadly though for him he couldn't get the stoppage and we went to the cards.
Whilst waiting for the cards Budler's crash to the canvas was reviewed and reversed into a knockdown, which it hard originally looked like, but still even with the 10-8 in his favour Taguchi simply hadn't done enough, and the judges all had the bout 114-113 in favour of the South Africa.
With the win Budler becomes a 2-weight champion and Japanese boxing misses out, again, on what could have been a massive domestic unification bout between Taguchi and WBC champion Ken Shiro.
Whilst last year was a big one for Japan this year has been a faltering and frustrating one. The country has seen Kenichi Ogawa being stripped of the IBF Super Featherweight title, for what was seemingly a skin medication, Daigo Higa lose the WBC Flyweight title on the scales, and now Taguchi's loss here. There is still time left to finish this year on a high, and demand for a rematch between Taguchi and Budler has already began, but it's not been a good few months for Japanese boxing.
Japan can be one of the best countries for boxing, with a huge number of outlets for fights, a very active scene across the country and some of the most exciting match ups we can see, both at world and domestic level. It can be very frustrating with television outlets not always being able to show the full show, and having so much delay footage. That issues reared it's head again today when TBS failed to broadcast the second defense of IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7) [京口 紘人], who had to get through some real adversity to over-come Filipino challenger Vince Paras (13-1, 11).
Despite the lack of TV coverage the bout was a cracking contest, with some early drama and the type of excitement that left fans in the arena clamouring to see both men back in action, not just their local champion.
In the build up to the bout Paras had come across as confident, like a man who had travelled with a purpose and wasn't worried about the powerful champion. He started the bout with a tight guard, looking for openings and opportunities to land his power left hook, with an opening in round 3 seeing him connect clean and dropping Kyoguchi. The knockdown was the first that the champion had suffered since turning professional and showed that Paras had the power to trouble the champion.
Kyoguchi bounced back the following round and was in the face of Paras with hard blows as the action heated up. The following round a clash of heads left Paras cut around the right eye and from then on it seemed like the Filipino began to a bit, whilst the champion began to build on his momentum, landing big combinations as we got further into the fight. Paras however showed his toughness and refused to go down.
The final round was a tough one for both fighters, with both men holding their feet and digging to the body. Though neither could put the other down.
In the end Kyoguchi, who showed impressive defense after the knockdown, ran out a clear winner on all 3 cards, taking the decision 117-110, but clearly was left knowing he had improvements to make.
After the bout Kyoguchi seemed to admit his legs were tired later in the fight and questions remain as to how much he is taking out of himself to make the 105lb limit, having had to drop a lot of weight yesterday. It also seems like the type of bout where both men will learn a lot, and fans in the crowd seemed impressed not only by the winner, but also the loser, who at 19 looks a real talent and will certainly come again.
Late last year we saw Kazakh born Russian Sergey Lipinets (13-1, 10) claim the IBF Light Welterweight title as he out pointed Akihiro Kondo a tough and gruelling fight. In his first defense, this past Saturday night, Lipinets battled multi-weight champion Mikey Garcia (38-0, 30), and this time Lipinet's would be unable to come out on top, losing a very tough and damaging fight.
Garcia looked incredible to begin the bout, winning the first two rounds and looking close to untouchable as he controlled the distance, landed some massive right hands and looked amazingly crisp. In round 3 however the fight took a swing towards Lipinets, who busted Garcia's nose and began to make adjustments to avoid some of the right hands Garcia was landing. It wasn't enough to win the round, but it was making life tougher for Garcia.
In the middle rounds Lipinets began to find more and more success, having success with his own jab, and tagging the body of Garcia, who seemed to become a little bit hesitant and held back slightly. It allowed Lipinets to make the middle rounds a little bit more competitive, and at one point it began to look like Garcia was going to be worn down and forced to fight Lipinet's fight.
The success of Lipinets was forgotten somewhat in round 7 when Garcia dropped him with a monstrous hook. The heart Lipinets showed to get to his feet was impressive, and but from there on it seemed like Garcia had a second wind, and a new found belief as he went on to clearly win the following few rounds. At times Lipinets did will to trap Garcia on the ropes, but struggled to do anything with him on them, and despite having moments, he never managed to grab he bout by the scruff off the neck.
The final round came around and it was clear Lipinets had to go big, and to his credit he tried, especially early on and very late, and at one point he did have Garcia in some trouble. Sadly for him however Garcia saw off the storm and landed his own eye catching shots to finish strongly against the tough and offensive Kazakh.
Despite the effort from the Kazakh he had clear lost, the judges saw it a clear win for Garcia with scores of 116-111, and 117-110, twice to become a 4 weight champion and score his latest big win. He not only won, with some ease, but showed his power carries up to Light Welterweight, all the way from Featherweight, and that he is a man who still has a lot left to give the sport, at whatever weight he'll be continuing his career at.
For Lipinets this loss is a serious setback, and despite the loss he will remain a top Light Welterweight, but will also be on that many other contenders will look to avoid give his toughness, desire and power.
Last year we saw the IBF Super Bantamweight end up in the hands of Ryosuke Iwasa (25-2, 16) [岩佐 亮佑], following his sensational performance against Yukinori Oguni. Today he made his first defense of the title, taking on little known Filipino challenger Ernesto Saulong (21-3-1, 8), and taking a wide decision over the gutsy visitor.
Sadly for Iwasa the performance was far from the quality that he showed against Oguni, and was more of a disappointing outing, despite retaining his title with relative ease.
The bout started with Iwasa seemingly fighting well within himself, he was controlling the distance and tempo of the bout at range, finding a home for his powerful left hand and looking very relaxed. A little bit too relaxed at times and it seemed like he really should have been looking to move through the gears, the fans something to remember and continue to show what he can do in the ring.
After 3 rounds Iwasa looked in total control, though Saulong did manage to have some moments in round 4, as he began to utilise a tactic that Richard Pumicpic had also used against Iwasa. That was to cut the distance, swarm Iwasa and force him to fight up close, something Iwasa doesn't ever look comfortable doing. It was however a tactic that Saulong didn't manage to have much consistency with an Iwasa resumed total control the following round.
It wasn't until round 9 that you could make any sort of a case for Saulong to have won another round, as he upped the pace, showed a real lack of respect to Iwasa at last and applied the pressure. The challenger built on that success in the following round and had his best round as he seemed to feel some new found confidence. That confidence was however crushed in round 11 as Saulong was staggered, hurt and rocked back into his shell with Iwasa coming close to scoring a knockdown. It was the only real time that Saulong was hurt and the only time that Iwasa ever looked like he was hunting a stoppage.
To his credit Saulong saw out the storm and came back at Iwasa in the final round, but took some big shots to end the bout with Iwasa never looking in trouble.
It was gutsy effort at times from the challenger, but he really wasn't competitive, and that was reflective on the score cards which read 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110 for Iwasa. The champion retained his title, but lost some of his shine with was a very forgettable win for the hard hitting southpaw,
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.