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.
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.
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.
On Saturday night we we had a PPV that featured 4 bouts. The first 3 of those lasted a combined 9 rounds, but thankfully the main event gave us not only 12 rounds of action, but 12 of the very best rounds of 2018. Those rounds provided us with a highly technical high tempo war to decide the premier Middleweight on the planet. For once a highly hyped and massively anticipated bout lived up to the expectations and more.
The match up in question saw long term Middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 24) take on the hugely popular Saul Alvarez (50-1-2, 34) with the 36 year old Golovkin looking to defend the WBA Super and WBC Middleweight titles against a man he controversially fought to a draw against a year ago.
Sadly for the Kazakh it wasn't to be his day, as Canelo narrowly took home the decision in what was one of the most hotly contested, and exciting, bouts of 2018.
Canelo stamped his authority on the bout early on. He started better, applying the pressure and and landing the cleaner in the first few rounds. Building moment that he could carry forward. The pressure of Canelo saw him not only force Golovkin to move more, but also saw the Mexican landing the eye catching counter shots.
Golovkin managed to stage a fight back in the middle rounds, cutting Canelo's left eye as he began to out work the Mexican fighter. Canelo continued to land the better single blows, but was being out-worked on the whole, in rounds that were very well balanced and featured some fantastic back and forth action. It was a war, yet it was technical. Neither man got reckless, neither man was wild, both were sharp though it seemed like Canelo's shots were that little bit more eye catching, even if he was a bit more conservative.
After the very competitive middle section the bout turned heavily in favour of Golovkin who began to have a second wind in round 9 as he picked up his work rate. Golovkin's success would grow more in round 10, a round that saw him clearly hurt Canelo, and round 11. They were as clear rounds to Golovkin as the first 2 or 3 were for Alvarez and it was clear that the decision was going to go down to how the judges had scored the middle rounds.
The final round, like many of the middle rounds, was close. It ended with Golovkin cut around the right eye, but there had been almost nothing to pick between the two men. It was a round that could have gone either way, like many from the contest.
When we reached the score cards the reality was that the bout could have gone either way. It seemed a lot more competitive and compelling than their first bout. Canelo had changed his style more, going from a back foot boxer to a pressure fighter, and forced Golovkin to show something new to his boxing. Both men were banged up, both had been cut, and both had looked like they were going to need some serious recovery time.
Despite the swelling and cuts it was Canelo who managed to get the win, with a majority decision. The judges returning cards of 114-114, and 115-113, twice, in his favour. Unlike the first bout between the two men there was no outlying score-cards, instead all 3 judges score the bout in a way that seemed right. There was no clear winner, and that showed.
Whilst Golovkin will clearly be disappointed in the result, there can be no major complaint. It really was a bout that was so close that it showed how even the men were. He may want a rematch, but at the age of 36 we wonder if there is another 12 hard rounds left in him. For Canelo the bout is his crowning as the Middleweight's king, and he will now be the man the others will be chasing. His status as a unified champion, and this huge win, will help him put a frustrating 2018 behind him.
A rematch would make sense, and is perhaps the most logical choice for both men, but with fighters like Ryota Murata and Billy Joe Saunders out there it may make more sense for the two to go their own way, rather than take the punishment that another 12 rounds against each other will give them.
This past Saturday fight fans in the US were able to see Kyrgyzstan born Russian boxer-puncher Dmitry Bivol (14-0, 11) successfully retain the WBA Light Heavyweight title, as he scored a clear decision win over the tough and tricky Isaac Chilemba (25-6-2, 10).
The talented Bivol started well and seemed to look the boss early on, but struggled as the fight went on, with Chilemba's defensive skills blunting the usually destructive power of Bivol. In round 7 Chilemba showed the offensive skills to back up Bivol, and it showed flaws in the champion who looked uncomfortable boxing on the back foot. Not only was Chilemba pressing Bivol backwards but had also got a read on him, and was able to make Bivol look a bit predictable with some competitive action.
By the end of the fight Bivol had began looking more and more ordinary, though was generally doing more than enough to win the rounds, albeit competitive rounds. Chilemba though was not doing himself nay disservice and made things tricky round after round for the champion.
After 12 rounds it seemed like Bivol had done enough, but had failed to shine. Despite that two of the judges scored the bout 120-108 for him, whilst the other had the bout 116-112 in his favour.
There will be no one complaining about the result, though Bivol's performance was somewhat underwhelming, whilst Chilemba performed better than expected.
Supposedly the plan had been for Bivol to face off with Sergey Kovalev, in a WBA/WBO unification bout in the near future. Sadly however that plan was scrapped not long after this bout, with Eleider Alvarez upsetting Kovalev with a 7th round KO.
(Image courtesy of Sumio Yamada)
After a string of great Minimumweight title fights in recent years, such as the recent contests between Hiroto Kyoguchi and Vince Parras and Ryuya Yamanaka and Vic Saludar we got a total stinker today. The bout saw WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (18-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] battle against against "interim" champion Xiong Zhao Zhong (27-8-1, 14) [熊朝忠] in China, in what was Knockout's first bout outside of Thailand. Sadly what looked like it could have been a good bout just never really got going and ended up being a slow, dull and actionless affair.
The early rounds looked like Knockout was going through the motions. He gave away the first two rounds on our cards without putting up any sort of an effort. It looked like he was on cruise control whilst Zhong did just enough, with his picking and poking, to out work the inactive Thai. It was an embarrassing start from both men given the world title status of this bout, but thankfully the bout did pick up pace in round 3 when Knockout showed a few glimpses of his ability. The Thai finally looked like he had signs of life.
Round 4 was another where Knockout made it easy to give the round to the Chinese fighter. The Thai wasn't actionless but didn't ever press the fight like he could have. It was clear when he did land that Zhong dislikes the sting on his shots, but he rarely put his shots together. That changed slightly in round 5, when Knockout did try to put punches together, but struggled to land them as the small Zhong used his lack of size to avoid the shots of Knockout.
With the styles not gelling in the first half of the fight things only got worse as the two men began to wrestling more and more. The exertion of not boxing seemed to take it's toll on both men who fell into each other repeatedly, got too close and really failed to find any spark. At distance the only work of any note was Zhong's jab, often thrown as he came in with little behind it, whilst on the inside neither man had any real success landing anything relevant. Even the pro-Chinese fans seemed to have been bored, despite their man being involved in the fight.
At the end of 12 rounds it was hard to believe anyone really card about the contest any more, though credit to the judges who showed their commitment to the cause by handing in complete scorecards. They were read out as 118-110, twice, and 116-112 all in favour of Knockout CP Freshmart, who seemed to be so fed up that he even failed to celebrate after the bout.
Despite the win Knockout will have done himself and his career no good here, and no one will be in a rush to see his next bout. Zhong on the other hand will likely be retiring, with his 36th birthday just a few short months away.
At the age of 39 Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39) is supposed to have been shot. He's supposed to have been so far past his prime that he would be little more than a name on the record of anyone that he fought. Instead however he is the new WBA “regular” Welterweight champion, having dominated and dethroned Lucas Martin Matthysse (39-5-0-1, 36) in Malaysia earlier today,
After having been out of the ring for over a year, following his 2017 upset loss to Jeff Horn in Australia, many expected Pacquiao to look out of sorts, ring rusty and terrible. Instead he looked fine. It wasn't the Pacquiao who had destroyed fighters like Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto, but it was still a very capable looking Pacquiao who looked sharp and did as he pleased in the opening round against Matthysse, The Argentinian on the other hand looked slow, cumbersome and clumsy. In fact if anything Matthysse looked even worse than he did when he won the title against Teerachai Kratingdaenggym, where he was lucky to be bailed on his power and the poor chin of Teerachai.
Pacquiao's dominance stepped up a level in round 3 when he dropped Matthysse with an excellent left uppercut. Matthysse returned to his feet as the crowed roared on Pacquiao when went for the finish. Matthysse did enough to get Pacquiao's respect, but it was clear that Matthysse was too slow to be of any real danger, unless Pacquiao got reckless.
The Filipino controlled round 4, which was more competitive than the previous 3, as Matthyse cleared his head. The Argentinian would however be down again in round 5, taking a knee following a jab from Pacquiao with seconds left in the round. It seemed strange but looked to have hurt Matthysse who's first shot of note in round 6 was a hard low blow. The shot caused Pacquiao his only discomfort of the bout, whilst Matthysse got a chance to pause the beating he was taking. Pacquiao would however punish Matthysse soon afterwards as the Filipino continued to make the most of his edge in speed and reflexes.
Matthysse looked like he had some hunger early in round 7, landing a rare right hand, but would be dropped after a half blocked left uppercut. During the count he spat out the gum shield and Kenny Bayless stopped the contest immediately.
With the win Pacquiao adds yet another title to his incredible collection and sets himself up for another big fight. He'll likely not want to face one of the rising American threats at Welterweight, such as Terence Crawford or Errol Spence who would likely have far too much for him at this point, but there are options out there for the Filipino icon including a potential rematch with Jeff Horn and a showdown with the controversial Adrian Broner. Notably this completed a great few days for Filipino boxing which has also seen Vic Saludar claim the WBO Minimumweight title and Jhack Tepora claim the WBA "interim" Featherweight title.
With the loss for Matthysse it seems retirement is almost set in stone. He looked terrible against Teerachai but masked it with a win, this time however there was no positives he could take away from the bout.
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.