One of the things we all agree with is that it's better to stop a fight too soon than too late. None of us watch this sport to see people suffer serious injuries, permanent damage or worse. Sadly though some bouts we see the referee decide that it's never too soon to stop a fight, and as a result we end up with a super early stoppage, of a fighter who really didn't need stopping or saving. Today we have one such fight as we share another Controversial Clash.
Ratanapol Sor Vorapin (29-2-1, 23) Vs Gustavo Vera (8-2, 7)
For this bout we go back to late 1996, over in Udon Thani, Thailand. At this point in time Ratanapol Sor Vorapin was one of the more notable Minimumweights out there. At this point he was enjoying his second reign with the IBF title, after originally losing it on the scales, and was looking for his third defense of this second reign.
Although somewhat forgotten now Ratanapol was one of the Thai stars of the 1990's and one of the few Minimumweights with genuine power. He didn't like bouts going long, and only 1 of his previous 12 had gone the scheduled distance. Whilst that said something about his competition, and we suspect even the most ardent of fans would struggle to name some of Ratanapol's opposition, it also spoke about his attitude in the ring. He threw heavy leather, in conditions that weren't great for visiting fighters, after all Thailand is an awful country to fight in as a visitor.
In November 1996 it was the turn of Gustavo Vera to face Ratanapol. Vera was a Venezuelan puncher who's competition, up to this bout, had been awful. He had been stopped in his previous bout, just weeks earlier, by Jose Bonilla. Other than Bonilla the only other name of note that Vera's had faced was Lee Sandoval, who had been stopped by Ratanapol earlier in 1996...and had beaten Vera in Nicaragua.
Although clearly not a suitable challenger Vera came out with some early confidence and did try to come forward early on. Within seconds however it was clear he shouldn't have been getting a world title fight. He did all sorts of things very wrong. He leaned over his own shots, put little into things and looked technically very poor, perhaps even nervous. Despite his flaws he did actually have some success, before being dumped on his ass towards the end of the opening round.
Despite being down Vera got back up. He was there to fight for a world title, and wasn't going to let his chance go that easily. Not only that but the knockdown seemed to be more a balance issue than him being hurt.
Then we went into round 2 and once again Vera looked wrong, but had moments. His awkward, unorthodox, novice like technique managed to some genuine success against the champion. He was however under pressure when Ratanapol finally opened up, and was forced to hold on before seemingly turning the tables and turning the bout into a shoot out. Instantly it seemed like the Venezuelan had decided that, win or lose he was going out on his shield.
He was then dropped. Fully aware of where he was he watched the count and seemed to beat it. At least that's what we thought and he thought. It wasn't what the referee, Bunruang Thakamfoo, thought as he waved the bout off. Much to the protestation of Vera and his corner who were clearly dissatisfied with the count.
Whilst we suspect the result would have been the same with out the questionable ending, there was only ever going to be one winner, it doesn't take away from the fact this feels like a very, very premature stoppage of a bout that could, and should, have gone on a little bit longer.
Sadly for Vera this would be his only world title fight, and his record after this is certainly not an impressive one, though he did share the ring with some notable fighters including Lorenzo Parra and Cesar Canchila after this loss.
Ratanapol on the other hand managed 3 more defenses before losing the belt in 1997 to Zolani Petelo and came up short in 2 attempts to win a Light Flyweight title. He fought on until 2009, before retiring after a loss to Rey Megrino of the Philippines.
An interesting aside - Vera's previous opponent, Jose Bonilla, fought in Thailand on the same day as this bout and upset Saen Sor Ploenchit for the WBA Flyweight title.
(For those wanting to forward to the start of the fight, the bell goes around 2:50 in the video)
Last week we covered a tremendously exciting and brutal war for the Japanese Flyweight title. The bout was, just over a year later, given a do-over and today we cover that do-over in what is actually an even better bout than the first!
Takuya Kogawa (20-2, 11) vs Shigetaka Ikehara (23-4-2, 19) II
As those who follow this series will be aware from last week, in January 2012 Takuya Kogawa took a thin decision win over Shigetaka Ikehara to claim the previously vacant Japanese Flyweight title. The bout was a great fight, with both men landing some huge shots through 10 pulsating, rough and exciting rounds. In February 2013 the two men would face off again, in what turned out to be another amazing bout.
Previous to beating Ikehara in 2012 Kogawa had won the OPBF Super Flyweight title, beating Danilo Pena, and had lost in a WBC Flyweight title bout to Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. After beating Ikehara we had seen Kogawa record 2 defenses, beating Tetsuma Hayashi in the first and then stopping Keita Yamaguchi in second. As had always been Kogawa's way, the bouts were exciting, damaging and punishing. He had been unable to secure a second world title fight but clearly desired something bigger than just the national title, however he also didn't want to relinquish the Japanese belt until something big could be guaranteed.
As for Ikehara the loss to Kogawa had been followed by him travelling to Mexico to face Edgar Sosa for the WBC Silver Flyweight title. The bout was a nightmare for Ikehara who never looked like he belonged in the ring with the excellent Sosa and retired in his corner between rounds 8 and 9. He had looked out of his depth and looked like a man who knew he wasn't going to go on to win a world title. Despite that loss he had returned to the ring less than 3 months later and stopped Junichi Ebisuoka at Korakuen Hall and set up a rematch with Kogawa. And oh boy was Ikehara hungry to avenge his loss to his domestic rival!
Straight from the opening bell Ikehara was out firing, dragging Kogawa into a dog fight from round 1. This wasn't round 1 of a fight, but round 11 of a rivalry and Ikehara wanted to get the upper hand immediately. Kogawa was under pressure through out, and a slip caused by the pressure was a sign of just what he was under. Of course Ikehara's pressure left him in harms way, and he took punishment as a result, but seemed to dish out more than he took in a brilliant opening round.
The second round was similarly exciting, with Ikehara managing to drop Kogawa, scoring a flash knockdown to second a 10-8 round against the defending champion. The knockdown elicited a huge roar from the crowd and and saw Ikehara go after Kogawa, who was forced to fight fire with fire. The perception of Japanese fans being "quiet" was totally destroyed as they chanted following the knockdown, before Kogawa managed to recover his bearings. Even when Kogawa looked fine Ikehara's pressure continued and he would rock the champion again before the round was over. This was a sensational round, a truly brilliant 3 minutes of brutality.
Kogawa still looked rocked in round 3, but he wasn't going to just hand over the title because he'd been hurt and instead he saw off the aggression and fire of Ikehara, surviving some truly massive shots from the challenger. He looked to use his feet when his head settled, and finally began to find his range, his tempo and take advantage of a slowing Ikehara. Although Kogawa began to have moments it still seemed like Ikehara was only a couple of punches from rocking the champion once more.
We won't ruin any more of this bout, but this is a real hidden gem in a sea of great gems for the Japanese Flyweight title.
By Eric Armit
-Scot Josh Taylor floors and outpoints Jose Carlos Ramirez to unify the super lightweight titles
-Evgeny Romanov decisions Dmitry Kudryashov in WBC bridgerweight eliminator
-Novice Ayanda Ndulani wins the vacant IBO minimumweight title with kayo of Nkosinathi Joyi who lost the title when he failed to make the weight for the title defence.
-Two-division champion Hekkie Budler returns to the ring and wins the WBC Silver light flyweight title with victory over Filipino Jonathan Almacen
-Sam Eggington wins the WBC Silver middleweight title with unanimous decision over Carlos Molina.
-Jose Zepeda outpoints Hank Lundy and remains No 1 super light with the WBC putting him position to challenge Taylor
World Title/Major Shows
Las Vegas, NV, USA: Super Light: Josh Taylor (18-0) W PTS 12 Jose Ramirez (26-1). Super Light: Jose Zepeda (34-2.2ND) W PTS 10 Henry Lundy (31-9-1). Super Feather: Jose Durantes Vivas (21-1) W PTS 8 Luis Coria (12-4). Super Light: Kenneth Sims Jr (15-3-1) W PTS 8 Elvis Rodriguez (11-1-1). Light: Ray Muratalla (12-0) W TKO 5 Jose Gallegos (20-11). Robeisy Ramirez (7-1) W PTS 6Ryan Lee Allen (10-5-1).
Taylor vs. Ramirez
Taylor outpoints Ramirez and makes history as he unifies the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO titles becoming only the seventh boxer and only the fifth male boxer to hold the four belts simultaneously in the past 30 years. He is also the only Scot to achieve that feat. He did so by flooring Ramirez twice and then staying strong to hold off a big effort from Rammers over the last four rounds.
A close and lively opener. Ramirez was on the front foot advancing behind a high guard. Taylor was popping Ramirez with right jabs and lefts to the body and just edged the round.
Score: 10-9 Taylor
Taylor’s round. He was jabbing well but also brought his straight left into play firing it through the high guard of Ramirez. Ramirez pressed hard at the end of the round and had Taylor under pressure but Taylor stayed cool and boxed well.
Score: 10-9 Taylor Taylor 20-18
A very good round for Ramirez. He was moving inside behind his jab and outfighting Taylor landing body punches and clipping Taylor with a left hook. Taylor connected with some left hooks to the body but Ramirez stayed on top of Taylor who looked uncomfortable under the pressure.
Score: 10-9 Ramirez Taylor 29-28
A close round. Taylor started well jabbing strongly and getting through with lefts with Ramirez not pressing as much. Ramirez came on strongly over the middle of the round swarming all over Taylor and landing a couple of crisp left hooks. Taylor made space and countered well but it was Ramirez’s round.
Score: 10-9 Ramirez Taylor 38-38
Official Scores: Judge Tim Cheatham 39-37 Taylor, Judge Dave Moretti 38-38 Tied, Judge Steve Weisfeld 39-37 Ramirez
Taylor boxed intelligently in this round. He was slotting right jabs through Ramirez defence and finding the target with straight lefts. Ramirez was not as aggressive and when Ramirez did march forward Taylor was countering and then tying Ramirez up inside.
Score: 10-9 Taylor Taylor 48-47
Dramatic opening to the round. Within the first ten seconds. Ramirez moved inside and threw a right and Taylor came over the top of Ramirez right with a left hook and Ramirez fell forward and down. He was up quickly and did not look too badly shaken. Taylor dominated the rest of the action connecting with a couple more lefts but Ramirez fought back strongly. Taylor was showing a small cut by the side of his left eye.
Score: 10-8 Taylor Taylor 58-55
This was another great round for Taylor. He boxed on the back foot stabbing right jabs through the guard of Ramirez and landing with lefts. Ramirez connected with a couple of good punches but was floored again. Late in the round as they fought inside Taylor delivered a fearsome left uppercut that sent Ramirez down heavily onto his back. This time Ramirez was definitely hurt and badly as he was unsteady when he climbed to his feet. By the end of the eight count and whilst the referee confirmed Ramirez was able to continue there were just ten seconds remaining in the round. Taylor landed more head punches and drove Ramirez to the ropes but the bell went before he could finish the job.
Score: 10-8 Taylor 68-63
Now it was Taylor making the running and Ramirez hesitant and on the back foot. Taylor was scoring with jabs and right hooks and looking to land another big left. There was very little coming back from Ramirez until late in the found when he came to life again briefly.
Score: 10-9 Taylor Taylor 78-72
Official Scores: Judge Tim Cheatham 78-72 Taylor, Judge Dave Moretti 77-73 Taylor, Judge Steve Weisfeld 77-73 Taylor
The pace dropped dramatically. There was very little activity early in the round with Ramirez finding the target with his jab. Taylor was not throwing much and Ramirez started to let his punches go late in the round and drove Taylor back with a series of lefts and rights.
Score: 10-9 Ramirez Taylor 87-82
This one was close again. Ramirez scored well early in the round. Taylor connected with some good straight lefts and showed some good defensive movement but Ramirez finished the round stronger.
Score: 10-9 Ramirez Taylor 96-92
Taylor boxed cautiously early in this round perhaps feeling he did not need to take any chances. Ramirez needed to win the round but was showing too much respect for Taylor’s left. Ramirez then burst into life and drove Taylor back and had him under heavy pressure at the bell.
Score: 10-9 Ramirez Taylor 105-102
Ramirez took the last round as Taylor played safe . Even then Ramirez only attacked in bursts when he needed much more than just to win the round.
Score: 10-9 Ramirez Taylor 114-112
Official Scores: Judge Tim Cheatham 114-112 Taylor, Judge Dave Moretti 114-112 Taylor, Judge Steve Weisfeld 114-112 Taylor.
Taylor rules the super lightweight world after just 18 pro fights. He showed his power particularly with the second knockdown and boxed with a sore hand over the late rounds. He is hoping to get a chance to defend the titles in Edinburgh and there is also talk of a fight with Terrence Crawford. Jose Zepeda is the WBC No 1 but Jack Catterall the WBO No 1 and Lewis Ritson the unlikely WBA No 2 could present opportunities for a domestic fight. Ramirez gave it his all but in the end the two knockdowns proved decisive. After Taylor he is the best super lightweight out there and a fight with Regis Prograis might be the route back to a second fight with Taylor.
Zepeda vs. Lundy
Zepeda successfully protected his No 1 position with the WBC as he outpointed seasoned pro Lundy. If he watched this then Josh Taylor will have seen nothing to worry about Zepeda as a threat. The California fought at more studied pace than is usual for him. Perhaps he had in mind the wild multi-knockdown slug fest he had with Ivan Baranchyk in his last fight and did not want to take the chance of any repeat of that. He never seemed to run in a high gear. He was winning the rounds but without ever looking likely to add Lundy to his list of twenty-six victims who failed to go the distance and he had to settle for a decision win. Scores 98-92 from all three judges for Zepeda. As WBC No 1 there is a good chance he will get a shot at Taylor. It will be his third title shot and he is due some luck. He lost to Terry Flanagan in a fight for the vacant WBO lightweight when a dislocated shoulder forced him to retire after two rounds and lost a majority decision against Ramirez for the WBC title in 2019. He has earned his No 1 spot with wins over Jose Pedraza and Baranchyk so is a much better fighter than he showed in this fight. At 37 Lundy’s career is winding down. His title shot ended on a fifth round stoppage against Terence Crawford for the WBO super light title in 2016.
Vivas vs. Coria
Vivas climbs off the floor three times to outpoint Coria. This was a close-quarters contest from the off. Vivas took the first two rounds as he out-slugged Coria on the inside hammering away with body punches throwing more and landing more. In the third a left hook from Coria put Vivas down on firstly on a knee and from there face-first on the floor. After the count Vivas tried to walk through a shower of head punches and tumbled down to the canvas again, He bounced up immediately and again just walked straight in to Coria. He was rocked a couple of times but just kept punching to the bell but it was a 10-7 round for Coria. Vivas was attacking hard again in the fourth but added to his troubles by landing a low left hook which cost him a point. They continued to go toe-to-toe in round after round with the greater strength of Vivas giving him the advantage and he clawed back the four lost points by sweeping the last four rounds. Scores 75-74 for Vivas from the three judges. The 26-year-old Mexican lost on points to Ruben Villa in September 2019 but has battled back with wins over unbeaten Carlos Jackson and 22-3 John Vincent Moralde. Coria was coming off losses to Adam Lopez and Robson Conceicao but he played his part here in making this eight rounds of trench warfare.
Sims vs. Rodriguez
Sims outpoints Rodriguez in something of an upset. There was very little activity in the first two rounds. Although Rodriguez is the bigger puncher Sims was coming forward confidently behind his jab and Rodriguez seemed tight and was not throwing much although he came to life briefly at the end of the second. Both fighters were cautious again in the third with Rodriguez slightly the busier. Sims switched to southpaw in the fourth but then switched back to orthodox in the fifth but again there was not a great deal of sustained activity making the rounds hard to score. Sims had a good sixth drilling Rodriguez with straight rights but neither fighter was dominating. The fight changed in the seventh with Sims moving inside and he outscored Rodriguez and edged the last. Scores 78-74 twice for Sims and 76-76. Sims looked the winner but 78-74 looked harsh. Sims struck a bad patch in 2017 and 2018 winning only one of his four fights against very modest opposition but this win has restored his standing. A very disappointing result for Rodriguez who seemed to have problems letting his hands go which was unusual as he won his last nine fights eight by KO/TKO. He is better than he showed here.
Muratalla vs. Gallegos
Muratalla outclasses Gallegos and gats the stoppage in the fifth. In the first Muratalla connected with a series of body punches and head shots and had Gallegos in peril with a stoppage looking possible. Gallegos survived but Muratalla continued to hurt him with jabs and left hooks to the body. Gallegos was game but he had neither the speed or the power to match Muratalla who also benefitted from a much longer reach. It seemed that Muratalla was content to let Gallegos hang around for a while as he fought in bursts putting together some impressive combinations and then backing off. Gallegos took lots of punishment in the fourth being rocked by uppercuts but kept fighting back. Muratalla wrapped up the fight in the fifth. He bombarded Gallegos with punches and when a flashing combination of six or seven punches all landed the referee stopped the fight. Seventh inside the distance win in a row from 24-year-old Muratalla who improves from fight to fight. Gallegos had plenty of heart but not the skill to contend with Muratalla.
Ramirez vs. Allen
Cuban Ramirez outpoints Allen but again fails to impress. Ramirez floored Allen in the second and took the unanimous decision but he seemed to coast at times. Scores 60-53 twice and 59-54. Ramirez was outstanding as an amateur but has not really caught alight yet as a pro. Perhaps he needs to shake off that feeling that winning was all that mattered as an amateur and realise than entertainment is also important in the pros. Allen had gone ten rounds with rated Cobia Breedy and has not lost inside the distance.
Tokyo, Japan: Welter: Ryota Toyoshima (14-2-1) W KO 10 Yuki Beppu (21--1).
Toyoshima defends the OPBF title and wins the WBO Asia Pacific belt with kayo of Beppu. Despite Beppu’s impressive statistics he was largely untested and was no match for Toyoshima. After two fairly even rounds Toyoshima took control and never relinquished it. He scored well to the body in the third and fourth and was in front on all cards after the fourth with scores of 40-36 twice and 39-37. A focused body attack saw Beppu beginning to wilt and he was floored by an uppercut in the seventh. Beppu rallied briefly in the eighth but was down 80-71, 80-71 and 78-73 at the bell. Beppu survived the ninth but a crunching left hook floored him in the tenth and he was counter out. A former All-Japan Rookie (newcomer) king Toyoshima, 25, gets his eighth inside the distance win. “Tyson of Kyushu” Beppu, also an All-Japan Rookie king, was making the first defence of the WBO Asia Pacific title.
Novosibirsk, Russia: Super Middle: Pavel Silyagin (8-0) W PTS 10 Abdallah Shabani Pazi (29-10-1). Feather: Andranik Grigoryan (13-0) W TKO 4 Carl Herrera (41-4,2ND).
Silyagin vs. Pazi
Silyagin floors and outpoints Pazi. Silyagin won this one but it was a below par showing from the Russian. He lacked his usual accuracy and had more trouble than expected against the Tanzanian. Pazi was taking the fight to Silyagin and had plenty of success landing some good shots and often forcing Silyagin onto the back foot and having the Russian rattled at times. Silyagin dropped Pazi with a left hook in the fourth and shook Pazi a couple of times taking advantage of Pazi’s poor defence but it was not a very convincing performance from Silyagin who took the unanimous decision. No scores were announced. The tall 27-year-old WBC Silver title holder is No 8 in their ratings. As an amateur he won bronze medals at the World Championships and the European Games. He was Russian champion at Under-22 and Senior level and won and lost against Joshua Buatsi. Pazi was knocked out in two rounds by Rocky Fielding in 2019 which is one of only two losses by KO/TKO.
Grigoryan vs. Herrera
Grigoryan just too big and too strong for the tiny Herrera. Grigoryan handed out steady punishment and when Herrera was sent reeling by a series of punches in the fourth the referee stopped the fight. Canadian-based Grigoryan was defending the NABA North American title –in Russia against a fighter from Uruguay! Herrera is just 5’1” tall and at 40 must be nearing the end of the road. He was 21-0 at the start of his career but was knocked out in four rounds by AJ Banal in an IBF super flyweight title in 2007 which is the closest he has come to a title shot.
Khimki, Russia: Bridgerweight: Evgeny Romanov (16-0) W PTS 12 Dmitry Kudryashov (24-4). Super Light: Ivan Kozlovsky (3-0) W PTS 10 Adam Kipenga (11-2). Middle: Magomed Madiev (15-0-2) W PTS 10 Maxim Voshkov (9-1-1).
Romanov vs. Kudryashov
Romanov clearly outpoints Kudryashov to win the vacant WBC Silver title and opens the way to be the first challenger to the winner of the WBC bridgerweight title fight between Oscar Rivas and Bryant Jennings. Kudryashov opened brightly moving around Romanov and stabbing out jabs. Romanov moved less and threw less but he was accurate and had more power. Kudryashov very quickly ran out of ideas. Romanov was doing nothing spectacular but what he was doing he was doing well and was effective. He was constantly finding gaps for solid jabs and curling left hooks around Kudryashov’s guard. He was also connecting with rights over the top of Kudryashov left and Kudryashov’s activity level dropped off. Romanov is not quick but he does have power (he knocked out Deontay Wilder in the amateurs) and Kudryashov’s work became messy as he dropped his hands threw careless punches and wasted his time with too much movement. Romanov was cruising to victory in the last until a punch sliced open a nasty cut over his right eye and the eye also began to rapidly close but the injury came too late to have any impact on the result. Scores 120-108, 119-109 and 119-109 all for Romanov. At 6’0” tall the bridgerweight limit of 225lbs is just right for Romanov but he will find either Rivas or Jennings a tougher test. Kudryashov has lost the big fights having been beaten by Yuniel Dorticos for the secondary WBA title and Ilunga Makabu for the WBC Silver title.
Kozlovsky vs. Kipenga
Southpaw Kozlovsky lifts the vacant WBC International Silver title with points victory over Tanzanian Kipenga. This did not look a difficult tasks for former star amateur Kozlovsky as he had a 5” height advantage over the 5’4” Kipenga, another southpaw. It looked as though it was going to be a short fight as Kozlovsky put Kipenga down in the first and bossed the next three rounds. However when Kipenga refused to succumb Kozlovsky found he had a fight on his hands. His work became untidy and Kipenga was able to get through with some good punches. Kozlovsky retrenched and then took control again and ended strongly as Kipenga tired. Scores 100-89, 99-90 and 98-91 for Kozlovsky. The decision was right but the scores are a little harsh on Kipenga. The 24-year-old Kozlovsky won gold medals at the Russian Junior, World Junior and Russian Youth Championships. Kipenga gave a very good account of himself. His other loss was against unbeaten Rajesh Kumar in India.
Madiev vs. Voshkov
Madiev just scrapes past Voshkov with a majority decision. In a contrast of styles Madiev was forced to chase down the clever and elusive Voshkov. There was never much between them with both having good spells. In the end the aggressive approach of Madiev just gave him a very thin advantage but the decision could just as easily have gone to Voshkov. Scores 96-94 twice and 95-95 for Madiev. The 26-year-old Madiev takes possession of the vacant WBC International Silver title. Madiev drew against Artur Osipov in a Russian title defence in his last fight in July 2020 yet Madiev is somehow No 2 with the WBA-and Osipov is not in the first fifteen. It seems as though the WBA have decided to ignore that fight results as it would just be too much trouble to rate Osipov. Southpaw Voshkov, 24, showed some good skills and can still be a force in this division.
Panama City, Panama: Light: Ricardo Nunez (22-3) W TKO 9 Alfredo Santiago (13-2). Feather: Anselmo Moreno (39-6-1) W PTS 10 Antonio Tostado Garcia (25-7). Light: Jezzrel Corrales (24-4) W TKO 1 Miguel Martinez (15-4-1). Super Feather: Pablo Vicente (17-1,1ND) W TKO 3 Jose Luis Espinoza (14-4).
Nunez vs. Santiago
Nunez shakes off accumulated dust to stop Santiago in nine rounds. Nunez showed the effects of his inactivity in a slow start that saw Santiago take the first two rounds. From the third Nunez began to time his punches and find the range. In round after round he weakened Santiago with body punches and messed up his face. Santiago began to wilt and was holding so much that the referee twice deducted a point from him. Nunez floored Santiago in the seventh and after a second knockdown in the ninth the referee stopped the fight. Nunez, 27, was having first fight since July 2019 when he was halted in two rounds by Gervonta Davis in a challenge for the WBA super feather title. He picks up the vacant WBA Latino title and gets win No 20 by KO/TKO. In fact only three of his fights have gone the distance. Dominican Santiago lost on points to Devin Haney for the WBC lightweight title in November 2019.
Moreno vs. Garcia
Moreno was having his first fight since November 2019. He was in charge from the start and Garcia had very little other than aggression to offer against the former WBA bantamweight champion. Moreno boxed well once he hit his stride finding gaps for his southpaw jab and scoring effectively to the body. Garcia never stopped rolling forward but was too slow to really threaten Moreno but at least he made Moreno work hard which is what Moreno most needed out of this fight. Now 35 Moreno wins the interim WBA Latino title and hopes to work his way to a title fight at featherweight. Garcia was also having his first fight since November 2019. He was knocked out in four rounds by Omar Narvaez in a WBO flyweight title challenge in 2014. His only title shot.
Corrales vs. Martinez
Former WBA super featherweight title holder Corrales cuts down Martinez in 44 seconds. Corrales started the round with a torrent of punches that drove Martinez back and down to his knees. Martinez was up quickly but after the count Corrales connected with a series of head punches with left hooks snapping back Martinez’s head and another sending him down for the second time with the referee instantly waving his arms to end the fight. Corrales badly needed a win. He lost his WBA title when he failed to make the weight for a defence against Alberto Machado and was knocked out by Machado. He was returning here after consecutive losses to Ladarius Miller and Chris Colbert and is going to campaign as a lightweight now. Third inside the distance loss for Mexican Martinez.
Vicente vs. Espinoza
Impressive performance from Cuban Vicente as in his first fight for fourteen months he demolishes Espinoza. Vicente was hurting Espinoza with body punches in the first and put him down in the second The knockdown came from some wicked left hooks to the body and although Espinoza made it to his feet he was just delaying the inevitable. Vicente scored with more punishing body shots in the third and Espinoza retired in his corner. The 27-year-old “Judge” makes it 15 wins by KO/TKO. His only loss was a very debatable split decision against Marcos Villasana in Mexico. Espinoza is now 2-3 in his most recent outings.
East London, South Africa: Minimum: Ayanda Ndulani (11-2-1) W KO 4 Nkosinathi Joyi (29-6-1,1ND). Light Fly: Nhlanhla Tyirha (5-1) W PTS 10 Joey Canoy (16-5-1,1ND). Light Fly: Siphamandla Baleni (17-3-2) W TKO 11 Nwabisile Cholani (7-10-1).
Ndulani vs. Joyi
It looks to be the end of the road for Joyi as he loses his IBO title on the scales and is then crushed by relative novice Ndulani. In the opening round it was already obvious that Joyi had drained himself trying to make the weight. Ndulani jolted and staggered Joyi in the first and then put him down twice in the second. Joyi made it through the rest of the round and the third but in the fourth a right to the head deposited Joyi face down on the canvas and the referee waived his hands to end the fight. The 31-year-old new IBO champion, a former ABU title holder, was only rated as 5th best in the South African rankings so quite an upset. He really has only the most basic of techniques which shows how far Joyi has slipped. Joyi, 37, a former IBF title holder, was having his first fight for 17 months. He has been a pro for 19 years and for many years has been one the best little men in the world but retirement must be probable.
Tyirha vs. Canoy
In a clash of southpaws Tyirha scores surprisingly easy points victory over more experienced Filipino Canoy. Tyirha never allowed Canoy to get a toe-hold in the bout and won on scores of 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92. The 21-year-old local fighter, a former South African champion, wins the vacant WBA Inter-Continental title. He had lost on points to Joyi in a challenge for the WBO African title in his last fight in April 2019. Canoy had lost to Hekkie Budler for the WBO light fly title and in December 2019 to Joyi for the vacant IBO title.
Baleni vs. Cholani
Baleni wins the vacant South African title with a late stoppage against overmatched Cholani. If Baleni was a heavy puncher this one would have been over much earlier but Cholani was game and stayed around until the fight was finally stopped in the eleventh. “Toy Toy” Baleni, 30, is a former South African minimumweight champion but has moved up a division. Cholani had won only three of his last twelve fights and this is his sixth defeat by KO/TKO.
Ugento, Italy: Light: Giuseppe Carafa (13-4-2) W PTS 10 Pablo Fuego (16-6).
Carafa picks up the vacant IBO Continental title with points victory against Spaniard Fuego in a lively contest. The opening rounds were tight but from the third Carafa used his better skills and boxed more to move in front having Fuego rocked in the fourth. Fuego came through that crisis and began to find the target with hard rights to claw back some of the deficit. Carafa let himself be drawn into some close-quarters stuff and had to fight hard to hold on to his lead and just did enough. Scores 97-93 twice and 96-94 for Carafa. He finally wins a title at lightweight after losing and drawing in shots at the Italian super featherweight title and being outpointed by Massi Tachour for the European super lightweight title . Fuego has lost tough jobs against Mathieu Germain in Canada and Jacob Ng in Australia.
Tokyo, Japan: Feather: Satoshi Shimizu (10-1) W PTS 12 Musashi Mori (12-1). Bantam: Kazuki Nakajima (10-0-1) W PTS 12 Kai Chiba (13-2).
Shimizu vs. Mori
Two titles on the line here and now Shimizu has them both as he scores a clear-cut points win over Mori in a clash of southpaws. The pace was quick at the start. Although 3 ½” taller Shimizu was not looking to box but instead fought Mori inside. That suited Mori and they both scored well over the first four round with the judges split at 39-37 Shimizu, 39-37 Mori and 38-38. From the fifth Shimizu began to make use of his longer reach and followed through with his “Diamond Left” ripping punches through Chiba’s guard. That turned the fight 100% his way and despite the strong efforts of Chiba he was in front on all cards now 78-74, 78-74 and 77-75. Mori pressed hard but Shimizu stayed composed and finished the stronger to take the verdict. Scores 118-110 twice and 116-112 for Shimizu. He holds on to the OPBF title and takes Mori’s WBO Asia Pacific title. A bronze medallist at the London Olympics Shimizu is 35 so time is marching on. He is No 14 with the WBC and lucky to be that high as he has done nothing of note since being stopped by Filipino Joey Noynay. Mori was making the fourth defence of his title and had scored a couple of good domestic wins and in the mad world of the sanctioning bodies was No 4 with the WBO.
Nakajima vs. Chiba
Nakajima collects the vacant OPBF title with emphatic victory over Chiba. The first four rounds were fought at a slow pace with the bigger Nakajima getting the better of the exchanges and scoring strongly with southpaw lefts. He had opened a clear gap after four rounds blanking Chiba with two scores of 40-36 and one of 39-37. Those scores forced Chiba to up his work rate but Nakajima matched him and connected with some crisp body punches out-fighting Chiba in the eighth establishing a winning lead at 79-73 twice and 77-75. Chiba attacked fiercely in the ninth, tenth and eleventh as Nakajima coasted but even in cruise control he was matching Chiba and clearly won the last round. Scores 119-109, 117-111 and 116-112 for the new champion. Nakajima was testing himself over twelve rounds for the first time and lasted the pace with ease. He was 72-15 as an amateur so has that experience behind him. Chiba, the Japanese No 5, was jumping from eight rounds to twelve and was well beaten.
Pionki, Poland: Light: Erick Encinia (14-4-1) W PTS 10 Damian Wrzesinski (22-2-2,1ND).
Mexican Encinia was supposed to just be there to add another win to Wrzesinski’s impressive looking record. The danger signs showed up early as Encinia shook Wrzesinski in the first and non-stop pressure saw him in command in the second and third. Wrzesinski seemed to find the answer to the Mexican’s tactics as boxed well in the fourth but Encinia upped his pace over the fifth and sixth. Wrzesinski found his rhythm again and frustrated Encinia’s attacks with plenty of clever movement and a higher level of accuracy seventh and eighth. Encinia put in a strong finish over the last two rounds to emerge a good winner despite the majority decision. Scores 07-93 and 96-94 for Encinia and 95-95.Encinia wins the Republic of Poland International title from Wrzesinski and is 5-1 in his last 6 contests. Wrzesinski, 33, was unbeaten in his last eleven contests including victories over three decent level Mexican opposition so a modicum of national revenge here for Encinia.
Belgrade, Serbia: Heavy: Emir Ahmatovic (10-0) W PTS 10 Gabriel Enguema (10-11). Light: Ralfs Vilcans (12-0) W PTS 10 Nick Hannig (9-1-1) W. Super Middle: Patrick Mendy (19-17-3) W TKO 5 Karwan Al Bewani (8-0). Light Heavy: Luca Cinqueoncie (13-0) W TKO 3 Kristof Kov1cs (8-3-1). Cruiser: Veljko Raznatovic (10-0) W TKO 2 Levani Lukhutasvili (10-8). Super Light: Nikola Ivkovic (3-26-3) W PTS 8 Howik Bebraham (17-2). Super Middle: Shefat Isufi (31-4-2) W KO 2 Ericles Torres (20-018-1). Cruiser Enrico Koelling (27-4) W RTD 2 Slavisa Simeunovic (36-49).
Ahmatovic vs. Enguema
Ahmatovic wins the GBU title with split verdict over Spaniard Enguema. Ahmatovic had trouble getting past the reach of the 6’5 ½” Spaniard. It was a tight fight with many rounds close and Serbian-born Ahmatovic was fortunate to get the verdict as Enguema looked worth at least a draw. Scores 97-92 and 96-93 for Ahmatovic and 95-94 for Enguema. Ahmatovic has been carefully matched and this was his first real test. Enguema is on a bad run being 2-8 in his last ten fights.
Vilcans vs. Hannig
Latvian Vilcans springs a surprise as he floors and decision unbeaten German Hannig. The German had promised an early knockout and had an impressive first round. Vilcans survived and it quickly became clear this was not going to be an early night with much taller Vilcans ahead on two cards after the fourth round. Hannig fought his way to the front but a clash of heads saw him cut over the left eye. The fight swung on the ninth round when Vilcans floored Hannig and kept his lead in a close tenth. Scores 97-94 and 96-94 for Vilcans and 95-94 for Hannig. The 27-year-old Latvian “Train” wins the WBC International title. Hannig has been promised an early return by promoter Alexander Petkovic. He had draw and defeated Ryno Liebenberg and was making the third defence of the International title.
Mendy vs. Al Bewani
Mendy gets what is becoming a rare victory as he stops unbeaten Al Bewani to collect two world titles. Mendy had to give away height and reach but landed only his second inside the distance win. He had scored only one win in his last ten fights but Mendy can be a danger on his night. He collected the vacant WBFederation belt and snatched Al Bewani’s GBU belt. Al Bewani from Kurdistan had won his last six fights by KO/TKO.
Cinqueoncie vs. Kovacs
Italian teenager Cinqueoncie is the new WBC Youth title holder after stopping Hungarian Kovacs in three rounds as he moves to ten wins by KO/TKO. The 19-year-old has an Italian father and a Belarusian mother but had done all of his fighting in Germany until now. First fight for Kovacs since being knocked out in the first round by Jessie Wilcox in Ontario in March 2019.
Raznatovic vs. Lukhutasvili
Farcical win for Belgrade’s Raznatovic. He towered over the badly out of condition Georgian Lukhutasvili. The visitor obviously wanted to be somewhere else and put in very little effort. He was floored twice in the second and after the second knockdown just walked back to his corner ignoring the count. Now seven short route wins for the 6’3 ½” Raznatovic. Fifth inside the distance loss in his last six outings for Lukhutasvili.
Ivkovic vs. Bebraham
The sacrificial lamb has teeth. Ivkovic actually scores his second pro victory in a row with a split decision over sure fire winner Bebraham. Ivkovic was conceding height and reach but he outfought Bebraham and was a deserved winner. Scores 78-74 and 77-75 for Ivkovic and 77-75 for Bebraham. After winning his first pro fight the little Bosnia then went 0-26-2 in his next 28 fights. He is 2-0-1 now which counts as a substantial unbeaten run by his standards. Bebraham had won his last six fights and his only other loss was a split verdict against then world rated 20-2 Fedor Papazov.
Isufi vs. Torres
Not even the pretence of a competitive match here as the aim is some ring time for Isufi but he only gets less five minutes as he knocks out china-chinned Torres in the second round. First fight for ten months for the Serbian-born Germany who lost on points against Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO super middleweight title back in May 2019. Eight consecutive losses for Hungarian-based Cuban Torres seven by KO/TKO.
Koelling vs. Simeunovic
If anything this was almost as much of a waste of time as the Isufi fight as Simeunovic retired at the end of the second round so just six minutes of work in his first fight for 18 months for Koelling. The German was knocked out in the twelfth round of a fight with Artur Beterbiev for the vacant IBF title in 2017 and was coming off back-to-back losses to Dominic Boesel and Leon Bunn. Bosnia Simeunovic ,42, now has 37 inside the distance defeats.
Sheffield, England: Light: Myron Mills (15-1) W PTS 10 Lucas Ballinger (13-2).
Great first show for the new Fightzone TV outlet as Mills and Ballinger battle hard over ten entertaining rounds with action all the way. Mills made the better start but Ballinger fired back hard. Mills looked to have turned the fight his way with a strong fifth but again Ballenger upped his pace and it was anyone’s fight until Mills just had the edge over the last two rounds. Scores 96-95 twice and 96-94 for Mills which illustrates how close this one was. Mills retains the English title and will now be looking to go after the British title. Two losses in a row for Ballenger but he is only 24 and will rebound.
Tampa, FL, USA: Light Fly: Jonathan Gonzalez (24-3-1,1ND) W RSF 4 Armando Torres (26-19). Welter: Mekhrubon Sanginov (10-0-1) W Andres Viera (10-2). Super Feather: Otar Eranosyan (8-0) W PTS 10 Jose Argel (8-1).
Gonzalez vs. Torres
Gonzalez stops Torres but with some controversy over the finish. Gonzalez had boxed his way into the lead over the first three rounds against a competitive Torres. In the forth as Gonzalez connected with a right their heads banged together and Torres suffered a bad cut up over his left eye and was dazed with Gonzalez pouring on the punches. The referee stopped the action so that the doctor could examine the cut but Torres was cleared to continue. As Gonzalez drove in he landed a body punch but their heads clashed again and Torres turned away from the action complaining of a butt forcing the referee to stop the fight and declaring Gonzalez the winner. The 30-year-old Bronx-born Puerto Rican was stopped in seven rounds by Kosei Tanaka in a challenge for the WBO light flyweight title in August 2019 but had returned with a hard won victory over Saul Juarez in February. Torres, 40, had won his last five fights including a one round kayo of former WBC light flyweight champion Ganigan Lopez in October 2019.
Sanginov vs. Viera
Tajik Sanginov remains undefeated as he halts Viera early in the second round of what was supposed to be Sanginov’s first outing over ten rounds. The 25-year-old Tajik turned pro in 2016 after losing out at the World Qualifier for the Rio Olympics. Uruguayan Viera, 37, had won five low level domestic fights leading up to this contest.
Eranosyan vs. Angel
Georgian Eranosyan breezes past Angel winning all the way against the inexperienced Chilean. Scores 100-90 twice and 99-91 for Eranosyan. The 27-year-old Eranosyan won a stack of medals as an amateur including silver in the European Union and European Championships and bronze at the World Championships and European Games. Viera, the Chilean champion, lacked the experience to threaten Eranosyan.
Johannesburg, South Africa: Light Fly: Hekkie Budler (33-4) W PTS 12 Jonathan Almacen (7-4-2).
Budler, already a two-division champion, returns with a win. Budler understandably took a couple of rounds to shed the rust accumulated in the 29 months since losing his WBA title to Hiroto Kyoguchi. Almacen had also been out of the ring for some time so both felt their way over the first four rounds at which point two of the judges had them level with the third giving Budler a slight edge. From then Budler started to take control and although Almacen stayed competitive the class of Budler told as he was getting his punches off quicker and was more accurate. After the eighth he had moved in front on all of the cards. A big test would be how he handled the closing rounds but Budler had paced the fight well and the 21-year-old Almacen, who had only gone ten rounds once, was unable to match the strength over the late rounds of Budler who turned 33 just four days before this fight and Budler won a wide unanimous decision,. Scores 118-111 twice and 117-111 for Budler. “The Hexecutioner” wins the vacant WBC Silver light flyweight belt with another world title shot the aim for next year. I was going to say the return to action would get Budler back in the ratings but despite not fighting since December 2018 he was No 2 with the WBC before this fight. Almacen never really threatened Budler’s control once the South African hit his stride but he did go the full twelve rounds which was what Budler needed after such a long lay-off.
Coventry, England: Middle: Sam Eggington (30-7) W PTS 12 Carlos Molina (37-12-2). Welter: Kaisee Benjamin (12-1-1) W RTD 7 Martin Harkin (13-2). Middle: River Wilson Bent (9-0) W TKO 7 George Farrell (5-1). Light Heavy: Shakan Pitters (15-1) W TKO 5 Jermaine Springer (7-3). Super Welter: Stephen McKenna (8-0) W TKO 1 Damian Haus (3-6).
Eggington vs. Molina
Eggington wins the vacant WBC Silver title as he outpoints veteran Molina in an entertaining contest. Eggington started the fight strongly coming in over the first two rounds behind some jolting jabs and scoring to the body. He was just too busy for Molina. However Molina was pacing himself and eventually he was more often the one on the front foot. Eggington was able to get through consistently with his jab and rights but Molina was clever defensively dropping his hands and using upper body movement to make Eggington miss. There were times when it seemed that Eggington might overwhelm Molina but Molina stayed cool and boxed his way out of trouble. The pace dropped over the ninth and tenth with Molina too often catching Eggington with sneaky head punches. Molina pressed hard in the eleventh and this time it was Eggington boxing with his hands down but he fired back strongly late in the round. Despite his 37 years Molina seemed to have more left in the last round but with Eggington again finishing with a flourish. Scores 119-110, 117-111 and 116-112 for Eggington. The former British and Commonwealth champion is a bit of a phoenix. He has been derailed by losing important fights with the most recent example his being outpointed by Ted Cheeseman last August but he has battled his way back with a win over Ashley Theophane and now this victory against Molina. The firmer IBF super welterweight champion was a very flattering No 8 with the WBC but that means that this win could put Eggington in with a chance of a title fight.
Benjamin vs. Harkin
Benjamin wins a British title eliminator with victory over Harkin. Benjamin had built a lead but Harkin was competing strongly until a vicious right to the body dropped him at the end of the seventh and probably broke a couple of ribs and Harkin retired in his corner.
Bent vs. Farrell
Bent retains the BBB of Midlands title with a stoppage of unbeaten Farrell
Pitters vs. Springer
Former British champion Pitters bounces back with a win as he stops Springer. Pitters had won the first three rounds and when Springer was badly shaken by a right in the fourth the referee stopped the fight. First fight for Pitters since losing his title to Craig Richards in December. Second consecutive defeat for Springer.
McKenna vs. Haus
Irish prospect McKenna blows away Haus inside a round. McKenna came out firing punches and never stopped. Haus had shots coming at him from all angles and had no chance to set himself to counter. McKenna was whacking him with left hooks to the body and over hand rights until Haus fell to the floor. He made it to his feet but another barrage of punches put him down and the fight was stopped. McKenna is certainly a firebrand. All of his wins have come inside the distance and he has taken less than fifteen rounds to get the jobs done. He was Irish Under-18 champion, won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games and silver at the European Youth Championships. Pole Haus has lost 6 of his last 7 fights.
Osaka, Japan: Feather: Tomoki Kameda (37-3) W PTS 8 Hironori Miyake (9-11-2).
In his first fight for almost two years Kameda takes easy decision over Miyake. Kameda worked almost exclusively with his left jab and left hooks using his right only sparingly and that helped Miyake go the distance. In the fifth Kameda slipped under a punch and his gloves momentarily touched the canvas so the referee applied a count. Kameda stuck to his left side approach and worked his way to the final bell, Scores 78-73 twice and 79-73 for Kameda. In his last ring appearance Kameda lost a unanimous decision against Rey Vargas in a WBC bantamweight title fight. Fifth consecutive defeat for Miyake.
Belgrade, Serbia: Super Welter: Asinia Byfield (15-4-1) W TKO 2 Roland Hamar (5-10).
British fighter Byfield turns up in Belgrade and feasts on sub standard opponent Hamar scoring a stoppage in the second round. Byfield was finding hard to get a win being 0-1-3 if his last four fights. Hungarian Hamar is having and even worse time as won only one of his last eleven fights.
Ptuj, Slovenia: Light Heavy: Dominic Boesel (31-2) W PTS 8 Ondrej Budera (14-21-1). Light Heavy: Tom Dzemski (16-0) W KO 3 Achilles Szabo (25-27).
Boesel vs. Budera
Since we are here we might as well pick up some pocket money. That’s the story as Boesel and Dzemski took a break from training in Slovenia and moved out of the gym and into a paid evening. Boesel had no trouble outpointing Czech Budera as he starts to rebuild from losing on a third round kayo against Robin Krasniqi in October in a fight that cost him his IBO and WBA interim titles. Budera falls to 2-7 in his last 9.
Dzemski vs. Szabo
Dzemski got his job over a bit earlier putting away Szabo in the third. The 24-year-old IBF Youth champion has failed to impress against opposition he should be able to brush aside easily so it will be interesting to see how he fares in more demanding fights later this year. Szabo needs to find another hobby as he had won only one of his last nine fight with seven inside the distance losses.
Fight of the week (Significance): Josh Taylor vs. Jose Carlos Ramirez
Fight of the week (Entertainment): Josh Taylor vs. Jose Carlos Ramirez with honourable mention to Jose Vivas vs. Luis Coria
Fighter of the week: Josh Taylor a world champion
Punch of the week: The uppercut from Taylor that scored the second knockdown
Upset of the week: It has to be Nikola Ivkovic (2-26-3) outpointing 17-1 Howik Bebraham
Prospect watch: Georgian super featherweight Otar Eranosyan is 8-0 and progressing well
-Time for a change of the old guard in South Africa. Moruti Mthalane lost his IBF flyweight title to Sunny Edwards in April and on Saturday Nkosinathi Joyi looked a totally shot fighter as he lost his IBO title on the scales and was stopped in four rounds by raw novice Ayanda Ndulani. That leaves Hekkie Budler as the flag carrier for what has been a golden age for South Africa’s little men.
-From the little men to an obese giant. You wonder just what constitutes “fit” in boxing terms. South African Osborn Machimana is 6’3 ½” and in a fight in Russia weighed 344lbs (156kg). A man with those dimensions must be in serious danger of a heart attack so letting him fight seems a huge medical risk. On Saturday he was knocked out cold and laying face down flat out on the canvas and the doctor and the seconds just stood there wondering how the hell they were ever going to get him up or turn him over. Next time he fights apart from then usual medical kit a rope and pulley might be useful.
-Patrick Mendy is a fight anyone-fight anywhere and fight at short notice guy so it was good to see him win a two “world “titles by stopping unbeaten Karwan Al Bewani
-Still on weight. Russian Artem Oganesyan was left without an opponent when Javier Maciel came in at 6.1kgs over the contract weight which is just ridiculous how can you turn up 13.4lbs over and expect to fight?
-Sometimes I wonder whether matchmakers do any research at all on fighters they put together. On Saturday in Belgrade Scottish heavyweight Nick Campbell stopped Hungarian Jozsef Kormany in one round. Campbell was 6’7” and Komany 5’7 ½”. A total farce and to make it worse the 5’7 ½” Kormany weighed 235 ¼ lbs- a sort of mini-Machimana. Campbell scored three knockdowns with body punches. There must have been a concern that he would land a body punch and his glove would disappear in Kormany’s paunch and never be seen again.
-Two final things on Taylor vs. Ramirez. It was not just a world title fight it was a Global title fight. The main man in each corner was wearing a MTK Global jacket luckily neither fighter got confused and went to the wrong corner.
The first pro title that Josh Taylor won was the Commonwealth title in Edinburgh in 2016-and as a director of the Commonwealth Boxing Council I was the one who placed the belt around his waist-the first of many titles.
By Eric Armit
I hope you did not make any travel arrangements to fly to Saudi Arabia to see the richest fight in the history of boxing because all you’ll see is a bit of open desert without even a date tree in sight. An arbitrator in the USA has ruled that the return bout clause in the contract for the second Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder fight is valid and binding and that Fury must fight Wilder again by 15 September. It appears that the parties engaged in putting on the Fury vs. Joshua unification fight thought this problem would just disappear. Perhaps because the COVID-19 restrictions meant the date set for the return could not be met it would invalidate the agreement and therefore was not a problem. Well they were wrong.
If there is any blame on Eddie Hearn’s side it is in believing what the Fury side were telling him about the threat from the outcome of the arbitration and now nothing is certain about Fury vs. Joshua except uncertainty.
Wilder has whispered that he might stand aside for a payment of $20 million. Compared to the $200 million being talked about for Fury vs. Joshua that would seem a “small” price to press ahead with Fury vs. Joshua. Bob Aram has quashed that by saying Wilder will not be paid any stand aside money and that he is making arrangements for Fury vs. Wilder with the Joshua fight (against Fury OK or vs. Wilder the cat would really be in with the pigeons then) perhaps taking place in November.
It could get ridiculous with Fury wanting a return clause in the contract for a third fight if he loses to Wilder etc. etc. etc. Also as part of the stand aside deal Wilder might try to insist he gets first crack at the winner of Fury vs. Joshua but Joshua is not a party to the Fury vs. Wilder return clause and I can’t see either Joshua or Hearn commit themselves to it and certainly not to any of the $20 million coming out of their pocket.
Ignoring the arbitrator’s decision is a non-starter. If Fury or his team did that then they could forget about fighting in American again as Wilder would be able to appeal for an injunction to stop Fury fighting with full confidence it would be successful.
Although Joshua is not a party to the contract for the Fury vs. Wilder third fight he is suffering collateral damage. Oleksandr Usyk’s team have already piled in with a threat of legal action against the WBO if they fail to now order Joshua to defend against Usyk and as Usyk is No 1 with the WBA they could be a target. Joshua is clear where the IBF is concerned as he filled his mandatory obligation by beating Kubrat Pulev.
It’s a mess. The easiest solution would be to do a deal with Wilder to stand aside but it will be expensive and trust between the various parties must now be at very low ebb. Ignoring the arbitrator is fraught with legal complications and if Fury vs. Wilder 3 goes ahead then Joshua could find himself stripped off one at least of his titles then we could wake up and find that the dream of a world heavyweight champion as opposed to title holders is a nightmare.
It is just another example of the farce having four “world” bodies has become. I was amazed at the number of knowledgeable people saying that Brandon Figueroa had beaten Luis Nery in a unification fight. That’s like saying if you have an apple and you pick up an orange you have unified the number of apples you have. Unify means “to make one”. Nery was the WBC title holder. Murodjon Akhmedov is the holder of the WBA Super title. Figueroa holds the secondary WBA title so not the real one. He won the WBC title but is not recognised as the WBA title holder by the WBA who have just issued a call for Akhmedov to defend their real title against Ronny Rios! Figueroa will go on to fight Stephen Fulton for the WBO title to unify the WBC and WBO titles. If Fulton wins the WBA will show him in their ratings behind Akhmedov. If Tyson Fury beat Trevor Bryan would he be WBA champion and not Anthony Joseph? If Errol Spence beat Jamal James would he become WBA champion? If Oscar Valdez beat Roger Gutierrez would he be WBA champion instead of Gervonta Davis. The word unify means “to make one”. This weekend in Las Vegas Josh Taylor and Jose Carlos Ramirez will unify the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO titles. That is unification not the corruption of the real meaning of “unification” that the sanctioning bodies have dumped on boxing.
Money, money, money. It’s a rich man’s world. I saw some figures for Manny Pacquiao’s purses. They were in three categories: minimum guaranteed and estimated. To give you some examples of the highest figures: vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr estimated $120 million, Tim Bradley first fight guaranteed $26 million, Chris Algieri estimated $25 million, Miguel Cotto estimated $22 million, Juan Manuel Marquez second fight guaranteed $22 million. The long list only covered the period from December 2008 when he beat Oscar de La Hoya until January 2019 when he beat Adrien Broner and amounted to $446 million with the purses for three fights against Bradley alone adding up to $66 million. It does not include the pre-De La Hoya fights against Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera Erik Morales etc. His purse for the Ricky Hatton fight? $12 million!
Two incidents of “positive” tests have been cleared this month. Sergey Kovalev tested positive for a banned substance which caused his $2 million fight against Bektemir Melikuziev to be called off. There were questions over the test result. Kovalev then went through a series consisting of six tests and with all of them proving negative he has been cleared to fight again. He has not fought since losing his WBO light heavyweight title to Saul Alvarez in November 2019 so is looking to get back into action. The Japanese Boxing Commission have also cleared Kazuto Ioka. He was reported to have tested positive for a recreational drug and the case was also referred to the police as Japan takes very strict approach to drugs. The Japanese Boxing Commission investigation raised serious questions on how the A and B samples were handled and have admitted there mishandling which caused the problem so Ioka is able to continue his career.
Both Josh Taylor and Jose Carlos Ramirez will have someone peering over their shoulder on Saturday. The main supporting fight will be between Jose Zepeda and Hank Lundy. A dislocated shoulder saw Zepeda lose against Terry Flanagan for the vacant WBO lightweight title in 2015 and he lost a majority decision to Ramirez for the WBC super light title in 2019. Wins over Jose Pedraza and Ivan Baranchyk have seen him positioned at No 1 with the WBC so he will be looking to challenge the winner.
On Taylor and Ramirez only fate kept them apart in 2012. They both competed at the London Olympics in the 60kg class both being eliminated on the same night. Taylor lost to Italian Domenico Valentino and Ramirez to Fazliddin Gaibnazarov. Who knows they might even have said “see you later” without knowing it would come true nine years later.
Nordine Oubaali will defend the WBC bantam title against Nonito Donaire in Carson on 29 May. On the same show Puerto Rican Subriel Matias will fight Batyrzhan Jukembayev in an IBF lightweight eliminator and Gary Antuanne Russell faces Jovanie Santiago at super lightweight.
Jarrett Hurd returns on 6 June in Miami facing Luis Arias at middleweight. Hurd has stressed that although this fight is at middleweight he is willing and able to drop back down to super welter for a chance of a revenge fight against Julian Williams.
Gilberto Ramirez will have his third fight at light heavyweight against Sullivan Barrera in Los Angeles on 9 July. Ramirez is No 3 with both the WBA and WBO but after his break with Top Rank it is hard to see a fight with WBO title holder Joe Smith come off.
I recently saw an application from a British promoter to stage a European Union title fight. Helooo guys-we are not part of the European Union now but there are titles there for the countries external to the EU and those ratings are now packed with British fighters.
Conrnelius Boza-Edwards was a very popular inside and outside the ring in the UK, He won the WBC featherweight title with a points victory over Rafael Limon in March 1981 and in what would be a ridiculously busy schedule for a world champion today he defended it with an inside the distance victory over Bobby Chacon in May and lost it to Filipino Roland Navarrete on a fifth round kayo in August so was champion for just five months. He won the European title and although losing to Chacon in May 1983 the fight was Ring Magazine Fight of the Year. Cornelius put together a nice winning run but lost in WBC lightweight title fights against Hector Camacho and in October 1987 to Jose Luis Ramirez before retiring. Corny settled in Nevada and stills lives there happy and popular. Hard work, determination and dedication took Cornelius to a world title and it seems those traits are in the genes. His daughter Dominique worked as a District Court marshall but her dream was to become a lawyer and that’s where those genes kicked in. She studied for more than three years at night school whilst still doing her day job and graduated. She then gave up the day job and dedicated herself to studying for the bar exam. Early this month she passed the Nevada bar exam and was formally sworn in with her dream of becoming a lawyer realised. Corny must have been so proud. Congratulations Dominique. You know your daughter has made it Corny when people stop referring to Dominique as Cornelius Boza-Edwards daughter and start referring to you as Dominique Bosa-Edwards father.
When we look at how significant a domestic title is in acting as a stepping stone to bigger honour, few rival the significance of the Japanese Flyweight title. The amount of world champions who have held the Japanese Flyweight title at some point is incredible. Since 1990 alone we've seen Yuri Arbachakov, Celes Kobayashi, Takefumi Sakata, Daisuke Naito, Tomonobu Shimizu and Toshiyuki Igarashi all take the title before moving on to bigger and better things. Today we get to enjoy a modern day classic for the belt that often goes over-looked and rarely ever gets mentioned.
Takuya Kogawa (17-2, 10) vs Shigetaka Ikehara (22-2-2, 18) I
In late 2011 Toshiyuki Igarashi vacated the Japanese Flyweight title, as he pursued a WBC world title fight. In January 2012 we then saw Takuya Kogawa and Shigetaka Ikehara clash for the vacant title, in what was the first bout between the two men.
Prior to this bout Kogawa was a fairly well known fighter on the Asian scene. He had won the OPBF Super Flyweight title in 2010, beating Danilo Pena, and had challenged WBC Flyweight king Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in 2011. Although he lost to Wonjongkam his effort was a solid one. Following the loss to the Thai great Kogawa returned to Japanese level and in his first bout he fought for the Japanese title against Ikehara. Interestingly his bout with Wonjongkam was aired on tape delay on TBS, rather than being shown live, which didn't help Kogawa's profile in the way it could have, but was still a brave effort against the Thai king.
Whilst Kogawa was pretty well known at the time, and had tasted title glory, the came couldn't be said of Ikehara. Ikehara's biggest wins were a close decision over Masayuki Kuroda and a TKO over the experienced Shingo Yamaguchi, and he had come up short in a pair of title bouts. He had fought to a technical draw with Tomonobu Shimizu in a Japanese title fight in 2009 and lost in 11 rounds to Rocky Fuentes for the OPBF Flyweight title. Ikehara had bounced back from the loss toFuentes.
It took only a few seconds for the bout to erupt, with the crowd roaring loudly after around 10 seconds, and we knew we could be seeing something a little bit special. Not necessarily the tidiest, but violent.
From the opening moments Kogawa was looking to box on the outside, using his feet but Ikehara wasn't having any of that was pressing, losing the distance, and using his physicality to try and get to Kogawa. Ikehara's pressure caused some messiness as he tried to get inside but gave the bout an immediate sense of excitement, and meant he was always coming forward.
After an exciting, but messy, opening round things moved up a gear up Ikehara's heavy shots thudding through the Korakuen Hall and his pressure forcing a response from Kogawa, who had to move through the gears quickly. A clash of heads late in the round left Kogawa in pain, but left Ikehara looking almost impervious to pain.
Round after round the two men exchanged bombs, with Kogawa typically landing the better volume of shots but Ikehara's shots looking, and sounding, much more powerful, especially his body shots. It was very much a case of two men matching each other amazingly well, though with different styles.
Despite both landing bombs the tempo remained high round after rounds, as both men dug deep, let their hands go seemed unwilling to let their foe have the final say in an exchange.
This is one of those many bouts that doesn't get the attention it deserves, but if you have about 40 minutes it's one that really is a hidden gem, and deserves it's place in our Closet Classics!
By Eric Armit:
-Brandon Figueroa wins the WBC Super Bantamweight title with kayo of champion Luis Nery
-Michal Cieslak stops Yury Kashinsky in one round in IBF cruiserweight eliminator
-Manuel Charr returns after more than three years of inactivity and knocks out a bloated Chris Lovejoy in two rounds
-In a trio of European title fights in Manchester Lerrone Richards wins the vacant Super Middleweight title with points victory over Giovanni De Carolis, Tommy McCarthy knocks out Alexander Jur in a Cruiserweight defence and Jason Cunningham decisions Gamal Yafai to win the Super Bantamweight title
-Nicola Henchiri outpoints Mario Alfano to win the vacant European Super Featherweight title.
World Title/Major Shows
Carson CA, USA: Super Bantam: Brandon Figueroa (22-0-1) W KO 7 Luis Nery (31-1). Super Bantam: Daniel Roman (29-3-1) W PTS 10 Ricardo Espinoza (25-4). Super Feather: Xavier Martinez (17-0) W PTS 10 Juan Burgos (34-5-2).
Figueroa vs. Nery
Figueroa wins the WBC title (**this fight unified nothing)with seventh round kayo of Nery as he lives up to his “heartbreaker” nickname and beats the resistance out of Nery in a war of attrition.
Right from the start Figueroa was constantly changing guard. He was rushing forward throwing punches looking to work inside. Nery was scoring well with his jab and landing the better punches inside with Figueroa too often off target.
Score: 10-9 Nery
Figueroa was intent on turning this fight into a brawl. He was lunging inside throwing punches but again he was wild and Nery was picking him off in the way in and when Figueroa got his way and they stood and exchanged punches Nery was doing most of the scoring.
Score: 10-9 Nery Nery 20-18
This was three minutes of toe-to-toe stuff. It was what Figueroa wanted but it wasn’t working for him. He was punching with his head down with no idea where his punches were going to land whereas Nery had his head up and was throwing more and with more accuracy.
Score: 10-9 Nery Nery 30-27
A good round for Figueroa. Nery tried to box at the outset but then relentless pressure from Figueroa forced him to stand and punch. This time Figueroa was more accurate and Nery’s punch output was down.
Score: 10-9 Figueroa Nery 39-37
Official Scores: Judge Zachary Young: 38-38 Tied, Judge Edward Hernandez 38-38 Tied, Judge Lou Moret 40-36 Nery
Nery took this one. He managed to move and jab for most of the round frustrating Figueroa’s attempts to cut off the ring and countering Figueroa with lefts. He was made to stand and swop punches at the end of the round and looked to have slowed under the frantic pace Figueroa was forcing him to fight at but you also had to wonder how long Figueroa could stand the pace.
Score: 10-9 Nery Nery 49-46
The pace finally began to tell and it told on Nery. Figueroa was still rumbling forward pumping out punches. Nery was moving and countering but then he looked to tire and was under strong pressure from Figueroa to the bell.
Score: 10-9 Figueroa Nery 58-56
Nery began to wilt. He was punching wildly in a last ditch approach but Figueroa just kept whacking Nery with body punches. Nery dropped his hands and then tried to punch with Figueroa but a left to the body put him down. He made it to his knees but was gazing out through the ropes with his back to the referee as he was counted out.
Great win for Figueroa his seventeenth inside the distance and at just 24 there is plenty more to come. A split draw with Julio Ceja in November 2019 shows his tactics may not be the right approach against every opponent and he has no plan “B”. Nery had scored 24 wins by KO/TKO but he just could not put a dent in Figueroa and loses his WBC title in the first defence of his second reign. **To label this a unification fight is ridiculous. The word “unite” literally means “to make one” so if you choose to believe this win for the WBA secondary title holder over the WBC champion unites the WBA and WBC titles and ignore the real WBA title holder Murodjon Akhmedov then you would have to accept that if Tyson Fury beat the secondary WBA heavyweight title holder Trevor Bryan then he would have unified the WBC and WBA titles-do you really believe that?
Roman vs. Espinoza
Roman takes another step along the road to regaining his titles with a point win over Espinoza. It was a hectic few early rounds for Roman as Espinoza came out firing punches harrying Roman and setting a fast pace. Roman had to make some adjustments to counter Espinoza’s aggression and he did so. From the fourth Roman found his range and refined his timing. He was catching the advancing Espinoza with hurtful, accurate shots and making him pay for forcing the fight. Roman gradually took control and a left hook in the seventh had blood pouring from Espinoza’s nose. Espinoza kept pressing and made some rounds close. Roman had to fight hard all the way but he was winning the rounds scoring with hurtful shots with both hands and cleared what had looked a challenging hurdle over those first few rounds. Scores 98-92 twice and 97-93 for Roman from the judges. Roman had outpointed TJ Doheny in April 2019 to unify the IBF and WBA titles but then lost them to Murodjon Akhmadaliev in January 2020. He returned to action with a good win over former WBA super bantam title holder Juan Carlos Payano in September. He is rated WBC 2/WBA 3/IBF 6(5) and hoping for a title shot but with Akhmadaliev negotiating for a defence of his (**real) WBA and IBF titles against Ronny Rios and new WBC champion Figueroa aiming for (a real) unification against WBO title holder Stephen Fulton Roman is going to have to be patient. Mexican “Hindu” Espinoza had no plan B once Roman had figured him out. He was 15-01 in his previous 16 fights with the loss being a twelfth round stoppage against John Riel Casimero for the interim WBO bantamweight title in April 2019 and he had scored two wins since then. He is an entertaining fighter and beatable so a title fight is always a possibility for a voluntary defence.
Martinez vs. Burgos
Martinez protects his high WBA rating as he outpoints experienced Burgos. The pattern of this one mirrored that of the Roman vs. Espinoza fight. Although taller with a longer reach Burgos kept piling forward from the start looking to fight inside and he had some early success but with the better skills of Martinez eventually prevailing. Burgos was doing some excellent work with hooks to the body when he got in close but was forced to eat some fast, accurate counters as he came forward. Martinez’s work was more eye-catching as he landed plenty of head punches whereas Burgos kept that body focus. Both threw lots of punches but again the accuracy of Martinez gave him the edge and he emerged a clear winner with scores just a little harsh on Burgos at 99-91 from the three judges. Wins over John Vincent Moralde and Claudio Marrero have seen Martinez rise to No 2 with the WBA but he is not yet ready for Oscar Valdez or Gervonta Davis. Now 33 Burgos was having his first fight for 14 months. He drew with Roman Martinez in a challenge for the WBO title in 2013 and lost to Mikey Garcia for the same title in 2014. He had since fallen away with back-to-back losses in very tough asks against Devin Haney and Hector Tanajara.
Manchester: Super Middle: Lerrone Richards (15-0) W PTS 12 Giovanni De Carolis (28-10-1). Cruiser: Tommy McCarthy (18-2) W KO 6 Alexandru Jur (19-5). Super Bantam: Jason Cunningham (29-6) W PTS 12 Gamal Yafai (18-2) W. Light Heavy: Joshua Buatsi (14-0) W TKO 4 Daniel Bienda Dos Santos (15-1). Super Light: Dalton Smith (8-0) W TKO 6 Lee Appleyard (16-6-1).
Richards vs. De Carolis
Richards wins the vacant European title as he outclasses experienced De Carolis. Richards boxed his way to victory in this one. He did not have any physical advantages such as reach or height but he did have polished skill, better footwork and faster hands. De Carolis was not able to get close enough often enough to threaten Richards and was forced to resort to lunging attacks which Richards easily anticipated and countered. Richards needed that higher level of skill as he is not a noted puncher (just three wins by KO/TKO). When De Carolis did get close Richards was either clinching and smothering De Carolis efforts or outworking him. There really was no way into the fight for De Carolis who just continued to tramp forward behind a high guard usually ending up in the space Richards had just vacated leaving him frustrated without any semblance of a Plan B. The tenth in which he managed to pin Richards to the ropes a few times was about the only round you could award him and Richards was able to coast to victory. Scores 120-108 twice and 119-109. A former undefeated British and Commonwealth champion the 28-year-old southpaw had scored wins over high level domestic opposition in Tommy Langford and Lennox Clarke and he could soon take another step up as he may have to face the winner of an EBU eliminator between Germans Tyron Zeuge and unbeaten Leon Bauer in contest to decide who is Richards mandatory challenger. De Carolis, 36, is a former holder of the secondary WBA title who had drawn and lost against Zeuge but in his last fight fight in June 2019 had taken a unanimous decision over former WBA and WBO title challenger Khoren Gevor.
McCarthy vs. Jur
McCarthy retains the European title as Jur is counted out whilst indicating the last punch had landed at the back of his head. McCarthy made a confident start. Jur was on the back foot throwing occasional jab and McCarthy landed a couple of useful left hooks. There was not a lot of action in the second with Jur crouching and stabbing out jabs and McCarthy looking for a chance to land power shots. McCarthy changed the pace completely in the third. He was chasing Jur down letting fly with punches from both hands and Jur was just trying to stay out of trouble. A left to the body dropped Jur late in the fourth but there was not enough time for McCarthy to capitalise on that. Lots of movement and some good defensive work got Jur through the fifth but McCarthy was landing heavy rights in the sixth. Jur complained that a couple of punches had landed to the back of his head and when he ducked under a punch and it made some contact with the back of his head Jur dropped to his knees with his head touching the canvas and he was counted out. Jur was on his way out anyway and he ducked under the punch leading to it landing behind his head so it was regrettable but not intentional. First defence of the title for McCarthy. Wins over 17-0 Fabio Turchi and 25-1-2 Bilal Laggoune have seen him rated WBA 5/IBF 8(6)/WBC 7 so some way from a title shot. Domestic competition is fierce in this division with Lyndon Arthur, Anthony Yarde and Joshua Buatsi all rated and his mandatory challenger is former champion Krzys Wlodarczyk. Romanian Jur had nothing in his arsenal to even mildly threaten McCarthy and was beyond lucky to land a shot the European title .
Cunningham vs. Yafai
Three knockdowns and some skilful boxing help Cunningham spring an upset and take Yafai’s European title. As expected
Yafai put Cunningham under pressure in the first. Cunningham boxed assuredly countering the advancing Yafai for a good opening round. Things went even better for Cunningham in the second. He walked Yafai onto some sharp jabs and as Yafai marched forward clipped him with a shot to the head and put Yafai down. Yafai had a better third scoring with a powerful left hook continued to take the fight to Cunningham and having a little more success but he was floored in the fourth and a cut opened over his left eye. Cunningham boxed well in the fifth and then put Yafai on the canvas again with a left in the sixth. Yafai put in a big effort in the seventh and may have just edged it and the eighth was close with Cunningham countering classily. Yafai knew his title was slipping away and he outscored Cunningham in the ninth and had Cunningham holding on desperately in the tenth. Yafai was pressing hard over the last two rounds and landed some big punches but Cunningham boxed and countered and Yafai just could not find the punch he needed to save his title. Scores 114-111 twice and 115-110 for Cunningham. Those three early 10-8 rounds were too much for Yafai to claw back and “Iceman” Cunningham, a former Commonwealth champion, now hold the prestigious European title. Yafai was No 10(8) with the IBF so Cunningham will also gets a world rating. Huge set-back for Yafai who had lost to Gavin McDonnell back in 2018 but defeated 22-1-2 Luca Rigoldi to win the European title in December only to lose it in his first defence.
Buatsi vs. Dos Santos
Buatsi returns with an emphatic win as he crushes Frenchman Dos Santos in four rounds. Buatsi had Dos Santos on the retreat in the first Dos Santos showed a useful jab but Buatsi landed a strong left as they traded punches at the end of the round. In the second Buatsi connected with a good left hook and then floored Dos Santos with a fierce right. Dos Santos beat the count and survived further pressure to the bell. In the third pressure from Buatsi had Dos Santos reeling and stumbling and Buatsi ended it in the fourth. Buatsi started the fourth with two left hooks and when Dos Santos backed into a corner Buatsi connected with a booming right to the chin and added a chopping right as Dos Santos was toppling to the floor with the referee immediately waiving then fight off. Buatsi was in his first fight with Virgil Hunter in his corner so was looking to impress. He retains the WBA International title and moves to twelve inside the distance finishes. He is rated WBA 2/IBF 3(2)/WBC 6 WBO 9 but I am not sure he is ready yet for Artur Beterbiev and both Dimity Bivol and Joe Smith are much more experienced. Dos Santos might have been 15-0 but he was only a 4 and 6 round prelim fighter so in way over his head with BoxRec having No 124 in the world.
Smith vs. Appleyard
Smith breaks down and stops Appleyard. No real action until the last twenty seconds of the opening round when Smith landed a sharp left hook and Appleyard fired some hooks. Smith picked up the pace in the second piercing Appleyard guard with a couple of fast hooks and then dominated the third with flashing jabs and some impressive combination punching rocking Appleyard at the bell. A series of rights to the head shook Appleyard in the fourth and body punches had him wincing. A low punch had Appleyard turning away and walking to the ropes in the fifth and he was given some recovery time but was then caught with some hefty rights. He had no answer to the hand speed of Smith and Smith was banging home hard head punches in the sixth when the referee made a well timed stoppage . An impressive showing from Smith who wins the English title the first of many the talented 24-year-old “Thunder” from Sheffield will collect. A former English champion Appleyard was in over his head in this fight.
Cologne, Germany: Heavy: Manuel Charr (32-4) W KO 2 Chris Lovejoy (19-1). Heavy: Viktor Vykhryst (7-0) W KO 1 Jacek Platek (11-1). Super Light: Volkan Gokcek (6-0,1ND) W TKO 2 Giorgi Mtchedlidze (4-4-1). Heavy: Christian Hammer (26-7) W TKO 3 Patryk Kowoll (7-25). Light Heavy: Mohammed Bekdash (20-0) W TKO 1 Mindia Nozadze (13-21).
Charr vs. Lovejoy
This fight was every bit as much of a farce as expected. In the opener Lovejoy was fat and slow and just prodded with his punches. The referee actually stopped the action to show Lovejoy he was supposed to his with the knuckle part of the glove and not the back of the glove! At the end of the round Lovejoy lurched forward grabbing Charr and then fell to his knees as Charr stepped back. No knockdown but Lovejoy was very slow in getting up. In the second Lovejoy started by throwing some punches but a series of jabs from Charr saw Lovejoy retreat to the ropes and a right to the head and a left hook dropped him and he took the ten count on one knee. Charr, 36, were having his first fight since November 2017. This was a non-title fight. Charr had been WBA secondary champion but then was re-designated to “Champion in Recess” but now that he has fought again it will be interesting to see how the WBA designate him. Lovejoy was obese and inept. He weighed 306 ½ lbs for this fight 61lbs more than Charr and 70lbs heavier that his last fight in January 2020 which tells you how much training he did for this fight. He also turned up on his own with no trainer or corner men. Box Rec rated him No 332 and even that flatters him.
Vykhryst vs. Platek
Ukrainian Vykhryst knocks out Platek in the first. Since he was conceding lots of reach but was 24lbs heavier Platek was just walking forward trying to force his way inside. He paid the price for his aggression when after targeting the advancing Platek with jabs Vykhryst landed a series of heavy rights which dropped Platek face first on the canvas and he was counted out. The 6’5” Ukrainian is still very much a work in progress but he is improving and this is his fifth early finish. Platek, 48, has been as high as 292lbs but was a relatively svelte 261lbs in his first fight since September 2019.
Gokcek vs. Mtchedlidze
Gokcek hammers Mtchedlidze to defeat in two rounds. Gokcek punched much too hard for the Georgian novice hunting the youngster down throughout the first. He continued to land heavily in the second. He had Mtchedlidze trapped on the ropes and under fire. With only seconds to go in the round the referee was standing by ready to interrupt to end the round but instead decided Mtchedlidze had taken too much punishment and stopped the fight with just two seconds remaining in the round. The 25-year-old Turkish prospect was moving up to his first eight round contest but this was never going that far. Mtchedlidze, 20, just a four round fighter.
Hammer vs. Kowoll
Another total mismatch. Hammer floors Pole Kowoll three times to force the stoppage in the third round. The Romanian-born Hammer (real name Christian Ciocan) has scored wins over Erkan Teper and David Price but has been seriously overmatched in points losses to Alexander Povetkin, Luis Ortiz and Tony Yoka. Poor Kowoll is now 2-9 in his last 11 fights with all nine losses inside the distance.
Bekdash vs. Nozadze
Another farce as Syrian-born Bekdash floors Nozadze four times before the fight is stopped after just 129 seconds. Eight inside the distance wins in a row for southpaw Bekdash and his eleventh first round stoppage-all scored against abysmal opponents. The 40-year-old Georgian Nozadze suffers his tenth consecutive loss nine of them by KO/TKO.
Warsaw, Poland: Cruiser: Michal Cieslak (21-1) W TKO 1 Yury Kashinsky (20-2). Super Middle: Lukasz Stanioch (6-0) W PTS 10 Robert Talarek (24-14-3). Cruiser: Nikodem Jezewski (20-1-1,1ND) W PTS 8 Vladimir Reznicek (10-4-2).
Cieslak vs. Kashinsky
Cieslak moves closer to a second world title shot with first round stoppage of Kashinsky. Cieslak used his longer reach to put Kashinsky on the back foot. Kashinsky also showed a strong jab but a left hook to the body had him hurt. A right to the head saw Kashinsky on his way down. He staggered across the ring as Cieslak connected with another right and fell into the ropes in a corner and the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. Kashinsky would have gone down but for the ropes and looked shaken but capable of continuing. He strongly protested the stoppage with good reason. Cieslak, 32, lost on points to Ilunga Makabu for the vacant WBC title in January 2020 and his return to the ring in December knocked out Taylor Mabika in six rounds. He has inside the distance victories over Olan Durodola and Youri Kayembre Kalenga. This was an IBF eliminator and with the rumour being that Mairis Breidis is looking to move to heavyweight this win will put Cieslak in the No 1 spot with the IBF guaranteeing him a shot at Breidis or at the vacant title. Russian Kashinsky’s only other loss was a close decision against Ruslan Fayer.
Stanioch vs. Talarek
After a slow start Stanioch outboxes more experienced Talarek to take a comfortable unanimous decision. Talarek scored well in the first but Stanioch found his rhythm in the second and scored consistently with jabs and hooks over the third and fourth. At that point Stanioch was up 39-37 on two cards and level at 38-38 on the third. From the fifth Talarek was fighting a defensive fight behind a high guard with Stanioch slotting jabs and straight rights home. After eight rounds he had the fight won as two judges had it 79-73 and the third 78-74 for Stanioch. Talarek was never completely out of the fight but Stanioch, eleven years younger, finished strongly to emerge an impressive winner. Scores 99-91 twice and 98-92 for 26-year-old Stanioch who wins the WBC Francophone title. Talarek, 37, had lost only one of his last 14 fights and scored a stoppage win over 19-1 Patryk Szymanski in that sequence so was a good test for Stanioch.
Jezewski vs. Reznicek
Jezewski eases his way back into the winning column as he outboxes Czech Reznicek. Jezewski started by intelligent use of his jab to open up the slower Czech for right hands. As the fight developed Jezewski made things harder for himself by too often ignoring his corner’s instructions to stick to the jab, use his longer reach and not get involved inside. That allowed Reznicek a bit of success but not enough to challenge Jezewski’s control. He was too slow and not busy enough but he did shake the Pole with a right late in the fight. All three judges had Jezewski winning at 80-72, 79-73 and 78-74. First fight for Jezewski since filling in as a very late substitute against Lawrence Okolie in December and getting floored three times and stopped in the second round. A run of 6-1-2 had given Reznicek some respectability but he was well beaten here.
Mar Del Plata, Argentina: Super Feather: Requen Cona Facundo Arce (13-3-2) W PTS 10 Nicolas Paz (5-4-2).
“Topo” Arce collects the WBA Fedebol belt with a split verdict over Paz. There was never much of a gap between these two Arce had the better of the exchanges over the first half of the fight and it looked as though he might overwhelm Paz. However “Elegant” Paz came on over the later rounds. It was the aggression and harder punching of Arce that gave him the victory. Scores 97-93 and 96-94 for Arce and 96-94 for Paz. After a rocky start to his career Paz put together an unbeaten streak of 13 fights but in November lost to Mayco Estadella for the interim National title. Paz is in poor form as shown by his recent 1-5-1 form.
Mexico City, Mexico: Light: Denilson Jair Valtierra (15-0) W KO 3 Emanuel Lopez (30-13-1).
Both fighters let their hands go from the start. Valtierra used his much longer reach to score well at distance and connected with some well-timed body punches. Lopez managed to land with some shots early in the second but Valtierra countered again with fast, accurate punches. Valtierra softened Lopez up with body shots in the third and then floored Lopez with a right late in the fourth and the count continued after the bell giving Valtierra the win at 3:02 of the round. The 19-year-old “Kaiser” retains the WBC Latino title with his eighth win by KO/TKO. At one time Lopez held the interim WBA super feather title but that was in 2015. He lost in a fight for the vacant IBO title in 2017 but this is his third inside the distance defeat in a row.
Brescia, Italy: Super Feather: Nicola Henchiri (10-4-2) W PTS 12 Mario Alfano (15-3-1). Super Bantam: Mattia De Bianchi (11-0) W PTS 10 Jonathan Sannino (13-1-1). Feather: Luca Rigoldi (22-2-2) W Cristian Narvaez (16-25-6).
Henchiri vs. Alfano
Henchiri wins the vacant European Union title with close unanimous decision over favoured Alfano. Henchiri knew he did not have the power to trade with Alfano but he had height, reach and speed on his side and he used those advantages cleverly. Over the early rounds Alfano pressed hard and had some success but too often his poor defence let him down with Henchiri finding plenty of gaps for his quick jabs and thumping rights. Alfano used a focused body attack as he tried to slow Henchiri but found it difficult to pin down the quicker man. One of Alfano’s faults is that he tends to fight in bursts and in between bursts Henchiri was picking up points with his lighter but more accurate punching and although coming in to the fight at short notice he finished strongly. Scores 115-113 twice and 116-112 all for Henchiri. The 31-year-old from Pisa had fought a draw in a contest for the vacant Italian title against Giuseppe Carafa in June 2019. He had then competed well in losing over eight rounds against world rated Francesco Patera last month and was preparing for another fight so although he came in at just three days notice after Eric Donovan pulled out with a injury he was in reasonable condition. Alfano had lost to Maltese boxer Haithem Laamouz for this same title in December but Laamouz was reportedly stripped off the title after testing positive for a banned substance.
De Bianchi vs. Sannino
De Bianchi is the new Italian champion after outscoring reigning title holder Sannino. De Bianchi was just too quick and too smart for the aggressive but limited Sannino. The champion pressed hard but De Bianchi showed a solid defence and set a fast pace that Sannino just could not match. Scores 99-92, 98-92 and 98-91 for the new champion. The 23-year-old “Spartan” was in his first ten round fight. Sannino was making his first defence.
Rigoldi vs. Narvaez
Former European champion Rigoldi returns to action with a gentle run out as he wins every round against seasoned loser Narvaez. Rigoldi made a steady start and then wound up the pressure bit by bit. Narvaez used his standard bag of survival tactics holding and covering well to give Rigoldi eighteen minutes of ring work. Rigoldi will be looking to fight his way back to a shot at the European super bantam title he lost to Gamal Yafai in December. Spanish-based Nicaraguan Narvaez is 1-21-2 in his 24 most recent fights but has only been beaten once by KO/TKO.
Brisbane, Australia: Heavy: Demsey McKean (19-0) W PTS 10 Kiki Toa Leutele (7-1-2). Super Welter: Joel Camilleri (20-6-1) W PTS 10 Luke Woods (6-4).
McKean vs. Leutele
McKean overcomes a nightmare fourth round to outpoint Leutele. McKean was a heavy favourite over New Zealand novice Leutele. He had big edges in height and reach but Leutele did some good work over two slow opening rounds to keep the fight tight. McKean seemed to hit his stride in the third making good use of his jab. The roof nearly fell in on McKean in the fourth. He was cut over his left eye and staggered badly a couple of times being forced to hold desperately to make it to the bell. From the fifth McKean used his longer reach to score but too often allowed himself to be bundled to the ropes where his reach was of no use. He was winning the rounds but it was an untidy fight and Leutele landed some single heavy shots in close. Although winning clearly it was a very unimpressive performance by McKean. Scores 98-92 twice and 97-93 for McKean. The 6’6” southpaw is rated IBF 12(11)/ WBO 12 but will struggle when he comes up against any quality opposition. Leutele did much better than expected as he had been down twice in a draw against Julius Long in his last fight in August 2019.
Camilleri vs. Woods
Camilleri wins the vacant Australasian title with unanimous decision over Woods. All three judges had Camilleri the winner but the scores were all over the place with the judges tabbing the fight 100-90, 97-93 and 96-94. Camilleri has won 5 of his last 6 fights with the loss being on points against Tim Tszyu. Woods was an Australian amateur champion and an Elite level amateur but just hasn’t made it as a pro.
Quebec City, Canada: Super Light: Mathieu Germain (19-2-1) W PTS 10 Steve Claggett (29-7-2).
Germaine had lost two of his last three fights going into the all-Canadian contest so he badly needed a win. He changed his usual tactics and took the fight to Claggett. The fight was conducted at a fast pace and was entertaining but Claggett did not seem to know quite how to adjust to facing an aggressive Mathieu instead of the clever boxing fast moving Mathieu had been in the past. There were many close rounds but the volume and accuracy from Germaine gave him the edge and he looked a clear winner despite the split decision. Scores 97-93 and 96-94 for Germaine and 97-93 for Claggett. Some were ready to write Germaine off after being knocked out by Mexican Uriel Perez and stopped by Yves Ulysse but this was a good answer to his detractors. These two had shared the points in a split draw in January 2019 with Claggett also going on to lose to Ulysse but he had rebounded to recorded wins in his last two contests.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Light: Starling Wilson Castillo (14-0) W TKO 2 Abraham Peralta (19-9). Bantam: Victor Santillan (10-0) W PTS 10 Jose Valdes (9-5-1).
Castillo vs. Peralta
Castillo stops Peralta in two rounds. Castillo pressured Peralta from the start. Peralta proved an awkward and unpredictable opponent. He showed some very flashy movement, leapt in with wild attacks and goaded Castillo any time Castillo missed with a punch. Castillo went after Peralta hard in the second and Peralta fell through the ropes but was helped back in the ring. Castillo landed with a series of body punches and Peralta again fell through the ropes and was pushed back in. Castillo was connecting with more body punches and with Peralta bent in half and not firing back the referee stopped the fight. Eleven wins by KO/TKO for 25-year-old Castillo. Peralta is 1-5 in his six most recent contests with all five losses by KO/TKO.
Santillan vs. Valdes
In a bout moved from eight rounds to ten Santillan proves too big and strong for Valdes. He wins the decision and collects the WBA Fedecaribe belt but only after suffering a shock knockdown. A southpaw and much Santillan was controlling the bout from the centre of the ring with Valdes circling him looking for gaps. Santillan was sailing along nicely in the third when a crunching right dropped him heavily. He clawed his way up using the ropes and was badly dazed but made it to the bell. From there Santillan managed to outbox the always dangerous Valdes. As Valdes tired over the last two rounds a stoppage looked on but Valdes didn’t crumble and made it to the final bell. First ten round fight and some good experience for Santillan. Mexican Valdes had won his last two fights.
Accra, Ghana: Middle: Obodai Sai (36-3-1) W RTD 3 Adam Misho (12-3). Feather: Prince Dzanie (22-0) W TKO 6 Kamarudeen Boyefio (11-10).
Sai vs. Misho
Sai gets back into action with a win against overmatched Tanzanian neophyte Misho who did not come out for the fourth round. The 34-year-old former Commonwealth champion makes it 27 victories by KO/TKO but has come up short whenever he has met quality opposition. Southpaw Misha was in only his third fight in almost four years.
Dzanie vs. Boyefio
Dzanie stops Boyefio n six rounds. A gutsy Boyefio was never in with a chance in this poor match. He was giving away height and reach and was having his first fight for three years. Danzie was a good few rungs higher on the ladder where ability was concerned and blasted Boyefio with thunderous punches from both hands. Boyefio did well to last to the sixth but he was cornered and beaten to the canvas and counted out. The 36-year-old Dzanie, a 2008 Olympian, has 18 inside the distance wins but has yet to be put into a testing fight. That should happen soon as he has been signed up by Salita Promotions but at 36 must have a limited shelf life. Fourth inside the distance loss in a row for Boyefio. He doesn’t do distance fights as his eleven wins and eight of his losses have come by KO/TKO
Perez, Argentina: Welter: Gabriel Corzo (13-0) W PTS 10 Martin Ruiz (11-6-2).
Corzo wins the vacant WBA Fedebol title with a points victory over Ruiz. It was an entertaining contest but one in which Corzo built a lead early and maintained his advantage to the end. Ruiz fought hard but was handicapped by a cut over his left eye in the fifth and one over his right eye in the eighth. Scores 89-82, 89-83 and 87-84 for Corzo. This was a nine round title fight so Corzo has yet to be in a ten round fight. Ruiz was having his first fight since December 2017.
Fight of the week (Significance): Brandon Figueroa’s win over Luis Nery raises the possibility of unifying the WBC and WBO super bantam titles
Fight of the week (Entertainment): Figueroa and Nery went to war from start to finish.
Fighter of the week: Brandon Figueroa the new WBC title holder
Punch of the week: The devastating right from Joshua Buatsi which sent Daniel Bienda Dos Santos on his way to the canvas
Upset of the week:( Chris Lovejoy managing to last more than one round.) No only joking. Jason Cunningham was very much the underdog against Gamal Yafai
Prospect watch: No new names
I want my money back! That might have been the reaction to who ever paid to see the show in Cologne topped by Mahmoud Charr vs. Christopher Lovejoy. The schedule was for six fights with a total of 50 rounds. In the end the fights all finished early with less than 11 rounds fought.
It’s easy to see why some were describing Nery vs. Figueroa as a “unification” fight supposedly unifying the WBC and the WBA titles even though Figueroa was only the holder of the WBA secondary title. Even as the WBC/WBA “unification” was being trumpeted the WBA were calling for purse offers for their real champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev to defend the real WBA title against Gold champion Ronny Rios. When the sanctioning bodies do things like this confusion is inevitable. Right there is not one fighter who can really claim to be a champion. No one holds all four sanctioning body versions in any division so the most the can be labelled is title holder. The winner of Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez will be a champion and with luck the winner of Joshua vs. Fury and Alvarez vs. Plant will see three champions crowned.
During this series we've looked at some poor decisions, some weird stoppages, some poor time keeping, some odd technical decisions and some dirty behaviour. Today we're going to look at a bout that seems to have fans split three different ways.
There are those suggesting the result should have stood, and that the ending was legal. Others suggesting the bout should have ended in a TKO, as per the official ruling. Other state that due to the referee making an unclear call the bout should have either been either a technical decision or the recipient should have received time to recover, before the bout resumed. Whatever your take it's certainly an unusual ending and features one of the most controversial boxers of recent years.
Takehiro Shimada (22-3-1, 15) Vs Edwin Valero (23-0, 23)
For this bout we travel back to 2008, with Venezuela's Edwin Valero being the WBA Super Featherweight champion and Japan's Takehiro Shimada being his 4th challenger.
We suspect most reading this will be familiar with Edwin Valero. The Venezuelan destroyer had created buzz early in his career and had become a fan favourite in Japan in the 00's with Teiken pushing him as big thing. He had made his Japanese debut in in 2005, stopping Hero Bando in brutal fashion, and had then returned to take out Genaro Trazancos, Michael Lozada and the tough Nobuhito Honmo.
As well as his bouts in Japan Valero was making a name worldwide and fighting around the globe. By this point he had already fought in Venezuela, the US, Argentina, Panama, France, Panama and Mexico. For fans in the US and Europe he was mostly this fighter who they hadn't seen much of, with his only US bouts being very early in his career, but he was a man or international intrigue. He was a destructive force that everyone wanted to see. He had run up 18 straight opening round wins, and had proven himself a world class fighter in 2006, when he stopped Vicente Mosquera.
Takehiro Shimada on the other hand was essentially an unknown outside of Japan. He had never fought outside of Japan and in fact all of his fights were in Tokyo, with most taking place at Korakuen Hall. Despite never fighting away from home he had proven what he could do, and had twice given Rick Yoshimura a good, competitive bout, and had later won the Japanese Lightweight title. Until facing Valero he had only lost 3 times, twice to Yoshimura and once, early in his career, to Tadashi Honda.
On the flipside of that Shimada had never been stopped and had notched wins against good domestic foes, like Hidekazu Matsunobu, Chikashi Inada and Kengo Nagashima. Sadly following a win over Nagashima in 2004 he had toiled, with a string of tick over fights until he finally got a shot at a world title, taking on Valero in the summer of 2008.
Unlike many fights in this series much of the most is completely irrelevant to the controversy. There was no long drawn out things, but instead the controversy came at the end of the bout. With that in mind we're only going to briefly discuss the bout in general.
Through 6 rounds Shimada was doing his best to annoy Valero without posing much of an offensive threat. The Venezuelan was having regular success but never really hurting Shimada, who did enough to frustrate Valero at times. It seemed clear that Shimada's game plan was to frustrate early on, try to nick a round or two, and then test Valero's stamina later in the bout.
In round 7 Shimada's plan came apart when he was hurt. Just after the mid-way point in the round the pressure from Valero got too much and Shimada looked like he wilted to the point of taking a knee. After a pause it seemed like Valero hit a downed Shimada. Shimada got to his feet but was then deemed unable to continue, not held due to a massive swelling around his left eye. He didn't kick up much off a fuss about the stoppage, and he may even have been going down to just accept his loss and get some medical help.
From one angle it looked like Shimada had taken a knee before the final show and that the referee had tried to step in and stop Valero from throwing it. From another angle however it was clear that Shimada hadn't actually fully gone down. He was using the ropes to stay up right, but wasn't, technically, touching the canvas with anything but his feet.
With the referee right in front of Shimada at the end of the bout it was a call he was in the best position to make, though it seemed very much like he was going to call a knockdown, but did it with no conviction, allowing Valero the free shot and the TKO.
We've included the ending below and you can decide for yourself. Was this a totally legal shot, a legal but dirty shot, an accidental foul due to the referee's poor call, or a flagrant foul?
Notably Valero's career now is very much over shadowed by the way his life, and that of his wife, came to an end. Something that makes it hard to celebrate him as a fighter, despite his impressive record and exciting performance. It's hard, if not impossible, to separate the in ring fighter, from the man he was outside of boxing.
By Eric Armit
To paraphrase that well known boxing fan Jane Austin it is a truth universally acknowledged that a sanctioning body in need of fees must work with promoters and a promoter of any status must be in want of title fights. It happens. It is a fact of life in boxing and if doesn’t lead to someone getting seriously screwed (Sorry Jane) then it keeps the wheels oiled. However it seems to me that there needs to be some line that should not be crossed. A promoter should not ask a sanctioning body to do something that will seriously tarnish the sanctioning body’s standing (if any) and the sanctioning body should not bend so far that they are seen to be willing to prostitute (sorry Jane) themselves for a sanctioning fee.
A typical case of the line being blurred well past any reasonable point was the suggestion that Mahmoud Charr’s fight with Christian Lovejoy would be for a version of the WBA heavyweight title. That now seems to have faded but the fact that through Don King’s influence Lovejoy kept popping in and out of the WBA ratings in itself was disgraceful. Lovejoy has a 19-0 record with all 19 wins by KO/TKO and on the basis of that record some fans might feel that his being rated was not unacceptable but in getting Lovejoy rated both King and the WBA went way beyond what should be acceptable and I have yet to hear anyone was even mildly surprised at their behaviour
To make my case I believe that there are certain facts regarding Christopher Lovejoy’s “impressive” which boxing fans should know so they can assess whether I am being unfair on the parties involved. When you examine the records of the fighters Lovejoy has beaten a horror story unfolds. Names are irrelevant. The records of his 19 victims are:
0-0-0*Never previously had a fight
0-7-0# Had never previously won a fight
The total of wins/losses and draws for his opponents is 51 wins, 192 losses and 19 draws. 26 of those wins came from two of his opponents so the other 17 had only 25 wins between them. The Charr fight raises another question. The WBA have:
Super Champion: Anthony Joshua
World Champion: Trevor Bryan
GOLD Champion: Robert Helenius
On 5 June Daniel Dubois fights Bogdan Dinu for the WBA interim title
Charr is Champion in Recess but if Charr fights and beats Lovejoy then he becomes active again so can he still be Champion in Recess? If not what title will he hold?
The fight between Dinu and Dubois is another example (and there are many) of WBA going way over the line.
Dinu was No 9 in the WBA ratings issued on 31 October 2018
He dropped to No 13 in the ratings issued both 30 November and December 2018 after being knocked out by Jarrell Miller. He was dropped from the ratings for 31 January 2019 but was restored to the ratings issued 28 February 2019 at No 14 and was still in the ratings at No 14 on 31 March 2019 despite having been knocked out by Kubrat Pulev on 23 March 2019.
He was rated No 14 in the ratings published 30 April 2019 and May 2019.
He was dropped from the ratings for June, July, August, September, October, November and December 2019 and for January, February March and April 2020.
The ratings issued on 30 April by the WBA stated:
“Due the Coronavirus, boxing like all other sport has been force to stop. All boxers will maintain their ranking until we resume normal activities”
The WBA began to issue their ratings again with their 30 June 2020 issue with Dinu unrated and he was not in their ratings for July, August or September.
None of this is too controversial but the swamp is just around the corner.
Dinu fought on October 3 his first fight of 2020 beating Frank Bluemle who had lost 6 of his last 8 fights by KO/TKO with 5 of those KO/TKO losses occurring in the first three rounds
Dinu was not in the WBA ratings issued on 31 October 2020
In the WBA ratings issued 30 November 2020 Dinu not having been rated for the past 17 months suddenly appeared at No 9 with the Bluemle fight his only contest in the previous ten months.
Dinu has not fought since that October 2020 fight but in The WBA ratings for 30 April 2021he has now climbed to No 2 without having a single fight and will fight Daniel Dubois on 5 June for the interim WBA title
This situation has two facets. The first is obviously the inexplicable rise of Dinu. For the second I checked back two years and despite some impressive wins by Dubois he was not rated by the WBA until the 31 March 2021- four months after his kayo loss to Joe Joyce! Apart from the obvious question over the sudden entry for Dubois coming off a loss there is also the question why other much less deserving fighters have been rated and Dubois overlooked and why more deserving fighters are not being given a chance to contest the WBA interim title.
Sorry guys the line was drawn in the sand and the WBA have just kicked sand in your collective faces-again.
For today's Closet Classic we delve deep and go back to the summer of 1974 for an often forgotten classic that had a bit of everything. The bout swung one way, then the other, then back and again. It's old school excitement at it's best and comes from a division we don't talk about much, the Light Middleweight division.
Koichi Wajima (29-2-1, 24) vs Oscar Albarado (48-6-1, 35) I
In 1971 Koichi Wajima defeated Carmelo Bossi for the WBA and WBC Light Middleweight titles. He had defended the belts 6 times against an interesting mix of opponents, including veteran Domenico Tiberia, the then unbeaten Miguel de Oliveira, and the often over-looked Ryu Sorimachi. Although not the best boxer on the planet Wajima had proven he could box, he could punch, and he could turn things around when he needed to. He was also a hard man to predict and read, with some very unorthodox offense, including a leaping shot dubbed described as being a "frog jump". Aged 31 by the time we got to this fight Wajima had been in some tough contests and had clearly taken some big punishment in some of his earlier bouts.
In the opposite corner to the Japanese fighter was big punching Texan Oscar Albarado, who was dubbed "Shotgun". Albarado was getting his first world title fight, and his first bout in Asia. Despite this being a step up for him he had been very experienced with 55 fights to his and 35 knockouts. He wasn't a KO artist as such, but was very heavy handed, and what he hit he hurt. At 25 years old it was felt that Albarado was coming into this physical prime, but there was still questions as to whether he had he experience, toughness and stamina to last in a 15 round fight in Japanese conditions, with 10,000 fans cheering on the local champion.
The fight started excitingly, but it seemed like Albarado was getting the better of the early going, though Wajima did have his moments. It seemed that Albarado's heavy jab was a major problem for Wajima at range, but Wajima would begin to pressure more and had real success up close.
As the rounds went on Wajima's success began to grow, but it was clear he felt he had to do more, and his work really did take a toll on him with Albarado took shots cleanly without showing too much damage.
Through the middle rounds the bout had become a real hard man's fight. Both men had landed some serious leather, but there was more come and neither man looked like they were going to quit, despite Wajima losing his balance a few times, though Albarado was never quick enough to catch him off balance.
We don't really want to ruin the drama in this one, as some of the later round action is breath taking, but it's one that every fight fan should enjoy. The two men both took some hellacious damage and neither man would ever be the same afterwards.
Despite the massive amount of damage the two men did to each other in this war they actually had a rematch around 9 months later, and just like this bout, both took significant punishment. After that rematch both men picked up a number of stoppage losses. These wares between the two punish, thrilling, exciting, crazy and looked like scenes from a movie.
This isn't the prettiest bout, or the most technical, but it's beautiful in it's brutality and the carnage is chaotic at times.
By - Eric Armit
-Saul Alvarez collects a third super middleweight belt as Billy Joe Saunders retires after eight rounds due a bad swelling limiting his vision
-Elwin Soto retains WBO light flyweight title with stoppage of Katsunari Takayama
-Magomed Kurbanov gets questionable win over Lam Smith
-Souleymane Cissokho wins again with split decision over Kieron Conway
- Frank Sanchez gets technical verdict over Nagy Aguilera in another “back of the head punch” incident
World Title/Major Shows
Arlington, TX, USA: Saul Alvarez (56-1-2) W RTD 8 Billy Joe Saunders (30-1). Light Fly: Elwin Soto (19-1) W RTD 9 Katsunari Takayama (32-9,1ND). Super Welter: Souleymane Cissokho (13-0) W PTS 10 Kieron Conway (16-2-1). Heavy: Frank Sanchez (18-0,1ND) W TEC DEC 6 Nagy Aguilera (21-11). Welter: Christian Gomez (20-2-1) W TKO 2 Xavier Wilson (11-3-1). Light: Keyshawn Davis (3-0) W PTS 6 Jose Meza (7-5).
Alvarez vs. Saunders
Alvarez now holds three of the four super middleweight belts after WBO title holder Saunders retired at the end of the eighth round due to a swelling severely limiting his vision from his right eye.
A cautious first round, Saunders was circling and prodding out his jab but not really committing too it. Alvarez managed to land three long lefts and a couple of body punches to take the round.
Score: 10-9 Alvarez
Saunders boxed well over the first two minutes managing to dart inside to score. Over the last minute Alvarez began to find the range with straight rights which gave him the edge.
Score: 10-9 Alvarez Alvarez 20-18
A close round as there was very little action. Saunders was showing plenty of movement and pushing out punches but coming up short. Alvarez finished the round strong again targeting Saunders with rights.
Score: 10-9 Alvarez Alvarez 30-27
Another close round. Saunders committed himself to coming forward a few times but Alvarez showed some quick defensive skills. Not too many punches landed with Alvarez sneaking the round with a sharp right uppercut that almost dislodged Saunders mouthguard and a couple of rights.
Score: 10-9 Alvarez Alvarez 40-36
Official Scores: Judge Glenn Feldman 39-37 Alvarez, Judge Tim Cheatham 39-37 Alvarez, Judge Max DeLuca 39-37 Alvarez
Slick boxing from Saunders in this one. Plenty of movement and plenty of jabs. Alvarez connected with a couple of rights but Saunders was darting in quickly and scored two strong straight rights and was out before Alvarez could counter.
Score: 10-9 Saunders Alvarez 49-46
Not much between them in this round. Alvarez scored with some rights to the body early but just could not pin Saunders down. Saunders was putting together some quick combinations and countered well with lefts to the body of Alvarez and just doing enough to edge the round.
Score: 10-9 Saunders Alvarez 58-56
Best round so far for Saunders. He was just too quick for Alvarez regularly slotting punches through Alvarez’s guard and scoring with quick one-twos. Alvarez was always a step behind and at times was forced onto the back foot.
Score: 10-9 Saunders Alvarez 67-66
Saunders started the round well but then it changed. Alvarez upped his pace connecting with hooks to the body with both hands and landing heavily to the head. One of those punches landed near the right eye of Saunders and Alvarez seemed to sense this was a critical moment. Saunders was not moving so much and already Alvarez was raising his hands in triumph as he was able to cut off the ring and land heavily.
Score: 10-9 Alvarez Alvarez 77-75
Official Scores: Judge Glenn Feldman 78-74 Alvarez, Judge Tim Cheatham 77-75 Alvarez, Judge Max DeLuca 78-74 Alvarez
The right eye of Saunders was almost completely closed and wisely his corner pulled him out of the fight before the start of the ninth round. It was not a great fight with Saunders not looking to trade punches with Alvarez. He had certainly posed some problems for Alvarez before the retirement but Alvarez had upped his pace even before the injury. IBF title holder Caleb Plant looks to be the next step with Alvarez aiming to unify the four titles.
Soto vs. Takayama
In an entertaining contests Soto holds on to his WBO title with stoppage of a very active and competitive Takayama.
No feeling out time here as they were both letting their punches fly. Soto landed the better punches in the first exchange but Takayama hit back strongly. A big right to the head saw Takayama buckle at the knees. Soto followed up looking for an early finish but Takayama banged back well until another right had him in deep trouble just before the bell.
Score: 10-9 Soto
Soto was looking to build on his success in the first round and landed some hurtful shots early. Takayama was perpetual motion circling Soto and throwing jab after jab and rights to the body. He looked on the way to winning the round until Soto nailed him with some solid hooks and uppercuts.
Score: 10-9 Soto Soto 20-18
Takayama was busy, busy. His punch output was amazing. There was very little power in his punches but the sheer volume was his best defence against the single big shots from Soto and despite Sots connecting with some eye-catching punches late in the round it was the challengers three minutes but you had to wonder how long the 37-year-old Takayama could maintain the pace
Score: 10-9 Takayama Soto 29-28
Takayama was setting a frantic pace constantly moving and pumping out punch after punch. A lot of those punches were wasted being off target or blocked. Soto worked harder in the round and connected with some hard body punches. Takayama chose to stand and trade punches and Soto bossed the exchanges.
Score: 10-9 Soto Soto 39-37
Takayama was Mr Perpetual Motion. He never stopped moving and punching. He even found time to do some show boating. Soto was forced onto the back foot as he was showered with punches and when he staged a late rally he was outpunched.
Score: 10-9 Takayama Soto 48-47
Great action in the round. Soto upped his pace and did a better job of closing Takayama down. Takayama moved less and tried more. That allowed Soto to score with a series of body punches and lefts and rights to the head Takayama’s response was to stand his ground and try to match Soto punch-for-punch it was exciting stuff but Takayama took some solid punishment.
Score: 10-9 Soto Soto 58-56
Takayama just kept showering Soto with punches. Unfortunately nine out of every ten were either blocked by Soto or off target. Soto clipped Takayama with a sharp right and landed the better quality and harder punches.
Score: 10-9 Soto Soto 68-65
The pace Takayama was setting was suicidal. He sprayed Soto with a never ending stream of punches. They were not heavy but the quantity was stifling Soto’s attempts to counter and it was Takayama’s round.
Score: 10-9 Takayama Soto 77-75
The pace and Takayama’s insistence of punching with the harder puncher brought the end. He continued to march forward and exchange punches with Soto but he was being rocked by head punches that made him stumble and the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. It looked a much too early stoppage as Takayama had not been down but he was on his last reserves of strength.
Soto, 23, was making the third defence of the WBO title and gets his thirteenth inside the distance win. He is one of the lower profile champions in one of the weaker divisions but he got the job done today. Takayama averaged over 100 punches thrown per round and in the end he paid for that fierce pace. The WBO manipulated their ratings by introducing Takayama at No 11 in March when he had not fought since December. He certainly made this an entertaining fight but at 37 another title chance must be beyond him.
Cissokho vs. Conway
Cissokho overcomes late shock to win a split decision over. Conway in a disappointing fight. Frenchman Cissokho, a bronze medal winner at the Rio Olympics, seemed to have the edge in the early rounds but there was very little to excite the fans with only the odd heavy punch landed. In the ninth a left from Conway rocked Cissokho who dropped top one knee. Conway tried hard to find another punch like that but Cissokho survived and then dominated the last round. He looked a clear winner but the judges scored it 96-93 and 95-94 for Cissokho and 97-92 for Conway. Senegalese-born Cissokho takes Conway’s WBA Inter-Continental title. England’s Conway was 6-0-1 going in.
Sanchez vs. Aguilera
Sanchez gets a technical decision over Aguilera in another punch to the back of the head incident. Sanchez was far stronger and the harder puncher and had Aguilera hurt with a right in the second. In the third Aguilera turned to the referee to complain about a punch to the back of the head from Sanchez but the referee took no action and Aguilera paid for being distracted as Sanchez rocked him with a right. Sanchez continued to boss the action scoring heavily in the fourth and fifth. In the sixth a punch from Sanchez landed on the back of Aguilera’s head and he went down. He managed to rise but was unable to continue so it went to the cards which all read 60-54 for Sanchez. Not a satisfactory ending for Sanchez who was looking for his thirteenth victory by KO/TKO. He was defending the WBC Continental Americas title and is rated WBO 6/WBC 14/WBA 14. Dominican-born Aguilera was having only his third fight in the past five years.
Gomez vs. Wilson
Gomez moves to 18 inside the distance wins as he stops Wilson inn two rounds. After taking the first round Gomez floored Wilson with a thunderous left hook in the second. Wilson beat the count but the referee stopped the fight despite Wilson protesting he was fit to continue. Fourth quick win in a row against very modest opposition for Gomez since being stopped by Daniel Echevarria in April 2019. Wilson is 1-3 in his last four fights.
Davis vs. Meza
Just a light work-out for Norfolk southpaw Davis as he showcases his massive talent and wins every round. Scores 60-54 for Davis on the judges’ cards. Third fight this year for Davis so they are keeping him busy. Mexican Meza did well to last the distance.
Ekaterinburg, Russia: Super Welter: Magomed Kurbanov (22-0) W PTS 12 Liam Smith (29-3-1). Welter: Eduard Skavynskyi (14-0) W PTS 10 Joel Julio (39-6).Super Bantam: Mukhammad Shekhov (9-0-1) W PTS 10 Evgenii Liashkov (8-2).
Kurbanov vs. Smith
Kurbanov gets contestable unanimous verdict over Smith. Kurbanov did the better work in a quiet first round and also edged the second. Smith picked up the pace in the third which was a close round but Smith was finding gaps and scoring well in the fourth. At that point all three cards had Kurbanov in front 39-37. Smith began to roll. He was slotting home jabs and cracking Kurbanov with rights with Kurbanov’s output dropping and Smith took the fifth. Kurbanov did enough to make the sixth close but good work with his jab and accurate rights saw Smith collect the points in the seventh and eighth. The split scoring now had them level at 76-76 on two cards with one judge having increased Kurbanov’s lead to three points at 78-75. Kurbanov was showing signs of tiring in the ninth but Smith was still strong and outlanding the local fighter. The tenth was close with both fighters having some success and it could have been scored for either of them. The eleventh was again a difficult one to score. Kurbanov was more accurate but Smith was landing the heavier punches and they both threw everything into the last with Smith having the narrowest of edges. Scores 115-113 twice and 117-111 for Kurbanov. It wasn’t quite robbery but one of those cases where Smith would probably have got the decision if the fight had been held in the UK. Kurbanov, 25, the Russian “Black Lion”, collects the WBO International title. He was No 5 with the WBO but more significantly Smith was No2 so Kurbanov can now expect to be sitting right behind No 1 Tim Tszyu and in with a good chance of a shot at the WBO title later this year. Huge disappointment for Smith a former WBO and interim WBC title holder. He had rebuilt since his loss to Jaime Munguia for the WBO title in 2018 with three wins over good level opposition and it might be hard for him to fight his way back into another title shot.
Skavynskyi vs. Julio
Locally based Ukrainian Skavynskyi gets a confidence building win over seasoned pro Julio. Now 36, and a lack of recent activity have drained away much of Julio’s ambition and although he showed some of his old skills there was very little fire left. Skavynskyi was able to dictate the pace of the fight and connected with a left hook in the fifth that put Julio on the floor. Julio rallied late but not enough to even see him win a round. Scores 100-89 for Skavynskyi on the three judge’s tabs. Skavynskyi has yet to be put in a testing fight. A 34-1 start to his career saw Colombian Julio land a shot at Serhiy Dzinziruk for the WBO super welter title back in 2008 but he lost on points and in 2010 he was knocked out by Alfredo Angulo for the interim WBO title. Since then he had been largely inactive and this was only his fourth fight in the last ten years.
Shekhov vs. Liashkov
Uzbek-born Russian Shekhov gets an away win as he outpoints Ekaterinburg-based Liashkov to win the vacant WBO European title. Liashkov took the fight to southpaw Shekhov trying to off-set Shekhov’s better skills with a more aggressive approach. It did not work as Shekhov outboxed and outscored Liashkov to emerge a good winner. Scores 97-93 for Shekhov from the Judges. Two or three experienced campaigners in Shekhov’s list of victims but there are tougher fights ahead. After losing his first fight Liashkov had put together an eight-bout winning streak but this was his first fight scheduled for ten rounds and hopefully he will have learned a few valuable lessons
Villa Carlos Paz, Argentina: Middle: Emiliano Pucheta (14-4) W PTS 10 Nicolas Luques (12-8-1).
Pucheta wins the vacant National title with comfortable victory over Luques. In a fight lacking any real drama Pucheta easily outpointed Luques. Pucheta had the superior skills and was never threatened by a one-paced Luques who showed poor technique and a lack of accuracy. Only Pucheta’s lack of power allowed Luques to last the full ten rounds. All three judges had Pucheta winning 99 ½ -91. Pucheta had lost in a challenge for the Argentinian super welter title in February 2020. Luques is 2-2-1 in his last five contests.
Morbihan, France: Welter: Sandy Messaoud (15-6,1ND) W PTS 10 Oliver Mollenberg (7-1-1). Super Welter: Milan Prat (10-1) W TKO 1 Sie Palenfo (10-3-1).
Messaoud vs. Mollenberg
Local boxer Messaoud retained the WBA Inter-Continental title with unanimous decision over Dane Mollenberg. The Frenchman had a good first round showing his strength and connecting with some hard shots. Mollenberg did better in the second round but Messaoud took over from the third dominating the action scoring with uppercuts and left hooks. Messaoud had a good fifth but Mollenberg rebounded to take the sixth and got into the fight more as the 14-year older Messaoud slowed a little but the Frenchman was a good winner. Scores 98-92 twice and 99-91 looked a little harsh on Mollenberg. The 34-year-old Messaoud has turned his career around with a run of seven wins. Danish champion Mollenberg is just 20 and has had a good amount of experience from his time in the amateurs so can recover and learn from this loss.
Prat v. Palenfo
Prospect Prat blasts out Palenfo inside a round. Prat put Palenfo down with a left hook and although Palenfo beat the count a body punch dropped him again and the towel came in during the count. The tall 21-year-old Prat is a former French Youth and Senior champion and is aiming to fight in the Tokyo Olympics. He has seven wins by KO/TKO and his loss was a disqualification. Palenfo is from the Ivory Coast but is now 0-2 in fights in France.
Kissimmee, FL, USA: Super Feather: George Acosta (12-1) W PTS 10 Gadwin Rosa (11-3). Super Welter: Elvin Gambarov (15-0) W PTS 10 Diego Cruz (21-10-2). Super Light: Mandeep Jangra (1-0) W PTS 4 Luciano Ramos (0-1).
Acosta vs. Rosa
Acosta takes a unanimous decision over Rosa to win the vacant WBA Fedecentro belt. This was a competitive fight largely carried out at close quarters. What boxing there was came from Acosta who when he could create space used his jab well and planted rights on the bulldozing Rosa. It was Rosa pressing the action and Acosta lacked the power to keep him out but he was tying Rosa up inside and although Rosa had the harder punch Acosta was busier. There was too much clinching as they tired over the last three rounds but Acosta was the one scoring more and the landing the cleaner punches. Scores 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94 all for Acosta. This was the fifth consecutive win for Acosta, 24,his second fight in the last nineteen days and also his first fight scheduled for more than six rounds. Puerto Rican Rosa suffers his second defeat in his last three fights.
Gambarov vs. Cruz
Miami-based Azeri Gambarov is the new holder of the WBC International Silver title as he outpoints Cruz. This was a war all of the way. Going the distance snaps a nine-fight inside the distance streak for Gambarov for the 29-year-old Gambarov. Cruz has never failed to go the distance but drops to 2-7-1 in his last ten outings.
Jangra vs. Ramos
After a highly successful time as an amateur India’s Jangra turns pro with a win. It was not a smooth transition as a he was on the floor in the first and had to fight hard over the remaining three rounds to just take the decision. Jangra, 27, was a god medallist at the South Asian Games and won a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games but did not manage to qualify for this year’s Olympics. Ramos a total novice having hi first fight.
Warendorf, Germany: Light Heavy: Christian Pawlak (41-8-1) W DISQ 3 Muhammad Oguzhan Arifogullari (6-2).
Pawlak gats disqualification wins over late substitute Arifogullari. After taking a slow first round Pawlak drove Arifogullari to the ropes in the second and Arifogullari sagged to a sitting position on the ropes. As the ropes stopped Arifogullari from falling the referee gave Arifogullari a count. In the third Pawlak put Arifogullari down again with a left to the body. After getting up Arifogullari rushed Pawlak and bundled Pawlak out of the ring and Arifogullari fell through after him. The referee ruled that Arifogullari had deliberately pushed Pawlak out of the ring and disqualified him. Polish-born Pawlak, 41, wins the interim UBO title with his twentieth win in a row. Some achievement to find 20 opponents bad enough for Pawlak to beat. German-born Turk Arifogullari was said to be in training for another fight which allowed him to step in. He should start a slimming club as he was 195 ¾ lbs in a fight on 18 April and presumably had to get below 175lbs for this fight!
Managua, Nicaragua: Super Bantam: Alexander Mejia (17-1) W PTS 10 Aron Juarez (17-9-3,1ND).
Mejia wins the vacant National title with unanimous decision over Juarez. Nine consecutive wins for Mejia. His only loss came in 2017 when he was seriously overmatched in Japan when put in against former OPBF champion and WBO title challenger Hiroshige Osawa in only his eighth fight. He had beaten Juarez on points in 2018. Southpaw Juarez is an experienced survivor with Khalid Yafai the only guy to have stopped him
Malaga, Spain: Light: Samuel Molina (16-0,1ND) W PTS 8 Viorel Simion (22-4). Super Light: Johan Orozco (2-0) W PTS 6 Gadatamen Taylor (2-3-1).
Molina vs. Simion
Molina takes unanimous verdict over seasoned pro Simion. Molina used his longer reach to fight this one at distance. Simion kept rolling forward but smart movement and good countering made it difficult for him to get into the fight. The Romanian put in a big effort in the seventh but Molina boxed coolly and held his own in an exciting last round. Scores 80-72, 79-73 and 78-74 for Molina. The 22-year-old lost his Spanish title in December 2019 after a ban for a positive test. Simion, 39, has won only one of his last five fights. He was close to a world title shot after winning 21 of his first 22 fights but losses to Scott Quigg, Shakur Stevenson and Denys Berinchyk dashed those hopes.
Orozco vs. Taylor
Prospect Orozco much too good for southpaw Taylor. Orozco outboxed Taylor being too quick and too accurate. Taylor bravely walked forward and fought well enough to share a round but there was a big gap in ability. Scores 60-55 twice and 60-54 for Orozco. The Colombia-born 26-year-old was a top level amateur bring Spanish champion three times and representing Spain at the EU Championships and European Games. Liberian-born Taylor had won his last two fights.
Fight of the week (Significance): Saul Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders as Alvarez takes another step towards unifying the four belts at super middle
Fight of the week (Entertainment): Elwin Soto vs. Katsunari Takayama with Takayama making Soto trade punches for three minutes in every round
Fighter of the week: Saul Alvarez
Punch of the week: Nothing really explosive this week
Upset of the week: None
Prospect watch: French super welterweight Milan Prat 9-1 looks promising
What goes around comes around. Billy Joe Saunders harshly criticised Daniel Dubois for surrendering to Joe Joyce because his left eye was shut-Saunders retired against Alvarez because of a swelling that hindered his vision and his injury did not look nearly as bad as the one Dubois had
Another controversial ending as a result of a punch to the back of the head. Sanchez had landed to the back of Aguilera’s head early in the fight and not been warned-so no reason not to do it again.
French prospect is more than just a very talented boxer. Cissokho is reported to have a masters degree in economics, is in the late stages of qualifying for a law degree and danced in a ballet with the Paris Opera star Marie-Agnes Gillot.
You lose some-you win some.
Argentinian welterweight Sergio Damian Rosalez fought in a supporting bout on the 7 May show in Villa Carlos Paz and lost on points against Javier Herrera. After the fight Rosalez proposed in the ring to his girlfriend and she accepted. It is not a rare occurrence but imagine the embarrassment if the lady refuses or says Marry you? Get me the winner!
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features