There are a number of fighters who are involved, regularly, in controversial bouts. We often see the same handful of fighters escaping a bout with a win they didn't deserve, and often hear about a fighter getting a home town decision. One such fighter was the biggest name in Japanese boxing during the 2000's and 2010's. Despite the controversy that followed him he remained a popular figure in his homeland among fans, though the boxing authorities certainly weren't fans.
Koki Kameda (28-1, 17) vs Hugo Ruiz (31-1, 28)
Whether you like him, hate him, or are indifferent to him it's hard to deny that Koki Kameda was a star in Japan. He drew TV audiences that fighters since him would do anything to match. He was a legitimate star, with a mix of people who wanted to cheer him and to see him lose. In 2010 those who wanted to see him lose got their way, as he lost the WBC Flyweight title to Pongasaklek Wonjongkam. That loss then lead him to move up to Bantamweight, skipping the Super Flyweight division all together.
Up at Bantamweight Kameda would win the WBA "regular" title, beating Alexander Munoz, and go on a reign that was rather terrible, if we're being honest. On paper some of his opponents were good, but others weren't. He would make 8 defenses of the title, with wins against the likes of Mario Antonio Macias, Noldi Manakane, John Mark Apolinario and Jung Oh Son among them. The one opponent that really stands out during this reign is Hugo Ruiz, a world class Mexican who he faced in 2012 in what was his 5th defense of the title.
Coming into the bout Ruiz was a 26 year old puncher boasting a 31-1 (28) record. He had won 22 in a row, with 19 of those coming inside the schedule. They had included wins against the likes of Francisco Arce, Yonfrez Parejo, the ever durable German Meraz and Alvaro Perez. These wins had seen Ruiz claim the WBA "interim" title and make 4 defenses of it before travelling over to Japan to take on Kameda.
Not only was Ruiz in good form, and would later become a world champion at Super Bantamweight, but he was huge at Bantamweight, towering over the naturally smaller Kameda. He had power, size, skill, and a good boxing brain.
Sadly for Ruiz this was his first fight outside of Mexico and came in Osaka City, the place that Kameda was from. The knowledge that he could be robbed had to be on his mind, and would be exactly what ended up happening.
The opening round saw the two men feel each other out whilst an audible "Koki" chant filled the Bodymaker Colosseum. Despite the loud chant the actual action was minimal through the first 3 minutes. Kameda was ultra negative, getting on his toes and making Ruiz follow him for the most part. When Kameda did rush forward to attack he had mixed success, often being countered.
In round 2 we saw Ruiz put his foot on the gas slightly, landing some nice body shots very early on, and countering Kameda's rushes well. The powerful right hand of Ruiz looked dangerous, even if he wasn't having massive amounts of success with it. Ruiz was cautious but still seemed to out box and out land Kameda in another quiet round. There was no intensity or fire to Kameda's work, and it looked much like the early stages of his bout with Noldi Manakane.
Round 3 was another tame one from Kameda, who got caught low at one point, as Ruiz's body work slipped slightly low. Despite the one shot slipping low the Mexican continued targetting the body, looking to take the legs away from Kameda who moved more than he punched. Every time Kameda came forward he took a body shot, though did try to steal the round late on. It was too little too late though.
It wasn't until round 4 that we really began to see Kameda letting his hands early in a round. Sadly though the early activity of the Japanese fighter didn't continue for long and his tempo soon slowed, as he continued to be countered. The speed advantage was with Kameda but the timing of Ruiz, added to his long reach, neutralised much of that speed. Towards the end of the round the tempo picked up notably, with Ruiz pressing the action, and tempers flared in the final seconds
Going in to round 5 it was hard to give Kameda anything, and that didn't change in rounds 5,6, 7 or 8. During those rounds Kameda continued to move, stay on the back foot and fight as if he was almost scared of Ruiz. In fairness Ruiz didn't do a lot himself, but it didn't seem like he needed to as he was still doing significantly more than Kameda, landing the better shots and pushing Kameda back. Almost all the highlights shown on TBS between rounds were from Ruiz's work and the venue was nearly silent at times. The early chants of "Koki, Koki" were gone, only appearing late in round 6.
The only real moment for Kameda and his team to get excited about was a slip in the corner by Ruiz mid-way through round 6. Technically it looked like Kameda forced Ruiz to touch down, but it was more a cuffing push than a clean punch.
With Kameda in a huge hole as we entered the later rounds it was clear he had to turn it on if he was going to try and retain his title. That however didn't really happen until round 10. Even then it was late in the round when Kameda finally came alive. It was the same in round 11, Kameda really did little for the first part of the round, before finishing very strongly, taking risks, and showing glimpses of what he could do. It was a brilliant finish to the round, and he managed to hurt Ruiz, but it really was just the final minute of the round that we saw that hunger.
With Kameda ending rounds 10 and 11 really well it was nice to see him actually starting round 12 with some hunger and fire and he took the fight to Ruiz in the final round. Had he done this through out the fight there wouldn't have been any controversy. In fact had he done this through the bout we suspect he genuinely could have ended up stopping Ruiz and making a statement. He genuinely had Ruiz in trouble at times in the final 2 rounds. But that was 2 rounds, of a 12 round fight.
After 12 rounds it seemed almost certain the WBA Bantamweight title was heading to Mexico. Ruiz had won most of the fight based on Kameda doing nothing. Kameda showed what he was capable of in the later stages, but that was not enough for us, and for most watching.
Of course it was enough for two of the judges. One judge had Kameda winning 116-113 and the other hand it 115-113 to Kameda. The only dissenting judge was Stanley Christodoulou who had the bout 117-113 to Ruiz. He was the only one close to reflecting what had happened.
For us Ruiz had won the first 8 without debate and lost the last 2. Rounds 9 and 10 there was some argument over, but even they felt they belonged more to Ruiz than Kameda. There was simply no way we could get to a card that had Kameda winning. He had blown the bout, but been given the win. His WBA title reign continued, and he would make 3 more defenses before vacating the title, when he was ordered to face Super champion Anselmo Moreno. It seemed even the WBA had had enough of his reign.
Kameda would go on fight for a Super Flyweight title, but lose to Kohei Kono in an historic bout that saw two Japanese fighters face off for a world title on US soil, the first time had ever happened. Ruiz would go on to win the WBC Super Bantamweight title, but lose it in his first defense to Hozumi Hasegawa, in a much better bout than this one.
The sport has given us so many forgotten treats and so many times a fighter who is involved in one instant classic has their other bouts overlooked and forgotten. Whilst some fighters are known for consistently putting on a show, others are known for one amazing bout, and nothing can ever match it. Today we're looking at one such fighter who is well known for one bout, but was in some other great fights. In fact both men here were involved in some great bouts, but now, just 16 years later, their all out war, with multiple knockdowns and serious controversy, is often forgotten.
Vassiliy Jirov (33-1, 29) vs Joe Mesi (28-0, 25)
When we talk about Vassiliy Jirov the first bout that spring to mind, for every fight fan, is his sensational 2003 clash with James Toney. That bout saw Jirov suffer his first loss in one of the best Cruiserweight bouts of all time. That is the Jirov bout, it's been featured in this series and is one of the sports genuine must watch bouts. After that loss, which saw Jirov lose the IBF Cruiserweight, the Kazakh fought a couple of Crusierweight bouts before mounting his campaign on the Heavyweight scene, with his first bout as a fully fledged Heavyweight being his 2004 clash with the then unbeaten Joe Mesi.
At the time Mesi was building a cult following, he was 28-0, a a former football player who was now being developed into being the new Great White Hope of American Heavyweight boxing. He had been really active early in his career and had run up his 28-0 record in less than 7 years. Whilst some of that was some early career record padding, whilst he gained some in ring experience, he had picked up some wins over recognisable names, such as Jorge Luis Gonzalez, Bert Cooper, David Izon, DaVarryl Williamson and Monte Barrett. Although still a rather raw and crude fighter, he was tough, strong, exciting and full of confidence. He was also the natural Heavyweight, despite being the slightly shorter man.
Given that both men were aggressive, both liked to come forward and both liked to fight, rather than box, the ingredients were here for something very special.
The fight started at a high pace, with Jirov coming forward and Mesi boxing behind his his jab, moving well and showing good restraint early in the round before finishing well, potentially stealing what had been a very, very good round. Jirov seemed like he had been rocked late in the round, as Mesi's natural Heavyweight showed.
Jirov seemed to slow down in round 2, showing a respect of Mesi's powerful right hand. Despite the slowdown Jirov was still regularly coming forward, but was being punished, repeatedly, by Mesi who was using his power and strength well. It seemed as if the move up in weight, and giving away significant weight to Mesi, was an issue for Jirov. Jirov again struggled in round 3, as Mesi's size continued to give him issues.
Despite taking some solid shots in the first 3 rounds, and never being known for his defense, Jirov began to rely on his amateur boxing skills a bit more as we entered round 4. He was beginning to make Mesi miss more, holding when he needed to. It was a smart change from Jirov, but not a perfect one and he did take some more big shots late in the round, before both men were rocked in the dying seconds.
Despite the change in tactics from Jirov in round 4 Mesi managed to take control somewhat in the middle rounds, landing some gorgeous shots whilst not being too worried about what came back at him. Jirov began to look tired, his footwork getting sloppy and some desperation showing in his offensive work. Then in round 9 things turned, as a tired Mesi got dropped.
From there it was a matter of time. Could Jirov turn things around? Could he break the heart of Mesi? Could he even survive himself?
This was brutal, it was exciting, hard hitting and both men had to go through hell in a brilliant, often forgotten, Heavyweight thriller. This one is well and truly worthy of a watch!
By Eric Armit
-Naoya Inoue crushes Filipino Michael Dasmarinas with body punches in three rounds to retain the IBF and WBA bantamweight titles
-Jermall Charlo scores wide unanimous decision over brave Juan Montiel in WBC middleweight title defence
-Jaime Munguia’s power proves too much for Pole Kamil Szeremeta who retires after six rounds.
-Former WBO super bantamweight champion Isaac Dogboe takes majority verdict over Adam Lopez in featherweight clash
-Gabriel Rosado flattens unbeaten Bektemir Melikuziev with one stunning right hand
-Felix Sturm continues his comeback with a points win over James Kraft
-South African Ludumo Lamati wins the vacant IBO super bantamweight title with majority decision against Mexican Jose Estrada Garcia
World Title/Major Shows
Las Vegas, NV, USA: Bantam: Naoya Inoue (21-0) W TKO 3 Michael Dasmarinas (30-3-1). Feather: Isaac Dogboe (22-2) W PTS 10 Adam Lopez (15-3.Super Light: Lindolfo Delgado (12-0) W PTS 8 Salvador Briceno (17-7).
Inoue vs. Dasmarinas
In another “monster” performance Inoue destroys Filipino Dasmarinas inside three rounds.
Inouye was tracking the constantly moving Dasmarinas looking to land with his right. Dasmarinas kept moving a poking out jabs but was wary of Inoue’s power. A right to the body and a left hook to the head gave Inoue the round.
Dasmarinas showed more aggression in the second leaping inside and scoring with some southpaw lefts. Inoue continued to hunt Dasmarinas. He shook the challenger with a right and landed a quick combination that saw Dasmarinas drop to his hands and knees. He was up at five and when the action resumed Inoue landed some wicked left hooks to the body but Dasmarinas made it to the bell.
Score: 10-8 Inoue Inoue 20-17
Dasmarinas jabbed and moved in the third with Inoue stalking him and looking to land more lefts to the body. He finally caught up with Dasmarinas and a series of punches ending with a left hook to the body sent Dasmarinas down in pain. He made it to his feet but Inoue rushed him to the ropes and connected with another left hook to the body and as Dasmarinas went down the referee waived the fight over. Inoue retains the IBF and WBA titles with his eighteenth inside the distance victory. He is now 16-0 in world title fights with 14 wins by KO/TKO in those 16 fights-and at 28 there is more to come. Dasmarinas did not have strong credentials with a win over Karim Guerfi and a draw with Manyo Plange his only tests against world rated opposition and he just could not stand the power of the Inoue left hooks to the body.
Dogboe vs. Lopez
Dogboe continues his featherweight campaign as he holds off a strong late surge by Lopez to take a majority decision. The little Ghanaian was in control over the first two rounds putting Lopez under pressure and scoring with hard rights. Lopez had a better third getting on the front foot and outscoring Dogboe. Dogboe was giving away considerable height and reach but he was able to get inside in the fourth and was still dangerous with rights. The fifth and sixth were close with Lopez pressing harder and Dogboe boxing more and probably just edging them. Dogboe rocked Lopez in the seventh but Lopez had Dogboe holding on after landing a right in the eighth. Lopez had a big ninth shaking Dogboe with a couple of rights and he outlanded Dogboe in the last but his late dominance was not enough to get the decision. Scores 97-93 and 96-94 for Dogboe and 95-95. Second win for the former WBO super bantam title holder since suffering back to back losses against Emanuel Navarette. Lopez’s other two losses have been a majority verdict against current WBO super bantamweight title holder Stephen Fulton back in 2017 and a stoppage by Oscar Valdez in which Valdez was down early.
Delgado vs. Briceno
Delgado goes the distance for the first time with unanimous decision over Briceno. In his first fight for 21 months Delgado made a slow start. He took a few rounds to get back in the groove and start timing his punches. Briceno had height and reach over Delgado and was competitive early working his jab well and bringing blood from Delgado’s nose. As Delgado picked up the pace and began to put his punches together Briceno quickly faded and over the closing rounds was really just looking to survive. Scores 79-73 twice and 80-72 for Delgado a Pan American Games silver medallist and 2016 Olympian who had not previously been take past the sixth round. Briceno has fallen into the job of testing promising younger fighters.
Houston, TX, USA: Middle: Jermall Charlo (32-0) W PTS 12 Juan Montiel (22-5-2) .Super Bantam: Angelo Leo (21-1) W PTS 10 Aaron Alameda (25-2). Light: Isaac Cruz (22-1-1) W PTS 10 Francisco Vargas (27-3-2). Feather: Miguel Flores (25-4) W PTS 8 Diuhl Olguin (15-18-4).
Charlo vs. Montiel
Charlo retains the WBC title with a wide decision over a limited but extraordinary tough and very strong Montiel. Charlo was hurting Montiel early in the first two rounds with body punches but Montiel was looking to stay in front of Charlo switching guards and trading punches despite getting the worse of the exchanges. Charlo had Montiel under heavy pressure in the third connecting well to the body. Montiel landed a good left which was his best punch to this point but Charlo was again landing with both hands. Although Montiel again found the target with a left he was taking punishment to the body. After Charlo rocked Montiel with a right at the start of the fourth a low punch from Montiel paused the action. Montiel tried to walk through some wicked left hooks from Charlo and they traded punches to the bell. Charlo could have made this easier for himself but he was looking to take Montiel out instead of boxing. Charlo staggered Montiel with a right in the fifth and piled on the punches but Montiel showed a good chin. He looked on his way out when Charlo trapped on the ropes in the sixth and unloaded with punch after punch but Montiel came back and landed two crisp left hooks to the body late in the round. The pace dropped in the seventh and eighth with a dogged Montiel rolling forward constantly changing guards taking whatever Charlo threw and firing long punches. Charlo suffered a small cut over his right eye and his work was looking ragged as Montiel took the eighth. Somehow Montiel just kept walking through some savage punishment in the ninth and Charlo, whilst doing most of the scoring, was nowhere near as cool or dominant and he could not stop Montiel almost sauntering forward as Montiel connected with a strong left hook straight right combination. Absorbing punches does not win you rounds, landing them does. Montiel was doing a great job of absorbing punches over the tenth and eleventh and although he also scored with some clubbing body punches Charlo was landing more even as he looked arm weary from hitting Montiel so much for so long. Charlo wanted to box through the last but after doing that for the first half of the round he was forced to brawl at the end. Scores 120-108, 119-109 and 118-109 for Charlo. Fourth defence of the WBC title for Charlo. On the basis of punches landed the score reflected Charlo’s advantage but not the resilience and strength of Montiel. The fact that Jaime Munguia knocked Montiel out in two rounds, the only time Montiel has lost inside the distance. shows just how powerful Munguia is and as he is No 1 with the WBC we could see an explosive title fight later this year.
Leo vs. Alameda
Leo just scrapes past Alameda on a majority verdict. Both scored well in the opening round and that is how the fight progressed with both having some success and with every round close. Leo pressed the action hard in the second and third connecting with strong body punches but southpaw Alameda was catching Leo on the way in with useful counters. Leo worked the body over the middle rounds with Alameda landing head-snapping uppercuts as they fought fiercely through the seventh and eighth with Leo looking to have edged in front. Alameda did better in the ninth again with hooks and uppercuts and with the fight poised to go either way they fought evenly through last. Scores a strange 98-92 and 96-94 for Leo and 95-95. First fight for Leo since losing his WBO super bantam title to Stephen Fulton in January. He is currently No 6 with the WBO and No 9 with the WBC so has some way to go to get a title shot. Alameda was also coming off a loss in a title match having been outpointed by Luis Nery in a fight for the vacant WBC belt in September. He was No 10 with the WBC so may now drop down in the ratings.
Cruz vs. Vargas
Cruz gets a career best win as he is just too young and too strong for former champion Vargas. Cruz’s tactics were to stand off letting Vargas come to him and then lunging inside scoring with overhand rights and left hooks to the body. He was bullying Vargas on the inside and when Vargas managed to push Cruz out he just regrouped and chose his time to come forward again. Vargas was landing solid shots but they were having no effect on hard man Cruz and Vargas was being forced to fight at a strength-sapping pace. Despite being met with some stiff counters Cruz was always able to get inside and the body punching began to slow Vargas. Vargas had a good sixth outscoring Cruz and they both landed solid shots in the seventh but Cruz was banging away to the body and Vargas was showing a small cut over each eye. Cruz dominated the ninth with Vargas tending to hold more inside. A wild last round saw Cruz firing hard shots with both hands and outscoring Vargas. A clash of heads opened a bad gash over the right eye of Vargas. The doctor had a look at it but decided to let the fight continue and as Vargas stumbled forward under punches from Cruz he fell to his knees and the referee treated that as a knockdown. Scores 100-89, 99-90 and 97-92 for Cruz important wins over Diego Maldonado and 24-0 Jose Matias Romero have seen the 5’4” Cruz climb to No 2 with the IBF and No 3 with the WBA but in a division ruled by Teo Lopez and Gervonta Davis and with Devin Henry and Vasyl Lomachenko in the wings he will find it tough to win a title. Former WBC super feather champion “El Bandido” Vargas still has plenty to offer but at 36 the glory days are over.
Flores vs. Olguin
After losses in two big fights Flores had to produce a strong finish to get the split decision over fellow Mexican Olguin. Flores made a good start as he swept the first three rounds based on a focused body attack. Olguin began to roll in the fourth taking the fight to Flores and outscoring him inside. Flores managed to turn the tide and just did enough over the seventh and eighth to give him the edge. Scores 77-75 twice for Flores and 77-75 for Olguin. Flores was coming off consecutive losses to Leo Santa Cruz for the vacant WBA super feather title in November 2019 and to Eduardo Ramirez last December. Olguin had a poor 1-5-1 run of results before this contest.
El Paso, TX, USA: Middle: Jaime Munguia (37-0) W RTD 6 Kamil Szeremeta (21-2). Super Middle: Gabriel Rosado (26-13-1) W KO 3Bektemir Melikuziev (7-1). Welter: Raul Curiel (10-0) W TKO 9 Ferdinand Kerobyan (14-2). Welter: Blair Cobbs (15-0-1) W TKO 5 Brad Solomon (29-4). Welter: Alexis Rocha (17-1) W TKO 2 James Bacon (26-5).
Munguia vs. Szeremeta
Munguia pounds a gutsy Szeremeta to defeat in six rounds. A low-key even first round saw both fighters trying to establish their jabs. Munguia turned up the heat in the second banging home left hooks to the body and putting together some flashy and hurtful combinations before rocking Szeremeta with a left hook to the head. In the third Munguia was boxing more than he has in the past but it was the power in his long sweeping hooks and body punches that were doing the damage. Szeremeta tried to fire back but lacked the power to match Munguia and his head was being snapped back by uppercuts in the fourth and fifth. Munguia handed Szeremeta a savage beating in the sixth driving Szeremeta around the ring connecting with straight rights, left hooks and uppercuts and Szeremeta wisely retired at the end of the round. The former WBO super welterweight champion’s skills are improving but it is the power that has brought him 30 inside the distance wins that makes him such a force. He is No 1 with both the WBC and WBO so a title shot this year looks on. Szeremeta was having his first fight since retiring after seven rounds against Gennady Golovkin in an IBF title fight in December.
Rosado vs. Melikuziev
Rosado comes off the floor to flatten heavy favourite Melikuziev with a single right thunderbolt in the third round. After a slow start Melikuziev attacked fiercely at the end of the first round with Rosado dropping to one knee under a shower of clubbing head punches. He did not look too badly hurt and the bell went as he arose at eight. Melikuziev scored with straight southpaw lefts and body punches throughout the second and was too quick for the slower Rosado. It was looking too easy for the Uzbek and he made a confident start to the third darting in and landing with body shots. An overconfident Melikuziev was coming with his hands down and the next time he did it Rosado met him with a thunderous counter right that froze Melikuziev before he pitched face down to the canvas. Melikuziev tried to rise but fell on his side with the referee waiving the fight off and summoning help for the Uzbek. In his last fight in November 2020 the 35-year-old Rosado had lost a very close split decision to Daniel Jacobs. He lost to Gennady Golovkin and Peter Quillin in world title shots but with Melikuziev No 7 with the WBA that right might earn him a third title shot. Big setback for Melikuziev but at 25 he can come again perhaps with a little less arrogance next time.
Curiel vs. Kerobyan
Curiel comes from behind to stop Armenian Kerobyan in the ninth. Kerobyan outworked Curiel over the first three rounds using a strong jab and chopping rights to put Curiel on the back foot. Curiel upped his punch output over the fourth and fifth but the Armenian was the stronger and Curiel’s work was sloppy as Kerobyan connected with rights to the head. Curiel finally began to take control in the eighth. He rocked Kerobyan with head punches and suddenly Kerobyan was in trouble. Curiel was driving the Armenian around the ring with Kerobyan unsteady at the bell. A low punch landed by Kerobyan paused the action in the ninth as Curiel was given time to recover and when the fight resumed Curiel drove Kerobyan to the floor with a right. Kerobyan was up quickly but looked unsteady. Curiel then pounced on Kerobyan and staggered him with an uppercut forcing the referee to jump in and stop the fight. Curiel, 25, wins the vacant NABF title with the eighth win by KO/TKO in his last nine contests. After losing a tight decision against Blair Cobbs Kerobyan had regrouped with three wins and looked good here until he fell apart.
Cobbs vs. Solomon
Cobbs too young and too strong for Solomon. Cobbs made a strong fast start putting the older Solomon under plenty of pressure and scoring heavily in the first three rounds. Solomon finally began to settle in the fourth connecting with clever counters early in the round but it was a brief respite for Solomon as Cobbs attacked strongly and Solomon faded. A series of punches from Cobbs saw a tiring Solomon drop to his knees and the fight was stopped. Philadelphian southpaw Cobbs is making steady progress. Now 38 Solomon has wasted his talents with just one fight each in years 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Rocha vs. Bacon
Rocha rebounds from defeat against Rashidi Ellis and destroys Bacon in two rounds. Southpaw Rocha began the fight with a cluster of lefts to the body. Bacon began to fire back but Rocha was winning the exchanges and looked to have the harder punch. In the second Rocha was loading up on his punches and when Bacon tried to match him a burst of body punches and a right to the head floored Bacon. He arose at seven but Rocha took him to the ropes and landed some more before a brutal right dropped Bacon face down under the bottom rope and the fight was waived off. Impressive rebound performance by 23-year-old Californian Rocha. Bacon had been in good form with 7 wins in his last 8 fights but was overpowered here.
Sydney, Australia: Heavy: Justice Huni (5-0) W TKO 10 Paul Gallen (11-1-1).Middle: Isaac Hardman (11-0) TKO 4 Emmanuel Carlos (12-2).Middle: Andrei Mikhailovich (16-0) W TKO 2 Alex Hanan (13-1). Feather: Sam Goodman (9-0) W TKO 6 Nort Beauchamp (18-5). Cruiser: Jason Whateley (9-0) W TKO 4 Victor Oganov (32-9).
Huni vs. Gallen
Huni retains the Australian title with last round stoppage of outclassed but brave Gallen. Huni was 6” taller, 15lbs heavier and 17 years younger than Gallen and all of those factors together with Huni’s superior speed and mobility left Gallen with little chance of winning. Huni rocked Gallen with a right in the first and came close to a stoppage in the third. He then used his longer reach to score with hard body shots with Gallen rolling forward but with the exception of a close fifth having little success. The body punches tired Gallen and by the ninth he had little left and only just survived the round. In the tenth a huge left from Huni floored Gallen. He climbed to his feet but the referee stopped the fight. All three judges had Huni in front 89-82 at the finish. The 22-year-old Huni from Brisbane was making the third defence of the national title and he will now go on to compete at the Tokyo Olympics. Gallen, 39, a former Rugby player, showed tremendous heart but was out of his league in every sense here.
Hardman vs. Carlos
Hardman retains the Australian title with stoppage of Carlos. “Headsplitter” Hardman was scoring well in the firsts with rights. Carlos was cut high on his forehead in a clash of heads in the second and they trade punches fiercely with Hardman getting the better of the exchanges. Hardman dominated the third and then put Carlos down with a right in the fourth. Carlos made it to his feet but was in a bad way and as Hardman attacked the referee came in and stopped the fight. Ninth inside the distance win for the 25-year-old Queenslander. Carlos had won his last five fights.
Mikhailovich vs. Hanan
In a clash of unbeaten fighters Mikhailovich stops Hanan in two rounds. A beauty of a left hook put Hanan on the floor in the second. He beat the count but was floored by another left hook and although he made it too his feet the fight was stopped. The 23-year-old Russian-born “Renegade” has nine wins by the quick route and was too good for Hanan who had never really been tested previous to this fight.
Goodman vs. Beauchamp
Former amateur star Goodman outboxes and then stops Beauchamp. Goodman was scoring at distance with his jab and then landing heavy counters to the body as Beauchamp came forward. Beauchamp managed to get inside and was more competitive in the third but Goodman handed out steady punishment in the fourth and fifth with both the referee and doctor warning Beauchamp that unless he showed more the fight could be stopped. When Goodman connected with some heavy punches in the sixth the referee stepped in to save Beauchamp. Fifth win by KO/TKO for the 22-year-old Goodman who collects the vacant Australasian title. He was Australian Youth champion and won a bronze medal at the World Youth Championships. Thai-born New Zealander Beauchamp suffers his third loss in a row.
Whateley vs. Oganov
A farcical mismatch sees Whatley beat Oganov in four rounds. Whatley at 6’5” was 9” taller than Oganov and was also 14 years younger. Oganov had nothing to offer. He had occasional success with lunging attacks in the third but he was cut and soaking up punishment in the fourth and his team threw in the towel. Russian-born 44-year-old Oganov was carrying 29lbs more than the 168lbs he weighed when he turned pro in 1998.
Hurlingham, Argentina: Super Middle: Marcelo Coceres (30-2-1) W TKO 2 Nelson Rosalez (5-4).
Coceres scores two knockdown in the second round to finish overmatched Rosalez in a fight for the vacant WBA Fedebol title. Sixteen inside the distance wins for Coceres who lost on an eleventh round kayo against Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO super middle title in 2019. Second inside the distance loss for Rosalez.
Sheffield, England: Fly: Rosendo Guarneros (19-4-2) W PTS 12 Tommy Frank (13-2).
Huge disappointment for local fighter Frank as he lets an early lead slip away and loses a split decision against Mexican Guarneros. Good boxing saw Frank pile up the points over the early rounds holding off the aggressive attacks of the visitor. Pressure from Guarneros saw him get into the fight over the later rounds. It seemed as though Frank might have just done enough but the officials came up with scores of 117-112 and 115-113 for Guarneros and 115-113 for Frank. When they met in December Guarneros won as Frank retired after eight rounds due to a shoulder injury. Guarneros had lost on points to Sunny Edwards in 2019 and as there are few flyweights in Britain he may be asked back again. Frank will get an early chance at redemption as he is scheduled to fight unbeaten Kyle Yousaf for the vacant British title in August.
Beziers, France: Light: Jaouad Belmehdi (11-0-3) W Sylvain Chapelle (17-27-2)
Hometown fighter Belmehdi retains the French title with wide unanimous decision over Chapelle. Belmehdi used his longer reach and better skills to control this one all the way. Belmehdi had won his last four fights by KO/TKO and shook Chapelle early but Chapelle survived and never stopped trying. He was eating punches all night without ever threatening Belmehdi’s dominance but preserved his record of never losing inside the distance. Scores 100-90 twice and 98-91 for 23-year-old Belmehdi. This is Chapelle’s fifth unsuccessful tilt at winning a French title.
Kempton Park, South Africa: Super Bantam: Ludumo Lamati (18-0-1) W PTS 12 Jose Estrada Garcia (12-2-1). Welter: Thulani Mbenge (18-1) W TKO 3 Jabulani Makhense (11-1). Super Welter: Brandon Thysse (14-2-1) W TKO 10 Tomi Silvennoinen (9-4).Super Welter: Roarke Knapp (12-1-1) W RTD 2 Benoit Makangila (12-1-2) Cruiser: Johnny Muller (23-9-2) W PTS 10 Akani Phuzi (11-2).
Lamati vs. Estrada
Lamati wins the vacant IBO title with a majority decision over Mexican Garcia in a fight that would have graced any title. Lamati had to be at his best to withstand the pressure from Garcia. Boxing when he could Lamati had the edge in skill but the pulsating pressure from Garcia too often found Lamati forced to stand and trade punches. The South African had scored well when he could create some space and established a good lead after nine rounds but Garcia had more left and he rocked Lamati and opened a cut under his right eye in the tenth. Lamati was under pressure again in the eleventh and a cut was opened over the South Africa’s right eye. Despite the cuts Lamati showed a warrior’s spirit somehow finding the strength to fight hard to the last bell to emerge a deserved winner-but only just. Scores 116-112 and 115-113 for Lamati and 114-114. Wins over experienced opposituion such as Luis Melendez, 27-2 Alexis Kabore and Filipino Richie Mepranum have lifted Lamati to No 7 with the WBC and now he has a title. Garcia was 10-0-1 in his last 11 fights including a victory over 17-1-1 Luis Lebron last year.
Mbenge vs. Makhense
This was the most anticipated fight on the show but it turned out to be a one-sided triumph for Mbenge. From the first bell Mbenge used a strong jab to put Makhense on the back foot . A clash of heads saw Mbenge cut on the inside of his mouth but he maintained the pressure and dominated the action in the second. Mbenge connected with a series of left hooks to the head in the third which had Makhense reeling and then some hard rights saw Makhense stumbling and pitching forward as the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. Former IBO champion Mbenge shows he is still very much a force with his fourteenth win by KO/TKO. His only defeat was a very close point loss against unbeaten Sebastian Formella and with this win he has now collected both the ABU and the WBA Pan African titles since that 2019 defeat. Makhense had beaten some good domestic opposition but could not match Mbenge for power.
Thysse vs. Silvennoinen
Thysse scores a late stoppage of Finn Silvennoinen. Thysse was quicker and a much better boxer than the limited Silvennoinen in a fight which never really caught alight. With Silvennoinen deducted a point for holding in the ninth Thysse looked on his way to a comfortable points win until he dropped Silvennoinen with an uppercut early in the tenth. Silvennoinen beat the count but was put down again by a right to the body and counted out. Fourth consecutive win for Thysse who is No1 in the South African ratings. Third defeat in a row for Silvennoinen
Knapp vs. Makangila
Local boxer Knapp makes it ten quick wins as he defeats previously undefeated Makangila. No knockdowns but Knapp handed out a solid beating with Makangila not answering the bell for the third round. Knapp’s lost was a seventh round stoppage by Thysse in November 2019. Congolese fighter Makangila was having his second fight in South Africa and is 0-1-1 there now.
Muller vs. Phuzi
Muller gets split decision over Phuzi. The more experienced Muller had won the WBA Pan African title with a unanimous points victory over Phuzi in December and simply outworked Phuzi this time in a lacklustre affair to hold on to the belt. Scores 97-93 twice for Muller and a strange 96-94 for Phuzi. Muller has been a pro for twelve years and in his glory days scored wins over Kevin Lerena and Mateusz Masternak. Phuzi has scored wins over Namibians Wilberforce Shihepo and Vikapita Meroro.
Hamburg, Germany: Light Heavy: Felix Sturm (42-5-3,1ND) W PTS 10 James Kraft (19-1-1). Heavy: Hussein Muhamed (17-0) W PTS 10 Senad Gashi (21-4). Super Middle: Vincent Feigenbutz (33-3) W KO 9 Nuhu Lawal (27-9).
Sturm vs. Kraft
Sturm continues his comeback with unanimous demission over unbeaten Kraft. The 18-year younger Kraft tried to set a fast pace and take the fight to Sturm and made the former title holder work hard. Kraft threw plenty of punches rocking Sturm in the fifth but Sturm’s experience was the important factor. He stayed cool scoring with solid, accurate punching and when under pressure blocked, dodged and used clever upper body movement to get away from Kraft’s punches. There were no knockdowns and neither fighter was ever in trouble so Sturm managed ten rounds of useful work to prepare himself for bigger fights. Scores 99-93, 97-94 and 96-94 for Strum. At 42 and having been out of the ring for almost four years before returning with a win in December Sturm has a limited shelf life. Kraft had been kept away from any tough tests but boxed well here and is still only 24.
Muhamed vs. Gashi
Muhamed wins the vacant WBC International Silver title with victory over more experienced Gashi. Muhamad cleverly used his longer reach and 5” height advantages to work on the outside with Gashi having success with body punches. Gashi slipped to the canvas under pressure from Muhamed in the second and was given a count. There were some fierce exchanges in the fifth with Muhamed scoring a genuine knockdown. Pressure from Gashi over the late rounds made the fight close but he could not claw back the points from the two knockdowns with Muhamad emerging a clear winner. Scores 97-91, 96-94 and 95-93 for Muhamad. This was a big step in quality of opposition for the 6’5” German Muhamad who adds another interesting factor the heavyweight division in Europe. Kosovon-born southpaw Gashi has come up short in step-up fights against Carlos Takam and Dereck Chisora.
Feigenbutz vs. Lawal
Feigenbutz keeps busy with a ninth round win over Lawal. Over the opening rounds Feigenbutz settled for dominating the centre of the ring and controlling the fight with his jab. He upped his pace from the fourth before flooring Lawal in the fifth. Feigenbutz kept up the pressure and ended it the ninth when with Lawal pinned against the ropes he landed a cluster of punches and Lawal went down and was counted out. Although nothing is signed the talk is of a match with Sturm which would be a big attraction. Lawal, 39, falls to 2-7 in his last 9 fights.
Guadalajara, Mexico: Cruiser: Anderson Silva (2-1) W PTS 8 Julio Cesar Chaves Jr (52-5-1,1ND). Middle: Ramon Alvarez (29-8-3,1ND) W PTS 8 Omar Chavez (38-7-1). Super Welter: Damian Sosa (18-1-0) W PTS 10 Abel Mina (13-1). Super Light: Jorge Melendez (14-7-2) W PTS 8 Kevin Torres (17-2-1).
Silva vs. Chavez
Another black eye for boxing as UFC senior citizen Silva takes a split decision over Chavez Jr. The contract weight for this fight was 182lbs and, not for the first time, Chavez came in 2.4lbs over and this time he had to pay $100,000 to Silva for that failure. Although Chavez made a good start over the second half of the bout Silva, 42, out threw and outlanded Chavez who was 10lbs heavier than in his last fight in November. That indicated how hard he trained for this one and he tired badly late in the fight as Silva continued to find the target with jabs and some punches out of his UFC bag of tricks. A cut and exhausted Chavez just faded out of the fight and squandered his early lead. Scores 77-75 twice for Silva and 77-75 for Chavez but Silva looked to have won this one clearly. Silva who some consider to be the best of all time in MMA, had one pro fight in 1998 which he lost and one in 2005 which he won. He aims to continue in boxing. Chavez, 35, really should retire.
Alvarez vs. Chavez
In a clash of two members of Mexican boxing’s first families Alvarez goes 2-1 ahead in his series of bouts with Chavez as he wins a unanimous decision. Alvarez was the aggressor throughout. A clash of head opened a deep gash on the forehead of Chavez in the fourth but the fight continued with Alvarez landing more and the harder punches. Scores 80-73 twice and 79-73. First fight for Alvarez, Canelo’s elder brother, since being knocked out by Erislandy Lara in fight for the vacant WBA secondary title in August 2019. Chavez, the son of Julio Cesar, had lost to novice Oziel Santoyo in his last fight in June 2019.
Sosa vs. Mina
Mexican “Samurai” Sosa wins the vacant WBO Latino title with split verdict over Ecuadorian Mina. Scores 96-94 and 95-94 for Sosa and 96-94 for Mina but it was a very controversial decision and Mina looked unlucky.
Melendez vs. Torres
Melendez delighted his home city fans as he took a very thin decision over “Diamond Boy” Torres. Scores 77-74, 77-75 and 76-74 for Melendez who was a very modest 3-3 going into this fight against Torres who had scored wins in his last seven contests.
This show was to celebrate the career of the great Julio Cesar Chavez. On an emotional evening he boxed an exhibition against Hector Camacho Jr in what Julio has promised will be his last ever appearance in a ring and Canelo worked his corner for the last round of the exhibition. It is a pity that his two sons did not perform better but the night was really about Julio Cesar Snr. a World Champion six times over three weight divisions with 107-6-2 career record.
Brisbane, Australia: Super Middle: Rohan Murdock (25-2) W TKO 3 Les Sherrington (38-16).
Murdock crushes a shot looking Sherrington. Murdock put Sherrington down three times with the referee waiving the fight off after the third knockdown. Eighteen inside the distance wins for Murdock who was stopped in eleven rounds by Zack Parker in his last fight in March 2020. Sherrington, 38, has now suffered 6 inside the distance defeats in his last 7 outings.
Golden Sands, Bulgaria: Super Welter: Yosif Panov (19-3) W PTS 10 Angel Emilov (10-31).
Panov wins the vacant Bulgarian title as he eases to a unanimous decision over Emilov. Scores 99-90, 98-91 and 98-95 for Panov. After being 2-3 at the start of his career “The Viper” has scored 17 consecutive victories over opponents who would be flattered to be described as modest. Emilov has won only one of his last ten fights.
Munich, Germany: Super Emre Cukur (17-1) W PTS 10 Geard Ajetovic (31-24-2).
Cukur gets routine win over experienced survivor Ajetovic. Tall southpaw Cukur was able to outbox Ajetovic and alternated between fighting on the back foot and using his jab to force Ajetovic onto the defensive. Ajetovic was just too slow to pose any threat and Cukur was able to do some showboating but with only three wins by KO/TKO did not have the power to stop Ajetovic. Cukur tired badly over the last three rounds but still won every round. A points loss to unbeaten Davide Faraci indicates Cukur will struggle against good level opposition. Serb Ajetovic, 40, falls to 0-91 in his last 10 fights but has never been stopped.
Panama City, Panama: Super Fly: Keiver Fernandez (23-1-1) W PTS 9 Keyvin Lara (30-4-1).
Panamanian-based Venezuelan Fernandez just gets by Nicaraguan Lara on a split decision. It was eight rounds of war and a candidate for Panamanian Fight of the year. Fernandez won on two scores of 86-85 with the third judge going for Lara by the same score. Fernandez wins the vacant WBA Fedelatin title but his impressive figures hide a standard Venezuelan padded record with 18 of those he has beaten having “amassed” six wins between them. Lara was knocked out in the eleventh round by Kazuto Ioka in a challenge for the secondary WBA flyweight title in 2016
Miami, FL, USA: Welter: Harold Calderon (25-0) W RTD 4 Ramal Amanov (16-4).
Calderon halts late substitute Amanov in four rounds. From the first Calderon was targeting Amanov’s body and the Miami-based Azeri quickly began to wilt. Calderon kept up the pressure rocking Amanov and pounding to the body until Amanov’s team pulled their man out of the fight. Chicago-born Nicaraguan Calderon has 17 wins by KO/TKO but has been carefully matched. Amanov suffers his fourth inside the distance loss in a row.
Atlanta, GA, USA: Super Welter: Yuri Foreman (35-3,1ND) W Jimmy Williams (17-5-2,1ND).
It looks like the end of the road for Foreman a former holder of the secondary WBA super welterweight title as he loses a majority decision against Williams. Scores 77-73 twice for Williams and 75-75. They were to have clashed in March but Forman reported sick the day before the fight so it never happened. Williams went 14-0-1 at the start of his career but has struggled since then. Foreman 40 won the WBA title in 2009 but lost it to Miguel Cotto the following year.
Fight of the week (Significance): The victories for Naoya Inoue, Jermall Charlo and Jaime Munguia could all prove to be significant over the next six months.
Fight of the week (Entertainment): Ludumo Lamati vs. Jose Estrada Garcia was war all the way with honourable mention to Keiver Fernandez vs. Keyvin Lara in Panama
Fighter of the week: Inoue again lives up to his “Monster” billing
Punch of the week: The left to the body from Inoue that finished Dasmarinas was fearful but that single right counter from Rosado that flattened Melikuziev gets my vote.
Upset of the week: UFC veteran Anderson Silva outpointing Julio Cesar Chavez Jr was an upset but Chavez brought it on himself
Prospect watch: Russian-born New Zealand middleweight Andrei Mikhailovich 17-0 is progressing well
It was good to see the career of the great Julio Cesar Chavez celebrated in Guadalajara. JCC boxed an exhibition with Hector Camacho Jr. and his sons Julio Cesar Jr and Omar also boxed on the show. The Chavez dynasty was not the only family in attendance as Ramon Alvarez, the elder brother of Saul, won over Omar Chavez and Canelo climbed in the ring to be in JCC’s corner for the last round of the exhibition-whisper it but there is another Alvarez about as young Johan, a nephew of Saul and Ramon, won his first pro fight on the show.
How times change with Australian heavyweight champion Justice Huni now off to compete at the Tokyo Olympics. Gone are the days when the Games were for amateurs.
Sometimes fighters were made to be included regularly in this Closet Classic series. We cover one such fighter again today in what, we believe, is his 6th appearance in this series. It's also one of his less well known bouts, yet had everything we could wish to see in a bout. Bombs, both men being hurt, a determined fight back, skills, very different styles. This goes under the radar a lot, but is a great, great bout.
Yong Soo Choi (19-2, 12) vs Orlando Soto (27-2, 19)
Anyone who has followed this series for long will know what to expected from Yong Soo Choi. The teak tough Korean was one of the most exciting fighters of the 1990's. He became the WBA Super Featherweight champion in October 1995, when he stopped Victor Hugo Paz in Argentina. In his first defense he defended his belt in a war with rival Yamato Mitani, in what was their second bout, then took on Orlando Soto from Panama.
Anyone who has seen Choi's previous bouts will know what he's about. For those that haven't, Choi was just the personification of a bad ass. The Korean was all about pressure and workrate, with an iron chin, incredible stamina and a willingness to take one to land one. He was clumsy, defensively open, relatively in terms of foot work, but a physical monster that loved to grind opponents down.
As for Orlando Soto he was more a stylish boxer-mover. He used his feet well, made the ring big, but didn't run. Coming in to this his only losses had been a decision to the Tom "Boom Boom" Johnson, in an IBF title fight, and a DQ loss to Miguel Arrazola. Whilst he hadn't scored any massive wins he had proven to be a decent road warrior, with wins through various parts of Latin America. They included victories over former world title challenger Pedro Villegas tough veteran Raul Martinez Mora and future world title challenger Carlos Gerena.
From the opening seconds Soto was showing off what he could do. He was using his legs brilliantly to control the distance, making Choi fall short, and tagging him at range. Choi was coming forward but made to look confused and lost as Soto's straight punching, hand speed and defensive footwork completely neutralised the Korean's aggression.
Things went from bad to worse for Choi who continued to struggle in round 2, as Soto continued his good start by again boxing and moving. It was nothing original or amazing from Soto, but it was simple, effective and it worked brilliant from Soto.
The hole Choi was finding himself in got worse in round 3 for the Korean, who was dropped...twice! Despite the fight only being in round 3 he looked like he was going to be giving up his title in just his seconds defense. He was being out boxed, out fought, out thought, out sped and hurt. He barely made his way out of the round and it looked like he was about done.
Then we saw the fight back. The heart, the desire, the hunger of Choi began to kick in. He cleared his head and began to move through the gears, taking risks and letting his hands go more often, speeding up his foot work, and fought like a man who was told that his aggression could take the wind out of Soto's sails. From there on it started to become more and more like a Choi bout, with his pressure and zombie like offense taking the fight to Soto.
From there on we had great, intense, and exciting action.
This isn't the usual Choi bout, at least not early on. His inability to cope with Soto's movement makes this very different to his wars with Mitani, Hatakeyama and Sim, but as it goes on it becomes a Choi bout. The drama of the early knockdowns adds to the fight significantly.
This is a real hidden gem and we hope fans do put the 35 minutes aside to enjoy this fantastic, if often looked, war.
For today's controversial clash we are going to look at one of the worst decisions of 2017, with officials that essentially did everything they could to make sure the local fighter won. Sadly it came at the expensive of someone who was rising through the ranks and would instantly have been in the world title mix had it not been for the officiating here.
Jamshidbek Najmiddinov (10-0, 8) Vs Viktor Postol (28-1, 12)
Of the two fighters it's obviously Viktor Postol is the more well known name. This was actually his first bout following his 2016 loss to Terence Crawford, in which he lost the WBC 140lb title to the American star in a big unification bout. Prior to losing to Crawford Postol had been one of the best fighters in the Light Welterweight division and had become a notable name on both sides of the Atlantic. He had proven himself in Europe to begin with, and then travelled to the US and had a run of wins against the likes of Selcuk Aydin and Lucas Martin Matthysse.
In the ring Postol was was a tall, rangy outside-boxer. He looked to establish range, keep opponents at bay and box them. He wasn't there to take risks, or take punishment, but to play it safe, rack up the rounds and chip away at opponents, as we saw against the likes of Aydin and Matthysse. Notably however he had also been out of the ring for around 14 months following the Crawford bout.
The 27 year old Jamshidbek Najmitdinov was a totally unknown Uzbek hopeful who had fought absolutely nobody of note prior to this bout. His only real achievement was that he had won the Uzbek national title, but the talent pool on the Uzbek national scene is essentially non-existent and his other goes were all pretty limited novices. This wasn't just a step up in terms of competition, going from domestic, lower level foes to Postol, but was also Najmitdinov's first bout outside of Uzbekistan.
On paper it was clear that Najmitdinov was there to get Postol an easy win, especially after the long lay off for the Ukrainian. Paper however doesn't tell the story of a fighter and that was found out very quickly as Najmitdinov proved he was there with a point to prove, and that he wanted to make a name for himself.
From the opening bell Najmitdinov looked aggressive, exciting and like a real natural. He fought with his hands down, lured Postol in to throwing and countered well, landing looping shots from the southpaw stance and he seemed to twice put Postol down from looping shots. Postol had moments, but Najmitdinov had far more of them, and he had the more eye catching ones as well.
In round 2 it seemed like Postol was figuring his man out, pressing well, jabbing well and Najmitdinov seemed to getting too reckless and doing some really strange and ineffective things in there. After a bad start it seemed Postol was now getting into gear, that was until round 3 when Najmitdinov starting to make things messy, frustrating Postol, show boating and landing wide looping shots once again. It appeared that Najmitdinov was having fun with Postol, keeping his hands down at times, baiting and countering the Ukrainian. The gamesmanship from Najmitdinov stepped up a gear in round 4 when he flat out taunted the former world champion.
Najmitdinov's enjoyment of the bout grew more in round 5, when he dropped Postol with a short left hand. Postol got up from the knockdown but was all over the place through to the end of the round, with Najmitdinov coming incredibly close to getting the stoppage. Postol was surviving, spoiling and doing all he could to get to the end of the round and clear his head, but it was a round that saw him really on the wrong end of things.
After a really good round 5 for Najmitdinov he seemed to slow down significantly in round 6 as Postol got himself back in into the bout. The Uzbek looked like he had shot his load and took the full round to recover his gas tank. That turned out to be a smart decision as he looked more aggressive in round 7, whilst Postol held and spoiled, realising his man was still dangerous.
With Najmitdinov seemingly in a clear lead going into the later rounds Postol picked up the pace in round 8, this seemed to get back into the bout, but he needed to do more in the final 2 rounds, and he didn't seem to do enough, for us at least to over-turn the good start by the unheralded Uzbek. Postol did show his class late on, there's no doubt about that, but given the knockdown, and very good start from Najmitdinov it was a case that Postol would have needed a knockdown, at the very least.
After 10 rounds we went to the scorecards and it seemed, from viewing the bout, that Najmitdinov had taken the decision, even in Postiol's backyard. Sadly however the decision wasn't to go the way of the Uzbek. In fact one judge gave Najmitdinov only one round, and the other two judges gave him just 2 rounds, 3 horrifically bad scorecards.
Sadly for Najmitdinov he was essentially frozen out of interest bouts for years after this whilst Postol got bouts with the likes of Josh Taylor and Jose Carlos Ramirez within 3 years of this very, very questionable win.
For this week's Closet Classic we reach back to 2007 for a real hidden gem of a war from Korakuen Hall. The bout features a Closet Classic series regular, in what was his career first title before going on to become a 2-time world champion, and a man who would come up short at world level just a few months after this bout. This is a big more of a hidden gem than some in the series but boy what a good one it is!
Kohei Kono (17-3, 7) vs Teppei Kikui (21-4, 4) III
Before we speak about the two fighters we'll begin by discussing the history between the two men. In 2003 a then 22 year old Kohei Kono had take a split decision over the then 24 year old Teppei Kikui. In 2005 Kikui got revenge, beating Kono with a close decision win of his own. In 2007 they clashed for the third, and final, time in what was a really hotly contested and personal bout between the two.
Just 9 months after beating Kono we had seen Kikui win the Japanese Super Flyweight title, beating Kuniyuki Aizawa. As the Japanese champion Kikui had made a single defense, dominating Masayuki Arinaga, and moved towards a world title fight. Entering this bout with Kono the talented and skilful Kikui wasn't just the Japanese national champion but also had top 10 rankings with the WBA and WBC. Although not a big puncher Kikui was a talented fighter who had rebuilt well from two losses in 1998 and had only been stopped once, way back in his 9th professional bout.
As anyone who follows this series will know, Kohei Kono made for fun fights. His battles were regularly great wars with the "Toughboy" being a very fan friendly warrior. Kono was incredibly tough yet basic fighter who got in the ring to fight. He wasn't the most polished or skilled fighter but made up for that through sheer bloody mindedness, will, toughness and world rate. Anyone who faced him knew they would be in for a hard night, and that would later lead him to becoming a 2-time WBA world champion. This was, however, his first title bout.
From the opening bell this was crazy. This wasn't "round 1" of a fight, but round 17 of their rivalry and Kono fought like he was desperate to take Kikui out straight away. Within 2 seconds it seemed like Kikui had been hurt and he was dropped within 15 seconds. Despite the champion being dropped he composed himself quickly and Kono was down himself seconds after the restart, albeit from a slip. Kikui realised he was in with a raging bull and tried to spoil, hold and slow down Kono, but was shake again in the middle of the round.
After a thrilling opening round it was clear that things couldn't continue at that tempo forever. No one told Kono however and he fought like a man possessed through round 2. He was a little bit more calm and composed than he had been in the first 3 minutes but was still forcing a high tempo on to the champion, who was using his feet smartly to create space. The space that Kikui created only ever acted as a chance to breath before Kono got close and forced a thrilling exchange between the two men.
Round after round Kono would race forward. For the most part he got the better of things, but he kept himself open, took some huge bombs from Kikui and certainly got punished for his aggression, needing to rely on his granite chin and incredible gas tank. Kikui might have been down early but he wasn't going to go away without a real fight.
If you like Kono fights, and this is his third in this series, you'll know what to expect here. If not, sit down, give yourself 50 minutes and enjoy a real hidden gem from 2007!
The entire idea behind this series has been to share not just the best bouts featuring Asian fighters but also the great bouts that go unmentioned and are massively ignored. The all action wars that people don't talk about, the thrilling battles that have been forgotten, the fantastic fistic skirmisshes that have long been overlooked. Today we think we have a perfect example of a Closet Classic, and boy is it a great fight.
Yul Woo Lee (26-4, 12) Vs Leopard Tamakuma (19-2, 10)
Korean fighter Yul Woo Lee had claimed the WBA Flyweight titlein March 1990 with a debatable decision over Jesus Rojas in Daejeon. In his first defense the Korean travelled to Japan to take on local star Leopard Tamakuma.
Although not a well remembered fighter Lee was an exciting warrior, like many Korean's from the 1980's. he was tough, set a high work rate and made for fun fights due to his volume. Although not unbeatable he was strong and tough. Coming in to this bout he was also holding a world title for the second time, having previously held the WBC Light Flyweight title, which he had taken from German Torres before losing it in his first defense to the brilliant Humberto Gonzalez. He had bounced back from his title loss by moving up in weight and defeated Rojas for the WBA Flyweight title. At Light Flyweight and at Flyweight he was a terrier who set an exciting tempo.
Early in his career Tamakuma had been an out-side but over the years had developed a style that was more eye catching and proved he could fight on the inside if he needed to. He had won the Japanese Flyweight title in 1987 and defended it 4 times before taking on the then WBC Flyweight champion Yong Kang Kim, losing a close decision to Kim. That loss had then been followed up with 3 stoppage wins for Tamakuma who was moving towards a second title shot, a shot that would come in 1990 against Lee.
From the opening seconds of the bout Lee looked like a man possessed. Within about 10 seconds of the bout starting Lee had his head in Tamakuma's chest and starting to let his hands go. Tamakuma did turn Lee but the Korean regrouped and again began to literally push Tamakuma around, pinning him on the ropes in an attempt begin a firefight. From there on the rest of the first round was a close up war with Lee looking to bully his foe. To his credit Tamakuma was holding his own at times, but was being out worked through much of the round.
The second and third rounds were much like the first. Tamakuma had some early success but Lee was on his chest, unloading in high volume and trying to out working the naturally bigger, stronger man. Space between the two men was growing, but when Lee wanted to turn things into a fight he did, as and when he wanted.
By the middle rounds Lee was slowing, the incredible pace he had began with was slowing, but Tamakuma was still looking fresh and was repaying Lee for the early onslought. The Korean was digging deep and refusing to quit as the bout continued to be a thrilling war.
Sadly what was an exciting bout became hard to watch late on, but was never a dull watch. Just a hard one, with the early excitement being the highlight of a real toughman fight. Credit needs to be given to the heard and determination of both, but by the end one man was relying nearly entirely on his toughness and will power.
This isn't one of the all time great bouts, but is is very much a Closet Classic, and was, sadly the end of Lee who would never fight again after this gutsy, if somewhat messy, war.
By Eric Armit
- Devon Haney holds off a strong finish from Jorge Linares to retain the WBC lightweight title
-Filipino wonder man Nonito Donaire stops Nordine Oubaali in four rounds to win the WBC bantamweight title
- Mexican Esteban Bermudez springs a huge upset with kayo of unbeaten title holder Carlos Canizales to win the WBA light flyweight title
-Puerto Rican Subriel Matias floors and beats Batyrzhan Jukembayev on a eighth retirement in an IBF super lightweight eliminator
-South African Azinga Fuzile stops Thomas Joseph Ward in seven rounds in IBF super featherweight eliminator
-Jason Quigley outpoints Shane Mosley Jr in a middleweight ten rounder
-Super light Gary Antuanne Russell makes it 14 wins by KO/TKO in 14 fights with win over Jovanie Santiago
-Australian heavyweight hope Justis Huni outpoints Christian Ndzie Tsoye
World Title/Major Shows
2) W TKO 6 Carlos Canizales (22-1-1). Super Bantam: David Carmona (22-7-5,1ND) W PTS 10 Belmar Preciado (21-4-1).
Bermudez vs. Canizales
Huge upset as unfancied Bermudez grinds down then floors and halts previously unbeaten Canizales to win the WBA secondary light flyweight title. Canizales was scoring early with hooks and uppercuts inside. Bermudez was a bit crude but had a strong jab and looked dangerous with overhand rights. Bermudez kept coming forward behind his jab in the second forcing Canizales onto the back foot. Canizales rocked Bermudez with a right but Bermudez repaid him with a right that snapped the title holder’s head back and Canizales looked rattled. Canizales scored well inside in the third but then the strength of Bermudez had him backing up. Bermudez continued to march forward behind his jab. He was shrugging off counters from Canizales and scoring with strong rights to the head and banging away to the body. Canizales turned up the heat in the fourth. He attacked hard and worked Bermudez over on the ropes and Bermudez looked to be tiring. It was Canizales who was showing signs of tiring in the fifth. Bermudez continued to walk Canizales down raking him with long punches and Canizales was cut over his left eye. Canizales was landing some good counters but Bermudez just shrugged them of and worked on the body of Canizales. The sixth saw Canizales landing quality punches but he could not keep Bermudez out. A right to the head shook Canizales and another sent him down heavily. He staggered up but looked unsteady and when the action resumed a right to the head sent Canizales falling to the canvas against the ropes and the referee immediately stopped the fight. The 25-year-old new champion had no right even being in the ring with Canizales as the WBA had to manipulate their ratings to suddenly bring him from nowhere to No 10. Bermudez seized his chance. He proved a big, strong and determined challenger and walked through the punches from the champion even though Canizales had scored 17 wins by KO/TKO. He was very crude at times but effective. Venezuelan Canizales was making the third defence of the title. It may be that one year without a fight took away something from him but he had previously beaten fighters with better credentials than Bermudez and he just crumbled under the constant pressure.
Carmona vs. Preciado
Carmona makes it a double for Mexico over South America as he outpoints Colombian Preciado in a mild upset. Preciado started well and edged two of the early rounds. Carmona then took the fight inside outscoring Preciado and administering a bad body beating. Preciado faded and in the last it even looked possible that Carmona might stop him. Scores 98-93 twice and 96-94. Carmona wins the WBC Fecarbox belt. He has been beaten in title shots by Omar Narvaez and Khalid Yafai and had lost 5 of his last 6 fights so another title shot is a long way away. Preciado is a very in-and-out performer and nowhere near world class.
Carson, CA, USA: Bantam: Nonito Donaire (41-6) W TKO 4 Nordine Oubaali (17-1). Super Light: Subriel Matias (17-1) W RTD 8 Batyrzhan Jukembayev (18-1). Super Light: Gary Antuanne Russell (14-0-0) W RTD 6 Jovanie Santiago (14-2-1). Super Light: Kevin Johnson (9-2) W KO 8 Luis Salazar (15-1). Bantam: Alejandro Santiago (24-2-5) W KO 2 Juan Medina (12-7).
Donaire vs. Oubaali
Donaire crushes WBC champion Oubaali with three knockdowns to make history as the oldest fighter to win a bantamweight title.
A close opening round saw Oubaali using his speed and landing jabs to head and body. Donaire was a little slower but looked dangerous with his left hooks.
Score: 10-9 Oubaali
Similar story but Oubaali upped his pace a bit more and mixed in some good hooks and straight rights. Donaire applied pressure and connected with some left hooks but was just outscored by the champion.
Score: 10-9 Oubaali Oubaali 20-18
Donaire was walking Oubaali down and closing the distance. Oubaali was still jabbing well but had nothing with which to keep the taller Donaire out. It was a close round until with 45 seconds to go in the round Donaire clipped Oubaali with a left to the head. Oubaali fell forward putting his glove on the canvas to stop himself from going down. When he straightened he looked shaky. After the count Donaire floored Oubaali heavily. Initially the referee seemed to throw his arms out to stop the fight and corner men and the doctor were climbing thought the ropes. The referee waived for them to get out and he then gave Oubaali a count and Oubaali survived the round.
Score: 10-7 Donaire Donaire 28-27
Oubaali tried to hold Donaire off in the fourth but failed and a left hook dumped Oubaali on the floor propped up against the ropes. He looked in some distress and this time the referee did stop the fight. Great victory for the 38-year-old Donaire who is already a four-division champion and becomes the oldest fighter to win the bantamweight title. Now he wants a return with Naoya Inoue who took his WBA super bantamweight title in his last fight in November 2019. Oubaali was making the third defence of the title. Oubaali had been a travelling champion having won the WBC title by beating Rau’shee Warren in the USA and defended it in Kazakhstan and Japan. He just could not match the power punching of Donaire. He is 34 but unlikely to retire.
Matias vs. Jukembayev
Matias brutalises and breaks down unbeaten Jukembayev to force Jukembayev’s corner to pull their man out of the fight after eight rounds. A confident start from Jukembayev. He was finding gaps for his right jab and banging home straight lefts. Matias had some success with left jabs late in the round but the early work from Jukembayev earned him the round. Matias was coming forward throughout the second with Jukembayev scoring with rights and lefts but he could not keep Matias out and the Puerto Rican scored well to the body. Jukembayev was being forced to stand and trade punches in the third with the strength of Matias telling and in the fourth a series of punches sent Jukembayev reeling back and down. Jukembayev beat the count and fought hard to make it to the bell. Jukembayev boxed his way through the fifth but Matias had him under heavy pressure at the end of the sixth. Matias was relentless in the seventh. Jukembayev was countering with accurate shots but Matias was walking through them and landing hurtful body shots although Jukembayev seemed to stagger Matias with a right hook late in the round. Matias handed out a solid beating for the whole three minutes of the eighth. With serious swelling around both eyes an exhausted Jukembayev retired at the end of the round. This was the semi-final of an IBF eliminator series to establish a mandatory challenger to Josh Taylor with Australian Liam Paro and Argentinian Jeremias Ponce the other two contesting the semi-finals. Matias was floored and outpointed by unfancied Russian Petros Ananyan in February 2020 but came back with a win over 18-0 Malik Hawkins in October. Canadian-based Kazak Jukembayev had not fought since January 2020 and the only name on his record was Miguel Vazquez who he outpointed in 2019.
Russell vs. Santiago
Russell has yet to go the distance for a win and he floored and broke down Santiago who retired after the sixth round making it the longest fight so far for Russell. Russell dictated the action with stiff jabs in the first and began to find the range with southpaw lefts in the second but Santiago dug in some left hooks to the body at the end of the round. Russell got through with solid shots to head and body in the third and dropped Santiago with a short right hook in the fourth. Santiago soaked up more punishment but made to the bell. The fifth was a more even round but Russell battered Santiago in the sixth and came close to ending it with Santiago retiring at the end of the round. First fight in fifteen months for the 24-year-old Russell who has taken only 29 rounds for his 14 wins. First inside the distance loss for Puerto Rican Santiago who had lost on points against Adrien Broner in February
Johnson vs. Salazar
Johnson proves too strong and too quick for Dominican Salazar. Salazar was having his first fight outside the Republic and was exposed by the less experienced Johnson. Salazar never really got into the fight in a significant way. Johnson outboxed him over the first two rounds and then floored him twice in the third. Salazar survived but also suffered a cut on the bridge of his nose. Salazar’s cut bleed copiously but he managed to avoid too much trouble until the seven when he was dropped for the third time. With his face smeared with blood when he went down again in the eighth the fight was stopped. Johnson, a former National PAL silver medal winner, had lost to two unbeaten former amateur stars in Fazliddin Gaibnazarov and Richardson Hitchins and was having his first fight for 15 months but this win might lead to a more active run. Former Dominican amateur champion Salazar had been carefully matched against novices and faded fighters and was exposed here
Santiago vs. Medina
Mexican Santiago brushes aside Dominican Medina. Santiago outscored Medina in the first and then put him down and out in the second. WBC International champion Santiago is unbeaten in his last 20 fights including four draws and is No 6 with the WBC. Medina drops to 2-7 in his last 9 fights.
Las Vegas, NV, USA: Light: Devin Haney (26-0) W PTS 12 Jorge Linares (47-6). Super Feather: Azinga Fuzile (15-1) W TKO 8 Thomas Joseph Ward (24-2-2) W. Middle: Jason Quigley (19-1) W PTS 10 Shane Mosley Jr (17-3).
Haney vs. Linares
Haney takes unanimous decision over Linares in WBC title defence. He outboxes Linares most of the way but is seriously rocked at the end of the tenth and fades late.
Easy first round for Haney. His hand speed allowed him to score with jabs and long rights to the body. Linares trailed Haney and landed a couple of jabs but Haney pierced his guard throughout the round and landed a sharp left hook.
Score: 10-9 Haney
Brilliant boxing from Haney. He consistently scored with his jab and rights to the body. He also added some left hooks to the body and a sneaky uppercut. Linares padded forward and had some success but was just not quick enough.
Score: 10-9 Haney Haney 20-18
Don’t change a winning formula. Again Haney was slotting home his jab firing long rights to the body and an occasional left hook to the body. Linares was just following Haney around the ring unable to land anything of note.
Score: 10-9 Haney Haney 30-27
A much better round for Linares. He was working well with his own jab and closing the distance better. Haney was still scoring with his jab but his output dropped and Linares finished the round with a burst of punches.
Score: 10-9 Linares Hany 39-37
Official Scores: Judge Steve Weisfeld 40-36 Haney, Judge Patricia Morse Jarman 39-37 Haney, Judge Dave Moretti 39-37 Haney.
Haney was back in control. He had his jab on target and was scoring with hooks and uppercuts. He was using upper body movement to get under the punches and then going back to his jab again. Linares just could not pin him down.
Score: 10-9 Haney Haney 49-46
Total change of tactics from Haney. He took the fight to Linares forcing Linares on the back foot and outfighting Linares in close. He was bullying Linares and scoring with hooks. Late in the round Linares landed a good left and Haney banged back with a right to the head
Score: 10-9 Haney 59-55
Haney went back to his jab. He was doubling his jab to head and body and connecting with straight rights. Linares pressed hard and had success with his own jab and left hooks but Haney finished the round strongly again with jabs.
Score: 10-9 Haney Haney 69-64
Dominant round for Haney. He was coming forward throughout the round. He was getting through with uppercuts from both hands and coming up under Linares jab with rights to the head. Linares now had lumps around both eyes and a snick over his left eye.
Score: 10-9 Haney Haney 79-73
Official Scores: Judge Steve Weisfeld 80-72 Haney, Judge Patricia Morse Jarman 80-72 Haney, Judge Dave Moretti 79-73 Haney.
A close round but one for Linares. Haney was continuing to take the fight to Linares but Linares was firing punches as Haney came in. For the first time in the fight Linares was firing burst of punches instead of just one or two at a time. Linares did a little jig as he went back to his corner pleased with his efforts.
Score: 10-9 Linares Haney 88-83
Haney was very cautious in this round and he punch output drooped. Linares was jabbing well and scoring with left hooks and Haney was off target with his jab. At the end of the round a right to the head from Linares staggered Haney and he was on shaky legs as he went back to his corner with Linares waiving his hands to politely usher Haney home.
Score: 10-9 Linares Haney 97-93
Another round for Linares. For most of the round Haney was not throwing punches but just darting under Linares jab to get close and hold. Linares was not doing a great deal but even then it was more than Haney was doing until Haney connected with a couple of punches late.
Score: 10-9 Linares Haney 106-103
Linares was looking to land the big shot he needed to win this fight but just could not find it. He did land a couple of good left hooks and a right. Haney was just looking to avoid trouble. He could have been deducted a point for holding and Linares could have lost a point for punches to the back of the head but neither happened.
Score: 10-9 Linares Haney 115-113
Official Scores: Judge Steve Weisfeld 116-112 Haney, Judge Patricia Morse Jarman 116-112 Haney, Judge Dave Moretti 115-113 Haney.
Haney retains the WBC title in his third defence. He outboxed Linares for eight rounds but fell away badly after that and was lucky that the right that unhinged his legs in the tenth came at the end and not at the beginning of the round. He was ultra cautious and did not look the same fighter over the last two rounds. Vasyl Lomachenko is NO 1 with the WBC and that would be a great match for Haney. Linares showed he still has plenty left and another title shot is well within his reach.
Fuzile vs. Ward
Fuzile stops Ward in IBF eliminator. Both were very tentative in the first round with neither really committing themselves but what action there was saw Ward take the round with his jabs. Fuzile stepped up the tempo in the second going on to the front foot and scoring well. Ward reasserted himself in the third with plenty of slick movement and putting Fuzile under pressure. In the fourth a quick right hook from Fuzile knocked Ward off balance and his gloves touched the canvas resulting in a count and a strong round for Fuzile. There was a pause in the action in the fifth after a low punch from Fuzile and then the fight really caught fire and they stood and traded punches with Ward just having the edge. A left hook from Fuzile in the sixth rocked Ward and the South African attacked hard scoring with lefts and rights with Ward fighting back at the end of the round. Half way through the seventh as Ward came forward his legs slid from under him and he injured a knee then started to limp. Fuzile was able to manoeuvre around the stationary Ward and score from different angles with Ward finding it hard to reset himself. A clash of heads opened a bad cut over Ward’s left eye and then Fuzile cracked him with a peach of a right hook that sent Ward down. Ward had to use the ropes to climb to his feet and was dazed initially looking out into the crowd and bleeding heavily from the cut. The referee decided he was able to continue-which he obviously wasn’t -and although Ward took a couple of steps forward Ward’s trainer stepped up to the ring apron to get the fight stopped. Big win for Fuzile. He was having his first fight since being stopped in eight rounds by Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov in September 2019. The IBF title is vacant and with Fuzile having been ranked 5 (4) and Rakhimov No 1 it puts Fuzile in a strong position to contest the vacant title. Ward was very much in the fight until he damaged his knee and hopefully will be able to work his way to another eliminator
Quigley vs. Mosley
Quigley wins the vacant WBO NABO title with a majority decision over Mosley. Lots of studying in the first round with Mosley a bit more active and doing the scoring and connecting with a good overhand right. The action picked up a little in the second. Quigley was scoring well with his jab and straight rights. They started to swop punches in earnest in the third. Mosley seemed quicker and had more variety in his work. The action was suspended for a short while after a low punch from Quigley as he sought to score with left hooks to the body. They traded punches through the fourth and fifth which Mosley edged with a higher work rate. The sixth saw both boxers rocked by big punches and Quigley clawed that round back with right hands. Quigley took the seventh constantly stabbing home his jab and after being shaken by a right from Mosley he connected with two hard rights just before the bell. Both landed heavily in the ninth but Quigley seemed to have more left in the tank. Quigley made the better start to the tenth as they just stood and swung tired punches but Mosley finished the round stronger and just pinched it. Scores 97-93 and 96-94 for Quigley and 95-95. Third win for Quigley since his ninth round loss to Tureano Johnson in July 2019. He is down at No 15 with the WBC and this win should get a rating with the WBO but he has a long way to go to get near a title shot. Mosley had won his last four fights and seems to have reached his ceiling.
26 May 2021
Sydney, Australia: Heavy: Justis Huni (4-0) W PTS 10 Christian Ndzie Tsoye (5-4-2). Super Middle: Issac Hardman W TKO 8 Robert Berridge (30-7-1).
Huni vs. Tsoye
Huni outpoints Cameroons boxer Tsoye in second defence of the Australian title. The 6’4” Queenslander was much too good and in front of 40 selected attendees he won a wide unanimous decision. Although outboxed Tsoye was competitive over the early rounds but then tired but from the effect of some lusty body punching from Huni. With only twelve rounds of pro boxing behind him and with both a fight with Paul Geller and the Olympics coming up Huni eased off over the closing rounds to get in some ring time. Scores 99-91 twice and 98-92 for Huni who won the Australian title in his first pro fight. He meets Gallen on 16 June and is a heavy favourite. Tsoye won a bronze in the African championships and although he travelled to Australia for the 2018 Commonwealth Games did not compete and stayed in Australia.
Hardman vs. Berridge
“Headsplitter” Hardman takes a short notice fight to stay busy. Berridge was cut over the right eye in the second and floored in the third. Southpaw Berridge fought hard to stay in the fight but in the last round was put down twice by body punches and the fight was stopped. Eighth inside the distance win for the Australian champion who had just two weeks preparation for the fight. New Zealander Berridge was stopped in four rounds by Dmitry Bivol in a challenge for the secondary WBA light heavyweight title in 2017
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Cruiser: Felix Varela (19-4) W RTD 3 Reinaldo Gonzalez (16-4). Feather: Frency Fortunato (11-1) W TKO 3 Albert Gonzalez (18-7-1).
Valera vs. Gonzalez
Valera uses focused body attack to force Gonzalez to pull out of the fight after the third round. Valera controlled the action in the first with some strong jabbing and left hooks to the body. They exchanged punches throughout the second both landing heavily but again Valera’s jab made the difference. Valera launched a ferocious body attack in the third. Just before the bell he landed low and Gonzalez was given some time to recover. When the action resumed Valera again landed to the body with Gonzalez wincing in pain and he did not come out for the fourth round. Sixteenth win by KO/TKO for the 33-year-old former interim WBA light heavyweight title holder who has now moved up to cruiserweight. Second inside the distance loss this year for Venezuelan Gonzalez.
Fortunato vs. Gonzalez
Fortunato punches too hard for Venezuelan Gonzalez. Fortunato had a substantial reach edge and was able to outbox Gonzalez in the first round. A clash of heads in the second saw Fortunato on the floor. He got up but was dazed. The doctor examined him and allowed the fight to continue. A right from Fortunato floored southpaw Gonzalez in the third. He made it to his feet but a left to the body dropped him again and the fight was stopped. Dominican Fortunato lost on points in March to Argentinian Alberto Melian in a frantic fight that featured seven knockdowns. Venezuelan Gonzalez was having his first fight for 17 months and with some ultra careful matching had lost only one of his previous 13 fights with eleven of his opponents never having won a fight.
Perth, Australia: Super Feather: Jackson Jon England (13-1) W TKO 6 Shiva Mishra (7-4).
Australian prospect England picks up two titles as he stops Mishra with a left to the body in six rounds. His fifth quick win in his last six fights nets the 23-year-old local fighter the vacant IBO Oceania-Orient and WBC Asan Boxing council belts. He is a former undefeated Australian featherweight champion but is now fighting at super featherweight. New Zealander Mishra had won his last four fights.
Berlin, Germany: Middle: Marten Arsumanjan (11-1-2) DREW 12 Thomas Piccirillo (8-0-3). Super Welter: Haro Matevosyan (13-0,1ND) W TKO 3 Damiano Falcinelli (14-1). Super Middle: William Scull (17-0) W KO 2 Dragan Lepei (19-4-2). Middle: Vincenzo Gualtieri (17-0-1) W PTS 12 Khaliil El Harraz (13-2-1). Super Welter: Jama Saidi (19-2) W PTS 10 Dennis Dauti (19-5).Middle: Bjoern Schicke (17-1-1) W TKO 1 Vito Vendetta (14-8-1).
Arsumanjan vs. Piccirillo
Arsumanjan climbs off the floor to retain the EU title with a split draw against Piccirillo in an entertaining contest. The first round went to Arsumanjan as Piccirillo made a slow start allowing Arsumanjan to build a lead. Piccirillo upped his pace from the fourth and floored Arsumanjan late in the sixth. Arsumanjan rebounded talking a couple of rounds to settle again and then although Piccirillo is known for his stamina Arsumanjan matched him over the closing rounds. It had been a well balanced fight and the draw looked right. Scores 116-113 for Arsumanjan, 116-112 for Piccirillo and 114-114. Arsumanjan, a cousin of former IBF and WBO title holder Arthur Abraham, was making the first defence of the EU title he won with an impressive victory over Piccirillo’s unbeaten team mate Bjoern Schicke in June last year. Italian-born German champion Piccirillo will be hoping to get another shot at Arsumanjan.
Matevosyan vs. Falcinelli
Matevosyan also retained his title as he overwhelmed Italian Falcinelli in two rounds for the IBF Inter-Continental belt. Southpaw Matevosyan took the first two rounds and was landing heavily in the third when the referee stopped the fight as the towel came in to save Falcinelli. Armenian-born Matevosyan was making his first defence and gets his eighth inside the distance victory. Italian champion Falcine4li just did not have the power to match Matevosyan
Scull vs. Lepei
Cuban Skull contributed to making it a bad night for Italian/Italian based boxers as he stopped Lepei. Scull never allowed Lepei to get in the fight as he outscored him in the first and put Lepei down and out with an uppercut in the second. Scull, 28, was defending the IBO International title. Romanian-born former undefeated Italian champion Lepei suffers his second KO/TKO defeat.
Gualtieri v. El Harraz
In another IBO title fight Gualtieri used his longer reach and better skills to outbox former Italian champion El Harraz. The challenger had difficulty getting past Gualtieri’s jab and was shipping plenty of counters when he tried. Gualtieri’s confidence grew as the fight went on and he was eventually comfortable to swap punches with El Harraz but lacked to power to end things early. Scores 120-108 on all three cards in favour of Gualtieri who remains IBO Continental title holder. The draw on Gualtieri’s record came against team mate Piccirillo in a defence of the German title in August last year. El Harraz’s other loss was a very creditable points loss against 21-1-1Marcos Nader in November 2019.
Saidi vs. Dauti
Saidi successfully defends the German International title with unanimous verdict over Swiss-based Greek Dauti. Saidi boxed well against the strong and aggressive Dauti showing a solid defence and accurate attacking skills but was never able to completely subdued Dauti. All three judges gave the fight to Saidi on scores of 98-92. Saidi, of Afghan antecedents, is hoping to now face Italian Orlando Fiordigiglio for the vacant EU title. His losses have been against Culcay, who now trains him, and world rated Vincenzo Feigenbutz. Dauti had won 5 of his last 6 fights.
Schicke vs. Vendetta
Schicke dismantles fellow-German Vendetta with three knockdowns in 63 seconds. Schicke, a former EU champion, was having his first fight since losing the EU title on a sixth round retirement against Marten Arsumanjan in June 2020. Vendetta, real name Vito Palmieri, is 2-4 in his six most recent outings.
Mexico City, Mexico: Light Fly: Esteban Bermudez (14-3-
Johannesburg, South Africa: Light: Tshifihiwa Munyai (33-6-1) W TKO 9 Khaya Busakwe (7-2). Super Bantam: Innocent Mantengu (14-5-1) W PTS 12 Luthando Mbumbulwana (11-7). Bantam: Layten Gloss (7-3) W TKO 7 Tumelo Matsane (4-3).
Munyai vs. Busakwe
Munyai remains South African champion with stoppage of Busakwe. Experience played a big role in this fight. The taller Busakwe made an impressive start and quickly moved into the lead. Munyai eventually found his way into the fight but Busakwe was matching him. Busakwe had never gone past the seventh round in a fight and Munyai had paced the fight better. He came through with two knockdowns in the ninth to end Busakwe’s challenge. The 36-year-old “Atomic Spider”, a former Commonwealth champion, makes it five consecutive wins. Busakwe showed enough in those early rounds to say he will improve with more experience and challenge again.
Mantengu vs. Mbumbulwana
Mantengu gets back into the ranks of winners as he outpoints Mbumbulwana in an all-southpaw clash to win the vacant WBA Pan African belt. Scores 118-109, 117-110 and 116-112 for Mantengu. The former South African champion had lost his national title in his last fight in September 2019. After a good start to his career Mbumbulwana has fallen away and has lost in shots at the South African and WBFederation super bantam belts so is 0-3 in title fights.
Gloss vs. Matsane
Both of these fighters had won 3 of their last 4 fights but it was South African No 4 Gloss who made it 4 out of 5 with a seventh round stoppage of unrated Matsane
Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania: Super Welter: Hassan Mwakinyo (19-2) W TKO 9 Antonio Mayala (10-4-1) . Cruiser: Olan Durodola (36-8) W KO 2 Shaban Hamadi Jongo (8-2-2). Light: Ibrahim Class Mgender (26-6) W PTS 8 Sibusiso Zingange (14-5-2,1ND).
Mwakinyo vs. Mayala
Mwakinyo breaks down and stops Mayala to win the vacant ABU title. This was a tough, competitive fight. Mayala had height and reach with Mwakinyo quicker and moiré accurate. Both had good spells and there were some exciting exchanges. Mwakinyo’s best punch was his right cross and the left side of Mayala’s face marked up and swelled. By the fifth round the snap had gone out of Mayala’s punches and he was tiring and under constant pressure. Both fighters tried switching guards on occasion but it did not interrupt the flow of the fight which was one-way with Mwakinyo handing out steady punishment and Mayala firing back when he could. Mwakinyo staggered Mayala with two big rights in the eighth and he ended it in the ninth landing four lefts to the head which put Mayala down on his back and the referee just waived the fight off. Seventeen wins in his last 18 fights for 26-year-old Mwakinyo including a second round demolition of current WBC Silver middleweight belt holder Sam Eggington in Birmingham in 2018. A big win that he has not built on. The 40-year-old Angolan Mayala has done all of his boxing in South Africa. He was 8-0-1 going into this one and showed well until he tired.
Durodola vs. Jongo
Durodola keeps the ABU title with dramatic second round kayo of local fighter Jongo. The Tanzanian took the fight to Durodola in the first trying to hustle and bustle the more experienced Nigeria. Durodola did not look comfortable under the pressure and was being caught with some overhand rights. Just before the end of the round a butt from Jongo opened a bad cut over the left eye of Durodola. In the second a right from Jongo sent Durodola back to the ropes but the Nigerian connected with a thunderous right to the head that sent Jongo face down hanging over the bottom rope. He made to his feet but then toppled back to the floor again and the refer halted the fight. The 40-year-old Durodola is rated No 7 by the WBC but when he has stepped up against Michal Cieslak and Ilunga Makabu in a WBC title challenges he has lost inside the distance. Jongo was strong but very crude.
Mgender vs. Zingange
Mgender take unanimous decision over south African Zingange but looks very fortunate to get the decision. Scores 77-75 twice and 78-74 for Mgender. He is 12-2 in his last 14 fights with the losses not surprisingly coming against world rated Azinga Fuzile and Eduardo Hernandez. Former undefeated ABU title holder Zingange the South African No 1 and WBA Pan African champion was unlucky here.
Sheffield, England: Heavy: Kash Ali (18-1) W Tomes Salek (15-2).
Ali wins the vacant IBF European title with stoppage of Czech Salek. Ali’s punching power proved too much for Salek. After taking the first round Ali floored Salek with a volley of uppercuts in the second. Salek managed to beat the count but more uppercuts and head punches put him down in the third and although he made it to his feet the fight was stopped. The 6’6” Ali is battling his way to respectability after being disqualified in March 2019 for biting David Price. This is his fourth win since then. Salek had won his last four fights by KO/TKO.
Liege, Belgium: Super Light: Hovhannes Martirosyan (11-0) W PTS 8 Tsotne Sultanshvili (3-5). Light: Mirko Khatchatryan (12-0) W PTS 8 Nukri Gamgebeli (10-11. Heavy: Herve Hubeaux (33-3) W PTS 8 David Spilmont (10-6). Super Welter: Gary O’Sullivan (31-4) W PTS 6 Nodar Robakidze (15-36-6).
Martirosyan vs. Sultanshvili
Belgian champion Martirosyan keeps his 100% record with unanimous decision over Georgian Sultanshvili. Scores 80-73, 79-75 and 77-75. Fourth points defeat in a row for Sultanshvili
Khatchatryan vs. Gamgebeli
Local boxer Khatchatryan, 25, makes it 2-0 for Belgian champions vs. Georgian as he floors and decisions Gamgebeli. Scores 80-71 twice and 79-72 for Khatchatryan. Eighth consecutive defeat for Gamgebeli.
Hubeaux vs. Spilmont
Hubeaux sheds the rust of 15 months of inactivity as he outpoints Frenchman Spilmont on scores of 80-72, 79-73 and 78-74. The 6’4” Hubeaux has now gone 7-1 in his last 8 fights with the loss coming against Oscar Rivas in 2018. Spilmont had improved his record with a run of seven wins before losing on a sixth round stoppage against Nicolas Wamba in his last fight in February 2020.
O’Sullivan vs. Robakidze
“Spike” O’Sullivan gets in some needed ring time as he decisions Robakidze. In his first fight since losing on an eleventh round stoppage against Jaime Munguia in January 2020 O’Sullivan eased his way past experienced survivor Robakidze on scores of 60-55, 59-57 and 58-56. O’Sullivan is looking for a big fight some time this year. Robakidze is still looking for his first win outside of Georgia after 31 attempts.
Maraussan, France: Middle: Mike Esteves (7-1) W PTS 10 Sofian Bellahcene (11-18-3).
The French Federation is going to great lengths to keep their titles moving as this clash between novice Esteves and Bellahcene shows. It is also giving local promoters the chance to feature their boxers. In this fight for the vacant French title neighbourhood fighter Esteves came through with a convincing win over experienced former champion Bellahcene on scores of 97-93 twice and 98-92 giving him his sixth win on the bounce. It was Bellahcene’s first fight since September 2019
Rumilly, France: Middle: Bruno Surace (18-0-2) W PTS 10 Mahdi Madani (20-9-1). Light Heavy: Thomas Faure (20-4-1) W PTS 10 Patrick Bois (15-9-1).
Surace vs. Madani
Surace takes his title into the home town of seasoned pro Madani and retains it with a good points victory. A wide divergence in the scores with the judges tallies all for Surace reading 98-91, 97-92 and 95-94. First defence of his title for Surace and to show how strong the division is in Europe his 15 fight unbeaten run has not been enough to get him into the EBU ratings. Madani had won his last seven fights and collected the WBC Mediterranean title but was second best in this one.
Faure vs. Bois
Faure successfully defends the national title for the second time with a unanimous decision over ex-champion Bois. Scores 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94. Second defence for Faure who has lost only one of his last 14 fights. Bois is 1-6 in a series of very tough assignments.
Tijuana, Mexico: Super Light: Carlos Diaz (29-1,1ND) ND 7 Elvis Torres (19-1-2,1ND).Super light: Diego Torres (9-0) W KO 1 Francisco Pina (16-18-7). Fly: Bryan Mosinos (21-2) W
Unfortunate ending to an exciting scrap as a punch to the back of the head renders Torres unable to continue. A wild opening round saw Torres rock Diaz badly. Torres was letting his fists fly but was leaving himself open and a series of shots from Diaz dropped him to his knees. He beat the count and attacked strongly and it looked as though Diaz touched the canvas with his gloves when he was knocked off balance but the referee did not apply a count and the bombed each other to the bell. They settled down and boxed more with the shorter Torres using his right jab to get inside and Diaz countering but with Torres getting the better of the exchanges. Diaz changed things in the fifth attacking more but Torres bounced back to take the sixth. As Torres ducked to come inside in the seventh Diaz landed two punches to the back of the head of Torres. Torres was badly dazed and shaking his head . He was given recovery time but was unable to continue and it was ruled the punch were accidental resulting in a No Decision. I though the first punch was deliberate and the second definitely was but that’s the decision. Torres was well in front at the end but there was still plenty of time to go.
Torres vs. Pina
“Azabache” Torres chalks up another quick win as he knocks out Pina in the opening round. Torres sent Pina down twice with body punches and Pina was counted out. The 23-year-old Torres has scored six victories in the first round and three in the second including finishing Nery Saguilan in just 58 seconds in his last fight in March. Ninth inside the distance loss for Pina.
Mosinos vs. Alejo
Mosinos squeezes past experienced Alejo on a unanimous decision. In a fiery battle Mosinos had to climb off the floor twice but also scored a knockdown and his aggression and higher work rate gave him the edge. Scores 95-92 twice and 94-93. Mosinos, trained by Hall of Famer Ignacio Beristan extends his current winning run to eight. Alejo has lost to Donnie Nietes and Andy Acosta in shots at the WBO light flyweight title.
Mexico City, Mexico: Super Bantam: Ernesto Salcedo (13-0) W KO 2 Manuel Montalvo (?). Bantam: Luis Rosales (10-15-1) W TEC DEC 7 Jose Rojas (4-6-1).
Salcedo vs. Martinez
An easy inside the distance job for Salcedo as he knocks out late substitute Montalvo in the second round. After a slow first round where Salcedo did most of the scoring he staggered Montalvo with a left hook in the second and then drove him into a corner and unloaded punches until Montalvo dropped to the floor and was counted out. Salcedo was to have fought for the vacant Mexican title but his opponent was injured and Montalvo came in as a very short notice replacement. You could tell he was a short notice fill-in as he was using someone else’s gumshield which was much too big and did not really fit inside his mouth. Now ten wins by KO/TKO for Salcedo. Montalvo’s record was given as 10-2-1.
Rosales vs. Rojas
This was also supposed to be for a vacant Mexican title but again there was a late substitution. Rosales suffered a bad cut on his right eyebrow in the fourth. It was a close battle early but Rosales was weakening Rojas with hooks to the body and was on top in the fight until the referee halted the action with just 10 seconds to go in the seventh round. The doctor said the cut was too bad for the fight to continue and it was decided on the cards. Scores 59-55, 59-56 for Rosales and 57-57. Big disappointment for 33-year-old Rosales who had his sights set on becoming national champion. Rojas just a limited prelim fighter.
Ascona, Switzerland: Super Middle: Celso Neves (8-1-1) W TKO 8 Marzio Franscella (9-1-1). Super Light: Ricardo Silva (19-2-2) W PTS 6 Sladjan Dragiisic (5-24-2).
Neves vs. Franscella
Portuguese fighter Neves wins the vacant Swiss title with three knockdowns and a stoppage of Franscella. Neves set a frantic pace and floored Franscella with a series of punches in the second. Franscella is limited but strong and by the end of the round he had driven Neves back with some hard head punches. They were fighting on equal terms in the third when an uppercut sent Franscella down for the second time but again Franscella’s strength saw him survive. It was the movement and hand speed of Neves against the tough clubbing shots of Franscella with an occasional spectacular head-jerking uppercut from Neves. In the eighth round Neves floored Franscella and although he managed to get up the referee saw he was unsteady and stopped the fight. Third consecutive win for Neves who showed some nice moves. Franscella slow but fought back well after those two early knockdowns.
Silva vs. Dragisic
Silva outpoints Dragisic but has to come off the floor for the win. Silva was much the better boxer and outscored Dragisic in the first. They bumped heads in the second with Silva suffering a cut high on his forehead. Silva was bit too confident in the third standing and trading punches with Dragisic and he was sent to the floor by a couple of hooks. He made it to his feet and Dragisic was unable to capitalise on that success. From there Silva boxed his way to a unanimous verdict. Scores 59-55 twice and 59-56 for Silva. He is 3-0-2 in his last five fights. Dragisic is 0-10-1in his last 11.
Heavy: Lukasz Rozanski (14-0) W KO 1 Artur Szpilka (24-5). Cruiser: Mariusz Masternak (44-5) W PTS 10 Adan Balski (15-1). Light Heavy: Pawel Stepien (15-0-1) W KO 5 Deneb Diaz (14-1,1ND).
Rozanski vs. Szpilka
Rozanski gets off the floor and scores three knockdowns to finish Szpilka. A great start for Szpilka as he put Rozanski down with straight left just seconds into the fight. Rozanski was up quickly and did not look hurt. Less than a minute later a wild right from Rozanski had Szpilka on the floor again. Szpilka got up but after the count a right to the head sent Szpilka down heavily. He made it to his feet and was given a little more recovery time as his gumshield had come out. When the fight resumed three swinging head punchers from Rozanski sent Szpilka down for the third time and he was counted out. The 36-year-old Rozanski is a brutal bull of a fighter with no finesse but a big punch which has brought him twelve consecutive inside the distance victories and his seventh first round ending. He reportedly collected the vacant WBC International bridgerweight title here. Szpilka suffered a knee injury in the fight and in fact wore an elastic cover on his left knee. This is his fifth loss all of which have come inside the distance but there was no statement of retiring.
Masternak vs. Balski
Masternak wins a clear decision but Balski fights hard to make an entertaining ten rounds. Balski took the opening round but from there Masternak used his better skills and experience to give him the edge. Balski never stopped trying to take the fight to Masternak. He was cut and bruised under the left eye but was always dangerous with counters and made the rounds close but when Masternak chose to box he was in control and won well. Scores 99-91 twice and 98 92 for Masternak. He wins the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title and is hoping to qualify to compete in Tokyo. This was just too big a step up for Balski.
Stepien vs. Diaz
Polish champion Stepien collects the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title with kayo of Colombian Diaz. Stepien made a measured start taking no chances and boxing carefully. He upped his pace from the third and already Diaz seemed to be tiring. Stepien scored with left hooks to the body in the fourth and a right put Diaz down and out in the fifth. Stepien had drawn with useful Marek Matyja for the vacant Polish title in July 2019 but outpointed Matyja to lift the title in July last year. Diaz’s record is padded with some abysmal opposition.
Fight of the week (Significance): Devin Haney’s win over Jorge Linares keeps him in with the chance of fights with Teo Lopez or Gervonta Davis
Fight of the week (Entertainment): Plenty of quality action and a strong finish from Linares kept the interest high in the fight with Haney. Honourable mention to Carlos Diaz vs. Elvis Torres who went to war before the fight ended in a No Decision
Fighter of the week: Nonito Donaire a true modern great
Punch of the week: The hammer blow from Olan Durodola that left Shaban Hamadi Jongo draped over the bottom rope.
Upset of the week: Esteban Bermudez was hand-picked as an easy defence for WBA light flyweight title holder Carlos Canizales but turned the tables and instead stopped Canizales
Prospect watch: No one stood out.
What is it about these Filipinos? They seem to collect titles hand over fist. Ignoring secondary and interim titles:
Manny Pacquiao –Ten titles in six different divisions
Nonito Donaire-Nine titles in four different divisions
Donnie Nietes –Four titles in four different divisions
For a voluntary defence of the secondary WBA light flyweight title the promoter of Carlos Canizales selected obscure Esteban Bermudez who was not even remotely near being worthy of being rated. As usual the WBA manipulated their ratings to parachute Bermudez in at No 10-and Bermudez gave Canizales a beating and took the title. Canizales must have been mad that his team made such a bad mistake in seeing no danger in matching him with Bermudez. It takes me back to a story regarding Terry Downes. Terry, a future world champion, was matched in his third pro fight with a Nigerian named Dick Tiger who was an unimpressive 6-5 in his first eleven fights in Britain. Future world champion Tiger proceeded to give Downes a beating and stopped him in five rounds. When the reporters asked Downes who he wanted to fight next Downes answered “The stupid f….r that made this match. Mikey Duff slid quietly out of the dressing room!!
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