The WBA's multiple world title system is a farce in terms of knowing who is the best in the world. What is does allow however is for some fantastic fights to be mandated to fill the pointless vacancies the WBA creates for it's self. The bouts really should be eliminators, and are often the quality we expect of eliminators, but without the eventual winner getting their shot at the main belt, which gets lost in some world of it's own.
Today we saw a WBA "regular" title fight, fit for any belt, as Uzbek born Batyr Akhmedov (7-1, 6) and American Mario Barrios (25-0, 16) put on a legitimate FOTY contender. Unlike many FOTY contenders this wasn't a hard fight with a lot of competitive rounds, in fact it was a relatively easy fight to score, but one that was still incredibly competitive and close.
The fight started well for Barrios, who was moving well, landing his shots at range and making his natural size count. He looked like he was too big, too powerful and too quick for Akhmedov through the first 3 rounds, neutralising the pressure of the smaller man. In round 4 Barrios's speed and power saw him drop Akhmedov, albeit more of a flash knockdown than anything hurtful, in one of his best moments of the fight.
Whilst Barrios did score the knockdown in round 4 it actually seemed like he lit a fire under Akhmedov who bounced amazingly well. From being dropped part way through round 4 Akhmedov began to up his output and pressure, and began to really hammer Barrios with an incredibly intensity. The increase in work rate saw Akhmedov pretty much sweep rounds 5 to 11 with out too much coming back. Barrios managed to have success in rounds 8 and 9, but it was very limited success, and seemed more a case of steadying a sinking ship, rather than turning it around.
Barrios was looking tired, swollen around the left eye, and relying on his toughness, coming through a real test of his durability. Other fighters would have quit but Barrios, knowing he had a good start, gutted it out, looking to to stay up right, hoping to do something to turn the tide back in his favour. Amazingly in the final seconds of round 12 something did come for Akhmedov, who landed a right hand to score a flash knockdown, his second of the fight. It was completely the run of the round, and was huge.
The knockdown in the final moments seemed to do enough to leave the bout in some debate. Was it a 10-8 or a 10-9? Sadly, but unsurprisingly in the world of boxing, it didn't matter what the round was to be scored. The judges had the bout all in favour of Barrios 114-112, 115-111 and 116-111.
At a push we can see the 114-112 card, the others however, are terrible with the 116-111 card being completely indefensible.
Giving Barrios rounds 1-4, 8 and 9, where he showed something though didn't appear to do enough to win either, and round 12, literally giving Barrios everything you could still doesn't leave it possible to get him a 116 card. That judge should be forced to explain his card. But of course this is boxing, and that won't be happening.
For the fighters this was a bout that lived up to the expectations of being something very special. It was thrilling, the twist at the end with the second knockdown was a dramatic turn, the heart of Barrios to fight through a grotesquely swollen face and the will to win of Akhmedov were amazing. The fight back after a bad start from Akhmedov was great. It's just a shame, once again, the politics in boxing has sullied what was a great fight, from both men.
The great Gabriel "Flash" Elorde was one of the all time great Filipino fighters. Today we saw his grandson, Juan Miguel Elorde (28-2, 15) attempt to make the most of an unexpected world title opportunity as he took on WBO Super Bantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete (29-1, 24). Unfortunately however this wasn't a night to remember for the Elorde family, with "Mig" being dominated by the Navarrete.
From the opening round Navarrete looked a danger, but it was actually Eldorde who seemed to land the best shot of the round, and did much better than expected. It was however, a case of Navarrete looking to see what Elorde had in his arsenal before going through the gears.
Sadly for the Filipino we began to see what Navarete had in the locked when he began to turn up the heat and seemed to wobble Elorde for a second. Elorde was showing his heart and determination, and had decent moments in round 3, though was left bloodied by Navarete's power. That power also earned the Mexican a knockdown in the dying seconds of the round, when the ropes kept the challenger up right.
In all honest as soon as Elorde was wobbled at the end of round 3, it felt like the start of the end, and it would take less than 30 seconds of round 4 for the referee to see enough and stop the Filipino.
For Navarete this was his second win in around a month, a busy schedule to say the least, and there's a chance he could fight again this year. As for Elorde it's really hard to know what his future holds. The Filipino is no youngster and this could be the end for him, in what would appear like a cash out, though he could easily return to Asia and compete on the regional title scene, something he really should have done more before getting this shot.
In 2018 we had 2 All Filipino world title fights and, if we're being, they were both really underwhelming and won't be remembered for long. Today we had another, and today's the polar opposite as we had an all action contest with Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11) and Samuel Salva (17-1, 10) trading blows for the IBF Minimumweight title.
Taduran, getting his second world title fight, fought all out with an aggressive mentality. In the opening round that was a tactic that left many questioning what he was doing, as the more technically well schooled Salva countered him regularly with right hands. Salva's defensive skills and counter punching made it seem like he had the answer to Taduran's southpaw stance and pressure.
The second round saw Taduran tweak his tactics slightly, changing from coming forward behind his southpaw left hand to using his right hook. Despite the change Salva still seemed to get the better of it, though Taduran certainly had some moments.
Taduran continued to press, intently, in round 3. Early in the round he paid for it, again, as Salva landed a number of big right hands, however Taduran just refused to back off. Instead of backing up and reconsidering his gameplan Taduran just continued to charge forward and and quickly pinned Salva on the ropes, working away, and hurting his man. Salva never really recovered and quickly put in survival mode whilst Taduran jumped on him, hunting the stoppage. To his credit Salva showed bravery and toughness, but Taduran just refused to give him space to breath. Some how, and we really don't know how, Salva made it to the bell to get a minutes rest.
That minute wasn't long enough and when the fight resumed in round 4 Taduran was again all over him, and forced Salva to resort to headbutting to try and survive. The headbutts were caught by the referee who took a point from Salva in round 4. That really didn't matter and Taduran continued to beat his man up to the bell.
Having taken 2 rounds of serious punishment and seemingly running on fumes Salva remained in his corner at the end of round 4, not coming out for the 5th.
With this win Taduran becomes the latest Filipino world champion whilst it's back to the drawing board for Salva, who lost his unbeaten record here, and took real damage. Salva is still young enough to bounce back, and is still very skilled, but needs to add a lot to his game if he's to reach the top. He also needs to hope this hasn't damaged long term, as it was pretty sustained damage for 6 minutes.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.