After more than a year out of the ring WBA Minimumweight "super" champion Knockout CP Freshmart (28-0, 8) returned earlier today to record his latest defense as he easily beat fellow Thai Pongsaklek Sithdabnij (23-7-1, 13).
On paper this was hardly a match up, with the man many regarded as the best fighter at 105lbs taking on not even the best fighter to use the Pongsaklek moniker in recent years, though in fairness Wonjongkam will always be a legend. Sadly the bout ended up being an even worse mismatch than anyone had hoped, and did little more than allow Knockout some stat padding and a chance to shake some ring rust.
The bout started slowly enough with both men looking to get their jabs into play in the early moments. It was obvious within a minute however that Pongsaklek lacked the accuracy, speed and crispness to be anything like a test for Knockout. Instead of landing shots he was falling short, looking unsure of himself and drawing smiles from the champion who looked super relaxed and comfortable. In fact this looked less like a world title fight and more like a sparring session with Knockout working on his jab through the entire of the opening round and throwing nothing else of note, though he never had to. And even the jabs seem to take a toll on Pongsaklek.
In round two the challenger tried to up the ante and did get through with some body shots as he looked to take the fight to the champion. It was however a lot of effort for little notable success as he seemed to simply piss off the champion who moved from neutral to second gear, and began to try and land some heavier leather. The ring rust of Knockout showed as he struggled to land clean with his power shots, but did eventually connect, dropping Wonjongkam mid way through round 2 with a left hook. The challenger beat the count, but looked like he suddenly had the realisation that he was out of his depth. His confidence instant sapped away whilst Knockout slowly began to walk him down.
Within seconds of round 3 starting Knockout landed a series of jabs, with one of them sending Pongsaklek down for the second time in the fight. Pongsaklek got to his feet again, but he was a man who about done, and within seconds Knockout unleashed a combination, sending the challenger stumbling and forcing the referee into to stop the action.
For Pongsaklek this was a lesson, and showed the gulf between domestic level and world class. As for Knockout it perhaps leaves him open for another title defense later this year. He was cut during this fight, but it was little more than a nick, and certainly shouldn't keep him out of the ring for another 19 months or so, which was the break he had coming in to this bout.
The Light Flyweight division might be almost ignored in Western boxing media, but it continues to deliver amazing fights, as we saw today from Osaka thanks to MBS.
The bout in question saw Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] successfully retain his WBA "super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight titles with a decision win over fellow Japanese fighter Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20) [久田 哲也]. But simply saying Kyoguchi won a decision doesn't do the fight, or the fighters justice for what was a fantastic 12 round contest that saw both men show their will to win, and saw both men being hurt in what was a truly pulsating, action packed, violent and exciting war.
The bout began with Kyoguchi looking too crisp and sharp, winning the first round with his consistency over the 3 minutes, but Hisada held his own and proved he wasn't there to just make up the numbers. In round 2 we had real drama as Hisada's right hand, which landed a couple of times through the round, twice to seemed to worry the champion, at one point staggering him across the ring. Hisada tried to jump on the hurt Kyoguchi, but the champion put up the ear muffs and saw out the trouble, though was fully aware that Hisada was a dangerous challenger. Not only had Hisada landed solid right hands, but was finding a home for uppercuts as well.
Hisada was put on the back foot in round 3, but again had success, especially up close where his uppercuts again came into play. Kyoguchi's jab and right hand did catch the eye more often, but Hisada wasn't being over-whelmed, and instead fought back, trying to play his part in every exchange. The following round the challenger began to find more space and worked whilst Kyoguchi followed him around. It was another good round for the challenger, and the crowd responded by getting getting behind him with a "Hisada" chant. Despite both men being from Osaka originally it did feel like the crowd were behind the under-dog, who was exceeding expectations.
Despite Hisada's uppercuts catching the eye in the first half of the fight Kyoguchi had been putting money in the bank with solid body shots through out, and those shots paid dividends in the middle rounds as Hisada began to slow. The challenger still had heart, and in round 6 he showed that by finishing the round big, but his moments were coming in isolation, whilst Kyoguchi's successes seemed to be more consistent and pronounced. Surprisingly however it was Kyoguchi who seemed to be wearing his damage more, with the entire left side of his face turning red, a result of the right hands Hisada was landing.
In round 8 it was clear that Kyoguchi had more to offer than he was showing, and he spent much of the round skipping around on his toes, landing big shots and making Hisada look his age. This was where the body shots from early really showed, and Hisada was looking tired, whilst Kyoguchi looked full of energy. Despite slowing Hisada wasn't going to roll over, and in round 9 he came out with gusto, pressing Kyoguchi early in the round, before being punished for his ambition, and being dropped. Although he was quick to his feet he seemed buzzed and Kyoguchi went for the finish, pressing through the 9th round, and landing huge power shots time and time again. It was a credit to Hisada's toughness and will to win that he survived the round.
Despite being in all sorts of trouble in round 9 Hisada gritted his teeth, bit down on his gum shield and fought and inside, toe to toe war in rounds 10 and 11. Again Kyoguchi was getting the better of it overall, but the action was incredible, with both men trading shots on the inside, trying to match each other punch for punch. It favoured Kyoguchi, was quicker, sharp and heavier handed but it made for awe inspiring action as the two fighters just tried to beat each other up. The champion's shot just seemed to much more eye catching, and the two he landed at the end of round 11 were stunning, it was hard to understand how the challenger was staying up at times. It was all action at that point.
In the final round it seemed very much like Kyoguchi was sent out to play safe. It seemed he was in comfortable control on the cards, he had to be up and by quite some margin. Rather than trading he got on his feet, moving around the ring, whilst Hisada threw bombs, looking for the home run punch. That punch never came and in the end it was clear Kyoguchi had done enough to retain his title.
After 12 rounds we went to the socrecards with the judging turning scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112. Whilst the bout was, overall, competitive on a round by round basis, it always felt like Kyoguchi was the clear winner. He was winning the exchanges and doing that bit more overall. Despite that Hisada can hold his head high, he out did what fans had expected.
Whilst Kyoguchi took the win he knew he was in a fight, and his left eye was swollen shut at the final bell. Ideas of unification are still on his mind, but he really needs to tidy up before getting in there with another champion, who could make him pay. As for Hisada, this is probably the curtain call for his career, but he deserves to much credit for his effort and for playing his part in a fantastic bout.
The Middleweight division is certainly an interesting one right now, though it's also a frustrating one with one man ripping through the contenders but unable to get a big fight. That man is Kazakh destroyer Gennady Golovkin (33-0, 30) who retained his WBA “super”, IBO and WBC “interim” this past Saturday as he recorded his 20th successive stoppage and over-came the skilful Willie Monroe Jr (19-2, 6). Not only did Golovkin over-come the challenge of his American opponent but he became the first fighter to stop Monroe.
The opening round was a close one with Monroe circling around the ring and having some success with his own quick sharp punches. Unfortunately for the challenger he was forced to work really hard for his success and was forced to take some very solid shots. To his credit Monroe took the shots well but it seemed clear that Monroe was going to have to work amazingly hard to have any real success, and was never really going to get Golovkin's respect.
The second round was the most dominant, by far. Monroe was again on his feet and dancing around to begin with but was caught in the corner part way through the round and was dropped by a monster left hook. The challenger showed his bravery to get up but was sent down again only moments later as Golovkin smelled blood and went for the kill. Monroe saw off the storm with the bell coming to his aid though it seemed that that was going to be it.
Amazingly Monroe took the minute break between rounds 2 and 3 and came back looking a new fighter and actually took the fight to Golovkin as the two men stood in front of each other and took turns in landing shots. It was a great comeback round for Monroe, who appeared to land the higher number of shots, but it seemed that Golovkin had no respect at all for the challenger and was happy to take a few clean shots in the hope of inducing a mistake.
Monroe's confidence from round 3 grew significantly the following round. That growing confidence saw Monroe letting his hands go happily through the round and it was by far his best round as Golovkin seemed happy to let Monroe fight. Golovkin did land some of his own shots but it was a Monroe round and it was well won by the challenger, who really had to grit his teeth. It was clear that if Monroe was going to win more rounds he was going to have to have an amazing engine. Unfortunately however it seemed that he was being broken down mentally by Golovkin, who lost the round but won the mental battle.
The action swung back in Golovkin's favour in round 5 as he began to break up Monroe's face. Not only was Monroe running low on energy but he was continuing to take heavy shots from the champion who seemed to enjoy the fact that Monroe was trying to fight rather than just survive.
Sadly for Monroe his survival didn't last long. Early in the 6th he was rocked, his legs buckled and Golovkin went for the kill. Soon afterwards Monroe was on the ropes, taking hard shots, his movement was gone and his was a sitting duck until he was finally dropped. He looked to be aware and took the count on a knee, until rising just after the 10 count. The referee had every right to stop the action there and then but instead had a look at Monroe, before deciding that enough was enough.
After the fight Golovkin indicated that he wanted big bouts next. The two he seemed to want the most were Miguel Cotto and Saul Alvarez though we suspect he may need to find a different opponent with Cotto and Alvarez apparently having plans to face each other. Despite needing to wait we are expecting to see the Kazakh in the ring twice more before the year is out.
Th sport of boxing has some special fighters. Two of those, Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao, announced on Friday night that they have reached an agreement to fight in May Another of those fighters fought just 24 hours later and proved how great he was with a really nasty beat down of a tough and determined challenger.
That third special fighter is, of course, Middleweight sensation Gennady Golovkin (32-0, 29) who retained his WBA “super and WBC “interim” world titles with one of his most impressive performances to date. Battling against the Martin Murray (29-2-1, 12) of the UK, Golovkin showcased all the things that make him special whilst also showing a few new things to his arsenal.
The fight began somewhat slowly and frustratingly as Murray decided the best line of defence was holding. It was a clever tactic from the challenger in some ways through he was still forced to take hard jabs between the breaks. Strangely when Murray did let his hands go in a positive manner he did look good though it was clear, even in the first round, that he lacked the power to make Golvokin respect him. The holding was again seen in the second round, though it was Murray's best round of the fight as he managed to get through with a lot of good shots of his own, especially to the body of Golovkin. What made things difficult for Murray was his willingness to back up to the ropes where he was a sitting duck for some of Golovkin's work even if the champion wasn't landing too many clean and hurtful shots.
Having taken a couple of rounds to get through the gears Golovkin managed to break through for the first time at the end of round 3 as he seemed to wobble Murray in the final seconds of the. It was the first chink in Murray's armour and the first time Golovkin had managed to really hurt the challenger.
With Murray being wobbled at the end of the 3rd round it seemed that Golovkin could smell blood and in round 4 he upped the ante. This saw Golovkin targeting the body of the challenger who was down twice in the round as he took a battering. For the first time the bout was really looking like a mismatch and for the first time Murray was completely unable to neutralise the Golovkin offense. The best the challenger could manage at times was an occasional low blow that did little more than slow Golvokin down for just a few milliseconds before he was back on the offensive.
Although down twice in the 4th Murray showed a lot of guts, heart and toughness to get to his feet, twice, and continue the round. At the time it seemed pointless though it was the courage of the challenger who was refusing to just lose after 12 minutes of the fight.
With his body aching and breaking Murray then felt the full force of Golovkin's attack up top as his face burst open with his nose bleeding heavily. The blood and pain didn't stop the challenger who tried to fight back and landed a number of eye catching shots, including an eye catching right hand that did little more than bounce off the champion who showed his chin before firing off his own arsenal of punches later, including a beautiful double uppercut late in the round a huge right just before the bell.
Having fallen a mile behind on the cards Murray than mounted a few solid rounds in the middle of the bout as he managed to hold centre ring for some prolonged moments. Although rounds 6 and 7 were better for Murray they weren't rounds he won, in fact he took much better than he gave and in fact Golovkin evened seemed happy for Murray to land some of his sharp combinations with the shots literally bouncing off the champion. So comfortable was Golovkin that he even started to look for his now infamous “top of the head” shot that he stopped Marco Antonio Rubio with, and he tried landing it with both hands.
With Murray having had a couple of moderately successful rounds it seemed like he could mount a bit of a fight back. Those thoughts were quickly ended in round 8 as Golovkin put on a beating on Murray who ended the round wobbling and doing little more than surviving. It seemed as though the Brit was all in and that he was essentially running on fumes and surviving on toughness alone. It was clear he was needing a knockout but he had never managed to do little more than irritating Golovkin with counters in the first 8 rounds.
In the 9th we again saw Murray irritate Golovkin who seemed willing to take a few shots in the hope of finding the perfect counter. The opportunity for Golovkin didn't come but it was obvious that Murray's best hope was to see out the distance. Golovkin however had different plans and in round 10 he against dropped the challenger, scoring his 3rd knockdown of the bout. By the end of the 10th Murray was looking gone, he had wobbled to his corner and seemed like he needed saving. His corner should, really, have done their job there but instead they sent him out for the 11th.
It was to be a foolish move from Murray's corner and within a minute he was stopped as he was on his way down again from another Golovkin assault.
Although Murray had taken Golovkin into the 11th round it was hard for the challenger to take too many positives from the bout. He had spent much of the bout surviving and although his toughness was impressive he was completely out classed, out powered, out muscled and out fought. He had given his all and the best he could do was land a few clean shots here and there whilst being broken down round after round.
The big plus from Golovkin's point of view however was that he had managed to answer another question fans had regarding him. He had managed to prove he had stamina, he looked like he had plenty in reserve at the finish and although he had slowed at times he had never really looked like he was gassing. He also managed to again prove his chin as he took some sharp counters with out even flinching.
For Golovkin it seems like a summer return is inevitable, possibly a WBC world title fight against Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto. The questions for Murray's future however, are much harder to answer and he may well be considering his future options following the first clear loss of his professional career.
In this sport there are a number of genuinely sensational fighters. Not a lot of them but a small minority of fighters are really exceptional. One of those fighters is Kazakhstan's WBA Middleweight Super champion Gennady Golovkin (30-0, 27) who scored his 17th straight stoppage and recorded his 11th title defence just a few moments ago.
Golovkin took on what was supposed to be his toughest test so far, Australian Daniel Geale (30-3, 16). Geale was a former double world champion, in fact he was a former unified champion. That however didn't help the Australian who lasted less than 3 rounds against Golovkin and became just another victim of the man known as "GGG".
The opening round was the best round for Geale who came to fight and had several moments of success though was tagged late in the round by a flurry. Oddly the round seemed to last around 4 minutes though nothing too dramatic happened in the extra minute. Although Golovkin seemed to do enough to win the round it was certainly one of his more difficult recent rounds with Geale showing his confidence and slippery movement to make the Kazakh miss several shots.
Although Geale had a relatively comfortable opening round, barring the late flurry that stole the round for Golovkin, the second saw the champion starting to pick up the action and cutting the distance off more effectively. The extra work from the champion helped him score the first knock down of the fight, though it was a somewhat flash knockdown that occurred with Golovkin cuffing him rather than blasting him down.
The pressure of Golvokin seemed to be building round after round and around 2 minutes into round 3 Golovkin managed to force Geale into a corner where he managed to connect with several solid shots. Geale's footwork helped him out momentarily though he was quickly cornered on the opposite side of the ring. From there on the end was nigh with Golovkin landing two solid shots, one to the body and one to the head. Geale took them, just, and fired back a huge right hand that caught Golovkin clean, unfortunately for the Australian he was tagged himself almost instantaneously and sent down hard.
Geale, much to his credit, got to his feet, though shook his head when asked if he was okay to continue, effectively admitting defeat rather than taking a more serious and prolonged pounding.
After the fight Golovkin was asked who he wanted to fight and mentioned the names of the other 3 Middleweight champions, Sam Soliman, Peter Quillin and Miguel Cotto. Of the 3 it seems that Golovkin wants WBC champion Miguel Cotto though in all honesty we don't imagine that Cotto wants Golovkin and instead "GGG" will likely have to take on the less than attractive Sam Soliman or hunt other notable fights.
(Image courtesy of Thegarden.com)
Sometimes the most significant fight on a show isn't actually the "main event" and that was the case today in Macau as Zou Shiming headlined the card with his fight against Luis Dela Rosa whilst the most significant bout was the Super Bantamweight title fight between Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9) and Thailand's Sod Kokietgym (63-3-1, 28).
The bout, widely viewed as a mismatch of giant proportions, went the way many expected with Rigondeaux retaining his title though there was certainly an air of controversy surrounding the ending of the contest.
After 80 seconds of the fight starting there was a major headclash which saw Sod dropping to the canvas hard. It was a clear headclash and a hard one even though Sod wasn't left bloodied he was certainly groggy. Sadly the referee failed to give Sod reasonable time to recover from the accidental foul.
Moments after being told to continue Sod went to touch gloves though was caught by a hard left that sent him down hard. He was up at 9 though still groggy, a combination of both the stunning left hand and the head clash, and the referee waved off the bout immediately much to the anger of Sod who felt he had been sucker punched.
Whilst few will make a fuss about the ending, and in fact many will suggest that Sod should have "defended himself at all times", it still won't have done Rigondeaux any favours despite the result being very impressive. It was, as we suggested, a lose-lose situation for Rigondeaux especially if you, like Sod, feel Rigondeaux delivered a sucker punch.
Whilst some fans will have loved the "nasty side" of Rigondeaux others will have questioned the need for the shot that finished off Sod. Some will certainly suggest that Rigondeaux deprived us of a fight, though it was a fight that many didn't want to see anyway and we dare say some people just want to complain.
(Image courtesy of Top Rank)
When we talk about living legends in the world of boxing few can rival the 49 year old Bernard Hopkins (55-6-2-2, 32) who once again showed his skills and class as he became the oldest boxer in history to unify world titles as he unified the IBF and WBA "Super" titles at Light Heavyweight.
Hopkins, fighting against Kazakhstan's Beibut Shumenov (14-2, 9), was masterful in a display that may not have been hugely exciting but was the perfect example of what skills can do in the ring.
The fight started slow. It started very slowly. The first 4 rounds saw very little action from either man and could well have gone either way. We, like we expect many others, had it even through 4 rounds with neither man having assumed control. It could have been 40-40 with each of the rounds scored evenly such was the lack of action.
From round 5 we began to see Hopkins go through the gears. He went from not throwing a great deal to landing at will with either his jab, his left hook or, more regularly, the straight right hand that tattooed Shumenov's face time and time again. It was clear that Hopkins was now in charge and Shumenov had no answer. Early on, when nothing was happening, things were even but with Hopkins letting his hands go it really wasn't even close.
Through rounds 6, 7 and 8 it became more and more one sided as Hopkins manage to evade what little Shumenov threw as the Kazakh seemed to spend too much time waiting and not enough time working. It was incredibly frustrating to to watch Shumenov, who usually lets combinations go, fight in such a restrained way. It seemed that he had picked the wrong tactics and been lulled into Hopkins's pace of bout, it was a double whammy and Kazakh simply couldn't adapt as the fight began to slip away from him.
Round 9 finally saw Shumenov letting some combinations go. Unfortunately it wasn't as much a change in tactics but more a feeling of desperation as the Kazakh began to realise his reign as world champion was coming to an end. Unfortunately for Shumenov it was too little too and much of the work was easily avoided and countered by Hopkins who saw much of the assault coming and fired back with solid shots in return. A similar pattern followed in round 10 as the desperation got ramped up again and Hopkins became even more dominant with his counters. It starting to look like a genuine schooling by Hopkins who looking like a teacher to the powerful but limited Shumenov.
Going in to the championship rounds it was obvious that Shumenov was going to need knock downs to cut down the difference on the scorecards. Surprisingly though it was Hopkins who would score a knockdown in round 11 as he effectively put the bout beyond any doubt. Hopkins didn't seem satisfied with just the knock down however and instead tried to end Shumenov's fight with some follow up shots after Shumenov got to his feet. The Kazakh saw off the storm but by then it was merely a question of whether or not Shumenov would make it through the final round.
The 12th was mostly a continuation of the previous round as Hopkins made Shumenov pay for his lack of speed, his poor defence, which included his left hand being kept low through the entire fight, and his lack of work rate. It seemed at one point that Hopkins rattled Shumenov though soon afterwards he let Shumenov off the hook, preferring to stick his tongue and pull faces rather than trying to close the show.
With Hopkins bossing much of the bout through the middle and later rounds the decision seemed an obvious one. At best you could have made a case for 5 rounds to Shumenov, and that was being polite, though with the knockdown against him and at least 7 rounds going to Hopkins there was no doubting the winner...or was there...
When it came to the the scorecards Jimmy Lennon Jr was forced to read that the bout had been scored a split decision. The first scorecard was 116-111 to Hopkins, about what we'd had it, the second however was a mysterious and frighteningly bizarre 114-113 card in Shumenov. Thankfully 2 of the judges got the right guy with the third card reading 116-111 in favour of Hopkins who made a comment about the judges before talking up a potential bout with the hard punching Adonis Stevenson and claiming he wanted to clean up the Light Heavyweight division.
Whilst Hopkins may dream of cleaning up the titles at 175lbs he is unlikely to be able to claim the WBO belt as WBO world champion Sergey Kovalev is signed to rival network HBO and this would prevent a Kovalev/Hopkins bout. It's unfortunate but that bout is likely to go down as one of those classic "what would have happened if..." bouts. One thing is for sure, Kovalev wouldn't have been as tame as Shumenov was here with the Kazakh effectively giving his belts to Hopkins due to his incredible low out put which suited Hopkins down to the ground.
For what it's worth, Asianboxing.info scored the bout 117-110 Hopkins
(Image courtesy of http://www.goldenboypromotions.com)
Whilst we all want world champions to be active and defending their belts on a regular basis this isn't always possible. For whatever reason Kazakhstan's Light Heavyweight Beibut Shumenov (14-1, 9) has been one of those inactive champions. The WBA "super" Light Heavyweight champion, for whatever reason, had been inactive for 18 months. Despite the long lay-off though Shumenov was still regarded as a top Light Heavyweight and thankfully we saw why as he made his return to action this weekend.
Fighting little known Tamas Kovacs (23-1, 14), who entered the bout as the WBA's #14 ranked contender, the bout was seen as a mismatch from the off. Despite the fact it was a mismatch it was also clearly a chance to give Shumenov a showcase bout on Showtime under new promoter Golden Boy Promotions. It was a chance to also shake off the ring rust and give Showtime their own Light Heavyweight fighter having seen rival network HBO establish 2 of their own in the past 12 months.
Unfortunately the bout proved to be every bit the mismatch that people thought it would be.
Kovacs started well, but by started well we mean he had a good first 30 seconds. Within a minute Shumenov had began to find his rhythm, timing and by the end of the round he was not looking like a man who had been inactive for more than a year. If anyone was looking rusty it was Kovacs who was dropped very late in the round by a left hook.
For Kovacs the first round was probably his best, or rather Shumenov's worst. The second round saw Shumenov going up a gear and he dropped Kovacs again, this time with a lovely left uppercut that had a delayed reaction. It was clear the men were in completely different leagues in terms of skills and power.
With Shumenov knowing he was in total control he went out for round 3 looking for the perfect shot. He was waiting for a bomb and although he did take one or two in the round he knew he was going to get a chance to drop Kovacs for a third time. That chance came earlier than some would have expected as Shumenov dropped Kovacs for a third time with a powerful straight right. This time the referee wasn't willing to let Kovacs go on. It had only taken 3 rounds but Shumenov had managed to make a statement.
It seemed that Showtime were trying to push a bout between to Shumenov and IBF champion Bernard Hopkins. In all honesty we'd expect Hopkins to win that one if it gets made but unfortunately Shumenov's options are quite limited. It appears that Sergey Kovalev, Adonis Stevenson, Lucien Bute and Jean Pascal are all tied up with HBO, Shumenob however is, as mentioned, a Showtime fighter. We hope that Shumenov can get good fights but it's clear that the best fights out there aren't going to be there for Shumenov, at least in the short term. Hopkins would be one option another would be WBA "regular" champion Juergen Braehmer but apart from those fights it's hard to see an interesting option for Shumenov.
One thing we do see a lot of in boxing is a fighter continuing on despite showing visible signs of being on the slide. We see it time and time again. A great fighter fights on as they are slowing, picking up injuries, and their skills are clearly diminishing. It appears everyone else can see it but them.
Whilst there was no sure fire evidence that Chris John (48-1-3, 22) was "shot" the WBA Featherweight "super" champion did not look amazing back in April when he retained his title with a technical draw against Satoshi Hosono. That fight, which saw John left with a nasty cut from a clash of heads saw John being tagged a few times early on by the Japanese "Bazooka" and many wondered what would have happened had that bout have continued.
Unfortunately for John there was no clash of heads to bail him out today as he took on South African Simpiwe Vetyeka (26-2, 16) and suffered the first loss of his illustrious and memorable career. Worse than just losing however, John was beaten into submission, broken down mentally and physically and finished the bout sat on his stool pondering the future.
The bout it's self was a slow burner. For 2 or 3 rounds very, very little happened. The two men, at times, seemed to perfectly neutralise one another. When one men threw the other blocked, and it looked like we were going to get one of those disappointing bouts where the strengths of each man cancel each other out. It was messy, it was uninteresting and there was very little in terms of clean effective punching. In all honesty the most interesting moments revolved around John twice falling to the canvas.
Round 4 saw the first really notable success from the South African though it was essentially drowned out by the crowd who attempted to sway the judges with a "Chris John" chant. The chant however did little to effect the men in the ring who continued to cancel each other out for the most part. By now though John was slowing. He had been able to land body shots earlier on but now there was very little in terms of clean action from the Indonesian.
We got our first talking point in round 5 as the bout flipped on it's head completely. John appeared to be knockdown around the mid way point of the round, the referee some how ruled a slip but from looking at John when he recovered it was clear that he was a man who was feeling the hurtful effects of something more than a slip. With John clearly hurt Vetyeka went in for the kill.
John would be sent to the canvas again in round 5 and again the referee ignored what was a clear knockdown. Quite what the referee was doing ignoring what looked like clear knockdowns was a mystery, though for John the referees actions didn't help as Vetyeka kept up the assault hurting John in a big way before the bell.
Bravely John came out for round 6 though he was still clearly feeling the ill effects of the previous round. He tried to fight back and tried to survive but again found himself on the canvas. Again it was ruled a slip from a referee who must have thought he was doing John a favour in some sick way. Only moments after getting back to his feet John was down again. This time, finally, there was a count given. Despite getting up and seeing the bell it was obvious that John's 34 year old body had effective said enough was enough. He retired his corner between rounds 6 and 7.
After seeing John remain in his corner an emotional Vetyeka celebrated, not as a man who had merely won a world title but as a man who had a great loss then won, not for himself but for his country, his people and his hero. For John this was a story of a loss of something material, his title. For Vetyeka however the fight was fought in dedication for the loss of the great Nelson Mandela, who had sadly passed away the previous night.
With Vetyeka now holding wins over the two premier names in Indonesian boxing, Daud Cino Yordan and Chris John, he may well need a new country to attack. With the WBA "super" title over his shoulder he'll likely have plenty of options on where to go. Fights with the likes of Nicholas Walters, Evgeny Gradovich or even Nonito Donaire would all hold intrigue and all be real possibilities.
Whilst Vetyeka has a host of options in front of him John's future doesn't look bright. At 34 this may well be his last bout, in fact from rounds 5 and 6 it really should be his last bout. He looked like he still had the speed and the skills in flashes but there was always something missing in this performance. It was like cheap imitation of man who had held some form of a world title for the better part of a decade.
We really hope John returns to Indonesia to a hero's welcome despite the loss. Then after a few days break hopefully he announces his retirement. It'd be awful to see him beaten again by a lesser fighter than Vetyeka, who we regard very highly. There is no shame in losing to Vetyeka, there is shame however in trying to deny that father time effects us all, even the greats like Chris John.
Note-For the picture we've used here, we've selected a younger Chris John, the one who really was one of the top Featherweights on the planet. Not the shadow of that man who fought today
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Filipino challenger Milan Melindo (29-1, 12) took on the best Flyweight on the planet in Juan Francisco Estrada (25-2, 18), the WBA "super" and WBO champion, and whilst he came up short he proved that he belonged on the world level.
The Mexican champion, who incidentally won his world title in the same venue back in April by defeating Brian Viloria, went in as a clear betting favourite. Despite this Melindo seemed unfazed by the under-dog tag and after a quiet couple of rounds he started to come to life.
Using his excellent handspeed and crisp straight shots Melindo began to force Estrada back and even appeared to rock the champion as he began to his feet in the bout. It appeared, from round 3 onward that the challenger was up to the task and through the middle section of the fight he really showed why so many in the Philippines rave about him as he rattled off wonderful combinations on Estrada.
Although much of the bout was a high speed chess match it was clear that Melindo had both the speed and the boxing brain to hold his own with Estrada who at times actually seemed to run from the challenger. It was also surprising that Melindo appeared to have the power to hurt Estrada, something that Brian Viloria and Roman Gonzalez both struggled to do.
Unfortunately for the challenger he was often being tagged in the body by hard single shots from the champion who is one of the sports truly under-rated body punchers. These shots appeared to be taking their toll in the latter rounds with Melindo's offense becoming less and less notable from 9 onwards as Estrada began to bully a tiring challenger.
With Estrada coming on strong Melindo was going to have to fight off a determined champion and whilst he was holding his own in the trenches in round 10 he was clearly running out of gas.
As Melindo's work rate decreased and Estrada continued the charge Melindo was forced to take the power of Estrada who dropped him in round 11 as he started to turn the screw on the challenger. Melindo was again rocked in round 12 as Estrada tried to force an early conclusion though the Filipino showed his fighting spirit and saw out the final round.
Although the Filipino had fought his heart out and many felt he had pushed the champion all the way the judges seemed unimpressed by Melindo and had Estrada as a run away winner, claiming a lopsided decision as a result.
The scorecards may make fans, and Melindo himself, feel he was thoroughly outgunned though in all honesty most neutrals who watched the fight will know that he gave Estrada as tough a contest as Viloria did just a few short months ago.
World Title Results
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