Fight of the week: Honorary mention to Miura vs. Roman for the excitement and drama but it has to be the Santa Cruz vs. Frampton fight.
Fighter of the week: Miguel Berchelt
Punch of the week: The Mickey Garcia punch that laid out Dejan Zlaticanin
Upset of the week: Berchelt’s win over Francisco Vargas
One to watch: Two this time in David Benavidez and Erick de Leon
Phitsanulok, Thailand: Minimumweight: Wanheng (45-0) W PTS 12 Melvin Jerusalem (11-1). Super Bantam: Oleydong (63-1-1) W TKO 5 Kobilbek Tulabaev (0-2).
Wanheng vs. Jerusalem
Wanheng retains WBC title but only just. On the basis of his lack of experience Jerusalem proved a revelation here (no religious pun intended). From the first he was shooting out a stiff jab and sent Wanheng stumbling into the ropes with a left hook in the first round. Taking confidence from that the Filipino had Wanheng on the back foot and was adding showers of hooks and some tasty uppercuts with Wanheng being outboxed and outpunched. Wanheng changed that from the third as he used his jab more and scored with some good rights to the head. Jerusalem was less accurate and under pressure. After four rounds the scores were 38-38 from all three judges. Jerusalem came back into the fight with both scoring heavily and it was close quarters action all the way. Over the middle rounds both fighters were working inside throwing hooks and you began to wonder how Jerusalem, who had only once gone past the eighth round in a fight, would last the pace. The Filipino challenger had stopped using his jab and Wanheng looked to be building a lead. In the eighth Jerusalem landed low twice in the space of a few seconds and was deducted a point, which subsequently cost him a majority draw. At the end of the eighth the scores were 77-74 twice and 78-74 for Wanheng and as he was expected to stand the pace better he looked a sure winner. That is not how it panned out Jerusalem was the one who staged a strong finish forcing the fight. He had a storming last round but he was unable to close the gap on the scorecards and overcome the handicap of the deduction. Scores 114-113 twice and 115-113 all for Wanheng in what had been a great little scrap with three minutes of action in every round. The 31-year-old Thai was making the sixth defence of his WBC title but has yet to face a really top level challenger. I was all prepared to criticise the WBC for sanction what looked such a mismatch but the 22-year-old Filipino proved he belongs in this class and was unlucky not to get at least a draw.
Oleydong vs. Tulabaev
Just a workout for former WBC minimumweight champion Oleydong. Uzbek southpaw Tulabaev had quick hands and some fair skills but no power. Oleydong put the visitor down with a series of punches in the second round but was only working at half pace. It was really just paid sparring with Oleydong pulling his punches. He decided to end it in the fifth flooring Tulabaev twice with body punches. Southpaw Oleydong, 31, is still a high quality fighter. He lost his WBC title when he was halted in five rounds by Kazuto Ioka in 2011 but despite winning 28 fights in a row he is nowhere near getting a shot at any world title but with opposition like this he is not making a strong case.
Studio City, CA, USA: Super Feather: Erick De Leon (15-0) W KO 4 Jose Salinas (10-2-1). Welter: Arnold Barboza Jr (15-0) W PTS 8 Johnny Rodriguez (8-2-1). Super Welter: Alex Besputin (6-0) W PTS 6 Gilberto Pereira dos Santos (12-5). Super Light: Maxim Dadashev 6-0) W TKO 6 Jerome Rodriguez (7-5-3). Middle: Bakhram Murtazaliev (8-0) W KO 4 Josue Obando (14-13-1). Super Feather: Robinson Conceicao (2-0) W KO 2 Aaron Ely ( 3-2).
De Leon vs. Salinas
Former top amateur shows impressive power as he puts Salinas away with a body punch in the fourth. De Leon outboxed a fleshy Salinas in the first being quicker in hands and feet. In the second De Leon stepped up the pace and was scoring with long lefts to the head and short hooks to the body. Salinas tried to take the fight to De Leon in the third but as the round closed De Leon was again getting through with sharp lefts. Salinas was aggressive again early in the fourth but some accurate counters and flashing combinations from De Leon cooled his ambition and with just over 20 seconds to go in the round a vicious left to the body put Salinas down in a heap and he was counted out. Now 9 wins by KO/TKO for the Mexican-born, Detroit-raised De Leon. The 24-year-old former Kronk boxer, a triple National Golden Gloves champion, scored wins over Jose Carlos Ramirez, Toka Kahn Clary and Kenneth Sims on the way to his 2011 NGG tile but just missed out at the US Olympic Trials for 2012. He is making steady progress. Salinas, 26, suffers just his second loss by KO/TKO and last year only lost on a majority decision against Australian prospect Billel Dib (18-1).
Barboza vs. Rodriguez
Barboza extends his winning streak to 15 with unanimous verdict over aggressive Rodriguez. Barboza had slight edges in height and reach and from the off Rodriguez was barrelling forward trying to get inside with Barboza boxing smoothly on the back foot and slotting home left jabs and left hooks to the body. Rodriguez was relentless in his forward march but Barboza used good movement to frustrate him and throughout the fight banged home sharp left hooks to face and body. Rodriguez stayed competitive on aggression alone and although often swishing empty air he did enough to make the rounds close and looked to have taken the fifth and staged a strong finish in the last but the excellent countering skills of Barboza, including some precise left uppercuts kept him from ever really threatening Barboza’s winning march. Scores79-73 twice and 78-74. Barboza, 25, was moving up to eight rounds for the first time and showed good skills against an opponent who posed him a few problems. Rodriguez was 3-0-1 in his last four fights going in and did the sort of job an “opponent” can do for a new young pro.
Besputin vs. dos Santos
Russian hope Besputin continues his process of learning how the pro sport operates as he takes unanimous verdict over elderly Brazilian dos Santos. The Brazilian was no real threat but he stayed there for the six rounds and did enough to have one judge credit him with winning a couple of rounds. Besputin is streets ahead of fighters such as dos Santos but he gets six more rounds of his education into the pros and at 25 there is no need to rush him. Scores 60-54 twice and 58-56 all for Besputin. He has been a high class performer at all stages having won gold medals as a Schoolboy, Junior and Senior at the European Championships and he showed maturity in halting experienced Panamanian Azael Cosio (20-4-2) in November. dos Santos, 39, is 1-4 in his last 5 fights
Dadashev vs. Rodriguez
Dadashev makes it a good night for Russian fighters and a bad one for anyone named Rodriguez. “Mad Max” handed out a steady beating until the fight was stopped in the sixth round. Rodriguez was on his feet at the end. That counts as a KO in California, but not with me. Rodriguez needed to be in top form to trouble Dadashev but this was his first fight for nine months and he could not last the pace. Now 5 wins by KO/TKO for 26-year-old Dadashev a former Russian Under-22 champion and a silver medal winner at the World Junior Championships. Southpaw Rodriguez at least gave Dadashev some useful ring time as the Russian had won his previous six fights in a total of under 17 rounds.
Murtazaliev vs. Obando
Murtazaliev makes it a Russian treble as he floors and halts Obando. The lanky Russian had his Mexican victim down in the first and fourth rounds with the count being waived after the knockdown in the fourth. Murtazaliev, 24, was having his second fight in the USA and has now won 6 of his last 7 fights by KO/TKO. Poor Obando has lost 8 of his last 9 fights.
Conceicao vs. Ely
Brazilian Olympian Conceicao wasted no time here. He came out firing rapid combinations. He was a little wild with his overhand rights and his left hooks were more like Kid Gavilan’s famous bolo punch but when one of those overhand rights landed Ely was dumped on the canvas. He made it up and convinced the referee he was OK but was then dropped by another right hand bomb. Again he got up and convinced the referee he was OK but he was also now cut over the left eye and The fight could have been stopped then but the bell went. It was totally one-sided again in the second. Conceicao was wildly slinging his punches rather than working openings but he punched too hard for Ely and there was nothing wrong with the stiff left and straight right that put Ely down for a third time with the fight immediately being waived off. The 28-year-old from Salvador has great amateur credentials winning gold at the 2016 Olympics to add to his silver medals at the Pan American Games and the World Championships where he lost a 19-18 decision to Vasyl Lomachenko. He has wins over a host of top fighters including Oscar Valdez, Jose Cuellar, Claudio Marrero, Martin Ward and Josh Taylor but now he has to adjust to the pros and prove himself all over again. Ely was in way over his head but showed guts in getting up twice in that first round from heavy knockdowns.
Concordia, Argentina: Super Light: Gustavo D Vittori (19-2-1) DREW 10 Gabriel Punalef C. (24-7-5). Local fighter Vittorio keeps his WBO Latino title in tough, bloody all-southpaw scrap with experienced Punalef C. Vittorio made a confident start scoring early with some eye-catching punches from both hands and despite some counters from Punalef C he looked to be taking charge of the fight. Things changed in the fifth when a clash of heads saw both fighters injured. Punalef C was cut over his left eyebrow but Vittori suffered an ugly cut on his forehead which bothered him for the rest of the fight. The injury threw Vittori out of his stride and let Punalef C into the fight. He was eating into Vittorio’s lead with plenty of punches but not much power both injuries were reopened and making for a messy contests. Vittorio landed a series of hooks to the body in the eighth with Punalef C getting home a hard left to the chin. Punalef C worked on the outside in the ninth just looking to keep out of trouble and Vittorio staged a strong finish and looked to have done enough to win but the judges came up with two scores of 95-95 with the third giving it to Vittorio 96-94. Vittorio was No 5 in the Argentinian ratings and Punalef C No 6 so a close fight was always on the cards. Vittorio, 27, had won his last six fights but was in only his second ten round contest. Punalef C, 33 , was 5-1-1 in his last 7 fights with the loss being a sixth round stoppage by unbeaten Brit Jack Catterall in 2015.
Managua, Nicaragua: Light Fly: Felix Alvarado (25-2) W KO 1 Roberto Rodriguez (11-2). Light Fly: Cristofer Rosales (21-2) W TKO 3 Sammy Reyes (20-14-1). 3
Alvarado vs. Rodriguez
Alvarado blitzes Rodriguez in the first round and wins the vacant WBC Latino title. The local fighter came out punching driving Rodriguez around the ring but was momentarily halted in his tracks by a hard counter from Rodriguez. Alvarado shrugged that off and kept throwing punches until the Mexican went down and stayed there. Rodriguez was simple out of his depth. The 27-year-old “Twin” goes to 21 wins by KO/TKO. He was 18-0 before losing consecutive fights in challenges for the secondary WBA fly title to Kazuto Ioka and Juan Carlos Reveco. He has now won seven fights on the bounce, six by KO/TKKO and is rated WBA 10/WBO 10. After losing his first pro fight Rodriguez had won eleven in a row but all against poor opposition.
Rosales vs. Reyes
Rosales halts Reyes in three rounds. The local fighter knew nothing about Reyes so had a look at him in the first round and then started to break the Mexican down in the second. Reyes shed some blood but stood up to the punishment well but as Rosales continued to pound Reyes with hard punches from both hands. In the third the Mexican’s resistance faded and the fight was stopped. The 22-year-old Nicaraguan “Whip” gets win No 15 by KO/TKO. After dropping a decision early in his career to fellow-prospect Keyvin Lara Rosales has now lost only one of his last 19 fights. That loss on points against current WBA super fly champion Khalid Yafai and he has scored eleven wins since then. Reyes suffers his first loss by KO/TKO. He had won 7 of his last 8 fights but against opposition that would be flattered to be labelled mediocre.
Phoenix, AZ, USA: Super Welter: John Vera (16-0) W PTS 10 Salim Larbi (20-7-2). Feather: Keenan Carbajal (13-2-1) W TKO 5 Gustavo Molina (23-14).
Vera vs. Larbi
Vera gets split decision over Larbi but it is not a popular decision. The tall Texan southpaw certainly made the better start and rocked Larbi with a right in the second but the transplanted Frenchman fought back hard. Over the third, fourth and fifth both had good spells. Vera was boxing on the back foot and scoring with counters as Larbi bulled forward. The cleaner work was coming from Vera but Larbi was taking the fight to Vera and landing some hard rights. Larbi took over in the seventh as Vera’s work rate dropped and he spent the seventh, eighth and ninth speeding around the ring perimeter and only stopping occasional to throw a punch. A frustrated Larbi was dropping his hands and inviting Vera to stop running and Vera’s tactics looked to be handing the fight to Larbi. A crucial moment came in the ninth when Larbi landed a ridiculously low right. It posed more danger to Vera’s knees than his testicles and the referee deducted a point from the Frenchman. Vera fired a series of combinations to take the round. The last went in three stages. Early in the round Vera drove Larbi into a corner with a series of head punches. Larbi banged back with powerful rights until 20 seconds from the bell when Vera blazed away with both hands to finish strongly. Scores 95-94 and 97-92 for Vera and 95-94 for Larbi. The decision was loudly booed but Larbi only had himself to blame for that low blow in the ninth which cost him the fight. Vera, 28, retains his WBA-NABA title but this was his first real test and he was lucky to escape with his 100% record intact. Hopefully Larbi will be busier. He had only one fight in each of years 2012,2014 and 2015 and this was his first fight since May last year.
Carbajal vs. Molina
Carbajal just too big and punches too hard for veteran Mexican. Carbajal was scoring freely from the start and Molina soaked up lots of punishment before being dropped by a cluster of punches in the fourth. He survived the round but in the fifth was trapped on the ropes under a hail of punches and the referee stopped the fight. The 25-year-old, 5’10” (178cm) local fighter has seven wins by KO/TKO and impressed as he moved up to eight rounds for the first time. The 5’5” (165cm) “Worm” Molina has now lost 5 of his last 6 fights
Phitsanulok, Thailand: Fly: Yodmongkol (45-3) W PTS 12 John Rey Lausa (13-13-3). Yodmongkol retains his PABA title with unanimous verdict over Filipino Lausa. Lausa made it a tough night for Yodmongkol despite never looking like winning. The Thai forced a standing count and took the decision but Lausa fought hard and well. Scores 118-110 twice and 117-111 all for Yodmongkol. The former interim WBA champion has lost only one of his last 39 fights and that was a fifth round stoppage against Juan Carlos Reveco for the secondary WBA title in 2014. Yodmongkol is No 1 with the WBA so should get a shot at Kazuto Ioka this year. Lausa, 24, the Philippines No 13, is 0-3 in his last 3 fights. All in Thailand and his three world rated Thai opponents had combined records of 127-10-1.
Las Vegas, NV, USA: Feather: Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1) W PTS 12 Carl Frampton (23-1). Light: Mikey Garcia (36-0) W KO 3 Dejan Zlaticanin (22-1). Super Light: Josh Taylor (8-0) W PTS 8 Alfonso Olvera (8-3-1). Light: Ivan Redkach (20-2-1,1ND) W TKO 8 Demond Brock (13-4-1,1ND). Super Middle: David Benavidez (17-0) W TKO 2 Sherali Mamajonov (14-2).
Santa Cruz vs. Frampton
Both boxers were letting their hands go early. Santa Cruz was looking to use his longer reach to score with jabs. Frampton was initiating the trading by leaping in and scoring inside and both fired off hooks in a very close opening round which Santa Cruz just took. Both fighters were cagier in the first than they were in the second. Santa Cruz was working outside again making use of height and reach to stab home jabs. Frampton was trying to lure Santa Cruz forward but was being out boxed as Santa Cruz pocketed the second round. Frampton got a round back in a close third. Santa Cruz was boxing conservatively and not using his jab as much and Frampton was more active and ended the round with a good two-fisted attack. Frampton used some good upper body movement to negate Santa Cruz’s jab in the fourth and late in the round they finally stood and traded shots with honours about even. Just before the bell Santa Cruz pushed forward and Frampton went over but the referee rightly did not call it a knockdown. So far all four rounds had been close enough to score either way and I had them level. Frampton boxed beautifully in the fifth. He was drawing the jab and getting inside where he could fire hooks. Santa Cruz was relying heavily on his jab but good upper body and fleet foot movement from Frampton were frustrating his efforts to sustain any of his attacks. Close round again but I thought Frampton did enough to edge it. Santa Cruz scored with some cracking left hooks early in the sixth and for much of the round they stood and traded quality punches with both having some success and Santa Cruz just edged that one. Frampton forced the fight in the seventh getting inside and firing hooks from both hands. Santa Cruz seemed to take a round off and when he did let his hands go some exquisite bobbing and weaving by Frampton saw Santa Cruz swishing empty air. Frampton took the eighth to move into a small lead. He increased his punch output and was forcing Santa Cruz to fight inside and was getting the better of the exchanges. This really was quality fight. Whether boxing on the outside or trading on the inside both fighters were picking and placing their punches with power and precision. Santa Cruz clearly took the ninth. He was making more use of his jab and he increased his punch output and outworked Frampton to edge in front. The tenth was another hard round to score. Frampton kept pressing and forcing Santa Cruz to trade but Santa Cruz seemed just that little bit more accurate and just did enough to take it. The eleventh was the best round of the fight so far and it had the crowd on their feet. They went head-to-head over the early stages and continued to trade punches for the whole three minutes with Frampton just edging things so I had Santa Cruz in front by one round going into the last. An electrifying twelfth saw two tired warriors give everything they had as they went toe-to-toe with both arms flailing away. Forget quality this was raw emotion expressed by gloved fists and the crowd were again on their feet all the way to the bell. For me Frampton did enough to take the round and make it a draw, but like Frampton I have no disagreement with the result as it was too even a fight to argue whichever way it went. Santa Cruz, 28, regains the WBA title he lost to Frampton in July. He made the adjustments he had to make after losing that first fight and got his tactics just right. He has promised Frampton a return in Belfast but that is not a done deal and the WBA may insist he defends against Abner Mares or the practically unknown Carlos Zambrano their No 1. Unification fights with Oscar Valdez and Gary Russell would be great if they could be made. Frampton showed great sportsmanship. In a fight as close as this was I can’t think of many fighters who would have stated clearly that they felt the other man deserved the decision but it typified the spirit in which the fight was fought a fight that was an example of everything that is good in boxing. A great advert for the sport. Naturally Frampton wants Santa Cruz again but a unification with Lee Selby, the British holder of the IBF title would be yet another huge event for British boxing.
Garcia vs. Zlaticanin
Garcia wins the WBC title as he obliterates champion Zlaticanin. Zlaticanin was pressing the fight in the first coming in behind a high southpaw guard and trying to crowd Garcia and take him to the ropes. Garcia made a very cautious start spending most of the round on the back foot prodding and stabbing out left jabs with no real power behind them. In the second Zlaticanin managed to take Garcia into a corner but Garcia turned him and finally started throwing his right. Zlaticanin continued to march forward but Garcia was standing his ground more putting more snap into his jab and firing straight rights through the little Montenegrin’s guard. Zlaticanin continued to march forward in the third but Garcia was countering him on the way in and tying him up inside. Suddenly as Zlaticanin came forward Garcia landed a hellacious right uppercut on the inside. The effect was immediate with Zlaticanin stumbling head first into the ropes already out on his feet and as he turned on the ropes a right cross sent him crashing to the canvas on his side half out of the ring. The referee immediately waived the fight off and it was a scary knockout with Zlaticanin flat on his back out cold and he needed a great deal of attention before being able to rise. Garcia, a former undefeated WBO super feather champion showed frightening power and he would probably start a favourite against Jorge Linares, Robert Easter and Terry Flanagan. He has invited Vasyl Lomachenko to come up to lightweight to fight him and even Terrence Crawford’s name was thrown into the mix. The 29-year-old Californian now has 30 wins by KO/TKO. He was inactive from January 2014 until returning with a win over former WBC feather champion Elio Rojas in July last year. At 5’4” (163cm) and with only basic technique the 32-year-old Montenegrin Zlaticanin has over performed just through sheer determination and courage. His all-out aggression was his undoing here but wins over Petr Petrov, Ricky Burns and Franklin Mamani show what a great little competitor he is. He won’t disappear and has more good fights in him.
Taylor vs. Olvera
“The Tartan Terror” Taylor makes low key US debut as he gets wide unanimous decision over tougher than expected Mexican prelim fighter Olvera. The tall Scotsman had the harder punch and superior skill but Olvera never looked like crumbling and became the first fighter to take Taylor the distance. Taylor rocked Olvera with lefts in the second and fourth rounds but lost a point in the sixth for a low punch. Scores 78-73 twice and 79-72 all for Taylor. Although disappointed in not getting Olvera out of the fight the 26-year-old Commonwealth Council champion from Edinburgh got some useful ring time here after taking less than 14 rounds to win his first seven fights. The former Commonwealth Gold medallist was an elite level amateur and in winning an Olympic Test Event he beat Jamal Herring, Jeff Horn and Anthony Yigit over three days of competition. Arizona-based Olvera was stepping up to eight rounds for the first time and was 7-1-1 in his previous nine fights.
Redkach vs. Brock
Redkach puts the first brick in the wall of his rebuilding project with last round stoppage of Brock. Redkach used his southpaw skills to outbox the Louisiana fighter. Brock tried to take the fight to Redkach but was cut early and never really got a foothold in the fight. Late in the eighth Redkach floored Brock with a left and although Brock managed to get up Redkach laid on some more heavy stuff and the referee stopped the fight. First fight for the 30-year-old Californian-based Ukrainian since losing a wide unanimous decision to Tevin Farmer in July last year. Second loss by KO/TKO for Brock.
Benavidez vs. Mamajonov
Benavidez brutalises little Uzbek inside two rounds. Benavidez towered over Mamajonov but spent the first two minutes on the back foot as Mamajonov bustled forward landing jabs to the body (he probably could not reach up to Benavidez chin). Once Benavidez started to come forward and let his hands go Mamajonov was in trouble and a vicious left to the body and a right to the head dropped Mamajonov. Benavidez cuffed him with a left as he was on the way down and lucky for Benavidez he missed with a right when Mamajonov was technically down. Mamajonov got up and indicated he was OK at which point the bell went. It was over early in the second. Benavidez drove Mamajonov to the ropes and landed another booming left hook to the body and two more lefts to the head which sent Mamajonov down. He got up but took out his mouthpiece and turned away and the referee stopped the fight. The 20-year-old 6’2” (188cm) Benavidez makes it 16 wins by KO/TKO including nine in his last nine fights. There has been some good level opposition in his inside the distance wins such as Francy Ntetu (16-0) and Denis Douglin (20-4) and he is rated WBA 7/WBC 14. One to watch. Mamajonov’s management did him no favours. Putting the 5’8 ½” (174cm) Uzbek in with such a big fighter and big puncher as Benavidez for his first fight outside his home country was cruel.
Indio, CA, USA: Super Feather: Miguel Berchelt (31-1) W TKO 11 Francisco Vargas (23-1-2). Super Feather: Takashi Miura (31-3-2) W KO 12 Miguel Roman (56-12). Welter: Sadam Ali (24-1) W KO 3 Jorge Silva (22-13-2). Light Lamont Roach (13-0) W KO 1 Alejandro Valdez (26-9-2).
Berchelt vs. Vargas
Berchelt brutalises Vargas and lifts his WBC title. In a fast paced first round Vargas was quicker to the punch and showed more variety in his work and clearly took the round but Berchelt looked the bigger man and showed a powerful jab and was dangerous with long rights. Vargas made a positive start to the second forcing Berchelt back with his jab and scoring with a couple of hooks to the body. Berchelt looked to have more power and landed a good right cross. Vargas looked about to take over the round with some quick hooks and a left to the head that had Berchelt backing up but Berchelt scored with some heavy left hooks and a left uppercut /right to the head combination which seemed to shake Vargas and the round went to the challenger. Vargas was already showing a swelling under his left eye but more worrying was the scar tissue from an old cut over the same eye which looked vulnerable. The third was a punch-fest as both fighters let their hands go and it was quality work. Vargas was firing quick hooks to the body but again Berchelt was using a long left jab/right cross pairing and outscored the champion. Vargas needed to get back in control and in the fourth he showed some clever defensive work whilst slotting home hooks and uppercuts but a big left from Berchelt shook him momentarily and the challenger scored with more heavy rights before Vargas finished the round with a sustained barrage but again it was Berchelt’s round and now the old injury had reopened over the left eye of Vargas causing a deep cut. Vargas battled back to win the fifth. He simply outworked Berchelt who spent most of the round going backwards and his punch output dropped. Before the action started in the sixth because of the cut the referee took Vargas over to be examined by the doctor who cleared Vargas to continue. The champion made a good start to the round jolting Berchelt with jabs and firing home hooks and he seemed to be in control but late in the round Berchelt landed a big left and a right that shook Vargas and a booming right followed by another long left sent Vargas across the ring. Berchelt was pouring on the punishment at the bell to pocket another round. The seventh followed a similar pattern with Vargas scoring with blazing combinations early and Berchelt just walking through the punches and battering Vargas with long, hard head punches with the champion under heavy pressure at the bell. Vargas bounced back in the eighth simply outworking Berchelt early with bunches of hooks but again Berchelt finished the round strongly making it hard to score. The referee spent much of the interval in the champion’s corner warning that with the facial damage of the cut and the swelling around both eyes the fight might not be allowed to go much longer. The ninth was a brutal round as Berchelt kept walking forward landing punch after punch to the head of Vargas and the referee stopped the action for the doctor to take another look at the cut but the fight continued and Berchelt was scoring with more head punches and a stoppage looked possible but Vargas made it to the bell. Vargas survived another doctor’s inspection at the start of the tenth round. Vargas tried to rally but by the end of the tenth he was taking a savage beating and the cut was bleeding freely. In the eleventh Vargas kept trying to punch with Berchelt but was shaken again but heavy head punches and eventually as Berchelt was unloading more heavy hits the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. “The “Scorpion” from Merida wins the WBC title and gets win No 28 by KO/TKO. The standard of his opposition and not been high and a 99 seconds stoppage loss against Colombian Luis Eduardo Florez had put a question mark over his chin. Here he took everything Vargas threw and walked through it. He is still only 25 and his power was evident from the start. It would be great to see him in against Vasyl Lomachenko or Gervonta Davis but next up could be the WBC No 1 Tadashi Miura who won a final eliminator by beating Miguel Roman or an all-Mexican clash with Omar Salido. “El Bandido” Vargas at 32 should perhaps call it a day. He was allowed to take too much punishment here and this is his third tough fight in a row and he may always have a problem with the scar tissue around that left eye.
Miura vs. Roman
Miura wins this WBC eliminator to put himself in line for a shot at new champion Berchelt. There was very little action in a cagey first round but with both fighters in a crouch and leaning forward it seemed inevitable that heads would clash and the referee warned both fighters to be careful. Miura took the second. He scored well with southpaw straight lefts and tied up Roman inside. The fight came to life in the third as Roman marched forward letting go hooks from both hands. Miura was still effective with straight lefts and was clinching to try to stop Roman working inside. In the fourth Roman upped his work rate scoring with hooks and uppercuts. Miura was getting dragged into a brawl but he ended the round with some hurtful body punches. Roman took the fifth and sixth by just marching forward churning out punches. Miura was being overwhelmed by volume and being dragged into a brawl which suited Roman. The Japanese fighter was sporting a bump under his right eye which could become a problem. Miura gave up any pretence of boxing in the seventh. He started the round by standing and landing five or six head-rattling shots. Roman shrugged them off and they then went toe-to-toe for the rest of the round with Roman again outworking Miura and sending the Japanese fighter’s mouthpiece flying across the ring. Early in the eighth their heads clashed and Roman was pawing at a cut which had opened over his right eye. An angered Roman piled into Miura and they spent the rest of the round swing punches that would not have been out of place on a Saturday night in Glasgow. No fine touches here just blazing action. The war continued in the ninth. Twice Miura’s head banged into the face of Roman and Miura looked to taking control as he forced Roman onto the back foot. The tenth round was not one for the purists it was a survival of the fittest war now as any thought of defence disappeared. Late in the round Miura slung a tired but powerful left to the body that sent Roman down in agony. He did not move for a few seconds but then rolled to his feet and the bell went before Miura could follow-up that success. Roman was now leaking blood from the cut over his right eye and from the nose and looked finished. Miura attacked the body again in the eleventh and a series of punches caused Roman to slump to his knees. After the eight count Miura tried to find a finishing punch but Roman stayed inside with his arms pumping and made it to the bell-although he then walked to the wrong corner. Roman came out for the twelfth but Miura took him to the ropes and two left sent the Mexican face down on the canvas. He rolled over but the referee waived the fight over The 32-year-old former WBC champion will now be hoping to get an early chance to regain the title he lost to Francisco Vargas in November 2015. “Mickey” Roman is a brave battler, a true Aztec warrior, but has come up short in challenges for the WBA secondary featherweight title and the WBC lightweight title and may not get a third chance-but he will fight on
Ali vs. Silva
Ali gets easy win as he beats overmatched Silva inside three rounds. Ali made an impressive start unloading some right crosses and forcing Silva on to the retreat. Ali landed a couple more rights and then a sharp left hook and another right and Silva went down on one knee. He was up at seven and after the eight count briefly took the fight to Ali. A series of rights again had Silva in trouble but he made it to the bell. Silva was on the front foot and forcing Ali back in the second but every time Ali unleashed a right cross or a left hook Silva looked shaky. Ali was again scoring with the rights and with left hooks in the third and after absorbing a couple of hard punches Silva urged Ali to bring it on. Dumb really! Silva then went on the offensive landing a couple of good shots of his own. When Ali fired home some more rights Silva urged him to try again and after a rib bending left hook from Ali Silva dropped both hands and again invited Ali to do his best. Even dumber. Ali crashed home a left hook and Silva tumbled sideward with a further right helping him on his way landing heavily face down half way out under the ropes and the referee immediately stopped the fight. Ali lost the big one when he was stopped in nine rounds by Jessie Vargas for the vacant WBO title in March last year but returned with a win in September. The 28-year-old “World Kid” makes it 14 wins by KO/TKO. He is rated IBF 12 so has a long climb back to the top. Silva, just 24 but with more than eight years as a pro behind him is 2-10 in his last 12 fights.
Roach vs. Valdez
Roach gets early win over a well past his best Valdez. Roach landed two hard rights which put Valdez down. He got up but after the eight count another right put Valdez down and out cold and the fight was over after just 101 seconds. The 21-year-old from Maryland gets his fifth win by KO/TKO and wins the vacant WBC Youth title-by beating a 33-year-old fighter-how stupid is that? Valdez had been a good level fighter getting shots at the WBC bantam and interim WBA bantam titles but was inactive in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and had one fight each in 2015 and 2016. Not one for the WBC to take pride in.
Montreal, Canada: Super Welter: Brandon Cook (18-0) W TKO 7 Steven Butler (18-1-1) .Heavy: Simon Kean (8-0) W PTS 8 Avery Gibson (8-6-4). Super Light: Yves Ulysse Jr (12-0) W PTS 8 Jose Emilio Perea (24-8). Super Light: Ayaz Hussein (12-1) W TKO 2 Ulises Perez (16-5). Super Light: Batyrzhan Jukembayev (8-0) W KO 1 David Rangel (12-5).
Cook vs. Butler
Cook comes into the lion’s den and halts Butler in a contest between two unbeaten fighters. Cook opened the fight with an overhand right but Butler ended the first with some quick combinations to take the round. Cook started to work the body in the second but again Butler was quicker to the punch. Cook continued to try to go to the body and had a better third but Butler took the fourth and caught the eye with an overhand right. Cook’s body work gave him a good start to the fifth with Butler coming back with a left that snapped Cook’s head back. In the sixth Butler looked to be tiring. He had set a fast pace and that plus the body punches from Cook took effect with Cook rocking Butler and taking control of the fight. In the seventh Cook staggered Butler with a left hook and then finished things with a straight right to the chin that dumped Butler on the floor. He beat the count but after a look at him the referee waived the fight over. The 30-year-old “Bad Boy” Cook retains his WBA-NABA title and wins Butler’s IBF North American title. The WBA No 5 gets win No 15 by KO/TKO and is hoping this win will lead to a title shot. Butler, 21, the IBF No 8, was facing his first real test but is young enough to come again. Unfortunately disgraceful scenes followed the stoppage. Butler reacted badly and pushed Cook but even worse fights broke out in the crowd and debris was thrown into the ring including a metal ice bucket which hit Cook in the face.
Kean vs. Gibson
Keane is taken the distance for the first time as he proves too strong for limited Gibson. Kean is big, 6’5” (196cm) and strong but far from quick. He was able to outmuscle Gibson and score with clubbing shots. Gibson, really just a 4 & 6 round prelim fighter was exhausted by the sixth and did well to last the distance. Scores 80-72 twice and 80-73. The 28-year-old from Trois-Rivieres had won his first seven fight in a total of less than 14 rounds so this was as much a stamina test as a quality one. Kean represented Canada at the 2012 Olympics and the Pan American Games but it must wait until he gets a real test to find how far he can go.
Ulysse vs. Perea
Flashy Canadian prospect Ulysse is just too quick and skilful for Mexican journeyman Perea. The visitor was having his third fight in Canada and had performed well in the other two fights but Ulysse frustrated him with clever movement and rattling combinations. The Canadian cut loose spectacularly in the last round but Perea made it to the bell. Scores 80-72 from all three judges. The 28-year-old from Montreal represented Canada at the Commonwealth Games, Pan American and World Championships. Perea, 34, had outpointed David Theroux and lost on a tenth round kayo against Custio Clayton in previous visits to Canada.
Hussein vs. Perez
Hussein continues to rebuild after a shock one round defeat suffered last year. The young Montreal fighter took the first round and then floored Perez with a right early in the second. Although the Mexican beat the count he was taking a beating when the referee stopped the fight. The 25-year-old “Machine” makes it 10 wins by KO/TKO. The former Canadian amateur champion gets his second win since being stopped in 75 seconds by unbeaten Russian Evgeny Pavko in May. Perez had won 7 of his last 8 fights but against low level opposition and this was his first fight since April last year.
Jukembayev vs. Rangel
Jukembayev makes it six wins in a row by KO/TKO. The Kazakh-born fighter battered Rangel around the body and then obliterated Rangel with a right hook which put the Mexican down and out. The 25-year-old southpaw had two no decision in his first two fights so is now7-0 in his last 7 fights. Rangel has lost 4 of his last 5 fights.
Bragado, Argentina: Super Feather: Guillermo O Soloppi (22-13-2,1ND) W PTS 12 Hugo A Santillan (12-1-1). If at first you don’t succeed try, try. try again. Veteran Soloppi finally wins a title at his eleventh attempt as he takes split decision over young Santillan to win the South American title. Soloppi used his much wider experience to counter the quicker and more skilful Santillan and looked a good winner despite the split verdict. Scores 117-115 ½ and 115-113 for Soloppi and 116 ½ -115 ½ for Santillan. The 31-year-old was 0-10 in fights for a variety of titles going into this one making the win even more satisfying. The 20-year-old Santillan had won the South American title with a victory over former IBF feather title challenger Mauricio Javier Munoz and was up at No 3 in the Argentinian ratings. He is young enough to shrug this one off and come back stronger.
Herstal, Belgium: Light: Urbano Giuliani (9-1) W PTS 10 Baska Tuvdenlhagva (5-5-3). Super Light: Steve Jamoye (21-3-1) W TKO 3 Felix Matamoros (7-9). Bantam: Stephane Jamoye (31-7) W PTS 8 Lesther Cantillano (3-2).
Giuliani vs. Tuvdenlhagva
Giuliani wins the vacant Belgian title with unanimous decision over Frenchman Tuvdenlhagva. Scores 96-94, 96-95 and 99-91 all for Giuliani. There were no suitable Belgian challengers for Giuliani to meet for the vacant title so French-based Mongolian Tuvdenlhagva was allowed to contest the title.
Jamoye vs. Matamoros
Jamoye gets a rare inside the distance win as he stops Nicaraguan Matamoros. The 25-year-old BeNeLux champion has lost tough fights against top level, opposition in Luca Giacon (26-1), Sandor Martin (25-1) and Nicolas Gonzalez (17-0) but pushed himself up to the EBU No 8 with unanimous decision over Jean Pierre Bauwens (39-2-1) in October. Matamoros has now lost 5 of his last 6 fights. He was having his first fight in Europe and will now join the band of Nicaraguan losers who are popular with promoters for their consistency-as losers of course.
Jamoye vs. Cantillano
Elder brother Stephane gets a gentle warm-up for his challenge to Karim Guerfi for the EBU title next month as he easily outpoints yet another Nicaraguan member of the “have gloves-will lose” club. Scores 80-72 twice and 80-73 all for Jamoye. The former European bantam champion has a 2012 inside the distance win over current IBF bantam champion Lee Haskins but lost in title shots against Shinsuke Yamanaka (WBC) and Scott Quigg (secondary WBA). He lost his European title on a majority decision to Guerfi back in 2013 so is seeking revenge when they clash on 25 February. Cantillano’s total career consisted of four four round fights so a total mismatch.
Puerto Colombia, Colombia: Super Light: Roiman Villa (11-0) W RTD 6 Hevinson Herrera (22-13-1). Fly: Robert Barrera (17-1) W TKO 9 Luis de la Rosa (24-7-1).
Villa vs. Herrera
Venezuelan Villa keeps his 100% record of inside the distance wins as he forces Colombian Herrera out of the fight after six rounds. Herrera did enough to edge the first round but in the second pressure from Villa saw Herrera lose a point for holding. Some needle crept in and they exchanged punches after the bell. Villa continued to outscore Herrera and a series of punches saw Herrera drop to his knees in the third. He beat the count but was under fire throughout the fourth. They traded punches throughout the fifth with a left from Herrera suddenly unhinging Villa’s legs. He recovered and in the sixth pounded Herrera for the whole three minutes with Herrera retiring at the end of the round. The 23-year-old Villa makes it 11 wins by KO/TKO. That is not as impressive as it seems as his 10 other victims could only muster five wins between them but a win is a win. Florida-based Colombian Herrera, 32, suffers his ninth loss by KO/TKO.
Barrera vs. de la Rosa
Barrera preserves his WNA No 1 ranking with late stoppage of de la Rosa. It took a while for Barrera to break the more experienced de la Rosa down but eventually he had de la Rosa on shaky legs and the fight was stopped. The 24-year-old Barrera suffered his only defeat when losing a split decision to unbeaten Venezuelan Carlos Canizales in Caracas in 2015. He then won four fights against poor opposition but still somehow arrived at No 1 with the WBA. He now has 11 wins by KO/TKO. de la Rosa came out of retirement for this one and was having his first fight since losing in nine rounds against Ryoichi Taguchi for the secondary WBA light fly title in December 2015. That was his second title shot having been stopped in eight rounds by Merlito Sabillo for the interim WBO minimum title in 2013.
Frosinone, Italy: Super Feather: Alessandro Micheli (7-0-1) W PTS 10 Daniele Limone (15-4-1). Welter: Sven Paris (32-6) W PTS 6 Gergo (19-17-1).
Micheli wins the vacant Italian title with unanimous verdict over Limone. Micheli was the aggressor early as he took the fight to Limone landing some hard rights that were to serve him well throughout the fight. Limone showed plenty of movement and some good counters but lacked power and Micheli edged the first two rounds. He increased the pressure in the third and fourth but Limone made the fifth and sixth close ones. By the end of the sixth Micheli had built a good lead. The fight swung the other way in the seventh as a clash of heads saw Limone with a bad cut over his right eye. That made Limone change his tactics and take the fight to Micheli who spent much of the time with his back against the ropes. Limone took the seventh and eighth and landed his best punch of the night in the ninth, a straight right, which had Micheli staggering backwards but Micheli landed a couple of rights of his own late in the round. Those rights helped Micheli again in the last and winning that round cemented his victory. Scores 96-94 twice and 97-94 all for Micheli. The 24-year-old local fighter nicknamed “The King” was going past six rounds for the first time so did well to stage that last round rally. Turin’s Limone, 32, a former Italian feather champion, had lost twice for the Italian super bantam title and is a notoriously bad starter and that cost him the title here.
Paris vs. Gergo
Former Olympian Paris returns to the ring and eases to a points decision over Hungarian Gergo. Paris, 36, competed for Italy at the 2000 Olympics in Rome and went 22-1 in his first 23 pro fights. From there he fell away and retired in April 2012. Can’t see his return going anywhere. Gergo is now 3-6 in his last 9 fights.
Fuenlabrada, Spain: Feather: Marc Vidal (8-1-4) W PTS 12 Sergio Prado (13-7-1). Super Light: Jaider Parra (28-2-1) W TKO 12 Nicolas Gonzalez (20-2).
Vidal vs. Prado
Vidal wins the vacant European Union title with split decision that should have been unanimous over Prado. After an even first round that Prado edged Vidal began to cut down the boxing space that the more skilful Prado needed and was winning the fight inside. He maintained that ascendency over rounds three and four and at that point was 39-37 up on two cards with the third judge seeing tied at 38-38. Vidal continued to throw more and land more over the fifth and sixth. Prado upped his game in the seventh moving more and also being more accurate when forced to trade but was still being outscored. Prado put in a big effort to take the eighth but was still lagging on two cards where Vidal was 78-74 up but the third judge had him in front 77-75. Vidal effectively put the fight beyond the reach of Vidal by taking the ninth and tenth. Prado put everything into the last two rounds and with Vidal tiring he clearly took them both but it was not enough to cancel out the big lead Vidal had built and Vidal emerged a clear winner despite the split verdict. Scores 116-112 twice for Vidal and 116-112 for Prado. A big factor in the fight was Prado’s reluctance to use his right and it was subsequently admitted that he had injured the hand in the second round which led to him being less aggressive in his tactics than usual and that handicap allowed Vidal to take rounds two to seven to set up his victory. Catalonian Vidal, 28, the Spanish champion, was 3-1-3 in his first 7 fights but is now 5-0-1 in his last 6 but he is not of a sufficient standard to challenge the top European featherweights. Local fighter “Schuster” Prado is a former European Union and Spanish champion at super bantam. He lost his EU title to Kid Galahad and also lost decisions on the road against current European champion Dennis Ceylan and Marco McCullough.
Parra vs. Gonzalez
Blow for local fans as big draw card Gonzalez is worn down and stopped in the last round by Venezuelan Parra. The fight almost finished early. After a close first round Parra nailed Gonzalez with a series of punches in the second and the Spaniard only just made it to the bell. In the third Gonzalez switched southpaw and that worked well for him as he steadied the ship. It was a fast competitive fight. Parra showed plenty of movement constantly changing angles and firing home quick punches. Gonzalez found it difficult to nail the elusive Venezuelan down but he kept pressing and in the eighth it looked as though the pace was telling on Parra. However the Venezuelan found some more energy from somewhere and continued to move and counter focusing on the body and building a winning lead. In the end it was Gonzalez who ran out of gas. In the twelfth an exhausted Gonzalez with blood dripping from his nose was driven around the ring stumbling to try to escape. Parra trapped him on the ropes and although Parra did not then land anything of consequence Gonzalez dropped on one knee. He was up at eighth but just shook he head and walked to his corner. Parra, 24, wins the vacant WBA Inter-Continental title and advances to 17 wins by KO/TKO. The younger brother of former WBA champion Lorenzo Parra he lost to Takashi Uchiyama for the WBC super feather title in 2013 and in six rounds against Darleys Perez for the interim WBA light title in 2014. This is his fifth win by KO/TKO so he still has dreams of a third title shot. The future is less sure for 28-year-old Gonzalez. After winning his first 18 fights he was stopped in seven rounds in a war against fellow Spaniard Ruben Nieto for the European title in July last year. He had scored two wins since then but this is a huge set back.
Atlantic City, NJ, USA: Super Welter: Thomas Lamanna (22-2) W PTS 8 Eduardo Flores (25-25-3). Light Heavy: Michael Mitchell (4-7-2) W PTS 6 Chuck Mussachio (19-3-2).
Lamanna vs. Flores
Lamanna wins every round against Flores. In returning to the winning column Lamanna had to overcome a strange handicap. He wears contact lenses into his fights and he lost one in the second round and the other in the third. From there he was almost shadow boxing but was able to use his huge edges in height and reach to cruise to victory. Scores 80-72 from all three judges. First fight for 25-year-old Lamanna since losing a unanimous decision to Dusty Hernandez Harrison in September. Ecuadorian Flores was 2-6 in his last 8 fights going into this one but four of the losses were to unbeaten fighters and another loss was against Kermit Cintron.
Mitchell vs. Mussachio
There goes a good ticket seller as Mussachio re-retires after losing a majority decision to Mitchell. It should have been a safe win for Mussachio who for once was fighting someone older than himself but he no longer had what it takes. Mitchell was slow but Mussachio was even slower. Scores 60-53 and 58-56 both for Mitchell and 57-57. The 39-year-old Mitchell had lost four in a row going into this one so it was a big win for him. Mussachio, 37, known as “The Professor” had retired in 2013 but came back with a win last year. A popular fighter his ticket selling ability will be a loss for local promoters. He will now go back to his job as a guidance counsellor in the elementary school system.
Macao, S.A.R. China: Super Fly: Jerwin Ancajas (26-1-1) W RTD 7 Jose Alfredo Rodriguez (32-5). Heavy: Carlos Takam (33-3-1) W KO 4 Marcin Rekowski (17-5)
Ancajas vs. Rodriguez
Ancajas was on the back foot in the first two round as Rodriguez pressed the action. The Filipino was showing clever movement working his right jab and walking the advancing challenger onto choice hooks and uppercuts. Rodriguez was pressing hard and had some success when he trapped Ancajas on the ropes but those moments were few. Ancajas stood and traded more in the third. That allowed Rodriguez to have a bit more of the fight but it also meant that Ancajas was loading up more on his hooks and Rodriguez had no answer to the champions jab. Ancajas had a dominant fourth as he pierced the Mexican’s guard time and again with hooks and uppercuts and was too quick for Rodriguez to get into the fight. Ancajas had an even better fifth. He was pounded Rodriguez with a battery of punches and the Mexican was floundering unable to launch any meaningful attacks. Rodriguez did a bit better in the sixth rumbling forward getting close and landing hooks to the body but he was still taking more than he was giving as Ancajas dug in right hooks and sharp uppercuts. Ancajas stepped up his attacks in the seventh. His right jab had Rodriguez, head snapping back time and again and he was also getting through with straight lefts and hooks. Before the action could start in the eighth there was a long discussion between the doctors, the referee and Rodriguez. The Mexican had injured his right shoulder. He wanted to continue but was not allowed to do so and the fight was over. The 25-year-old “Pretty Boy” from Cavite City was making the first defence of the IBF title he won by beating McJoe Arroyo in September and he put on a masterly display of skilled counter punching to bring him win No 17 by KO/TKO. His only loss was on a majority verdict against the more experienced Mark Anthony Geraldo in 2012 and this is his twelfth win since then. He is in a tough division with Roman Gonzalez, Naoya Inoue and Khalid Yafai the other champions. The first two spots in the IBF rankings are vacant so he has no mandatory challenger and can look for some lucrative defences. “Little Bull” Rodriguez at one time was 28-0 and the interim WBA light fly champion but is now 4-4 in his last 8 fights.
Takam vs. Rekowski
Takam punches too hard for Rekowski. It was mostly prodding and posing in the first round until the last ten seconds when Takam scored with a right that seemed to briefly stiffen the Poles legs. There was more action in the second with Takam using a stiff left jab to set Rekowski up for the straight right. After Takam landed the right Rekowski fired back a good right of his own but was caught with a left hook counter. In the third Takam got through with a right/left/right combination of hooks to the head which put Rekowski down. He was up quickly and although shipping some more left hooks landed a couple of rights of his own and made it to the bell. Takam wasted no time in the fourth. He slammed home a left hook to the chin and a right to the side of the head. Rekowski tottered across the ring and Takam followed him and a left put Rekowski face down on the canvas out cold. There was plenty of concern as the Pole was stretched out totally unresponsive and it was 7 or 8 minutes before they got him back on his feet. Cameroon-born, French-based Takam, 36, again showed the power that has brought him 26 wins by KO/TKO. He went 32-0 at the beginning of his career but a kayo loss to Alex Povetkin for the WBC Silver title in 2014 and a points defeat by Joseph Parker in his only fight last year has left him with some ground to make up but he is still No 6(5) with the IBF and No 8 with the WBC. “Rex” Rekowski has now lost 4 of his last 5 fights.