Friday, 3 January 2014

Argenis Mendez v Rances Barthelemy

We've only just began the new year but yet we've already seen a major upset and what could well be one of the most controversial fights of 2014 as we kicked off the year with a very early title fight.

The fight, the first world title fight in the career of Cuban "Kid Blast" Rances Barthelemy (20-0, 13), saw him usurping Dominican Argenis Mendez (21-3-1, 11) of the IBF Super Featherweight title, albeit with the help of a very suspect combination.

Barthelemy started well, despite being the under-dog, and seemed to wobble Mendez in the opening round as his powerful left hook was felt by the champion. Mendez saw out the storm though it was obvious that Barthelemy had the power to hurt Mendez. Unfortunately for the champion Barthelemy also had the reach to use his jab and movement to avoid any unnecessary exchanges.

The second round saw Barthelemy turning the screw, especially late as he scored a clean knockdown of the champion in the final seconds. It was the first time Mendez had been down in his professional career and it was clear when he got to his feet that he hadn't recovered. Barthelemy jumped on Mendez and unleashed a combination that had Mendez in further trouble.

Unfortunately for all involve the bell rung with Barthelemy still throwing shots, two of which came clearly after the first ring of the bell. Those two shots were enough to finish off Mendez sending him to the canvas for the second time and this time he never recovered his feet.

Sadly after the two shots the bell rang again giving Barthelemy some defense in actions though leaving us with a lot of question marks about the actions of the referee who had made a giant mistake in not being close enough to separate the two fighters at the first ring.

In a post fight interview Mike Tyson, Mendez's promoter, said he'd request the commission to force a rematch, though in all honesty it wouldn't be a shock if we don't see that, at least not immediately.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Kazuto Ioka v Felix Alvarado

The first of 3 world title fights televised in Japan today saw WBA Light Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (14-0, 9) given one of his toughest bouts to date, as he took on Nicaraguan puncher Felix Alvarado (18-1, 15).

Although both men are, usually, very different fighters with Alvarado being an aggressive fighter who backs opponents up then quickly breaks them down whilst Ioka is a pure boxer-puncher they gelled perfectly here. Alvarado as everyone expected came forward though Ioka, for the most part, decided to stand his ground and fight fire with fire.

From the first round on wards the men stood in front of each other with Alvarado trying to take Ioka's head off with every shot. Ioka showed his intelligence and boxing ability by blocking and slipping before landing counters.

The fight started competitive with Alvarado having plenty of success as he rushed Ioka though as the fight went on Ioka began to time Alvarado more and more whilst also swelling his left eye and landing harder cleaner punches. It had been close through 4 rounds though through the middle stretch of the bout Ioka totally took over as Alvarado's lack of experience cost him dearly.

By round 9 Ioka had put the close start behind him and totally taken over. The steam had gone from Alvarado's attacks and his punches, which had been snappy early on were now pushed and slow, they were easier to counter and Ioka was in total control despite standing at close range to his Nicaraguan challenger.

With the champion dominating the middle and late rounds it was no shock that he retained his title comfortably on the scorecards, well 2 of them anyway with scores of 119-109, though I'm not sure what
Sergio Caiz was watching scoring it 115-113 for Ioka who was in charge for 8 or 9 rounds of the 12.

Takashi Miura v Dante Jardon

When I read about the fights announced for New Years Eve this year one of them really stood out, Takashi Miura (27-2-2, 20), the WBC Super Featherweight champion, against Mexican challenger Dante "Crazy" Jardon (24-4, 20). This bout, on paper, had fireworks and war written all over it. Both men were known for their aggressive styles, toughness and happiness to let their hands go.

Unfortunately my excitement for this fight had died off with in a round of the fight actually beginning as it was obvious the fighters were in different leagues to each other. Miura came out on fire and poor Jardon simply had no answer, at all. It was obvious that Jardon, for all his hype wasn't capable of holding his own with Miura.

The aggressive Japanese southpaw managed to hurt Jardon in pretty much every round as he unloaded at will to head and body breaking down and beating up his Mexican challenger.

Jardon's heart was the only thing keeping him in the bout and it saw him pull himself off the canvas in round 5 as Miura turned the screw and moved up a gear. If it wasn't for the toughness and heart of Jardon that would have been it. Instead of staying down and taking the count Jardon lived up to his name of "Crazy" and walked into more punishment as Miura continued to hammer away on him, dropping him again in round 8.

By the time we saw the WBC's opening scoring for the time, after round 8, the bout really was beyond hope for Jardon who was a mile behind on the cards, bloodied, beaten up and pretty much broken.

Thankfully the referee was happy to keep an eye on Jardon and after he was dropped in round 9 the referee immediately waved off the bout. Enough had been enough and Miura was simply too good. A shame considering I expected this to be a war rather than an assault, but well done Miura.

With wins over Gamaliel Diaz, Sergio Thompson and Dante Jardon this year it's fair to suggest that Miura has become the new "Mexi-killer" and a possible forgotten man in the "Fighter of the Year" conversation. Well done Takashi, great performance, great year and I hope to see more next year!

Takashi Uchiyama v Daiki Kaneko

Sometimes, albeit rarely, in our sport a fighter who loses manages to impress us all more than the winner of a fight. That happened earlier today as Japan's unheralded Daiki Kaneko (19-3-3, 12) gave a stirring performance en route to losing in his WBA Super Featherweight title fight with the unbeaten Takashi Uchiyama (21-0-1, 17).

The first started tentatively from both with the neither man doing a lot in the first 3 rounds but what was done was mostly from Uchiyama who landed the better, crisper and more eye catching shots. That changed however in round 4 as Kaneko tagged Uchiyama with a solid right that rocked the champion hard. By now it had become clear that Kaneko wasn't there to make up the numbers, but was instead there to prove his skills against one of the truly elite Super Featherweights.

Unfortunately for Kaneko his success in round 4 wasn't immediately followed up as Uchiyama saw out the storm then took rounds 5 and 6. Kaneko wasn't to just give up though and although he dropped round 7 he fought back hard in rounds 8 and 9 as he showed off that he was just as tough and strong as Uchiyama. The strength and power of Kaneko, which had been impressive, really stood out in round 10 as he dropped Uchiyama with a solid and clean left hand.

Although Uchiyama had been dropped, for just the second time in his career, he seemed more embarrassed about the knockdown than hurt and in round 11 he went to war with Kaneko in a round that showed the champion had his senses about him. Uchiyama showed his experience and skills in round 11 as he made Kaneko miss then countered him. It was a great round of action and one that helped to secure Uchiyama of the fight.

Having proven he wasn't done in round 11 Uchiyama looked to finish off Kaneko in round 12 and rocked Kaneko late in the round though the tough challenger saw it out to hear the final bell.

Rather disappointingly the judges didn't hand in cards that reflected just how competitive the fight was. I had it 115-112 to Uchiyama some how the judges all had it 117-110 to the champion, giving Kaneko just 1 round other than the 10-8 round 10. The right guy won but it was closer than the judges had it and a lot more interesting.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Omar Andres Narvaez v David Carmona

Some fights just click as soon as the men get in to the ring. Other unfortunately don't. Whether it's the individuals involved or the styles of the men some fights just fail to come alive. We had one of those forgettable contest late on Saturday as Argentina's excellent Omar Andres Narvaez (41-1-2, 22) took on a less than inspiring David Carmona (16-2-4, 8) in what was a hugely frustrating contest for both fans and Narvaez.

The first round set the tone for much of the bout as Carmona backed away repeatedly from Narvaez. It was obvious within about 30 seconds that Carmona lacked the belief that he could win, in fact he looked like he wasn't even sure he deserved to be in a world title fight. Unfortunately the negativity of Carmona made him very hard for Narvaez to get to and through many of the early rounds.

Through 4 rounds there was little to really report, Carmona had slipped twice but avoided much of a fight. Narvaez had chased a fight but was up against an unwilling dance partner. Thankfully though Narvaez was getting closer and closer and he was gradually getting more successful as his pressure began to pay off.

In round 6 Narvaez's pressure finally took it's toll as he managed to drop Carmona who was slow to get up From then on it seemed like it was only a matter of time with Narvaez's shots taking their toll on the challenger. Thankfully the corner of Carmona realised that their man had little to offer and in round 7 they waved the towel putting fans out of their misery.

For a man getting his first chance Carmona looked like a fighter who simply wasn't interested. A real shame considering the opportunity he was given.

Stuart Hall v Vusi Malinga

Although we all hate the politics of boxing sometimes they do lead us to some sensational contests. One such bout came earlier this evening as the IBF's decision to strip Jamie McDonnell of their IBF Bantamweight title lead us to about between Stuart Hall (16-2-1, 7) and Vusi Malinga (21-5-1, 12) for the vacant title.

Hall, fighting in his first world title fight, set off at a hectic pace using his speed and skills to land on Malinga and move out of the way of return fire to make Malinga look second rate. The tempo was amazing with from Hall who clearly took the first 2 rounds and then claimed the round 3 with a knockdown to have a clear lead built on the cards after just 3 rounds.

It wasn't until the end of round 4 that Malinga first had any real success as he arguably claimed his first round, though it was a swing round that could easily have gone to Hall. Through the middle rounds Malinga started to come back in to the fight and arguably claimed rounds 5,6,7, 8 and 9 as he made a great charge in an attempt to defeat Hall. Not only was Malinga pushing on but Hall appeared to be tiring quickly and his left eye was beginning to swell shut. By the end of round 9 the left eye of Hall was was swollen shut and he was beginning to to eat right hands almost at will.

Despite looking shattered Hall managed to get his second win and appeared to make a late charge taking the championship rounds with Malinga himself looking exhausted. Those rounds effectively sealed the fight for Hall who had dug in and done enough for the biggest victory of his career.

The performance, of both men had been excellent, the fight had great with action from both men, and unfortunately the one sour taste were the judges whose cards of 117-110 (twice) and 116-111 didn't fairly reflect the nature of the bout. They did get the right winner but their cards didn't show just how hard Malinga had made things for him.

Dmitry Chudinov v Juan Camilo Novoa

In the first title fight of the weekend we saw the now laughable WBA "interim" title on the line. The bout, which pitted Russia's Dmitry Chudinov (12-0-2, 8)  against Colombia's  Juan Camilo Novoa (22-6-1, 20) looked like an interesting contest between big punchers on paper though was a long way from being a bout that anyone would consider a "world title bout. In fact you'd be hard pushed to find anyone, other than the WBA, who rated either man in the top 20 Middleweights on the planet.

The fight started in an entertaining manner with both fighters standing toe to toe and taking it in turns to unload on the other. It was a clear round for Chudinov though it seemed as if neither man was going to be able to take the other out early.

As it turned the fight became a case of Chudinov grinding down Novoa who by round 3 was already starting to crumble. The Colombian's attacks became less and less regular and it seemed that we were on the way to the end of the fight.

The reprieve, if you can call it that, for Novoa came in round 4 when a clash of heads opened up a cut on Chudinov. Unfortunately the cut didn't seem distract the Russian just fire him up as he stepped on the gas and made it clear that he wanted to destroy Novoa.

Novoa did well to see out the remaining time in round 4 and then see out round 5 but by the end of the fifth he was looking like a done fighter. Chudinov sensed as much and made sure that Novoa wasn't going to see out round 6.