Sunday, 29 July 2012

Robert Guerrero v Selcuk Aydin

American Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero (30-1-1, 2, 18) successfully returned from over a year out of the ring by out pointing Turkish hardman Selcuk Aydin (23-1, 17) in a thoroughly entertaining bout for the WBC Interim Welterweight title.

In the early rounds Guerrero, who was making his Welterweight debut, used his speed and jab to out work his shorter and stockier opponent. The natural speed and the boxing ability of Guerrero combined with a high work rate allowed him to win the early rounds with out too much off a worry, though Aydin seemed like he was biding his time. Whilst inactive the Turk was accurate and his shorts had an air of truly raw power to them, especially the body shots.

By the middle rounds Guerrero had started to slow, the combination of his high work rate and the sapping body shots of Aydin and whilst Guerrero was still winning most of the rounds he was now being caught more, especially up close where Aydin was able to land his neck snapping upper cuts and more solid hurtful body blows. Guerrero may have bagged the rounds but he was starting to show signs of fatigue and continued to fade gradually as the bout went on with Aydin starting to out land him in the championship rounds.

Although comfortably up on the scorecards Guerrero was looking desperately tired going into the final round, Aydin, knowing the title was going to Guerrero if he didn't manage to score the stoppage went all out and seemed to hurt Guerrero a number of times. Although hurt Guerrero showed a lot of heart and courage to hold on and refuse to go down as he took a solid victory on the cards with scores of 117-111 and 116-112 (twice). Personally I felt the scores were a little wide but Guerrero, a former title holder at Featherweight, Super Featherweight and Lightweight did just enough to deserve a close victory.

Following the fight Aydin revealed that mentally he wasn't himself, years of boxing politics left him feeling drained going into this bout and as a result he lost. Guerrero on the other hand continued his pursuit for a mega payday with Floyd "Money" Mayweather (43-0, 26) calling out the unbeaten man who is generally regarded as the pound-for-pound top fighter in the world. Whilst Guerrero seems to want that fight I feel that Mayweather would put a real beating on the well liked Guerrero who is easily a level below Mayweather.

On the undercard unbeaten American Shawn Porter defeated Alfonso Gomez in an exciting 10 round affair (UD10) whilst British youngster George Groves defeated Francisco Sierra (TKO6) in anthother thoroughly entertaining bout.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Diego Gabriel Chaves v Ismael El Massoudi

Back in April popular American Paulie Malignaggi went to the Ukraine and scored an upset win by stopping the previously unbeaten Vyacheslav Senchenko to claim the WBA Welterweight title. What many boxing fans (even the hardcore fans) may not have known was that the WBA also had an interim champion at Welterweight, the little known Ismael El Massoudi (36-4, 16). Massoudi had claimed his "title" back in July 2011 by beating French Souleymane M'baye via 12th round TKO when M'baye injured his knee with less than a minute of the bout remaining but hadn't fought since.

Over a year after winning the title El Massoudi went to Argentina and attempted to defend his title for the first time against the fearsome punching Argentinian Diego Gabriel Chaves (21-0, 17). Whilst Chaves hadn't mixed in world level company he was seen as one of Argentina's most promising young stars and had been dubbed "La Joya" (The Jewel).

The unbeaten Argentinian set off from the first bell with nasty intent and banged away at El Massoudi straight from the off intent to make a statement. Whilst the defending champion saw out the first round he had already felt the power of the young and hungry challenger who went straight back to work in the second round. Early in the second round El Massoudi was dropped for the first time and Chaves flirted with a point deduction, or even disqualification for landing a punch on his downed opponent. Although El Massoudi did manage to recover to his feet the damage was already done and it wasn't long until Chaves scored one of the outstanding KO's of the year with a beautiful straight right hand down the pipe.

At just 26 years old Chaves has just thrown his hat into the Welterweight division with a statement that perhaps should have others, such as Kell Brook at least a little bit worried.

Adrien Broner v Vicente Escobedo

Despite unbeaten American Adrien Broner (24-0, 20) maintaining his unbeaten record by stopping Vincente Escobedo (26-4, 15) in the 5th round he didn't manage to keep his WBO Super Featherweight title following a farcical weekend for the man known as "The Problem" which brought into question his professionalism and attitude to the sport of boxing.

At the official weigh in for what was supposed to be a Super Featherweight title defence Broner weighed in at 133.5lbs, the following morning Broner was 143lbs (despite agreeing to be 140lb) and by the time of the fight he had gone all the way up to 148lbs. Whilst talented his inability to make the contracted weight (130lbs) or the agreed weight (140lbs) brings into a lot of questions for the man who was tweeting images of Twinkies, Sundae's and Twix Ice Cream bars in the lead up to the fight.

Escobedo, for his part in the pre-fight shenanigans used his position of being able to call the bout off incredibly well to get a very nice cash pay off (rumoured to be around an additional $50,000 on top of his original purse). Sadly however he was simply too small and too slow in the ring to give Broner too many issues with Broner winning the opening 4 rounds before closing the show in the 5th round.

Broner started the bout well by out boxing Escobedo and whilst Escobedo managed to land a number of jabs and straights of his own they simply had no effect at all on Broner. Although the first round was moderately close the second showed the power difference with Escobedo looking wobbly legged at one point. Broner would then bust Escobedo's nose in round 3. Whilst Escobedo fought the 4th round bravely he was imply out classed and Broner walked him down in round 5 detonating solid head shots time and time again before the referee finally waved the bout off.

The title, only on the line for Escobedo, is now vacant throwing yet more confusion on the Super Featherweight division. Despite losing the Super Featherweight title Broner is now in line to fight for the WBO Lightweight title against either Ricky Burns or Kevin Mitchell due to some simply bizarre ruling by the WBO.

Whilst I'm not one for cheap jibes, I'm considering calling Broner "The Weight Problem" in future if he ever misses weight again.

Pablo Cesar Cano v Johan Perez

A week ago Danny Garcia claimed the WBC, Ring and WBA "Super" titles at Light Welterweight by scoring a notable upset victory over Amir Khan. Just 7 days later the WBA "interim" Light Welterweight title was on the line as the defending champion Johan Perez (15-1-1, 12) faced the popular Mexican Pablo Cesar Cano (25-1-1, 19).

Going into the bout Perez was all but unknown by those outside of the genuinely hardcore who had followed his career (much of which has been spent in Panama). Despite this Perez had scored some notable results including a draw with unbeaten Panamanian Alberto Mosquera and a victory over hard punching Puerto Rican Kenny Galarza. Sadly however Perez was "just another" WBA interim champion and not one that seemed likely to get much attention unless he was able to make his name in the US.

Unlike Perez, Cano was moderately well known having first come to the attention of the wider boxing world back in September 2011 when he lost a hard fought bout with Mexican boxing legend Erik Morales for the WBC Light Welterweight title. Despite Cano losing to Morales he put on a brave performance despite his face swelling and cutting badly as Morales claimed a 4th divisional title.

The bout started well for Perez who arguably took 2 of the first 3 rounds before Cano managed to find his range and warm to the occasion landing solid jabs and causing a cut on Perez's face in the 4th round. The 4th was the momentum changer with Cano clearly taking the round and he followed up by taking the and 6th rounds. The bout ended in round 7 following a clash that resulted in Cano being cut and the score cards being turned to early with Cano taking a majority technical decision and the WBA "interim" Light Welterweight title.

Whilst I do like Cano, he's a brave kid who seems to be improving, I can't help but feel his defensive liabilities and his propensity for marking up (and cutting) will make his reign (and career) rather short lived. Whilst Perez may well end up calling for a rematch I doubt he'll manage to get it and instead he may well fade back into obscurity as part of the "who needs him?" club.

Bryan Vasquez v Jorge Lacierva

Personally I find the whole "world title" scene a bit of a joke and the "interim" WBA Super Featherweight title is a perfect example of what is wrong with the sport. Just days after WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama scored a 3 round technical draw with Filipino challenger Michael Farenas, the WBA "interim" Super Featherweight Champion Bryan Vazquez (29-0, 15) successfully defneded his title against Jorge Lacierva (41-9-6, 27).

The 24 year old Vazquez, of Costa Rica is one of the more under-rated fighters in world boxing and arguably the most deserving contender out there to currently be fighting for a world title. Sadly however Vazquez holds the "interim" title that he won last November by decisioning Nicaraguan Santos Benavide. Against Lacierva we saw Vazquez making his first defense, sadly however the bout told us little we didn't already know about either guy.

The challenger, Lacierva, a Mexican veteran has been around the block a few times and debuted way back in 1994 when Vazquez himself was only 7 years old. Lecierva's first title was won at Flyweight (112lbs) back in 1997 and since then he has lost at world level at Super Flyweight (technical decision loss to Marc Johnson back in 1999), Super Bantamweight (a 12 round decision loss to Celestino Caballero in 2007) and at Featherweight (a 12 round decision loss to Billy Dib in 2011). Quite what he did to deserve a "world title" fight up at Super Featherweight since losing to Dib is a real mystery to me.

Whilst I'm not a fan of the fight, or the title that was on the line I will admit I'm proud of the way Vazquez did the job at hand. Lacierva tried all the dirty veteran tricks in the book but Vazquez adapted to them and broke down the Mexican with solid counter shots. Lacierva was eventually stopped in round 9 following a body shot having been put down once earlier in the same round. It was only the second time in Lacierva's long career that he'd been stopped.

Now, if the WBA are reading this, can we please stop this nonsense of having interim titles and "regular" titles defended on the same week? If I can't have Uchiyama v Ao later this year how about Uchiyama v Vazquez, if only to get rid of this stupid interim title!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Takashi Uchiyama v Michael Farenas

WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (18-0-1, 15) suffered the first blotch on his record so far after a clash of heads saw his fight with Filipino challenger Michael Farenas (34-3-4-1, 26) ending in a 3rd round technical draw and a very nasty cut for the champion.

Uchiyama, seen by many as the #1 guy at 130lbs came into the bout riding an 8 fight T/KO streak which had seen him stopping top competition including the experienced Jorge Solis and the highly rated Juan Carlos Salgado. Despite his reputation however Uchiyama was unable to impose his will on the much more experienced Farenas who moved well and neutralised much of Uchiyama's thunderous power.

After 2 intriguing, but not hugely exciting rounds, Uchiyama seemed to turn up the heat early in the 3rd before a clash of heads forced referee, Raul Caiz Sr to take Uchiyama over to the ringside Dr. The Dr decided the cut, which was sizable, was too severe to allow the bout to continuing rendering an early and unsatisfactory ending to proceeding.

Although a rematch is a possibility we'd much rather see an all Japanese WBA/WBC "unification" bout between Uchiyama and Takahiro Ao as the division looks for clear direction. Sadly the Super Featherweight division lacks any real star power and the best it has seems to be the group of emerging prospects including Javier Fortuna and Jomthong Chuwatana neither of which are quite ready to fight for a world title.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Toshiyuki Igarashi v Sonny Boy Jaro

Back in March the boxing world got it's first big upset of the year as one of the all time great Flyweights, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam was stopped in just 6 rounds by the unheralded Sonny Boy Jaro (34-11-5, 24). With the win over Wonjongkam, Jaro claimed the WBC and Ring Flyweight titles and was now making his first defence of the title as he took on the highly regarded Japanese fighter Toshiyuki Igarashi (16-1-1, 10), a former Japanese champion.

The fight started with Igarashi controlling the range well with his more controlled and accurate boxing but every so often Jaro would catch Igarashi with a solid shot as both men repeatedly tested the others' resolve. What started out as a high paced boxer v brawler contested would soon become an incredibly competitive war of wills as both men banged solid shots off the other head. It swiftly become Igarashi's crisper punching and superior handspeed  against Jaro's teak tough chin and wild but thudding swipes as neither man took a step backwards. After 4 rounds the judges were split, with a score of 39-37 either way and a draw on the 3rd card.

During the middle rounds it seemed as if Igarashi started to pull ahead of the champion managing to show some glimpses of genuine class but then every time he looked like he was starting to control the bout Jaro would come charging back and try to steal the round. It seemed as if the world title meant everything to both men as neither man backed down. After 8 rounds it appeared as though we were set to crown a new champion then out of nowhere Jaro produced easily his best round and it suddenly appeared as if Igarashi, who had only gone 9 rounds 3 times in his career was starting to tire. Jaro seemed to be coming back into the bout and in a big way.

Going into the championship rounds it was anyone's game and whilst we had Igarashi in a slight lead we could see an argument for almost any score possible with only 3 or 4 clear rounds in the first 10. The 11th round however was, like round 9, a clear Jaro as he caused a nasty cut on Igarashi's eye and landed a number of heavy shots, it seemed as if Jaro was trying to close the show and whilst Igarashi wasn't badly hurt he struggled to get much off offensively.

Knowing the bout was close both men put it all on the line in round 12 with Igarashi taking the round and almost forcing down at one point as Igarashi turned up the heat and took the round with a blistering final 90 seconds.

The fight, one of the best of the year, was competitive through out with the score cards (116-112, 115-113, 112-116) all reflecting the competitive nature of the bout though it was Igarashi's work that was preferred by 2 of the judges with him taking the title back home. For Jaro it may well be his farewell, for Igarashi however it may be his coming out party. Whilst it's unlikely we would love a rematch between these two before Jaro hangs them up.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Danny Garcia v Amir Khan

Englishman Amir Khan (26-3, 18) went into his WBA/WBC Light Welterweight unification with high hopes though is now needing to rebuild his shattered career after Danny Garcia (24-0, 15) inflicted the second successive loss on Khan's record, by stunning 4th round TKO.

Khan started the bout well landing accurate flurries and preventing Garcia from unleashing too many shots of his own. Khan's shots started to take their toll on Garcia and by the end of the 2nd round Garcia was cut around the eye and it seemed like Khan would eventually stop Garcia (in fact Skybet were offering 1/4 on Khan by stoppage after the opening 2 rounds).

Khan slowed down somewhat in the 3rd round trying to pick his shots more and this allowed Garcia an easier time to counter Khan and it wasn't long before Garcia landed a shot that scrambled Khan's senses and dropped him hard. Whilst Khan would recover to his legs he had no idea where he was and stumbled around drunkenly until the bell ended the round.

Despite still being wobbly Khan came out for round 4 and it wasn't long until he was dropped again with an almost identical shot to the one that dropped him in the previous round. Once again Khan would recover to a vertical base but look unsteady on his legs. Rather than hold Garcia and try to buy time Khan tried to fight fire with fire and it didn't take long for him to be tagged again...and then again...and then down went Khan for a third time, this time from a glancing blow. Despite recovering to his feet the referee decided Khan was in no fit state to continue.

For Garcia it's a huge win which sees him almost certainly placed at #1 in the Light Welterweight rankings for Khan however it's a huge blow. Khan lost his IBF and WBA titles back in December to Lamont Peterson and whilst the WBA (foolishly) handed him their title back the IBF refused to do. Khan's career is in tatters and he may well end up needing to return to Britain to rebuild his career, sadly he may have alienated British fans with his talk of grandeur to the point where even they won't give him any sympathy.

Khan has literally gone from talking about fights with Floyd Mayweather Jr to seriously looking at facing the likes of Matthew Hatton and Ashley Theophane. Perhaps a less to Khan that he needs to concentrate on what is in font of him now, not what could be in front of him in the future.

To Garcia, the spoils of victory, the chance to call the shots somewhat and the ability to choose which route to go down, a solid win for a solid (but unspectacular) professional who got on with the job at hand and popped a relatively large ego and bubble of hype.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Jesus Silvestre v Edwin Diaz

In a bout that we simply can't get our head around Jesus Silvestre (25-3, 18) claimed the interim WBA World Minimumweight title by out pointing journeyman Edwin Diaz (15-18, 5). Whilst we have to say well done to Silvestre we really need to ask what the WBA were doing.

Firstly, the full WBA Minimumweight title was recently won by Kazuto Ioka (10-0, 6) who unified the title with the WBC Minimumweight title by out pointing Akira Yeagashi on June 20th. Just 4 and a half weeks after Ioka claims the full version of the title the WBA manage to sanction an interim title fight, quite why they bothered I have no idea. Whilst it's pretty common knowledge that Ioka is looking to move to Light Flyweight it would have made more sense to wait until Ioka has made his decision before "whoring" out an interim title.

Secondly the WBA had Silvestre fighting for an interim Minimumweight title in November 2011, in that bout Silvestre lost a decision for the title to Paipharob Kokietgym. Whilst we are aware that Paipharob hasn't fought since then that shouldn't have meant his "interim" title should have been stripped from him, especially not if the guy he beats is then going to get a chance to win the same title. Interestingly in between the Paipharob and this fight Silvestre fought just once, beating Marvin Diaz who was 1-1-1 going into facing Silvestre.

Thirdly and finally Edwin Diaz was 15-17 (5) going into this bout! Amazingly he had only won one bona fide Minimumweight bout in his career, defeating Carlos Velarde (UD8) in a bout for the WBA Fedecaribe Minimumweight title.

Whilst I've yet to see the actual bout it's self I can't say it's something I'm that interested in seeing. Lets just hope that the WBA stop having bouts like this which do more damage than good for the sport.

Yota Sato v Sylvester Lopez

Ultra talented Japanese fighter Yota Sato (25-2-1, 12) successfully made the first defence of his WBC Super Flyweight title by out pointing the very under-rated Filipino power puncher Sylvester Lopez (19-4-1, 15). Whilst this bout didn't appear to the wider boxing public it's a bout that really interested me due to the rise of Sato who claimed the title earlier this year when he out pointed the well regarded Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, twice dropping the Thai.

Going into the bout Sato was the #4 Ring ranked Super Flyweight whilst Lopez was the WBC's #1 contender a ranking that was genuinely deserved due to Lopez's performances against the likes of Oscar Ibarra and Everardo Morales. Sadly Sato was much better than Lopez's previous opponents and the class showed as Sato took a clear and wide decision.

Whilst Sato is relatively unknown by boxing fans despite notable wins over Rungvisai and Lopez he's actually on an amazing 21 fight unbeaten streak with solid domestic wins against the likes of Kenji Oba, Kohei Kono, Daigo Nakahiro and Go Onaga. Although he's 28 years old Sato is one of the most talented and under-the radar champions out there and a fighter who fans should be trying to watch.

For Lopez, who suffered the clearest loss of his professional career, he can take a lot of heart from his performance. At just 24 years old Lopez will certainly come again and has a very good chance of winning a world title somewhere down the line.

As a hardcore boxing fan I'd love to see Sato facing Tepparith Kokietgym in a WBA/WBC unification bout in a bout that would see a clear #1 crowned at Super Flyweight.

Hugo Ruiz v Jean Sampson

Exciting Mexican Hugo Ruiz (31-1, 28) successfully defended his "Interim" WBA Bantamweight title for the 4th time by knocking out undeserving Nicaraguan Jean Sampson (12-2, 7) in the 9th round. Ruiz, who won the title in January 2011 (by winning a technical decision over Alvaro Perez) is now on an impressive 22 fight winning streak since the solitary reverse on his record back in 2007 to Enrique Quevedo (LTKO4).

Whilst I love watching Hugo Ruiz (who is flawed but has that sort of must power) I must question quite what the WBA were thinking by having Jean Sampson fighting for their title.

Samspon, who made his debut back in 2009 had opened his career with 11 straight wins including 2 controversial ones over Nicaraguan journeyman Rafael Castillo (who currently has a record of 5-12-3, 3), all of those fights taking place Sampson's native Nicaragua. Sampson's first fight outside of Nicaragua was in Panama against Venazuelan Yonfrez Parejo and not only was it the first title bout of Sampson's career but it was actually his first bout scheduled for more than 6 rounds. Parejo dominated Sampson taking a clear decision over 11 rounds for the WBA Fedelatin Bantamweight title. Following this loss Samspon managed to score just a single win, a DQ over 42 year old former Minimumweight and Light Flyweight champion Rosendo Alvarez, a fighter who hadn't been active in over 6 years!

It was hardly surprising that Sampson who simply didn't deserve his title fight didn't manage to defeat the very exciting Ruiz who has been developed very well so far in his career. Hopefully Ruiz manages to get a notable fight in the US in the next year or two and gets the chance to be seen by a much bigger audience than regularly gets to see him as he is out and out fun!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Wladimir Klitschko v Tony Thompson II

Wladmir Klitschko may well be regarded as the best Heavyweight on the planet but on this performance he did little to distill the idea of of him being one of the most boring Heavyweight champions in the history of the sport. Klitschko started the bout slowly, wary of Thompson's size and this lead to a very dull opening round. Klitschko came out for the second round looking more offensive but still didn't really do much offensively other than land one or two solid right hands. It was the right hands landed in round 2 that effectively killed any excitement the bout could have had as it scared the challenger back into his shell.

Thompson's defensive shell and mindset saw him getting through rounds 3 and 4 with out too much trouble but he was then dropped in round 5. This knockdown effectively ended the resistance of Thompson who was stopped the previous round after being dropped and on unsteady legs at the end of the bout.

These two men fought previously in 2008 with Klitschko needing 11 rounds to eventually put away Thompson who appears to have aged significantly since that bout. Whilst Klitschko didn't look his sharpest against Thompson this time around he did look significantly better than the American who simply couldn't live with the Ukrainian when he stepped on the gas.

This was the 16th straight victory for Klitschko and his 12th successive IBF and IBO title defense, he also defended his WBO, WBA Super and Ring Magazine Heavyweight titles.

Note-This card also saw the 8th professional bout of promising American Light Middleweight Tony Harrison (8-0, 8)