Saturday, 25 August 2012

Arthur Abraham v Robert Stieglitz

The O2 World in Berlin was the host of the major bout of the weekend as hard punching, former IBF Middleweight champion Arthur Abraham (35-3, 27) claimed the WBO Super Middleweight title from the much maligned Robert Stieglitz (42-3, 23) in a thoroughly engaging bout that ebbed and flowed wonderfully.

Stieglitz started brightly and whilst he probably gave away the opening he grew in confidence over the following few rounds often forcing Abraham onto the back foot an unleashing eye catching flurries as he sought to bank the early rounds. Abraham, for his part was blocking many of Stieglitz's shots behind his shell like guard whilst looking for chances to unleash his own, much heavier, artillery. Despite not being anywhere near as busy Abraham was landing the much cleaner shots, often piercing right through Stieglitz's guard.

Whilst I had Stieglitz in a slight lead after 4 rounds, Abraham showed his class in round 5 really dominating the defending champion as he marked up his face and appeared to shake him with a really nasty 2 handed salvo that showed just how good Abraham can be when he lets his hands go. Abraham then continued his charge as he took control of the middle rounds, stalking the champion, who was beginning to show signs of tiring. Stieglitz was really starting to show the scars of a battle after rounds 6 and 7 with his face becoming seriously reddened by the thunderous shots of Abraham which were starting to find their target almost at will.

Just as it appeared that Abraham was going to go in for the kill Stieglitz found his second wind, bit down on his gum shield and fought back, like a champion. Stieglitz wasn't going to give up his title with out a fight and despite having both his nose and right eye bleeding noticeably he fought on pressing the action and forcing the fight in the later rounds. A tired looking Abraham was forced on to the back foot time and time as Stieglitz worked incredibly hard trying to cling to his title. Despite looking beaten up Stieglitz just kept coming, attack after attack as he tried so hard to keep his title against a man who just couldn't miss him when he threw.

In the final round we saw Abraham throwing his arms in the air, dancing away in early celebration. It appeared a very risky strategy in a fight that looked incredibly close and could well have seen Stieglitz in the lead going into the 12th and final round. Luckily for Abraham however the judges had him in a comfortable lead with the Armenian born German based fighter taking a unanimous decision with scores of 116-112 (twice) and 115-113. In my eyes, the 116-112 scores were too wide as I fail to see 8 rounds you could have awarded to Abraham. A score of 115-113 either way would have been acceptable though as it was a very closely fought bout. Abraham however will not be a dominant champion at Super Middleweight, his power doesn't have the effect it used to have at Middleweight and Stieglitz, a supposedly "chinny" fighter stood up to a number of solid and clear Abraham right hands.

Now a 2-weight world champion Abraham has put his name in to the history books joining a long list of other 2-weight champions however his reign at 168 is likely to be limited to say the least.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Juan Carlos Salgado v Jonathan Victor Barros

In arguably the fight of the weekend Mexico's Juan Carlos Salgado (26-1-1-1, 16) successfully defended his IBF Super Featherweight title in an enthralling battle with Argentina's Jonathan Victor Barros (34-3-1, 18) which saw both men freely landing on the other.

The defending champion got off to a very quick start throwing a huge number of punches in the first few rounds as he attempted to mentally break the challenger. The tough Barros failed to break and in the middle rounds, as Salgado slowed slightly Barros started to get into the bout, using a high guard to protect from Salgado's attack whilst landing his own blows on the inside. Salgado, who looked huge compared to the challenger was still the aggressor and still winning the majority of the rounds, though he was starting to get tagged himself.

It was during those middle rounds that the bout really warmed up and started to live up to expectation as the fighters took it in turns to land combinations on each other as Barros started to bag a round here and there. It was during these rounds that Salgado suffered a nasty looking cut around his left eye that bled through to the end of the fight and left a stream of claret running down the side of his cheek. Whilst the cut never really threatened to end the fight it was nasty and it gave heart to the challenger who seemed to up his own work afterwards.

Despite closing up on the score cards Barros' fate was sealed in round 8 with a point deduction that effectively left him with a lot to do in the last 4 rounds. Though he tried hard the tough Argentinian failed to reel in Salgado over those rounds, actually losing a number of them as the crowd helped carry the champion to the victory with scores of 116-111 (twice) and 115-112, a pretty fair reflection on the competitive nature of the fight which despite having a clear winner was competitive throughout.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Alberto Rossel v Karluis Diaz Perez

Peruvian Alberto Rossel (29-8-0-1, 13) made the first successful defence of his WBA "interim" Light Flyweight title against Colombian Karluis Diaz Perez (17-4, 13) in a bout that really showed that Rossel was a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde fighter.

In the opening round Rossel looked to be a much, much better fighter than the challenger as he landed a number of solid, accurate, sharp right hands on to the head of Diaz who was wild and inaccurate. Sadly however Rossel seemed to turn off a number of times and was simply out worked by the crude and limited Colombian who was actually trying to have a fight. Diaz's crudeness really showed up in a number of rounds where he neglected his jab (which often appeared to be his best weapon) and just throw right hands. Despite a number of solid rights landing on Rossel the champion never seemed bothered and just continued to be passive.

In round 7 Diaz landed his best punch of the fight, a real nut cracker that had the champion wincing and given time to recover in the neutral corner. Despite the punch being a blatant low blow the referee didn't decide to take any further action other than allowing the champion a few moments to compose himself. Personally I thought this may have reinvigorated the champion but sadly he remained relatively passive. Whilst the champion was throwing some punches the numbers were low, though he was very accurate with them it just appeared he was fighting well with in himself and should have instead been going through the gears.

When Rossel finally dud decide to go through the gears in the championship rounds he showed why he was the "Interim" champion. When he put his foot down he was making Diaz look completely out of his depth and tagging him almost at will with solid, hurtful right hands. It was this gear change late that really showed the monster in Rossel, though it wasn't until the final round that we really got to see the true beast in the Peruvian. After dropping the challenger in the 12th round Rossel threw the kitchen sink at the Colombian in an attempt to end the bout early though ran out of time, leaving the decision in the hands of the judges.

Despite wasting a number of rounds being overly selective in his output Rossel managed to retain his title, pretty clearly on the judges score cards. This was the first successful defense of any form of a world boxing title by a Peruvian fighter.

At 34 years old it's hard to see where Rossel goes from here. He really wouldn't stand a chance against the best in the division (such as Roman Gonzalez, Johnriel Casimero, Ryo Miyazaki or Donnie Nietes) though he may see them as a chance to cash out slightly rather than facing the likes of Diaz for peanuts.

This bout aired on Peruvian television on the Andina de TelevisiĆ³n (ATV) station, who are likely to be showing whatever Rossel does next in a boxing ring.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

John Riel Casimero v Pedro Guervara

Filipino road warrior John Riel Casimero (17-2, 10) successfully defended the IBF Light Flyweight title this past weekend by scoring a split decision victory over the previously unbeaten Mexican Pedro Guevara (18-1-1, 13). Going into the bout we felt that Casimero had a bit too much class for the pretty untested Mexican challenger, though the bout actually ended up being genuinely close, even if it wasn't hugely exciting.

The bout started excellently for Casimero who dropped Guevara in the opening round with a peach of an uppercut, though it merely seemed to kick start the challenger who got to his feet and started to control the distance and the pace of the bout. Guevara fought back well and took the following few rounds before Casimero stepped up the work rate and managed to land more telling blows including dropping Guevara in round 6 (ruled a slip).

Whilst the bout was pretty even going into the championship rounds Casimero's experience at the higher level payed off and he started to hurt a tiring Guevara who was twice dropped (rounds 10 and 11) with both of those also being ruled slips. Had the referee counted on either of these knockdowns life would have been much easier for Casimero who would have taken a pretty clear decision. Instead of having a clear decision however Casimero had to settle for a split decision with the early knockdown separating the two men as the score cards read 116-111 (Casimero) and 114-113 either way.

Whilst Casimero hasn't really had much respect by the boxing world, he has proven to be happy to fight on the road and hopefully he will be rewarded by a higher profile fight next year. Whilst not a star in the making the youngster is hugely over-looked which is a real shame as he appears to be an excellent little fighter. For Guevara it's likely the experience of the bout will be a big learning experience and something that will help him in the future. He proved he was on the fringes of a world level and with more seasoning he will likely be a real threat for a world in a few more fights.