Saturday, 29 September 2012

Alexander Povetkin v Hasim Rahman

Russian Heavyweight Alexander Povetkin (25-0, 17) successfully defended his WBA Heavyweight title as he swiftly disposed of veteran American challenger Hasim Rahman (50-8-2-1, 41)  in what can only be described as a waste of time.

The opening round was somewhat quiet however it was highlighted by the fact Povetkin did manage to wobble Rahman with the only meaningful shot of the entire round. The shot seemed to make Rahman wary of Povetkin's power however the Russian failed to connect with another one until the second round.

Having realised he could hurt the challenger, Povetkin started the second round quickly and detonated another right hand that staggered Rahman into the ropes. Povetkin swiftly swarmed on the Rahman and threw a number of hurtful shots, including 3 massive right hands that detonated one after the other on Rahman. From then on it was only a matter of time before Gustavo Padilla was forced to step in (however he really did take his time).

Although this was a mandatory title defense it was a mismatch from the day it was announced and it showed in the ring as Rahman failed to land a notable punch in the 286 seconds it took Povetkin to stop him. Hopefully this loss will force Rahman into retirement rather than on the verge of being recycled for another title fight.

Whilst it was another win for Povetkin it really did little to answer the questions surrounding his stamina, durability or world level credentials. He did the job but it was against a very poor opponent, and hopefully he'll be out in a more meaningful bout either later this year or very early next year as he puts the memory of this farce behind him.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr v Rodel Mayol

Young Mexican Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr (15-1-1, 8) may not be a well known name in boxing circles but he's swiftly making an impact on the sport and really put a marker down this past weekend as he defended his IBF Super Flyweight title for the second time and knocked out Filipino Rodel Mayol (31-6-2, 22).

Despite looking significantly smaller, the experienced Mayol started excellently and used fantastic lateral movement to land at will on Sanchez who looked clueless. The reach advantage of Sanchez was neutralised by the movement and it was Mayol's straight right hand that seemed to be the key punch of the first 4 rounds, all clear Mayol rounds.

In round 5 the bout took a huge turn with Mayol's movement becoming slower and move limited. As Mayol slowed not only did he become less successful but he allowed Sanchez in to the bout. Whilst Sanchez was getting in the round, he was surprisingly dropped on the bell and given a count, much to his corners annoyance. Sadly for Mayol this was the start of the end.

From the start of round 6 Sanchez started to really take control of the bout as Mayol began to look like a spent force. The shots from the champion were landing cleanly time and time again and he was now starting to break down the tiring challenger. By round 8 Mayol was looking ready to go and Sanchez could feel his grip on the bout strengthening.

The bout ended in enthralling fashion as Sanchez spectacularly knocked Mayol out of the ring and scored the knockout win to retain his title in memorable fashion.

Diego Gabriel Chavez v Jose Miranda

Argentinian Diego Gabriel Chaves (22-0, 18) successfully made the first defense of his WBA "interim" Welterweight title as he swiftly and easily dispatched of over-matched Panamanian Jose Miranda (12-12-3, 8).

The match, a mismatch from the day it was signed really was just a pointless defense for Chaves who had all the advantages-speed, power, skills and size and it showed from the off. Miranda started badly looking totally outclassed as Chaves looked to land hard shots one after the other and actually wobbled Miranda late in the round.

Chaves' power showed early in the second round as he dropped Miranda hard. Whilst the Panamanian recovered to his feet after the knock down he never really recovered and Chaves went in for the finish forcing referee Roberto Ramirez Sr. to step and in finish the bout with Miranda defenseless on the ropes.

Despite the fact I like Chaves I really don't like matches like this and hopefully the Argentinian will be looking for a tougher bout next as this really was a mismatch to be ashamed of. With genuine power and a fun to watch style Chaves has the potential to make his name in the US, following in the footsteps of contemporaries Lucas Matthysse and Marcos Maidana, in fact a Chaves v Maidana fight may well be a bout that fight fans would view as a treat. For now however Chaves will still be celebrating his first title defense.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Krzysztof Wlodarczyk v Fransico Palacios II

Poland's Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (47-2-1, 33) successfully defended his WBC Cruiserweight title by out pointing Puerto Rican born Francisco Palacios (21-2, 13) in rematch of their controversial 2011 bout (which Wlodarczyk won by split decision).

The bout started well for the challenger who appeared to take a number of the early rounds on his work rate against a very passive looking champion who seemed content on throwing little more than an occasional stinging straight right hand. Despite not really doing much Wlodarczyk had the huge advantage of the crowd chanting "Diablo" every time he threw more than a few punches, which may have swayed the judging somewhat.

Despite having fallen behind on my card Diablo started to step up a gear in the middle rounds and whilst he wasn't dominating he was starting to make a strong argument to take a round here and there with one or two that seemed to be pretty rounds for the champion. By around round 8 both men were slowing which again gave Wlodarczyk a clear advantage as his it took away the one thing Palacios was doing well.

When a tiring Palacios became an easier target the champion appeared to finally show his class and championship spirit and appeared to just steal the fight due to winning the latter rounds. Despite not looking impressive he probably just did enough to claim the decision, especially at home, however Palacios was certainly a spirited challenger and may feel rather frustrated at not getting the decision.

Despite taking victory here Wlodarczyk is a very, very poor champion and someone who should be targeted by top challengers. Whilst he does appear to have some questionable judging in Poland he can be beaten and he can be out worked, and any top Cruiserweight should fancy their chances here.

Ricky Burns v Kevin Mitchell

Ricky Burns (35-2, 10) successfully defended his WBO Lightweight title for a second time with arguably his most impressive victory to date by stopping Englishman Kevin Mitchell in the 4th  round. Not only was Burns marvelous in victory but he proved that he hit far harder than fans around the world thought.

The opening round was close with both men having their successes though it seemed as if Mitchell may have done just enough to take it with what appeared to be excellent boxing and fantastic movement. The Englishman appeared to neutralise the fantastic burns jab which wasn't landing with the usual success that Burns often has with it. Sadly however this was to be the only round that Mitchell could even claim to have been close to winning.

In the second round Burns really put his foot on the gas and thoroughly dominated Mitchell, landing time and time again with his right hand. Whilst the right hand was a major weapon Burns was also willing to trade an appeared to be be the stronger man when the two fighters did go toe-to-toe. The fact Burns was winning when the two men were brawling was really a major point and seemed to almost deflate Mitchell who was being out-boxed and out-fought.

Burns' domination continued in the third round where he just looked a class better than Mitchell and much, much stronger. It seemed like everything Burns landed got to the challenger, whilst Mitchell's own shots had little to no effect on the champion who was in complete control by the end of the round.

In the fourth round Burns' dominance showed as he wobbled Mitchell with a hard, hurtful shot, just seconds later Mitchell was dropped. Despite taking his time to get to his feet Mitchell never really recovered and was dropped again soon afterwards. With the clock ticking down, Burns went in for the kill and wailed away on Mitchell forcing the referee to step in and wave the bout off with just seconds remaining in the round.

For Burns this is really the fight that puts him head and shoulders ahead of everyone else in Britain, and concretes his standing as one of the very best in the world. Whilst the likes of Richard Abril, Antonio DeMarco and Miguel Vazquez may all claim to be the best, Burns would give any of them a 50-50 fight and seems to be growing into a fighter who knows he can throw hurtful shots. A very impressive performance.

For Mitchell, I think we are done with thinking he's a "world level" fighter, however he's in an awkward position as he's certainly better than many of the top European Lightweights. I can't help but think that he's simply too small for Lightweight and will be over-powered by any genuine Lightweight. If he can make Super Featherweight the best idea would be to drop down, if he can't then he's in a very, very tough position.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Saul Alvarez v Josesito Lopez

Popular young Mexican Saul Alvarez (41-0-1, 30) successfully defended his WBC Light Middleweight title by stopping the brave but thoroughly outclassed Josesito Lopez (30-5, 18) in a completely dominant bout.

Lopez, a natural Light Welterweight, had upset Victor Ortiz earlier this year and got this bout as a "reward". Sadly, fighting 2 weights higher than where he is at his best, Lopez was no match for the physicality of Alvarez and it showed almost immediately with Lopez unable to make Alvarez even flinch despite landing his best shots.

Whilst Lopez couldn't hurt Alvarez, the same could not be said in reverse and Alvarez appeared to shake the world of Lopez every time he landed, sending the challenger to the canvas in rounds 2,3 and 4 as the bout immediately looked to be a one-sided beat down.

Whilst Lopez didn't go down in the fifth round he was hurt and this time Joe Cortez decided enough was enough and put an early end to this ritual beating that seemed in all honesty only to have been made to punish Lopez for beating Ortiz.

I'd now expect Lopez to drop back down to Light Welterweight where he could prove to be a real handful for any of the top fighters, however obviously the biggest story if about Alvarez. It's well known that Golden Boy Promotions are wanting to push Alvarez as the next great Mexican star however the youngster has yet to have a fight that has made the world really say wow.

As a "world level" fighter Alvarez has feasted on smaller men (such as Lopez, Alfonso Gomez, Matthew Hatton) or much older men (Ryan Rhodes, Shane Mosley) and there are major question marks about when will Alvarez fight a top Light Middleweight. It may be fair to say that Alvarez's next bout needs to be with a genuine top Light Middleweight or the fans may turn against the charismatic youngster. Another mismatch like this could well be the final nail in the "Canelo Coffin" and see him disregarded as a fraud by the boxing public.

Daniel Ponce De Leon v Jhonny Gonzalez

Hard hitting Mexican Daniel Ponce De Leon (44-4, 35) became a 2-weight world champion as he claimed the WBC Featherweight title via a technical decision victory over fellow hard hitter Jhonny Gonzalez (52-8, 45), in a bout that failed to live up to the expectations many had for it.

The opening round was some what tentative as the two hard punchers seemed to show too much respect to each other early on. Whilst it was competitive it wasn't edge of your seat stuff as both men spent the round try to feel out the other. Sadly the bout didn't catch on fire quickly and the tentative opener was followed by another somewhat tame round as they each felt their way into the fight. Surprisingly however Ponce De Leon was showing some genuine boxing skills, looking to not only find a home for his power but also show that he could land counters and move well.

The bout had it's first major moment in round 3 after a clash of heads opened up a nasty cut on Ponce De Leon. Whilst both men were still being respectful of each other it appeared as if they were both starting to warm to their task and by the end of round 5 it seemed we had a fight on our hands.Ponce De Leon was still looking impressively skilled for a man that many considered a wild slugger whilst Gonzalez seemed to be finding his own rhythm.

With Gonzalez looking to have found his rhythm, Ponce De Leon turned up the heat and in round 6 almost sent Gonzalez out of the ring with a vicious combination that sent Gonzalez partly through the ropes. Despite being really hurt and beaten to the canvas Gonzales was saved by the bell, though it looked like he'd been some what broken by Ponce De Leon's hard body shots. The body shots continued through round 7 as Ponce De Leon continued to break down Gonzalez with heavy, hurtful shots to the midsection.

Sadly with the fight starting to warm up nicely for Ponce De Leon we got a clash of heads in round 8 that left Gonzalez with a nasty cut over his eye and forced the early ending of the bout. The judges scorecards all read in favour of Ponce De Leon who claimed his second world title (having previously held the WBO Super Bantamweight title).

Leo Santa Cruz v Eric Morel

Young Mexican Leo Santa Cruz (21-0-1, 12) scored the biggest win of his career as he made the first defense of his IBF Bantamweight title and became the first fighter to stop Puerto Rican Eric Morel (46-4, 23).

The relentless Mexican, who many have compared to countryman Antonio Margarito, set off at a fantastic pace attacking the body with left hooks and the head with some devastating combinations from the opening bell. Whilst Morel battled hard with the younger champion in the early rounds he was simply unable to fend off the marauding attack.

By the start of round 4 Morel was visibly breaking down in the ring and starting to wince from the none-stop body work by Santa Cruz who fought like a man possessed to retain his world title.

Despite coming out for round 5 it seemed only a matter of time before the bout would be stopped, and that's exactly what happened as Morel retired on his stool before the 6th round.

Whilst Morel, at 36 years of age and taking part in his 50th professional bout, may be a bit long in the tooth it was still an excellent performance by Santa Cruz who seems to be making a real name for himself. I'm hoping this will be the end for Morel and the platform that Santa Cruz needs to really become a star of the lower weights as he is one of the most fan friendly fighters out there and a real joy to watch, as he proved once again here.

Sergio Martinez v Julio Cesar Chavez Jr

Sergio Gabriel Martinez (50-2-2, 28) proved he was the Middleweight champion of the world as he reclaimed the WBC Middleweight title and thoroughly dominated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (46-1-1-1, 32) despite a late scare.

The bout started slowly with a clear feeling out round as Martinez boxed on the outside landing jab after jab against Chavez who was stalking and looking to try and cut the distance. Though it was obvious from the early stages that Martinez was the much, much faster fighter with both his hands and feet.

In the the third round Chavez started to have some, though very limited, success as he managed to cut the distance, though it seemed that every time Chavez landed one or two Martinez would land 4 or 5 in return. By now it was becoming clear that Martinez was not only the more skilled of the two fighters but was also wanting to mentally break Chavez and he started to turn the screw over the following few rounds, even beating Chavez on the inside. By the end of the fourth Chavez's nose was bleeding and it was obvious that he was being hurt by the accurate stream of jabs by Martinez.

After Martinez had easily dominated both the 5th and 6th round it seemed as if Chavez was with out a plan. Chavez kept walking forward but threw nothing whilst Martinez danced around him, landing shot after shot. It appeared at the end of round 6 as if Chavez's nose had been broken and whilst he was showing real heart he was starting to take a real beating.

Suddenly in round 8 Chavez had one of his best rounds (which wasn't saying much up to this point) as he tagged Martinez with a solid shot that opened up a cut around the left eye of Martinez. Despite landing the solid punch Chavez was other-wise clearly outboxed as he fell yet further behind on the cards.

Going into round 11, it was a shut out and Freddie Roach, in Chavez's corner, knew his man was needing a knock out. Chavez attempted to go for the KO and seemed to hurt Martinez at one point before Martinez struck back shaking up Chavez in what, appeared at the time to be the round of the fight...then we got round 12.

With everyone knowing Chavez needed a knockout he really went for it and for the first time he really let his hands go, tagging Martinez clean on the chin a number of times before Martinez went down hard. It suddenly appeared as if history was going to repeat it's self and Chavez Jr was going to replicate what his dad did to Meldrick Taylor. Chavez went all out for the KO but failed to land the one extra shot he needed before Martinez recovered his senses and survived the rest of the round.

Whilst some may have been expecting some awful score cards in favour of Chavez, the judges did the right thing and all 3 of them had Martinez as a clear winner.

Roman Martinez v Miguel Beltran Jr

We all know that when you pit a top Mexican against a top Puerto Rican you will end up with a fight to remember and that's exactly what we got as Roman Martinez (26-1-1, 16) faced Miguel Beltran Jr (27-2, 17) in a bout for the vacant WBO Super Featherweight title.

The bout started brilliantly with Martinez looking to control the bout behind his powerful straight shots whilst Beltran showed impressive handspeed and combinations rocking Martinez late in the round. Despite the bright start the second round was somewhat more ame as neither man did a great deal, however it was to be the calm before the storm.

Martinez stepped on the gas in round 3 as he started to effectively stalk Beltran and force the Mexican on to the ropes. On the ropes both guys started to mix it up and through the middle rounds the fight just started to get progressively better with the both men hammering away each other other with no respect for the other mans power. The fourth round saw both men rocked to their boots and it seemed almost impossible that the bout was going to go on too long as they teed off on each other in a slug fest.

With the fourth round being amazing the fifth some how got better as the fight became a full on brawl with both men going toe-to-toe in one of the rounds of the year. Despite Beltran being forced on to the ropes for much of the round he was punching off them with great effect landing to both the head and body of Martinez. Martinez however had the biggest success of the round with a nasty cut forming around the left eye of Miguel Beltran, a cut that seemed almost certain to eventually stop the bout.

Despite it seeming ridiculous both men continued at the hectic pace they had set for themselves and both of them refused to slow down as every round become a mini war. Every time one guy was rocked he other came back and shook the other man as they relentlessly battled.

Somehow we'd managed to get into the championship rounds and the pace was just as crazy as it had been in round 5 with neither man showing any signs of fatigue. Sadly it was in round 11 that the fight was effectively decided with Russell Mora taking a point away from Miguel Beltran Jr for leading with his head, this point would sadly decide the outcome of the fight.

Having gone toe-to-toe with each other for 12 none-stop rounds, neither man genuinely deserved to lose however we had a split decision with cards of 116-111 (Beltran) and two of 114-113 (both to Martinez). Sadly the deduction in round 11 cost Beltran a well deserved draw, shame on Russell Mora.

Hopefully, due to the excitement of the bout, we will get a rematch as every fan will be wanting on and I doubt either fighter will complain as they genuinely seemed to enjoy beating the snot out of each other in a real Fight Of The Year Contender. If any fight fans missed this, I advise you to hunt it down immediately!

Guillermo Rigondeaux v Robert Marroquin

Former Cuban amateur superstar Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0, 8) retained his WBA Super Bantamweight by defeating the somewhat disappointing Robert Marroquin (22-2, 15) via a clear decision.

In the early rounds Rigondeaux dominated the bout, controlling both the distance the pace of the bout at will with his accurate jab, fantastic footwork and hurtful counter straight. He was helped somewhat by the fight that Marroquin did little to upset the rhythm of the Cuban champion.

In round 3 Marroquin had his first real success as he rocked Rigondeaux with several hard right hands, though he failed to follow up on any of the shots and almost seemed to allow Rigondeaux off the hook. Marroquin was simply throwing single shots with no real confidence to land any sort of combinations

Having lost the 3rd round Rigondeaux immediately re-claimed control of the bout and landed several hard and hurtful shots on Marroquin including 3 solid left hands at the end of the round. The Cuban's control of the bout was solidified in the 5th when he dropped Marroquin for the first time and literally did as he wished through out the rest of the round. This was followed by 3 rounds of Rigondeaux dominating with out ever looking like forcing a stoppage.

Having fallen well behind on the cards it was obvious that Marroquin was going to have to do something special late on. Whilst the challenger once again rocked the champion in round 9 he failed to follow up and allowed Rigondeaux to create the space he needed to recover his legs, this was to be the final chance for Marroquin who failed to land anything of note in the final 3 rounds. Instead the final rounds were all Rigondeaux who would go on to damage the nose of the challenger and drop him again in round 12 to claim a clear decision.

Whilst the performance was less than stellar by Rigondeaux it was an easy victory in all honesty and that was because Marroquin allowed it to be easy. Marroquin stood off Rigondeaux all night and allowed the Cuban to do as he wished. Even when Marroquin hit Rigondeaux he allowed the Cuban the space and time to recover, perhaps signalling that the fight simply came too early for Marroquin who was brave but looked very limited. The bout was maybe too boring for Rigondeaux who perhaps felt too comfortable though if he fights someone like Nonito Donaire like this, he will be made to pay.

Yoan Pablo Hernandez v Troy Ross

German based Cuba Yoan Pablo Hernandez (27-1, 13) successfully defended his IBF Cruiserweight title despite being given a really torrid time by Canadian challenger Troy Ross (25-3, 16) in a thoroughly entertaining bout that really left more questions than answers about Hernandez.

The bout started well for Hernandez who managed to keep Ross at range in the opening round but the challenger swiftly grew into the bout and after a competitive second round seemed to steal the third. Despite being the much taller, and longer man Hernandez was stupidly fighting Ross' fight and getting involved in a tear up.

Ross found his best success in round 5 a round that he completely dominated not only dropping Hernandez but having the Cuban holding on for dear life. Hernandez seemed almost ready to be finished but showed incredible heart to survive the round and despite not looking great in round 6 he did manage to regain his legs by the end of it.

After regaining his legs Hernandez managed to start to actually show his ability and easily out boxed Ross in rounds 7 and 8 by controlling the distance, using his legs and jab to keep Ross at a safety distance. It appeared that Hernandez was going to manage to do what he was expected to do and actually control the bout with his excellent boxing ability.

Sadly for Hernandez, Ross had different ideas and by the end of round 9 both men were wildly flinging leather at each other looking for the knockout. Whilst both guys were rocked and Hernandez arguably took the round it appeared as if the fight was turning back in the way of Ross who was much more suited to the all action style of a brawl. Luckily for Hernandez the follow up round was a much slower paced one with both guys catching their breath as very little of note was landed.

In the final two rounds a very tired looking Hernandez did very, very little and almost gave the rounds away to the busier Ross. Despite giving away the final 2 rounds it was a close fight overall. Sadly for Ross he was fighting and Germany and this was probably the telling factor with Hernandez taking a close unanimous decision (114-113, 115-112, 116-112).

Whilst the fight was genuinely excellent and ebbed wonderfully, despite a number of quiet rounds, their will be numerous complaints aimed at British broadcaster Boxnation who managed to missed a sizable chunk of the 12th round as their broadcast randomly cut to adverts. Despite this we didn't miss anything too important to the result.

For Hernandez this bout really did leave a lot of question marks. Just how physically tough is Hernandez? He seemed to be wobbled repeatedly by Ross, and it's hard to imagine that Marco Huck wouldn't have gone after a hurt Huck at the start of round 12. We know he's been stopped before, and down numerous times, but is Hernandez killing himself to make 200lbs? He's a giant at 6'4" and may do better at Heavyweight with his punch resistance hopefully shored up. A mooted bout with Huck, as Boxnation were talking about, would be a seriously painful night for the Cuban.

For Troy Ross he may be able to talk himself into a rematch, claiming he was robbed, though in all honesty it was a close bout, if he doesn't manage to bag a rematch however he'll likely be questioning his future in the sport. With his age (37) he may struggle to get another big fight like this. If he can get a fight with Huck (instead of Hernandez getting the bout) then that will be one that the fans would love, however if that doesn't happen Ross may well end up bowing out with his head held high.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Antonio DeMarco v John Molina

Current WBC Lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco (28-2-1, 21) is unlikely to ever have a title defense as easy as his defense against John Molina (24-2, 19) a bout that was over almost as quickly as it started.

Within 30 seconds DeMarco had landed a dynamite straight left  hand that sent Molina stumbling backwards towards the corner. This shot effectively ended the bout with DeMarco rushing towards the ailing challenger who never got from the corner as DeMarco unleashed a solid and relentless combination on the challenger. After just 44 seconds the referee, Jack Reiss, stepped in to save Molina who really was doing all he could to defend himself, sadly he couldn't do much.

Whilst the bout really failed to tell us anything new about DeMarco it was an impressive and swift defense of his title and it may allow us to see DeMarco out once more before the year. For Molina however it's likely he will need to return to ESPN Friday Night Fight's and rebuild his confidence which will be shot following this lightning quick loss.

Lucas Martin Matthysse v Olusegun Ajose

Many "interim" title fights feel like out and out cash spinners by the organisation who have their title attached to the bout. For some reason however the WBC "interim" Light Welterweight title fight between Lucas Martin Matthysse (32-2-0-1, 30) and Olusegun Ajose (30-1, 14) felt like like a genuine world title fight. We had 2 world class talents, 2 contrasting styles and a fight that just seemed to yell "great fight", it delivered.

The opening round saw both men giving and taking in an entertaining round that perhaps had a touch of being a "feeling out round" though was certainly more active than your typical opening round. The following round however saw both men putting their foot on the gas and trading up close. Sadly for Ajose he decided to fight in the pocket and was punished by Matthysse who rocked him hard in the final minute. It appeared at the end of round 2 that this could be an early night.

Despite surviving through round 2 Ajose was rocked repeatedly in both rounds 3 and 4 as Matthysse started to grind down the Nigerian, landing to both the the head and body of his opponent. On more than 1 occasion it appeared that Ajose was ready to drop though his heart, rock solid chin and fighter spirit kept him upright, some how. By the middle rounds it was getting painful to watch as Ajose refused to give up despite taking a real shellacking from the Argentinian banger.

Although he had been hurt, rocked, shaken and rattled repeatedly through out the bout Ajose was refusing to give up and actually had his most successful rounds in rounds 7 and 8, making a genuine case to have at least claimed one of them. His success however would be short lived as Matthysse regrouped well and started to impose himself once again in round 9 against a tiring Ajose.

At this point no one would have complained had Ajose retired in his corner, or been retired by his corner, instead however he went out for round 10 knowing he needed a KO. Sadly for Ajose he was too beaten, too battered and too damaged to do much and was eventually dropped in the 10th round. The referee (Russell Mora) had seen enough and waved off the bout before Ajose had been given a chance to recover to his feet, probably a good decision in all honesty as Ajose had really been given a hiding.

Whilst the bout was really one sided it was also an entertaining bout. Ajose refused to go down whilst landing his own shots, shots that sadly did little more than irritate Matthysse who just walked through them whilst landing his own blows. Neither man appeared to really slow down and it was just really, really enjoyable.

For Ajose this is likely the end of his hard luck story, a genuine shame that he had to wait this long for his opportunity at the big time. At 32 years old he may still have a few fights in him but this beating will have cut his career short and certainly ended his dreams of a world title.

Matthysse on the other hand will be licking his lips at the thought of facing the winner of the up coming match up between Danny Garcia and Erik Morales, a win over the victor of that bout would see Matthysse become the #1 guy at 140lbs.

Andre Ward v Chad Dawson

Often in this sport we are happy to predict that when 2 relatively boring fighters face off, we will end up with a boring fight. Predictions however can be wrong and that's exactly what we saw as Andre Ward (26-0, 14) defended his WBA "super" and WBC "regular" Super Middleweight titles against Chad Dawson (31-2-0-1, 17) in a relatively entertaining bout.

The bout started in the expected manner with neither fighter really doing much at all. To be fair the first 3 rounds were unmemorable with more holding and posing than actual punching. If anything Dawson was perhaps in a slender lead having landed a number of eye catching right hooks in round 2. It wouldn't take long however for Andre Ward's class to pay off.

In round 3 the bout came alive with Andre Ward finding a home for his fast left hook and surprisingly he dropped Dawson with a beautiful single shot. After dropping Dawson, Ward seemed to put his foot on the gas and really started to let his hands go at the end of the round with his left hook tagging Dawson's head time and time again. The following round Ward really turned the screw not only dropping Dawson again but going all out for the stoppage and buckling the legs of Dawson again.

The 2 knockdowns seemed to effectively kill off Dawson's hopes and Ward began to really impose his will on the bout as Dawson struggled to land anything of note. Despite having a reach advantage Dawson was unable to do anything with his jab, his hook's were being neutralised and Dawson was effectively shut down.

After a number of slower rounds Ward again turned up the heat in round 8 as the two men fought up close with Ward  ripping a number of hard and clean uppercuts to Dawson's chin. Whilst the two men clashed heads on a number of occasions it was the clean punches that Ward was landing landing that were really catching the eye.

By the start of round 10 Ward really was just beating Dawson up. Dawson was doing very little as Ward did as he pleased landing every shot in the book. Ward just continued to beat up Dawson through out the 10th round and wobbled Dawson before the challenger took a knee. Despite recovering to his feet Dawson looked like he didn't want to continue and Steve Smoger waved the bout off.

This performance really did show how good Ward can be on both the defense and offense. Not only did the "Son Of God" shut down Dawson's offense but he also became the first man to stop Dawson. Sadly however we do need to remember that Dawson was "dragged down" from Light Heavyweight for this bout and as a result he may have been feeling the effects of making the lower weight. The performance was brilliant but it could be considered tainted.

For Dawson, he may write his loss off as a loss at a lower weight however he was simply dominated. He may well return to 175 but I dare say he'll never be the fighter he once was, his confidence will be bust by this loss, he was out sped, out muscled and dropped repeatedly before being forced to quit. It may be a long road back for Dawson mentally.

Vitali Klitschko v Manuel Charr

Although Vitali Klitschko (45-2,41) may now be 41 years old he managed to once again prove that he's one step ahead of father time as he made the 9th defense of his WBC Heavyweight title (since reclaiming it from Samuel Peter) by stopping Syrian born challenger Manuel Charr (21-1,11) in the 4th round.

Whilst Charr had talked the talk in the build up to the bout his didn't ever appear to be walking the walk. Whilst he started the bout well landing a right hand early on he was mostly forced to shell up thorugh much of the opening round as he was forced to take the unorthodox offense of Klitschko which both hit the guard and the split the guard of the challenger. Although Charr let his hands go late into the opener, it almost seemed as if he was there to survive the rounds and hope that Vitali was going to tire himself out hitting gloves, arms and Charr's forehead.

The second round was much like the opening round in that Charr was fighting behind his guard, rarely letting his hands go. Whilst he did land when he did throw punches Charr simply was doing enough to put Klitschko under any pressure at all and the champion did as he pleased. The round ended with Charr on the canvas suffering the first knockdown of his career. This showed that Klitschko had the power to get to Charr even if he was struggling to land clean on a regular basis.

Round 3 was Charr's best as he finally started to let his hands go and was starting to show some effectiveness with his pressure. Whilst he was certainly not winning the round he was starting to show some desire and seemed to force Klitschko onto the back foot more than once. Although Klitschko was able to land counters it seemed as if Charr had finally realised he needed to throw punches to win a fight.

After having his best round in round 3 Charr seemed to have grown in confidence slightly by the start of round 4, this confidence was however misplaced. After coming forward and letting his hands go early in the 4th round he was caught by a counter left hand which opened up a cut that bled, badly from the off from around his right eye. Although it took the referee a few seconds to spot it he soon walked Charr over to the ringside doctor who deemed the cut to be too serious for the bout to continue.

Having lost due to the cut Charr showed his anger at the decision by shouting and screaming whilst punching the ropes. Sadly however it was hard to sympathise with Charr, who suffered his first career loss, as he had done little to suggest that he was able to turn around a fight he had been clearly losing. Had he come to actually fight from the off rather than turtle up it may have been easy to feel sorry for the challenge.

With the champion may be on the verge of retirement he may well feel it's time to bow out with his head held high. He may have won and been totally in charge but he didn't look at his best and until the cut he looked to be in for a long (and rather tedious) night. Having been a 3-time world champion and one half of the most dominant boxing brothers in history he has his place in the hall of fame secured and really has little to add to his legacy by continuing to fight on

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Moruti Mthalane v Ricardo Nunez

In the final world title fight of the weekend we saw the IBF Flyweight title defended by South African Moruti Mthalane (29-2, 20) who viciously stopped the Panamanian challenger Ricardo Nunez (24-3, 20) in a fight of the year contender.

The bout started excellently for the champion who dropped the challenger with a single shot in the opening round. Although Nunez recovered to his feet he took a shelling to end the round and it appeared as if we were going to have a very early night on our hands as the champion couldn't miss. The champion again had the better of the action in the following round as he blocked most of Nunez's attacks and landed some picture perfect counters that appeared to shake the challenger time and time again.

In round 3 the bout took a total 180 and Nunez's relentless aggression was rewarded as he dropped the champion in the late stages of the round after the two men had had a tear up of a round. Nunez continued his onslaught successfully in the following round as he leveled the scores on my card at 37-37. Mthalane was forced mostly to cover up doing the 4th as Nunez went hell for leather looking to end the bout early.

At the start of the 5th it was Mthalane looked ragged as he swung and miss and it seemed as if South African boxing was going to have a nightmare of a night as Nunez kept throwing trying to again drop the champion. Although Mthalane was starting to look tired at the end of the round the challenger couldn't capitalise as the tempo of the fight started to drop after a crazy start.

Round 6 was the most nip and tuck of the rounds with both men having solid spells but neither man really standing out, though it was obvious that Nunez was on the verge of punching himself out. His crisp aggressive punching had started to look less crisp, his defense had started to look more porous and whilst it was the challenger bringing the fight it was also the challenger being tagged the harder. The following round saw Mthalane regain control of the bout against a visibly tiring Nunez who was starting to look incredibly inefficient as Mthalane snapped his head back and forced him backwards. It appeared as if the talented South African was about to take the fight down the stretch anticipating that Nunez would wear himself out.

The end of the bout came in round 8 with Mthalane taking advantage of Nunez's slower hands and lower work rate, everything the champion was throwing was landing and snapping the head of the challenger back. A single show seemed to hurt the challenger and the champion pounced unleashing a flurry, this had Nunez in trouble and trying to run across the ring to freedom. Mthalane refused to let his pray go and unleashed one of the most devastating and prolonged attacks you will see in a boxing ring this year as he volleyed a none stop combination to the head of Nunez. The referee stood idly by as Nunez took 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 clean blows, the referee seemed to want to give the challenger every chance but the fight was done as he kept watching on 13, 14,15,16 Mthalane wasn't going to stop until the referee called the bout. Nunez's unconscious was draped between the ropes by the time the referee had seen enough and finally stepped in several seconds too late.

Nunez looked to be awake by the time the broadcast cut off but he certainly looked to be a man who had taken a lot of unnecessary punishment due to some awful officiating.

For Nunez I expect a very long rest, at 24 I hope it's not the end of his career at the top level as he's fun to watch but the prolonged punishment at the end of the bout may well see his career all but done.

I'd also expect Mthalane to take a break, put his feet up and watch, with the rest of the world, as Brian Viloria and Hernan Marquez battle in a unification at Flyweight. I can only assume that Mthalane will be looking at the winner of that bout as his #1 target for next time out, maybe even on a major show in the US.

Mario Rodriguez v Nkosinathi Joyi

Have we just had the upset of the year by Super Mario?
Unheralded Mexican tough man Mario Rodriguez (15-6-4, 11) may not have the best of records on paper but he has arguably just scored the upset of the year as he became the first man to stop the very talented Nkosinathi Joyi (22-1-0-1, 15) and claimed the IBF Minimumweight title.

Whilst only the hardcore boxing fans had heard of Nkosinathi Joyi they respected the South African. Not only was he unbeaten but he appeared to have it all, he was a great puncher, very fluid, great movement, technically sound and with superb stamina. He had beaten a relative who's who in his previous 23 bouts including the likes of Katsunari Takayama, Raul Garcia, Sammy Gutierrez and Florante Condes. His travels to Mexico to face Rodriguez wasn't meant to see usurped, it was instead supposed to be a chance to show case his skills outside of his homeland.

In the early rounds things went well for Joyi who was using his boxing ability to keep the tough Rodriguez at range. Whilst Rodriguez was pressuring and landing punches himself it was clear that Joyi was winning the rounds with his better movement, better shots and superior power. As the rounds went on however Rodriguez was gradually getting closer, cutting the distance and having more success. Every round it seemed that Rodriguez was doing better whilst Joyi was starting to wilt.

Things started to swing Rodriguez's way in round 5 as he started to connect with more success. Joyi wasn't being particularly bothered by any single shot, and was still possibly doing enough to claim the round but it was much closer than the previous ones. Round 6 continued the swing with Rodriguez now starting to grind down the champion. Whilst Joyi was still landing the better shots he was starting to get hit more himself by a challenger who refused to be swayed from his game plan.

At the start of the 7th round Joyi's shorts had really lost their sharp, crisp snap and he was starting to look tired. The pressure from Rodriguez was starting to pay off. Then, almost out of nowhere, Rodriguez seemed to wobble Joyi, the challenger went in for the kill and Joyi dropped to his knees where he remained until the referee was done with his count.

As the new IBF champion Rodriguez has a number of options. He could offer a rematch to Joyi, he could attempt to lure the winner of the upcoming WBO title bout between Ivan Calderon and Moises Fuentes into a unification or he could look to moving up.

For Joyi however the future is perhaps more limited. He has suffered long bouts of inactivity, his first trip abroad has been unsuccessful and he currently has little to no bargaining power so he will almost certainly need to travel for a fight of note (unless he wishes to face fellow South African Hekkie Budler for the IBO title). I'd expect however that Joyi, at 5'6" will have been struggling with to make the 105lb weight limit so perhaps the most likely outcome is that Joyi moves to either Light Flyweight or even Flyweight to allow his body the freedom to grow.

Whilst most boxing fans will not be aware of just how big of an upset this, it's genuinely huge and on par (at worst) with Sonny Boy Jaro's victory over Pongsaklek Wonjongkam.

Gennady Golovkin v Grzegorz Proksa

Gennady Golovkin (24-0, 21) made not only his US debut but also a real statement to the boxing world as he successfully defended his WBA Middleweight title by stopping Poland's Grzegorz Proksa (28-2, 21) in 5 one sided rounds.

The difference between the two was obvious from the opening round with Golovkin rocking Proksa late in the opener before dropping the Pole. Whilst the Pole claimed it was a slip it obvious that he had been hurt and hurt hard. The following round Golovkin continued to attack, carefully and accurately showing not only excellent shot selection but heavy handed power and unnerving composure.

Proksa's best round was round 3 though it was the only one in which the Pole didn't looked to have been hurt by Golovkin's shots. Despite it appearing like a small respite for the challenger it was still a round that champion won with his accurate shots. More than anything the round acted as the calm before the storm and in the following round Golovkin did some of his best work, dropping Proksa again and really hurting him with sickening left hooks to the body. Whilst Proksa managed to see the bell for the end of round 4 he was looking like a beaten man, his nose bloodied and his body feeling the effects of the disheartening shots.

Despite having taken a battering in the previous round the brave Proksa came out for the fifth round, it didn't long however for Golovkin to drop the Pole for a third time, this time with Proksa finishing up face first on the canvas. Despite beating the count the referee waved the bout off having seen enough to declare Golovkin the winner by TKO.

Following the bout Golovkin called out anyone between Light Middleweight and Super Middleweight, seemingly looking for the toughest and best challenges out there. He seemed open to fighting the winner of Andre Ward's up coming fight with Chad Dawson or pretty much anyone in and around those weights. The mostly likely outcome however is that Golovkin is eying up the winner of the upcoming bout between Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr with the new IBF/WBA "super" Middleweight champion Daniel Geale and WBO champion Dmitry Pirog as solid alternatives.

For Proksa it's likely he will return home to the UK and look for a solid rebuilding fighter, maybe even facing Darren Barker or Martin Murray as all 3 fighters attempt to get back in the title hunt. This loss however will seriously dent the Pole's confidence.

Daniel Geale v Felix Sturm

Australian Daniel Geale (28-1,15) first made his name when he traveled to Germany last year and defeated the then IBF Middleweight champion Sebastian Sylvester to claim his first world title as a professional boxer. Amazingly he repeated the act just hours ago as he once again traveled to Germany and dethroned a German champion to claim the WBA "super" title from Felix Sturm (37-3-2, 16).

The fight started excellently with both both men having a solid claim to the opening round as both fighter let their hands go and shared solid offense. It seemed as if Sturm's jab would be the most potent weapon but Geale often matched him solidly in a high octane jab off. The startling thing however was that Geale often found his way around the Sturm jab where he could unleash solid combinations to both the head and body of the champion.

Many of the opening rounds were close as both men took it almost in turns to come at the other. Despite the action being hotly contested the only early damage either man suffered was a small cut around the back of Geale's in ear from what appeared to have been from an accidental clash of heads late in the second round. It was however not the cut that played a big part on the fight but instead the body work of Geale who repeatedly dug into Sturm's body in the early portion of the fight, taking the wind out of the German's sails.

Despite starting well it seemed like the accumulation of the body shots took their toll on Sturm in the middle rounds as the Australian came on strong whilst Sturm seemed very subdued and tired. In many of the middle rounds Sturm looked like a man who was there for the taking and his usually reliable jab was rarely finding the target with any success as Geale managed to slip inside and unleash up close time and time again. By the end of the 7th round Sturm was looking worn out, he had taken barrages of shots from the dogged Aussie who was starting to storm away with the bout.

Having just falling behind Sturm then tried to fight back, his jab started to look busier and more efficient, his usual snap was back and he started to grind out several rounds as Geale himself started to slow due to the hectic pace he had set himself.  Several of these rounds were almost impossible to score as each man gave as good as they got and were likely the reason for the varying score cards that we finally got.

Going into the championship rounds it was anyone's guess as to who was in the lead and the fighters knew it as they put it all on the line in both rounds 11 and 12. Whilst the 11th was close both men were starting to look tired, their work, whilst busy was starting to look sloppier and more desperate than it had earlier on and it was fair to say we didn't expect much going into the final round. Instead of the pace slowing even more in the 12th it seemed as if both men had a second wind as they unleashed on each other in a hectic round that saw both men putting it all on the line in arguably the most enjoyable round of the bout. As soon as one man finished his series of punches the other came back with more ferocity, then the first fighter came back as both men tried to stake a claim for the round.

As we came to the final bell, the scores were anyone's guess. There had been enough close rounds to score it any which way, in fact you wouldn't have been shocked had the scored included as many as 3 or 4 tied rounds due to the give and take nature of the bout. Rather ominously however the German's looked worried whilst the Aussie's corner looked optimistic, as if they could feel something in the air as they did when Geale beat Sylvester...

Michael Buffer announced the first card, 116-112-Sturm, we then though Sturm would become the unified Middleweight champion...the the second card came 116-112-Geale, it suddenly dawned on us that we might not actually end up with a unified champion after all. Everyone watching waited with baited breath almost preempting a 114-114 scorecard, then Buffer announced the third scorecard 116-112...he paused...before confirming that it was for Daniel Geale who had managed to claim another Split Decision victory in Germany!

For a non-German based fighter to have won 2 close bouts in Germany in world title fights in the opponents home state is almost unheard of, so for Geale to have managed that in just the last 18 months or so is simply incredible. The doors have really opened for the Aussie who will certainly be watching tonight's bout between Gennady Golovkin and Grzegorz Proksa very closely as well as awaiting the out come of a number of other major Middleweight bouts. For Sturm however the end is nigh, if not already here.

Tepparith Kokietgym v Nabuo Nashiro

WBA Super Flyweight champion Tepparith Kokietgym (21-2, 13) had his toughest fight in almost 4 years as he struggled past perennial world class Japanese hardman Nabuo Nashiro (18-5-1, 12) scoring a razor thin majority decision.

The fast punching Thai was given hell by the much hard punching Japanese fighter who was attempting to become a 3-time Super Flyweight champion who refused to give up. Although Tepparith wasn't given the space and freedom to work freely he did manage to do enough to retain his title with the scores of 114-114, 115-114, 115-113, though the cards were closer than many felt they should have been.

With this loss Nashiro falls to 0-4-1 in his last 5 world title fights, though all of those losses have come to very good champions (Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Tomas Rojas and Hugo Fidel Cazares-who also scored the draw). He had vowed to retire if he lost today so it may well be the end of his career, despite the fact he can still hold his own with the best in the world, as he proved against Tepparith. Hopefully Nashiro gives it one more go and faces fellow Japanese fighter Yota Sato in a "passing of the torch" style fight.

Whilst it could be the end for Nashiro it seems to just be another step forward for Tepparith who is swiftly becoming one of the most impressive youngsters in the sport. Since winning the WBA "interim" world title just 16 months Tepparith has beaten a number of top fighters including Daiki Kameda, Tomonobu Shimizu and now Nashiro, all in their back yards in Japan.