Friday, 30 November 2012

Khabib Allakhverdiev v Joan Guzman

Unbeaten Russian Khabib Allakhverdiev (18-0, 8) impressively claimed the WBA Light Welterweight title as he inflicted the first loss on to Domican Joan Guzman (33-1-1-1, 20) thanks to an 8th round technical decision in a bout marred by a number of blown calls by referee Luis Pabon.

The fight started well with a very fun opening round that saw Guzman sent to the canvas in what was ruled a slip though clearly came from a punch as Pabon made his first botched call of the night. Other than the "knockdown" the round was thoroughly fun to watch as both men went at each other. Thankfully the following round continued in a similar manner with both men tagging each other with solid shots.

Allakhverdiev proved to have the power to hurt Guzman again in the third round as he sent the Dominican down, this time with the shot being counted by the referee as the Russian claimed a 10-8 round. Guzman fought back well the following round and used his feet to stay out of danger for most of the round before both men tried tearing lumps off each other in the final 30 seconds. Sadly for Guzman his momentum was ended quickly with the Domican again knocked down, as Pabon botched yet another call in favour of the Dominican. Although Pabon missed the clear knockdown, he couldn't help Guzman's face, which ended up getting tagged with a shot that appeared to really mess up Guzman's nose.

After 5 rounds it was looking like a bout that was going to go Allakhverdiev's way, though Guzman then decided to use his brain and instead of going toe-to-toe with the Russian he instead decided to box and move. When Guzman was moving he was making Allakhverdiev look slow and plodding and this allowed Guzman to claim both the 6th and 7th round very easily. It was now that I was asking myself why had Guzman not started the fight like this, though though the answer was obvious, he's 36 and he can't do that for 12 rounds.

Controversy again reared it's ugly head in round 8 as Guzman, still boxing on his toes fell over, twisting his knee in the process. After a time out, the referee allowed Guzman to go on and Allakhverdiev went straight after his man who was now a stationary target. It didn't take long for Allakhverdiev to have Guzman in real trouble and then Guzman went down again, this time a clear push as Allakhverdiev went in for the kill. This time Guzman was unable to continue forcing the referee to end the bout with some viewers (especially those watching on TV) assuming that Guzman was wanting out of the fight considering the energy he had been using by boxing on his toes.

Surprisingly despite arguably scoring 3 knockdowns, and only losing 3 of the 8 rounds Allakhverdiev only managed to scrape a close split decision over Guzman with all 3 cards reading 76-75 (2 in favour of the Russian). A series of cards that were as mystifying as the performance of Pabon, who not only missed the knockdowns but also warned Allakhverdiev about anything and everything, splitting the fighters when it favoured Guzman and really started to get in Allakhverdiev's head. Sorry Luis but it's time to walk away after this dreadful performance.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Robert Guerrero v Andre Berto

Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero (?-?) successfully defended his WBC Interim Welterweight title against Andre Berto (?-?) in a thoroughly sloppy, though equally entertaining bout that had controversy, action and an awful lot of wrestling.

The fight started well for Guerrero who knocked down Berto in both of the opening 2 rounds and really messed up Berto's right eye as "The Ghost" started fast and took advantage of Berto's wild shots and slow foot work. Whilst Guerrero took a clear lead, there was controversy over the first knockdown which seemed to come from a clear case of hitting and holding and the second seemed to also have a case of a thumb to the eye of Berto. It was clear after the first 3 rounds that Guerrero was 5 points up he had dominated the early action and with the knockdowns was in an almost unassailable lead.

Just as the fight appeared a lost cause Berto then managed to fight his way back into the bout and seemed to take a number of the middle rounds as the fight combined a lot of holding and wrestling  as well as numerous thunderous shots from both men. Whilst it looked like Guerrero was forcing Berto on to the ropes it was clear that Berto was having his success from them with thunderous uppercuts that seemed to snap Guerrero's head back time and time again.

As the rounds went on the fight seemed to be getting closer and closer with Berto's powerful uppercuts and hooks bouncing off Guerrero's head, bagging him several rounds. Sadly however the style of much of the bout wasn't fun to watch with a lot of holding and wrestling and little clear action as both men seemed to prefer a messy inside game rather than a true war. This left several rounds almost actionless as Lou Moretti was forced to repeatedly split the men with out anything notable landing.

In the later rounds both men appeared tired and the action slowed with fewer and fewer back and forths, though the bout heated up in an engaging 12th round that saw both men leaving it all on the line. Sadly it was the 12th round that left a sour taste in many peoples mouth with Guerrero landing 3 or 4 shots well after the bell, though by that point the round, and the fight was over.

When it came to the score cards, it was fair to say that you really could have had almost any scoreline with the best result for Berto likely being a 113-113 draw, however, rather surprisingly all three judges had it 116-110 to Guerrero, a rather odd scoreline considering just how many close rounds the bout had.

Guerrero, like he did after defeating Selcuk Aydin, called out Floyd Mayweather Jr, though in all honesty, Guerrero would get destroyed by Mayweather, however both men did seem to hint that a rematch may be possible and that may well be the best option for both.

Martin Murray v Jorge Navarro

Unbeaten Brit Martin Murry (25-0-1, 11) claimed the WBA Interim Middleweight title by stopping the previously unbeaten Venezuelan Jorga Navarro (12-1, 10) in what often appeared to be a public sparring session.

The difference in class was obvious from the opening round as Murray boxed off the back foot and controlled Navarro before dropping him late in the round. Although Murray went for the early finish he failed to stop Navarro with a late flurry in the round however it was obvious he was thoroughly in charge.

Murray's domination continue through the following 4 rounds as Murray slowly dictated the fight, showing off numerous defensive tricks as he made Navarro look slow, clumsy and wild. Sadly however Murray seemed unwilling to commit to taking Navvaro out too early as he instead got rounds under his belt and refused to force the issue.

In round 6 Murray eventually turned up the heat and dropped Navarro for a second time before turning up the heat and rocking the Venezuelan's head all over the place forcing Navarro's corner to throw in the towel whilst the referee seemed unwilling to stop the fight.

Whilst this was an impressive victory for Murray and a notable win, it was also a very, very easy win and if Murray thinks the world stage is going to be this easy he will have a rude awakening, however he did his job. The question as to how Navarro got such a high profile fight is something I really cannot answer.

Scott Quigg v Rendall Munroe

Young Englishman Scott Quigg (25-0-1, 18) successfully claimed the WBA "interim" Super Bantamweight title as he beat countryman Rendall Munroe (24-3-1, 10) via 6th round TKO in an excellent performance.

The opening round was the best for Munroe as the former binman from Leicester arguably just stole the round, though it didn't take long for Quigg to find his distance and box from the back foot allowing Munroe to come to him. With Quigg boxing on the back foot, he was finding things very easy as he landed time and time again to Munroe's body with sickening accurate shots.

Although Munroe kept coming forward he was finding it hard to land anything clean whilst he, himself, was being slowly broken down as Quigg was using his natural size and speed to take advantage of the older, slower man. In fact in rounds 2 and 3 Quigg barely got touched as he landed counter-after-counter on Munroe.

Munroe had slightly more success in rounds 4 and 5 than he had had in the previous 2 rounds though they were both rounds where Quigg continued to bash in the hurtful body shots. It was just a round later that Munroe would be dropped with a body shot, before being stopped soon afterwards with another body shot that put him down.

This likely spells the end of Munroe's career who was stopped for the first time here, though for Quigg the world is his oyster. He could either look for a major domestic clash with Carl Frampton or alternative the winner of the upcoming bout between Guillermo Rigondeaux and Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym.

Xiong Zhao Zhong v Javier Martinez Resendiz

Today saw a new age in professional boxing as Chinese fighter Xiong Zhao Zhong (20-4-1, 11) became the first Chinese man, in the history of the sport to become a world champion as he out pointed game Mexican Javier Martinez Resendiz (13-4-2, 6) in a bout for the WBC Minimumweight title.

The early stages were give and take as Martinez brought the pressure looking to land hurtful hooks against Zhong who was boxing well and using range and his straighter shots. Although Martinez was the man making the fight, it was Zhong who was looking like the classier fighter.

Zhong's clean work started to pay off in second half of the fight as he marked up and seemed to stun Resendiz in round 8 before taking control of the bout in the later rounds as the Mexican started to look progressively tired. The Mexican, who had looked powerful, if wild early on, was starting to show little more than arm punches in the later rounds as Zhong's right hand bounced off his head and it showed as Zhong really ran away with the last few rounds.

Although Zhong looked impressive in taking a clear decision here, it's fair to admit that this was a set up of sorts as the WBC look to attack the untapped Chinese market. If Zhong can't be "protected" I can't see his reign lasting long. Interesting Denver Cuello is a name thrown around as Zhong's likely next opponent and that will likely see Zhong getting beaten in a painful way.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Brian Viloria v Hernan Marquez

In one of the stand out fights of the year, Hawaiian Brian Viloria (32-3-0-2, 19) unified the WBO and WBA "super" titles at Flyweight as he stopped exciting and fun to watch Mexican Hernan "Tyson" Marquez (34-3, 25).

The bout started quickly with Viloria making an excellent start and imposing his will from the opening bell. Late in the round, with his only notable shot of the opener Marquez seemed to wobble Viloria who fired back hard and dropped the Mexican. Viloria's domination continued through to round 4 as he took a clear lead on the card using his excellent boxing and speed to dominate Marquez.

In round 5, arguably the round of the fight, Marquez came on strong and really hurt Viloria before unleashing a relentless, yet wild flurry aimed in Viloria's general direction. Sadly for Marquez few of his real power shots landed as he blew his load and was eventually dropped for the second time as he showed the signs of being a very tired fighter. Amazingly he got straight back up and fired back at Viloria, as if he knew he had just let Viloria off the hook.

After the fifth round we then had 2 pretty quiet rounds as both men took their chance to catch their breath. Despite these being slower rounds, they were still clear Viloria rounds as the "Hawaiian Punch" showed off his boxing ability.

Rounds 8 and 9 saw arguably Marquez's only rounds as Viloria was quiet whilst Marquez forced the action and forced the fight. Although Marquez was having some success, the steam on his attacks seemed to be some what stunted by the fact he had taken some serious body shots earlier in the fight.

With Marquez coming back in to the fight and needing a knock out it was littler wonder that he started round 10 fast unloading on Viloria with a huge series of shots, most of which were hitting the arms and shoulders of Viloria. Viloria then unleashed a bomb of a counter on Marquez who dropped like he'd been shot. It looked like that was that, then amazingly Marquez got back up. Despite recovering to his feet, it was obvious he wasn't fit to continue and his corner threw in the towel soon afterwards rather than risking the youngster to more damage.

Following this victory it's fair to say Brian Viloria is the #1 guy at 112lbs, despite the linear title being held in Japan by Toshiyuki Igarashi. It's likely that Viloria will be facing Roman Gonzalez next time out in a mouth watering class, though Juan Carlos Reveco is also a plausible opponent. For Marquez however he's young enough to come again, this loss isn't the end of the line, and it'd be hard for anyone to write him off following a display like this against a fighter like Viloria.

Roman Gonzalez v Juan Francisco Estrada

Nicaraguan Roman Gonzalez (34-0, 28) got a much tougher than expected bout whe he took on fearless Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada (22-2, 18) in a defense of his WBA Light Flyweight title that deserves to be mentioned as one of the genuine fights of the year.

The opening round saw Gonzalez starting very slowly as he put pressure on Estrada though didn't throw a lot as he allowed Estrada to tag his guard time and time again. In the last 45 seconds or so of the round however Gonzalez stepped on the pedal and literally stole the round with a dominant display of aggressiveness. Over the following two or three round Gonzalez really turned up the heat and it seemed as if we were almost certainly going to have an early finish.

Amazingly the fight just started to warm up and every time Gonzalez would land a series of shots, Estrada would come back with his own flurry as the two men started to beat the stuffing out of each other in a good old tear up. Sadly for Estrada he was spending periods of time on the ropes where Gonzalez was really taking advantage especially with his bone crushing body shots. Despite taking massive numbers of shots to the body Estrada was fighting back and showing not only bravery but the true spirit of a world level fighter.

Whilst most bouts slow down, this just got better and better as both men gave it there all and took a huge amount out of each other. Sadly for both men their defenses were shown to be seriously lacking, however their heart and chin (and bodies) proved to be made of stern stuff and they both managed to see out the distance in genuinely one of the must watch fights of the year.

Although all the rounds from 3-12 were hugely competitive it just seemed that  Gonzalez was doing just enough to claim the majority and that was reflected on the judges score cards which all favoured the Nicaraguan by notable margins.

Antonio DeMarco v Adrien Broner

Highly touted American Adrien Broner (25-0, 21) scored his most impressive victory to date as he claimed the WBC Lightweight title by stopping the tough Antonio DeMarco (28-3-1, 21) in 8 one sided rounds. The bout, Broner's first world title bout at Lightweight, showed more than just a little resemblance to Floyd Mayweather's dominating victory over Aturo Gatti back in 2005.

The first round was slow with just 13 combined punches landed (according to compubox) though the following rounds saw Broner going through the gears and really dominate DeMarco from in the pocket as he landed power-shot after power-shot. Although DeMarco was game, especially in rounds 3 and 4 he was simply being caught too clean too often and by round 5 his spirit had been broken.

Although DeMarco was catching Broner though the American's somewhat loose shoulder roll, the American was rarely being tagged too clean whilst landing his own, fierce uppercuts up close. Those uppercuts started to take their toll on DeMarco who was marked up badly in the fifth with bruising and a small cut on his face. The fifth was arguable a 10-8 round as Broner landed something like 8 times as many punches (54 v 7) at an amazing 62% connect rate.

Although DeMarco did fight back in the 6th and 7th it was obvious that he was unable to hurt Broner who started to really hurt him, dropping him in round 8 before the bout was stopped.

Whilst DeMarco was tough he was completely out classed, and it showed that toughness cannot win a fight at this level. For Broner however this was a statement that HBO have been backing a real winner with genuine superstar potential. Whilst it's obvious that this was a style-up dream for Broner who was too quick, too smooth, too accurate for the generally crude DeMarco, he did the job much better than anyone expected and really, really did a number on DeMarco.

Carl Froch v Yusuf Mack

Englishman Carl Froch (30-2, 22) sensationally retained his IBF Super Middleweight title by stopping American Yusuf Mack (31-5-2, 17) in a dominant 3-round display that hardly saw Mack landing a punch.

The opening round saw Froch starting fast and rocking Mack very early. The American tried to keep Froch at range but Froch found ways of landing with both hands, and a left hook early in the round seemed to mentally kill off the fight in Mack who would be dropped later in the round. Froch went for the kill late in the round but Mack, much to his credit, rode out the storm until the bell saved him.

The second round was much slower with very little happening until Froch let his hands go very late in the round stunning Mack and knocking his gum shield out. Sadly Froch had done little before then and Mack managed to again hear the bell. The following round however Froch started quickly again, and almost contemptuously took the fight to Mack, rocking him with a head shot before sending him down with a vicious body shot that left Mack down for the count.

For Mack it's time to go back home and forget the chances of ever claiming a world title. For Froch however he'll be looking to rematch any of Lucien Bute, Mikkel Kessler or even Andre Ward as he attempts to fight his way to the #1 rating at Super Middleweight. On this performance he'd destroy Bute again, he'd likely defeat Kessler and against Ward it'd certainly be interesting (though I'd still favour Ward).

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Stanyslav Kashtanov v Server Yemurlayev

Stanyslav Kashtanov (30-1, 16) came out on top in the all Ukrainian bout for the WBA "interim" Super Middleweight title as he out pointed previous unbeaten countryman Server Yemurlayev (22-1, 8) via a split decision.

Kashtanov started the bout well, avoiding the hard jabs of Yemurlayev who was either missing completely or having his jabs blocked. With Yemurlayev missing many of his shots, it allowed Kashtanov to take an early lead, however Yemurlayev did have some success and may have just nicked the fourth round.

Despite Yemurlayev's success in round 4, it didn't take long for Kashtanov to re-stake his control in the bout taking the middle rounds to really open up a gap in the scoring on most cards. By round 9 it looked like a clear decision for Kashtanov was on the cards, but then Yemurlayev started to fight back and arguably showed his best as he clearly won 2 of the last 3 rounds bringing the scores to look more competitive, even if he did still clearly lose.

Shocking the score cards were read out to give Kashtanov only a split decision victory with scores of 116-112, 118-110 (in favour of Kashtanov) and the frankly ludicrous 115-113 in favour of Server Yemurlayev.

Juan Carlos Reveco v Julian Rivera

Argentinian Juan Carlos Reveco (29-1, 16) successfully retained his "interim" WBA Flyweight title as he scored a very clear and very easy decision victory over Mexican challenger Julian Rivera (13-7, 2).

Reveco, a talented fighter was in control from the start to the end against a very limited Mexican who, although being game, was thoroughly out classed and out-boxed from bell to bell. Whilst Reveco was in cruise control through out, he couldn't put Rivera away as he claimed only a 12 round decision with scores of 120-107 across the board.

With this victory Reveco has tried to put himself #1 in the queue to face the winner of the up coming WBA "super" and WBC Flyweight title unification bout between Hernan "Tyson" Marquez and Brian Viloria (which takes place on November 17th). However it seems the WBA has upgraded Reveco to the "regular" champion and he's certainly got a target on his back as Roman Gonzalez is expected to view him as an "easier title" at Flyweight, as long as Gonzalez gets past his own up coming bout (also November 17th).

For Rivera this was a case of knowing your place and not upsetting the applecart, and that's what he did. He was there to make up the numbers and not much else.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Abner Mares v Anselmo Moreno

Mexican Abner Mares (25-0-1, 13) successfully retained his WBC Super Bantamweight title via a very controversial decision over Panamanian Anselmo Moreno (33-2-1, 12) with more than a little bit of help from referee Raul Caiz Jr who simply failed to be impartial. In fact it's fair to say that Caiz's job was almost as bad as that of Russell Mora who famously allowed Mares to get away with similar tactics against Joseph Agbeko.

The bout started very slowly with neither man taking control of the action in the opening few rounds. In fact the early rounds were highlighted by the fact that the fight failed to get going as the styles seemed to clash as opposed to gel. Sadly the issues with styles made the first few rounds very difficult to score as neither man really had any notable success.

In round 4 we sadly saw the start of the bouts controversy as Mares landed a very shot and instead of really telling Mares off, the referee decided that Moreno was to blame for the shot. Sadly Mares would land numerous low blows, at least double figures. Sadly it wasn't just the low blows that marred the bout but an awful knockdown call in favour of Mares in round 5, securing Mares a 10-8.

Following the knockdown Mares really started to step up the pressure and unleashing combinations to the body. Although Moreno slipped many of the shots going his way a fair few were landing, in fact Mares was getting more and more success as the bout went on. In round 7 however Caiz verbally warned Mares in fact stating "next time I'm taking a point" after another clear low blow. Sadly all subsequent low blows were ignored by Caiz despite Mares continuing to land them to the final bell on a semi-regular basis. Surprisingly however Caiz was more than happy to deduct a point from Moreno, with out a clear warning for holding the head down in round 10, further throwing coals on to the fire of Caiz being biased.

Mares continued to press the action late in the bout and although all the rounds were close it seemed that Mares had done enough to claim the bout, helped in part to the "knockdown" and deduction against Moreno. It had been close but those points had made things all but certain for Mares.

The scores were read out and unsurprisingly Mares was a winner by unanimous decision with 2 of the cards having the bout close but fair (116-110, 8 rounds to 4) however the final card was simply a joke that matched Caiz's refereeing giving Mares the bout 120-106.

Whilst it's easy to like Mares' style which is all action, it's impossible to like the number of breaks he gets. The fights with Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko (first fight) and now this one all raise eye brows as to the way they were officiated and scored and Mares may well be getting himself a reputation as one of Golden Boy's "protected" fighters in terms of officiating (though clearly not match making). If Mares gets to face Nonito Donaire, the fighter he called out after the bout, you can bet your bottom dollar that Bob Arum will want to be the promoter.

For Moreno it's likely he'll drop back to Bantamweight where he currently holds the WBA "super" title.

Nathan Cleverly v Shawn Hawk

Welshman Nathan Cleverly (25-0, 12) successfully retained his WBO Light Heavyweight title by stopping the thoroughly out-matched, but impressively game Shawn Hawk (23-3-1, 17) in the 8th round of a 1 sided bout.

The early rounds saw Cleverly setting an incredible pace as he really took the fight to the challenger. Whilst Cleverly was merely throwing arm punches, his speed and work-rate were incredible as he forced Hawk on to the back foot, and often against the ropes. Although Hawk did occasionally land a shot, often a hook to the body, he was simply not landing enough to force Cleverly off him. In fact if anything Cleverly seemed to merely get angrier when tagged and returned fire with impressive combinations.

In round 5 Cleverly changed tactics and rather than throwing flurry's of weak looking shots he started to box and move. The pace of the bout slowed dramatically but Cleverly's domination continued as he landed at will with spiteful looking shots to both head and body. When the bout changed to Cleverly boxing he looked a whole different class to Hawk who sadly looked lost.

With Cleverly now in a groove it looked like the Welshman was starting to throw everything with nasty intentions and in round 7 he twice dropped Hawk with nasty body shots. The first seemed to keep Hawk down for a 10 count though the referee allowed it to go on before Hawk was dropped again. Although the challenger got up from both knockdowns the round was really the start of the end with Hawk down again the following round before being stopped later in round 8.

Whilst Shawn Hawk showed he was brave he really wasn't in Cleverly's class, in fact he should never, ever have been allowed to fight for a world title. For Cleverly it was a case of doing what was needed. He scored and eye catching win, showed off what eh could do, and seems to have secured a date for his next bout, which will again be in the US.

Leo Santa Cruz v Victor Zaleta

IBF Bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (22-0-1, 13) successfully retained his title as he defeated the over-matched and under-sized Victor Zaleta (20-3-1, 10) in a thoroughly exciting all action war.

The opening round set the tale of what was to come as both men went at each other from the bell. It was tit for tat action as Santa Cruz pressed forward relentlessly with Zaleta trying to fight him off with his own shots. It was a great start to the fight and it quickly got better as the two men continued to pound on each other in rounds 2 an 3 which were both competitive even if it was a shut out for Santa Cruz.

In round 4 the power of Santa Cruz started to show and he swiftly started to force Zaleta to unravel with the challenger looking very messy early in the round. Santa Cruz continued to unleash and whilst Zaleta was bravely fighting back it was the power of Santa Cruz's body shots that took their toll as he dropped Zaleta with a nasty body blow. Zaleta bravely got up however it seemed as if the shot really took it's toll on him.

Despite surviving rounds 5 and 6 well it seemed only a matter of time before Zaleta would be stopped. He was courageous in fighting back though he was simple lacking the power to get Santa Cruz's attention as the  champion proceeded to walk him down and crack him with hurtful shots to both the head and body.

After being competitive in rounds 5 and 6 Santa Cruz scored another knockdown with a vicious body shot that felled Zaleta in round 7. It seemed as if Zaleta was ready to be stopped though he again proved he was a warrior as he came out for round 8, though sadly for Zaleta round 8 was probably the most one sided round as Santa Cruz really wailed away on Zaleta who proved to have a great chin.

The onslaught from round 8 continued into the following round though sadly for Zaleta, Santa Cruz simply wouldn't stop and a straight right finally put Zaleta down with the referee waving the bout off with Zaleta unable to get up.

We now expect Santa Cruz to move up to Super Bantamweight where he will genuinely be a nightmare for anyone. For Victor Zaleta however it's likely to the hospital for him as he really took a bit of a beating, hopefully however Zaleta will get another chance against a less fighter somewhere down the line.

Wladimir Klitschko v Mariusz Wach

Ukrainian Heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko (59-3, 51) successfully defended his WBA "super", WBO, IBF, IBO and Ring Magazine Heavyweight titles as he thoroughly dominated the brave Polish challenger Mariusz Wach (27-1, 15) over 12 rounds.

The bout was one way traffic almost from the off as Klitschko used his exceptional jab and straight to bang against Wach's head not only keeping Wach at range but also keeping Wach behind his his guard. From the opening round Klitschko was immediately finding his range and timing and he really looked like a confident fighter dropping his hands and trying to goad Wach into opening up.

Although much of the bout was 1-sided, we did have some excitement in round 5 as Wach landed a really notable right hand that seemed to wobble the champion. The Pole tried to capitalise on wobbling Klitschko and unleashed a series of shots as he tried to finish off the champion, sadly however the bell stopped the challengers momentum.

After landing his hard right hand in round 5, Wach seemed to look for the punch through out the rest of the fight, though Klitschko's ability to control the range and pace of the fight really neutralised the perceived threat of Wach's power. In fact as the fight went on Klitschko became more and more confident and started to unleash 6 and 7 punch combinations, especially in round 8, the bouts most 1-sided round (and likely a 10-8 round).

Although Wach took a real pasting, especially in rounds 7, 8 and 11 he managed to show real toughness and refused to go down, shocking myself with his ability to absorb numerous thudding right hands from the champion. Sadly however toughness alone doesn't win you rounds and Wach struggle to make a case for any of the rounds as he was out landed, out classed, out boxed and out fought by a fighter who was simply too good for him.

On this showing Wladimir is certainly a fighter who isn't showing signs of aging. Whilst he may not have been able to stop or even drop Wach, that was more a testament to Wach's chin than anything else as he took a real beating. Another defense early next year is almost a given and I'd be surprised if Klitschko could ever have an easier looking 12-round defense.

For Wach, who was nicely given a round by Canadian judge Pasquale Procopio, this shows his level and he's certainly not world level. He's tough and will be a handful for most, though his limitations were obvious through out and despite being the bigger, longer man, he couldn't make his size count. He'll certainly be able to mix it in the fringes of world level though he'll never be a genuine world level fighter.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Chris John v Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo

Indonesian Chris John (48-0-2, 22) successfully retained his "Super" WBA Featherweight title as he out pointed the previous unbeaten Thai Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (44-1, 27) in an enthralling 12 round battle that saw both men hurt and both men really giving it their all.

John went out to a quick lead by easily winning the first 2 rounds against Piriyapinyo who was a very slow starter and did little early on. John's speed, accuracy and skill were allowing him to easily dominate against the Thai challenger at both range and up close. Sadly for Piriyapinyo his defense seemed none existent and it allowed John to willingly tee-off on him with combinations and flurries.

Thankfully for the viewers, both on TV and in the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore, Piriyapinyo started to fight back back in round 3. Whilst John still won the round, pretty clearly as well, it was the first time that Piriyapinyo actually tried to force John off him by fighting back. Over the following rounds Piriyapinyo really started to grow in to the bout and a strong case could be made for him winning the following 3 or 4 rounds as the bout became a back and forth battle between two men who were each having their moments. Whilst John's class and speed were looking wonderful, Piriyapinyo seemed to stun John with hurtful right hands, especially in round 7 where John's legs appeared to buckle.

Sadly for the Thai he appeared to shoot his load and in round 9 John took over once again, really giving Piriyapinyo a beating in the bouts most 1-sided round. In fact had it not been for the fact John twice slipped to the canvas, he may well have managed to stop Piriyapinyo who was being forced to weather a real storm. This was really the start of the end for the competitive fight we had seen for a few rounds and John really made sure he was in the lead by clearly winning rounds 10 and 11.

With the challenger needing a stoppage in round 12 we saw Piriyapinyo really letting his hands go, especially late in the round and he seemed to rock John in the dying seconds of the fight, though sadly for the challenger he failed to drop the Indonesian who had done enough to claim the bout by pretty wide scores.

Jimmy Lennon Jr announced the scorecards with John a unanimous winner via scores of 119-109 (twice) and 117-111. I myself had the bout 119-109, though you could have made a real case for Piriyapinyo to have taken as many as 4 rounds. Sadly the Thai, whilst tough and game, simply lacked the defensive ability needed at this level to counter shots however it needs to be said that John doesn't look like the fighter he once was. Yes he clearly won here but Piriyapinyo did look like a heavy bag for much of the bout.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Roberto Vasquez v John Mark Apolinario

Panama's Roberto Vasquez (32-5-1, 22) failed in his attempt to claim the WBA "interim" Bantamweight title this past weekend as he could only score a draw with relatively unknown Filipino John Mark Apolinario (17-2-2, 4).

Vasquez, a former champion down at Light Flyweight and Flyweight, was expected to have the experience and know-how to defeat Apolinario who hadn't fought in close to a year, however the 22 year old co-challenger relished the opportunity of being in a title fight and refused to be intimidated by his experienced opponent.

Although neither man was fighting at home, as they went to Argentina, it was thought that the destination of the bout would favour Vasquez, who has fought through out the world (including his native Panama, Mexico, Dominican Republic, France and Japan) as opposed to Apolinario who was fighting for the first time outside of his homeland. Surprisingly however Apolinario didn't look like a fighter fighting out of his homeland for the first time and was thoroughly impressive in a very close battle.

The close and competitive nature of the bout was seen clearly in the scoring as two judges (Gustavo Estrella and Jesus Cova) scored it level at 114-114 whilst a third judge (Uriel Aguilera) could only see 1 clear round between them, scoring the bout 115-113 for Vasquez, leaving the "interim" belt vacant.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Marco Huck v Firat Arslan

The hugely popular Marco Huck (?-?) successfully defended his WBO Cruiserweight title for the 10th time as he out-pointed veteran Firat Arslan (?-?) in a thoroughly engaging 12 round war that really could have gone either way.

Surprisingly it was the 42 year old challenger, Firat Arslan that really forced the bout through out as he rushed at Huck to start every round and really went at the champion in every round. Arslan's great work took it's toll on Huck from the off as he busted Huck's nose in the second round and appeared to win almost all of the early rounds with his relentless pressure.

Thankfully for Huck he started to eventually get going as he began to generate some distance with which he could work from. At a distance Huck looked a different fighter and he really started to target Arslan's body, trying to drain the tank of the challenger who was relentless in his forward march. Although Huck's attacks were much less frequent than Arslan's they certainly seemed to contain the harder shots and in the middle section of the bout he seemed to take a slight advantage as he brought the score cards closer together.

In the latter rounds we were treat to some real tit-for-tat moments as each man took it in turns to attack. One minute Arslan would force Huck on to the ropes and land long combinations of shots, targeting the head of Huck with uppercuts, the next minute Huck was dominating with his body assault forcing Arslan on to the back foot. This left us with a number of rounds which were razor thin and really, really hard to split the fighters on.

When it came to the cards it obvious that it was close and the first two cards showed as much with scores of 115-113, however the third card, 117-111 really didn't reflect the nature of the bout. Thankfully for Huck all 3 were in his favour, however a really strong case could be made for Arslan winning the bout.

For Arslan this proves there is a lot more left in the old dog than any of us suspected. He really could go in with almost any Cruiserweight and hold his own and it sort of suggests that his performance against Alexander Alexeev wasn't all to do with Alexseev fighting the wrong fight.

For Huck however it could have been a case that he looked past Arslan with a lot of talk about a bout with Wladimir Klitschko...however it could also be a case that the hard fights are catching up with Huck. Huck didn't look his-self, of course Arslan played a part in that but hard fights with both Alexander Povetkin and Ola Afolabi already this year won't have helped. We don't often see championship level fighters fighting 36 hard, competitive rounds in a year and that's what Huck has done in 2012.

Huck's team needs to give 6-9 months off, let him recharge his batteries, let him recover from these wars, then look at moving to Heavyweight. Don't let Huck spar for the next few months, don't let him do anything more than pad work in the ring just to keep him sharp, otherwise the exciting Capt'n may well be done before he turns 30.

Toshiyuki Igarashi v Nestor Daniel Narvaes

In a much closer than expected bout Japanese WBC Flyweight champion Toshiyuki Igarashi (17-1-1, 10) struggled past Argentinian challenger Nestor Daniel Narvaes (19-1-2, 9) in a bout that perhaps shows up the problem with the "Linear" championship. I'm sorry but there is no way on earth that we can really claim that Igarashi is better than either Brian Viloria or Hernan "Tyson" Marquez (who meet each other to decide the division's true #1 in my eyes, later this year).

Narvaes, the younger brother of current WBO Super Flyweight champion Omar Andres Narvaez, started the bout quickly and forced Igarashi to fight back from the opening bell as he really brought the fight to the champion with a very high work rate.

If things were hard for the champion from the off, they just got harder as Igarashi suffered nasty cuts over both eye brows and had to fight back with claret covering his eyes and his face noticeably marked up. It appeared that Narvaes, a real unknown in the boxing world, was on his way to an upset before Igarashi bit down hard and did just enough to claim the victory despite being deducted a point for a head clash.

The hellacious action and back and forth nature of the bout was always going to lead to close scores and it showed with Igarashi taking a majority decision with cards of 114-112 (twice) and 113-113.

For Igarashi my advice is stay from the other other top fighters in the division. He was lucky to be in the right place at the right time after Sonny Boy Jaro defeated a fading Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (who lost again earlier this week) and really shouldn't be regarded as the divisions best fighter. In all honesty, at best, Igarashi is the fourth best fighter in the division (also behind South African Moruti Mthalane). He could well do with a number of easier defenses in Japan to help him mature into a real champion thankfully the WBC rankings do have a few weaker options such as Oscar Blanquet (who has already fought in Japan) and Anuar Salas (who's ranking I simply cannot explain).

It's strange to have a "Linear" and "Ring" champion who isn't ready for a genuine top tier fighter, such as the other 3 "real" champions or the top contenders such as Rocky Fuentes or Milan Melindo, however as I said Igarashi was simply a lucky man to be in the right place at the right time.

For Narvaes this fight should really be a sign that he can copy his brother and become a world champion, however he's unfortunate to have lost here against the weakest champion in the division. It's fair to say that the other 3 champions would almost certainly have had an easier night with Narvaes than Igarashi did. If the little Argentinian cannot force a rematch I'd advise him to look towards an all Argentinian battle with current WBA "regular" champion Juan Carlos Reveco, as long as Reveco gets past Julian Rivera next weekend.

Shinsuke Yamanaka v Tomas Rojas

WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (17-0-2, 12) made the second successful defense of his title earlier today surprisingly stopping the generally durable Mexican veteran Tomas Rojas (39-14-1-1, 26).

The champion had established control of the bout early on using his power and skill to neutralise Rojas' reach advantage, however Rojas was certainly still game going in to the second half of the fight. Sadly for Rojas however Yamanaka hits hard and hits quite often as Rojas found out prior to being dropped, face first for the count in round 7 in one of the genuine knockout of the year contenders.

For the 32 year old Rojas this could well be the end of the line after a long 16 year career which has seen him facing genuinely a who's who of top tier boxers ranging from Rosendo Alvarez to Vic Darchinyan. Amazingly this is just the third time Rojas has been stopped with Yamanaka joining Vic Darchinyan and Jorge Arce and this was arguably the most vicious of the three.

With Rojas' career now in tatters it's fair to suggest that Yamanaka will rightfully be claiming the plaudits. This is a bought I genuinely expected to go the distance but Yamanaka's power wouldn't allow that to happen. I'd now like to see the 30 year old Japanese fighter in with one more top Bantamweight, be it domestic rival Koki Kameda (who faces Hugo Ruiz later this year) or exciting Thai Pungluang Sor Singyu (the current WBO champion) before perhaps looking to move up. Yamanaka is in a division that was red hot just a year or two ago however it's now somewhat weaker and aside from Anselmo Moreno (who may well end up staying at Super Bantamweight if he defeats Abner Mares) there is no one I'd expect to really give the Japanese fighter a real fight.