Monday, 29 April 2013

Peter Quillin v Fernando Guerrero

WBO Middleweight Peter Quillin (29-0, 21) made the first defense of his title this past weekend as he showed off his impressive power and stopped the over-matched Fernando Guerrero (25-2, 19) who was found seriously lacking.

The bout, a mismatch at the bookies (where Quillin was prohibitively priced at around 1/12) proved to be just as much of a mismatch in the ring as Guerrero was unable to cope with his hard hitting rival.

The jab of the champion was impressive early as he steadied the challenger with it before dropping him twice in round 2 as he effectively showed that Guerrero was unable to cope with is power (something many had suggested prior to the fight).

Although Guerrero proved his heart following the early knockdowns as he brought the fight to Quillin it really was just a matter of time before the stronger and more powerful man was going to take him down again. Sadly for Guerrero that's exactly what happened in the 7th round  when Guerrero was again dropped twice before being stopped.

It now appears that Quillin will be fed weak opponents on Showtime due to his deal with Golden Boy Promotions whilst the likes of Sergio Martinez, Gennady Golovkin and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr are likely to remain on HBO with none of them likely to meet this year.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Danny Garcia v Zab Judah

WBA "super" and WBC Light Welterweight champion Danny Garcia (26-0, 16) and challenger Zab Judah (42-8-0-2, 29) may have entered the ring with a genuine dislike of each other though at the end of their excellent bout they certainly seemed to have a new found respect for each other.

The bad mouthing, specifically by Garcia's dad Angel Garcia may have crossed the line of "decency" several times but that didn't prevent the fighters from showing their class in the ring as the two men put on an unexpectedly solid fight.

The bout started slowly with Garcia looking to land his dangerous right hand on to Judah who attempted to score with his fast jab. The opening round was certainly hard to split though it was due to neither man managing to establish themselves as the boss. As the fight wore on though Garcia seemed to grow in to things quickly and after rocking Judah hard in round 5 he managed to dominate the challenger in round 6 as the champion looked to be on the verge of forcing a stoppage.

Oddly Judah, a known "fast starter" really first came alive in round 7 as he used his speed and skills to thoroughly dominate the champion in his first clear round. It appeared that the notorious fast starter was starting fast for the second half of the fight, sadly however for the challenger his momentum was swiftly ended in round 8 as Garcia dropped him on to his pants.

Garcia, who appeared to be comfortably up going in to round 9, helped in part to the knockdown then claimed the 9th before an enthralling fight back by Judah saw him taking the final 3 rounds whilst detonating some really eye catching left hooks that appeared to hurt the champion. Sadly for Judah however it was too little too late and Garcia had bagged enough of the early rounds to retain his title.

For Garcia this was an expected title defense though few could have expected the difficulties that he had. The most shocking thing about the bout however was the heart that Judah showed in refusing to fold at any point in the bout, in fact his ability to fight back and to fight back hard was nothing short of excellent from a man who has often been questioned regarding his intestinal fortitude.

Sergio Gabriel Martinez v Martin Murray

On paper this was a mismatch. One of the pound-for-pound best in the world, Sergio Gabriel Martinez (51-2-2, 28) was facing the relatively unknown Martin Murray (25-1-1, 11) who although being the WBA "interim" Middleweight champion was relatively unknown on the international stage. Paper however doesn't have fights for us and instead we ended up with an enthralling and very evenly matched bout that saw neither man manage to enforce themselves for more than just a few rounds at a time.

The bout started slowly, with Murray using a high guard and blocking much of Martinez's attacks. Although Murray was defensively sound early on he really didn't through too much and was clearly behind on all 3 of the official cards at the 4 round point (which we knew due to the controversial open scoring that was in effect).

Following the slow start for Murray he started to let his hands go more and more through the middle rounds and found a home for his right hand which connected with an alarming success rate. The right hand and even the left hooks started to really make a dent in Martinez who was forced to feel the weight on Murray's shots and they appeared to shake him up several times before dropping him in round 7 as Murray started to overturn the early deficit on the cards.

Despite his excellent charge through the middle section of the fight Murray was still behind on the official cards by scores of 77-74 and 76-75 (twice). Unlike the score cards in the recent Austin Tout v Saul "Canelo" Alvarez fight knowing the scores here did somewhat reflect the bout and seemed to spur on the fighter who was behind, despite the fact he had a very quiet round 9.

In round 10 Martinez appeared to be dropped though the referee ruled it a slip, a call that would effectively cost Murray a 3-point swing in the round. Sadly for Murray he couldn't drop Martinez again in the final 2 rounds despite trying most notably in round 12. Had he done saw he may have managed to dethrone Martinez of the Middleweight crown, instead Martinez managed to retain his WBC title.

With a slippy canvas perhaps fighting in an outdoor arena with rain blowing on to the ring helped Murray though in all honesty Martinez, aged 38, appears to be at the end of the line. Murray put on a good performance don't get me wrong, but Martinez didn't look like the man who dominated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr for 11 rounds, he instead looked like an old man.

For Murray this was his gateway to bigger fights. Sure he may have lost but he has shown himself capable enough of mixing it with the best. As the WBA "interim" champion he really should be looking forward to the winner of the upcoming Gennady Golovkin v Matthew Macklin bout with the winner, the "WBA Regular" champion being the most obvious opponent for Murray.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Kompayak Porpramook v Jean Piero Perez

Over the past year or two Thai boxing has been on a visible slide with the country actually have 0 world champions. That changed today when former WBC Light Flyweight champion Kompayak Porpramook (50-4, 35) stopped Venezuelan Jean Piero Perez (20-6-1, 14)  to claim the interim WBA Flyweight title.

The bout started well for Perez who had a good first round using his jab and movement to maintain a solid distance between himself and the Thai. Although the Thai fighter came back late in the round it was certainly a good round for the Venezuelan who was backing off the back foot well.

Sadly for Perez the success that Porpramook had late in the round grew through a very dominating second round that saw the Thai cutting off the distance excellently. Although Perez coped well with much of the pressure he did seem hurt at one point as Porpramook began to target the body, an effective tactic in the heat of Thailand.

Porpramook had continued success in round 3 as he walked through the attacks of Perez and seemed to wobble the Venezuelan who was just unable to keep Porpramook off him. At the end of the round the Thai seemed to be storming the fight having established himself mentally as the stronger fighter and as the aggressor.

Things took a turn in Perez's favour in round 4 as he worked hard and kept Porpramook from throwing too much back. Although Perez probably did enough to claim the round in terms of his work many of his attacks were ineffective as he landed on the gloves of the Thai who, whilst throwing much less, appeared to land the telling shot to the body as he continued his tactic of breaking down the co-challenger.

Having put a lot in to round 4 Perez was attacked hard in round 5 as the Thai looked for an early finish. Perez appeared hurt numerous times though saw out the storm as Porpramook went in for the kill. It was obvious that the pressure of Porpramook and the conditions were taking their toll on the Venezuelan who was starting to take a bit of a beating. The beating of round 5 continued into the next as Porpramook hurt Perez early then went on a sustained attack with Perez trapped in the corner before the referee was forced in to wave the bout off.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Victor Terrazas v Cristian Mijares

In an excellent but tragically over-looked bout for the vacant WBC Super Bantamweight title Victor Terrazas (37-2-1, 21) controversially became the new champion out pointing the unfortunate Cristian Mijares (47-7-2, 22) via split decision.

The bout started slowly for Terrazas as the speedy and wonderfully talented Mijares landed his sharp straight shots on his co-challenger. Terrazas tried firing back but unfortunately struggled to land much of note in the opener before starting to warm up and taking possible 3 of the first 6 rounds (which were mostly close). You could easily have made a case for either man to have been in the lead but neither was able to dominate (unless you like to watch fights like Stanley Christodoulou and fill in your card depending on which fighter you like the most).

Mijares then started to turn up the heat and after a close round 7 he appeared to dominate 3 of the final 4 rounds as he went on a very good run including and explosive round 12 (likely spurred on by the WBC open scoring) which saw him relentless attacking Terrazas and actually dropping his fellow Mexican though unfortunately he couldn't quite finish him off.

With the scorecards looking against against Mijares going into the final rounds his rally was exceptional especially considering he's not known as much of a finisher. He was unfortunate that the judges don't tend to really regard his work favourably and this isn't the first time that judging has been called in to question regarding Mijares bouts with the most infamous being a genuine "WTF?" card by Doug Tucker who had Jose Navarro pitching a shut out against him back in 2008.

Hopefully this loss won't be the end for Mijares who proved once again what a wonderful boxer he is despite his somewhat "none Mexican" style. Whilst it may be laughed at a Mijares v Rigondeaux bout could well be one of the best match ups to be made a 122lbs and with Terrazas supposedly facing Vic Darchinyan next it appears that the Super Bantamweight division has gotten 2 good looking bouts from this controversy.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Austin Trout v Canelo Alvarez

In the first "super fight" of 2013 unbeaten men collided in a Light Middleweight unification bout as the WBA and WBC titles were up for grabs though sadly what should have been a great fight was marred in controversy as poor officiating and the WBC's "Open Scoring" destroyed any sense of tension.

The fight started excellently for Trout who dominated the round with his jab and seemed to clearly take the round with Canelo landing next to nothing of note, in fact the round seemed to suggest that Canelo was showing his inexperience as he made several glaring mistakes. Canelo came back excellently the following round as he started to cut the distance off and tied the scores on my card.

Rounds 3 and 4 were incredibly close with neither man managing to really establish themselves as a clear winner and when the WBC's semi-open scoring came in to play after 4 rounds it reflected the close nature of the bout with scores of 39-38 (twice) to Canelo and 38-38.

In the rounds 5 and 6 Trout seemed to step on the pace a little and forced Canelo on to the back foot especially in round 6 where the Mexican seemed to be tiring after an educated body attack by Trout. It seemed as if Canelo was starting to struggle with the pace and the attack of Trout. Though Canelo later claimed it was a problem with his leg (in the post fight interview) it was clear from watching it that he was struggling.

Canelo landed his best shot in round 7 as he dropped Trout with a wonderful straight right that dropped Trout for the first time in his career. Despite being dropped Trout got up and appeared to actually forced Canelo backwards for much of the round as he fought back well. Canelo appearedto end round 7 looking exhausted and Trout again appeared to clearly win round 8 against a lazy looking Canelo who really threw the around away.

Rounds 9 and 10 were hard fought with neither man managing to dominate, though Canelo did show off some impressive defensive skills and land the better shot even if Trout was visibly out working him. Sadly however by the start of round 9 the fight was over in the eyes of the judges who had clearly decided that Trout wasn't winning tonight unless he could score a knockout. The scores were so widely in favour of the Mexican that the bout the judges were watching were vastly difference from the fight that was being shown on TV.

With the result as good as known going into the championship rounds Trout did his best to try and step on the gas but Canelo managed to survive both rounds clearly giving away round 12 as he did nothing other than concentrate on seeing the final bell. Sadly round 12 was the result of the WBC's open scoring which had let Canelo know he didn't need to fight the round.

With the victory Canelo (42-0-1, 30) claims the WBA "super" Light Middleweight title to unify it with his WBC belt and he also adds the Ring magazine title whilst Trout (26-1, 14) suffers his first loss though he did take it very well. We've been left with possibly the right winner in a very close bout but the score cards need to be questioned, especially that of Stanley Christodoulou (118-109) which seemed to suggest that he had marked his card before the bout had even started.

Nathan Cleverly v Robin Krasniqi

Welshman Nathan Cleverly (26-0, 12) successfully defended his WBO Light Heavyweight title as he defeated mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi (39-3, 15).

Cleverly dominated much of the early going with his left jab which landed time and time again on Krasniqi at a distance. At times it seemed that Cleverly could have just won the bout with his jab which simply couldn't miss Krasniqi.

Krasniqi got some success in the middle rounds as Cleverly started to mix up what he was doing and got caught by a number of right hands though at no point did Cleverly look to be under any really pressure as he walked through the right hands of Krasniqi. When Cleverly was mixing up his shots he did manage to hurt Krasniqi at least twice with nasty body shots thought he Welshman failed to follow up his attacks when the challenger was hurt.

Cleverly showed different facets off as he showed off his ability to trade as well as box off the back foot and front foot as he thoroughly dominated a weak opponent who was 1-dimensional and lacked the power to genuinely hurt Cleverly. In all honesty Krasniqi was little more than a sparring partner dressed up as a mandatory contender,to start, Cleverly forces the challenger back, Cleverly making it look easy, lovely uppercut by Cleverly, Krasniqi lands a right that Cleverly walks through, Cleverly unloading big time! Krasniqi forced to hold, Another uppercut by Cleverly, And another! Krasniqi eating shots shots now, body shot Cleverly, Krasniqi running away and protecting his gut. 10-9  Cleverly

The bout really told us very little about Cleverly that we didn't already know. We knew he had a good engine and decent hand speed though in all honesty the fact he didn't finish off Krasniqi was a disappointment as he pitched a near shut out.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Chris John v Satoshi Hosono

Indonesian boxing icon Chris John (48-0-3, 22) may have retained his "super" WBA Featherweight once more though this will not go down as one of his most memorable title defenses as his face was covered in his own blood following a clash of heads that forced a 3rd technical draw with Japanese fighter Satoshi Hosono (23-2-1, 17).

The fight started of by looking very promising. Although the opening round was a somewhat typical "feeling out round" it was a very high paced affair as John showed off his impressive hand speed and footspeed to control the distance. Hosono did occasionally manage to get inside in the opening round but it was John who clearly won the round.

The second round saw the challenger getting much closer and cutting the distance very well as he managed to make the round very competitive. Although Hosono probably didn't quite do enough to win the round is did suggest that we were on the verge of a very exciting fight that was about to come to life.

Hosono's ability to cut the distance off was again prevalent at the start of round 3 as he really got in John's face and started to make the champion's life very difficult with his aggression and power. Sadly Hosono got a little too much in John's face as the two fighters collided heads an John was left with 2 nasty looking cuts which bled immediately. The referee would take John over to the doctor soon after the clash and whilst initially he was allowed to continue a second inspection saw  the bout stopped.

Sadly as we had only completed 2 rounds the clash of heads prevented a winner of the bout either way.

In all honesty a rematch would probably be the most sensible thing to do following the inconclusive finish to the bout, though I think it's unlikely to happen sadly. The match up seemed to be on the verge of becoming very exciting and could well have proven to be one of the toughest fights of John's career were it not for the inconclusive finish.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Nonito Donaire v Guillermo Rigondeaux

In arguably the first mainstream super fight of the year Guillermo Rigondeaux (12-0, 7) unified the WBO and WBA Super Bantamweight titles as he defeated Nonito Donaire (31-2, 20) via decision. Although the bout was billed as a super-fight it really was a huge let down with very little sustained action which saw a lot of booing in the second half of the bout.

The bout started very well with both men landing huge shots in the first 30 seconds though unfortunately that merely saw both men taste each others power and become even more respectful than they were going to be anyway as the bout became a chess match.

In a boxing contest things were always going to favour the better pure boxer and this was clearly Rigondeaux who used his feet to create a lot of distance and totally slow the pace of fight by effective but yet negative movement. It was this negativity that drew the boos though in all honesty Donaire was falling in to the trap of trying to outbox Rigondeaux, something that he was never going to be able to do.

When Donaire stopped following Rigondeaux he managed to have some success and this was most notable in round 10 when he managed to drop the Cuban with the best shot of the bout. This seemed as if Donaire was finally going to change the style of bout though unfortunately for the "Filipino Flash" Rigondeaux managed to survive the round.

Donaire, who had brought the pressure throughout the fight was hugely ineffective with his aggression and this showed notably in round 11 as Rigondeaux was allowed to re-assume control of the bout with his movement and jab. Donaire was starting to load up on every shot he was throwing and was merely making life easier than ever for the Cuban who had recovered fully from the knockdown.

In round 12 the bout flipped on it's head as Rigondeaux landed a massive shot to the face od Donaire which caused Donaire serious problems through out the rest of the round as he covered his eye and started to be the fighter on the back foot. Donaire continued to look for a single big counter but Rigondeaux was simply too well schooled and too fast for Donaire who ended the fight looking both dejected and like he'd be spending a fair bit of time with ice on his face if not needing surgery on his eye.

For Donaire this was his first loss in 12 years (since his second bout) though it was a loss that will sting a lot more than his first. This was a real disappointment for the man that many had as #3 or #4 pound-for-pound and a loss that will likely set Donaire back down the pecking order. For victor come the spoils and Rigondeaux will rightfully have time to reflect on his options to either defend his 2 current titles, to try and collect a 3rd or to move up and fight a top Featherweight.

Although Rigondeaux will be celebrating tonight I'd certainly expect him to be keeping an eye out for next weekend as Cristian Mijares takes on Victor Terrazas or the vacant WBC Super Bantamweight title, though IBF champion Jonathan Romero would also pose an interesting option for the the Cuban.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Shinsuke Yamanaka v Malcolm Tunacao

WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (18-0-2, 13) successfully retained his world title as he stopped Filipino challenger Malcolm Tunacao (32-3-3-, 20) in the 12th and final round.

Yamanaka started the bout well and not only established his pace on the bout with his 2 handed attack but also dropped the challenger twice in round 3 as he built up a solid lead on the score cards in the early portion of the bout. Tunacao, who had been blasted out in a round in his last world title bout back in 2001 showed real heart to not only survive but to start to battle back.

Tunacao who had been forced to wait a long time for another world title bout refused to just let his chance slip away and he battled back hard and in round 7 he appeared to genuinely hurt Yamanaka. The success Tunacao had had in round 7 saw a notable momentum shift and the Filipino came out for round 8 with real vigour as he claimed another round and seemed to be in the ascendency.

Sadly for the challenger his work in rounds 7 and 8 failed to wear out the champion who got a second wind in round 9 as Tunacao appeared to be running out of steam. The Filipino refused to just back down though was looking like he had given it his all and Yamanaka moved up a gear as he took rounds 10 and 11 before dropping Tunacao in the final round. The bloodied challenger attempted to get to his feet but the referee had seen enough and saved him from any more damage.

For Tuncao this is probably the end. The Filipino has been a great servant to the sport though sadly was forced to wait too long for his chance. Yamanaka on the other hand is perhaps looking to old foe Ryosuke Iwasa  for what could be a rematch of their memorable clash from a few years back.

Toshiyuki Igarashi v Akira Yaegashi

In a hugely impressive performance former WBA Minimumweight champion Akira Yaegashi (?-?) jumped 2 weights and claimed the WBC Flyweight title and defeated Toshiyuki Igarashi (?-?) in a thoroughly enjoyable battle, the type of which Yaegashi has been making his name.

The challenger got off to a lightning quick start taking the fight to the champion who looked sluggish in the early part of the bout. Yaegashi was like a terrier and refused to give Igarashi the room he needed to work and instead got close and worked hard with the mindset of "I'm not just going to beat you, I'm going to beat you up". It was thrilling to watch.

Yaegashi continued to wail away in the middle rounds though Igarashi started to slowly come in to the bout and land his own shots which began to mark up the 30 year old challenger who seemed to wear his swelling as badges of honour rather than act concerned about the markings adorning his face. In fact the swelling and blood may well have driven him on as the bout became a brutal war in the later rounds with both men shedding claret as the fight started to become more of a back and forth war with the younger Igarashi having some real success late.

With both men looking like they had been in a war there was only ever going to be one winner. A war was always going to favour Yaegashi who had shown his love of in ring warfare with his famous victory over Pornsawan Porpramook. This bout may not have quite lived up to the Yaegashi v Porpramook bout though it wasn't down to trying on Yaegashi's part, in fact it was only his domination in the early rounds that prevented such a FOTY candidate.

This ends Igarashi's 9 month reign as the WBC and the Linear Flyweight champion and possibly ends his career at the top level. He's a talented fighter though in a division like Flyweight you've got to be a great fighter right now to be at the top, not just good.

Yaegashi, now a 2-weight world champion is a fighter who appears to have options aplenty. He could look for not only a rematch with Ioka (either at Flyweight or Light Flyweight where Ioka holds the WBA title), a fight with fellow champions Juan Francisco Estrada and Moruti Mthalane (both of which would be amazing to watch) or take a deservedly easily fight after 3 very tough bouts in the last 18 months.

With his style and mindset Yaegashi may not have a many years left at the top though I've got to admit he's become one of the sports must watch fighters in the past few years with his toughness and his aggressive style both of which should help him grow a cult following in the west.

Gamaliel Diaz v Takashi Miura

Today we saw the end of Gamaliel Diaz's (37-10-2, 17) short reign as WBC Super Featherweight champion thanks to the hard hitting Japanese fighter Takashi Miura (25-2-2, 19) who genuinely destroyed Diaz.

Miura, who had lost his only previous world title bout by 8th round retirement to Takashi Uchiyama set out with bad intentions and appeared to find a place for his hurtful left hand very early in the bout. The powerful Japanese southpaw, who had actually dropped Uchiyama before being stopped himself, was finding Diaz regularly and managed to drop the defending champion in round 3 as the Mexican was forced to feel the sting. Though at the 4 round mark all the scores were 37-37 with Miura having been deducted a point for a clash of heads in the opening rounds.

Diaz, who had claimed the title last time he was in Japan by upsetting Takahiro Ao, was again forced to taste Miura's bull like power in rounds 6 and 7 as he was dropped in both rounds. By now Miura was pulling well ahead of the champion who simply couldn't take his power.

Sadly for Diaz he couldn't avoid Miura and the Japanese challenger was relentless in looking for the stoppage which eventually came midway through round 9.

This results rather nicely sets us up for a very interesting rematch between Uchiyama and Miura if both fighters want to unify (as Uchiyama still holds the WBA title) though Miura may feel other options better suit him. In fact Miura against someone like Sergio Thompson (WBC #1) or Devis Boschiero (WBC #2) would both be great fights to watch and from a British point of view Miura v Gary Buckland (WBC #12) would also hold a personal interest.

For the 32 year old Diaz this doesn't spell the end of his career though it does likely end his pretension of being a genuine world level fighter.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Koki Kameda v Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym

Christmas comes but once a year, unless it seems your name is Koki Kameda (30-1, 17) who for the third time in 5 bouts appeared to be given a gift decision in order to retain his WBA Bantamweight title. Kameda's split decision victory over little known Thai Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym (36-2, 19) was just the latest in a line of controversial moments for the 3-weight world champion from Japan.

For those who have been following the career of Kameda over the years you'll know perfectly well about his first gift decision back in 2006 over Juan Jose Landaeta, a decision that saw the then unbeaten Kameda claim the WBA Light Flyweight title. Since then Kameda has claimed world titles at both Flyweight and Bantamweight though his Bantamweight reign has been highly controversial.

In his second defense of his WBA Bantamweight title Kameda was given a highly controversial decision over the then unbeaten Mexican David De La Mora in a bout many felt De La Mora did more than enough to claim the title in. Just 3 fights later De La Mora's country man Hugo Ruiz was given the proverbial shafting by the judges in a bout that was difficult to even view as close.

Against Kaiyanghadaogym it was expected that Kameda would have an easier nights work to defend his title, that thought however didn't last long as as the unheralded Thai gave him a real battle and a half over a very hard fought 12 round contest.

Despite the fact Kaiyanghadaogym was the smaller man naturally (coming up from Super Flyweight) the Thai wasn't effected by Kameda's power and in typical Thai fighting style refused to be intimidated by the large crowd at the Bodymaker Colosseum in Kameda's homeland of Japan. This saw Kameda forced to fight back hard.

With both men gunning for the victory it was a hard fight though one that Kaiyanhadaogym should feel he did enough to claim victory in. Sadly however Kameda again retained his title with a huge question mark hanging over his head.

The 26 year old Kameda may well be a 3-weight world champion though this current reign is one that appears to be highly questionable. It's only a matter of time before the boxing world shrugs their shoulders with Kameda who will likely get a similar reputation to the likes of Sven Ottke or Felix Sturm as holding a title hostage with helpful judging.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Roman Martinez v Diego Magdaleno

Puerto Rican Roman "Rocky" Martinez (27-1-2, 16) successfully defended his WBO Super Featherweight title with a hard fought victory over the previously undefeated Diego Magdaleno (23-1, 9) in a hard fought bout.

The bout started well for Magdaleno who used his feet well to move around the much slower Martinez who seemed to be having his usual slow start to a bout. Magdaleno scored numerous times with either hand though his lack of power really did little other than irritate the champion who took the blows with out too many worries. Magdaleno continued to have success in the following round though Martinez appeared to slowly be warming up into the bout and was begging to land his right hands.

It was a shot Martinez in round 4 that really said everything about the bout as he dropped Magdaleno hard and showed who was the man and who was the boy. Magdaleno picked himself off the canvas well and fought back hard though the fact that he simply couldn't discourage Martinez made life so much easier for the champion who started to march forward with growing success behind his jab and straight right hand. What also didn't help Magdaleno was his general style which involved a lot of bouncing and moving with out too much effective aggression. He was clearly the faster man though he was also the fighter who was forced on to the back foot by the bull like Martinez.

Although Magdaleno's single shots were having little effect on the champion the challenger did manage to rock Martinez in round 8 which was by far the best Magdaleno round as he wailed away on the Puerto Rican late in the round. Sadly for the challenger round 8 was his last stand before the champion came back strong and walked through the challenger in round 9 then cut him in round 10 with a solid right hand. In fact in round 10 Martinez seemed to land an alarming number of right hands with out too much coming back his way.

Having never been beyond 10 rounds before I got the feeling that Magdaleno didn't really know what to do in round 11 and seemed to spend some time running with out throwing much. This was really not the reaction many would have wanted to see from Magdaleno. Despite Magdaleno's negativity in round 11 the final round was a belter with both men giving it their all in clearly the round of the bout.

The fight never really caught light until the final round (which saw both men trying to stop the other) but despite this it was never poor. Magdaleno seemed willing to try and beat the champion but despite being the betting favourite he never really showed the sort of offensive mindset that suggested he believed he could win. Martinez, whilst limited (and a very beatable champion) proved he was still a tough fighter and the sort of fighter who could be in FOTY type bouts with fighters willing to meet him in the centre of the ring, unlike Magdaleno who was rarely willing to trade.

Brian Viloria v Juan Francisco Estrada

In a notable upset Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada (23-2, 18) claimed both the WBO and WBA "super" Flyweight titles thanks to an inspired performance against the highly likable Brian Viloria (32-4-0-2, 19) who may well be on the verge of calling an end to his glorious career.

The fight started badly for Viloria who looked dry coming in to the opening round and whilst he wasn't rocked early on he certainly didn't get off to a great start as Estrada started fast with weak shots. By the end of the opening round however Viloria was starting to get into things and landed an excellent left hand and a lovely burst of effective shots late in the round. The round was up for argument though Viloria just didn't look like he was the same man who stopped Hernan Marquez last year in a fantastic bout.

In the second and third round Viloria appeared to settle in to the bout more and and started landing some excellent counters despite being forced to take some body blows, by the end of the third however Viloria seemed to have finally found his rhythm and was planting his own, hurtful body shots with the intent of slowing down Estrada.

In round four Estrada started to match Viloria as the bout moved up a gear and both men traded hard shots. Viloria's shots seemed the classier whilst Estrada's seemed the more forceful as neither man looked to back down. The following round saw Estrada grow in confidence almost as if he realised he could take Viloria's power, though more notably was the flat footed-ness of Viloria who rarely seemed willing to chase the more energetic Estrada. In fact it sort of looked as if Viloria was being somewhat lazy as we entered the middle rounds.

The sixth round again saw both men trading off shots with the best single shot of the round being a nasty looking shot to the mid-section by Viloria, though unfortunately for him Estrada just came right back at him with a nasty burst of shots as the Mexican continued to realise that Viloria wasn't going to be able to take him out with a single blow. This was further proven in round 7 as both men landed huge bombs on each other to start.

Sadly for Viloria after winning round 7 he started to fade badly as Estrada came on strong and really let his hands go up close as he waged a toe-to-toe war with Viloria who seemed unable to match the work-rate, power, speed or accuracy of his younger rival. By the end of round 8 Viloria was starting to appear very weary as if he was running out of gas and this showed in the subsequent rounds as Estrada just took over the bout winning an action packed 9th round (the round of the fight) and then final 3 rounds with the 12th being a total domination.

Sadly for Viloria he took a real whooping in the final round and although he remained on his feet (somehow) he took the sort of battering that can make a fighter think twice about returning to the ring. At 32 years old Viloria is an old man for a Flyweight and with his hard fought career against top contenders I'll be honest I'd like to see him hang them up here. He's been a great ambassador for the sport and one of the most fun to watch fighter we've seen in the lower weights for quite some time though the signs at the end of round 12 were that of a fighter who needs to think twice about continuing.

For the 22 year old Estrada this is a career defining victory over a man who was widely regarded as the best Flyweight on the planet. Estrada may have been the man in the right place though he's a fighter who proved against Roman Gonzalez that he was a nightmare for anyone and he could well remain the champion at Flyweight for a very long time (unless he's killing himself to make 112lbs).

Monday, 1 April 2013

Mario Rodriguez v Katsunari Takayama

Wow, that's all I can say. Not only did we have the bout between Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios on Saturday but we also had the hidden classic of Mario Rodriguez v Katsunari Takayama for the IBF Minimumweight title the same night. Although I may be in the minority saying this the Rodriguez v Takayama fight was arguable better than Rios v Alvarado II.

Japanese challenger Takayama (25-6-0-1, 10) fighting his fifth successive bout outside of his native Japan traveled to Rodriguez's (15-7-4, 11) homeland of Mexican and despite being the notable betting under-dog put on a performance for the ages as he annexed the world title to become a 2-time world champion.

The bout started fast as Takayama set an incredible pace with none stop work and movement. He wasn't just throwing relentlessly but he was bouncing about using his legs and feet just as much as his arms and hands as he got in, unloaded with fast shots and got out. It was an incredible start by the challenger who was impressive from the off.

Rodriguez wasn't to be totally over-whelmed however and managed to score a knockdown in round 3 in what was certainly his stand out moment of success as Takayama's confidence really grew and grew. The challenger's speed and combinations were amazing to see as he really just worked over the champion to head and body with wonderful eye catching flurries that bagged him round after round.

After having an almost unassailable lead Takayama went from a fighter dominating a world champion to a fighter making a point as he started to show boat in front Rodriguez's home fans, a move that must have infuriated an outclassed champion who's reign came to an end in just his first defense.

As the new champion Takayama is in a very select group of Japanese fighters to have claimed an IBF belt interestingly on his third attempt (after having a No Contest and a loss to South African Nkosinathi Joyi). It'll be interesting to see if the JCB allows him to defend his title at home or forces him to continue his road journey.

For Rodriguez this was a pretty humbling loss after scoring a huge upset victory over Joyi last year. A rematch between the two would not go amiss however I would imagine Takayama may himself want Joyi for a 3rd bout.