Saturday, 29 June 2013

Gennady Golovkin v Matthew Macklin

WBA Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (27-0, 24) was expected to be given his first real test by Britain's Matthew Macklin (29-5, 20) instead however Golovkin merely showcased his talents in yet another impressive performance.

For the first 30 seconds of the bout Macklin had some success with his jab though it didn't take long for Golovkin to realise that Macklin had nothing to be afraid off and started to stalk with bad intentions. The champion was cutting the ring off perfectly it was obvious by the end of the round that Macklin's confidence was completely gone.

In round 2 Golovkin started to let his hands go a bit more and appeared to hurt Macklin almost immediately. Everything that Golovkin landed appeared to hurt Macklin even the jabs were sending the challenger backwards and in fact Macklin appeared to be holding more often than punching as he merely tried to survive. Of the few punches that Macklin did throw here and there he did get through with a number of them, including a right hand that just bounced off the head of Golovkin with no effect.

With Macklin realising that plan was using wasn't working he switched to "Plan B" and showed some genuine offense, this turned out be a bad move as he was caught by a counter himself. Just a few seconds later the Brit was on the ropes and forced to take an hellacious body shot that sent him down for the count.

For Macklin it wasn't 3rd time lucky though as he admitted himself Golovkin was the best fighter he had ever faced-there's no shame in losing to the best. Another chance for Macklin may appear down the line and he may stand a chance but his agony should serve as a serious reminder to the division of just how hurtful and spiteful Golovkin's shots are.

Golovkin, who many felt had been picking on 154lb fighters has again shown that he can do what wants in the ring and that he can take opponents out with relative ease to either the head or body. Whilst it's obvious that he wants a fight with Sergio Martinez, it's hard to imagine that bout actually happening and that Martinez would be more likely to retire rather than get in the ring with "GGG"

Friday, 28 June 2013

Xiong Zhao Zhong v Denver Cuello

Those who follow the little guys in this sport will know that Filipino Denver Cuello (33-5-6, 21) has had his career plagued by misfortune, it appeared that misfortune struck again in the biggest fight of his caree. After waiting several years for his first world title fight Cuello took on China's Xiong Zhao Zhong (21-4-1, 11) and appeared to suffer an injury early in the bout.

The bout started perfectly for Cuello who dropped Zhong in the opening round and seemed to to be on his way to an early victory. The following round saw Cuello possibly opening up a 3 point lead on the card but from then on Zhong took over coming forward relentlessly and landing shots with both hands.

Zhong's onslaught was helped in two ways. Firstly Cuello seemed to suffer an injury very early in the bout to his right hand, or arm, effectively rendering him a 1-armed fight. Without a right arm Cuello was limited to just throwing left hooks and uppercuts which were becoming very easy for Zhong to predict and avoid between his own attacks. Secondly Cuello was feeling annoyed by the tactics of the Chinese fighter who was using head and elbows.

Cuello managed to get a break of sorts in round 9 when Zhong was deducted a point for an accidental head clash (following the rules of the WBC) though Cuello himself was left bloodied by it and it seemed likely that the bout was going to be taken to the scorecards early.

After the Dr twice looked at the cut (and had also looked at the shoulder of Cuello) the bout was allowed to continue and suddenly Cuello seemed to refocus and box well, despite being one handed arguably claiming the final 2 rounds.

Despite what looked to have been a pretty easy so score bout the judges all had close cards (113-113, 115-112, 113-110) as Zhong managed to do, just enough their cards, to retain his title by majority decision, despite the announcer calling it a split.

I hope Cuello a quick recovery from his injuries. Unfortunately however it could be a case of several injuries. He certainly had a damaged shoulder late in the bout, possibly a occurrence of one suffered last year against Ivan Meneses, but I think there was also a hand injury as well. For Zhong, his physical strength could help him retain his title if matched well, in all honesty however I can't help but think he got lucky with the injury to Cuello, despite the scorecards not being as reflective of the result as they should have been.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Juan Carlos Reveco v Ulises Solis

Argentinian Juan Carlos Reveco (31-1, 17) successfully defended his WBA Flyweight title as he over-came the overmatched challenge of Ulises Solis (12-14-2, 7).

Reveco, a talented fighter in one of the deepest division's in world boxing was clearly the better man from the first bell. He was quicker, more skilled and just overall more talented and he showed it.

Although Solis showed his heart he didn't have the talent to match and was dropped twice in round 6 as Reveco started to turn the screw in front of his countrymen. Solis, who really should never have been put in a world title fight, got up from both of those knockdowns though looked like a man living on borrowed time.

For Solis round 7 was a much better round than the previous one, though that appeared to be more down to Reveco than Solis himself.

It wouldn't take long for Reveco to really let his hands go in again and in round 8 he dropped Solis 3 times forcing the referee to call a halt to proceedings.

For Reveco this was his second "stay busy" defense in 3 bouts (having also defended the interim WBA belt against Julian Rivera late last year). Hopefully the Argentinian will now face a real opponent as opposed to limited fighters like Solis.

Paul Malignaggi v Adrien Broner

American youngster Adrien Broner (27-0, 22) successfully leaped from Lightweight to Welterweight and claimed the WBA title from Paulie Malignaggi (32-5, 7) in a thoroughly competitive bout that defied the odds from the start to the end.

The defending champion started well with his work rate clearly taking him the first 2 rounds with out any issue at all, in fact the only issue was whether or not Broner should have been deducted a point for a flagrant low blow. Broner started incredibly slowly and appeared to looking to scout Malignaggi and it wasn't until round 3 that the highly touted youngster finally let his hands go and made a case for winning a round.

Having seen Broner move up a gear in round 3 Malignaggi came out for 4 to try and prove that he was still the champion and appeared to claim another round as Broner took the first minute off. In fact by the end of round 4 it was obvious that Broner wasn't so much an "elite boxer" than a boxer "with elite athletic abilities". Broner was looking one dimensional, technically limited and incredibly lazy in the ring despite having a huge power edge and incredibly fast hands. For those declaring Broner the next Mayweather questions need to be asked about what they were watching.

Broner picked up the pace in rounds 5 and 6 and despite landing an elbow at the end of round 5 he did look like a fighter who had the ability to move up the gears if he needed to. Going in to round 7 Broner looked like he was going to slowly break down Malignaggi but the local fighter showed off his toughness and landed his share of shots in round 7 that could well have gone either way.

In round 8 a pocket of fans did start what felt like a forced "Adrien Broner" chant though Malignaggi did actually have an excellent round that he may well stole with his flurries and activity whilst Broner,

Broner opened up again in round 9 as he really tested the chin of Malignaggi who showed his trademark toughness and fired back every time he as caught. It was a sure sign that Malignaggi wasn't going to be intimidated by the younger, stronger man who at one point appeared to be slowing and not as lightning quick with his hands as he had been earlier.

The final 3 rounds seemed to all belong to Broner as Malignaggi's work rate had slowed dramatically. Instead of the regular flurries and movement we had seen earlier from Paulie he was happy to try and smother Broner and fight closer up. This appeared to stop Broner from getting the leverage on his shots that he needed and gave Maliganaggi a chance to catch his breath.

Sadly it was probably in those final 3 rounds that Malignaggi failed to do enough to claim the rounds he needed for a victory with the result being a highly unexpected split decision in favour of Broner.

In the post fight interview with Jim Grey of Showtime Malignaggi made it very obvious what he thought of the outlandish scorecard of Tom Schreck who had the bout 117-111 in favour of Broner. Questions do need to be asked about what Schreck was seeing, though if the words of Malignaggi are to be believed, he's in Al Haymon's pocket.

One thing we learned from this bout is that Broner is certainly a long, long way from being as good as he thinks he is.

Sakio Bika v Marco Antonio Periban

Over the past few years the Super Middleweight division has been on of the standout weight classes. Sadly politics has once again left it's mark on he sport as Andre Ward, the standout fighter in the division, was recently stripped of his WBC title.

To fill the void left by the WBC's decision to strip Ward we had a bout between 3-time former title challenger Sakio Bika and the unbeaten Mexican Marco Antonio Periban.

The bout started slowly with Periban just doing enough to claim the opening few rounds. Neither man looked good and the action wasn't great as the crowd started to boo.

In the middle rounds Bika started to charge back and out work Periban who seemed to decide that his best option was dance on the outside and throw next to nothing. The strange tactic of Periban's seemed to see him just giving rounds away with the flat out negativity.

It wasn't until round 8 that we eventually had some fireworks. A clash of heads lead to Periban being taken over to the ringside Dr. Immediately after the Dr said he was fine the two men started to land bombs for fun, though the bell unfortunately cut the excitement short.

Going in to the final 4 rounds it was still finely in the balance and either man had a great chance to claim a decision.

Round 9 seemed to show the best boxing of the bout with Periban showing some lovely class but he couldn't keep it up and and Bika did just enough to claim the following 2 rounds and take a slim lead in the final round.

It was in round 12 that the action and excitement picked up as both men went for it. They were both aware the fight was close and both seemed to know that a knockdown would win the bout for them. This saw both men leaving their jaws on the line and unloading on each other in what was genuinely fun to watch action despite the fact both men looked technically awful.

The close nature of the bout left, as many would expect, a tight decision though one that just favoured Bika by scores of 116-112, 115-113 and 114-114 to claim a majority decision.

This loss sees Periban falling to 20-1 (13) whilst Bika improves to 32-5-2 (21) and claims a world title in his 4th attempt. I'd be very shocked if he kept the belt for long.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Krzysztof Wlodarczyk v Rakhim Chakhkiev

The Cruiserweight division may never have the massive level of prestige that the Heavyweight division has but it's getting it's self a real reputation as one of the most exciting divisions in the sport. This excitement was shown once again as Poland's Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (48-2-1, 34) retained his WBC title with a stoppage of the highly touted Rakhim Chakhkiev (16-1, 12).

The bout started perfectly for Chakhkiev who dominated the opening round with his aggression and body work. He really looked like a star in the making with through the way he dominated the champion in the first 3 minutes cutting Wlodarczyk and really imposing his will on the bout.

The dominance of Chakhkiev continued through out the opening rounds as he took the second in clear fashion and dropped Wlodarczyk in round 3 to claim a clear 4 point lead through just 3 rounds. It was the dream start and it appeared almost certain that we'd have a new champion.

Going in to the 6th round it was almost impossible to give Wlodarczyk even a share of a round. The champion was doing next to nothing offensively and was being clearly out worked by a determined challenger. As those who have seen Wlodarczyk fight will know however, the Pole is a notoriously starter and seemed that Chakhkiev was himself slowing down very visibly as we went in the middle section of the bout.

In round 6 the bout started to turn against Chakhkiev when Wlodarczyk dropped Chakhkiev with a left hook. The shot, which appeared to come on the break seemed to annoy Chakhkiev who complained, but the referee gave the count anyway with the old adage of "protect yourself at all times" ringing true.

Wlodarczyk would really come back in to the bout the following round as he dropped Chakhkiev a second time. Although the replays seemed to indicate the feet were involved, the knockdown was an eye catching one following several monster shots from Wlodarczyk. It was starting to become obvious that Chakhkiev was a man who was tiring whilst Wlodarczyk, despite taking the body shots early on, was still fresh.

Going in to the 8th round the clear lead on the scorecards had been slashed by 4 points thanks to the knockdowns. Chakhkiev was now bloodied from the nose and starting to look like a fighter who was beginning to doubt himself. The doubts were magnified early in the 4th when he tagged Wlodarczyk hard and couldn't budge the Pole who fired back. This lead to one of the bouts few trading sequences which quickly sent Chakhkiev down to the canvas for the 3rd time in the bout.

This time around the Russian was very slow too his feet. The power or Wlodarczyk and the high work rate of Chakhkiev seemed to have left the challenger with little energy and he'd be sent to the canvas once more before the referee waved the bout off.

The victory quickly saw the champion yelling to the crowd (something along the lines of "I'm the champion") which did little more than rile the crowd in to jeering at the man who had stopped their national hero.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Erislandy Lara v Alfredo Angulo

In what was the best fight of the night Erislandy Lara (18-1-2, 12) became the WBA "interim" Light Middleweight title as he stopped Mexican Alfredo Angulo (22-3, 18).

The opening round was sensational for Lara as the Cuban showed off his excellent boxing ability and landed a huge number of massive straight lefts, several of which seemed to rock Angulo to his boots. Lara's boxing seemed to also do enough to claim a second round, though Angulo was starting to get in to range and tag the Cuban's body.

Angulo's body work seemed to start to pay off in round 3 as he claimed his first round and really started to go to work on Lara's midsection with powerful blows all thrown with bad intentions. It appeared the body shots were thrown with the intention of slowing Lara's legs down as much as anything else and keep the often elusive Cuban in the same place for more than just a few moments.

The determined body work of "El Perro" really helped the Mexican in round 4 as he dropped Lara for the first time in Lara's career.

Despite being knocked down Lara got back to his feet an actually looked much crisper the in the few proceeding rounds as he moved excellently and showed off his amazing boxing ability, making Angulo look slow and foolish. Despite moving well however Lara was expanding huge amounts of energy in an attempt to keep Angulo away from him as the Mexican stalked continually.

Angulo would drop Lara for a second time in round 9. It appeared that if a stoppage was going to be caused it would be from Angulo.

Unexpectedly in round 10 Lara landed 2 big left hands that forced Angulo to turn his back and walk away with left eye massively swollen and badly disfigured. The fact that Angulo turned his back forced the referee's hand as he declared Lara the winner, and new champion by 10th round TKO.

Whilst some maybe writing Angulo off following this loss the injury really did seem like a freak incident and shouldn't leave anyone questioning Angulo's heart. Instead those fans should be wishing Angulo a swift recovery as this could be a career threatening injury. For Lara this result certainly puts him into the mix at the world stage.

Chad Dawson v Adonis Stevenson

In a huge upset the WBC Light Heavyweight title changed hands as Canadian Adonis Stevenson (21-1, 18) stopped American Chad Dawson (31-3-0-1, 17) in eye catching fashion in the opening round.

Surprisingly Dawson started offensively and actually appeared to look like the fighter that many (myself included) believed Chad Dawson could be. It didn't take long however for Steveson to show off why he is so highly regarded as he connected with a monster straight left that sent Dawson flat on to his back with his eyes seriously glazed over.

Dawson surprisingly managed to get back to his feet but with his brain still detached from his senses the referee was forced to wave the bout off. The official time of the stoppage, 1:16 into the opening round was genuinely a shock and could well send a shockwave through the Light Heavyweight division, despite the fact Stevenson was actually moving up for the bout.

Yuriorkis Gamboa v Darleys Perez

The often entertaining Yuriorkis Gamboa (23-0, 16) may have claimed the WBA "interim" Lightweight title by out pointing the previously unbeaten Darley's Perez (28-1, 19) though he'll have made absolutely no new fans on this performance. In all honesty he may well have turned fans, promoters and television networks against him with this awfully tedious performance.

The bout started moderately well as a chess match with Gamboa dropping Perez at the end of the opening round after being caught with a solid counter or two himself. Sadly however the bout failed to take off as both men played a very cagey game of chess for 12 rounds with little of note landed by either man.

Gamboa, often seen as one of the sports most exciting fighters, failed to ever push the action like he seemed capable of and instead was happy to land single fast shots then move and move and move whilst throwing a number of shots from a distance that had no hope of landing. Perez, standing outside of range for the vast part of the fight repeatedly looked for single counters and almost refused to lead in fear of being caught by a counter himself.

With both men being negative there was little wonder that the crowd booed throughout and let their feelings be known. They had been let down and whilst Perez's limitations were obvious Gamboa could, and should, have provided so much more, despite this being his first fight at 135lbs.

With 2 less than impressive performances by Gamboa his already small fan base may well start turning their back on him with performances like this.

Marco Huck v Ola Afolabi III

In yet another excellent Cruiserweight title bout Marco Huck (36-2-1, 25)  successfully defended his WBO title as he defeated Ola Afolabi (19-3-4, 9) via a very tight decision (despite the score card of one judge who had the fight scored as a dominant victory).

The fight started well for Afolabi who clearly seemed to take the opening round with his crisper, cleaner punching though it didn't take long for Huck to start to force himself in to the fight and start to fight back with his challenger who was conservative with his own shots. With the crowds cheering every time Huck threw shots early on it was clear who was the fan favourite and this was seemingly helping him just do enough to steal the earlier rounds.

In the middle rounds the action was very even with Afolabi landing some very crisp shots but Huck throwing the more eye catching shots (whether they landed clean, or at all was up for debate) which clearly seemed to catch the judges attention. It was the flurries of Huck that was the more exciting work but also the less technically effective.

With the action to-ing and fro-ing well it just appeared that Huck was just managing to bag the rounds through the middle with his attractive work. This changed however in the later rounds as a tiring Huck was forced on to the back foot by Afolabi who was much busier than he had been in the middle section of the bout and rounds 9, 10 and 11 all seemed very clearly in favour of the challenger as Huck started to feel the ill effects of the body attack that Afolabi has used through out.

Round 10 had been the round of the right as both men managed to land bombs, even though Afolabi seemed to land significantly more of them, this however changed in the final round as both men tagged the other in the final round. It was in the final round that Afolabi was clearly hurt and staggered badly for the first time but both men were too tired to really tear down the other and both men managed to make their way to the final bell.

After the bell only one man celebrated with Huck climbing the ring posts and holding his arms up whilst Afolabi looked dejected, as if he'd known that he didn't do enough with the fight being in Germany. This turned out to just be the case as Huck took a majority decision by scores of 114-114, 115-113 and the frankly ridiculous 117-111.