Boxing: Morilla’s Sunday Report Card for Dec. 21

Pablo Sarmiento, boxing
After an estranged relationship with former trainer Gabriel Sarmiento Sergio Martinez was at ringside to support Kiko Martinez no relationship and to rebuild his ties with his former mentor from left Pablo Sarmiento Sergio Martinez Kiko Martinez Gabriel Sarmiento Photo Credit Pablo Sarmiento

Our resident boxing writer Diego Morilla serves up a full weekend wrap-up of the most relevant boxing events in the worldwide scene. Every fight that matters is right here, in one place, and at one click away. Follow Morilla on Twitter at @MorillaBoxing

Moscow, Russia, Dec. 21  

Roy Jones Jr. UD 12 Zine Eddine Benmakhlouf, cruiserweights

Once regarded as one of the most formidable athletes ever to step into a ring, Roy Jones, Jr. (57-9, 40 KO) now appears to have overstayed his welcome in the business that made him a star, judging by his recent list of (some) ups and (too many) downs. But he did manage to get back on the winning track in entertaining fashion against France’s Benmakhlouf (17-4-1, 8 KO) in a fight that took place in Russia, where Jones Jr. has found a new market for his dwindling yet still solid boxing skills. Jones did his usual showboating and theatrical performance against a limited opponent who came in as a late replacement and had just too much respect for the former multiple-division titlist. Jones didn’t impress enough to get back in the elite at 175 lb and above, but it would be safe to say that this was not his intention anyway, as he is simply keeping his name on the board for a couple of more paydays in the near future.

The winner goes on to: If the rumors are true, Jones is headed either to an interesting boxing match against MMA star Anderson Silva, or a rehash of his legendary mid-90’s grudge match against a washed-up James Toney.

Dmitry Chudinov TKO 6 Juan Novoa, WBA interim middleweight title

The middleweight scene is being flooded with talent from the good ol’ USSR, and 27-year old Dmitry Chudinov (12-0, 8 KO) just bought himself a ticket to the top of the mix with this workman-like victory against a true test in Colombia’s Novoa (22-6-1, 20 KO), a limited fighter with stamina problems that has been known for producing an upset or two. The fight was competitive during the first four rounds, but the fifth was a one-sided affair, and the sixth saw Chudinov simply crushing Novoa with dozens of unanswered punches until the referee decided to stop the fight. Solid stuff from a promising young prospect who needs more international experience to gain confidence and move his career forward.

The winner goes on to: After a nice string of wins against above-average opposition, Chudinov should be stepping up even further in his next commitment.

Leeds, England, Dec. 21

Stuart Hall UD 12 Vusi Malinga, IBF bantamweight title

It was supposed to be a good fight, but few people expected it to be this good. Hall (17-2-1, 7 KO) was making his first bid for a world title, but he made the most out of when he gutted out a tough points win against a three-time contender in South Africa’s Malinga (21-5-1, 12 KO), a veteran of three failed title shots himself. The official scorecards of 117-110 (twice) and 116-111 fail to reflect the competitiveness of the bout, in which Hall proposed the pace of the bout and Malinga replied constantly from his uncomfortable southpaw stance, making for a back-and-forth affair that kept the audience on the edge of their seats. Malinga visited the canvas in round three, courtesy of a straight right hand, but the knock-down only helped to encourage the visiting challenger to put an extra effort in what already was a grueling affair. A career-defining win for a young champion who needs to keep his good momentum going with a step-up fight in the near future.

The winner goes on to: Given his limited experience, look for Hall to grow stronger with a few local defenses before becoming part of the elite in a division undergoing heavy renovations.

Frankie Gavin UD 10 Bradley Pryce, welterweights

Gavin (18-0, 12 KO) is another young up-and-coming former amateur standout with a bright future, and he grabbed an almost effortless victory against last-minute sub Pryce (34-16, 18 KO), currently on a 1-6 losing streak since dropping his Commonwealth title back in mid-2012. Still, a very decent effort for a fighter on a two-day notice, after both Ghana’s Joseph Lamptey and Brazil’s Juliano Ramos were forced to withdraw their participation due to visa problems. The referee’s score of 99-92 is more than representative of Gavin’s one-sided effort against an experienced former champ, in a fight that should put him on the path to bigger challenges in 2014.

The winner goes on to: After a few more high-profile bouts, Gaving will be ready to become one of Britain’s most popular fighters, and his first title bout should arrive soon enough.

Alicante, Spain, Dec. 21

Kiko Martinez TKO 9 Jeffrey Mathebula, IBF junior featherweight title

Spain’s pocket rocket is back, and in a great way. Martinez (30-4, 22 KO) was making the first defense of the title he took from Jonathan Romero back in August, and he did it against a former champion who had twice defeated one of Martinez’s conquerors in Takalani Ndlovu. The stage was set for a redeeming victory for Martinez, who was at a great height disadvantage in this one (as in every other one of his fights, given that he is usually at least 3 inches shorter than his opponents). Martinez simply let loose with a barrage of punches from start to finish in every round, putting Mathebula (27-4, 14 KOs) in full retreat with a punishing body attack, until he simply couldn’t take it anymore. Martinez is part the team of his no-relation namesake and current undisputed middleweight champ Sergio Martinez, and as such he had his head trainer Pablo Sarmiento in his corner, along with his brother Gabriel, whom had been away due to legal problems and who was also at odds with Sergio and his team. Both brothers and both Martinez posed for a picture at the end of the fight, probably signaling a new era in the relationship between the brothers and Gabriel, who had gone as far as shooting a documentary to illustrate his fallout with Maravilla and his team.

What to look for in this fight: Kiko dedicated his victory to former foe Carl Frampton and possible future rival Scott Quigg. Look for one of them to accept that challenge in the near future.

Benavidez, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 21

Omar Narvaez TKO 7 David Carmona, WBO junior bantamweight title

Another day, another defense. Narvaez (41-1-2, 24 KO), a supremely talented southpaw still looking strong at 37 years of age, has been known for feasting on sub-par opposition in his local turf during the second part of his flyweight championship run, and he continues doing that during this junior bantamweight reign. His lone defeat was an infamous and lackluster challenge against then-bantamweight kingpin Nonito Donaire back in 2012, and since then Narvaez has gone back to his more natural weight to continue defending his title. Now he did it again with an authoritative performance against a very limited Carmona (16-2-4, 8 KO) of Mexico, who came in to gain some experience and test himself against a local icon and could only muster a limited performance, mostly in survival mode. After visiting the canvas in round 6, he was being punished severely in the following round and his corner decided to throw in the towel at the end of the episode. Business as usual for a champ who could beat the Carmonas of the world all day, every day, but who has failed to capture the imagination of the boxing world outside of his native land.

The winner goes on to: After his dismay performance against Donaire, Narvaez is one of the toughest sells in the business. It’s hard to see him fighting anywhere other than in Argentina and against anything but a soft, tailor-made opposition.

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