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
Las Vegas, Nevada, March 8
Saul Canelo Alvarez TKO 10 Alfredo Angulo, junior middleweights
It’s not too often that you’ll see two fighters coming off a loss headlining a Pay-Per-View event, but this was the case in this fight, and at least one managed to bounce back impressively after his defeat. That was “Canelo” Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KO), the former WBC super welterweight titlist who was coming off his first career loss against Floyd Mayweather last September. Canelo boxed extremely aggressively from the get-go, keeping Angulo (22-2, 18 KO) at bay with a stiff jab and punishing him at will with a variety of punches, with his long, looping, sweeping right volley being the most damaging punch of the night. It was pretty much a soliloquy by Canelo all through the fabulous eighth round, where both fighters engaged in a contest of machismo by just standing toe to toe (thus honoring the name of the event) and releasing some explosive combinations on each other to the roaring delight of the fans. But with Angulo’s face swelling rapidly and his reflexes eroding under the intense shellacking he was suffering, referee Tony Weeks made the always unpopular call of stopping the action 47 seconds into the tenth round to keep Angulo from getting hurt even further. Canelo looked his old, usual impressive self, and the options are again wide open for his future as one of boxing’s most popular fighters.
The winner goes on to: All signs point to a Canelo vs. Erislandy Lara title bout sometime in the future, but don’t count Sergio Martinez out just yet.
Leo Santa Cruz UD 12 Cristian Mijares, WBC junior featherweight title
One gave us a lesson in boxing, the other one a lesson in survival. Santa Cruz (27-0-1, 15 KO) is one of boxing’s most promising young stars, and he always looks fit, solid, and in outstanding shape. This fight was no exception, as he outworked and outboxed former champion and pound-for-pound entrant Mijares (49-8-2, 24 KO) over 12 one-sided rounds. Mijares was game, and would have probably fared much better against any other 122 lb fighter in the world, but Santa Cruz is in a different category altogether. The difference in size was very noticeable, as the southpaw Mijares (a former junior bantamweight champion) looked absolutely outgunned against a fighter who’s well on his way to becoming a full-fledged lightweight in a couple of years. The scorecards were 119-109 and 120-108 (twice).
The winner goes on to: After looking so impressive against a southpaw, Santa Cruz is even more favored to beat fellow 122 lb champ Guillermo Rigondeaux in the one fight that really matters in this division right now.
Jorge Linares UD 10 Nihito Arakawa, lightweights
El “Niño de Oro” is back! After a series of setbacks that included a one-round stoppage in his adoptive Japan, a cuts-stoppage against Antonio DeMarco in a war, and an upset at the hands of Sergio Thompson in two rounds, former two-division titlist Linares (36-3, 23 KO) is staging a comeback that could put his extraordinary natural talents back in the spotlight, and he took yet another step with a destruction of Japan’s Arakawa (24-4-1, 16 KO). With his speed, power, and accuracy in full display, Venezuela’s Linares put on a show against a tough Arakawa, who had left a very positive impression in his last visit to the States last July, where he dropped a decision against Omar Figueroa in another war. He did manage to put on a brave effort this time, but Linares was at the top of his game and cruised to a unanimous decision with scorecards of 98-92 and 100-90 (twice). Big win for a fighter who deserves another chance.
The winner goes on to: The Top Rank-Golden Boy feud won’t let it happen, but I’d love to see Linares take on Miguel Vazquez and finally see the Mexican fighter in an exciting bout, for a change.
Sergio Thompson UD 10 Ricardo Alvarez, lightweights
“Yeyo” keeps up the good work. Coming in as a late replacement, Mexico’s Thompson (29-3, 26 KO) brought his usual aggressive, all-out brawling style against his compatriot Ricardo Alvarez (23-3-3, 13 KO), older brother of headliner Canelo Alvarez, and grabbed a unanimous decision victory in an entertaining bout that could have gone either way. In the end, Thompson just wanted it more, and Alvarez took two eight-counts (one of them not very legit) to end up losing by close scores at 97-91 and 95-93 (twice). Thompson is not the most talented fighter out there, but he always comes to fight and give a good show, and this time wasn’t an exception.
The winner goes on to: Two more of these and I’ll start believing that his second-round stoppage of Jorge Linares was not just a lucky break. Maybe a rematch will clear my doubts even further.
Nogales, Mexico, March 8
Jorge Arce KO 5 Aldimar Silva Santos, featherweights
There is no end in sight for “El Travieso”. After retiring and un-retiring several times, Mexico’s first four-division world champion Arce (62-7-2, 47 KO) is still moving on with his now legendary career, producing yet another display of his world-class badassery with a fifth round KO over Brazil’s Silva (19-7, 10 KOs). The visitor went to the canvas once in the third round courtesy of a picture-perfect left hook, and was being pummeled into submission as the round reached the 41-second mark as the referee stepped in to stop the bout. Classic gutsy performance by one of boxing’s most underappreciated warriors.
The winner goes on to: It’s hard to see Arce headlining a big event once again, but time has taught us that it’s never wise to doubt him. Time will tell, and Arce has lots of it in his hands, apparently.
Jose Uzcategui TKO 6 David Lopez, middleweights
Mild upset (for the crowd, mostly) as unbeaten middleweight Uzcategui (22-0, 18 KO) systematically annihilated local hero and former title challenger Lopez (41-14-1, 23 KO) with a terrific performance. Uzcategui was too young and strong for the wily veteran, who was overpowered from round one and simply could not withstand the punishment. He went to the canvas towards the end of round 6 and the bout was stopped almost without a count. Can’t wait to see more from “Bolivita” Uzcategui.
The winner goes on to: A tough, colorful fighter with great range and power, the Venezuela-born Uzcategui is one of the fighters to follow in 2014.
Lima, Peru, March 8
Alberto Rossel UD 12 Gabriel Mendoza, WBA interim junior flyweight title
Peruvian fighters are scarce, but Rossel (32-8, 13 KO) is making waves with his busy style and accurate punching, and his abilities were in full display in this interim (yes, the Tinsel Fairy also visits Peru sometimes) title defense against Colombia’s Mendoza (19-2-2, 16 KO). A beloved hero in his land, Rossel gave his countrymen reason to worry with a lackluster early going, but he went on to produce a terrific performance later on, dropping his foe twice in the last round for a dramatic ending (skip to 2:58 for action). Scorecards of 118-113, 118-114, and an unusual 117.5- 111.5 (it appears that Argentina is not the only country where half-points are allowed, after all) gave the victory to “Chiquito” Rossel, who would later call out his fellow champions for a unification bout that could bring some interest to a division currently undergoing some changes.
The winner goes on to: As every other lower-weight fighter from the Third World knows, the road to a six-figure payday is harder than the road to Machu Picchu, but Rossel still has a shot to get there if he continues showing the best of him.
Kecskemet, Hungary, March 8
Zsolt Erdei UD 10 Shalva Jomardashvili, light heavyweights
As a fighter, Erdei was as effective as any other former champion. But he failed to capture the imagination of the boxing public at large in a long and lackluster career that saw him hold versions of the light heavyweight and cruiserweight championships. This time, Hungary’s Erdei (34-1, 18 KO) was his usual self one last time, with a workmanlike destruction of Georgia’s Jomardashvili (36-7-2, 27 KO) in what was billed as his farewell fight. Hard to believe that a two-time champion with such a fine record would go largely unnoticed by the boxing world other than in his native Hungary and in Germany, where he fought most of his title defenses. In any case, the “Firebird” took its last flight, and the “one for the road” was a win, once again.
The winner goes on to: Well, not too far, I guess…