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
Rostock, Germany, April 5
Juergen Braehmer TKO 6 Enzo Maccarinelli, WBA “regular” light heavyweight title
An intriguing fight turned into a terrific matchup. Maccarinelli (38-7, 30 KO) is a former cruiserweight champion who came down in weight to challenge Braehmer (43-2, 32 KO) for his hardware, and the fight felt like a heavyweight war all the way through. Both fighters ended the first episode with severe facial lacerations (a cut for the champ, a swollen bump for the challenger), and that set the mood for the entire bout, with the Italian fighter forcing the clinch-infested infighting to make up for his blindness, and the German champ trying to work from a distance with a blistering attack. The ringside doctor was busy approving the continuity of the bout at the repeated requests of the referee, but finally it was Macarinelli’s corner the one in charge of the painful decision to halt the carnage, not allowing their fighter to come out for round 6. Solid win by a champion who remains one of the strongest challenges in the division in Europe.
The winner goes on to: Unless he travels to America to be tested by the vibrant local scene at the 175 lb division, Braehmer will continue being a question mark and his legacy will be in doubt.
The winner goes on to:
Kubrat Pulev TKO 4 Ivica Perkovic, heavyweights
A no-nonsense performance by a true contender against a really late sub. The towering Pulev (20-0, 11 KO) had very little problems defeating Perkovic (20-24, 15 KO) after giving him a solid beating through three rounds that convinced him to stay on his stool at the beginning of the fourth episode. The Croatian trialhorse had been asked to take this fight less than 30 hours before fight time, when three other opponents (Danny Hughes, Joey Dawejko and Elijah McCall) cancelled their commitment to face Pulev in rapid succession during a frantic 48-hour negotiation destined to find a suitable opponent for the huge (6’5’’) Bulgarian contender. Perkovic took the call for this fight in his Croatian home merely three hours before the scheduled weigh-in, so his loss was not quite as surprising.
The winner goes on to: Pulev has the size and the talent to shine in the heavyweight division, but he’ll have to get his matchmaking team together if he really wants to be taken seriously.
Tijuana, Mexico, April 5
Giovani Segura TKO 10 Felipe Salguero, flyweights
Talk about all-out brutality and aggression! This was one of the most grinding battles of the weekend, and the final round was something to behold. Segura (32-3-1, 28KO) is a former two-time world champion desperately trying to regain a foothold in a division he once ruled with an iron fist with his terrific style and power. In order to do that, he had to earn a convincing defeat against a tough-as-nails two-time world title challenger in Salguero (19-6-1, 14 KO), and he did it in impressive fashion, dropping him in the fourth round and giving him a sustained beating punctuated by a devastating 10th round in which Salguero simply collapsed after being chased by Segura all over the ring with a two-fisted pummeling.
The winner goes on to: There are multiple matchups out there to help Segura revive his career, and we’ll see him in a high-profile bout in the near future.
Juan Alberto Rosas TD 9 Alejandro González Jr., bantamweights
Minor upset here. Rosas (39-8, 27 KO) is a former world champion trying to get back in the spotlight after a 2-2 run in the past two years. He was brought in as an early test for a promising and previously unbeaten Gonzalez Jr. (22-1-2, 14 KO), but the plan backfired when Rosas decided to give the youngster a trial by fire from the very start. By the time things were heating up, Gonzalez was already in survival mode after failing to impose his longer reach. And to make matters worse, a brutal clash of heads in the ninth round opened a nasty gash in Rosas’ head and the fight went prematurely to the scorecards. No surprises there, as the more experienced fighter took the decision by scores of 78-74, 77-75 and an exaggerated 80-72. Not quite a career-threatening loss for Gonzalez, but definitely a huge bump in the road for a fighter who was being groomed for bigger and better things.
The winner goes on to: Given the anti-climatic ending and the quality of the action, a rematch could be in order here. Let’s hope it happens.
Ciudad Delicias, Mexico, April 5
Marco Antonio Rubio TKO 10 Domenico Spada, WBC interim middleweight title
What’s a weekend of boxing without a meaningless interim title on the line? Lately, it seems like we can’t have one without the other. This time, it’s the WBC’s turn to embarrass the sport by sanctioning a title bout in a division that already has one champion. This time, at least, justice was served when a very deserving contender in Rubio (59-6-1, 51 KO) finally got his title belt with a dominant win over another perennial challenger in Spada (38-5, 19 KO). Rubio, fighting in front of his hometown crowd and sensing the long-awaited arrival of his chance to grab a belt to validate his terrific effort of the past few years, delivered a solid performance capped by a superb left hook that flattened Spada on his back at 1:38 of the ninth round in a fight Rubio was easily dominating on all scorecards. A well-deserved win for a true warrior.
The winner goes on to: A fight against Brian Vera could be pretty good, but options abound for a tough, vulnerable guy who makes attractive fights every time.
Philadelphia, April 4
Steve Cunningham UD 10 Amir Mansour, heavyweights
Curtis Stevens TKO 10 Tureano Johnson, middleweights
Two terrific, come-from-behind wins by two terrific fighters in America’s most notorious fight town? A great night of boxing, indeed. In the main event, Cunningham (27-6, 12 KO), former cruiserweight world champion trying to establish himself in the heavyweight division, rose twice from the canvas to beat a previously undefeated challenger in Mansour (20-1, 15 KO) with a gutsy and bloody performance. Mansour had a great start, highlighted by his two knockdowns scored in round five, but Cunningham managed to outscore him during the rest of the fight, managing to score a flash knockdown of his own in the 10th and final round before the scorecards (97-90, 95-92, 95-92) were announced awarding him a hard-earned victory. In the previous matchup, Stevens (27-4, 20 KO) had to dig really deep to find the strength to beat a previously unbeaten Johnson (14-1, 10 KO) that turned out to be much tougher than expected. Johnson came out determined to win a war by attrition, pushing the action and outsluging Stevens in the close exchanges, but Johnson had a plan to outbox and manhandle Stevens, and he managed to pull it off for most of the fight. Fighting on survival mode, Stevens went all out in the tenth and final scheduled round only to find Johnson unable to withstand a last-minute assault capped by a devastating left hook, and the referee jumped in to stop the bout barely a minute before the final bell, for a slightly controversial win for Stevens as Johnson was ahead on the scorecards.
The winners go on to: Both fighters have had their ups and downs, and it will be interesting to see what is next for them after these terrific victories that could put them both back on the spotlight.
Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 4
Carl Frampton KO 2 Hugo Cazares, WBC junior featherweight eliminator
Another controversy ruining an otherwise perfectly good night of boxing. Fighting in front of his local fans, Frampton (18-0, 13 KO) started out well against former 108lb and 115lb southpaw titlist Cazares (40-8-2, 27 KO), outmuscling his foe from the very start. But then, Cazares was sent to the canvas in round two after a terrific left hook. Cazares decided to take the count on one knee, taking his time to clear the effect of the knockdown by staying down for the full count. But apparently, Cazares misheard the ref’s count (actually, he appeared to be looking away right when the referee reached the end of the count) and got up to his feet at nine, forcing a ridiculous stoppage and losing the fight. Still, Frampton was looking determined and dominating enough to foresee a clear victory in his favor, so no major complaints here.
The winner goes on to: The winner was promised a bout with WBC titlist Leo Santa Cruz, and it should happen regardless of the controversy surrounding the stoppage.
Salta, Argentina, April 4
Carlos Abregu TKO 8 Jean Carlos Prada, welterweights
An upset-minded contender is back in the spotlight after a long layoff. Abregu (36-1, 29 KO) jumped on the scene with authoritative victories against the likes of Antoine Decarie and Thomas Dulorme, and he continued his dominance of fighters with French-sounding names with this domination of Venezuela’s Prada (30-1-1, 21 KO) in Abregu’s home area in the north of Argentina. Unbeaten and untested, Prada came in willing to take the fight to the local icon with a two-fisted attack, but soon enough he was being overpowered by a much more solid fighter, both in the physical and the technical departments. Abregu did visit the canvas briefly in the seventh when he was caught on the wrong feet by a looping left hand, but the rest of the bout belonged to him, and Prada soon found himself on the receiving end of a terrific counterattack. In the eighth round, Prada had to be rescued by the referee as he was being pummeled on the ropes, unable to mount any offense. Excellent return from a fighter that could easily become the next Argentine sensation in a division full of exciting matchups and challenges.
The winner goes on to: Hopefully, another high profile bout that could give him the chance to put his talent to the test at a higher level.
Kobe, Japan, April 4
Randy Caballero TKO 8 Kohei Oba, bantamweights
A victory in Japan is something to be proud of, for any fighter. Caballero (21-0, 13 KO) earned his right to a proud return to his native Los Angeles after decisively defeating a local favorite in Oba (35-3-1, 14 KO), in an IBF elimination bout. Caballero came out storming out of the gates, sending Oba to the canvas in the first round and never letting him establish his rhythm. Caballero had an answer for everything as a frustrated Oba was unable to break through. The precision and power of the visiting fighter were the determining fighters, and as soon as Caballero stepped up the pressure, the fight was all but over. After another knockdown in the eighth round, Oba’s corner decide to rescue their fighter and threw in the towel.
The winner goes on to: With an unbeaten record and a handful of exciting performances such as this one on his highlight reel, Caballero could become a serious contender for anyone in the 118 lb region in the near future.
Indio, California, April 3
Luis Ortiz KO 4 Monte Barrett, heavyweights
Gerald Washington TKO 2 Skipp Scott, heavyweights
Dominic Breazeale UD 8 Nagy Aguilera, heavyweights
Finally, an exciting series of fights helps to clear the American heavyweight scene with some pretty good matchups. In the main event, a towering and unbeaten leftie in Luis Ortiz (21-0, 18 KO) annihilated whatever is left of former title challenger Monte Barrett (35-11-2, 20 KO) with a commanding 4th round TKO. Barret suffered a cut under his right eye in the second round, and appeared hurt (possibly with a badly broken nose) after receiving a straight left in the final round right before he took the full count on one knee.
Previously, another unbeaten heavyweight in Washington (12-0, 9 KO), a former football player oddly nicknamed “El Gallo Negro” (The Black Rooster), stopped a tall (6’8’’) and lanky Scott (16-2, 10 KO) with a somewhat controversial ending. Dominating the fight with his more polished skills, Washington landed a heavy overhand right that staggered Scott and buckled his knees, and just as Scott was holding on to his foe he received a crippling hook to the body that sent him to the canvas for the full count at 1:40 of the second round. Washington’s end-zone-like celebratory dance was probably the highlight of the bout.
Earlier, highly-touted former Olympian Breazeale (10-0, 9 KO) failed to score a stoppage for the first time in his short career, but it was clearly not his fault as an ultra tough Aguilera (19-8, 13 KO) forced him to go the distance with one of the most extraordinary displays of resilience in recent memory. Aguilera took a brutal beating, looking on the verge of going down several times but holding on to dear life and even managing to score a few solid exchanges in spite of his severe disadvantage in height and reach. Breazeale won by scores of 80-72 and 79-73 (twice).
The winners go on to: As pleasant as it was to see some of the best American heavyweights in dominant wins, it remains to be seen whether they’ll be able to hold their own against their European counterparts in the post-Klitschko era. A few more events like this one could help us answer that and many more questions.
Tokyo, April 6
Akira Yaegashi KO 9 Odilon Zaleta, WBC flyweight title
Terrific win for a fighter that rarely fails to impress. Yaegashi (20-3, 10 KO) managed to keep his belt with a dominant and entertaining outing against a valiant challenger in Mexico’s Zaleta (15-4, 8 KO), slowly battering him into submission until he landed a perfect right hand to finish matters at 2:14 of the ninth round. In spite of Zaleta’s obvious unconsciousness, the referee administered the full count to award Yaegashi a victory in a fight that was surprisingly close in the scorecards up to that point, likely because of Zaleta’s high volume of punches, which surely impressed the judges but failed to do any damage at all.
The winner goes on to: If things go as planned, Yaegashi will be fighting Roman Gonzalez in what looms as one of the best fights the division may have to offer.
Naoya Inoue TKO 6 Adrian Hernandez, WBC junior flyweight title
This one falls right on the line between a major upset and the birth of a new star. Inoue (6-0, 5 KO), an unbeaten 20-year-old promise, entered this challenge with only 5 professional bouts to his credit and ended up walking out with a world title belt against a fighter widely considered to be one of the future stars of the lower weights in Mexico’s Hernandez (29-3-1, 18 KO). Hernandez came out swinging but found himself surprised by Inoue’s grit and speed, and he was never able to gain control of the action. Inoue’s aggression and firepower took their toll on the champion, who suffered a nasty cut on his forehead and appeared lost under a two-fisted attack from a much more determined challenger. A terrific right hand dropped Hernandez towards the end of the sixth round, and even though he did get up he appeared dizzy enough to warrant a stoppage, which is what the referee did at that point, unleashing a crazy celebration by the winner.
The winner goes on to: With his age, skills and record, Inoue is on his way to a long and fruitful career that hopefully will see him take on more experienced challengers very soon.
Roman Gonzalez KO 3 Juan Purisma, flyweights
Gonzalez continues to impress with his solid boxing skills and power. A two-division champion with tons of power, Gonzalez (39-0, 33 KO) set himself up for a fight with the winner of the night’s main event with an easy win over Purisima (11-3-1, 3 KO) of the Phillipines, stopping him at 1:20 of the third round in a tune-up bout while he aims for a title fight in his third consecutive division. Purisima was just target practice for the supremely talented Gonzalez, who dropped him in the second round and continued his attack until the referee had no choice but to stop the carnage midway through the next episode.
The winner goes on to: It will take all of Yaegashi’s power and speed to overcome Gonzalez’s challenge, if it ever happens. Let’s hope it does.