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, April 12
Manny Pacquiao UD 12 Timothy Bradley, WBO welterweight title
Vintage Manny, in full flight. All it took was a few flashes of the old, one-two-sidestep, eight-punch-combo, surgically-accurate Manny Pacquiao to earn his first official win against Timothy Bradley, a unanimous decision, in a dominant victory that puts him back in the 147 lb picture, even after that devastating loss to Juan Manuel Marquez that sent his stock plummeting one year ago. Scoring from every angle imaginable, stepping out of danger after throwing a few bombs to assess the damage only to come back with the follow-up strike for effect, the Filipino congressman put on a war against Bradley, who in spite of his “Desert Storm” moniker and his camouflaged trunks decided to put on an excessive showboating performance that cost him a few moments in key rounds. And instead of correcting that course to focus on his dwindling offensive output, he continued Apollo Creed-ing his way out of the fight and getting a beating in the process, until he found himself officially in holding-on-for-dear-life territory with three minutes to go in the fight. Pacquiao, however, was his usual porous self in the defense department, and at some point it became clear that if it had been Mayweather on the other side, Pacquiao would have been in serious trouble. Bradley didn’t land too many damaging punches, but they all entered Pacquiao’s air space with frightening ease. Still, Pacquiao managed to carry the fight with an iron hand, rocking Bradley in a few occasions and clearly outscoring him to win by definitive scores of 116-112 (twice) and 118-110 to earn a victory that sets him, once again, on a collision course with the greatest fighter of our era in Floyd Mayweather.
The winner goes on to: The roadblocks to the Pacquiao-Mayweather mega-fight remain in place, but so is our hope of ever seeing this fight come to fruition.
Raymundo Beltran UD 12 Arash Usmanee, lightweights
Beautiful little scrap, with a nice late surge from the visiting fighter. Beltran (29-6-1, 17 KO) is a solid fringe contender with lots of stamina who was riding a 3-0-1 streak coming into this fight, including a tough title challenge against Ricky Burns last September, where he managed to get a split draw in a razor-thin decision while fighting with a broken jaw (he was later operated and a titanium plate was inserted in his jawbone). This time, he was facing a last-minute replacement in Usmanee (20-2-1, 10 KO), an Afghanistan-born, Canadian resident who came in to replace Puerto Rico’s Rocky Martinez. Usmanee looked good in the early going, but Beltran had a war of attrition in mind, and progressively laid a beating on his foe. In the very last round, Beltran survived a scare when Usmanee came alive and rocked him all over the ring, but the stage had been set already, and the scores of 118-110 and 117-111 (twice) as well as the great Compubox numbers were all in Beltran’s favor.
The winner goes on to: Look for the entertaining Beltran to continue building a following in another Top Rank card anytime soon, and maybe a title shot before the year is over.
Jessie Vargas UD 12 Khabib Allakhverdiev, WBA junior welterweight title
A usually boring fighter came alive beautifully in this one. Vargas (24-0, 9 KO), a former amateur standout with little pop but plenty of skills, was responsible for more than one snoozer in several Top Rank cards in the past few years, but he shone in his first title shot, scoring hard and often against Allakhverdiev (19-1, 9 KOs), a very tough champion and grinding his way to a very hard fought unanimous decision by scores of 115-113 (twice) and 117-111. Big win for a guy who had been feasting on inferior opposition so far (with the occasional safe step-up challenge) but who is now in line for much bigger things.
The winner goes on to: The 140 lb division is packed with talent, and even in that scenario Vargas could make a splash if he digs deep and continues to improve.
Bryan Vasquez UD 12 Jose Felix Jr., WBA interim junior lightweight title
What’s a weekend of good boxing without an interim title fight? This one comes to you courtesy of the WBA, your on-call, 24-hour provider of tinsel arrangements for all your boxing needs. In this occasion, interim 130 lb champ Vasquez (34-1, 17 KO) retained his belt against previously unbeaten and highly favored Felix Jr (26-1-1, 21 KO), who was clearly out of his element and unable to find his rhythm against a skilled and crafty titlist. Still, he was able to score hard and often enough to get close on the scorecards, but when he connected with a knee (ouch!) in round nine, the point deduction ended up costing him the fight. In the end, Vazquez got to keep his glorified leather garland by scores of 117-110 and 114-113 (twice).
The winner goes on to: Vazquez’s “interim” presence atop of the division could easily be disrupted if he ever faces one of the division’s top fighters, title belt or not.
Bonn, Germany, April 12
Manuel Charr UD 10 Kevin Johnson, heavyweights
At the very least, it’s great to see the heavyweight scene being cleared out little by little. This time, Charr (26-1, 15 KO), a former title challenger born in Lebanon, extended his winning streak to 5-0 after his lone failed title bid in 2012 against Vitali Klitschko with a very solid victory over a once-mighty and promising heavyweight contender in Johnson (29-6-1, 14 KO), picking up a unanimous decision but failing to hurt the iron-chinned American. Johnson is now 1-4 in his last five, but has never been KOd in a career that has seen him try and fail to grab a heavyweight title only once. His foe in that one fight? You guessed it: Vitali Klitschko.
The winner goes on to: Stocky and powerful, Charr could have a chance to upset anybody in the post-Klitschko era. It will definitely take him a while, but another title shot is certainly a possibility.
Brovari, Ukraine, April 12
Zaurbek Baysangurov TKO 12 Guido Pitto, junior middleweights
A dominating win for a fighter who really needs to step up his level of opposition. Baysangurov (29-1, 21 KO), a talented fighter with an impressive amateur pedigree, came back from an 18-month injury-related layoff (in which he lost his WBO title due to his inactivity) to score a workmanlike victory over Argentina’s Pitto (18-3, 7 KO) and looking good while doing it. The visiting fighter took a severe beating but never stopped punching, until a visit to the canvas in the last round of the fight proved too much for him and the referee finally called a halt to the bout.
The winner goes on to: America. Please. Or somewhere other than the Russia/Ukraine/Germany axis in which he developed his entire career so far.
Esbjerg, Denmark, April 12
Erik Skoglund TKO 9 Danilo D’Agata, light heavyweights
Denmark continues growing into a developing market for boxing. This time, local hero Skogland (20-0, 11 KO) got his chance to headline a card with several illustrious visitors in the co-main events, and he took care of his own challenge with a dominating TKO win against D’Agata (12-2-1, 3 KO) to keep his unbeaten streak alive and hopefully solidify his position as a player in the Northern European scene, in a division brimming with talent.
The winner goes on to: Plenty of 175 lb fighters around to take a challenge in that area of the world for him to choose. Let’s hope to see him grow even further in his next challenge.
David Price TKO 3 Ondrej Pala, heavyweights
A once sho-in for a heavyweight title shot (at the very least) is now officially in the comeback trail. Price (17-2, 15 KO), a former Olympian for England and once considered a serious candidate to be the next big thing to come out of the British Isles, is now fighting in undercards abroad, and struggling to win as well. Facing a solid trialhorse in Pala (33-5, 23 KO), the 6’8’’ Price visited the canvas in the opening round courtesy of a left hook, and he had to fight in survival mode for a few minutes before launching an attack that would earn him a stoppage victory in the third round. Price’s long right hands landed hard and heavy on Pala, who visited the canvas twice only seconds after the start of the third episode and was counted out at the 0:33 mark. Great win for Price, who will need more than one of these challenges to find out whether he’s got ‘it’ or not.
The winner goes on to: As sad as it may be to see Price selling himself so cheap (yeah, I worked on this pun for a couple of hours), it is clear that we’ll see him back in Britain in a big fight sometime soon.
Andy Lee MD 8 Frank Haroche Horta, middleweights
Another formerly promising fighter had to dig deep to find his path to victory. Lee (32-2, 22 KO), a former middleweight title challenger who was the late great Emmanuel Steward’s last big (and unfinished) project, figured to have an easy time with a totally unknown trialhorse in Horta (34-13-5, 13 KO) but ended up escaping with a dubious majority decision by scores of 77-76 (twice) and 76-76, in what could easily be considered as a setback in a career that had more than enough of those. Still, he is now 6-0 since his lone failed title bid against Julio Cesar Chavez, and he will probably be able to parlay that solid streak (as well as his charisma) into another big chance very soon.
The winner goes on to: A rematch against Brian Vera, the other fighter to hold a win over him, could be a nice checkpoint for both fighters in this moment of their careers.
Las Vegas, Abril 11
Gilberto Ramirez KO 5 Giovanni Lorenzo, super middleweights
A showcase win for a fighter who is earning a lot of respect in the division thanks to his solid boxing skills and his strong physical frame. Ramirez (28-0, 22 KO), a native of Mexico, worked beautifully against Lorenzo (33-7, 25 KO), chasing him all over the ring and landing beautiful shots throughout a dominating performance. After rocking Lorenzo several times, Ramirez finally dropped him twice in the fifth round to score a stoppage when Lorenzo´s corner threw in the towel barely 10 seconds before the end of the episode, leaving a terrific impression and the notion that he is immediately ready for the next step, which could come his way very soon.
The winner goes on to: Word around the campfire says Ramirez is being groomed as an opponent for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in the not-too-distant future. Expect to see him in one of Junior’s undercards anytime soon.
Jesse Hart UD 8 Samuel Clarkson, super middleweights
Another second-generation contender joins the conversation at 168 lbs. Hart (13-0, 10 KO) is the son of legendary Philly middleweight Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, part of a generation that included contenders like Willy Monroe, Bennie Briscoe and many others. In this occasion, the younger Hart kept his unbeaten streak alive with an overwhelming decision against Clarkson (10-3, 6 KOs), punctuated by two knockdowns in the fourth round and capped by three scores of 80-70 in his favor.
The winner goes on to: Hart is a long way from being a legitimate contender, but based on what we´ve seen so far and counting on his DNA to take charge, we like his chances.