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
Macau, China, May 31st
Nonito Donaire TD 5 Simpiwe Vetyeka, WBA featherweight title
Short and bittersweet, but quite a scrap while it lasted. Of course, Donaire (33-2, 21 KO) was the obvious favorite in this title bout, but the “Filipino Flash” was up against a very live underdog in Vetyeka (26-3, 15 KO), a South African terror who was coming off two great upset victories over two Indonesian titlists in Daud Yordan and Chris John. Donaire was supposed to be much stronger and skilled than those two, and he was for most of the fight, but Vetyeka was determined to make the most out of this opportunity. After being staggered in the third round, Vetyeka stormed out of his corner in the following round and was dropped again. Those trips to the canvas, and the fact that Donaire’s vision was impaired by an accidental headbutt in round one, conspired to make the referee stop the contest in the rest period between the fourth and fifth round, with the fight going to the scorecards. All three judges had it 49-46 for Donaire, in a fight that may one day see a rematch if we take into account the quality of the action and not just the isolated result.
The winner goes on to: Lots of possibilities for Donaire at 126 and beyond, with a rematch against Guillermo Rigondeaux in China being one of the most talked-about.
Nicholas Walters KO 5 Vic Darchinyan, WBA “regular” featherweight title
It’s always sad to see a great champ go down in such a demolishing fashion, but the signs have been there for the “Raging Bull” for quite a while. Darchinyan (39-7-1, 28 KO) is a former multi-division champion who never fails to entertain and give his very best in every outing, but he has been stopped on his last two fights and has not looked like his former dominant self for a while prior to that, and it’s not hard to see a cloudy future for him. This time, he was being barely competitive through the first four rounds, having suffered only a knockdown in round two, but Jamaica’s Walters (24-0, 20 KO) was too young and strong to be denied, and he had no problem dropping Darchinyan again in round five, and then put an end to the fight with a wrecking ball of a left hook that sent the Armenian legend down in a heap. Terrific win for Walters, indeed, but a potentially career-threatening defeat for a fighter who is aging very quickly.
The winner goes on to: Walters talks the talk and has been known to walk the short walk he has embarked on so far, and fighters with that combination of gifts usually go a long way. He needs a bigger challenge to get the respect he craves.
Evgeny Gradovich UD 12 Alexander Miskirtchian, IBF featherweight title
Only in boxing could a seemingly meaningless nickname such as “The Mexican Russian” be considered a compliment. And the reason for that is the style of Gradovich (18-0, 9 KO), a tough-as-nails competitor who never fails to bring on the heat on his foes. In this occasion, he had more trouble than usual with a limited Miskirtchian (24-2-1, 9 KO), who clearly came to fight but ran into one of today’s most exciting fighters on a bit of a slow night, managing to grab a minute of attention when he dropped Gradovich with a straight left in the sixth round. The stage had been set anyways, and Gradovich cruised to victory on an automated pilot and won by scorecards of 117-110 (twice) and 118-110.
The winner goes on to: Gradovich is more than ready for a high-profile bout, and even though performances like this one won’t help him a lot, he’s still well on his way towards that goal, which could be a fight against Donaire sometime soon.
London, May 31st
Carl Froch KO 8 George Groves, IBF/WBA super middleweight title
One-punch demolitions are not too common in boxing, but when they do appear, they are usually the stuff highlight reels were created for. This stoppage embodies that notion, with Froch (33-2, 24 KO) scoring one of the most devastating knockouts in recent memory. Their first meeting was one of the most exciting all-Brit bouts in the past few years, and the rematch before a packed Wembley Stadium (yes, a soccer arena) guaranteed some serious fireworks. But nothing could predict a dramatic end such as this, as the usually durable Groves (19-2, 15 KO) went down on a heap a split second after a huge right hand landed flush on his chin to put an end to the fight at 2:34. Anything less than this would have secured a third bout (even though Froch had also won the first one, albeit with some controversy), but this kind of stoppage puts the winner in position to challenge anybody else in the world.
The winner goes on to: Froch had been clamoring for a rematch against Andre Ward, and with this performance he may very well get his wish.
James DeGale TKO 4 Brandon Gonzales, IBF super middleweight eliminator
Jamie McDonnell TKO 10 Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat, vacant WBA bantamweight title
Kevin Mitchell TKO 11 Ghislain Maduma, IBF lightweight eliminator
Anthony Joshua KO 1 Matt Legg, heavyweights
An action filled undercard at Wembley Stadium kept the almost 80.000 fans happy with a string of stoppages by the local favorites. In the co-main event, DeGale (19-1, 13 KO) put his name again in the conversation for a fight with either one of the main event fighters with a terrific stoppage of previously unbeaten Gonzales (18-1-1, 10 KO) after dropping him in round four and overwhelming him with punches in his follow-up attack. Earlier, McDonnell (24-2-1, 11 KO) had notched an exciting tenth round KO over Rachawat (52-3, 34 KO) finishing him with a left hook to the head. Previously, Mitchell (38-2, 28 KO) had to get his act together in a hurry to defeat Maduma (16-1, 10 KO), scoring two knockdowns in the 11th episode to force (and we do mean “force”, as the stoppage appeared to be premature) a KO in his favor. And in the opening bout, undefeated former Olympic gold medalist Anthony Joshua (6-0, 6 KO) destroyed another soft-touch in Matt Legg (7-3, 3 KOs) in a confidence-builder for the young British heavyweight hopeful.
Krefeld, Germany, May 31st
Sam Soliman UD 12 Felix Sturm, IBF middleweight title
Someone was due to lose, and it wasn’t Soliman (44-11, 18 KO) this time. The 40-year old contender had already fought Sturm (39-4-2, 18 KO), winning a close decision that was later overturned by a positive test, but this time it was a Soliman soliloquy as the Australian native improved the scorecards of his first victory against the Serbian-German Sturm, winning by margins of 117-111 and 118-110 (twice). The controversy this time came in the form of several warnings to Soliman for several infractions, but his power was not to be denied, and his awkward ring stance made the fight a nightmare for the ultra-orthodox Sturm.
The winner goes on to: It’s a crowded scene at 160, a division particularly filled with technically proficient and physically imposing fighters. Soliman could bring some intrigue into the equation.
Susi Kentikian KO 9 Dan-Bi Kim, female flyweights
A female pound-for-pound great had an easy night, again, as Kentikian (32-2, 16 KO) stopped Dan-Bi Kim (9-2-1, 2 KO) in impressive fashion after eight punishing rounds capped by an unanswered pummeling in the ninth that prompted the stoppage.
Odessa, Ukraine, May 31st
Oleksandr Usyk KO 4 Cesar Crenz
Usyk (4-0, 4 KO) a former Olympic gold medalist, had an easy night out against a tough but limited veteran in Argentina’s Cesar Crenz (21-9, 13 KO), nicknamed “Ruso” thanks to his Russian ancestry. Usyk dominated the entire fight, dropped his foe with a right hook to the chin, and then put an end to the proceedings with a terrific straight left from his southpaw stance. Luckily for Crenz’s forefathers, the borderlines of Ukraine and Russia were not in dispute in this fight, or Ukraine’s new neighboring country would be China right now. Total shellacking for a fighter who is definitely looking better in every outing.
The winner goes on to: It’s still too early to say whether Usyk will take the place of any of the Klitschko brothers at the top of the divisions, but we like what we see so far.
Las Vegas, May 31st
Javier Fortuna UD 10 Juan Antonio Rodriguez, junior lightweights
A war was promised, and a war was delivered. Fortuna managed to keep his unbeaten record (25-0-1, 18KO) intact, but he had his hands full with Rodriguez (26-5, 23KO) in his debut at 130 lbs. A third-round knockdown by Fortuna seemed to forecast a cloudy outing for Rodriguez, but he managed to overcome Fortuna’s speed with a spirited effort, and by the 8th round Fortuna’s face was a swollen mess in spite of his advantage in the scorecards. Rodriguez went all out in the final stretch, but his visit to the canvas and Fortuna’s early onslaught had already left an unchangeable impression in the minds of the judges, who agreed to declare him the winner by 98-91 on all three scorecards.
The winner goes on to: Fortuna could be a serious test for anyone in the 130 lb range, even though his stock has fallen a bit lately with some tepid performances.
Luis Rosa UD 10 Luis Orlando Del Valle, junior featherweights
One was fighting for his 0, the other one for a chance to crawl back into the spotlight. And they both got their wishes, apparently. Rosa (17-0, 7 KO) took home the victory, but Del Valle (18-2, 13KO) made him earn his victory the hard way. Fighting for survival and trying to recover from a loss to Vic Darchinyan in an early crossroads fight, Del Valle fought an unpredictable foe while battling a nasty gash over his nose to land solid combinations and to even drop Rosa for the first time in his career, courtesy of a left hook. But the stage was already set, and all Rosa had to do was to go back to his early self, dominating his opponent in the mid-long range and finally moving in for two terrific final episodes to grab a victory by scores of 98-91, 97-91 and 97-92.
Sergio Mora TKO 5 Samuel Rogers, middleweights
How did a former junior middleweight world champion and “The Contender” winner let his career slide like this, is still a huge question. But this night, Mora (26-3-2, 9 KO) was once again the promising, supremely talented champ of old with a domination of Rogers (14-2, 8 KO) that could go great lengths in helping him regain some of his luster. Mora went out looking for a KO (something unusual in him) from the early going, and he almost got it when he dropped Rogers in the very first round. He later had his foe almost out in the third round, and he continued dropping one missile after another until Rogers hit the canvas in the fifth, with the fight being stopped during the barrage of punches that followed the mandatory 8-count.
The winner goes on to: Once considered a top-rated prospect, Mora dumped his own stock with a few completely unattractive performances, but he may have one more high-profile bout in his future after all.Peter Quillin would definitely be a terrific matchup.
Mexico City, May 31st
Carlos Cuadras TD 8 Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, WBC junior bantamweight title
Cuadras (30-0, 24 KO) grabbed the WBC super flyweight title with this eight round technical decision over Sor Rungvisai (27-3-1, 25 KO) on a cut-induced stoppage. The fight was halted on the advice of the ringside physician and went to the scorecards, with Cuadras winning by margins of 78-73, 77-74 and 77-75.
Uncasville, Connecticut, May 31st
Hank Lundy TKO 2 Pipino Cuevas Jr., lightweights
It remains to be seen whether Lundy (25-3-1, 12 KO) will ever get over the club-fighter hump, but he did continue making his case for his elusive title shot with a destruction of Cuevas Jr. (17-12, 15 KO) who has now dropped four of his last five and is making the gap between his talent and those of his homonymous father greater and greater every day.
Moscow, Russia, May 30th
Alexander Povetkin KO 7 Manuel Charr, heavyweights
Povetkin (27-1, 19 KO) waited too long for his first title shot and was predictably annihilated by Wladimir Klitschko last October, but he seems to be clawing his way back into contender territory after his terrific win over a respectable, once-beaten Charr (26-2, 15 KOs), another victim of the Klitschkos, as Vitali disposed of him in September of 2012. In this particular fight, Povetkin was simply the superior fighter, dropping Lebanon’s Charr in round two and three more in the 7th to force the stoppage.
The winner goes on to: The heavyweight division is going back to the drawing board after what is now the almost official retirement from the Klitschkos from active boxing, and Povetkin is as talented as any other contender out there. He should be getting a title shot within the year.
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