Boxing: Morilla’s Sunday Report Card – Chagaev Beats Oquendo in Russia and More

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Noah K Murray USA TODAY Sports

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

Grozny, Russia, July 6th

Ruslan Chagaev MD 12 Fres Oquendo, vacant WBA “regular” heavyweight title

Let this be one more example of the total state of disarray in which the heavyweight division is in nowadays. Never mind that Chagaev (33-2-1, 20 KO) hasn’t been a factor in the division for years, or that Oquendo (37-8, 24 KO) hasn’t really done anything that would remotely make him deserve a title shot lately. The fight was already a disgrace before it was even signed, but they had to find a way to disgrace the division even further with a series of back-and-forth decisions that embarrassed them even further. Two days before the fight (that’s about 30 hours before the weigh-in), Oquendo failed to board a plane to Russia for a second time citing family issues. In that short period of time, a number of fighters got desperate calls to fill in the vacant slot, including former world champion Shannon Briggs and top contenders Alexander Ustinov and Alexander Petkovic. In the meantime, the promotion suffered, and the heavyweight title, which is supposed to be one of the most respected championships in all sports, collected another blemish. Finally, when the WBA indicated that none other than Oquendo and Chagaev were allowed to fight for their title, suddenly some sense was restored and Oquendo arrived just in time to perform in front of more than 30,000 people.

Oh, yeah, and there was an actual fight too! In it, Chagaev understandably took the initiative in front of his countrymen, connecting repeatedly from his southpaw stance earlier on and landing the more powerful punches. Oquendo worked behind a solid jab and little else for most of the first half, but then started mounting some pressure towards the end of the bout to cut Chagaev and back him up occasionally. Finally, the scores of 114-114 and 115-113 (twice) were enough to give Chagaev the nod – and another worthless piece of hardware for his collection. A special note for the lavish setup, which included the most intrusive ring canopy ever seen in a boxing match.

The winner goes on to: In a perfect world, Chagaev would seek to validate his championship claim by fighting the “other” WBA champ, but Wladimir Klitschko already holds a win over Chagaev in 2009, so the options are wide open for him.

Juan Carlos Gomez TKO 5 Goran Delic, cruiserweights

A pedestrian win for a former titlist who simply cannot manage to take his career to the next level. Gomez (55-3, 40 KO), a former Cuban standout amateur fighter now living in Germany, had another pedestrian win in this TKO over previously unbeaten Delic (24-1, 4 KO) in what amounted to little more than a glorified sparring session. The referee stopped the bout on the doctor’s advice midway through the fifth, and that’s all she wrote. Not the kind of fight one would hope to see from a former champ trying to go back to the top, but yet again, not too far from the kind of fights Gomez has been producing lately.

The winner goes on to: Too old to make it big, too young to retire and move back to Cuba. Gomez will plod along a few more fights before he finds (and subsequently squanders – again) his next and probably last high-profile bout.

Tokyo, Japan, July 6th

Akio Shibata UD 12 Hikaru Nishida, middleweights

Men with natural curly hair and hard-punching middleweights are rather scarce in Japan, and Shibata (23-8-1, 9 KO) is not the guy who’s going to change any of that. But he did manage to hold on to his OPBF and national 160 lb title belts with a spirited 12 round decision over Nishida (10-7-1, 3 KO), in a crossroads bout of sorts. A once promising former amateur standout, Shibata never quite fulfilled his promise, and is still struggling to prove his true worth against less-than-stellar opposition. Not sure he will ever achieve this, but this fight was worth watching, and the wildly divergent scorecards of 115-113, 116-112 and 118-110, for Shibata should bring him enough encouragement to continue trying.

Guadalupe, Nuevo León, Mexico, July 5th

Adrian Estrella UD 12 Dante Jardon, super featherweights

Estrella (18-0, 17 KO) is nicknamed “Diamante”, and even though he may be neither star nor diamond he still manages to bring on the action in every one of his fights. In this nice step up in level of competition he scored a unanimous decision against a respected and still talented former title challenger in Jardon (24-5, 20 KO), dominating the fight clearly and with the authority of a veteran. Big win for a young, talented contender.

Merida, Mexico, July 5th

Miguel Berchelt KO 4 Carlos Manuel Reyes, lightweights

Berchelt (24-1, 20 KO) was expected to defeat Reyes (24-3, 16 KO) handily, but instead he turned on the heat and produced a one-sided beating, landing crushing blows throughout the bout and capping his effort with a demolishing, picture-perfect left hook to the chin to put an end to the action just when the 4th round was coming to an end. Highlight-reel stuff, indeed.

Manukau, New Zealand, July 5th

Joseph Parker TKO 7 Brian Minto, heavyweights

The heavyweight division is heating up in the Southern Hemisphere. Parker (9-0, 8 KO) joins Lucas Browne and others in the quest to become the Next Big Thing in boxing in the southernmost regions of the planet with a terrific win over Minto (39-8, 25 KO), a former contender who never fails to entertain. Towering over his opponent, Parker managed to keep the usually aggressive Minto at bay from the start using his longer reach and his more solid shots, and his methodical attack took its toll progressively on the visiting fighter. Minto went down twice in the fight, and after the second visit to the canvas his corner decided he had enough. Still, a beautiful affair while it lasted. Now, someone explain to me why a New Zealander is fighting someone from Pennsylvania for the PABA and WBO Oriental titles. Please. No? OK, I thought so.

Toowoomba, Australia, July 4th

Michael Katsidis UD 12 Graham Earl, rematch, junior welterweights

Rematches hardly ever live up to the expectations, and the first fight between these two was a hard act to follow. Katsidis (30-6, 24 KO) had already fought England’s Earl (26-5, 12 KO) in 2007, producing some superb action on that occasion in a fight that ended in a bit controversy when Katsidis was declared the winner after five terrific rounds (including the unbelievable 2nd, a true all-time classic). In a rematch that came at least four years too late, Katsidis invited Earl to his hometown to return the invitation of the first fight, which took place in Britain. This time, Katsidis went through the motions to give his people what they came to see, and he dominated Earl with authoritative scorecards of 119-109, 120-108 and 120-109.

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