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, August 2nd
Brandon Rios W (DQ) 9 Diego Chaves, welterweights
At first, it would appear that boxing and the WWE have found a meeting ground in this fight, but on second thought, it was just another boxing match. And the fact that it was about 200 times dirtier than any regular boxing match seems irrelevant in comparison with the job done by the referee, which was about 300 times sloppier than usual. Rios (32-2-1, 23 KO) was looking for redemption after back-to-back losses to Manny Pacquiao and Mike Alvarado, and Chaves (23-2, 19 KO) traveled from Argentina in search of a second chance in his career after a competitive loss against Keith Thurman one year ago. It was the quintessential crossroads fight, with the winner moving on in his career and the loser slipping into trialhorse territory. And after nine sloppy, dirty, foul-infested rounds, they both can claim they have lived to fight another day after an inconclusive disqualification loss by Chaves in a fight he was winning by one point in two cards at the time of the stoppage. The first few rounds provided several samples of brilliant boxing skills by Chaves and of the usual scrappy infighting that characterizes Rios’ boxing style. But then, things got messy in a hurry, and a few MMA takedowns later, both fighters had points deducted (one for Rios, two for Chaves) for several fouls taken right out of Uruguay’s Luis Suarez playbook. They did it all, short of biting and gouging each other, but it always looked like Rios was the one who got away with the most transgressions, including some heavy, F-word-laced verbal artillery that should have cost him at least a few more warnings. But in the end, the result will benefit Rios, who gets another undeserved win in his record that provides more questions than answers about the future of his career.
The winner goes on to: Well, assuming that he can keep his weight down, AND get his act together, AND maybe get more zip on those punches, AND generate some interest in the networks, we’ll probably see Rios in a title bout for one last shot at redemption.
The loser goes on to: Chaves will once again be brought to the US as the proverbial sacrificial lamb against another top contender, and hopefully he’ll get another chance to show how underrated he really is.
Jessie Vargas UD 12 Anton Novikov, WBA regular junior welterweight title
Another day, another WBA belt at play. Vargas (25-0, 9 KO) is one of Top Rank’s biggest promises, but so far he has failed to impress the demanding Mexican-American boxing fan base with his polished but unexciting style. He figured he would walk all over previously unbeaten Novikov (29-1, 10 KO) and get some exposure at the same time, but he ended up being engaged in a very tough fight against a solid contender who traveled to Las Vegas for much more than a chance to gamble his unblemished record away for a few bucks. It turned out to be an entertaining scrap, with Novikov stepping up the pressure and Vargas being up to the challenge with some brilliant boxing moves, scoring repeatedly and even wobbling Novikov in a few occasions. The scorecards of 118-111 (twice) and 117-111 failed to reflect the competitiveness of the bout.
Jessie Magdaleno TKO 7 Carlos Rodriguez, junior featherweights
Jose Ramirez UD 8 Alfred Romero, junior welterweights
Shane Mosley Jr. KO 1 Jerome Jones, 4 rounds, middleweights
As it is already customary in any high-profile Top Rank card, a number of rising prospects got a chance to show their stuff in front of a large live and televised audience. Magdaleno (19-0, 15 KO), an impressive young contender from Las Vegas, dropped Rodriguez (18-15-4, 10 KO) three times in separate rounds before convincing the referee to stop the mismatch. Earlier, Ramirez (11-0, 8 KO), an unbeaten 2012 U.S. Olympian destined to be one of the company’s flagship fighters in years to come, disposed of Romero (7-4, 6 KO) with ease with scorecards of 80-72 (twice) and 80-71. And in the opening bout of the evening, Mosley Jr (2-0, 2 KO), son of the legendary “Sugar” Shane, annihilated Jones (1-1-1, 1 KO) in the very first round.
Atlantic City, N.J. August 2nd
Sergey Kovalev KO 2 Blake Caparello, WBO light heavyweight title
Another fighter from the former Eastern Block is leaving his mark in the West. Kovalev (25-0-1, 23 KO) is already being hailed as the next big thing in the 175 lb division, with one explosive performance after the other drawing comparisons to the devastating presence of fighters like Gennady Golovkin and the Klitschko brothers. This time, we got a little bit of extra excitement when Australia’s Caparello (19-1-1, 6 KO) surprisingly sent Kovalev to the canvas briefly with his first meaningful punch. It was more of a freak occurrence than an actual on-your-butt knockdown, but Caparello can add this achievement to his resume without question. Still, Kovalev took notice and came back on the following round with a mission to destroy, and he did exactly that with a crippling body shot that sent Caparello to the canvas. He got back up, but the damage was already done, and two flash knockdowns later he was called out and the fight was stopped almost two minutes into the round. Another demolition job for a fighter we’ll be seeing for a long time at the top of the rankings.
The winner goes on to: Talks of a Kovalev-Bernard Hopkins unification bout have intensified after this victory, but I wouldn’t count on it, especially witnessing Kovalev’s power in this fight and taking into account Hopkin’s almost 50 years of age.
Dmitry Mikhaylenko UD 8 Sechew Powell, junior middleweights
Back in the day, Powell (26-6, 15 KO) was considered one of the top welterweights to watch, but his star has dimmed quite a bit since then. Now he is occasionally being brought in as a sacrificial lamb against young unbeaten fighters like Mikhaylenko (17-0, 6 KO), who manhandled and outboxed Powell through eight pedestrian rounds to score a unanimous decision with scorecards of 80-72, 79-73 and 78-74, giving Powell his fourth loss in a row.
Isaac Chilemba TKO 7 Cory Cummings, light heavyweights
Chilemba (23-2, 10 KO), the pride of Malawi, is a tough and very skilled fighter, but he seems unable to get over the hump for some reason. Yes, he can beat the likes of Cummings (17-7-1, 13 KO) all day every day, but he seems unable to get anyone excited about his lackluster, long-range, safety-first style. Not much to write home about in this one. Chilemba softened Cummings little by little and forced his corner to throw in the towel as the end of the seventh round was approaching. It may be time for Chilemba to make one final push for a title or risk falling into “has-been” territory for the rest of his career.
Chetumal, Mexico, August 2nd
Sergio Thompson UD 10 Adones Aguelo, WBC junior lightweight eliminator
Thompson (30-3, 26 KO) gained notoriety with an upset stoppage over former multiple champion Jorge Linares, but that was three years ago and he’s been gunning for the elusive title bout ever since. Fighting in a WBC super featherweight eliminator, Thompson dominated and manhandled an unheralded Aguelo (21-10-2, 13 KO) from the Philippines with his usual sloppy but very aggressive style, sending him to the canvas in the sixth round and then scoring a unanimous victory with scorecards of 96-93 (twice) and 97-92.
Shelton, Washington, August 1st
Gabriel Campillo TKO 5 Thomas Williams Jr., light heavyweights
Life can be hard for a perennial underdog fighting always away from home, but Campillo (24-6-1, 11 KO) always finds a way to make the best of it. This time, fighting for a new chance to participate in a title bout, Campillo, a former WBA titlist himself, stopped Williams (17-1, 12 KO) on cuts in a solid display of boxing skills. Even though he lacks one-punch KO power, Campillo can break an opponent little by little with his superb work rate, and that’s exactly how he managed to get this important win.
Andre Dirrell TKO 5 Vladine Biosse, super middleweights
Dirrell (21-1, 14 KO) was a talented and promising amateur who failed to adjust his style to the majors, but he still has plenty of steam to leave his mark in the 168 lb division, always in need of good fighters. This time, the former super middleweight title challenger and 2004 Olympian scored his first victory in almost two years with a stoppage over an overmatched Biosse (15-5-2, 7 KO), accumulating enough damage to convince the referee to stop the bout as the fifth round was coming to an end.
Wolverhampton, UK, August 1st
Lucas Browne UD 12 Andriy Rudenko, heavyweights
The Tattooed Thunder from Down Under is back, and looking very solid. Browne (21-0, 18 KO) is one of the most promising heavyweights in my personal radar, and he continued demonstrating that he is ready for bigger and better challenges with this hotly disputed decision over previously unbeaten Rudenko (24-1, 16 KO). Slowed down by two facial cuts, Browne still managed to impose his bigger frame and better punching power to surge towards the end and score a well-deserved decision with scorecards of 116-112, 115-113 and 117-112.
Leonard Bundu SD 12 Frankie Gavin, welterweights
More than a mild upset in this one. Bundu (31-0-2, 11 KO) is a highly-ranked, switch-hitting unbeaten contender, but Gavin (19-1, 12 KO) was the local credit trying to gain traction towards a title bout, and he had a great start in which he established his superb boxing technique. But as the bout progressed, he got dropped by a hard right hand in round six and never regained the momentum after that, losing by scores of 114-113 (twice) while the third card went for him at 115-112. Tough loss for Gavin, a popular fighter who lost his unbeaten mark and his chance to attract a high-profile bout in the near future.
Tokyo, Japan, July 30th
Masayuki Ito UD 8 Masao Nakamura, lightweights
Ito (15-0-1, 6 KO) is a former standout amateur fighter, and he continued in his unbeaten march towards a world title against a ranked contender in Nakamura (18-2, 18 KO), a heavy puncher who was trying to regain a foothold in the worldwide ranks after being unexpectedly stopped by Ronald Pontillas in a junior lightweight bout three years ago. The loss halts a six-fight winning streak for Nakamura, and keeps Ito on a path towards a world title bout. The scorecards favored Ito by margins of 77-76 (twice) and 78-75.
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