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
Carson, California, Aug. 16th
Kell Brook MD 12 Shawn Porter, IBF welterweight title
It’s always great to see a fighter gut out a defining victory on enemy territory, even if it is by the slightest of margins. Brook (33-0-0, 22 KO) traveled from England to face Porter (24-1-1, 15 KO) in a fight that was expected to be close and hotly disputed, but also entertaining. The action was not exactly up to that challenge, and it was frustrating sometimes to see two great fighters failing to engage in a cleaner fight. But in the end, Brook managed to outscore Porter, an ample favorite and one of boxing’s most promising young fighters, just enough to get the win by scorecards of 114-114, 117-111 and 116-112, in a huge victory that will probably send him on a collision course with some of the best fighters in the division.
The winner goes on to: Brook may be headed to a mega-fight against fellow Brit Amir Khan across the pond, but his choices are wide open.
Anthony Dirrell UD 12 Sakio Bika, WBC super middleweight title
No controversy this time. Still, the stink was all too familiar, but we can live with that. Dirrell (27-0-1, 22 KO), a cancer survivor and brother of former Olympian Andre Dirrell, was fighting in a rematch of a previous title bout against Bika (32-6-3, 21 KO), a native of Cameroon fighting out of Australia. The first affair was not pretty, featuring multiple transgressions along the way, but it was expected that this time would be different. It wasn’t, but at least there was a clear winner this time (the first one was a draw). This time, Dirrell not only was clearer and crispier with his punches, but he was also more powerful and decisive throughout the bout. It was also clear that Bika was the main transgressor in both fights, but this time he got appropriately punished when he lost a point in the eighth round for a low blow. A late surge by Bika didn’t quite work for him as expected, and he was finally defeated by scorecards of 117-110, 116-111 and 115-114 for Dirrell, who now moves on to bigger and better challenges.
Omar Figueroa TKO 9 Daniel Estrada, WBC lightweight title
Figueroa (24-0, 18 KO) has been steadily getting more and more attention for a while, and his positioning in this televised card suggest he is ready to be paired with a more challenging opponent in the near future. Estrada (32-3-1, 24 KO) was just that, though, even when his record didn’t suggest it. It was an entertaining bout, with Figueroa taking an early lead only to squander it in the next few rounds after being slowed down by a cut. But when the time came to step up the pressure, Estrada folded after a terrific right that sent him down on his back, and the referee had no alternative but to stop the bout after Figueroa pummeled him mercilessly on the ropes.
The winner goes on to: Having the WBC lightweight belt would probably bring Figueroa a lot of interesting challenges, and the presence of former multi-division titlist Jorge Linares in the undercard could be an indication of an eventual bout between them.
Deontay Wilder TKO 5 Jason Gavern, heavyweights
The “Bronze Bomber” is inching towards his long-awaited title shot, finally. Wilder (32-0, 32 KO) managed to keep his solid and slightly deceptive all-KO unbeaten record against a true test in veteran trialhorse Gavern (25-17-4, 11 KO), in what is supposed to be Wilder’s final bout before facing Bermane Stiverne for the heavyweight belt. It was a competitive bout for the first two rounds, but as soon as Wilder found his range, he was able to connect with ease and fire for effect in every one of his combinations. He finally managed to send Gavern to the canvas in the third round, and then again in the fourth. Gavern decided to stay in his corner after the bell, and now only 12 rounds against a much stronger and bulkier but also slower and more stationary opponent like Stiverne are what separate Wilder from his championship belt.
Jorge Linares KO 2 Ira Terry, lightweights
Yeah, no cheering from press row and all that. I know, but I’ve always had a soft spot for “El Niño de Oro”, and it’s always great to see him shine again. Linares (37-3, 24 KO) is a former multiple division champion trying to regain some momentum after a series of disappointing losses, and he always manages to impress me with something new. This time, he dominated Terry (26-12, 16 KO) from the beginning of the bout with frightening ease, and then he landed a demolishing counter right that hit his foe right in the chin for a nose-diving, lights-out KO victory barely a minute into the second episode. And he did it with enough power, poise, accuracy and control to warrant comparisons with Gennady Golovkin’s crushing counterpunch KO of Daniel Geale a few weeks ago. Linares was unmoved by Terry’s solid punch and came back with a one-punch KO blow that should earn him at least the respect of a few naysayers – and a well-deserved title opportunity in the near future. It’s always great to see a true master at work.
Las Vegas, Nevada, Aug. 16th
Gabriel Rosado KO 6 Brian Vera, middleweights
David Estrada UD 7 Eddie Caminero, welterweights
Boxing meets cockfighting! Apparently, in the fast-paced, rapidly-changing world we live in, it is understandable that a few folks would eventually get tired of the old, boring, square-roped, elevated ring and would be looking to put some spice into boxing. It’s up to them to decide whether this was exactly what they were expecting. And although I am still fine with the constraints of the old square ring, I must admit there were a few things I liked about this new “modality” of boxing. It involves seven two-minute rounds, and is fought on a sort of a cockfighting ring with a futuristic-looking, 45-degree “padded rim” around the main circle, which is quite small. This results in an unobstructed view of the fighters, and forces them to engage more closely as there are no corners in which to seek refuge (although you can always “run for the hills”, literally, by jumping on the inclined portion of the ring to receive some protection in the form of an 8-count). Time will tell if this catches up and finally captures the imagination of combat sports enthusiasts worldwide. For now, in the debut of the BKB (Big Knockout Boxing), Rosado stopped Vera in the sixth round with a demolishing right hand that sent Vera nose-diving onto the mat, after an entertaining fight, and previously, Estrada grabbed a unanimous decision in seven rounds against Caminero after dropping him three times in the final two rounds. The boxer’s records were not provided because the BKB has managed to keep their records separate from those of the “regular” boxing world.
Caguas, Puerto Rico, Aug. 16th
Felix Verdejo UD 8 Oscar Bravo, lightweights
The “Diamond” shines on! Verdejo (14-0, 10 KO) is a former Olympian who has the looks, the power and the talent to be the next Puerto Rican icon in the island’s long tradition of great champions. This time, he added another gem to his credentials with a workmanlike decision win over Bravo (21-6, 9 KO), dominating the bout from bell to bell and scoring an 80-72 victory across the board.
The winner goes on to: Clearly, it’s time for Verdejo to step up his level of opponents and start testing his skills on the next level. My money says he’s going to appear in Manny Pacquiao’s next card in China in November, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Jose Lopez MD 8 Roberto Castaneda, junior featherweights
Another Puerto Rican prospect grabs a ticket for his chance to become the next big thing in boxing. Lopez (14-0, 10 KO) kept his unbeaten record on track, but he had to dig really deep and justify his colorful moniker of “Wonder Boy” more than once. Castaneda (21-7-1, 15 KO) went down in the very first round, but he surprisingly weathered the storm and shocked the patrons with two knockdowns of his own. Now fighting for his life, Lopez got ahead in the KD count by sending Mexico’s Castaneda to the mat twice in the next two rounds. By the time the dust settled, Lopez was lucky to escape with a majority decision after losing a point for rabbit punching, but he did look solid enough in his best moments to earn the right to be called a prospect.
Charlotte, North Carolina, Aug. 16th
Héctor Camacho Jr. KO 2 Miguel Munguia, welterweights
“Machito” is back! Camacho Jr. (58-6, 32 KO) is nowhere near his legendary homonymous father in terms of talent, but he continues to trudge on even after a few disheartening setbacks in the past few years. This time, he made quick work of veteran trialhorse Munguia (29-32-1, 25 KO) with ease, and looking good. Not exactly a preamble for a title fight, but he may still get another chance at a high profile bout.
The winner goes on to: As he announced in his social media accounts, Camacho is now headed back to his native Puerto Rico to get ready for a bout against Ryan Davis in Washington, DC. in September.
Erfurt, Germany, Aug. 16th
Yoan Pablo Hernandez SD 12 Firat Arslan, IBF cruiserweight title
Cuba’s Hernandez (29-1, 14 KO) held on to his cruiserweight belt once again, but is anybody watching, really? Arslan (34-8-2, 21 KO) is 43 years old but he is always in great shape, and he was able to score early while the notoriously slow-starter Hernandez allowed him to set the tone of the fight. Hernandez managed to score whenever he found the right distance, and as the good former amateur standout that he is, he succeeded at impressing the judges with his cleaner, crisper output throughout the bout. They split two of the scorecards with 115-113 apiece, but there was a 116-113 card for Hernandez that gave him the razor-thin victory – and the chance to continue a career that has sparked very limited interested outside Germany, where he now lives.
Jack Culcay UD 12 Isaac Real, European junior middleweight title
Nice come-from-behind win for the local favorite. Culcay (18-1, 10 KO), born in Ecuador and residing in Germany, is trying to get his act together after his unexpected loss against Argentina’s Guido Pitto back in 2013, and this time he had his hands full in this regional title bout. Spain’s Real (10-1-1, 5 KO) came in determined to keep his unbeaten streak alive, and he almost manages to do so when he sent Culcay down in the third round. But the former amateur standout was too determined to be denied, and he came back to score a close but decisive win by scores of 115-112, 115-113 and 117-110.
Santa Ynez, California, Aug. 15th
Denis Shafikov TKO 9 Rustam Nugaev, IBF lightweight eliminator
Shafikov (34-1-1, 19 KO) is being hailed as one of the next big things in boxing coming from the other side of the former Iron Curtain, and he looked the part in this demolition of Nugaev (27-7-1, 17 KO). The southpaw Shafikov can definitely box, but he sensed earlier on that he was in no danger of getting hurt, and chose to engage his foe in the short distance. The result was a punishing, progressive beatdown that the usually obtrusive referee Jack Reiss allowed to continue until round nine, when he finally was unable to find a reason to allow Nugaev getting shellacked.
Jose Pedraza TKO 7 Juan Carlos Martinez, junior lightweights
The “Sniper” stays afloat! Pedraza (18-0, 12 KO), an unbeaten 2008 Puerto Rico Olympian, has had a somewhat shaky few performances lately, but this time he nailed that bulls eye in the smack middle. True, his opponent du jour was a hopeless late replacement fighting just to stay above .500. But even so, Martinez (19-15-1, 6 KO) gave Pedraza a good workout, taking huge shots in the process and eventually quitting on his stool at the beginning of the seventh round. Time to aim for bigger game.
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