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, Sept. 13th
Floyd Mayweather UD 12 Marcos Maidana, WBC/WBA welterweight/WBC jr. middleweight titles
Let’s be honest: as far as boxing (purely as a science, as a sport, as a craft) is concerned, this was another masterpiece. For most of the fight, Mayweather (47-0, 26 KO) was just flawless. His punches were pin-point accurate, his speed was unreal, and his control of the spaces in the ring was second to none. The discussion of whether he will be able to attain all-time greatness through performances like this one, however, is a different one, and does not belong in this report. But for the purposes of this post-fight analysis, it can be said that Mayweather dominated Maidana (35-5, 31 KO) in every aspect of the fight, without any excuses. It is indeed very hard to get excited about a fighter who dominates another one which such frightening ease, but therein lays the secret of greatness: making look easy something that truly isn’t. Maidana is one of the most feared punchers in the elite 147 lb division nowadays, and was coming off a first fight against Mayweather in which he gave the entire boxing world the fight they were hoping for: pressure from bell to bell, punches in bunches and then some, and full-on focus on the task at hand, which was no less than succeeding where 44 other professional prizefighters had tried and failed before. Instead, he did almost exactly the opposite. Fighting only in spurts, looking dazzled and confused more often than not, and only managing to land a small portion of his punches, Maidana was there simply to make a wild attempt to land a KO punch on Mayweather (which almost came to be, in the form of a crunching straight right hand, at the final bell in round 3). And a special chapter should be devoted to Maidana’s focus, or lack thereof. His combinations weren’t there, his already modest ring-cutting abilities simply disappeared, and he made it all worse with what appeared to be a bite (yep) on Mayweather’s left hand, right on the fingers. The scores were 115-112 and 116-111 (twice), but there was no shortage of wider scorecards (my own read 117-110) and even more (in Argentina, a few commentators saw it 118-109 for Mayweather), all of them fuelled by a one point deduction for Maidana in the tenth round after he pushed Mayweather down with his forearm. After such a dominant performance, Mayweather has demonstrated once again that almost no fighter in the 147 lb neighborhood not named Manny Pacquiao stands a chance against him. The question of whether he will ever produce the awe-inspiring, come-from-behind, grinding performance everyone is waiting to see, however, remains unanswered.
The winner goes on to: Two more fights, and Mayweather is done with his multi-million dollar contract with Showtime. But many people expect him to fight a little bit beyond that, probably going for the nice and even 50-0 in his career. We can only hope that he’ll fight Pacquiao one day, but right now we’d settle for Danny Garcia or Adrien Broner, at least.
Leo Santa Cruz KO 2 Manuel Roman, WBC junior featherweight title
Santa Cruz (28-0-1, 16 KO) is one of boxing’s most talented young fighters, and he has the potential to be a multi-division champion with his long reach and his powerful punches. This could have been a terrific chance for him to showcase his talents against a top contender, but when promoter/investor/advisor/one-man-sanctioning-body Al Haymon is at the wheel, opponents are cherry-picked to fit the taste of the “side A” fighter. And that’s how we got this scandalous mismatch against a not-quite-deserving challenger in Roman (17-3-3, 6 KO), a former sparring partner for Santa Cruz making his debut in the division (yeah, in a title fight, I know), who did his best to stay away from Santa Cruz until a terrific overhand right landed on him and sent him crumpling to the canvas, prompting referee Robert Byrd to reach the full count at the 55 second mark. Nice workout for a fighter that didn’t really need it, and who got a useless confidence-builder instead of the challenges he craves right now.
The winner goes on to: Santa Cruz wants (and honestly, deserves) a fight against Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux. It could take one or two more fights, but it will happen sometime in 2015.
Mickey Bey UD 12 Miguel Vazquez, IBF lightweight title
Vazquez (34-4, 13 KO) is a fine fighter, but he gets no respect from Mexican fans due to his pedestrian, lackluster, unexciting… OK, he is as boring as watching water boil. Still, he always gets the call to add the Mexican flavor (or lack thereof) to the customary early-May, mid-September Mexican national holiday boxing cards in Las Vegas. This time, he was facing a Team Mayweather member who is just as unexciting as Vazquez in Mickey Bey (21-1-1, 10 KO), and together they produced one of the least memorable undercard title bouts ever. They could have done the event a favor if they had allowed the ring card girls parade around for 3 minutes and then fight in one-minute rounds instead. The fight put a lot of people to sleep, and some of the judges were in that group too. There is no other way to explain the wild divergence in the cards (115-113 for Vazquez, 115-113 and 119-109 for Bey), and it is also difficult to explain Bey’s victory in a fight he did so little to win, other than maybe outjab his foe, especially in the second half of the bout. Vazquez’s camp is asking for a rematch. It is yet unclear how much they will offer to pay everyone in attendance to sit through that fight, should it ever happens.
James De La Rosa UD 10 Alfredo Angulo, middleweights
Mild upset for “El Perro”. Angulo (22-5, 18 KO) is a perennial fan favorite who has suffered a number of setbacks in and out of the ring in recent years. Attempting to snap a two-fight losing streak, he faced De La Rosa (23-2, 13 KO), a fine contender who has had severe problems trying to get to the proverbial next level in his career. But now he appears to have achieved just that after outboxing and even dropping Angulo during a crossroads fight. Angulo was his usual aggressive self in the early going, but after being dropped by a long left hand in the second round, he lost his groove and never recovered. A one-point deduction for a low blow in the seventh round didn’t help Angulo’s case either, and he ended up losing the fight by scores of 98-90, 96-92, and 99-89. A bleak picture for a fighter once regarded as a candidate to become a major attraction in the junior middleweight neighborhood.
Humberto Soto UD 10 John Molina Jr., junior welterweights
Another clash between a veteran trying to regain lost terrain and a young contender attempting to add a former titlist to his list of victims ended in a victory for the older guy, again. It was a dirty, sometimes ugly affair, but in the end, Soto (65-8, 32 KO), a former three-division titlist, kept his name in the mix with a solid victory over Molina (27-5, 22 KO) by scores of 95-92 (twice) and 96-91 in this battle of former victims of Lucas Matthysse. Molina had expressed his desire to aim for a rematch with the Argentine power puncher (they both fought a terrific fight back in April), but that plan is now up in the air after this inexcusable defeat. Soto stayed busy and got the best of the action by volume instead of power in his punch output, while Molina sought to destroy more than to score points, and paid the price of his inability to hurt Soto. Molina lost two points for low blows, which ended up making a vital difference in the scorecards, while Soto lost one of his own towards the end of the fight as well.
The winner goes on to: It will be interesting to see whether Soto can parlay this win into a chance to get in the conversation for bigger fights in a talent-rich division. My guess is that he will have another chance to prove he’s back in the mix for good against a top contender, very soon.
Copenhagen, Denmark, Sept. 13th
Cecilia Braekhus UD 10 Ivana Habazin, female welterweights
The short history of female boxing reached a landmark in this world title unification fight in which Norway’s Braekhus (26-0, 7 KO) became the first female fighter to unify all four major titles (WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO) in history. And she did it in dominant fashion, beating Croatia’s Habazin (13-2, 5 KO) with ease, looking superbly fit as usual, in front of an adoring crowd of fans to add the IBF belt as the final step in her crowning achievement. The Colombian-born fighter swept the scorecards by 100-90 across the board, and is now officially out of challenges in the welterweight division.
Manchester, England, Sept. 13th
Scott Quigg TKO 3 Stephane Jamoye, WBA “regular” junior featherweight title
Another major player in the 122 lb division makes a splash to get his name in the mix. Quigg (29-0-2, 22 KO) was indeed feeling the pressure of seeing his Irish nemesis Carl Frampton getting a title last week in a superb performance, and was looking forward to seeing also Leo Santa Cruz winning his fight on this very night to keep his options open to fight either fellow champ in a mega-bout sometime in the future. And it would appear everyone got their wish after Quigg destroyed Jamoye (26-6, 16 KO) with a terrific straight right to the bottom of the ribcage midway through the third round that sent the French challenger to the canvas on his knees. He did beat the count, but the fight was nonetheless waved off by the referee. A stupendous performance that opens many possible matchups in the now crowded super bantamweight division.
Anthony Crolla TD 3 Gamaliel Diaz, lightweights
Crolla (28-4-1, 11 KO) kept his name on the table at 135 with a solid performance against a proven trialhorse in Diaz (38-11-3, 17 KO) even though the fight ended in a disappointing draw due to a cut over Diaz’s right eye in the third round that forced a premature stoppage to an otherwise entertaining bout.
Anthony Joshua TKO 3 Konstantin Airich, heavyweights
Joshua (8-0, 8 KO) is Britain’s finest Olympic heavyweight in many years, and he continued his march on championship territory with this demolition of Airich (21-10-2, 17 KO) in three rounds. Looking fit and solid, Joshua finally anticipated a long left hook by Airich by landing a superb straight right to his temple and dropping him instantly. Airich rose up, but the fight was stopped minutes later when he was unable to continue according to the referee. Another highlight-reel victory for a fighter who needs to step up his level of opposition.
Las Vegas, Nevada, Sept. 11th
Luis Ortiz TKO 1 Lateef Kayode, vacant WBA interim heavyweight title
It’s not a proper week in boxing if we don’t have a meaningless title at play, and this week’s nonsense comes to you courtesy of the WBA, with this “vacant WBA interim world heavyweight title” on the line (I could have fit yet another word in there). And to add even more nonsense, Ortiz (22-0, 19 KO) was declared the winner when he had Kayode (20-1, 16 KOs) trapped on a corner and was unleashing a barrage of punches that, although very solid, did not seem to be enough to warrant the stoppage. I barely counted 15 unanswered punches (some regulations call for up to 25 unanswered punches as a requisite for a fight to be stopped), and some of them weren’t exactly demolishing blows, but referee Robert Byrd jumped right it to ruin the night for Kayode and everyone in attendance with what appeared to be a hasty decision, and just as the round was coming to an end. Formal complains will ensue, but the leftie Ortiz now holds a heavyweight title belt, and the insanity continues.
Jesus Cuellar KO 2 Juan Manuel Lopez, WBA interim featherweight title
This was the very definition of a crossroad bout. Cuellar (25-1, 19 KO) is the WBA interim featherweight champion (yeah, it was an interim-themed night in Vegas, apparently) fighting out of Marcos Maidana’s stable in Argentina, a strong fighter and decent boxer trying to establish himself in the ranks. Lopez (34-5, 31 KO), on the other hand, is a former two division titlist who was once considered a top pound-for-pound entrant headed to a mega bout with Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa (which never materialized). But those days are long gone, and Lopez is now officially shot and in danger of suffering permanent damage if he chooses to continue fighting. He even lacks the devastating punching power that established him as one of the most avoided fighters in his division. Sensing his moment in the spotlight, Cuellar came storming out of the gates and landed heavily early on, causing some damage in the first round and then landing a four-punch combination midway through the second that sent Lopez diving face-first to the mat. The referee did not bother to issue a count, and the fight was waved off – and Lopez’s career with it. A sad ending for a terrific fighter, and an important notch in the gunhandle of a fast-rising young champion.
Jermall Charlo TKO 7 Norberto Gonzalez, middleweights
Charlo (19-0, 15 KO) scored an uneventful victory over Gonzalez (20-5, 13 KO) after dropping him in the fifth round and stepping up the pressure to force a stoppage midway through the seventh round.
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, Sept. 10th
Amnat Ruenroeng SD 12 McWilliams Arroyo, IBF flyweight title
Arroyo (15-2, 13 KO) is one half of the talented, funny-named Puerto Rican pair of twin brothers (the other one is McJoe, a southpaw fellow Olympian who also owns a superb amateur pedigree), and is clearly the most advanced one in the run to become the “Big Mc” of the family. Riding a 12-fight winning streak since his upset loss to Takashi Okada in his 4th pro bout, the orthodox McWilliams, a former flyweight world champ in the unpaid ranks, was trying to duplicate his achievement in the professional arena in this fight against Thailand’s Ruenroeng (14-0, 5 KO). But even though he dropped Ruenroeng in the sixth round and managed to keep him on the defensive for most of the bout using his superior speed and power, two judges saw a one point difference for the local fighter at the end of the bout, with two cards scoring 114-113 (one for each fighter) while the third one was an inexplicable 115-114 by judge Jonathan Davis, who clearly saw something no one else did. Referee Pat Russell failed to penalize Ruenroeng for numerous clinches as well. Ruenroeng did close strongly to score the victory, but the foul smell of home cooking (totally not a swipe against Thai food, though) is noticeably present here, and it may have been the main reason to deny a victory to a fighter who clearly could use a little bit of better luck. The honor of the family now rests in the hands of McJoe, who has earned his right to fight for a title by beating Hernan “Tyson” Marquez in an IBF elimination bout in the junior bantamweight division. The McRivalry in the Arroyo family is barely starting.