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
Omaha, Neb., Nov. 29
Terence Crawford UD 12 Raymundo Beltran, WBO lightweight title
Total domination. That’s what Crawford (25-0, 17 KO) produced against his mandatory challenger Beltran (29-7-1, 17 KO), a terrific contender who earned his right to be there the hard way. And yet, the unbeaten Crawford made it look easy in front of his loyal crowd in Omaha, dominating every round with poise, great control of the spaces in the ring, and superb boxing skills. The 119-109 (twice) and 120-108 decision was already in the books by the time the final bell had sounded. Terrific performance by one of boxing’s fastest-rising champions.
The winner goes on to: Crawford indicated that he will now fight at the talent-laden 140lb division, in a planned decision after finding it difficult to make weight for his last few fights.
Evgeny Gradovich D 12 Jayson Velez, IBF featherweight title
Not sure of what to make of this, really. Gradovich (19-0-1, 9 KO) clearly won the fight by as much as 5 points in my card (even more according to other observers, and by at least 6 points in one of the official scorecards) but that didn’t prevent the judges from handing in a terrible split draw decision that allowed the unbeaten “Mexican Russian” to keep his trinket with a result that failed to convey his dominance in the ring. True, some rounds were closer than others, and the general impression is that the fight was as competitive as expected, or more. But a two-point scorecard for Velez is something that no one will be able to explain convincingly after watching the fight again. The fight itself featured little drama but plenty of action, with no knockdowns scored but tons of exciting exchanges in which Gradovich showed he was the stronger and more accurate fighter in the ring. In the end, however, all this didn’t really matter. One card had Gradovich up by 117-111, the other one had Velez ahead by 115-113, and the third card was tied at 114-114, so Gradovich retained his IBF title. Justice was done, but no thanks to the judges.
London, England, Nov. 29
Tyson Fury TKO 10 Dereck Chisora, European heavyweight title
So many words, so little action. Fury (23-0, 17 KO) had already defeated Chisora (20-5, 13 KO) in a more competitive bout back in 2011, but this time he had an even easier time when the notoriously underachieving Chisora showed up just to pick up a check – and little else. There is no other explanation for the totally lackluster performance by Chisora, who has routinely failed to impress at the highest level but who had never fell this low. Fury’s long, clumsy jab got the job done, as the 6-foot-9 Fury kept Chisora at the end of his punches and never allowed for any room to counterpunch. “Dellboy” Chisora kept coming on and taking a ton of punishment, but he was unable to mount any significant offensive output. Patience started to run out on the audience, and then on the commentators, and finally Chisora’s corner was also convinced that they had enough, not allowing him to come out for the 10th round and thus making Fury the mandatory WBO challenger for world champion Wladimir Klitschko and earning him the European heavyweight title. Nice win for Fury, though, who came prepared, in great shape and ready to show some improvements.
The winner goes on to: A fight with either one of the Klitschkos would be great for Fury, and even better for the Klitschos, who would see their bank accounts grow bigger with a relatively small effort (counting the training, of course).
Billy Joe Saunders SD 12 Chris Eubank Jr., British, Commonwealth and European titles
A long-awaited step-up bout for both fighters turned up being what everyone was expecting, and more. Saunders (21-0, 11 KO) and Eubank Jr. (18-1, 13 KO) were two unbeaten middleweights fighting for local bragging rights in a make-or-break crossroads bout, and they didn’t disappoint their crowd. The fight had two very distinctive halves, with Saunders sweeping the first few rounds and Eubanks surging towards the home stretch. However, Saunders appeared to want it more towards the end, and he ended up impressing the judges a bit more to take two scorecards by the slimmest of margins (115-114 and 115-113) while Eubank grabbed the third one at 116-113.
The winner goes on to: Supposedly, the WBO has declared the winner of a Korobov-Lee bout as the next opponent for Saunders with the winner taking the 160 belt, and a rematch of the Saunders-Eubank fight with an eventual title on the line would be a dream come true for both of them.
Frankie Gavin UD 12 Bradley Skeete, British and Commonwealth welterweight titles
Gavin (21-1, 13 KO) was supposed to make his case for greater challenges in this fight, but he just went through the motions in an unexciting bout in which his only merit was taking a close decision (116-113 across the board) against a previously unbeaten fringe contender in Skeete (18-1, 7 KO). Not bad – but not good enough to get anyone excited about his next fight, either.
Eddie Chambers TKO 3 Dorian Darch, cruiserweights
Chambers (41-4, 22 KO), a former heavyweight title challenger once considered a serious threat, fell to the role of gatekeeper a few fights ago and is now a contender at the cruiserweight level, where he has found his center as a fighter. This demolition of Darch (8-4, 1 KO) in three rounds is a testimony of that, aided by his move to England to be a part of the Fury family stable.
Frederiksberg, Denmark, Nov. 28
Cecilia Braekhus UD 10 Jennifer Retzke, female welterweights
Braekhus (27-0, 7 KO) is the first female boxer ever to hold all four major title belts at the same time, and she produced another terrific performance in Denmark, since boxing is all but banned in her adoptive Norway (she was born in Colombia). Retzke (15-2-1, 9 KO) barely qualified as a challenger (in female boxing, most organizations require at least 15 wins in order to challenge for a title) and she did very little to demonstrate she belonged there, losing by scores of 100-90 (twice) and 98-92.
San Juan Del Rio, Mexico, Nov. 29
Ramon Alvarez TKO 7 Vivian Harris, junior middleweights
Alvarez (21-4-2, 13 KO) is one of Canelo’s brothers, and even though the freckled boy wonder of Mexican boxing took the lion’s share of the family’s talent pool, Ramon is still a tough contender when in full flight. This time, he stopped a usually durable former world champion in Harris (32-10-2, 19 KO) with his brother cheering from ringside both as a fan and as a promoter of the gala. Not a demolishing KO, though: Harris appeared to rise on time after a second knockdown in round seven, but the fight was stopped nonetheless to mild complaints from the visiting challenger.
Moscow, Russia, Nov. 28
Ruslan Provodnikov TKO 5 Jose Luis Castillo, welterweights
“The Siberian Rocky” howls again. After a few years of hard but profitable globetrotting, Provodnikov (24-3, 17 KO) owed himself a homecoming bout in front of his parents, and he did them proud with a preordained drubbing over a completely washed up Castillo (66-13-1, 57 KO), a former lightweight title who gave Floyd Mayweather two terrific challenges back in the day, and who apparently intends to squeeze those bragging rights to the last drop by continuing to fight even when he is barely competitive at this point. Provodnikov, a former WBO 140 lb champion who lost his chance to become Manny Pacquiao’s opponent when he lost to Chris Algieri back in June, was unusually patient in this fight, taking his time and picking his spots until he managed to drop Castillo twice to force a stoppage in the fifth round. Not much of a rebounding or confidence-earning win for Provodnikov, but certainly a solid effort and a much deserved easy payday on home turf, for a change.
Dmitry Kudryashov KO 1 Juan Carlos Gomez, cruiserweights
It’s always sad to see a former champion go down in such a definitive, career-ending fashion, but Gomez (55-4, 40 KO) had been on the down slope for a while, and it was only a matter of time until the Germany-based former Cuban amateur standout and WBC cruiserweight titlist suffered a defeat as hard as this one. Kudryashov (16-0, 16 KO) only needed 22 seconds and a few punches (actually, all he needed was a solid straight right connecting hard on Gomez’s face) to destroy Gomez and put a likely end to his uneven career.
Rakhim Chakhkiev TKO 4 Jackson Junior, cruiserweights
Eduard Troyanovsky KO 1 Jose Agustin Feria, lightweights
Egor Mekhontsev UD 8 Joey Vegas, light heavyweights
A number of talented Russian fighters were featured in the undercard in stay-busy fights, mostly against step-up opposition. Chakhkiev (21-1, 16 KO), a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, etched a stay-busy stoppage win over Junior (15-2, 13 KO) after dropping him once in the fourth round. Troyanovsky (20-0, 17 KO) stayed unbeaten with a terrific first-rounds stoppage over Feria (16-2-1, 10 KO), demolishing the Colombian trial horse with a murderous right hand. And earlier, Mekhontsev (7-0, 6 KO), a 2012 Olympic light heavyweight gold medalist, failed to score a stoppage for the first time in his short career when he etched a unanimous decision over eight rounds against Vegas (17-10-1, 10 KO) with scores of 80-72 across the board.
Mickey Rourke TKO 2 Elliot Seymour, light heavyweights
The fight was fought at a catchweight of 180 lbs, but there were other catches involved as well. The most noticeable one is that the fight was labeled as an “exhibition,” although probably nobody will ever be able to tell what these two intended to exhibit here. The official result, for what is worth, is that Rourke (7-0-2, 5 KO), one of Hollywood’s most notorious train wrecks, with an uneven (as in “from glorious to horrendous and all the way back”) acting career and an even more horrendous track record as a plastic surgery recipient, took his unbeaten record one step further at the age of 62 with a stoppage win over a made-to-order opponent in 29-year-old Seymour (1-10, 1 KO), with an emphasis in “order”. That’s because Seymour appeared to go down to one knee to take the full count in a clownishly choreographed move in the second round, as if on cue, after a few otherwise inconsequential body blows. Whether he was ordered to look intentionally that bad is debatable. The fact remains, however, that another acting massacre was perpetrated, and the decision on who was the best actor of the night is yet inconclusive. The upside? Rourke will NOT be needing another plastic surgery to repair the damage suffered in this fight. Yes, it takes very little to make us happy.