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Eric Armit’s The Past Week in Action 24 May 2017

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Highlights:

-11 world title fights

-Japan goes 6-1 in 7 world title fights

-Americans Terrence Crawford, Gary Russell and Gervonta Davis all win inside the distance in their title defences

– Plenty of incidents including Andre Dirrell winning the interim IBF title whilst on the floor and his uncle assaulting Andre’s opponent Jose Uzcategui in the ring and much more in an action packed incident filled week of boxing

May 18

Paris, France: Super Welter: Cedric Vitu (46-2) W TKO 10 Marcello Matano (17-3). Light: Marvin Petit (21-1-1) W PTS 12 Jerobe Santana (15-1). Light Heavy: Serhiy Demchenko (18-11-1) W TEC DEC 5 Hakim Zoulikha (24-9). Light Heavy: Louis Toutin (7-0) W KO 1 Hugo Kasperski (29-8-1). Super Feather: Samir Ziani (25-3-1) W PTS 10 Samir Kasmi (22-12-1). Cruiser: Siril Makiadi (8-1) W KO 1Herve Lofidi (5-2).

Vitu vs. Matano
Vitu win IBF eliminator with stoppage of Matano. Vitu used his southpaw jab to take the first round and added uppercuts from the same hand before shaking Matano with a left hook in the second. Matano was also cut over the right eyebrow and bleeding from the nose. Despite that he was pressing hard and Vitu was standing and trading instead of using his physical advantages. Matano did not have the power to hurt Vitu and was rocked by a series of punches in the fourth but Vitu seemed to be cruising doing some showboating and taunting and that was allowing Matano to score with hooks to the head and body and get into the fight. Matano continue his forward march and was outworking Vitu and things seemed to have swung his way as a bruise was forming under the left eye of the Frenchman. Vitu changed that late in the ninth when he floored Matano with a right. The volume of noise was so loud that the bell was not heard and the round overran slightly. Vitu put Matano down again in the tenth and although he was up at four the referee took a careful look at him and stopped the fight. The 31-year-old Vitu has lost only once in his last 29 fights and has won 11 fights in a row. With the first two positions in the IBF ratings vacant Vitu was the highest rated fighter at No 3 and as Matano was No 4 Vitu now has a win over a rated fighter so can go to No 1 and get a shot at Jarrett Hurd. Matano fought bravely here but was outgunned. His No 4 rating was farcical. He was stopped in seven rounds by Julian Williams in March last year and in his only fight since then he beat a guy with a 2-57-1and that was enough to elevate him to the second top place in the IBF ratings. What a farce.

Petit vs. Santana
Petit wins the vacant European Union title with unanimous decision over Spaniard Santana. Petit got into his stride first scoring well with uppercuts inside as Santana tried to use his edges in height and reach to keep the fight on the outside. The Frenchman was strong, more aggressive and had quicker hands. He was able to get past the Spaniard’s jab and Santana had to fight from the third round with a nose injury. Petit was coming forward most of the fight with Santana not really using his jab well and not throwing enough punches. There had been bad blood before the fight when Petit pushed Santana and it was the same in the fight with Petit pushing Santana onto the back foot and dominating the action scoring with short hooks and uppercuts inside.  Although slow and one paced Santana eventually made some improvement over the closing rounds. He was able to slow Petit with body punches and force the action but by then the fight was Petit’s. The Frenchman showed some clever defensive work when under pressure and Santana put in a big effort in the last round but despite an anomaly in the scoring Petit ran out a clear winner. Scores 118-109, 118-110 and a too close 115-113. The only loss suffered by 26-year-old Petit was a wafer-thin decision against Yvon Mendy for the French title in 2013 and this is his eighth win on the bounce since then. The 24-year-old “Chocolatito” Santana from Las Palmas, the WBC Youth champion, had no complaints about the verdict.

Demchenko vs. Zoulikha
Demchenko wins the European Union title with split technical decision over champion Zoulikha. Demchenko is very one dimensional. He uses a left jab to both score and keep his opponents off balance. When he does use his right or employs his left as anything but a jab he can be crude. However Zoulikha had a lot of problems in trying to get past the jab and although using a wider variety of punches he was too often short or inaccurate. For Demchenko it was jab, jab, jab and some overhand rights. Zoulikha was having to leap in and fire quick burst. He had some success with clubbing rights making it a close fight. Demchenko had been cut over his left eye in the second round and a clash of heads in the fifth saw the cut bleeding heavily so the fight was stopped and went to the scorecards with two judges going 48-47 for Demchenko and the third seeing Zoulikha in front 49-46. The 37-year-old Rome-based Ukrainian Demchenko first won this title with a fine win over Mirco Ricci  in March last year but relinquished it to fight a losing battle with Mehdi Amar for the European title in June. Former French champion Zoulikha, 30 had a bad run of four losses in a row but rebounded last year with three wins including a victory over Kevin Thomas Cojean to win the vacant European Union title.

Toutin vs. Kasperski
A new star is born as teenager Toutin wins the French title. The experienced Kasperski was defending the national title for the first time and made a confident start. He was getting through with jabs and some nice hooks with Toutin landing some choice hooks of his own. Kasperski landed a sharp right uppercut to the chin of the youngster and Toutin responded immediately with a vicious left hook to the body. Kasperski back away bent in half in agony and went down on one knee. He tried to get up and made it half way but the pain was too much and he dropped to his knees as the referee completed the ten count. Toutin has won all of his fights by KO/TKO and is now the French champion despite having less than 13 rounds on his ledger. The young gypsy is hoping to emulate Julien Lorcy, the only boxer from the French gypsy community to win a version of a world title. Kasperski, a former French super middle champion, gets his first loss by KO/TKO which makes Toutin’s achievement even more spectacular.

Ziani vs. Kasmi
This one was the best fight of the night as Ziani gained revenge for a 2013 loss and regained the French title by a majority verdict. Demchenko must have used up the allotment of jabs for the night as neither of these fighters employed one. It was toe-to-toe, head-to-head stuff from first to last. They both elected to stand and trade hooks, uppercuts, swings and a few punches which were a combination of all three. The pace was hectic with a lot of offence and very little defence on show.  They kept that pace up all the way. Kasmi was hindered by a cut over his left eye but in the end it was the strength of Ziani that decided the fight. He had Kasmi finally taking a step back and stumbling along the ropes in the ninth and after Kasmi was on top for the early part of the last the strength and firepower of Ziani had Kasmi pinned on the ropes and under pressure at the bell. Scores 97-93 and 97-94 for Ziani and 95-95. A great little scrap. The 26-year-old Ziani was due to win a close fight. His loss to Kasmi saw one card have a two point difference and one a one point difference in favour of Kasmi. When he lost to Richard Commey in 2014 two of the scores were 96-94 for Commey and when he was beaten by Guillame Frenois for the European title in November all three judges had it 115-113 for Frenois. Naturally his aim now is another fight with Frenois. Former European Union champion Kasmi is now 7-3 in his last 10 fights but loses only against top flight opposition.

Makiadi vs. Lofidi
Makiadi wins the vacant French title with dramatic kayo of Lofidi. Lofidi came out punching and had Makiadi on the back foot. He was quicker and had the better technical ability. He took Makiadi to the ropes a couple of times landing some hard rights. He continued to press the fight forcing Makiadi to the ropes again and moving in throwing punches. He was carrying his left hand low and Makiadi landed a booming right to the chin. Lofidi staggered back on wobbly legs and Makiadi now drove Lofidi to the ropes and landed a dozen chopping rights that put Lofidi down on his back half out under the ropes and the referee waived the fight over without a count. After not turning pro until he was 32 and losing his first pro fight the well-educated financial consultant has now won 8 in a row, 3 by KO/TKO. Lofidi also lost his first pro fight and was a slight favourite here.

Tucson, AZ, USA: Super Bantam: Diego De La Hoya (18-0) W PTS 10 Erik Ruiz (16-7-1). Super Middle: D’Mitrius Ballard (17-0,1ND) W PTS 10 Adrian Luna (20-5-1). Light: Robert Manzanarez (35-1) W PTS 8 Erick Daniel Martinez (13-7-1).

De La Hoya vs. Ruiz
De La Hoya marches on with wide unanimous decision over game Ruiz. In a fast-paced bout Ruiz was marching forward trying to turn the fight into a brawl and he had some success in the opening round. After that De La Hoya was boxing skilfully on the back foot banging home counters and firing home quick bursts of combinations. The skill and hand speed together win some good defensive work saw a maturing De La Hoya dominating the action. The sixth and ninth rounds were pure war with both standing and trading hard punches and Ruiz staged a strong finish at the end of the last round but De La Hoya was quicker and more accurate and the decision was never in doubt. Scores 100-90 twice and 99-91 but Ruiz gave De La Hoya a harder fight than those scores indicate. The 22-year-old Mexican had first cousin Oscar at ringside and was celebrating the birth of his first child last month. He is maturing and improving but needs stiffer tests to enable an assessment of how far he can go. He is rated IBF 6(4)/WBC7/WBO 10 with his best wins over Jesus Ruiz and Orlando Del Valle. Oxnard-based Ruiz is now 3-5-1 in his last 9 fights but in there are a draw with Horacio Garcia (30-1) and a win over Hanzel Martinez (23-2) so a credible opponent..

Ballard vs. Douglin
Ballard gets his toughest fight so far and only just squeezes past Luna. Ballard built an early lead and he needed it in the end. After edging a furious first round Ballard put Luna down with a right in the second. Luna beat the count and was still feeling the effects of the punch in the third. From the fourth Luna started to roll and Ballard found himself in a real donnybrook. Luna was taking the fight to Ballard with Ballard having to show good defensive work to match Luna’s aggression. Luna had a good eighth when he had Ballard badly shaken and took the ninth but Ballard battled back and did what he had to do to take the last. Scores 95-94 twice and 97-92 all for Ballard with the knockdown in the second round the deciding factor. The 24-year-old “Big Meech” Ballard wins the vacant WBC USNBC title, his first title as a pro. As an amateur he was National Golden Gloves champion in 2010 and 2011, the US Under-19 champion, National PAL gold medallist and US Ringside World champion. Luna was very much a surprise package. This was his first fight in the USA and he came in as a late replacement. There was nothing in his record that said he would be this tough but the 27-year-old “Tyson” nearly provided a shock.

Manzanarez vs. Martinez
Southpaw Manzanarez continues his winning ways as he takes every round against fellow Mexican Martinez. Scores 80-72 from all three judges. The 22-year-old Phoenix-born Manzanarez turned pro at 15 and has reversed his only loss. He now has 14 wins in a row 11 of those by KO/TKO. “Facebook” Martinez drops to 2-7 in his last 9 fights.

Panama City, Panama: Feather: Jorge Sanchez (17-2) W PTS 10 Bryan De Gracia (20-1-1). Super Feather: Irving Berry (23-6-2) W RTD 3 Eliecer Lanzas (17-10-3). |Super Feather: Jaime Arboleda (10-0) W RTD 4 Jorge Mendez (4-4-1).

Sanchez vs. De Gracia
“Bufalo” Sanchez pulls off a minor upset as he takes the decision and ruins the unbeaten record of fellow-Panamanian De Gracia with a very close unanimous decision. De Gracia used his height and reach to build an early lead. Sanchez had more success getting inside from the fifth round and De Gracia lost his way and started to fade out of the fight. Scores 96-94 from all three judges for Sanchez. After winning his first 15 fights Sanchez suffered back-to-back losses in 2016 against Gavin McDonnell and Venezuelan Franklin Manzanilla but this victory will put him back in the ratings. “The Rock” De Gracia, 23, had won 8 of his last 9 fights by KO/TKO. After drawing his first pro fight his 20 wins had seen him rated WBA8 and WBC 13 but he will have a rebuilding job to do and is looking first for a return with Sanchez.

Berry vs. Lanzas
Berry returns with a win after almost three years away from the sport. He was much too good for mediocre Nicaraguan Lanzas who retired after three rounds. The 31-year-old Berry lost to Argentinian Jonathan Barros for the WBA secondary feather title in 2010. He retired in 2014 after losing 4 fights against very high class opposition. Six losses by KO/TKO now for Lanzas who is 3-6-1 in his last 10 fights.

Arboleda vs. Mendez
Arboleda has an easy one as he beats up Nicaraguan Mendez for four rounds with Mendez retiring at the end of the fourth. The classy 22-year-old Panamanian makes it 8 wins by KO/TKO. He is looked upon as one of the best prospects in Panama having won a gold medal at the Central American Championships and also at National level. He comes from a boxing family. His late brother Jose was a world rated fighter who died in an car accident in 2009 at the age of 27and brother Jesus who is serving a six year jail sentence. He is managed by Ernesto Marcel Junior the son of the great Panamanian world champion. He is already rated No 7 by the WBA and one to watch. First loss inside the distance for low grade opponent Mendez.

May 19

Hamburg, Germany: Light Heavy: Igor Mikhalkin (20-1) W PTS 12 Thomas Oosthuizen (27-1-2). Heavy: Christian Hammer (22-4) W PTS 10 Zine Eddine Benmakhlouf (22-6-1). Cruiser: Mario Daser (13-0) W TKO 3 Ola Afolabi (22-6-4). Super Light: Fatih Keles (9-0) W PTS 10 Rafik Harutjunjian (10-2). Super Welter: Sebastian Formella (15-0) W PTS 10 Denis Krieger (13-5-2).

Mikhalkin vs. Oosthuizen
Mikhalkin wins the vacant IBO title with unanimous decision over Oosthuizen in an all-southpaw contest. Oosthuizen made a good start using his big advantages in height and reach. He was able to box on the outside stabbing home the jab and landing straight southpaw lefts. Mikhalkin struggled to get past the jab but he had a better second round closing the distance with Oosthuizen not being as mobile. The fight did not deviate from that pattern. Mikhalkin was pressing getting inside and working away with both hands with Oosthuizen too often finding himself pinned to the ropes and unable to make use of his jab. Mikhalkin ramped up the pressure as the rounds went by and Oosthuizen slowed and his work rate and accuracy fell away. Mikhalkin suffered a small cut over his left eye in a clash of heads but it was never a factor. Mikhalkin scored with some neck-jerking head punches in the eighth then Oosthuizen stormed forward throughout the ninth trying to turn the fight around but Mikhalkin did some good defensive work and countered the South African’s attacks. Over the closing rounds the Russian simply outboxed and out punched a tired Oosthuizen and ran out a clear winner. Scores 118-110 twice and 118-109 all for Mikhalkin. The 31-year-old former undefeated European champion returned from a one year ban for a positive test with a low level win in March. That positive test cost him his European title and his world rating but this win puts him back in the picture. Oosthuizen, 29, a former IBO super middle champion has shown indiscipline which has seen him have only three fight in the last two years. He has let down those who built him and effectively thrown away his career. He does not seem to understand that when you bite the hand that feeds you it could result in you getting the finger!

Hammer vs. Benmakhlouf
Hammer struggles to retain his WBO European title just squeezing past Algerian-born Benmakhlouf. The challenger took the first two rounds being the busier fighter and holding off late rallies from Hammer in both rounds. Hammer did not look to be in the best condition and was behind on points at the half way mark. From the sixth Benmakhlouf tired and his work rate dropped. Hammer floored Benmakhlouf late in the sixth and that proved important in the scoring. Hammer also had a good seventh pinning Benmakhlouf on the ropes and pounding away to the body. The eighth and ninth were close with Hammer probably doing just enough to edge them but Benmakhlouf finished the stronger and took the tenth. Scores 96-94 twice and 96-93 for Hammer with that sixth round knockdown being the main factor in Hammer’s win. The 29-year-old Hamburg-based Romanian is 14-1 in his last 15 fights losing to Tyson Fury and beating Erkan Teper and David Price. He is No 2 with the WBO but was not impressive here. The 40-year-old Benmakhlouf is really just a cruiserweight and in that division he suffered losses to Roy Jones Jr. for the WBU title in 2013 and Taylor Mabika for the WBFederation title in his last fight in December.

Daser vs. Afolabi
Daser wins the vacant IBO International title with victory over a shadow of the fighter Afolabi once was. Afolabi was competitive over the first round. Daser looked bigger and stronger and was forcing Afolabi back but Afolabi was countering with combinations. There was a short break as Daser was given time to recover from a low left from Afolabi. That was as good as it got for Afolabi. Daser was bulling and bullying Afolabi around the ring in the second. Daser was drilling home body punches with Afolabi visibly wilting and it was no surprise when he slumped to one knee after a couple of body punches. He slowly got to his feet and was trapped on the ropes taking punches at the bell. Daser continued to punish Afolabi’s body in the third. Afolabi tried to punch back but had no power and eventually after a couple more thumps to the body from Daser he dropped to his knees. The referee started the count but Afolabi’s corner man jumped into the ring and the fight was stopped. Daser wins the vacant IBO International and, although there is some doubt about it, the WBO European titles. The 28-year-old Daser is a self-made property millionaire. He turned pro in 2009 and up to 2011 he scored 11 wins. He was then inactive for five years. The 37-year-old former IBO and interim WBO champion Afolabi was having his first fight for 15 months and hopefully his last.  A whole storm of abuse was hurled at Afolabi for his poor performance and the WBO supervisor indicated they would refuse to recognise the fight as for their European title. Afolabi’s response to the abuse was to advise that he had suffered an arm injury in training two weeks before the fight but was not about to turn down the EURO 160,000 as it was the biggest purse he had ever received. He felt the sport owed him something for all the bad breaks he had suffered so did not regret his performance.

Keles vs. Harutjunjian
Keles wins the vacant WBO European title but Dutch-based Armenian Harutjunjian could feel he was more than a little unlucky. There was never much between them. Keles looked the harder puncher but neither fighter was in any trouble in the fight. A draw would have been a fairer decision but Keles had “home” advantage and took the decision. Scores 97-92, 96-95 and 95-94 for Keles. The 27-year-old Turk, a former European gold medallist and Olympian, will now probably get a WBO top 15 rating but he still has a long way to go. Harutjunjian, 29, had been stopped in three rounds by Filipino Sonny Katiandagho in July last year but had scored a win over Felix Lora in October.

Formella vs. Krieger
Formella wins the vacant IBO Continental title with wide points victory over Moldovan Krieger. The German used his longer reach to control the fight and Krieger found it hard to land with anything of note due to the excellent defensive work from Formella. Just when it looked as though Formella was on cruise control Krieger finally found the target with a left hook and Formella was on the floor. He was shaken but after the count took control again and boxed his way to victory without any more scares although Krieger fought hard enough to make an entertaining contest. Scores 97-92 twice and 98-92 all for the 29-year-old Formella. The Polish-born dockyard crane driver is a former Global Boxing Council champion and has been matched careful against some experienced but moderate opposition and is building a good following. Hamburg-based Krieger is now 1-4 in his last 5 fights.

Bolton: Super Feather: Zelfa Barrett (17-0) W PTS 10 Eusebio Osejo (28-21-3,1ND). Heavy: Alex Ustinov (34-1) W TKO 1 Raphael Zumbano (39-15-1), Light Heavy: Luke Blackledge (23-3-2) W TKO Olegs Fedotovs (22-31).

Barrett vs. Osejo
Barrett scores two knockdowns on the way to a points win over competitive Osejo. A confident Osejo launched some furious attacks in the first and had obviously come to fight. He even found time for some early showboating. Barrett was boxing cleverly on the back foot, planting home sharp accurate counters and slowly taking charge of the fight. After outboxing the aggressive Osejo for most of the fourth round Barrett landed a couple of flashing combinations and then dumped Osejo on the seat of his pants with a peach of a left hook. Osejo was up quickly and the bell went at the end of the count. Osejo kept trying to force the fight with Barrett finding more and more gaps for his jab and quick counters. Barrett dished out some severe punishment in the eighth in the form of hooks to head and body and in the ninth finished a series of fast punches with a booming right that put Osejo flat on his back on the floor. The gutsy Nicaraguan beat the count and then just stood in front of Barrett trading punch after punch. He was rocked by more rights but made it to the bell and Barrett showed his admiration for Osejo’s fighting spirit by touching gloves at the end of the round. Barrett rocked Osejo a couple more times in the tenth but Osejo deservedly made it to the bell. Referee’s score 99-90. The 23-year-ol Barrett has good skills and had won his previous 7 fights by KO/TKO. He showed his ability and his power here. Osejo did a great job of giving Barrett ten tough rounds. The Spanish-based Nicaraguan is 0-8-1 in his last 9 fights but there is a draw with Kiko Martinez and a split verdict loss to Evgeny Gradovich in there and he gives value for money.

Ustinov vs. Zumbano
Ustinov gets first round win in a travesty of a fight. Zumbano was down in the first 30 seconds although it looked more like a push than a punch. Ustinov then proceeded to batter Zumbano around the ring with the Brazilian occasionally trying to punch back. A series of chopping rights finally convinced the referee he had seen enough and he stopped the fight. Now 25 wins by KO/TKO for the 6’7 ½” (202cm) from Belarus. It is a sign of how bad the WBA are that this 40-year-old lumbering giant is their No 3. He has earned this high position by beating rivals such as Travis Walker, Maurice Harris and Konstantin Airich. It would be funny if it was not so serious. Zumbano is really just a record padder who loses anytime he tries to move up.

Blackledge vs. Fedotovs
Former undefeated Commonwealth champion Blackledge eased his way back into the winning column with a stoppage of Latvian Fedotovs. Blackledge was on top all the way and the Latvian’s corner threw in the towel in the fourth to save their man further punishment. First fight for Blackledge since his loss to Callum Smith for the British title in December. His other losses have been to Erik Skoglund on a very close decision in Denmark and to Rocky Fielding and he will be looking to get a couple of wins under his belt and then go for a title.  Fedotovs is now 1-9 in his last 10 fights.

Pont-Audemer, France: Fly: Thomas Masson (17-3-1) W TKO 9 Olek Hryshchuk (16-1). Bantam: Georges Ory (8-2-1) W PTS 10 Jeremy Beccu (10-4).

Masson vs. Hryshchuk
Masson wins the vacant European title with dramatic ninth round stoppage of Hryshchuk. Always a slow starter Masson ceded the first two rounds to the busier Ukrainian but then made good use of his longer reach to outbox Hryshchuk. After four rounds two judges had it 38-38 and the third had Masson in front 39-37. The Frenchman continued to outscore Hryshchuk over the middle rounds. It was the classier work and harder punch of Masson against the higher work rate from Hryshchuk. After Masson looked to have just edged the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds Hryshchuk battled back to take the eighth and although behind on two cards at 78-74, 77-75 one judge had him in front 77-76 and he seemed to be starting a roll. That ended in the ninth when a devastating uppercut sent Hryshchuk down on one knee. He indicated to the referee that he was badly hurt and the referee stopped the fight. A former undefeated French and European champion Masson was out for almost a year due to a knee injury but having won his last 9 fights will now be looking to land a world title shot. Hryshchuk was having his first fight outside the Ukraine and his record includes 9 wins over fighters who either had never had a fight or never won a fight but he did get a technical decision over useful Filipino Jason Canoy and was very much in this one until the dramatic finish

Ory vs. Beccu
Ory wins the vacant French title with unanimous decision over former top amateur Beccu. Ory had lost a close unanimous decision to Beccu in 2015 and had lost his last fight but he produced the goods here. Scores 98-92, 97-93 and 97-94. Beccu was French amateur champion in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and competed at both the European Championships and the Olympic Games but he has now failed in two attempts at the national title and it looks as though he is not going to make it beyond domestic level as a pro,

Ontario, CA, USA:  Feather: Erick Ituarte (17-1-1) W PTS 8 Isaac Zarate (12-3-2).
Ituarte climbs off the floor and gets split verdict over Zarate in a fight promoted to main event when feature fighter Giovanni Santillan was refused permission to fight due to dehydration from making the weight. Ituarte was generally pressing the fight with southpaw Zarate boxing on the retreat showing good defensive moves and sharp counters. In the third round one of those counters in the shape of a left hook put Ituarte down. He beat the count and the fight continued to be a close one to the final bell. Scores 76-75 twice for Ituarte and 77-74 for Zarate. Ituarte wins the vacant NABF Junior title. A 22-year-old Mexican based in Santa Ana, California, Ituarte now has 10 wins in a row, 9 of them on points.  Zarate, also Mexican, was having only his second fight in 19 months.

May 20

New York, NY, USA: Super Light: Terrence Crawford (31-0) W RTD 10 Felix Diaz (19-2). Light: Ray Beltran (33-7-1,1ND) W KO 2 Jonathan Maicelo (25-3,1ND). Welter: Konstantin Ponomarev (32-0) W PTS 8 Ed Paredes (38-7-1). Light Heavy: Steven Nelson (7-0) W TKO 2 Gilberto Rubio (7-6). Super Light: Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (2-0) W PTS 8 Agustine Mauras (6-3-3). Feather: Shakur Stevenson (2-0) W TKO 1 Carlos Suarez (6-4-2).

Crawford vs. Diaz
Once again Crawford outclasses an opponent as he slowly breaks down Dominican Diaz to force a tenth round retirement

Round 1
Crawford cruised through the first round. He worked his way around the smaller Diaz stabbing through jabs and easily evading Diaz’s attempts to get close.
Score 10-9 Crawford

Round 2
Diaz increased his aggression in the second but it made no difference. Crawford continued to slot home his jabs and short left hooks and dodge, turn or tie-up Diaz when he got close.
Score 10-9 Crawford                            20-18

Round 3
Diaz managed to close the gap a little in the third but Crawford was giving another boxing master class. He was not loading up on his punches but was making Diaz pay as he marched in and scoring with short hooks.
Score 10-9 Crawford                            30-27

Round 4
Crawford was noticeably sitting down on his punches more in the fourth. Diaz was still pressing but in his frustration leaving more gaps for counters as he lunged forward,
Score 10-9 Crawford                            40-36

Round 5
Diaz had no choice but to continue to bull forward and every time he threw a punch he was leaving a gap through which Crawford threaded a counter and a left uppercut was the class punch of the fight so far. Diaz finally began to get through with some punches as the round continued and a strong finish saw him make it the closest round so far but Crawford’s accuracy gave him the round.
Score 10-9 Crawford                            50-45

Round 6
Crawford dominated this one. He outboxed the challenger from outside and when he stayed in the pocket was scoring with short hooks and then dodging out again with Diaz swishing air
Score 10-9 Crawford                            60-54

Round 7
There was plenty of action in the seventh. Diaz was just walking forward ignoring Crawford’s punches and scoring with swinging lefts and rights. Crawford turned the tables forcing Diaz to the ropes and scoring with hooks. Crawford let himself down with some taunting as Diaz decided to stay on the ropes and let Crawford come to him as the champion did enough to add that round to his tally.
Score 10-9 Crawford                            70-63

Round 8
Crawford gave out another boxing lesson in the eighth. Diaz did not seem able to decide whether he needed to be going forward or make Crawford come to him but it made no difference. Crawford scored with jabs hooks and uppercuts and looked to have hurt Diaz with a left to the body just before the bell.
Score 10-9 Crawford                            80-72

Round 9
All of the fight seemed to have gone out of Diaz in the ninth. He spent the whole round with his back against the ropes as Crawford teed off with right hooks to the ribs and clubbing lefts with Diaz just looking defend and hardly throwing a punch.
Score 10-9 Crawford                            90-81

Round 10
Diaz’s left eye was nearly closed but he survived a doctor’s inspection at the start of the round. Diaz was mainly focused on survival. He fought in spurts and near the end of the round was staggered by some blazing left uppercuts and right hooks and Diaz corner pulled their man out of the fight.
Score 10-9 Crawford                            100-90

Another masterly display by Crawford as he makes the fifth defence of his WBO title and second of his WBC title. It is difficult to see who in this division can match the 29-year-old from Omaha. Jason Pagara is his mandatory WBO challenger and Amir Imam his WBC but neither poses a threat. Namibian Julius Indongo was imperious in outclassing Ricky Burns and Rances Barthelemy is on a good run but Crawford would be favoured to beat them both. Mikey Garcia could come up from lightweight but it will soon be time for Crawford to move up and look for a fight with Manny Pacquiao, Keith Thurman, or the winner between Kell Brook and Errol Spence. Dominican Diaz, a former Olympic gold medal winner, has taken almost eight years to work his way to a title shot. He has a future but is unlikely to get another title shot.

Beltran vs. Maicelo
Beltran wins short and brutal fight as he climbs off the floor to kayo Maicelo. Beltran was walking Maicelo down with the Peruvian on the back foot shooting out jabs. As Maicelo lunged forward he threw a couple of light body punches and his head banged into Beltran’s face and Beltran went over to the floor. Beltran’s was up immediately tapping his head to show it was not a punch but the referee applied the eight count. Beltran had suffered a cut over his left eye in the collision. When the action restarted Beltran continued tracking Maicelo then their heads clashed and the fight was paused due to a cut on the top of Maicelo’s head. They exchanged shots and Maicelo seemed to be rocked just before the bell. Maicelo was coming forward throwing punches in the second and putting Beltran on the back foot. That came to an end when Beltran exploded a left hook on Maicelo’s chin which put the Peruvian down on his back out cold. The referee waived the count. Maicelo was down for quite a while and eventually was taken from the ring on a stretcher but waived to show he was OK. Beltran wins the vacant WBA International title. He drew with Ricky Burns and lost a wide decision to Terrence Crawford in WBO title fights. He did beat Takahiro Ao for the vacant WBO title but failed to make the weight and was then banned for a positive test. Following an impressive win over Mason Menard in December he was rated WBO 2/IBF 3(2)/WBC 4/WBA 12 so another title challenge is almost a certainty. Maicelo, 33, lost to Darleys Perez for the interim WBA title in 2015 but had put himself back in the picture with wins over Brandon Bennett (19-1) and Jose Felix (35-1-1).

Ponomarev vs. Paredes
Ponomarev outworks Paredes for a well deserved unanimous decision Ponomarev made a busy start. Paredes had slight edges in height and reach but Ponomarev was quicker and used his jab to put Paredes on the back foot. Paredes landed a good countering left with Ponomarev showing a small injury over his right eye. Ponomarev kept Paredes on the back foot over the second and third rounds. He was scoring well with his jab and quick combinations. Paredes showed a good jab but was throwing too few punches. Ponomarev dominated the early part of the fourth but then Paredes unleashed a series of hard head punches which had been missing from his armoury to this point. Ponomarev took over again in the fifth and never let Paredes back into the fight. He was outworking Paredes out jabbing him and scoring inside with left hooks and uppercuts. Paredes work rate dropped. He was still able to slot home stiff jabs and momentarily halt Ponomarev with a right in the sixth but Ponomarev just kept coming with Paredes seemingly giving up on any chance of winning and just looking to stay the distance. They both threw some heavy punches in the last. Ponomarev seemed to shake Paredes with a right and he was still coming forward at the bell. Scores 78-74 for Ponomarev from all three judges. The 24-year-old Russian “Talent” who turned pro at 17, has good wins over Cosme Rivera, Steve Claggett, Mikael Zewski and Brad Solomon and is rated IBF5/WBO 6/WBA 8. His mother tried to interest him in football, break dancing, basketball and playing the guitar but he chose boxing. When he was 16 a broken wrist caused him to miss the Russian championships so he turned pro at 17. Paredes was once world rated after a 14-0-1 run but then fell away. He had won his last two fights.

Nelson vs. Rubio
Nelson blows away Rubio inside four minutes. . Nelson almost ended it in the first when he floored Rubio with a blistering combination late in the round. Rubio only just beat the count and the punch had also opened a cut over his right eye. Nelson wasted no time in ending it in the second. He put Rubio down twice with body punches and the referee stopped it with just 36 seconds gone in the round. “So Cold” Nelson, 28, a boyhood pal of Crawford’s, was an Army and US Services champion. He served as a Satellite Communications technician and did a stint in Afghanistan. He went to the Olympic Games in London as an alternate for Marcus Brown but was not needed. He has six wins by KO/TKO. Rubio has lost 4 of his last 5 fights.

Gaibnazarov vs. Mauras
Olympic champion Gaibnazarov blew his first opponent away in 86 seconds so a gutsy Mauras did a good job here of taking the Uzbek prospect the full eight rounds. Southpaw Gaibnazarov is a class act He has oodles of skill and easily outboxed Mauras but never really had him in trouble as he eased his way to winning every round and getting some useful ring time on his record. Scores 80-72 from all three judges. The 25-year-old former World Amateur champion took the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics where he beat Gary Antuanne Russell in the quarter-finals. He looks a can’t miss prospect. Mauras started with a 6-0-3 run in the pros but has now lost his last three on points.

Stevenson vs. Suarez
For Stevenson the situation was the reverse of that of Gaibnazarov. The Olympic silver medallist had to go into the full six rounds for his first pro win but this one took him less than three minutes. He went straight after Suarez scoring with long southpaw lefts. Suarez’s only answer was some head down wild swings. Stevenson continued to hunt the Argentinian down and worked him over on the ropes. A straight right and a left hook staggered Suarez. As Suarez lunged forward a chopping right to the head sent him face down on the canvas.  As he tried to get up he fell backwards and the referee stopped the fight. The 19-year-old from Newark is a star in the making. Argentinian Suarez was 1-0-2 in his last three fights but had no chance here.

London, England: Super Feather: Gervonta Davis (18-0) W TKO 3 Liam Walsh (21-1). Feather: Ryan Walsh (22-2-1) W TKO 11 Marco McCullough (17-4). Super Welter: Joe Pigford (13-0) W KO 5 Aarron Morgan (12-1). Light Heavy: Anthony Yarde (11-0) W TKO 4 Chris Hobbs (6-2-1). Heavy: Daniel Dubois (3-0) W KO 1 David Howe (13-5).
17

Davis vs. Walsh
Davis retains the IBF title with controversial stoppage of Walsh inside three rounds with controversy over whether the fight was stopped too early.

Round 1
Walsh had slight advantages in height and reach and after starting in his normal southpaw stance changed to orthodox in the round. Davis stuck with southpaw, was quick with his jab and tried a few hooks and did just enough to take the round
Score 10-9 Davis

Round 2
Davis started the second round feinting attacks to draw the lead and counter. Walsh was again boxing with an orthodox stance and landed a good straight right. Davis became more aggressive over the late part of the round and Walsh switched back to southpaw but neither fighter did enough to win the round.
Score 10-10                                        20-19

Round 3
Davis was standing hands down in the third again looking to draw the lead and counter. He then went on the attack throwing mainly straight lefts. Davis had stepped up the pace and he shook Walsh badly with an overhand left. Walsh tried to clinch but Davis shook him off and Walsh danced across the ring with his hands down. Davis followed him and landed two more lefts then a right followed by a chopping left that sent Walsh to the floor. Walsh knelt watching the referee’s count and got up slowly at eight and his legs did a little wobble. The referee had a look at him then let the action continue. Davis walked in landing two more lefts to the head knocking Walsh sideward’s and the referee stepped in and stopped the fight.

It looked an early stoppage although Walsh’s legs were unsteady after the count and Davis was poised for another knockdown. The referee has to make these instant decisions and it is always better that if he errs at all then it is on the side of safety and although Walsh did have a strong case for being allowed to continue the referee called it as he saw it. The 22-year-old Davis was making the first defence of the IBF title he won with a stoppage of Jose Pedraza in January. It took him three attempts to make the IBF imposed weight check on the day of the fight but he has now scored nine wins in a row by KO/TKO. Walsh, 30, the former undefeated British and Commonwealth champion had the additional disappointment of never getting a chance to really get into the fight and show his undoubted qualities.

Walsh vs. McCullough
Ryan makes it a promising start to the evening for the Walsh family as he retains the British title with a stoppage of McCullough. This was a fast-paced contest from the first bell. Walsh showed plenty of confidence switching guard and throwing fast shots with McCullough having the longer reach just probing with his jab. McCullough had the better of the second round as he made good use of his jab and scored with some heavy straight rights. McCullough again boxed well in the third but Walsh found the target with rights and had McCullough shaken by a pair of rights at the bell. Walsh took the fourth. Late in the round he landed an overhand right and then sent McCullough staggering with a left uppercut and followed that with a hard right. He had McCullough pinned on the ropes but some good upper body movement from McCullough stopped Walsh from landing anything else of substance. McCullough recovered well in the fifth fighting behind his jab and probably doing enough to share the fifth and take the sixth as Walsh change to southpaw in both rounds. In the seventh McCullough was stabbing his jab home with Walsh just not throwing much. That changed late in the round when Walsh shook McCullough with a straight right and had McCullough under pressure to the bell. Walsh had a big eighth as he upped the pace landed some heavy punches and drove McCullough around the ring. McCullough just did not have the power to keep Walsh out. The ninth went to McCullough as he worked hard behind the jab and Walsh did not start letting his punches go until the last 30 seconds. McCullough needed a knockout but it was Walsh who had the power. Late in the tenth he hurt McCullough and drove him to the ropes. Instead of fading McCullough banged back and the exchanged heavy punches with McCullough actually stopping Walsh in his tracks with a right. After another of these ridiculous delays whilst the tape on McCullough’s gloves was reattached Walsh hurt McCullough with a right. And then pinned McCullough on the ropes firing punch after punch until the referee stopped the fight. Walsh, 30, was having his first fight since losing a split decision to Dane Dennis Ceylan for the vacant European title in October. His only other loss was on points against current IBF champion Lee Selby in 2013 and he has the ability to shoot again for the European title or even a world crown. Belfast’s McCullough, 27, had won 5 of his last six fights. He showed excellent skills but just did not have the power to match Walsh

Pigford vs. Morgan
Pigford’s power proves too much for Morgan in a clash of unbeaten fighters. Pigford had height and reach over Morgan and throughout the fight was able to stab home his long lefts. He also found the target with right crosses from distance. Despite the difference in height Morgan was also able to thread jabs through Pigford’s defence. Morgan kept trying to get inside but was having to take punishment to get there. By the fourth Pigford was on top with Morgan having difficulty getting past the jab. They both threw punches after the bell to end the fourth. It is not often you see it but before the start of the fifth the referee indicated to the judges to take a point from both fighters for that after the bell action. Morgan continued to try to work his way inside in the fifth but was caught by a left hook and then a right to the top of the head staggered him. He tottered into the ropes and Pigford followed and landed four rights to the head that put Morgan down heavily and the referee stopped the fight immediately. The 24-year-old from Southampton has won 12 of his 13 fights by KO/TKO and this is his tenth win in a row that way. Morgan had won 8 of his fights by KO/TKO and he was competitive to the end but Pigford was just too big and strong for him.

Yarde vs. Hobbs
Yarde showed his power from the start. He was landing thunderous right crosses and solid left hooks to the body. Hobbs tried to fire back but dropped to his knees after a left hook to the body from Yarde with the bell going as the eight count was completed. Yarde stalked Hobbs throughout the second and shook him with a long right late in the round. Hobbs was mainly on the defensive launching only a few attacks of his own. He tried to survive the third by getting in close and clinching but a left hook to the body dropped him to his knees. He beat the count and went on the retreat but was floored by another body punch at the end of the round. Hobbs was dropped again early in the fourth touching down briefly. He was down twice more and whilst the referee was counting the towel was being waived for the fight to be stopped.  The 25-year-old Yarde is impressive. He fights with a casual arrogance but he has the skill, speed and power to back that up. This is his tenth win by KO/TKO. He wins the BBB of C Southern Area title which I am sure will be the first of many titles for him. The only other loss suffered by Hobbs was due to a dislocated shoulder but Yarde was just too powerful for him.

Dubois vs. Howe
Dubois make it three wins by KO/TKO as he destroys the 6-8” (203cm) Howe. After some preliminary sparring Dubois landed a booming right to the jaw that sent Howe down heavily and it was all over in 40 seconds. Dubois, 19, had only a short time as a senior in the amateurs so needs ring time but finding someone to test him is difficult. Howe does not have the best chin, this is his fifth loss by KO/TKO, but that was a devastating right from Dubois.

Oxon Hill, MD, USA: Feather: Gary Russell (28-1) W TKO 7 Oscar Escandon (25-3). Super Middle: Andre Dirrell (26-2) W DISQ 8 Jose Uzcategui (26-2). Super Light: Rances Barthelemy (26-0,1ND) W PTS 12 Kiryl Relikh (21-2). Bantam: Antonio Russell (8-0) W TKO 3 Jovany Fuentes (7-9). Super Light: Gary Antuanne Russell (1-0) W TKO 1 Josh Ross (2-4-4). ).

Russell vs. Escandon
Russell retains his WBC title with stoppage of Escandon but fights a dumb fight and the stoppage looked a little premature with Escandon complaining bitterly that he could have continued

Round 1
It was apparent from the start that Russell had quicker hands and better footwork. As Escandon plodded forward behind a high guard Russell banged home some jaw-rattling southpaw right uppercuts and left hooks. He kept switching angles and scoring with stinging punches from both hands. Escandon finished the round with a strong attack scoring with some hefty body punchers but Russell was catching him with those right uppercuts all the way.
Score 10-9 Russell

Round 2
Russell just chose to stand and trade with Escandon in the second allowing the Colombian to work to the body with both hands. Escandon probably couldn’t believe his luck as instead of using his superior skills and speed Russell was standing and brawling and for me Escandon did enough work inside to win the round.
Score 10-9 Escandon                            19-19

Round 3
Escandon rumbled forward again at the start of the third but Russell nailed him with a chopping right to the side of the head which unhinged Escandon’s legs and saw him drop forward putting his gloves on the canvas. He got up and walked towards a corner but his legs wobbled and he looked unsteady as the referee counted out the eight seconds. Russell drove forward landing head punches from both hands and put so much power in one right that when he missed he sprawled down on his knees. Russell bounced punch after punch off Escandon’s head but apart from a left that had him staggering late in the round Escandon just walked through the punishment showing amazing courage and punch resistance to last to the bell. Russell had handed so much punishment that for me it was more than a 10-8 round
Score 10-7 Russell                                29-26

Round 4
Escandon made a remarkable recovery and took the fourth. He never stopped walking forward scoring to the body with both and landing clubbing rights. Russell’s shots were more accurate and harder but he was being denied punching room and out worked.
Score 10-9 Escandon                            38-36

Round 5
Escandon was in Russell’s face for the whole three minutes of the round. Russell was only fighting in short bursts. Escandon just kept forcing Russell back and banging to the body. Russell had been going low with his punches and was given a warning. Over the last 30 seconds Russell cut loose with a series of right uppercuts and hooks but again I saw Escandon taking that one.
Score 10-9 Escandon                            47-46

Round 6
Russell was still choosing to brawl and only fighting in short bursts. Escandon kept up the pressure but in the middle of the round Russell looked to have shaken Escandon with a right and let go a blazing combination of head punches. Escandon took a step back but then rumbled forward again. This time it was Escandon who was warned for a very low punch.  Russell also fired home hooks and uppercuts before the bell and just did enough to take the round.
Score 10-9 Russell                                57-55

Round 7
This time Russell was smart. He used his jab to set Escandon up and then exploded with combinations of straight rights, hooks and uppercuts which put Escandon back on his heels. As he rocked forward Russell nailed him with a right to the head and Escandon staggered back badly shaken. He fell into the ropes and looked about to sag to the canvas when the referee jumped in and stopped the fight.

As in the Davis vs. Walsh fight the referee erred on the side of safety. Escandon had shipped more severe punishment in the third than the punches that brought the stoppage in the seventh but made his call. Russell made this much harder than it had to be. When he boxed on the outside and kept moving the gap in skills was clear but he chose for most rounds to stand and brawl with the slower but incredibly tough and strong Escandon. Of course Russell, 28, who was making the third defence of his title, was immediately calling for a return fight with Vasyl Lomachenko the only man to have beaten him but Carl Frampton is rated No 1 by the WBC so he will want his title shot. Escandon, 32, the WBC interim champion, lived up to his “The Warrior” nickname. He soaked up unbelievable punishment but walked through it and his pressure and thudding body punches was enough to shut Russell down in some rounds and at times Russell seemed to have no answer to the Colombian’s pressure.

Dirrell vs. Uzcategui
Dirrell wins the vacant IBF interim title in controversial ending as Uzcategui is disqualified for knocking Dirrell over with a punch after the bell to end the eighth round.  With Uzcategui having a kayo percentage of 79% Dirrell had to fight a careful fight and avoid getting involved in too much trading. He was looking to score with quick punches and then move and then repeat the sequence. Uzcategui spent the early rounds stalking Dirrell around the perimeter of the ring. He was looking to score with one big shot at a time and not throwing enough but always looked dangerous and did enough to take the first round. Uzcategui had a big second round as he finally let his punches flow. He was doing a better job of cutting the ring off and looked to have shaken Dirrell with a left. Dirrell dropped to the canvas as Uzcategui advanced so it was a slip rather than a knockdown. Uzcategui continued to apply pressure and had Dirrell trapped on the ropes and landed a punch after the bell for which he was warned. Uzcategui clipped Dirrell with a couple of good rights to the head at the start of the third the first of which saw Dirrell sag at the knees. Dirrell then managed to stay in ring centre and Uzcategui again was holding back looking to land big punches and the pace of the fight dropped. Dirrell had a better of the fourth. He kept his right jab in Uzcategui’s face showed good upper body movement to dodge the Venezuelan’s punches and did enough to take the round as Uzcategui indulged in a little clowning. Uzcategui was just not throwing enough punches but he stepped up the pace in the sixth and seventh. He scored with some long rights early in the eighth. At the end of the round he backed Dirrell into a corner and landed a left to the head, a right and then another big right that landed after the bell and Dirrell dropped face first to the canvas. Initially he knelt up but then went down and rolled onto his back. The ending was similar to the ending of his brother Andre’s fight with Arthur Abraham in 2010 when Andre slipped on water on the canvas and went down with Abraham landing a punch to the back of Andre’s head which led to Abraham’s disqualification and Andre being out of the ring for 21 months. In a disgraceful scene after the fight Dirrell’s trainer and uncle Leon Lawson went over to Uzcategui corner and with Uzcategui not looking his way landed two bare fist punches to the Venezuelan’s head before fleeing the ring and the arena. Dirrell is IBF interim champion but it is no way to win a title. Hopefully there will be a return as the 26-year-old Uzcategui was certainly in with a chance of winning and it is doubtful if he heard the bell or could have stopped the last punch in time.

Barthelemy vs. Relikh
Barthelemy gets unanimous decision over Relikh but the scorecards are no reflection on how close this fight really was. The first two rounds were fairly even but Barthelemy got a break in the third. He hit Relikh with a blatantly low punch and should have been deducted a point but was not. Relikh was given a couple of minutes to recover and seemed energised by the foul and stepped up his pace. Barthelemy showed some great skills in the fourth constantly switching guards and piercing Relikh’s guard with shots from both hands. Relikh gave the perfect response in the fifth as he staggered Barthelemy a couple of times then battered Barthelemy against the ropes. Barthelemy sagged under the pressure and the referee gave the Cuban a count ruling that the ropes had held Barthelemy up. Barthelemy made it to the bell. The sixth was an even round and Barthelemy edged the seventh. Relikh looked to be on his way to winning the eighth scoring with hooks to the body and some choice uppercuts only for Barthelemy uncork a savage body punch which saw Relikh going down on one knee.  Gradually from there Barthelemy began to take control of the fight. Relikh fought hard and was competitive all the way looking to have taken a couple of the late rounds but Barthelemy won the rest and emerged the deserved winner. Scores 117-109, 116-110 and 115-111which gave the right result but were all a bit wide. With the IBF super feather and lightweight titles already in his collection Barthelemy was moving up to super light here. With Relikh rated No 1 by the WBA and Barthelemy No 2 he is in line for a shot at their title once it is sorted out whether Namibian Julius Indongo will hold onto both the WBA and IBF titles but either way Barthelemy could be going for his third title before the end of the year. Belarusian fighter Relikh, 27, lost to Ricky Burns for the WBA title in October where again the scores did not reflect the Belarus fighters efforts but having arrived at the top table hopefully he will remain there and get another title shot.

Russell vs. Fuentes
Russell moves to eight wins as he halts over-matched Fuentes. Russell had too much of everything for the Puerto Rican. Russell floored Fuentes in the second and third rounds with the referee stopping the fight after the second knockdown. The 24-year-old younger brother of Gary won a gold and two silver medals in the National Golden Gloves and was National PAL champion He has six wins by KO/TKO. Fuentes is now 2-8 in his last 10 fights.

Russell vs. Ross
Three fights, three wins by KO/TKO for the Russell family. Russell annihilated poor Ross with three knockdowns before the fight was stopped. The 20-year-old youngest of the pro Russells was a quarter-finalist at the 2016 Olympics where he lost to eventual gold medallist Fazliddin Gaibnazarov. Ross was a late choice as opponent and had no chance here.

Tokyo, Japan: Fly: Daigo Higa (13-0) W TKO 6 Juan Hernandez (34-3). Light Fly: Ken Shiro (10-0) W PTS 12 Ganigan Lopez (28-7). Middle: Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (36-2) W PTS 12 Ryota Murata (12-1).

Higa vs. Hernandez
Higa wins the vacant WBC title with stoppage of Hernandez who lost the title when he failed to make the weight. Higa went after Hernandez from the start but constant movement and changing from orthodox to southpaw by Hernandez left a frustrated Higa chasing shadows. It was a similar story in the second as Hernandez was constantly changing angles and scoring with fast jabs. That changed when a short left hook clipped Hernandez on his forehead and he went down. He was up quickly and cleverly boxed his way to the bell. Hernandez took the third as he again switched guards effortlessly and kept changing angles and generally outboxing Higa. Higa was trying to move in behind a high guard in the fourth but that only works if the guy stands still in front of you. Hernandez was constantly on the move and again did most of the scoring. They bumped heads in the round with Hernandez stepping out of the action but there was no cut. Higa finally caught up with Hernandez on the ropes in the fifth and put the Mexican down with a left hook. Hernandez was up quickly and after the eight count was trying to stay out of trouble but Higa was scoring with some vicious body punches and Hernandez was warned for holding. Hernandez was down at the start of the sixth from a couple of body punches but he also indicated there had been a clash of heads. When the action resumed Higa hunted Hernandez down and a couple more body punches and a right uppercut put Hernandez down again. He lay on his back unmoving but then leapt to his feet. After the count Higa drove Hernandez across the ring and again a combination of body punches and an uppercut saw Hernandez slump to the floor. He looked finished but as before suddenly came upright and signalled he was fine. The fight could have been stopped then but when Higa floored Hernandez with hooks to the body and as the Mexican slumped to the floor the referee waived the fight over. The 21-year-old Higa has won all of his fights by KO/TKO so has to be respected and it will be interesting to see how he progresses. Hernandez, 30, threw his title away. After losing to Kazuto Ioka for the WBC minimum title in 2011 he had scored 16 wins in a row winning the vacant WBC title with a stoppage of Thai Nawaphon in March so only reigned for just over two months.

Shiro vs. Lopez
Shiro wins WBC title in his tenth fight with very close majority decision over unlucky Lopez. The champion took the first round but Shiro showed quick movement and took the second. The third and fourth were close and after that period the scores were 39-38 twice for Shiro and 38-38. Lopez had a good fifth firing in body punches and forcing the fight hard. The sixth and seventh were again so close they could have been scored either way and Shiro the smarter boxer seemed to have the better of the action in the eighth and was in front 77-75 on all three cards. Shiro took the important ninth again scoring with quick jabs and combinations and using clever footwork to dodge the attacks of Lopez but the Mexican came on strong at the end of the round landing with left hooks.  Pressure from Lopez slowed Shiro in the eleventh and two tired fighters battled away in the last with Shiro getting home some good body punches. Scores 115-113 twice for Shiro and 114-114. A draw might have been a fairer result but home advantage is always important. Shiro, 25, has rocketed through the ranks winning the Japanese title in his sixth fight and the OPBF title in his eighth and is now a world champion. Whilst at university in 2013 he won a gold medal at the National Sports Festival in Japan and turned pro after graduating. His real name is Masaki Teraji and his father Hirashi was an OPBF champion at light heavy. The Ken Shiro come from Kenshira a legendary figure in magna literature. It took Lopez 33 fights to win a world title and it seems a pity he should lose the title after 14 months and just one successful defence. He deserves a return but if that does not come then at 35 he is on borrowed time.

N’Jikam vs. Murata
N’Jikam wins the secondary WBA title with a very disputed split decision over home fighter Murata

Round 1
Murata gave away the first round. N’Jikam circled the perimeter of the ring scoring with a few jabs and a couple of hooks with Murata throwing less than five punches and missing with them
Score 10-9 N’Jikam                                10-9

Round 2
Again N’Jikam does most of the scoring. He continues to circle the ring with Murata tracking him. Murata threw more punches than in the first and landed a good left hook to the body but N’Jikam was throwing more and although there was little power in his punches he was landing more.
Score 10-9 N’Jikam                                20-18

Round 3
Again Murata did a little bit more but not enough. N’Jikam was constantly moving changing angles and looping punches around Murata’s guard. Murata was shadowing N’Jikam but not cutting the ring off and standing back too much
Score 10-9 N’Jikam                                30-27

Round 4
Murata had more success early in the fourth as he forced N’Jikam to stand and trade. Murata was throwing only one punch at a time and the Frenchman was still throwing more and landing more but late in the round a straight right from Murata put N’Jikam down. He was up quickly and after the eight count stayed out of trouble to the bell.
Score 10-8 Murata                                38-37

Round 5
Both men had good periods in the fifth. Murata was throwing more and scoring with hard rights but it was still only one punch at a time. N’Jikam stood and traded early in the round and was penetrating Murata’s guard with hard shots from both hands. A punch from Murata sent N’Jikam stumbling back into the ropes and he almost went down. Since it was the ropes that held him up it could have been scored as a knockdown but as it was not N’Jikam had done enough to take the round.
Score 10-9 N’Jikam                                48-46

Round 6
The sixth was a close round. N’Jikam yet again threw more and landed more but Murata’s punches were harder and he shook N’Jikam momentarily in the middle of the round
Score 10-9 Murata                                57-56

Round 7
Typically Murata threw only 15 punches in the seventh round. Luckily for him N’Jikam was taking dancing classes just tripping around the ring-literally as he tumbled over three times once due to a right to the head-and did even less than Murata.
Score 10-9 Murata                                66-66

Round 8
Just as Murata had given away early rounds by throwing very few punches N’Jikam was doing the same by spending too much time exploring the ring perimeter and too little time fighting. Murata managed to land two or three rights but it was turning out to be a disappointing fight with neither fighter throwing or landing enough punches to generate any excitement.
Score 10-9 Murata                                75-76

Round 9
In the ninth Murata was again just following N’Jikam around the ring and not letting his punches go. I counted 21 punches he threw in the round, and that was a higher work rate than he was typically using. He did land a hard straight left and a right with again N’Jikam scoring more but with light punches lacking snap. For me neither did enough to win the round.
Score 10-10 Even                                85-86

Round 10
Murata was more active at the start of the tenth scoring with some clumping rights and a couple of hooks to the body. N’Jikam came on at the end of the round but Murata’s early work gave him the edge.
Score 10-9 Murata                                94-96

Round 11
Murata also took the eleventh as he did the pressing and landed some good body punches with N’Jikam dancing too much and punching too little. He was not looking to trade but overdid the caution.
Score 10-9 Murata                                103-106

Round 12
Again in the twelfth the solid work came from Murata with N’Jikam really just looking to stay out of trouble and he did very little work in the round
Score 10-9 Murata                                112-116

Official scores: 116-111 and 115-112 for N’Jikam and 117-110 for Murata.

Whilst I saw Murata the clear winner there were many rounds where he just did not work hard enough and times when the more numerous but much lighter punches from N’Jikam might have swayed the judges towards him. The strong finish from Murata is what won him the fight in my opinion but this was not the disgraceful decision it was being painted. What I found disgusting is the way that WBA President Gilberto Mendoza threw judges Gustavo Padilla from Panama and Hubert Earle from Canada to the dogs or stabbed them in the back or both. Mendoza said he scored the fight 117-110 for Murata and demanded a return fight. He seems to overlook the fact that if these two judges got it so wrong then the blame rests with the WBA who appointed them. As for Mendoza’s scorecard, Padilla has judged 128 fights and Earle 86-Mendoza has never judged a fight but suddenly he is an expert! The Japanese market is huge for the WBA so there will be a return but let’s not lose sight of the fact that Gennady Golovkin is the real WBA champion.  At various times N’Jikam has held the WBA and WBO interim titles and his only losses have been to Peter Quillin and David Lemieux for the full WBO and IBF titles respectively. At 33 time is against the Cameroon-born N’Jikam and he will have to return to Japan again to defend this secondary title. Murata was disappointed and disappointing. He has power but his work rate was far too low and he looked very limited technically. The WBA will see he gets his return and if he can work harder he should win that one.

Nagoya, Japan: Light Fly: Kosei Tanaka (9-0-0) W PTS 12 Angel Acosta (16-1).
Tanaka retains his WBO title with unanimous decision over Puerto Rican puncher Acosta. The challenger was coming forward over the first two rounds. He was firing combinations with Tanaka forced onto the back foot and mainly relying on good movement and a stiff left jab. Acosta really let his fists fly early in the third driving Tanaka back with hooks from both hands. Tanaka then turned things around. He was taking the fight to Acosta hurting Acosta with a left to the body and finishing the round with another left to the body and a straight right. That was the turning point in the fight. In fourth Tanaka again hurt Acosta with a body punch and had the Puerto Rican in full retreat. Tanaka continued strongly in the fifth and dropped Tanaka with a lovely right uppercut as he took control of the fight. Acosta banged back but Tanaka showed excellent skills and was now in control. The champion was dominating the fight with his jab and banging home left hooks to the body. He shook Acosta with a left hook in the seventh. Acosta was storming forward whenever he could trying to turn the fight around and did enough to edge a couple of rounds particularly the eleventh but Tanaka was stronger in the last and was a clear winner. Scores 117-110 twice and 116-111 all for Tanaka. The 21-year-olf was making the first defence of his WBO title. He won the WBO minimumweight title in his fifth fight and the light flyweight title in his eighth so a two-division world champion after just eight fights. How does Japan develop these shooting stars that emerge into the pro game and win titles with records still in single figures? Acosta, 26, had won all of his previous fights by KO/TKO. He had beaten some good but not top level fighters and found Tanaka just too big a step up but he will fight for a title again.

Poznan, Poland: Cruiser: Krzys Wlodarczyk (53-3-1) W PTS 12 Noel Gevor (22-1). Super Welter: Patryk Szymanski (18-0) W PTS 10 Rafal Jackiewicz (48-16-2). Welter: Przemyslaw Runowski (15-0) W TKO 2 Alain Chervet (13-1-2).

Wlodarczyk vs. Gevor
Wlodarczyk gets important win as he takes split decision over unbeaten Gevor. The fight started slowly with both fighters just probing cautiously. Wlodarczyk was coming forward with Gevor content to fight on the back foot looking to draw the lead and counter. The fight was very much one of tactics rather than spectacle. The Pole was probable just a bit busier over the first three rounds but there was never much of a gap between them. Gevor finished the fourth strongly catching Wlodarczyk with a series of punches. The fifth was again a close round and Gevor had a good sixth successfully getting Wlodarczyk to commit himself and then scoring with quick, accurate counters.  Neither fighter was really throwing many punches and it was a case of whether you preferred the single big punches from Wlodarczyk or the bunches of light combinations from Gevor. The sixth and seventh could have been scored either way but Wlodarczyk stepped up his work rate in the eighth and landed a good right cross. Gevor did well with his quicker hands in the ninth and tenth but Wlodarczyk was on top in the eleventh and had probably just edged in front. Gevor had more left in the tank and was a clear winner of the last round. That did not prove to be enough as two judges had Wlodarczyk winning by 116-112 and 115-114 and the third saw Gevor the winner 115-113. Wlodarczyk, 35, a former IBF and WBC champion is now in line for a shot at IBF champion Murat Gassiev but as Gevor was also No 1 with the WBO he could just as easily go after Olek Usyk for the WBO title. Gevor had been carefully guided and Wlodarczyk was a step up from his previous opposition but he proved he belonged at this level and at 26 has plenty of time to rebuild. The Armenian-born German-based fighter just did not do enough to ensure a win in the other guy’s back yard in this only his third fight outside Germany. His team will post an official protest over the decision but it was a close fight and no robbery. There is something ironic about a German team complaining about a home decision.

Szymanski vs. Jackiewicz
Szymanski gets wide unanimous decision over veteran Jackiewicz but struggles at times. Szymanski outboxed Jackiewicz in the first and then floored him in the second. Jackiewicz recovered but Szymanski continued to outscore the former European champion pumping home left jabs and using good footwork to deflect Jackiewicz’s attacks. There was a moment of danger for Szymanski in the fourth when a right cross had the younger man’s legs wobbling badly but it came late in the round and Szymanski made it to the bell without further trouble. Jackiewicz took punishment in the sixth but had a good seventh. The younger man continued to pile up the points with a higher work rate as opposed to the single big punches from Jackiewicz and took the eighth and ninth but Jackiewicz finished the fight strongly scoring with some good counters. Scores 98-92 twice and 98-91 all for 23-year-old Szymanski. He has good skills but lacks real power. Former IBF title challenger Jackiewicz, 40, has said he will keep fighting until he gets two more wins to reach 50 wins

Runowski vs. Chervet
Runowski halts previously unbeaten Chervet. The Swiss fighter made a fast start scoring with numerous but light punches. Runowski slowed Chervet’s progress with some stiff jabs. In the second Runowski put Chervet down with a right. Chervet made it to his feet and was able to continue after the eight count. Another right cross put Chervet down for the second time. Again he beat the count but with just five seconds to go in the round Runowski floored Chervet for the third time and the referee and his corner both decided enough was enough. Third win by KO/TKO for the 23-year-old Polish hope. Chervet is the nephew of Fritz Chervet, who lost twice in world title challenges but was a dominating figure in the European flyweight division in the early/mid 1970’s. It looks as though Alain will never reach those heights.

Charleroi, Belgium: Cruiser: Ryad Merhy (23-0) W PTS 12 Mitch Williams (15-5-3). Heavy: Herve Hubeaux (27-2) W TKO 7 Sergio Romano (8-9-1). Welter: Meriton Karaxha (13-4-1) W TKO 7 Imad Azaroui (9-2).

Merhy vs. Williams
Merhy retains his WBA Inter-Continental title with unanimous decision over Michigan’s Williams. After a cautious opening round Merhy took over. William’s southpaw stance posed no problems for Merhy as he forced the fight scoring with strong jabs and firing home body punches. Merhy’s dominance was such that he allowed himself to play with Williams at times. Williams finally got a foothold in the fight in the ninth when Merhy did not press so hard and it looked as though the Ivory Coast fighter may have injured his right hand. Williams took the fight to Merhy in the tenth and was more competitive over the last two rounds than he had been earlier but Merhy finished strongly. Scores 119-110 twice and 118-110 all for Merhy. The 24-year-old Merhy is No 7 with the WBA although he has yet to face a “name” opponent. The EBU have him at No 14 and that title would be a realistic aim. Williams, 34, stumbled at the start of his career going 1-2 in his first three fights. After that he went 14-2-3 with the losses being to world rated fighters Ismayl Sillah and Olanrewaju Durodola. He had won his last 7 fights so a reasonable level of opponent.

Hubeaux vs. Romano
Hubeaux eases his way back with stoppage win over Italian Romano in the seventh round. First fight for Hubeaux since his losing effort against Agit Kabayel for the vacant European title in February. Hubeaux had won 15 in a row prior to that. He lost clearly against Kabayel but is still No 10 with the EBU and is only 25 so can come again. Romano, 37, had turned his record around by going 7-2-1 in his last 10 fights but found Hubeaux just too good for him.

Karaxha vs. Azaroui
Karaxha comes from behind to win the vacant Belgian title. Azaroui looked to be on his way to victory as he used clever defensive work to frustrate the aggressive Karaxha. Southpaw Azaroui was outboxing Karaxha being busier and more accurate with his punches and was clearly in front after six rounds. Karaxha turned things around by flooring Azaroui heavily in the seventh. Azaroui survived to the bell but pressure from Karaxha forced the local fighter to trade punches in the eighth and a right to the body floored Azaroui and the fight was stopped.  The 25-year-old Albanian-born Karaxha gets his fourth win by KO/TKO. No luck in title fights for the 29-year-old local fighter as he lost on points for the vacant WBC Francophone title back in 2015.

Verviers, Belgium: Light: Faroukh Kourbanov (14-0) W PTS 8 Rachid Sali (5-5-1). Super Light: Steve Jamoye (22-3-1) W PTS 6 Ferenc Katona (8-6-1). Bantam: Stephen Jamoye (32-7) W KO 1 Zsolt Sarkozi (5-1-1).

Kourbanov vs. Sali
European Union champion Kourbanov gets unanimous verdict over Frenchman Sali in a non-title fight.  The Belgian-based fighter from Kyrgyzstan floored Sali in the second and was on top for most of the fight with Sali on the defensive and doing well to last the distance. Kourbanov was a clear winner. Scores 80-71, 80-72 and a too close 77-75 all for Kourbanov .Sali is now 0-4-1 in his last 5 fights.

Jamoye vs. Katona
Jamoye pads out his record with a win over Hungarian-based Romanian southpaw Katona in a keep busy fight. The contest was one-sided but Katona absorbed some more hard knocks over the last four rounds but lasted the distance. Some late nights with his newly born baby did not affect Jamoye’s form. Scores 60-54, 59-55 and 59-56 all for the 25-year-old BeNeLux champion and European No 10.

Jamoye vs. Sarkozi
Elder brother Stephen, the puncher in the family, puts away Hungarian teenager Sarkozi inside a round. A hook to the body put Sarkozi down and he was unable to beat the count. Now 17 wins by KO/TKO for the 27-year-old former European bantam champion and unsuccessful challenger for the WBC and secondary WBA titles. He faces Karim Guerfi next month in an attempt to regain the European title but this fight would have done nothing for his preparation.

Medellin, Colombia: Welter: Sam Vargas (27-3-1) W KO 5 Marco Avendano (30-11-0). Canadian-based Vargas goes home for his first fight in Colombia and continues to rebuild with a kayo of experienced/elderly Venezuelan Avendano. The 28-year-old Vargas has won 10 of his last 12 fights with the losses being against Errol Spence (L TKO 4) and last November against Danny Garcia (L TKO 7). He started 2017 with a points win over useful Armando Robles which earned him the WBA-NABA title. Now 43 Avendano lost a split decision to Nobuhiro Ishida for the interim WBA super welter title in 2009 and to Vyacheslav Senchenko for the WBA welter title in 2011 but this was his first fight in two years.

Vicenza, Italy: Super Bantam: Luca Rigoldi (13-1-1) W PTS 12 Vittorio Parrinello (9-1). Feather: Carmine Tommasone (17-0) W PTS 6 Lesther Cantillano (3-3). Light: Domenico Valentino (1-0) W PTS 6 Davide Cali (3-12).
13

Rigoldi vs. Parrinello
Rigoldi win the vacant European Union title with very narrow split decision over former conqueror Parrinello. This one was a clash of styles. Parrinello, a former top amateur had a big edge in technical skills and the longer reach and southpaw Rigoldi was a rough, tough battler who likes to come forward and work inside. Over the early round Parrinello was able to use those skills to score at distance and Rigoldi only had marginal success in closing Parrinello down. From the fourth Rigoldi’s pressure increased and Parrinello was being forced to stand and trade more. He was still the more accurate but despite being wild with his punches at times Rigoldi continually upped his work rate. Both fighters suffered cuts in head clashes but neither cut was serious.  A fiery tenth saw Parrinello scoring with quick combinations and Rigoldi banging back with right hooks. Parrinello managed to create space and box his way through the eleventh but with the decision in the balance Rigoldi stormed through the last landing right crosses and left hooks and emerged the winner. Scores 114-113 twice for Rigoldi and 114-113 for Parrinello. This could have gone either way. Parrinello landed a higher percentage of his punches but Rigoldi threw more and his work rate swung it his way. Rigoldi, 24, lost a close decision to Parrinello for the Italian title in March last year so he gets revenge and the EU title. After the loss to Parrinello had had gone on to win the vacant Italian title in December. It is a great pity that the 33-year-old Parrinello left it so late to turn pro. He was an almost permanent fixture in the Italian National team competing at two Olympics and three World Championships but he is unlikely to hit the heights in the pros.

Tommasone vs. Cantillano
Tommasone gets in six rounds of work against Nicaraguan novice Cantillano. Tommasone outboxed the Nicaraguan all the way. After a very slow start Cantillano did wake up as the rounds ticked off and pressed hard over the last two rounds but he lacked the skills to really extend the unbeaten Italian “Mr Wolf” and Tommasone won every round. The 33-year-old Tommasone, a former undefeated Italian and European Union champion, was having only his second fight in 20 months but is aiming to be more active this year. Two fights in Europe and two losses for Cantillano who will get plenty of paydays as an imported to lose fighter.

Valentino vs. Cali
Valentino turns pro with a points decision over fellow-Italian Cali. Valentino was looking to get an inside the distance win from the start but Cali took his licks and stayed the full route even landing some good left hooks along the way but Valentino took every round. Once again it is such a pity that policemen Valentino has left it so late to turn pro. His name sits up there alongside Robert Cammarelle and Clemente Russo as the most successful Italian amateur boxers in recent years. He medalled at five consecutive World Championships getting a gold, a silver and three bronze medals, won gold medals at three consecutive European Union Championships and a silver and bronze at European Championships but at 33 (his birthday was last week) he has limited time to make any impression as a pro. Cali just there to make up the numbers and did his job by going six rounds.

Laredo, TX, USA: Super Middle:  David Benavidez (18-0) W KO 8 Rogelio Medina (37-8). Feather: Jorge Lara (29-0-2) W TKO 3 Mario Briones (28-6-2).

Benavidez vs. Medina
Benavidez marches on as he halts experienced Medina. Both fighters were looking to establish control early so the first three rounds saw them constantly exchanging hard punches in a trial of strength with neither willing to take a step back. The youth and power of Benavidez finally began to dominate the fight from the fourth. He had Medina badly shaken with a left and bombarded the Mexican with blazing combinations which saw Medina topple back into the ropes. The referee ruled that the ropes had held Medina up and applied an eight count. Medina is tough and he survived to the bell. Benavidez continued to dominate the action in the sixth but every time he hurt Medina the Mexican just walked through it and threw leather of his own. A body punch put Medina on the floor again late in the seventh but he continued to try to take the fight to Benavidez.  It ended in the eighth when another series of hard punches drove Medina to the floor and the referee stopped the fight. Still only 20, “Red Flag” Benavidez is certainly a danger. He has won 17 of his fights by KO/TKO and his last 10 fights have all ended that way including victories over useful opposition such as Francy Ntetu and Denis Douglin. He is the younger brother of the undefeated former interim WBA super light champion Jose Benavidez. He is rated WBA4/IBF 9(8)/WBO 9 and will probably be ready to fight for a world title in 2018. Medina, 28, went the distance with James De Gale for the IBF title in April last year so this was an impressive performance by Benavidez.

Lara vs. Briones
Lara returns to action with a win as he obliterates Briones inside three rounds. The unbeaten southpaw had Briones under pressure throughout the first round and then floored Briones twice in the second. He staggered Briones with a right in the third and then pounded away to head and body until the referee stepped in to save Briones. The 26-year-old from Guadalajara, having his first fight for almost a year, now has 21 wins by KO/TKO. The two draws on his record are technical draws and in his last fight in April last year he knocked out former world champion Fernando Montiel in 97 seconds so one to watch. Briones, 31, went 20-0-1 at the start of his career but is now a modest 8-6-1 against tougher opposition.

San Martin, Argentina: Super Light: Martin Coggi (34-7-3,1ND) W KO 8 Martin Severo (12-6-2). Southpaw Coggi wins the vacant WBFederation Inter-Continental title with kayo of Severo. It was not an impressive display by Coggi who was up against a less experienced Uruguayan and made heavy weather of it. His father Juan Martin constantly demanded his son be more aggressive. Coggi finally ended it in the eighth with a left hook to the body with Severo going down and being unable to beat the count and it was several minutes before he made it to his feet. The 33-year-old “Prince” is 9-2-1ND in his last 12 fights. Second loss by KO/TKO for Severo. This was very much a family occasion with Martin Coggi doing the fighting with his former WBA champion father Juan Martin in his corner and sister Yessica the promoter.

Villa Angela, Argentina: Middle: Marcelo Caceres (15-3) W PTS 10 Cristian Rios (21-9-3). Caceres wins the vacant Argentinian and South American titles with unanimous decision over more experienced southpaw Rios. Caceres built an early lead despite losing a point in the fourth for a deliberate butt. Rios forced his way back into the fight flooring Caceres in the seventh but then ruined his good work with a low shot in the ninth which cost him a point. Scores 97-92, 96-94 and 95-94 all for Caceres who gets his eighth win in a row. Former national champion Rios was 1-2 in his previous three fights losing on points to Tommy Langford and David Lemieux.
May 21

Tokyo, Japan: Light Fly: Milan Melindo (36-2) W TKO 1 Akira Yaegashi (25-6). Super Fly: Naoya Inoue (13-0) W KO 3 Ricardo Rodriguez (16-4). Super Feather: Satoshi Hosono (33-3-1) W TKO 1 Masashi Noguchi (12-7-1). Feather: Ryo Matsumoto (20-1) W TKO 2 Hendrik Barongsay (29-26-3).

Melindo vs. Yaegashi
Melindo springs major upset as he floors defending champion Yaegashi three times to win the IBF title. For about 24 hours Japanese fighters held all four versions of the world light flyweight title but that changed with this fight. After some opening probing with jabs Yaegashi scored with a short right. Melindo then began to come forward letting go some left hooks to the body. As they exchanged punches a short right from Melindo sent Yaegashi tottering back and down. He indicated to his corner that he was OK and when the action resumed took the fight to Melindo. A couple of left hooks from Melindo saw Yaegashi down again. He did not seem badly shaken but when the action resumed a long right to the chin from Melindo floored Yaegashi for the third time. This time he did looked stunned. The referee started the count but then when only half way through waived the fight over. It was a case of third time lucky for the 29-year-old Filipino as he had lost to Juan Francisco Estrada for the WBA/WBO flyweight titles and to Javier Mendoza for this IBF title. He won the interim title with a points verdict over Fahlan Sakkreerin in November. It was a big shock that he beat Yaegashi but an even bigger one as Melindo had previously shown little power with only 12 wins by KO/TKO. Yaegashi, 34, a former WBA minimumweight and WBC flyweight champion will have to think hard about his future after this loss. He seemed to be in a daze and it may be that his punch resistance is shot.

Inoue vs. Rodriguez
Inoue blows away Mexican Rodriguez inside three rounds to retain the WBO title.
Inoue took his time in the first to see what Rodriguez brought to the table. The Mexican fired some good left hooks to the body but then Inoue opened up. He was stabbing jabs and quick rights through Rodriguez’s guard  and landing left hooks to the body as he finished an impressive first round. Rodriguez took the fight to Inoue in the second but once again Inoue controlled the action with his jab. He effortlessly switched guards with straight lefts constantly finding the target and he shook Rodriguez with two of those lefts at the bell. Early in the third he staggered the advancing Rodriguez with a left hook to the chin and then floored him with a left hook.  Rodriguez was up at five and after the eight count Inoue floored him again with another left hook. Rodriguez rolled around trying to get up. The referee started the count but gave it up and waived the fight over. The 24-year-old Japanese “Monster” won the Japanese light fly title in his fourth fight, the OPBF title in his fifth fight, the WBC light fly title in his sixth fight and the WBO super fly title in his eighth fight and this was his fifth defence of that title. He has won 7 of his 8 title fights by KO/TKO. Who knows what he can go on to achieve. Rodriguez, the WBO No 2, had scored wins over good level opposition such as Jonathan Vidal, Miguel Cartagena and Carlos Narvaez but Inoue was numerous levels above him.

Hosono vs. Noguchi
Hosono returns with a win as he halts Japanese No 7 Noguchi inside a round. The end came when Hosono took Noguchi to the ropes and landed a left hook and a right and the fight was over. Hosono, 33, has lost in shots at the secondary WBA title and the real feather title and was coming off a vital loss to Jonathon Barros. Sixth loss by KO/TKO for Noguchi.

Matsumoto vs. Barongsay
Matsumoto adds another inside the distance win. The 23-year-old from Yokohama used body punches to floor Indonesian Barongsay and the fight was over in 95 seconds. He has 18 wins by KO/TKO including a stoppage of his lone conqueror Victor Uriel Lopez. Barongsay is 2-12 in his last 14 fights.

Fight of the week: Gary Russell vs. Oscar Escandon as the Colombian makes Russell fight all the way with special mention to Samir Ziani vs. Samir Kasmi a bell to bell battle for the French super feather title
Fighter of the week: Terrence Crawford gives another masterful display just ahead of the Japanese “Monster” Naoya Inoue who again looks awesome
Punch of the week: The Ray Beltran left hook that put Jonathan Maicelo out cold
Upset of the week: Milan Melindo’s first round destruction of Akira Yaegashi
One to watch: Diego De La Hoya 18-0 and improving from fight to fight and worth watching Roberto Manzanarez 35-1 who turned pro at 15 and is maturing nicely.

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