On Friday afternoon we made our way to the Fabulous Forum for a Matchroom Boxing event. After a long delay of roughly an hour and a half just getting our credentials, as well as a bit of confusion as to where we were going to be allowed to enter, we finally got in and found a seat. The first fight was scheduled to begin at 3:15, and apparently it did. The problem was, we were still outside waiting for credentials. Since it was almost 4:00 by the time we walked in, that fight was over.
The main event featured a super flyweight bout that was for the WBC World super flyweight title. It was between Wisaksil Wangek (47-5-1, 41 KOs) and Juan Francisco Estrada (39-3, 26 KOs). This was a re-match between the two. The last time they met, Wangek took the belt from Estrada and has held it ever since. This fight was scheduled for 12 rounds.
These two took no time whatsoever going at each other. It took no time for chants of “Mexico” to start up in favor of Estrada. He was blasting Wangek with body shots during the opening round. In the second the traded blows in the middle of the ring for all of the round. The center of the ring was still both of the fighters’ playground in the third. I don’t know the punch output, but they were each throwing a LOT of punches per round.
Wangek had a strong fourth round, but that round also saw Estrada connect a lot as well. In both that round and the fifth they would just pound each other with combinations, and then alternate landing their power punches. Their come forward, take no prisoner styles were making for a very exciting fight. The sixth saw Wisaksil looking a bit more dominate during the round, but Juan would jump in and tag him right back. In the seventh they were trading body shots, and head shots as well. Neither man would let the other one take any kind of serious control. The crowd did roar when Wangek’s knee hit the canvas, but it was just a slip.
Estrada seemed to have the upper hand in the eighth. He was finding his target more easily in that round. That action from Juan continued into the ninth. Wangek landed a few, but the last two rounds he had slowed down and not thrown as much as he had been earlier when the pair had gone toe to toe. In the tenth he began to strike again, almost as if he took a couple of rounds off. He landed some hard shots to the head of Estrada that rocked him.
We moved into the championship rounds – this fight had gone extremely fast. In the opening seconds a blow thrown by Wangek landed very low, and Estrada had to take time to compose himself. When the fight resumed Wangek hit Juan with a shot that knocked him halfway across the ring into the ropes. Perhaps he never really recovered from the low blow, but he was not nearly as effective in that round.
In the twelfth and final they were back to doing their dance in the middle of the ring, exchanging blows and combinations. We went to the scorecards. One judge saw it 116-112, while the other two had it 115-113. Estrada was able to fight his way to getting his belt back in a great battle between two super fighters.
The co-main event was to unify both the IBF and WBA belts in the super bantamweight division. It featured Danny “Baby Faced Assassin” Roman (26-2-1, 10 KOs) going up against TJ Doheny (21-0, 15 KOs). When the fight began, Roman held the WBA belt and Doheny the IBF title. This fight was scheduled to go 12 rounds.
The first round saw the fighters testing each other’s’ power and speed. A left hook by Danny put TJ on the canvas for eight near the end of the second round. In the third both fighters landed but Roman continued to work the body of Doheny. Roman landed a couple of heavy combinations on Doheny in the fourth, but that just seemed to make TJ mad. He came back strong, and had his strongest showing against Danny thus far.
There was not a lot definitive in the fifth. Both men connected, but not like they had in earlier rounds. The pace picked up again in the sixth, with each of them scoring points. The seventh was a giant round for TJ. How Danny did not go down is amazing. Doheny was landing everything. Roman fought back, but there was no doubt who won these three minutes.
The battle raged on in the eighth with it once again close, when right at the end of the round Danny caught TJ with two or three good shots. The ninth saw Danny land some great punches, but once again when it looked as if TJ was hurt, he would fight back hard. The tenth was another hard-fought round. Back and forth they went.
The body shot worked for Danny again in the eleventh, as Doheny tasted the canvas for the second time. and like the first, he got back up. We moved into the twelfth and final. It was for all intents and purposes uneventful and we went to the scorecards. One judge had it a draw at 113-113, while the other two saw it 116-110 for the “Baby Faced Assassin” Roman. Danny is now the holder of both the IBF and WBA belts!
In a super welterweight bout that was scheduled for 10 rounds, we saw Jessie Vargas (29-2-2, 11 KOs) facing off against Humberto Soto (69-10-2, 37 KOs). That’s right folks, prior to this night, 80 pro fights for the durable Soto. Just a few seconds into the fight Soto went down, but not because of solid hit. A low blow put him on the canvas, but he rallied back and fought hard. In the second round we had a clash of heads which left Vargas bloodied. The two men fought in close quarters the rest of the round.
The third was another action-filled round. Early on, Soto was holding his own with Jessie. In the fourth, Humberto landed the hardest punch of the night thus far on Vargas, and while it didn’t knock him down, it definitely rattled his cage. Only by comparison, the fifth round was slow. They were still throwing, it is just that the action we had been seeing had been pretty insane. A combination caught Soto a bit off balance and he went down for the eight. Smelling blood, Vargas just unloaded on Humberto, and he was taking so many unprotected shots that referee Thomas Taylor waved the fight off at 1:48 of the sixth.
Vaughn Alexander (14-3, 9 KOs) faced off against Anthony “The Magician” Sims, Jr. (19-0, 17 KOs) in a super middleweight bout that was scheduled for 10 rounds. There was action between the two fighters in the opening round, as they had a bit of a feeling out period. The second round was slow-paced and the boo birds were already out, as the fight was not living up to their expectations. The action picked up in the next couple of rounds, but it seemed that the fans had hoped to see an early knockout from Sims.
In the fourth, Alexander was able to land some good punches; again, not what the fans really wanted to see. The two fighters were pretty even with their punches in the fifth, although Alexander was warned for the second or third time by referee Ray Corona about hitting behind the head. In the sixth Vaughn was on the attack for most of the round. Thus far and on this night, Sims did not look in the ring like he did on paper.
The boos came back in the seventh. This fight was not heating up, but the fans were. Nothing really changed in the eighth, or ninth. We moved into the tenth and final. Sims was dancing away for most of the round, once again eliciting boos. Vaughn was trying to track him, but Anthony is fast while sliding backwards. We went to the scorecards. Two of the judges had it 98-92, with the third one seeing it 96-94, all for Sims. We heard one more round of boos when the decision was announced.
In a fight that was scheduled to go four rounds in the middleweight division, Diego Pacheco (3-0, 2 KO) went up against Guillermo Maldonado (1-1). Pacheco never gave Guillermo a chance as he was all over him. A huge left followed up by a very powerful right put Maldonado down and out. Referee Jerry Cantu never counted but immediately waved the fight off at 1:46 of the very first round.
Shakhram Giyasov (8-0, 6 KOs) faced off against Emanuel Taylor (20-6, 14 KOs) in a fight that was scheduled for 10 rounds in the super lightweight division. This fight was for the vacant WBA international junior super lightweight championship.
Taylor was coming off a near two-year absence. Giyasov came in with an impressive amateur record; he was the 2016 Olympic silver medalist and won a gold medal in the 2017 AIBA World Boxing Championships.
The first round was a surprise, as Taylor just lit Giyasov up, jumping all over him and landing heavy leather. Shakhram was not going to let that happen again, and regained control in the second. We saw some very hard hitting by Giyasov in the third round. In the fourth Shakhram was landing great combinations, but Emanuel would come from out of nowhere and just nail him. Both men were fighting a tad dirty as well.
The fifth was another good one for Giyasov. Taylor can hit really hard, but Shakhram was much busier. The sixth was more of the same from both fighters. I don’t want to say the rounds were becoming predictable, but the last couple, including the seventh, had been more of the same. In the eighth Shakhram continued chasing Emanuel around. The heavy hands were not landing for Taylor like they were in the opening rounds of the fight.
The ninth round was all Giyasov. He easily out-landed his opponent, dominating the entire three minutes. Taylor really tried to rally back in the tenth and final, and had some good spells where his shots landed. But Giyasov seemed way too strong for him, and we went to the scorecards. Two of the judges had it 99-91, while the third saw it 97-93 and new junior super lightweight champion was Giyasov.
In a fight scheduled for eight rounds in the featherweight division, Ronny Rios (30-3, 14 KOs) took on Daniel Olea (13-8-2, 5 KOs). Rios battled Olea with body punches early on and put a lot of pressure on Daniel in the first round. For the most part in the second and third, these two were fighting in a phone booth, foreheads together, throwing blows to the body and head. They were closely matched here, but experience was on the side of Rios.
In the fourth Olea looked to take control a bit. He was preventing Ronny from landing on him by applying a lot of pressure and staying in even closer than they had been. But he had taken a lot of prior beatings, and on the advice of the physician, the fight was stopped before the fifth round and Rios was awarded the victory.
We saw a bout scheduled for 10 rounds in the bantamweight division when Isaac Zarate (16-5-3, 2 KOs) took on NABA super bantamweight champion Alberto Melian (5-0, 3 KOs), and that title was on the line tonight. They wasted no time making contact, and each fighter got in some punches, although the champ looked more relaxed starting out. In the second Zarate stepped it up a bit, but was still getting caught. Isaac got tagged in the third and referee Thomas Taylor felt the ropes kept him up, so even though he did not go down, there was a count.
The next couple of rounds were the same, in that Isaac could just not get anything off. Zarate still looked a bit awkward in the fifth. He was trying to connect, but things just were not working for him. Melian would smother him and prevent him from landing any clean shots. Alberto was continuing to out-work, out-punch, and out-land Isaac. This might only be his fifth fight, but he was staying cool and fighting according to plan. Then, just that quickly, a right hand from Zarate dropped Melian in the seventh round.
That knockdown seemed to breath some life into Isaac, as he came out in the eighth more confident and landing more punches. He got in some good body and head shots. He continued to be more active in the ninth. But was it too little too late? We moved into the tenth and final round, and Zarate was able to score another knockdown. We went to the scorecards. Two judges saw it 95-92, with the third seeing it 94-93, all for Melian. He held onto his title.
In the fight none of us got to see, Murodjon Akhmadliev (6-0, 5 KOs) faced off against world title challenger Carlos Carlson (23-6, 14 KOs). Murodjon dominated Carlson, and knocked him out at 2:51 of the third round.
So, after all of the waiting to see what decisions would be made about where we go and when we go there, the fights were good. It was an exciting night of boxing, and many of these fighters we look forward to seeing again. Congratulations to all of those title winners