It was a very busy weekend in professional boxing with some significant results and some stand-out performances, plus a new Fight of the Year candidate. Let’s get to it:
First up, New Zealand’s Joseph Parker (22-0) made history in Auckland, capturing the vacant WBO heavyweight title with a narrow decision victory over previously unbeaten Andy Ruiz Jr. (29-1). It was a very close fight with Ruiz the aggressor while Parker moved and jabbed. Ruiz’s carried the early going, but he took his foot off the gas in the middle rounds. Parker initiated a lot of holding and relied heavily on the jab to do his best work. In the end, two judges had Parker up 115-113 while the third tally was even at 114-114.
Saturday afternoon saw a stacked card at the Montreal Casino from Groupe Yvon Michel with a slew of talented prospects, including Francis Lafreniere, Shakeel Phinn, Bruno and Dario Bredicean, Marie Eve Dicaire, Patrice Volny and Alex Dilmaghani, all scoring important victories. In the main event, top light heavyweight contender Eleider Alvarez defeated Norbert Dabrowski to set the stage for a high-profile elimination match with former champion Lucian Bute on February 24. Check out our detailed report on the entire card from Zachary Alapi.
In Monterry, Mexico, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (50-2-1) fought for the first time since June of last year, winning a lopsided decision over Dominik Britsch (32-2-1) in a ten round super middleweight contest.
Next, a run-down of all the action from Manchester Arena where Matchroom Boxing staged an excellent gala in support of Anthony Joshua’s latest win. Ten fights in total, starting with wins from prospects Conor Benn (6-0), Katie Taylor (2-0) and Marcus Morrison (14-0). Following those bouts, light heavyweight Frank Buglioni (19-2-1) settled his rivalry with Hosea Burton (18-1) after a dramatic 12th round stoppage. Top rated heavyweight Luis Ortiz (27-0) returned to action after his recent snooze-fest win over Makik Scott to dominate David Allen (9-2-1), scoring a TKO in round seven.
Callum Smith (22-0) is looking to a world title fight next year after scoring another devastating knockout, this time over Luke Blackledge (22-3-2). The 26-year-old super-middleweight unloaded a huge left hook in round ten to end the brave resistance of Blackledge, who had climbed up from two previous knockdowns in the bout. Next, Kal Yafai (21-0) captured the WBA super-flyweight world title by outpointing Luis Concepcion (35-5). The unbeaten Birmingham star dominated from the first bell to the last and won via scores of 120-108, 119-108 and 117-110. And an invigorated Scott Quigg (32-1) demonstrated his full recovery from a broken jaw with an emphatic knockout of Jose Cayetano (20-5). In round nine a left hook to the body set up a vicious overhand right which decked Cavetano and forced the referee to call an immediate halt.
That leaves the heavyweights to close the show in Manchester. First, a thrilling battle saw Dillian Whyte (20-1) score a split decision win over an ultra tough Dereck Chisora (26-7). A heated feud had boiled over with ugly scenes at the recent news conference, but Whyte had the final word as he took the victory with scores of 115-113 and 115-114, while the third judge had it 115-114 for Chisora. It was an action-packed, give-and-take battle the entire way with both men rocked on several occasions. Many are calling for a rematch as Saturday’s thrilling encounter could have gone either way and is a surefire candidate for 2016’s “Fight of the Year.”
In the main event, IBF champion Anthony Joshua (18-0) continued to look every bit the part of the next reigning heavyweight conquerer with a stunning three round destruction of Eric Molina (25-4). Joshua studied Molina with his jab in the first round, opened up a bit more in the second, and in the third a heat-seeking right hand found the mark and Molina dropped like a stone. He beat the count but was stopped in the follow-up barrage. The violent win has sealed the deal for a showdown with Wladimir Klitschko on April 29.
On Saturday night at the Galen Center on the campus of USC in Los Angeles, Showtime offered a double-header event and Abner Mares and Jermall Charlo gave fight fans two excellent performances. Charlo (25-0) retained his IBF super welterweight title with an emphatic fifth round knockout over previously unbeaten Julian Williams (22-1-1), dropping ‘J-Rock’ three times, once in the second and twice in the fifth. Williams, who had not lost a round in ten consecutive fights, went down for the first time in his career from a strong counter left. A brutal right uppercut midway through the fifth sent Williams to the canvas again. He bravely beat the count was clearly in trouble. Charlo floored him seconds later with a left hook, forcing an immediate stoppage.
In the main event, Abner Mares (30-2-1) scored an impressive, upset 12-round split decision over defending champion Jesus Cuellar (28-2) to capture the WBA featherweight title and become a four-time champion. It was a competitive battle, but Mares, who scored the bout’s lone knockdown in round 11, clearly deserved the win. Afterwards, the new champion called out the winner of the upcoming Frampton vs Santa Cruz rematch.
Finally, Terence Crawford (30-0) ended an excellent year with a dominating performance on HBO, stopping John Molina in eight one-sided rounds. Omaha’s own put on a clinic, toying with an outclassed Molina (29-7) before scoring a big knockout. It was reminiscent of Lomachenko vs Walters in its bedazzling one-sidedness as Crawford’s movement and angles perplexed the tough Molina round after round. Finally, in the eighth Crawford battered Molina into a heap in the corner and the bout was stopped, ending the one-sided slaughter.
In the co-main event, top-rated lightweight Raymundo Beltran (32-7-1) scored a highlight reel knockout of fellow top contender Mason Menard (32-2) in Round 7. Beltran landed some heavy blows in the contest and punctuated the win with a devastating one-punch knockout via left hook in round seven. Beltran, who may be looking for a rematch with Crawford, scored his third win in a row.
That’s a wrap! With reports from FightFan.com and Ace Freeman. Check them out for up-to-the minute boxing results!