It was a weekend to remember or, depending on your point of view, one to forget, as two aging British pugilistic sensations, Amir Khan and Kell Brook, finally got it on in a long-belated grudge match (and we’re talking painfully long-belated) at the Manchester Arena. Even more painful was seeing how shot “King Khan” looked as the former Olympian and two-time world champ could barely keep himself upright whenever “Special K” landed a flush shot. Amazingly, Khan never hit the canvas, despite being on Queer Street in almost every round before referee Vic Loughlin mercifully stopped the one-sided drubbing. No need to go into much detail here: Brook inflicted a beating on his rival of some eighteen years in a victory that means more for Kell’s ego than it does for either boxing or the legacies of the fighters.
“I knew from eighteen-years-old I was a better fighter,” said Brook. As far as the future, Kell stated that he was keenly interested in taking on Chris Eubank Jr., but no doubt some are hoping he maybe thinks twice about moving up in weight to once again take on an opponent naturally bigger and stronger, as we all remember what happened when he faced Gennady Golovkin back in 2016.
Meanwhile, in Tijuana, Mexico, unbeaten middleweight contender Jaime Munguia won a stay-busy fight against fellow unbeaten, but overmatched, contender, D’Mitrius Ballard, who caved to Munguia’s relentless pressure in round three. Ballard boxed well in the opening two stanzas, reaching Munguia with an effective jab, but a monster left hook shook him in the third and a knockdown quickly followed. Ballard beat the count but then offered little resistance as Munguia unloaded; referee Juan Jose Ramirez had no choice but to end the fight. A native of Tijuana, Munguia was thrilled to get that homecoming victory and impress the adoring fans who came out to support him. This was the first time Munguia had performed in his home city since he emerged on the world scene with a title-winning knockout of Sadam Ali in 2018.
“It was a dream of mine to fight here for the people who saw me grow up and develop as a fighter,” said Munguia afterwards. “We came well prepared and my performance proved it.”
Munguia improves to 39-0 (31 KOs) with the win, and he is currently the number one ranked contender for Demetrius Andrade’s WBO 160 pound title. Munguia has shown significant improvement since moving up to middleweight, as demonstrated in his impressive victory over Gabriel Rosado last November, but on this occasion he struggled immensely to make weight. Munguia was reported to have nearly fainted after stepping off the scales, so the jury is still out on how much longer he’ll be able to campaign at 160 pounds.
On the undercard, lightweight contender William Zepeda improved to 25-0 (23 KOs) with a third round stoppage over Luis Angel Viedas. In a sloppy affair, both men went down in the second round, with Zepeda having a point deducted for what referee Fernando Renteria deemed to be an intentional shove of Viedas to the mat. But Zepeda was unfazed and got back to business in round three, flooring Viedas for the count with a combination of punches punctuated by a right hook to the temple. Viedas complained about a body shot that landed while he was on the canvas, but it was to no avail, as the referee reached the count of ten and awarded Zepeda the KO win.
In Russia, once-beaten lightweight contender Zaur Abdullaev scored a twelfth round KO over former three-division champion Jorge Linares in a largely technical affair. Abdullaev’s sole defeat is to Devin Haney in 2019, who dominated him through four rounds before the Russian retired on his stool. With the win over Linares, Abdullaev is now Haney’s mandatory contender but it’s a match few would care to see again. However, with unified lightweight champion George Kambosos reportedly set to face Vasiliy Lomachenko, “The Dream” may be running low on options for his immediate future.
In other news, son-of-a-legend Tim Tszyu issued a bold challenge to unified 154 pound champ Jermell Charlo, whose scheduled March opponent Brian Castano recently pulled out due to an injury suffered in training. The 20-0 Tszyu was scheduled to face Terrell Gausha on the undercard, but is now eager to fill the void and take on Charlo on less than one month’s notice. The boxing world can applaud his cojones, but it remains to be seen if a deal can be put together on such short notice.
Meanwhile, the Montreal Casino was the site of a stacked card headlined by the fighter who could well be set to seriously shake up the heavyweight division in the very near future. Arslanbek Makhmudov notched his fourteenth straight win, all by stoppage, with a sixth round TKO over Poland’s Mariusz Wach (45-8). With the victory, Makhmudov, aka “The Lion,” now holds two North American title belts. The 6’6″ 260 pound knockout artist clearly represents a serious challenge for anyone in the heavyweight division and appears ready for a major step-up fight.
Other winners on the Montreal card included heavyweight Simon Kean, who defeated Shawndell Winters by ninth round TKO, undefeated middleweight Alexandre Gaumont, who stopped Armando Morales in round two, and super-featherweight prospect Thomas “The Ghost” Chabot, who notched his seventh straight win. — Alden Chodash