The Weekend That Was

It was a jam-packed couple of days for boxing action with major matches happening in various locations on the planet, and we’ve got your quick run-down of all the significant results. Check it out:

In Sydney, Australia, Tim Tszyu, son of former super lightweight king Kostya Tszyu, became the super welterweight champion of Australia with a unanimous decision over Joel Camilleri (17-5-1) at the Star City Casino in Sydney. It was a fairly one-sided affair, signalling that the son of the famous “Thunder From Down Under” is likley ready for tougher challenges. He improves to 12-0. At the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, lightweight prospect Romero Duno nabbed a nine round technical decision over Juan Antonio Rodriguez (30-8) to annex the NABO title. It was a hard-fought duel that went to the scorecards after an accidental headbutt in round nine. Duno had scored a body punch knockdown in round eight.

Tszyu lands a right on Camilleri.

Former cruiserweight champion Marco Huck (41-5-1) continued his foray into the heavyweight division with less than impressive results as he stopped journeyman Nick Guivas (14-10-3) in the first round but only after blatantly fouling him. The bout, held at at Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut, was at first ruled a TKO win for Huck, but the result was immediately reviewed and changed due to an “accidental” foul. Huck had scored a knockdown and was in the process of finishing his man when the referee ordered them to break a clinch. Huck then proceeded to land two big shots on the break before the fighters were separated, rendering Guivas helpless. Classy stuff.

On Friday night, Eye Of The Tiger held another major show at the Montreal Casino to showcase their rising prospects and contenders and it was a brilliant success on all fronts. The main event saw giant-sized heavyweight Arslanbek Mahkmudov (8-0) get some rounds in and score a TKO over Jonathan Rice (10-4-1) in the seventh stanza.

“Lion” Mahkmudov watches Rice fall.

This was the longest bout in Mahkmudov’s fledgling career and as one of the objectives of the match was to give the transplanted Russian some experience and work, it was the perfect result for those guiding the mountainous heavyweight they call “Lion.” Rice used constant movement and defensive footwork to survive successive rounds, but at the end of the sixth a right hand from Mahkmudov put him on the canvas. When he was hurt again at the beginning of the seventh, the referee halted the contest.

Eye Of The Tiger’s other talents also passed their tests with flying colours, boding well for the future as Raphael Courchesne (6-0), Kim Clavel (8-0), Clovis Drolet (10-0), Arutyun Avetisyan (13-0), Batyr Jukembayev (16-0), and Mathieu Germain (17-0-1) all notched significant wins. Additionally middleweight prospect Andrei Efremenko won his pro debut and young super middleweight Lexson Mathieu scored his third knockout in as many pro wins.

Jukembayev is a legit title threat at 140 pounds.

The buzz for the 20-year-old Mathieu is especially loud and is only going to get louder if the Montrealer keeps scoring first round knockouts. He is scheduled to fight twice next month and there’s no doubt he has the potential to be a new star on the Montreal fight scene if he continues to dominate his opposition.

Meanwhile, many in Montreal are wondering what is required for both Germain and Jukembayev to gain some increased recognition from the various sanctioning bodies. Without a doubt both deserve to be ranked in the top 15 in the world in their respective weight classes. After scoring a shut-out points win over highly experienced trailhorse Jose Eduardo Rodriguez (29-6-2), Germain was particularly outspoken about his having earned greater recognition.

Germain: getting impatient.

“Seriously, if I do not register in the standings, I do not want their belt,” he declared. “I am not asking for favours. I have proved my value. I deserve to be ranked.”

On Saturday at the Centre 200 in Sydney, Nova Scotia, undefeated cruiserweight Ryan Rozicki scored his tenth pro win against zero defeats as he manhandled Shawn Miller (18-5-1) in front of a raucous crowd. Thudding body shots were Rozicki’s primary weapon as he blasted Miller through the ropes in round three. The American recovered but another big body blow put him down for the count.

On the undercard, Canadian super welterweight champ Kevin Higson (17-2-0) won an eight round decision over Jose Francisco Zuniga (13-13-2), while brothers Jessie Wilcox and Bradley Wilcox of Hamilton, Ontario also won decisions over their Mexican opponents. Also on the card, popular middleweight prospect Brandon Brewer of New Brunswick returned to the ring after a twenty month layoff to outpoint Isaac Mireles (8-7-0) in a very close bout that featured wide scorecards from all three judges.

The undefeated Rozicki shows off his new belt.

In the US, Showtime featured a gross mismatch in their co-feature at Barclays Center, as part-time fighter and WBC featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr. easily dominated former 122 pound champion Kiko Martinez. Martinez was game but had no answers for Russell, who controlled the fight and opened up a nasty cut over Martinez’s left eye, prompting referee Ricky Gonzalez to call a halt to the match at the request of the ringside physician. Time was 2:52 of round number five.

After the fight, Russell Jr. stated that he was interested in a unification fight with WBA champion Leo Santa Cruz, claiming he has been looking for this unification for four years. Russell also expressed interest in a fight down the road with Gervonta “Tank” Davis, the WBA champion at 130, who appeared interested on social media about the possibility of such an encounter. However, talk is cheap for a fighter who has averaged one fight per year since he won the WBC title in 2015, and fans are understandably getting impatient with Russell’s tiresome schtick.

Russell Jr.: same old, same old.

In the Showtime main event, WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder made due on his promise to knock out challenger Dominic Brezeale after the two shared immense bad blood in the build-up in the pre-fight build-up. Wilder’s ring walk lasted longer than the fight, as “The Bronz Bomber” hurt Brezeale early with a right hand, but the challenger surprisingly fended off the ferocious punching champion with a right hand of his own. However, Brezeale’s success was short lived, as in the last minute of the opening round, Wilder connected with a highlight reel overhand right that laid Brezeale flat out. Referee Harvey Dock reached the count of 10 at 2:17 of round number one.

Wilder watches Breazeale fall.

After the fight, Wilder’s manager Shelly Finkel expressed confidence in making the Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua fights in the near future. Additionally, Finkel boldly claimed that he would make those fights “on terms that are acceptable to Deontay, not begged by Deontay.” Finkel also claimed that he planned to lock in one of those mega-fights “this week,” although that would be a staggering accomplishment given the political obstacles at play in the current heavyweight landscape.

Across the pond in Hertfordshire UK, we had unbeaten heavyweight Joe “Juggernaut” Joyce score a third round stoppage over Alexander Ustinov in another sluggish, yet effective encounter. It’s no secret that Joyce has just about the slowest hand-speed of any upcoming heavyweight in recent history, but he has produced knockouts in each and every one of his nine fights thus far and looks forward to gradually tougher competition down the line.

In the main event of the Hertfordshire card, Billy Joe Saunders won the vacant WBO super-middleweight title with a one-sided unanimous decision over Shefat Isufi. Saunders controlled the fight with his combination punching and swift defense, but found himself in some difficulty in round six after being caught with a counter right hand off the ropes by Isufi. Saunders, who was clearly hurt by the punch, managed to hold and survive, but with it comes several questions about how he would fare against a puncher like Callum Smith in a unification fight that Saunders called for after.

Saunders gets a belt: just his second fight in 18 months.

“I really hope we can make the Smith fight, it would be a brilliant fight for the fans,” said Saunders, whose trainer Ben Davison stated that they would also be interested in facing Canelo Alvarez at 168 as well.

Also in the UK, Naoya Inoue and Josh Taylor picked up a pair of impressive victories in the WBSS semi-finals as they advance towards unification fights with Nonito Donaire and Regis Prograis, respectively. Inoue looked spectacular with his assault on unbeaten IBF bantamweight titlist Emmanuel Rodriguez, forcing him to the canvas three times in round two. In many ways, the punching power and ring generalship Inoue continues to show in the ring is reminiscent of a young Nonito Donaire, who was highly ranked up until his defeat to Guillermo Rigondeaux in 2013. Against Donaire, Inoue might have the chance to showcase his fortitude against another big puncher, as “The Filipino Flash” is coming off a devastating knockout over Stephon Young.

Inoue looked monstrous again.

Also in Glasgow, Josh “The Tartan Tornado” Taylor faced a stiff test in 140 pound titlist Ivan Baranchyk. The champion fought well in the early rounds, holding his ground and landing effective counters on Taylor as the Scottish challenger tried to close the distance. Baranchyk managed to stun Taylor in the fifth round with a series of punches, but Taylor reversed the tide in the sixth round by putting the champion on the mat twice. Taylor fought very well in the second half of the fight to secure a victory, and gets the chance to face Regis Prograis in his next encounter. This should be one of the best matchups of the year considering that both men are young and unbeaten and like to rumble.  For more on the WBSS show in Glasgow, check out Ronnie McCluskey’s full report.

— Alden Chodash 

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