Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Past Week in Action with Eric Armit

By Eric Armit


-Gervonta Davis destroys Hugo Ruiz inside a round in WBA super feather title defence

-Andrew Cancio pulls of huge shock win as he stops unbeaten Alberto Machado to win the secondary WBA super featherweight title

-Jose Carlos Ramirez retains the WBC super light title with a majority verdict over Jose Zepeda in an entertaining fight that was close all the way

-Rey Vargas gets off the floor and outpoints challenger Franklin Manzanilla in defence of his WBC super bantam title despite cuts over both eyes

-Erickson Lubin stops Ishe Smith and sends the former IBF super welter champion into retirement

-Ray Beltran returns and stops unbeaten Hiroki Okada

-Javier Fortuna outpoints Sharif Bogere in a disappointing match

-Mario Barrios goes to 23 wins with stoppage of Richard Zamora


February 9

Carson, CA, USA: Super Feather: Gervonta Davis (21-0) W KO 1 Hugo Ruiz (39-5). Super Welter: Erickson Lubin (20-1) W RTD 3 Ishe Smith (29-11). Light: Javier Fortuna (34-2-1) W PTS 10 Sharif Bogere (32-2,1ND). Super Light: Juan Heraldez (16-0) W KO 7 Eddie Ramirez (17-3). Super Light: Mario Barrios (23-0) W KO 4 Richard Zamora (19-3). Light: Ladarius Miller (19-1) W KO 1 Daulis Prescott (32-11,3ND ).Feather: Angelo Leo (16-0) W PTS 8 Alberto Torres (11-2-3). Fly: Genesis Libranza (18-1) W PTS 8 Gilberto Mendoza (11-7-2).

Davis vs. Ruiz

Davis retains the WBA title as he obliterates Ruiz who never managed to land any punch of note before a stunning combination dropped and finished him just one second from the end of the opening round

Davis was shadowing Ruiz probing with his right jab as Ruiz slid around the ropes. Davis tried a couple of quick lefts to the body. Ruiz was just poking out his jab and tried a right but was short. Davis backed Ruiz into a corner and leaped in with a quick right followed by a left then backed off and Ruiz advanced to the center of the ring. Davis backed Ruiz into a corner again and banged home a solid right jab followed by a powerful right to the side of the head. Ruiz took a step forward and then wobbled badly took a step back and dropped to one knee. He was in some distress but climbed to his feet at eight. There was blood pouring from what was probably a broken nose. He looked unsteady and when he failed to respond the referee’s questions the fight was stopped.

That makes twelve wins in a row for Davis who has that deadly combination of speed and power. Ruiz was a very late substitute after Abner Mares had to withdraw with a detached retina but he was in some shape as he was due to fight Filipino Jhack Tepora on 19 January but instead outpointed Alberto Guevara who stepped in after Tepora was overweight. There is a WBA eliminator  on 2 March between Edner Cherry and Ricardo Nunez but with Cherry having had only one fight in two years and Nunez never having faced a name fighter they  pose no threat to Davis who plans to have another three or four fights this year. We will have to wait to see what develops. Former WBC super bantam champion Ruiz gets his fourth loss by KO/TKO and has said he will look to move down to feather.

Lubin vs. Smith

Lubin destroys Smith and sends the former IBF super welter champion into retirement. Lubin dominated the first and then really went to work in the second. Initially he used his longer reach to keep Smith out and then connected with a couple of head punches that did not seem heavy but sent Smith down and onto his back. He slowly made it up just in time. Lubin chased Smith along the ropes and Smith fell to his knees although again it did not seem that Lubin had landed anything particularly heavy. He was up quicker this time but as the action restarted he went down again to his knees whilst ducking under Lubin’s punches. This time after the count he used some fast movement and punched  back  to survive to the bell. Lubin was chasing Smith down in the third and just before the bell Smith went down from a right to the head. He beat the count and the bell went and Smith’s corner pulled him out of the fight. Second fight for the 23-year-old Lubin since his first round kayo loss to Jermell Charlo in October 2017.  With a couple more wins he should be in position to challenge for a title again. Good decision by Smith’s corner. The former IBF champion suffers his third loss in a row. He only lost on a split decision to now WBC champion Tony Harrison in May but looked all of his 40 years here. His punch resistance looked to have gone and it is a sensible retirement.

Bogere vs. Fortuna

Fortuna gets the unanimous decision but this was a poor fight which neither deserved to win. There was just some hesitant prodding of jabs in the first and although they did swap a few punches in the second, the best was a right from Fortuna which had Bogere holding on, but in fact there was more holding and wrestling than fighting and already the crowd was booing. The third, fourth and fifth were no better. When they did trade punches the exchanges were untidy and ineffective. It was a simple case of the two styles not mixing well. Both are good fighters but just not against each other.

Things livened up in the sixth as at the start of the round they stood and threw hooks and uppercuts. They were just swinging wildly and Fortuna seemed to get the better of the exchanges. They went wild again at the end of the round throwing looses punches. They both tumbled to the floor but the referee decided that an left uppercut from Fortuna has put Bogere down and gave a protesting Bogere a count and he was showing a cut over his right eye at the bell. Bogere had probably been just in front before the sixth but the knockdown put Fortuna marginally ahead.

The seventh round saw too much untidy mauling with Fortuna doing what clean work there was. Fortuna was firing body punches in the eighth with Bogere not able to counter. The referee stopped the action to get the ringside doctor to examine the cut over Bogere’s right eye but he was allowed to continue and Fortuna attacked the body again to take the round. Bogere staged a strong finish over the ninth and tenth but it was not enough. Scores 96-93 to Fortuna from the three judges. The 29-year-old Dominican is a former holder of the secondary WBA super feather title. He challenged Robert Easter for the IBF lightweight title but blew his chance by not making the weight and lost the fight on a split decision anyway. This is his first outing since falling through the ropes in his fight against Adrian Granados in June last which resulted in Fortuna being taken to hospital and the fight being declared a No Decision. Ugandan Bogere had a shot at the vacant secondary WBA light title in 2013 but lost on points. He was 9-0,1ND going into this one. Both will have better nights.

Heraldez vs. Ramirez

Good test for Heraldez and he passes with flying colours. Ramirez constituted his toughest fight on paper but he dominated the action putting Ramirez down in the fifth and again in the seventh with the count being waived on the second knockdown. Californian-born Heraldez, 28, a member of Floyd Mayweather Jr’s team, has ten wins inside the distance. No names yet but useful victories over unbeaten Jose Borrego  and Kevin Watts. Third loss on the bounce for Ramirez having been knocked out by Antonio DeMarco and outpointed by Argenis Mendez.

Barrios vs. Zamora

Barrios stops  Zamora in the fourth. After a cautious opening they traded quick punches with Barrios scoring with a sharp left hook inside but it was an otherwise slow opening. The 5’10” Barrios had lots of height and reach over Zamora but the Mexican showed a useful jab. As Barrios began to open up in the second Zamora was being rocked by right hand counters. They both landed some good punches but a left hook from Barrios staggered Zamora at the bell. Barrios upped the pace in the third forcing Zamora back with a strong jab and Zamora fired back and landed a strong three-punch combination. That made Barrios a bit more cautious but again he landed a heavy right at the bell. Barrios rammed home a strong right early in the fourth but when he tried to follow that up Zamora ducked and dived and then held on tight with a frustrated Barrios tossing him to the floor. Barrios landed a series of rights to the head and Zamora visibly weakened. Barrios bombarded Zamora with head punches and although Zamora kept swing in hope he was taking too many head shots and the referee stopped the fight. The 23-year-old “El Azteca” the WBA No 1 has 15 wins by KO/TKO but has yet to face a name opponent and yet to be really tested. With typical WBA shenanigans he went from unrated to No 3 super light for winning their Inter-Continental welterweight title and from there to No 1 without fighting! The young Texan has talent and could be fighting for the title next year. Zamora had won his last five fights.

Miller vs. Prescott

A very quick win for Miller. Not a noted puncher southpaw Miller put a very over the hill Prescott down and out after just 57 seconds. “Memphis” Miller is on a ten bout winning streak including convincing victories over Jamel Herring and Dennis Galarza. Colombian Prescott was a late choice as Miller’s opponent and eight losses in his last nine fights, six by KO/TKO tells its own story.

Leo vs. Torres

Leo goes to 16 wins with points victory over Torres. Leo forced the fight from the first bell and scored knockdowns in the second and fifth rounds but Torres survived going on to lose by wide margins on all three cards. Scores 79-71 for Leo. Leo, 24, another Mayweather Team member, reportedly won 65 of his 75 amateur fights  and is making steady progress. Torres only other loss was a split decision against useful 17-1-1 Erick Ituarte.

Libranza vs. Mendoza

Filipino champion Libranza gets his eighth win after taking the decision over Mendoza in a competitive contest. Libranza had expected to face an aggressive Mendoza but instead it was Libranza who had to force the fight with Mendoza cagey and countering. Libranza’s pressure paid off with a unanimous decision. Scores 78-74 on the three judges’ cards for Libranza. He made an ambitious challenge to South African Moruti Mthalane for the IBO  flyweight title in Johannesburg in 2017 and was knocked out in four rounds. He has rebuilt with seven wins  back home in the Philippines. Mexican Mendoza had won his last four fights.

Indio, CA, USA: Super Bantam: Rey  Vargas (33-0) W PTS 12 Franklin Manzanilla (18-4). Super Feather: Andrew Cancio (20-4-2) W TKO 4 Alberto Machado (21-1). Feather: Joseph Diaz (28-1) W PTS 10 Charles Huerta (20-6). Light: Adrian Estrella (29-3) W PTS 10 Oscar Duarte (15-1-1). Super Feather: Azat Hovhannisyan (16-3) W KO 5 Lolito Sonsona (22-3-4). Super Middle: Tureano Johnson (20-2-1) DREW 8 Fernando Castaneda (26-13-1).

Varga vs. Manzanilla

Vargas gets off the floor in the second round and survives two doctors inspection of cuts over both eyes to retain  the WBC title with wide points decision  over determined but limited Manzanilla.

Round 1

Vargas took control immediately. With his height and long reach he was able to slot home his jab and score with right crosses. Manzanilla tried some rushing attacks but Vargas was able to take long steps back and either catch Manzanilla coming in or tie him up inside

Score: 10-9 Vargas

Round  2

Vargas was again bossing the action behind his jab mixing in straight rights and left hooks to the body. It was too easy and that made Vargas careless and as he stood in front of Manzanilla preparing another attack the Venezuelan landed a sweeping left that dropped Vargas on his back. Vargas did not look badly shaken. After the count Manzanilla was desperately throwing hooks but Vargas was holding inside and smothering Manzanilla’s attacks. A frustrated Manzanilla wrestled Vargas to the floor which resulted in a bit more recovery time for Vargas who made it comfortably to the bell.

Score: 10-8 Manzanilla                                                                               Manzanilla 19-18

Round 3

Vargas was back in charge. He was again spearing Manzanilla with jabs at distance and dropping in straight rights. Manzanilla was restricted to charging forward chucking hooks but Vargas was tying him up inside as the fight got messy.

Score: 10-9 Vargas                                                                                                Tied 28-28

Round 4

Vargas was now on the front foot. Manzanilla had no answer to the champion’s jab and Vargas was going to the body with some wicked left hooks. A clash of heads saw Vargas suffer a small cut over his right eye.

Score: 10-9 Vargas                                                                                            Vargas 38-37

Round 5

Vargas just kept sticking his jab in Manzanilla’s face and the challenger had no answer to it. Vargas was also countering when Manzanilla rushed in and instead of holding was pumping punches to the body. Manzanilla did go down but it was ruled a slip.

Score: 10-0 Vargas                                                                                           Vargas  48-46

Round 6

Manzanilla launched some fierce attacks at the start of this round and connected with a few hooks. Vargas saw out the storm and then went to work with his jab and straight rights before moving in with blazing combinations. Manzanilla continued his rushing attacks but with his long legs Vargas was able to move back out of range and then step in quickly with counters.

Score: 10-9 Vargas                                                                                            Vargas 58-55

Round 7

A clash of heads at the start of the round had blood dripping from the cut over the right eye of Vargas. Vargas lost his composure briefly but then punished Manzanilla with hard counters and connected with left hooks to the body. A wild Manzanilla was deducted a point for one of many punches to the back of the head. Vargas outscored Manzanilla and with the deduction that made it a 10-8 round.

Score: 10-8 Vargas                                                                                            Vargas 68-63

Round 8

A messy round as Manzanilla became more desperate with his attacks and again was penalised a point this time for hitting on the break. Vargas did what clean scoring there was so another 10-8 round for the champion.

Score: 10-8 Vargas                                                                                           Vargas 78-71 

Round 9

A clash of heads in this round saw a cut opened over the left eye of Vargas and it was serious enough for the referee to have the doctor inspect it. Vargas was allowed to continue but he now had blood trickling down his face from both cuts. He began to keep his gloves high to protect the cuts and had more trouble dealing with the attacks of a fired-up Manzanilla who just did enough to take the round.

Score: 10-9 Manzanilla                                                                                     Vargas 87-81

Round 10

Manzanilla stormed forward for much of the tenth and managed to land some hooks. Vargas had his composure back and was connecting with jabs, straight rights and hooks and was the one coming forward at the bell.

Score: 10-9 Vargas                                                                                            Vargas 97-90

Round 11

Vargas boxed intelligently  in this one. Manzanilla was flying in head first but Vargas was landing chopping rights and tying Manzanilla inside. Again Manzanilla had some success with hooks and rocked Vargas with a right to the head but was clearly outscored.

Score:10-9 Vargas                                                                                           Vargas 107-99

Round 12

Manzanilla piled forward for the whole three minutes but was wayward with his punches. Vargas boxed mainly on the outside letting Manzanilla walk onto counters and firing quick combinations as took the round.

Score: 10-9 Vargas                                                                                        Vargas 117-108

Official Scores : Judge Lou Moret 117-108, Judge Dennis O’Connell 117-108 and Judge Pat Russell 117-108 all for Vargas.

The 28-year-old champion was making the fourth defense of his WBA title. Manzanilla could never find an answer to the height and reach advantages of Vargas who outworked and outscored him all the way. Jessie Magdaleno is No 1 in the WBC ratings but Vargas is a Golden Boy fighter and Magdaleno is with Top Rank so that might be a difficult match to make and with his height Vargas might be more comfortable at feather where there are some good fights to be made. Colombian-based Manzanilla landed the title shot on the basis of a shock four round victory over Julio Ceja but he was outclassed by Vargas.  The two deductions did not help his cause but he was lucky not to lose more points for punches to the back of the head and kidney punches. He is strong, aggressive but limited 

Cancio vs. Machado

Cancio climbs off the floor in the first round to steamroller champion Machado to defeat with four knockdowns in the fourth.

Round 1

Machado had plenty of height and reach over Cancio and as Cancio came forward he was caught by a couple of straight southpaw lefts from Machado. Cancio continued to advance and he was able to get past the jab and score with hooks. As Cancio moved in he ducked under a right and into the path of a short left hook that dropped him to the floor on his side. He was up at eight and Machado was throwing slashing hooks trying to repeat his success but Cancio was getting inside again and finished the round strongly.

Score: 10-8- Machado

Round 2

Machado was looking to box on the outside and land more left hooks. Cancio was walking through the punches and hooking to the body with both hands. The ferocity of Cancio’s attacks had Machado retreating and Cancio was doing the better work inside. Just before the bell Cancio rocked Machado with a series of hooks and took the round.

Score: 10-9 Cancio                                                                                       Machado  19-18

Round 3

A painful round for Machado. Cancio kept marching forward throwing hooks and uppercuts and Machado could do nothing to keep Cancio out. He was brushing aside Machado’s counters and rocked Machado’s head back and forth with a volley of punches. During the interval the referee was concerned enough to come to Machado’s corner to check he was OK.

Score: 10-9 Cancio                                                                                               Tied  28-28

Round 4

Somehow Cancio seemed to have defused El Explosivo’s bombs and there was no power in the champions punches. Cancio was hunting him down and a long right to the body saw Machado take a step away and go down on one knee. He had his head bowed and looked a dispirited and beaten fighter. He reluctantly got to his feet at nine and as Cancio threw a couple more body punches, most of which seemed to be blocked, Machado dropped to the floor again. He was up at nine and hesitated before raising his gloves when asked to do so by the referee. The fight continued but only for a few seconds and as Cancio was throwing s few more body punches Machado dropped to the floor and the fight was stopped.

Huge upset as Cancio wins the secondary WBA title. Cancio had been in erratic form losing to Ronny Rios and Joseph Diaz but beating Rene Alvarado and Hugo Cazares. He was inactive in 2017 and had two modest wins in 2018 but here his ferocious onslaughts just blew Machado away. Puerto Rican Machado had scored 17 wins by KO/TKO but he just seemed to have lost his power and when Cancio attacked the body he buckled then broke. Cancio may now defend against former conqueror Rene Alvarado who is rated No 1 and Machado may now move up to lightweight.

Diaz vs. Huerta

Diaz moves up to super feather and looks sharp in win over useful Huerta. Diaz controlled the action with a sharp strong southpaw jab and impressed with some flashing combinations. Huerta just could not get into the fight in any meaningful way but apart for a rocky time in the fifth he was never in any real trouble. Unanimity from the judges who all saw Diaz winning 99-91. Diaz had good and bad in 2018. He knocked out former WBC champion Victor Terrazas in February but then lost a unanimous decision to Gary Russell Jr for the WBC title in May. In August he outpointed Jesus M Rojas but had failed to make the weight for this challenge for the secondary WBA title so no title for Diaz. He was rated No 2 feather by the WBC and No 5 with the WBA but now it looks like he will move up and forfeit those spots. Huerta was having his first fight since beating 21-2 Miguel Angel Gonzalez on a technical decision in August 2017.

Estrella vs. Duarte

Estrella wins a split decision over unbeaten Duarte to breathe some life back into a career that seemed to be going nowhere. Duarte was quicker and more accurate and built a substantial lead. Estrella put in a strong finish and managed to claw back some of that deficit but did not seem to have done enough but the judges decided otherwise. Scores 98-92 and 96-94 for Estrella and 97-93 for Duarte. There was a time not that long ago when Estrella was the hottest prospect in Mexico. He won his first 22 fights 18 by KO/TKO beating Dante Jardon and former champion Ernesto Caballero along the way. His power was camouflaging some serious deficiencies in his defence and his run was broken by a crushing loss to Filipino Eden Sonsona. Estrella continued to win but he was no longer the hot prospect and losses last year to unbeaten fighters Subriel Matias and Alex Duran seemed to indicate a serious decline so he badly needed a win here. Duarte had shown promise in wins over Juan Jose Montes, Rey Perez and Roger Gutierrez so hopefully this will be a temporary blip.

Hovhannisyan vs. Sonsona

The aggression of former WBC title challenger proves too much for Filipino Sonsona. Hovhannisyan’s fierce attacks particularly his left hooks to the body had Sonsona on the back foot from the off. He strayed low a few times but the body attack weakened Sonsona. In the fifth a right put Sonsona down. He was up but looked shaky and Hovhannisyan forced him to the ropes. Sonsona threw a weak left and Hovhannisyan came over the top with a stunning right and two more rights to the body saw Sonsona drop to the canvas and he was counted out.  A win over Ronny Rios in March last year saw Hovhannisyan pitched in against Rey Vargas in a challenge for the WBC title in May but he lost a unanimous decision. He bounced back in October with a stoppage of 24-4 Jesus Martinez. He is No 8 with the WBC and with a couple more impressive wins such as this could yet land another title chance. Sonsona lost by a large margin against Jason Moloney in 2017 and this is only his second fight in eighteen months and his first loss by KO/TKO.

Johnson vs. Castaneda

Disappointing performance and disappointing result for Johnson. This was the first fight in eighteen months for Bahamian Johnson but he looked sharp enough at the start. He had a much better skill set than the Mexican “Hurricane” and outboxed him early. Castaneda kept pressing and got into the fight more and more. Johnson probably had a slight lead going into the last but Castaneda staged the stronger finish and that was enough to get him a share of the decision. Scores 77-75 for Johnson, 77-75 for Castaneda and 76-76. A last round stoppage loss to Sergey Derevyanchenko in August 2017 in what was virtually and IBF eliminator cost Johnson the chance of a title shot and he will now have to fight his way back into the ratings but at 35 he is on the clock. Castaneda had a title shot in 2011 down at super light when he was stopped in four rounds by Johan Perez but he is 24lbs heavier and at 4-6-1 in his last 11 fights a long way down the road from that high point.

February 10

Fresno, CA, USA: Super Light: Jose Carlos Ramirez (24-0) W PTS 12 Jose Zepeda (30-2,1ND). Super Light: Ray Beltran (36-8-1) W KO 9 Hiroki Okada (19-1). Feather: Carlos Castro (22-0) W PTS 10 Genesis Servania (32-2). Super Feather: Andy Vences (22-0-1) W PTS 8 Dardan Zenunaj (14-6). Light: Saul Rodriguez (23-0-1) W TKO 5  Aelio Mesquita (17-4). Super Light: Cristian Coria (29-7-2) W KO 3 Joel Diaz (24-2).

Ramirez vs. Zepeda

Ramirez holds on to the WBC title with majority verdict over Zepeda in a fight that was too close to call until Ramirez settled it over the championship rounds. Zepeda found the range early with his southpaw jab with Ramirez tending to ignore his own jab. Ramirez was taking the fight to Zepeda but the speed and accuracy of Zepeda’s work saw him take the first two round. In what was to be the pattern for much of the fight. Ramirez then had a good couple of rounds finally using his jab and getting inside with some effective body punches and rocking Zepeda with rights in the fourth. At that stage the judges all had identical 38-38 scores and had all scored every round the same.

Ramirez kept the imitative over the fifth and sixth. He was still under using his jab but was making up for that with sustained  pressure that was forcing Zepeda onto the back foot and allowing Ramirez to do some hurtful body punching when he pinned Zepeda to the ropes.  The fight swung back to Zepeda over the seventh and eighth with his jab constantly getting past the guard of Ramirez and smart footwork allowing him to find the space to counter the attacks of Ramirez. After eight rounds there was very little between them with two judges having them level on 76-76 and the other giving Ramirez the edge at 77-75. The body punching from Ramirez finally began to bring rewards over the closing rounds. Zepeda was still jabbing well and moving skilfully but also being forced to stand and trade more which favored Ramirez. Critically the champion’s pressure earned him the points in the ninth and tenth and it looked as though the fight was going all his way. Zepeda was not finished and he stormed back to take the eleventh and put the result in the balance again. 

They both fought fiercely in the last and it was a late burst from Ramirez that made the difference and he took the round and the decision. Scores 116-114 and 115-113 for Ramirez and 114-114. Ramirez was making the second defence of his WBC title and is now looking to unify the titles but the position there won’t be clear until the fate of the WSSB tournament is decided as the WBC  “Diamond” champion Regis Prograis and No 1 challenger Josh Taylor are still waiting to fight in the WSSB semi-finals. Zepeda came so close. Close enough to deserve a return but Ramirez may not want to take that step back. I have some sympathy for Zepeda. He fought Terry Flanagan for the vacant WBO lightweight title back in 2015 but dislocated his shoulder in the second round of that fight and had to retire. It has taken him almost three years to get another title shot.

Beltran vs. Okada

It is rarely boring when Ray Beltran fights and it was no different in this one as he stopped the previously unbeaten Okada in the ninth round. Okada was looking to fight this one from the outside and avoid getting dragged into a close quarters brawl which is where Beltran is most effective. However with typical Japanese fighting spirit Okada was willing to trade if he had to. The action was hot from the opening round. In an amazing second Beltran made a big statement flooring Okada with a left hook. Okada beat the count and then showed fighting spirit in spades as he staggered Beltran with a right and then proceeded to batter Beltran for the rest of a frantic round.

The fight calmed a little after that and gradually Okada began to find the target with his long range punches. Beltran kept ploughing forward and did his best work when he could pin Okada to the ropes. The Japanese fighter looked to have edged in front and Beltran seemed to be tiring. That changed in the ninth when Beltran connected with a right to the head that put Okada down. He made it to his feet but Beltran drove him to a corner and rained punches on Okada until he went down again and Okada’s corner immediately asked the referee to stop the fight.

Now at supper light Beltran collected the WBC Continental and WBO Inter-Continental titles which should put him in the ratings. Nothing is straightforward with Beltran. In world title fights he has lost to Terrence Crawford for the WBO lightweight title then beaten Takahiro Ao in what was to be a fight for the vacant WBO lightweight title but he had failed to make the weight and tested positive for a banned substance. He finally won the WBOI title by beating Paulus Moses in February 2018 but lost it in his first defense against Jose Pedraza in August. The super light situation is muddied but Beltran will be looking for a title shot. Okada had halted 40-2-1 Jason Pagara and a few reasonable but not outstanding opponents and was floored in taking a split verdict over Cristian Coria so he will have to fight his way back to get another shot.

Castro vs. Servania

Big win for Castro as he decisions former WBO featherweight title challenger Servania and hands the Filipino his second loss. Castro simply outboxed Servania he was too quick for the Filipino and won by a wide margin on all cards. Servania was cut over his right eye in the second round which did not help his cause but hard as he chased he just could not pin Castro down and kept eating fast accurate counters. Score 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92 all for Castro. The 24-year-old from Phoenix wins the vacant WBC Continental Americas title in what was only his second ten round fight. After winning his first 29 fights Servania had Oscar Valdez on the floor before losing to him for the WBO title in February 2017. He has won three fights since then including a inside the distance victory over former WBC bantamweight title challenger Carlos Carlson but with this defeat Servania has blown his WBO No 1 position.

Vences vs. Zenunaj

Local fighter Vences returned to action and gets eight rounds of work as he outpoints Kosovon-born Albanian Zenunaj . “The Shark” was having his first fight since scoring a good win over Frank De Alba in July. Vences won every round with the three wise man all seeing Vences the winner by 80-72. A draw with unbeaten Erick de Leon is the only slight blemish on Vences record. Three losses in a row for Zenunaj but one of those over ten rounds against Andrew Cancio with one judge seeing it a 96-94 fight.

Rodriguez vs. Mesquita

Rodriguez rolls on with stoppage of Brazilian Mesquita. That makes it seventeen wins in a row for Rodriguez and he has a total of seventeen inside the distance victories. The draw on his record was a technical one. Mesquita has lost 4 of his last 5 fights but all against opposition he would be expected to lose to and all on the road.

Coria vs. Diaz

A wow! here as Coria beats once world rated Diaz in three rounds. No sign of the upset to come as Diaz seemed to be controlling the fight over the first two rounds. In the third Coria blitzed Diaz with a shower of punches and Diaz went down under the barrage. He arose but seemed unsteady. Coria then landed a ferocious left hook that put Diaz down on his back. He scrabbled around trying to get up but the referee waived the fight off. This should have been a routine win for Diaz. The 36-year-old Argentinian Coria was down at No 10 in the Argentinian ratings with an unthreatening 12 wins by KO/TKO. He had been floored and lost every round against Canadian Custio Clayton in 2017 but a much better result is his only losing on a split decision against unbeaten Hiroki Okada in September. Diaz’s only other loss was a two round stoppage by Regis Prograis in 2017 and he took fourteen months out after that before returning with a win in October last year.

February 8

Sydney, Australia: Super Welter: Tim Tszyu (12-0) W TKO 2 Denton Vassell (25-6). Super Middle: Rocky Jerkic (17-1) W PTS 8Mark Lucas (9-1). Super Middle: Cesar Tapia (9-0) W PTS 8 Adam Copland (4-1). Heavy: Paul Gallen (9-0) W TKO 2 John Hopoate (12-6).

Tszyu vs. Vassell

Tszyu blows away a faded Vassell inside two rounds. The young Australian found his range early and scored well over the first round. There was a brief stoppage in the second as Vassell had left his corner without his mouthguard but when the action resumed a series of punches floored Vassell. He beat the count but Tszyu drove him to the ropes and a left uppercut followed by a right to the head saw Vassell staggering along the ropes with his guard down. Tszyu followed him along the ropes raining punches to the head until the referee stepped in to save Vassell. Tenth win by KO/TKO for the 24-year-old son of the great Kostya Tszyu. He collects the interim WBA Oceania title as he prepares to head out to the USA for sessions at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym and Floyd Mayweather Jr’s Boxing Club. Former Commonwealth champion Vassell, 34, was 20-0 at the start of his career but is now 5-6 in his last 11 which tells his own story but in fairness to Vassell he took this fight a short notice and his other losses have also been against tough opposition.

Jerkic vs. Lucas

Jerkic just gets by Lucas on a split decision. Scores 78-73 and 77-75 for Jerkic and 78-76 for Lucas. Both fighters had the effects of inactivity to shake off. Former undefeated Australian super welterweight champion Jerkic was having his first fight for six months and only his second fight since losing to Anthony Buttigieg for the Vacant Commonwealth title in March 2017. Former Australian amateur champion Lucas had run up nine wins and then surprisingly retired in 2017 and this is his first fight since then.

Tapia vs. Copland

Mexican youngster proves much too good for Copeland and takes wide unanimous decision. Scores 80-72, 79-72 and 78-73 all for Tapia. The 20-year-old MTK Global boxer has done all of his pro boxing in Australia and is making good progress. Copeland, a top level amateur, was moving up to eight rounds for the first time. He is just 23 so can rebound from this.

Gallen vs. Hopoate

Gallen halts former Australian champion Hopoate in rubbish match-up. Gallen was too strong and fit for oldie Hopoate. After pounding on Hopoate for two round Gallen cornered Hopoate and banged away to head and body as Hopoate tried to hide behind a high guard. Eventually Hopoate dropped his hands to punch back which left him open and Gallen stunned him with a left hook and then connected with a series of head punches that had Hopoate falling forward and face down on the canvas with the referee immediately ending the fight. At 37 Gallen is probably going nowhere but as a former professional Rugby League player and Australian international he is news and sells tickets. His first eight opponents had just twelve wins between them and Hopoate, 44, was having his first fight for nine years which says it all.

Philadelphia, PA, USA: Bantam: Victor Ruiz (23-10) W KO 2 Christian Carto (17-1). Heavy: Darmani Rock (14-0) W KO 4 Steven Lyons (5-4).

Ruiz vs. Carto

Local hope Carto doing OK until a thunderbolt from Ruiz puts him down and out.. The Philly prospect was boxing well and took the opening round of the fight against limited Mexican southpaw Ruiz. In the second as Carto was just short with a jab Ruiz stepped inside and landed a booming left to the head. Carto went down heavily on his back with his head slamming onto the canvas. The referee instantly waived the fight over and the ringside doctor and other medical aides climbed into the ring to attend to Carto. He was given oxygen and taken from the ring on a stretcher and to hospital. No news yet of his condition although he was said to be alert as he left the arena so let’s hope it is not too bad. Huge shock for the fans of the 22-year-old former National Golden Gloves champion. Ruiz had lost his last four fights against relatively modest opposition but with 15 wins by KO/TKO he was a dangerous opponent.

Rock vs. Lyons

Rock gets another win but in a dull and uninspiring fashion. Lyons was never in with a chance against the former Elite level amateur star. He was smaller with very limited technique and giving away 63lbs in weight. There was very little in the way of excitement and it was embarrassing that Rock could not get Lyons out of there. Finally in the fourth he took Lyons to a corner and unloaded a few head punches and Lyons slid down and then just took the full count whilst on one knee and showed no inclination to get up. Rock,22, is 6’5” and was 273 ¼ lbs for this fight. That is some way below the 315lbs of the 6’4” Jarrell Miller but is a heavy burden to carry for ten rounds and he does not seem to have the punch power to blow away better class opposition. He was  outstanding as an amateur  He was US, Pan American and World champion  at Youth level  and won gold medals at both the US National Championships and the National Golden Gloves. An inside the distance  loss to Marlo Moore cost him a place in the US Team for the 2016 Olympics so he has great credentials. Heavy or not he has to be respected. Second loss inside the distance for the 209 ¾ lbs Lyons.

Lautaro, Chile: Feather: Cristian Palma (30-10-1) W PTS 10 Ernesto Franzolini (8-9-1). 

Home town fighter Palma extends his winning run to ten with unanimous decision over Argentinian prelim fighter Franzolini. A left hook from Palma dislodged Franzolini’s mouthguard in the first round as he was getting past the jab of the taller man and working inside. Franzolini lost a point in the second for a punch to the back of Palma’s head and a point in both the third and the fifth for the same offence. Palma was scoring repeatedly with his jab and left hooks but Franzolini fought hard, if wildly, in every round. An already lost cause disappeared completely when he was again penalised for a punch to the back of Palma’s head. It began to look as though if he wasn’t careful Franzolini would finish up with a minus score. Palma was streets ahead in technique. Franzolini never gave up charging forward but lost every round-plus a few points.  The Chilean was making the second defence of his South American title. Franzolini was having his first fight outside of Argentina.

Bangkok, Thailand: Super Bantam: Saenganan (23-1) W PTS 10 Noldi Manakane (33-28-3).

Easy night for teenager Saenganan as he wins every round against experienced but long since faded Manakane. Saenganan was too quick and too busy for the 35-year-old Indonesian. Scores 100-90 for Saenganan from all three judges. He wins the interim WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver title (so not even the interim title but the Silver interim title). The 19-year-old 5’2” Thai has been confined to strictly substandard opposition since being floored twice and knocked out by Filipino no-hoper Edison Berwela in January last year. Manakane is now 1-7-1 in his last 9 fights.

February 9

Paris, France: Super Welter: Souleymane Cissokho (8-0) W KO 3 Romain Garofalo (14-4). Bantam: Elie Konki (6-0) W PTS 10 Anthony Chapat  (5-1-1). Super Light: Yazid Amghar (22-0) W TKO 4 Oszkar Fiko (32-27-1).

Cissokho vs. Garofalo

Cissokho wins the vacant French title against seriously overmatched Garofalo. Cissokho started the first round cautiously but before the bell was already connecting with powerful uppercut. In the second he had Garofalo in trouble from a left hook but Garofalo did not crumble. It ended in the third as Cissokho put Garofalo down. He connected with a wicked right to the body followed by a left hook and another body punch which dropped Garofalo. He made it to his feet but a right to the body almost cut him in half and he went down in agony and was counted out. Senegalese- born Rio bronze medalist Cissokho, 27, was returning after eight months of inactivity due to an operation to repair a rupture of a tendon in his left bicep. He registers his sixth win by KO/TKO. Garofalo was having his second shot at winning a French title but was never in with any sort of a chance against the talented Cissokho.

Konki vs. Chapat

Konki, another former top amateur, made a successful first defense of the French title with points victory over flyweight champion Chapat. Konki used his longer reach and some fierce counters to control this one Chapat kept trying to get close but the speed and accuracy of Konki had him floundering at times. Konki began to load up on his punches in the ninth to try to end the fight early and dropped Chapat with a crunching left hook to the body in the tenth but Chapat beat the count and was saved by the final bell. Scores 99-90 for Konki on the three cards. Konki, 26 was French champion in 2012,2013,2104 and 2015 and fought at the Rio Olympics. Chapat showed guts but was in against a fighter several classes above him in ability.

Amghar vs. Fiko

Amghar overcomes awkward Romanian Fiko and finishes in impressive style. Amghar was careful early as the head down rushes of Fiko could have caused injury but once he settled it was just a matter of time before he ended things. He rocked Fiko with a right and a left hook in the third then finished the job in the fourth. A left hook to the head and a left to the body sent Fiko down. He beat the count but another left hook had him rolling in agony on the floor and the fight was waived off. Ten wins by KO/TKO for the undefeated former French champion. He was an outstanding performer at French boxing where both fists and feet are used  but then switched conventional boxing before eventually turning pro. He is No 13 with the EBU. Now thirteen defeats by KO/TKO for Hungarian-based Fiko.

Berlin, Germany: Light Heavy: Nick Hannig (7-0) W PTS 12 Ryan Ford (15-4). Super Middle: Yusuf Kanguel (18-3-1) W PTS 10 Vartan Avetisyan (18-1-2). Welter: Rico Mueller (25-2-1) W PTS 8 Bethuel Ushona (36-8-1).

Hannig vs. Ford

Hannig won the vacant WBC International title with close unanimous decision over Canadian Ford. The local fighter dominated the early rounds. He took control of the centre of the ring and outboxed the slower but strong Ford. After four rounds Hannig was way in front at 40-36 on all three cards. Hannig built on his lead over the fifth and six but gradually the strength of Ford began to tell and he pushed strongly over the seventh and eighth but importantly Hannig had a strong ninth which left Ford with a big gap to bridge. Ford began to get through with some heavy head punches over the last three rounds against a tired Hannig. Ford came close but it was just too big a deficit to claw back. Scores 115-113 twice and 117-112 all for Hannig.  The 32-year-old “Mr Business” is reported to have ended his amateur days after 100 fights with 79 wins before turning pro at 30. He had never gone past eight rounds before so the experience of goiung twelve will have helped his confidence. The “Mr Business” is because he owns a security company and a gym and the money from this fight will help him build his collection of vintage Harley Davison’s. Ford, 36, a former MMA campaigner, has lost 4 of his last 5 fights but they have all been on points in the other guy’s backyard and he is one tough customer.

Kanguel vs. Avetisyan

Kanguel won the vacant WBC Mediterranean title in a fight that was close from first to last. Kanguel tactics were to march forward behind a high guard with Avetisyan moving and countering. As expected Kanguel was most effective when he could take Avetisyan to the ropes and work the body. Avetisyan did his scoring at distance and neither was really dominating. The scores after four rounds reflected this at 39-37, 37-39 and 38-38.  Kanguel was finding plenty of gaps in the defence of Avetisyan as he ploughed forward but  Avetisyan was throwing more and the judges were still having difficulty splitting them. The position had not really changed after eight rounds with two judges carding 76-76 and the third just giving Kanguel the edge at 77-75. Kanguel had a big ninth having Avetisyan shaken and in trouble and although Avetisyan fought hard in the last it was not enough. Scores 96-95 twice for Kanguel and 95-95. German Kanguel had won this same title in March last year but did not defend it. He has won 11 of his last 12 fights with the loss being to world rated Vincent Feigenbutz.  Armenian-born  Avetisyan, 29, came to Germany at the age of five  as a refugee but has retained his Armenian nationality. Kanguel was a step up in the quality of his opposition but he made it close here.

Mueller vs. Ushona

Mueller beat Ushona again and as in their first fight wins every round against the Namibian veteran. The 30-year-old German has won 17 of his last 18 fights including a points victory over Ushona in August. A  ninth round stoppage by Jeff Horn in 2016 is only loss in that run but his opposition has been pretty non-threatening. At 36 Ushona is on the downward path with just two wins in his last seven fights.

Manila, Philippines Bantam: Reymart Gaballo (21-0) W TKO 2 Yuya Nakamura (9-3-1). Light: Romero Duno (19-1) W KO 2 Kuldeep Dhanda (7-2).

Gaballo vs. Nakamura

Another power showing from outstanding Filipino Gaballo. He almost ended this one in the first three minutes putting his Japanese opponent down twice. Nakamura survived to hear the bell for the second round but was annihilated by crunching shots from Gaballo. A right sent Nakamura to the ropes. He tried to punch with Gaballo but was rocked by a right to the head and hurt by a left to the body before a wicked left hook to the chin saw him drop to his knees with his head touching the canvass. He grabbed the ropes and clung to them as he made it to his feet but the referee waived the fight over. The 22-year-old “Assassin”  is living up to his nickname. He has won 13 of his last 14 fights by KO/TKO in a total of 18 inside the distance victories. He won the interim WBA title with a points decision over unbeaten Stephon Young in March last year. Second loss by KO.TKO for Nakamura who was overmatched here.

Duno vs. Dhanda

Not to be outdone “Ruthless” Duno scored an even more spectacular kayo over Indian novice Dhanda. Duno had the outclassed Dhanda down in the first and then crushed him in the second. Dhanda scored with a sharp straight right then Duno connected with a couple of jabs and landed a fearsome overhand right that sent Dhanda face down on the canvas out cold. Ten wins in a row for 23-year-old US-based Duno and his fifteenth victory by KO/TKO. In fights in the USA Duno has scored useful wins over unbeaten Christian Gonzalez, Yardley Armenta Cruz and Gilberto Gonzalez. He is not in the ratings but he won the vacant WBA Asian title in this fight and in the twisted WBA figuring beating an eight fight novice for this minor title will count for more than the victories over much better opposition in the USA. The WBA  got a sanctioning fee for this one-that’s their ranking criteria right there. First fight outside India and first loss by KO/TKO for Dhanda.

Korbach, Germany: Mario Jassmann (18-0) W TKO 5 Mika Joensuu (15-11). Ilja Mezencev (19-1,1ND) W TKO 2 Jan Hrebik (1-12).

Jassmann vs. Joensuu

Too easy for Jassmann as he stops overmatched Finn Joensuu in five rounds. Joensuu tried to come forward behind a high guard so Jassmann was able to slot home jabs and rights to the head. Joensuu was too slow and had no power so was never really in the fight. In the fifth Jassmann had Joensuu on the ropes and after landing a series of head punches he connected with a left to the body that dropped Joensuu to his knees. The Finn made it to his feet but another left to the body saw him turn away badly hurt and the referee halted the fight. Jassmann, 31, makes it 15 wins by KO/TKO and retains the German International title but his opposition has been strictly low grade. His father Reinhard was a good level amateur and uncle Manfredo a Germany light heavy and heavy champion who fought for the European title at light heavy, cruiser and heavyweight titles but I can’t see Mario going that far. Fifth defeat by KO/TKO for Joensuu and fifth loss in his last six fights.

Mezencev  vs. Hrebik

No surprise here as German-based Kazak goes to 17 wins by KO/TKO with stoppage of poor Hrebik in some abysmal matchmaking. The 23-year-old Mezencev has fed on some very substandard opposition. The only decent fighter he has faced is unbeaten Tom Schwarz who kayoed him in seven round s. He is young so could improve. Tenth inside the distance loss for Czech Hrebik.

Belfast, Northern Ireland: James Tennyson (23-3) W TKO 2 Garry Neale (10-1). Light: Feargal McCrory (10-0) W TKO 9 Karl Kelley (2-3). Light: Paul Hyland Jr (20-1) W PTS 8 Miroslav Serban (10-2). Cruiser: Tommy McCarthy (13-1) W PTS 8 Jiri Svacina (13-33).

Tennyson vs. Neale

Tennyson much too big a step up for Neale. Tennyson had his jab working well in the first and was already connecting with body punches. Southpaw Neale was forced onto the back foot but tried to counter when he saw an opening. In the second Tennyson again took the fight to Neale and put him down with rights to the head. Neale arose and tried to fight back but was down again under a series of punches and was counted out. The 25-year-old “Assassin from Belfast goes to 19 wins by KO/TKO . This is his first fight since a fifth round stoppage loss against Tevin Farmer for the IBF super feather title in October. None of Neale’s victims had a positive record so this was a too ambitious fight for him.

McCrory vs. Kelley

McCrory gets late win against Kelly in a hard-fought contests. Southpaw McCrory made a good start behind his jab and staggered the aggressive Kelly with a left in the opening round. Kelly was walking through McCrory’s punches over the next two rounds but a clash of heads saw both fighters cut over the left eye. His better boxing saw McCrory winning the rounds and Kelly was a wide open target as he marched forward. Pressure from  Kelly increased and more and more McCrory was being forced to fight inside as Kelly began to eat into McCrory’s lead. The eighth was close but McCrory broke through in a big way in the ninth. He  trapped Kelly in a corner and blasted away until with Kelly not firing back the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. McCrory wins the vacant Boxing Union of Ireland title. Dubliner Kelly had earlier lost in a fight for the BUI super light title.

Hyland vs. Serban

Hyland given a tough night and a scare by inexperienced Serban. Hyland boxed well over the first four rounds. Serban was pressing hard and looked dangerous at times but Hyland was slotting home jabs and landing with power shots to the body. Both Hyland and the crowd were shocked in the fifth when a head punch from Serban put Hyland down. He made it to the vertical but was unsteady. Serban’s inexperience saw him throw away his chance of victory as he launched wild punches trying to nail Hyland again and the local fighter survived. Hyland  was staggered again by left hook in the sixth but boxed his way through the seventh and eighth to take the decision. Referee’s score 78-74 for Hyland.  Second win for Hyland as he rebuilds after losing inside a round to Lewis Ritson for the British title in June last year. Czech champion “Lumberjack” Serban had won his last six fights. This was his first outing since December 2017 but by flooring Hyland he might have earned himself some more paydays.

McCarthy vs. Svacina

McCarthy took every round against survivor Svacina. McCarthy fed Svacina a steady diet of punishment but the ancient Czech just soaked it up. McCrory scored heavily in the fifth and sixth but Svacina refused to cave in and McCarthy had to settle for a points win. Referee’s score 80-72 for McCarthy whose only loss is a points decision against then British champion Matty Askin in 2016. This is win No 4 since then. The 41-year-old Svacina has only lost eight times by KO/TKO in his 47 fights.

Buenos Aires, Argentina: Cruiser: Marcos Aumada (21-6) W TKO 4 Carlos Nascimento (16-7). 

Aumada had no trouble holding on to his WBC Latino title against poor Brazilian Nascimento. Aumada was able to walk past the jabs of the 6’4” Nascimento and score with hooks and uppercuts. A fearsome southpaw  left uppercut put Nascimento down in the first and he showed guts to get up and survive. Aumada continued to punish the Brazilian in the second and third. In the fourth Aumada used a series of straight lefts to force Nascimento to the ropes and the landed a another left that staggered Nascimento and the referee had seen enough and stepped in. Aumada, 32, the Argentinian No 1 has 16 wins by KO/TKO . Sixth inside the distance defeat for Nascimento.

Halifax, Canada: Super Bantam: Tyson Cave (33-4) W PTS 12 Humberto de Santiago (16-6-1).

Local fighter Tyson won a unanimous verdict over de Santiago in IBA title fight. The 37-year-old southpaw handled de Santiago well but was hampered late in the fight by a calf injury that limited his mobility. Scores 120-107, 117-110 and 116-111 for Cave.  The Halifax fighter lost to Oscar Escandon for the interim WBA super bantam title in 2014. He has now won nine in a row but against modest level opposition. Mexican de Santiago was having his first fight since December 2017.

Peterborough, Canada: Super Welter: Cody Crowley (17-0) W PTS 12 Stuart McClellan (25-3-3,1ND). Super Light: Steven  Wilcox (20-3-1) W PTS 8 Javier Mercado (25-14-2).

Crowley vs. McClellan

This looked a very even match on paper but in the event local southpaw Crowley outclassed the more experienced former champion and retained the Canadian title. Crowley was quicker, busier, punched harder and floored McClellan on the way to a wide unanimous decision. McClellan did well to stick in there to the final bell. Scores 120-107 for Crowley from the three judges. The 25-year-old Crowley, a bronze medal winner at the Commonwealth Youth Games, is ready to step up to tougher competition.   McClellan, 32, was 13-0,1ND in his last 14 fights.

Wilcox vs. Mercado

A breeze turned into a tornado for Wilcox as he only just survives a late surge by Mercado. Wilcox outboxed the limited Mexican and was coasting to victory with a good lead strengthen by Mercado losing a point for a low punch. It was near disaster for Wilcox in the seventh. A big punch from Mercado dropped Wilcox and he was in serious trouble. He was floored for a second time and there could haven been a third knockdown as a punch buckled his knees and his glove brushed the canvas but it was not spotted by the referee. Wilcox survived the round and despite being staggered again he fought hard in the eighth and took the decision. Scores 77-73 twice and 76-74 for Wilcox. Now 5 wins in his last 6 fights for the Canadian No 3. Mercado has now won only two of his last seven fights but with 22 of his 25 wins coming inside the distance he had a punchers chance and nearly brought it off.

Nadi, Fiji: Joseph Kwadjo (24-11,2ND) ND 6 Savenaca Naliva (9-2-1,1ND).

A wild and wet night in Fiji as the fight between Kwadjo and Naliva was halted twice before being abandoned. The first stoppage came in the second round when a brawl broke out between the rival fans and the police had to intervene to quell the trouble. The fight restarted but rain had made the canvas slippery and even after both fighters shed their footwear they still had problems keeping their balance with Kwadjo sliding to the floor six times and the fight was abandoned. Kwadjo is a Ghanaian who now lives in Fiji and he and local fighter Naliva will have to meet again as this was for the Fijian title and that remains vacant.

Estosadok, Russia: Light Pavel Malikov (14-1-1) DREW 10 Vage Sarukhanyan (19-2-2). Super Welter: Olek Ivanov (17-4) W PTS 10  Konstantin Ponomarev (34-2). Light: Denis Shafikov (40-4-2 )DRE W 10 Gaybatulla Gadzhialiev (6-0-1) . Super Welter: Alex Sharonov (12-3-2) W PTS 8 Akhmed Khapachev (3-2-1).

Malikov vs. Sarukhanyan

Malikov and Sarukhanyan drew in a close fight that saw both fighters on the floor. Malikov was the aggressor and the busier fighter early with Sarukhanyan showing some nice skills but just not working hard enough over the first three rounds. Sarukhanyan eventually began to pick up rounds but was floored in the eighth. He took the ninth and put Malikov down in the tenth to even things up. Scores 96-92 Malikov, 96-92 Sarukhanyan and 94-94.This was a quarter-final of a tournament so there had to be a winner and a fourth judge had Malikov 95-93 in front so he goes through to the lightweight semi-finals. Reportedly the 32-year-old Russian Malikov was defending the oddly named Eurasian Parliament title. Armenian Sarukhanyan, 28, is now 11-1-1 in his last 13 fights.

Ivanov vs. Ponomarev

Ivanov pushed the once promising Ponomarev a little further down the slope with a wide unanimous decision. Ponomarev did plenty of attacking but with a very leaky defence and Ivanov’s jab was the dominant punch in the fight. Ponomarev was bereft of any idea on how to turn things around and seems only half the fighter he was when campaigning in the USA and earning a world rating. Scores 100-90, 98-92 and 97-93 for Ivanov. Ukrainian-based Russian Ivanov makes it 7 wins in his last 8 fights and he also goes through to the semi-finals at super welter. Ponomarev looked a top prospect when he was beating Mikael Zewski and Brad Solomon but after 34 wins in a row he lost a split decision to unbeaten newcomer Sergey Vorobiev for the vacant Russian title in July last year.

Gadzhialiev vs. Shafikov

Disappointing performance from Shafikov. The former three-time challenger for the IBF title made a slow start and  Gadzhialiev used speed and skill to work on the outside countering Shafikov’s usual forward march. Gadzhialiev built a good lead in the early rounds but Shafikov kept coming and looked to have edged in front only for Gadzhialiev to find another gear late. The judges scored  this 96-96, 95-95 and 97-94 for Gadzhialiev. Again a result was needed and it was decided that whichever fighter the judges scored the last round for would go through to the semi-finals and that was Gadzhialiev. Although he has had only seven pro fights Gadzhialiev (Hajialiyev) was a high level amateur  being Azeri national champion, winning a bronze medal at the European Championships and competing at the 2011 and 2013 World Championships and the 2012 Olympics. He also fought for the  Azerbaijan Baku Fires team in the World Series of Boxing. It remains to be seen how badly this draw affects Shafikov’s chances of getting a fourth world title fight but it must be a heavy blow to them.

Sharonov vs. Khapachev

Sharonov went through to the semi-finals with Gadzhialiev as he gets majority decision over Khapachev. The fighters in this one were a class or two behind Gadzhialiev and Shafikov but their contrasting styles produced a competitive and close fight. Scores 77-76 and 77-75 for Sharonov and 76-76. Four wins in a row for Sharonov. Southpaw Khapachev was in his first eight round fight.

Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: Light: Prince Lee Isidore (17-3-1) W PTS 10 Antoni Armas (9-4).

Local fighter Isidore overcame a slow start to outpoint Venezuelan Armas.  In his first fight since December 2017 Isidore took a few rounds to get into his stride and Armas connected with some heavy body punches in the second. The visitor looked to have edged the first three rounds. From the fourth Isidore took control and outboxed Armas. The young Venezuelan had never gone past six rounds and he tired late in the fight allowing Isidore to put the verdict beyond doubt and Isidore took the unanimous decision. This marked the first time that the 33-year-old Isidore had had to go the distance for a win. He collects the vacant WBFoundation International title. Armas, 22, had won 4 of his last 5 fights.

February 10

Pretoria, South Africa: Heavy: Elvis Moyo (9-5-2) W PTS 10 Ruann Visser (14-1).

If these two are among the best heavyweights in Africa then the Africa is in sore need of some new faces. This contest was fought at a pedestrian pace. The 6’9 ½” tall Visser towered over the 6’1” Moyo who just kept plodding forward. There was no power in Visser’s jab and he was sloppy with his right so Moyo was able to walk the big man down. Moyo would work Visser to the ropes and launch himself forward firing hooks past the porous guard of Visser. Visser was slightly more active than the 282 ¼ lbs Moyo and landed enough to win a round here and there but other than that it was Moyo who did most of what scoring there was and was a deserving winner. Scores 98-95, 97-93 and 96-94 all for Zimbabwean Moyo. He has won his last six fights but against strictly low level opposition and at 6’1 and over 280lbs he makes Jarrell Miller look almost svelte. South African champion Visser had won his last nine fights but is going nowhere.

Fight of the week (Significance): Gervonta Davis has opened some exciting possibilities at super feather.

Fight of the week (Entertainment): Ray Beltran vs. Hiroki Okada had plenty of action on show and the Jose Carlos Ramirez vs. Jose Zepeda fight was in the balance all the way.

Fighter of the week: Gervonta Davis for his obliteration of Hugo Ruiz.

Punch of the week: So many to choose from. The left hook from Victor Ruiz that flattened unbeaten Christian Carto. A left hook from Reymart Gaballo that obliterated Yuya Nakamura and on the same show the overhand right that Romero Duno used to put away Kuldeep Dhanda also the lightning uppercut from Marcos Aumada that wiped out Carlos Nascimento all great punches but I go for the left hook from Cristian Coria that laid out favoured Joel Diaz.

Upset of the week: Ruiz vs. Carto, Cancio Coria vs. Diaz

Prospect watch: I will go with 24-year-old Tim Tszyu who is 12-0 with 10 wins by KO/TKO-it’s in the blood.

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