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Saturday Recap – In the United States, the Fourth of July weekend was historically a great weekend for sports. Baseball doubleheaders and important boxing matches were the norm. But things have changed. Doubleheaders have fallen by the wayside, save for the unscheduled ones dictated by make-up games. Big fights too have taken flight. This past weekend was a very soft weekend for boxing, both here and abroad. But as always, there were matches with important ramifications.

On Saturday at a PBC show in Reading, Pennsylvania, with the main events televised on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, Russia’s Denis Shafikov (pictured) resuscitated his career with an upset of previously undefeated (15-0) Jamel Herring. An ex-Marine, Iraq War veteran, and 2012 Olympian, Herring seemingly had emotional edges in his favor fighting on the Fourth of July, but he was taken to school by the more experienced Shafikov (36-2-1 going in) who was coming off a failed attempt to wrest the IBF World lightweight title from the shoulders of Rances Barthelemy.

One could sense that the ex-Marine was in for a long night when he was knocked down in the second frame. Actually, his rump never hit the canvas, being held up by the lower strand of rope, but it was properly called a knockdown. Shafikov was the aggressor throughout, landing the harder punches and eventually leading Herring’s corner to throw in the towel. The stoppage came at the 36 second mark of the 10th and final frame.

Although not as brutal, the match had many elements in common with the March 5 bout between Avtandil Khurtsidze and Antoine Douglas on a PBC show in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In both instances, the much shorter but more experienced fighter from Eastern Europe roughed up an undefeated American in a crossroads fight. Shafikov’s victory over Herring was another feather in the cap of Shafikov’s trainer and lead second Abel Sanchez, the man behind Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.

In the chief supporting bout, 23-year-old Patrick Szymanski, of Kunin, Poland, remained undefeated with a 10-round unanimous decision over “Silky” Wilky Camfort. The scores were 99-91 twice and 98-92. Camfort, from Fort Lauderdale via Haiti, rightfully faulted the referee for allowing Szymanski to get away with numerous low blows, but his punches lacked steam and he conceded that the decision was fair. Szymanski advanced to 16-0. Camfort declined to 21-3.

The undercard featured two local residents in Frankie De Alba and Kermit Cintron. De Alba, now 19-2-2 (8) stopped Jonathan Perez of Barranquilla, Columbia, in the second round. Perez entered the contest with a misleading 35-14 record. He was 0-9 in U.S. rings. The 36-year-old Cintron, the former IBF World welterweight champion, won a lackluster 8-round decision over Puerto Rican trial horse Carlos Garcia. Cintron was making his second start after a 25 ½-month hiatus.

In Mexico City, Ganigan Lopez successfully defended his WBC World light flyweight title with a 12-round unanimous decision over Filipino invader Jonathan Taconing. Ganigan used his jab to frustrate the dogged 5’2” Filipino who hurt Ganigan on several occasions but couldn’t follow up. The victory will likely translate into a rematch between Ganigan and countryman Pedro Guevara who appeared on the undercard and won an 8-round technical decision over Ruben Montoya in a bout that was stopped after eight frames because of an accidental head butt. Lopez, Guevara, and Japan’s Yu Kimura have been playing musical chairs with the WBC title.

In Boquete, Panama, Bryan Vasquez returned to action after a 13-month period of inactivity and looked super-sharp in blowing away veteran Angel Granados. Vasquez, who came up short vs. Javier Fortuna in his previous start in a bout contested for the vacant WBA World 130-pound title, knocked Granados to the canvas three times in the second round before the match was halted. Also on that card, Panama’s Bryan De Gracia, a rising featherweight contender, defeated Nicaragua’s German Lara. The bout was stopped after the fifth round.

In Juarez, Zulina Munoz, one of the world’s most accomplished female boxers, successfully defended her WBC World female super flyweight title with a spectacular fourth round knockout of Argentina’s Vanesa Taborda.

The fight had the earmarks of a mismatch. The 28-year-old Munoz, who turned pro at the age of 17, was 46-1-2 with 27 KOs. Munoz hadn’t lost since 2007 and had avenged her lone defeat. But Taborda, who brought an 8-6-3 record, came to fight and would score the second of the bout’s three knockdowns. But when the smoke cleared, the gritty Argentine campaigner was stretched out on the canvas and the legend of Zulina Munoz had grown larger.

The Munoz-Taborda brawl followed by one day an important female match at the Grand Hotel in Tijuana where local fan favorite Kenia Enriquez advanced to 17-1 with a lopsided 8-round decision over Monterrey’s Brenda Ramos. Ms. Ramos is now 0-2 vs. the Enriquez sisters. In her previous bout she suffered a ninth round stoppage at the hands of Kenia’s 19-year old sister, Tania Enriquez. The Enriquez sisters compete in the flyweight division.

The July 4 weekend activity concludes today in Germany where undefeated but trouble-plagued Erkan Teper opposes Derric Rossy. Stay tuned.

Saturday Recap

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