Saturday Recap 7/16 – The eyes of most U.S. boxing fans were riveted on the big show in Birmingham, Alabama, but elsewhere there were some important matches that commanded the attention of hard-core fans. We’ll start this overview by going to India where professional boxing is sprouting from soil that was previously barren. The fight between Vijender Singh and Kerry Hope was a historic event.
Vijender Singh, a full blown celebrity in the world’s second most populous country, won a 10-round unanimous decision over Kerry Hope in a bout sanctioned for something called the WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight Title. The scores (100-90 and 98-92 twice) were somewhat misleading as many of the rounds were close. The 34-year-old Hope, who was 23-7 going in, did his best work in rounds four and five, but Singh came back strong in the sixth. There were no knockdowns.
The undercard fighters on the 9-bout card were primarily Indian boxers new to the professional ranks. The packed house at Thyagaraj Stadium was studded with well-known people. The Vice President of India, Rahul Gandhi, was among those in attendance. Singh was greeted with a huge ovation when he entered the arena and the crowd erupted with joy when the decision was announced. Singh had won each of his six previous pro fights inside the distance. All of those bouts were in England.
At the Ice Arena, WBO World lightweight champion Terry Flanagan pitched a shutout over 42-year-old South African Mzonke Fana, winning by scores of 120-106 on all three cards. Although Flanagan, now 31-0, scored knockdowns in Round 4 and Round 12, his performance could best be described as workmanlike.
After the bout it was revealed that Flanagan’s promoter Frank Warren has been having discussions with Bob Arum about matching Flanagan with Vasyl Lomachenko. The bout would take place in England, likely Manchester where the Mancunian southpaw would have the home field advantage.
In the co-main, 35-year-old Cuban defector Guillermo Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and the lineal bantamweight champion of the world, won as expected over Liverpool’s James “Jazza” Dickens. The fight, stopped after the second round, was largely devoid of action save for the perfect left that Rigondeaux landed in the second round. It broke Dickens’ jaw, forcing his capitulation.
In another bout of note, Welshman Liam Williams successfully defended his British super welterweight title with an 11th round stoppage of London’s Gary Corcoran. This figured to be the best fight on the card and it didn’t disappoint. Williams, now 15-0-1 (9), suffered a long cut over his left eye following a clash of heads in the fourth round, but continued to apply pressure throughout. One could sense that the end was near when Williams felled his adversary with a thunderous right hook. It was the first defeat for Corcoran, now 15-1, who was applauded for his valiant effort.
Italy’s Giovanni De Carolis (25-6, 12 KOs) retained his WBA World super middleweight title when his match with Berlin’s Tyron Zeuge was scored a draw, a decision that was somewhat controversial as De Carolis had seemingly done enough to win. The 24-year-old Zeuge, who is undefeated (now 18-0-1), was bidding to become the youngest German to win a world title, breaking the record held by Graciano Rocchigiani. DeCarolis won the WBA title in January when he upset Vincent Feigenbutz, avenging a prior defeat.
In the 12-round co-main, veteran Arthur Abraham rebounded from a poor showing in Las Vegas where he lost his WBO 168-pound belt to Gilberto Martinez with an eighth round stoppage of Tim Robin Lihaug, an obscure 23-year-old Norwegian. Abraham improved to 45-5 (30). Lihaug declined to 15-2.
In another bout of note, Germany’s Ramona Kuehne successfully defended her WBO World female 130-pound belt when Ikram Kerwat retired after the fifth round. The 36-year-old Kuehne, who advanced to 25-1 (10) hasn’t lost in six years. Kerwat, who is of Tunisian descent, had been a pro for only 18 months. She was undefeated in six bouts with five knockouts.
LA PAZ, MEXICO
The ‘interim” WBO 130-pound strap was on the line when Miguel Berchelt, 29-1 (26), from Merida, Yucatan, Mexico met Thailand’s Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, 61-2 (41) In his most impressive showing to date, Berchelt knocked out the Thai invader in the fourth round. In his two prior defeats, Piriyapino was widely outpointed by Chris John and Vasyl Lomachenko, but he hadn’t previously been stopped. It’s time to add Berchelt’s name to the list of sharpshooters in what is arguably the strongest division in boxing.
Saturday Recap 7/16 – STATESIDE
At Detroit, heavyweight Andy Ruiz, on loan from the Top Rank stable, registered a third round TKO over 42-year-old Josh Gormley. The pudgy Ruiz, born in Mexico but raised across the border in Southern California’s Imperial Valley, improved to 28-0 with his 19th knockout. Gormley, supposedly a distant relative of Jack Dempsey, returned to the ring last year in the Dominican Republic after an absence of more than 16 years and bowled over three no-hopers to earn this assignment. Once considered a promising prospect, this was likely his last hurrah. If he leaves the sport, he will depart with a record of 22-5. As for Ruiz, he is slated to fight again on Sept. 10 where he will oppose 40-year-old Franklin Lawrence. This will be his third straight bout against a fighter in his 40s. This is the template of a fighter being groomed for a rich payday as a sacrificial lamb.
At the Pioneer Event Center in Lancaster, CA, on UniMas as part of the “Solo Boxeo Tecate” series, the “A side” fighters won as expected. In the 8-round main event, Casey Ramos, now 23-0, fought with more ferocity than was his norm and stopped Chile’s Hardy Paredes (18-14) in the fifth frame. The 25-year-old Ramos, who had his first pro fight at age 17, is a different kind of cat. The undefeated lightweight attends St. Edwards University in his hometown of Austin, Texas, and aspires to a career in politics. He is on the ballot in the race for city council in the November election.
In another TV bout, LA’s Arnold Barboza, now 13-0, topped John David Charles in a 6-round welterweight affair. Barboza won by 60-54 in all three scorecards. On the off-TV portion of the card, welterweight Egidijus Kavaliauskas dispatched Jeremy Bryan in the third frame. Bryan’s corner threw in the towel after Kavaliauskas, now 14-0 (12 KOs), smashed him to the canvas.
Kavaliauskas, a Lithuanian who fights out of Oxnard, California, was the subject of a recent TSS profile. He has a big upside.
Saturday Recap 7/16