WEEKEND BOXING RECAP — The month of January tends to be a slow month for boxing. This weekend was consistent with the historical pattern. However, there were a few noteworthy boxers in action, most notably former two-division world champion Zab Judah who returned to the ring after a 37-month hiatus for a tune-up fight with Jorge Luis Munguia in Trenton, New Jersey. The match played out according to form. Judah hurt Munguia in the opening round and finished him off with a flurry of punches in the second. It was the fifth straight loss for Munguia, a Honduran who began his pro career in Nicaragua.
Friday, Jan. 20
The best showing of the weekend was turned in by super bantamweight Danny Roman on Friday at the Bally’s Event Center in Atlantic City. His match with Adam Lopez on “ShoBox” had the earmarks of a nip-and-tuck affair, but Roman, in his first TV fight and first engagement outside Southern California, was dominant from the get-go. Lopez, who came back from two knockdowns in the fourth round, was brave but simply outclassed. His corner tossed in the towel after the ninth frame. It was the 14th straight win for Roman who positioned himself for a bout with WBA “regular” 122-pound champion Nehomar Cermeno.
In undercard action, super middleweight Ronald Ellis (14-0-1) and junior welterweight Kenneth Sims Jr. (11-0) continued their winning ways with unanimous 8-round decisions over capable opponents, respectively Christopher Brooker and Emmanuel Robles.
Ellis, from Lynn, Massachusetts, was a 2010 National Golden Gloves champion at middleweight. He is the older brother of undefeated (17-0) welterweight Rashidi Ellis. Kenneth Sims, Jr., who fights out of Chicago, was well-prepared for Robles, a southpaw. Sims sparred extensively with Manny Pacquiao prior to Pacquaio’s match with Floyd Mayweather.
In other bouts of note, St. Louis bantamweight Stephon Young improved to 16-0-3 with an 8-round decision over Olimjon Nazarov and Philadelphia’s fast-rising 20-year-old heavyweight Darmani Rock moved to 7-0 with a fifth-round stoppage of 42-year-old ex-con Solomon Maye.
Full-time boxing writers in olden days would fill in the gaps of fights that never made the national news wires. Friday’s card at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota, featuring Rob Brant (now 22-0) against Alexis Hloros in the main event, was widely ignored like those old “not on the wire” fights of yesteryear, and deservedly so as Hloros, a 37-year-old Michigander, had no business in the ring with Rob Brant who dismissed him in the opening round with a body punch.
Brant, who has won nine of his last 10 inside the distance, hails from Minneapolis but now lives and trains in Dallas where he regularly spars with the likes of Errol Spence Jr. He is being mentioned as a future opponent for Billy Joe Saunders who holds the WBO version of the middleweight title.
In the chief undercard bout, Duarn Vue (11-0-2) stopped Lance Williams in the second frame of a junior lightweight contest. The 5-foot-3 Vue, who resides in Madison, Wisconsin, is the son of Hmong refugees. He holds a fringe title that wasn’t at stake against Iowa’s Williams.
In Preston, Lancashire, England, super lightweight Robbie Davies Jr. improved to 15-0 (11) with a ninth round stoppage of Zoltan Szabo in a bout slated for 12 rounds with a minor regional title at stake. Davies (pictured on the right) caved in his Hungarian opponent with a wicked left hook to the body. Szabo, who declined to 13-4, is a throwback. Although he’s been a pro for less than a year, he already has 17 fights on his belt. He is a journeyman at age 22, a designation commonly applied to a much older man.
In the co-feature, middleweight Jack Arnfield (23-2) busted up regional rival Mick Hall whose corner tossed in the towel after the 11th round. The interesting aspect of this show is that it was televised in the UK, another indication of boxing’s soaring popularity in America’s mother country.
In Lavallois-Perret, Hauts-de-Seine, France, Cedric Vitu successfully defended his EBU (European) super welterweight title with a unanimous 12-round decision over Spain’s Isaac Real. Vitu, a 31-year-old Frenchman, is a big fish in a small pond. His 45-2 record is impressive until one considers that he has competed exclusively in Europe.
In Struer, Denmark, Danish super middleweight Patrick Nielsen returned after a 13-month absence occasioned by a hand injury and scored a 10-round unanimous decision over Columbia’s Beibi Berrocal. Nielsen won comfortably on the scorecards while advancing his record to 29-1, but earned no style points from Per Ake Persson. A longtime observer of the Scandinavian boxing scene, Persson described Nielsen’s performance as lackluster.
In the co-feature, Struer resident Dina Thorslund “pitched a shutout” over Xenia Joreac, winning all 10 rounds. The 23-year-old Thorslund, unbeaten in eight starts, won something called the WBC Youth female super bantamweight championship.
In Mexico City, super bantamweight Emanuel Navarrete and mighty-mite Anabel Ortiz continued their winning ways on a show that aired in the United States on Spanish language BeIn TV.
Local lad Navarrete (18-1, 15 KOs) scored his 12th straight win with a sixth round stoppage of Dennis Conteras. Guadalajara’s Contreras, who won 14 of his first 15 fights by knockout, has now lost five of his last six. Anabel Ortiz (24-3) scored a unanimous 10-round decision over Monterrey’s Brenda Ramos (9-5). Ortiz, who competes in the lightest division, has won 14 straight since losing to talented Yesica Bopp on hostile soil in Argentina.
In Shijiazhuang, China, Zhilei “Big Bang” Zhang, knocked out Peter Graham in the opening round. The 6-foot-6, 253-pound Zhang, who lives and trains in Las Vegas, is a veritable giant by Chinese standards. In Peter Graham, he was meeting a 41-year-old Australian who had won eight straight, five since returning to the ring in 2012 after a nine-and-a-half year absence.
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