The action was hot and heavy on the third Saturday of May. The festivities got under way at the Copper Box Arena in London where Gervonta Davis (pictured on the right) had an easy go in the first defense of his IBF 130-pound title. With Floyd Mayweather shouting encouragement, Davis TKOed Liam Walsh in the third frame. After two feeling-out frames, Davis cranked up the juice and the overmatched Walsh had no antidote. The official time was 2:11.
On the undercard Liam’s twin brother Ryan Walsh had better success, retaining his British featherweight title with an 11th round stoppage of Northern Ireland’s Marco McCullough. Also, 19-year-old heavyweight Daniel Dubois needed only 40 seconds to dismiss David Howe. As a pro, Dubois has yet to break a sweat. His three pro fights have consumed less than five minutes combined.
MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, MD
Gary Russell Jr., the most accomplished member of the fighting Russell clan, successfully defended his WBC lightweight title with a seventh round stoppage of Columbia’s Oscar Escandon. Russell dominated from the get-go. He dropped Escandon with an overhand right in the third and Escandon was seemingly fighting on fumes from that point on.
Russell is itching for a rematch with Vasyl Lomachenko, the man that saddled him with his only defeat.
In a fight that ended in controversy, Jose Uzcategui dropped Andre Dirrell with a three-punch combination in the waning seconds of the eighth round. In the opinion of referee Bill Clancy, the third punch landed after the bell. Earlier in the bout, Clancy had warned Uzcategui for a punch that landed after the bell.
The referee disqualified Uzcategui as Dirrell lay motionless on the canvas, face down. This precipitated an extra-curricular skirmish. As Dirrell’s brother Anthony was being restrained, a member of Dirrell’s team succeeded in getting to Uzcategui and punching him in the face.
It was a good action fight until the messy conclusion. Uzcategui had a big second round, but Dirrell had the best of it in the middle rounds. Through the eight completed rounds, Uzcategui was ahead on two of the scorecards while the third judge had it even. More than a few people thought that Dirrell wasn’t as badly hurt as he let on. The crowd booed him as he was being escorted from the ring by security.
Rances Barthelemy, a world titlist at 130 and 135 pounds, made his first start as a junior welterweight and scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Kiryl Relikh, winning on scores of 115-111, 116-110, and 117-109. Those tallies were unfair to Relikh as the fight was a lot closer than that. Relikh knocked Barthelemy down in in the fifth frame and had him in serious trouble. Barthelemy returned the favor in round eight, dropping the Belarusian with a body punch.
Barthelemy, now 26-0, has his eye on a match with WBA 140-pound champion Julius Indongo. If that fight were to happen (Indongo is also being rumored as the next opponent for Terence Crawford) and if Barthelemy were to win, he would be the first Cuban to win world titles in three weight classes.
Laredo Energy Center, Laredo, TX
In what was billed as a WBC 168-pound title eliminator, David Benavidez passed his sternest test with flying colors, taking out former world title challenger Rogelio Medina in the eighth round. During the contest, Benavidez pasted the brave but outgunned Medina with numerous uppercuts, one of which was a body shot that knocked Medina to his knees. The end came when Benavidez landed a series of punches that sent Medina sprawling through the lower strand of ropes. That referee didn’t bother to count.
Benavidez elevated his record to 18-0 (17). At age twenty, he may already be the best fighter in the world in his weight class.
In the co-feature, power punching super featherweight Jorge Lara returned to the ring after a 13-month absence and looked sensational while scoring a third round TKO over Mexican countryman Mario Briones. Lara, who knocked Briones down twice in the second round, was teeing off with an assortment of power punches when the referee appropriately intervened.
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
WBC/WBO super lightweight champion Terence Crawford left no doubt that he ranks among the top pound-for-pound boxers by dominating Felix Diaz whose corner threw in the towel at the conclusion of the tenth round. The versatile Crawford, who fought virtually the entire fight as a southpaw, was too classy for Diaz, a former Olympic gold medalist who was moving down in weight.
In the main supporting bout, veteran Raymundo Beltran, a cat with nine lives, came off the deck in the opening round and sent Jonathan Maicelo into dreamland in the very next frame with a picture-perfect left hook. Maicelo was out before he hit the canvas. He left the ring on a stretcher and was removed to a hospital for observation.
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