The Ward-Kovalev rematch overshadowed everything else, but on a night when Nevada’s referees did not put their best feet forward, there was plenty of activity around the globe. There was even a world title fight in Germany where native son Tyron Zeuge (pictured on the left) prevailed in the fourth defense of his WBA 168-pound title, winning a wide 12-round decision over Paul Smith.
Zeuge (21-0-1), who appears to be a legitimate champion but needs to prove it by stepping up the caliber of his competition, controlled the bout with his strong jab. This was likely the last hurrah for Smith (38-7), the oldest of Liverpool’s fighting Smith brothers, who came up short once again in what was his third stab at a world title. After the fight, his trainer Joe Gallagher said that this was “the last roll of the dice.”
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In Buenos Aires, Argentina, Diego Gabriel Chaves blew away Jean Prada who was all done in after 57 seconds of the second round. Chaves, 26-2-1 (22 KOs) has lost only to Keith Thurman (KO 10) and Brandon Rios (DQ 9) in a foul-filled bout in which he was ahead on two of the scorecards though the completed rounds. This was his third straight win following a draw vs. Timothy Bradley. The well-traveled Prada, a Venezuelan who currently hangs his hat in New Hampshire, is 32-4-1 but has lost four of his last six.
In the semi-main, 154-pound campaigner Fabian Andres Maidana advanced to 13-0 (10) with a fourth round stoppage of Venezuelan trial horse Pedro Verdu. The word on Maidana is that he is more technically proficient than his older brother Marcos Maidana, the former WBA welterweight champion, but doesn’t approach the sport with his sibling’s zest for combat.
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In Belfast, Northern Ireland, two-time Olympic bronze medalist Paddy “The Leprechaun” Barnes had a much more difficult time than expected with Silviu Olteanu, but copped a 10-round majority decision to claim a conveniently vacant WBO European flyweight title belt in only his third pro start. The 39-year-old Olteanu, a Spaniard by way of Romania, declined to 16-12-1.
In other bouts of note, lightweight Jono Carroll (14-0, 1 KO), remained undefeated with a 10-round split decision over previously undefeated John Quigley and Craig Evans came on strong in the late rounds to win a unanimous 10-round decision over Stephen Ormand. Evans (17-1-2), a Welshman, has his eyes set on a match with WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan.
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In Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Yves Ulysses Jr. continued his climb up the 140-pound ladder with a unanimous 10-round decision over Pinoy globetrotter Ricky Sismundo. Ulysses, undefeated in 14 starts, is of Haitian descent, as are several other prominent boxers residing in and around Montreal, most notably WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson. But unlike the others, Ulysses was actually born in Canada.
In his second straight impressive showing, Ulysses won comfortably, turning away Sismundo (31-10-3) on scores of 99-90 and 98-91 twice.
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In Comitan, Chiapas, Mexico, Jose Zepeda scored his twenty-second knockout in 28 starts with a sixth round stoppage of Miguel Zamudio (39-10-1). Born and bred in Southern California, Zepeda has fought primarily in Mexico. His lone defeat came on the road in Manchester, England, against defending WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan. Zepeda bowed out early with a dislocated shoulder.
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On a Golden Boy Promotions card held outdoors at the training facility of the Dallas Cowboys in Frisco, TX, Fidel Maldonado Jr., a 25-year-old Albuquerque barber, scored the biggest win of his career, advancing to 24-3-1 with a 10-round split decision over former world title challenger Pablo Cesar Cano. A southpaw, Maldonado did it the hard way, coming off the deck in the fourth round. He is 5-0-1 in his last six starts. The match, contested at 140 pounds, was televised on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
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