HAMBURG, Oct. 16
KLITSCHKO landed many rights such as this. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Shannon Briggs proved on Saturday night in Germany what has been doubted during his long career, that he has the heart of a fighter and that, when the going is tough, he won’t quit. His one-sided points defeat against Vitali Klitschko was as game an exhibition as you will see from a boxer. It was often almost painful to watch — let alone to be on the receiving end of the punches — as Klitschko crashed right hand after right hand against Briggs’s head and face.
What Briggs endured in this fight will surely long be remembered as one of the most stoic stands seen in a boxing ring, because I don’t think anyone would have blamed Shannon had he pulled out after, say, seven rounds. Instead, he stayed in the fight — although it had long ceased to be a contest — for five more punishing rounds.
YORK HALL, LONDON, Oct. 9
SPROTT became the fourth winner of the Prizefighter heavyweight trophy
In boxing’s quietest week of the year, Saturday’s Prizefighter: The Heavyweights IV provided the mix that fans of the series have come to expect — at least one knockdown, debatable decisions, a bit of controversy and a fair amount of honest effort. As before, veterans and near-novices competed in the eight-man, seven-fights knockout tournament, and this was one of the rare occasions that the form line held up, with co-favourites Michael Sprott and Matt Skelton meeting in the final. Sprott, twice beaten by Skelton, deservedly got his own back on a split decision to join Martin Rogan, Sam Sexton and another old rival, Audley Harrison, as a Prizefighter heavyweight champion.
The three-round format is supposed to give inexperienced boxers a decent chance of beating the veterans, but not this time. Skelton trampled all over Iraq-born Ali Adams in the quarterfinals while Sprott cruised through his first two bouts, winning every round on all three judges’ cards against both Danny Hughes and Shane McPhilbin.
CONCEPCION overwhelmedDenkaosan. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
In a weekend of explosive punching, the big star was Panama’s Luis Concepcion, who blew away Thai veteran Denkaosan in their flyweight title bout on the big WBA KO Drugs show in Panama City on Saturday.
Concepcion was the favourite but I don’t think anyone could have expected him to demolish the normally durable Denkaosan in 90 seconds, dropping his more experienced opponent three times.
KAMEDA scored with the sharper shots. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Popular veteran Takefumi Sakata gave it a great try but Daiki Kameda was predictably too young and too good in Saturday’s flyweight championship fight between Japanese rivals in Tokyo.
I got up at 3:30 a.m. to watch the live coverage from Japan and although I didn’t do a round by round score it seemed there was no question that Kameda won clearly. The judges had Kameda a wide winner although Tokyo boxing authority Joe Koizumi reported that many ringsiders made this a very close contest.
Staples Center, LOS ANGELES, Sept. 18
ALL EVEN: Mora, Mosley ends in draw. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
As ever, a TV commentary leads to a so-called scoring controversy. People seem to be getting worked up about the decision of a draw in Saturday’s junior middleweight main even between Shane Mosley and Sergio Mora on HBO PPV.
The perception is largely that Mosley was robbed. Coincidentally, HBO’s commentary team had Mosley dominating the fight, with the “unofficial official” Harold Lederman giving Mora only three rounds.
The Palms casino hotel, LAS VEGAS, Sept. 11
RIOS was much too strong for an outgunned opponent. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
The star turn on Saturday’s Boxing After Dark wasn’t Yuriorkis Gambia, as many had anticipated, but Brandon Rios. The crowd-pleasing lightweight from Oxnard, CA, looked powerful and precise in breaking down and overwhelming Anthony Peterson in a meeting of undefeated rising stars.
This had looked an even-money fight, with Peterson a slight favourite because he had won nearly every round of every fight while Rios had some struggles earlier in his career. Rios, however, had shown improvement in the past year and on Saturday night he stepped up to another level. Peterson’s disqualification at the end of the seventh round saved him from being knocked out.
COLOGNE, Sept. 4
STURM made a spectacular entrance. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
The big boxing action was in Europe last weekend with title fights in Germany, Scotland and Slovenia but U.S. fans were able to see Felix Sturm’s middleweight title fight with Giovanni Lorenzo on ESPN Deportes (also online at espn3.com, coverage that is available only to fans with American internet providers).
Sturm always looked like being on a different level to Lorenzo based on their respective fights with Sebastian Sylvester (Lorenzo lost to Sylvester while Sturm outclassed his German rival). This was one of those fights where the form line proved to be accurate.
GUYNABO, PR, Aug. 28
SEGURA was relentless. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
The long unbeaten run of Ivan Calderon had to end sometime, and as often happens when a long-reigning champion loses, the finish was brutal and dramatic. Calderon gave his all, but he was a physically and mentally broken-down fighter when he sank to one knee to be counted out in the eighth round against Giovanni Segura in their 108-pound championship unification bout in Puerto Rico on Saturday.
After 19 consecutive title bouts in two weight classes without a defeat, Calderon’s skills and great experience just weren’t enough to overcome the relentless pressure and brutal body attack of the implacable aggressor from Mexico.
MONTREAL, Aug. 14
You could put Saturday’s light-heavyweight title bout between Jean Pascal and Chad Dawson into the “What if” category of contest, as in “What would have happened if Dawson had fought with more fire?” or “What would have happened if the head clash hadn’t ended matters in the 11th round?”
Something similar happened in March when Arthur Abraham lost by disqualification against Andre Dirrell, also in the 11th round and with Abraham making a late charge.
ONTARIO, CA, Aug. 13
Although Chris Arreola battered his way to victory over Manuel Quezada on Friday Night Fights I think we can say that this was a disappointing performance by the heavyweight contender — there were even some boos from a restless home-area crowd in the sluggish middle rounds.
The finish of the fight was somewhat exciting, with Arreola dropping Quezada twice in the ninth and flooring him again in the last round. Far from the improved performance that Arreola had promised, I thought I saw signs of decline.
ST. LOUIS, Aug. 7
CLOUD landed heavy shots. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Two good, tough 12-round title fights on HBO on Saturday night — that’s what fans like to see. Tavoris Cloud was a bit too young and powerful for Glen Johnson, but, as ever, the 41-year-old Jamaican from Miami put up a sterling effort and at times seemed on the brink of turning things around in this entertaining light-heavy title bout. In the main event, Devon Alexander had one of those life-and-death struggles with a very tough and determined Andriy Kotelnik, and although the unbeaten junior welter champion deservedly won in front of the hometown fans in St. Louis he was pushed to the limit.
The Cloud versus Johnson fight was one of those gruelling old-school wars of attrition. Johnson was busier but Cloud, a very determined 28-year-old from Tallahassee, FL, landed the bigger shots.
Grand Casino, HINCKLEY, MN, Aug. 6
MARTIN couldn't miss with the left hook. / Photo: TOM CASINO, for Showtime
Master against pupil, man versus boy, call it what you will, but there was no doubt that Christopher Martin outclassed bantamweight prospect Chris Avalos in the main event on ShoBox on Friday night. The fight wasn’t even close, yet it will go down in the records as a split decision win for Martin.
The scorecard of judge John Mariano that had Avalos winning by 98-94 was, for me, the worst scorecard in a bout held in the U.S. since Nevada judge Doug Tucker gave Jose Navarro every round in a fight with Cristian Mijares, with Mijares deservedly winning on the other two judges’ cards.
Mandalay Bay, LAS VEGAS, July 31
MARQUEZ was superior in every department. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Rematches of dramatic fights can equal the original or prove to be disappointing. The return lightweight title bout between Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz on Saturday night was well fought and pleasing while never reaching the heights of the initial meeting.
Last time, Diaz tried to overwhelm Marquez with fiery, fists-pumping aggression, and his tactics, while bringing early success, were ultimately unsuccessful.
Mandalay Bay, LAS VEGAS, July 31
JACOBS looked anxious under pressure. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
The big surprise on Saturday night’s PPV show wasn’t so much that Dmitry Pirog defeated Danny Jacobs but the way that he did it. Most people— me included — thought that if Pirog won it would be by outworking and outlasting the New York boxer. A one-punch knockout win by Pirog definitely wasn’t expected.
Pre-fight opinion was split on the title bout between unbeaten middleweights. Jacobs was generally seen as being the puncher in the fight. Instead, it was Jacobs who always looked in danger of getting knocked out.
Tachi Palace casino hotel, LEMOORE, CA, July 23
SHUMENOV punched, UZELKOV covered up. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
That was a curious contest between Beibut Shumenov and Viacheslav Uzelkov on Friday Night Fights. Dropped by a left hook in the opening round, Shumenov proceeded to win every other round — maybe every other minute — of the fight.
I was impressed with Shumenov in a light-heavyweight title defence that was expected to be much tougher. He was strong, disciplined and very determined. He fought a perfect winning fight — keep moving, keep punching, keep putting rounds in the bank.