The Klitschkos' dominance continues
A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at Wroclaw, Poland
Vitali Klitschko TKO10 Tomasz Adamek Heavyweight
Retains a heavyweight title
Records: Klitschko (43-2, 40 KOs); Adamek (44-2, 28 KOs)
Rafael's remark: The Klitschkos' dominance of the heavyweight division continues, with no end in sight. There is champion and younger brother Wladimir Klitschko, with his cadre of belts and 10 blowout title defenses to his credit, including a July 2 walkover against paper titlist David Haye. This past weekend, it was time for fellow champion and older brother Vitali to make his latest statement, which he did in overwhelming fashion against Adamek.
Klitschko, a Ukraine native who splits time between Germany and Los Angeles, traveled to Adamek's home country of Poland to beat him down in a brand-new, 40,000-seat soccer stadium for his seventh title defense since coming out of a nearly four-year retirement in 2008 to reclaim the title he vacated upon his retirement.
Adamek, 34, who is based in Jersey City, N.J., was a fine titleholder at light heavyweight and cruiserweight. And as a heavyweight, he had gone 6-0, including a signature win against Cristobal Arreola in 2010. But Klitschko is a totally different ballgame. Klitschko owned a 6-inch height advantage (6-foot-7 compared to 6-1), a 27-pound weight advantage (243 to 216) and is a bigger puncher and more skillful boxer. He used all of those attributes against Adamek, who didn't win a single moment of the fight. He just could not get inside on the massive Klitschko, who uses his long jab as well as anyone ever has and is just so smart. And he can punch, too. He landed nearly at will, taking his time and grinding down Adamek.
He wobbled the Pole badly with a right hand in the first round, and from that moment, you just knew this was a no-win situation for Adamek, who was a heavy underdog going into the fight in the first place. In the second round, Klitschko landed another monster overhand right that blasted Adamek into the ropes. It should have been ruled a knockdown because the ropes clearly held Adamek up, but referee Massimo Barrovecchio didn't make the call. Had the ropes not been there, that right hand would have sent Adamek into the front row. It didn't matter, ultimately, as Klitschko just continued to bang Adamek around the ring.
Adamek showed his big heart, but had little else to offer. By the fourth round, Adamek's nose was bleeding. And in the sixth round, Klitschko landed yet another huge right hand to the head that knocked Adamek, his face showing wear and tear, into the ropes again. This time Barrovecchio properly ruled it a knockdown. It was only a matter of time before Adamek was done, and his time was up in the 10th round. As Klitschko, who didn't look anything close to 40 (which he turned in July), continued to pound on an increasingly tired Adamek, Barrovecchio finally called off the brutal mismatch at 2 minutes, 20 seconds.
In the 17 defenses that the Klitschko brothers have made during their current reigns, they have scarcely lost a round. In their most recent fights, Wladimir routed Haye (whom most regarded as the third-best heavyweight in the world) and Vitali gave Adamek (who had been right behind Haye) no chance whatsoever to make something happen. The brothers simply have zero competition right now, as they have essentially cleaned out the division. This heavyweight era is a weak one -- we all know that. But Vitali (whose only losses came after he suffered injuries in fights he led on the scorecards), with his size, smarts, power and chin, would have been trouble for any heavyweight who ever lived. Time to accept that fact.
Saturday at Atlantic City, N.J.
Yuriorkis Gamboa Tech. Dec. 8 Daniel Ponce De Leon Featherweight
Scores: 80-72 (twice), 79-73
Records: Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs); Ponce De Leon (41-4, 34 KOs)
Rafael's remark: Gamboa looked so calm, relaxed and in control that you might have thought this was a sparring session. That's how easily he dismissed a pretty good fighter in Mexico's Ponce De Leon, 31, a huge puncher and former junior featherweight titlist.
Gamboa, 29, a 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist who defected in 2007 and now lives in Miami, is a special talent, though he looked somewhat disinterested for long stretches of the fight. It's just that it all seems to come so easy for him. Ponce De Leon simply couldn't deal with his speed, skills and quality punches from both hands. Gamboa landed numerous fast right hands and left hooks and mixed in good body punches. Round after round, it was more of the same. Although some rounds were close, Ponce De Leon didn't do enough to win any of them, other than the opening round on one judge's scorecard.
Many expected Gamboa, a rising pound-for-pound talent, to score the knockout, perhaps early in the fight (given Ponce De Leon's questionable chin). But he never stepped on the gas pedal, and the fight became redundant. It only ended because, in the eighth round, they accidentally clashed heads and Ponce De Leon wound up with a cut above his left eye. It didn't look too bad and wasn't bleeding all that heavily, but referee Alan Huggins called it off on the advice of the ringside doctor at 1 minute, 24 seconds. In a state where Arturo Gatti bled heavily from far more horrific cuts in fights that weren't stopped, this was a weak stoppage.
But Ponce De Leon didn't put up any kind of resistance to the ruling. Frankly, he looked as if he just didn't want any more from Gamboa and was relieved that the fight was over. It was a disappointing end to a match in which Gamboa, far less reckless now than he was when he first turned pro, showed his skills but neither fighter delivered much action.
Although there are some solid fights for Gamboa at featherweight -- the biggest being against Juan Manuel Lopez if he beats Orlando Salido in a rematch that's in the works for early next year -- there really is nothing else of major consequence for him at 126 pounds. So after beating Ponce De Leon, he said he's done at featherweight and will move up to the 130-pound junior lightweight division for his next fight. He won't find a big fight up there either, because it's one of the weakest divisions in boxing. He may have to go to lightweight for a major fight or wait around at 130 long enough for a fight with Adrien Broner to become a big deal, or hang on until Nonito Donaire climbs the scale another couple of divisions. Whatever he does, Gamboa likely will be back in January and, hopefully, ready to show more interest in putting on a show.
Saturday at Belfast, Northern Ireland
Paul McCloskey W12 Breidis Prescott Junior welterweight
Scores: 115-113, 114-113 (twice)
Records: McCloskey (23-1, 12 KOs); Prescott (24-3, 19 KOs)
Rafael's remark: Before they fought each other, McCloskey, 32, who was fighting in front of a home crowd, and Prescott, 28, a native of Colombia living in Miami, had something in common: Both had faced junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan. McCloskey lost a shutout six-round technical decision to him in April. Prescott scored the biggest win of his career against Khan in a 2008 lightweight fight, knocking him out in the first round in front of Khan's shocked hometown crowd in England. Now McCloskey and Prescott were meeting with a mandatory shot at a belt held by Marcos Maidana as the prize. Of course, Maidana is one of two fighters recognized by the woeful WBA as its titleholder. The other? Khan -- but he won't be facing McCloskey again. Khan will fight in December then plans to move up to welterweight next year. A matchup with Maidana also seems somewhat unlikely. Regardless, there was still a lot at stake in this fight.
Prescott started off well, including getting credit for a dubious knockdown in the first round. Referee Howard John Foster called the knockdown even though Prescott clearly hit McCloskey behind the head and sort of cuffed him around the neck to force him down. It got worse for McCloskey in the second round, when his nose began to bleed heavily from eating some of Prescott's heavy punches. He staggered McCloskey in the sixth round, but he couldn't put him away.
Prescott dominated most of the first half of the fight, but he began to fade. Meanwhile, McCloskey began to pick up the pace, worked the body very well and applied pressure to get himself back into the fight. It was a good fight, and one American fans were fortunately able to see live on ESPN3.com. In the end, it was a close fight. This shouldn't be judged as a bogus hometown decision, but rather a close fight in which the hometown guy (not surprisingly) got the tight nod. Prescott has nobody to blame but himself for letting this one get away from him. He has been chasing Khan for a rematch, but he can probably forget about it at this point. For McCloskey, this is probably the best win of his career.
Saturday at Zacatecas, Mexico
Cristian Mijares KO3 Jonathan Perez Junior featherweight
Records: Mijares (43-6-2, 19 KOs); Perez (19-9, 16 KOs)
Rafael's remark: Mijares, 29, of Mexico, surprised many when he outpointed Juan Alberto Rosas to win a junior bantamweight title in December. He had unified belts in the division a few years ago, but he was viewed by many as being on the backside of his career. He made one defense of his second reign in May and was supposed to face mandatory challenger Raul Martinez. However, Mijares, saying he could no longer make the 115-pound division limit, vacated his belt and moved up in weight. This bout was fought at 122 pounds, although Mijares could also campaign at bantamweight, which he had tried before without success. He would like a title opportunity and singled out bantamweight titlist Nonito Donaire (won't happen -- Donaire is moving up to junior featherweight after an Oct. 22 fight against Omar Narvaez) and junior featherweight titlist Jorge Arce (whom Mijares defeated in a junior bantamweight title bout in 2007).Whatever Mijares, a southpaw, winds up doing, he got the ball rolling at a new weight by routing Perez, a 24-year-old journeyman from Colombia. Mijares tagged Perez repeatedly and was cruising when he nailed him with a right uppercut, sending Perez to the canvas in a delayed reaction. He got to his rear end, but was counted out with 23 seconds left in the round.
Saturday at Guadalajara, Mexico
Juan Carlos Salgado W12 Argenis Mendez Junior lightweight
Wins a vacant junior lightweight title
Scores: 115-110, 114-112 (twice)
Records: Salgado (24-1-1, 16 KOs); Mendez (18-2, 9 KOs)
Rafael's remark: South Africa's Mzonke Fana was supposed to defend his 130-pound belt against mandatory challenger Mendez, but he elected not to and was stripped of the title. That left Mendez, 25, a New York-based native of the Dominican Republic, to face Mexico's Salgado, 26, a former titleholder whose first reign came to an end on a 12th-round knockout in Japan to hometown fighter Takashi Uchiyama in January 2010.
Salgado pulled this one out, but it certainly wasn't easy, and frankly, it was close enough that giving the decision to Mendez would have been fine. Had the fight been on his turf, he might have gotten the call in what was a hard-hitting bout. Both fighters had plenty of good moments. Salgado had Mendez in some trouble in the third round, then it was the other way around in the fourth round. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth docked a point from Mendez for a rabbit punch in the fifth.
There was good action throughout the bout, but it went to another level in the 12th round, when the fight seemingly was still on the table. Salgado was gassed, and Mendez knocked him down with an outpouring of blows. Unlike when he lost his first title, Salgado survived this time to make the final bell and take the debatable decision. Salgado has now won three fights in a row since losing to Uchiyama. Mendez saw his six-fight winning streak come to an end. How about Uchiyama-Salgado II or Salgado-Mendez II?
Friday Hinckley, Minn.
Vincent Arroyo W10 Hector Sanchez Welterweight
Scores: 98-92 (twice), 96-94
Records: Arroyo (12-1, 7 KOs); Sanchez (19-2, 9 KOs)
Rafael's remark: Arroyo, 24, of Amherst, N.Y., continues to win. Since his only loss -- a six-round decision to fellow prospect Mike Dallas Jr. in late 2009 -- Arroyo has won three fights of note in a row. First, he scored a major upset when he knocked out highly touted prospect Jeremy Bryan in the eighth round in April 2010. Then after a year layoff, Arroyo scored three knockdowns and outpointed the previously undefeated Willie Nelson on Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation" in April. The win over Nelson paved the way for Arroyo to headline "ShoBox," on which he scored another win, this time outpointing tough Puerto Rican prospect Sanchez, 25, who is now more suspect after losing for the second time in three bouts.
This was no easy fight, even though two of the scorecards showed a surprisingly wide margin. Arroyo and Sanchez put on a crowd-pleasing fight, both showing enormous desire to win it. Arroyo suffered a cut over his left eye in the opening round from an accidental head-butt before the action intensified in the second round, during which he rocked Sanchez. There was a lot of back-and-forth action through the middle rounds. Arroyo hurt Sanchez with a left hand in the eighth round and had him in trouble. But Sanchez (6-foot-2), who didn't make very good use of his height advantage against Arroyo (5-8), was game and survived through the final two high-contact rounds. This was just a really entertaining fight.
Lateef Kayode W10 Felix Cora Jr. Cruiserweight
Scores: 98-92, 97-92, 96-93
Records: Kayode (18-0, 14 KOs); Cora Jr. (22-6-2, 12 KOs)
Rafael's remark: Yes, Kayode clearly won the fight, but he wasn't all that impressive -- certainly not impressive for a guy with designs on a world title bout in the near future. Although he landed some hard shots on Cora, Kayode rarely followed up or pressed the action in a true effort to get rid of his man. And after turning in a string of knockouts, Kayode, a 28-year-old native of Nigeria now living in Los Angeles, went the distance for the third fight in a row -- including a debatable win against Nick Iannuzzi in February. All in all, it was a fairly pedestrian performance from Kayode, from whom referee Steve Smoger deducted a point for repeated low blows in the 10th round. Cora, 31, of Galveston, Texas, lost his third fight in a row and has seen better days.
Friday at Philadelphia
Gabriel Rosado W10 Keenan Collins Junior middleweight
Scores: 100-90 (three times)
Records: Rosado (18-5, 10 KOs); Collins (13-7-2, 9 KOs)
Rafael's remark: The main event of Telefutura's "Solo Boxeo Tecate" was nothing to write home about as Rosado, 25, of Philadelphia, earned the clean shutout (and vacant Pennsylvania state title) against Collins. Rosado, who is probably best known for being knocked out by Alfredo "Perro" Angulo in the second round on "Friday Night Fights" in August 2009, simply outclassed Collins round after round. Collins, 34, of Reading, Pa., lost his second in a row and dropped to 1-6-1 with a no-contest in his last nine bouts.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
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