A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at Indio, Calif.
Cornelius "K9" Bundrage TKO7 Cory Spinks Retains junior middleweight title
Records: Bundrage (32-4, 19 KOs); Spinks (39-7, 11 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Bundrage, who earned a measure of fame as a competitor on the 2006 edition of "The Contender" reality series, went to Spinks' hometown of St. Louis in August 2010 and destroyed him in five one-sided rounds to claim a 154-pound title in an upset. Instead of doors opening for him to bigger fights in one of boxing's most lucrative divisions, promoter Don King put him on the shelf and Bundrage didn't fight for 10 months. When he finally got a fight, Bundrage had to face Sechew Powell in a mandatory defense that wound up on the undercard of an untelevised card for a paltry, five-figure purse.
Bundrage won to avenge a first-round knockout loss to Powell in 2005, but that doesn't pay the bills. Then Bundrage faced another long layoff while King either wouldn't or couldn't line up another fight for him. Nearly a year off to the day after the rematch with Powell, Bundrage was back again, in yet another mandatory defense against a guy he had already faced, Spinks. This time, however, Bundrage made a six-figure purse and headlined on Showtime after Golden Boy came to his rescue by winning a purse bid and using its considerable juice at the network to get it televised. It worked out nicely for Bundrage, 39, of Detroit, who made his second defense with another definitive knockout of Spinks.
Bundrage, the far more powerful and fresher fighter despite being four years old than Spinks, the former undisputed welterweight champion, looked like he might make it a very early night when he dropped Spinks with a clean overhand right hand with about a half-minute to go in the first round. Spinks never saw the punch coming and was a bit shaky when he got to his feet, but there wasn't enough time left for Bundrage to go get him. Spinks was still in rough shape in the second round and resorted to simply grabbing Bundrage to avoid punches, for which he was warned by referee Ray Corona. Bundrage nailed him with a lot of shots, including a left-right combination in the fourth round that seemed to almost lift Spinks off the canvas.
Although Spinks tried to box Bundrage and might have won a round or two in the middle of the fight, he looked like he had almost nothing on his punches. He seemed to have little to offer but his heart, and was finished by the seventh round when Bundrage pounded him to the mat three more times. A right hand dumped him flat on his back early in the round and his legs were gone when the fight resumed. Spinks went down again from a right hand and this time barely beat the count. Moments later, Spinks fell to the mat simply because his legs were shot, so it was ruled a slip instead of a knockdown. But Bundrage dropped him for the third time in the round when he put together a decent combination and Spinks went down again, prompting Corona to call it off at 2 minutes, 32 seconds.
By then, Bundrage probably could have blown on Spinks and he would have fallen. And it's a good thing Bundrage finished him in such a decisive manner because, stunningly, judges Gwen Adair and Robert Byrd had the audacity to actually have Spinks ahead 57-56 after the sixth round. At least judge Fernando Villarreal had Bundrage ahead 57-56, which was still too close. Thank goodness for knockouts.
Spinks, despite such a punishing loss and a 3-4 record in his past seven bouts, gave Bundrage credit for winning and said he had no plans to call it quits. He'll probably wind up fighting for way too long, just like his father, former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks (who was in his corner).
Even with the knockout win, Bundrage didn't look particularly impressive. Still, he hoped a victory might pave the way for him to land the coveted Sept. 15 fight against titleholder Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. Bundrage, who claims to be a free agent from King, almost certainly won't get the assignment against Alvarez and could instead be offered a chance to defend his belt against top contender Erislandy Lara, who won in dominant fashion on the undercard.
Gary Russell Jr. TKO3 Christopher Perez Featherweight
Records: Russell (20-0, 12 KOs); Perez (23-3, 14 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Russell, a 24-year-old southpaw from Capitol Heights, Md., was a 2008 U.S. Olympian and the 2011 ESPN.com prospect of the year, and although the level of his opposition has been extremely weak, he is one of the most talented young fighters in the sport. He was 6-0 in 2011 and had been on the verge of breaking out this year. But then came an unexpected seven-month layoff at a time when he should have been far more active. He was supposed to fight in February on the undercard of the Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto rematch, but the card was postponed until June 23 because of Berto's biceps injury (and later canceled after Berto's positive drug test). Golden Boy rescheduled Russell to fight in April, but that fight was canceled when Russell suffered a severe left ankle sprain in training.
Russell finally made his 2012 debut on Saturday, against the utterly obscure Perez, 23, of Mexico, and destroyed him. Perez, who went down four times, was no match for Russell, whose hand speed is absolutely ridiculous -- maybe the best boxing has seen in decades. Russell easily won the opening round and then dropped Perez in the second round with a fast left-right hook combination. Three more knockdowns followed in the third round. There was a flush left hand that put Perez down and through the ropes early in the round. Then came another knockdown on another combination Perez never saw coming. Finally, Russell landed a right-left combination to floor him again and referee Pat Russell (no relation), who had warned Perez that the fight would be over if he went down again, called it off at 1 minute, 41 seconds.
Russell smoked yet another opponent who had no prayer against him. He has all the talent and potential in the world to be on the pound-for-pound list for years to come. Now it's just a matter of him taking on at least a halfway-decent opponent. The skills and speed are second to none.
Erislandy Lara W10 Freddy Hernandez Junior middleweight
Scores: 99-90, 98-91, 95-94
Records: Lara (17-1-1, 11 KOs); Hernandez (30-3, 20 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Lara, 29, was a 2005 world amateur champion for Cuba before defecting and turning pro in 2008. Now based in Houston, where he trains with Ronnie Shields, Lara has become one of the best junior middleweights in the world -- and one of the most avoided fighters in any weight class. Lara was given an opportunity to face Paul Williams on HBO last July, but only because he hadn't looked good in his previous bout, a March 2011 draw with Carlos Molina, and was supposed to be an easy mark for Williams. Instead, Lara manhandled Williams in a majority decision loss that caused such controversy that New Jersey officials suspended all three judges for their scorecards, an unprecedented move.
But rather than being able to capitalize on his "loss," Lara, a southpaw, wound up on the shelf. He didn't fight for nine months, until returning in April to author a wicked first-round destruction of Ronald Hearns. Back in action Saturday, Lara -- who agreed over the weekend to bring on Al Haymon as his adviser -- went out and put a beating on former world title challenger Hernandez, 33, a native of Mexico living in Maywood, Calif.
Lara, whose own promoter, Golden Boy, refuses to mention him as a possible Saul "Canelo" Alvarez opponent for Sept. 15, busted up Hernandez and routed him with ease, which wasn't reflected in the 95-94 scorecard turned in by David Denkin. Lara didn't throw all that many punches, but when he did, he landed them, usually in combination. He marked up Hernandez's right eye in the second round and opened a cut over his left eye in the sixth. But Lara also played dirty by seemingly purposely head-butting Hernandez, which wasn't even worth it because Lara was winning so easily. After another head-butt in the seventh round, referee Wayne Hedgepeth properly docked a point from Lara. Hernandez's face was a complete mess. He was cut over both eyes and cut vertically between his right eye and nose. It would be nice to see Lara fight without the dirty tactics, but this was as easy a win as he could have earned without a knockout.
An Alvarez fight still appears remote at best, although Lara could wind up getting a shot at titlist Cornelius "K9" Bundrage, who retained his belt in the main event. Hernandez is now 1-2 in his past three bouts, the other defeat being a first-round knockout loss to Andre Berto in a November 2010 welterweight title bout. Hernandez is a tough veteran with a big heart who can probably still make a living serving as a test for prospects.
Saturday at Lodz, Poland
Roy Jones Jr. W10 Pawel Glazewski Cruiserweight
Scores: 96-94, 96-93 Jones, 95-94 Glazewski
Records: Jones (56-8, 40 KOs); Glazewski (17-1, 4 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: This was just sad. Jones, 43, of Pensacola, Fla., was once a peerless fighter, the very best in the world for about a decade. The former four-division titleholder -- middleweight to heavyweight (minus cruiserweight) -- was what every other fighter aspired to be, but he hasn't been close to that level since Antonio Tarver knocked him cold in the second round of their 2004 light heavyweight championship rematch. Since then, it has been difficult to watch as Jones has continued to fight with such diminished ability, especially the three other times he has been knocked out since the second Tarver fight. In financial difficulties and unable to get anyone in the United States to pay to see him anymore or to put him on television (other than as an HBO broadcaster), Jones has been forced to go on the road -- something he never would have considered when he was still on top. He has been to Australia, Russia and Poland in three of his past five fights (and has been badly knocked out in two of them).
What makes this win against Glazewski, 29, of Poland, so disturbing is that Jones will be encouraged to keep fighting after getting a gift split decision, which preserved a likely (and incredibly unwarranted) shot at cruiserweight titlist Krzysztof Wlodarczyk of Poland. As troubling as it is, that would be a major fight in Poland.
Jones did very, very little against Glazewski, who had been lined up just in case he was needed for the fight. Jones was supposed to face Dawid Kostecki, another fighter from Poland, but Kostecki wound up in jail on pimping and organized crime charges even though he was originally supposed to be sentenced after the fight. For whatever reason, he wound up in prison before the bout -- which was on pay-per-view in Poland -- and efforts to get him released failed.
Glazewski stepped in and appeared to have won the slow-paced fight. He and Jones seemed to fight on even terms for the first half of the bout before Glazewski picked up the pace and appeared to outwork and outland Jones. In the sixth round, he caught Jones with a left hook, dropped him and had Jones in trouble, but the round ended before he could do much more damage. Jones looked tired in the second half of the bout and didn't throw many punches. Glazewski had him backing up in the ninth round and in trouble again in the 10th. Yet Jones, who did more shoulder shaking and showboating than damage to his opponent, got the surprising split verdict.
On the undercard, two other name Americans also fought: long-faded heavyweight contender Jameel McCline and former unified lightweight titlist Nate Campbell. McCline (41-12-3, 24 KOs), 42, of West Palm Beach, Fla., who three times challenged for a world title and once fought for an interim belt, lost a 10-round decision to Artur Szpilka (12-0, 9 KOs), 23, of Poland, on scores of 98-93, 98-94 and 97-94. McCline is 3-6 in his past nine bouts. Campbell (36-9-1, 26 KOs), 40, of Jacksonville, Fla., won his second fight in a row, an eight-round decision against Poland's Krzysztof Szot (16-3-1, 5 KOs), 34, on scores of 79-74, 79-74 and 79-73.
Saturday at Aguascalientes, Mexico
Cristian Mijares W10 Eusebio Osejo Junior featherweight
Scores: 98-91, 97-92 (twice)
Records: Mijares (46-6-2, 21 KOs); Osejo (21-11-2, 7 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Mijares, 30, of Mexico, is a former two-time junior bantamweight titlist and, for a time during his 2006 to 2008 first title reign (during which he unified two belts before being knocked out by Vic Darchinyan in a further unification bout), was considered one of the best fighters in the world. But the Darchinyan loss was the first of three defeats in a row and Mijares, a southpaw, was written off by many. He moved up to junior featherweight and eventually claimed another title in 2010, made one defense and then vacated. With his rout of Osejo, however, Mijares has won 10 fights in a row and ought to be in line for another title bout.
Mijares looked good against Osejo in the main event of the Azteca America-televised card. Mijares moved well, confounding the slower Osejo, but he also whacked him upside the head with a ton of right hooks. Despite the fight being very one-sided, it wasn't a bad scrap. That said, it was an easy win for Mijares, who deserves another notable fight. Osejo, 26, of Nicaragua, has lost two of his past three bouts.
Saturday at Caguas, Puerto Rico
Michael Perez TKO2 Eric Cruz Junior welterweight
Records: Perez (16-1-1, 10 KOs); Cruz (16-10-3, 13 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: In January, Perez took a gamble by facing fellow prospect Omar Figueroa and was stopped in the sixth round of an action fight. Making his comeback from the first loss of his career, Perez, 22, who hails from Newark, N.J., but has family from Puerto Rico (where he has regularly fought), headlined Telefutura's "Solo Boxeo Tecate" and powered past the overmatched Cruz, 24, of Puerto Rico. Perez took the fight right to Cruz. He hurt him early in the first round, opened a nasty and bloody gash on the bridge of his nose and then hammered him with a left uppercut/right hand combination to drop him to his backside late in the round. In the second round, Perez continued to impose himself. When he landed a left-right combination late in the frame, Cruz quit, turning his back and walking toward the corner. Referee Geno Rodriguez called off the bout at 2 minutes, 50 seconds.
Friday at Corona, Calif.
Ruslan Provodnikov TKO2 Jose Reynoso Junior welterweight
Records: Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KOs); Reynoso (16-4-1, 3 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Provodnikov, 28, of Russia, has become a staple on ESPN2/ESPN3's "Friday Night Fights" and usually is involved in good fights. This one wasn't all that good because Provodnikov just crushed Reynoso, 27, a southpaw from Mexico who lives in Riverside, Calif. (and is the nephew of Saul "Canelo" Alvarez's trainer, Chepo Reynoso). Provodnikov, who was one of Manny Pacquiao's main sparring partners to help him get ready for his June 9 fight with Timothy Bradley Jr., is only 5-foot-6 -- four inches shorter than Reynoso -- but it hardly mattered. The always-aggressive Provodnikov peppered Reynoso with punches and, in the second round, unloaded a head-snapping right hand and then followed with a left uppercut and another clean right hand that dropped him. Reynoso made what appeared to be a half-hearted effort to make it to his feet but was counted out by referee Raul Caiz Jr. at 1 minute, 52 seconds.
At this point, Provodnikov really deserves a bigger fight. HBO has had interest (especially in a fight with Mike Alvarado). Now it's just time for the network and promoter Artie Pelullo to get something done. Provodnikov won his fifth fight in a row since his lone defeat, a debatable decision loss to Mauricio Herrera on FNF in January 2011.
Christopher Martin TKO6 Roberto Castaneda Junior featherweight
Scores: 80-72 (three times)
Records: Martin (24-2-3, 7 KOs); Castaneda (20-2-1, 15 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Martin, 25, of San Diego, is a good boxer but had suffered through an 0-2-1 stretch before this impressive win against Castaneda, 21, of Mexico. A win from Martin wasn't all that surprising, but a knockout was unexpected considering his relative lack of power. He was on his game against Castaneda, who tried to attack Martin's body with left hooks and his head with right hands. But Martin was a bit too slippery for him and avoided most of the heavy shots. Martin took a few rounds to get into a rhythm, but once he did, Castaneda, fighting outside of Mexico for the first time, was in trouble.
Martin dropped him face-first with a right hand to the body near the end of the fifth round, and Castaneda gingerly got to his feet at the count of eight. In the sixth round, Martin used a left hand to the body to crumple him again. Again, Castaneda went down face-first. This time, he rolled over onto his back and barely beat the count. But he was done, and referee Jerry Cantu stopped the bout at 2 minutes, 31 seconds. Very nice rebound victory for Martin, who had been outclassed in a lopsided decision loss to prospect Luis Orlando Del Valle in April.
MORE BOXING HEADLINES
- Alvarez dispatches Angulo with TKO in 10th
- Santa Cruz dominates Mijares, keeps WBC belt
- Weight increased for Alvarez vs. Angulo fight
- Molina remains jailed, title defense canceled
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