Garcia hangs tough to stop Khan
A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at Las Vegas
Danny Garcia TKO4 Amir Khan Junior welterweight
Unifies two junior welterweight titles
Records: Garcia (24-0, 15 KOs); Khan (26-3, 18 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Garcia may have been about a 5-to-1 underdog to Khan, but one thing you can't measure is a fighter's desire to win. So when Garcia was getting tagged with an inordinate number of clean right hands by Khan, he took them well, stayed calm and persevered to score the upset in a tremendous action fight. For four rounds, Garcia, 24, of Philadelphia and Khan, 25, of England, produced a thrilling shootout in a fight that was not even originally supposed to happen.
Khan was slated to fight Lamont Peterson on May 19 in a rematch of their terrific December slugfest in which Peterson won a controversial decision to claim Khan's two belts. But Peterson tested positive for synthetic testosterone, a banned substance, before the fight and it was canceled. Golden Boy Promotions and HBO quickly put together an excellent replacement match with Garcia -- who won a vacant title in March against Erik Morales, who had been stripped the day before for failing to make weight -- and moved the fight to Saturday night. The week of the fight, Peterson was stripped of one of the belts and it was returned to Khan, making this a unification bout, albeit under odd circumstances.
Whatever anybody thinks about Khan's obvious difficulty taking a big shot (he was also knocked out in the first round by Breidis Prescott in a massive upset and was perhaps a second or two from being knocked out by Marcos Maidana), he must be respected for never ducking anybody and fighting in a crowd-pleasing style that is not always necessary because of his skills. But it sure creates drama. Khan is one of the most exciting fighters in the world, but he cost himself big-time against Garcia with a reckless style he didn't have to fight with. Khan looked like he was going to blow Garcia out early. He was crushing him with clean right hands in the first round and opened a cut over his right eye with one of the shots in the second round. Khan, who was much faster, was again dominating in the third round when Garcia suddenly turned things around. He got into an exchange and Garcia won the battle, landing a sweet left hook on Khan's neck under his ear to drop him flat on his back. Khan beat the count and was extraordinarily wobbly, but survived a blistering assault in the final 10 seconds of the round. Khan's balance was still a wreck when the fourth round began and Garcia dropped him for the second time in the first 10 seconds when he sent him staggering with a series of right hands that forced him to touch his knee to the canvas. Garcia continued to attack but Khan rallied to turn this into an ultra-dramatic and action-packed round of the year candidate. But Khan, despite an enormous heart, could only last for so long as Garcia took his time and eventually made him pay again when he landed a left hook on top of Khan's head. Khan went down to his backside but jumped right up. He was wobbly again and this time referee Kenny Bayless, the best referee in the world, called it off at 2 minutes, 28 seconds.
Where does Khan go now? He brings drama, has a name and is still young, so forget those who ridiculously called for his retirement after the fight. He'll be back and likely will be in more dramatic fights, some of which he will win and probably some of which he will lose. He is great for boxing. And for Garcia, a young, unified, American titleholder with a good personality, the sky's the limit. He is willing to fight anyone and there are interesting fights to be made. Ideally, Golden Boy will take him home to Philly or Atlantic City, N.J., and begin to build his fan base, which had not been done so far. But he has a flair for the dramatic and is also good for the sport. This was a really good fight, just what the doctor ordered.
Saturday at London
David Haye TKO5 Dereck Chisora Heavyweight
Records: Haye (26-2, 24 KOs); Chisora (15-4, 9 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: A year ago, after Haye's miserable non-effort against heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in their unification bout and the now-famous toe injury excuse following the wipeout decision loss, Haye was the laughingstock of boxing and went into a retirement that few believed would last. To nobody's surprise, Haye, 31, returned to face British countryman Dereck Chisora, 28, in the wake of their ugly bottle-smashing brawl in February at the news conference following Chisora's decision loss to Vitali Klitschko in a title fight in Munich. The bad blood between Haye and Chisora ignited heavy interest in seeing them fight, and so with a ton of money to be made, promoter Frank Warren put the fight together. To do it, Warren had to go against the British Board of Boxing Control -- which was embarrassed by the news conference melee and refused to sanction what became an outlaw fight -- and bringing in the Luxembourg Boxing Federation to oversee the event.
All fight fans should be happy that Warren did that because it turned out to be an entertaining fight in which Haye, the former cruiserweight champion, looked as good as he has looked since moving up to heavyweight full-time in late 2008. Although the 210-pound Haye was giving up tremendous weight to the 247-pound Chisora, Haye was explosive with his punches and much faster. Although Chisora got in some solid shots, he mainly was trying to land an overhand right to Haye's questionable chin.
But Haye did a good job of protecting himself and also of jabbing well, landing right hands, left hooks and showing enough lateral movement to leave Chisora often swinging at air. Haye and trainer/manager Adam Booth had a game plan and Haye followed it perfectly. Haye was in full command in the fifth round when he put Chisora away with two knockdowns. First it was a left-right combination that dropped Chisora out of nowhere. It was a surprise because Chisora has a reputation for having a great chin. He appeared to be clear-headed when the fight resumed, but Haye went for the knockout and moments later unleashed a five-punch combination, including a clean left hook that dropped Chisora again. Chisora made it to his feet, but referee Luis Pabon did not like how he responded and called off the fight at 2 minutes, 59 seconds.
It was a terrific win for Haye, who shoved his way back into the conversation for another major fight. He wants a shot at Vitali Klitschko and started up with the trash talk after the fight. It is a fight that could happen, but not until next year, because Klitschko is scheduled to fight Manuel Charr Sept. 8 in Moscow. If Klitschko beats Charr and continues fighting (no guarantee if he wins political office in Ukraine in October), a Klitschko-Haye fight is certainly possible and a major fight. Charr, by the way, showed up at the post-fight news conference to proclaim he would give Haye a shot at him after he beats Klitschko. While Haye is back in business, Chisora will need a couple of comeback wins to try to position himself for another big fight because he has now officially lost four of his past five fights, even though the spit decision loss to Robert Helenius in December in Helenius' home country of Finland was one of the worst robberies of the year. All in all, despite the controversy over the fight and reason why it happened -- the unfortunate February brawl -- the fight turned out to be exciting and good for boxing. It was also nice to see Haye and Chisora bury their bad feelings by embracing after the fight and showing respect for each other at their post-fight news conference, where nobody got glassed.
Saturday at Las Vegas
Anthony Mundine TKO7 Bronco McKart Middleweight
Records: Mundine (44-4, 26 KOs); McKart (54-10-1, 32 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Mundine, 37, of Australia, is a former two-time second-tier WBA super middleweight beltholder whose hateful anti-American comments following Sept. 11 made him reviled by those in the United States who had heard of him. A decade later, Mundine unfortunately made his American debut in the headline fight of a WealthTV pay-per-view card that was so filled with cliché and hyperbole it was unwatchable with the audio on. The match also wasn't worth a damn as McKart, 41, of Monroe, Mich., is well past his prime. The southpaw was once a very good boxer who held a junior middleweight belt for two months -- all the way back in 1996. But he is best known for losing decisions to Winky Wright three times in one of the most unnecessary trilogies in boxing history. So even though Mundine got the convincing stoppage victory, to hear him talk after the fight about how he had somehow proven something was laughable. In one of the more delusional interviews ever, Mundine called out for Floyd Mayweather Jr. to fight him (with spectator Floyd Mayweather Sr. in the ring after the fight). Who would ever want to see that fight? While he was at it, Mundine also called out Miguel Cotto and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. In any event, Mundine did his business, as expected, against McKart, landing some solid combinations and taking control early, even if he did spend more time than he should have admiring his work. In the seventh round, Mundine dropped McKart three times to finish the fight. He caught him with a left hand behind the ear and sent him down face first. McKart fought back and landed a few shots, but Mundine dropped him to a knee with a right hand to the side of the head. McKart's legs were gone, so when Mundine landed an uppercut, he was all over the place and went down again as his corner was throwing in the towel, and referee Robert Byrd called it off at 2 minutes, 4 seconds. Now Mundine ought to head back to Australia and not let the door hit him on the way out.
Saturday at Culiacan, Mexico
Hernan "Tyson" Marquez W10 Fernando Lumacad Junior bantamweight
Scores: 97-94 (twice), 95-95
Records: Marquez (34-2, 25 KOs); Lumacad (26-4-3, 11 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Marquez, 23, of Mexico, holds a flyweight title but talks for a mandatory defense against interim titlist Juan Carlos Reveco hit a snag -- and Marquez possibly is facing another of the flyweight titleholders, Brian Viloria, later in the year. So Marquez, a southpaw, stayed busy with a nontitle bout against Lumacad, 26, of the Philippines. This was a hard-fought and entertaining bout that Marquez, who did not look like he was in prime condition, did just enough to win -- even though the Azteca America broadcasters had him winning in a rout. This was no rout. Lumacad hopped up and down and moved constantly, which threw Marquez off. But Lumacad got in a lot of shots. Marquez, however, was the heavier and more consistent puncher, which is why he won the fight. He never had Lumacad in any serious trouble, but he landed enough obvious blows to have the advantage. Since dropping back-to-back fights to Richie Mepranum and to Nonito Donaire (in an interim junior bantamweight title bout), Marquez has won seven bouts in a row (including two against Luis Concepcion). There is a good chance Marquez will be stripped of his belt if he moves forward with a Viloria fight, but so what? That is a fight fans would like to see and Marquez and Viloria can likely make excellent paydays. Marquez can certainly make more fighting Viloria, a fight that is HBO- or Showtime-worthy, than he can to fight Reveco. Lumacad saw a five-fight winning streak come to an end.
Saturday at Tepic, Mexico
Jesus Silvestre W12 Edwin Diaz Strawweight
Wins a vacant interim strawweight title
Scores: 119-110, 118-112, 117-111
Records: Silvestre (25-3, 18 KOs); Diaz (15-18, 5 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Fighting in his hometown, Silvestre, 22, claimed one of the horrible interim belts the WBA doles out for no reason other than collecting a sanctioning fee. Japan's Kazuto Ioka, who recently unified belts (before being forced to vacate one of them) is the legit titleholder, but Silvestre got another opportunity after losing a decision to Paipharob Kokietgym in Thailand in November for the same title. What made this particular interim belt even worse than your typical nonsense belt is that the WBA allowed Diaz to contest the vacant title. That is insane. Fighters with sub-.500 records challenging for world titles is an absolute joke. Even though Diaz, 30, of Panama, entered the fight having won three fights in a row and seven of his previous eight, none had come against a top opponent. That Diaz, a southpaw, fought for a title is as ridiculous as it gets and shows that any remote shred of respectability the organization had should be gone now. Given Diaz's weak record, it didn't come as a surprise that Silvestre won the clear decision, but at least it was a crowd-pleasing fight, which aired on Fox Deportes. Diaz suffered a cut over his right eye in the fifth round and there were some spots during the fight with extended action, such as late in the 11th round. Raul Caiz Jr. docked a point Silvestre at the end of the seventh round for hitting Diaz after the bell.
Friday at Chicago
Andrzej Fonfara W10 Glen Johnson Light heavyweight
Scores: 99-91, 97-93 (twice)
Records: Fonfara (22-2, 12 KOs); Johnson (51-17-2, 35 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: If this truly is the end, as Johnson said it was after the "Friday Night Fights" main event, then the 43-year-old "Road Warrior" closed the book on a remarkable career in which he won the light heavyweight championship, knocked out Roy Jones Jr. when it still meant something, won 2004 fighter of the year honors and reached the semifinals of the Super Six World Boxing Classic super middleweight tournament as a substitute.
The Jamaica-born, Miami-based Johnson announced his retirement after the clear decision loss to Fonfara, 24, of Poland but fighting in his adopted hometown of Chicago. The way Johnson sees it, if he can't beat a guy like Fonfara -- who scored by far his most significant victory -- he isn't going to win another world title, so he might as well call it quits after a 19-year professional career.
Johnson was by no means blown out (despite the one ridiculous scorecard) and he made Fonfara work hard for his victory. Johnson was at his best early in the fight, but the old legs faded on him late while Fonfara remained relatively fresh and put his punches together better. The loss was Johnson's third in a row and dropped him to 2-5 in his past seven bouts, but his career has never been just about the numbers. He was a guy who traveled to his opponent's hometown time and again (hence the nickname) and was robbed several times. But he also earned the respect and a well-deserved reputation as a fan-friendly fighter who always gave it his all, whether it was losing a decision in a middleweight title fight to Bernard Hopkins (when Johnson was still undefeated) in 1997; being ripped off against then-super middleweight titlist Sven Ottke in Germany in 1999; winning a light heavyweight title against Clinton Woods in Woods' native England in 2004; scoring his career- defining knockout win against Jones later in '04; or closing that year by beating Antonio Tarver to become the lineal light heavyweight king to sew up fighter of the year honors.
Johnson fought all comers. Later in his career, he also faced Chad Dawson twice (and many believe he beat Dawson the first time). Johnson found new life in late 2010 when, after losing a light heavyweight title bout to Tavoris Cloud, he dropped down to super middleweight after a decade out of the division to join the Super Six as a replacement for injured Mikkel Kessler. Johnson scored a booming eighth-round knockout of Allen Green and advanced to the semifinals, where he gave Carl Froch everything he could handle in a majority decision loss. But then came a virtual shutout loss to then-titlist Lucian Bute in November and, finally, this loss to Fonfara. Losing to fighters such as Froch, Bute and Dawson is one thing. Losing to unproven Fonfara is another and Johnson realized that. So let's all applaud Johnson -- one of the nicest guys in boxing -- for his decision to retire and congratulate him on the unlikeliest of excellent careers.
Jose Luis Castillo TKO8 Ivan Popoca Welterweight
Records: Castillo (64-11-1, 55 KOs); Popoca (15-2-1, 10 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: The biggest news going into the "Friday Night Fights" co-feature was that former two-time lightweight titlist Castillo, 38, of Mexico, actually made weight, scaling 146 pounds. It's a miracle! Castillo is famous for blowing weight several times in his career, including in February, when he was supposed to fight Jose Cotto on the Danny Garcia-Erik Morales undercard, and the fight was canceled. Castillo also famously missed weight for his second and third lightweight title fights against the late Diego "Chico" Corrales (the third one was canceled) and for a junior welterweight title eliminator against Timothy Bradley Jr. But Castillo is also known for his participation in perhaps the single greatest fight in boxing history, a 10th-round knockout loss to Corrales in their incredible first fight in 2005. Castillo, however, has basically been playing out the string in recent years. But that doesn't mean that he couldn't handle a relatively inexperienced and limited fighter such as Popoca, who was coming off a 15-month layoff since being knocked out by Ruslan Provodnikov on FNF in April 2011.
It was an exciting fight from the outset as Castillo rocked Popoca, 30, a native of Mexico living in Chicago, in the first round with left hooks and had him in big trouble. Then, 30 seconds into the second round, Castillo dropped him to his rear end with a clean left hook. There was tremendous action in the toe-to-toe third round during which Popoca wound up with a terrible cut over his left eye from an accidental head butt. Castillo opened a cut over Popoca's right eye with a punch in the fifth round, and Popoca's face was turning into a bloody wreck. The fight was nearly stopped in the sixth round because of the cut, but when referee Pete Podgorski asked for the cuts to be examined and the ringside doctor uttered a line only a boxing doctor could say: "He's a bloody mess but I think he's fine." Popoca fought on valiantly but the blood became too much and Podgorski stopped the fight in the corner after the eighth round. Popoca showed a huge heart to fight through the cuts and Castillo showed he that there's a least a few fumes left in the tank.
Friday at Sydney
Billy Dib W10 Juan Antonio Rodriguez Junior lightweight
Scores: 99-92, 98-92, 97-94
Records: Dib (35-1, 21 KOs); Rodriguez (21-4, 19 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Australia's Dib, 26, won a vacant featherweight belt by clear decision against fringe contender Jorge Lacierva in July 2011 and has won two title defenses by knockout against non-descript opponents. Looking to position himself for an eventual title fight at junior lightweight, Dib -- who has said he wants to challenge Adrien Broner -- took a nontitle bout against the undistinguished Rodriguez, a southpaw from Mexico. Dib, the faster and better skilled fighter, did not have an easy night, although he eventually got into a rhythm to take home the victory. An accidental head butt opened a cut over Dib's left eye in the fourth round and another one cut him over the right eye in the final round. Dib is expected to return to featherweight for his next fight to defend his belt.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
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