Ward whips Dawson in statement win
A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at Oakland, Calif.
Andre Ward TKO10 Chad Dawson Retains world super middleweight title
Records: Ward (26-0, 14 KOs); Dawson (31-2, 17 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Performances get no better than Ward's in this big-time pound-for-pound showdown. Simply put, Ward stamped himself as perhaps the best fighter in the world not named Floyd Mayweather Jr. He dominated in stunningly easy fashion against an elite opponent in a fight that most expected to be highly competitive. Even though Ward plowed through the Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament against a slew of top super middleweights to win a pair of world titles, including the final in December against Carl Froch, and emerged as the king of the division, this fight appeared (on paper anyway) to be his toughest test. Instead, Ward, 28, made it look like one of his easiest fights, much to the delight of the 8,500 hometown fans at the Oracle Arena.
Ward thoroughly and systematically beat down Dawson, a taller, longer, bigger man with immense talent and a résumé almost as good as Ward's -- but compiled in the light heavyweight division, in which he is the world champion. After Dawson, 30, of New Haven, Conn., completed a lopsided decision win against the great Bernard Hopkins in April, he called out Ward and surprised many when he said he would drop from 175 to fight Ward at 168. He also agreed to go on the road to Ward's hometown, so much credit to him on both counts.
Although many criticized the match, believing it would be a boring fight between fighters who rely far more on boxing and technical skills than mano a mano slugging, they were wrong. Although one-sided, it was a highly entertaining fight that had fans on their feet and cheering throughout. HBO, often criticized for how it spends its money, was right to bankroll this fight. We got to see a good fight and find out what happens when two of the best in the business meet.
Ward took over early and never let up. He dropped Dawson three times, perhaps giving credence to the story circulating that Edison Miranda had knocked out Dawson in sparring during his training camp. Ward cut Dawson's right eye in the second round and dropped him in the third, fourth and 10th rounds, mainly using a laser-like left hook that Dawson couldn't avoid. After Dawson went down in the 10th round, he made it to his feet but was absolutely finished. And he said as much to referee Steve Smoger, who called it off at 2 minutes, 45 seconds. It was a wise move by Dawson, who was down 90-79, 89-80, 89-80 and had no prayer left.
Dawson is still light heavyweight champ and plans to return to the division, where there are good fights for him (such as a rematch with Jean Pascal, who handed him his other loss, and a bout with titleholder Tavoris Cloud). But you have to wonder how much this beating took out of him. As for Ward, since emerging as an elite pro during the Super Six, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist and 2011 Fighter of the Year has shown no weaknesses in his game -- with the exception of scoring knockouts and providing entertainment. He added both to his arsenal in this win and is so good right now that it's scary. He has ability on the level of a Mayweather or a prime Roy Jones Jr., and he would be the favorite against anyone at super middleweight or light heavyweight, where he said he will eventually go.
Antonio DeMarco TKO1 John Molina Jr. Retains a lightweight title
Records: DeMarco (28-2-1, 21 KOs); Molina (24-2, 19 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Well, that sure was quick, wasn't it? Instead of delivering the competitive, exciting fight that many anticipated, DeMarco, 26, of Mexico, blew out Molina, 29, of Covina, Calif., in stunningly easy fashion. DeMarco needed just 44 seconds to retain his title for the second time. He didn't break a sweat and, according to CompuBox statistics, got hit with only one of the three punches Molina mustered. Meanwhile, DeMarco was credited with landing 8-of-24, even though it seemed like more. But only one of them really counted: It was the almost immediate straight left hand that DeMarco, a southpaw, nailed him with. It sent Molina staggering into the ropes, and DeMarco cleaned up as Molina made a horrible error. Instead of taking a knee during the onslaught -- because he didn't seem all that hurt, only buzzed from the initial shot -- Molina bent over. He didn't grab and he didn't fire back, even though referee Jack Reiss was imploring him to do so. Eventually, as DeMarco continued to fire, Reiss had no choice but to stop the fight. It was a massively disappointing performance from Molina, the mandatory challenger, who seemed so confident heading into the fight yet saw his six-fight winning streak end suddenly.
For DeMarco, it was a great night. Not only did he earn the easiest $180,000 of his life (to Molina's $85,000), but he also put himself in position for an immediate return on Nov. 3 if a deal can be worked out for him to defend against former junior lightweight titlist Adrien Broner, who was stripped of his 130-pound belt for failing to make weight for a July 21 fight against Vicente Escobedo. Broner is moving up to 135 pounds and has an HBO date, and the network's first choice for an opponent is DeMarco, considering his stature in the division and the fact he came out of the Molina fight clean. It could be a tough deal to make, but let's hope it happens because it's a very interesting fight.
Saturday at Moscow
Vitali Klitschko TKO4 Manuel Charr Retains a heavyweight title
Records: Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs); Charr (21-1, 11 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Whichever Klitschko is defending his version of the heavyweight title -- Vitali or younger brother Wladimir -- the result has been the same for years: Klitschko domination. Vitali racked up defense No. 9 of his third title reign in overwhelmingly easy fashion, despite the unsatisfying ending. Klitschko, 41, has all but said he plans to retire very soon, maybe even after this win. What exactly happens will depend largely on whether he wins a parliament seat in Ukraine's October elections. If he does, he could walk away. Even if he fails to win the seat, he may fight only a couple more times. But this fight, career finale or not, was a typical Klitschko wipeout.
There were few expectations for anything other than a blowout, and that's just what Klitschko delivered against Charr, 27, a native of Lebanon living in Germany, who had no notable wins on his padded record and didn't remotely deserve the shot. But he came cheap, and it's not as though there are quality contenders rushing to fight Klitschko. Charr is tough but not very good. He didn't seem interested in engaging much, but Klitschko walked him down. In the second round, Klitschko, much bigger than Charr, tattooed him with combinations and eventually dropped him with a sweeping right hand just before the end of the round. Klitschko was doing as he pleased when he opened a bad cut over Charr eye's in the fourth round. Blood was pouring from the cut and streaming down Charr's face and chest. Referee Guido Cavalleri called time to let the ringside doctor examine the cut, and he advised the fight to be called off, which the referee did at 2 minutes, 4 seconds.
Although it was obvious Charr would eventually get drilled, the ending was weak. It was a bit of a quick stoppage. Ideally, the referee would have at the very least given the corner the minute between rounds to work on the cut to see if it could be stopped. But it doesn't matter much, because Charr had done absolutely nothing to that point, and that almost certainly wasn't going to change. Charr protested the stoppage vigorously. It would have been nice if he had showed such passion during the fight.
Magomed Abdusalamov KO2 Jameel McCline Heavyweights
Records: Abdusalamov (16-0, 16 KOs); McCline (41-13-3, 24 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Although Abdusalamov is 31 -- a bit old for a prospect -- he is one of the more interesting new faces at heavyweight. He was a standout Russian amateur (who is now based in Oxnard, Calif.), but he didn't turn pro until 2008. He has had some impressive knockouts, but this wasn't one of them. In fact, it was a very odd finish.
McCline, 42, of New York, is a long-faded contender and former four-time title challenger who never could get over the hump. Now he's fodder for up-and-comers. But for a brief moment, it looked like he might pull off the upset. Thirty-five seconds into the fight, he landed a clean straight right hand on Abdusalamov's chin and dropped him hard. Abdusalamov was shaky but able to continue in what was an action round. They were duking it out in the second round when, suddenly, McCline crumpled in the middle of the ring and referee Daniel Van de Wiele counted him out at 1 minute, 57 seconds as he just missed beating the count. But it didn't look like a punch connected. Instead, it seemed as though McCline's right knee gave out and he collapsed -- similar to what happened to him in a third-round knockout loss to then-titlist Nikolai Valuev in 2007.
McCline dropped to 3-7 in his past 10 fights, while Abdusalamov showed that although he is still a heavyweight to watch, his chin might be a problem, because McCline is anything but a big puncher.
Saturday at Las Vegas
Lucas Matthysse TKO10 Olusegun Ajose Wins a vacant interim junior welterweight title
Records: Matthysse (32-2, 30 KOs); Ajose (30-1, 14 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Forget the bogus interim belt at stake here. More important, Matthysse might just be the best junior welterweight in the world. At the very least, he's the most entertaining 140-pound fighter you'll find today, as he participated in yet another fan-friendly fight, this time the unexpected Showtime main event.
Originally, Argentina's Matthysse, 29, and Ajose, 32, of Nigeria, were supposed to fight in a co-feature with the Randall Bailey-Devon Alexander welterweight title bout. But when Bailey hurt his back and postponed the fight, Showtime decided the show must go on and moved Matthysse-Ajose into the main event. And what an action-packed main event it was, even if it was one-sided. Matthysse's power (and, surprisingly, speed) was just too much for Ajose, a southpaw who showed massive heart to take the punishment that he did. For most of the fight, Ajose ate shot after shot -- until Matthysse finally dropped him with a series of heavy punches in the 10th round. Referee Russell Mora immediately stopped it at 2 minutes, 59 seconds, refusing to allow the battered Ajose to try to get up.
That Ajose made it into the 10th round was amazing, because Matthysse hammered him to the body and head relentlessly. Ajose was disappointed, blaming his year of inactivity -- mainly because he was ensnared in WBC politics that continually denied him a long-overdue mandatory shot at the full 140-pound belt -- for his performance. But the way Matthysse, coming off a sensational knockout win against Humberto Soto in June, has been fighting, Ajose could have been as sharp as a nail and probably not defeated him.
Now that Matthysse has the interim belt, he theoretically will be the mandatory challenger for the winner of the Oct. 20 rematch between full titlist Danny Garcia and Erik Morales. The winner surely will find a way to avoid Matthysse for as long as possible. He brings nothing to the table for his opponent but pain.
J'Leon Love W-DQ8 Ramon Valenzuela Middleweights
Records: Love (13-0, 7 KOs); Valenzuela (7-2, 1 KO)
Rafael's remarks: When the Randall Bailey-Devon Alexander welterweight title bout scheduled for this card's main event was postponed because of Bailey's back injury, the Lucas Matthysse- Olusegun Ajose co-feature was bumped up to the main event. Showtime still wanted a second fight on the telecast, so Golden Boy moved up the fight featuring Love, a 24-year-old prospect from Las Vegas, against Valenzuela, 21, of Chicago. Although it was a mismatch and not close to the caliber of fight typically aired on Showtime's top series, it was a tremendous opportunity for Love, the beneficiary of adviser Al Haymon's juice with the network.
Love was pitching a 70-62 shutout on all three scorecards when referee Jay Nady disqualified Valenzuela 37 seconds into the eighth round because of unsportsmanlike conduct. Valenzuela had been outclassed and clearly was frustrated by his inability to deal with Love. Nady warned him multiple times for fouls such as holding and hitting on the break, and took a point away from him. But when Valenzuela lifted Love off his feet during a clinch, Nady had seen enough of the dirty tactics and DQ'd him from a fight he was never going to win.
Saturday at Newark, N.J.
Tomasz Adamek TKO5 Travis Walker Heavyweights
Records: Adamek (47-2, 29 KOs); Walker (39-8-1, 31 KO)
Rafael's remarks: Adamek has been one of boxing's best draws and top heavyweights for the past few years, but he is slipping on both fronts even though he is still in good fights. The former cruiserweight and light heavyweight champion was crushed by heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko in September 2011 and, at age 35, is now clearly on the back side of his career. He struggled to outpoint Eddie Chambers in June and then had problems with Walker, 33, Tallahassee, Fla., who has always lost when stepping up in competition.
Adamek, who is from Poland but lives in Jersey City, N.J., has also been a great draw at the Prudential Center but is no longer packing them in. One of the reasons for what looked like a weak crowd for this fight was because it took place in the afternoon (during a heavy college football slate) to service a prime-time pay-per-view audience in Poland. Nonetheless, Adamek and Walker put on an entertaining slugfest in promoter Main Events' first foray working with WealthTV, which carried the card in the United States.
Walker surprised everyone early in the second round when he landed a flush overhand right on Adamek's jaw and dropped him hard to his backside. He had Adamek in big trouble as the round wore on, clipping him with shot after shot and rocking him. Adamek weathered the storm and then, late in the round, nailed Walker with a right hand on the chin, dropping him to all fours. With only a few seconds left in the round, Adamek was hammering Walker, who was trapped in a corner as referee Eddie Cotton watched closely until the bell rang and saved Walker. It was a wild frame and a round of the year candidate. The fighters exchanged punches regularly over the next two-plus rounds before Adamek suddenly staggered Walker with a right and then poured it on, unloading a barrage of more than 20 punches and trapping Walker in a corner, forcing Cotton to intervene at 1 minute, 8 seconds, ending what had been a fun action fight.
Adamek is due back Dec. 22 on NBC, hopefully in a rematch of his great 2008 cruiserweight title fight with Steve Cunningham, who won on the undercard.
Steve Cunningham W10 Jason Gavern Heavyweights
Scores: 100-90 (twice), 99-90
Records: Cunningham (25-4, 12 KOs); Gavern (21-11-4, 10 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: In February, Cunningham, a former two-time cruiserweight titlist from Philadelphia, lost a title fight to Yoan Pablo Hernandez for the second time in a row. Cunningham got a raw deal the first time, but the rematch was a legitimate loss. With little else to do at cruiserweight and no significant fight in his near future, Cunningham, 36, did what so many cruiserweights do: He decided to move up to heavyweight to see what he can do in a division where there's a lot more money to be made than at cruiserweight.
So Cunningham, in his first fight since signing with promoter Main Events, eased into the division against Gavern, an experienced journeyman from Harrisonburg, Va. Fighting in the United States for the first time since 2010, Cunningham rolled to a lopsided decision win. It wasn't all that exciting, and Gavern was never in the fight, but Cunningham did what he needed to do: carry the extra weight and look fairly sharp doing it. Because Main Events also promotes former cruiserweight champ Tomasz Adamek, there is a good chance we could see a rematch later this year or early next year between Adamek and Cunningham, who waged a terrific 2008 fight of the year candidate, which Adamek won to claim the title.
Bryant Jennings KO1 Chris Koval Heavyweights
Records: Jennings (17-0, 7 KOs); Koval (25-10, 18 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Jennings, 27, of Philadelphia, has gained a lot of recent attention thanks to three consecutive solid victories on NBC Sports Net's "Fight Night" series this year. He defeated Maurice Byarm, former titleholder Sergei Liakhovich and Steve Collins. Admittedly, this match wasn't close to the level of those, but at least Jennings is staying active -- although, in this bout, only briefly. He needed just 35 seconds to pulverize Koval, 30, of Youngstown, Ohio. Jennings dropped him out of the gate with a flush right-left combination. Immediately after the fight resumed, Jennings cracked him with a clean three-punch combination, and Koval went down again, prompting referee David Franciosi to call off the bout without a count.
Saturday at Temecula, Calif.
Ivan Morales Tech. Dec. 10 Luis Maldonado Junior bantamweights
Scores: 98-92, 97-93 (twice)
Records: Morales (18-0, 12 KOs); Maldonado (38-9-1, 29 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Mexico's Morales is the 20-year-old younger brother of future Hall of Famer Erik Morales, the all-time great four-division titleholder who has been in some the most memorable battles of this generation. His kid brother hopes to follow in those footsteps, and after fighting all of his previous bouts in Mexico, Ivan made his American debut in his first fight since signing with Golden Boy Promotions.
Morales, a southpaw, headlined a Telefutura "Solo Boxeo" card against serviceable journeyman Maldonado, 34, of Mexico, who has unsuccessfully challenged for world titles three times (twice at flyweight and once at junior bantamweight) while facing Vic Darchinyan, Nonito Donaire and Fernando Montiel.
Maldonado was aggressive and really tested the youngster in a good fight. Although Maldonado, who suffered a cut over his left eye, had his moments, it was clear that the quicker Morales was on his way to a decision win when the fight was cut short in the final round because an accidental head-butt left him with a cut over his right eye. Referee Tony Crebs stopped the fight at 1 minute, 30 seconds, sending it to the scorecards 90 seconds ahead of schedule for a technical decision, which Morales won comfortably. This was a good learning experience for Morales, just the kind of tough bout he needs if he has serious title aspirations.
Saturday at Costa Mesa, Calif.
Luis Ramos Jr. TKO8 Noe Bolanos Lightweights
Records: Ramos (23-0, 10 KOs); Bolanos (24-7-1, 16 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Ramos, a 24-year-old southpaw from Santa Ana, Calif., continues to gain valuable experience against opponents he can handle -- guys who have been around who can give him the rounds he needs, such as Daniel Attah, Raymundo Beltran, David Rodela and Francisco Lorenzo and now Bolanos, 25, of Mexico, who lost his second fight in a row. Headlining a Fox Deportes card, Ramos, who is closing in on a serious step-up fight, dominated, although he was nicked over his right eye because of an early accidental head clash. Bolanos, who suffered a first-round cut over his right eye, was game as he ate a lot of leather and the much faster Ramos picked him apart. Finally, in the eighth round, Bolanos' corner threw in the towel and referee Raul Caiz Sr. called off the fight at 1 minute, 4 seconds. Bolanos went to the hospital for observation as a precaution.
Deontay Wilder KO2 Damon McCreary Heavyweights
Records: Wilder (25-0, 25 KOs); McCreary (14-1, 10 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: McCreary, 39, of Detroit, had to be the worst undefeated heavyweight in boxing coming into this fight, one of the grossest mismatches you'll ever see -- especially as a televised bout. The 5-foot-11 McCreary was once a super middleweight prospect in the late 1990s. Now, nearly 100 pounds heavier and not remotely in shape, he was fighting as a 262-pound heavyweight in his first bout in two years. The 26-year-old Wilder, meanwhile, is a chiseled 6-7, 229 pounds, a 2008 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist and a highly regarded prospect. This was a mismatch of the highest order and totally uncalled for.
Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., dropped McCreary with a short right hand in the first round. Then McCreary seemed to injure his right knee and fell again, but the fight went on, unfortunately. In the second round, McCreary managed to land a right hand that Wilder felt and didn't like. He immediately responded with his own big right hand to drop McCreary again. Then McCreary missed on a wild, lunging right, and Wilder nailed him with a pair of rights that knocked him down again, prompting referee Raul Caiz Sr. to immediately call the farce off at 55 seconds. What a waste of time. Wilder deserves better opponents.
Demetrius Hopkins W8 Doel Carrasquillo Junior middleweights
Scores: 80-71 (three times)
Records: Hopkins (31-2-1, 11 KOs); Carrasquillo (16-22-1, 14 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Former junior welterweight title challenger Demetrius Hopkins, the nephew of Bernard Hopkins, returned from an 18-month layoff to shut out Doel Carrasquillo, 39, a native of Puerto Rico living in Fredericka, Del., for the easy decision. Hopkins, 31, of Philadelphia, scored a knockdown on a body punch in the sixth round to punctuate the win. Maybe Hopkins, who has never lived up to his considerable potential and lost a split decision to then-140-pound titlist Kendall Holt in 2008, can get back on track, even if he is fighting two divisions heavier than where he was at his best.
Saturday at London
Tony Bellew TKO9 Edison Miranda Light heavyweights
Records: Bellew (18-1, 11 KOs); Miranda (35-8, 30 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Bellew, 29, of England, whose only loss was a majority decision to light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly in a tremendous fight last November, took on Miranda, 31, of Colombia, an experienced former middleweight and super middleweight title challenger, in an effort to get another known name on his record. Miranda is past his prime and fighting in a heavier division than where he was at his best, but he still can be dangerous.
Miranda gave a good effort and made it competitive for the first six rounds or so, until Bellew took over. As usual, Miranda trash-talked leading into the fight, but it meant nothing by the time Bellew was rocking him. Bellew eventually nailed Miranda with two left hands to the body in the ninth round, dropping him to a knee. Miranda beat the count, but he told referee Ian John-Lewis he didn't want to continue and the fight was called off just as the round was ending. A good, solid win for Bellew, who is aiming for a rematch with Cleverly (which he deserves).
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