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Monday, January 30, 2006
Weekend scorecard: Gatti worthy of another title shot

By Dan Rafael

A roundup of the weekend's notable boxing results from around the world:

Sunday at Fukuoka, Japan
Takashi Koshimoto W12 Injin Chi
Wins a featherweight title
Scores: 115-112, 114-113 Koshimoto, 116-111 Chi
Records: Koshimoto 39-1-2; Chi 30-3-1
Rafael's remark: This is a major upset. The 35-year-old Koshimoto became the oldest Japanese champion with the split decision victory over South Korea's Chi. Koshimoto, a southpaw, frustrated Chi with his defense and movement. He racked up points in the early part of the fight although Chi, 32, came on in the second half. Ringside reports say it really could have gone either way. What changed the fight was an accidental head butt in the 11th round that cut Koshimoto and left Chi the victim of a point deduction. Why? The WBC's ridiculous rule dictates that in the event a fighter is cut from an accidental head clash, the fighter who is not cut loses a point. Had Chi not lost the point, the fight would have been a draw and he would have retained the title. Sounds like a rematch is in order.

Saturday at Atlantic City, N.J.
Arturo Gatti TKO11 Thomas Damgaard
Records: Gatti 40-7, 31 KOs; Damgaard 37-1
Rafael's remark: Gatti is simply amazing. The ultimate blood-and-guts warrior shook off a brutal June beating at the hands of Floyd Mayweather to rebound against Damgaard. Gatti looked terrific in his move up to welterweight as he boxed, moved and slugged when necessary. Granted, it was against Damgaard and not Mayweather. It was impressive nonetheless. As usual, Gatti injured his right hand, this time in the fourth round. No matter. Gatti continued to fire it anyway, eventually stopping Damgaard with a big right in the 11th round. Damgaard, a southpaw fighting outside of Denmark for the first time, gave everything he had. He was a willing warrior who soaked up tremendous punishment but never stopped trying to win. The victory positioned Gatti for a shockingly unexpected title shot against Carlos Baldomir, who won the championship with a huge upset of Zab Judah on Jan. 7. But with Judah moving on to face Mayweather despite the loss, that probably leaves Baldomir -- who is looking for the biggest payday he can find -- to face Gatti, whose star power equals economic muscle. If all goes well, we'll be back at a packed Boardwalk Hall for Baldomir-Gatti in June or July.
Jason Litzau TKO6 Carlos Contreras
Records: Litzau 17-0, 15 KOs; Contreras 20-12-3
Rafael's remark: Main Events matchmaker Carl Moretti gave Litzau his first test in the pros and he passed impressively, thoroughly dominating a former world title challenger. Litzau is a prospect, but still very much a work in progress, although you can see him getting better with every fight. His confidence seems to be rising, too. He throws a lot of punches, makes for entertaining fights and we look forward to seeing more of him.
Malik Scott W8 Kendrick Releford
Scores: 80-72, 79-73 (twice)
Records: Scott 24-0; Releford 13-7-1
Rafael's remark: Scott keeps winning, but he has been a major disappointment as a professional because he just goes through the motions against guys he should be smashing. He has no fire and can't break an egg with his punches: He has just 10 knockouts. He is the definition of an agony fighter because he is that brutal to watch. We've been ringside for too many of his boring eight-round decisions than we care to think about. No more. Next time he's on the card, we're heading for the press room or the concession stand or the bathroom -- anything besides suffering through yet another horrific 80-72 decision.
B.J. Flores W8 Jermell Barnes
Scores: 80-72 (twice), 78-74
Records: Flores 15-0-1; Barnes 17-11
Rafael's remark: Flores did what he was supposed to do -- dominate a journeyman. We would have appreciated it if the bout had contained even a single memorable punch. Flores is in a tough spot because he is very small for a heavyweight (slightly over 200 pounds), so he'll have trouble with serious opponents. He is probably better off campaigning as a cruiserweight, where he might have a chance to outbox decent opponents.
Super middleweight
Rudy Markussen TKO2 Brock Stodden
Records: Markussen 32-1, 20 KOs; Stodden 17-11-1
Rafael's remark: Stodden had no chance whatsoever. He was flabby and his body was an inviting target for Markussen, a Danish contender and stablemate of Damgaard's. Markussen dropped Stodden with a digging hook to the body in the second round and crushed him until the referee stopped the wicked mismatch.

Saturday at Berlin
Super middleweight
Markus Beyer TKO12 Alberto Colajanni
Retains a super middleweight title
Records: Beyer 34-2, 13 KOs; Colajanni 18-1
Rafael's remark: Beyer, by no means a puncher, managed to drop his undeserving Italian challenger in the fourth round and twice more in the 12th before the fight was stopped. It was the fourth defense of Beyer's third reign as a titlist, although he has proven little, as he only fights in Germany and has shown no inclination to test himself against the best in his division.
Paolo Vidoz W12 Cengiz Koc
Retains European heavyweight title
Scores: 117-112 (twice), 116-112.
Records: Vidoz 21-2; Koc 23-2
Rafael's remark: Vidoz, the 2000 Olympic super heavyweight silver medalist for Italy, won his fourth consecutive fight since being stopped in the ninth round by Nicolay Valuev (who would go on to win a world title) in October 2004. The win was also Vidoz's second defense of his European crown.

Saturday at Cancun, Mexico
Jorge Arce TKO6 Adonis Rivas
Retains an interim flyweight title
Records: Arce 43-3-1, 33 KOs; Rivas 21-9-2
Rafael's remark: For the second time in two months, Arce stopped Rivas. The first time, it was a cut that ended matters in the 10th round, but Rivas' camp was so upset by what it deemed an early stoppage that they campaigned for a rematch and got it. Maybe that wasn't such a good idea. This time, there was no controversy as Arce beat Rivas down and made him quit in the corner after the sixth round. After the fight, Arce and former two-division champ Rosendo Alvarez engaged in a brief scuffle, no doubt adding heat to a mandatory fight that probably will take place on the April 8 Floyd Mayweather-Zab Judah undercard.

Saturday at Nottingham, England
Amir Khan TKO1 Vitali Martynov
Records: Khan 5-0, 4 KOs; Martynov 10-2
Rafael's remark: Khan, England's 19-year-old megaprospect and 2004 Olympic silver medalist, needed only 75 seconds to hammer out his Belarusian opponent. Khan jumped him from the outset, finally dropping him with a right hand. Martynov was up by eight, but in no position to continue.

Friday at Atlantic City, N.J.
Virgil Hill W12 Valery Brudov
Wins a vacant cruiserweight title
Scores: 118-110 (three times).
Records: Hill 50-5; Brudov 30-1
Rafael's remark: Talk about turning back the hands of time. Hill, who at 42 apparently is not quite over the hill, did a marvelous job of outboxing Brudov, sticking and moving all the while. In defeating the limited Russian, Hill claimed a world title, albeit one that is drastically cheapened by the WBA's disgraceful practice of having two title holders in a division, when one of them is a unified champion, as O'Neil Bell is in this case. Nonetheless, Hill picked up his fifth world title over a 20-plus year career in which he has been a champion at light heavyweight and cruiserweight. And he did it just down the boardwalk from where he won his first world title in 1987. Hill overcame a terrible gash over his left eye when Brudov slammed him with a combination in the sixth round, and Hill rightfully credited the brilliant work of trainer/cutman Mike Hall for keeping the bleeding under control. Hill, who was participating in his 28th world title bout, perhaps punched his ticket the Hall of Fame with the victory. We'd love to see him walk away with this outstanding victory, but Hill says he wants one more big fight before retiring. Don't they all say that?
Junior welterweight
Stevie Johnston W12 Steve Quinonez
Scores: 118-109, 116-111 (twice)
Records: Johnston 38-3-1; Quinonez 31-10-1
Rafael's remark: Off for nearly two years because of a car accident and legal problems, Johnston is on the comeback trail and looking good. The former lightweight champ -- who lost his title on a razor-close decision to Jose Luis Castillo in 2000 and then got a draw with him in the rematch -- won his third fight in a row since launching his comeback last year. He was sharp against Quinonez, a tough veteran who has faced many good opponents. Johnston, now campaigning as a junior welterweight, is still only 33 and still can box like he always did. His defense is tight and he can still stand inside without getting hit too cleanly. He dropped Quinonez in the opening round and cruised to the points victory. Another fight or two and we can certainly see Johnston getting another opportunity for something significant. We've always loved watching him fight, and it's a pleasure to see him back in the spotlight.
Junior welterweight
Mike Arnaoutis TKO1 Marc Thompson
Records: Arnaoutis 16-0-2, 8 KOs; Thompson 13-1
Rafael's remark: Arnaoutis scored three knockdowns en route to the easy victory against Thompson, who despite his perfect record entering the fight, was nothing more than a guy with a built up record against nobodies. When he stepped up against a solid opponent like Arnaoutis, he had no prayer. It's time for Arnaoutis to fight a real opponent, not guys with glossy records who can't fight.
Nate Campbell TKO6 Francisco Olvera
Records: Campbell 28-4-1, 24 KOs; Olvera 14-3
Rafael's remark: Campbell took it to Olvera from the outset, dropping him in the first, cutting him in the sixth and punishing him until Olvera's corner threw in the towel after the sixth. Campbell was staying busy following his big upset knockout victory against Almazbek "Kid Diamond" Raiymkulov in October. Now, Campbell is focused on getting an elimination bout, perhaps against former titlist Julio Diaz. That would be an excellent action fight.

Friday at Miami
Junior bantamweight
Cecilio Santos TKO6 Jair Jimenez
Records: Santos 19-5-2, 12 KOs; Jimenez 22-4-1
Rafael's remark: Santos handed Jinemez his fourth consecutive defeat, one of which was a shot at flyweight titlist Vic Darchinyan. This was Santos' fight from the outset and finished him with a succession of punches that dropped Jimenez to his knees in the sixth. Although Jimenez beat the count, the referee halted the fight.
Jameel McCline KO1 Dan Ward
Records: McCline 34-6-3, 22 KOs; Ward 29-18-1, 15 KOs
Rafael's remark: McCline, a fading heavyweight contender, won his second in a row against a wretched opponent. But McCline is trying to come back slowly and out of the spotlight after suffering through a stretch in which he lost three of four. That's why this fight was buried off television on the Santos-Jimenez undercard. If McCline can put together a winning streak, we won't be surprised to see him get another opportunity for something more meaningful than a fight like this.

Friday at Tucson, Ariz.
Junior middleweight
Kassim Ouma TKO8 Francisco Antonio Mora
Records: Ouma 23-2-1, 15 KOs; Mora 50-10
Rafael's remark: Former champion Ouma won his second consecutive fight since a surprising upset title loss to Roman Karmazin last summer, and he did it in style, headlining ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights." Southpaw Ouma dominated this one. He scored knockdowns in the second and eighth rounds and handed Mora just the second stoppage loss of his career (and first since 1998). With Ouma's confidence seemingly restored since his loss, he should find himself in a major HBO fight shortly. We'd love to see a rematch with Karmazin.
Vicente Escobedo TKO6 Jesus Perez
Records: Escobedo 9-0, 9 KOs; Perez 25-12-3
Rafael's remark: Escobedo, a 2004 U.S. Olympian, was extended past four rounds for the first time in his young career. He was frustrated along the way by the holding of wily veteran Perez, who has fought many top opponents and once challenged for the bantamweight title. Eventually, Escobedo scored a knockdown and Perez's corner stepped in to stop the fight. All in all, this was a good learning experience for Escobedo, who found out that all victories won't come as easy as his first eight did.
Rock Allen TKO1 Mike Walker
Records: Allen 5-0, 5 KOs; Walker 6-8
Rafael's remark: Allen, a 2004 U.S. Olympian and the son of Bernard Hopkins' trainer Naazim Richardson, blew out Walker in a fight that went exactly as expected. After two knockdowns it was over. Allen eventually will step up, but he's getting his feet wet in the pro game. Fights like this are expected as he makes the transition from the amateurs.

Friday at Cicero, Ill.
Junior middleweight
Marco Antonio Rubio TKO8 Aslanbek Kodzoev
Records: Rubio 33-2-1, 30 KOs; Kodzoev 16-2-1
Rafael's remark: This is a very solid victory for Rubio, who has won seven consecutive fights since an embarrassing first-round destruction against Kofi Jantuah in September 2004. Rubio and Kodzoev were engaged in a close fight, so it was surprising when Kodzoev retired on his stool just after the bell rang to begin the eighth round. As it turned out, Kodzoev said he had suffered a rib injury, which is the reason he gave for not continuing.
Antonio Escalante W10 Jose Hernandez
Scores: 95-92, 94-92, 94-93
Records: Escalante 10-1; Hernandez 19-3
Rafael's remark: What an unexpected surprise this one was. The opening bout of a Telefutura card rarely produces a fight of the year candidate but this one surely will be on the list when it comes time to wrap up 2006. It was an awesome scrap featuring two willing combatants, Escalante, the 20-year-old prospect, and Hernandez, the more grizzled 29-year-old. They slugged it out for 10 high-octane rounds that featured back-and-forth action and lots of clean, hard punching. Escalante went down once and Hernandez was floored twice, including in the eighth round, which will be a round of the year candidate. Hernandez was dropped early in the round but rallied to dominate the late stages of the frame. This is a little gem of a fight.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for