It has been a week of heavyweight controversy for boxing, not least the 5 rounds of action spread over two fights that have told us very little in terms of the sport but should be applauded nonetheless by real fans. But before that some incredible action from the US.
Last weekend, on Saturday the 9th of June in the Staples Centre, Los Angeles the WBA featherweight fight between Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz was what we all wanted and a tremendous fight that was bossed by Cruz – winning by a unanimous decision over 12 rounds – and sets up the trilogy with Carl Frampton perfectly. Frampton has a fight in August that will set his name back up at the top of promoter’s lips, having beaten Nonito Donaire in such impressive fashion the last time he fought.
On the same bill, super welterweight action Jermell Charlo beat Austin Trout for the WBC crown and Trout will have much to contemplate as he has failed once again to take a world title. Charlo is on the radar of quite a few British fighters.
Both Cruz and Charlo were all very impressive but at the MGM Grand, Los Angeles new welterweight Terence Crawford got his third weight world title by beating Jeff Horn comfortably to take his WBO strap. Crawford was magnificent and truly deserved the win with Horn being correctly stopped in the 9th round. Horn went all David Haye and blamed the wrong trainers, but the truth was that Crawford showed once again why many call him the pound for pound king of the ring.
Back home, at the Manchester Arena, we got the first of the heavyweight fights that caused a lot of debate. It was set up nicely by some undercard action that saw super featherweight Zelfa Barrett, beat Edwin Tellez on points whilst the unbeaten middleweights Troy Williamson and Jack Flatley both retained their unbeaten tags as they fought to a draw!
Heavyweight Nathan Gorman put in another impressive performance with a stoppage in the 3rd round of Sean Turner, middleweight Mark Heffron also managed a stoppage, this time in the 6th round against Andrew Robinson, whilst the WBC international super welterweight strap went to James Metcalf as he got a late stoppage – in the 12th round against Jorge Fortea.
The cracking WBO scrap for the super lightweight belt between unbeaten Terry Flanagan and Maurice Hooker ended in disappointment for the home fans though it was a fight that could have been called either way. Flanagan was not in his usual zone and ended up losing on points in yet another strange looking decision that was allowable this time round. There were two judges who agreed on how wide one of the fighters had won it – 117 -111 – but disagreed on which one. The American judge favoured the British fighter whilst the British judge favoured the American! It took the neutral to sort it out and give the split decision to Hooker. I saw it as a Hooker win, but it was so close that home advantage could have swayed it, but it would have been very harsh. Hooker’s reach and his physique saw Flanagan coming up in weight having to contend with something for him that is very new – being the smaller man. This time it caught him cold and he failed in his task but showed he is at the right level, just needs some more in his armoury.
Finally, with 5 stone and a foot advantage, a carry at the weigh in and a kiss in the ring a pantomime ended the night with the world’s lineal heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury winning against Sefer Seferi, after the Albanian refused to come out after the 4th round.
Let’s get this clear though, Fury’s biggest fight was to get through the ropes and in the ring. I never thought he would do it and he proved many of us wrong – I was not alone in thinking that. He showed heart, he showed skill, eventually, but the fact he got there is the biggest win of his career so far. It showed nothing else and now the bigger battle commences as he has to take the stage again in August and march on towards the title he says he craves and can get back.
Last night, in Willenhall bantamweight title action for the English strap between Thomas Essomba and Kyle Williams saw Williams take the belt in a split decision.
At the same time but in York Hall Hayemaker brought super middleweight Savannah Marshall into the ring to stop Alejandra Ayala in the 2nd round, the female Commonwealth battle between Sam SJ Smith and Anisha Basheel for the lightweight belt ended with Basheel taking the belt by knockout in a stunning first round win.
Heavyweight Joe Joyce had been down to defend his Commonwealth title against Richard Lartey. Lartey withdrew on Thursday so late replacement Ivac Bacurin came in to do the job. He lasted less than 2 minutes and like the Fury fight we got limited access to assess The Juggernaut. He was his usual powerful self and I have to say the punch that took down the Croatian seemed to skim his head rather than hit him but Joyce did what he had to, provided entertainment and danced his way round yet another opponent in and out the fight.
Finally, last night in Middleton the Central area super welterweight belt went to Evaldas Korsakas as Denton Vassell retired so we would love to know what the veteran is looking to do next.