My thought’s this week on Cheeky Punter:
By Peter Wells:
In front of a hopeful and expectant New Jersey crowd, Bernard Hopkins could not deliver what almost all in attendance hoped for. Sergey Kovalev proved too strong, too smart and too good for the all-time great.
A knockdown suffered in the first round led to a shutout points defeat for BHop – who turns 50 in January. Kovalev, 18 years Bernard’s junior, stuck to a strict game plan drew up by John David Jackson and was full value for his 120-107 (twice) 120-106 victory.
Hopkins was forced out of his shell as Kovalev wisely racked up the rounds to command the contest from start to finish. Hopkins acknowledged afterwards that Kovalev was tactically spot on, unloading in long flurries before taking a step out of range once he had imprinted any damage, leaving Hopkins without a target to counter.
With the victory Kovalev 26-0-1(23) added the WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight titles to his WBO crown, marking him as the unified Light Heavyweight champion, albeit Adonis Stevenson holds the WBC title. It was also a crucial landmark for Kovalev who went the full 12 rounds for the first time in his career, showing no signs that stamina will be a problem for the Russian fighting out of Florida.
Hopkins tried every trick he knew as the fight wore on, but after landing flush early in the final stanza it was Bernard who ended the contest almost out on his feet. Kovalev poured on for the finish, but experienced referee David Fields gave ‘The Alien’ every chance he could to see out the contest and avoid his first stoppage loss of his 66 fight career. Hopkins has always been renowned for a sensational chin and he proved it again last night, taking everything that Kovalev could throw his way.
Its a common phrase to say that the word ‘legend’ is used to much, but it truly does apply to Bernard Hopkins. Even when ignoring the fact that at 49 he is still competing – and even beating – some of the best fighters in his division, Bernard has achieved greatness throughout his career, beating almost everyone in his path, holding the record for the most Middleweight world title defences. Hopkins has only lost to the best, and he has always found a way to win when the going got tough.
Bernard Hopkins truly is one of the greatest fighters ever to live, and should his career be coming to a close, it has been an absolute pleasure to witness Greatness.
By Peter Wells:
It was meant to be a test, but it turned out to be no more than a mere beat down, Gennady Golovkin walked through another obstacle with utter ease.
Marco Antonio Rubio took his punishment in under 5 minutes as the most feared fighter on the planet handed out another example of just how powerful he is, landing with almost everything he threw.
Golovkin improved to 31-0(28), dropping and stopping Mexican Rubio in the 2nd round, an overhand left the finishing blow from the orthodox stance and at close range, it was certainly an un-orthodox shot.
Rubio 59-7-1(51) did have slight success in the opener, but Golovkin’s mid-range power was always telling, as he trounced through the tough Rubio in the second round, a right uppercut proving the beginning of the end.
Golovkin will now be seeking new tests, after he set his sights firmly on WBC Middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, while also keeping Saul Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in mind as future opponents in 2015 and beyond.
In the co-feature, Nicholas Walters announced himself as a front-runner in the Featherweight division with a career-defining win over Nonito Donaire.
Donaire elected to trade with the big hitting Jamaican throughout much of the contest, and paid the price as Walters twice dropped the Filipino to score a 6th round stoppage.
Donaire is noted as a puncher himself, and shook Walters in the 2nd round, with the bell coming at an opportune moment for the challenger. However Walters took the best that Donaire could offer after that, while his own power punches caused serious damage, as Donaire’s face began to swell and cut up. A right uppercut in the 3rd sent Donaire to the canvas.
The fight ended when a wild exchange saw Donaire miss with a left hook leaving himself open for a huge right hand behind the ear. Donaire crashed to the canvas and rose on unsteady legs, referee Raul Caiz Jr waved the contest off to no protests.
Both fighters showed incredible grace in victory and defeat respectfully.
Donaire 33-3(21) will need to think long and hard about his next step, but a move back to Super Bantamweight may be a wise one. Elsewhere Walters will be looking at clashes with the other star Featherweights as he improved to 25-0(21).
(Image – Belfast Telegraph)
By Steve Wellings
Dee Walsh produced a boxing masterclass on Saturday evening to repel the threat of Poland’s Adam Grabiec over four rounds. Walsh’s 40-36 success at Belfast’s Devenish Complex was never in doubt but it was the manner of the victory, rather than the cold statistics of a unanimous decision, that impressed ringside observers.
“I wanted to put him to the test at the start to see how he took them and he did take them well,” said Walsh. “I had the cold beforehand and I couldn’t breathe through my nose from the third round so I took a step back and put on a bit of an exhibition to show that he couldn’t hit me. My pride got me through it. There were shots I caught him with tonight that I saw rocking his head and they would’ve knocked a lot of people out but he’s a tough boy.”
While Grabiec is clearly no world beater he did arrive with a reputation as a resolute operator who does not get deterred easily. ‘Waldo’ realised this early on and used the opportunity to showcase an assortment of tricks borrowed from a variety of legends. Over the course of the four rounds we spotted moves from Floyd Mayweather (Dee even sported a cheeky Mayweather-esque beard on the night), Sugar Ray Leonard and Roy Jones Jnr. Was there anybody missed?
“Sugar Ray Robinson and Ali,” smiled Walsh, clearly now a fighter at peace with himself both in and out of the ring.
“I enjoyed that fight and I’m enjoying life at the moment, being in a routine and getting up every morning for the running and with the training and sparring it’s all good. Watching those boxers and imagining yourself being like them obviously helps and that’s what I do.”
Walsh admitted pre-fight that the Irish title shot he craves could perhaps be left to simmer while he grabs a couple of tough stamina-building six or eight rounders. However, the 24-year-old is making it clear that a fight with current domestic king Peter McDonagh is something he is aiming for.
“I would love to get the Irish title shot but I took a step back from that after it didn’t happen on the Frampton show so I can get the rounds under my belt. I want a six-rounder next that will hopefully go the distance and then maybe go for a 10-round Irish title shot.”
Aside from the entertainment factor and abundant talent, Walsh also brings a growing fan base along with him. Possessing the ability to shift a bucket load of tickets is vital to any young boxer looking to gain valuable ring time at smaller venues.
“I sold a load of tickets for a small hall show and it shows that people want to come and watch me. I’ve got power, I can make people miss and put on a show.You have to entertain people, keep them happy and wanting to come back next time. I’ll be back again in November and ready to fight whoever they put in front of me.”
Trainer Gerard McCafferty took the final word, reminding assembled members of the press about the sacrifices that this new incarnation of Dee Walsh is willing to make in order to fulfill his title aspirations.
“On Monday the fight was off as he had the flu and wasn’t going to be boxing but he’s a professional and he did what he had to do,” said McCafferty.
Image courtesy of www.cyclonepromotions.com
By Steve Wellings
If Showtime’s Al Bernstein had set out his keys to victory before the ‘Titanic Showdown’ main event there is a good chance he would’ve picked out the exact strategy employed by Carl Frampton on the night. Side-to-side movement, exchange and move and, most importantly, work behind a hard, accurate jab could all have found a place on Al’s list. Frampton’s use of the jab and domineering sense of ring generalship were indicative of the 27-year-old’s newfound maturity.
“I think I controlled it better this time [than in the first fight] although I’ve got lumps all over my head,” admitted Frampton. “I was clever when winning the rounds and I hurt him a few times and then dropped him. I felt fresh in there, even in the 12th round. I don’t know whether it was the cool air or what but I could’ve done 15 rounds tonight.”
Carl relayed his view of the fight to the assembled press following a bruising world title encounter that saw the Tigers Bay man enter the Titanic Quarter conference room sporting a variety of bashes and bruises across the face. Frampton said that his main responsibility was to listen to the instructions of head cornerman Shane McGuigan and “be smart” especially after knocking Martinez down in the fifth round.
“I just kept on with what I had been doing,” ‘The Jackal’ continued,” and I caught him a few more times and had him on the ropes in the 11th and 12th. After I hurt him I thought to myself I’ve only got a couple of rounds to go so don’t be getting stupid. He’s a worthy champion as well but I have a good jab for such a small guy and my jab, when I get it going, is very strong. I think it probably was [my best “jabbing performance”] and I was hitting him on the top of the head and that hurt my hands a bit. It was all working well so I gritted that out and kept doing what I was doing.”
Carl adopted an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to the remainder of the fight and diligently persisted with a disciplined approach. It was basically a shrewd box-and-move policy devised to nullify Kiko’s ability to land flush and potentially cause an upset similar to the 2007 surprise blitz of Bernard Dunne in Dublin.
“He’s one of the toughest guys around, honestly. A fight like this will benefit my career. Being involved in a war with such a proud man will help me. That was the performance of my life,” concluded Frampton.
Mayweather beats Maidana in rematch – By Peter Wells:
Giving the pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather a tough time is hard enough over 12 rounds, but to consistently pound on Floyd for 24 rounds is nigh on impossible. Marcos Maidana 35-5(31) understandably took the second attempt after a fantastic effort in May, but came unstuck and Mayweather dominated the contest.
Floyd 47-0(26) was content to keep the contest at range, and whether it was an adjustment by Mayweather or less aggression on Maidana’s part, the contest was fought at centre ring for much of the contest. With space there is no one better in boxing than Mayweather.
Jabbing to the body Floyd got going early with the right cross to the head, a weapon that often comes in to its own in the later rounds. This time however he opted to bring the power shot in early and it was effective. The famous check hook would come into play later in the contest as Maidana put on more pressure.
Maidana rarely had success with Mayweather’s back to the ropes but round 4 was the only round in which Floyd was having flashbacks to the early goings in their first meeting.
Maidana’s frustration grew as Mayweather was allowed to hold on whenever the Argentinian got in range. Smart tactics from Floyd but tactics that should have received more warnings and even a point deduction from Kenny Bayless.
An unusual moment occurred in the 8th when Maidana apparently bit the glove of Mayweather. Replays show however that Floyd was initially rubbing the gloves into the face of Maidana – similar to what Diego Chaves was doing to invigorate Brandon Rios – before Maidana apparently sunk his teeth in.
A forearm push from Maidana resulted in a point deduction in round 10, but he managed to win the point back with an all-out aggressive approach.
Floyd stepped off the pace in the final few rounds especially the 12th when he decided to stay on the move for the full 3 minutes.
Mayweather won on all three judges scorecards 115-112 and 116-111 (twice).
On an undercard that had a bit of everything, Leo Santa Cruz 28-0-1(16) easily dispatched of over-matched challenger Manuel Roman 17-3-3(6) in 2 rounds.
The IBF Super Bantamweight champion has been talking of fights with Carl Frampton, Scott Quigg and Guillermo Rigondeaux, but settled for a far from world class challenger on the Mayhem undercard.
After a dominant opening session Santa Cruz finished the contest with a sharp right hand to the side of Roman’s neck, leaving him unable to regain his balance.
In a far from entertaining but certainly competitive affair, Mickey Bey 21-1-1(10) of Mayweather Promotions won the IBF Lightweight strap with a shock split decision win over long time holder Miguel Vazquez 34-4(13).
Bey took over in the 2nd half of the contest as Vazquez seemed content with his small amount of work, while Bey doubled and tripled up the jab before using his speed to counter an often sloppy Vazquez offence.
One scorecard read 115-113 to Vazquez while the other two judges gave it to Bey 115-113 and a crazy 119-109.
On the opening fight of the pay-per-view card Alfredo Angulo 22-5(18) dropped a third defeat on the bounce as he was upset by fellow Mexican James De La Rosa 23-2(13).
Rosa fought excellently from the outside, remaining in the pocket to unload his own bombs on the slower and ultimately smaller Angulo.
Angulo had taken the step up to Middleweight but that seemed to hinder the rugged warrior as his power rarely seemed a factor until the later rounds when he almost rescued a come-from-behind win.
By Peter Wells:
Adrien Broner is back, but Emmanuel Taylor also announced himself in the world title picture with a respectable performance against such a talented fighter.
Broner 29-1(22) won a unanimous decision, scoring a superb knockdown in the final round. Taylor – recognisable to viewers of ESPN Fight Night Fights – gave Broner all he could handle all night, but it was Broner’s adjustments and final minute assaults that earned him the majority of the rounds.
Scorecards read 116-111 (twice) and 115-112 all for the hometown Cincinnati fighter.
Taylor 18-3(12) looked up for the occasion from the opening bell as he went on the front foot, pushing Broner back to the ropes. A couple of crisp uppercut counters came from the home favourite, while Maryland’s Taylor targeted the body.
The 2nd and 3rd rounds epitomised what was to come, Taylor taking charge in the first 2 minutes, before Broner would flurry in the final minute, making a statement to the judges as he opened up, looking irresistible with lightning fast combinations.
The 4th saw Broner take the contest to the centre ring where he was clearly more dominant. Taylor took some punishment and was unable to respond in kind.
The momentum however was yet to change as Taylor came on strong again to open the 5th, but lost that impetus in the final 40 seconds as Broner went to work.
Broner, on his toes in the 6th and 7th rounds, had to overcome some Taylor flurries against the ropes but was clearly adjusting well. Taylor’s attacks were becoming less frequent and far less effective.
Another close session in the 8th was taken with both hands by Broner in the final minute where he once again opened up his full arsenal.
A promising start to the round by Taylor in the 9th was more than matched by Broner for the rest of the round. The frustration must have been hard to contain for Taylor who just couldn’t find an answer to Broner’s late assaults.
On the move in the 10th, Broner was tagged hard on the ropes, Taylor sensing he needed to take control in the championship rounds. But it only awoke the beast in Broner as he responded with a hard volley of punches.
Taylor enjoyed a good 11th, using the jab to full effect, an uppercut opening a cut over the right eye of Broner. Taylor this time ending the session on top.
Taylor was all over Broner to open the final round, landing a flush right hand. The two took turns in pounding away in an excellent final minute of a brilliant boxing match. Then came a gorgeous, blistering combination from Broner, ending with a left hook that sent Taylor to the canvas. Taylor rose quickly to hear the final bell straight after, an ecstatic Broner jumping onto the ropes to soak up the applause of the crowd.
Considering how well Taylor performed, this will prove a good win for Broner, who showed a good variety and a smart boxing brain, using minimal energy to take close rounds with strong final minutes.
Taylor can take huge heart from his performance, and should remain a contender at 140lbs.
Broner target, Lucas Matthysse 36-3(34) won in 2 rounds of an unsatisfying contest with previously unbeaten Roberto Ortiz 31-1-1(24).
The end came when a body shot felled the Mexican who took too long to rise from the count, the referee waving it off. It is still unclear whether or not Benjy Esteves had reached the count of 10 when he waved the fight off.
Elsewhere Andre Berto 29-3(22) made a successful return after shoulder surgery, taking a unanimous decision over Steve Upsher Chambers 24-4-1(6).
It was an entertaining contest, back and forth in the opening rounds before the aggressive Berto took over, taking it 99-91 on all three scorecards. A good comeback fight for Berto, which offered a good challenge, but also allowed the more powerful Berto to regain some lost confidence.
The incredible story of Daniel Jacobs continues as Jacobs wins world title in 5 rounds. Peter Wells reports on the triple header that also sees the Lamont Peterson-Danny Garcia clash edge ever closer.
From cancer survivor to world champion, the story of Daniel Jacobs is a remarkable one. Jacobs’ 5th round stoppage of Jarrod Fletcher 18-2(10) was greeted by joy and admiration from anyone that knew what the Brooklyn man has overcome.
While the title Jacobs won is not the WBA’s main belt – the WBA ‘Super’ title – and while not everyone, including myself, would recognise it as a legitimate world title, no one will begrudge Jacobs his moment as a world champion, because even reaching this stage is a miracle in itself. But for the ambitious Jacobs, this is just the beginning.
Jacobs came close to a first round knockout when he had the Australian reeling, before he eventually hit the canvas. The onslaught continued rights and lefts crashing through the gloves of the stricken Fletcher.
The referee’s intervention never came, and Jacobs soon pulled himself back, looking to pace himself after such a blistering start. This did allow Fletcher back into the fight, but the power of Jacobs was ever present, and the storm came again in the 5th, when a hard right nailed Fletcher. Fletcher was down again, but this time the corner threw in the towel, saving their fighter from any more punishment.
Jacobs now 28-1(25) will be delighted with the feat, but he sees more to come, likely a contest with WBO Middleweight champion Peter Quillin. One thing is for sure, Jacobs will not fear whoever he enters the ring with, because he has already conquered the scariest opponent.
Lamont Peterson 33-2-1(17) dominated and stopped the tough but outgunned Edgar Santana 29-5(20).
The ending came in the 10th when the ringside doctor called to the referee to stop the fight. Santana, rarely in serious trouble, took a pummelling throughout the fight and while he may well have heard the final bell, he was only going to take more punishment on the way to it.
Peterson found his range early, but enjoyed working on the inside for most of the contest, pounding the body with bad intentions. The body shots wore Santana down, who reverted to a shell more and more, Peterson picking his shots and picking Santana apart.
Uppercuts were also a key factor for Peterson inside as he now looks for a unification clash with Danny Garcia who headlined the show in Brooklyn.
In a 142lb catchweight 10 rounder, Danny Garcia 29-0(17) did exactly what was expected, destroying overmatched Rod Salka 19-4(3) in 2 rounds.
Salka, notably a Lightweight, hit the canvas 3 times in the 2nd round, the final punch a devastating left hook, Garcia’s trademark punch. Prior to that Salka had pounded his chest having already eaten several flush punches, never the smartest idea against a man who has just rocked you to your boots.
Garcia did what he had to do, but the mismatch won’t have earned him any credit, a date with Lamont Peterson at the end of the year should determine him as the best Light Welterweight on the planet – should he be victorious – leading to a move up to Welterweight.
Replacing Chisora-Fury as the main attraction, Saunders knocks out Blandamura capping off a fine show, Peter Wells reports
By Peter Wells:
If ever there was a time for an undercard fighter to step up and steal the show, it was last night as headline acts Tyson Fury & Dereck Chisora both ended up off the card, leaving the undercard fighters with an extra chance to make an impression.
And several made a lasting imprint with several notable performances. Terry Flanagan announced himself on the British scene with a sensational tactical display against Walsall tough man, Martin Gethin, and Liam Williams made a similar imprint with a thoroughly dominant retirement victory of Ronnie Heffron.
Billy Joe Saunders and Liam Smith also scored spectacular knockouts, while Jack Catterall destroyed Nathan Brough in 2 rounds off camera. Chris Eubank Jr also got his simple job done in quick fashion.
On the projected main event, Billy Joe Saunders 20-0(11) had to think his way carefully through his contest with Emanuele Blandamura 22-1(5), before scoring a stunning one punch knockout in the 8th round.
Saunders claimed the European Middleweight title with a hard lead right hook which sent Blandamura sprawling across the ring and into the ropes. The referee initiated the count but Blandamura’s senses were splayed.
Up until the emphatic stoppage, while in front, Saunders was forced to dig deep into his tactical abilities, avoiding quick bursts of punches from the Italian. Saunders’ work between Blandamura’s spurts was enough to keep him ahead at the time of the knockout, but the fight ending punch sent out a statement that a points triumph would not have done.
The battle of Orthodox (Blandamura) and Southpaw (Saunders) made for an intriguing contest that looked as though it could be set alight at any moment, both looking to land while also being very wary of what was bound to come back.
Saunders took his biggest scalp of his career and is now determined to get Chris Eubank Jr in the ring later this year.
Liam Smith 17-0-1(7) retained his British Light Middleweight title for the 2nd time as he stopped the impressive Jason Welborn 15-3(6) in 6 rounds.
While ultimately at the end of a brutal right hand to the body that left him out for the count, Welborn more than gave Smith his fair share of problems in the early stages. For me taking rounds 1 and 2 as his intelligent attacks off the back foot seemed to catch Smith slightly unawares.
By the third Smith began to suss the Black Country fighter out, working the jab well and going to the body on a regular basis. Welborn remained game, but he was now being outgunned by the power and accuracy of Liverpool’s Smith.
In the 6th round a brutal right hand downstairs kept Welborn down for the count, as he suffered a similar fate to the one he met against Frankie Gavin down at Welterweight. Smith will be more than happy shredding the rust with a good stoppage win, while Welborn can take encouragement from a gallant display.
Terry Flanagan 25-0(9) finally was given the chance to prove himself on the big stage in a packed domestic division, retiring an injured Martin Gethin 24-6-1(11) after 7 rounds for the British Lightweight title.
Gethin, a known slow starter, was never allowed into the fight as Flanagan fought the perfect tactics throughout. The 7th was by far Martin’s best round before a left hook to the ear brought back a recurring injury for the former British champion. Gethin’s left ear ballooned up and he realised the extent of the injury straight away, having no choice but to retire at the end of the session. It was the same injury he suffered last year at the hands of Ammeth Diaz.
Prior to the ending, Flanagan has fought wonderfully off the ropes, snapping Gethin’s head back with uppercut and turning Gethin with hard hooks before controlling the centre of the ring.
Gethin would have been more than happy to see Flanagan so eager to lie on the ropes, but it was by choice and now you can see why. He made sure that the slower Gethin suffered more in those close knit exchanges.
Flanagan began to use full use of the ring as the fight moved into the 5th and 6th rounds, using the jab and solid left crosses down the middle to halt Gethin as he came in.
Gethin didn’t work enough on the ropes and was punished for his lack of activity throughout the 7 rounds.
Terry Flanagan looks to have a bright future and will hoping for clashes with British rivals, Derry Matthews and Anthony Crolla as well as others in the near future.
In the opening bout of the BoxNation card, Wales’ Liam Williams 10-0-1(5) set himself up for a shot at Liam Smith with a 6th round retirement victory of the more experienced Ronnie Heffron 15-2(5).
Williams came out the blocks with bad intentions, catching Heffron with a hard right hand early that had the home fighter back-pedalling. It was a high output from Williams but very little wasn’t finding the face of Heffron who looked stunned at Williams’ start.
A cut over his right eye made things far worse for Heffron who was in trouble again in the 2nd. The aggressive Heffron bravely continued to come forward but his lack of a jab kept things simple for Williams who had far better timing. Heffron would come up short and Williams would counter with hard rights and left hooks.
The 4th and 5th were much better for Heffron as Williams’ tempo tailed off slightly. Williams was backed up easily as Heffron’s work rate still wasn’t high enough.
That slight change in momentum was halted in the 6th as Williams re-instated his dominance with a chopping uppercut hurting Heffron late in the round. His corner seeing their fighter was taking too much punishment pulled Heffron out, giving Williams a huge win to announce himself to the boxing public.
Elsewhere Eubank Jr 17-0(12) destroyed Ivan Jukic 19-3(12) in one round and Liam Walsh 16-0(11) stopped Kevin Hooper 15-3(3) in 4 rounds.
In another stunning performance, Jack Catterall 9-0(5) destroyed Nathan Brough 11-1(2) with a stunning uppercut that left Brough out for the count.
Canelo Alvarez beats Erislandy Lara – Peter Wells reports as Canelo Alvarez gets nod over Erislandy Lara with a split decision win, which will divide as much opinion post fight as it did pre fight
Beforehand the tentative pick was for Erislandy Lara to win, but I was edging towards Canelo Alvarez on the sad basis that if the fight were close then Canelo would receive the verdict. This prior knowledge is not what boxing fans want. The fact that a certain fighter must win 8 clear rounds to get a verdict, that he must virtually dominate the contest to be given a fair shake. Now while I am NOT claiming that Alvarez’s split decision victory was the wrong decision – it was a contest that could have gone either way – but the fact that the result was inevitable because of the close nature of the contest, highlights what is so wrong with judging in boxing, and why there are so many cases of robberies hindering the sport.
115-113 scorecards for each fighter were legitimate scores that no one could possibly argue with, but 117-111 for Canelo Alvarez! This is the point that I am trying to make when there is one judge that blatantly has no intention of scoring the fight for the unfavoured fighter.
My initial scorecard was 115-113, but I would like to re-watch the contest to verify my final verdict. Rounds 5, 6, 9 and 12 were particular stanza’s that could have tilted either way.
Lara started the contest well, behind a sharp jab that was doubled and even tripled while Canelo looked to find his range. That would not be easy against the mobile Lara, but a couple left hooks to the body – Alvarez’s Sunday punch – would certainly help.
Lara was less busy in the next two rounds but he still remained in enough control to claim them both. Alvarez was unable to land anything significant outside of the odd left hook to the ribcage. Lara was not landing much but his ring generalship was enough with Canelo landing little of effect.
A significant change came in the 4th as Alvarez was in range to pound the body of Lara, who was beginning to feel the heat. Lara managed to sting Alvarez with a sharp left, but the pressure was telling.
Both had their own respective successes in rounds 5 and 6, I split the rounds but they could quite easily have both gone to Alvarez or both gone to Lara.
The 7th saw a cut open up over the right eye of Lara, caused by a lovely grazing uppercut. Lara was covering up well but after the cut appeared a slight sign of panic came across Lara who clearly lost the round.
The trend continued in the 8th as the momentum was clearly shifting, Lara’s effectiveness with the left cross down the pipe was dipping. Alvarez had little to walk through now, and Lara’s movement became just that, rather than anything effective.
The 9th was another tight round, Alvarez still piling forward with effective pressure but Lara responded well, getting behind several double jabs which had been missing for the previous few rounds.
Suddenly Lara seemed to find a second wind as Alvarez was once again unable to land, allowing Lara to get off first before he slid off the ropes and circled a frustrated Alvarez. The left hand continued to land with ease in the 11th as Lara looked to take a slight lead late in the fight.
Alvarez’s corner also showed urgency during the final minute break before Canelo came out with a solid final round on his mind. Canelo won the first half of the round with powerful combinations with Lara stuck on the ropes, before Lara made his way back into the round as Canelo was unable to keep up the intensity, another session that could have been scored for either fighter.
Alvarez 44-1-1(31) taking the split decision will likely move up to Middleweight rather than hand Lara the rematch that this close contest merits. But boxing is a business and while a second bout between the two would bring as much interest, fights with the likes of Miguel Cotto and Gennady Golovkin are contests the whole world wants to see.
Canelo showed he learnt from some of the lessons he received against Floyd Mayweather, but he was still guilty of waiting too long and allowing the counterpuncher to shoot first. He also remains a sucker for the backhand, whether that be from the orthodox or southpaw stance.
The Cotto clash seems a winnable fight, a true 50/50 contest, but his inability to avoid the backhand would be a worry if he were to meet the heavy fisted – understatement of the year – Golovkin. The right cross of Golovkin would be a potent weapon that Canelo would need to fathom to stand any chance against the number 1 Middleweight.
While Alvarez will move on to greater things, Lara 19-2-2(12) is stuck in a tricky situation with a rematch unlikely. Where Lara goes from here depends on how much Golden Boy is willing to invest in his career. Let’s just hope that the talented Cuban doesn’t become an outcast like fellow countryman and pound for pound star Guillermo Rigondeaux.
On a packed Pay-Per-View undercard, Abner Mares 27-1-1(14) returned from a first round defeat to Jhonny Gonzalez with a unanimous decision win over Jonathan Oquendo 24-4(16).
Mares dominated an unlively contest after shaking off the cobwebs in the early stages, taking the contest 96-94 and 98-92 (twice).
Francisco Vargas 20-0-1(14) took the biggest scalp of his career thus far when he stopped Juan Manuel Lopez 34-4(31) in 3 rounds.
Lopez was dropped hard in the 3rd, before his corner retired their fighter in-between rounds 3 and 4.
The odd exchanges in the opening 2 rounds went to Vargas before he caught JuanMa with a hard right before a culmination of shots sent the former world titlist to the canvas. Lopez became even more raged after he touched down and was rightly pulled out before taking unnecessary punishment.
In the opening Pay-Per-View bout, Mauricio Herrera 21-4(7) continued his good run of form with a Majority decision victory over Paul Spadafora conquorer, Johan Perez 19-2-1(13).
Not noted as a puncher, Herrera stung Perez on several occasions, dominating much of the contest behind an aggressive approach. Perez failed to make his physical attributes count as he lost his WBA Interim Light Welterweight title with scores of 114-114 and 116-112 (twice).
On the untelevised card, Tomoki Kameda 30-0(19) stopped Pungluang Sor Singyu 46-3(31) in 7 rounds to retain his WBO Bantamweight title. The bout was a split draw at the time of the knockout.