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The Past Week in Action 19 February 2019

Brant (R) throws a right at Baysangurov.

-Rob Brant retains secondary WBA middleweight title with late stoppage of Khasan Baysangurov
-South African DeeJay Kriel halts Carlos Licona in the last round to win the IBF light flyweight title
-Ryosuke Iwasa wins technical decision over Cesar Juarez in IBF bantamweight final eliminator
-Yves Ngabu and Francesco Patera retain their European cruiserweight and lightweight titles in action on separate shows in Belgium
-German prospect Abass Baraou wins the WBC International super welter title with victory over former IBF champion Carlos Molina
-Former WBC lightweight champion Omar Figueroa outpoints John Molina in a war
-Thomas Patrick Ward wins in his first fight in the USA


February 15

Hinckley, MN, USA: Middle: Rob Brant (25-1) W TKO 11 Khasan Baysangurov (17-1). Bantam: Joshua Greer (20-1-1) W KO 8 Giovanni Escaner (19-4). Super Middle: Lennox Allen (22-0-1) W PTS 10 Derrick Webster (28-2). Light Heavy: Steven Nelson (13-0) W PTS 6 Felipe Romero (20-17-1). Light: Ismail Muwendo (21-1) W PTS 6 Hevinson Herrera (24-16-1). Middle: Tyler Howard (17-0) W PTS 8 Cristian Olivas (16-4).
Brant vs. Baysangurov
Fighting in front of his home fans for the first time as champion Brant scores late stoppage of Baysangurov in defence of his secondary WBVA title.
Round 1
Brant went to work immediately flying out of his corner throwing left jabs and straight rights to the head. He continued to advance now adding body punches. Brant was scoring repeatedly with lead rights and only late in the round did Baysangurov try to find the distance with his jab-and failed.
Score: 10-9 Brant
Round 2
Baysangurov tried to get on the front foot but Brant?s stiff jab and straight rights were getting through and a short right to the side of the head saw Baysangurov dip and go down briefly on one knee. He did not seem badly hurt but there was blood dripping from his nose. After the count he came forward throwing punches but his defence was poor and Brant was able to score with counters.
Score: 10-8 Brant Brant 20-17
Round 3
Brant was coming forward throughout the third but was only throwing one punch at a time. Brant couldn?t miss Baysangurov with his right as the lead punch or as part of a combination. Baysangurov scored with a crisp left hook but he was looking one-paced and limited. Brant was boxing cleverly on the back foot and continually finding gaps for his jab and right cross.
Score: 10-9 Brant Brant 30-26
Round 4
Baysangurov continued to march forward but he was not quick enough to cut the ring off so Brant was able to keep moving and keep slotting punches through the Russian?s guard. Baysangurov showed no upper body or head movement making life easy for Brant whose confidence was growing with each round.
Score: 10-9 Brant Brant 40-35
Official Scores: Judge Mike Fitzgerald 40-35 Brant, Judge Pasquale Procopio 40-35 Brant, Judge Octavio Rodriguez 40-35 Brant
Round 5
A much closer round as Baysangurov threw more punches and landed some stiff shots to head and body. He was also using some upper body movement but not enough. Brant was taking pot shots on the back foot and landing overhand rights and at the end of the round connected with a six-punch combination.
Score: 10-9 Brant Brant 50-44
Round 6
Another easy round for Brant. He was skating around the perimeter of the ring with Baysangurov plodding after him but never quick enough to catch him. Brant was banging home jabs and seemed to rock Baysangurov with a left hook
Score: 10-9 Brant Brant 60-53
Round 7
The best action round so far. Baysangurov was chasing hard and letting his hands go more. Brant trapped Baysangurov on the ropes and unloaded a shower of punch but Baysangurov fought his way forward and landed some hefty hooks. The speed and accuracy of Brant?s punches gave him the edge.
Score: 10-9 Brant Brant 70-62
Round 8
This was mainly a jab and move round for Brant. He was buzzing around Baysangurov scoring with his jab and occasionally stepping forward firing quick combinations. Baysangurov scored with some heavy shots late in the round but it was yet again Brant?s round.
Score: 10-9 Brant Brant 80-71
Official Scores: Fitzgerald 80-71 Brant, Procopio 80-71 Brant, Rodriguez 80-71 Brant
Round 9
Finally a good round for Baysangurov. He applied a lot more pressure threw more punches and did a better job of blocking or ducking Brant?s punches. Brant was not as busy and Baysangurov just did enough to take the round.
Score: 10-9 Baysangurov Brant 89-81
Round 10
Brant outboxed Baysangurov in this one. He was moving more and found the range again with his jab. Baysangurov was too slow to trap Brant and when they did trade punches both landed, Baysangurov with a heavy right cross, but Baysangurov was the one breaking off the exchanges.
Score: 10-9 Brant Brant 99-90

Referee Mark Nelson stops Brant from further doing damage on Baysangurov.

Round 11
Baysangurov made a bright start to the round ploughing forward scoring with some shots to the body. He fired home a strong combination but Brant connected with some quick punches. A long chopping right to the head from Brant staggered Baysangurov and Brant chased him across the ring scoring with lefts and rights to the head. Baysangurov dropped forward with both gloves touching the canvas but did not go down. He was given an eight count and when the action resumed a couple of rights to the head sent Baysangurov staggering back and the referee stopped the fight. Brant looks a different fighter to the one who failed so miserably against Juergen Brahmer in the WSSB super middleweight tournament in 2017. He was quick, skillful and finished the fight in style. There are much tougher fights out there for him but it is difficult to see how he can break into the division?s big boy?s league containing Saul Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, Jermall Charlo, David Lemieux, Demetrius Andrade etc. Ukrainian Baysangurov was No 8 with the WBA but he was yet another fighter gifted a rating for winning one of the WBA regional titles and not for the quality of his opposition. When you rate fighters because their promoter paid a sanctioning fee and not because they have earned a rating you get one-sided title fights like this. Baysangurov is just 21 so there is time for him to earn a rating if he improves-or he could always fight for another WBA regional title!
Greer vs. Escaner
A quality performance from Greer as he finishes Escaner with a corrosive body punch after eight highly entertaining rounds of quality fighting. A fiery opening round saw Filipino Escaner pressing hard doing a good job of cutting off the ring and scoring with short bursts of hooks inside. Greer was quick and clever and was connecting with flurries of hooks and uppercuts. War was declared in the second as they traded clusters of punches. Escaner seemed to get the better of the exchanges landing some hard rights but there was quality aggressive work from both in hot action. Escaner was relentless in the third with Greer slick and countering well. Escaner lunged forward chasing Greer along the ropes. He landed a couple of rights and trying to get under them Greer squatted on the bottom rope and a glove touched the canvas. The referee decided that the rope was holding Greer up and gave Greer a count over Greer?s protests and the bell went. Greer scored big in the fourth piling on the right hands and staggering Escaner. Again there was some heavy trading with Greer coming out best. Greer?s speed and accuracy gave him the fifth and sixth with Escaner?s work rate dropping. The Filipino was fighting in burst and having to soak up some wicked left hooks to the body and overhand rights. Escaner came out punching in the seventh and for the last two minutes of the round they stood toe-to-toe and exchanged punches but now it was Greer forcing Escaner back and scoring the quality shots. They were toe-to-toe again in the eight when a right to the body saw Escaner stand still for a second and the spin around drop to his knees. The referee started to count but Escaner was not going to be getting up so he stopped the fight. The 24-year-old from Chicago retains the WBC Continental Americas title. He has finished nine of his last ten fights inside the distance and registers his seventeenth victory in a row. He is rated IBF 7(5). Greer is one of the many young men saved by boxing. His father was murdered when Greer was still a baby and he grew up on the streets into drugs and robbery and was almost killed in a drive-by shooting. After yet more trouble with the police his grandmother took him to a gym and that changed his life. Philippines champion Escaner suffers his second loss but played his part in a great little scrap.
Allen vs. Webster
One of these days Allen will get serious about his career. With the 6?4? Webster having some serious advantages in height and reach Allen had to force the fight and get past the job. He did that consistently and he hustled with success flooring Webster in the third and winning by a large margin on the judge?s scorecards at 98-91 twice and 97-92. The 33-year-old US-based Guyanan has been a pro for 14 years but inactivity in 2016 and 2017 and only one fight last year is no way to conduct a career. Webster, 36, had won his last nine fights with a couple of reasonable level victims but he was never really in the fight here and time is passing him by.
Nelson vs. Romero
Nelson found Mexican Romero tougher than expected but won clearly. Nelson made a slow start with a right to the side of the head knocking him off balance and as both gloves touched the canvas he was given a count. Nelson evened the score by putting Romero down with a couple of body punches in the third. He landed some booming head punches in the fifth and sixth but Romero took them and did not fold making Nelson fight all the way. Scores 59-54 twice and 58-54 for Nelson. The 30-year-old local boxer, a friend and stable mate of Terrence Crawford, is making good progress. Before turning pro he was US Army and Armed Forces champion, won the US National title and registered a win over Rob Brant. He travelled to London in 2012 as a first reserve for the US Team but did not get to fight. Romero has lost eight of his last nine fights
Muwendo vs. Herrera
Ugandan-born Muwendo puts a second brick in the wall of his rehabilitation with unanimous decision over US-based Colombian Herrera. Muwendo bossed the fight but with Herrera having scored 18 wins by KO/TKO including seven first round finishes he had to take care. Herrera was occasionally dangerous without ever winning a round. All three judges had Muwendo in front 60-54. Second win for Muwendo since losing to 19-1Filipino John Moralde in May. Muwendo had just one fight in Uganda before relocating to Minneapolis in 2009. Herrera is 2-4 in his last six fights including a one round loss against Dejan Zlaticanin in 2017.
Howard vs. Olivas
Howard holds on to his unbeaten record but only just as Olivas staged a strong finish. Howard had scored seven first round win but that never looked on the cards here as Olivas had never lost inside the distance. Howard looked on his way to a win early as he was getting past the jab of the 6?2? Olivas and working well inside. He was paying a price for his success as over the later rounds he was handicapped by cuts as Olivas came on strong to make the fight a very close call. The scores were 79-73 and 77-75 for Howard and 77-75 for Olivas giving Howard the split decision. Reality check for Howard against his toughest opponent so far. Mexican Olivas suffers his second loss in a row have been outpointed by Bilal Akkawy in September.

February 16

Los Angeles, CA, USA: Feather: Leo Santa Cruz (36-1-1) W PTS 12 Rafael Rivera (26-3-2,1ND). Light Fly: DeeJay Kriel (15-1-1) W TKO 12 Carlos Licona (14-1). Bantam: Ryosuke Iwasa (26-3) W TEC DEC 9 Cesar Juarez (23-7). Welter: Omar Figueroa (28-0-1) W PTS 10 John Molina (30-8). Feather: Marlon Tapales (32-2) W RTD 5 Fernando Vargas (34-14-3). Middle: Hugo Centeno (27-2,1ND) W TEC DEC 4 Oscar Cortes (27-4).
Santa Cruz vs. Rivera
Three division champion Santa Cruz outclasses Rivera in a one-sided contests and retains the WBA title in his third defence.
Round 1
A close opening round. Santa Cruz had the longer reach and was stabbing his jab out. Rivera was on the back foot and was quick to counter if Santa Cruz came up short. There was not a lot between them but just before the bell Rivera connected with some strong hooks and took the round.
Score: 10-9 Rivera
Round 2
Santa Cruz was landed some heavy left hooks to the body and was quicker and more accurate inside. Santa Cruz was scoring with right uppercuts and when Rivera tried to fight in close he was having to soak some crisp shots with Santa Cruz blocking Rivera?s efforts.
Score: 10-9 Santa Cruz ` Tied 19-19
Round 3
Santa Cruz dominated this one but Rivera fought hard firing bunches of hooks. Santa Cruz was able to slot home his jab at distance and was doubling up on his left hooks. At the bell they were standing in front of each other just pitching hooks and uppercuts.
Score: 10-9 Santa Cruz Santa Cruz 29-28
Round 4
For the first half of this round Santa Cruz boxed at distance sliding jabs through Rivera?s defence and planting left hooks to the body. Rivera tried rushing attacks to get inside and landed some useful hooks but Santa Cruz was snappier and more accurate.
Score: 10-9 Santa Cruz Santa Cruz 39-37
Round 5
Santa Cruz boxed his way through this one. He was able to reach Rivera time and again with the jab and quick hooks. Rivera was fighting in burst waiting to draw Santa Cruz?s lead and then jump in firing hooks but he was becoming predictable and wild with his attacks.
Score: 10-9 Santa Cruz Santa Cruz 49-46
Round 6
Easily Santa Cruz?s round. Rivera hardly launched an attack or threw a punch. Santa Cruz was able to pick and place his punches jabs, straight rights, left hooks with Rivera throwing very little in return.
Score: 10-9 Santa Cruz Santa Cruz 59-55
Round 7
It was difficult to, understand Rivera?s tactics. In the early rounds if Santa Cruz was short with a jab Rivera would lunge forward throwing hooks now he was letting those chances go begging. Santa Cruz was comfortably coming forward behind his jab and bouncing punches off Rivera who was hardly ever throwing a counter. Easy for Santa Cruz.
Score: 10-9 Santa Cruz Santa Cruz 69-64

Leo Santa Cruz (L) jabs at Rafael Rivera.

Round 8
A walk in the park for Santa Cruz. After trying to out jab Santa Cruz when that didn?t work Rivera went onto the back foot allowing Santa Cruz to land punches on him with his longer reach and connect with rights to the head. Rivera threw a few hooks but other than that it was Santa Cruz doing the work and the scoring.
Score: 10-9 Santa Cruz Santa Cruz 79-73
Round 9
Rivera was a bit more competitive in this round. He was once again throwing lots of hooks and uppercuts. Most were being blocked but at least he was throwing them. Santa Cruz worked steadily throughout the round scoring with more and better punches.
Score: 10-9 Santa Cruz Santa Cruz 89-82
Round 10
Rivera showed a bit more life in the tenth round. He threw bunches of hooks and uppercuts but most of them were wild or were blocked. Santa Cruz had not yet had to move out of second gear and worked steadily with his jab, right cross and left hooks to the body.
Score: 10-9 Santa Cruz Santa Cruz 99-91
Round 11
There was no heat left in this fight. Santa Crux just kept doing what he had been doing. Jab, jab, straight right, left hook and then start all over again. Rivera launched a wild attack late in the round-as he had been trying to do in most rounds, but he was embarrassingly ineffective and as he slaps with his right no real danger and an easy target for Santa Cruz?s counters.
Score: 10-9 Santa Cruz Santa Cruz 109-100
Round 12
Rivera tried some rushing attacks but Santa Cruz was able to block or dodge his punches and connect with accurate jabs and hooks. Over the last twenty seconds they both put their heads down and just threw punches in a frantic finish which did not erase the memory of eleven one-sided and pedestrian rounds.
Score: 10-9 Santa Cruz Santa Cruz 119-109
Official Scores: 119-109, for Santa Cruz from all three judges.
Too easy for Santa Cruz for whom it was just another uneventful day at work. He never seemed fired up and despite his dominance he never had Rivera hurt or shaken. He had to adjust to a late change of opponent and was not as sharp as usual. There are tougher fights awaiting him with Santa Cruz interestingly floating the idea of a third fight with Carl Frampton. In fairness to Mexican Rivera he was a late replacement for the injured Abner Mares and was parachuted into the ratings to give a cloak of legality to this challenge. His best win was a split decision over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr in 2015 and he lost a wide decision to Joseph Diaz in 2017 and a split decision to unbeaten Joet Gonzalez in July last year.
Kriel vs. Licona
I though this fight was coming too early in Kriel?s career but balancing that was the fact that although the champion Licona was also a relative newcomer to the title scene. In the end the South African came from behind-eight points on two cards- to score a dramatic late stoppage and lift Licona?s IBF title.
Round 1
Good early work from Kriel as he had his jab on target and was followed through with straight rights. He was also moving well changing angles and although Licona connected with a couple of rights it was Kriel?s round
Score: 10-9 Kriel
Round 2
A better round for Licona. He had his own jab working, was slipping Kriel?s rights and countering. Kriel was keeping busy but it was Licona?s round.
Score: 10-9 Licona Tied 19-19
Round 3
Kriel outworked Licona in the third. He was still firing jabs but was mixing in left hooks to the body and straight rights. Licona connected with a couple of overhand rights and a left hook just before the bell but was not doing enough and Kriel?s movement was making Licona look slow.
Score: 10-9 Kriel Kriel 29-28
Round 4
Licona had a better round but it was still Kriel?s. The South African?s footwork and hand speed were giving him the edge. He was changing angles and picking his punches intelligently. Licona scored with heavy rights but not enough of them.
Score: 10-9 Kriel Kriel 39-37
Official Scores: Judge Rudy Barragan 38-38, Judge Pat Russell 39-37 Licona, Judge Daniel Sandoval 39-37 Licona
Round 5
Licona?s round. He put Kriel under more pressure and was throwing more punches. He was landing left hooks to the body and clubbing rights. Kriel was throwing plenty but now Licona was ducking under Kriel?s punches and coming back with shots of his own
Score: 10-9 Licona Kriel 48-47
Round 6
Another round for Licona. He was getting forward and letting his hands go. He was landing heavy rights to the head and working the body. Kriel was still busy busy and finding gaps but the eye-catching punches were coming from Licona.
Score: 10-9 Licona Tied 57-57
Round 7
Kriel upped his pace and threw plenty of punchers. Licona was using clever upper body movement to slip Kriel?s pinches and was countering better scoring with thumping body punches and rights to the head and just took the round.
Score: 10-9 Licona Licona 67-66
Round 8
This was proving to be a fast-paced open fight with plenty of both attacking and defensive skill on show. Initially Kriel tried to stand and exchange with Licona but eventually went back to boxing outside. Both threw plenty but Licona?s punches were heavier.
Score: 10-9 Licona Licona 77-75
Official Scores: Barragan 77-75 Licona, Russell 79-73 Licona, Sandoval 79-73 Licona.
Round 9
Not a good round for Kriel. His accuracy had been key earlier but now by the simple manoeuvre of ducking Licona seemed to have negated that edge. Whilst Kriel was swishing air above Licona?s head Licona was moving in and landing left hooks and straight rights to the head and looked to be taking the fight over.
Score: 10-9 Licona Licona 87-84
Round 10
Kriel needed to change things and he did. He was now getting in close and going to the body with hooks and uppercuts. Licona was still landing the heavier shots but Kriel was making him miss more and was sharper and more accurate.
Score: 10-9 Kriel Licona 96-94
Round 11
A quality round as these two swapped punches with hardly a punch wasted they were both quick and accurate with very little between them but I felt that Licona?s overhand rights gave him the edge.
Score; 10-9 Licona Licona 106-103Round 12
Licona was coming forward just letting fly. Kriel was punching with him but in a more controlled manner and Licona was walking onto rights to the head. Kriel kept landing and Licona started to falter under the hail of punches. Licona came inside and tried to hold on but when the referee parted them two rights to the head dropped Licona to his hands and knees. Licona was up at eight and grabbed Kriel who wrestled him off. Licona went down but it was not a knockdown and he climbed up. Kriel landed two thudding rights to the head and Licona went down again. He made it to his feet but was unsteady and when the action restarted two more punches from Kriel saw Licona drop to his knees and the referee waived the fight over. A tearful Kriel celebrated his victory. Licona was given extensive medical attention before being taken from the ring on a stretcher. No information on his condition as I write
Iwasa vs. Juarez
Iwasa wins IBF eliminator after a brutal battle. Southpaw Iwasa was on the target in the first scoring with straight lefts. Juarez was mostly on the back foot looking to draw Iwasa?s jab and then fight inside. Juarez launched a storming attack at the end of the first but was just swinging wildly and their heads clashed with both fighters cut. Iwasa was picking Juarez off from distance in the second with Juarez flying forward just pumping out punches and leaving himself wide open to counters. The sheer volume of punches from Juarez threatened to overwhelm Iwasa in the third but Iwasa was able to find some space in the fourth and fifth and score with counters with Juarez continuing to swing long bursts of wild punches. Juarez?s cut was examined by the doctor and the referee also checked on it. Iwasa was picking Juarez off with accurate shots at distance at the start the sixth but before the bell in he was trapped on the ropes with Juarez swinging punches?. With his wide open approach Juarez was soaking up a lot of punishment but kept coming. Iwasa drove Juarez back in the seventh landing punch after punch. It looked as though Juarez was finished as Iwasa bounced his head around with punches. After the bell the referee walked Juarez over to the doctor for another examination of the cut. Iwasa handed out a savage beating to Juarez in the eighth and ninth but a tiring Juarez refused to fold but kept coming forward wide open but pumping out punchers. Iwasa was forcing an exhausted Juarez back in the tenth. Juarez had nothing left but heart and he had a big one and just before the bell they just pounded away on each other. At the end of the round the doctor ruled that Juarez?s cut was too severe for him to continue so the fight was stopped and it went to the score cards which read 98-92 and 97-93 for Iwasa and 95-95 with Iwasa the winner on a majority decision. Savage doesn?t even begin to describe this fight. Former IBF super bantam champion Iwasa will now move into the mandatory challenger position to champion T J Doheny. Juarez had been stopped by Isaac Dogboe in a fight for the interim WBO title in January last year and now he should take a very long rest.
Figueroa vs. Molina
Figueroa decisions veteran Molina a gruelling but entertaining battle of attrition. Figueroa came out boxing as a southpaw in the first and Molina took some time to adjust. Figueroa did most of the scoring early in the round but after Figueroa switched to orthodox Molina did better and was dangerous with rights. In the second round it was Figueroa who was connecting with rights and he took the round. Figueroa was back to southpaw in the third and continued to switch throughout the fight. He was forcing Molina onto the back foot and ducking around Molina?s jab to work inside. They both landed with hooks inside and Molina trapped Figueroa on the ropes and bombarded him with punches to the bell. The fourth and fifth saw them brawling in closer. Figueroa connected with some heavy rights in the fourth as he kept Molina on the back foot but Molina was the one scoring with rights in the fifth. Molina came out ahead in the exchanges in the sixth but the rounds were close. It really was brutal no quarter stuff. In the seventh. The taller Molina did well when he could find space to use his jab but Figueroa was outscoring him inside. The eighth was a gruelling trial of strength and Figueroa was the one landing most and looking the stronger. Molina was moving around Figueroa using his jab at the start of the ninth and he stuck to that with Figueroa struggling to get inside. Molina was again trying to work at distance with his jab in the last and did well early with Figueroa closing the distance late in the round. Scores 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93 all for Figueroa. He landed more punches but the fight looked a lot closer than those scores. Texan Figueroa, 29, a former undefeated WBC light champion, looked very heavy in this fight. He was inactive in 2016 and had just one fight in 2017 and this was his first fight in nineteen months as a result he has a relatively low profile for a guy who had beaten Ricky Burns, Antonio DeMarco and Robert Guerrero in his last three fights but that will change with more activity. Molina, 36, has been in quite a few wars. This was his first fight since beating Ivan Redkach in December 2017 and I wonder how many more times he can go to the well.

Tapales (L, partly hidden) drops Vargas.

Tapales vs. Vargas
Filipino Tapales signals his return to the big fight scene with stoppage of Vargas. The former WBO bantam champion outboxed and then finished Vargas in five rounds. Tapales used his southpaw jab and some wicked lefts to the body to soften Vargas up and then late on in the fifth he floored Vargas with a right hook. Vargas made it to his feet but was unsteady on his legs and his corner pulled him out at the end of the round. Tapales won the WBO title in a dramatic battle against champion Pungluang in 2016 climbing off the floor twice in the fifth and going on to kayo Pungluang in the eleventh. He was to defend his title in 2017 against previous victim Shohei Omori. He stopped Shohei in the eleventh round but lost the title for not making the weight. He was then inactive for seventeen months before returning last September with a first round win. Still only 26 he is aiming for a title shot at featherweight now. Vargas was stopped in nine rounds by Jamie McDonnell in a challenge for the secondary WBA title in 2016 and last year was beaten inside a round by Ryan Garcia
Centeno vs. Cortes
Centeno gets technical decision over Cortes. Centeno already looked on his way to a points victory before the fight was stopped due to a cut suffered by Cortes. After winning the first three rounds Centeno floored Cortes in the fourth. Cortes beat the count but was cut over his right eye in a clash of heads. The cut was too severe for Cortes to continue so as the fourth round had started it was decided on the score cards with the fourth round being scored on the activity up to the stoppage. Centeno won by 40-35 on all three cards. It has been a bit of a switchback ride for Centeno over the past couple of years. He lost to unbeaten Pole Maciej Sulecki in 20167, beat Immanuwel Aleem in 2017 then lost in three rounds to Jermall Charlo for the interim WBC title in April last year and this is his first fight since then. Mexican Cortes losses whenever he meets genuine opposition.

February 15

Mulvane, KS, USA: Super Bantam: Thomas Patrick Ward (26-0) W PTS 10 Jesse Hernandez (12-2,1ND). Super Light: Shohjahon Ergashev (16-0) W PTS 10 Mykal Fox (19-1). Heavy: Apti Davtaev (16-0-1) W TKO 1 Richard Carmack (15-15-1). Super Light: Bakhtiyar Eyubov (14-0-1,1ND) DREW 8 Jose Rodriguez (25-12-1). Fly: Nico Hernandez (6-0) W Victor Trejo (16-9-1).
Ward vs. Hernandez
Ward puts on impressive show in his first fight in the USA as he floors and outpoints southpaw Hernandez. Initially Ward was content to showcase his slick skills and outbox Hernandez. Ward?s movement was making it hard for Hernandez to get into the fight. In the fourth a sharp left hook floored Hernandez and he was still shaky when he made it to his feet but was saved by the bell. Ward upped his pace over the second half of the fight and although Hernandez did his best to be competitive the referee twice warned Hernandez that he was concerned over the amount of punishment he was taking but let the fight run its course. Scores 100-89, 99-90 and 98-90 all for Ward. The 24-year-old former undefeated British champion wins the vacant NABA-USA title and is No 4 with the WBO. For Hernandez Ward was too big a step up.
Ergashev vs. Fox
Big puncher Ergashev has to go the distance for a win against unbeaten Fox. It took a few rounds for Ergashev to figure out how to Handle Fox who is 6?3 ?? and a fellow southpaw. Ergashev kept rolling forward looking to get inside and attack the body. Fox was scoring well at distance and looking to tie Ergashev up inside. After a fast start the fight cooled down with Ergashev building a good lead. Fox boxed well doing a fine job of handling the aggression of Ergashev but neither fighter was busy enough to make the fight entertaining. Many rounds were close but Ergashev did the cleaner work and looked a good winner. Scores 98-92 twice and 96-94 for Ergashev. The 27-year-old Uzbek had scored 14 wins in his previous 15 fights and had knocked out Argentinian Nazareno Ruiz in 18 seconds in December but Fox was his sternest test so far. Ergashev is rated WBA 6/IBF 11(9) which is too high as he has yet to meet a rated fighter. Big setback for Fox and his lack of power will restrict how far he can go.
Davtaev vs. Carmack
Davtaev disposes of Carmack inside a round. The 6?5? Russian put Carmack down and out with a heavy right late in the opening round. The Chechnyan fighter makes it 15 wins by KO/TKO. He trains at the Kronk Gym. Carmack, 6?2?, is now 0-8-1 in his last nine fights with all 8 losses inside three rounds.
Eyubov vs. Rodriguez
Eyubov?s 100% record goes as he fights a draw with more experienced Rodriguez. It was a case of the higher work rate from Eyubov who took the fight to Rodriguez against the smart movement and more accurate work from Rodriguez. There was never much in it as both fighters had good spells and the rounds were hard to call so the majority draw looked about right. Score 76-76 twice and 77-75 for Rodriguez. Eyubov had scored useful wins over Jared Robinson and Karim Mayfield but he also has seven first round wins so some of his opposition has been poor. Mexican Rodriguez had gone the distance with Jose Pedraza and Sharif Bogere.
Hernandez vs. Garcia
Local hero Hernandez gets eight rounds of useful work against little Trejo. Although only 5?4? tall Hernandez almost towered over diminutive southpaw Trejo. He was scoring with his rights at distance and landing solid hooks inside. Trejo stuck to his job always firing back but having to absorb lots of punishment. Hernandez tried to end this over the middle rounds but Trejo never looked like folding and stayed there fighting to the end. Scores 80-72 twice and 79-73 for Hernandez. The 23-year-old from Wichita was US Youth and National Golden Gloves champion and took a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics. Fourth loss in his last five fights for Trejo.

Ghent, Belgium: Welter: Meriton Karaxha (23-5-2) W PTS 10 Jean Pierre Habimana (9-16-3). Routine win for Karaxha. He had height and reach over Rwandan Habimana and was on the front foot for most of the ten rounds and Habimana was never able to get out of the way of Karaxha?s jab. When Habimana did come forward he lacked the power to trouble Karaxha. A right cross had Habimana in trouble in the seventh but Karaxha let him off the hook. Karaxha scored with a left to the body and some rights to the head later in the round but Habimana survived. Scores 99-91 twice and 98-92 all for Karaxha who retains the WBFederation International title. . The 27-year-old Albanian-born Karaxha is 12-1-1 in his last 14 fights. Four losses in a row for Habimana who has only the most basic of techniques.
Hammanskraal, South Africa: Super Feather: Sibusiso Zingange (13-3-2,1ND) W PTS 12 Nataneal Sebastian (10-2). Feather: Jeff Magagane (11-3) W PTS 12 Tello Dithebe (20-11).
Zingange vs. Sebastian
Zingange wins the vacant WBA Pan African title with split verdict over Namibian Sebastian. Although Zingange took the first round the strong attacks of Sebastian in the second had Zingange under lots of pressure and he was deducted a point for holding. Sebastian had a good third but the middle rounds were close. Zingange came on strong and took the ninth and tenth to edge ahead but Sebastian came back strongly in the eleventh. Zingange outboxed Sebastian in the last to just deserve the verdict. Scores 117-110 and 116-111 for Zingange and 115-112 for Sebastian. The South African No 1 collected the ABU title last near. ?Iron Fists? Sebastian suffered his only loss when he was defeated on points by unbeaten Muhamad Ridhwan in Singapore in 2017.
Magagane vs. Dithebe
Southpaw Magagane collects the vacant WBA Pan African title with split decision over fellow-South African Dithebe. Magagane made good use of longer reach to go in front but Dithebe came into the fight more over the middle rounds and quickly evened things up. It remained close over the last three rounds but Magagane just did enough to get back in front and held off a strong finish from Dithebe to collect the decision. Scores 116-112, 115-113 for Magagane and 117-111 for Dithebe. A former two-time South African amateur champion Magagane dropped down two divisions to challenge for this title having lost for the WBA pan African lightweight title in 2017. ?King Razor? Dithebe has lost 5 of his last 6 fights but four of those losses were in title fights.

Oviedo. Spain: Welter: Aitor Nieto (24-6-1) W PTS 10 Hamza Misaui (9-2). Middle: Sergio Fernandez (8-0-1) W PTS 10 Jose Fandino (13-5). Super Light: Jonathan Alonso (18-0) W TKO 8 Ruben Garcia (5-6-2).
Nieto vs. Misaui
Nieto holds on to the Spanish title with unanimous decision over Misaui. Fighting in his home town Nieto made a slow start but gradually took control outboxing his inexperienced challenger. With his lack of experience it was expected that Misaui might fade over the late rounds and Nieto was looking to end it inside the distance but Misaui fought hard over the eighth and ninth and Nieto had to settle for a points win. Two judges had Nieto winning clearly 99-91 and 98-92 but the third had it close at 96-94. Nieto, 35. Is No 14 with the EU and will be hoping to get another shot at the EU title having lost in two previous challenges. Moroccan Misaui had won his last three fights.
Fernandez vs. Fandino
In a battle of two local fighters Fernandez wins the vacant Spanish title with a split decision over Fandino. Using his longer reach Fernandez built a lead over the first four rounds only for Fernando to cancel out that advantage over the next four. That left it down to the last two rounds and Fernandez just did enough to convince the judges. Scores a surprising 98-92 and 96-94 for Fernandez and 96-94 for Fandino. Fernandez was in his first ten round fight and faded a bit. The more experienced Fandino lost tough fights against Ronny Landaeta and Esquiva Falcao in 2017 but had two low level wins last year.
Alonso vs. Garcia
Dominican-born Alonso is one of the coming stars of Spanish boxing. He halted Garcia here to retain the Spanish title. Alonso made a blazing start dominating the first round and then putting Garcia down in the second. Garcia beat the count and Alonso seemed to go, off the boil. Over the next three rounds the action slowed with too much holding. Alonso came back to, life in the sixth handed out punishment and put Garcia down in the seventh. Garcia made it to the vertical but the referee halted the contest. Seventh win by KO/TKO for Alonso. The 28-year-old Alonso had 95 amateur fights and only 11 losses. He was Spanish champion, competed at the World Championships in 2011 at the Olympic Games in 2012 and the Europe Championships in 2013. Fourth loss inside the distance for Garcia.

February 16

Roeselare, Belgium: Cruiser: Yves Ngabu (20-0) W PTS 12 Micki Nielsen (25-2). Even fighting in front of his home town fans this looked a tough European title defence for Ngabu on paper but in the end he was a clear winner on a unanimous decision. Nielsen let the fight get away from him with a slow start. The champion was getting inside the tall Dane's jab and banging to the body with hooks and uppercuts. There was already blood coming from Nielsen?s nose in the second round and he was holding inside to try to stifle Ngabu?s work. Ngabu continued to collect the rounds as he connected with some damaging uppercuts in the fourth and with Nielsen looking to be rocked by and uppercut in the fifth. The fight was almost half over before Nielsen finally began to make better use of his jab. He worked hard over the seventh and eighth as Ngabu?s work rate slowed. Any though that Nielsen was turning the fight his way were dispelled in the ninth with Ngabu again using hurtful hooks and uppercuts to take the round and he outscored Nielsen in the tenth. The Dane put in a big effort in the eleventh and forced the fight in the last but Ngabu boxed skilfully on the back foot finding gaps for counters. Scores 117-111 twice and 117-112 for Ngabu. Second defence for Ngabu who gets his mandatory out of the way. Many of the top European cruisers are tied into the WSSB tournament or are looking to step into a title fight when Olek Usyk decides to move up to heavyweight. So far Ngabu has not cracked the world ratings so that may be his next target. Meanwhile he will continue to give his management palpitations by playing football for one of the teams in the Belgian provincial league. Nielsen, who will be 26 this month, was beaten by Kevin Lerena on majority decision in 2016 and dropped out of the ratings. He had been largely inactive and this was his first fight for 13 months. He will need to busier if he is to shake off this loss.

Herstal, Belgium: Light: Francesco Patera (21-3) W PTS 12 Marvin Petit (24-2-1). Belgian Patera wins against Frenchman Petit in yet another close, hard fought EBU title contest. Petit had won his last eleven fights and made a confidently start. He forced the fight with the champion on the back foot but boxing with his well recognised skill for countering with precise and accurate punches. Petit?s determined aggression was giving him the edge as he landed hooks and uppercuts. It was the fourth when Patera began to take control. He is not a big puncher but rarely wastes a punch and is adept at slotting his punches into gaps and keeping a high work rate. Petit connected with a strong right in the fifth but Patera absorbed it and kept firing his jabs and straight rights. Petit had expended a lot of energy over the early rounds and he seemed to tire over the middle rounds. Petit got back into the fight but was being outlanded by Patera who has great stamina. Petit kept firing and as they traded punches over the last two rounds it was obviously going to be very close but Patera was a deserving winner. Scores 115-113 twice and an unkind 117-112 all for Patera. This is the first defence of the European title for Patera in his second spell as champion. He showed his quality when going into Lewis Ritson?s back yard in defensive of his title in October and winning against the in form Englishman much more widely that the split decision indicates. At 25 he is still improving. The lightweight division in Europe is full of talented fighters. A return with Petit would be an attraction but there is a suggestion that Patera may look towards the IBO title. Petit, 27, a former French and European Union champion, will hope to get that return. His only other loss came back in 2013 against Yvon Mendy for the French title. It was a unanimous decision but two of the judges had it 96-94

Koblenz, Germany: Super Welter: Abass Baraou (5-0) W PTS 12 Carlos Molina (29-11). Super Welter: Jama Saidi (15-0) W PTS 12 Arman Torosyan (19-6-1). Light Heavy: Leon Bunn (13-0) W PTS 10 Viktor Polyakov (13-6-1). Super Light: Anthony Yigit (22-1-1) W PTS 8 Mohamed Khalladi (10-8-1,1ND).
Baraou vs. Molina
Baraou wins the vacant WBC International title with unanimous decision over experienced former champion Molina. The rounds were close with Baraou making the better start but Molina being competitive all the way. Baraou rocked Molina with a left hook but Molina was finding gaps for counters. Baraou had a strong sixth connecting with a succession of punches but Molina came back in the seventh and eighth. Baraou again scored well in the ninth and being under pressure in the tenth Molina tried the referee?s patience once too often. He had been given a final warning in the ninth for being careless with his head and was rightly deducted a point when he sinned again. Baraou tired over the last two rounds with Molina finishing strongly to make close. Scores 115-112 twice and a much too wide118-109 all for Baraou. The 24-year German has the talent to make rapid progress and this will have been a useful learning fight. Former IBF super welter champion Molina, 35, is filling the role of teacher to rising prospects now having also lost recently to Carlos Adames, Josh Kelly and Souleymane Cissokho.
Saidi vs. Torosyan
Saidi predictably outpoints Torosyan in a one-sided defence of IBF European title. There was very little action in the first round but things looked promising when Saidi dropped Torosyan with an uppercut in the second. He was unable to finish things and Torosyan made it to the bell. Saidi dominated the fight from there. Torosyan had a couple of good rounds but other than that there were few highlights as Saidi worked his way to victory. Scores 118-109 twice and 120-107 for Saidi. Third defence of the IBF European title for Saidi. He had beaten Torosyan in 2018 by 11 points on two cards and 8 on the other. The difference between the EBU title fights and the IBF, WBA and WBO European title fights is that the promoter can pick his own opponent for the IBF, WBA and WBO fights-they nominate no mandatory challengers- so his guy should always win. Saidi, 25, is a former German K-1 martial arts champion who turned to pro boxing at 17. His biggest win so far is over former EBU title challenger Sasha Yengoyan. Armenian Torosyan, 35, was stopped in four rounds by Martin Murray in 2017 and this was his first fight since losing to Saidi 11 months ago.
Bunn vs. Polyakov
Bunn continues on his winning way with unanimous verdict over Polyakov. Comfortable win for Bunn. He worked well behind his jab constantly getting past Polyakov?s guard and Polyakov?s face was bright red from the punishment by the second round. It was a slow-paced fight with few highlights. Polyakov showed aggression a couple of times coming forward and throwing punches but generally he was on the back foot on the end of Bunn?s jab. Despite his dominance Bunn never really had Polyakov in any distress as he boxed his way to his sixth points win in his last seven fights. Scores 98-92 twice and 97-93 for Bunn. The 26-year-old Bunn has good skills but seems a bit one-paced. He has been conservatively matched but needs to take a step up soon. Polyakov on the other hand has been in tough matches and this is his fifth loss in a row. He has some good performance on his record with a win over 26-2-2 Dariusz Sek and over Giovanni De Carolis, a former holder of the WBA secondary middleweight title.
Yigit vs. Khalladi
Former European champion Yigit eases himself back into action with an eight round decision over Italian-based Tunisian Khalladi but injuries may cause another break. Yigit?s hand speed gave him a big edge and he was connecting with some sharp southpaw left counters and getting away. Khalladi keep pressing but by the fourth his frustration with clever body movement from Yigit had him relying on wild swings. Khalladi is strong and tough but crude and Yigit was finding him an easy target. In the sixth as Khalladi dived forward Yigit side-stepped and threw a punch. Their feet also got mixed and Khalladi dropped forward and was given what looked a harsh count. Yigit stepped up the pace in the fifth and scored a knockdown in the sixth. There was plenty of roughhouse stuff from both boxers in the seventh. Khalladi had often been leading with his head when he charged forward and as their heads banged together a cut was opened over Yigit?s left eye. The Swede avoided any further injury and worked his way to the win. Scorers 80-71, 79-74 and 78-73 for Yigit. This was his first fight since losing to Ivan Baranchyk for the vacant IBF title in a WSSB Tournament fight in October. Apart from the cut Yigit also injured his hands so a win but a pyrrhic victory for Yigit. Khalladi was tough perhaps tougher than Yigit needed for his return. The Tunisian has yet to lose inside the distance.

Manila, Philippines: Feather: Dave Penalosa (15-0) W TKO 4 Marcos Cardenas (19-7-1). Bantam: John Riel Casimero (26-4) W TKO 6 Kenya Yamashita (13-5). Fly: Carlo Caesar Penalosa (14-1) W KO 3 Watana Phenbaan (18-6). Bantam: Carl Martin (12-0) W RTD 3 Petchchorhae (17-3).
Penalosa vs. Cardenas
A good night for the Penalosa clan as Dave and Carlo Caesar score inside the distance wins on a show promoted by former WBC super fly and WBO bantam champion Gerry. Dave struggled to make the weight for this fight but overcame that and halted Mexican Cardenas in the fourth round The tall skinny Cardenas had height and reach on his side but no real power. Penalosa rocked him in the first with a right to the head. Cardenas recovered quickly and was scoring with some accurate rights later in the round. Cardenas boxed around Penalosa in the second he was busier and Penalosa could not find the range with his jab. A lively third round saw both landing some hard punches as Penalosa managed to get close and force Cardenas to stand and trade. Penalosa was looking flat-footed and slow in the fourth and a right from Cardenas made Penalosa stumble. Penalosa quickly recovered and took the fight to Cardenas landing a right to the body and a left to the head. Cardenas took a couple of steps back and then went down on one knee. Cardenas was up at nine but did not have enough experience to hold and Penalosa drove home lefts and rights to the head before dropping C?rdenas with another body punch. Once again Cardenas was up at nine but when another body punch put him down the referee waived the fight off. Penalosa 28, the Philippines No 1, wins the WBO Oriental title with his eleventh victory by KO/TKO. After being inactive in 2017 Penalosa scored two moderate level wins last year and is aiming for a title shot. The Penalosa clan is a true boxing family. Dave is Grandson of former Philippines champion Carl Penalosa, the son former world champion Dodie, the nephew of both former world champion Gerry and former pro boxer Jonathan and younger brother of pro Dodie Jr. There are seven former/current fighters in the family including Carlo Cesar who fought on this same show. Cardenas had won five of his last six fights.
Casimero vs. Yamashita
Casimero returns and is looking to win yet another world title to make himself a three-division champion. He was several classes above a game Yamashita and was connecting with some savage punches from the opening round. He continued to rake Yamashita with searing body punches in the second and third and almost ended the fight with a fierce uppercut in the fourth. After a painful time for Yamashita in the fifth the referee visited the Japanese fighter?s corner but they insisted their man was capable of continuing. Casimero did not even bother to lift his gloves in the sixth but walked forward with his arms hanging at his sides slipping and sliding under Yamashita?s punches. Suddenly Casimero connected with a ferocious uppercut that mashed Yamashita?s nose and had the Japanese fighter slumping to the canvas. He was very badly hurt and almost fell, of his stool a couple of times as he was being attended to. Former IBF light fly and flyweight champion Casimero suffered an upset defeat against Jonas Sultan in 2017 and then took 10 months out before returning with a low level win in July now he will be looking to work his way into a shot at a version of the bantamweight title. Yamashita was moving up to ten rounds for the first time and found it a very painful experience.
Penalosa vs. Phenbaan
Another member of the Penalosa family in the ring and another win. ?Too Sharp? Carlo Caesar had Thai Phenbaan under fire over the first two rounds and then ended the in the fight in the third with a crunching right hook to the body that had Phenbaan on the floor in agony and unable to beat the count. The 25-year-old southpaw, the Philippines No 2, has won his last seven fights with five of those wins inside the distance. Fifth loss by KO/TKO for Phenbaan
Martin vs. Petchchorhae
Filipino hope ?Wonder Boy? Martin was much too quick and polished for more experienced Thai Petchchorhae. He showed some clever movement and good hand speed. Petchchorhae went over in the first and was given a count although it looked as though he had gone down trying to evade a punch rather than from one but the local southpaw was landing some scorching body punchers. Petchchorhae really was poor despite his record. He had very little foot work and was too slow. Martin worked him over with body punches in the second and third before flooring Petchchorhae just before the bell and Petchchorhae decided not to come out for the fourth. The 19-year-old Martin has been drawing rave notice in the Philippines and is considered by some to be the best prospect in the islands. This is his eighth win on the trot by KO/TKOL and his eleventh in total. Make a note of the name! Second inside the distance loss in a row for Petchchorhae

Mackay, Australia: Super Light: Liam Paro (16-0) W PTS 10 Massimiliano Ballisai (22-6). Welter: Tysinn Best (10-0) W TKO 4 Dillon Bargero (5-7).
Paro vs. Ballisai
Paro comprehensively outboxes Italian visitor Ballisai but it will be some time before he fights again. The local southpaw broke both hands early on the fight and fought the rest of the way in considerable pain but won every round as the 100-90 score cards from the judges show. The former undefeated Australian champion is No 4 with the WBO (for beating Czech novice 11-0-1 Sebastian Bytyqi for a Regional title) and is hoping to work his way to a title shot once he recovers from the injuries. Italian champion Ballisai is experienced but loses when he tries to step up.
Best vs. Bargero
Fighting in front of his home fans Best much too good for Bargero as he retains the Australian title with a fourth round stoppage. Best had Bargero down in the first and second rounds with the fight being stopped in the fourth. First defence of the title for Best. Bargero, the Australian No 10 suffers his first inside the distance loss.

Montreal, Canada: Welter: David Theroux (15-3) W TKO 6 Jose Alfaro (31-12-1,1ND). Theroux continues to rebuild his stuttering career with a stoppage of former WBA secondary title holder Alfaro. The visitor made the mistake of trying to stand and trade with Theroux over the first three rounds. Theroux was younger and stronger and over the fourth and fifth he began to break Alfaro down. In the sixth with Alfaro fading fast and cut on his left eyelid the bout was stopped. Theroux, the Canadian No 7, came into this fight as a late substitute. His three losses have all been against imported fighters but ones who were a cut above most travelling losers. Nicaraguan Alfaro, 35, had won his last three fights but this is his ninth loss by KO/TKO.

Sint Truiden, France: Super Light: Jessy Petit-Jean (15-0) W KO 5 Nukri Gamgebeli (10-5). Belgian Petit-Jean ended this one early with a second round kayo of Georgian Gamgebeli. The 29-year-old Petit-Jean makes it eight wins by KO/TKO. The former European and World Kickboxing champion is No 8 with the EBU. That looks a bit high on the basis of his of opposition and he has not really been tested. Gamgebeli has yet to win a fight outside of Georgia.

San Pedro Alcantara, Spain: Super Welter: Jorge Fortera (19-1-1) W PTS 10 Navid Mansouri (19-2-2). Spanish champion Fortea gets split decision over Mansouri. Not a great fight in the end but a very close one with Fortea getting the split decision and collecting the IBF Inter-Continental title. Two judges had Fortera winning by three points and the other judge had Mansouri one point ahead. Sixth win on the bounce for Fortea and the first loss in over six years for Mansouri whose team protested the decision.

Fight of the week (Significance): Leo Santa Cruz keeps the way open for some big fights in the featherweights with win over Rafael Rivera
Fight of the week (Entertainment) Two different fights stood out Dee Jay Kriel?s stunning victory over Carlos Licona in a fight full of quality and Omar Figueroa vs. John Molina a good old fashioned donnybrook (how?s that for old fashioned)
Fighter of the week: DeeJay Kriel for his dramatic late win over Carlos Licona
Punch of the week: The body punch from Joshua Greer that ended his fight with Giovanni Escaner but even better was the ferocious uppercut from John Riel Casimero that destroyed Kenya Yamashita
Upset of the week: Other than Kriel?s win nothing spectacular
Prospect watch: My Filipino friends tell me 19-year-old southpaw bantamweight Carl Jammes Martin 12-0 11 wins by KO/TKO could make it big.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eric Armit.

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