Commentary

Montiel mauls Maldonado; match with Mijares on the horizon?

The 115-pound division may not get the attention it deserves. But after Fernando Montiel dismantled Luis Maldonado in three one-sided rounds on Saturday, boxing fans are salivating for an all-Mexican showdown between Montiel and fellow titlist Cristian Mijares.

Originally Published: June 2, 2008
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


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

Saturday at San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Junior bantamweight
Fernando Montiel TKO3 Luis Maldonado
Retains a junior bantamweight title
Records: Montiel, 37-2-1, 28 KOs; Maldonado, 37-3-1, 28 KOs
Rafael's remark: The junior bantamweight division is easily the most underrated weight class in boxing. It boasts unified titleholder and pound-for-pound entrant Cristian Mijares, who looked sensational two weeks ago unifying belts against Alexander Munoz, who is also a quality fighter. There is the technically sound titleholder Dimitri Kirilov, who defends against exciting former flyweight beltholder Vic Darchinyan in August. And don't forget Jorge Arce, the charismatic contender. And then there is Montiel, 29, who made the seventh defense of his second 115-pound title reign with a dominant performance against Mexican countryman Maldonado.

Coming off a similarly dominating fourth-round knockout of former titlist Martin Castillo in February in which he knocked him into retirement, Montiel did as he pleased against the overmatched Maldonado.

Montiel knocked him down with a right-left combination in the first round, knocked him down again in the second round and then put him on the seat of his pants with a cracking right hand in the third. Maldonado showed heart to keep getting up, but he had no chance to survive Montiel's violent follow-up attack in the third round. Maldonado stayed on his feet during the finishing assault, eating numerous shots to the head and body, until referee Raul Caiz Jr. finally intervened.

The loss dropped Maldonado, 30, to 0-3 in title matches. He has also lost a pair of flyweight title challenges, eighth-round knockouts to Nonito Donaire in December 2007 and Darchinyan in June 2006.

It is very clear that Mijares and Montiel are the two best junior bantamweights in the world. Both want a big fight and they are interested in fighting each other. Their showdown is inevitable unless their promoters find a way to screw it up. There is no reason it shouldn't happen and no reason it shouldn't be embraced by a U.S. TV network. It would make a fine Showtime fight and is a perfect headliner for HBO's "Boxing After Dark." And if Versus is serious about its investment in boxing it should look at strong -- and relatively affordable -- fights like this.

Super middleweight
Hector Camacho Jr. KO1 Roel Salinas
Records: Camacho Jr., 46-3-1, 26 KOs; Salinas, 4-4, 1 KO
Rafael's remark: Camacho, weighing a beefy 168 pounds, blew out a stiff as he continues to bide time until his supposed meeting with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. It was Camacho's second win in a month. He is going to need to take off some weight to make that fight a reality, probably at least 14 pounds.

Saturday at Chetumal, Mexico
Featherweight
Oscar Larios TKO5 Feider Viloria
Wins a vacant interim featherweight title
Records: Larios, 61-6-1, 38 KOs; Viloria, 21-3-1, 15 KOs
Rafael's remark: What a sham of a so-called title match, interim or otherwise. Jorge Linares, the outstanding 22-year-old titleholder from Venezuela, was supposed to defend against Colombia's Viloria until withdrawing on short notice because of a shoulder injury. So the WBC wrongly approved Larios to face Viloria for the interim belt. Larios, of course, was brutally destroyed in a 10th-round TKO by Linares in July 2007. The fight left Larios, 31, hospitalized with bleeding on his brain and a permanent suspension in Nevada, meaning he would have a very difficult time ever getting a license anywhere in the United States. But Mexico doesn't care and it licensed Larios, who returned in February to win a decision against a nothing opponent. Now, in his second fight back, Larios was handed a title match, which he won when the bout was stopped during a sudden flurry in the fifth round. Because of the WBC's abysmal open scoring system, scores were revealed after the fourth round; the fight was a split draw going into the fifth. Viloria, who protested the stoppage, has lost two of three and never deserved a title match either. Here's the sick part: Linares is going to have to fight Larios again in a mandatory bout upon his return to action. He'll smoke Larios again. Let's hope he doesn't wind up with another brain bleed, or worse.

Featherweight
Guty Espadas Jr. TKO2 Naoki Matsuda
Title eliminator
Records: Espadas Jr., 42-7, 27 KOs; Matsuda, 28-8-3, 11 KOs
Rafael's remark: This fight boiled down to two punches, both right hands from Espadas, the 33-year-old Mexican who held a featherweight belt from 2000 to 2001 before losing it on points to Erik Morales. Espadas knocked Japan's Matsuda, 31, on his butt with a right hand in the first round and dropped him to his rear end with a much heavier right in the second round. Matsuda got up quickly and seemed to be just fine as he responded to referee Jose Cobian's instructions. Cobian, however, inexplicably stopped the fight in what looked like a terribly premature stoppage. After Espadas was knocked out by Rocky Juarez in the second round in December 2004, he didn't fight again until March 2007. Now, he is 4-0 on his comeback and, with this victory, in line to challenge Jorge Linares for a title. Espadas' win is a mild upset. Matsuda was coming off a no contest (although he deserved a victory) against former titlist Rodolfo Lopez, whom he also owns a win against.

Saturday at Dusseldorf , Germany
Bantamweight
Anselmo Moreno W12 Wladimir Sidorenko
Wins a bantamweight title
Scores: 116-113, 116-112 and 116-112
Records: Moreno, 22-1-1, 8 KOs; Sidorenko, 21-1-2, 7 KOs
Rafael's remark: Moreno, 22, of Panama, did what is so difficult for fighters to do: travel to Germany and win a decision against the favored hometown fighter. But that's what Moreno did in pulling the upset. Whether it was Moreno's southpaw stance or his height advantage, Moreno outboxed Sidorenko, 31, who failed to hang onto his belt in his seventh defense. Moreno became his mandatory challenger with a surprising first-round TKO of perennial contender Ricardo "Chapo" Vargas in August 2007.

Friday at Monroeville, Pa.
Junior lightweight
Monty Meza-Clay KO1 Omar Lizarraga
Records: Meza-Clay, 28-1, 19 KOs; Lizarraga, 16-5-1, 12 KOs
Rafael's remark: If you blinked, you probably missed the Telefutura main event as Meza-Clay smoked Lizarraga in 91 seconds. They engaged quickly and looked like they were on the way to an entertaining fight when Meza-Clay, 27, caught Lizarraga with a left hook to the body that sent him crashing down. Lizarraga was on one knee and took the full count before suddenly popping up a moment too late. How convenient. The win keeps Meza-Clay in line for a shot at featherweight titlist Steven Luevano, who defends first against Mario Santiago on the June 28 David Diaz-Manny Pacquiao undercard. Meza-Clay won his eighth fight in a row since being stopped in the 11th round by Edner Cherry in May 2006. Lizarraga fell to 0-2-1 in his last three, including a TKO loss to featherweight contender Jorge Solis.

Friday at Bilbao, Spain
Heavyweight
Danny Williams TKO7 Konstantin Airich
Records: Williams, 39-6, 31 KOs; Airich, 9-1-1, 8 KOs
Rafael's remark: There have been a lot of ups and a lot of downs for England's Williams since he scored a major upset by knocking out Mike Tyson in July 2004 and then getting stopped by Vitali Klitschko in his next fight challenging for a world championship. Now, Williams, 34, is nearing the end of his career and he was brought in as a test for Airich, a 29-year-old German prospect. The result was a topsy-turvy tussle, which Williams survived for the victory. Airich scored three knockdowns -- two in the third round and one in the fourth - but was unable to finish Williams, who has always displayed tremendous heart. Referee Alfredo Garcia repeatedly warned Williams for fouls (low blows and hitting on the break) before docking him a point in the second round and another in the fifth. Between two-point deductions and being knocked down three times, Williams was way behind on the scorecards. But he roared back and dropped Airich at the end of the fifth round and again in the sixth (a round, by the way, that for some odd reason ended after only about 90 seconds). While on the attack again in the seventh and hurting Airich, Arena-Box promoter Ahmet Oner threw in the towel to protect Airich, who broke his left hand dropping Williams for the second time in the third round. Oner said Airich would probably have surgery on the hand Monday in Hamburg.

Cruiserweight
Herbie Hide W12 Ehinomen Ehikhamenor
Scores: 118-109 (twice), 117-110
Records: Hide, 43-4, 41 KOs; Ehikhamenor, 12-3, 7 KOs
Rafael's remark: Hide, 36, once held a version of the heavyweight title, but could never take a big heavyweight punch, so he dropped down to cruiserweight in 2006 and has had something of a career rebirth. He won his eighth fight in a row in his new division, although amazingly it was only the second time in his career that he has gone the distance, a testament to the chin of New York-based Ehikhamenor. The only other time Hide, a big puncher, saw the final bell came in a 10-round decision victory against Everett "Bigfoot" Martin in 1993. Hide dropped Ehikhamenor, 28, in the fourth round to aid his cause. Ehikhamenor dropped to 1-3 in his past four.

Wednesday at Melbourne, Australia
Super middleweight
Anthony Mundine W12 Sam Soliman
Retains a super middleweight title
Scores: 116-112 (twice), 117-112
Records: Mundine, 32-3, 23 KOs; Soliman, 35-11, 13 KOs
Rafael's remark: Do "title" fights get more tainted than this one? Before the fight, Mundine made a backroom deal with the WBA in which it agreed to sanction this fight as a title bout as long as he gave up his ridiculous "regular" title in the event of a victory because ex-titlist Mikkel Kessler and promoter Mogens Palle had already lined up a June 21 vacant title fight in Denmark. But shouldn't Palle have at least waited until the title was vacant before advertising Kessler's fight as being for a vacant title? And shouldn't the corrupt WBA have waited to sanction that fight instead of issuing letters beforehand approving it? Didn't anyone think Soliman could possibly win? Of course, this one stinks to high heaven. Here you have the WBA not even waiting for the outcome of the fight before approving the next title match. And by the way, the WBA is also the organization that appointed officials for Mundine-Soliman knowing who it clearly wanted to win because if Soliman was given the decision it would mess up everyone's plans. Sounds like the Soliman people have a case against the WBA. So should it surprise anyone that this was a close, competitive fight? Soliman, 34, who gave Winky Wright all he could handle in 2005 and starred on the third season of "The Contender," had Mundine going in reverse and ready to go in the ninth round. The crowd booed the decision in the match between Australians. Mundine, 33, who says he will drop down to middleweight, had already scored two victories against Soliman, a split-decision win in 2001 and a ninth-round knockout in a 2007 title bout. Now he has a third win against Soliman, but one that doesn't leave a horrible taste in the mouths of many.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.