Commentary

Donaire steps up, takes out Concepcion

Originally Published: August 17, 2009
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


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

Saturday at Las Vegas
Junior bantamweight
Nonito Donaire W12 Rafael Concepcion
Wins a vacant interim junior bantamweight title
Scores: 117-111, 116-112, 115-113
Records: Donaire, 22-1, 14 KOs; Concepcion, 13-4-1, 8 KOs

Rafael's remark: Donaire was put in a tough spot because Concepcion was 119½ pounds, way above the 115-pound limit for the fight, at Friday's weigh-in. But rather than miss the six-figure payday and kill the main event of Top Rank's "Pinoy Power 2" pay-per-view card, Donaire decided to go through with the fight -- even though Concepcion would have a significant size advantage. For the infraction, Concepcion, 27, of Panama, was fined 20 percent ($13,000) of his $65,000 purse with $6,500 going to Donaire and $6,500 going to the Nevada commission. Because Concepcion was overweight, only Donaire was eligible to claim the ghastly WBA's interim title. The WBA, of course, now has three titleholders at 115 pounds: Vic Darchinyan (the "super champion"), Nobuo Nashiro (the "regular champion") and Donaire (the interim titlist, who owns a huge knockout of Darchinyan in a flyweight title fight).

Put the title gibberish aside for a moment. Donaire, 26, one of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the world, gave up his flyweight belt and moved back to the junior bantamweight division he had fought in many times before moving down and claiming a 112-pound title. But Concepcion, who once held the interim belt before being stopped by Jorge Arce in the ninth round of a slugfest in September 2008, looked huge compared to Donaire in the ring. So even though Donaire, a native of the Philippines living in California, had some struggles, he still clearly beat an opponent two weight divisions heavier than him. The faster and more skilled Donaire opened a cut by Concepcion's left eye in the second round. It seemed to bother him for a few rounds, but eventually the corner got it under control and it didn't have a significant impact on the bout. Although Donaire had some rough spots during the fight, he kept control of the fight. Concepcion sopped up a lot of punches and proved to be tough in a fight that may have gone differently had he been on weight. Donaire, for one, is convinced that he would have had a knockout if he wasn't at such a size disadvantage. Donaire would like to eventually face Arce or bantamweight titlist Fernando Montiel. Both fights are doable because Top Rank promotes all three fighters. Either bout would be exciting and would draw a crowd.

Featherweight
Steven Luevano W-DQ7 Bernabe Concepcion
Retains a featherweight title
Records: Luevano, 37-1-1, 15 KOs; Concepcion, 29-2-1, 17 KOs

Rafael's remark: The cardinal rule of boxing is protect yourself at all times. Luevano did not do that and paid the price in what has to be the toughest way to win a fight. The 28-year-old from La Puente, Calif., was ahead on two scorecards entering the seventh round against the 21-year-old Filipino in what had been a good fight to that point. Concepcion, who is trained by Freddie Roach, hurt Luevano late in the round with a right hand. Then the bell rang to end the round. Luevano dropped his hands and went to bump Concepcion's gloves in a sportsmanlike manner when Concepcion, well after the bell, blasted him with a left and a big right. Luevano went down and was out, taking several minutes to regain his senses. Referee Jay Nady immediately disqualified Concepcion for the flagrant foul. Roach and Concepcion didn't dispute that the blows came after the bell, but they claimed it was not intentional, simply that Concepcion didn't hear the bell ring. Whatever the case, it was a brutal combination and totally uncalled for by a professional. Before the abrupt ending, Luevano, a southpaw making his fifth title defense, seemed to be in control. Luevano is more skilled and was doing a good job keeping the shorter Concepcion on the outside and outboxing him. Concepcion, a pressure fighter, had spurts of success but couldn't consistently stay on the inside and pound away. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, understanding that controversy sells, said immediately after the fight that he hopes to make a rematch on December's "Pinoy Power 3" pay-per-view card.

Welterweight
Mark Melligen TKO4 Ernesto Zepeda
Records: Melligen, 16-1, 12 KOs; Zepeda, 39-13-4, 34 KOs

Rafael's remark: With Manny Pacquiao as the cornerstone, Top Rank has been aggressively signing Filipino fighters, including the promising Melligen, who made his U.S. television debut an impressive one as he broke down, bloodied and stopped Zepeda at 2:40 of the fourth round. Melligen, 23, a southpaw, couldn't miss with his straight left hand. He hurt Zepeda, 32, of Mexico, with it in the first round and did more damage with it in the third. Finally, in the fourth, with Zepeda cut over his left eye, Melligen landed a stiff left hand to the middle of Zepeda's face, dropping him to his knees as referee Joe Cortez properly called off the fight without a count. Zepeda, who took the bout on a few days' notice in place of the visa-challenged Michel Rosales, simply could not keep pace with the speed and power of the younger, fresher man. He lost his second in a row and for the fifth time in seven bouts. Melligen looks like another exciting fighter to keep an eye on in the pipeline of Filipino talent coming to America.

Junior welterweight
Anthony Peterson W10 Luis Arceo
Records: Peterson, 29-0, 19 KOs; Arceo, 22-9-2

Rafael's remark: Peterson, 24, of Washington, made his return to the ring after a year off, during which he suffered a knee injury and had surgery. He wasn't all that sharp in notching the victory, which is understandable after such a long layoff. Peterson worked Arceo's body well and used his speed advantage, but it looked like he got winded later in the fight. Although Peterson clearly deserved the decision, Arceo, 30, landed his fair share of blows. Two of the scores seemed a bit wide because this was a very competitive fight with plenty of two-way action. It certainly turned out better than it looked on paper considering Mexico's Arceo was 2-7 in his last nine fight entering the bout.

Saturday at Biloxi, Miss.
Light heavyweight
Roy Jones Jr. TKO10 Jeff Lacy

Records: Jones Jr., 54-5, 40 KOs; Lacy, 25-3, 17 KOs

Rafael's remark: After the fight, the question was: Did Jones really look that good, or was Lacy so far gone that he made Jones look that good? It's probably a combination of both, but whatever it was, the 40-year-old Jones, once the greatest fighter on the planet who won titles in four divisions, looked very good as he battered and smashed Lacy over 10 mostly lopsided rounds. Jones, who now has two wins in a row since a lopsided decision loss to Joe Calzaghe in November 2008, still has fast hands. Even at 40, he was way faster than the plodding 32-year-old Lacy, who looked befuddled most of the time. Jones also displayed his old swagger. He juked and jived and talked to some people in the crowd and generally looked like he was having fun as he put on a nice show. What it will really mean if he ever fights another elite opponent, who knows? But this was Jones looking as good as he has in a long time.

Lacy, a former super middleweight titlist moving up in weight, looked OK for the first couple of rounds and never stopped coming at Jones. But he was outclassed. It was a Jones rout until Lacy's corner mercifully pulled him out of the bout after the 10th round. There was a discussion in Lacy's corner after the ninth about stopping it, but Lacy, whose heart can't be questioned, convinced his team to give him another round.

Lacy almost balked at fighting altogether when he refused to fight in the commission-assigned Grant gloves because he wanted to box in Everlast brand gloves. After a lengthy delay, which totally killed the pacing of the pay-per-view, Lacy got his way. According to John Wirt, CEO of Jones' promotional company, Square Ring, the Mississippi commission fined Lacy $25,000 for the incident.

It wouldn't have mattered what gloves Lacy was wearing. While he was winging wildly and occasionally landing punches, Jones was much sharper and more accurate with his shots. He cut Lacy on the outside of his right eye in the fourth round and hurt Lacy repeatedly throughout the fight. By the eighth round, both of Lacy's eyes were a mess. It was sort of sad to see. Lacy, who had a fast ascent after an appearance in the 2000 Olympics, has not looked good for a few years. He took a beating from Calzaghe in their 168-pound unification fight in 2006 and has never been the same. He suffered a severe shoulder injury against Vitaly Tsypko in his next fight and was off for a year; struggled badly in close wins against Peter Manfredo and Epifanio Mendoza; got beaten easily by Jermain Taylor; and got a gift hometown decision against Otis Griffin in Tampa, Fla., in April. Against Jones, he took a beating. Lacy's career is certainly over in terms of significant fights.

Jones, who had his father, Roy Jones Sr., as his head trainer for the first time since early in his career, however, is a different story. The win will likely send him up in weight to cruiserweight and to Australia to face Danny Green, who won on the undercard. They're targeting November. In Australia, it will be a major fight.

Cruiserweight
Danny Green TKO5 Julio Cesar Dominguez
Records: Green, 27-3, 24 KOs; Dominguez, 20-5-1, 14 KOs

Rafael's remark: Green, 36, of Australia, won a light heavyweight belt in 2007 and retired without defending it. But he came out of retirement to score an easy knockout win in April, setting the stage for his second fight in the United States. He came here in an effort to set up a fall fight with Roy Jones, who won in the pay-per-view main event. Green also did his part to keep the fight with Jones on track as he easily took apart Dominguez, 32, a very limited fighter from Argentina, who has a poor chin but a big heart. Green hurt Dominguez with the first notable punch of the bout, knocking him into the ropes in the first round and badly staggering him with a right hand to the temple that forced an eight-count. Green was landing almost everything he threw and dropped Dominguez again in the fifth round with a left. Even Green's jabs were rocking Dominguez. Finally, a nasty right-left-right combination dumped Dominguez again in the fifth round and his corner came up on the apron to stop the fight. While Dominguez dropped to 4-4 in his past eight bouts, Green looked pretty good. If the fight with Jones is finalized, it will be big in Australia.

Cruiserweight
B.J. Flores TKO4 Epifanio Mendoza
Records: Flores, 24-0-1, 15 KOs; Mendoza, 29-8-1, 25 KOs

Rafael's remark: Flores outclassed Mendoza, which is what he was supposed to do. Flores, 30, talks big about wanting to take on the best and then winds up fighting pathetic opposition. Mendoza, 33, of Colombia, was really at his best as a middleweight and super middleweight and was stopped in four rounds by Chad Dawson challenging for a light heavyweight belt on a few days' notice in 2007. Mendoza, who has lost four of his past five, was also fighting 23 pounds heavier than he ever had at 199 pounds. So it should come as no surprise that the quicker, slicker, bigger and better Flores routed him. Flores was having his way with Mendoza, when Mendoza's left shoulder popped out of place in the fourth round and the fight was stopped. It's time for Flores to step into a real fight instead of just talking about it.

Lightweight
Jason Litzau TKO3 Verquan Kimbrough
Records: Litzau, 25-2, 21 KOs; Kimbrough, 21-2-2, 7 KOs

Rafael's remark: A few years ago, Litzau was considered a quality featherweight prospect, but that was before a stunning eighth-round knockout loss to Jose Hernandez on HBO in late 2006 and, four fights later, another eighth-round knockout loss to then-featherweight titlist Robert Guerrero on Showtime in February 2008. But now Litzau has moved up to lightweight and the 26-year-old from St. Paul, Minn., looks a lot stronger. He sure looked that way against Kimbrough, whom he thoroughly dominated in a one-sided beating. In the second round, Litzau cut Kimbrough by his right eye and knocked him down twice. Litzau continued to punish Kimbrough, 26, of Pittsburgh, in the third round. Kimbrough, whose legs were very shaky, barely made it out of the third and his corner appropriately stopped the bout. Litzau still takes too many punches, but Kimbrough has so little power, he didn't have to pay for it. If Litzau can tighten that defense a little more, maybe he can make some noise. Even if he doesn't, he's still fun to watch.

Saturday at Astana, Kazakhstan
Light heavyweight
Gabriel Campillo W12 Beibut Shumenov

Retains a light heavyweight title
Scores: 114-113, 114-112 (twice)
Records: Campillo, 19-2, 6 KOs; Shumenov, 8-1, 6 KOs

Rafael's remark: Campillo, 30, of Spain, pulled an upset in June when he went to Hugo Hernan Garay's home turf in Argentina, won a majority decision and claimed a world title. Viewed as a vulnerable titlist, Shumenov, who has his own promotional company with his brother, paid Campillo a package of about $800,000 to come to his native Kazakhstan for his first defense. Even Campillo's own team had little faith he would emerge with his title intact, but it was such a huge payday, they couldn't possibly turn down the opportunity. Shumenov, 25, a 2004 Olympian now based in Las Vegas, has been on the fast track since turning pro in late 2007. He was boxing in scheduled 12-rounders in only his fourth pro fight and defeated such notable and experienced opponents as former champ Montell Griffin, Donnell Wiggins and former super middleweight titlist Byron Mitchell. Simply put, he was supposed to beat Campillo. But he didn't, surprisingly losing the tight decision at home in what has to be considered an upset. Shumenov scored a knockdown in the ninth round with a left to the chin, but Campillo kept himself together. The outcome was decided in the 12th round, when he Campillo knocked Shumenov down with a body shot to pull out the fight.

Junior welterweight
DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley TKO8 James Kimori
Records: Corley, 35-11-1, 21 KOs; Kimori, 11-2, 7 KOs

Rafael's remark: Former titlist Corley, 35, of Washington, went through a six-fight losing streak from 2006 to 2008. But Corley has rebounded and now won four of his last five, including a second consecutive eighth-round knockout in Kazakhstan on a Beibut Shumenov undercard. Corley knocked Kimori down in the sixth round and ended it with a right hand in the eight. Kimori, 31, lost his second fight in a row. It was only Kimori's second bout outside his native Kenya. (The other was in Tanzania.)

Saturday at Cozumel, Mexico
Junior flyweight
Juan Carlos Reveco W12 Francisco Rosas
Wins a vacant interim junior flyweight title
Scores: 115-113 (twice) Reveco, 116-112 Rosas
Records: Reveco, 21-1, 11 KOs; Rosas, 20-7-2, 12 KOs

Rafael's remark: More WBA nonsense, folks. Giovani Segura, who defended his title in July, is the titleholder. But, this being the WBA, there are now two others it recognizes with a belt at 108 pounds, the so-called "champion in recess" Brahim Asloum and now Argentina's Reveco, 25, who won the pointless interim belt on a close decision against Rosas. Reveco, the former titleholder, lost his belt to Asloum in 2007 and has won four in a row. Rosas, 29, of Mexico, dropped to 0-2-1 in his last three. He shouldn't have been even fighting for a title after losing his last fight to Roman Gonzalez, who holds the WBA's 105-pound title. But it's the outrageous WBA, which does not operate in reality.

Friday at Tucson, Ariz.
Junior welterweight
Vivian Harris No Contest 2 Noe Bolanos
Records: Harris, 29-3-1, 19 KOs; Bolanos, 20-4-1, 11 KOs

Rafael's remark: In one of the scariest scenes you'll see, Harris took a brutal accidental head butt to the temple from Bolanos in the second round and went down. Harris got up but was unsteady while being looked at by the ringside doctor in a corner after the clash of heads and collapsed. He was totally disoriented and eventually taken from the ring on a stretcher several minutes later. After regaining his senses in the dressing room and being comforted by his crying daughter, Harris was taken to the hospital as a precaution, had tests and was released later that night. Thankfully, Harris was OK. It was a strange end to a terrible night in the ring on "Friday Night Fights." The bout concluded perhaps the single worst show in the 11-year history of the series as there were fewer than six completed rounds and one brutal mismatch after another. Golden Boy's card looked dreadful on paper. It was worse in reality. This card exemplifies the danger of making a deal with a promoter to have a set number of dates regardless of the matchups because it makes quality control very difficult when you have little recourse but to take such an awful card.

Bolanos, 22, of Mexico, came into the fight 1-4-1 in his previous six bouts and should never have been considered for a televised main event. Harris, 31, of New York, a former 140-pound titleholder, had looked very bad in his past two fights. He was knocked dead by Junior Witter in a September 2007 title challenge, and 13 months later, Harris went down hard twice in the first round against obscure Octavio Narvaez (7-4-1) and struggled to a sixth-round stoppage.

Junior middleweight
Keith Thurman TKO2 Travis Hartman
Records: Thurman, 10-0, 10 KOs; Hartman, 10-14-1, 7 KOs

Rafael's remark: Thurman, 20, of Clearwater, Fla., made his television debut and routed no-hoper Hartman. The fight easily could have been called off in the first round, when Hartman went down twice. Instead, Hartman, 26, of St. Joseph's, Mo., barely survived to make it into the second before his corner threw in the towel as he was being destroyed. This one was over when they signed the contracts. It was as brutal a televised mismatch as you will ever see. Thurman, one of the many recent signings of manager Shelly Finkel, should have faced a better opponent if he was being put on national television in the ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" co-featured position. Thurman can only fight who his handlers put in front of him, but this one was an embarrassment for Golden Boy, whose FNF cards have left a lot to be desired (to put it nicely).

Heavyweight
Deontay Wilder TKO1 Travis Allen
Records: Wilder, 7-0, 7 KOs; Allen, 3-5, 3 KOs

Rafael's remark: Wilder is a very raw project, which is why he continues to be match very softly. With only a couple of years of amateur experience to his credit, he's a work in progress, even if he did take home the only medal (bronze) for the United States at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But Wilder has size (6-foot-7), a powerful right hand and determination. Allen didn't present him with anything other than a body to bang on for a round. Wilder knocked him down twice before the fight was called off. Unfortunately, Wilder hit him so hard that he broke his pinky and ring fingers on his right hand, according to co-manager Shelly Finkel. The injury will sideline Wilder for two to three months, Finkel said.

Heavyweight
Seth Mitchell KO1 Andrae Carthron
Records: Mitchell, 13-0-1, 8 KOs; Carthron, 3-3-2, 1 KO

Rafael's remark: In another televised mismatch on one of the worst "Friday Night Fights" cards ever, Mitchell, 27, of Brandywine, Md., blew out Carthron, ending it with a right hand at 2:36. Mitchell is a project, but one who could pay some nice dividends down the road as he learns to fight. He's a tremendous athlete and a former Michigan State linebacker, and he has size (6-foot-2, 240 pounds), but he's been in boxing for less than two years.

Friday at Miami
Lightweight
Antonio Pitalua KO6 Jose Reyes
Records: Pitalua, 47-4, 41 KOs; Reyes, 23-7, 8 KOs

Rafael's remark: In April, hard-punching Pitalua, 39, served as road kill for Edwin Valero, who dusted him in two rounds in a surprisingly easy victory for a vacant lightweight belt. Making his return, Pitalua looked 100 times better than he did against Valero. This time out, Pitalua authored a knockout of the year candidate. Reyes appeared to be leading in the fight when the sixth round started. Not much was going on when Pitalua unleashed a classic 1-2. He tossed out a little jab and came behind it with a tremendous right hand that landed flush and knocked Reyes out cold on his back. It was a sick, thudding knockout that left him on the canvas to receive medical attention for several minutes. When the punch landed, it seemed as though Reyes came off the canvas for a split second before crumpling. It was the third loss in a row for Reyes, 31, of Puerto Rico.

Cruiserweight
Yunier Dorticos TKO4 Hilario Guzman
Records: Dorticos, 1-0, 1 KO; Guzman, 8-28-6, 1 KO

Rafael's remark: Dorticos is the latest standout Cuban amateur to turn professional after defecting. He's from the same group of star Cuban national team fighters who also defected, including Guillermo Rigondeaux, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Odlanier Solis, Erislandy Lara, Yudel Johnson and others. Making his pro debut, Dorticos dominated Guzman, a tough journeyman who went down in the first round on the end of a good left hand and survived until the fourth round. But he was being brutalized and his corner threw in the towel. Dorticos' second bout is scheduled for Sept. 18 in Miami on the undercard of an ESPN2 special featuring Rigondeaux.

Thursday at Rochester, N.Y.
Junior middleweight
Ronald Hearns W8 Patrick Thompson
Scores: 77-74, 77-73 (twice)
Records: Hearns, 22-1, 17 KOs; Thompson, 15-15-1, 5 KOs

Rafael's remark: Hearns, the 30-year-old son of legend Thomas Hearns, got drilled in his last fight, a ninth-round knockout to Harry Joe Yorgey on March 28. While that fight propelled Yorgey into a Nov. 7 fight on HBO against Alfredo "Perro" Angulo, Hearns made a low-profile comeback against journeyman Thompson, 36, who lost his second in a row and third fight in his past four. But Hearns had a hard time with him. It was a tightly contested bout in which a shaky Hearns had to rally from a fourth-round knockdown to drop Thompson in the eighth round as he hung on for the decision.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.