Commentary

Cloud rolls while Urango rallies

Originally Published: August 31, 2009
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


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

Sunday at Osaka, Japan
Junior middleweight
Nobuhiro Ishida W12 Marco Avendano
Wins a vacant interim junior middleweight title
Scores: 119-109, 118-110, 117-111
Records: Ishida, 21-5-2, 7 KOs; Avendano, 27-7-1, 19 KOs

Rafael's remark: More WBA nonsense as Ishida claimed a sham interim title. Daniel Santos, of course, is the WBA's 154-pound titleholder and slated for a mandatory defense against Yuri Foreman on Nov. 14. Yet, the WBA (naturally) sanctioned this match between journeymen for the interim belt. Why not grab an additional sanctioning fee if you can, right? Japan's Ishida, 34, used his jab and 4½-inch height advantage to keep Venezuela's aggressive Avendano, 36, at bay. Avendano was cut in his left eyebrow in the sixth round. The win was Ishida's second over Avendano, having claimed a split decision against him 11 months ago.

Saturday at Grand Prairie, Texas
Welterweight
Jesus Soto Karass W10 Edvan Dos Barros
Scores: 100-90, 99-91, 97-93
Records: Karass, 24-3-3, 16 KOs; Dos Barros, 10-7-1, 7 KOs

Rafael's remark: Is Soto Karass ever in a bad fight? This Azteca America-televised main event was a dandy as Soto Karass, 26, of Mexico, pounded out a clear but exciting decision against Brazil's Dos Barros, 31, who took some brutal shots but never stopped trying. It started a tad slowly, but by the sixth round, it was a full-fledged slugfest. Soto Karass pressured Dos Barros all night and seemed to have him in trouble during the toe-to-toe eighth round, but Dos Barros surprisingly stayed on his feet. Dos Barros dropped to 2-5 in his last seven bouts. The victory propels Soto Karras onto the big Nov. 14 HBO PPV card headlined by Miguel Cotto against Manny Pacquiao. Soto Karras will face Alfonso Gomez, who won his own bout Saturday on another card, in a televised fight that should be nothing less than an all-action brawl.

Featherweight
Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia TKO7 Carlos Rivera
Records: Garcia, 18-0, 15 KOs; Rivera, 16-4-2, 5 KOs

Rafael's remark: Garcia, 21, one of Top Rank's and manager Cameron Dunkin's top prospects, looked sharp and strong in a solid victory against Rivera, 31, whose eight-fight winning streak ended. Garcia, an Oxnard, Calif., native and brother of former junior lightweight titlist Robert Garcia, took his time to break Rivera down. He dropped Rivera with body shots in the fourth and fifth rounds before forcing a stoppage in the seventh after opening a cut over Rivera's right eye.

Saturday at Honolulu
Junior flyweight
Brian Viloria W12 Jesus Iribe
Retains a junior flyweight title
Scores: 118-110, 117-112, 117-111
Records: Viloria, 26-2, 15 KOs; Iribe, 15-6-5, 9 KOs

Rafael's remark: Viloria, the "Hawaiian Punch," thrilled his hometown fans as he made the first defense of his second reign with a 108-pound belt. It was his first fight in Hawaii since 2003. In April, Viloria, 28, scored a very impressive 11th-round knockout of well-respected titlist Ulises Solis to claim the belt. He had a bit more trouble with the game Iribe, who stretched him the distance in a tough fight. But Viloria was in command of the entertaining scrap. Although Iribe thought he broke his right hand in the second round, he ignored it and fought on like a true pro. Unlike in disappointing past performances, Viloria let his hands go and it made a big difference. He landed a lot of punches and was entertaining. Viloria would like a unification bout with Puerto Rico's Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon, the recognized division champion. It's a fight that could happen, since Viloria and Calderon are both associated with Top Rank. Calderon, however, has a September rematch with Rodel Mayol first. It was the second title opportunity for Mexico's Iribe, who lost a lopsided unanimous decision to titlist Edgar Sosa in February 2008.

Junior middleweight
Alfonso Gomez KO1 Raul Munoz
Records: Gomez, 20-4-2, 10 KOs; Munoz, 20-13-1, 15 KOs

Rafael's remark: Gomez, a former star of the first season of "The Contender," made quick work of Munoz, blowing him out in 61 seconds. The 28-year-old Mexican living in Southern California won his second in a row since being abused in a fifth-round TKO loss challenging welterweight titlist Miguel Cotto. Gomez dropped Munoz twice before the fight was called off. The win sets Gomez up to meet Jesus Soto Karass, who won elsewhere Saturday night, on the Nov. 14 Miguel Cotto-Manny Pacquiao undercard. Munoz, 33, lost for the fourth time in five fights.

Saturday at Mexicali, Mexico
Junior featherweight
Celestino Caballero TKO8 Francisco Leal
Retains unified junior featherweight title
Records: Caballero, 33-2, 23 KOs; Leal, 14-5-2, 9 KOs

Rafael's remark: Although Panama's Caballero has been unable to get on Showtime or HBO since an impressive title-unifying destruction of Steve Molitor on Showtime in November 2008, he has remained active. He eked out a split decision against South Africa's Jeffrey Mathebula in Panama in April and then took this match in Leal's hometown on somewhat short notice, probably figuring it would be an easy payday and a way to remain active. Caballero was pretty much right. Leal had done nothing to earn a title shot and had never beaten a remotely notable opponent. That is still true today, as Caballero, 33, battered him over the course of the lopsided fight, including dropping him in the first round. Leal showed a lot of heart until finally retiring on his stool a few seconds into the eighth round. Caballero has been on the offensive trying to land a unification match with Juan Manuel Lopez, and he'll probably continue the rhetoric after this victory, even though Lopez has business to attend to against Rogers Mtagwa on Oct. 10.

Saturday at Halle, Germany
Cruiserweight
Marco Huck W12 Victor Emilio Ramirez
Wins a cruiserweight title
Scores: 116-111 (twice), 115-112
Records: Huck, 26-1, 20 KOs; Ramirez, 15-2, 12 KOs

Rafael's remark: The first time Germany's Huck, 24, fought for a world title, he was stopped in the 12th round of a rousing battle with Steve Cunningham in December 2007. Huck went back to the drawing board and won six fights in a row, all by knockout, including winning the European title, to set himself up for another title shot. This time it came against Argentina's Ramirez, 25, who lost his belt in his second defense in an entertaining fight. Huck didn't have an easy time, but he started very fast, showed better power and just seemed to want it a bit more. Ramirez was helped when referee Mark Nelson docked a point from Huck for a low blow, but it didn't change the result.

Light heavyweight
Karo Murat W12 Sergey Demchenko
Scores: 120-108, 117-111 (twice)
Records: Murat, 20-0, 12 KOs; Demchenko, 13-3, 10 KOs

Rafael's remark: Germany's Murat, 25, continued his climb by turning back Ukraine's Demchenko, 29, who saw a seven-fight winning streak end. Murat beat future world titleholder Gabriel Campillo and former titlist Cristian Sanavia (twice) in his last three fights to win and twice defend the European super middleweight title. But he relinquished the title in order to move up weight and dominate Demchenko, who was not nearly as busy as Murat, who relied on a lot of hooks and body shots.

Heavyweight
Gbenga Oloukun W8 Lamon Brewster
Scores: 79-76, 77-75 (twice)
Records: Oloukun, 17-1, 10 KOs; Brewster, 35-5, 30 KOs

Rafael's remark: Nigeria's Oloukun, 26, who is based in Germany, rebounded from his only loss (a seventh-round knockout to Manuel Charr in April) to pull the upset. Brewster, a former titleholder who owns a TKO win against Wladimir Klitschko, had been making a bit of a comeback in Germany with two wins in a row. This was supposed to be another building block win for him. But Oloukun, more aggressive and busier, did a nice job handling Brewster despite fading a bit near the end of the fight. Brewster, who has dealt with severe eye injuries over the past few years, scored with some hard right hands, but was inconsistent throughout the fight. At 36, he dropped to 2-3 in his last five dating to his title loss to Sergei Liakhovich in their 2006. As big of a long shot as it would be, Brewster had designs on eventually winning another title before the fight. Now where does he go?

Saturday at Tunica, Miss.
Super middleweight
Fernando Guerrero TKO3 Chris Archer
Records: Guerrero, 15-0, 13 KOs; Archer, 11-8, 7 KOs

Rafael's remark: Guerrero, the exciting 22-year-old prospect, continued to demolish modest opposition as promoter Prize Fight steadily moves the former amateur standout. Headlining for the second time on Prize Fight's Internet pay-per-view (only $4.99), Guerrero did what he was supposed to do -- wreck Archer, a 29-year-old journeyman now with seven losses in his last nine bouts. Guerrero, an aggressive crowd-pleaser with heavy hands, dominated. He used a body assault to drop Archer in the first and second rounds and did it again in the third round before referee Randy Phillips saved Archer from more abuse. Guerrero has a lot of promise. It would be nice to see him take a reasonable step up in competition.

Junior middleweight
Shawn Porter TKO1 Lamar Harris
Records: Porter, 10-0, 8 KOs; Harris, 6-3, 4 KOs

Rafael's remark: Other than main-event attraction Fernando Guerrero, Porter is the prized prospect of promoter Prize Fight. (Say that three times fast!) The 21-year-old, a star amateur and 2008 U.S. Olympic team alternate, has an exciting style. Harris, 24, stood virtually no chance as Porter scored three knockdowns for the easy early knockout.

Heavyweight
Chazz Witherspoon KO2 Willie Perryman
Records: Witherspoon, 25-1, 17 KOs; Perryman, 10-19, 7 KOs

Rafael's remark: Witherspoon had been promoted by Lou DiBella until he engineered a trade with Prize Fight, giving up rights to Witherspoon, with whom he had contract issues, and acquiring the contract of Adam "The Swamp Donkey" Richards, who lost a sensational battle to Witherspoon last fall. Witherspoon, 27, who is a cousin of former two-time heavyweight titlist Tim Witherspoon, was fighting for Prize Fight for the first time, and for the second time since suffering his lone loss to contender Cristobal Arreola, who will challenge Vitali Klitschko for a heavyweight title Sept. 26. Witherspoon, meanwhile, found himself on an undercard of a small show facing late replacement Perryman, 30, a joke of an opponent who has now lost six fights in a row and 12 of 13. So it should come as no surprise that Witherspoon, a 2004 U.S. Olympic alternate, notched a pair of second-round knockdowns before it was called off.

Friday at Hollywood, Fla.
Junior welterweight
Juan Urango TKO11 Randall Bailey
Retains a junior welterweight title
Records: Urango, 22-2-1, 17 KOs; Bailey, 39-7, 35 KOs

Rafael's remark: What a great way for ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" to end the season -- with a pair of world title bouts, including this terrific main event that delivered tons of action, excitement and drama. Colombia native Urango, who is trained by Evangelista Cotto (the estranged uncle and former trainer of Miguel Cotto) won a vacant 140-pound title for the second time in January by outpointing Herman Ngoudjo. But rather than defend it right away, Urango moved up to welterweight for a shot at Andre Berto in May and was totally outclassed in a lopsided decision loss. Returning to junior welterweight, Urango faced his mandatory challenger, the hard-hitting knockout artist and former titleholder Bailey in a battle of Florida-based fighters. It was a fast-paced fight from the outset, but Bailey appeared in control early on because he's quicker than the 28-year-old Urango. But Urango continued to press forward and ate Bailey up to the body as he slowed him down. In the sixth round, however, Bailey, 34, who is one of the best punchers in boxing, landed his fastball right hand and knocked Urango down. The fight appeared to be over, but somehow Urango, who was cut under the right eye with the punch, got to his feet and survived the round. Urango, a good puncher in his own right, dropped Bailey with a left hand to the head in the ninth round. Bailey just beat the count but was down again later in the round. The momentum had clearly swung toward Urango, as Bailey's older legs looked very shaky. Urango dropped him for the third time in the 10th round and Bailey was taking punishment in the 11th round when his trainer, the compassionate John David Jackson, stepped onto the ring apron to ask for the fight to be stopped, which referee Tommy Kimmons did. It was the end to the best fight of the year on "Friday Night Fights." Saved the best for last.

Light heavyweight
Tavoris Cloud W12 Clinton Woods
Wins a vacant light heavyweight title
Scores: 116-112 (three times)
Records: Cloud, 20-0, 18 KOs; Woods, 42-5-1, 24 KOs

Rafael's remark: In the opening title bout on the season finale of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights," Cloud took apart former titleholder Woods to claim the belt that Chad Dawson discarded. Dawson, with bigger, more lucrative fish to fry, gave up the belt, which paved the way for Cloud and Woods to meet for the title. Cloud, 27, of Tallahassee, Fla., is a strong, powerful up-and-comer whose lone notable victory had come in his last fight a year ago, when he stopped faded former titlist Julio Gonzalez in the 10th round on ESPN2. Woods, 37, of England, is a veteran who held this same version of the title from 2005 until losing it to Antonio Tarver in 2008. Woods had faced way better competition than Cloud, including the likes of a prime Roy Jones, Gonzalez (in his much better days), Glen Johnson (three times), and Tarver. But Woods is also a decade older than Cloud, who was way too much for him. Cloud pressured Woods all night and landed a ton of hard left hooks to the head and body while also missing with seemingly a million wild shots. But he landed enough blows to stagger Woods repeatedly throughout the fight. Although Woods didn't have much, he still had his heart, which seemed to be all that was keeping him up at times. How did Woods not go down under a storm of blows in the eighth round? With this loss, Woods may be done as a top contender. He had considered retiring after the lopsided loss to Tarver. Maybe now is the time to call it a day? Cloud brings some energy and excitement to a bit of a weak division, but he's still awfully crude. He could make some good fights along the way, especially if he and Dawson ever meet.

Friday at Montreal
Middleweight
Joachim Alcine W10 Eric Mitchell
Scores: 97-93 (twice), 96-93
Records: Alcine, 31-1, 19 KOs; Mitchell, 22-6-1, 11 KOs

Rafael's remark: Alcine burst on the world stage in July 2007 by going to Travis Simms' hometown as a mandatory challenger and winning a clear decision to claim a junior middleweight title. Alcine would make one defense before being knocked out in devastating fashion by Daniel Santos in his own mandatory defense in July 2008. Fighting for the first time since losing his belt 13 months ago and moving up in weight, Montreal's Alcine, 33, returned to action. Mitchell was there to survive, turning the bout into a hold-fest. Referee Alain Villeneuve deducted points from Mitchell in the eighth and ninth rounds for excessive holding. That was the reason that Mitchell was disqualified in the 11th round of his last fight against Danny Perez in November. Alcine was working with trainer Buddy McGirt for the first time, having spent just two weeks with him at his gym in Vero Beach, Fla., after meeting McGirt at Arturo Gatti's funeral in Montreal in July. Alcine's handlers expect him back in the ring in December. Best known for a 10-round decision loss on short notice against former welterweight and junior middleweight titlist Ricardo Mayorga in 2004, Mitchell, 40, of Philadelphia, was fighting for the first time in nine months.

Friday at Chiang Mai, Thailand
Flyweight
Pongsaklek Wonjongkam TKO6 Takahisa Masuda
Retains an interim flyweight title
Records: Wonjongkam, 73-3-1, 39 KOs; Masuda, 20-9-3, 5 KOs

Rafael's remark: Wonjongkam, 32, the Thai hero, made the first defense of his nonsensical interim belt with the knockout of Japan's obscure Masuda. Wonjongkam, of course, held the WBC's 112-pound title from 2001 until losing it to Daisuke Naito in 2007. Yet even though Naito is healthy and active, the geniuses at the WBC approved Wonjongkam to fight for an interim belt, which he claimed in April with a lopsided decision against Julio Cesar Miranda. Now, Wonjongkam will probably continue to defend the silly interim belt for the foreseeable future since nobody at the WBC is forcing the mandatory with Naito, who is off doing his own thing in Japan. What a joke. In any case, Wonjongkam was too strong for Masuda, 30, finally stopping him under a hail of punches as referee Brad Vocale stopped it at 1:06 of the sixth. Masuda, who should never have been approved to fight for a title, lost his second in a row.

Thursday at Los Angeles
Bantamweight
Abner Mares KO6 Carlos Fulgencio
Records: Mares, 19-0, 12 KOs; Fulgencio, 11-4-1, 7 KOs

Rafael's remark: In the main event of Golden Boy's entertaining "Fight Night Club" series on Versus, Mares looked very good in a dominant performance against Fulgencio, who dropped to 2-3 in his last five. Mares, 23, a 2004 Mexican Olympian who lives in California, won for the second time since suffering a severe retina injury that threatened his career. After 11 months out of the ring, Mares was able to return and won on the May 2 Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton undercard. Then came this strong performance. It was Mares' first bout since signing with manager Frank Espinoza and being dumped by trainer Nacho Beristain (who has issues with Espinoza). Mares, who now trains with Joel Diaz (older brother of Julio and Antonio Diaz), looks like he is quickly regaining the form that had him on the brink of a title shot before his eye injury. Mares dominated Fulgencio, finally stopping with a textbook left hook to the body at 2:24 of the sixth round. Next up, Mares is scheduled to return in an untelevised bout on the Sept. 19 Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez undercard in Las Vegas. If he keeps winning, Mares ought to be in position for a title shot in 2010.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.