Commentary

Williams wins; Arreola bounces back

Originally Published: December 7, 2009
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


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

Saturday at Atlantic City, N.J.
Middleweight
Paul Williams W12 Sergio Martinez
Scores: 119-110, 115-113, 114-114
Records: Williams, 38-1, 27 KOs; Martinez, 44-2-2, 24 KOs

Rafael's remark: Most folks who have seen Williams and Martinez figured this would be a pretty darn good fight, but who really expected such a sensational brawl and a clear fight of the year candidate? But it was just that, a fantastic fight between the world's two best junior middleweights, who happened to fight a few pounds above the 154-pound division limit in a nontitle match. What makes the fight more remarkable is that it came out of left field. Only a month ago, Williams was training to challenge right-handed middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik -- until Pavlik pulled out for the second time because of a hand problem. Junior middleweight titlist Martinez, who, like Williams, is a southpaw who has been avoided by many top fighters, jumped at the chance when HBO needed somebody to fill in. What we got was an epic slugfest featuring a high skill level in a fight that could have gone either way by a point or two. Let's not allow judge Pierre Benoist's absurd 119-110 scorecard for Williams to ruin a marvelous fight. That said, Benoist should have his license revoked and be barred from the premises of all future prize fights. A five-year-old dragged out of the crowd would have turned in a more appropriate card. Even Williams admitted he didn't win every round but the second, which is how Benoist scored it. What a joke. What wasn't a joke, however, was the incredible action. From the opening bell, it never ceased. Martinez, 34, and Williams, 28, exchanged knockdowns in the first round (although Williams, who fell just before the end of the round, went down much harder than Martinez). The wild round set the tone for the remainder of the fight, which was filled with hard-hitting exchanges. The drama increased in the fourth round when an accidental head-butt busted open a cut over Williams left eye, which bled for the rest of the exceptional fight. Both sides were open to a rematch, but it won't be until at least a fight or two down the road. Williams, of Augusta, Ga., will be out for several months because of the cuts he suffered. Martinez's promoter, Lou DiBella, said HBO has assured him that Martinez, a native of Argentina living in Spain, will be invited back by the spring, and he's willing to fight anyone. What a fabulous way to close out HBO's season of "World Championship Boxing." This was boxing at its best.

Heavyweight
Cristobal Arreola TKO4 Brian Minto
Records: Arreola, 28-1, 25 KOs; Minto, 34-3, 21 KOs

Rafael's remark: Just 70 days removed from getting waxed in a 10th-round TKO loss to heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko, Arreola made his return and took care of business in impressive fashion against the smaller Minto. It was an exciting slugfest as the heavyweights dispensed with defense and brawled. Arreola, 28, of Riverside, Calif., weighed a career-high 263 pounds -- 45 more than Minto, who looked tiny compared to Arreola. But the size difference didn't prevent Minto from dishing out some good shots, which Arreola took well. Arreola also landed a lot of blows, which eventually took their toll on Minto, 34, of Butler, Pa., whose left eye swelled badly in the second round. In the fourth round, Arreola finally dropped Minto with a hard right hand. But Minto, who showed a big heart throughout the bout and won over the crowd, made it to his feet. Instead of trying to hide after such a hard knockdown, he went right after Arreola and stunned him. But Arreola shook it off and hammered Minto several times until he finally went down again. Again, Minto made it to his feet, but referee Eddie Cotton saved him from himself by stopping the bout. Arreola showed no ill effects from the beating he took by Klitschko, and he positioned himself for another major fight. Although Minto didn't win, he has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of after helping make this one of the better heavyweight fights in ages. Win or lose, both of these guys are must-see TV.

Heavyweight
Tony Thompson TKO9 Chazz Witherspoon
Records: Thompson, 33-2, 21 KOs; Witherspoon, 26-2, 18 KOs

Rafael's remark: Thompson, a 6-foot-5 southpaw with good skills, has never been known as an exciting fighter, which prevented him from getting more television exposure. But if Thompson, 38, fights like he did against Witherspoon, he deserves another TV spot. This was a good fight and an excellent performance from Thompson, who put himself back in the mix with a solid victory. Washington's Thompson had been knocked out in the 11th round by Wladimir Klitschko in a 2008 title fight. He returned with a low-level victory in March and has now won two in a row following an authoritative stoppage of Philadelphia's Witherspoon. They traded a lot of punches, but Thompson, with a height and reach advantage, seemed to get the better of the exchanges. In the ninth round, a booming overhand right staggered Witherspoon. As Witherspoon, 28, wobbled and nearly went down, Thompson stepped up the attack, landing two more damaging right hands that sent him into the ropes, which referee Benjy Esteves properly ruled a knockdown. Thompson continued to punish Witherspoon until Esteves called it off. Witherspoon, once a prospect, doesn't seem like he'll ever get to the next level. He now has lost badly each time he has stepped up in competition. Besides Thompson, he also lost via third-round disqualification to Cristobal Arreola in 2008. Arreola was crushing him until Witherspoon's corner entered the ring, forcing the DQ.

Junior middleweight
Carlos Quintana TKO3 Jesse Feliciano
Records: Quintana, 27-2, 21 KOs; Feliciano, 15-8-3, 9 KOs

Rafael's remark: Quintana has long been a solid welterweight contender and briefly held a belt in 2008 after managing to outpoint Paul Williams in a stunner that gave Williams his only pro loss. But Quintana gave the title right back when Williams wiped him out in the first round of a rematch. Since then, Puerto Rico's Quintana, 33, has been largely inactive. This was only his second fight since losing to Williams in June 2008, and his first in 14 months. The rust showed. Despite the win, Quintana didn't look very good. Las Vegas' Feliciano, 27, who takes an inordinate number of flush punches, took many from Quintana and didn't do much other than land a wild left in the second round that dropped Quintana. In the third round, it was unclear whether an accidental head-butt or a punch from Quintana opened the cut over Feliciano's right eye. Replays were inconclusive, but referee Randy Neumann ruled it a punch, and the ringside doctor recommended he stop the fight. Quintana probably will get himself another notable fight, which could come at welterweight or junior middleweight. Feliciano, fighting for the first time since 2008, dropped his third straight.

Junior featherweight
Jorge Diaz KO1 Luis Paneto
Records: Diaz, 11-0, 7 KOs; Paneto, 5-7-2, 2 KOs

Rafael's remark: Diaz hasn't gotten any television exposure yet, but he should soon. The 22-year-old is an exciting prospect from New Brunswick, N.J., who brings fans whenever he fights in Atlantic City or New York. In his previous bout in October, he passed his biggest test so far when, in a terrific fight, he scored a sensational sixth-round knockout of 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist Yan Barthelemy. Diaz, who has members of the late Arturo Gatti's team behind him in trainer Mikey Skowronski (Gatti's close friend and longtime assistant trainer) and manager Pat Lynch, was in softer in this bout and he also scored a nice knockout. Diaz dominated before pounding Paneto into the canvas with a right hand to Paneto's chin. Puerto Rico's Paneto, 20, showed no interest in getting up, instead taking the full count from referee Eddie Cotton before miraculously getting up at 10½, at which point the fight was already over.

Saturday at Newcastle, England
Junior welterweight
Amir Khan TKO1 Dmitriy Salita
Retains a junior welterweight title
Records: Khan, 22-1, 16 KOs; Salita, 30-1-1, 16 KOs

Rafael's remark: It was spectacular, and, unfortunately, not all that unexpected. Khan made the first defense of the 140-pound title he lifted via dominant decision from Andreas Kotelnik in July, and he did it in style. The Brit wasted no time, erasing the undeserving Salita in a mere 76 brutal seconds. Khan, who turns 23 on Tuesday, overwhelmed Salita, 27, the New Yorker originally from Ukraine. Ten seconds into the fight, a flush right hand to the chin dropped Salita and he never recovered. He would go down twice more, offering absolutely nothing in return as Khan annihilated him. The fight was a joke from the time it was announced, but Salita got the shot because the woeful WBA insanely made him the mandatory challenger despite a résumé with absolutely nothing on it to warrant the shot. Salita is a great kid and a hard worker, but he simply was out of his depth with a glossy record that had been built against nobodies. Fights like this epitomize everything wrong with the sanctioning organizations. So Khan got his gimme first defense. Next, he'll become Manny Pacquiao's chief sparring partner as Pacquiao prepares to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Freddie Roach trains both Khan and Pacquiao.) Khan would like to come to America to defend his title next year, and HBO is interested in him -- perhaps against Victor Ortiz, should Ortiz win Saturday. Khan has improved under Roach, tightened his defense and seems to have put the nightmare first-round knockout loss to Breidis Prescott 15 months ago (before he was with Roach) behind him.

Lightweight
Kevin Mitchell W12 Breidis Prescott
Scores: 119-110, 118-111, 117-111
Records: Mitchell, 30-0, 22 KOs; Prescott, 21-2, 18 KOs

Rafael's remark: England's Mitchell, 29, scored the best victory of his career and looked outstanding doing it. Prescott, 26, a hard puncher from Colombia, had blown out Amir Khan in 54 seconds 15 months ago. This time, Prescott found himself on Khan's undercard against another rising Brit. Mitchell boxed circles around Prescott, who never landed any of his big punches with authority as he lost his second decision in a row. Mitchell controlled the fight all the way, keeping Prescott off-balance with a good jab, hand speed and angles. The victory moves Mitchell closer to a mandatory title shot for one of the belts held by Juan Manuel Marquez. However, when Mitchell lands the shot, it likely will be for a vacant title because Marquez probably will relinquish his belts if a fight with Ricky Hatton is made next year. Down the road, Mitchell looms as an opponent for Khan, which would be a major fight in Britain.

Also on the undercard of promoter Frank Warren's big show: In a bit of an upset, junior welterweight Nigel Wright (21-6-1, 9 KOs) took an eight-round decision from former interim junior lightweight titlist Alex Arthur (27-3, 20 KOs); and former cruiserweight titlist Enzo Maccarinelli (30-4, 23 KOs), fighting on following brutal knockout losses in three of his previous four bouts, blew out Kirstian Jaksi (6-13-4, 0 KOs) in 94 seconds. Also, Warren's trio of 2008 Olympians won: Super middleweight James DeGale (5-0, 3 KOs), a gold medalist, took a four-round decision from Nathan King (12-15, 1 KO); welterweight Frankie Gavin (5-0, 5 KOs) stopped Samir Tergaoui (10-6, 1 KO) in the sixth round of a scheduled six; and middleweight Billy Joe Saunders (5-0, 3 KOs) took a six-round decision from Lee Noble (11-13, 2 KOs).

Saturday at Ludwigsburg, Germany
Cruiserweight
Marco Huck W12 Ola Afolabi
Retains a cruiserweight title
Scores: 116-112, 115-113 (twice)
Records: Huck, 27-1, 20 KOs; Afolabi, 14-2-3, 6 KOs

Rafael's remark: In his first title defense since dethroning Victor Emilio Ramirez in August, Huck, 25, of Germany, scored a close but legitimate decision win against England's Afolabi, 29, who had been the interim titleholder. It was a competitive fight, but the busier, stronger Huck always seemed in control, other than some brief trouble in the fifth round when Afolabi wobbled him. Huck won his eighth in a row since being stopped in the 12th round of a title bout by then titlist Steve Cunningham in December 2007. Afolabi was coming off a career-best win in March, when he scored brutal ninth-round knockout of Enzo Maccarinelli to claim the interim belt.

Heavyweight
Alexander Povetkin KO3 Leo Nolan
Records: Povetkin, 18-0, 13 KOs; Nolan, 27-2, 10 KOs

Rafael's remark: Because of injuries first to Povetkin and then to heavyweight titlist Wladimir Klitschko, Povetkin's mandatory title shot has been put off for about a year. The 2004 Russian Olympic gold medalist probably will get his title shot next summer, but Povetkin, 30, didn't want to just sit. So he took this fight with Detroit's Nolan, 37, to shake off the rust of an eight-month layoff. It was also an opportunity to get in his first fight with his new trainer, Teddy Atlas. The pairing worked well as Povetkin took apart Nolan, an opponent better than you might figure that Povetkin would take with a title shot on the horizon. But Povetkin manhandled his slower opponent. He hurt Nolan near the end of the second round with an assortment of blows, including a nasty uppercut. In the third round, Povetkin kept the pressure on, eventually dropping Nolan to his knees with a seven-punch flurry. Nolan survived, but not for long. Moments later, Povetkin dropped him for good with a big right uppercut along the ropes.

Saturday at Montreal
Junior middleweight
Joachim Alcine W12 Christophe Canclaux
Scores: 117-110 (twice), 115-113
Records: Alcine, 32-1, 19 KOs; Canclaux, 40-3, 25 KOs

Rafael's remark: In July 2008, Daniel Santos viciously knocked out Alcine in the sixth round to take his junior middleweight world title. The loss sent Montreal's Alcine, 33, into a 13-month layoff before he returned for a lethargic points victory against Eric Mitchell in August. In his second bout since losing his title, Alcine had a lot more energy and looked a lot better taking a decision from France's Canclaux, 33, in a hard-fought battle. The victory ought to put Alcine a step closer to another title shot, which probably will come in 2010. Alcine used his technical skills to keep control of Canclaux, whose 15-fight winning streak since 2005 ended. Canclaux fought dirty, continually hitting Alcine behind the head, which cost him a point in the second round. Alcine did a nice job of keeping the fight in the center of the ring to control Canclaux, who got hammered with hard shots all night, which his face showed by the end of the fight. A good, solid win for Alcine.

Cruiserweight
Troy Ross KO1 Daniel Bispo
Records: Ross, 23-1, 16 KOs; Bispo, 21-12, 15 KOs

Rafael's remark: Canada's Ross, who won this year's edition of "The Contender," blew away Brazil's Bispo in just 72 seconds. Ross, 34, hammered Bispo, 35, with a series of overhand lefts and mixed in a left to the body, which took Bispo's wind away and dropped him to his knees for the count. Ross looked very good, albeit against an opponent who is now 2-6 in his last eight bouts. Ross, a two-time Canadian Olympian, deserves a title shot and probably will get one in 2010.

Friday at Santa Ynez, Calif.
Junior middleweight
Carson Jones TKO3 Tyrone Brunson
Records: Jones, 24-7-1, 15 KOs; Brunson, 21-1-1, 20 KOs

Rafael's remark: Brunson, 24, of Philadelphia, began his career with 19 consecutive first-round knockouts, which looks impressive until you consider they were compiled against woeful opposition. Since then, Brunson has been held to a six-round draw, an eight-round decision, a third-round knockout and, finally, this knockout loss when he stepped up to face a real opponent. Jones, 23, of Oklahoma City, ain't no world-beater, but he can fight a little and showed it to Brunson, who was exposed as a paper tiger. Brunson did well in the first two rounds, but in the third, the more experienced Jones dropped him facefirst with a right-left combination. Brunson fell apart after that. He went into a defensive shell, and Jones battered him relentlessly until referee James Jen-Kin had no choice but to stop it because Brunson wasn't throwing back.

Junior welterweight
Mike Anchondo W8 Mauricio Herrera
Scores: 77-75 (twice) Anchondo, 79-73 Herrera
Records: Anchondo, 30-2, 19 KOs; Herrera, 13-1, 6 KOs

Rafael's remark: Yet another questionable decision. Is there something in the water lately, or what? Facing his most notable opponent yet in former junior lightweight titlist Anchondo, Herrera looked like he passed the test but didn't get the decision. Many thought he won, including Showtime analysts Steve Farhood and Antonio Tarver, who both had Herrera, 29, of Riverside, Calif., by two points in the "ShoBox" co-feature. The first two or three rounds were closely contested, but Herrera, a pro for only two years, seemed to sweep the last several rounds. Anchondo, 27, of La Puente, Calif., won his third in a row since ending a two-year layoff in April.

Friday at Agde, France
Bantamweight
Anselmo Moreno TKO11 Frederic Patrac
Retains a bantamweight title
Records: Moreno, 28-1-1, 10 KOs; Patrac, 26-8-1, 13 KOs

Rafael's remark: Panama's Moreno, a 24-year-old southpaw, made his fifth title defense in easy fashion in Patrac's hometown. Patrac, 31, was a joke of a title challenger despite a 12-fight winning streak entering the fight, because all of the wins had come against woeful competition. Moreno was in control before hurting Patrac in the eighth round. He was on the verge of getting the knockout, but the bell rang to end the round and Moreno couldn't finish him. Moreno continued to unload on Patrac before eventually finishing in him the 11th round with a sustained attack. Moreno deserves credit for his willingness to travel. In his five defenses, he has fought twice in Panama and France and once in Germany.

Thursday at New York
Junior welterweight
Tim Coleman W12 Mike Arnaoutis
Scores: 115-113 (twice) Coleman, 116-112 Arnaoutis
Records: Coleman, 17-1-1, 4 KOs; Arnaoutis, 22-4-2, 10 KOs

Rafael's remark: We've seen some awfully bad scorecards recently haven't we? There were the even scorecards turned in by Alan Davis and Benoit Roussel in the Ali Funeka-Joan Guzman fight two weeks ago, even though most saw Funeka clearly winning. There was Gale Van Hoy's abysmal 118-110 scorecard in Juan Diaz's favor in a close fight with Paulie Malignaggi in August. And then there was the horrific 119-110 scorecard turned in by Pierre Benoist in favor of Paul Williams in his razor-close fight with Sergio Martinez, which even Williams' team repudiated. We had more shoddy judging in this fight as Glenn Feldman and Kevin Morgan both had Baltimore's Coleman, 25, winning a fight many -- including the Versus broadcast team -- saw as being lopsided in favor of Greece native Arnaoutis. Arnaoutis, 30, a former world title challenger, deserved the decision in the boring fight. He was busier, more aggressive and more accurate with his punches, which also appeared harder than Coleman's. Just another crappy decision on a growing list of curious scorecards.

Heavyweight
Shannon Briggs KO1 Marcus McGee
Records: Briggs, 49-5-1, 43 KOs; McGee, 22-18, 11 KOs

Rafael's remark: Briggs, who turned 38 on Dec. 4, made his ring return after having his originally scheduled comeback a few weeks ago called off. (His opponent dropped out the day before the fight because of medical reasons.) After being away from the ring since June 2007 -- when he lost a heavyweight title to Sultan Ibragimov in a dreadful fight -- Briggs turned up on the Versus card being put on by promoter Joe DeGuardia, with whom Briggs is close to signing. He wasted no time getting back to work, needing just 121 seconds to blow out McGee. All it took to drop McGee for the full count was a crippling right hand to the ribs. It looked very, very painful as McGee stayed down on his knees for several minutes after taking the shot. Briggs didn't have much in front of him, but it's the start of what Briggs hopes is a road that leads him to a title fight with one of the Klitschko brothers. Given the lack of quality contenders, the need for opponents for both Klitschkos and Briggs' gift for gab, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see him get the opportunity at some point. McGee, 38, was coming off a three-round knockout loss to former titlist Samuel Peter in July.

Wednesday at Philadelphia
Light heavyweight
Bernard Hopkins W12 Enrique Ornelas
Scores: 120-108, 119-109, 118-110
Records: Hopkins, 50-5-1, 32 KOs; Ornelas, 29-6, 19 KOs

Rafael's remark: Before Hopkins fought, he already knew that Roy Jones Jr., whom Hopkins was supposed to face in March, had been knocked out earlier in the day in one round by Danny Green, derailing their signed rematch. But despite the big fight going down the tubes, Hopkins brushed it off and went out and did what he was supposed to do in his tune-up fight: dominate a game Ornelas, 29, who never backed down. Fighting in his hometown for the first time since 2003, Hopkins started slowly (as usual) and picked up the pace en route to a dominant decision just a few weeks shy of his 45th birthday. Despite his age, Hopkins can still get it done. Although he hadn't fought in the 14 months since his lopsided victory against middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik, Hopkins didn't look old or all that rusty after taking a few rounds to warm up. With Jones out of the picture, Hopkins still will get a big fight. It just isn't clear who will be next. It could be cruiserweight champ Tomasz Adamek, super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute or star light heavyweight Chad Dawson. Paul Williams' people are interested in their fighter facing Hopkins as well. Whatever Hopkins does next, he has designs on going for heavyweight titlist David Haye after that in what could be an interesting 2010 for "The Executioner."

Wednesday at Sydney, Australia
Cruiserweight
Danny Green TKO1 Roy Jones Jr.
Records: Green, 28-3, 25 KOs; Jones Jr., 54-6, 40 KOs

Rafael's remark: Jones is done. Can it be put any more bluntly? He'll go down as an all-time great, a former four-division champion who ruled the pound-for-pound list for a decade. But now he's 40 and waaaay past his prime. He needs to retire before he gets seriously hurt. In his prime, Jones ate guys like Green for lunch. This version of Jones, who hasn't been the same since 2004, when Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson put him to sleep, can't last a round with Green, who needed only 122 seconds to blitz him in one of the biggest fights in Australian history. Green, 36, had come to America and won in August on the undercard of Jones' win against Jeff Lacy as part of the buildup to their fight against each other. Green knocked down Jones with a punch to the back of the ear, which completely ruined Jones' balance. Jones continued but never fully got it together as Green unleashed something like 40 punches. Jones could only cover up, forcing the referee to stop it. Some called it a quick stoppage, which is garbage. Actually, it could have been stopped a few seconds sooner, and Jones didn't complain when it was halted. The loss ruined Jones' plans to fight Bernard Hopkins in March in a rematch of Jones' 1993 middleweight title victory. After Jones and Green struck a deal to fight, Jones and Hopkins finally came to an agreement on their rematch -- after years of trying to make it. But with Jones due at least $4 million and being a man of his word, he didn't pull out of the Green fight. It wound up not only costing Jones the Hopkins fight, but what was left of his dying career. Please, let this be the end for him.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.