Commentary

Arce makes most of opportunity

Originally Published: February 1, 2010
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


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

Saturday at Mexico City
Junior bantamweight
Jorge Arce Tech. Dec. 7 Angky Angkota
Wins a vacant junior bantamweight title
Scores: 60-54 (twice), 58-56
Records: Arce, 53-6-1, 40 KOs; Angkota, 23-5, 14 KOs

Rafael's remark: For more than a decade, Arce has been one of boxing's most exciting gladiators. He has engaged in countless exciting brawls and regularly fights through bloody cuts, all while being one of the more charismatic and engaging fighters outside the ring. Along the way he claimed two versions of the junior flyweight title and interim titles at flyweight and junior bantamweight. But all the tough fights have certainly taken their toll on the 30-year-old Mexican and he certainly has looked close to the end of his career after a tough 2009 in which he went 1-2. In his losses, he was hammered by junior bantamweight champ Vic Darchinyan over 11 lopsided rounds in February and dropped a clear decision in Mexico to South Africa's Simphiwe Nongqayi in September in a fight for a vacant junior bantamweight belt. Yet Arce's handlers, Top Rank and Zanfer Promotions, somehow managed to get Arce yet another title bout, this time for the 115-pound belt that became vacant in November when titleholder Marvin Sonsona failed to make weight for a defense and was stripped. Arce made the most of the undeserved opportunity as he dominated Angkota, 28, a heretofore unknown fighter from Indonesia who entered the bout on a six-fight winning streak against utterly obscure opponents. Although Arce took some shots -- when doesn't he? -- he was handling Angkota, pressing him into corners and firing away. In the seventh round, however, an accidental head butt opened a cut over Angkota's right eye and as blood dripped down the side of his face, the bout was called off after the ringside doctor had a look at the wound. They went to the scorecards, where Arce got the deserved decision in the undeserved fight. Given Arce's star power in Mexico, it won't be a surprise to see his team try to milk the title with a couple of easy defenses. At least they ought to be fun.

On the undercard, rising featherweight prospect Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia (19-0, 16 KOs), 22, of Oxnard, Calif., suffered a small cut over his right eye, but stopped Mexico's Arturo Gomez (15-14-5, 6 KOs) in the fifth round. Garcia, the younger brother of his trainer and former junior lightweight titleholder Robert Garcia, was added to the card because a bout against Mexico's Joksan Hernandez scheduled for the series opener of "Top Rank Live" on Jan. 16 was called off a couple of days before the bout because of Hernandez's visa problem.

Saturday at Neubrandenburg, Germany
Middleweight
Sebastian Sylvester TKO10 Billy Lyell
Retains a middleweight title
Records: Sylvester, 33-3, 16 KOs; Lyell, 21-8, 4 KOs

Rafael's remark: In September, Germany's Sylvester, 29, took a split decision against Giovanni Lorenzo to win the 160-pound belt that Arthur Abraham vacated to move up to super middleweight and join the Super Six World Boxing Classic. Sylvester's first defense was supposed to come against Spain's Pablo Navascues. However, Navascues tested positive for a banned substance during a random drug test less than two weeks before the fight. So Lyell, 25, who is from Youngstown, Ohio, and trained by Jack Loew -- who also trains the more famous Youngstown middleweight, champion Kelly Pavlik -- took the fight on short notice. Instead, of a "Rocky" story, Lyell got banged around until Loew threw in the towel during the 10th round of the one-sided bout. The victory was the fourth in a row for Sylvester since a lopsided decision loss in November 2008, when he challenged countryman Felix Sturm for his version of the title. Lyell has been largely a journeyman in his career, but gained a measure of notoriety, which probably helped him land the fight, when he upset John Duddy via split decision in April 2009 for the biggest win of his career.

Heavyweight
Robert Helenius TKO8 Lamon Brewster
Records: Helenius, 11-0, 7 KOs; Brewster, 35-6, 30 KOs

Rafael's remark: Sauerland Event-promoted prospect Helenius, 26, a native of Finland living in Germany, scored his most notable victory of his young pro career by battering former titleholder Brewster. In his day, Brewster could at least be competitive with any heavyweight around and once reached the pinnacle with an upset fifth-round TKO of Wladimir Klitschko in their first fight in 2004. But Brewster is a shell of himself now and the 6-foot-6, 243-pound Helenius smacked him around almost at will. It was sad to see Brewster getting hit with everything, especially mean right hands that bounced off his face with impunity and swelled his eye. Helenius, who also worked in some solid body shots, dropped Brewster in the second round with a right hand to the chin. Finally, in the eighth round, referee Fabian Guggenheim stepped in to stop the bout as Helenius was finishing yet another unanswered combination. Helenius is being moved very aggressively by his handlers, having racked up wins against a trio of experienced opponents in Brewster, Taras Bidenko and Scott Gammer in the last nine months. This should most certainly be the end of the line for Brewster, 36, of Indianapolis, who lost his second in a row and is 2-4 in his last six, but continued to fight despite having had major eye issues. If Brewster continues to fight, he will be nothing more than a stepping-stone for a rising prospect. Let's hope he doesn't take that route.

Saturday at Puebla, Mexico
Strawweight
Roman Gonzalez TKO4 Ivan Meneses
Retains a strawweight title
Records: Gonzalez, 25-0, 21 KOs; Meneses, 14-6-1, 8 KOs

Rafael's remark: Nicaragua's Gonzalez, 22, is one of the most powerful little packages in boxing. He is a relentless puncher and he cut through Meneses in his hometown with ease to retain his 105-pound title for the third time. Frankly, it was surprising that Meneses even made it into the fourth round because Gonzalez was pounding him, had dropped him and had given him some nasty swelling around his eye. Every punch seemed to rock Meneses. Finally, in the fourth round, with Meneses trapped in a corner and Gonzalez teeing off, the referee mercifully stopped the bout. Gonzalez could dominate the strawweight division for as long as he can continue to make weight, although that might not be for too much longer. In a notable undercard bout, Mexico's Francisco Rosas (21-7-2, 12 KOs) claimed a majority decision against Juan Landaeta (25-7-1, 19 KOs) of Venezuela in a junior flyweight title eliminator on scores of 118-112, 115-113 and 114-114.

Friday at Las Vegas
Light heavyweight
Beibut Shumenov W12 Gabriel Campillo
Wins a light heavyweight title
Scores: 117-111, 115-113 Shumenov, 117-111 Campillo
Records: Shumenov, 9-1, 6 KOs; Campillo, 19-3, 6 KOs

Rafael's remark: What's that nasty odor? If you guessed the decision in this fight, you'd be right. It's early still in 2010, but already we have a candidate for worst decision of the year as Shumenov got a gift in this rematch with Spain's Campillo. Judge Levi Martinez was spot on with his 117-111 scorecard for Campillo. Judges Patricia Morse Jarman (117-111) and Jerry Roth (115-113) have some 'splainin' to do. It's just hard to fathom giving the fight to Shumenov, much less by six points. Shumenov, 26, lives in Las Vegas but is from Kazakhstan, which he represented in the 2004 Olympics. He turned pro in 2007 and moved very, very quickly, bringing Campillo, 31, to Kazakhstan to challenge him for his title in August in just Shumenov's ninth professional bout. Campillo retained the title via majority decision. A controversy over the lack of drug testing following the bout plus Shumenov's camp holding up Campillo's purse led to a settlement that included an immediate rematch in Las Vegas. Shumenov started off well and controlled the early rounds, including inflicting a cut over Campillo's left eye. But Campillo took over and rocked Shumenov several times, busting him up and nearly knocking him down. He was clearly landing the cleaner punches against the undisciplined and wild-swinging Shumenov. Campillo also had superior defense in avoiding most of Shumenov's blows. Later in the fight, Campillo opened a cut on Shumenov's nose and appeared on the verge of a stoppage in the ninth round. When the physical fight was over, Shumenov's body language looked like he knew he had lost while Campillo appeared confident. That was, of course, until the decision was read. Wow. That was bad. Campillo's team intends to file a protest, but those things rarely go anywhere.

Junior middleweight
Erislandy Lara TKO10 Grady Brewer
Records: Lara, 10-0, 6 KOs; Brewer, 26-12, 15 KOs

Rafael's remark: Lara, the Cuban defector and former world amateur champion, is on the fast track to a title shot. He's a gifted technician with a deep, deep amateur background. It seems to be just a matter of time until he gets a significant opportunity. Co-manager Shelly Finkel says Lara is ready to challenge titleholder Sergio Martinez, but he's not going to get a shot like that just yet. So right now, Lara is putting in his time and gaining professional experience, and Brewer, 39, of Lawton, Okla., represented his most notable opponent yet as a pro. Lara handled him with ease, outboxing the former "Contender" tournament winner before stopping him with 16 seconds left in the final round. Lara held a wide lead on all three scorecards, 90-81 (twice) and 88-83 going into the 10th round. Brewer was cut over the left eye in the sixth round from an accidental head butt and got knocked down in the final minute of the one-sided bout before Lara's follow-up assault forced referee Tony Weeks to stop the bout. Lara was simply too fast and too skilled for Brewer, who saw his eight-fight winning streak come to an end. During the streak, he won the 2006 "Contender" tournament.

Friday at Reno, Nev.
Super middleweight
Jesse Brinkley W12 Curtis Stevens
Title eliminator
Scores: 119-107, 118-108, 117-109
Records: Brinkley, 35-5, 22 KOs; Stevens, 21-3, 15 KOs

Rafael's remark: Congrats to Brinkley, who entered as an underdog but wiped out the obviously overconfident (and overrated) Stevens. Brinkley, fighting in front of his hometown fans, surprisingly dominated New York's Stevens to move a step closer to a mandatory title shot against Lucian Bute. ESPN2 analyst Teddy Atlas predicted that Brinkley, the 33-year-old former "Contender" participant, would be knocked out perhaps inside two rounds. It wasn't a bad prediction, actually, and Stevens, an excellent puncher, was all over him in the opening round and wobbled Brinkley. However, Brinkley survived, got himself together and took his time as he methodically carried the action to Stevens, 24, with stunning ease in an excellent "Friday Night Fights" main event. There was good action throughout the bout. When they went toe-to-toe in the fifth round, they continued firing at each other well after the bell, prompting Peter Manfredo Sr., Brinkley's trainer, to jump into the ring and push Stevens off his man. It was a pretty wild scene and Manfredo was ejected from the corner for the rest of the fight. Brinkley, who had a swollen right eye, scored knockdowns in the sixth and 12th rounds and swelled up Stevens' face to leave no doubt about the winner. He landed a bunch of hard right hands in the sixth round, finally driving Stevens back to the ropes and then to the canvas on a delayed reaction to a shot. From that point on, Stevens looked like a beaten man. In the 12th round, referee Vic Drakulich properly credited Brinkley with a second knockdown with about 35 seconds left when he unloaded several blows and Stevens staggered into the ropes, which held him up. While Brinkley won his ninth fight in a row and scored perhaps the best victory of his career, Stevens, whose four-fight winning streak came to an end, now goes back to the drawing board, because this was a bad loss.

Friday at Albuquerque, N.M.
Bantamweight
Chris Avalos KO4 Jose Nieves
Records: Avalos, 15-0, 12 KOs; Nieves, 17-2-3, 8 KOs

Rafael's remark: Avalos, 20, of Lancaster, Calif., is one of the more exciting prospects in boxing and he did nothing to alter that view with a strong performance in the "ShoBox" main event. With blow-by-blow man Nick Charles back at ringside for the first time since a cancer diagnosis last summer, Avalos looked great. Although he was wobbled briefly in the opening round, Avalos settled down and took over. He dropped Nieves, 29, a southpaw from Puerto Rico, with a right hand to the chest during a combination in the opening seconds of the second round. An uppercut appeared to cause another knockdown in the round, but referee Rocky Burke ruled it was a slip. In the fourth round, Avalos hammered Nieves with hard combinations and had him up against the ropes looking for cover when he dropped him to his backside with a flurry with a minute to go. Avalos attacked again as soon as the fight resumed and clipped Nieves with a strong right hand to the chin that sent him down again, and Nieves could not beat the count. As good as Avalos looked, let's all remember he is still 20 and that there is no rush. He probably needs a few more fights against increased competition before he's ready for something significant.

Junior lightweight
Archie Ray Marquez W8 Derrick Campos
Scores: 80-71, 79-72, 77-74
Records: Marquez, 10-0, 7 KOs; Campos, 20-8, 11 KOs

Rafael's remark: Fighting in his hometown, Marquez, 21, took a solid step up in competition and scored a lopsided decision against Campos, 28, of Topeka, Kan. Marquez started slowly, probably losing the opening round, and then cruised, including scoring a questionable knockdown in the final round in which the punch landed behind Campos' head and then Marquez inadvertently tripped him. But it didn't matter because Marquez was way ahead. Although Marquez has shown good power in previous bouts, Campos had never been stopped, so it was no surprise to see the fight go the distance. It was a solid win for Marquez, who needs to be a little busier and gain more experience. Watching Marquez excite the home crowd? Johnny Tapia (56-5-2, 28 KOs), the troubled Albuquerque legend and former champion, who told Steve Farhood in an interview on the "ShoBox" telecast that he plans to fight again after a three-year layoff that included medical problems and stint in prison.

Friday at Mexico City
Bantamweight
Jesus Ruiz W12 Luis Melendez
Scores: 117-109, 115-111 (twice)
Records: Ruiz, 20-2-2, 17 KOs; Melendez, 26-5-1, 21 KOs

Rafael's remark: In the Telemundo main event, Mexico's Ruiz, who is just 20, picked up his third win in a row against Melendez, who even when he loses always puts in a strong effort. Ruiz overcame adversity to take the decision, getting off the deck from a third-round knockdown. Ruiz rebounded nicely to put round after round in the bank. He added to his apparent cushion in the ninth round when he scored a knockdown on a right hand, although their feet also got tangled. Melendez, 30, of Colombia, was trying to rebound from an emotional fight in November. Although he dropped a 10-round decision, his opponent, Z Gorres, left the ring in bad shape after collapsing and being rushed to a Las Vegas hospital for brain surgery. Because of the speed with which Gorres was moved into the operating room, he survived and was recently released from the hospital, although his career is obviously over. Melendez has lost four of his last six bouts, including a 12th-round knockout loss to Fernando Montiel in a sensational 2007 bantamweight title fight.

Friday at Uncasville, Conn.
Middleweight
Peter Manfredo Jr. W10 Matt Vanda
Scores: 100-89 (twice), 99-90
Records: Manfredo Jr., 34-6, 18 KOs; Vanda, 42-10, 22 KOs

Rafael's remark: When Manfredo has stepped up to face top-level opponents, he has lost. A former star of the first season of "The Contender" in 2005, Manfredo parlayed his appearance on the reality series into a title shot against then-super middleweight champ Joe Calzaghe in 2007 and was stopped in three rounds. Later in 2007, he lost a decision to former titleholder Jeff Lacy. And in 2008, he was knocked out in three rounds by Sakio Bika, another "Contender" alum who won the 2007 tournament. Since the loss to Bika, Manfredo, 29, of Providence, R.I., has taken the slow route back, winning a pair of fights in 2009 against lesser opponents. Now signed with TKO Boxing, Manfredo took on journeyman Vanda, 31, of St. Paul, Minn., and pounded out his third straight win. Manfredo was busier and better, dominating the fight and scoring a sixth-round knockdown on a body shot. Manfredo fought without his father, Peter Manfredo Sr., in his usual position in the corner as his trainer because the elder Manfredo, with his son's blessing, was instead with Jesse Brinkley for a more significant bout on the same night, an ESPN2 main event elimination bout against Curtis Stevens.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.