Commentary

Vitali continues Klitschko dominance

Originally Published: May 31, 2010
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


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

Saturday at Gelsenkirchen, Germany
Heavyweight
Vitali Klitschko TKO10 Albert Sosnowski
Records: Klitschko, 40-2, 38 KOs; Sosnowski, 45-3-1, 27 KOs

Rafael's remark: The Klitschko domination of the heavyweight division continued, not that anyone should be at all surprised. While Wladimir Klitschko has won 12 in a row in dominant fashion and made eight title defenses (while also unifying two alphabet belts and claiming the Ring magazine title), older brother Vitali Klitschko, 38, has been dominating as well. After ending a nearly four-year injury-induced retirement in 2008, he regained a title by crushing Samuel Peter and has now made four defenses, barely losing a round along the way. His latest victim was the Poland-born, England-based Sosnowski, who stood almost no chance of winning. But the division is so weak right now, and there were few available contenders, that Sosnowski, 31, got the opportunity of a lifetime. Fighting in Klitschko's adopted home country and in front of a crowd of about 50,000, Sosnowski at least tried to win, which is more than can be said for Klitschko's previous victim, Kevin Johnson, who wanted only to survive in their December fight. Klitschko, with a five-inch height advantage (6-foot-7 to 6-1) and a 23-pound weight advantage (247 to 224), used his long reach to keep Sosnowski on the outside most of the time until he started cranking up his nasty right hand. Although Sosnowski, the former European champion who got the world title shot without having ever scored a signature victory, got through with a few decent right hands, the only real chance he had was to land a lucky haymaker. But Klitschko is too smart for that to happen and had his way with Sosnowski all the way. Sosnowski's legs were beginning to go after taking so many hard shots when Klitschko backed him into a corner and unleashed a brutal overhand right in the 10th round. It landed on the side of Sosnowski's face and dropped him to his rear end against the corner pad. Referee Jay Nady immediately called off the fight without a count with 30 seconds left in the round. It was a good call.

Now the question will be, simply, who is next? Klitschko (as well has his brother) would like a unification match with England's David Haye, although Haye has done his best to duck both brothers despite calling them out constantly. Klitschko could also possibly meet former titlist Nikolai Valuev, which would be a spectacle between two huge men. Whoever is next, it seems that the Klitschko freight train will roll on.

Saturday at Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Junior featherweight
Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. TKO10 Zsolt Bedak
Retains a junior featherweight title
Records: Vazquez Jr., 19-0-1, 16 KOs; Bedak, 15-1, 5 KOs

Rafael's remark: In February, Vazquez, 25, looked great knocking out Marvin Sonsona in the fourth round to win a vacant 122-pound title. In his first defense, again fighting at home in Puerto Rico and headlining an Integrated Sports pay-per-view card, Vazquez looked excellent turning back a spirited challenge from Bedak, who was the mandatory contender and fighting outside Europe for the first time. With his father in his corner, former three-division titlist Wilfredo Vazquez Sr., the younger Vazquez steadily broke Bedak down in a mature performance. Bedak, 26, a native of Hungary living in Germany, was in the fight for the first few rounds, but Vazquez was too quick and accurate with his punches. They brawled throughout the fifth round, but Bedak was getting the worst of it. By the seventh round, Bedak's right eye was swelling and Vazquez buckled him with a right hand. He hurt him again in the eighth, snapping his head back with another right hand. It was only a matter of time until Vazquez, who makes very good fights, got rid of him. He finally did in the 10th. He was in total control when he dropped Bedak with a right hand, and although he made it to his feet, his corner mercifully threw in the towel.

Junior lightweight
Roman "Rocky" Martinez KO4 Gonzalo Mungia
Retains a junior lightweight title

Records: Martinez, 24-0-1, 15 KOs; Mungia, 17-7-3, 13 KOs

Rafael's remark: It was quick but exciting as Martinez, of Puerto Rico, successfully defended his 130-pound belt for the second time with a strong performance against Nicaragua's Mungia, 30. Martinez, 27, won his title on the road in England by knocking out Nicky Cook in four rounds in March 2009. He routed Feider Viloria in nine rounds, also in Puerto Rico, in his first defense in September and then took out Mungia in style. The fight will best be remembered for an outstanding, all-action third round, which should go down as a round of the year candidate. Martinez and Mungia spent virtually the entire round standing in the center of the ring and trading bombs. Martinez's blows seemed to be heavier, but Mungia showed a surprisingly good chin by sopping up all the shots and continuing to march forward. Martinez took several shots, too, but he staggered Mungia just before the bell ended the blazing round. The round obviously took a lot out of Mungia when they picked up where they left off in the fourth round. Martinez, who had predicted a knockout, caught him with a right uppercut that knocked him to his backside. As a spent Mungia rested with his back against one of the corner pads, he took the full count from referee Roberto Ramirez Jr., who reached 10 at one minute, 48 seconds. Good performance from Martinez, who has risen to the top of the weak junior lightweight division.

Junior bantamweight
McWilliams Arroyo TKO2 Samuel Gutierrez

Records: Arroyo, 3-0, 3 KOs; Gutierrez, 5-7-1, 0 KOs

Rafael's remark: Arroyo, 24, half of the twin brother tandem of 2008 Puerto Rican Olympians who are among the island's best prospects, had an easy night putting away Mexico's Gutierrez, 21. Arroyo was in total command in the opening round. A low blow hurt Gutierrez in the second round before a left hook/right hand combination knocked him to his knees. Although Gutierrez got to his feet by eight, referee Ramon Pena called it off. Arroyo will be in action quickly. He's scheduled to box June 12 at the Madison Square Garden Theater on the undercard of Ivan Calderon's junior flyweight title defense against Jesus Iribe on the eve of the annual National Puerto Rican Day parade in New York.

Bantamweight
McJoe Arroyo W4 Jairo Delgado
Scores: 40-36 (three times)
Records: Arroyo, 3-0, 1 KO; Delgado, 3-7, 3 KOs

Rafael's remark: Like his twin brother, McWilliams, McJoe, 24, was a standout amateur and 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian. He looked good and against Delgado, displayed fast hands and nice combination punching. Although he couldn't stop Denver's Delgado, 29, or even knock him down, Arroyo landed a lot of punches and easily won each round in an entertaining bout that opened the pay-per-view card.

Saturday at Chicago
Welterweight
Jesus Soto-Karass No-Contest 1 Gabriel Martinez
Records: Soto-Karass, 24-4-3, 16 KOs; Martinez, 24-1-1, 13 KOs

Rafael's remark: After a 2005 decision loss to future junior middleweight titleholder Yuri Foreman in 2005, Soto-Karass went on a 15-fight unbeaten streak (13-0-2). Now, he's winless in his last two fights after the disappointing end to this "Top Rank Live" main event. Soto-Karass, 27, of Mexico but living in Los Angeles, was coming off a six-round technical decision loss to Alfonso Gomez in November in which Gomez was severely cut by an accidental head butt in the third round. This bout went down as a no-contest as Soto-Karass leaned far inside while throwing a punch and he and Martinez had a nasty accidental clash of heads. It left Martinez with a gaping cut under his left eye. They finished the round and then the bout was stopped. Too bad, because it was shaping up as entertaining fight.

Light heavyweight
Mike Lee W4 Emmitt Woods
Scores: 40-36 (three times)
Records: Lee, 1-0, 0 KOs; Woods, 0-4-1, 0 KOs

Rafael's remark: Decked out in alma mater Notre Dame's blue and gold colors, Lee, 22, turned pro in front of an enthusiastic home crowd. He had sold about $110,000 worth of tickets, a stunning amount for a guy making his pro debut as he packed 'em in for his bout on "Top Rank Live." Lee graduated with a finance degree, but decided to pursue a pro boxing career after a limited amateur career in which he won his weight class in the 2009 Chicago Golden Gloves and also boxed in Notre Dame's Bengal Bouts, which raise money for the Holy Cross Missions of Bangladesh. He didn't disappoint all those supporters. Lee, who is being trained by Ronnie Shields, one of the best in the business, won easily against Woods, 38. That was expected, but what was nice to see was that Lee's fundamentals were so sound. He looked in great shape and displayed a crisp jab, which he kept working throughout the fight. He also kept his hands nice and high and threw a lot of combinations. For a pro debut, it was a fine performance. With his popularity, all-American back story and potential, he's a guy to keep an eye on. Top Rank has scheduled him to return July 24 in Las Vegas on the undercard of featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa's next bout.

Junior welterweight
Jose Benavidez KO1 Ronnie Peterson

Records: Benavidez, 6-0, 6 KOs; Peterson, 2-2, 2 KOs

Rafael's remark: We can call this a late birthday present. Benavidez, of Phoenix, turned 18 on May 15, and got himself his fourth first-round knockout in his six fights since turning pro in January after a standout amateur career. Top Rank considers Benavidez perhaps its most important prospect, and he continues to hone his skills as a pro. Peterson, of Minnesota, tried to make it a fight but was outgunned. Benavidez put his punches together well and finished him off with a left hook to the body that sent Peterson to a knee in a corner, where he took the full count while trying to catch his breath. Benavidez is slated to return in San Antonio on June 26, where Top Rank is putting on its "Latin Fury 15" pay-per-view card.

Saturday at Mar del Plata, Argentina
Junior flyweight
Luis Lazarte W12 Carlos Tamara
Wins a junior flyweight title
Scores: 116-112, 115-113 Lazarte, 115-113 Tamara
Records: Lazarte, 47-9-1, 18 KOs; Tamara, 21-5, 15 KOs

Rafael's remark: The sixth time was finally the charm for Lazarte, the unlikely winner of a world title in his sixth -- yes, sixth -- try. He's 39, so this was probably going to be the last hurrah, and he made it count. The sheer elation on his weathered face after receiving the decision could have brought a lump to anyone's throat. And although the 5-foot-1 Lazarte was the hometown fighter, it didn't seem as though he got a hometown nod in the split decision. He had done enough to win the fight, overcoming a 4-inch height deficit and all those years. Tamara didn't seem to have any beef when the scores were read either. Tamara had been outpunched and outhustled throughout the fight, in which an accidental head butt had opened a cut over his left eye in the first round and seemed to bother him throughout the bout.

Lazarte had previously lost in five world title bouts on his long road. In 1999, he lost a split decision for a strawweight belt to Kermin Guardia. In 2001, he was stopped in the second round challenging Pongsaklek Wonjongkam for a flyweight title. In 2002, he was disqualified in the 10th round challenging countryman Omar Narvaez for a flyweight belt. In 2007, he was also disqualified in the 10th round challenging Edgar Sosa for a junior flyweight title. And in 2008, he dropped a majority decision to Daniel Reyes for an interim strawweight title. Tamara, 27, a 2004 Colombian Olympian now living in New Jersey, was making his first defense after pulling a big upset in January. That's when he went to the Philippines and knocked out prohibitive favorite Brian Viloria in the 12th round to win the belt.

Saturday at Windhoek, Namibia
Lightweight
Miguel Acosta KO6 Paulus Moses
Wins a lightweight title
Records: Acosta, 26-9-2, 20 KOs; Moses, 25-1, 17 KOs

Rafael's remark: Venezuela's Acosta upset Urbano Antillon via ninth-round knockout 10 months ago to win a vacant interim belt, and he was the underdog again going into his bout with titleholder Moses in Moses' home country. Again, Acosta pulled the upset, stopping Moses at 2 minutes, 17 seconds of the sixth round of his second title defense. According to Teddy Singleton, who was on hand representing Moses promoter Don King, Acosta, 32, pressured Moses, 31, from the start of the fight before a right hand did him in and he took the full count while sitting on the canvas. One word of note on Acosta's title: It's one of those pointless WBA "regular" belts. Juan Manuel Marquez is the WBA's "super" champion and the legitimate, lineal lightweight world champion.

Friday at Quebec City
Super middleweight
Librado Andrade TKO8 Eric Lucas
Records: Andrade, 29-3, 22 KOs; Lucas, 39-8-3, 15 KOs

Rafael's remark: It was not exactly a great birthday for Lucas, who turned 39 the day after the fight. The former super middleweight titlist from Montreal saw his career come to a likely end at the hands of Andrade, 31, the former three-time title challenger who kept alive his chances for another shot. Lucas, who held a belt from 2001 to 2003, had retired in early 2006 after being stopped in the 10th round of a title fight by Mikkel Kessler. But Lucas returned for a fourth-round knockout of Ramon Moyano in December. The second bout of his comeback, which headlined on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights," didn't go nearly as well. They put on a competitive action fight, but Andrade, stronger and fresher, was just too much for Lucas. Andrade, who is from Mexico and living in La Habra, Calif., bloodied Lucas' nose, opened a cut over his right eye in the fourth round and a much worse cut over his left eye in the fifth round. By the end of the eighth round, the cut over Lucas' left eye was particularly severe and spewing blood, and the fight was rightly called off. Lucas said afterward that he didn't want to become a stepping-stone opponent and would probably go back into retirement. For Andrade, it was a nice bounce-back victory after he had been stopped in the fourth round of a rematch with titleholder Lucian Bute in the same building on HBO in November.

Friday at Santa Fe, Argentina
Welterweight
Sebastian Lujan KO5 Jailer Berrio
Records: Lujan, 33-5-2, 21 KOs; Berrio, 13-7, 7 KOs

Rafael's remark: For the past couple of years, Golden Boy has promoted monthly cards in Mexico, Central America and South America that have only been televised on the HBO Plus service in those regions. But thanks to Golden Boy's new deal with Telefutura, those cards will also be televised in the United States as part of the relaunch of "Solo Boxeo Tecate." This was the first of those broadcasts as Lujan, 30, of Argentina, knocked out Colombia's Berrio, 22, who has lost every time he's stepped up his competition. This was no different as Lujan, a former two-time title challenger, notched his seventh win in a row. Lujan dropped Berrio twice in the fourth round, including a digging left hook to the body. What appeared to be another clear knockdown in the round was not called by referee Jorge Basile. It hardly mattered because in the fifth, Lujan pounded him the mat early in the round and finished him during a follow-up flurry seconds later. In his two title bouts, Lujan suffered a memorable 10th-round TKO loss to then-welterweight titlist Antonio Margarito on ESPN2. That was the one in which Lujan's ear nearly came off the side of his head in a one of the most disgusting ring injuries you will ever see. In 2006, Lujan dropped a decision to junior middleweight titlist Sergei Dzinziruk.

Friday at Norfolk, Va.
Heavyweight
Shannon Briggs TKO1 Rob Calloway
Records: Briggs, 51-5-1, 45 KOs; Calloway, 70-12-2, 57 KOs

Rafael's remark: One week after New York's Briggs, a former heavyweight champ, needed only 20 seconds to knock out Dominique Alexander, the 38-year-old was in the ring again. And this time Briggs needed 98 seconds to dust Calloway, who has lost to many top names but has never been stopped in the first round before. Briggs, still angling for a shot at either Vitali or Wladimir Klitschko, dropped Calloway three times en route to the victory. He dropped in the first seconds with a body shot, and it got no better for Calloway, 40, of St. Joseph, Mo., who lost for the fourth time in his last five bouts with each defeat coming via knockout. Since losing a version of the title to Sultan Ibragimov in 2007, Briggs is 3-0 with a no-contest, which came about because he tested positive for a banned substance after a December fight with Marcus McGee.

Friday at Levallois-Perret, France
Welterweight
Souleymane M'Baye W12 Antonin Decarie
Wins a vacant interim welterweight title
Scores: 116-113 (twice), 116-112
Records: M'Baye, 39-3-1, 21 KOs; Decarie, 27-1, 7 KOs

Rafael's remark: M'Baye, 35, of France, briefly held a lightweight belt in 2006 and 2007, and won his third in a row. He dropped Canada's Decarie, 27, in the fourth round on his way to the win. M'Baye, who got the shot as part of a settlement of a protracted lawsuit with the WBA, picked up the organization's interim belt. Typical WBA nonsense. It was only last week that the WBA had finally recognized only one titleholder in the 147-pound division after stripping Shane Mosley of his "super champion" designation after he had lost to Floyd Mayweather at the weight but not in an official title fight. That left the obscure Vyacheslav Senchenko as the lone WBA titleholder in the division. Alas, he now has unwelcome company. And the beat goes on.

Thursday at Los Angeles
Junior welterweight
Frankie Gomez TKO1 Akeem Akinbode
Records: Gomez, 3-0, 3 KOs; Akinbode, 1-3-1, 1 KO

Rafael's remark: Gomez is a heralded Golden Boy prospect from East Los Angeles. Just 18, Gomez was a silver medalist (when he was 17) in the 2009 World Amateur Championship and a favorite to make the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team. However, he took a big signing bonus and turned pro in April. Fighting on Golden Boy's monthly "Fight Night Club" show at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles, Gomez needed a mere 48 seconds to blow away the Nigeria-born, Los Angeles-based Akinbode. Gomez pretty much rushed at Akinbode and was unloading punches as Akinbode cowered along the ropes until referee Jerry Cantu called it off during the shellacking. Gomez undoubtedly gets better work in the gym -- this so-called fight proved nothing, since his opponent didn't seem as though he had any idea how to fight. In any event, Gomez is supposed to return June 24 on "Fight Night Club" and followed by an appearance on the July 31 Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz II undercard. Big things are expected from Gomez, and he'll fight about once a month for at least the rest of the year as he adjusts to the pro game.

Bantamweight
Jose Navarro W6 Benji Garcia
Scores: 60-54 (three times)
Records: Navarro, 27-5, 12 KOs; Garcia, 14-15-3, 1 KO

Rafael's remark: Navarro, a 2000 U.S. Olympian, has been beset by hard luck during his career. Four of his losses came in junior bantamweight title fights, including a split-decision loss to Katsushige Kawashima in Japan in 2005. Navarro, 28, of Los Angeles, was blatantly robbed in a hometown decision in that one. After losing three fights in a row -- decisions in title bouts to Dmitry Kirilov (2007) and Cristian Mijares (2008) and an eighth-round knockout to journeyman Michael Domingo in Philippines in October -- it looked as though Navarro might call it a career. But Navarro decided he wasn't ready to go out just yet and made his comeback on Golden Boy's "Fight Night Club" card in his hometown. He easily halted his three-fight losing streak by winning every round against Garcia, 27, who dropped his fourth fight in a row and fifth of his last six.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.