Commentary

Herelius outlasts Arslan in thriller

Originally Published: July 5, 2010
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


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

Saturday at Reno, Nev.
Junior bantamweight
Ulises "Archie" Solis W10 Eric Ortiz
Scores: 99-88, 98-89 (twice)
Records: Solis, 31-2-2, 21 KOs; Ortiz, 31-11-3, 20 KOs

Rafael's remark: In 2006, Solis won a junior flyweight title and made eight defenses -- including a ninth-round knockout of Ortiz in his first defense -- before being stopped by Brian Viloria in the 11th round in April. Since then, Solis has won three in a row, including a title eliminator against Bert Batawang in April that put him in position to challenge the winner of the Sept. 4 rematch between titleholder Luis Lazarte and Carlos Tamara in a mandatory fight. However, Solis, 28, who is the brother of interim junior lightweight titlist Jorge Solis, is used to staying active and did not want to sit and wait for the title shot. So he took this stay-busy bout against Ortiz, a former titleholder, in the main event of "Top Rank Live" and had a relatively easy night against his Mexican countryman. Solis simply had too much of everything for Ortiz, although referee Jay Nady docked a point from him in the ninth round for shoving Ortiz to the canvas. However, moments before the end of the round, Solis scored a knockdown when he clipped Ortiz with a left-right combination that forced Ortiz to touch his glove to the mat. A looping right hand from Solis landed in the 10th round and forced Ortiz to touch his glove to the canvas again for another knockdown, which punctuated an outcome that was obvious. Ortiz, 33, briefly held a junior flyweight title in 2005, stopping Jose Antonio Aguirre to win a vacant belt before being smashed in the first round six months later by Viloria. In Ortiz's next fight, he challenged Solis for his version of the 108-pound title in their first meeting. Now, after their rematch, Ortiz has lost two in a row and for the third time in four bouts.

Welterweight
Mark Melligen W10 Anges Adjaho
Scores: 99-91, 98-92, 97-93
Records: Melligen, 19-2, 13 KOs; Adjaho, 17-3, 9 KOs

Rafael's remark: Melligen, 24, of the Philippines, had an outstanding amateur career and is a fine professional prospect despite two defeats, one which came in his seventh pro fight and the other which came on a split decision to Michel Rosales in November under very trying circumstances, because the bout took place just after his best friend, Z Gorres, wound up in a coma after defeating Luis Melendez. That understandably messed with Melligen's head. But the southpaw rebounded from the defeat and has now won three fights in a row. He beat Adjaho rather handily, mainly because he was so much busier than Adjaho, who landed some good shots but not nearly enough of them. It was not the most fan-friendly fight but it was a solid, although unspectacular, performance from Melligen, who nonetheless seems to have a lot of potential. Adjaho, 30, who is from the African country of Benin but now based in Rochester, N.Y., had given future lightweight titlist Miguel Acosta a tough fight in a 2007 split decision loss in their title eliminator. Adjaho went on to win his next two fights before Antonio DeMarco stopped him in the ninth round of a title eliminator last July. After a year off, Adjaho moved up to welterweight to face Melligen, who had gotten props from Floyd Mayweather Jr. for the work he gave him in sparring as Mayweather prepared for his fight with Juan Manuel Marquez last year.

Light heavyweight
Joey Gilbert W8 Billy Bailey
scores: 80-72, 79-73 (twice)
Records: Gilbert, 21-2, 16 KOs; Bailey, 10-9-1, 4 KOs

Rafael's remark: Gilbert, 34, the former participant in the first edition of "The Contender" in 2004, pounded out the lopsided decision in front of his hometown fans. The victory was his third in a row since a virtual shutout loss to Nevada rival and fellow former "Contender" contestant Jesse Brinkley in February 2009. Don't put too much stock in Gilbert's victory. He beat Bailey, 32, of Bakersfield, Calif., a guy who has now lost four fights in a row and six of his last seven bouts.

Saturday at Stuttgart, Germany
Cruiserweight
Steve Herelius TKO11 Firat Arslan
Wins a vacant interim cruiserweight title
Records: Herelius, 20-1-1, 12 KOs; Arslan, 29-5-1, 18 KOs

Rafael's remark: As much as we despise interim titles, this is a case where it was actually warranted. Guillermo Jones, the WBA's cruiserweight titlist, stopped Germany's Arslan in the 10th round in September 2008 to take the belt from Arslan, but has not fought since. It is surprising that the WBA hasn't stripped him considering his mandatory defense is eons overdue. In any event, it approved an interim title because of Jones' inactivity. To fight for that trinket, it ordered France's Herelius, a 33-year-old southpaw, to face Arslan, 39, a move that was somewhat questionable because Arslan had not fought since facing Jones almost two years ago. But he and Herelius did fight and both men appeared in supreme condition as they put on a pretty entertaining show (which you can watch, along with numerous fights, in its entirety on promoter Universum's outstanding YouTube channel). Herelius did a nice job boxing from the outside for stretches but he began to slow later in the fight while Arslan pressured him and badly rocked him in the seventh round. Referee Stanley Christodoulou docked Herelius, who was bleeding from a cut over his right eye, a point in the 10th round when he charged at Arslan and appeared to purposely head butt him in the chin. Arslan shook it off and was in control, but with about a minute to go in the 11th round, Herelius backed him up with an uppercut and all the wind seemed to go out of Arslan's sails. Herelius battered him for the remainder of the round, landing numerous punches to the head and body while Arslan covered up and did not fire back. When the round ended, an absolutely gassed Arslan had to be helped back to his corner by Christodoulou, who would call off the fight moments later when it was obvious Arslan was not going to be able to continue. Arslan was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for dehydration and spent the night as a precaution. For Herelius, who was coming off a nine-month layoff, it was the biggest win of his career in which he suffered his lone loss to Albert Sosnowski at heavyweight (where Herelius fought for most of his career) in a ninth-round knockout in 2007.

Saturday at Tlalnepantla, Mexico
Junior bantamweight
Hugo Cazares TKO7 Everardo Morales
Retains a junior bantamweight title
Records: Cazares, 32-6-2, 23 KOs; Morales, 34-15-2, 23 KOs

Rafael's remark: Cazares, 32, of Mexico, is the former junior flyweight world champion who has had something of a rebirth at junior bantamweight. In September, he got a draw in Japan challenging titlist Nobuo Nashiro before outpointing him there in an action-packed rematch in May. Making his first defense, Cazares took a soft touch in Morales, his 33-year-old countryman. Although Cazares' face was marked up, he cut and dominated Morales before dropping him with a left hand in the seventh round. Referee Mark Nelson had seen enough and called it off at 1 minute. Morales kept his record in title bouts perfect -- meaning he remained winless in dropping to 0-4. In 2003, he was stopped in five rounds challenging then titleholder Omar Narvaez. In 2006, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam whacked him in the fourth round to retain another version of the 112-pound title. And last July, Tomas Rojas stopped him in the ninth round in defense of an interim belt. A quick word about Cazares' title -- although he is a quality fighter, his belt is trash. Vic Darchinyan is the legitimate champ who happens to be recognized by the WBA as its ludicrous "super champion." Nonito Donaire parades around as interim titlist. And Cazares is the so-called "regular champion." If you can count, that means the WBA recognizes three titleholders in the same division. That's two too many.

Friday at Ontario, Calif.
Welterweight
Demetrius Hopkins W10 Mike Arnaoutis
Scores: 100-90, 99-91 (twice)
Records: Hopkins, 30-1-1, 11 KOs; Arnaoutis, 22-6-1, 10 KOs

Rafael's remark: In December 2008, Hopkins, the 29-year-old nephew of the great Bernard Hopkins, challenged then-junior welterweight titlist Kendall Holt on short notice and dropped a split decision in a fight he had within his grasp. Following the defeat, Hopkins had legal problems, spent time in jail for failure to pay child support and did not fight in 2009. But Hopkins returned in March as a welterweight for a shutout decision against Jesse Feliciano and followed with this lopsided rout of Arnaoutis in the ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" main event. Hopkins, of Philadelphia, was better than Arnaoutis, 30, a native of Greece living in Atlantic City, N.J., in every aspect of the fight. Bigger, busier and more accurate, Hopkins used his boxing skills and a solid jab and was a bit more aggressive than usual as he reddened the face of Arnaoutis and dominated from the outset. Arnaoutis' corner, headed by trainer Bill Johnson, was begging its man to get aggressive and go after Hopkins, but Arnaoutis simply had no answers and seemed content to go the distance in a disappointing performance. At one time, Arnaoutis was a quality contender and a former junior welterweight title challenger. But now he's lost three in a row and four of his last five bouts (including his two fights at welterweight) and has become a steppingstone opponent. Hopkins stepped all over him. One strange thing about the card: It was held at the Citizens Business Bank Arena, which holds about 11,000, and featured two decidedly East Coast fighters in the main event with almost no local appeal on the undercard. The show drew maybe 2,000. It made no sense to have it there and undoubtedly promoter TKO Boxing lost tens of thousands of dollars on the show.

Welterweight
Joseph Elegele TKO3 William Walton
Records: Elegele, 9-0, 7 KOs; Walton, 4-2, 3 KOs

Rafael's remark: Elegele, 26, of Melbourne, Fla., turned pro in November and has been on a very busy schedule by fighting once a month. A 6-foot southpaw with apparent pop, he's a prospect, but one who is a raw talent. Walton, 29, of Salt Lake City, a fellow southpaw who took the fight on a couple of days' notice, was clearly outgunned and five inches shorter. He did what he could. Walton even came up with a clean straight left hand in the first round that staggered Elegele and turned his legs to jelly. Elegele, who is trained by Tony Morgan (who also trains welterweight titlist Andre Berto), regained his composure and took over the fight. Elegele landed a left hand to the top of Walton's head just as the bell sounded to end the second round and knocked Walton down. In the third round, Elegele had forced Walton to a corner and was firing shots, many of which were missing. A few got in, and although Walton was not hurt, referee Wayne Hedgpeth stepped in and stopped the fight at 1 minute, 37 seconds. Walton was throwing a punch as Hedgpeth moved in and he almost got clipped by the punch. It was a questionable stoppage even though the result was surely going to be an Elegele victory. According to the punch statistics, Elegele landed 81 blows in the two-plus rounds while Walton connected on just 10.

Lightweight
Francisco Contreras W8 Eric Cruz
Scores: 80-82 (twice), 78-74
Records: Contreras, 15-0, 13 KOs; Cruz, 7-4-3, 7 KOs

Rafael's remark: Contreras and Cruz hooked up years ago in the amateur ranks and Contreras got the win. And he did it again in the professional ranks, and did it with relative ease in a forgettable fight. Contreras, 26, born in the Dominican Republic and living in Irvington, N.J., was quicker, longer, busier and more accurate. No surprise he won based on that as he landed 132 of 433 blows while Cruz connected on 54 of 351 shots. The damage inflicted by each was minimal, however. Contreras' best shot was a right hand to Cruz's head in the third round. It rocked Cruz, but Contreras did not follow up. In the fourth, Cruz returned the favor, landing a powerful right hand just as the round was ending. Contreras, who was an excellent amateur, is considered a prospect by some and he is managed by Cameron Dunkin, who has a keen eye for talent.

Friday at Yorkshire, England
Bantamweight
Jamie McDonnell TKO3 Rodrigo Bracco
Retains European bantamweight title
Records: McDonnell, 15-2-1, 7 KOs; Bracco, 11-3, 5 KOs

Rafael's remark: In March, McDonnell went to France and stopped Jerome Arnould in the 10th round to claim the European title. Making his first defense, McDonnell, 24, returned home for his first defense against Italy's Bracco, 30, who was fighting his first scheduled 12-rounder. Of course, it did not last nearly that long as McDonnell turned in a dominant performance. He bludgeoned Bracco, including a heavy body attack, until it was called off late in the third round. McDonnell won his seventh fight in a row since a two-fight losing streak.

Wednesday at Brisbane, Australia
Junior middleweight
Anthony Mundine W12 Carlos Adan Jerez
Scores: 120-109, 118-110 (twice)
Records: Mundine, 39-3, 23 KOs; Jerez, 30-13-3, 16 KOs

Rafael's remark: Mundine has held a world title at super middleweight. Then he dropped down to fight at middleweight in some of his recent bouts. He wanted to drop to junior middleweight for a January fight, but struggled with the weight and fought (and beat) Robert Medley at middleweight. But determined, for whatever reason, to fight at junior middleweight, Australia's Mundine, 35, this time made the weight to fight Jerez, 31, a hand-picked journeyman from Argentina who had fought most of his career between lightweight and welterweight. Mundine came in slightly under the limit at 153½ pounds and was a tad sluggish, but still good enough to easily handle a smaller, run-of-the-mill foe such as Jerez, who brought nothing to the table. Mundine used his jab, controlled the pace and put rounds in the bank for the easy and uneventful win, his 16th in a row since Mikkel Kessler easily outpointed him in Australia in 2005 in a super middleweight title bout. Although Mundine talks a big game and has his fans (and plenty of detractors too) in Australia, he simply does not challenge himself against the best fighters to be considered anything more than a guy who might hover in the top 10 of whatever division he settles, rather than formidable championship material. Fighting a guy like Jerez, who lost his second fight in a row and is 3-4 in his last seven bouts (including a 2008 welterweight loss to Saul Alvarez), does absolutely nothing for Mundine's credibility, especially when he could not stop him. When Mundine decides to take a real fight please let us know. It's hard to believe Australians continue to support his boring fights.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.