Commentary

Bradley tames bigger Abregu

Originally Published: July 19, 2010
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


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

Saturday at Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Welterweight
Timothy Bradley W12 Luis Carlos Abregu
Scores: 118-110, 117-111, 116-112
Records: Bradley, 26-0, 11 KOs; Abregu, 29-1, 23 KOs

Bradley, a junior welterweight titleholder, is a top-10 pound-for-pound fighter and widely regarded as the No. 1 fighter in the 140-pound weight class, which is loaded with big talent at the top of the division. There's Bradley, Devon Alexander, England's Amir Khan, Argentina's Marcos Maidana and Victor Ortiz, to name the most notable. With Bradley testing the waters at welterweight in his HBO debut, it means all of the top 140-pounders are now fighting on the network, which hopes to match them all in a series of fights eventually. Bradley was supposed to fight Maidana in this bout, but Maidana's management problems knocked out the fight. Bradley used the change of plans to give 147 pounds a whirl in the hopes that he could make a major statement against a solid opponent and put himself into the sweepstakes for a fight with either Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr., both of whom could be in the market for opponents if they do not fight each other in the fall, which seems less and less likely by the day.

So Bradley, 26, fighting just a few miles from his hometown of Palm Springs, Calif., faced hard-charging brawler Abregu, 26, a big puncher from Argentina. But Bradley proved to be too fast and accurate for Abregu, as Bradley cruised to the decision in a fight that was very physical at times. Although Bradley did not turn in the sort of lights-out performance that he was probably hoping for, he landed a lot of flush shots and picked Abregu apart to earn the hard-fought decision. With Bradley landing so many pinpoint punches, you have to question his power at welterweight. At junior welterweight, he's not the biggest hitter either, so it's no surprise he did not do much damage to Abregu, who has been on the floor multiple times.

Bradley and Abregu clashed heads throughout the fight, leaving both with small cuts. Fortunately, they did not mar the fight. Bradley had no problem finding Abregu, whom he rocked with shots repeatedly beginning in the second round when he shook him with a right hand directly on the jaw. There were moments in the fight where they stood toe-to-toe and exchanged leather, which was dangerous for Bradley, but he was able to avoid taking the flush shots that do serious damage. In the end, it was an easy fight to score and there was no question Bradley would walk away with the unanimous decision. Frankly, the 116-112 scorecard seemed a bit too close.

In his postfight interview with HBO's Max Kellerman, Bradley called out Pacquiao to meet him at welterweight. Nice try, but it's not going to happen, especially after Bradley did not do anything impressive enough against Abregu to warrant it anyway. Someday maybe Bradley will be a factor at welterweight, but right now his future is back at 140 pounds taking on the other big names in the division. After calling out Pacquiao, Bradley, to his credit, also said he wanted to fight all the top guys at 140. If Alexander wins his fight against former titlist Andreas Kotelnik on HBO on Aug. 7, there's a reasonable chance we'll see Bradley-Alexander, a fight HBO is hot for, in late January. It's one of the very best fights that can be made in boxing. Bradley's fight with Abregu and Alexander's with Kotelnik are merely appetizers.

Junior middleweight
Alfredo "Perro" Angulo TKO1 Joachim Alcine
Title eliminator
Records: Angulo, 19-1, 16 KOs; Alcine, 32-2, 19 KOs

Rafael's remark: Few fighters are as entertaining as Mexico's Angulo. The 27-year-old "dog" is strong, seems to have a great chin and loves a good rumble. Unfortunately, Alcine showed zero resistance to his heavy shots as Angulo absolutely blitzed him for a very impressive victory. Alcine's only previous defeat came two years ago, when he lost his title via sixth-round knockout to Daniel Santos. Since then, Alcine put together nice back-to-back decision wins against solid opponents Eric Mitchell and Christophe Canclaux, and figured to be a legitimate test for Angulo.

Since Angulo's lone loss, a competitive decision to Kermit Cintron in May 2009, a level of fight Angulo probably wasn't ready for yet, he has reeled off four consecutive knockout wins. The destruction of former titleholder Alcine, a Haiti native based in Montreal, was the most impressive. It was over before many had probably settled in on the couch for the HBO "Boxing After Dark" broadcast. Angulo, who was in outstanding shape after bringing in strength and conditioning coach Darryl Hudson for his training camp, hurt Alcine with the first left hand he landed. And when Alcine tried to fend Angulo off later in the round by holding his left arm, Angulo simply started whacking him with the right. Eventually, Angulo pounded Alcine into the ropes and was smashing him with both hands. Alcine was basically out on his feet when referee Lou Moret jumped in and called it off with one second left in the round. It was an excellent stoppage by Moret and a tremendous performance from Angulo, who continues to improve.

Angulo, a 2004 Mexican Olympian, gave up his interim belt to avoid facing titlist Sergei Dzinziruk, his promotional stablemate with Gary Shaw, so his team is not yet ready to match him with anyone, but there are still some potentially big and exciting fights for him. Wouldn't a showdown with titleholder Miguel Cotto be a dream come true? Maybe a rematch with Cintron could be worked out. If they fight now, it could be an entirely different story than the first fight. Whomever Angulo fights, it's going to be a lot of fun to watch.

Lightweight
Antonio DeMarco TKO2 Daniel Attah
Records: DeMarco, 24-2-1, 18 KOs; Attah, 24-6-1, 8 KOs

Rafael's remark: In February, Mexico's DeMarco, 24, held an interim title when he got a mandatory shot against titleholder Edwin Valero and was pounded for nine rounds in a TKO loss. That was Valero's last bout before he killed himself in April, while in custody after being charged with the murder of his wife. Making his comeback, DeMarco blew out fellow southpaw Attah, a former junior lightweight title challenger. DeMarco knocked Attah down with a head shot in the second round and clipped him again with a right hand moments later that prompted referee Raul Caiz Jr. to stop it at 2 minutes, 30 seconds. Nice rebound for DeMarco, one of the more exciting young contenders in the lightweight division. Attah, 33, a Nigeria native living in Washington, D.C., lost his third fight in a row by knockout to a notable opponent, having also been stopped by Mario Santiago and Urbano Antillon.

Saturday at Atlantic City, N.J.
Heavyweight
David Tua D12 Monte Barrett
Scores: 113-113 (twice), 115-111 Tua
Records: Tua, 51-3-2, 43 KOs; Barrett, 34-9-1, 20 KOs

Rafael's remark: Tua, the Samoan-born, New Zealand-based heavy hitter, was once the most feared heavyweight contender in the business. He was known as a murderous puncher and a wrecking machine who had knocked out several quality opponents, including John Ruiz, Oleg Maskaev, Hasim Rahman and Michael Moorer. He had, however, been schooled by then-champion Lennox Lewis in his only title shot in 2000. But although Tua's heyday was more than a decade ago, given how pathetic the heavyweight division is beyond the Klitschko brothers, he still loomed as a possible title challenger and one of the few interesting names in the division -- that is until Barrett embarrassed him with this shocking result.

It is absolutely stunning that Tua didn't knock out Barrett. It is more stunning that in going the distance, Barrett knocked him down in the 12th round, the first time Tua has ever been down, and held him to a highly debatable majority draw. For Tua, the draw is like a loss. For Barrett, a former two-time title challenger, it might as well be a win.

Tua's hopes of a title shot are in tatters now, although it was a good fight for those who like heavyweights. Going in, the notion of this bout as a headliner on pay-per-view was a sick joke. Tua, 37, has not done anything notable in years. Barrett, 39, is well beyond his prime and entered having lost three in a row and six of his past nine, including four by knockout. He also said this would be his last fight, and when a guy says that it usually means he's there to pick up a check. But Barrett was there to fight and turned in an inspired performance against Tua, who was fighting in the United States for the first time since 2007. Tua looked strong early on and it figured to be a matter of time until he put Barrett to sleep. But Barrett hung in there and took over in the second half of the fight. He wobbled Tua with a right hand near the end of the 10th round. In the final round, Tua was in big trouble and threw Barrett to the mat, which cost him a critical point for the blatant foul. When the fight resumed, Barrett landed a flurry of shots, including a nice left hook, that dropped Tua, whose reputation for having a great chin was of no help. Tua beat the count and made it to the final bell a few seconds later to end a pretty darn good fight. By being awarded a 10-7 round in the 12th, Barrett was able to pull out the draw, although it would not have been absolutely legit to have him winning the fight.

Saturday at Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico
Bantamweight
Fernando Montiel KO3 Rafael Concepcion
retains unified bantamweight title
Records: Montiel, 42-2-2, 32 KOs; Concepcion, 14-5-1, 8 KOs

Rafael's remark: A few fights ago, Montiel, 31, of Mexico, looked like he was beginning to slow down after a long career that began when he was 17, but he seems to have found new life. The three-division titleholder was an underdog when he went to Japan in April for a unification bout with highly regarded Hozumi Hasegawa and surprised many when he stopped him in the fourth round to add a second 118-pound belt. In his first fight since then, Montiel was supposed to meet interim titlist Eric Morel in a long overdue mandatory bout. However, Morel pulled out on a week's notice, claiming an injury nobody believed. In fact, Montiel co-promoters Top Rank and Fernando Beltran knew it was coming, which is why they had Panama's Concepcion, 28, a former interim junior bantamweight titlist, lined up to fight on the undercard with the expectation he would have to move into the main event of the "Top Rank" live card. That's what happened and Montiel crushed him in dominant fashion. Montiel sent him to the mat courtesy of a flush left hook in the opening seconds of the second round and floored him again with the same punch a minute later. Concepcion was in trouble and desperately clutching Montiel, and referee Robert Byrd docked him a point for holding. It hardly mattered, because Montiel was hammering him again in the third round before icing him with a massive right hook (Montiel switches from righty to lefty with ease). Concepcion went down flat on his back and Byrd stopped the fight without a count at 1 minute, 7 seconds. It was a tremendous performance from Montiel, whose next bout could be a big one. Top Rank is talking to Showtime about a fall match between Montiel and star junior bantamweight and pound-for-pounder Nonito Donaire, who is going to move up in weight. For the smaller weight classes, that's a huge fight.

Saturday at Schwerin, Germany
Cruiserweight
Denis Lebedev TKO2 Alexander Alekseev
Title eliminator
Records: Lebedev, 21-0, 16 KOs; Alekseev, 19-2, 17 KOs

Rafael's remark: Last July, Russia's Lebedev made a bit of a name for himself when he knocked out former titlist Enzo Maccarinelli in the third round. Now, three wins later, Lebedev, 30, put himself in a mandatory position to challenge titleholder Marco Huck. Lebedev looked very good, bullying Alekseev throughout the first round, landing several hard left hands and giving him a bloody nose. In the second round, Lebedev continued landing lefts before yet another nasty left hand, this one behind the ear, utterly discombobulated Alekseev and knocked him down to his knees with his face down on the canvas. He tried to get up and looked like Trevor Berbick when Mike Tyson knocked him out. Alekseev would get up, fall down, get up again and then stumble again before referee Roberto Ramirez called it off at 2 minutes, 43 seconds while Alekseev, 29, a native of Uzbekistan living in Germany, continued to struggle to regain his balance. Alekseev, a 2004 heavyweight Olympian and 2005 world amateur champion, saw his three-fight winning streak end. His other loss was a ninth-round TKO against Victor Emilio Ramirez in an interim title bout in January 2009. Light heavyweight titlist Jürgen Brahmer was slated to defend his belt against Alejandro Lakatos on the card, but the fight was called off a few days earlier because Brahmer suffered a back injury.

Saturday at Mendoza, Argentina
Junior flyweight
Juan Carlos Reveco TKO5 Armando Torres
Retains an interim junior flyweight title
Records: Reveco, 25-1, 15 KOs; Torres, 13-7, 8 KOs

Rafael's remark: Reveco, 26, was fighting in his hometown and had little problem with Torres, a rank journeyman with no business being involved in a so-called title bout. A quicker and heavier hitter, Reveco dropped Torres with a right hand in the third round and with a bigger right in the fifth before Torres' corner called for the fight to be stopped with 32 seconds left in the round. Torres, 29, of Mexico, had fashioned his poor record against terrible opposition, so that must be why the hideous WBA approved him to box for one of its interim belts. Giovani Segura owns the WBA's title and Reveco has now defended the interim belt twice with Segura scheduled to defend his belt next month. So why doesn't the WBA order them to fight each other like is supposed to happen? Well, that would make too much sense, wouldn't it?

Saturday at Newark, N.J.
Junior welterweight
Zab Judah TKO3 Jose Armando Santa Cruz
Records: Judah, 39-6, 27 KOs; Santa Cruz, 28-5, 17 KOs

Rafael's remark: Judah, the former undisputed welterweight champ and two-time junior welterweight titlist, was looking to start a new chapter of his career. Seemingly more focused, more serious and more mature -- sure, we've all heard that before, but maybe this time he's really serious -- Judah, 32, has reunited with original promoter Main Events and is taking the steps to get himself back into the big time. It began with this ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" main event, where the Brooklyn, N.Y., native drew a nice crowd of more than 4,000 to watch him score a spectacular knockout of Santa Cruz in his return to the junior welterweight division. Judah, fighting for the first time since November, looked strong at 141 pounds and was facing the ideal opponent in Mexico's Santa Cruz, 29, a former interim lightweight titleholder best known for suffering a split decision loss to Joel Casamayor for the lineal lightweight championship in 2007 in one of the worst robberies ever. Judah dominated the first two rounds before he landed a sizzling left uppercut that sent Santa Cruz down hard in the third round. Although Santa Cruz beat the count, he was done. Judah jumped on him and was hammering him against the ropes in a follow-up assault when referee Benjy Esteves Jr. intervened for a well-timed stoppage with 27 seconds left in the round. Judah fits in with any of the big names in the hot junior welterweight division, be it Timothy Bradley Jr., Devon Alexander, Amir Khan or Marcos Maidana. Judah is a worthy opponent for any of them because he's a big name, he's an opponent certainly acceptable by HBO (which is doing most of the business at 140 pounds) and he has a legitimate chance to beat any of them. Main Events is planning Judah's next fight for Oct. 2 back in Newark unless, of course, some other big fight presents itself.

Friday at Southaven, Miss.
Middleweight
Fernando Guerrero W10 Ishe Smith
Scores: 97-91, 96-93, 95-93
Records: Guerrero, 19-0, 15 KOs; Smith, 21-5, 9 KOs

Rafael's remark: Guerrero, 23, was a top amateur in a deep class of middleweight prospects that included reigning ESPN.com prospect of the year Daniel Jacobs and 2008 Olympian Shawn Estrada. Guerrero, born in the Dominican Republic but living since childhood in Salisbury, Md., where he has become a major attraction, missed out on the Olympic team and turned pro in late 2007. He's been moved quickly and kept a very busy schedule, which led him to this "ShoBox" main event against Smith, easily the best opponent of his career. Smith, 31, of Las Vegas, who you may remember from the first season of "The Contender," had only lost to quality opponents: Sergio Mora on the show, Sechew Powell, Joel "Love Child" Julio and Jacobs in his last fight 11 months ago. Although Smith lost the decision to Guerrero, he fought well and made the prospect work extremely hard for the victory in a fight that was competitive all the way. In fact, Showtime broadcaster Steve Farhood had Smith winning the fight. It was certainly closer than the 97-91 scorecard indicated. Smith's success came from an excellent body attack, but a few blows strayed low and he was warned twice before referee Randy Phillips docked him a point in the sixth round. In the eighth round, Smith (who sparred with Floyd Mayweather Jr.) scored a flash knockdown, but Guerrero, a southpaw who came into the fight with a left hand that he had injured in training camp, was able to overcome it. He set a fast pace and threw a ton of punches. It was his activity level that is probably what carried the day with the judges, especially in the close rounds. All in all, it was a tough fight, a good learning experience for Guerrero and a good performance from Smith even in defeat. If Guerrero wins a world title, like many expect, he'll look back on this fight as one of his most important when it came to laying the foundation.

Junior middleweight
Shawn Porter W10 Ray Robinson
Scores: 99-89, 98-91, 97-92
Records: Porter, 16-0, 12 KOs; Robinson, 11-2, 4 KOs

Rafael's remark: Porter, 22, of Cleveland, fights in the same stable as main event fighter Fernando Guerrero and, like Guerrero, was also an outstanding amateur. As a pro, he has gained notoriety because he has done well as one of Manny Pacquiao's sparring partners as he's prepared for recent fights. Porter and Philadelphia's Robinson, 24, put on a tremendous fight. Both were aggressive throughout, both landed a lot of shots and both showed a ton of heart. Porter, however, was landing the harder punches and one of them, a right hand with good steam on it, dropped Robinson with a minute to go in the sixth round. Although Porter came through with the victory this fight was way more competitive than the scorecards said it was. The 99-89 scorecard is a travesty. The other two aren't much better. Hey, at least they got the right winner. Porter continues his fast rise, although he still appears too small to compete at the top of the 154-pound division. Robinson lost his second in a row, having also dropped a decision to former amateur standout Brad Solomon in December.

Junior welterweight
Mike Dallas Jr. W8 Lanard Lane
Scores: 78-74 (three times)
Records: Dallas Jr., 15-0-1, 5 KOs; Lane, 12-1, 7 KOs

Rafael's remark: The concept for Showtime's "ShoBox" series was to match prospects in their toughest fights, hopefully against other prospects. The series has sometimes strayed from the formula, but this was the quintessential "ShoBox" bout. Dallas and Lane are both considered prospects, but neither had stepped up their competition level and they were taking a big gamble against each other, especially so early in their careers. Dallas, the 23-year-old from Bakersfield, Calif., was the slicker and quicker fighter. Lane, 27, from Houston, was the older guy with better pop. Dallas did a solid job of using his faster hands and better skills to frustrate Lane and keep him off balance as he rolled to the clear decision. Nice win for the youngster.

Friday at Cataño, Puerto Rico
Junior lightweight
Carlos Velasquez TKO5 Eduardo Arcos
Records: Velasquez, 13-0, 11 KOs; Arcos, 16-2, 13 KOs

Rafael's remark: Velasquez, 25, is one of Golden Boy Promotions' most talented and exciting prospects. After having his first dozen bouts in the United States, the 2004 Puerto Rican Olympian returned to his hometown for his first professional fight in Puerto Rico as he headlined Telefutura's "Solo Boxeo Tecate." He gave the hometown fans an excellent performance as he battered the game Arcos, 22, of Mexico, who lost his second fight in a row by knockout. Velasquez set the tone immediately by rocking Arcos with a booming left just seconds into the fight. He spent the rest of the fight pounding away on Arcos, who got in a few hard shots along the way but had nothing to keep Velasquez off of him. It was one of those entertaining, one-sided fights. In the fifth, Velasquez bloodied Arcos' nose and had him reeling all over the ring as he pounded him with a two-fisted attack. Finally, after a pair of hard lefts, referee Ismael Quinonez Falu had seen enough and stepped in to stop the bout at 1 minute, 19 seconds.

Friday at Bolton, England
Welterweight
Matthew Hatton W12 Yuriy Nuzhnenko
retains European welterweight title
Scores: 117-110, 116-111 (twice)
Records: Hatton, 40-4-2, 15 KOs; Nuzhnenko, 30-2-1, 14 KOs

Rafael's remark: Hatton, 29, has always fought in the shadow of his older brother, former junior welterweight champ Ricky Hatton. But now that Ricky is more or less in retirement, Matthew is carving out his own niche. He claimed the vacant European title with a decision against experienced former two-time world title challenger Gianluca Branco in March and was making his first defense against Nuzhnenko. Hatton was in trouble early, when Nuzhnenko dropped him with a short left hook in the final minute of the first round. But Hatton survived the crisis and, in a highly competitive fight, earned the decision, even if the scores were a tad wide. With the win, Hatton, who suspected he might have broken his jaw, may have moved closer to a potential world title opportunity. Former world title challenger Nuzhnenko, 34, of Ukraine, saw his two-fight winning streak end.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.