Commentary

Vitali Klitschko easily handles Solis

Updated: March 23, 2011, 8:10 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


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

Saturday at Cologne, Germany
Heavyweight
Vitali Klitschko KO1 Odlanier Solis

Retains the heavyweight title
Records: Vitali Klitschko, 42-2, 39 KOs; Solis, 17-1, 12 KOs

Rafael's remark: What a massive disappointment, but don't blame Klitschko. Blame Solis and his handlers. The fight began nicely enough with Klitschko using his big jab and size advantage while Solis, with his quick hands, landed a sneaky right hand that got Klitschko's attention. But just as a competitive first round was coming to a close, Klitschko landed a decent right hand to the head. Solis did not appear hurt from the punch, but he stepped back and lost his footing. He went down, and it was quickly clear that Solis was in trouble -- but not because of his head. He had a problem with his right knee and was unsteady as he struggled to get to his feet by pulling himself up as he grabbed on to the ropes. As Solis struggled to move on the bad knee, referee Guadalupe Garcia called off the fight as the opening round was coming to a close.

The nearly 20,000 fans at sold-out Lanxess Arena probably had barely gotten comfortable before the fight was over. First-round knockouts are one thing, but when a fight ends without even a big punch, it is a huge disappointment. But that's life in boxing. However, not when a fighter hid a medical issue. German media reported that Solis and his team admitted they knew there was a problem with the right knee before the fight, but went through with the bout anyway, undoubtedly because Solis was looking at a career-high payday. That is fraud, and all those people who traveled and bought tickets for the fight were ripped off. And how about Epix? The new American premium cable network decided to get into boxing with this as its first event and paid for the rights to the fight. Instead, it was sold a bill of goods. Solis, who was diagnosed with torn ligaments and cartilage after the fight, and his people should be punished in some way.The Solis camp denied to ESPN.com any admission of knowledge of a pre-fight injury and claims the media reports in Germany falsely quoted a Solis spokesman.

Solis, 30, a decorated amateur and 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist, had not even really done anything as a professional to warrant the mandatory title shot, but that's the horrible WBC for you. Solis' claim to fame as a pro was a second-round knockout of long-faded contender Monte Barrett and an ugly disqualification win against journeyman Ray Austin in a December title eliminator. So Ukraine's Klitschko, 39, racked up the sixth defense of his third title reign without really breaking a sweat in another easy victory. Now Klitschko is poised to face either fellow titlist David Haye this summer or top contender Tomasz Adamek in September. Champion Wladimir Klitschko, Vitali's younger brother, is supposed to fight Haye this summer, but he is also still recovering from an abdominal injury. If he is not ready to go, Vitali would get the call. Adamek is also signed to fight one of the brothers -- their choice -- in the fall. So there will be more Klitschko action to come this year. Hopefully, it won't be as terribly disappointing as this mess with Solis.

Saturday at Montreal
Super middleweight
Lucian Bute TKO10 Brian Magee

Retains a super middleweight title
Records: Bute, 28-0, 23 KOs; Magee, 34-4-1, 24 KOs

Rafael's remark: With Showtime so heavily invested in the super middleweight division with the Super Six World Boxing Classic, the network -- which had left Bute out of the tournament when it began in late 2009 -- signed him to a multi-fight contract late last year. The idea was to make sure that whomever emerged from the Super Six would have a big-time opponent to face. But Bute, 31, a native of Romania now living in Montreal (where he is a major star), can't just sit idle until that fight comes. So, in his first bout under the new Showtime deal, faced Ireland's Magee, 35, a second-tier contender who always comes to fight. He entered the fight 9-0-1 in his last 10 fights and had not lost since an 11th-round knockout to Carl Froch (who now owns a title and is in the Super Six semifinals) in 2006. So the fact that he hung in there against Bute for as long as he did, and made it competitive in the early going, was no surprise. However, Bute was simply too big, too strong, too fast and too good for Magee, a fellow southpaw, to survive.

With 12,219 at the Bell Centre, Bute's home arena, cheering him on, Bute put on a fantastic display of body punching as he broke poor Magee down. Bute, who made his seventh title defense, was winning most of the rounds, but it was a competitive fight through five rounds. But that changed in the sixth round, when Bute landed a left hand to the body to drop Magee. In the seventh round, Bute landed an even nastier left uppercut to the gut for another knockdown. But referee Pete Podgorski whiffed on it badly and ruled it was caused from a low blow. It was clean to the naked eye and clearly above the beltline on Showtime's replays. Moments later, Bute landed another similar punch and Magee went down again. This time it was correctly ruled as the second official knockdown. Bute continued the body attack in the eighth and Magee was slowing down and in pain. Finally, in the 10th round, Bute landed a brutal left uppercut to Magee's chin and he dropped to his knees, prompting Podgorski to call it off at 2 minutes, 4 seconds. It was Bute's fifth consecutive knockout and another extremely impressive performance. Sitting ringside was former titleholder Mikkel Kessler of Denmark, who won a belt in the Super Six in his last fight in a terrific battle with Carl Froch. But before his next tournament fight, Kessler withdrew because of an eye injury. It's been 11 months since that fight but now he is nearly ready to return. He wants to fight Bute and Bute is willing to fight him. So Showtime got the drumbeat rolling for that fight as Kessler sat in for some commentary and the two fighters spoke about each other in postfight interviews. If Kessler is medically cleared, a fight with Bute probably will happen this summer. That's a really good fight.

Junior middleweight
Vanes Martirosyan TKO2 Bladimir Hernandez

Records: Martirosyan, 29-0, 18 KOs; Hernandez, 18-5, 16 KOs

Rafael's remark: Martirosyan, 24, a 2004 U.S. Olympian born in Armenia but living in Glendale, Calif., is on the verge of some sort of title opportunity. However, his momentum stalled somewhat because he had not fought since June, when he outpointed Joe Greene on HBO at Yankee Stadium on the Miguel Cotto-Yuri Foreman undercard. Martirosyan was mentioned for various fights, including one against Cotto, but they fell through, which was part of the reason for the long layoff. But he returned and made quick work of Mexico's Hernandez, 25, who lost his fourth fight in a row by knockout. Martirosyan ended the fight suddenly 57 seconds into the second round when he landed a solid right hand that dropped Hernandez. He scrambled to his feet to barely beat the count, but referee Michael Griffin called it off. With Martirosyan winning and coming out of the fight uninjured, Top Rank has him lined up to face veteran Saul Roman in the main event of its April 23 "Top Rank Live" card.

Saturday at Dublin
Junior featherweight
Guillermo Rigondeaux TKO1 Willie Casey

Retains an interim junior featherweight title
Records: Rigondeaux, 8-0, 6 KOs; Casey, 11-1, 7 KOs

Rafael's remark: Rigondeaux, 30, as any fight fan should know, was a two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist and one of the greatest amateur fighters in history. He defected and turned pro in 2009 and, because of his age and obvious amateur pedigree, was put on an accelerated pace immediately. In his seventh pro fight, he won a vacant interim belt (yes, one of those extremely annoying trinkets handed out by the despicable WBA) by outpointing veteran Ricardo Cordoba in November on the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito undercard. The fight was supposed to be a coming-out party for Rigondeaux. However, even though he won, it was a horrible fight as Rigondeaux, a southpaw, fought defensively the whole time, refused to engage and stunk Cordoba out.

Because of that performance, Rigondeaux simply was not in demand by any of the American television networks. Instead he went to Ireland to fight hometown fighter Casey, 29, who had won the European title in his previous fight in November. Casey, however, was no match for Rigondeaux. None whatsoever. Instead of doing what he did against Cordoba, Rigondeaux came out with purpose against Casey. Rigondeaux attacked him with a heavy dose of body punching in the first minute. Casey was on the run and covering up his flanks. Rigondeaux eventually caught him with a hard left to the body and Casey went down. He ate a couple of more body shots and then a left to the head that dropped him for the second time. Rigondeaux attacked him yet again as soon as the fight resumed and connected with several shots, including another left to the head that sent him to the canvas for a third time as referee Stanley Christodoulou stepped in to stop it at 2 minutes, 38 seconds. This was a sensational performance from Rigondeaux. It shows you what he is capable of when he is interested in being aggressive. We need to see more of this explosive, exciting Rigondeaux in the future, not the one who bored everyone to tears in November.

Saturday at Puebla, Mexico
Junior flyweight
Roman Gonzalez W12 Manuel Vargas

Retains a junior flyweight title
Scores: 119-109, 116-112 (twice)
Records: Gonzalez, 28-0, 23 KOs; Vargas, 29-8-1, 14 KOs

Rafael's remark: Gonzalez, 23, of Nicaragua, is one of the most exciting and biggest punchers among boxing's smaller weight fighters. He is a former strawweight titleholder who made three title defenses before moving up in weight. Now at junior flyweight, he made his first title defense against Vargas, 29, of Mexico, a former interim strawweight titlist, who has generally lost when facing top opposition. It was no different for him against Gonzalez in the main event of "Top Rank Live." Vargas, however, did not come to lay down against Gonzalez. They turned in a spirited fight, but one that Gonzalez dominated.

Saturday at Manukau City, New Zealand
Heavyweight
David Tua W10 Demetrice King

Scores: 100-90 (twice), 100-91
Records: Tua, 52-3-2, 43 KOs; King, 15-20, 13 KOs

Rafael's remark: Mired in financial problems, Tua, the onetime top heavyweight contender and former title challenger, has to fight it seems even though he is way past his prime at 38. In July, he was shockingly held to a majority draw by Monte Barrett, an even more faded former contender, who dropped the iron-chinned Tua for the first time in his long career. Tua has designs on a summer rematch and took this tuneup fight with King and rolled to a shutout decision. Tua, who was fighting in at home, normally knocks out journeymen opponents. However, despite King's poor record, the 26-year-old from Flint, Mich., has only been stopped twice in his 20 defeats, by Shannon Briggs in 2005 and Oquendo in February 2010. King lost his third in a row.

Friday at Hollywood, Fla.
Welterweight
Brad Solomon W10 Demetrius Hopkins

Scores: 99-91 (twice), 97-93
Records: Solomon, 17-0, 7 KOs; Hopkins, 30-2-1, 11 KOs

Rafael's remark: Solomon, 27, of Lafayette, La., was a three-time national Golden Gloves winner and emerged as a quality prospect after a shockingly easy near-shutout decision of prospect Kenny Galarza on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" in June. Solomon took another significant step up as he outboxed former title challenger Hopkins for the obvious decision win on "Friday Night Fights." It was not the most exciting fight and there were too many clinches, but Solomon was clearly superior against Philadelphia's Hopkins, 30, who appeared somewhat disinterested in fighting. Solomon was busier, quicker and was able to hit and move away from anything dangerous coming back at him. Hopkins, the nephew of all-time great Bernard Hopkins, had failed to make weight (what else is new?) and appeared sluggish. This was an important fight for him if he wanted to keep himself in contention for a bigger fight. He failed. He has talent, but just does not seem to have the mentality or discipline to be a champion. Solomon, who idolizes Roy Jones Jr., however, has a chance, even if his style is not going to thrill fans.

Friday at Costa Mesa, Calif.
Lightweight
Luis Ramos Jr. W8 Jose Hernandez

Scores: 79-73, 77-75, 76-76
Records: Ramos Jr., 18-0, 8 KOs; Hernandez, 10-5-1, 4 KOs

Rafael's remark: Ramos, 22, of Santa Ana, Calif., got the victory in an entertaining main event on Telefutura's "Solo Boxeo Tecate," but it was not his best performance. Ramos probably deserved a close decision, but the 79-73 scorecard just seemed way out of whack. Nonetheless, Hernandez was in the fight all the way and landed a lot of solid shots, especially early on. But Ramos, a southpaw, was a bit more polished and worked his jab nicely. Golden Boy has kept Ramos pretty busy and has high hopes for him, but he'll need to pick up his game and dominate opponents such as Hernandez, 24, of Fort Worth, Texas, who dropped to 0-4-1 in his past five bouts as a good test for several prospects. Among the up-and-comers he has faced (and lost to): Sharif Bogere, Mike Perez, Matt Remillard and Mickey Bey Jr.

Middleweight
James Kirkland KO2 Jhon Berrio

Records: Kirkland, 27-0, 24 KOs; Berrio, 15-9, 11 KOs

Rafael's remark: The all-action Kirkland turned 27 the day after the fight and scored an early birthday present with an easy knockout of Berrio. Kirkland had been one of boxing's fastest-rising contenders before going to prison for 18 months on a gun charge. He finally returned to the ring and scored a 34-second knockout of Ahsandi Gibbs on March 5. After that, Golden Boy planned to have Kirkland in a fight on the April 9 Erik Morales-Marcos Maidana HBO PPV card. But because Kirkland's return was so quick, it immediately booked him for a fight on Telefutura's "Solo Boxeo" and he again made quick work of his opponent.

Although Kirkland, of Austin, Texas, still looked rusty -- no surprise after the layoff -- and was wide with his punches, his aggression is unmatched and makes for exciting television. Berrio briefly stunned Kirkland with a right hand in the first round, but other than that, this was all Kirkland. He put together some combinations and had Berrio in retreat. Kirkland landed a nice body shot, but then seemed to miss with a combination. Nonetheless, Berrio dropped to his knees and took the full count. Sure didn't seem like he got hit with anything damaging enough to result in a 10-count. In any event, it was another fight to help Kirkland shake off the rust of the layoff as he moves toward a more serious opponent. He is still scheduled to return on the April 9 pay-per-view against an opponent to be determined.

Berrio, 25, of Colombia, had been scheduled to face 2008 U.S. Olympian Demetrius Andrade on the March 12 Sergio Martinez-Sergiy Dzinziruk undercard, but when Andrade dropped out a few days before the fight because of a sprained ankle, Berrio took the fight with Kirkland on short notice and lost his third in a row.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.