- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at Mexicali, Mexico
Giovani Segura KO3 Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon
Retains world junior flyweight title
Records: Segura, 27-1-1, 23 KOs; Calderon, 34-2-1, 6 KOs
Rafael's remark: Can't say that this went much differently than expected, as Segura rolled through the much smaller Calderon with ease. Put it this way: Segura was the windshield and Calderon was the bug. When they met for the first time last August, Mexico's Segura went to Calderon's native Puerto Rico and they waged a fierce fight that ranked as one of the best slugfests of 2010. A rematch was an obvious business decision for both sides. So after some healthy debate about the weight -- Segura, who struggles to make the 108-pound junior flyweight limit, wanted it in the 112-pound flyweight division, while Calderon insisted it be at 108 again for the title -- and after Calderon agreed to go to Mexico, they got it on again. But not much had changed, other than the fact Calderon -- idle since the first fight, while Segura had fought one nontitle bout -- had gotten a little older.
In his heyday, Calderon was the most supreme technical boxer in the world. He was a guy who rarely got hit, rarely lost rounds and had perhaps the best defense in the game. But while the former strawweight and junior flyweight champion is headed for the Hall of Fame one day, he is 36 now and has obviously slowed down -- especially when you compare him to Segura, an ultra-aggressive brawler with limited technical ability. But Segura, who turned 29 the day before the fight, is an extreme pressure fighter who throws every shot with knockout intentions. In the first fight, Segura forced Calderon to fight an exhausting pace and eventually caught up to him, stopping him in the eighth round with a withering body assault. Calderon simply could not take it anymore and when he went down, he stayed on a knee rather than get up and take more abuse.
The rematch, the main event of an Integrated Sports pay-per-view show, was a virtual carbon copy in terms of action, but it was not as competitive and ended quicker. The fight opened as you would have expected -- with Segura chasing after Calderon and throwing haymakers from all angles while Calderon tried to use his legs, move around, jab and avoid the incoming blows. It seemed like only a matter of time before Segura, forcing intense pressure, would catch up to him again. Segura began landing good body shots on Calderon in the second round, though he was warned for a low blow. But Segura was committed to the body attack and also hurt Calderon with a shot upstairs. In the third round, Segura continued to pour it on and eventually pinned Calderon against the ropes -- the last place in the world he should have been -- unloading some heavy shots, including a crushing right hand to the midsection. Calderon went down in virtually the same position he fell in the first fight, to one knee with his head down, and was counted out at 1 minute, 39 seconds by referee Sammy Viruet.
It was a tremendous performance by Segura, who now plans to leave behind the 108-pound division, along with his alphabet title and the lineal championship, to pursue a title in the 112-pound flyweight division. For Calderon, perhaps this is the end. If it is, he has had a tremendous run -- from the 2000 Olympics to a 19-2-1 record in world title fights, most of which he won in dominant fashion. He will someday be enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y.
Jorge Lacierva W12 Fernando Beltran Jr.
Scores: 119-109 (twice), 118-109
Records: Lacierva, 39-7-6, 26 KOs; Beltran, 35-5-1, 19 KOs
Rafael's remark: If it feels like Mexico's Lacierva has been around forever, well, he's only 32 but has been fighting professionally since 1994. He has been a decent contender for most of that time, although he is 0-2 in world title fights. He lost a technical decision to Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson in a 1999 junior bantamweight title bout and a unanimous decision to Celestino Caballero for a junior featherweight title in 2007. But since that loss to Caballero, Lacierva has won seven fights in a row, including this surprisingly one-sided decision. Beltran, 29, has been a pro since 2000 and is also 0-2 in world title bouts, dropping decisions to Joan Guzman in 2005 and Steve Molitor in 2008, both in junior featherweight title fights. Beltran and Lacierva were meeting in an eliminator that would give the winner a third shot at a title, this time in the featherweight division. Although there was some good action between the two, Lacierva got the better of Beltran throughout the fight, pounding out the clear decision. He is now set up to fight the winner of a mandated bout between Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia and Billy Dib, who have been ordered to meet for the alphabet belt recently vacated by Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Alonso "Finito" Lopez W6 Jorge Guerrero
Scores: 60-54, 60-55, 59-55
Records: Lopez, 9-0-1, 3 KOs; Guerrero, 5-5, 2 KOs
Rafael's remark: Lopez, 25, of Mexico, is the son of all-time great Ricardo "Finito" Lopez, the Hall of Fame former strawweight and junior flyweight champion. The younger Lopez looks like a carbon copy of his father in the ring because of the way he holds his hands and moves during a fight. He was obviously taught well. But he is not his father. He seems quite a bit more limited and certainly does not have the kind of punching power the old man possessed. But Lopez had a fairly easy time against Mexico's Guerrero (whose three-fight win streak ended) to take the easy decision in the first fight he went beyond four rounds.
Saturday at Panama City, Panama
Hernan "Tyson" Marquez TKO11 Luis Concepcion
Wins a flyweight title
Records: Marquez, 30-2, 23 KOs; Concepcion, 22-2, 17 KOs
Rafael's remark: Well, Fight Freaks, we have our first legitimate fight of the year candidate (and an upset) in this back-and-forth brawl, which featured all kinds of momentum swings and multiple knockdowns, as well as a round of the year candidate in the first frame.
Concepcion, 25, who was fighting in front of a raucous hometown crowd, was making his first title defense since having the interim tag on his belt lifted after three defenses. He was the clear favorite against Marquez, 22, of Mexico, who pulled the upset in dramatic fashion to win his third fight in a row after back-to-back losses in 2010 (a poor performance in a decision loss to Richie Mepranum followed by an eighth-round knockout against Nonito Donaire in an interim junior bantamweight title bout).
There were no feeling-out rounds. The first round was sheer wildness as they slugged it out from the opening bell and exchanged knockdowns. Concepcion dropped Marquez to his backside with a right hand midway through the frame, but Marquez recovered quickly and rocked Concepcion with a left hand. Concepcion then rebounded to rock Marquez again, but he ate a left hand and went down a couple of seconds before the round ended. Whew! And this was just the first round! The second round featured more sensational toe-to-toe action, minus the knockdowns. They saved that for the third round as Marquez connected with a huge right hand seconds into the frame, dropping Concepcion. He almost went down again later in the round as the fighters traded vicious shots in a violent war. They rocked and wobbled each other several times throughout the fight, and it appeared that either could still win late. But in the 10th round, Marquez dropped Concepcion for the third time with a right hand. Concepcion rebounded to buckle Marquez later in the round, but Concepcion had bad swelling and a cut around his left eye, which was nearly closed. As soon as the 11th began, referee Luis Pabon called timeout to have the ringside doctor check the eye, and he advised Pabon to stop the fight, which the referee did. Perhaps it was a slightly unsatisfying ending, but it was a tremendous fight overall -- one that figures to receive strong consideration for fight of the year honors come December.
Saturday at Halle, Germany
Marco Huck W12 Ran Nakash
Retains a cruiserweight title
Scores: 118-110 (twice), 116-112
Records: Huck, 32-1, 23 KOs; Ran Nakash, 25-1, 18 KOs
Rafael's remark: Germany's Huck, 26, was supposed to make his sixth defense against former titlist Giacobbe Fragomeni of Italy until he pulled out less than two weeks before the fight, citing injury. That opened the door for Philadelphia-based Nakash, 32, of Israel, who had been training for another fight, to get the opportunity. Nakash was earnest in his efforts, but he is a one-dimensional fighter who mainly pressed forward with his physical style in an effort to outmuscle and outwork Huck, who is a faster and more well-rounded fighter. Nakash had some moments, and it was often a competitive (and entertaining) fight, but he could not do enough to gain any serious momentum. Huck, meanwhile, landed a lot of punches -- including many hard shots to the body -- and left Nakash with facial swelling (including a bad left eye) by the time the fight reached the final bell. Considering this fight was made on very short notice, credit to both guys for putting on a good show.
Robert Helenius TKO9 Samuel Peter
Records: Helenius, 15-0, 10 KOs; Peter, 34-5, 27 KOs
Rafael's remark: The matchmakers for promoter Sauerland Event are high on Helenius, a 27-year-old from Sweden who's based in Germany. And he showed them that they had made the right call to match him with Peter, 30, a powerful former titleholder from Nigeria now living in Las Vegas. It seemed like a risky fight for Helenius to take at this stage of his career, even though Peter was coming off a lopsided 10th-round knockout loss to heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in their September rematch. But the once iron-chinned Peter now appears to no longer be able to take a solid punch. Klitschko brutalized him, and Helenius cleaned up on what was left. The fight was a bit boring, although Peter did well in the early rounds. Helenius was having trouble getting going and didn't do much more than flick his jab. But Helenius, whose only previous notable victory was sending long-faded former titlist Lamon Brewster into retirement with an eighth-round knockout in January 2010, sure closed the show.
In the ninth round, Helenius landed a booming left hook out of nowhere that dropped Peter flat on his back. Peter was a bit dazed as he struggled to his feet at the count of eight. Helenius then landed a right hand followed by another left hook, splattering Peter flat on his back again and spread eagle in the center of the ring at 1 minute, 50 seconds. Peter had no prayer of beating the count from referee Dave Parris, who didn't bother to go all the way to 10. Very good win for Helenius, whose finish of the fight might make most folks forget about how shaky he looked in the early going. For Peter, he has now crossed over into opponent territory.
Saturday at Bydgoszcz, Poland
Krzysztof Wlodarczyk W12 Francisco Palacios
Retains a cruiserweight title
Scores: 118-112, 116-113 Wlodarczyk, 115-113 Palacios
Records: Wlodarczyk, 45-2-1, 32 KOs; Palacios, 20-1, 13 KOs
Rafael's remark: In the second title defense of his second title reign, Wlodarczyk, 29, of Poland, got the tight decision to retain his belt. (And what was the judge who scored it 118-112 watching anyway?) Still, this was a woeful match, one not worth the bandwidth used to watch on an Internet stream. Search it out if you have trouble sleeping in the future. Palacios, 33, of Puerto Rico, talked a big game before the fight and then, like Wlodarczyk, did very little -- unless staring while mixing in the occasional punch counts. Neither man took any chances, which for Wlodarczyk, who was slightly more aggressive, figured to work out fine because he was at home. But Palacios, whose best rounds came in the early going, fought so passively that he had no prayer of getting a decision on enemy turf. Palacios actually slowed down in the final few rounds, perhaps thinking he had the fight in the bag. Shame on him. Just a horrible fight.
Saturday at London
John Murray W12 Karim El Ouazghari
Retains European lightweight title
Scores: 117-111, 116-110, 115-112
Records: Murray, 31-0, 18 KOs; El Ouazghari, 11-2-2, 4 KOs
Rafael's remark: Murray, 26, of England, who was in his first fight since signing with promoter Frank Warren, was supposed to meet countryman Kevin Mitchell in an anticipated showdown. However, Warren had issues closing that deal, so Murray wound up facing the unknown El Ouazghari, 31, of Spain. Murray made a successful second defense of his European title but labored at times and didn't look all that good in his first fight since September, especially in the first half of the bout. But Murray, perhaps a bit rusty from the layoff, got through a tougher-than-expected test to win the decision in an action fight and set the stage for a possible July fight with Mitchell, who was ringside. Murray did notch an 11th-round knockdown, but he lost a point for a punch behind the head in the 12th as he was still gunning for a knockout. El Ouazghari had been penalized a point in the 11th round for a head-butt.
Saturday at Okinawa, Japan
Daiki Kameda KO5 Jesus Martinez
Records: Kameda, 20-2, 12 KOs; Martinez, 21-7, 12 KOs
Rafael's remark: Kameda, 22, of Japan, retained his flyweight belt on a controversial split decision against Silvio Olteanu in December. Kameda was very lucky to get the nod and afterward declared that he had too much trouble making weight, so he was going to move up. Saturday's bout was Kameda's first since renouncing his title, and he weighed a career-heavy 119¼ pounds to face Mexico's Martinez, 35, who lost his second fight in a row (and fourth in his past five bouts). Kameda, the younger brother of bantamweight titlist Koki Kameda, ended matters at 37 seconds of the fifth round when he stopped Martinez with a body shot.
Saturday at Mexico City
Edgar Sosa TKO8 Kenichi Horikawa
Records: Sosa, 42-6, 25 KOs; Horikawa, 20-10-1, 4 KOs
Rafael's remark: Sosa, 33, a former longtime junior flyweight titlist from Mexico, is a mandatory challenger for flyweight titlist Pongsaklek Wonjongkam of Thailand, and he isn't about to risk his shot by taking a hard fight. So Horikawa, 31, of Japan, got the call and lost his second fight in a row and third in his past four (each by knockout). Sosa was winning handily on all three scorecards (70-63, 70-62 and 68-65) when they went to the eighth round. Sosa had opened a cut over Horikawa's left eye, which was checked by the ringside doctor at the request of referee Frank Garza. As blood streamed down Horikawa's face, the doctor recommended the fight be called off. Sosa won his fifth fight in a row since losing his junior flyweight belt to Rodel Mayol via second-round knockout in November 2009.
Friday at Mashantucket, Conn.
Hank Lundy W10 Patrick Lopez
Scores: 99-91, 97-92, 95-94
Records: Lundy, 20-1-1, 10 KOs; Lopez, 20-4, 12 KOs
Rafael's remark: It was a good scrap in the ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" main event, and certainly not nearly as one-sided as the 99-91 scorecard. That's an abomination. Nonetheless, Lundy, 27, of Philadelphia, certainly deserved the decision as he turned back a spirited effort by Lopez, 33, a two-time Olympian from Venezuela who now lives in Londonderry, N.H. Lundy, known mostly for his big mouth, won his second fight in a row since he talked all kinds of smack about John Molina, had a big lead and then got knocked out in the 11th round last July. On Friday, Lundy used his speed advantage and movement to outhustle Lopez, whom he knocked down to his rear end with a left hand in the second round. Lopez, who lost his second fight in a row, also suffered a cut by his right eye courtesy of an accidental head clash. Lundy, who switched between a southpaw and an orthodox stance, had gotten out to a lead in the early rounds, but Lopez pressured him and worked his way back into the fight over the second half of the entertaining bout.
Friday at Indio, Calif.
Eric Morel TKO4 Luis Maldonado
Records: Morel, 44-2, 22 KOs; Maldonado, 37-5-1, 28 KOs
Rafael's remark: Morel, a 1996 U.S. Olympian from Puerto Rico and former flyweight titlist, lost a junior bantamweight title bout by decision to Martin Castillo in 2005. They were supposed to meet in a rematch in the main event of Telefutura's "Solo Boxeo Tecate," but Castillo suffered a foot injury the Tuesday before the fight and needed to be replaced. Enter Maldonado, a 33-year-old from Mexico with tons of experience but an 0-3 record in world title fights (knockouts by Fernando Montiel for a junior bantamweight belt and Nonito Donaire and Vic Darchinyan in flyweight title challenges). Morel had an easy time with Maldonado. He dropped him with a right hand to the chin just as the bell rang to end the first round. He fired shots, opened a cut over Maldonado's right eye and moved out of the way through the rest of the fight. After referee Raul Caiz Sr. asked the doctor to check the cut near the end of the fourth round, Caiz stopped the fight after the round. Morel is in good position to get another title opportunity. Maldonado lost his fourth consecutive bout.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
Giovani Segura pulled a shocker last August by relieving Ivan Calderon of his world junior flyweight title. But on Saturday, Segura proved the first win was no fluke -- and likely lifted Iron Boy's aura for good.