The Past Week in Action

Highlights:

– John Riel Casimero retains the WBO bantamweight title with split decision over Guillermo Rigondeaux in a fight to forget

-Vergil Ortiz records an important and impressive win as he floors Egidijus Kavaliauskas five times

-Joshua Franco stages a strong finish to outpoint Andrew Moloney and retain the secondary WBA super flyweight title but twin brother Jason Moloney outpoints Michael Greer at bantamweight.

-Roger Gutierrez retains the secondary WBA super featherweight title with points victory over former champion Rene Alvarado

-Bantam eliminator between Gary Antonio Russell and Emmanuel Rodriguez ends after just sixteen seconds as Rodriguez is cut in a clash of heads in the first round resulting in a No Decision.

-Joshua Buatsi knocks out Ricards Bolotniks in eleven rounds to move close to a shot at a version of the light heavyweight title

-Nico Ali Walsh, son of Muhammad Ali, makes his debut with a knockout victory against Jordan Weeks.

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World Title/Major Shows

14 August

Frisco, EX, USA:

Welter: Vergil Ortiz (18-0) W KO 8 Egidijus Kavaliauskas (22-2-1).

Super Feather: Roger Gutierrez (26-3-1) W PTS 12 Rene Alvarado (32-10).

Ortiz vs. Kavaliauskas

Staggered early Ortiz goes on to floor Kavaliauskas five times. Both used plenty of jabs in the opening round with Ortiz just that bit sharper and Kavaliauskas looking to counter with rights. They both scored with sharp rights in the second with Ortiz bringing his left hook to the body into play. As they traded punches a right from Kavaliauskas suddenly had Ortiz staggered and hurt. He held on desperately with Kavaliauskas throwing punches in a frenzy trying to put Ortiz away.

Ortiz looked to be in deep trouble holding desperately and he went down but it was rightly ruled a slip. When he got up Ortiz turned things around with sweeping hooks driving Kavaliauskas back and now it was Kavaliauskas under fire at the bell to end a dramatic round. Kavaliauskas took the fight to Ortiz in the third getting through with jabs and rights. Ortiz weathered the storm and then just before the bell he landed a straight right followed by a left hook that dropped Kavaliauskas.

The Lithuanian was up at five and when the eight count was completed the bell went before Ortiz could do any more damage. Ortiz took the fourth and fifth with some strong jabbing on the back foot. Kavaliauskas attacked fiercely in the sixth getting through with some powerful rights but Ortiz went onto the front foot in the seventh scoring with quick jabs and landing two hefty rights just before the bell as Kavaliauskas showed signs of tiring.

It was all Ortiz in the eighth. Kavaliauskas was trying to stay inside but he was driven back and dropped to one knee after a stiff jab to the body from Ortiz. Kavaliauskas was up at eight but looked a beaten fighter and a left hook from Ortiz saw Kavaliauskas drop to one knee and bounce up again. After the count Ortiz put Kavaliauskas down twice more and the fight was stopped. Impressive performance by Ortiz against a very tough opponent. Ortiz retains the WBO International title and is their No 1 so a mandatory challenger to Terence Crawford. The only fight the Lithuanian had lost was  a ninth round stoppage against Crawford for the WBO title in December 2019.

Gutierrez vs. Alvarado

Venezuelan Gutierrez holds on to the secondary WBA title with unanimous decision over former champion Alvarado. This was the third meeting of the two Latin Americans and familiarity led to caution as neither wanted to commit himself too much too soon. Gutierrez came to life in the fourth scoring well with counters and he also took the fifth with the same tactics.

Alvarado  found his fighting spirit in the sixth connecting with a good left hook and some overhand rights and they traded heavy punches in the seventh. Gutierrez swung the fight back his way in the eighth catching Alvarado with series of rights and landed a heavy right in the ninth. A cut and tiring Gutierrez then faded allowing Alvarado to close the points gap but then after opening a bad cut on Alvarado’s left eyebrow Gutierrez just did enough to win the last round. Scores 116-112 twice and 115-113 for Gutierrez.

He had been knocked out in seven rounds by Alvarado in 2017 but gained revenge when a fight-saving last round knockdown saw him win on scores of 113-112 to lift the secondary WBA from Alvarado in January. It took eleven years for Alvarado to win a title then he lost it in his first defence. He will be looking to work his way back to another title shot but hopefully he won’t have to wait eleven years.

Tulsa, OK, USA:

Super Fly: Joshua Franco (18-1-2,1ND) W PTS 12 Andrew Moloney (21-2).

Bantam: Jason Moloney (22-2) W PTS 10 Joshua Greer (22-3-2).

Super Feather: Andres Cortes (15-0) W KO 1 Genisis Servania (34-3).

Super Middle: Nico Ali Walsh (1-0) W TKO 1 Jordan Weeks (4-2).

Franco vs. Moloney

The pace in this fight was fast from the start. In the first Franco was advancing behind a high guard spearing Moloney with jabs and putting together some flashy combinations with Moloney countering but it was Franco’s round. Moloney was rocked by a right at the start of the second but then took over. He boxed cleverly on the back foot raking the oncoming Franco with counters and outworking Franco inside.

Franco did a bit better in the third landing some clubbing rights but once again it was Moloney’s round. He was controlling the fight with his jab and getting off his punches and moving before Franco could counter. Despite constant pressure from Franco Moloney boxed coolly to pocket the fourth. Franco got back into the fight in the fifth. He upped his tempo and Moloney seemed to slow as Franco worked to the body and forced Moloney to stand and trade more. The sixth was close and a better round for Moloney. He scored well at distance and was given a warning as held on the inside to smother Franco’s attacks.

After six rounds I had Moloney in front 58-56. Franco was on top in the seventh and then Moloney looked to have made it a big round for him. He threw a right and Franco went down. Franco protested that he had slipped but the referee gave Franco a count and Franco dominated the rest of the round. In the interval the referee asked for a reply of the knockdown and it was clear that Franco had slipped so what might have been a 10-8 round for Moloney turned into a 10-9 for Franco. That was a turning point in the fight as Franco got stronger and Moloney slowed.

Franco was landing punches that Moloney would have slipped earlier and Franco upped the pressure in round after round. Moloney was able to find gaps for his jab but the combinations he had been throwing earlier were absent. Moloney did enough to make the eighth a close round and put in a big effort in the eleventh but Franco won both rounds sweeping the last six rounds to take the decision. Franco retains the secondary WBA title and goes 2-0, 1ND ahead in his three-bout series with Moloney.  Former WBA interim champion Moloney will be back fighting for a title in 2022.

Moloney vs. Greer

Jason Moloney made sure one of the Moloney twins came away with a win as he outboxed Greer. As with Andrew, Jason was content fighting on the back foot countering Greer’s attacks and scoring with hurtful body shots. Greer looked to have taken the first two rounds and the third was close but Moloney had a big fourth as he dazed Greer with a right and then had Greer pinned to the ropes and was unloading punches for the last minute of the round.

Greer was showing a swelling by his right eye. Moloney built on that success in the fifth and by the sixth Greer’s right eye began to close due to the swelling. Moloney took over outscoring Greer and despite an attempt by Greer to claw his way into the fight over the closing rounds Moloney was a clear winner. Scores 98-92 twice and 96-94 for Moloney. This is Moloney’s first fight since being knocked out in seven rounds by Naoya Inoue in October. He is still in the ratings so will be hoping to work his way into another title shot-but not against Inoue.

Cortes vs. Servania

Unbeaten Las Vegas fighter Cortes gets a big win as he stops Servania. The more experienced Servania was confident in the first taking the fight to Cortes and landing some crisp shots. Cortes was relying heavily on his jab but with less than ten seconds to go in the round Cortes landed a solid right to the head that saw Servania half turn away and Cortes dropped him with a fearsome left hook.

Servania was lying on his side half way out under the ropes and after starting the count the referee wisely waived the fight over. No names on Cortes’ record and he had won three of his last four fights on points making this a surprise ending. Filipino Servania had gone the full twelve rounds when losing to Oscar Valdez in a challenge for the WBO feather title in 2017 and had rebuilt solidly since then

Walsh vs. Weeks

Walsh, 21, the grandson of Muhammad Ali floors and stops Weeks in just 109 seconds . Walsh will be under the limelight whenever he fights so plenty of pressure but he got the job done here.

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Carson, CA, USA:

 Bantam: John Riel Casimero(31-4) W PTS 12 Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-2).

Bantam: Gary Antonio Russell (18-0,1ND) ND 1 Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-2,1ND).

Casimero vs. Rigondeaux

Casimero retains the WBO bantam title with split decision over Rigondeaux. This was a terrible fight with very little in the way of highlights and which set a new CompuBox record for the least punches landed in a fight. From the first it was evident that if there was going to be a fight Casimero was going to have to make it. In his too familiar style Rigondeaux spent twelve rounds trying to avoid trading punches with Casimero and Casimero was not quick enough to close Rigondeaux down.

Casimero’s irritation showed early as he was warned twice in the opening round. The crowd was already booing over the lack of action by the third round as Casimero pursued Rigondeaux in vain. Rigondeaux was able to spear Casimero with right jabs and skip away before Casimero could counter. Casimero managed to score on the occasions when he caught up with Rigondeaux but the CompuBox statistics showed that neither fighter managed to land fifty punches over the twelve rounds.

Casimero threw more and showed what aggression there was and that was enough to get him the decision. Scores 117-111 and 116-112 for Casimero and 115-113 for Rigondeaux. Casimero will now be looking to face either Nonito Donaire or Naoya Inoue. Rigondeaux felt he won this one and in response to the criticism of his tactics not unreasonable said that is the way he fights and he can’t change.

So much talent and so little entertainment value. Rigondeaux did not just lose this fight but also made it harder to sell him in another big match.

Russell vs. Rodriguez

Disappointing end to what looked to be a very good fight on paper as a cut caused by a clash of heads sees the fight end after just 16 seconds. The clash sent a dazed Rodriguez to the floor and the cut was too bad for him to continue. This fight was for the WBA interim title which remains vacant.

Brentwood, England:

Light Heavy: Joshua Buatsi (15-0) W TKO 11Ricards Bolotniks (18-6-1).

Welter: Michael McKinson (21-0) W PTS 10 Przemyslaw Runowski (19-2).

Feather: Hopey Price (5-0) W PTS 6 Claudio Grande (5-1).

Buatsi vs. Bolotniks

Buatsi floors brave Bolotniks twice and stops him in the eleventh round. Buatsi quickly took control in the first. He was finding gaps in Bolotniks guard for his jab and landing rights. Bolotniks was not looking to engage but he showed he could be a danger landing a heavy right to the head. There was real power behind Buatsi’s jab in the second and he had Bolotniks backing up although again Bolotniks got through with a sneaky right. Buatsi was putting his punches together well in the third and although Bolotniks was more adventurous than in the opening rounds it was Buatsi doing the  scoring particularly with his potent jab.

Buatsi really let his punches flow in the fourth with Bolotniks under heavy fire and being rocked by a right but doing some clowning on his way back to his corner to show he was not hurt. Buatsi kept up the pressure in the fifth and then floored Bolotniks with a sizzling left hook. After the count Buatsi drove Bolotniks around the ring bombarding him with punches. He then seemed to back off and Bolotniks scored with a good uppercut before the bell. Surviving the sixth seemed to put more heart into Bolotniks and he came forward throughout the seventh and eighth with the snap gone from Buatsi’s jab and Buatsi was deducted a point for a low punch in the ninth.

Buatsi handed out some savage punishment to head and body in the tenth with a brave Bolotniks taking it and trying to fire back when he could. A huge right hand from Buatsi floored Bolotniks heavily in the eleventh and the fight was stopped. Buatsi is No 2 with the WBA and the second highest ranked fighter with the IBF so a title shot next year has to be on the agenda. Latvian Bolotniks came to prominence by beating Steven Ward, Hosea Burton and  Serge Michel in the MTK tournament and put up a resolute fight here but Buatsi was just too good for him.

McKinson vs. Runowski

McKinson easily outpoints Pole Runowski in a WBO Gold title defence. McKinson has an unusual and awkward style but is very quick with his hands and his wide stride helps him step back from his opponents attacks. Runowski never came near to working out how to fight McKinson. A straight left from McKinson almost put Runowski down at the end of the fourth round.

For the remaining rounds McKinson’s right jabs and straight lefts kept Runowski on the back foot and when he did attack he was often swinging wildly. Luckily for Runowski McKinson is not much of a puncher-only two wins by KO/TKO- so apart from that time at the end of the fourth he was never in any serious trouble.

Scores 99-91 twice and 98-92 for McKinson. The Gold title has given McKinson a No. 4 rating with the WBO. Runowski won his first 17 fights against very modest opposition and when he stepped up against in April 2019 against Josh Kelly he lost every round and was counted three times.

Price vs. Grande

Southpaw prospect Hope is made to work hard against unbeaten Italian Grande. Price had a much longer reach and used his southpaw jab and straight lefts to pile up the points. Grande kept taking the fight to Price who had to use his skills to avoid the Italian’s attack. Price put the verdict beyond doubt as he floored Grande with a perfectly timed left counter. Perfectly timed in its delivery and also as it was the last punch of the fight. Grande made it to his feet.

The referee scored the fight 58-55 for the 21-year-old from Leeds who in 2018 won a silver medal at the Youth World Boxing Championships and gold at the European Youth Championships and the Youth Olympics .

Fight of the week (Significance): Virgil Ortiz win over Egidijus Kavaliauskas with fights against Terence Crawford or Errol Spence possibilities in 2022

Fight of the week (Entertainment); Plenty of action in Ortiz vs. Kavaliauskas

Fighter of the week: Virgil Ortiz for his blast out of Kavaliauskas

Punch of the week: The left hook from Joshua Buatsi that put Ricards Bolotniks down in the sixth was spectacular

Upset of the week: Andres Cortes first round stoppage of Genisis Servania was a real shock

Prospect watch: Early days but Leeds super bantamweight 5-0 Ivan “Hopey” Price was outstanding in International Youth tournaments

 

Observations

Once again Guillermo Rigondeaux loses and faces criticism for his jab and run, run style. I have some sympathy for him he said that this is how he fights and he can’t change. He had 386 fights as an amateur and lost only 12. For almost 400 fights entertainment was not even in his dictionary and the only requirement was that he win for Cuba-boringly or not. Changing a style that deeply engraved in his psyche is never going to be easy and he will be 41 next month so he is never going to change.

It was interesting that in the Franco vs. Moloney fight after giving Franco a count in the seventh round the referee at the end of the round asked to see the replay of the incident and saw that Franco had slipped and no punch was landed so a 10-8 for Moloney ended up as a 10-9 for Franco so I guess the judges would have had to adjust their score cards even if they had already marked the round 10-8. Messy but a good call.

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