The beauty of boxing and sports in general is when the unexpected happens. Although a few predictable things occurred regarding last weekend’s bouts, a few delightful surprises surfaced.
Starting at the heavyweight division, Wladimir Klitschko (59-3-1 51KO) defended his championship against fringe contender Mariusz Wach (27-1 15KO) by a unanimous decision. Klitschko was fighting without his trainer Emanuel Steward, who died on October 25th. The scorecards read 120-107 (twice) and 119-109 for the heavyweight champ.
Wach predictably ran into the same problems that many Klitschko opponents have had. He couldn’t get past the jab of Wladimir and the powerful right hands that Klitschko was able to land kept Wach on the defensive and he was never able to get close enough to be effective.
This is the 17th straight victory for Klitschko. It is unclear who he should fight next considering virtually no one in the division has any reasonable chance of beating him. The prospects are too young and inexperienced and the veterans simply lack talent.
On the Showtime network, Leo Santa Cruz (22-0-1 13KO) scored a dominant ninth round KO over unranked challenger Victor Zaleta (20-3-1 10KO). The fight was mainly an exhibition of Santa Cruz’s talents.
Santa Cruz scored knockdowns in the fourth, seventh, and ninth round. The body shots were the main thing that weakened Zaleta and he was finally taken out by a right hand from Santa Cruz.
Because Santa Cruz looked so impressive, fans want to see him step up in competition by fighting the likes of Koki Kameda, Anselmo Moreno, Abner Mares, etc. Santa Cruz has stated that he would like to get one more fight before stepping up to the elite level in order to gain more experience. Fans should keep an eye on this entertaining yet talented fighter. It will be interesting to see Santa Cruz challenged and not just displaying his skills in the ring.
In the junior featherweight (122 Ibs.) division, Abner Mares (25-0-1 13KO) achieved an impressive unanimous decision victory over slick Anselmo Moreno (33-2-1 12KO). The judges scored it 116-110 (twice) and a questionable 120-106. Some would argue the fight was closer than the scorecards indicate but almost everyone agrees Mares won the fight.
Mares cut off the ring and land many eye-catching shots to the head and body. He made Moreno uncomfortable through pressure and some questionable tactics. Mares landed a fair share of low blows but some of them were caused by Moreno pulling Mares’ head down.
Moreno was effective at times when he was able to put distance between himself and Mares. He landed good shots and made Mares miss many punches. However, Mares was able to jump on him enough times to win most of the rounds.
The fact that Mares was able to control most of the fight against Moreno is extremely impressive. Some experts had Moreno on their pound-for-pound lists so it’s interesting to see if they will add Mares to the list of the ten best fighters in the world. Although Moreno lost this fight, he is still the champion of the bantamweight division and he’ll likely go back to that weight and defend his championship against the top contenders. For Mares, the sky is the limit for him. He has expressed interest in fighting Nonito Donaire, a fight that suddenly looks more competitive.
On the HBO broadcast, featherweight (126 Ibs.) contender Mikey Garcia (30-0 26KO) kept his title shot opportunity against Orlando Salido by stopping Jonathan Barros (34-4-1 18KO) in the 8th round.
Garcia controlled most of the bout but Barros was able to land a good left hook on Garcia that gained his attention in the 7th round. Garcia responded with his own left hook in the eighth and it finished off Barros.
Garcia and Salido are expected to fight sometime in early 2013.
In the junior middleweight (154 Ibs.) division, Erislandy Lara (17-1-2 11KO) and Vanes Martiroysan (30-0-1 20KO) fought to a somewhat disappointing draw. Although the fight had some intense moments, the lack of sustained action made the fight dull.
The pattern of the fight was Lara landing the more effective shots and Martiroysan landing more shots. Martiroysan was able to cut Lara with an overhand right but Lara was able to land several head-snapping left hands on the Armenian fighter.
In the ninth round, a clash of heads opened a nasty cut on Martiroysan and the fight was stopped. The scorecards read 86-85 for Martiroysan, 87-84 for Lara, and 86-86 even. Martiroysan proved some doubters wrong by putting a good effort against Lara, considered to be one the best fighters in the 154 Ibs. in the division. Lara might not be as good as the boxing world previously thought, however. He appeared to tire at certain points in the fight and the fact that he didn’t throw in combination shows a certain lack of experience.