Saunders Earns Majority Decision over Lee, Wins Title

Dave Thompson/Getty Images

Saunders (right) lands a right jab on Lee (left)

A new WBO middleweight champion was crowned in Manchester, England on Saturday as Billy Joe Saunders earned a majority decision over Andy Lee to take the title.

The fight, which had been postponed twice due to injury and illness from both camps, was highly anticipated and the crowd let both fighters know they were excited by cheering loudly for both as they walked into the ring.

Both fighters started cautiously by pawing each other with jabs. Neither fighter wanted to be the first to make a mistake.

The action took a dramatic turn as Saunders (23-0, 12KO) landed a perfect right hook to put Lee down on his face. For a moment, it seemed Lee (34-3-1, 24KO) would not get up, but he somehow found the resolve to stand before the 10-count. However, Lee would go down from a glancing right hand for a second knockdown before surviving the round.

Saunders may have shown too much respect for Lee’s power because he fought the fourth round too cautiously and Lee managed to win the round by default as he went back to jabbing Saunders and throwing an occasional left hand.

The fight regressed back to the pattern of the first two rounds with both guys unwilling or unable to exchange. Rounds 5-8 were difficult to score because there was little to choose between the two pugilists. Only occasional overhand lefts or mini-flurries of two-three punches broke the pace of the fight.

Lee must’ve known he was behind on the scorecards, because he finally put some gas to the pedal in round 9 by largely outworking Saunders, who although wasn’t get hit cleanly, lost the round due to inactivity. Lee’s success continued in rounds 10 and 11 with largely the same formula: outwork Saunders and don’t get knocked down again.

Saunders woke up in the final round and actually exchanged with Lee, but the champion still outworked Saunders for the majority of the round.

When the final bell rang, it was clear due to the two knockdowns a Lee victory was unlikely. However, Lee could still retain his title with a draw, which is how I scored it (113-113).

One judge scored the fight a draw 113-113 while the other two scored it for the challenger, 114-112 and 115-111, making Saunders the new champion.

The fight, although fascinating, wasn’t as exciting or fulfilling as anticipated. It largely played out like a high-skills amateur bout. Although Saunders did earn the win and showed some underrated power, he didn’t convince me he could take on the likes of Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez.

A bout with WBA (Regular) champion (whatever that means) Daniel Jacobs could prove to be an interesting matchup however. Both guys have enough skills and weaknesses to make it an action-packed bout.

It’s unclear where Lee goes from here. He’s come a long way from his losses to the ultimate gatekeeper Brian Viloria and super-spoiled Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to winning the title against Matt Korobov last year. He is 37 years-old so it’s hard to image Lee getting any better than he already is. There are plenty of contenders such as David Lemieux and Chris Eubank Jr. who could give Lee a good earning.

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Ortiz Sensational Against Jennings; Walters Robbed of Deserved Win

A double-header from Verona, New York on Saturday featured Nicholas Walters making his super featherweight debut against Jason Sosa and a clash of heavyweight contenders between Bryant Jennings and Luis Ortiz.

Walters, looking to impress in his first bout since losing his featherweight title on the scales, made his intentions clear in the very 1st round. Land body shots to weaken Sosa. Sosa, a club fighter from Camden, New Jersey, thought he could punch with Walters and willingly traded with Walters.

Although Sosa (18-1-4, 14KO) remained surprisingly competitive, Walters’ superior technique allowed him to take the sting out of most of Sosa’s punches as well as land his own hooks to the body and head.

For the most part, the fight played out with Walters landing the harder, cleaner blows and Sosa taking the blows well enough to never make it easy for Walters. When the final bell rang, virtually everybody expected Walters to win an easy decision.

The judges never cease to amaze though.

One judge, Tom Schreck, somehow scored it 96-94 for Sosa while Don Ackerman and Wynn Kintz each scored it 95-95. This changed Walters’ record to (26-0-1, 21KO).

Begin rant here:

What the %$#@@#$#!!*&^%#$ is wrong with these judges?? Seriously? Is it corruption? Incompetence? Both? How can any person with eyes and the minimalist of intelligence say with a straight face that Sosa won the fight?

There’s a difference between being competitive and actually WINNING ROUNDS. Obviously Schreck, Ackerman, and Kintz don’t know the difference. And the saddest thing is they most likely won’t be penalized for this decision.

At worst, this decision only adds fuel to the fire of criticism on Walters that he is overrated, should have stayed at featherweight, or whatever other absurd reason some people dislike Walters. Best case scenario is this decision stunts Walters’ career growth.

Thanks judges. You’ve managed to damage the sport once again.

Rant over.

Jennings (left) moments after being knocked down by a left uppertcut from Ortiz (right)

Jennings (left) moments after being knocked down by a left uppertcut from Ortiz (right)

On a happier note, heavyweight contenders Bryant Jennings and Luis Ortiz engaged in one of the most entertaining heavyweight bouts of the year on the main event.

Things almost ended early for Jennings (19-2, 10KO) as the slick Cuban landed a thudding left uppercut which hurt Jennings. It seemed he wouldn’t be able to recover, but Jennings somehow managed to survive the round and even win the 2nd round based on keeping busy and smothering Ortiz’s (24-0, 21KO) attack.

The pattern of the fight became Ortiz winning the odd rounds and Jennings taking the even rounds. Whenever Ortiz managed to get space, he was able to land his precise, powerful punches on Jennings. But whenever Jennings managed to get in close on Ortiz he had success by landing overhand rights and body shots.

Ortiz shifted the tide in the 6th round by winning his first even round with hard uppercuts and overhand lefts while avoiding any return fire Jennings could muster.

A beautiful left uppercut which was set-up with two uppercuts beforehand put Jennings flat on his face in the 7th round. Jennings managed to get up on unsteady legs, but Ortiz landed a series of blows that staggered Jennings against the ropes. Jennings was noticeably frustrated with himself as he knew the referee was moving in to wave the fight off. Jennings still had his mental facilities intact, but his body simply failed him.

With this victory, Ortiz puts himself in line for a title shot against Deontay Wilder. It is unlikely he’ll get a chance to fight newly crowned heavyweight champion Tyson Fury due to former-champ Wladimir Klitschko seemingly willing to exercise his rematch clause. However, Ortiz could earn a belt by facing and beating Wilder to capture his WBC belt.

Although Jennings lost, he did give a good account of himself and managed to recover from a few troublesome moments before the stoppage. He should be able to bounce back from this loss.

The best part of the fight? No judges were involved.

Jacobs Wins Brooklyn Bragging Rights, TKOs Quillin in the 1st Round

Ed Diller/DiBella Entertainment

Jacobs (left) throws a jab against Quillin (right)

Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs won local bragging rights by stopping previously undefeated Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin at 1:25 in the first round on Saturday to retain his WBA middleweight title in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

The fight began with both guys meeting in the center of the ring, ready to throw hard punches. Jacobs (31-1, 28KO) landed a hard right hand after blinding Quillin with a feint left hook which momentarily wobbled the challenger.

Jacobs never let Quillin (32-1-1, 23KO) off the hook and threw so many quick, hard shots that it was hard for Quillin to hold Jacobs to buy time. Another right hand rendered Quillin all but unconscious on his feet which made referee Harvey Doc wave the fight off.

Quillin’s biggest mistake was keeping his left hand low which gave Jacobs the opportunity to land his right hand. Going into the fight, lots of people believed Quillin had the advantage in terms of power, but Jacobs’ power cannot be underestimated as Quillin found out.

More than a few people are probably going to think the fight was prematurely stopped, and admittedly I thought this as well in the moment. However, upon further review from the replay it was clear Quillin was simply too far gone to survive much less mount a comeback. All that would have happened had Quillin been allowed to continue would have been an even more brutal, perhaps dangerous, knockout.

Quillin was gracious in defeat and didn’t complain about the stoppage. He said a rematch is possible, but he wants to spend time with his family before making any decisions.

Jacobs has become one of the more inspiring characters in boxing. Not only has he come back from a devastating knockout loss to Dmitry Pirog in 2010, but to come back from osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, and reestablish himself in boxing to become a world champion is a movie waiting to be made.

For now, he can enjoy the fruits of his victory.