Ortiz Easily Dispatches Thompson; Vargas TKOs Ali

The DC Armory featured longtime heavyweight contender and D.C. native Tony Thompson unsuccessfully taking on Luis Ortiz.

Ortiz, the significant favorite, immediately took control of the fight in the first round by landing a straight left out of the southpaw which put Thompson on the canvas. Thompson managed to beat the ref’s count and survive the round, but Ortiz made his point. He’s simply the better fighter.

The second round featured more of the same with Thompson (40-7, 27KO) too timid to try to mount an attack and Ortiz (25-0, 22KO) playing with his opponent. An overhand left hand put Thompson down for the second time during the third round and once again Thompson managed to survive the round.

The Cuban heavyweight took his time, winning rounds four and five by keeping Thompson off-balance with the jab and landing good shots to the head and body almost at will. Thompson fought back, but only in spots and most of his shots fell short of their target.

Ortiz finished things off in round six by landing yet another overhand left hand as Thompson threw punches that once again fell short. The referee halted the fight at that point.

Although it was a solid performance from Ortiz, it didn’t show us anything new from the 36-year-old. Thompson failed to put any pressure on Ortiz, so aside from the Jennings fight it’s unclear how good Ortiz’s stamina really is. However, Ortiz did show off his power and general boxing skills by using the jab to set-up his attack. Thompson isn’t exactly an elite fighter, but Ortiz’s performance against him showed us he very well may be one of the elites. Only time and the right matchups will tell.

 

On the undercard, Jessie Vargas pulled off a mild upset by scoring his first knockout since 2011 against former Olympian Sadam Ali to capture the vacant WBO welterweight title.

Ali fought off the back foot during the first round and landed enough quick pot shots to win the round. Vargas (27-1, 10KO) stayed composed, but it took him a few rounds to really throw combinations and beforehand he seemed satisfied landing his own single shots on Ali.

A left hook and a slip in the second round made Ali (22-1, 13KO)

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Ortiz (right) lands a right jab on Thompson (left)

look temporarily off-balance, but it showed Vargas could land his power shots. Experts believed Ali would be too fast for Vargas, but that argument lost legitimacy by the end of the second round.

The two continued to trade blows throughout the third round. Ali settled into landing quick right hands while Vargas seemed to be focused on landing his left hook.

By the end of the fourth round, Ali’s right eye began reddening and closing from the left hooks, but his right hands landed more frequently and seemed to win him the round.

The fight went back and forth until the end of the eighth round when Vargas feinted Ali and landed a terrific right hand which dropped his opponent. Ali took almost the full count before rising and was saved by the bell. He clearly looked dazed and confused as he walked to the wrong corner before finally resting on his stool.

Ali didn’t look much better in the ninth round as he took several right hands and left hooks before going down for a second time. Ali tried to survive, but Vargas managed to trap him in the corner and land another right hand which prompted the referee to wave the fight off.

Vargas has shown underrated power in his last two performances, nearly knocking out Tim Bradley in his last fight and stopping Ali on Saturday. He called out Bradley, insisting he deserves a rematch after losing a decision to him last June.

Who are we to argue?

 

 

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Frampton Unifies Titles, Outpoints Quigg

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Quigg (left) & Frampton (right) engage in a rare exchange

A packed crowd celebrated with deafening noise as Belfast-native Carl Frampton retained his IBF super bantamweight (122 pounds) title and captured the WBA version from Scott Quigg with a split-decision victory on Saturday in Manchester, England. One judge scored the fight 115-113 for Quigg while the other two scored it 116-112 for the Irishman.

The wild cheering of the crowd didn’t match the action in the ring as both fighters started extremely cautiously and left little for the judges to pick between them. Both fighters did more posing and staring than punching for the first three rounds.

Frampton (22-0, 14KO) began picking up the rounds largely by throwing the jab and backing up the bigger man. Quigg (31-1-2, 23KO) rarely threw punches and missed most of the ones he did throw.

Quigg finally woke up in the 7th round and began to throw more frequently. He applied far more pressure on his opponent and imposed his size to a certain degree by pushing Frampton to the ropes at times. This left Frampton confused and his movement slowed down enough for Quigg to decisively win rounds. A cluster of hooks in the 9th round showed off Quigg’s power.

The 10th round was exactly what the fans were looking for as both champions finally exchanged blows and landed combinations. Quigg, realizing he had given the first half of the fight away, fought his heart out and began imposing his skills and size on Frampton. His highlight moment came in the 11th round when a huge straight right hand momentarily buckled Frampton’s knees.

To his credit, Frampton showed his warrior spirit by coming out and winning the final round with movement and more precise punching than Quigg. Quigg landed some good shots early on in the round, but he ultimately spent too much time looking for a haymaker shot to win the round.

The fight itself was somewhat exciting, with the first six rounds stinking up the joint and the last half becoming more of the fight everyone anticipated leading up to the event. Comparisons to the Barrera-Morales trilogy ended up being far too exaggerated.

Quigg expressed disappointment in his loss and I can imagine why. He looked like a fighter who still had something left in the tank, but he didn’t begin truly fighting until the 6th round and it cost him greatly. Frampton could have arguably gone harder as well, as he withstood a late surge from Quigg to win the final round. So again, this fight turned out to be a tad disappointing in terms of action.

However, congratulations must be handed to Frampton for unifying the titles and proving to the world he’s the best super bantamweight in the world not named Rigondeaux. He should have a bright future ahead of him, regardless which direction he takes.

Quigg can definitely bounce back from this set-back. It seemed his biggest mistake was showing his opponent too much respect and not imposing his superior size. If he can overcome this over-thinking nature he seems to have, he can still become an excellent fighter.

Garcia Outpoints Guerrero, Wins Title

Boxing: Garcia vs Guerrero

Danny Garcia (pink shorts) battles Robert Guerrero (red shorts) during their WBC welterweight boxing title fight at Staples Center. Garcia won by decision. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In a fight for the WBC welterweight title (for some reason…) Danny Garcia put on a solid performance of counter-punching and outboxed veteran Robert Guerrero over 12 rounds to win a unanimous decision.

Garcia, the favorite, started the fight on his toes with Guerrero chasing him. Guerrero (33-4-1, 18KO) did well at times by keeping busy and landing solid right hooks and straight lefts to the head and body of Garcia (32-0, 18KO), but even at the early stages Garcia was able to land flush left hooks on Guerrero at will.

Guerrero managed to win the early rounds by being busier than Garcia, but by rounds 5 and 6 Garcia started to make Guerrero miss and mix up his attack with looping right hands to go along with his left hook. Although Garcia never picked up the pace in terms of punch output, his harder shots and ability to make Guerrero miss helped him pile up points and take the lead in the second half of the fight.

The two fighters settled down in the final round and engaged in furious exchanges, to the delight of the crowd.

Garcia won the fight by scores of 116-112 across the board. I scored the bout the same. Garcia’s career has been mostly lackluster since his victory over Lucas Matthysse in 2013. However, if he can build off this victory, he can get back into the level of prestige fans and experts held him after the Matthysse win. A match-up against the winner of the Shawn Porter – Keith Thurman fight, a rematch against Amir Khan, or even Tim Bradley assuming Bradley beats Pacquiao are all excellent bouts which can put Garcia back on the map towards potential P4P status. No more Rod Salka fights, okay Danny? Okay Haymon?

As for Guerrero, I thought he was all but finished after the ‘’win’’ over Aron Martinez. He showed more life in this bout so I believe he can still be a solid gatekeeper for the welterweight division and give the best in the division a run for their money. But, I think his days of actually beating these guys are over.

Saunders Earns Majority Decision over Lee, Wins Title

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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.

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.

Bradley Scores First KO in 4 years, Rios Retires

Bradley (left) lands a hard jab on Rios (right)

Bradley (left) lands a hard jab on Rios (right)

Last Saturday Timothy Bradley and Brandon Rios engaged in a bout that can be seen as a tale of two roads. One fighter will continue his career while the other will hang up the gloves.

This was Bradley’s first fight under trainer Teddy Atlas after departing with Joel Diaz, who had trained Bradley for the majority of his career. Atlas is known for his intense psychological talks in-between rounds to his fighters.

The intensity seems to fit Bradley well as he stuck to the gameplan throughout the fight, which was to attack Rios using angles and to never be in a position to receive any return fire from Rios. Even when they fought in close quarters, where Rios is most at home, Bradley proved more effective by landing body shots and smothering Rios so that he was unable to land any effective punches.

The only round where Bradley didn’t stick to the gameplan was the 2nd round as he mostly fought in close quarters. However, as mentioned above he still was effective and rendered the slow, plodding Rios unable to do anything effective offensively.

Rios had difficulty making the welterweight limit and it showed. He didn’t look in shape and although he’s never been known for his speed, he looked like he was moving underwater at times. Bradley continued to overwhelm Rios with his handspeed and more effective combination punching.

Bradley stepped it up in the 9th round by pounding Rios’ body until Rios took a knee for only the second knockdown of his career. He rose before the referee could finish the count, but after Bradley continued to attack Rios he went down for the second time, prompting the referee to stop the fight. It’s the only time Rios has ever been stopped and Bradley’s first knockout win since 2011.

With this win, Bradley turns in his most impressive performance since the Juan Manuel Marquez bout in 2013. After that, he’s won some fights but has had to survive scary moments such as the last round of his fight with Jessie Vargas. If this fight is a precursor to how the Atlas-Bradley partnership will play out, the rest of the welterweight division will have to take note.

Rios immediately announced his retirement after the fight, saying his body just can’t do what he wants to do anymore. Although this may seem a bit early given he’s only 29 years old, he’s been in many wars with the likes of Mike Alvarado, John Murray, and others. Plus, he hasn’t exactly taken care of his body in between fights. Some reports had Rios ballooning as high as 175 Ibs. even before this fight. I certainly don’t want to see the version of Rios we saw step into the ring on Saturday come back.

For the sake of his health, let’s hope he stays retired.

Crawford Shines Against Jean, has sights set on Pacquiao

 

Crawford (right) lands a solid right hook on Jean (left) to score a knockdown in round 1

Crawford (right) lands a solid right hook on Jean (left) to score a knockdown in round 1

Looking to solidify his position as one of the best fighters today, Terence Crawford put on a masterful display of his skills fighting out of both the conventional and southpaw against tough challenger Dierry Jean last Saturday at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska.

The first round began with both pugilists staying on the outside. Jean tried to jab Crawford and out-box him while Crawford seemed content to study his opponent and look for any potential cracks in Jean’s defense. He found it in the last 10 seconds of the round as a left hand-right hook combo from the southpaw put Jean down on the canvas for the first knockdown of the fight.

Whatever gameplan Jean had coming into the fight was probably tossed by that point.

Crawford (27-0, 19KO) stayed in the southpaw stance and put Jean (29-2, 20KO) on the defensive using his southpaw jab to keep Jean at a distance. Jean, a Montreal-based former title-challenger, landed his right hand on occasion but each time he had any amount of success Crawford responded with hard combinations that drove him to the ropes.

This fight gradually shifted from Crawford out-classing Jean to beating him up physically. Although Jean is a decent fighter, he had no answer for the speed and precise punches from Crawford. A hard left hand followed by a blow on the back of the head put Jean down for a second knockdown in the 9th round.

Jean survived the 9th, but it was clear he simply couldn’t handle Crawford’s increasingly aggressive offense and the referee waved the fight off in the middle of the 10th round to award Crawford the TKO victory.

This fight was meant to be Crawford’s test in a possible bid to fight Manny Pacquiao in April. He passed with flying colors as not only did he outclass a fighter he was meant to outclass, but he also beat the guy up and made the fight exciting even with the one-sided nature of it. During the post-fight interview, he said he is ready to fight the highly accomplished Filipino.

After his performance on Saturday, who could argue?

Estrada Pummels Marquez to 10th Round TKO

 

Estrada (left) lands a sweat-flying left hook on Marquez (right)

Estrada (left) lands a sweat-flying left hook on Marquez (right)

Juan Francisco Estrada did his part in keeping alive a lucrative rematch with division rival Roman Gonzalez by pummeling former titlist Hernan “Tyson” Marquez to a 10th round TKO victory on Saturday.

Estrada (33-2, 24KO) scored seven knockdowns in what became a one-sided, albeit entertaining bout. Marquez (39-6-1, 28KO), a southpaw, started the fight well by countering Estrada whenever the champion initiated offense. Estrada used his jab to gauge distance and set-up his hooks to the body which would pay off in the later rounds.

The fight started to shift in Estrada’s favor in the fourth round as he found his range and began countering Marquez. Frustrated, Marquez’s attacks became more sloppy and predictable and Estrada made him miss with his right hooks and straight lefts. Estrada took complete control in the fifth by backing Marquez against the ropes and unloading with combinations to the head and body. Marquez fought back, but it looked like he was about to get knocked down until a break in the action by the referee stopped Estrada’s momentum. It looked like the referee wanted to warn Estrada for low-blows.

The knockdowns began in the sixth, as a right hook to the body froze Marquez in his place and forced him to take a knee. He beat the count and tried to fight back, but a barrage of punches from Estrada as Marquez was trapped against the ropes forced the challenger to the canvas for the second knockdown.

Having survived the sixth, Marquez came out of the seventh round looking to make a comeback. However, Estrada stuck to his gameplan and continued to pound Marquez’s body. A left hook to the body put Marquez down for the third time midway through the round. The same left hook dropped Marquez for the fourth time. Marquez’s persistence momentarily payed off at the end of the round as a counter-left backed Estrada off.

Both fighters exchanged furious blows in the eighth as Marquez tried to battle back and Estrada was willing to go to the trenches to get the knockout. The ninth round featured the fifth knockdown from another left hook by Estrada.

Marquez fought bravely throughout the entire fight, never giving up. But, the end finally came in the tenth round when a left hook to the head dropped him to his back. Marquez rose on unsteady legs and Estrada jumped on him, throwing punches and eventually finishing his opponent off with a straight right hand.

This was Estrada’s seventh win a row since losing a unanimous decision to Gonzalez in 2012 at the Light Flyweight division. There have been calls for a rematch between the two champions and it could very well happen as long as Gonzalez wins his scheduled bout with former titlist Brian Viloria on Oct. 17. Viloria lost his Flyweight belts to Estrada in 2013, so if Viloria were to upset Gonzalez another lucrative rematch could potentially happen for Estrada.

Marquez has now gone 5-4-1 in his last 10 bouts with all his losses coming by knockout. Although most of his fights have been exciting, action-packed affairs, they seem to have taken their toll on the 27-year-old and his time as a top contender looks to be on borrowed time.