Our resident boxing writer Diego Morilla serves up a full weekend wrap-up of the most relevant boxing events in the worldwide scene. Every fight that matters is right here, in one place, and at one click away. Follow Morilla on Twitter at @MorillaBoxing
Las Vegas, NV, Jan. 17th
Deontay Wilder UD 12 Bermane Stiverne, WBC heavyweight title
Time will tell whether this was the beginning of a new era in American heavyweight boxing. But for now, it must be said that Wilder (33-0, 32 KO), the unbeaten, towering 2008 U.S. Olympic heavyweight bronze medalist, captured much more than the WBC heavyweight belt that he lifted from a deserving champion in Stiverne (24-2-1, 21 KO). With his height, looks, athleticism, speed, wingspan and power, Wilder captured the undivided attention of the boxing media during the first high-profile bout of 2015 in which he became the first American heavyweight to claim a heavyweight title since 2006. Using his unusual natural attributes, Wilder outboxed and outpunched Stiverne through twelve rounds, barely allowing him to get closer as he used his huge reach advantage to keep the Haitian-born titlist at bay. Wilder did take a few hard shots that ended up serving the purpose of proving his largely untested chin, and little else. Stiverne, who appeared to have a jab magnet in his forehead, kept charging on during the entire bout, taking more than twice the amount of punches he was able to connect on Wilder. The unanimous decision of 118-109, 119-108 (shared by XN Sports) and 120-107 was merely an afterthought. A terrific win by a fighter who could end up having a very interesting championship run if he continues to grow in confidence as he moves towards bigger challenges.
The winner goes on to: “I think I answered a lot of questions tonight,” stated the winner after his well-deserved victory, and yet a few new questions arose as he was still talking. How would Wilder look against the likes of Joshua, Fury and the Klitschko brothers? However, you can expect Wilder to cash in on his fame in pure Haymon fashion: easy opponents, big money. The harder challenges can definitely wait.
Leo Santa Cruz TKO 8 Jesus Ruiz, WBC junior featherweight title
Another day, another dollar. As talented as he is, Santa Cruz (29-0-1, 17 KO) pretty much squandered a significant portion of his prime years during 2014, fighting noticeably inferior opposition, and he started 2015 looking to continue this trend in this fight against a relative soft touch in Ruiz (32-5-5, 21 KO). The fight started with a bang when both fighters came out banging from the very beginning, but soon it became evident that Santa Cruz carried the heavier hands in the fight. Santa Cruz’s effectiveness became evident as the fight moved along, even as a cut appeared in his head after an accidental clash. With Santa Cruz becoming increasingly dominant and with Ruiz barely responding to the onslaught, the referee had no choice but to halt the bout at the beginning of the eighth round.
The winner goes on to: Santa Cruz remained unbeaten with a dominant performance that displayed once again his terrific skills and his underrated power, but his critics are right in demanding a step-up in competition for the talented champion.
Amir Imam TKO 5 Fidel Maldonado Jr., junior welterweights
Big win for a challenger on the rise. Imam (16-0, 14 KO) overcame his biggest challenge to date and passed the test with flying colors with a stoppage of a battle-tested foe in Maldonado Jr. (19-3, 16 KO). Iman had a rocky start when he allowed Maldonado to take the initiative, but soon he found the way to counter effectively and dropped his foe towards the end of the bout. Iman himself would be dropped two rounds later, but he was still dominating the fight in every aspect, and he turned this humiliation on Maldonado by sending him to the canvas twice in that same third round. Maldonado went on do-or-die mode in the fifth, and even though he found some success early on, Iman managed to find his chin with a superb combination towards the end of the round that sent Maldonado down for a fourth and ultimately final time. It was the kind of performance that earns tons of fans and confidence for a young unbeaten contender, and Iman got that and a nice chance of exposure in front of a large audience. Not a bad way to start a promising 2015.
Vyacheslav Shabranskyy TKO 10 Garrett Wilson, light heavyweights
Shabranskyy (12-0, 10 KO), a talented contender emerging with a terrific amateur experience, showed some more progress in this one-sided beating of an experienced journeyman in Wilson (13-9-1, 7 KO), keeping him at bay with a workmanlike offensive performance and a solid defense. Wilson visited the canvas in the second and eight rounds, and the beating he took in the ninth round convinced the ringside doctor to advise him not to come out for the tenth round.
La Guaira, Venezuela, Jan. 17th
Johan Perez UD 12 Humberto Gutierrez, lightweights
Perez (20-2-1, 13 KO), a former WBA interim super lightweight titlist who surrendered his belt to Mauricio Herrera last year, staged a comeback in front of his people ant defeated fellow former title holder Gutierrez (29-6-2, 21 KO) by scores of 120-106 and 119-107 (twice) in a very solid and dominant performance.
Port Hueneme, Calif., Jan. 17th
Jose Zepeda TKO 2 Orlando Vasquez, welterweights
Zepeda (23-0, 20 KO) is a talented young contender on the rise, and he made his case for bigger challenges in 2015 with a destruction of Vasquez (15-6-1, 9 KO) after sending him to the canvas for a grand total of four times in a little over five minutes. It was an impressive display of talent for a fighter who is getting a lot of accolades lately.
Saul Rodriguez TKO 2 Carlos Rodriguez, junior lightweights
Second round stoppages came in bunches in this card, apparently, as Saul Rodriguez (16-0-1, 13 KO) kept his unbeaten streak alive with a massive beating over Carlos Rodriguez (9-2, 4 KO), with whom we assume he doesn’t have any blood ties at all (or perhaps a really bad one, judging by the beating he gave him). Saul came out storming in the first round and finally pummeled Carlos into submission within the first minute of the second round to prove he is the best of this pair of fighters within the extensive Rodriguez family.
Uncasville, Conn., Jan. 17th
Joseph Perez UD 8 Agustine Mauras, junior lightweights
There is nothing like a good neighborhood rivalry to get local fans excited about boxing, and this is what “Chip” Perez and Mauras gave their fans in this third bout of their personal dispute. Perez (11-3-2) earned a dominant victory this time after their back-to-back draws in 2013 with a solid decision with over Mauras (6-1-3) in another emotional fight, with scorecards of 79-73 and 78-74 (twice) for the winner.
Tokyo, Jan. 17th
Jomthong Chuwatana UD 12 Daiki Kaneko, junior lightweights
A mild upset took place in Tokyo in this one. Chuwatana (9-0, 4 KO), an unbeaten but largely untested Thai southpaw, was supposed to provide merely a good challenge for a much more experienced local favorite and former title challenger in Kaneko (21-4-3, 14 KO), but Chuwatana apparently didn’t get the memo, and instead produced an inspired performance in which he outmuscled, outboxed and outperformed Daneko to grab a career-best win by scores of 116-112 and 115-113 (twice) in a regional title bout.
Verona, N.Y., Jan 16th
Willie Monroe Jr. UD 10 Bryan Vera, middleweights
There will be a lot of talent to watch for in 2015, and Monroe Jr. (19-1, 6 KO) is just one of them. This time, he took on his biggest challenge to date and got a terrific win with a dominant win over a much more experienced Vera (23-9, 14 KO). The southpaw Monroe produced a controlled, workmanlike performance in which he methodically disposed of Vera towards a unanimous decision by scores of 99-90, 98-91 and 97-92 after sending him to the canvas in the fifth round.
Brandon Adams TKO 2 Lekan Byfield, middleweights
Adams (15-1, 10 KO) came in second in the Boxcino middleweight tournament last year, and he set himself up for a rematch against the card’s headliner (Monroe was the winner of that tournament) with a demolition of Byfield (6-7-2, 1 KO), a rangy but untalented trial horse who never had a shot in the fight.