This weekend had a ton of fights taking place both stateside and across the pond, including five championship bouts. Shawn Porter and Andre Berto did battle in a Brooklyn showdown, Oscar Valdez commanded a star-studded card in Carson, while Martin Murray and Tommy Langford topped bills in the UK. Here’s how it all went down.
Shawn Porter vs Andre Berto
At the Barclays Center, Brooklyn, Shawn Porter (22-2-1, 17 KO) muscled his way back into world title contention by stopping Andre Berto (31-5, 24 KO) inside 9 rounds. The best way to describe this Welterweight bout would be a whirlwind, where the referee and cutman earned their money just as much as the fighters themselves. Heads. Did. Meet.
Prior to knocking down Berto twice in the 9th, Porter commanded a good deal of the action. Not because he was scoring with the particularly cleaner work, but because Berto’s efforts were heavily extinguished by Porter’s brutish, suffocating inside game. Some might call it a ‘mugging’ of Berto. And they’d probably be right.
Porter, who suffered a narrow decision loss to Keith Thurman last June, is now back in the win column. He remains one of the division’s toughest, strongest contenders, and yeah, is still an absolute animal.
Porter vs Berto: Undercard
- Jermell Charlo (29-0, 14 KO) was all business in his WBC Junior Middleweight title defense against Charles Hatley (26-2-1, 18 KO), dropping his challenger twice with hellacious rights, in the 3rd, and out cold in the 6th.
- Amanda Serrano (32-1-1, 24 KO) put in a dynamic, vicious performance against Dahiana Santana (35-9, 14 KO) en route to an 8th round stoppage to leave with the vacant WBO Bantamweight title, making her Puerto Rico’s first five-division world champion.
Oscar Valdez vs Miguel Marriaga
At the StubHub Center, Carson, Oscar Valdez (22-0, 19 KO) won a Unanimous Decision over Miguel Marriaga (25-2, 21 KO), defending his WBO Featherweight title in an instant classic. The sizzling battle was filled with top-drawer boxing and ferocious power shots, with Valdez punctuating a slight edge in class by dropping Marriaga with a booming left hook in the 10th.
Bombs certainly flew, and the fact this war went the distance – with just a single knockdown occurring along the way – is testament to the kind of whiskers these guys possess. The final scorecards, which came in at 119-108, 118-109, and 116-111, should have really spoken a lot higher of Marriaga’s constant threat. But, even still, the right man got the nod tonight.
Valdez rose to the occasion against a truly world-class opponent, making this a career-high win for the unbeaten 26-year-old. If he isn’t bumped up a place or two in the Featherweight Top 10, I’ll be dishing out some slaps to my fellow colleagues on the BB Rankings panel.
Valdez vs Marriaga: Undercard
- Gilberto Ramirez (35-0, 24 KO) breezed by an outclassed Max Bursak (33-5-1, 15 KO) on matching totals of 120-108 to hold on to his WBO Super Middleweight strap.
- Jessie Magdaleno (25-0, 18 KO) ploughed through Adeilson Dos Santos (18-3, 14 KO) en route to a stoppage, successfully defending his WBO Junior Featherweight title after Dos Santos hit the deck twice.
- Alexander Besputin (7-0, 5 KO) proved too much for veteran Breidis Prescott (30-10, 22 KO), dominating their Junior Middleweight affair on matching tallies of 80-71, with Prescott down in the 7th.
- Shakur Stevenson (1-0, 0 KO) used Edgar Brito (3-3-1, 2 KO) for target practice in his Featherweight debut, but had to settle for a 5th round Technical Decision following an intentional head butt from his overmatched foe.
Martin Murray vs Gabriel Rosado
At the Echo Arena, Liverpool, Martin Murray (35-4-1, 16 KO) scored a Majority Decision over fellow Middleweight veteran Gabriel Rosado (23-11, 13 KO). The verdict itself, which concluded a mostly simmering contest, was anything but controversial. Just don’t ask Rosado, though, who went totally berserk after hearing that one judge had scored matters 119-109 for Murray. To be fair, that card was bad. Like, just awful. But dude, this is boxing. Tallies like that offend fighting folks every week. The remaining cards had it 116-112, Murray, and an even 114-114.
Anyway, this clash was fairly average as Matchroom headliners go, and all the more so since it was optimistically billed as ‘Beautiful Brutality’. This wasn’t a meaningful fight as far as the big picture goes in Middleweight land, but it did prove that Murray has more dimensions than Rosado. And is just…well, better. Murray was solid, as always, employing the craftier skillset for much of the twelve rounds, doing enough to convince ringside judges. And, definitely one named Leszek Jankowiak.
Murray vs Rosado: Undercard
- Rocky Fielding (24-1, 13 KO) eked out a Split Decision over a tenacious John Ryder (24-4, 12 KO) to finally grasp the British Super Middleweight belt in attempt number two. Opinions may differ over the rightful victor here, which saw the notably taller Fielding being backed up and buzzed in the later rounds. But, as they say, boxing is a sport scored round by round. Fielding notched scores of 116-113, 115-114, and Ryan 115-114.
- Tom Farrell (12-0, 3 KO) kept his Junior Welterweight slate clean, bagging a 97-95 Points victory over a spirited Tommy Carus (8-3-2, 0 KO).
- Sean Dodd (13-2-1, 2 KO) showcased some impressive boxing smarts as he outshone a determined, forward-marching Lee Appleyard (10-3, 4 KO). Dodd, a well-respected domestic talent, found himself on the back foot throughout, but landed the crisper blows, with a busy jab paying dividends. The Lightweight contest was settled on scores of 117-113, 117-112 for Dodd, and 116-112 for Appleyard.
- Welterweight riser Ryan Mulcahy (8-0, 2 KO) bettered Andy Keates (12-5, 1 KO) over six rounds, banking a 59-55 Points win.
Tommy Langford vs Avtandil Khurtsidze
At the Leicester Arena, England, Avtandil Khurtsidze (33-2-2, 21 KO) landed a sizable upset, stopping then-unbeaten Middleweight prospect Tommy Langford (18-1, 6 KO). Prior to the 5th round knockdown, the action was heated, competitive, and always clear that Khurtsidze carried fight-changing power in his short, stocky frame. For the record, Khurtsidze is 5′ 4″ – an astoundingly short height for a world-level Middleweight – but makes up in raw power what he lacks in inches.
The end came shortly after Khurtsidze caught Langford with a full-blooded left hook to the temple. A scrambled Langford managed to beat the count, but a merciful referee decided to execute his powers and end matters. A good call, if you ask me. In other news, a ringside Billy Joe Saunders offended both the victor and other vertically challenged folks, branding Khurtsidze a “pumped up Danny DeVito” who he’d make “look stupid” if they were ever to tango. Real classy, Saunders.
With Saunders in possession of the WBO title, and Khurtsidze now the ‘Interim’ version, that fight could well be on the horizon.
Langford vs Khurtsidze: Undercard
- Darryll Williams (15-0, 6 KO) escaped with a Split Decision following a back-and-forth thriller with highly motivated Jahmaine Smyle (14-5-2, 6 KO). Scorecards came in at 97-93, 98-93 for Williams in the Super Middleweight affair, and 96-95 for Smyle. The razor-thin clash was pretty much toe-to-toe throughout, so, given the fan-pleasing nature of the bout, Smyle is on good grounds to call for an immediate rematch. Whether Williams should pursue it is another matter.
- Tyrone Nurse (34-3-1, 7 KO) and Joe Hughes (15-2-1, 6 KO) had to settle for a Draw following their close-quarter Junior Welterweight clash. Scores came in at 116-113, 115-113 and 115-115, allowing Nurse to hang on to his British strap.
- Zolani Tete (25-3, 20 KO) breezed past a game yet fairly one-dimensional Arthur Villanueva (30-2, 16 KO), dominating their Bantamweight contest on scores of 119-108 (twice) and 120-107. I hate to keep acknowledging those cloudy ‘Interim’ titles, but what the heck. Tete is now in possession of the WBO’s variety, and, in theory, should be in line to challenge the guy with the fully-fledged version, Marlon Tapales.
- Heavyweight startup Daniel Dubois (2-0, 2 KO) blasted out Blaise Mendouo (3-2, 0 KO), forcing a 2nd round stoppage. There’s not a whole lot to talk about here, obviously, but let it be known that Dubious is big, and, yet to blow out candles on his twentieth birthday cake.
So there you have it, folks. This stacked weekend of action has now run its course, but how has fights like Porter vs Berto and Valdez vs Marriaga impacted the world boxing scene? Chime in with your opinions below.