There were plenty of rising future stars in action at the weekend, plus a few meaningful bouts that will have reshaped the World Rankings here at Boxing Base. Let’s not waste any time getting straight to it.
Joshua vs Breazeale
At the O2 Arena, London, Anthony Joshua kept his KO streak alive against Dominic Breazeale, but had to hang around for 7 rounds for the second time as a pro. Joshua was made to work for his highlight reel finish, which, really, isn’t a bad thing, since it proves Breazeale wasn’t just making up the numbers and checking into London for a paycheck.
Breazeale was a whole lot tougher and durable than many scribes – including this one – had originally believed. Hats off to the guy. But, despite his impressive composure and ability to hold form under great pressure at times, not to mention a mean set of whiskers, Breazeale’s unremarkable offense was never going to win the fight. Bar the occasional punch, Breazeale (17-1, 15 KO) was never really able to build any kind of sizable output or find the range he needed to tag Joshua with anything telling. Breazeale was able to make Joshua look a little less formidable by making the IBF Heavyweight champ hit air at times, but let’s make no mistake about who was eating the more devastating punches throughout.
Joshua (17-0, 17 KO) demonstrated his top-drawer punch selection, connecting with head-snapping jabs, counters hooks and short, precise combinations. It should be noted that Joshua, as is usually the case, was patient with his opponent as he waited for the fight-changing blow to present itself. Joshua landed his first game-changer in the 2nd round, a thumping right hook to the body which sent Breazeale sprawling back into the ropes, but was unable to dispatch his man. Following another four rounds of Joshua domination, the big man finally clocked out early for the seventeenth time in his career.
Breazeale, now sporting an ugly, swelling right eye, got caught by a vicious one-two which sent him straight to the canvas. Breazeale bravely returned to his feet after just about beating the count, but soon was soon floored again following a left straight hammer to the forehead. With Breazeale in a heap, the referee quite rightly ditched the count and waved off the fight. It’s hard to say quite where Joshua will be headed next, but one would hope promoter Eddie Hearn will now be looking to match him against someone who isn’t hanging around the Heavyweight Top 10 doorway.
Groves vs Murray
George Groves came out on top in his evenly matched Super Middleweight 12-rounder with Martin Murray. The nearly men clash was a slow-burner in the opening stanzas but, while perhaps not quite living up to the hype, did soon begin to catch fire and produce some fiery drama. Final scores came in at 118-110 thrice, which perhaps didn’t do Murray too much justice, but aren’t too controversial given Murray fell into the same trap of not doing quite enough. Both men put on a hell of a show, proved they still belong at the top – particularly Groves – and quite literally emptied their tanks. No one can ask more than that.
Groves’ slickness and busy hands trumped the cagier Murray’s efforts in the first three rounds, but Murray bit down on his gumshield in the 4th as he changed the tempo of the fight, landing a big right to the temple of Groves before the bell. Both fighters worked the body in the 5th, and began trading with vicious intentions in the 6th, with Groves (24-3, 18 KO) getting the better of the exchanges. The action in the 7th saw both men finding the target, but Groves made headway in the 8th and 9th by pouring on copious pressure, rocking and forcing Murray to take a knee (although no count was given).
Murray (33-4-1, 16 KO) dug into his energy reserves in the 10th, unloading a furious assault to the body and two telling rights to the head of Groves. Both fighters were now approaching high levels of fatigue. Groves pinched the 11th thanks to his fresher legs and stronger form, and did the same in a back-and-forth final round which saw Murray stunned and on unsteady legs in the closing seconds.
With WBA champ Felix Sturm having recently tested negative for a banned substance following his rematch with Fedor Chudinov in February, Groves could now find himself challenging for the now vacant title. If such an opportunity does present itself, this would come as Groves’ fourth shot at world glory. Let’s just hope, belt on the line or not, that Groves can land himself a big Top 10 Super Middleweight in his next outing. Groves, only 28-years-old, still has the ability to make waves on the world scene, after all.
Eubank Jr vs Doran
Chris Eubank Jr successfully defended his British Middleweight title against a game Tom Doran, showcasing plenty of meaty punches, and yeah, an order of showboating on the side. Doran held his shape pretty well for the first two sessions, but it was soon clear this challenger was overmatched, outgunned, and arguably oversized. Doran began to take a beating in the 3rd following an unanswered barrage which saw Eubank literally firing at will as he chased his prey around the ring until an uppercut decked Doran for the first time.
Doran (17-1, 7 KO) made it out of the round, but Eubank, who now knew he had the crowd in the palm of his hand, started to put on a show, infusing theatrics with violence. Eubank sent an unsteady Doran to the canvas three more times before the referee stepped in, with Eubank’s signature uppercut doing the damage on every occasion. This was a solid, all-business performance from Eubank, but it was his post fight calling out of ‘GGG’ that will likely be the more remembered. I’m a fan of Eubank, both his all-action style, power, and yes, even theatrics, but I’d hate to see him tackling Middleweight titan Gennady Golovkin next, which could be as early as September.
Eubank (23-1, 18 KO) is a real talent, sure, but let’s remember that Tom Doran is a British-level fighter who wasn’t blessed with the physical attributes of a true 160-pounder. Perhaps Eubank’s calling out of Gennady Golovkin is just posturing or some form of self-promotion to make an impact with international fight fans? But if it isn’t, I’d much rather see Eubank tackling on some far less threatening opponents. If we pick on the Middleweight Top 10, a mobile, solid gatekeeper-type like Hassan N’Dam (No.9) would be perfect for Eubank to make a statement against. And even then, that’s not actually a bad matchup. Peter Quillin (No.7) and Andy Lee (No.6) are also options, but are many, many leagues above the likes of Tom Doran.
‘GGG’ isn’t known for shying away from challengers who call him out (this isn’t an opening for a Golovkin-Canelo argument), so it’s far from an impossibility that Eubank vs Golovkin could actually become a reality. Moving on…
Thurman vs Porter
WBA Welterweight champ Keith Thurman and challenger Shawn Porter produced a bona-fide classic at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn. Both men engaged in a scintillating war, with the unrelenting action remaining consistent throughout the intense 12-rounder. Final scorecards, which instantly divided opinion among fight fans, came in at 115-113 thrice, while here at Boxing Base we tallied it slightly wider for Thurman at 116-112. Like the ferocious Brook vs Porter clash back in 2014, it once again came down to ‘what you liked more’: Thurman’s cleaner connects, or Porter’s relentless come-forward aggression?
Really, this was such an electric scrap – that far exceeded even its lofty expectations – that the subject of victor almost seems like it should a footnote. But there was a clear winner, make no mistake, and that man was Thurman (27-0, 22 KO). Porter is one of the hardest working fighters in boxing, one who is always in tip-top shape and makes the best use of his strengths; as predicted, he unleashed hell on Thurman, making the champ the most uncomfortable we’ve ever seen him. But it’s also true that Porter (26-2-1, 16 KO), however big his heart and desires to win are, did smother his work a fair bit here. Meanwhile, it was Thurman who did the greater damage, landed with the cleaner blows, was the more versatile combatant, and arguably adapted better to his opponent.
To describe this fight round by round would take some time – and certainly go against the ‘digestible’ nature of this Weekend Roundup – so I’ll let Premier Boxing Champion’s Thurman vs Porter Highlights do the talking below.
As for what’s next for both fighters, it could well be a rematch, something Porter desired post fight, and something Thurman confirmed was far from an impossibility. Personally, I think we’d see a fairly similar scenario in a sequel, but if it makes money it generally happens in boxing. Short of that, the best fight out there for conqueror Thurman is a date with Kell Brook, the man sitting atop BB’s Top 10 Welterweights who also has a decision win over Porter under his belt. Whatever happens, Thurman vs Porter is surely a strong early contender for Fight of the Year.
What’s your take on Joshua vs Breazeale, the long-awaited Thurman vs Porter, plus the rest of the action? Fire away in the comments.