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The Last Golden Age of the Heavyweights



With Riddick Bowe’s recent nomination to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, it seems like a perfect time to reassess the extraordinary era in which he fought. Not since the time of Ali, Frazier, and Foreman has there been such a superior group of fighters in the heavyweight division at one time. From the moment Mike Tyson blitzed Michael Spinks in 91 seconds on June 27, 1988 to Lennox Lewis’ very technical knockout of Vitali Klitschko on June 21, 2003, the marquee division in boxing was blessed with extraordinary depth.

Even the lesser lights of the era held genuine merit. Fighters like Rahman, Golota, Mercer, Morrison, Moorer, Douglas, Bruno, Ruddock, and remarkably, George Foreman (again!) are worthy of mention. If we’re being honest though, when the boxing time capsule gets opened in 100 years, there will be four men who will dominate the discussion by a deep and wide margin. The aforementioned Lewis, Tyson, and Bowe as well as the fearless Evander Holyfield.

So let’s get down to it. How do we sort them out? What shall follow in the remaining body of this article will probably induce fits of anger and potential hate mail–or at least some nasty comments for me to read later in abject terror—by those that should peruse what they find below.

But what the hell. Here we go. Let’s (and by “let’s” I mean “me”) rank the four standard bearers of the last golden age of the heavyweights.

Here. We. Go.


1) Lennox Lewis

This should be the least controversial choice. The massive ( 6’ 5, 245 pounds) and ridiculously skilled Brit had a remarkably dominant record sullied only by two shocking knockout losses to Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman—both later avenged. Lewis became the WBC heavyweight champion in December of 1992 when then titleholder, Riddick Bowe, refused to face him. Aside from the two upset defeats to McCall and Rahman, Lewis wasn’t just winning fights during his peak, he was outclassing and surgically brutalizing his opponents. Blessed with a long left arm that housed an anvil on the end of a pristine jab and a massive right hand that could shake foundations, Lewis went 19-2-1 after becoming a belt holder with 13 wins by knock out.

While Bowe ducked Lewis, Tyson and Holyfield did not. Both paid for it.

In their first bout, Lewis out landed Holyfield 348 to 130. Somehow, in a decision so egregious it makes Pacquiao-Bradley 1 look like it was judged by sages—the fight was scored a draw. Oddly enough, when the two fought again just eight months later, Holyfield acquitted himself better, but lost a well-reasoned unanimous decision. In truth, neither fight was particularly close statistically or by the eye test. Holyfield’s indomitable will may have kept him upright, but it didn’t keep him from getting beat up. Holyfield was never the same after their rematch, finishing his career 8-6-1, against often less than stellar competition.

Tyson fared even worse. After seven rounds of what commentator, George Foreman (he’s everywhere!), called “batting practice,” Lewis finally dispatched Tyson in the final minute of the 8th round with a vicious right hand up the middle. With that menacing blow, Lewis didn’t just end the fight, he extinguished Tyson’s relevance. Tyson became a shot fighter as soon as he hit the canvas.

Lewis didn’t just beat two great fighters, he effectively ended them.

While Lewis may have been the best of the four fighters, he may have been the least popular. His often gentile English manner seldom played well in the most macho of athletic endeavors, and his occasional passivity could frustrate even the most dogged of skill loving fight fans. Who can forget his trainer, the late, great Emanuel Steward, all but threatening to put a hit on Lewis if he didn’t exit his stool in the 4th and knock Rahman out in their rematch? Which Lewis did, with malice.

Still, as bland a personality—if you don’t believe me, just recall his days commentating for HBO (better yet, don’t)—as he may have been and the lack of aggression he at times exhibited in the ring, Lewis is the clear, if not personally popular, top of a very impressive heap. Bowe dodged him, Holyfield was well handled, and Tyson was crushed by him. Throw in a number of exceptional performances against next tier fighters and there is no logical argument I can think of to counter his pole position. It’s also worth noting that of the four champions on this list, Lewis was the only one who left the game at just the right time. Holyfield and Tyson undoubtedly stayed too long and Bowe most certainly left too early.


2) Evander Holyfield

Perhaps the biggest heart and the truest warrior of the bunch. Evander Holyfield is the only one of these great heavyweights to fight all of the other three. Besides Holyfield’s two bouts with Lewis, he had an epic triptych with Bowe and two memorable—and how—skirmishes with Tyson.

The least physically imposing of the four, Holyfield actually began his career as a light heavyweight before moving up to cruiserweight—perhaps the greatest ever at that class—and finally to heavyweight in his 19th professional bout against James “Quick” Tillis, which Holyfield won when Tillis refused to get off his stool after the 5th.

Holyfield took the WBC, WBA, and IBF heavyweight titles by vanquishing Buster Douglas with a 3rd round KO in Douglas’ first fight after his all-time upset of Mike Tyson just eight months earlier. Holyfield then took two less than impressive unanimous decisions over the aging Foreman and a near shot Larry Holmes with a 7th round TKO of journeyman Bert Cooper wedged in between. There were many who questioned Holyfield’s bona fides as a world champion when he entered the ring against Riddick Bowe on November 13, 1992. He would answer those questions, and then some.

In an extraordinary 12 round slugfest where Holyfield was out landed, out skilled, and at times nearly out period, the champion withstood a brutal barrage from the challenger. The fight is perhaps best known for a 10th round that rivaled Ward-Gatti (pick a round) in its ferocity and momentum shifts. Bowe dominated the early portion of the round and seemed as if he had Holyfield out on his feet. Then in what can only be described as a full force gale of will power and spirit, Holyfield rallied and had Bowe in deep trouble when the bell rang. While Bowe would go on to win a clear decision, no one you could ever take seriously would again doubt Holyfield’s mettle.

Their rematch just one week shy of a full year later was nearly as good, and better if you were Holyfield. Their second fight was also a classic, going the distance once again, this time with a bit of the bizarre thrown in when a parachutist descended onto the ring in the 7th round and a melee ensued. Bowe’s wife passed out at ringside and the “Fan Man”–as he became known–took a serious beating in Bowe’s corner from fans, security, and a member of Bowe’s entourage. It’s still the strangest thing I’ve ever seen while watching a sporting event of any kind. Perhaps understandably, Holyfield kept his composure better than Bowe and then fended off a late rally from the champion to take a majority decision and hand Bowe the only loss of his career.

As one would hope, there was a rubber match between the two well-matched pugilists a year and a half later. In the interim, Holyfield had suffered an upset loss by majority decision to Michael Moorer before taking a unanimous decision over Ray Mercer. Their final fight would be the only one to not go the distance. Suffering from hepatitis, Holyfield appeared gassed going into the 6th when in another incredible moment in their trilogy, he summoned from some ocean deep well of reserve and knocked Bowe off his feet. Unfortunately, Bowe got up and when he did, he took over the fight, closing the show in the 8th by knocking Holyfield down twice and forcing the hand of referee, Joe Cortez, who stopped the fight after Holyfield just beat the ten count. It was a fine stoppage and one hell of a way to end their journey together.

After three such punishing fights, one might have expected Holyfield to fade. One would be wrong.

A Holyfield-Tyson match was made once Tyson completed his three year sentence from a rape conviction and got back in the ring. Tyson fought four times after his incarceration, going just eight rounds in the process, scoring three early knock outs and one victory by disqualification. Nearly six full years after defeating the only man to beat Mike Tyson–Buster Douglas—Holyfield got his shot at the man himself. Billed as “Finally,” the fight began with Tyson roaring out of his corner and pressuring Holyfield from the outset. There were still many who assumed Tyson would roll through Holyfield. I still recall Sylvester Stallone on Late Night with David Letterman saying Holyfield was “made” for Tyson. Rocky Balboa was not the only one who thought so. Again, one would be wrong.

By the second half of the fight, Holyfield began to dominate in a way that few would have expected–with his strength. Holyfield pushed Tyson all over the ring, seemingly sapping the shorter man of his stamina. While Tyson had his moments through the first 6 rounds, Holyfield owned all that came after. Holyfield put Tyson down in the 6th and had him reeling in the 10th when the bell rang. The 11th offered more of the same and the fight was correctly stopped as Holyfield began to pour it on an increasingly defenseless Tyson. It may be hard to believe this now, but at the time it was considered an upset of historic proportions. It was perhaps Holyfield’s finest moment. Their follow up would be history making as well, just not in the way anyone might have expected.

When the two took to the ring seven months later, what followed was both shocking and embarrassing to the sport of boxing. Frustrated by an accidental head butt in round two, Tyson came out of his corner enraged in round three. He spat out his mouth piece and once in a clinch with the champion, he bit into his ear, taking off an inch of cartilage which he then expelled onto the ring floor. As wild as that moment was, what came next was even stranger still. Referee Mills Lane halted the bout and instead of disqualifying Tyson immediately, he called over the ring doctor who ruled that Holyfield could continue. For his part, Holyfield was basically okay with continuing. Alright, I take it back. I’ve convinced myself. This was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen watching a sporting event. To hell with the parachute.

When the fight resumed, Tyson doubled down on his cannibalistic tendencies and bit Holyfield again. Seeing that Tyson’s hunger for Holyfield’s lobes would continue unabated, this time Lane stopped the fight and disqualified Tyson. They would not fight again, but in two bouts, Holyfield had not only removed Tyson’s aura of invincibility, but accelerated a descent into madness and increasingly extreme behavior.

Holyfield would then go on to avenge his loss to Moorer before his two fights with Lewis ended his peak. Holyfield was by no means the most skilled of the four fighters. Nor was he the biggest puncher. But during his first 11 years as a heavyweight he fought an amazing 23 times against top flight competition and almost never was a second of it boring. He was the toughest of customers. I cannot think of one other real life fighter who better fit Ivan Drago’s description of Rocky Balboa in Rocky 4, “He’s not human, he’s like a piece of iron.” Indeed, he was.

3) Riddick Bowe


4) Mike Tyson

And here’s where I get into trouble. I’m sure there are many out there who think I’m insane for picking Bowe over Tyson. However, I think the important thing to do when making this judgment is to remove how one might feel about the reign of “Iron” Mike Tyson and examine the record with cold investigative efficiency. For me, it comes down to this, give me the name of the one great heavyweight Mike Tyson ever beat?

I’ve scoured his record and I’ve got nothing. Oh sure, he blitzed Michael Spinks in 91 seconds, delivering unto him the only loss of his career. Spinks was a great fighter…at light heavyweight. Spinks smartly picked just the right time to go up a weight class to fight a fading Larry Holmes, whom he defeated in two close—and in the case of the second fight, highly questionable—decisions. Spinks fought two more times as a heavyweight against the less than memorable, Steffen Tangstad, and “The Great White Hope,” Gerry Cooney. While he scored knock out wins against both, those two victories don’t do much to burnish the legacy. Nor does his deer in the headlights performance against Tyson. No matter how you look at it, Spinks was the smartest match making, puffed up light heavyweight until Roy Jones Jr. fought John Ruiz.

Tyson’s other great “name” victory was over an all but fully calcified 38-year-old, Larry Holmes, whom he quickly and appropriately dispatched in the fourth round.

That’s it. There is no one else. An over the hill champion and a light in the shorts Michael Spinks. Beyond that, we do have a number of wins against world class B+ level fighters like Trevor Berbick, Pinklon Thomas, the Tony’s Tucker and Tubbs, Frank Bruno, “Razor” Ruddock, and Bruce Seldon. Good fighters, one and all. Not one great one. Not a single one.

Tyson did fight two great fighters. Lewis and Holyfield. He went zero for three, not even seeing the final round in any of the bouts.

This is where the argument for Bowe begins to take shape. Bowe also had a number of wins against B+ fighters as well. Pinklon Thomas, Tony Tubbs, and Bruce Seldon were all common opponents. Bowe retired Thomas in the 8th, defeated Tubbs by unanimous decision, and knocked Seldon out in the first. He also TKO’d former champ Michael Dokes in a single round. Tyson TKO’d Thomas in the 6th, Seldon in the 1st, and Tubbs in the 2nd. You can give Tyson a slight advantage there.

As well, Tyson had more total quality wins over B+ level fighters. So for the moment, Tyson would seem to be in the lead. However, there are two places where Bowe separates himself. First, he has no bad losses in his career. Only Holyfield’s majority decision in their second bout stains his record. Whereas Tyson at his most formidable, lost to Buster Douglas. A highly skilled big man (the type who always gave him trouble), who for one night put his hands into his gloves and discovered magic residing within. As talented as Douglas was, no one will ever confuse him with greatness. Although I will concede he had a great night in Tokyo on February 11, 1990 when he pulled off what was then considered the greatest upset in heavyweight history.

I don’t want to make too much of Tyson’s losses in his final two bouts against Danny Williams and Kevin McBride. He was but a carcass then. They do exist though.

More importantly, when making the decision between Bowe and Tyson, I come back to the main point. Who did they beat? And when it comes to A+ guys, Tyson has nothing and Bowe has two legendary wins over Evander Holyfield. A man that Tyson fought twice, got hammered by once, and left the ring in disgrace on the other occasion. I simply can’t square away taking a fighter with a loss to Buster Douglas and no truly great wins in his career over a man who has no underwhelming losses and two genuinely special victories against an all-time great.

Obviously, it would be helpful if they had fought each other. While that is not the case, is there anyone who saw Tyson get manhandled by Lewis, strafed by Holyfield, and knocked out by a journeyman named Buster Douglas who would want to place a bet on Tyson against Bowe? I wouldn’t. Not a chance.

I’m sure there are many who would. So many of us (I know, I was one of those guys) got caught up in the Tyson comet that came through burning hot and cleaned up a porous division until other, better fighters came along. But come along they did. They had names. They were called Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, and yes, Riddick Bowe. If you remove emotion and sentiment, I simply don’t know how you order the list any differently. In fact, I’m sure you can’t.


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Andrade Grabs Vacant WBO Middleweight Belt in Boston



TD GARDEN​​ — It’s a good thing Eddie Hearn didn’t listen to the people who told him not to promote prizefighting in Boston. With all four major American sports in full swing in the city, Matchroom Boxing absolutely rocked the house as an equitable fan attraction in New England.The media was out in full force and so were the fans. At the final fight week press conference, Hearn introduced ESPN’s Dan Rafael before he even barked for his boxers. “You know it’s a big card when Dan Rafael shows up,” he said of the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer award winner for career excellence in journalism. Hearn knows it’s about building hype and that’s what he’s doing.

Sugar Ray Leonard was on the mic for DAZN. Paulie Malignaggi was doing the same for Sky Sports. I saw Micky Ward and Conor McGregor seated at ringside. Mike Tyson conqueror Kevin “The Clones Colossus” McBride was also spotted in the mix throughout the night.

“We did about five thousand in Chicago,” Hearn told me of his first Matchoom USA show October 6 on DAZN. Hearn expected about seven thousand for Boston, hoping for a good walk-up crowd. “I’m pleased with ticket sales. I’m pleased with the venue. If the fans are happy and enjoy a great night at the fights and if they want us back, we’d love to return,” he said.

Hearn’s originally scheduled main event fell apart in September when Billy Joe Saunders controversially failed VADA drug testing for the banned stimulant oxilofrine. “Unfortunately Billy Joe failed a drug test. I don’t think the Massachusetts Commission had any choice in denying him a license,” Hearn told me during the final fight week press conference at Fenway Park.

Saunders was to defend the WBO middleweight title against Providence, Rhode Island’s Demetrius Andrade. Instead, Saunders was stripped of his strap and unknown African champ Walter ​Kautondokwa stepped in to face Andrade for the vacant WBO 160 pound title. “I’m too old to fight nobodies now,” said the 30 year-old Andrade without a trace of irony. In fact, Andrade’s whole pro career has been carefully built on soft touches and vacant ABC championships.

Hearn’s undercard also suffered a hit when popular local junior welterweight Danny “BHOY” O’Connor pulled out of his bout against Tommy Coyle, citing injury. According to Hearn, “​O’Connor was working very hard in camp but I don’t think it was going particularly well.”

The live crowd in attendance at the Garden was loud and enthusiastic. In a full sized entertainment venue that seats close to twenty thousand fans and with promotional aspirations optimistically set at half that number (official attendance was listed at 6,874), your best chance to have seen these fights for yourself was on the emerging and effective streaming app DAZN.

For Brits stuck back home it was on Sky Sports.  For everybody else, I’m here to ringside report.

In the Main Event for the vacant WBO middleweight championship, Providence, Rhode Island’s Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade, 30, 160, 26-0 (16) dominated Namibian import Walter Kautondokwa, 33, 17-1 (16). ​A stablemate of former super lightweight champ Julius Indongo, Kautondokwa drew inspiration from his countryman’s international accomplishments in boxing. Indongo parlayed the WBO African title into an eventual unification showdown with Terence Crawford in Nebraska. “He’s definitely not stopping this train,” promised Andrade at the weigh-in.

He was right.

In the first round, ​Kautondokwa slipped to the canvas and Andrade hit him on the chin while he was on all fours. Referee Steve Willis ruled it a knockdown, rather than reacting to the foul. Kautondokwa pushed the action in the second but Andrade scored with the cleaner punches. In the third, Andrade scored a clean knockdown with a flush left hand to the chin. The challenger rose and answered the bell for the fourth down by two extra points. Kautondokwa went down again twice more in the fourth leaving Andrade with a look like, “What more do I have to do?”

As the rounds wore on and on, Andrade found the answer to be elusive, even if Kautondokwa wasn’t terribly so. His best power punches were either missing or being blocked, and Kautondokwa was proving durable. By the championship rounds, it was clear that Andrade wouldn’t be able to stop the train that was Kautondokwa. The energy in the live crowd suffered accordingly. Michael Buffer announced what was already known, that Andrade won a virtual shutout on the cards.  Scores were 120-104(2x) and 119-105.

“I did what I had to do. I could see that he was tough. It was good to get those twelve rounds in because I’ve been inactive,” said Andrade at the post-fight press conference. He also spoke of a fight week injury to his left shoulder that affected his performance and prevented a knockout. To be perfectly honest, it sounded like an excuse for not finishing off a badly hurt fighter.

In her de facto Irish Homecoming, Katie Taylor, 32, Bray, 11-0 (5) successfully defended her WBA/IBF female lightweight titles against the very experienced Cindy Serrano, 36, Brooklyn, 27-6-3 (10), over ten two-minute rounds. Serrano was moving up in weight to challenge Taylor, who’s already made two title defenses this year in London and in Brooklyn. Serrano was never in danger of being hurt or knocked out and Taylor was never in any danger of losing the fight.  Taylor won every round on all three cards 100-90.  “Cindy was just in there to survive,” said a disappointed Taylor.  Some fans jeered the “action” but it didn’t bother Serrano. “Eddie Hearn believes in female fighting. Hopefully he can turn it around and we can get a couple more promoters just like him.”

To make the first defense of his newly won IBF super featherweight championship, Philly southpaw Tevin “American Idol” Farmer, 27-4-1 (6), stopped Belfast KRONK’s James Tennyson, 22-3 (18) in five. During promotion for the title bout, it looked for all to see that Farmer was overlooking Tennyson with his focus squarely on a big money grudge match with Gervonta Davis. ​“I’m not overlooking James but I want to fight Tank Davis. I have to have that fight and it’s got to happen. Let’s leave the streets on the streets and fight in the ring. We’ve talked enough.”

In the ring, Farmer looked at his opponent and punched right through him. In the fourth frame, Farmer dropped Tennyson with a solid left hook to the body. It got no better for the Belfast native. The next round, Arthur Mercante stopped it when Tennyson fell again from body shots. ​In accepting the fight, Farmer’s promoter Lou DiBella didn’t want to deny his fighter the opportunity to appear on such a high profile card so he willingly worked with Hearn to make it happen.  Time of the TKO was @1:44 of the round 5.

In an IBF featherweight elimination bout scheduled for twelve, Evander Holyfield’s Toka Kahn Clary, Providence, R.I., 25-3 (17), dropped a pedestrian UD to Ingle Gym’s Kid Galahad, Sheffield, 25-0 (15). At the press conference in August to announce the match-up, there was bad blood in the air. “Toka is a bum,” a chippy Galahad told me at Boston’s Faneuil Hall. “He didn’t want this fight. He was talking trash so I called him a wanker and it got a little out of hand.”

“I’m gonna beat him,” Galahad promised.

At the final press conference, Galahad was demonstrably more peaceful. During the media face-off with Kahn, he offered his hand to shake but Toka just left it hanging there. “I’ve calmed down,” Kid told me. “Nothing personal, just business.” ​Is Toka a bum?​ “You can’t call him a bum.” ​You did Kid.​ “I might have gone over the top. Any fighter that gets in the ring you gotta have some respect for. Toka is gonna show up and my job is to make sure I do a job on him.”  Job well done, Kid.  Final scores were 118-110 twice and 115-113.

In an entertaining ten round junior welterweight scrap, Tommy “Boom Boom” Coyle, Hull, Yorkshire, U.K., 25-4 (12), outpointed Ryan Kielczweski, Quincy, Mass, 29-4 (11) over the distance. Unanimous scores were 99-90, 98-91 and 96-93. The “Polish Prince” substituted for Danny O’Connor against Coyle, a fighter TSS’s own Ted Sares expected Ryan to have had his hands full with in a knockout loss; describing Coyle as a “load” in the ring. In the seventh round, Kielczweski was felled by a massive right hand to the body and a vicious follow up left hook to the head. He took a long nine count but got up to then stalk a fading Coyle down the stretch.  “This is the most ready I’ve been for any fight,” Kielczweski told me before the bout. “I fought in September. A week later I got a call for this one so it’s like I’m on a ten week training camp.”

Coyle is a pressure fighter and an interesting character. Kielczweski struggled to keep him at bay but landed with several quality power shots of his own, many coming in the last three rounds—after the knockdown. Calling this his “American Dream” come true, Coyle grew up in England loving ROCKY movies and Irish Micky Ward fights. Tonight, he was almost in one.

In a super featherweight comeback bout, former super bantamweight and featherweight champion Scott Quigg, 30, Bury, U.K., 35-2-2 (26) made a successful return against journeyman Mexican Mario Briones, 29-8-2 (21), stopping him in two rounds with an unanswered three punch combination along the ropes. Trained by Freddie Roach, Quigg was defeated last March by WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez in a bruising non-title bout. Quigg suffered multiple facial laceration and a broken nose in the unanimous decision loss. “I want a rematch with Valdez and with Carl Frampton because I want to avenge my losses. If I’d be happy not fighting them again, I’d be in the wrong game,” a candid Quigg told me. “The work Freddie’s had me doing and the sparring I’m on, I feel like I’m a ten times better fighter now.”

In a junior middleweight rematch, Murphys Boxing U.S. Marine Mark “Bazooka” DeLuca, Whitman, Mass, 22-1 (13) outgunned Walter “2 Guns” Wright 37, Seattle, Washington 17-5 (8) to defeat the only man to have beaten him as a pro, winning 97-93, and 96-94 twice. From ringside I scored it 6-4 in rounds for DeLuca who scored well early with left hooks. Wright did well in the middle rounds on the inside when DeLuca was tiring but it wasn’t enough. Though his promoter Ken Casey questioned the outcome of the first fight last June in N.H., DeLuca told me it was tight. “But he got me,” he admitted. Wright didn’t understand the manufactured controversy. “I won. To come across the country, fight the local guy, and beat him, I should think I’d get my props for winning. My performance should outweigh politics.” On this night, Wright’s good but not good enough performance earned him an appropriately scored unanimous decision loss.

There was no protest from Wright with the verdict.


In the show opener, super lightweight southpaw Sean McComb from Belfast improved to 4-0 (3), outclassing 37 year-old Peruvian Carlos Galindo, 1-6. Galindo’s only win came against Maine’s Brandon Berry last June in N.H. This was McComb’s first appearance outside the U.K. Galindo took a body beating and the fight was stopped in the third after a pair of knockdowns.

Accompanied to the ring by middleweight corker Spike O’Sullivan, Murphys Boxing’s Gorey, Ireland heavyweight Niall Kennedy 221.6, 12-0-1 (7) took a few to give a few against New Jersey’s Brendan Barrett 238, 7-1-2 (5), including a hip-toss and a headlock. The 6’3” Kennedy used his good left jab and strong right cross to earn a unanimous six round decision, dropping the stocky Barrett in the fifth with a brutal right hand. Official scores: 60-53 twice and 58-55.

Kazakh Olympic Gold medalist welterweight prospect Daniyar Yeleussinov improved to 4-0 (2) against Salem, Mass “Mantis” Matt Doherty, 8-6-1 (4). Doherty wore a J.D. Martinez Red Sox jersey to the ring but he was outgunned. The 27 year-old southpaw finished Doherty off with a barrage of unanswered punches in the first round and referee Arthur Mercante waved a halt.

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Rob Brant is the New WBA Middleweight Champion



LAS VEGAS, Nevada- In a major upset that saw a mega fight disappear, Rob Brant took the WBA middleweight title from Japan’s Ryota Murata with a lot of hustle and a heck of a chin to the surprise of many on Saturday.

Murata (14-2,11KOs) was expected to fight Gennady “GGG” Golovkin if he won, but the dress rehearsal turned into a nightmare as Brant (24-1, 16 KOs) attacked and attacked while out-punching the Japanese fighter nearly two to one in front of a stunned audience of more than 2700 at the Park Theater at the MGM.

“This was one of the best moments of my life, said Brant. “I wasn’t thinking of punch output. I was thinking about winning.”

With many planning their trips to Tokyo for an expected showdown between Murata and Golovkin, the Las Vegas based Brant put a stick into the spokes of their travel plans.

Brant started quickly with combination punching and moving in and out of range during the first three rounds of the middleweight bout. Murata smiled throughout the incoming blows from the upstart Brant.

“It’s easy to smile, but his eyes were swollen and he had blood on his mouthpiece,” said Brant.

It wasn’t until the fourth round that Murata found life while attacking the body.

The body punches opened up the lead right cross for Murata, who began targeting Brant’s head. But the Minnesota native was able to absorb the big blows and kept firing back. Though Brant was landing more shots, Murata’s punches were clearly harder and landed with a thud.

The crowd got into the fight early as cheers of “USA! USA!” were shouted sporadically throughout the fight. It probably had an effect on the judges.

It seemed Murata was landing the more effective blows in the middle rounds, especially when he targeted the body, then switched to the head. But though they were hard punches, Brant moved backward and kept returning fire.

The action was measured, but constant, with no slow rounds after round three. At times it looked like Murata was about to score a knockout but it never came. Brant proved resilient. More than that, he convinced the three judges he was the winner 119-109(2x) and 118-110.

Only the widespread scores were surprising. It seemed like a much closer fight.

Dudashev prevails

Maxim Dudashev (12-0, 10 KOs) tried to blast it out with Mexico’s Antonio DeMarco (33-7-1, 24 KOs), but after taking heavy incoming fire, the undefeated super lightweight changed tactics and out-boxed the former world champion to win by unanimous decision.

Dudashev moved around just enough and used quick short combinations to out-score the long-armed Tijuana fighter after the midway point of the 10-round affair. Though DeMarco was able to score with heavy body shots  and lead lefts to the head, Dudashev managed to fire off combinations that kept winning rounds in the second half of the fight. The judges scored the fight 97-93, 96-94, 98-92 for Dudashev. scored it 96-94 for Dudashev, who keeps the NABF super lightweight title.

“This was a great learning experience for me,” said Dudashev. “DeMarco is a true champion, and he fought with great heart and determination.”

Falcao and other bouts

Brazil’s Esquiva Falcao (22-0, 15 KOs) showcased his various boxing skills against Argentina’s Guido Pitto (25-6-2, 8 KOs) who lost by unanimous decision but forced the undefeated fighter into various situations. In the first four rounds, Falcao fought from the outside with impunity as Pitto was unable to touch the Brazilian. But when the Argentine boxer took the fight inside, he found more success and forced Falcao to utilize his inside boxing skills. The fighting was intense but Falcao was just too strong and slightly quicker in winning every round in the 10 round middleweight fight. Pitto’s best moments came during the fifth round when he forced his way inside. All three judges saw it 100-90 for Falcao.

Ireland’s Michael Conlan (9-0, 6 KOs) battered Nicola Cipolletta (14-7-2) every round with rights to the body and head. The Italian boxer rarely fired back and after several unanswered blows by Cipolletta the referee Russell Mora stopped the featherweight fight @1:55 of round seven. Cipolletta protested the stoppage but never truly engaged Conlan, who must have connected on more than 60 percent of his punches thrown. It was a whitewash for the former Irish Olympian.

Vladimir Nikitin (2-0) won by unanimous decision over Louisiana’s Clay Burns (5-5-2) in a featherweight fight that was much closer than the scores given. Burns started out fast and easily won the first two rounds. Then the battle got much closer as Nikitin’s overhand rights began scoring. Burns switched to southpaw and switched back and forth and that gave Nikitin pause. The last two rounds were very close especially the final round. But all three judges scored it 59-55 for Nikitin, thus only giving Burns one round. It was much closer in reality.

A battle between undefeated Puerto Rican lightweights saw Joseph Adorno (10-0, 9 KOs) drop Kevin Cruz (8-1, 5 KOs) twice in winning by unanimous decision. Though Adorno’s knockout streak was snapped, he engaged in a spirited battle against left-handed Cruz who let loose in the sixth and final round. A counter left hook by Adorno floored Cruz the second time during a furious exchange. Cruz beat the count and tried his best to go for the knockout; Adorno scooted away until the final bell. Scores of 59-53(2x) and 58-54 for Adorno.

Adam Lopez (11-1, 5 KOs) won by knockout over Hector Ambriz (12-8-2) in a featherweight match. The end came @1:29 of the eighth and final round of the fight when Lopez fired a four punch combination that forced referee Tony Weeks to halt the fight though Ambriz was still standing.

Uzbekistan’s Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (6-0, 3 KOs) stopped veteran Wilberth Lopez (23-10, 15 KOs) with a series of body blows @2:13 of round two in a super lightweight contest between lefties.

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Murata vs Brant: Live results from Las Vegas, NV



Ryota Murata, hailing from Japan, hopes to be successful this Saturday night against the American fighter Robert Brant, with the intentions of then facing Gennady Golovkin as his next opponent.

Our reporter, Marcelino Castillo, is providing live coverage tonight from the Park Theater at Park MGM in Las Vegas.  This fight is promoted by Top Rank Boxing and is scheduled to air live on ESPN+ in the U.S. at 10:30 p.m. EST.


First bout: David Kaminsky beat Noah La Coste by TKO in two rounds. The fight was stopped @2:20 of the second round.

Second bout: Adam Lopez dominated Héctor Ambriz, winning by technical knockout @1:28 of the eighth round.

Third bout: In a duel between Puerto Ricans, Jose Adorno and Kevin Cruz, Adorno won a unanimous decision. Official scorecards: 59-53(2x), 58-54.

Fourth bout: Vladimir Nikitin dominated this fight, winning by unanimous decision over Clay Burns in six rounds. Official scorecards: 59-55(3x)

Fifth bout: Michael Conlan stopped Nicola Cipolletta by TKO in the seventh round. Referee Russell Mora stopped the action @1:55.

Sixth bout: Dodge “La Pantera” Falcao defeated Guido Nicolas Pitto by unanimous decision in ten rounds. Official scorecards: 100-90(3x)

Seventh bout: Russian prospect Maxim Dadashev dominated former world champion Antonio DeMarco, winning by unanimous decision to retain the NABF Super Lightweight Title. Official scorecards: 97-93, 96-94, 98-92.

Dadashev had a very busy night, gaining experience as a professional fighter after a lengthy amateur career. He got a full nights work against an experienced veteran fighter and former world champion in DeMarco. However, by fights end, DeMarco was overtaken by the speed and combinations of the Russian boxer.

With this win, Dadashev has recorded his second consecutive victory against a former world champion. He won his previous match against Colombian Darleys Pérez.

Unbeaten and ex-Olympian Fazliddin Gaibnazarov finished off Wilberth Lopez by technical knockout @2:13 of the second round.

Main Event: In this evening’s main event for the WBA middleweight championship belt, Rob Brant earned the strap when he dominated the tough, but less than effective Ryota Murata. Official scorecards: 118-110, 119-109(2x)

Also, several thousand miles away at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, the former 154lb world champion Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade (26-0, 16 KOs)  won a dominant, twelve round unanimous decision tonight over Walter Kautondokwa (17-1, 16 KOs).  Kautondokwa suffered four knockdowns as Andrade claimed the vacant WBO middleweight title. Official scorecards: 119-105, 120-104(2x)

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