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Why Choice Of Berto For Mayweather Is OK

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Writing about the emerging news that Andre Berto had been selected as Floyd Mayweather’s September twelfth opponent, the Sweet Science’s own Frank Lotierzo deemed anyone who buys the fight on pay-per-view “a complete and utter fool.”

Lotierzo, always forthright and never dull, has the courage of his convictions. I admire that.

But I did not agree with him and I thought, with the date looming large as does each and every Mayweather combat, I might say so, and say why.

First though, I would like to get the obvious out of the way.

I would most like to see Mayweather fight Gennaday Golovkin, a mission impossible worthy of a p4p #1. Failing that, I would like to see him in a rematch with the victor of the fight between Miguel Cotto, the lineal middleweight champion, and Saul Alvarez, still the #1 contender to Mayweather’s lineal light-middleweight claim. Barring that, a rematch with Pacquiao would be reasonable (and remains a distinct possibility) most especially as Manny remains Mayweather’s #1 contender at welterweight. Failing that there are good matches to be made at welterweight against Amir Khan or Kell Brook, or against the perennially ignored potential Mayweather opponent Timothy Bradley. Bradley actually reads like a perfect Mayweather opponent– he can’t punch, he comes to fight, he has a high profile in America based upon decision he did not deserve – but is hamstrung by promotional issues.

Whatever the details, Mayweather hasn’t delivered us any of these fights for his last, second-to-last, or latest fight depending upon which version of the truth you prefer, he has instead delivered us Berto. It is not a decision which has been well received by either press or, judging by the weight of objections groaning from various internet message-boards over the past few weeks, the public.

I was immediately reminded of Roy Jones Junior’s 1995 match with the ordinary Antoine Byrd.

Jones was, like Mayweather, coming off a disappointingly one-sided contest with fellow pound-for-pounder in James Toney. A case can be made for these two being, like Pacquiao and Mayweather, the two best fighters on the planet at the time of their confrontation and if it was so, that may have been the first time since Billy Conn’s 1941 confrontation with Joe Louis that the p4p top two climbed into the same ring. Note that if we do not acknowledge the claim of Toney and Jones to be pound-for-pound numbers one and two, Mayweather-Pacquiao may have been the first such contest in more than seventy-five years. In the wake of his enormous confrontation with Toney, Roy Jones did not select as his next opponent the brutal and direct Englishman Nigel Benn, nor his prancing stylistic pole and countryman Chris Eubank, his #2 and #3 ranked contender respectively. He didn’t leap up to light-heavyweight to take on Virgil Hill, nor did he invite to step up the killing puncher that was Gerald McClellan. He instead matched Byrd.

Byrd had lost three straight in 1991 and 1992, decisioned by Lindell Holmes and Tim Littles, knocked out in just four rounds by 12-8-3 journeyman Larry Musgrove. He did stage a recovery of sorts in 1993 and 1994 but if the truth is told there was little to qualify him for his shot at Roy outside of an inexplicably high ranking bequeathed upon him by one of the alphabet mafia. Just as Berto is inexplicably ranked #1 by the drunken WBA, so Byrd was stationed for a title shot by IBF who for some reason thought it was important that the man who vanquished the 9-4 Eduardo Ayala get in the ring with Jones immediately.

What Jones did essentially was this: he fought one for the industry, against Toney, and then he fought one “for himself” against Byrd. What I mean by that phrase is that he fought a fighter who posed no real threat to him, for easy money, having earned that rope with the earlier contest, that monumental pound-for-pound confrontation with Toney. Beating Toney was easy for Jones. He didn’t really get hurt, he won any round he chose to contest and he had “Lights Out” sitting in his corner between rounds staring blankly into the middle distance as Bill Miller offered up the best he had. Nevertheless, in the parlance of the sport he had earned a soft one. Byrd proved just that, buckling under pressure and punches in less than a round.

Instead of complaining, the crowd was ecstatic. This, briefly, is why Mayweather-Berto is going to do very good business. Mayweather, like Jones, is brilliant. He is the best fighter of his generation and has spent the majority of the past ten years sat atop the pound-for-pound list, a fighter who, despite a defensive style generally anathema to great financial success, has crossed over to become the single biggest dollar machine the sport has ever produced. People love him, hate him and love to hate him. Just as seeing Jones beat an overmatched opponent was of huge appeal to a 1995 fight crowd, so seeing Mayweather outclass Berto is going to be of huge appeal to the 2015 fight crowd. In what remains the last bastion of pure capitalism in modern sport, the bottom line will speak very loudly in defence of this fight (for all that it will not be as successful as Floyd’s other more recent efforts).

Of course, there are differences between the Jones-Byrd situation and this one. Jones was a relative newcomer to the upper-echelons of boxing and there was still a great deal of curiosity wedded to that expectation, and while the expectation remained unsatisfied, the curiously was fulfilled. His fistic youth spared Jones the increased scrutiny Mayweather is suffering. Second, Byrd was ranked; he was ranked at #10, but he was ranked. Berto isn’t ranked, not by anyone with any good sense. In fact he doesn’t even make it into the Fightnews top fifteen at the weight, although he does appear in one or two fan-driven rankings systems available online, and has since before the Mayweather fight was made. I personally would be given to arguing that Berto is probably more prepared for Maywether than Byrd was for  Jones. Furthermore, Berto has lost only to solid opponents; Byrd managed to lose to a journeyman. But it must be acknowledged that an argument can be made for Byrd being a better fighter than Berto. Fortunately, boxing history is awash with examples of the one-for-you, one-for-me culture that there is no particular pressure on this example.

Muhamad Ali followed his monumental confrontation with George Foreman against a fighter who had the word “Bleeder” in his nickname, Chuck Wepner. Ali was all but wrapped up in a deal to take on #3 contender Ron Lyle but reneged to take on a fighter who had had his face transmogrified into loose lamb’s liver by the bones of Sonny Liston five years previously. Ali was to be paid $1.5m, around $6.6m adjusting for inflation. When he was asked why he had selected Wepner as an opponent he answered “because he’s white.” But there was no torches and pitchfork assault upon Ali; nobody pointed and laughed at his opponent. There was a tacit understanding that having just settled completely the matter of who the best in the world was, he was entitled to a soft fight for pay, despite the fact that the Louisville Lip was already talking retirement.

Joe Calzaghe rewarded himself for his excruciatingly difficult victory over Bernard Hopkins with a pancaking of a shot Roy Jones, Roman Gonzalez spoiled himself with Rocky Fuentes after annexing the world flyweight title against Akira Yaegashi, Wladimir Klitschko gift-wrapped the chanceless Alex Leapai for his own consumption after a one-sided but crucial encounter against Alexander Povetkin; this is a list almost without end.

Where it does end, is with a group of fighters so unusual and singular in its pursuit of tough competition that we even have a name for it: we call it “old-school.” Guys like Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao and Carl Froch who, up to a point, seek out the toughest challenges available. These guys eschew the one-for-me one-for-you model in favour of determined domination. It is this type of attitude that we are demanding of Floyd Mayweather.

Is that reasonable? I think, probably, yes. I don’t find it unreasonable. Nevertheless, only a blind man could fail to see that the anonymity in debate provided by the internet in combination with Floyd Mayweather’s disgusting behaviour outside of the ring has created something of a perfect storm of criticism; still, it is fair to point out in return that he is, for better or worse, the flag-bearer for our sport and the best paid athlete in history. That he is fighting Andre Berto, a fighter rather less good than previous Mayweather victim Robert Guerrero, is not satisfying to me. He is an unsatisfying opponent, but I do not defend him as an opponent – what I defend is Mayweather’s right to fight an unsatisfactory opponent. He’s a one-for-me one-for-you guy. Trace it back:

After taking on and stopping Victor Ortiz, a soft defence for pay, Mayweather stepped out of his weight-division and his comfort-zone for a difficult fight against Miguel Cotto up at light-middleweight. He then gifted himself Robert Guerrero to pick up a few million, perhaps to fund his gambling habits, before taking on Saul Alvarez in a fight that generated much hype. Devon Alexander victim Marcos Maidana was supposed to be a soft one, but when Mayweather was unexpectedly run close – and we must never forget that that can and will happen – he re-matched the Argentine in a fight that happened to discharge his responsibilities to boxing. Then, he fought Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao was a universally recognised pound-for-pounder who was also Mayweather’s very clear #1 contender for the lineal title in his possession. Winning was easy, but this was a fight, despite the fact that it came several years too late, that boxing was crying out for. It was very much an industry match.

Now, Berto.

What astonishes me about the bitterness aimed at Floyd Mayweather is the lack of historical perspective. Yes, the fight is poor, but people seem to expect some sort of retrospective punishment to be inflicted upon Floyd for the temerity of having made it. That will not happen, and it won’t happen because Mayweather hasn’t done anything odd. He’s done what Joe Louis did after knocking out Billy Conn in that desperate 13th round all those years ago and found a Lou Nova to play patsy for him next time out. It is no more his fault that Pacquiao couldn’t extend him than it was Louis’s fault that Billy Conn could. That is what happens in boxing when styles mesh and abilities clash.

What is key is not what Mayweather is doing now, but what he does next. A second soft defence would be inexcusable and not in keeping with the normality of boxing’s recent history. But if he fights Pacquiao, then Berto, then the winner of Cotto-Alvarez or Pacquiao again, people in fifty years will understand absolutely what they are looking at: a fighter who mixed the good opposition with bad, the same as almost every fighter who has ever lived, regardless of their standing.

Lotierzo is right to peg the number of pay-per-views bought in America as being a significant in influencing Mayweather’s next move, though I suspect an unlikely failure will induce a huffy retirement and inevitable comeback rather than any change in matchmaking policy, a policy which is likely to come to an end sometime soon anyway. Should a visitation from Marciano’s ghost render this fight Mayweather’s last, he is one of a multitude of champions to go out on a soft one. If the great Italian-American’s bones remain undisturbed and Mayweather pushes for 50-0 against a second chanceless opponent, this will be a break with that matchmaking policy and then you can hand me a pitchfork because I’m in.

In the meantime, I don’t think we should treat this as anything other than what it is:

Normal.

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Andrade Grabs Vacant WBO Middleweight Belt in Boston

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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.

UNDERCARD RESULTS:

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

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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. TheSweetScience.com 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

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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.

Results:

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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