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25 Years On–Leonard Beat Hagler in Clear But Close Decision

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leonard1For some in the boxing community it was the most anticipated fight since the “Fight Of The Century” between heavyweight Champ “Smokin” Joe Frazier and challenger Muhammad Ali 16 years earlier. And if you think about it, reigning middleweight champ Marvin Hagler and former welterweight/junior middleweight champ Sugar Ray Leonard were on a collision course longer than Ali and Frazier were.

One could argue that ever since Hagler and Leonard challenged for their first world titles on November 30th 1979, they were often mentioned as future opponents. And even then Hagler played second fiddle to Leonard being that his title bout with defending middleweight champion Vito Antuofermo was the semi-wind up bout prior to Leonard challenging WBC welterweight champ Wilfred Benitez. The heavily favored Hagler was held to a disputed draw against Antuofermo an hour before Leonard stopped Benitez with six seconds remaining in the 15th and final round.

Well, it's been 25 years–April 6th 1987–since Leonard came out of a three year retirement having only fought once in five years to challenge the slightly eroding undisputed middleweight champ, Hagler, who was fighting just once a year by April of 1987. Most forget that it was Leonard who challenged Hagler after retiring on November 9th 1982 with Hagler sitting there watching Ray announce that a fight between the two greats would never happen. As we found out later Leonard wanted to continue fighting and wanted to meet Hagler eventually, but succumbed to family pressure and retired after having his detached retina repaired. For the next five years Leonard did commentary for Hagler's title defenses on HBO while taking notes on him subconsciously the whole time.

When Leonard finally initiated the challenge to Hagler, that should've raised a red flag in Marvin's head. Mainly because for the previous five years it appeared that Leonard was less interested in the fight than Hagler was. Then after a grueling fight with the undefeated John “The Beast” Mugabi, six months later Leonard is all in to meet Hagler? What changed? Perhaps Marvin looking a little less hungry and ferocious and him starting to mention that Mugabi may have been his last fight?

Here's what many weren't sophisticated enough to know or didn't understand about the at the time 30 year old Leonard and 32 year old Hagler…..

1) Leonard never stopped training or running during his retirement. He knew boxing was still in his blood and that he might fight again.

2) When he came back to fight Kevin Howard in 1984 and suffered the first official knockdown of his career, he wasn't focused and was still dealing with personal turmoil.

3) Leonard realized beyond all doubt after Hagler had trouble with Roberto Duran's wait and react counter-punching that he matched up great with Hagler stylistically.

4) Ray knew that as dangerous as Hagler was, he was dramatically less effective fighting as the attacker and that Marvin was no Frazier when it came to cutting off the ring and forcing the fight. He was fully aware that he'd force Marvin to pursue him if they ever fought.

5) Hagler's money punch was his right hand, which fighting as a southpaw he obviously led with. Ray was confident he wasn't going to be iced by any fighter's lead punch. Furthermore, Leonard had no fear or concern over Hagler's left cross, uppercut or hook and viewed them as nothing more than set-up punches with their intent to make you forget about the right.

6) Leonard also grasped that Hagler was an overrated puncher coming off his three round war with Thomas Hearns. Unlike the public perception of Hagler, Leonard didn't view Marvin as a “catch-n-kill” style attacker. He said repeatedly if Hagler was such a killer, why'd he have to hit Hearns so many times with his Sunday shots before finally stopping him?

7) Leonard knew that Hagler wouldn't feel complete until they fought and knew Marvin would fight him under almost any circumstances.

8) Leonard knew that Marvin thought he was a pretty boy and didn't view him as a tough guy with a much better chin than he ever got credit for. And that it was conceivable that Hagler would take him lightly regardless of what he said.

9) Hagler was an incredible cheapskate and thought about money constantly. Leonard knew that money would make Marvin do foolish things, like consent to 10 ounce gloves when middleweights fought with eight ounce gloves at that time.

Lets also clear some other things up.

Hagler's previous two title defenses (Hearns & Mugabi) were scheduled for 12 rounds and fought in 20 foot rings, which were the conditions in which the fight with Leonard was conducted. So saying Leonard made Hagler consent to unfavorable conditions (12 rounds instead of 15) really doesn't apply. Prior to their fight Leonard did everything but send Hagler a hand written letter saying that he was gonna move and box while looking to flurry at the end of the rounds to impress the judges. Was there the slightest doubt that Leonard had no intention of obliging Hagler in a knock down drag out war?

For some reason as great as Hagler was, surely one of the top five or six greatest middleweight champions in boxing history, he was a little awed by legends his equal like Roberto Duran and Ray Leonard. He was psyched out by Duran's ring antics during a good portion of their bout and abandoned his southpaw style in the early going of his bout against Leonard.

I could go on and bore you with the cookbook reasons as to why Leonard out boxed Hagler, but I'm assuming those reading this have a high enough boxing aptitude that doesn't require me drum-beating the nuanced trinkets you already know. The bottom line is Marvin Hagler was at his best when his opponents took the fight to him. The fallacy at the time was because of Vito Antuofermo's draw with Hagler in their first fight the way to beat him was to make him go back.

Ironically, Marvin never lost in his career to a fighter who tried to make him go back. The worst Hagler ever looked were in his first fights with Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts and Willie “The Worm” Monroe in Philadelphia. Watts and Monroe handed Hagler his first two defeats (although the Watts bout is considered a home town decision). The point being both Bobby and Willie used their feet and brought Marvin to them en-route to out-boxing him. And like Duran and Leonard after them, they didn't try to take his head off or knock him out.

Ray Leonard knew that Hagler wasn't really that fast of hand or foot and followed movers like Mike “The Roadrunner” Colbert (who wasn't stopped until the 12th round) instead of cutting them off and forcing them into the ropes or a corner. In order for Hagler to beat Leonard in 1987, he was gonna have to freeze him with one shot to where he was defenseless, then go in and finish him. Only Leonard knew Hagler wouldn't get that many Sunday shots on him and the odds of freezing him with one shot weren't that great due to his chin and movement.

What Leonard showed the boxing world in his fight with Hagler was, Marvin wasn't that great at cutting off the ring. He tended to follow more than stepping in front of Leonard to block his escape route. The only time Hagler was able to corner or pin Leonard against the ropes was when he tired and started slowing down. By Leonard moving and using the ring, Hagler wasn't able to take advantage of his most significant advantage, his physical strength. Because Hagler had to constantly keep his feet moving in order to track Leonard down, he was never able to mount a sustained offense or get set, especially in the early rounds. Leonard continually beat Hagler to the punch and was just about always a step ahead of him, thus forcing Hagler to reach and sometimes miss wildly.

Some have implied that Leonard's punches were nothing but pitty-pat punches that lacked power. What amazes me about that is, Hagler had one of the best chins in history. If Leonard's punches had nothing on them, why didn't Hagler just walk through them and force Leonard to fight instead of box? Actually, Leonard won many of the exchanges and fought Hagler straight up when he was too tired to move.

Another ridiculous statement made over the years is that Leonard should've fought Hagler like a man. In other words, Leonard should've nullified his own strengths and made it easy for Hagler. Suggesting that Leonard should've fought Hagler like a man is one of the most ignorant statements I've ever heard about a fight or fighter. I guess Muhammad Ali should've fought Joe Frazier and George Foreman toe-to-toe like a real man.

The style in which Leonard fought Hagler wasn't a surprise to any knowledgeable fight observer. It was the only style he could employ against him to win. On top of that, it was the style Leonard fought in every fight of his career with the exception of his first bout with Duran. If Hagler was shocked by Leonard trying to keep the fight from becoming a slugfest, shame on him.

The bottom line is Sugar Ray Leonard out-fought and thought Marvin Hagler. He set the pace early by moving and boxing, using his greater hand and foot speed to its fullest advantage. In those first three or four rounds, Hagler couldn't get near Leonard. Starting around the fifth round Hagler began to get closer and scored as Leonard started to slow.

There is absolutely no doubt that Leonard was up 3-0 after three rounds. At best Hagler won 5 of the last 9 rounds. That makes it 7-5 Leonard or 115-113. On top of that, there was not a 2-point round in the fight. Although Hagler was the aggressor he wasn't the effective aggressor. An effective aggressor is Frazier versus Ali in their first fight or Duran versus Leonard in their first fight. Not Hagler versus Leonard.

Lastly, some have said that a reigning champ shouldn't lose his title on such a close decision. The problem was, despite not having the title, Leonard was the star and bigger personality which neutralized Hagler being the champ. However, that had no bearing on the fight. Sugar Ray Leonard was just a little sharper and more effective than Marvin Hagler the night they fought and earned a clear cut close decision victory.

Recently a friend of mine said, “I think one of the reasons Hagler didn't press hard for a rematch was because he was afraid his legacy would suffer even more from a second loss to Leonard. In Hagler's mind it was better to go out disputing a 'controversial' loss rather than a more decisive one.”

Looking back 25 years, I think you nailed it, Bill. And based on Seth Abraham's quote in Sports Illustrated years after the the fight, he may have been right.

Seth Abraham: There was talk of a rematch, but it never went anywhere. Marvin made it very clear — he thought he was jobbed and he was never going to fight again. And he never did. There were conversations, but they were never at the level of negotiations. If people say Marvin wanted the fight and Ray didn't, that's revisionist history.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 239: Fernando Vargas Jr. at the Pechanga Casino and More

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Once upon a time the name Ferocious Fernando Vargas stirred up the blood of many a Southern California boxing fan and others.

Based in Oxnard, California, the Ferocious One dared to be great and was fearless in charging forward like an Aztec warrior against all odds and opposition. Those who followed him expected it and though he only had 31 professional fights, each battle was dripping with drama.

Remember his battles with Ike Quartey, Winky Wright or Sugar Shane Mosley?

Even his losses were blazing unforgettable wars with Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Ricardo Mayorga.

Vargas no longer fights but he has three sons and they do the fighting for the Las Vegas-based family. It’s Fernando Vargas 2.0.

The oldest son Fernando Vargas Jr. (8-0, 8 KOs) competes in a six-round super welterweight contest against Venezuela’s Heber Rondon (20-4, 13 KOs) on Friday June 2, at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif. The Marvnation Promotions card will also be shown on its YouTube.com site.

In the co-main event number one super flyweight contender Adelaida Ruiz fights Mexico’s Maria Cecilia Roman in a 10-round affair. Ruiz is considered by many to be a guaranteed world champion by this year. Don’t miss her.

A special presentation includes the appearance of two boxing greats Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns. During the 70s and 80s they both made history with incredible performances that made them both boxing immortals.

If you ever saw them during the 80s they were two of the primary fighters who raised the level of the sport with their willingness to fight each other. Leonard and Hearns fought each other twice. Leonard beat Roberto Duran two of three times. Marvin Hagler beat Hearns in what many consider one of the greatest three rounds of all time. Ironically, it was the first title fight I ever wrote about.

Doors open at 6 p.m. for tickets go to  www.pechenga.com or www.marvnation.com

Boxing Saturday in Detroit

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Female boxing’s top pound-for-pound queen Claressa Shields (13-0, 2 KOs) faces Maricela Cornejo (16-5, 6 KOs) in defense of the middleweight world championship on Saturday, June 3, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. DAZN will stream the Salita Promotions fight card beginning at 6 p.m. PST.

Until last week, Costa Rica’s Hanna Gabriels was the scheduled foe, but VADA testing revealed illegal substances in her blood stream and she was forced out. After two days Cornejo was mutually agreed by both parties to be the replacement.

“I was getting ready for another fight on June 6. This wasn’t a last-minute fight. I eat, drink, and love boxing. It’s not a part-time job,” said Cornejo about eagerly accepting the fight as a replacement for Gabriels.

The last time we saw Shields in the prize ring she was firing on all gears as she unleashed blazing-fast combinations on England’s Savannah Marshall. Many had predicted Shields would be vanquished.

Many were wrong.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist and champion of three weight divisions has shown that size, power and will are not enough to dethrone her. Only a few made Shields blink and that came early on.

During the press conference, Mark Taffet, co-manager of Shields, hinted that she may be pursuing undisputed status in the super middleweight divisions and above. But first, her defense against Cornejo who did not hesitate in consenting to the challenge.

Only in the past four years has female boxing become a lucrative pro sport. Before fighters like Shields, Katie Taylor, and others, women were seldom paid more than $3,000 dollars for a world championship fight.

Shields helped spark the change and Cornejo will now finally meet her in the prize ring.

“Claressa has done so much for the sport of boxing. We’re trying to do our part. She can’t do it alone. We’re all trying to make a difference,” said Cornejo about accepting the fight on short notice. “She needs a dance partner and I’m ready to dance June 3.”

Shields smiled, content that Cornejo helped salvage the fight card in Detroit, Michigan near her hometown of Flint. Shields personally bought 1,000 tickets for youngsters to attend the fight card on Saturday. Now it will be a true contender facing her.

“I want to say thank you for fighting me,” said Shields to Cornejo. “I know you want to dance, but I came to fight.”

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The Sweet Science Rankings: Week of May 29th, 2023

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The Sweet Science Rankings: Week of May 29th, 2023

In this week’s TSS Rankings, it’s all change at the top of the 126lbs division with Luis Alberto Lopez rocketing to the #1 spot after a brutal dispatch of Michael Conlan; Leigh Wood is right behind him after making it 1-1 with a miserable Mauricio Lara (Mexico) who is likely about to depart for 130lbs after failing to make weight by 4lbs.  For the moment he languishes at #5.  Chris Billam-Smith makes #3 at 200lbs after ripping victory from fellow Englishman Lawrence Okolie.  The hapless Okolie drops to #8.  The best performance this weekend though was turned in by New Yorker Oscar Collazo who brutalised the favoured Melvin Jerusalem (Philippines).  Collazo rises to three, Jerusalem drops to #8.

 

Pound-for-Pound

01 – Naoya Inoue

02 – Oleksandr Usyk

03 – Juan Francisco Estrada

04 – Dmitry Bivol

05 – Terence Crawford

06 – Errol Spence Jnr.

07 – Tyson Fury

08 – Saul Alvarez

09 – Artur Beterbiev

10 – Shakur Stevenson

 

105lbs

1            Knockout CP Freshmart (Thailand)

2            Petchmanee CP Freshmart (Thailand)

3            Oscar Collazo (USA)*

4            Ginjiro Shigeoka (Japan)

5            Wanheng Menayothin (Thailand)

6            Daniel Valladares (Mexico)

7            Yudai Shigeoka (Japan)

8            Melvin Jerusalem (Philippines)

9            Masataka Taniguchi (Japan)

10          Rene Mark Cuarto (Philippines)

 

108lbs

1            Kenshiro Teraji (Japan)

2            Jonathan Gonzalez (Puerto Rico)

3            Masamichi Yabuki (Japan)

4            Hekkie Budler (South Africa)

5            Sivenathi Nontshinga (South Africa)

6            Elwin Soto (Mexico)

7            Daniel Matellon (Cuba)

8            Reggie Suganob (Philippines)

9            Shokichi Iwata (Japan)

10          Esteban Bermudez (Mexico)

 

112lbs

1            Sunny Edwards (England)

2            Artem Dalakian (Ukraine)

3            Julio Cesar Martinez (Mexico)

4            Angel Ayala Lardizabal (Mexico)

5            David Jimenez (Costa Rica)

6            Jesse Rodriguez (USA)

7            Ricardo Sandoval (USA)

8            Felix Alvarado (Nicaragua)

9            Seigo Yuri Akui (Japan)

10          Cristofer Rosales (Nicaragua)

 

115lbs

1            Juan Francisco Estrada (Mexico)

2            Roman Gonzalez (Nicaragua)

3            Jesse Rodriguez (USA)

4            Kazuto Ioka (Japan)

5            Joshua Franco (USA)

6            Junto Nakatani (Japan)

7            Fernando Martinez (Argentina)

8            Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (Thailand)

9            Kosei Tanaka (Japan)

10          Andrew Moloney (Australia)

 

118lbs

1            Emmanuel Rodriguez (Puerto Rico)

2            Jason Moloney (Australia)

3            Nonito Donaire (Philippines)

4            Vincent Astrolabio (Philippines)

5            Gary Antonio Russell (USA)

6            Takuma Inoue (Japan)

7            Alexandro Santiago (Mexico)

8           Ryosuke Nishida (Japan)

9            Keita Kurihara (Japan)

10          Paul Butler (England)

 

122lbs

1            Stephen Fulton (USA)

2            Marlo Tapales (Philippines)

3            Luis Nery (Mexico)

4            Murodjon Akhmadaliev (Uzbekistan)

5            Ra’eese Aleem (USA)

6            Azat Hovhannisyan (Armenia)

7            Kevin Gonzalez (Mexico)

8            Takuma Inoue (Japan)

9            John Riel Casimero (Philippines)

10          Fillipus Nghitumbwa (Namibia)

 

126lbs

1            Luis Alberto Lopez (Mexico)*

2           Leigh Wood (England)*

3            Brandon Figueroa (USA)

4            Rey Vargas (Mexico)

5            Mauricio Lara (Mexico)

6            Mark Magsayo (Philippines)

7            Josh Warrington (England)

8            Robeisy Ramirez (Cuba)

9            Reiya Abe (Japan)

10          Otabek Kholmatov (Uzbekistan)

 

130lbs

1            Joe Cordina (Wales)

2            Oscar Valdez (Mexico)

3            Hector Garcia (Dominican Republic)

4            O’Shaquie Foster (USA)

5            Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (Tajikistan)

6            Roger Gutierrez (Venezuela)

7            Lamont Roach (USA)

8            Eduardo Ramirez (Mexico)

9            Kenichi Ogawa (Japan)

10          Robson Conceicao (Brazil)

 

135lbs

1            Devin Haney (USA)

2            Gervonta Davis (USA)

3            Vasily Lomachenko (Ukraine)

4            Isaac Cruz (Mexico)

5            William Zepeda Segura (Mexico)

6            Frank Martin (USA)

7            George Kambosos Jnr (Australia)

8            Shakur Stevenson (USA)

9            Raymond Muratalla (USA)

10          Keyshawn Davis (USA)

 

140lbs

1            Josh Taylor (Scotland)

2            Regis Prograis (USA)

3            Jose Ramirez (USA)

4            Jose Zepeda (USA)

5            Jack Catterall (England)

6            Subriel Matias (Puerto Rico)

7            Arnold Barboza Jr. (USA)

8            Gary Antuanne Russell (USA)

9            Zhankosh Turarov (Kazakhstan)

10          Shohjahon Ergashev (Uzbekistan)

 

147lbs

1            Errol Spence (USA)

2            Terence Crawford (USA)

3            Yordenis Ugas (Cuba)

4            Vergil Ortiz Jr. (USA)

5            Jaron Ennis (USA)

6            Eimantas Stanionis (Lithuania)

7            David Avanesyan (Russia)

8            Cody Crowley (Canada)

9            Roiman Villa (Columbia)

10          Alexis Rocha (USA)

 

154lbs

1            Jermell Charlo (USA)

2           Tim Tszyu (Australia)

3            Brian Castano (Argentina)

4            Brian Mendoza (USA)

5            Liam Smith (England)

6            Jesus Alejandro Ramos (USA)

7            Sebastian Fundora (USA)

8            Michel Soro (Ivory Coast)

9            Erickson Lubin (USA)

10          Magomed Kurbanov (Russia)

 

160lbs

1            Gennady Golovkin (Kazakhstan)

2            Jaime Munguia (Mexico)

3            Carlos Adames (Dominican Republic)

4            Janibek Alimkhanuly (Kazakhstan)

5            Liam Smith (England)

6            Erislandy Lara (USA)

7            Sergiy Derevyanchenko (Ukraine)

8            Felix Cash (England)

9            Esquiva Falcao (Brazil)

10          Chris Eubank Jnr. (Poland)

 

168lbs

1            Canelo Alvarez (Mexico)

2            David Benavidez (USA)

3            Caleb Plant (USA)

4            Christian Mbilli (France)

5            David Morrell (Cuba)

6            John Ryder (England)

7            Pavel Silyagin (Russia)

8            Vladimir Shishkin (Russia)

9            Carlos Gongora (Ecuador)

10          Demetrius Andrade (USA)

 

175lbs

1            Dmitry Bivol (Russia)

2            Artur Beterbiev (Canada)

3            Joshua Buatsi (England)

4            Callum Smith (England)

5            Joe Smith Jr. (USA)

6            Gilberto Ramirez (Mexico)

7            Anthony Yarde (England)

8           Dan Azeez (England)

9            Craig Richards (England)

10          Michael Eifert (Germany)

 

200lbs

1            Jai Opetaia (Australia)

2            Mairis Breidis (Latvia)

3            Chris Billam-Smith (England)*

4            Richard Riakporhe (England)

5            Aleksei Papin (Russia)

6            Badou Jack (Sweden)

7            Arsen Goulamirian (France)

8            Lawrence Okolie (England)

9            Yuniel Dorticos (Cuba)

10          Mateusz Masternak (Poland)

 

Unlimited

1            Tyson Fury (England)

2            Oleksandr Usyk (Ukraine)

3            Zhilei Zhang (China)

4            Deontay Wilder (USA)

5            Anthony Joshua (England)

6            Andy Ruiz (USA)

7            Filip Hrgovic (Croatia)

8            Joe Joyce (England)

9            Dillian Whyte (England)

10          Frank Sanchez (Cuba)

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U.K. Boxing Montage: Conlan KOed; Wood Regains Title; Billam-Smith Upsets Okolie

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British fight fabs had plenty of options last night. Important events were staged in Manchester, in Bournemouth, and in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The locals were delighted in Manchester and Bournemouth, but fans in Belfast were left crestfallen when their hometown hero Michael Conlan, the former two-time Olympian, was on the wrong end of a vicious KO.

Conlan, who was 18-1 heading in, had a four-inch height advantage and three-inch reach advantage over Mexican spoiler Luis Alberto Lopez. The Irishman attracted late money and went to post a small favorite. But Lopez (28-2, 16 KOs) emerged victorious, successfully defending his IBF world featherweight title which he won in British soil over Josh Warrington.

Although Conlan had a rough patch in the second round, he was seemingly in a good position heading into round five when the Mexican invader brought a swift conclusion to the contest, discombobulating Conlan (pictured) with a right uppercut that prompted his trainer Adam Booth to throw in the towel. It was the second time that Conlan came up short in a bid for a world title. He challenged for the WBA version of this belt in March of last year, losing on a spectacular last round knockout to Leigh Wood in a fight that he was winning until the final 90 seconds.

Also…

In a scheduled 12-rounder for a WBC featherweight trinket, five-foot-three Liverpool buzzsaw Nick “Wrecking” Ball advanced to 18-0, (11 KOs) with a 12th-round stoppage of South Africa’s previously undefeated Ludumo Lamati (21-1-1, 11 KOs). Lamati’s corner tossed in the towel after Ball landed a series of hard punches in the final frame.

Lamati was on his feet when the bout was stopped but was in dire straits and was removed from the ring on a stretcher. There was no update on his condition as this story was going to press.

In a companion 12-rounder, Belfast’s Anthony “Apache” Cacace (21-1, 7 KOs) successfully defended his fringe 130-pound title with a wide decision over Damian Wrzesinski (26-3-2). The judges had 118-111, 117-111, and 116-112.

Wrzesinski, a 38-year-old Pole, fought with a brace on his right knee. This was the first fight for “Apache” in his hometown in eight years. The win may have set him up for a match with Welshman Joe Cordina, the IBF junior lightweight title-holder, or Shavkat Rakhimov who lost a close decision to Cordina in a bruising tiff last month.

Manchester

Mauricio Lara didn’t bring his “A” game to England. That became apparent at the weigh-in when he failed to make weight, losing his WBA world featherweight title on the scales. By rule, only Leigh Wood could win it or it would become vacant.

This was a rematch. Fourteen weeks ago, Lara went into Wood’s backyard in Nottingham and stopped him in the seventh round. Lara was behind on the cards when he felled Wood with a crunching left hook. Wood beat the count but his trainer Ben Davison tossed in the towel which struck many, especially Wood, as premature as less than 10 seconds remained in the round.

In a previous trip to England, Lara had broken hearts in Leeds, stopping native son Josh Warrington. The Mexican invader, younger than Leigh Wood by 10 years, was expected to win again, but Wood, 34, simply out-worked him. He knocked Lara down in the second round with an uppercut and methodically kept him at bay, winning by scores of 116-111 and 118-109 twice.

Co-Feature

In his first appearance since his controversial defeat to Josh Taylor in Glasgow in February of last year, Jack Catterall improved to 27-1 (15) with a wide decision over Irish-Australian southpaw Darragh Foley (22-5-1).

The Sportsman called the Catterall-Taylor fight, a split decision win for Taylor, the most controversial fight in British boxing history and Catterall became a more sympathetic figure when Taylor, after several postponements, reneged on his promise to give Catterall a rematch, opting instead for a date with Teofimo Lopez.

Although Foley was in action 10 weeks ago, scoring his signature win with a third-round stoppage of favored Robbie Davies Jr., and Catterall was making his first start in 15 months, this was a one-sided fray in Catterall’s favor. He had Foley on the canvas twice en route to winning by scores of 99-88, 98-89, and 97-90.

Eddie Hearn has expressed an interest in matching Catterall with Regis Prograis assuming that Prograis gets past Arnold Barboza on June 17.

Also

England’s Terri Harper (14-1-1), who jumped up three weight classes last year, successfully defended her WBA 154-pound diadem with a unanimous but unimpressive 10-round decision over perennial title challenger Ivana Habazin. The judges had it 98-92 and 99-93 twice.

Harper was slated to fight former pound-for-pound queen Cecilia Braekhus last Saturday in the co-feature to Taylor vs. Cameron in Dublin, but hat match fell out when Braekhus came down with a bad cold following the weight-in.

Harper is seeking a unification fight with countrywoman Natasha Jonas. Habazin, a 33-year-old Croat, fell to 21-5.

Bournemouth

In his fourth defense of his WBO world cruiserweight title, previously undefeated Lawrence Okolie was soundly defeated by former sparring partner Chris Billam.-Smith The match was contested in Billam-Smith’s  hometown before a raucous crowd at sold-out Vitality Stadium.

A 3/1 underdog, Billam-Smith, who was 17-1 heading in, proved clearly superior He knocked Okolie down in the fourth round and again in rounds 10 and 11 en route to winning by scores of 116-107, 115-108, and 112-112.

About that curious 112-112 card. It was turned in by U.S. judge  Benjamin Rodriguez who had been working the Illinois-Wisconsin circuit. On social media, his tally is being called the worst scorecard of all time.

Did Billam-Smith’s fans leave happy? The correspondent for British Boxing News called the event “a night of breathtaking boxing action that will never be forgotten.”

The six-foot-five Okolie may have made his last start as a cruiserweight. He aspires to fight Oleksandr Usyk.

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