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HITS and MISSES from the Last Weekend of a Lively November

Kelsey McCarson

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HITS and MISSES from the Last Weekend of a Lively November

To remain grateful in boxing is relatively easy these days, and that was hammered home over Thanksgiving weekend when a bevy of solid fights featuring some of the best fighters in the world took place just about the time everyone in the U.S. was done stuffing their faces with leftovers.

But what were the biggest HITS and MISSES from another busy weekend in the sport that saw former titleholders preparing themselves for bigger fights down the line as well as undefeated up-and-comers and undeterred underdogs looking for statement wins to add to their ledgers?

HIT: Patrick Teixeira’s Huge Upset Over Previously Undefeated Carlos Adames

At most, Patrick Teixeira was probably meant to give rising undefeated junior middleweight Carlos Adames a tough test on his way to bigger and better things. The two met for a vacant secondary title on the undercard of a Top Rank on ESPN+ card at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, but Teixeira did not comply with those assumed plans by the promoter.

Instead, a bloody battle ensued with Teixeira ultimately scoring the biggest win of his career by scores of 116-111, 114-113 and 114-113 after some highly competitive rounds. The difference came during the final moments of the seventh-round when the southpaw Texiera uncorked a barrage of right hooks followed by a left hand that dropped Adames to the canvas.

That it happened so soon after Teixeira seemed he might be on his way to being stopped himself made for some compelling action. It was the Brazilian’s fifth straight win since his only defeat, a second-round knockout to former world title challenger Curtis Stevens in May 2016.

Now, Teixeira is expected to be elevated to full champion by the WBO because current titleholder Jaime Munguia seems ready to move up to the middleweight ranks. That’s quite the turn of events for Teixeira who didn’t seem on track to win a world title anytime soon.

What an amazing win for a fighter seemingly brought in to just be an opponent.

MISS: Russell Mora’s Premature Stoppage of Valdez-Lopez

After original opponent, Andres Gutierrez, weighed 11 pounds over the 130-pound limit on Friday and was scratched from the fight, late replacement opponent Adam Lopez stepped into a really difficult circumstance against former featherweight titleholder Oscar Valdez on Saturday night in the main event of the aforementioned card.

But Lopez acquitted himself well, dropping Valdez in the second round and giving the undefeated Mexican a very tough fight. After some riveting back-and-forth action, Valdez dropped Lopez with a well-placed left hook to the head followed by a right hand. Lopez rose to his feet and appeared to be weathering the storm when referee Russell Mora shockingly halted the action.

Due to the danger inherent in the sport, it’s certainly understandable why Mora would want to err on the side of caution. But it sure seemed like Lopez was still in the fight, and he probably should have been given the opportunity to continue considering how well he had done before that moment.

HIT: Casimero Punching His Way Into Bigger Bantamweight Fights

Could John Riel Casimero’s third title in as many weight classes have come at a better time in his career?

Casimero cracked Zolani Tete with a series of right hooks on Saturday in Birmingham, England to win the WBO bantamweight title. Tete was originally part of the recently completed World Boxing Super Series tournament but pulled out of his semi-final bout against Nonito Donaire who eventually lost in a Fight of the Year candidate to Naoya Inoue.

Before the injury sidelined his WBSS plans, Tete was favored over Donaire and had won 12 straight bouts. But Casimero stunningly pulled the upset and picked up the WBO bantamweight title in the process to go alongside the other alphabet belts he had won previously at 108 and 112 pounds.

More importantly than the historical nicety of being a three-division world champion though, Casimero made a solid case to get a big fight against Inoue. The thought of that bout isn’t something that really existed before Casimero’s big win over Tete, so seeing the 30-year-old manifest his own destiny was both surprising and admirable.

MISS: Frampton’s Second Act Being So Shockingly Unlike His First

Admittedly, calling Frampton’s dominant performance over Tyler McCreary on Saturday night on the Top Rank card in Las Vegas a miss is probably a little harsh. By all counts, Frampton’s performance was impressive as he boxed his way to a lopsided 10-round decision.

Still, the thing that made Frampton so spectacular during his run up the ranks during the better part of his career was his willingness to take on tough competition. Indeed, that’s the mindset that made Frampton a world champion in two different weight classes and one of the most popular Irish fighters in recent memory.

Frampton faced the inexperienced and unheralded McCreary in the first bout of the multi-fight deal the 32-year-old signed with Top Rank earlier this year after losing to IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington in December 2018. That move made sense for Frampton’s pocketbook. It also nabbed him TV money and allowed him to set up bigger fights down in the line in front of an American audience.

But Frampton doesn’t really seem like the same fighter he was when he stormed across the Atlantic to outfight Leo Santa Cruz in 2016. He doesn’t even really seem like the same guy who had the audacity to try it for a second time the following year.

Instead, Frampton now seems like an older fighter looking to make the most bang for his buck by taking the path of least resistance. That’s probably why after the win his promoters seemed to be targeting WBO junior lightweight titleholder Jamel Herring over any other names in the deep division, many of which seem more dangerous.

HIT: Matchroom’s Monte Carlo Menagerie 

Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn is a welcome addition to the world stage precisely because he always seems to be trying to push boundaries forward. Boxing has always been a global sport, but in recent years it seems to be growing into that in full force thanks to the new technologies and tools that didn’t exist before.

On Saturday, Matchroom promoted a card in Monaco featuring a full slate of interesting and noteworthy action that helped push boxing forward into the next era. Alexander Besputin defeated Radzhab Butaev in a battle of undefeated welterweights vying for a shot at Terence Crawford. Chinese heavyweight prospect Zhilei Zhang defeated Andriy Rudenko by 10-round decision in the 36-year-old’s first fight to go beyond six rounds. And undisputed women’s welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus moved closer to a blockbuster showdown against lightweight champion Katie Taylor by successfully defending her crown against Victoria Bustos.

As suggested by our own Matt Andrzejewski, Besputin is likely on his way to facing Crawford soon because Top Rank and the PBC don’t seem all that interested in working together for fights at 147 pounds. Zhang is just as likely to find himself in a big heavyweight fight soon, even if it’s just on the regional level because his advanced age coupled with his huge fanbase makes matters super urgent. And there probably isn’t any bigger women’s boxing event than the proposed Braekhus-Taylor fight.

What an amazingly strange card, but one that made sense for the location while also helping define important paths forward in 2020.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

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Daniel Jacobs Edges Past Gabe Rosado on a Matchroom card in Florida

David A. Avila

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Former world champion Daniel Jacobs needed the last round to win by split decision against upset-minded Gabe Rosado and keep his place in line on Friday for lucrative super middleweight matchups.

But when the ring announcer erroneously announced the winner was from Philadelphia, confusion reigned for a moment until Jacobs was correctly called the winner.

Brooklyn’s Jacobs (37-3, 30 KOs) jumped out ahead against Philly fighter Rosado (25-13-1, 14 KOs) and held on for the win in front of no fans at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. For a second, many thought Rosado had won.

Both were careful during the first three rounds measuring each other’s distance and looking for openings to counter. There were very few.

It was the kind of fight expected by those who know boxing: two veterans with immense experience against top-flight world champions. Mistakes were few.

Jacobs, a former middleweight world champion, had fought Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in close but losing efforts.

Rosado had battled Golovkin too, six years ago in a bloody affair that ended in a loss. He had also lost to other champions like Peter Quillin and Jermell Charlo. But none were able to knock him out.

Both were aware of each other’s reputation. Bitter words had been exchanged for years and now they finally got their chance to prove their mettle and they did.

Though Jacobs was recognized as a knockout puncher, Rosado’s resilience was just as well known. Both neutralized each other for most of the fight with their feints and jabs to the body. Neither was willing to leave openings for each other.

Jacobs scored big with a left uppercut at the end of the seventh round. While Rosado wowed viewers with a sizzling right cross in the 11th round.

It was 1950s style, boxing with intelligence. Each found it difficult to land combinations, let alone find openings to score knockout blows. Instead, they had to be satisfied with scoring enough to convince three judges the actual winner.

Neither was able to pull out ahead with any conviction.

After 12 rounds one judge saw Rosado the winner 115-113 while two others saw Jacobs the winner 115-113 to give him the win by split decision.

“It felt just a little weird. It felt like a sparring match,” said Jacobs about fighting without fans in the audience. “This wasn’t a valiant effort.”

Rosado was certain he was the true winner.

“I thought I won the fight. I surprised him,” said Rosado who trained with Freddie Roach for this fight. “I’m a veteran, I know how to fight.”

Indeed, he does.

Jacobs now stands poised to fight one of many super middleweight champions in need of a marquee name.

“I live to see another day,” he said honestly.

Other Bouts

Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Yeleussinov (10-0, 6 KOs) proved he was not an easy touch and knocked out former world champion Julius Indongo (23-3, 12 KOs) to march forward in the welterweight division while grabbing the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title.

In a fight featuring southpaw versus southpaw Yeleussinov caught Indongo with a roundhouse left the first time they exchanged and down went the former super lightweight world champion. Indongo beat the count and survived the round.

Indongo wasn’t as lucky in the second round as Yeleussinov again connected with a left and down went the fighter from Namibia again. He would not get up at 1:24 of round two giving the knockout win for Yeleussinov.

A battle between undefeated heavyweights saw Azerbaijan’s Mahammadrasul Majidov (3-0, 3 KOs) use roundhouse rights to stagger the heavier Sahret Delgado (8-1) to win by knockout in the third round. Majidov actually helped Delgado get to his stool after knocking him out on his feet at 47 seconds of the third round.

Emmanuel Tagoe (32-1) defeated Mason Menard (36-5) by majority decision after a 10- round lightweight fight that saw a lot of clinching and leaning.

Nikita “White Chocolate” Ababiy (10-0) out-fought Detroit’s Brandon Maddox (7-4-1) to win by unanimous decision after six rounds in a middleweight clash. Ababiy hurt Maddox with body shots but found Maddox more resilient than expected.

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Pradabsri Upsets Menayothin, Ends the Longest Unbeaten Streak of Modern Times

Arne K. Lang

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During the wee hours in the Americas, a big upset was brewing in Thailand. In Nakhon Sawan, a city roughly 150 miles north of Bangkok, Panya Pradabsri (aka Petchmanee CP Freshmart) out-pointed Wanheng Menayothin (aka Chayaphon Moonsri) in a domestic clash with international significance. Manayothin entered the bout with a 54-0 (18) record and was making the 13th defense of his WBC world minimumweight title.

Pradabsri had been defeated only once in 35 previous starts, but only 11 of his 34 victories had come against fighters with winning records. According to ringside reports, he kept Menayothin at bay with good fundamentals, a stiff jab, and good lateral movement. All three judges had it 115-113. The fight wasn’t without controversy as Menayothin finished stronger and many folks scoring off the live video thought that he had done just enough to retain his title.

How good was/is Menayothin? That’s a question that serious boxing fans will likely debate for decades.

In the summer of 2019, Menayothin signed a co-promotional deal with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. At time, GBP president Eric Gomez described him as one of the best fighters in the world. “We really want to bring him to the U.S. so people can see how talented he really is,” Gomez told England’s Sky Sports.

Menayothin was expected to make his U.S. debut in April of this year, but the pandemic ruined that plan. Earlier this year, he announced his retirement, but rescinded it after only two days.

Scottish boxing historian Matt McGrain, who has an exclusive arrangement with this web site, had lukewarm opinion of the Thai mighty-mite although he rated him the second-best 105-pound boxer of the decade, trailing only his countryman Thammanoon Niyomtrong (aka Knockout CP Freshmart).

“He is disciplined, strong, brings good pressure and is armed with a very decent range of punches,” said McGrain, “(but his record) is comprised mostly of men any competent fighter would be expected to beat.”

Although only one boxer from Thailand has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (Khaosai Galaxy, class of 1999), the Southeast Asia nation has produced some outstanding boxers over the years – Chartchoi Chionoi, Sot Chitalada, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to name just a few. The difference between these fighters and Wanheng Menayothin is that they all left the comfort zone of their homeland to score one or more important wins on foreign soil.

Menayothin may yet display his wares in a U.S. ring. But at age 35, an advanced age for small fighters in particular, we won’t get to see him at his best and now that his bubble has been burst, disinviting further comparisons to Mayweather and Marciano, the curiosity factor has been tempered.

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Yoka vs. Hammer Kicks Off the Thanksgiving Weekend Slate on ESPN+

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PRESS RELEASE— Tony Yoka, the dynamic heavyweight punching Parisian, aims to impress in his ESPN platform debut. Yoka, who won a super heavyweight gold medal for France at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will fight veteran Christian Hammer in a 10-rounder Friday at H Arena in Nantes, France.

Yoka-Hammer will stream live and exclusively this Friday, Nov. 27 in the United States on ESPN+ beginning at 2:55 p.m. ET/11:55 a.m. PT.

The ESPN+ stream will also include the return of unbeaten 2016 French Olympic gold medalist Estelle Yoka-Mossely against Pasa Malagic in an eight-round lightweight bout. Yoka and Yoka-Mossely, who have been married since 2018, welcomed their second child in May.

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Earlier this year, Yoka inked a promotional agreement with Top Rank, which will co-promote him with Ringstar France.

“Tony Yoka’s potential is limitless, and he is a grounded young man who is motivated to be a great professional fighter,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “France has never had a world heavyweight champion, and I believe Tony is the one to bring the sport’s biggest honor home.”

The 28-year-old Yoka’s stellar amateur run included a berth at the 2012 London Olympics and gold medals at the 2015 World Championships and 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Before his triumph in Rio, he’d already defeated the likes of former heavyweight world champion Joseph Parker and current undefeated prospects Joe Joyce and Ivan Dychko. At the Rio Olympics, he defeated Croatian standout Filip Hrgović in the semifinals and edged Joyce in the gold medal match.

As a professional, Yoka (8-0, 7 KOs) made his debut in June 2017 with a second-round stoppage over the previously undefeated Travis Clark. Apart from a decision win over Jonathan Rice in his second outing, Yoka has stopped every foe, including durable Englishman David “White Rhino” Allen and former European champion Alexander Dimitrenko. He made his 2020 debut Sept. 25 and stopped former world title challenger Johann Duhaupas in one round.

Hammer (25-6, 15 KOs) has fought many of the leading heavyweight names during his 12-year career, falling short against Tyson Fury, Luis Ortiz and Alexander Povetkin. He’s notched myriad upset victories, including a highlight-reel knockout over David Price and a 2016 split decision over Erkan Teper for the WBO European belt. In March 2019, he went the 10-round distance against Ortiz and has not been stopped since Fury forced him to retire on his stool after eight rounds in their February 2015 clash.

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