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The Top Ten Superflyweights of the Decade: 2010-2019

Matt McGrain

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Appraising the best superflyweights of the past decade was fascinating, not least because of the many excellent fights delivered throughout, but also because of the matchmaking strategy the top superflies almost universally engaged in. Top superflyweights do not duck each other; they duck lesser contenders.

In essence, the best of 115lbs spend time beating up prospects and gatekeepers then stage monumental showdowns with one another for the biggest dollar figure their stature can muster. It is refreshing and strange to work on and the result is this: no other division has delivered such numerically light resumes and no other weight class has seen so many fighters from the decadal top ten face each other.

It made things easier except when it didn’t – numbers one and two are really numbers 1a and 1b this time around, for example.

I hope you enjoy reading about it.

10 – Tomas Rojas

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 20-7 Ranked For: 18% of the decade

There were no fewer than seven candidates for the #10 spot.

Separating them was extremely difficult and Tomas Rojas’s claim upon the position is not irrefutable.  What cemented his placement in the end were his victories over Suriyan Kaikanha and Nobuo Nashiro, who were themselves (briefly in the case of Nashiro) candidates for the #10 spot. Many of the men in contention fought one another. Rojas was the only man without a spot to defeat two of them. It seems a reasonable selection.

Jerwin Ancajas, currently ranked the world’s number four super-flyweight, was my original choice, but his draw against Santiago Barrios is troubling; I can’t find a scorecard for anything but an Ancajas loss in that fight, and for a fighter whose best win was McJoe Arroyo, that won’t do. He was elbowed aside for Zolani Tete, but in the end, Tete’s best wins at the weight don’t quite measure up to those of Rojas and in combination with two losses at the poundage, Tete was barely edged out. Kaikanha, Nashiro and Kohei Kono were briefly considered but fell short for varied reasons and while Kazuto Ioka was an appealing choice, he suffered a defeat to Donnie Nietes. Nietes, on the other hand, fought exactly two fights at 115lbs: a controversial draw with Aston Palicte and that controversial win over Ioka.

So, it is Rojas, who despite some disappointing results higher up the scale lost only a single fight at 115lbs in the decade. His two key wins were unsurprisingly against Nashiro and Kono and his peak performance was Kono; that 2010 contest is worth tracking down for Rojas’s absurd dominance, quick-footed, quick-handed, with handsome, clean southpaw punching throughout. Despite a last round scare it was a blue-chip performance.

Rojas was chased from the division by the wildly inconsistent Suriyan Kaikanha, which is a mark against him, but I’m satisfied he’s the right man for the #10 spot.

09 – Yota Sato

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 9-1 Ranked For: 30% of the decade

Like Rojas, Yota Sato was bogged down in comparisons with the other candidate for the number ten spot, exalted by having, like Rojas, two victories over contenders for the #10 spot. In addition, he racked up more wins at the poundage. Just a little more activity was enough to get him across the line, so little is there to separate them – if only they could have met in the ring, it would have been a tremendous contest.

First of the candidates for this list to be beaten by Sato was Kohei Kono, with whom he clashed in early 2011 for the Japanese superfly title. Kono would go on to become a name that mattered with victories over Koki Kameda and Denkaosan Kaovichit.  Against Sato he deployed pressure, seeking to bull his way inside and deploy bunches.  Sato, who was comfortable on his toes, came down often to duke it out with him but it was the rounds he won on the move that were key. Sato’s footwork is fascinating, high stance, quick moves that licence some fascinating leads, from right hands to left hooks to the body to uppercuts. It was the latter that was the key in the Kono fight, an absolute peach of a counter on the inside dropping Kono for a count. The drama did not end there. Adaption and counter-adaption abounded in what was a fascinating learning fight for both men. Sato was a clear winner on points.

The following year he graduated for real, outpointing a vicious Suriyan Kaikanha. Kaikanha was the real deal, coming off victories over Tomas Rojas and Nobuo Nashiro; Sato dropped him twice in the third which was enough to keep him ahead on all three cards in a gruelling affair that acted as a final gut and chin-check for Sato.

Never less than fascinating, I enjoyed Sato’s career immensely. It was ended, a little prematurely in my view, behind the vicious 2013 thrashing administered by the great Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

08 – Hugo Fidel Cazares

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 10-3 Ranked For: 17% of the decade

Hugo Fidel Cazares is famous, if he is famous at all, for being a victim; a victim of Ivan Calderon at 108lbs in 2008, a victim of Carl Frampton at 122lbs in 2014. He deserves more than this though and in between these two losses he did his best work, most of it at 115lbs. He is not helped here by the bisection of this purple patch by the changing of the decades, but did enough to get him over the line, the first lock of the list.

At the end of the 00s he had fought a thrilling and strangely forgotten immortal combat with the seemingly invulnerable Nobuo Nashiro, a fighter whose tendency to fall short at the highest level saw him only fleetingly considered for this list but whose astonishing durability made for a difficult night’s work for Cazares in a fight scored a draw. In their rematch, however, Cazares showed championship consistency born of experience and banked round after round to put a decision in the bank; it was neither controversial nor thrilling in the manner of their first contest.

It was also the most significant win of Hugo’s decade. Now the number one superfly in the world, he set out to cash in on his status with a series of quick matches against competent rather than glowing opposition before running into the much fresher Tomonobu Shimizu on what was his fourth visit to Japan. Even then the fight was so close that it could be argued he deserved the nod; Cazares was never beaten clearly at 115lbs in this century.

A strange fighter capable of hyperactive perma-feinting or traditional high-gloved occupation of ring centre, he perched so squarely over his leading leg it was sometimes hard to tell if he throwing southpaw or orthodox. He was also never anything less than good value and his smear into obscurity is undeserved.

07 – Tepparith Singwancha

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 27-1 Ranked For: 29% of the decade

Tepparith Singwancha, also known as Tepparith Kokietgym or Panthep Mullipoom, out of Thailand, was one of my favourites in the early 2010s, at least until he ran into Kohei Kono in 2012. The loss was incidental; it was his immediate and shameful retreat into Thailand where he gorged himself on six rounders against soft opposition that turned me away from him. Ignore the 27-1 paper record for the decade. It is a sugared turd.

But Singwancha enjoyed a handsome prime between the turn of the decade and that hurtful knockout loss to Kono. He squeezed in no fewer than thirteen wins in that short space of time, most of them against limited opposition but in back-to-back fights against Drian Francisco (23-0-1), Daiki Kameda (22-2), Tomonobu Shimizu (19-3-1) and Nobuo Nashiro (18-4-1), Singwancha made his bones for the decade.

Of these, it is Nashiro and Shimzu in which we are most interested, and it is Shimzu against whom Singwancha turned in his best performance. Not a fighter blessed with quick feet, Singwancha is a paradigm of consistency in applying pressure, never far from range, almost always in position to punch. Stopped just once he can hold superfly punches and return them with interest but has enough arbitrary head-movement to prevent himself becoming a punchbag. His persistence inflicts disorganisation on any opponent without the firepower or mobility to negate it; Shimzu, who met Singwancha in April of 2012, had neither of these things but nor was he cut adrift. Menaced by Singwancha’s swarming attack in the fourth, he succumbed to it in the ninth still in touch on the judge’s scorecards but overwhelmed by pressure of withering insistence. A ragged one-two punished him along the ropes.

06 – Omar Andres Narvaez

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 20-4 Ranked For: 50% of the decade

Omar Andres Narvaez’s superfly career was a crushing disappointment. He could only be regarded as the divisional number one and yet – and yet, Narvaez did so little of meaning. If “clearing out a division” has a diametric, Narvaez defined it.

The best fighter he met was probably Felipe Orucuta (stopped dramatically last summer by Jonathan Rodriguez) who he first met in May of 2013 and, I would argue, was lucky to do so in his native Argentina. The fight, which was close enough that it could not be deemed a robbery, nevertheless went against Orucuta, the bigger man, the bigger puncher, who seemed to have both outhit and outworked his more prestigious opponent. Orucuta was given a rematch the following year and it was on this night that Narvaez proved himself definitively to be world class.

Narvaez, who had been repeatedly pushed back by Orucuta’s aggression in the first fight, started directly and with precise volume punching but after the first two rounds he drifted again, cornered in the third and hit to the body. From the third it appeared nothing less than a continuation of that first gruelling fight. The difference was that Narvaez, who had lost the final four rounds even on the Argentinian television scorecard for the first fight, came roaring back at his man in tenth through twelfth to edge home by the narrowest of margins on my card and win a majority decision.  It was as clean a gut-check as you might expect to see, and Narvaez passed it with flair and heart.

His number two opponent was Cesar Ceda, a rangy southpaw who also enjoyed a clear size advantage over Narvaez. He also appeared swifter when throwing those long, rapier-like punches, but after a slow start, Narvaez began to find him with regularity and in what was the most impressive performance of his career, Narvaez won a clear decision.

Ceda was probably a little better than his ranking (8), but he was also the last made man Narvaez would ever beat at 115lbs. His resume is barren. Beholden to the alphabets that controlled his career, he imported soft-touch after soft-touch to his Argentine stronghold for a long series of easy wins. When he finally left for Japan and a top five contender (the first he had ever met) he was summarily butchered by Naoya Inoue. So, is he good for the number six spot? Despite the shortcomings his longevity and consistency buoys those three keynote wins to extent enough that six becomes his natural spot – ranked with neither the true elite nor the second tier.

05 – Carlos Cuadras

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 25-3-1 Ranked For: 48% of the decade

Carlos Cuadras has a miserable resume for having been ranked as a flyweight for almost half of the decade but his place in the top five is unthreatened. In the widest terms, Cuadras didn’t do the work but his clashes with the world’s best were frequent and telling – most of all his 2014 defeat of no less a figure than Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Rungvisai was perhaps a year removed from his absolute prime, but he was experienced at 27-3-1 and in possession of the physical gifts that would see him become one of the three most fearsome superflyweights of his generation.

Cuadras dominated him almost completely, and yet the win was not entirely satisfactory. Solving the riddle with fleet footwork and counter-rushes defined by a handy body-attack, he piled up points early, arguably winning all six of six before losing the seventh – but he lost it big, shipping a huge punch to the body before going on the run.  Early in the eighth the two clashed heads, exacerbating a cut a similar clash had caused in the third and resulting in a technical decision win for Cuadras.  Rungvisai had suddenly appeared much closer from the fifth and that sickening bodyshot casts a doubt – but Cuadras emerged with the win, one of the best of the decade despite circumstance.

Two years later he clashed with Roman Gonzalez; soundly beaten on this occasion, Cuadras was nevertheless in the fight and he exceeded expectations to such a degree that in some corners of the internet he was seen a winner. In 2017 though, Cuadras legitimately pushed a pound-for-pounder to the very edge. He pronounced himself “fast, strong and very handsome” ahead of his clash with Juan Francisco Estrada and he proved a chunk of that in the opening four rounds. He took every one of those with a fast, straight jab and his limber mobility. Estrada closed the gap on him late with searing uppercuts before edging Cuadras out by the narrowest of margins, a single point earned via a tenth-round knockdown.

Cuadras perhaps does not have the wider resume to justify the holding the number five spot, his next best win is likely over Luis Concepcion, but he is in many ways the fulcrum upon which the division turned. I am not uncomfortable with his placement.

04 – Roman Gonzalez

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 25-2 Ranked For: 30% of the decade

Roman Gonzalez was one of the decade’s exceptional fighters. 115lbs is where he reached his roof.

Stepping up to his fourth weight division, Gonzalez ran straight into Cuadras and knew about it. On paper it was a fine style advantage for Gonzalez who builds up stream while tracking down a fleet foe, but Cuadras was too big to wither.

What this meant was that Cuadras could afford to trade with Gonzalez, unheard of at lower weights.  Here, at last, Gonzalez underwent his first legitimate gut-check and passed with flying colours, out-fighting Cuadras in the seventh after appearing, momentarily, to have slipped from the box-seat in the sixth. In truth though, Gonzalez won clearly; I gave Cuadras only first and eleventh clearly (and the sixth and tenth narrowly).

Then Gonzalez ran into Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

The story of Gonzalez and Rungvisai is now one of Rungvisai’s dominance and the second fight is the reason why, but in truth Gonzalez was unlucky to drop the decision during their first thriller, landing the cleaner shots and landing more shots. Finding a card for Rungvisai is not easy. The point was rendered moot by their second fight which saw Gonzalez stopped for the first time, but by this point, he had all but guaranteed himself the number four spot with his victory over Cuadras.  Supplementary wins would follow and in 2020 Gonzalez has proved he has much left to give.

03 – Naoya Inoue

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 19-0 Ranked For: 32% of the decade

The Monster, Naoya Inoue, screeched out of 105lbs and continued to take the same bodies he had racked up in the lowest weight division. While 115lbs represented a roof for Gonzalez, Inoue thrived there before steaming north to bantamweight with all the momentum of a heatseeking missile. For him, superfly was a mere bump in the road.

That said, he is the only man in our top five that did not prove himself against someone else in the top five. His defining 115lb moment came against divisional number one and decadal number six Omar Narvaez. Narvaez was Naoya’s first superfly opponent, a man regarded universally as the divisional Don who furthermore had lost but one fight in the fourteen years since he had turned professional. Narvaez was exactly the sort of fighter a physical protégé would be well advised to avoid. Naoya instead paid premium to tempt him from his Buenos Aires fortress.

Then he steam-rolled him. He made not a single mistake in the few short minutes Narvaez was able to live with him, brushing off the punches of one of the most experienced elite fighters on the planet as though he were a rank amateur; supernaturally balanced – finding his slippery foe with a fierce consistency. The right hands to the body he peeled off in the second were beautiful to behold. Just hours after the contest I wrote that he had the look of a “31-year-old veteran rather than a 21-year-old kid” and six eventful years later this remark stands.

Two years later, in 2016, Naoya met number eight contender and Japanese cult hero in a fight widely ignored in the west that had the flavour of a near superfight in the east. Naoya became the first man to crack what was then one of boxing’s elite chins. Naoya’s sixth round knockout of Kono was devastating. The punch that sent him on his way seemed almost invisible and the trailing uppercuts that preceded it in the fifth advocate for the banning of that punch in the boxing ring.

This aside, Naoya beat up a series of emerging talents and gatekeeper types that were wasteful of his great talent; still, in a decadal division where the top tier fighters tend not to exceed a pair of elite names this is more than enough to ensconce him comfortably in the number three spot.

02 – Juan Francisco Estrada

Peak Ranking: Ch. Record for the Decade: 28-3 Ranked For: 30% of the decade

Reigning superfly champion Juan Francisco Estrada is in possession of two wins of such quality it is surprising that they aren’t quite special enough to buy him the number one slot; as it goes, his victory over Carlos Cuadras, a thrilling one essentially determined by a single punch, is not quite enough – Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, as we shall see has the better quality second win.

It is Rungvisai that edges Estrada out. Saying so is not in keeping with this series of articles where some amount of reveal is planned, however futile. These two though, are bound by the decade, the clear 1a and 1b who furthermore have met each other in the ring not once, but twice, a win apiece the frustrating but thrilling result.

Estrada lost the first fight between these two, close but clear and the manner of the loss was disturbing.  He was essentially bossed by a physically bigger fighter who had no fear of his guns.  Turning around such a disadvantage in a rematch is among the most difficult tasks in boxing, so when they met again, just over a year later, I expected more of the same. What we got was an early rout. I scored every one of the first eight rounds for Estrada and for all that Rungvisai stole some late rounds when Estrada went all Mexican, this was a one-sided drubbing.

Estrada achieved this astonishing turnaround – one of the most surprising in the history of rematches in my view – using the simplest of concepts which is also the most physically difficult of tasks. He committed to outfighting the bigger, stronger man with aggressive boxing. The hub on which this strategy turned was a commitment to the left hook, a punch that was conspicuous by its absence in the first fight. Estrada used this drilling punch to head and body, opening himself up to the right jab, a punch he knew from bitter experience that Rungvisai abhorred.

It worked. Such was Rungvisai’s distress he switched to orthodox; such was Estrada’s dominance that he closed out the fight engaging in a shootout, you know, just for fun. Such was Estrada’s dominance that it gives him a good case for inhabiting the number one spot.

He misses out by the narrowest of margins.

01 – Srisaket Sor Rungvisai

Peak Ranking: Ch. Record for the Decade: 46-3 Ranked For: 65% of the decade

Those readers who have paid attention will have gathered the following: I don’t think that Srisaket Sor Rungvisai really deserved the decision over Roman Gonzalez in early 2017; and that Rungvisai’s defeat of Estrada was less comprehensive than Estrada’s defeat of Rungvisai. Why then should Rungvisai (pictured in the left against Estrada) be gifted the number one spot?

Thankfully, there are numerous reasons and although Estrada is breathing down his neck, Rungvisai at number one is not difficult to defend. First, there is his longevity: 65% of the decade in the top ten is not an enormous amount for a cruiserweight, but as we have seen, it is plenty for a superfly.  Rungvisai has been marking up the division since 2013 and has continued to add to resume throughout. His is the way of the Thai and he was out nine times in 2014 alone, usually against opposition that can kindly be described as moderate but consistently building the most numerically impressive ledger in the division – by some distance.

One of only two true divisional champions on the list, it is true that it is his near rival Estrada who is the other – but it is also true that Rungvisai ruled for more than a year while Estrada managed just seven months in the timeframe. These small edges matter in such a close comparison.

And while it is true that Estrada beat Rungvisai more convincingly than Rungvisai defeated Estrada, it is also true that Rungvisai’s win was clear, for all that it was closer. It was not a controversial fight.  A win is a win is a win as the saying goes and Rungvisai holds one over Estrada just as Estrada holds one over him. And yes, Rungvisai’s March 2017 decision victory over Roman Gonzalez was questionable but it also shod the path for Rungvisai’s finest moment, their September rematch.

Rungvisai’s destruction of Gonzalez was so deeply impressive that commentators, chief among them Max Kellerman, immediately began to sell the narrative that Gonzalez was shot when Rungvisai collapsed him. This is fantasy. Gonzalez was excellent in the first fight against Rungvisai and irresistible in 2020 in destroying Kal Yafai. In between these two impressive performances, Rungvisai detonated him, handling him like the former minimumweight he was, sitting him down, brutalising him from the pound-for-pound list.

Gonzalez beat Cuadras; Estrada beat Cuadras – then Rungvisai beat Gonzalez. Once again Rungvisai noses ahead when it comes to direct comparisons between the two. The argument as to who is the better superfly has yet to be settled but the answer as to who was the more accomplished 2010-2019 is known: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Nakornl born Wisaksil Wangek, the greatest superfly of the decade.

The other lists:

Heavyweight

Cruiserweight

Light Heavyweight

Super Middleweight

Middleweight

Light Middleweight

Welterweight

Light Welterweight

Lightweight

Super Featherweight

Featherweight

Super Bantamweight

Bantamweight

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HITS and MISSES: Post-Thanksgiving Weekend Edition

Kelsey McCarson

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It was another massive weekend in boxing. There were big fights on pay-per-view that maybe shouldn’t have been so big, and fights surrounded by lesser fanfare that will probably be looked back at as the more meaningful action by future historians.

Here are the biggest HITS and MISSES from another week on the boxing beat.

HIT: Mike Tyson, Roy Jones and the Unifying Power of Boxing

Whatever you think about the boxing exhibition bout between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones, Jr. on Saturday night, the most important aspect of the whole night (to this writer at least) was seeing how easily a big fight in boxing could still unify our culture.

No, it wasn’t a legitimate prizefight, but people still wanted to see the 54-year-old Tyson go a few rounds with the 51-year-old Jones, and that’s exactly what they got. It was a ride built mostly around the power of nostalgia, and it featured all sorts of present-day celebrities, too.

By the end of things, it seemed the general reaction to the event on social media was positive.

Tyson vs. Jones showed how big a reach boxing still has. Tyson retired over 15 years ago, but people from all over the planet were still willing to pay $50 to watch him climb inside the ropes for a sparring session.

Seeing that left me with two exciting questions.

What awesome power will boxing’s next superstar have?

More importantly, where is he (or she) anyway?

MISS: Ring Announcer’s Steve Harvey Moment 

In 2015, comedian Steve Harvey accidentally announced the wrong winner of the Miss Universe pageant. As humiliating as that event was for Harvey, just imagine how the two women felt after having their hearts filled and slashed by his error.

That same thing sort of happened on Friday night when Danny Jacobs beat Gabriel Rosado via split decision in a 168-pound stay-busy fight streamed by DAZN.

Ring announcer Jeremiah Gallegos accidentally said the winner hailed from Philadelphia (where Rosado is from) before quickly changing it back to Brooklyn (where Jacobs is from).

So momentarily, the hard-luck Rosado, who never has been the beneficiary of a close decision in any important fight, thought he had just pulled off the upset of the year.

Instead, Jacobs was corrected as the winner and that had to be an awful experience for both fighters, one that was completely avoidable.

HIT: Joe Joyce: An Actual Juggernaut?

Heavyweight prospect Joe Joyce is a popular fighter on the other side of the ocean because of his long and successful campaign as an amateur boxing star which culminated with Joyce winning the silver medal for Great Britain in the super heavyweight division at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Still, as a professional prospect, there are lots of things not to like about Joyce. First, Joyce didn’t start boxing until he was 22. Late bloomers come around now and then, but they’re still a rarity in the sport. Second, Joyce is already 35, which means he’s already just outside the confines of his theoretical physical prime, something that ends around 33 years old and only gets worse. Finally, Joyce is just plain slow as molasses.

Regardless, Joyce stopped fellow Brit Daniel Dubois on Saturday in London.

Unlike Joyce, Dubois, 23, possesses plenty of attributes one looks for in a future world champion. But none of those things helped Dubois win the fight.

All this to say Joyce just keeps winning fights. Sure, he might appear to be a boulder tumbling slowly down a hill when he fights, but that rock is starting to gain some real momentum.

HIT: 54-1

Thailand’s Wanheng Menayothin finally lost a fight over the weekend, but it should be noted that at least the fighter finally knows his limits.

Menayothin (aka Chayaphon Moonsri) entered his fight against Petchmanee CP Freshmart (aka Panya Pradabsri) with a sterling record of 54-0. He left the contest 54-1 after judges rendered their verdict for the challenger.

Much was made of Menayothin’s glossy win streak last year when he surpassed retired boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather’s 50-0 mark. But a combat sports culture obsessed with suffering no blemishes on a record is only a relatively new phenomenon. Moreover, the very nature of that path through the sport never reveals the true limits of a fighter.

All this to say that Menayothin now gets a better sense of his limits, and the boxing world as a whole gets to know that same thing about him, too. That’s wildly better than the alternative.

MISS: Nate Robinson Challenge

If you missed the Tyson vs. Jones pay-per-view event on Triller over the weekend, you didn’t see social media star Jake Paul’s viral knockout of ex-NBA star Nate Robinson.

It was clear from the start of the fight that Paul and Robinson weren’t evenly matched. That kind of thing happens all the time in boxing, of course, but here was a case of a person (Robinson) who maybe had been so mismatched against Paul that it was too dangerous to have happened at all.

Regardless, Robinson did have the courage to train for the fight and step inside the ropes on fight night.

After he was knocked out, something called the “Nate Robinson Challenge” started trending on Twitter, and it was basically people from all over the world trolling the 3-time NBA dunking champ for getting knocked out in the fight.

Look, Robinson made his own bed by calling for the fight in the first place. But the Internet trolls that rag people for stepping outside their comfort zones probably would never dare to attempt that accomplishment themselves.

Robinson tried and failed. That’s the real challenge.

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Tyson and Jones Box to an Unofficial Draw in a Predictable Stinker

Arne K. Lang

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The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, an American institution, went belly-up in 2017, but a different kind of circus played to an empty house at the Staples Center in Los Angeles tonight. The main attraction wasn’t Jumbo the elephant but Iron Mike Tyson in his first ring appearance in 15 years. In the opposite corner was Roy Jones Jr, who at age 51 was the younger man by three years.

Tyson vs. Jones was the main piece of a 4-hour boxing and music festival live-streamed in the U.S. on the TysononTriller.com app at a list price of $49.95. This was the first live event on “Triller” which allows people to create their own music videos and was designed as a rival to China-owned TikTok, one of the biggest recent success stories in the internet world.

The California State Athletic Commission, which sanctioned the match, insisted that Tyson vs. Jones would be an exhibition. They would fight 8 two-minute rounds with 12-ounce gloves and if there were a knockdown, the referee would not give a count and the bout would or would not continue at his discretion. The rounds would not be scored and no winner would be named.

Of course, the promoter chafed at these restraints and did his best to create the impression that this was a legitimate prizefight. Retired boxers Vinny Pazienza, Chad Dawson, and Christy Martin were lassoed to serve as judges, scoring the fight from a remote location, and the WBC commissioned an honorary belt to present to the winner.

The advance hype was enormous. A clickbait-obsessed media lapped it up including photoshop-enhanced images of Mike Tyson’s physique.

In the second round, Tyson landed a double left hook and that was the only indelible moment in the match. By the third round, both looked and sounded tired and by the sixth round Jones was thoroughly gassed out and took to clinching to make it to the final bell.

For the record, the scores were 79-73 for Tyson (Martin), 80-76 for Jones (Pazienza), and 76-76 (Dawson). On the internet, the clear consensus was that Tyson had the best of it.

Mike Tyson, 50-6, 2 NC (44 KOs) last fought in June of 2005 when he was stopped by third-rater Kevin McBride. Roy Jones (66-9, 47 KOs) was active as recently as 2018 and won his last four, but against hand-picked opponents including a boxer making his pro debut. His last fight of significance came in 2011 when he was brutally KOed by Dennis Lebedev in Moscow.

Jones, who weighed 210 ½ tonight, weighed 157 when he made his pro debut in 1989. In his prime, he was pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world, but that was back in the previous century.

Both fighters were reportedly guaranteed $1 million with Tyson’s take potentially reaching $10 million if certain financial targets were met.

Other Bouts

YouTube sensation Jake Paul, who we reluctantly concede has more than a modicum of talent in the fisticuffing department, knocked out Nate Robinson in the second round and it was a clean knockout with Robinson knocked out cold. The 36-year-old Robinson, the former NBA point guard who was a three-time slam dunk champion during his 11-year NBA career, is a well-rounded athlete, good enough to start as a cornerback in football during his freshman year at the University of Washington, but his athleticism didn’t translate to the squared circle as he looked like a common bar brawler.

Former two-division belt-holder Badou Jack (22-3-4), who said he appeared on the card as a favor to his friend Mike Tyson, was a clear-cut winner over hard-trying but out-classed Blake McKernan in an 8-round cruiserweight match.

At age 37, Jack’s career is winding down. He tipped the scales at 188 ¾, 14 pounds more than in his previous engagement vs. Jean Pascal. McKernan, a natural cruiserweight from Sacramento, was undefeated coming in (13-0), but was in over his head against Jack, a former Olympian and veteran of seven world title fights.

In a good action fight, Worcester, Massachusetts lightweight Jamaine Ortiz, a carpenter by trade, improved to 14-0 (8) with a seventh-round stoppage of Sulaiman Segawa (13-3-1), a Maryland-based Ugandan.

In the first bout on the program, Fort Worth featherweight Edward Vazquez improved to 9-0 (1) with an 8-round split decision over Jamaine Ortiz stablemate Irvin Gonzalez (14-3).

Heavyweight Juiseppe “Joe” Cusumano improved to 19-3 (17) with a sixth-round stoppage of late sub Gregory Corbin (15-4). It was the fourth straight loss for the 40-year-old Corbin who came in at a beefy 291 ¾ pounds.

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Fast Results from London: Joe Joyce Stops Daniel Dubois in the 10th

Arne K. Lang

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The historic Church House which sits in the shadow of Westminster Abbey was the site of tonight’s clash in London between unbeaten heavyweights Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce. The bout lacked the gloss of a world title fight, but didn’t need it. The oft-postponed match, originally slated for the 02 Arena in London on April 11 with promoter Frank Warren anticipating a sellout, was fairly hyped as the most anticipated fight since Fury-Wilder II which was the last big fight before the coronavirus clampdown.

Dubois, 15-0 with 14 KOs heading in, was a consensus 7/2 favorite in man-to-man betting, He was younger, faster and punched harder, but ultimately it would be his “O” that had to go. Joe Joyce, an inch taller at six-foot-six and 15 pounds heavier at 259, emerged victorious with a 10th-round stoppage in what was a good back-and-forth fight with a divided opinion as to who had the edge through the completed rounds.

Joyce really didn’t do much but throw a jab, but he landed that jab consistently and it was a hard, thudding jab that caused Dubois’s left eye to start swelling during the mid-rounds of the fight. The damaged eye eventually shut and when Joyce reached it with another hard jab in the 10th, Dubois surrendered by taking a knee. The presumption was that he had suffered a broken orbital bone.

The 35-year-old Joyce, nicknamed Juggernaut, is of Scotch-Irish and Nigerian descent. He lost by split decision to Tony Yoka in the semifinals of the 2016 Olympics and had to settle for a silver medal. Prior to turning pro, he was 12-1 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing with his lone defeat coming at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk. With today’s career-defining win, he upped his pro ledger to 12-0 (11).

Other Bouts

Top-rated WBC super lightweight contender Jack Catterall (26-0) won a predictably one-sided 10-round triumph over 33-year-old Tunisian Abderrazak Houya (14-3). Catterall scored two knockdowns en route to winning by a 99-90 score. This was a stay-busy fight for the Lancashire man who was the mandatory challenger for title-holder Jose Carlos Ramirez and accepted step-aside money with the promise that he would meet the winner of the unification fight between Ramirez and Josh Taylor which is expected to come off in February.

The lead-in fight was a 10-round contest in the super welterweight division between 21-year-old Hamzah Sheeraz and 33-year-old Guido Nicolas Pitto. The fight was monotonous until Sheeraz (12-0, 8 KOs) kicked it into a higher career in the final stanza and brought about the stoppage. Pitto, from Spain by way of Argentina, declined to 26-8-2. The official time was 1:11 of round 10.

In an 8-round cruiserweight bout, Jack Massey improved to 17-1 (8) with a 79-74 referee’s decision over Mohammad Ali Farid (16-2-1). Massey was making his first start since losing a close 12-round decision to Richard Raikporhe in December of 2019 for the vacant BBBofC title. The well-traveled, one-dimensional Farid had scored 16 knockouts in his previous 18 fights while answering the bell for only 33 rounds.

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