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Munguia Nips Derevyanchenko in a Fierce Battle at Ontario

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ONTARIO, Calif.-In perhaps the most explosive fight so far this year Mexico’s Jaime Munguia needed a knockdown to overcome the hard charging Sergiy Derevyanchenko in the last round to win a close unanimous decision and the WBC Silver super middleweight title on Saturday.

“He was very, very hurt and we deserved to win the fight,” said Munguia.

No one was disappointed in the fight.

Tijuana’s Munguia (42-0, 33 KOs) knew stepping into the prize ring that Ukraine’s Derevyanchenko (14-5, 10 KOs) was as dangerous as a stick of dynamite and so did the nearly sold-out crowd at Toyota Arena.

What they didn’t know was both have chins of granite.

It didn’t take long for the action to ignite. After Munguia connected solidly with a body shot, Derevyanchenko opened up with a two-fisted attack that had the Mexican fighter on his heels. Both blasted each other with lefts and rights.

The crowd went crazy.

Derevyanchenko showed he could take Munguia’s best early and both also displayed outstanding chins. After each connected with big blasts, they looked at each other almost surprised that the other was still standing.

Both fighters almost seemed to take turns out-performing the other with combustive combinations that seemed to echo in the arena.

Derevyanchenko unloaded in the fifth round in what could be the Round of the Year. Each connected with blows that snapped each other’s head violently and each returned with more big shots. It was surprising to see neither fighter seemed seriously hurt. Stunned, yes, but neither was close to going down. Derevyanchenko seemed to have a slight advantage.

The crowd ate it up.

Munguia seemed determined to crash the Ukrainian fighter’s dreams and unloaded with a ferocious volley of blows. The left hooks seemed to be the most effective punch for the taller Mexican fighter, but Derevyanchenko survived.

Just when it seemed Munguia had gained the momentum, Derevyanchenko rammed his head into the Munguia who immediately was hurt by the collision. When the fight resumed, Derevyanchenko took control as Munguia winced in pain. The Ukrainain suddenly gained control of the match.

When it seemed Munguia was losing the fight, he used the left hook to regain control. Throughout the fight the left hook seemed to be Munguia’s most potent weapon. The Mexican fighter refrained from avoiding blows and went forward with more determination. It paid off.

In the 11th round a left hook to the body by the Mexican fighter forced the Ukrainian to hold again. It was a foretelling moment.

Both fighters shook hands in the final round. No one knew who was ahead and Munguia launched into an all-out attack with left hooks. A left to the body and left to the head saw Derevyanchenko slump to the floor. A body shot opened up an even more serious attack by Munguia who chased Derevyanchenko around the ring. Always targeting the body, the Mexican fighter had the Ukrainian fighter in survival mode.

“He punched me in the rib,” said Derevyanchenko.

Derevyanchenko survived but lost the last round 10-8 due to the knockdown. It proved the difference in the fight as the judges scored it 114-113 twice and 115-112 for Munguia.

“I’m really happy I won,” said Munguia. “He was moving a lot but I caught him.”

Derevyanchenko felt he won the majority of the 12 rounds.

“I thought I won eight, nine rounds,” said Derevyanchenko.

Munguia was sure he won.

“I was doing my work and started working on the body. Once he went down I knew that I had it,” Munguia said.

After the fight Munguia received a call from Jose Benavidez, the father of David Benavidez.

Munguia assured him he is ready for anyone.

“After this, whatever champion is ready I’m waiting for them,” he said.

Mosley

Pomona’s Shane Mosley Jr. (20-4, 11 KOs) battered D’Mitrius Ballard (21-2-1, 13 KOs) for four rounds before finally scoring a knockdown in the fifth and ending the fight with a seventh round knockout in their middleweight contest.

Boos cascaded the arena in the third round but Mosley was just getting started. Eventually the early body shots on Ballard began to break him down and resulted in a six-punch battering that sent him reeling across the ring and down for a count in the fifth round.

Ballard survived that round and another.

Mosley pounded away with overhand rights that found the mark almost every time. Then he mixed body shots and a right uppercut and Ballard was in trouble again. He tried to fight his way out of it but only got in more trouble as Mosley connected again with eight more blows including a head-snapper that forced referee Thomas Taylor to jump in to stop the fight at 1:42 of the seventh round.

Mosley was declared the winner by knockout and the new NABO middleweight titlist.

“In the early rounds I just wanted to break that body down. He kept his hands really high. Once he started pulling those hand down to protect that. I started going over the top,” said Mosley.

Mayeli Flores Beats Mariana Juarez

A battle between two Mexican super bantamweights saw the younger Mayeli Flores (10-1-1, 3 KOs) pound her way to victory over legendary Mariana “Barbie” Juarez (55-13-4, 19 KOs) after eight ferocious rounds.

How Juarez survived without suffering a knockdown was her decades of skill.

Mexico’s City’s Juarez used her jab and movement to win the first round as Flores bobbed and weaved looking to close the distance with overhand rights and wide left hooks. By the second round she found the range.

Flores pounded away at Juarez with power blow after power blow. Juarez was able to slip most of the shots but not all of them Her sharp jab was not enough to keep the shorter Flores from scoring.

The constant pressure by Flores (pictured in the white trunks) forced Juarez to cover up against the ropes. The shorter Mexican fighter unloaded with a barrage of blows as the crowd’s cheers got louder anticipating a knockout. Somehow Juarez used her craft and guile to fight out off the ropes and change places. It was a near knockout but Juarez evaded a stoppage.

Mayeli

“I think at that part, she used her experience. That was the key for Mariana, that she used her experience to survive,” said Flores.

In the fifth round Juarez pounded away at Flores’’ body and that seemed to take the momentum away from Flores. Juarez then returned to stiff jabs and pivoted away. It was Juarez best round since the opening but Flores was still pounding away.

Flores increased the pressure in the sixth round with a furious attack. The multi-division former champion Juarez tried to jab her way out but was caught with savage blows. Again Flores unloaded a furious attack and this time Juarez’s face showed blood and it looked bad for the legendary fighter.

She survived.

Juarez knew she was behind and stopped moving. She planted her feet and fired away at Flores who seemed excited about the new tactics. Both exchanged liberally but though Juarez connected, her blows were not as forceful as Flores. Still, Juarez kept punching.

Referee Jack Reiss seemed concerned but allowed the future hall of fame fighter to continue. She was determined to fight it out.

In the last round, both fighters fired away with Juarez and Flores both looking for a knockout to end the fight. Both connected but Flores had more zing on her punches. Juarez slipped and countered and kept winging blows against the shorter fighter until the final bell.

Both hugged at the bell.

“Not for nothing I respect Mariana Juarez. It demonstrated that the Mexican women can fight at a high level,” said Flores. “She was one of the fighters I looked at when I was young.”

Sandoval Wins

Rialto’s Ricardo Sandoval (22-2, 16 KOs) showed off his higher level of boxing in defeating L.A.’s Rocco Santomauro (22-2, 6 KOs) by unanimous decision after eight rounds in a flyweight contest.

Sandoval could not miss with the overhand rights and later used a body attack to administer more blows. After dominating the first seven rounds the Rialto fighter tired and that opened it up for Santomauro who was in great condition despite absorbing a pounding.

After 10 rounds Sandoval was deemed the winner by unanimous decision 96-94 twice and 98-92.

Photos credit: Al Applerose

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Boxing Odds and Ends: A Travesty of a Heavyweight ‘Title Fight’ Jake Paul and More

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It’s official. On Wednesday, Feb. 22, a formal press conference was held in Sofia, Bulgaria, to announce the forthcoming fight between Mahmoud Charr, formerly known as Manuel Charr, and Kubrat Pulev. They will meet in Bulgaria’s capital city on March 30 at a 12,000-seat arena.

Charr vs Kubrat bears the imprimatur of a world heavyweight title fight (WBA version). Charr is considered the champion, notwithstanding the fact that others have held the title since he first laid claim to it more than six years ago.

The WBA, as we know, recognizes two champions in some weight classes, a “super” champion and a “regular” champion. The “super” designation was created in 2000. It was designed to segregate title-holders into levels of accomplishment. In theory, a “super” champion has made five successful defenses and is recognized as a world title-holder by at least one of the three other major sanctioning bodies. “Super” champions are allowed certain liberties with respect to mandatory title defenses.

The bifurcation was greeted with hoots of derision. The Panama-based WBA trivialized the sport.

Mahmoud Charr

Mahmoud Charr was born in Beirut but has resided in Germany since he was a little boy. He won the vacant title with a 12-round decision over unexceptional Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany.  It was a close fight. TSS ringside correspondent Phil Woolever had Ustinov winning 7 rounds to 5, but conceded that the verdict could not be called an injustice.

The title that Charr won was vacated by Ruslan Chagaev who won the belt from Fres Oquendo, lost it to Lucas Browne, and got it back by decree when Browne’s post-fight urine tests showed evidence of banned substances. But Chagaev never fought again. His fight with Browne was his last.

Charr’s first defense was to come against Fres Oquendo. Slated for March 23, 2019 in Cologne after being pushed back from September of the previous year, the match never came to fruition when Charr tested positive for two banned substances. Things get really muddled from here with Charr pushed to the sideline by legal battles complicated by Don King’s shenanigans. King arranged a fight in Florida between Charr and his fighter Trevor Bryan and succeeded in getting Bryan the WBA belt when Charr was unable to get a visa. The belt is vacant again after Bryan was knocked out by Daniel Dubois who, in turn, was knocked out by “super” champion Oleksandr Usyk.

There are more threads to this saga but let’s not go there. Suffice it to say that after defeating Ustinov, Charr was out of action for the next three-and-a-half years. He’s had only three fights since 2017 and to say that his opponents were men of low repute would be giving them the best of it. In his most recent assignment, in December of 2022, he scored a second-round stoppage over 46-year-old Swiss-Albanian slug Nuri Seferi. That brought his record to 34-4 (20). He has been stopped three times, most recently in 2015 when he was halted in five frames by future cruiserweight champion Maris Briedis.

Kubrat Pulev

Kubrat Pulev will have the home field advantage in Sofia. Charr will have youth on his side. He’s 39; Pulev is 42.

Pulev sports a 30-3 record. The losses came at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko (L KO 5), Anthony Joshua (L KO 9), and Derek Chisora (L SD 12). He last fought in December at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa, CA, where he won a lopsided decision over Polish journeyman Andrzej Wawrzyk.

In a previous engagement here at the Hangar, a concert hall that seats a shade over 3,000, he TKOed Bogdan Dinu. That bout is remembered mostly for what happened after it ended. In an incident that went viral on social media, Pulev surprised Jennifer Ravalo, a self-styled journalist, with a kiss on the lips. That animated women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred and led to an 8-page spread in Playboy (of Ravalo, not Allred). The California State Athletic Commission fined and suspended Pulev and mandated that he undergo sexual harassment training. The suspension lasted 120 days.

The match between Charr and Pulev, says a blurb about it, is an “eagerly anticipated” clash between “two evergreen living legends.” We will let you provide the punchline, The winner is expected to fight Martin Bakole who was knocked out by Michael Hunter.

Jake Paul

Jake Paul, the enfant terrible of prizefighting, returns this Saturday on a card in San Juan, Puerto Rico, that will air on DAZN. Paul, an influencer who brought his big social media following with him when he took up fisticuffing, is coming off a first-round stoppage of Andre August, a no-name fighter from Texas. Saturday’s sacrificial lamb is a fellow from Dickinson, North Dakota (by way of Benicia, California) named Ryan Bourland.

Bourland, who is reportedly 35 years old but looks older, scored his signature win in 2018 when he avenged a previous defeat with a 10-round majority decision over Jose Hernandez. He has fought only one since then, TKOing a fighter with a losing record in a 6-rounder at a lodge on a remote Indian reservation in North Dakota. That improved his ledger to 17-2 (6 KOs).

Regarding Jake Paul, Thomas Hauser once wrote that he’s worked hard to become a better boxer and is “certainly better than a Golden Gloves novice.” There was a time when this reporter, perhaps naively, thought that Jake had the potential to become a legitimate top-15 cruiserweight, but his recent choice of opponents suggests that he is comfortable just spinning his wheels.

His bout with Bourland will play second fiddle to Amanda Serrano’s featherweight title defense against Germany’s Nina Meinke (18-3, 4 KOs). Although Amanda has a lot of mileage on her odometer, she is expected to have little difficulty with Meinke. In another bout of note, Puerto Rican campaigners Jonathan Gonzalez (27-3-1, 14 KOs) and Rene Santiago (12-3, 9 KOs) will meet in a 12-rounder with Gonzalez’s WBO light flyweight title at stake.

—-

Let’s conclude this write-up on an upbeat note. Hall of Fame boxing writer Bernard Fernandez, a frequent TSS contributor, informs us that his fifth and presumably final anthology is nearing completion with a likely release date of April or May. “Championship Rounds, Round 5” includes a foreword by Gerry Cooney and has drawn glowing reviews from the likes of Dave Kindred and Dr. Gordon Marino who both had an early peek at the manuscript. Kindred, a renowned sportswriter and author, was the subject of a 2021 piece on “60 Minutes.” Marino, a Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, has written extensively about boxing for the Wall Street Journal.

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Results from Orlando where Berlanga KOed McCrory in a Possible Prelude to Canelo

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Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom organization was at the Caribe Royale tonight, a non-gaming resort near Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Unbeaten super middleweights Edgar Berlanga and Padraig McCrory squared off in the main event.

The fight started slow, but it soon became apparent that McCrory, a 35-year-old father of three from Belfast, Northern Ireland, was a domestic-level fighter, notwithstanding his undefeated (18-0) record. Berlanga, whose last five fights had gone the distance, roughed him up with some dirty tactics before taking him out in the sixth round with a crunching right hand that sent the Irishman face-first to the canvas. As McCrory pulled himself upright on rubbery legs, the towel flew in from his corner. The official time was 2:44.

As well-documented, Berlanga opened his pro career with 16 consecutive first-round knockouts. Nonetheless, he was let go by Top Rank in what purportedly was an amicable divorce. This was his second fight under the Matchroom banner. Eddie Hearn signed him with an eye on scoring a big-money match with Canelo Alvarez. The red-headed Mexican superstar is committed to returning to the ring in May on Cinco de Mayo weekend in Las Vegas, but hasn’t yet locked in an opponent.

If Berlanga gets the nod, he would be a heavy underdog, but the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico angle (coupled with Berlanga’s new-found reputation as a dirty fighter) would make it an easy sell.

Co-Feature

In only his third professional fight, Cuban defector Andy Cruz was bumped into the co-feature. That was in recognition of his amateur pedigree. Among his accomplishments, he was 4-0 vs. Keyshawn Davis with the last win coming in the gold medal round of the Tokyo Olympics.

Cruz, 28, was expected to win as he pleased against his Mexican opponent, Bryan Zamarripa, and he did win all 10 rounds on all three scorecards, but in common with many great Cuban amateurs, he seemed to lack something in the power department. Zamarripa was 14-2 heading in.

Other Bouts of Note

In a 12-round welterweight contest that was devoid of drama, Uzbekistan native Shakhram Giyasov, an Olympic silver medalist who has lost precious few rounds as a pro, won a lopsided technical decision over well-recycled 34-year-old Mexican Pablo Cesar Cano.

Giyasov (15-0, 9 KOs) sent Cano (35-9-1) to the canvas in the third round with a body punch. At the end of round 11, as their feet were tangled, he pushed Cano to the canvas and the Mexican ostensibly suffered a broken ankle when he fell. That sent the bout to the scorecards where the decision (109-99 x3) was a formality. With the victory, Giyasov earned a shot at WBA belt-holder Eimantas Stanionis.

The 12-round bantamweight match between Antonio Vargas and Jonathan Rodriguez, two fighters of Puerto Rican descent, was framed as a WBA bantamweight title eliminator. Rodriguez, the underdog, floored Vargas in the opening stanza. He had scored a stunning first-round knockout of 27-1 Khalid Yafai in his previous start and it appeared that another upset was brewing. But the match quickly turned one-sided in favor of Vargas who put Rodriguez on the canvas in the very next frame (and had two points deducted for hitting him after the bell) and then put him down again at the end of round seven with a sweeping left hook after which Rodriguez’s corner properly pulled him out.

Vargas, a 2016 Olympian who had home field advantage in Florida, improved to 18-1 (10 KOs) and became the mandatory opponent for Takuma Inoue who won earlier today in Tokyo. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s Rodriguez declined to 17-2-1.

The opening bout on the TV portion of the card was a 10-round flyweight affair that looked like a runaway for showboating Yankiel Rivera until gritty Andy Dominguez made things interesting.

Rivera, who improved to 5-0 (2), was Puerto Rico’s lone representative in the Tokyo Olympics. In Mexico-born Andy Dominguez, he was fighting a former three-time New York City Golden Gloves champion who was also unbeaten (10-0 heading in). Rivera dominated the match but was caught napping in round nine and Dominguez, although all busted-up, hurt him and almost put him down. That was most lopsided round of the fight, but also the only round that Dominguez won in the eyes of the judges.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom

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Junto Nakatani Turns in Another Masterclass on Saturday’s Tripleheader in Tokyo

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In a rather odd juxtaposition, several of boxing’s best little men were on display today at Japan’s National Sumo Arena in Tokyo. The best of the lot, Junto Nakatani, improved to 27-0 (20 KOs) while tearing away the WBC world bantamweight title from Tijuana’s Alexandro Santiago (28-4-5) who was making the first defense of the title he won in Las Vegas in May when he upset Nonito Donaire.

It was a one-sided beatdown. Nakatani, who had a 5-inch height advantage, won every round before ending the contest in the sixth. The end came at the 1:12 mark when Nakatani terminated the affair with his second knockdown. The first came earlier in the round, the result of a straight left hand. The finisher was a big right hook.

With the victory, Nakatani became a world title-holder in a third weight class. He’s an outstanding talent, worthy of pound-for-pound consideration, and would be favored in a unification fight with Takuma Inoue.

Inoue, the younger brother of pound-for-pound king Naoya “Monster” Inoue, did his part to bring the match to fruition with a ninth-round stoppage of Filipino veteran Jerwin Ancajas in the main event. Inoue (19-1, 5 KOs) was making the first defense of the WBA diadem he won with a wide decision over Venezuela’s mildewed Liborio Solis. That title was conveniently vacated by Takuma’s renowned brother.

This figured to be the most competitive match on the card and Ancajas (34-4-2) had his moments before Inoue ended the contest at the 0:44 mark of round nine with a four-punch combination climaxed by a shot to the liver. Heading in, Ancajas, who had a long title reign at 115, was 9-2-1 in world title fights and hadn’t previously been stopped.

In the first of the three title fights, 29-year-old Kosei Tanaka became a four-weight belt-holder in record time with a unanimous decision over Mexicali’s stubborn but out-classed Christian Bacasegua “Rocky” Rangel. At stake was the vacant WBO junior bantamweight title.

Tanaka, who previously held belts at 105, 108, and 112, started slow but the outcome was never in doubt after he knocked “Rocky” to the canvas in the eighth frame. The judges had it 119-108, 117-110, and 116-111. With the victory, Tanaka improved to 20-1 (11). In his only defeat, he was stopped by countryman Kazuto Ioka. He hunkers for a rematch but, if it happens, he might wish that it hadn’t. Ioka is long in the tooth – he turns 35 next month – but is very good and shows no signs of slowing down. Rangel (22-5-2) had won nine straight heading in, but against questionable opposition and was making his first start outside Mexico.

The Teiken Promotions card was presented in association with Top Rank and aired in the U.S. on ESPN+.

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