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Benavidez Dismantles Andrade: Will Canelo Be Next?

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SHOWTIME aired its final pay-per-view event tonight with a show that aired from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The four-fight PPV card included world title fights in the 140 and 130-pound divisions, plus an interim title fight at 168 and the return of former two-division title-holder Jarmall Charlo. The interim title fight was a battle of unbeatens between David Benavidez and Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade and that was the featured attraction.

Benavidez, 26, is big for the weight class and lived up to his new nickname, “El Monstro.” He had too much firepower for the 35-year-old Andrade, a 2008 Beijing Olympian who began his pro career at 154 and had won world titles in two lower weight classes. His big moment came in the waning seconds of round four when he knocked Andrade to his knees with a sweeping right hand. The fight turned brutally one-sided at that point although one of the judges had Benavidez ahead by only one point when the sixth round ended. But there would be no seventh round. Andrade’s corner wisely stopped the fight.

A consensus 7/2 favorite in man-to-man betting, Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs) began his pro career in Mexico at age 16. In his post-fight interview, he called out Canelo Alvarez while brashly predicting that he would be a legend before he left the sport (and you’ll get no argument from this corner). It was the first pro loss for Andrade (32-1).

Co-Feature

Jermall Charlo returned to the ring after a 29-month absence and scored a lopsided 10-round decision over Jose Benavidez Jr. The judges had it 100-90, 99-91, and 98-92.

This bout was slated for the catch-weight of 163 pounds. Charlo came in overweight (166.4) but the match went ahead. Benavides Jr, a world title challenger during his days as a welterweight, had his moments, but was outclassed by Charlo who advanced his record to 33-0 (22). Benavidez falls to 28-3-1.

Matias-Ergashev

In what shaped up as the most action-packed fight of the night, 31-year-old Puerto Rican Subriel Matias retained his IBF 140-pound title, battering Shohjahon Ergashev into submission in a match that was halted by Ergashev’s corner two seconds into the sixth round. The heavy-handed Ergashev, who was undefeated heading in, dominated the first round-and-a-half, but Matias (20-1, 20 KOs) gradually wore him down.

Matias, who avenged his lone defeat to Petros Ananyan with a dominant showing in the rematch, had become something of a forgotten man in the talent-rich 140-pound weight class, but tonight he showed that he belongs among the elite in the division. It was the first pro loss for Egrashev (23-1, 20 KOs), a southpaw from Uzbekistan who fights out of Detroit and had SugarHill Steward (formally Javan “Sugar” Hill) in his corner.

Garcia-Roach

In the pay-per-view opener, Lamont Roach (24-1-1, 9 KOs) wrested the WBA 130-pound title from Hector Garcia (16-2) with a well-earned split decision. The judges had it 116-111 and 144-113 for Roach with the dissenter favoring Garcia 114-113.

A 32-year-old Dominican southpaw, Garcia was making the first defense of the title he won from Roger Gutierrez, a belt he was allowed to keep after moving up to lightweight to challenge Gervonta Davis, a bout he lost on a ninth-round stoppage. Roach, an underdog in the betting making his first start in 16 months, had come up short in a previous world title fight, losing a decision to Jamel Herring in 2019.

Roach was trailing on two of the scorecards through 10 rounds in what had been a ho-hum fight. But he cranked up the juice in the homestretch, rocking Garcia in the 11th and flooring him with a right hook in the final stanza. Take away that knockdown (an illegal punch as it landed behind Roach’s head), and Garcia would have retained his belt with a draw.

Non-PPV

In his first start at 140 pounds, Puerto Rico’s Michel Rivera rebounded from his first pro loss (a wide decision at the hands of Frank Martin) with a unanimous 10-round decision over Sergey Lipinets. The judges had it 96-94 and 97-93 twice. Rivera, who improved to 25-1 (14) patterns his style and his persona after Muhammad Ali with whom he bears a strong facial resemblance.

It was the first fight in 16 months for the 34-year-old Lipinets (17-3-1), from SoCal via Kazakhstan. He rarely took a backward step but it wasn’t effective aggression.

In the opener on Showtime’s YouTube channel. 21-year-old super welterweight Vito Mielnicki Jr, now trained by Ronnie Shields, scored the best win of his career, advancing to 16-1 (11 KOs). The pride of Vineland, NJ, Mielnicki had Alexis Salazar on the canvas three times before the match was halted at the 2:27 mark of the opening stanza. Guadalajara’s Salazar (25-6) had been stopped only once previously.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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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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Rising Contenders Gor Yeritsyan and Cain Sandoval Stay Unbeaten at Chumash

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Rising Contenders Gor Yeritsyan and Cain Sandoval Stay Unbeaten at Chumash

Two Southern California-based fighters cracked the top 10 list on Friday in Central California on the 360 Promotions card.

Armenia’s Gor Yeritsyan (18-0, 14 KOs) captured the WBC Continental Americas welterweight title with a steady and persistent attack against defensive-minded Quinton Randall (13-2-1, 3 KOs) of Texas at Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California.

“This is my first step,” said Yeritsyan (pictured with promoter Tom Loeffler). “Remember my name.”

Yeritsyan was always on attack but had prior knowledge and preparation under trainer Freddie Roach for the counter-punching style of Randall. He pounded away while rarely unleashing more than three-punch combinations. It was effective.

Randall was never over-run by the strong Armenian fighter but he rarely stepped into an offensive mode. That cost him over the 10 rounds and all three judges scored for Yeritsyan who captured the WBC title and will now be ranked in the top 10.

“My opponent was a very good boxer,” Yeritsyan said of Randall.

In a super lightweight match, young firebrand Cain Sandoval (12-0, 11 KOs) met former contender Javier Molina (22-6, 9 KOs) and had his knockout streak snapped, but still won by unanimous decision. The Sacramento fighter now has the WBC Continental Americas super lightweight title.

Molina has never been stopped and showed why over the 10 rounds. In his 15-year career despite facing knockout punchers such as Jesus Ramos Jr., Amir Imam, and Artemio Reyes, none of his losses were via knockout.

Despite a consistent Sandoval battering from the third round on, nothing seemed to penetrate Molina’s defense. But when Sandoval directed his blows to the body it opened up more opportunities and the Sacramento fighter maintained control.

After 10 rounds all three judges scored in favor of Sandoval by unanimous decision, but his knockout streak was stopped. Molina’s streak pf never being knocked out continues.

“I thought I would stop him,” said Sandoval. “I just want to win.”

Other Bouts

Central California’s Jorge Maravillo (9-0, 8 KOs) out-fought Santa Ana’s Jesus Gonzalez (7-2-1) in a six-round super welterweight fight. Maravillo, who is trained by Max Garcia in Salinas, used crisp rights to batter the gritty Gonzalez especially inside.

Maravillo was sharp throughout the fight and though his knockout streak was snapped it took a determined Gonzalez to gut out the fight after being dominated in the fifth round. All three judges scored it 60-54 for Maravillo.

Upland, California’s Daniel “Chuckie” Barrera (5-0-1) floored veteran Jonathan Almacen (7-10-3) twice in the second round with lefts. The end came at 2:35 of the round when Barrera knocked out the Filipino fighter with a left hook in a super flyweight match.

Cuba’s Osvel Caballero (5-0, 4 KOs) was too sharp and too strong for Jason Buenaobra (10-10-3) and won by stoppage at 2:22 of the fourth round in a featherweight fight.

A super bantamweight clash saw Mexico’s Alfredo Castro (10-0, 7 KOs) and Riverside, California’s Ezekiel Flores (4-3) engage in a back-and-forth battle for six rounds. Castro could not miss with the right cross and Flores could not miss with uppercuts. But two knockdowns by Castro proved the difference and he won by unanimous decision after six exciting rounds.

Photo credit: Lina Baker

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