On a pretty slow weekend in the sport of boxing, the most interesting event was Saturday’s “Bareknuckle Fighting Championships,” a bareknuckle boxing card held in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Billed as the first bareknuckle boxing event in the USA since 1889, the card featured former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight king Ricco Rodriguez, former UFC fighter Bec Rawlings, as well as the man widely considered the best bareknuckle boxer in the world, Bobby Gunn.
Rodriguez won his bout against Lewis Rumsey by unanimous decision, while Joey Beltran decisioned his opponent Tony Lopez and Rawlings TKO’d hers at 2:00 of round 2.
By far the biggest disappointment of the night was Bobby Gunn's quick destruction of Irineu Beato Costa, a bout that ended so quickly by way of a few body shots that many fans on twitter believed the fight had to be fixed. Considering Gunn has faced off in the ring against the likes of Roy Jones Jr., and Costa made it to the 4th round before being stopped by Joseph Parker, this fight had the chance to show off high-level boxing with no gloves, but ended up miring the inaugural event in controversy.
Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see what other fading stars the promotion can get if it grows, and what -- if any -- impact bareknuckle boxing can have on the combat sports scene.
But, there were a few other, conventional, gloved bouts of the sweet science this weekend that warrant mention.
In Los Angeles’ Belasco Theater, former 2008 American Olympian Javier “El Intocable” Molina returned from two years of inactivity to take a 79-73 decision from all three judges over Jessie Roman.The fight was his first at 140 and improved his overall professional record to 18-2.
Interestingly, the same card also saw Joey Alday Jr. of Odessa, Texas, improve his record to 8-0 with a four-round decision win over former UFC fighter Nam Phan, whose boxing record dropped to an atrocious 3-7-1.
It was Boxing Hall of Fame Weekend in Atlantic City, New Jersey, which brought former greats like Jones Jr., Marlon Starling, Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe, as well as three separate fight cards into town.
In the welterweight division Jaron Ennis beat Mike Arnaoutis when Arnaoutis' corner threw in the towel in the second round. Ennis, the brother of former Gabriel Rosado victor Derek Ennis, improved to 20-0 with 18 knockouts.
In a bit of prefight trash talk, brash super middleweight Derrick Webster previously told opponent Oscar Riojas that he didn't belong in the same ring as him. He was right, as he won a wide decision over the clearly outmatched Mexican challenger to improve his record to 26-1. With the win, Webster won the "American Boxing Federation Continental Americas Title," which is apparently a thing.
Providence, Rhode Island, featherweight Toka Clary fought for the first time under the tutelage of Freddie Roach after demoting longtime trainer Peter Manfredo Sr. to chief second, and earned himself a decision win over Emmanuel Domingez, improving his record to 25-1. Clary, whose name means “War Child,” was once a vaunted prospect signed with “Top Rank” until he was knocked out by Jhon Gemino. Now signed with Evander Holyfield’s “Real Deal Sports and Entertainment,” Clary is currently ranked 11th by the WBA.
In Melbourne, Australia, light heavyweight contender Blake Caparello dropped fellow Australian Trent Broadhurst three times in a first round stoppage. Caparello, who is promoted by Lou Dibella, has faltered in the face of top-level competition with his three losses coming in bouts with Isaac Chilemba, Andre Direll and Sergey Kovalev, but by defeating Broadhurst faster than hyped prospect Dmitry Bivol was able to, he should be in line for another crack at a top opponent shortly.
In Monterrey, Mexico, junior featherweight Emanuel Navarrete knocked out Jose San Martin in the 12th round to become the mandatory challenger for the winner of the June 16th Danny Roman-Moises Flores fight.
While this was far from a marquee weekend in boxing, the week ahead promises a ton of interesting matchups headlined by appearances by Diego De La Hoya and Mike Lee, the return of Tyson Fury, the rematch between Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares and a bout between Jermell Charlo and Austin Trout.
Most interestingly though will be the battle between recent Pacquaio conqueror Jeff Horn and the man many think will ultimately become the best fighter in the world, Omaha Nebraska’s Terence “Bud” Crawford.
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