What was supposed to be a test of Oleksandr Usyk’s chin instead turned into a test of his ability to adapt, as Tony Bellew frustrated the undisputed cruiserweight champion in the early going. Although Usyk would eventually find his rhythm, through seven rounds Bellew led on two of the three judges scorecards, with the third judge seeing the fight as a draw. While many media members saw those scores as home cooking at best -- a travesty at worst -- the indisputable fact is that early on in his retirement fight Bellew was holding his own.
Until Usyk figured him out. Yes, Usyk’s superior boxing and consistent bodywork began to take over by the fifth round and though the stoppage wouldn’t come until the eighth, it was clear that Usyk had taken control. Still, looking to close the show Usyk showed his boxing intelligence was as good as advertised. As boxing analyst Lee Wylie pointed out, Usyk first threw a straight left hand that Bellew parried away, then threw a looping left hand that put his opponent down when Bellew assumed it was another straight left hand and moved to parry the shot. Usyk’s hand looped around the parry, the same way you would hook off the jab, but using Southpaw left hands. To his credit Bellew got up, but the referee wisely ended the contest rather than let him get seriously hurt.
After the fight, Bellew reiterated that this would be the last fight of his career, but for Usyk bigger things lie ahead. He reiterated that he would fight Anthony Joshua tomorrow if given the chance, but his (and Joshua’s) promoter Eddie Hearn said that he’d like to see Usyk ease into the heavyweight division by adding weight and having at least two warmup fights before he could face the British star. There are enough big fights in the heavyweight division that waiting a few bout for Usyk to face Joshua shouldn’t be a huge deal. But any more than two fights at heavyweight, and the boxing world won’t be happy with Eddie Hearn protecting his two cash cows.
Crolla Beats Yordan on Points to Become Lomachenko’s Mandatory Opponent
Before his fight against Daud Yordan, Anthony Crolla knew that he was going to have to go through Hell on earth to beat Daud Yordan. If his borderline purple post-fight urine sample is any indication, he was right.
With a win making him the mandatory challenger for Vasyl Lomachenko’s lightweight title, Crolla outboxed Yordan for the majority of the fight, though Yordan never stopped coming forward despite appearing to be outclassed. In the end, Crolla would win a unanimous 116-112, 116-112, 116-112 decision. After the fight Crolla was tepid in calling out Lomachenko, saying only that he’d “love to have that fight.”
Many fighters have talked about how much they’re willing to put themselves through against Lomachenko, only to quit when they realize they are hopeless against the pound-for-pound king. Crolla may not be talented enough to beat Lomachenko, but in his fight against Daud Yordan he showed he has the heart to at least try his best for as long as that fight lasts.
Gamboa and Juanma Lopez Easily Beat Opponents to Set Up Fight in 2019
Fighting on the same card, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez easily beat their opponents to set up a possible, long overdue clash in 2019. Lopez dropped his opponent, Christian Mino four times over the course of 10 rounds, ultimately taking a unanimous 97-88, 96-89, 96-89 decision. Gamboa almost stopped his opponent, Miguel Beltran Jr.in the first round, but couldn’t close the show. In the end, he won an easy, unanimous 99-90, 98-91, 100-89 decision.
After the fight, both fighters indicated a willingness to face each other, likely sometime in 2019. But, if you’ve followed boxing for the last couple of years, you know that you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for Juanma-Gamboa no matter how much sense it makes.
Briedis Beats Mikaelian by Decision That Drives Fans Insane
After falling to Oleksandr Usyk in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series’ cruiserweight tournament last year, Mairis Briedis has been looking to win the next edition of the tournament as a redemption story. That feel good story took a huge hit on Saturday night, as he defeated Noel Mikaelain by a hugely controversial unanimous decision, with the three judges scoring the fight 114-112, 115-111, 116-110.
Unfortunately for Briedis, those three judges may have been the only three people in boxing that saw him winning that fight. The DAZN commentary team was vocal about how bad of a decision it was, ESPN’s Dan Rafael tweeted that he “strongly disagrees,” and a few conspiracy theorists on Twitter thought the announcer had pulled a Jack Palance/Marisa Tomei, read the wrong name as the winner and everyone was just going along with it. Either way, Briedis will go on to face Krystof Glowacki because …
Glowacki Decisions Vlasov to Face Briedis
Krystof Glowacki dropped Maksim Vlasov in the third round, had him hurt in the first and 11th, and thoroughly outfought him throughout the fight before he won a unanimous 118-110, 117-110, 115-112 decision. Glowacki is a very good fighter, having lost only one fight as a professional to the increasingly impressive Oleksandr Usyk, and showed his class over the course of the bout. It also didn’t hurt that the fight took place in Chicago, which meant that the crowd was hugely in his favor due to the Windy City’s large Polish population. Briedis was a huge favorite over Mikaelian, but with him looking so bad and Glowacki (and Usyk) looking so good, it will be interesting to see who ends up as the favorite in that fight.
Adams Dominates Mosley Jr. to Win “The Contender” Belt
Shane Mosley Jr. had the name, but in the end Brandon “The Cannon” Adams had the goods, as the middleweight from Los Angeles cruised to a unanimous 100-90, 100-90, 99-91 decision victory over the son of the legend. The fight was never close, Adams was just better, winning both the $250,000 prize and moving into the top 10 of the WBA’s middleweight rankings. Considering that before the show Adams hadn’t fought in about three years, this is a nice career resurgence and the publicity he will receive from the show should give it a nice boost. For Mosley Jr, the loss moves him to 11-3, which is not a great record for a fighter who considers himself a prospect. Hopefully, he has learned enough from the show to get his career back on track with a couple of fights against opponents not as seasoned as Adams.
Soto Karass Outpunches ‘The Rooster’
And finally, wacky junior middleweight Neeco “The Rooster” Macias lost a decision to veteran Mexican fighter Jesus Soto Karass in a fight that featured a record 3,353 punches thrown. Ever since he burst onto the scene with a stoppage of Marvin Cabrera, Macias has been known for the number of punches he is willing to throw. Rather than attempt to time him or slow him down with pinpoint body work, the 37-year-old Karass instead looked to match the 27-year-old’s punch output, a strategy which ultimately won him a close split 97-93, 96-94, 95-95 decision victory. While Karass has faced huge names over the course of his career like Marcos Maidana, Keith Thurman and Andre Berto, this was his first win since 2013. It would also be his last, as after the fight Karass said he is going to retire. While he’s made that claim before, only to return to the ring months later, if he keeps his word it would be a nice performance to go out on.
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