Fightful Boxing Newsletter (3/21) Table Of Contents:
2. Deontay Wilder Rejects DAZN Offer, Goes To Showtime For Dominic Breazeale Fight (Page 2)
3. Tevin Farmer Retains IBF Super Featherweight Title On DAZN (Page 3)
4. Shawn Porter Retains WBC Welterweight Title, Looks Ahead Towards Bigger Fights (Page 4)
5. Dmitry Bivol, Maurice Hooker Retain Their Respective Titles On DAZN (Page 5)
6. Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+: Conlan vs. Hernandez Results (Page 6)
7. Kosei Tanaka Delivers Another Big Performance In Japan (Page 7)
The world witnessed the rise of boxing’s next big star in Errol Spence Jr., who dominated Mikey Garcia at AT&T Stadium to retain his IBF welterweight title.
Spence turned what could have been a very exciting matchup and turned it into a boxing clinic as he overpowered Garcia almost from the start. Spence defended his IBF title by winning all 12 rounds on every official scorecard and cement his place on a top 10 spot on many boxing pundits' pound-for-pound lists.
The fight headlined a Fox pay-per-view, the third such pay-per-view event in the last four-and-a-half months. Although the last three major U.S. boxing pay-per-views were all PBC shows, this was the first one that Fox had any real direct involvement with as the other two events were handled by Showtime.
According to Mike Coppinger, the event, which was Fox's first-ever boxing pay-per-view broadcast, is expected to pull in strong numbers. Coppinger reported that the card is expected to do more than 350,000 buys and is climbing towards 400,000 buys. If the projections are true, it could potentially be the highest buyrate done for a U.S. boxing event headlined by two first-time pay-per-view main eventers since Sergio Martinez defeated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2012. That fight had at least 475,000 buys.
Overall, this is great news for Fox as it showed two things. The first is that Spence could potentially be built up as a future pay-per-view star against the right kind of opponent. The second is that the marketing from Fox does help get some extra buys compared to if the fight was on Showtime, where the visibility is slightly less than Fox.
This bodes well for Spence’s next fight which could be against Manny Pacquiao. Fox is clearly trying to build up to that fight by having Pacquiao be the only other welterweight titlist in the ring after the fight. Although Pacquiao didn’t seem that invested in answering questions about a potential fight against Spence, rest assured that he is very interested in that fight. At the moment, a Spence vs. Pacquiao fight is perhaps the most lucrative fight for either side.
As for Garcia, his career is now uncertain, not because he’s unsure of whether or not to fight again (he will), but he’s unsure of what weight class he will compete next.
Garcia, the four-division champion whose biggest goal right now in boxing is to win a welterweight title. Although unsuccessful in his fight against Spence, Garcia is still deciding on what weight class to fight next.
"I think I can achieve becoming a champion in the welterweight division. At this point, I don't know what to do. I'm resting in a week or two, I will plan out my future. Maybe I'll go down in weight to something more comfortable, but I know I can fight against the other champions at welterweight. Not all of them are as good and strong like Errol Spence. Sometimes you got to choose the most adequate rival. Since I go for the challenge, I opted to take the biggest, but I'll see what other challenges in other weight classes are out there to see if there's anything more comfortable," Garcia told ESPN Deportes.
But that doesn't mean that Garcia isn't willing to go back down to either junior welterweight or even lightweight, where he is still the current WBC champion. Going back down to 135 pounds isn't much of an issue for Garcia, but he did see that coming into a fight at more than 150 pounds, just as he did against Spence after re-hydrating following the weigh-ins, might have been too much for him.
"I still don't know. I'll see what options are available. I can make 135. I got 145 and didn't feel like the weight was too much to not take off in order to drop to 135, but stepping into the ring at 152 or 154 made the difference since it was too much to remain agile and fast," Garcia said.
PBC on Fox PPV: Spence vs. Garcia Results:
Errol Spence Jr. defeated Mikey Garcia by unanimous decision (120-107, 120-108, 120-108) to retain the IBF Welterweight title: The fight started off somewhat slow with both men feeling each other out and finding their range. Garcia had a brief moment where he seemed to have found a way to split Spence's guard with short-range combinations late in the second round, but after that, Spence started to let his hands go, landing power shots left and right. As the fight progressed, Garcia was not able to find a way to overcome the massive size difference between the two. Spence kept attacking and bruising Garcia's face, forcing Garcia to defend at various times in the fight and unable to win a single round in the judges' eyes. Garcia was getting outclassed by Spence to the point where his trainer and brother Robert Garcia threatened to stop the fight if Mikey did not produce a good 10th round. In response, Mikey started to work more and even landed a solid left hook, but even that was unable to even knock Spence off-balance. That was enough for Mikey to fight the last two rounds, but found himself unable to close the ever-growing lead on the scorecards.
David Benavidez defeated J'Leon Love by TKO, round 2: Benavidez was named WBC super middleweight “Champion in Recess” last year after failing a drug test. Benavidez was suspended but has since then served that suspension and this is his first fight back. Like with the other fights on this undercard, Benavidez dominated the bout and made quick work of his opponent. Benavidez was too strong and too quick against Love. Benavidez punished Love with multiple body shots and the referee stopped the fight in the second round in the midst of a flurry from Benavidez.
Luis Nery defeated McJoe Arroyo by RTD, round 4: This was Nery’s first fight after signing a deal with PBC. On paper, this could have been a fairly even fight, but Nery destroyed Arroyo with no remorse. Nery dropped Arroyo once in rounds two and three and twice in round 4. After the fourth round ended, Arroyo’s corner decided to end the fight to protect their fighter as there was no chance for Arroyo to make a comeback. Nery is hoping for a chance to fight for the WBC bantamweight title, currently being held by Nordine Oubaali, at some point in the future.
Chris Arreola defeated Jean Pierre Augustin by TKO, round 3: Arreola is fighting for the second time since ending his long hiatus from the sport. Arreola looked good in the fight, but he was expected to easily take care of Augustin from the start. Arreola is at the end of his career and his hoping for one more shot at the title. At this point, only a rematch against WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder would be feasible at this stage but that’s assuming he retains his title against Dominic Breazeale and doesn’t fight either Anthony Joshua, Dillian Whyte or Adam Kownacki next.
Charles Martin defeated Gregory Corbin by DQ, round 8: Terrible fight that had the most unsatisfying of endings and is likely going to be called one of the worst televised fights of 2019. Corbin was severely outmatched from the start, barely landing anything. Corbin then hit Martin below the belt numerous times and was penalized for it. In the eighth round, after Corbin hit another low blow, the referee stopped the fight and disqualified Corbin.
Lindolfo Delgado defeated James Roach by KO, round 1: This was a swing bout that ultimately ended up on the PPV broadcast. Delgado dominated the fight and ended the bout with a vicious body shot in the first round.
Deontay Wilder Rejects DAZN Offer, Goes To Showtime For Dominic Breazeale Fight:
DAZN’s latest attempt to acquire WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder have ended in failure as Showtime announced it would televise Wilder’s next title defense against Dominic Breazeale.
The fight is set to headline a television card from the Barclays Center on May 18, giving the network its third announced televised event of 2019. It was a known thing that Wilder, alongside managers Al Haymon, Shelly Finkel and Lou DiBella (who does not promote Wilder but has worked alongside him for some of his fights for years), met with DAZN’s John Skipper this week in the hopes of signing the American heavyweight star and secure a fight against unified titleholder Anthony Joshua.
While talks appear to have not resulted favorably for DAZN, two deals have been reportedly offered to Wilder, both multi-fight deals worth nine figures in total. Both offers do also have two things in common: the first fight under both deals was the fight against Breazeale that would see Wilder get paid $20 million and two guaranteed fights against Joshua, both presumably for the undisputed world heavyweight title and both fights paying Wilder each $40 million.
In the end, Wilder chose to stick with PBC and Showtime and it appears that things could remain the same with each heavyweight star (Wilder, Joshua and Tyson Fury) staying put with their respective networks (Showtime/Fox, DAZN, ESPN).
Right now, Wilder is discussing a potential multi-fight deal with Showtime that could also have Wilder go to other networks for fights against Joshua and Fury if those fights become available for the future.
But this latest development in the heavyweight division signifies the issues going with the sport of boxing and has been plaguing for years.
In the end, while there are more resources than ever before to give fans more fights, the biggest fights that people want to see more often than not don’t happen. While I have remained optimistic in the potential visibility that the various networks and streaming services can offer to boxing and I can argue it has helped the sport tremendously, I feel like I may have ignored the drawbacks that the current climate has to offer.
With all these broadcast platforms competing against one another, there’s almost no assurance that we will ever get to see the best in the division face each other. Perhaps the two most glaring examples of that is Joshua vs. Wilder for the undisputed heavyweight crown and the welterweight division with no certainty that PBC’s top four stars in the division (Shawn Porter, Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman and Manny Pacquiao) will ever face each other
People have explored the topic of whether or not the sport of boxing is “dying,” including myself back in 2017, and while I think that any clear signs of the sport falling by the wayside are overblown, there is some truth as to why the sport is in decline. A number of factors contribute to that, from the seemingly endless world titles in each weight class, the lack of a Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, Muhammad Ali type of mainstream star and constant politicking preventing the biggest fights from ever happening. It’s that third concern that is perhaps most troubling and indicative of the sport being unable to break through its low ceiling compared to other sports.
With Wilder sticking with Showtime for now, it further delays what should be one of the most highly-anticipated heavyweight title fights in the 21st century between Joshua and Wilder.
All us pundits within the sport can do now is hope that one day we see these big fights take place on a consistent basis without waiting too long for them to hope. But how long can we stand wait until that happens before we see the sport potentially die a slow death from mainstream attention.
The hardcore boxing faithful will remain, but that alone might not be enough to sustain the sport in the future. How long before we see the likes of Fox and ESPN give up on boxing if their major events ultimately fail to deliver due to the public’s waning interest. Boxing is fine for the next few years, but looking at the climate we are living in, can anyone truly say that when we enter the mid-2020s?
After Top Rank’s deal with ESPN and PBC’s deal with Fox and Showtime expire (assuming in this instance the networks don’t renew), who is to say that there is a bright future ahead for the sweet science? How long will it take for other networks to share in the same fate as HBO, who dropped boxing for good in 2018?
As for the fight between Wilder and Breazeale, it may not be what the boxing community wanted in terms of Wilder’s first fight of 2019, but objectively speaking, it still has the makings of a very entertaining fight.
Tevin Farmer Retains IBF Super Featherweight Title On DAZN:
Matchroom Boxing USA went to the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia for a DAZN card on March 15 with two world title fights on the card.
In the main event, Tevin Farmer continued his run as boxing’s most active world champion by retaining his IBF super featherweight title against Jono Carroll. The fight was a very compelling and decently entertaining bout that saw both men trade body shots throughout the fight.
The build-up to the fight was one full of trash talk that bordered on ridiculous at times, but nothing this sport hasn’t seen before.
After the fight, Farmer was asked about his interest level in having a unification fight against WBA champion Gervonta Davis and Farmer’s answer was less than enthusiastic. For months, the two sides have been at odds with each other and have been feuding on social media.
Eddie Hearn, Farmer’s co-promoter, hinted at a call-out on Davis after the fight against Carroll.
Hearn also stated that he was willing to offer Davis $5 million for a unification fight against Farmer. Farmer, unhappy with not hearing anything about getting that kind of money for that kind of fight, said he doesn’t really care about a fight against his long-time rival.
“Honestly, I don’t care. I handled business tonight. We go back behind the scenes and we will talk. This fight has been building since 2014. He and I have built this fight up. We both deserve this money. So, yes, I do want to fight Gervonta Davis, but we need to make sure the money is right,” Farmer said.
The three-fight main card ended up being the most entertaining of the bunch from a busy weekend in boxing. All three fights were either entertaining or had a very dramatic finish. In the case of Maciej Sulecki vs. Gabriel Rosado, Rosado nearly completed one of the most incredible comebacks in recent memory by nearly stopping Sulecki late after losing virtually every round beforehand. The co-main event saw Katie Taylor become the unified WBA, WBO and IBF Female lightweight champion with another great performance, this time against Rose Volante, and could be moving on towards a fight against WBC champion Delfine Persoon to crown an undisputed champion.
Matchroom Boxing USA on DAZN: Farmer vs. Carroll Results:
Tevin Farmer defeated Jono Carroll by unanimous decision (117-110, 117-111, 117-111) to retain the IBF Super Featherweight title: Carroll got off to a solid start tirelessly working the body in the first round. Farmer would follow suit and work the body and soon enough, the battle became one fought inside the trenches with the two men exchanging short-range combinations. Farmer had an easier time landing hooks upstairs as well as the jab as the fight wore on, connecting on a big left hook that landed on Carroll's nose in the fifth round. Prior to that, Farmer landed a hook to the chin in the fourth round that even sent some Vaseline flying off of the challenger's face. Once the sixth round started, Carroll let his hands go, throwing several combinations and was outworking Farmer at various points. The two men would continue the action at close quarters as the fight got deeper. Farmer broke through and seriously hurt Carroll late in the 11th round with a right hook to the side of the head. In the end, Carroll would be the one throwing far more punches and even outlanded the champion, but it wasn't enough to get the win.
Katie Taylor defeated Rose Volante by TKO, round 9 to unify the WBA, WBO and IBF Female Lightweight titles: Volante started the fight as the aggressor, trapping Taylor in the corner in the first round. But once Taylor got out of trouble, she dropped Volante with a short right hand. Despite getting knocked down, Volante did not have trouble throwing and landing clean punches on Taylor. Both Taylor and Volante kept landing short combinations, but Taylor would connect with the bigger punches, bruising the WBO champion's face. Taylor worked the body by landing numerous left hands later in the fight while still throwing combinations upstairs. As the fight got into the middle and late rounds, Taylor became more aggressive in her offense. Taylor's strongest sequence of punches came at the start of the eighth round when she threw a flurry of punches to the body, hurting Volante in the process, but not enough to score a second knockdown. There was an accidental clash of heads late in the fight that created a cut on Volante's face. The referee stopped the fight late in the ninth round.
Maciej Sulecki defeated Gabriel Rosado by unanimous decision (95-91, 95-91, 95-93) to win the WBO International Middleweight title: Sulecki opened things up with a devastating right hand to the back of Rosado's left ear to knock him down in the first round. Afterwards, both Sulecki and Rosado engaged in a war of right hands with Sulecki winning most of the exchanges. Sulecki scored a second knockdown in the eighth round, starting with a check left hook and landing another hard straight right to drop Rosado. Everything seemed to indicate a comfortable win for Sulecki on the scorecards, but Rosado caught fire in the ninth round and dropped Sulecki twice, nearly stopping him as the Polish fighter was dazed and confused after the second knockdown. Rosado then tried to knock out Sulecki in the final round, but was unable to land the decisive blow.
Shawn Porter Retains WBC Welterweight Title, Looks Ahead Towards Bigger Fights
Shawn Porter’s first WBC welterweight title defense was without its fair share of controversy, but it was a successful one nonetheless.
On March 9, Porter retained his world title against mandatory challenger Yordenis Ugas with a split decision win on a PBC on Fox telecast from Carson, California. The fight was extremely competitive and many had Ugas winning the bout, but the two men had done enough to warrant the victory, but an argument can be made that neither man didn’t do everything in their power to guarantee the victory.
Porter was more aggressive at times, didn’t really do much in the way of hurting Ugas aside from one left hand late in the fight. Ugas landed the better punches, but may have taken the foot off the gas pedal towards the end of the fight which helped Porter recover and get back into the fight and win the last couple of rounds on the judges’ scorecards.
With the fight against Ugas out of the way, Porter can now fully focus on getting unification bouts down the line against the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman. In an interview with Fightful prior to the fight against Ugas, Porter had stated that he wanted to fight those three names down the line and is hoping to get a pay-per-view main event as well.
“I have three names on my list. Pacquiao, Errol Spence and Keith Thurman. The list is short and after this mandatory, I don’t think there’s a reason why I would look to fight any of the other guys out there. That’s the plan to do this at the highest level and do it so that everyone can see us, which is why we’re on the same network that you see NFL on and all the big time sports. We’re trying to do it the best we can to make a name for ourselves and hopefully those fans will carry on to the pay-per-view and networks as well,” Porter said.
The event had some controversy the day before when Porter nearly lost his title at the scales. At the weigh-ins, Porter came in nearly two pounds over the welterweight limit of 147 pounds. After struggling to get to 147 pounds within the two-hour window after missing weight the first time, Porter had some of his hair cut in order to make weight. Fortunately for Porter, the hair loss was not in vain as he did in fact make weight, keeping his title for his eventual win against Ugas.
Ratings-wise, the event drew fairly solid numbers even though it isn’t as impressive as some of Fox’s better boxing events. According to Showbuzz Daily, the Fox-telecast averaged 1.628 million viewers and drew a 1.06 household rating. The card was going head to head with the Michigan vs. Michigan State college basketball game on ESPN, which averaged 2.849 viewers as well as the Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers NBA game that averaged 3.066 million viewers on ABC.
Both numbers are up from the last PBC on Fox card, which took place on February 16. That card, headlined by Leo Santa Cruz vs. Rafael Rivera for the WBA "Super" featherweight title, averaged 1.376 million viewers and drew a 0.90 rating. But the ratings for the March 9 card are down from the January 26 show, which featured Keith Thurman's in-ring return and averaged 1.98 million viewers and had a 1.27 rating.
PBC on Fox: Porter vs. Ugas Results
Shawn Porter defeated Yordenis Ugas by split decision (115-113, 111-117, 116-112) to retain the WBC Welterweight title: The fight was gritty, physical and very close on almost every way one would measure a fight. Porter started the fight throwing more punches and trying to keep Ugas from landing, but Ugas responded with well-timed counter punches and left-handed body shots. As the fight progressed, Ugas started to be a little more aggressive towards Porter, landing even more timely shots that seemed to hurt Porter. Porter, dealing with a minor cut near his right eye, started to move back and avoid engaging with Ugas at certain points in the championship rounds. Porter did manage to land a big left hand at the end of the 11th round that nearly dropped Ugas, but the Cuban was able to keep himself vertical and avoid the knockdown.
Abel Ramos defeated Francisco Santana by unanimous decision (95-94, 97-92, 98-92): Solid scrap to start as both men threw plenty of punches from the start. Santana dropped Ramos late in the second round thanks to a big counter left hook. Santana became the aggressor from here on out, pressuring Ramos to the corner and to the ropes and landing hooks to the body and to the chin during various points in the fight. Although Santana was the one moving forward, Ramos outworked and outlanded Santana and later became the aggressor himself starting at the end of the seventh round when he hurt Santana with a big hook. Both men threw at least 800 punches. Ramos has won six straight fights.
Efe Ajagba defeated Amir Mansour by TKO, round 2: Ajagba scored a right hand to drop Mansour and then proceeded to drop him once more in the second round with a stiff jab. Mansour and his corner decided to end things after the second round as it became abundantly clear that Ajagba was going to thrash him if the fight kept going. Ajagba is scary good for a heavyweight prospect and has a bright future in my opinion, but he’s still a long way from being a title contender. PBC intends to give him more fights to gain experience for at least the remainder of the year and maybe in 2020 as well before moving on to fight tougher heavyweights.
Juan Carlos Payano defeated Damien Vazquez by unanimous decision (79-73, 80-71, 80-71): The two exchanged a series of rapid-fire body shots in the first round, with Payano outlanding Vazquez during that sequence. Payano would start to slowly dominate the fight and land timely shots against Vazquez throughout the fight. Vazquez. Both men had to deal with a bad cut on their face with Payano working with one under his right eye and Vazquez working with one above his left eye. I don’t know if the plan was to build Vazquez up by beating a tough former world champion or give Payano a relatively easy first fight back after getting knocked out by Naoya Inoue in the first round of the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight quarterfinals last year in Japan.
Eimantas Stanionis defeated Sammy Figueroa by unanimous decision (80-72, 80-72, 80-72): Figueroa starts off more aggressive, but Stanionis quickly takes control of the fight, landing a big right hook to the chin at the end of the first round. Stanionis’ power carried him throughout the fight, but Figueroa did a nice job using his boxing skills to keep up with the former Olympic boxer. It was an easy fight to score as Stanionis clearly did more to win each round, but they were not somewhat competitive.
Dmitry Bivol, Maurice Hooker Retain Their Respective Titles On DAZN:
On March 9, DAZN held a Matchroom Boxing card in Verona, New York with two world title fights on the main card, both fights ending with their respective titleholder dominating throughout 12 rounds.
Dmitry Bivol retained his WBA light heavyweight title against Joe Smith Jr. in the main event and in the co-main event, Maurice Hooker successfully defended his WBO junior welterweight title against Mikkel LesPierre.
Bivol cruised to another dominant win against an overmatched opponent in what was Bivol's fourth title defense since the start of 2018. All that is left for him is to either have unification fights against any of the other champions at 175 pounds (which is somewhat unlikely considering the other champions are either fighting on PBC or ESPN) or to go down to 168 pounds.
The latter has been an idea thrown around and Bivol is looking more and more interested in doing so. DAZN has a lot of high-caliber 168 pounders and it is a division where Bivol could potentially do very well and have fights that are much better than his recent title defenses on paper.
Hooker had some trouble at the scales the day before, initially coming in overweight but managed to eventually make weight. Hooker had an easy time taking care of LesPierre, as expected, and is now hoping to get a title defense in Dallas later this summer before moving on to a potential unification fight against WBC titleholder Jose Ramirez, the only other champion at 140 pounds that isn't fighting in the World Boxing Super Series.
There were several notable fights on the undercard, including the debut of amateur sensation Otha Jones III, who fought Giorgi Gelashvili and was heavily tested despite being his debut. Jones managed to get a close decision win and grew a lot by simply having such a tough first test as a pro.
Also on the undercard was the second pro fight of Israil Madrimov, another former amateur standout signed with Matchroom Boxing. Madrimov is already approaching contender status in just two pro fights and is already ranked in the top 15 by the WBA at 154 pounds.
Matchroom Boxing USA on DAZN: Bivol vs. Smith Results:
Dmitry Bivol defeated Joe Smith Jr. by unanimous decision (119-109, 119-109, 118-110) to retain the WBA Light Heavyweight title: For almost the entire fight, Bivol outboxed and outlanded Smith by a wide margin while the challenger tried to land the right hand in the hopes of staggering him and knocking him down. Smith’s first real big crack at Bivol came halfway through the fourth round when an overhand right landed during an exchange and Bivol moved back to avoid getting hit more. But those instances where Smith landed the right hand clean were few and far between. Smith’s best offense came at the end of the 10th round when he landed a right hand right as the bell sounded and Bivol was visibly hurt, needing to hold on to the ropes to keep himself vertical as he made his way to the corner. Smith got some momentum from that right hand and tried to overpower Bivol, but was unable to do much against the skillfully superior champion. Bivol would get his chance to hurt Smith in the closing seconds of the fight when he landed a flurry of punches that trapped Smith to the corner.
Maurice Hooker defeated Mikkel LesPierre by unanimous decision (119-108, 120-107, 118-109) to retain the WBO junior welterweight title: It was a mostly easy fight for Hooker as he used his long reach and power to take over from the start. Early in the fifth round, Hooker appeared to have knocked down LesPierre with a right hook, but the referee then ruled it was a slip and not a knockdown. Hooker unleashed a flurry of punches at the end of the round thanks to another right hand that hurt LesPierre. Later in the fight, Hooker would get his knockdown in the ninth round thanks to a combination of body shots to the challenger. LesPierre barely beat the 10-count but was unable to do anything against the champion. During the weigh-ins the day prior, Hooker initially weighed in at 140.5 lbs. He was given two hours to loss the extra half-pound and after struggling mightily to lose the weight, Hooker was successful in making the 140-pound limit.
Israil Madrimov defeated Frank Rojas by KO, round 2 to retain the WBA Intercontinental Junior Middleweight title: Madrimov is making his second pro fight but is in a 10-rounder for a regional title. Madrimov scores a flurry of shots that sends Rojas against the ropes. Rojas slipped to the canvas in the second round and Madrimov accidentally punched Rojas when he was down. Madrimov lands a body shot that led to a another flurry of shots and dropped Rojas. Madrimov then knocked out Rojas with yet another flurry at the end of the second round and Rojas hit his head very hard when he went down. At just two pro fights, Madrimov is teetering on the line between prospect and contender.
Otha Jones III defeated Giorgi Gelashvili by unanimous defeated (59-54, 58-55, 58-55): This is the highly-anticipated pro debut of Jones. Jones got paired off with a fighter in Gelashvili who may have been out of the sport for a few years, but most people believe is a very tough first test for Jones. Jones got hit with a pair of big shots early in the fight. Jones connects with a solid left-right combination in the first round. The fight is very competitive from the start. Jones dropped Gelashvili in the fourth round, but Jones’ left foot clearly stepped on Gelashvili’s right foot on the sequence that caused the knockdown and it shouldn’t be counted as such, but it was. Gelashvili recovered and landed several more clean shots upstairs as the fight progressed. I wouldn’t say Jones passed this first test with flying colors, but there is a lot to be excited about Jones. The question will be how Eddie Hearn handles Jones for these first few fights. I doubt he will be rushed into title fights (world or regional) anytime soon, but winning this tough first fight will do wonders for him down the line.
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+: Conlan vs. Hernandez Results:
Top Rank held its annual St. Patrick's Day card at Madison Square Garden, featuring Michael Conlan in a featured attraction fight.
In the main event of a Top Rank card from Madison Square Garden that was streamed on ESPN+, Conlan's fight against Ruben Garcia Hernandez was the real headliner. Although the main event (or what Top Rank and ESPN+ advertised as the main event) was a welterweight matchup between Luis Collazo and Samuel Vargas, the fight the New York crowd wanted to see the most was Conlan's.
Conlan impressed to some degree with his boxing skills, but failed to deliver a highlight reel knockout that many had been expecting/hoping from Conlan. Conlan has been groomed by Top Rank as this can't-miss prospect in the featherweight division and before this fight, Conlan had done everything that was asked of him to do. A knockout win over Hernandez would have raised his stock significantly, but since Conlan settled for a shutout unanimous decision win, the excitement surrounding the Irishman waned only ever so slightly.
That's not to say Conlan's ceiling is any lower than what it was prior to the fight. Conlan is still being groomed for an eventual shot at a world title and if he continues his currently climb, it's not unfathomable to think he could be ready for a title opportunity in 18 months.
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+: Conlan vs. Hernandez Results:
Michael Conlan defeated Ruben Garcia Hernandez by unanimous decision (100-90, 100-90, 100-90) to retain the WBO Intercontinental Featherweight title: Conlan outboxed Hernandez almost from the very start of the fight. Conlan worked the body at various points in the fight and nearly hurt him on a number of occasions, but never dropped Hernandez. This was Conlan’s third pro fight at Madison Square Garden on St. Patrick’s Day. Conlan made his pro debut on this day in 2017 with a TKO win over Tim Ibarra and then stopped David Berna in less than two complete rounds last year. Conlan won the WBO Intercontinental title last December with a win over Jason Cunningham.
Luis Collazo defeated Samuel Vargas by split decision: In the advertised main event, Luis Collazo scored a split decision victory over Samuel Vargas to extend his win streak to three fights. The win keeps Collazo’s hopes for another title reign alive as he entered the fight ranked in the WBA’s top 10 at welterweight. Collazo previously held the WBA welterweight title from 2005 to 2006 and last challenged for the title in 2015 when he lost to current champion Keith Thurman.
Oscar Mojica defeated Paddy Barnes by split decision: In the opening bout of the main card, former world title challenger and Olympic medalist Paddy Barnes suffered his second straight loss, this time at the hands of Oscar Mojica. Mojica won the fight by split decision thanks to aggressive punching that caused Barnes' nose to bleed since the first round. Mojica also scored several vicious body shots throughout the fight to hurt Barnes, nearly dropping him on a number of occasions. After the fight, Barnes hinted at a possible retirement after now dropping his record to 5-2.
Kosei Tanaka Delivers Another Big Performance In Japan:
Hours after before Tevin Farmer retained his IBF super featherweight title and hours before Errol Spence Jr. dominated Mikey Garcia, it was Kosei Tanaka who had the most impressive performance and the best fight of the weekend, taking down Ryoichi Taguchi in his first flyweight title defense.
In Tanaka’s hometown of Gifu, he defeated Taguchi by unanimous decision to retain his world title in a fight that certainly met expectations with a very entertaining fight. Taguchi, usually a more reserved fighter than what we saw on March 16, came out aggressive and tried to match Tanaka in terms of power. Even when outmatched, Taguchi tried to slug it out with Tanaka, creating a very exciting fight that more than made up for its anticlimactic end as Tanaka was never really in danger of losing the fight.
There are two stories about this fight. The first one took place inside the ring. Tanaka, coming out of his excellent fight against Sho Kimura last September, is slowly being turned into a major boxing star in Japan as he’s proven time and time again that he not only belongs in the conversation for being in the top 10 pound-for-pound list, but also has the most consistently great fights in boxing today.
Tanaka dominated the fight without a question, but it wasn’t a one-sided beatdown that wasn’t unwatchable. Tanaka’s aggression forced Taguchi to fight back and the action at times was outstanding. Although this fight wasn’t as good as Tanaka’s bout against Kimura, this bout will undoubtedly be considered a sleeper hit by the end of the year.
Hardcore boxing fans are starting to take notice and potential unification bouts could be looming over the horizon for Tanaka. With fellow titleholders Artem Dalakian, Moruti Mthalane and Charlie Edwards all stationed around the world, international broadcasters would stand to do well to stage fights among those champions in the future. Provided that Edwards retains his WBC title this Saturday, a potential matchup on DAZN in the U.S. (and Sky Sports in the U.K.) could be a possibility if Tanaka is will to travel for a unification bout.
The second story, and I would argue it is the more important one, is the broadcast of the event. CBC, who handles Tanaka’s fights in Japan, gave Asian Boxing the ability to broadcast the fight across the world for free on YouTube. The success of that broadcast could have huge ramifications down the line as there isn’t a lot of outlets in the west showcasing regular boxing cards in Japan and if the undercard and main event have shown anything, it is the fact that Japanese boxing is among the best in the world right now.
If CBC is content with the broadcast numbers for the event, then there is a strong possibility future cards will also be available for free across the globe.
Kosei Tanaka defeated Ryoichi Taguchi by unanimous decision (119-109, 117-111, 117-111) to retain the WBO Flyweight title: The fight was electric from the start with both men throwing endless combinations to each other. Taguchi managed to land a series of short-range uppercuts to the chin to keep Tanaka from letting his hands go in the first round. That didn’t work out too well as Tanaka was still able to work the body and land his fair share of punches. The second round saw Tanaka unleash a flurry of power punches that overwhelmed Taguchi at first but the challenger was able to hang on. Taguchi was able to seize momentum with an overhead right that made Tanaka’s knees buckle even after blocking the punch. Tanaka was able to recover and keep landing combination after combination. As the fight got wore on, Tanaka would narrowly win rounds with his punch output and accuracy which forced Taguchi to step back and have to rely on counter punching at times. Tanaka started to rely on his jab a little bit more in the second half of the fight, still landing his shots with relative ease. Tanaka was able to keep Taguchi from throwing too many punches with the check left hook. Taguchi was unable to break through and seriously hurt Tanaka like he did early in the fight. Although Taguchi was landing shots clean, it was not enough to even slow down Tanaka, who kept his rapid pace throughout the entire fight. Even in the championship rounds, Tanaka outworked Taguchi, connecting on dozens of punches with the cleanest one being a left hook to Taguchi's ribs in the 11th round. Taguchi hung on to the final bell, but did so having been hit with too many well-placed power punches to get a decision in his favor.
Yuushi Tanaka and Yu Yougu fought to a majority draw: Solid scrap between the two fighters. Yougu landed a hard overhand right in the second round that momentarily had Tanaka off-balance. Yougu dropped Tanaka in the fourth round with a quick flurry and Yougu proceeded to land nearly every punch for the remainder of the round after Tanaka got back up. Both guys are fairly tall for being super bantamweights but they are willing to throw shots, especially Yougu.
Takuya Mizuno defeated Piched Chianawa by KO, round 2: The 23-year-old Mizuno dominated this fight from the start. Mizuno dropped Chianawa in round one and nearly stopped him. In round two, Mizuno landed a vicious left hand to the body to knock out Chianawa as he was unable to get back up by the count of 10 after knocking him down previously in the round. Mizuno, who now sports a 16-1-1 record, is slowly turning into a solid prospect at 122 pounds and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a shot at the national title by the end of the year. Chianawa was actually a late replacement as Mizuno’s original opponent dropped out at the last second.