Fernando Montiel - Ethan Miller
This weekend recap is devoted to events that most casual American boxing fans haven’t seen or heard of. Select fights from the last 3 months of 2012 are covered.
Welcome to a special edition of "Weekend Recap" where I don't actually cover any fights from the past weekend... Honestly I only saw 2 cards from the 1st week of January, ESPN's Friday Night Fights and a Mexican card on Televisa. So without a bunch of under the radar new fights to discuss, I thought I'd dig up some old fights of value that were never previously reported on Bad Left Hook. Their implications for 2013 are touched upon at the end of each recap. But before I forget, you can check out last week's recaps here.
2012-10-27 El Paso County Coliseum, El Paso, Texas, USA
Alejandro Lopez UD12 Takalani Ndlovu (116-111, 116-111, 117-110)
In a bout more filled with as much MMA as boxing, Alex Lopez won a controversial home field decision that his own fans didn't support. However, the fight actually was pretty debatable. The reason his fans disagreed is because Lopez fought nothing like a stereotypical Mexican. Lopez was very defensive oriented and moved his feet more than his hands. Ndlovu on the other hand was the one coming forward and forcing the fight. And when Ndlovu would trap Lopez, Lopez would often resort to holding and MMA maneuvers to get out of danger.
Although Lopez proved to be slicker, Ndlovu still had the better jab. Ndlovu's jab was thrown to go through his opponent while Lopez mostly used his as a range finder to set up his right hands and left hooks. It wasn't entertaining the El Paso crowd very much, but I did feel Lopez had out boxed Ndlovu through most of the first 5 rounds. But things changed in round 6 when Ndlovu stunned Lopez, who responded by holding on for dear life. Consequently the referee rightfully deducted a point from Lopez. Personally I felt Ndlovu swept rounds 6-9 based off clean punching, effective aggression, and ring generalship. But just as the fight was slipping away (on my card) Lopez turned things around in the 10th by countering Ndlovu beautifully. In the 11th Lopez landed the right hand regularly over Ndlovu's low left. He finally started letting his hands go in continuous combinations.
But while Lopez continued to out-land Ndlovu in the 12th, Ndlovu made up for it by landing the harder, more effective shots. By the finish I thought it was an even fight although the official judges had it wide for the house fighter and even Azteca America had him comfortably ahead. Through 11 rounds Azteca America only gave Ndlovu rounds 2, 6, and 8. 7-5 either way seemed more appropriate to me, and Lopez probably felt the same way. As soon as he was announced as the winner, Lopez went over and raised Ndlovu's hand out of respect.
In any event, because Lopez got by this IBF super bantamweight title eliminator he's now in position to challenge for the IBF world title (which Nonito Donaire vacated). Lopez's opponent will be Jonathan Romero, who earned this shot by dominating Efrain Esquivias on ShoBox in another eliminator. Esquivias was fresh off a close fight of the year candidate with former WBA world champion Rico Ramos. Based on these performances Romero should be the favorite to defeat Lopez, but the fight will be in Lopez's hometown. Lopez probably feels he has to redeem himself and a more aggressive performance against Romero will probably play right into the Colombian's hands. But who knows what will happen; I'm just looking forward to it. Lopez-Romero is scheduled to go down February 16, 2013.
Glen Tapia UD8 Dashon Johnson
2012-11-24 Gimnasio Municipal "Jose Neri Santos", Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico
Fernando Montiel UD12 Giovanni Caro (114-112, 114-112, 114-112)
In a very close and thrilling battle that pitted a slick technician against a swarmer, the technician turned brawler in the final round to eek out a decision. Montiel, not usually known for being elusive, was keen on fighting a defensive, counter punching fight from the opening bell. While I still believe that Montiel is the heavier handed fighter, it was Caro that came forward, pushed Montiel back, and gave him two black eyes.
Although I gave the opening round to Caro, mostly based on his exuberance, I felt Montiel controlled rounds 2-5 on clean punching and defense. Once upon a time Montiel was one of the most feared punchers in boxing. Watching the terror that Montiel once was morph into a slick counter puncher was surprising to say the least. But ultimately he was winning the fight, until things changed in the 6th round. For whatever reason, perhaps because his vision was going due to the swelling of the eyes, Montiel unraveled defensively in round 6 and the trend continued into the 7th. Head clashes in round 8 opened up cuts on both fighters and seemingly distracted Caro more than Montiel. Thus Montiel was able to out box Caro in the 8th. In round 9 Caro got back to using his longer jab even better than before and swept the next 3 rounds on my card. Montiel, who often held his hands low, ate Caro's jab like it was candy. On the inside I felt Montiel was having the upper hand, but only by a small margin.
It wasn't until the end of round 11 that Montiel really stepped his game up and began to punch like a mad man. I didn't think it was enough to steal the 11th, but it certainly won him the 12th. In the middle of the 12th Montiel dished out a vicious combination that sent Caro's mouthpiece flying. It was no longer a pretty, technical Montiel in there but a man that swung wildly in hopes of landing anything he could. And since Caro was there to be hit, it actually worked. It was a great ending to a very good fight. I had it a draw but a close victory for either fighter is perfectly acceptable.
Not that it matters, but the fight was apparently for the USNBC Silver super bantamweight title, which is apparently a step toward the world Silver title that Montiel was unable secure against Victor Terrazas in 2011. Terrazas is unbeaten since although he had to settle for a split decision win over journeyman Juan Ruiz on the Nonito Donaire-Jorge Arce undercard. I felt Ruiz was about even with Terrazas over the last 5 rounds, but he dropped the first 3 and deserved to lose. Based on Terrazas' excellent and persistent jab I'd say if a rematch were to happen he'd beat Montiel again.
However, Terrazas is moving on to bigger and better fights and may be next for Abner Mares. So where does the 16+ year veteran Montiel go from here? He's been life and death in 3 of his last 4 bouts against previously unheralded opponents. On my scorecards Montiel lost to both Terrazas and Arturo Santos Reyes (only gave him 4 rounds against Reyes). Personally I'd like to see Montiel fight Cristian Mijares, but unfortunately Mijares is eyeing a showdown with Nonito Donaire. Mijares however is first expected to meet Enrique Bernache on February 9. If Mijares-Montiel can't be made and if Rafael Marquez can't get his desired rematch with Montiel, I wouldn't mind watching Marquez vs Montiel either. The loser of that fight should however be forced to retire...
2012-12-01 Parque Andrés Quintana Roo, Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Televisa (Mexico) / Fox Sports Español (United States)
Denis Shafikov UD12 Albert Mensah (117-107, 118-108, 118-108)
Mensah's jab proved fairly effective when he could keep the shorter Shafikov at a distance, but the Russian's good head movement and explosive counter attacks got Shafikov right where he wanted to be. Mensah's shoulder rolling Mayweather impersonation wasn't very effective at stopping the southpaw lefts that Shafikov threw. Mensah spent entirely too much time on the ropes and Shafikov was no easy target to counter like Mensah was up against in his previous bout with Michael Katsidis.
While I predicted Mensah would upset Katsidis, I was fairly sure a prime Shafikov would be another story entirely. By the 4th round Shafikov's heavy hooks to the body had taken their toll and took Mensah to his knees twice, resulting in a clear 10-7 round. Mensah would come back to have a few brief moments throughout the rest of the bout but took a beating in the process. Mensah was getting beat so bad that he completely abandoned his philly shell for more conventional defenses. Consequently Mensah avoided going down again, but he also didn't have much left to offer offensively.
Honestly, you could argue that Shafikov pitched a shutout over 12 rounds. I thought the official cards, which were still wide, were kind to Mensah. Nonetheless Shafikov picked up the IBF International light welterweight title and the vacant WBC Baltic light welterweight title with this victory. More importantly he took one step closer to being the mandatory challenger to the IBF world title and is actually the highest rated junior welterweight in the IBF today.
The IBF rates Shafikov #2 while the #1 spot is vacant. Next month reigning world champion Lamont Peterson is set to defend his title against #4 rated Kendall Holt. If I had to take a guess, both would sooner vacate their title than defend against Shafikov after learning about him. Unless you want to give Shafikov home field advantage, there's no way the risk of fighting him is worth the financial reward.
Jose Salgado UD12 Devis Perez [NABF super flyweight title]
2012-12-15 PalaGarda, Riva del Garda, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy
Giacobbe Fragomeni SD12 Silvio Branco (116-112, 115-114, 113-115)
When Fragomeni and Branco fought back in March I witnessed the best cruiserweight fight I'd seen since the first meeting between Tomasz Adamek and Steve Cunningham. I scored that action packed fight of the year candidate 6-4-2 for Branco although it officially ended in a draw. The rematch wasn't as good as the first fight and was fought at a much more controlled pace. But I felt this favored Branco even further and scored the rematch 8-2-2 Branco, although the judges awarded Fragomeni the victory by split decision. How one judge saw 8 rounds to give to Fragomeni honestly baffles me. The fight certainly had enough swing round for me to visualize a Fragomeni win, but not by a 4 point margin. I felt Branco won 5 rounds clearly.
Although the former middleweight clearly lacked the power of his career cruiserweight opponent, Branco out landed his shorter opponent at least 2-1. Branco's hand speed and reflexes were on an entirely different level to the plodding Fragomeni. Fragomeni punched air so often in the first half of the fight I was having a hard time rationalizing how someone as unheralded as Branco could look that good after such a long career. Branco could throw a 6 punch combination, make 3 return punches miss, and spin off before Fragomeni even realized he was gone. But Fragomeni always kept coming forward. And unfortunately that alone is enough to win rounds on the scorecards of certain judges.
After 24 completed rounds between Fragomeni and Branco you'd think enough fighting had taken place. Yet, for whatever reason the entourage of both fighters got into a mini-fight within 30 seconds of the final bell. Ironically the fighters themselves had no hard feelings towards each other and hugged. There appeared to be some controversy with the scorecards and the ring continued to be filled for 20 minutes after the official fight ended. But as I don't speak Italian I can't really tell you what was going on...
In any event Fragomeni is now the new WBC Silver cruiserweight champion. This puts him in position to face "Gold" champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk for a 3rd time. Wlodarczyk is scheduled to defend his title against Jean Marc Mormeck on February 9. With talks of Wlodarczyk also facing Roy Jones, he clearly appears to be on a senior tour. I really don't mind old guys fighting as long as it is against each other. I'll happily watch a "not-so-super six" tournament with Jones, Fragomeni, Branco, Mormeck, Antonio Tarver, and Danny Green...
Emanuele Della Rosa PTS6 Arvydas Trizno
Emanuele Blandamura PTS6 Jevgenijs Andrejevs
Mirko Larghetti TKO4 Arturs Kulikauskis
If a bout is not mentioned which took place on one of the above cards it’s most likely because I haven’t got around to watching it yet. In the event that I do watch such a bout at a later time it’s still unlikely I will update this recap. My recaps will be posted on Mondays and/or Wednesdays, devoted to cards that most casual American boxing fans haven’t seen or heard of. For available footage of the previously reported bouts follow @sweetboxing on twitter. You may also email the author of this piece at firstname.lastname@example.org.