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Hipster Fights: November 7 - 13

Hold onto your craft beers! There’s quite a few great matches this week, including a must-see card in Monaco.

WBA World Boxing Championship Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

A whole lot of people got drunk on Pac-mania, and for good reason. Pacquiao looks to be somewhat back. At least “back” in the sense that he can beat top 10 welterweights with ease.

But there was a lot more going on in the boxing world last week than an exhibition featuring a Filipino senator. Here’s a few that were noteworthy:

  • Tatsuya Fukuhara TKO7 Genki Hanai. Fukuhara succeeded in his 3rd defense of the Japanese minimumweight title, overcoming the previously unbeaten Hanai. Domestically, Fukuhara is now top dog and now edges his way into the minimumweight top 10. A world title fight should come soon.
  • Adela Celeste del Carmen Peralta UD Ana Laura Esteche. Scores: 97-93, 98-92, 97-93. This was an odd title unification in that both ladies fought each other in a non-title match a year earlier, and were now fighting for three world titles. In the previous match, Esteche eked out an MD win. She came into this match with an undefeated record, but now she tastes a loss for the first time. Regarding the fight itself, the first seven rounds were boring, but it really heat up in the R8-10 when Esteche realized she had to do something special. Unfortunately, it was too late.
  • Marino Goles P Gogita Gorgiladze. Results pending.
  • Tyron Zeuge KO12 Giovanni De Carolis. I doubted Zeuge, and didn’t think he had the skillset to win. I was clearly wrong. After a bitterly contested phone booth war, Zeuge put De Carolis away, and there was no controversy. Zeuge is now knocking on the door of super middleweight title contention.
  • Avni Yildirim TKO3 Schiller Hyppolite. This was supposed to be a big test for Yildirim, but he ended up destroying Hyppolite with little challenge. Like Zeuge, Yildirim is also knocking on the door of super middleweight title contention — I wouldn’t mind seeing them both face off to decide German domestic superiority.
  • Matias Rueda TKO1 Daniel Brizuela. Rueda got wiped out by Oscar Valdez in his previous fight, but got back in the saddle with a decisive stoppage against Brizuela. And with that, he’s still a fringe contender.
  • Philip Sutcliffe Jr. PTS Chris Jenkins. Score: 98-93. This was pretty competitive, and Jenkins gave it his all. However, Jenkins was knocked down, and there really wasn’t an argument for him to win. Sutcliffe now establishes himself as an Irish fighter worth watching.
  • Tyrone McKenna RTD5 Sean Creagh. McKenna showed his class, and completely dominated Creagh. When Creagh stepped off his stool in R6, the ref saw his eyes weren’t clear and he wisely stopped the fight. While it’s still early, McKenna looks like a promising welterweight prospect.
  • Kota Fujimoto TKO2 Katsuya Murakami. After Fujimoto struggling in his previous two fights, this win was as decisive as they come. 18-year-old Fujimoto looks like a blue chip prospect at super flyweight, and I’m excited to see where he goes next.
  • Bunta Okamoto UD Ruito Saeki. Scores: 48-46, 48-46, 48-47. Okamoto has now handed four fighters their first loss, and this is in a career that only spans five fights. Only 22-years-old, he’s one to look out for in the super bantamweight division.
  • Ye Joon Kim UD Yuki Strong Kobayashi. Scores: 119-110, 116-112, 117-112. Kim is now undefeated in his last 16 fights. I hope he makes a good run because I’d like to see the Korean boxing scene get re-vitalized.
  • Oleg Yefimovych D Martin Parlagi. At 35-years-old, Yefimovych needed a win here to get himself in world title contention. A draw here is a setback. As I said, though, Parlagi was not to be underestimated.

How’s this week looking? Looking across the world, I’d say it’s looking pretty eventful.

November 10 2016

Washington, DC, USA

★ Daniel Franco vs. Derrick Murray

How does this fight not merit any press — never mind a television broadcast? It is a match-up between two undefeated American prospects. It’s on a Thursday night. What else is going on?

Daniel Franco (14(9)-0-3) most recently fought on the undercard of Ward-Brand. Franco has yet to win over significant opposition, and he’s drawn in all his matches against fellow prospects. However, Franco is a come forward offense-first fighter who tries to wear opponents down.

That said, let me give you one reason to love Franco. This promo he cut is one of the most hilarious I’ve ever seen. And in case you need me to spell it out, yes, this is clearly a parody.

Derrick Murray (13(5)-0-1) has less experience than Franco, but he has beat one notable opponent in Cesar Alan Valenzuela. For those who caught the last PBC show, Valenzuela recently upset Dennis Galarza. Even so, I suspect Murray may have chin issues since he was knocked down in his draw against Pedro Toledo.

Paris, France

★ ★ Maiva Hamadouche vs. Jennifer Salinas

Maiva Hamadouche (13(11)-1) is a rarity: a female knockout artist.

At 79%, she has the highest KO ratio I’ve seen amongst elite women. Even Ann Wolfe, who was known for her punching power, only had a KO ratio of 62%. To be sure, Hamadouche doesn’t have one punch KO power. All her stoppages come by TKO, meaning that the ref typically stops the fight. Still, she’s a killer.

But the question here is, can her killer instinct take her to the next level? Against Delfine Persoon, she lost by UD. Yet, in her last fight, she stopped Enis Pacheco within two rounds. Hamadouche has spent almost her entire as a lightweight, but she’s never really belonged there and is making a good decision in moving down to 130lbs.

Jennifer Salinas (19(5)-3) has mostly fought between super bantamweight and super featherweight, although she fought last time at super lightweight. Her last high profile fight (as female boxers go) was a win against Melissa St Vil, but she once took the legendary Jackie Nava to the distance.

November 11 2016

Philadelphia, USA

★ ★ ★ Derrick Webster vs. Salim Larbi

At 34-years-old, time is running out for Derrick Webster (20(10)-1). If he’s going to move to title contention, he needs to move now.

To be sure, he’s got wins over some fairly known journeymen, including Darnell Boone. He also managed to KO fellow prospect Obodai Sai in one round. But last year, he lost by UD to Arif Magomedov. Not to be fair, the fight was pretty competitive despite the scoring, but Webstser got dropped in R10, so the decision was fair.

Salim Larbi (20(7)-6-2) is a former world title challenger who’s clearly reached his ceiling. That said, he offers a reasonable test for Webster. Thought 3-3 in his last 6 fights, one victory was over Patrice Sou Toke. And though he lost to Jack Culcay, at least he won a a few rounds.

Webster should win here but “should” doesn’t mean “will”.

Kobe, Japan

★ ★ ★ ★ Merlito Sabillo vs. Ryuya Yamanaka

Minimumweights age pretty quickly.

Case in point, 32-year-old Merlito Sabillo (25(12)-3-1) was the WBO world titlist three years ago. And now he’s 2-3-1 in his last 6 fights. One of those was a TKO4 loss to a journeyman who was 8-7-3 coming into the match. Be that as it may, he gave Riku Kano a good challenge in his last match, losing by SD.

21-year-old Ryuya Yamanaka (12(3)-2) needs a match like this, and I don’t mean as in “needs a name on his resume”. As I’ve said in other posts, they match their prospects tough in Japan, and two years ago, Yamanaka lost to a journeyman who was 10-16-4 coming in. The year previous, he lost by KO1 to a journeyman who was 2-3-1. Being as young as he is, these could all be learning experiences, but he’s yet to record a win over a single notable opponent.

Say what you will for Sabillo at this stage of his career, he is notable. He’s just the man to prove whether Yamanaka actually has potential, or if he’s destined to be much like the journeymen he’s been fighting.

November 12 2016

Madgburg, Germany

★ ★ ★ Mehdi Amar vs. Robert Stieglitz

Say what you will for Mehdi Amar (33(16)-4-2), since his TKO4 loss to Nadjib Mohammedi, he’s actually become a better fighter and is now undefeated in his last 12 fights. A few people might wonder who he won against during that stretch. Hugo Kasperski and Serhiy Demchenko are two prominent names, good for Euro-level opposition.

Some might regard this as a step down for former world titlist Robert Stieglitz (49(29)-5-1). He’s fought an epic quadrilogy against Arthur Abraham, and if you haven’t seen that series of fights, you really should. No question, it was heavy on drama and featured many twists and turns.

But there’s also no doubt that Stieglitz came out on the losing end of that series. His TKO4 loss in Abraham-Stieglitz IV was as definitive as any loss gets. Thus, now we’re going to see if he has anything left. If Stieglitz is still a world class super middleweight, he should blast away Amar.

Thing is, we don’t know how much Abraham took out of Stieglitz.

★ Phillip Nsingi vs. Kasim Gashi

His KO ratio isn’t impressive, but Phillip Nzingi (5(1)-0) has been matched pretty well. In his short career, he’s fought against Marco Martini and Mykola Vovk, two fighters who were each 7-0 at the time. Vovk, in particular, has proven to be a great opponent — having just won over the previously undefeated Krzysztof Kopytek. And for what it’s worth, Nsingi got a stoppage in his last match-up.

For his part, Kasim Gashi (9(4)-0), also has a win over and undefeated opponent. Unlike Nzingi, he’s shown he can go 10 full founds. However, though Gashi has much more experience, he has not fought the same level of opposition as Nzingi. Not by a long shot.

By that as it may, both fighters will have the opportunity to prove their prospect bona fides.

Tepic, Mexico

★ ★ ★ Jose Argumendo vs. Jose Antonio Jimenez

Jose Argumendo (18(10)-3-1) is the current IBF minimumweight world titlist. He won it over Katsunari Takayama, and has defended it against Julio Mendoza. Also on his resume are wins over Javier Martinez Resendiz, Juan Luis Lopez, and Saul Juarez. He does have a few losses, but they’ve always been contentious, and they’ve all been against Carlos Velarde and Oswaldo Novoa -- both well-regarded.

At 33-years-old, Jose Antonio Jimenez is geriatric by minimumweight standards, but he’s coming off a win against former WBC world titlist Chao Zhong Xiong. Prior to this win, his resume isn’t so impressive — he was known primarily for getting KOed against the likes of Ramon Hirales. So here he is, parlaying his signature win into a legitimate world title shot.

Here’s the thing. Though Argumendo is no doubt the prohibitive favourite, but after his win over Chao, I don’t put it past Jimenez to pull the upset.

Montpellier, France

★ ★ ★ ★ Rafael Pujol vs. Hugo Berrio

Rafael Pujol (11(2)-0) might be a 27-year-old undefeated prospect, but it’s a big ask for him to move to a 10 round fight against Hugo Berrio (22(13)-6-1).

The immediate concern I have about Pujol is that he’s yet to fight a notable opponent, has very little power, and this is his first 10 round fight. The best win on his resume is against Clark Telamanou, who was 4-1-1 at the time, and he barely pulled that off.

Berrio might be a journeyman, but he’s fought notable opponents like Andres Gutierrez, Oscar Escandon, and Nehomar Cermeno. A few times, he got knocked out. Other times, he gave his opponents a stiff challenge that they really had to earn.

Pujol might be biting off more than he can chew.

★ Mohamed Kani vs. Ricardo Silva

Mohamed Kani (9-0) is a French welterweight prospect who’s fighting his first 10 rounder. His best win so far is against fellow previously unbeaten prospect Modibo Diarra. But let’s now talk about the elephant in the room: Kani’s lack of power. Without a single KO on his resume, there’s nothing that indicates that Kani can close the show -- and without power, I doubt he’ll go far in the welterweight division.

I’ll say this much for Kani, though. Ricardo Silva (13(5)-0) is perhaps the best opponent he should be facing. Silva just came off a very impressive UD agaist Bogdan Mitic in which he scored a knockdown. Prior to that, he scored a win against fellow unbeaten prospect Emanuele Pinzi. Silva still has much to prove, but he’s the most impressive Swiss prospect I’ve seen in years.

Hat’s off to Kani for taking this fight. He might have limited upside, but it’s not for lack of trying.

Monte Carlo, Monaco

★ ★ Luis Ortiz vs. Malik Scott

Let’s call this for what it is: a stay busy match for heavyweight Luis Ortiz (25(22)-0) until he gets a big money fight.

By this time, we already what Ortiz is capable of at this time. He hasn’t won by UD since 2010, and that remains his lone UD (the other two non-KOs were DQs). Ortiz has already proven he’s a top 10 heavyweight with wins over Tony Thompson and Bryant Jennings. Prior to that, he earned his contender bona fides with wins over Matias Vidondo, Monte Barrett, and Alex Gonzales.

With that acknowledged, Malik Scott (38(13)-2-1) does offer something different. He’s not much of a puncher, but he displays great ring generalship and defensive acumen. His resume is a mixed bag. He has wins over Tony Thompson, Alex Leapai, and Bowie Tupou. The draw to Vyacheslav Glazkov should have been a win. He has KO losses to Deontay Wilder and Dereck Chisora.

Scott might give Ortiz rounds, but at a certain point, Ortiz will catch him with a solid hook. When that happens, I suspect Scott will stay down.

★ ★ ★ Jason Sosa vs. Stephen Smith

Right now, BoxRec declares Jason Sosa (19(15)-1-4) to be #1 at 130lbs. And it’s here, of course, where their computer algorithm fails us because, although Sosa “officially” has a draw to Nicholas Walters, almost everyone who saw that fight safely concludes it should have been a near-shutout win for Walters.

More legitimately, though, Sosa just upset the previously undefeated Javier Fortuna by TKO11. Sosa had to weather his a knockdown in R5 to roar back. Two left hooks sent Fortuna to the canvas, and though he beat the count, he rose to unsteady legs. The ref wisely stopped the fight. Prior to this stoppage, Sosa was behind on all three scorecards.

Stephen Smith (24(14)-2) is a good Euro-level fighter, but in his lone world title challenge, he lost to Jose Pedraza. He made it a good challenge throughout, but after being knocked down in R9, it was a definitive loss. That said, Smith has decent wins against Daniel Brizuela and Gary Buckland. His other loss is to current world titlist Lee Selby.

That said, I give Smith a chance because I think Sosa, overachiever that he is, is performing about as well as he plausibly can. Despite his #1 BoxRec ranking, he’s not that far away from Smith.

★ ★ ★ Jamie McDonnell vs. Liborio Solis

Jamie McDonnell (28(13)-2-1) is a 2x bantamweight world titlist who is on his 5th defense.

During his current WBA reign, he has wins against Fernando Vargas, Javier Chacon, Tabtimdaeng Na Racchawat, and the previously undefeated Tomoki Kameda (twice!). During his all-too-brief IBF reign, he gave the unbeaten Julio Ceja his first loss. The last time McDonnell recorded a loss was in 2008.

Liborio Solis (25(11)-4-1) is a former unified super flyweight world titlist who is a lot better than his BoxRec ranking indicates. Last March, Solis wages a war with Shinsuke Yamanaka, taking him to the distance. Though Solis was down in R2 and R9, he knocked down Yamanaka in R3 twice. Prior to that, Solis scored victories against Jonathan Baat, Jonathan Burgos, Daiki Kameda, Kohei Kono, and Jose Salgado. That’s a lot of very good names!

McDonnell is the favourite, but if Solis performs as well as he did against Yamanaka, it won’t be an easy night for McDonnell.

★ ★ Martin Murray vs. Dmitrii Chudinov

Arguably, Martin Murray (33(16)-4-1) is the best opponent Gennady Golovkin has yet faced — nearly taking him to the distance, but finally succumbing in R11.

At middleweight, he should already be a 2x world titlist, but was robbed against Felix Sturm and Sergio Martinez. I have my suspicions, though, that his run at super middleweight won’t go so well for him. He already lost a contentious fight to Arthur Abraham, and he was dominated by George Groves in his last fight. It is therefore questionable whether he can be elite in this weight class. I, for one, think Murray might be suffering from the Golovkin Effect.

Some people think Dmitrii Chudinov (19(12)-1-1) is a step down for Murray, but if we’re being honest, Chudinov is precisely the kind of opponent Murray should face if he’s ever to make another run at a super middleweight title.

Yes, Chudinov was stopped by Chris Eubank, but also handed unbeaten prospect Patrick Nielsen his first loss. At super middleweight, he recorded a stoppage win against Benjamin Simon, and though Simon is not much of a name, is he really less of a name than all the dudes Murray has faced at super middleweight?

So here it is. If Murray has, in fact suffered from the Golovkin Effect in the same way Matthew Macklin, Marco Antonio Rubio, and Daniel Geale all have, we should be seeing it in this match-up.

Philadelphia, USA

★ ★ Javier Fortuna vs. Omar Douglas

I was never sold on Javier Fortuna (30(22)-1-1), and his recent loss to Jason Sosa proved he wasn’t on the same level as Vasyl Lomachenko and Nicholas Walters — if there was ever that debate. But now he’s moving up to lightweight where I think he can make more of an impact.

So far, his lone fight at lightweight is against Marlyn Cabrera who, despite being unbeaten, really had no business in the ring with Fortuna. Cabrera had fought no notable opponents, and if there was any question his soft record hid talent, that question was answered when he was blown out by TKO2. That said, other than Jorge Linares, the lightweight division isn’t exactly brimming with talent so Fortuna should make an impact there.

Like Fortuna, Omar Douglas (17(12)-0) is moving to lightweight from super featherweight. Also, like Fortuna, I have some questions about Douglas. Though Douglas has a 71% KO ratio, he was lucky to escape with an MD against Frank De Alba. To be fair, most people had Douglas winning — but just barely. If Douglas is going to be more than just a prospect, it’s time to fish or cut bait.

This is a great crossroads match-up. Though Fortuna should be the favourite, it’s still possible we’ve already seen him at his best.

★ Danny Garcia vs. Samuel Vargas

Nobody likes this fight. And Danny Garcia (32(18)-0) deserves flack for taking this. That said, is it really as bad as people are saying? I don’t think so. Actually, we often see worse. Valdez-Osawa, on last weekend’s Pacquiao-Vargas undercard, is a case in point. To think this was part of a pay-per-view package.

Which brings us to Garcia. Yes, I know that at 140lbs, Garcia was the lineal champion -- and he deserves his due. At 147lbs, he hasn’t proven he’s elite. He fought Lamont Peterson at a catchweight, stopped an over-the-hill Paul Malignaggi, and went competitively against Robert Guerrero.

Samuel Vargas (25(13)-2-1) is mostly known for a TKO4 loss to Errol Spence Jr., but since then, he has wins against Cesar Chavez, Robson Assis, Edgar Ortega, and Juan Armando Garcia. This isn’t murderer’s row -- not by a long shot -- but it does prove that Vargas is a continental-level fighter who could one day be a fringe contender.

However, that day is not today, and for good reason, the WBC is not sanctioning their title. But if this is a stay busy fight so Garcia can clear out ring rust, then it’s an okay match-up. Let’s just hope, of course, that no upsets happen because I really want to see Thurman-Garcia.