Badou Jack, Ohara Davies, and Rocky Fielding picked up easy wins in mismatches today in Dubai, but flyweight Muhammad Waseem had to work a lot harder in the show’s main event to earn a win.
Waseem went to 12-1 (8 KO) with a very tough decision win over Rober Barrera (23-4, 13 KO), taking scores of 115-114, 115-113, and 117-111. The 34-year-old Waseem, a former amateur standout for Pakistan and world title challenger as a pro in 2018, picked up what may have really been his best pro win to date in this one, overcoming a cut and what seemed to be a flagging gas tank to dig deep and take the fight in the end.
Really, you could have made an argument that Waseem’s corner should have stopped the fight after the ninth and 10th rounds, but the A-side put what he had left into the final two frames and showed a lot of grit and determination, not to mention toughness and durability.
The 117-111 card in Waseem’s favorite really doesn’t tell you how good and competitive a fight this was, and if boxing were a sport with five judges where the worst two cards are chucked out at the end, that one should have been in the bin.
Jack (25-3-3, 14 KO) made his full-fledged move to cruiserweight with a wipeout win over Samuel Crossed (11-2-1, 7 KO), a deeply overmatched Maryland club fighter who was dropped three times in the second round and saw the fight mercifully stopped by the referee.
Jack, 38 and a former titlist at 168 and secondary titlist at 175, dabbled at cruiserweight in late 2020, fighting at a weight of 188¾ for a dominant win over Blake McKernan, but was just under the division’s proper 200 lb limit for this one, and appears et to give another world title run a go in a new class. This fight told us nothing, really, but he’s out there now.
Davies (23-2, 16 KO) was the “bad” (for fans who like entertainment) version of himself in a 10-round decision win over Nicholas Mwangi, cruising to unanimous scores of 99-91 from the judges. Davies was clearly the better fighter throughout, and Mwangi (10-4-1, 7 KO) seemed content to lose the decision as the fight wore on, never really pressing Davies, and Davies was perfectly happy to not be pressed. Mwangi was a late substitute opponent for Ismael Barroso.
Former secondary super middleweight titleholder Fielding (29-2, 17 KO) had his first fight in over two years. Now campaigning at light heavyweight, he dropped Emmanuel Danso (32-7, 26 KO) in the second round of another obvious mismatch. Danso wobbled back to his corner after the round and did not come off of his stool to start the third.