Another boxing weekend is in the books, with some notable names scoring some big wins, including Dmitry Bivol handling a challenge from Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, Chantelle Cameron going undisputed at 140, David Morrell scoring a brutal KO over Aidos Yerbossynuly, and more!
Dmitry Bivol vs Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez
The basics: Bivol retained his WBA light heavyweight title with a one-sided decision win over Ramirez in Abu Dhabi, taking scores of 117-111, 117-111, and 118-110, in a fight that became increasingly less in doubt after the third round, when Bivol just took over the fight entirely.
Thoughts: Bivol (21-0, 11 KO) and Artur Beterbiev are the clear two best light heavyweights in the world. Zurdo Ramirez (44-1, 30 KO) hadn’t earned being in that conversation, and this was his chance, his shot, his test to pass. He did not pass it, instead getting a real eye-opener as to what the level is at the top in boxing, and not just “at the top” by way of having a paper world title and a good promotional team behind you. Ramirez can fight, but he was a class below Bivol, and it was plain as day once Bivol found the groove and figured out what Zurdo could and couldn’t do. Bivol cements himself more in the elite ranks of the boxing world right now, while Ramirez goes back to the drawing board a bit.
Next for Bivol: Bivol wants Artur Beterbiev next, but unless he wants to sit out maybe around a year and also hope Beterbiev doesn’t come down with any of his fairly consistent injury issues, that’s not going to be next. Beterbiev has a mandatory fight with Anthony Yarde planned for late January, and he wouldn’t be ready to go out again until the summer at the earliest, and at that point Bivol will be out eight, nine months at the least. If Bivol wants to fight before a Beterbiev fight is really possible, then the Canelo rematch in May would be the money idea. It’s also not a fight Bivol should have much fear of, other than corruption, which now that I say it out loud is a pretty big worry.
For Ramirez: I mean, if we’re being honest? Golden Boy were either struggling or refusing to find genuinely threatening matchups for him prior to Bivol, and if it was more struggling than refusing, that’s probably not about to get a lot easier. In theory, there are good fights out there for him, but they’re not in-house with Golden Boy. Hopefully, losing the “0” makes everyone willing to be a bit more daring. He also could perhaps look at a move to cruiserweight, but first of all, there’s no market for cruiserweight in the U.S., and it would take away the fight night advantages he gains by coming into the ring about 200 lbs. So we’ll see; bet on a bounce-back, which is understandable, and then hope he does something better after.
From the undercard
- Chantelle Cameron vs Jessica McCaskill: Cameron (17-0, 8 KO) fully unified the junior welterweight division, adding the previously vacant WBA and WBO titles to the WBC and IBF belts she already held coming in. She opened up a big lead over McCaskill (12-3, 5 KO) in the first six rounds, but McCaskill — who is still, by the way, the undisputed welterweight champion — clawed her way back into competitive scores over the last four rounds. When Cameron was able to move and box, she outclassed the rugged but very limited McCaskill. When she slowed down a bit, McCaskill’s fearless aggression did work. Cameron will be in the mix to possibly fight undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor in Dublin, and if Kali Reis comes back to boxing, that could be the fight for her, too. For McCaskill, again, still has four belts at 147, but there just aren’t currently any interesting fights there.
- Galal Yafai: The youngest of the Yafai brothers went to 3-0 (2 KO) with a solid decision win over a talented and game Gohan Rodriguez, who just didn’t have the power to be the threat that power would have made him. Yafai, 29, still gets hit a lot, still smothers his own work a bit too much, and I get the feeling you aren’t going to see big changes in him going forward. But he is a good fighter who can get into the mix at flyweight if things go well, and he’s been ambitious so far.
- Kal Yafai: The oldest of the Yafai brothers returned after a long break following a stoppage loss to Chocolatito Gonzalez, and it wasn’t all as easy as most expected, as he had to come off the canvas and grind out a win over Jerald Paclar. Class showed over the course of the fight, but Yafai was a little uneasy in the bout. He is looking to campaign at bantamweight, but he also didn’t make the bantamweight limit on Friday (Paclar did, and they were over 3 lbs apart). Kal may find the going a little tough at 118, but four belts could go vacant within the next couple of months, and he has a power promoter.
David Morrell Jr vs Aidos Yerbossynuly
The basics: Morrell stayed unbeaten, chipping away at Yerbossynuly until scoring a pretty brutal 12th round knockout win. For whatever it’s worth, which can be a lot or a little depending on whether the WBA decide to order something because of it, Morrell retained his secondary super middleweight title.
Thoughts: Morrell continues to look like the real deal. Yerbossynuly (16-1, 11 KO) is not a great fighter or top contender, but a good fighter who gave a tremendous effort trying to win this fight. Morrell (8-0, 7 KO) was just too much of a lot of things — too quick, too strong, too athletic, too good, simply put. Morrell has good finishing ability and showed that again. He also showed he doesn’t have to overwhelm rugged, game opponents early, and that he can go a hard-fought distance. Yes, he was in control almost all the way, but he had to earn it in every round, too. This was a good showing.
Next for Morrell: The Cuban wanted David Benavidez, or so he says, but Benavidez will be fighting Caleb Plant next, reportedly, and that’s a really good fight, so it’s hard to argue. With Benavidez and Plant both off the table, don’t expect the WBA to make a consolidation order for Canelo vs Morrell unless Canelo green lights it, quite frankly. But Morrell looks like a threat to anyone at 168. Someone like Lerrone Richards or Carlos Gongora might be about as good an actually available option as there will be for his next fight. Erik Bazinyan, Rocky Fielding, and Padraig McCrory would be his next-highest ranked WBA contenders; in theory, any of them could be available, and none of them would really excite anyone, but Morrell’s stuck in a weird spot right now.
For Yerbossynuly: He waited over a year to get this fight, got it, fought pretty well, and was just beaten by the better fighter. Yerbossynuly is 30, so realistically he’s what he is, a tough fighter who will give some good fights, and I’d be happy to see him back on TV against just about anyone. He’s got a good style and can be a real handful. He’s not top-shelf, but he’s not bad at all.
From the undercard
- Brian Mendoza: A really good short-notice win for Mendoza over Jeison Rosario. Mendoza (21-2, 15 KO) stepped in to replace Yoelvis Gomez, which made Rosario the A-side, and Mendoza made the chance count. This will get him another decent fight. In fact, there’s a decent chance he could be the next opponent FOR...
- Fiodor Czerkaszyn: The middleweight division needs new blood, and a 26-year-old, fundamentally sound Polish-Ukrainian fighter with an enjoyable style is a good pickup for PBC. We’ll see him again. Czerkaszyn (21-0, 13 KO) looked sharp and sound dominating Nathaniel Gallimore, who took some punishment that may have stopped a less durable fighter. This was Czerkaszyn’s second fight in the U.S., and his best opponent on paper to date, probably. A nice showing.