James Metcalf and Kerman Lejarraga did not put on the fireworks bonanza some of us as fans were hoping to see, but for Metcalf, all the better, as he boxed his way to a deserved decision win on the road in Bilbao, Spain.
Metcalf won on scores of 96-95, 96-94, and 97-94 over the home favorite Lejarraga. Bad Left Hook scored the fight 97-93 for Metcalf, but given the location and all that, things were nervy until Metcalf’s name was read as the winner.
Metcalf arguably should have been credited with a knockdown in round three, too, but was not.
Metcalf (23-2, 14 KO) was an underdog here, but not by any huge margin. He established the right sort of game plan in the fight, while Lejarraga (34-3, 26 KO) never quite got out of first gear, and suffered another setback just as he felt he was set to graduate from European level and go on to challenge someone bigger. In this case, the hope was a fight with Liam Smith.
But like at welterweight against David Avanesyan, Lejarraga hit a wall at 154 against Metcalf, and the hard reality staring Lejarraga down now is that he appears to simply be this level of fighter. At 30, he’s gotten three checks on that so far, and he doesn’t look to have the body, power, or skills to go up to 160 and succeed at a higher level than he has at 147 or 154.
“It’s a massive win. It’s put me ahead of where I was before the (Ted) Cheeseman fight (in 2021),” Metcalf said. “I’ve never complained about that, even if there were issues going on with me. I just haven’t brought it up and I’ve got over it. There were also issues in the (Kieron) Conway fight, I should have pushed a bit more. I’ve changed me trainers and stuff, and Joe’s come up with a master plan.”
“It doesn’t matter what you do in the gym. I worked with James in the past, four or five years ago. Through circumstances, we parted ways, but we linked up again eight weeks ago,” said trainer Joe McNally. “The man listens, if you give him instructions he carries them out. We had to give Kerman something he’d never seen before, because he’s had camps with him in the past. I would have paid to watch it, because I know what it would have been. But I knew he had this in him tonight. He’s done himself proud, his missus and the kids proud.”
Metcalf, 33, could now look to go after the European title himself, or go again for the British title, which he came up short of winning against Cheeseman last year. Or he could do any number of things, really.
“He’s gonna break his way into the world top 15 now with the WBA. He deserves big fights because he’s continually rolled the dice. He’s fought Cheeseman, Conway, and Lejarraga in the space of a year and a half. He’s been a true service to the game,” promoter Eddie Hearn said.
Undercard results and highlights
- Jairo Noriega UD-12 Angel Moreno: You have to feel a bit for Moreno, who at 38 went to 0-4 in attempts to win the European flyweight title, having previously lost trying to take it in 2016 and 2019, and went to a draw with the vacant belt at stake last September. Here, Moreno (21-5-3, 6 KO) went down in the first and fifth rounds, but he battled all night. Noriega (12-0, 3 KO) got the cards as deserved, though, with scores of 116-110, 118-109, and 118-109. Bad Left Hook had it 117-109 for Noriega on our unofficial card. It’s obviously a big win for the 25-year-old Noriega, but he’s probably a couple fights away at least from having any shot in a world title level fight, too, so if he treads water for a little bit I wouldn’t be surprised or upset about it. Sure, you could throw him in with Sunny Edwards in six months, but it won’t go very well for him. Maybe it never will, even, but he’s got plenty of time to give himself the best shot possible.
Noriega drops Moreno in the FIRST round pic.twitter.com/TyWqPJTk4U— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 20, 2022
- Jon Miguez TKO-6 James Moorcroft: Terrific action fight in this welterweight bout, really competitive for five rounds before Miguez (17-0, 8 KO) went through the gears and turned the screw in round six, battering Moorcroft (16-2, 5 KO) to the canvas. Moorcroft did get up, but the Wigan native was deemed in no position to continue by referee. Moorcroft probably could have been allowed to continue, but he wasn’t responding as strongly as needed, and the tide had fully turned anyway; the 25-year-old Miguez, aka “Goodboy,” was hammering away at that point.
The referee has seen enough— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 20, 2022
Miguez finishes off Moorcroft pic.twitter.com/AGhFgt1jgJ
- Fran Mendoza UD-8 Alexander Mejia: A good showing from Mendoza (14-0, 7 KO), getting scores of 78-74, 80-72, 80-72. The 78-74 score seems better. Mendoza, a 25-year-old Colombian now based in Spain, put on a good action fight here with Mejia (18-3, 7 KO), Mendoza, a bantamweight, is someone worth keeping in mind for these shows.