Cruiserweight World Championship Fights & Title Claims
Full cruiserweight fight details from 1979 to September 2016 (plus heavy, light heavy and super middle) are available in this definitive companion book:
Full Fight Details from 2000 Onwards
21 July 2018. Oleksandr Usyk w pts 12 Murat Gassiev.
Venue: Olympic Sports Complex, Moscow, Russia. Recognition: World. Referee: Celestino Ruiz.
Scorecards: 120-108, 119-109, 119-109.
Arsen Goulamirian made a successful defence of the WBA ‘interim’ title when stopping Mark Flanagan inside nine rounds at the Sports Palace, Marseilles, France on 20 October.
3 February 2018. Murat Gassiev w rsc 12 Yunier Dorticos.
Venue: Bolshoi Ice Dome, Adler, Russia. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Eddie Claudio.
Arsen Goulamirian won the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title when stopping Ryad Merhy inside 11 rounds at the Sports Palace, Marseilles, France on 24 March.
The vacant ‘second tier’ title was won by Beibut Shumenov who forced Hizni Altunkaya to retire at the end of the ninth round of their contest at the Barys Arena, Astana, Kazakhstan on 7 July.
27 January 2018. Oleksandr Usyk w pts 12 Mairis Briedis.
Venue: The Arena, Riga, Latvia. Recognition: WBC/WBO. Referee: Kenny Bayless.
Scorecards: 115-113, 115-113, 114-114.
21 October 2017. Murat Gassiev w co 3 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk.
Venue: Prudential Centre, Newark, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Albert Earl Brown.
30 September 2017. Mairis Briedis w pts 12 Mike Perez.
Venue: The Arena, Riga, Latvia. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Massimo Barrovecchio.
Scorecards: 116-110, 115-111, 114-112.
9 September 2017. Olekdandr Usyk w rsc 10 Marco Huck.
Venue: Max Schmeling Hall, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Robert Byrd.
9 July 2017. Denis Lebedev w pts 12 Mark Flanagan.
Venue: DIVS Arena, Ekateringburg, Russia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Pinit Prayadsab.
Scorecards: 119-108, 119-108, 120-107.
Yunier Dorticos, the WBA ‘second tier’ champion, knocked out Dmitry Kudryashov inside two rounds at The Aladome, San Antonio, Texas, USA on 23 September in defence of his title.
Lebedev was demoted to WBA ‘champion in recess’ on 1 February 2018 due to inactivity and Dorticos was upgraded to full championship status in order for him to meet Murat Gassiev, the IBF champion, in a unification fight two days later. According to the WBA, the winner would then be mandated to defend against Lebedev.
8 April 2017. Oleksandr Usyk w pts 12 Michael Hunter Jnr.
Venue: MGM National Harbour, Oxon Hill, Maryland, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Bill Clancy.
Scorecards: 117-110, 117-110, 117-110.
1 April 2017. Mairis Briedis w pts 12 Marco Huck.
Venue: Westfalen Hall, Dortmund, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jay Nady.
Scorecards: 118-109, 116-111, 117-110.
17 December 2016. Oleksandr Usyk w co 9 Thabiso Mchunu.
Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Lou Moret.
Venue: Khodynka Ice Palace, Moscow, Russia. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Albert Earl Brown.
Scorecards: 116-112, 116-111, 113-114.
Lebedev remained the WBA champion as only his IBF title was at stake.
15 October 2016. Tony Bellew w rsc 3 BJ Flores.
Venue: Echo Arena, Liverpool, England. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Ian John-Lewis.
Fight Summary: Although the challenger made a decent enough start, taking the opening session, he was soon under pressure in the second after Bellew (199¼) opened up with some heavy shots. Having complained about a low blow, Flores (199¼) was still complaining when he was dropped by a left hook to the head. Getting up at 'eight', the American was soon on the floor from another left hook, and despite making it to his feet he was put down again from a two-handed attack. Saved by the bell Flores came right back at Bellew in the third, but following yet another left hook that sent him crashing the referee halted the contest on the 2.11 mark.
Bellew was appointed ‘emeritus’ champion on 29 March 2017, having suffered a broken right hand when defeating David Haye in a heavyweight battle and being uncertain as to which weight division he would resume his career in when fit again. Meantime, Marco Huck and Mairis Breidis were matched to contest the vacant title.
17 September 2016. Oleksandr Usyk w pts 12 Krzysztof Glowacki.
Venue: Ergo Arena, Gdansk, Poland. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Robert Byrd.
Scorecards: 117-111, 117-111, 119-109.
Fight Summary: The inexperienced Usyk (198¾), with just nine contests on his tab coming into the fight, showed what a good prospect he was when going 12 rounds for the first time and picking up a unanimous decision over the hard-hitting champion in a match-up of southpaws. A former European and World amateur gold medallist, Usyk used his longer reach and fast hands to shoot in solid jabs that were followed up by heavy rights and lefts which Glowacki (199¼) seemed unable to avoid. Having been cut on the right eye following a clash of heads in the third Glowacki had some good rounds but in the latter stages, as he tired and his eye began to swell, he became wilder as Usyk took the fight by the scruff of the neck. Despite slipping over in the final session, Usyk, who was awarded the last three rounds on the cards, was a clear winner regardless of the downcast Glowacki receiving hand and elbow injuries during the fight.
29 May 2016. Tony Bellew w rsc 3 Ilunga Makabu.
Venue: Goodison Park Stadium, Liverpool, England. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Victor Loughlin.
Fight Summary: Contesting the vacant title after Grigory Drozd was handed 'champion in recess' status on being injured, Bellew (199¼) took full advantage of the opportunity to pound Makabu (196½) into submission. That was after Makabu had dropped the Englishman with a solid southpaw left in the opener. Not deterred, Bellew gritted his teeth and hit back hard in the third when crashing right hands to the head sent Makabu into the ropes. Having followed up with a heavy right uppercut and left hook, Makabu was sent down and when it was clear that he was never going to make it to his feet in time the referee ignored the count and stopped the fight on the 1.20 mark.
21 May 2016. Denis Lebedev w rsc 2 Victor Emilio Ramirez.
Venue: Khodynka Ice Palace, Moscow, Russia. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Steve Smoger.
Fight Summary: In a battle between two champions, Ramirez (198½) representing the IBF and Lebedev (198¾) the WBA, it was the latter who came away with two belts after stopping his rival at 1.57 of the second. Following a relatively even opening round, after Lebedev got home with a southpaw left uppercut and followed it up with a short left Ramirez was decked. Although the Argentine regained his feet and appeared not too interested in carrying on, the contest was only halted when he was once again under the cosh and not fighting back.
On the same day at the Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Beibut Shumenov won the vacant WBA 'second tier' title when stopping Junior Anthony Wright inside ten rounds. Shumenov was then forced to withdraw from a defence against the WBA ‘interim’ champion, Yunier Dorticos, on 29 April 2017, after receiving an eye injury in training ten days earlier. When the Kazakh handed back his ‘second tier’ belt on 19 June 2017, further to medical advice, Dorticos was upgraded to ‘second tier’ champion.
16 April 2016. Krzysztof Glowacki w pts 12 Steve Cunningham.
Venue: Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Arthur Mercante Jnr.
Scorecards: 115-109, 115-109, 116-108.
Fight Summary: Despite being dropped on four separate occasions the 40-year-old challenger not only made it to the final bell against the hard-punching Glowacki (199) but actually won five rounds on the cards. Floored in the second by a southpaw left hook and moments later by a stiff right it looked as though it would be an early night for Cunningham (194¼), but back he came until a short right downed him in the tenth. With his right eye swollen he gave it one last try in the 12th until another big right put him down again and finally took the sting out of his tail.
4 November 2015. Denis Lebedev w rsc 8 Lateef Kayode.
Venue: Basket-Hall Arena, Kazan, Russia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Steve Smoger.
Fight Summary: After coming down from heavyweight to challenge the southpaw champion, Kayode (199½) started reasonably well before falling behind on points and coming under fire in the seventh when a hard left hook sent him down. From thereon in it became a hard night's work for Kayode as Lebedev (198¾) upped the pace while sending in heavy left hands and with the challenger forced against the ropes, taking solid blows without return, the referee stepped in at 1.22 of the eighth to save him.
Yunier Dorticos stopped Youri Kayembre Kalenga inside ten rounds to win the WBA 'interim' title that had been vacated by Beibut Shumenov at the Versailles Sports Palace, Paris, France on 20 May 2016.
2 October 2015. Victor Emilio Ramirez drew 12 Ovill McKenzie.
Venue: Villa La Nata Sporting Club, Benavidez, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Benjy Esteves Jnr.
Scorecards: 115-113, 113-115, 114-114.
Fight Summary: Making the first defence of the title that was handed to him after Yoan Pablo Hernandez had been stripped, Ramirez (200) took on McKenzie (191¼) who had accepted the contest at 11 days’ notice. Boxing on the back foot showing a good jab, McKenzie took the opening three rounds before being forced to take some heavy shots as Ramirez came more into the fight as it progressed. Fighting with great desire the tenth belonged to McKenzie, and although Ramirez came back strongly in the 11th it was the challenger who finished the better. Boxing News, who gave McKenzie the fight by 115-114, felt that the Jamaican-born Englishman certainly deserved another crack at Ramirez in view of the split draw on away territory.
14 August 2015. Krzysztof Glowacki w rsc 11 Marco Huck.
Venue: Prudential Centre, Newark, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: David Fields.
Fight Summary: Having successfully defended his title 13 times and looking to break the divisional record jointly held with Johnny Nelson, Huck (199) made a slow start when dropping the opening three rounds. At this stage of the fight Huck was still shaking off the ring rust after being idle for almost a year. However, he picked up the pace in the fourth before sending Glowacki (198) crashing in the sixth following a left hook to the jaw. Although Glowacki came back hard Huck soon regained some momentum, all three cards having the latter ahead at the end of the tenth. The contest changed dramatically in the 11th as Glowacki took up the offensive when blasting Huck to the ropes and after dropping the latter for the 'eight' count, with a southpaw left hook and straight right, he was battering away at his defenceless opponent who was then quickly rescued by the referee at 2.39 of the session.
22 May 2015. Grigory Drozd w rsc 9 Lukasz Janik.
Venue: Luzhniki Sports Palace, Moscow, Russia. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Ian John-Lewis.
Fight Summary: Putting his title on the table for the first time, Drozd (199¾) immediately settled down to work when winning every round against Janik (200), stabbing in left hands and solid body shots that would eventually weaken the challenger. Dropped by a body blow in the seventh and pushed down in the eighth Janik looked sold-out, and in the ninth he was rescued by the referee after just 50 seconds when he was taking a two-fisted pounding and seemed unable to defend himself.
Originally due to meet Ilunga Makabu in November, the fight was rescheduled after Drozd suffered an injury in training, and on being injured again Drozd was given 'champion in recess' status on 14 March 2016. Meantime, it was announced that Makabu and Tony Bellew would contest the vacant title.
10 April 2015. Denis Lebedev w pts 12 Youri Kayembre Kalenga.
Venue: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Guillermo Perez Pineda.
Scorecards: 116-111, 115-112, 116-110.
Fight Summary: Controlling the fight for the opening three rounds, the southpaw champion was surprised more than hurt when Kalenga (198¾) had him over from what was termed a slip by the referee after taking a hard left to the head. That spurred Kalenga on to more success, but having been floored heavily in the seventh he was put under real pressure as Lebedev (198½) pushed forward. Despite tiring and taking some heavy left hooks in the process, Kalenga came back well to win three of the last four sessions.
Beibut Shumenov won the vacant WBA 'interim' title when outscoring BJ Flores over 12 rounds at the Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA on 25 July.
27 September 2014. Grigory Drozd w pts 12 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk.
Venue: Krylatskoye Dynamo Sports Palace, Moscow, Russia. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Ian John-Lewis.
Scorecards: 118-109, 119-108, 119-108.
Fight Summary: With just one defeat in his 39-fight record, against Firat Arslan back in 2006, Drozd (198¼) was not going to let the opportunity pass him by after spending 13 years in the pro ranks. Fighting behind the left jab, the challenger countered hard when Wlodarczyk (199) moved in before smothering any attack coming his way. Although Wlodarczyk hurt Drozd in the third and fourth with heavy rights to the head, it did not deter the latter from coming back well in the fifth through to the seventh before dropping the champion with a hard right in the eighth. From thereon in it was all Drozd who, despite being weary, was able to hold Wlodarczyk off with left-rights to the head right up to the final bell.
27 September 2014. Denis Lebedev w rsc 2 Pawel Kolodziej.
Venue: Krylatskoye Dynamo Sports Palace, Moscow, Russia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Guillermo Perez Pineda.
Fight Summary: Defending his title after 16 months out of the ring, Lebedev (200) did not hang around for long before despatching the unbeaten Kolodziej (198¾) with a southpaw straight left to the chin in the second round. Although Kolodziej regained his feet at the count of 'eight', on being asked if he was able to continue and not responding the referee stopped the contest on the 2.08 mark.
Youri Kayembre Kalenga successfully defended the WBA 'interim' title when stopping Denton Daley in the final round at the Hershey Centre, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada on 15 November.
30 August 2014. Marco Huck w pts 12 Mirko Larghetti.
Venue: Gerry Weber Stadium, Halle, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Jack Reiss.
Scorecards: 118-110, 116-112, 116-112.
Fight Summary: Boxing well beyond expectation, Larghetti (195¼) gave the champion plenty of tough moments before going down on all three cards. While Huck (200) carried the heavier punch the Italian matched him for aggression, and even when stunned he more often than not fired back. In the seventh through to the ninth Larghetti came on strong when backing Huck on to the ropes, but in the 11th he was badly shaken up by a solid right to the head before coming apart in the final session. In the 12th, having sustained a terrific onslaught, Larghetti was eventually sent crashing following a burst of heavy blows. Although out to the world the referee stated that as Larghetti had hit the deck after the final bell had gone it would be the judges who would decide the winner.
16 August 2014. Yoan Pablo Hernandez w pts 12 Firat Arslan.
Venue: Exhibition Centre, Erfurt, Germany. Recognition: IBF/The Ring. Referee: Randy Neumann.
Scorecards: 115-113, 116-113, 113-115.
Fight Summary: Having failed to lift the WBO title from Marco Huck two fights earlier, the 43-year-old Arslan (199¾) came within a whisker of taking Hernandez's two championship belts in an all-southpaw battle. Although Hernandez (199¾) made a good start, by the fourth he was being pegged back as Arslan's good inside work nullified many of his offensive efforts. One of the judges had Arslan winning seven of the last nine rounds while the other two saw him taking five but ultimately it was Hernandez's better work in the closing stages, as Arslan tired, that gained him the split decision.
Victor Emilio Ramirez outpointed Ola Afolabi over 12 rounds to win the vacant IBF 'interim' title on 10 April 2015, at the Villa La Nata Sporting Club, Benavidez, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Due to defend his IBF title against Ramirez, Hernandez forfeited his belt on 21 September 2015 after injuring his knee and being unable to go through with the fight. Following that, Ramirez was handed full title status.
Hernandez was eventually stripped of The Ring Championship Belt at the end of November 2015 after not meeting a top-five-rated opponent for over two years.
25 January 2014. Marco Huck w rsc 6 Firat Arslan.
Venue: Hanns-Martin Schleyer Hall, Stuttgart, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mark Nelson.
Fight Summary: Although the southpaw challenger made all of the running in this rematch it was Huck (199½), boxing off the back foot, who landed the heavier shots. In the fourth round Arslan (198¾) was hurt by a body shot and in the sixth he was down twice before the referee came to his rescue at 1.56 of the session. In their first contest Arslan had been extremely dangerous with the left uppercut but on this occasion such a punch was hardly in use.
6 December 2013. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk w rsc 6 Giacobbe Fragomeni.
Venue: UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Rocky Burke.
Fight Summary: Meeting for the third time, the champion again imposed himself on the 44-year-old Fragomeni (198) when using a solid left jab to keep the smaller Italian on the outside looking in. Smashed to the deck in the fourth, following a hefty left hook to the chin and bleeding from a cut under the left eye, Fragomeni came back well in the fifth before his eye began to swell rapidly in the sixth. At the end of the session, following advice from the ringside doctor the referee declared the fight to be over.
23 November 2013. Yoan Pablo Hernandez w co 10 Alexander Alekseev.
Venue: Stechert Arena, Bamberg, Bayern, Germany. Recognition: IBF/The Ring. Referee: Lindsey Page.
Fight Summary: In a battle between southpaws, Hernandez (198½) put both of his championship belts on the line against his mandatory challenger, Alekseev (198½). Hernandez started the better of the pair when dropping Alekseev in the second following a left hook to the jaw, and continued as the aggressor until being boxed-off in the fourth. Still going well, his jab and right hooks being effective, Alekseev was suddenly dumped by a cracking overarm right in the fifth. Despite that, Alekseev came back strongly to win three of the next four rounds, hurting Hernandez enough to force him to hold, before a crashing right to the head in the tenth sent him down to be counted out on the 1.35 mark.
21 June 2013. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk w rsc 8 Rakhim Chakhkiev.
Venue: Dynamo Sports Palace, Moscow, Russia. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Daniel Van de Wiele.
Fight Summary: The Russian southpaw challenger certainly came to fight, cutting Wlodarczyk (198¾) over the right eye in the first before dropping him with a solid right in the third. The next two sessions were much of the same before Wlodarczyk floored Chakhkiev (196¼) with a cracking left hook to the jaw towards the end of the sixth. From thereon in the fight turned in the champion's favour, Chakhkiev being dropped again by another left in the seventh prior to being on the canvas twice more in the eighth before being rescued by the referee at 2.03 of the session. At the finish Chakhkiev was ahead on all three cards.
8 June 2013. Marco Huck w pts 12 Ola Afolabi.
Venue: Max Schmeling Hall, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Eddie Cotton.
Scorecards: 117-111, 115-113, 114-114.
Fight Summary: Meeting for the third time, Huck (198¾) held on to his title when outpointing Afolabi (198) by a majority decision. In what was a difficult fight to score, Boxing News having it for Afolabi 115-113, the latter concentrated on the champion's body in an effort to slow him down while the German-based Serb worked away in bursts, his best rounds being the third and fourth. Coming on strong, Afolabi loaded up in the tenth and 11th when shaking Huck with solid punches, but unable to floor his man he ultimately lost out.
17 May 2013. Guillermo Jones w co 11 Denis Lebedev.
Venue: Crocus City Hall, Moscow, Russia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Stan Christodoulou.
Fight Summary: Ahead on points, 96-94, 97-93, 96-94 at the time of the finish, Lebedev (199½) had fought on despite being unable to see out of his right eye for at least two-thirds of the fight. As early as the first round the champion had been cut over the right eye by the 41-year-old Jones (198¾), the so-called ‘champion in recess’, but despite this the Russian southpaw attacked his man relentlessly, especially in the fourth and sixth through to the eighth. It was only in the ninth, when Jones began concentrating on Lebedev's right eye that the fight turned, the latter being eventually counted out at 1.54 of the 11th after taking several hefty blows to head and body.
Lebedev was handed back the title on 17 October when Jones, who had failed a drugs test following the fight, was eventually stripped. Following that decision the WBA stated that a rematch should be negotiated as soon as possible, while eventually recognising Jones as a ‘champion in recess’ yet again. With the return made for 25 April 2014 in Moscow, the fight was cancelled just hours before after Jones failed a drugs test for the second successive time.
On 21 June 2014, Youri Kayembre Kalenga won the vacant WBA 'interim' title when outpointing Mateusz Masternak at the Medecin Casino, Monte Carlo, Monaco.
17 December 2012. Denis Lebedev w co 4 Santander Silgado.
Venue: Crocus City Hall, Myakinino, Russia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Mikael Hook.
Fight Summary: This was the first defence of the title that Lebedev (197½) had been handed after Guillermo Jones was stripped, and he wasted little time in putting Silgado (193¾) under pressure when winning the opening session. However, not deterred, the unbeaten Silgado quickly found an answer when taking the fight to Lebedev with some confidence before slipping up in the fourth. Whether it was overconfidence or not, Silgado failed to defend himself properly and was counted out at 2.14 of the session after being dropped heavily following a tremendous southpaw left to the jaw.
3 November 2012. Marco Huck w pts 12 Firat Arslan.
Venue: Gerry Weber Stadium, Halle, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Celestino Ruiz.
Scorecards: 115-113, 115-113, 117-111.
Fight Summary: Although Huck (199) retained his title against the 42-year-old Arslan (198½), the unanimous decision in his favour was roundly booed by a crowd who felt that the southpaw challenger deserved more. For six rounds it seemed that Arslan's work-rate and ability to cut the ring down, allied to heavy shots from either hand, would give him victory. It was only in the latter rounds when Arslan began to tire that Huck found the room to get solid blows off, but the challenger was still in there firing off left hooks right up to the final bell.
22 September 2012. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk w pts 12 Francisco Palacios.
Venue: Centennial Hall, Wroclaw, Poland. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Massimo Barrovecchio.
Scorecards: 116-112, 117-112, 116-113.
Fight Summary: Following their controversial contest in April, Wlodarczyk (199) again put his title on the line against Palacios (195). In what was a pretty even affair, Wlodarczyk edged many of the rounds in the first half of the contest until Palacios stepped it up with solid shots to the body, having successes in rounds seven and nine. However, Wlodarczyk came back strongly in the tenth with a cracking left hook to the jaw that almost finished the fight there and then, before Palacios recovered somewhat to see out the remaining sessions.
15 September 2012. Yoan Pablo Hernandez w pts 12 Troy Ross.
Venue: Stechert Arena, Bamberg, Bayern, Germany. Recognition: IBF/The Ring. Referee: David Fields.
Scorecards: 114-113, 115-112, 116-112.
Fight Summary: Defending two championship belts in a battle of southpaws, Hernandez (200) was given plenty of trouble by the hard-hitting Ross (193½). Shaken up in the third by a solid left hook, Hernandez was floored in the fifth from the same punch and was lucky to get through the round, almost falling down several times from the after effects. Although still dazed in the sixth Hernandez gradually got his boxing together, coming back well in the ninth to hurt Ross. At that point it was all to play for, but with Hernandez winning three of the last four rounds on the cards he picked up the unanimous points verdict.
5 May 2012. Marco Huck drew 12 Ola Afolabi.
Venue: Fair Hall, Erfurt, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Robert Byrd.
Scorecards: 115-113, 114-114, 114-114.
Fight Summary: Having challenged Alexander Povetkin for the WBA heavyweight championship last time out, Huck (198½) returned to the cruiserweight division to defend his title against Afolabi (199). The contest began well for the challenger, who had lost a close one to Huck in 2009, when boxing well with the left jab from the centre of the ring. It was only in the sixth that Huck got himself going as Afolabi tired, but after the ninth it became a slugging match with both men dishing it out in equal measure. Although the majority draw saved the title for Huck, a rubber match was clearly on the cards.
4 February 2012. Yoan Pablo Hernandez w pts 12 Steve Cunningham.
Venue: Fraport Arena, Frankfurt, Germany. Recognition: IBF/The Ring. Referee: Eddie Cotton.
Scorecards: 115-111, 116-110, 116-110.
Fight Summary: In a return fight that was called for following the unsatisfactory ending in their previous go, Hernandez (198½) put his IBF title on the line against Cunningham (197½), while The Ring Championship Belt, that was vacant, was also up for grabs. Making a fast start, Hernandez caught up with Cunningham with a southpaw left hook that left the latter on his back. Getting to his feet and then being put down again, Cunningham somehow survived before coming back hard in the sixth. From thereon in both men took and gave hard shots, and although Cunningham made a great effort in the final session Hernandez would not be denied.
30 November 2011. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk w rsc 11 Danny Green.
Venue: Challenge Stadium, Mount Claremont, Australia. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Michael Griffin.
Fight Summary: A former WBA light heavyweight title holder, the 37-year-old Green (197½) failed to put a dent in the champion's armour and was eventually rescued by the referee at 2.15 of the 11th. Although he had battled away bravely, hurting Wlodarczyk (199¼) in the fifth with some solid shots, when Green eventually ran out of steam his challenge was almost over. Having fought at a slow pace for several rounds Wlodarczyk picked it up in the 11th and, following a cracking right-left that deposited Green on the canvas, the referee halted the bout with the latter on his feet but deemed unable to defend himself.
5 November 2011. Guillermo Jones w rsc 6 Michael Marrone.
Venue: Seminole Hard Rock Live Arena, Hollywood, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Telis Assimenios.
Fight Summary: Coming down from heavyweight the challenger was way out of his depth in this one, being forced to take heavy punishment as Jones (197) picked him apart from head to body. In the second, one of the judges gave it as a 10-7 round, so dominant was Jones. It did not get much better for Marrone (198¾), who was dropped by a right to the head in the fifth and saved by the bell. Although Marrone came out for the sixth, after he was floored by a volley of combinations to the head, when he made it to his feet the referee called the fight off on advice from his corner, the finish being timed at 1.55 of the session.
Denis Lebedev defended the WBA ‘interim’ title against Shawn Cox, winning by a second-round kayo at the Crocus City Hall, Myakinino, Russia, on 4 April 2012.
After backing out of a scheduled title defence against Andres Taylor and then refusing to fight the 'interim' champion, Lebedev, the WBA gave Jones the title of 'champion in recess' on 30 October 2012 before upgrading the Russian on the same date.
22 October 2011. Marco Huck w co 6 Rogelio Omar Rossi.
Venue: The Arena, Ludwigsburg, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Paul Thomas.
Fight Summary: The tall southpaw challenger certainly came to fight, several of his punches going low, and in the third he was docked a point as Huck (198½) took yet another downstairs. It did not deter Huck, however, and shortly after he dropped Rossi (197½) with a blow to the back of the head. It was now clear that Rossi, badly swollen under the right eye, did not have the power to bother Huck but then the latter dropped his rival with a blow delivered after the bell, to end the fourth round, and received a two-point deduction. Having already been knocked down twice in the fifth, the fight ended for Rossi when a batch of combinations followed by a cracking right to the jaw saw him counted out at 1.09 of the sixth.
On 3 March 2012, at the Esprit Arena, Dusseldorf, Germany, Ola Afolabi won the vacant WBO ‘interim’ title when Valery Brudov retired at the end of the fifth round.
1 October 2011. Yoan Pablo Hernandez w tdec 6 Steve Cunningham.
Venue: Jahn Sports Forum, Neubrandenburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Mickey Vann.
Scorecards: 59-54, 58-55, 56-57.
Fight Summary: Knocked down by a southpaw left hook from Hernandez (200) in the opener, from which he required two attempts to make it to his feet, the champion was saved by the bell and then spent most of the second trying to regain his equilibrium before coming back strongly in the third. In that session, however, a clash of heads saw Hernandez cut on the left temple and in the sixth another accidental coming together left him badly cut over the right eye too. With Hernandez having great difficulty in seeing clearly, the referee, on advice from the ringside doctor, stopped the contest at the end of the session and called for the cards. Although one of the judges had Cunningham (199¼) in front at that stage, he lost his title on a split decision.
16 July 2011. Marco Huck w rsc 10 Hugo Hernan Garay.
Venue: Olympia Ice Sports Centre, Munich, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Luis Pabon.
Fight Summary: Down in the opening round the challenger came back strongly to provide Huck (197½) with a real test, closing the ring down and banging away with both hands. In the third Huck was deducted a point for hitting Garay (197½) behind the head, but by now he was beginning to assert his authority on the tough Argentine. Despite Garay's hardy work ethic Huck's two-handed assaults were giving him plenty of problems and after being dropped heavily in the tenth, following a right cross that was backed up by a left hook, the referee came to his rescue at 1.10 of the session.
2 April 2011. Marco Huck w pts 12 Ran Nakash.
Venue: Gerry Weber Stadium, Halle, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Joe Cortez.
Scorecards: 118-110, 116-112, 118-110.
Fight Summary: Defending his title for the sixth time, Huck (198½) met Israel's Nakash (199¾), a late substitute for Giacobbe Fragomeni and a man with 25 wins in a row on his record. Making Huck fight all the way, his charging in head-first tactics followed up with swinging blows to head and body, Nakash made it an exciting fight. Regardless of that Huck stuck to his boxing, using the jab well to set up heavy uppercuts from either hand as Nakash came forward, and although the latter received a badly swollen left eye in the seventh he managed to make it to the final bell.
2 April 2011. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk w pts 12 Francisco Palacios.
Venue: Sports Hall, Bydgoszcz, Poland. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Luigi Muratore.
Scorecards: 116-113, 118-112, 113-115.
Fight Summary: In what was a much closer fight than two of the scorecards suggested, according to reports, the challenger made life difficult for Wlodarczyk (198½), his tactics negating much of the latter's work. Despite the fight being a bore, Palacios (197¾), switching from orthodox to southpaw and back again, confused Wlodarczyk who mainly followed his man around the ring with the left jab, whilst the Puerto Rican favoured left-hand counters. There were few solid punches thrown and rarely any moments of excitement.
12 February 2011. Steve Cunningham w pts 12 Enad Licina.
Venue: RWE Rhein-Ruhr Sports Hall, Mulheim, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Charlie Fitch.
Scorecards: 118-110, 117-111, 115-113.
Fight Summary: The challenger was never out of the contest, continually trying to get to close quarters where he could work Cunningham (198½) over with the right hand. Cunningham, however, was the better boxer of the pair, and although Licina (198¼) gave him a run for his money he was nearly always second best. Generally boxing on the back foot the taller Cunningham controlled the fight with his left jab, but when he had to he was able to call on solid right hands as Licina tried to turn the contest into a brawl.
18 December 2010. Marco Huck w pts 12 Denis Lebedev.
Venue: Max Schmeling Hall, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Eddie Cotton.
Scorecards: 115-113, 115-113, 112-116.
Fight Summary: Up against yet another southpaw challenger, Huck (199¼) changed his normal style for this one, boxing well on the back foot while sending in solid counters from both hands. The champion complained afterwards that he had suffered damage to his ribs in the fourth, which probably explained the fact that Lebedev (198¼) had his best rounds in the fifth, sixth and seventh when forcing Huck to the ropes and sending in powerful blows to the body. When Huck won two of the last three sessions on two of the judges' cards the split decision was his, but had Lebedev pushed on there would almost certainly have been a new champion.
2 October 2010. Guillermo Jones w rsc 11 Valery Brudov.
Venue: Roberto Duran Arena, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.
Fight Summary: Out of the ring for over two years and making his first defence, Jones (200) came back slowly before finding his feet in the second half of the contest. It had been a battle of jabs up until then, but once Jones had worked off his ring rust and let the punches flow the tide turned as solid combinations forced Brudov (193) on to the back foot. By round nine a cut over Brudov's left eye was giving cause for concern, and with the latter shipping punishment the referee called the bout off at 2.16 of the 11th.
On 12 February 2011, Steve Herelius was stopped in the seventh round by Yoan Pablo Hernandez at the RWE Rhein-Ruhr Sports Hall, Mulheim, Germany, thus losing his WBA ‘interim’ title. Hernandez vacated the title on challenging Steve Cunningham for the IBF crown.
Denis Lebedev won the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title when outpointing an ageing James Toney over 12 rounds at the Khodynka Ice Palace, Moscow, Russia on 4 November.
25 September 2010. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk w pts 12 Jason Robinson.
Venue: Torwar Sports Hall, Warsaw, Poland. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Daniel Van de Wiele.
Scorecards: 117-111, 116-112, 115-113.
Fight Summary: Making his first defence, Wlodarczyk (197¼) generally initiated the majority of attacks, solid right hands to the head that followed the left lead notching up the points over his awkward southpaw opponent. Although Robinson (199½) came into the fight more, after the halfway stage he did not do enough to impress the judges, going down by a unanimous decision. Showing good defensive skill, had Robinson upped his work-rate and gone on the offensive the result could well have been different.
21 August 2010. Marco Huck w rsc 5 Matt Godfrey.
Venue: Fair Hall, Erfurt, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Genaro Rodriguez.
Fight Summary: Keeping up the pressure from the opening bell, despite being outboxed at times, the champion caught up with Godfrey (198¾) in the second round when a hard left-right dropped the American southpaw. In the third the wild-punching Huck (198½) went low with a blow that floored Godfrey, and although the latter was given the benefit of time out there was no points deduction. Having battered Godfrey in the fourth Huck stepped it up in the fifth, dropping the challenger twice before the referee finally stepped in at 2.18 of the session.
5 June 2010. Steve Cunningham w rsc 4 Troy Ross.
Venue: Jahn Sports Forum, Neubrandenburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Bill Clancy.
Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Tomasz Adamek decided to move up among the heavyweights, Cunningham (193) regained his old title when Ross (193¾), a southpaw, was pulled out of the contest by the referee at the end of the fourth round on the advice of the ringside doctor. It had been fairly even up to that point, with Cunningham marginally ahead despite being dropped by a straight left to the chest in the fourth. Towards the end of the session Ross' swollen left eye began pouring blood after taking a hard hit, and it was that injury that ultimately ended the fight.
15 May 2010. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk w rsc 8 Giacobbe Fragomeni.
Venue: Atlas Arena, Lodz, Poland. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Frank Garza.
Fight Summary: With the vacant title up for grabs after Zsolt Erdei decided to move up to heavyweight, by the fifth round Wlodarczyk (197) had begun to impose himself on Fragomeni (197¾), eventually dropping the latter in the sixth. From this point on Wlodarczyk's extra power and height and reach advantages showed and in the eighth a solid jab followed by a crunching right uppercut set Fragomeni up for the finish. Unable to fight back and under constant pressure from a barrage of punches, Fragomeni was floored by a left hook before being rescued by the referee after 44 seconds of the session.
1 May 2010. Marco Huck w rtd 9 Brian Minto.
Venue: Weser-Ems Hall, Oldenburg, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Robert Byrd.
Fight Summary: Fighting out of a crouch, the tough challenger tore into Huck (199) from the start, only to be countered heavily for his pains virtually throughout the contest. Down in the third from a straight right to the head at one stage Minto (198½) threw himself to the floor when missing wildly, and he was downed again in the fifth by a solid right hook. Although Minto continued his forward march, by the end of the ninth his corner wisely pulled him out following another tough round.
13 March 2010. Marco Huck w rsc 3 Adam Richards.
Venue: Max Schmeling Hall, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mark Nelson.
Fight Summary: Initially happy to weigh his challenger up, midway through the second round Huck (198½) picked up the pace when sending in solid shots to the head, although many were blocked. The third saw more of the same as Huck moved forward with intent before a clash of heads left Richards (199¼) with a badly cut scalp. Having taken a count to gain some respite Richards was then subjected to some heavy hits and, as the referee stepped in to halt proceedings after two crashing rights had landed, he toppled over. The finish was timed at 2.30 of the session.
5 December 2009. Marco Huck w pts 12 Ola Afolabi.
Venue: The Arena, Ludwigsburg, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Joe Cortez.
Scorecards: 115-113, 115-112, 116-112.
Fight Summary: Making his first defence against the English-born Afolabi (196½), the 'interim' champion, Huck (196) prevailed in a difficult fight to score. Ultimately, it was Huck's work-rate against the better skills of Afolabi. Known for his aggressive, charging tactics Huck was always likely to be involved close up, and in the fifth he was badly hurt by a clash of heads followed by a heavy right uppercut that had him hanging on. However, Afolabi was unable to sustain the pressure that was building, while Huck continued to take the eye with short bursts of action.
21 November 2009. Zsolt Erdei w pts 12 Giacobbe Fragomeni.
Venue: Sparkassen Arena, Kiel, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Vic Drakulich.
Scorecards: 115-113, 115-113, 114-114.
Fight Summary: It was the lighter challenger who came through in an extremely close contest to nick the title from the hard-working Fragomeni (196) who never let up. Having outboxed Fragomeni for the opening four rounds Erdei (179) began to be pegged back as the Italian's strength took its toll but, despite tiring, the latter fought on well, his better quality punches just about getting him home. Erdei was a former undefeated WBO light heavyweight champion.
Further to Erdei vacating the WBC title on 22 January 2010 in favour of fighting in the light heavyweight division, Fragomeni and Krzysztof Wlodarczyk were matched to find a new champion.
29 August 2009. Marco Huck w pts 12 Victor Emilio Ramirez.
Venue: Gerry Weber Stadium, Halle, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mark Nelson.
Scorecards: 116-111, 115-112, 116-111.
Fight Summary: In a battle of sluggers, it was Huck (198½) who prevailed over the champion when taking the unanimous decision. Most of the fans thought that Huck would be drawn into a war of attrition, but he surprised all bar his corner by sticking to a game plan that kept Ramirez (199) busy for much of the time. When Huck did take Ramirez on at his own game in the main he was successful, although he was eventually deducted a point in the 11th for going low, having transgressed earlier. While Ramirez was the stronger, Huck was more controlled.
11 July 2009. Tomasz Adamek w rtd 4 Bobby Gunn.
Venue: Prudential Centre, Newark, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: IBF/The Ring. Referee: Earl Brown.
Fight Summary: Regardless of the fact that Gunn (194) had been beaten easily by Enzo Maccarinelli, he was matched against a two-belt champion who had lost just one fight in 38 and had mixed at a much higher level. There was no doubting Gunn's spirit as Adamek (199) walked through him, but the latter was unable to score a knockdown despite the result being inevitable. However, at the end of round four, having taken many unanswered blows and being saved by the bell, Gunn was retired by his corner.
After Adamek relinquished the IBF title on 18 October, having decided to fight in the heavyweight division, Steve Cunningham and Troy Ross were signed up to find a new champion. Since losing the IBF title to Adamek, Cunningham had beaten Wayne Braithwaite (w pts 12 at the Bank Atlantic Centre, Sunrise, Florida on 11 July) to win an eliminator and become the top-ranking fighter in The Ring, while Ross was rated at number five in the same magazine.
When it was clear that Adamek was staying in the heavyweight division, The Ring Championship Belt became available on 20 February 2010 for the next pair of outstanding candidates to contest as and when.
16 May 2009. Victor Emilio Ramirez w pts 12 Ali Ismailov.
Venue: Luna Park Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Michael Ortega.
Scorecards: 116-112, 115-113, 113-115.
Fight Summary: Having been handed the title after David Haye returned his belt Ramirez (198½) made his first defence a successful one when taking a hard-earned split decision over Ismailov (197½). Contested at a fast pace both men had their successes when landing heavy shots, but with neither able to make much headway it was always going to be close. Although Ismailov was the first to show any form of tiredness, when beginning to clinch more in the last two or three sessions, Ramirez was unable to take advantage.
16 May 2009. Giacobbe Fragomeni drew 12 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk.
Venue: Grand Theatre, Rome, Italy. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Ian-John Lewis.
Scorecards: 114-113, 112-116, 114-114.
Fight Summary: This was a tough give and take affair in which the 39-year-old champion retained his title by means of a split draw despite being knocked down twice in the ninth by Wlodarczyk (198½). With only one of the knockdowns counting due to hitting Fragomeni (197¼) while he was down, Wlodarczyk lost his chance of becoming champion when the round was scored as 10-8 instead of 10-7. Apart from that there was never much between them, especially after Fragomeni came back strongly to win two of the last three sessions on work-rate alone.
27 February 2009. Tomasz Adamek w rsc 8 Johnathon Banks.
Venue: Prudential Centre, Newark, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: IBF/The Ring. Referee: Eddie Cotton.
Fight Summary: With Adamek (199) defending two championship belts, Banks (200) made an excellent start when winning three of the opening four rounds, solid lefts and rights keeping the champion at distance. However, by the fifth Adamek was taking the fight to Banks when targeting the body, and in the sixth the latter was given time out after one went low. Although caught heavily by a right himself in the eighth, Adamek shook it off before twice blasting Banks to the canvas and forcing the referee to intervene at 1.30 of the session.
11 December 2008. Tomasz Adamek w pts 12 Steve Cunningham.
Venue: Prudential Centre, Newark, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: IBF/The Ring. Referee: Earl Morton.
Scorecards: 115-112, 116-110, 112-114.
Fight Summary: As well as Cunningham's IBF title being on the line, the vacant Ring Championship Belt was also up for grabs in this one. In an exciting fight of give and take the tough Adamek (198) picked up the two belts that were on offer after dropping Cunningham (197) three times; in the second, fourth and eighth. The knockdown in the fourth came when Cunningham, who had been giving the former WBC light heavyweight title holder a real going over, was dropped by a big right that strangely saw only one of the judges making it a 10-8 round. Following the fight Cunningham stated that he had planned to box but getting carried away when looking for a kayo win had cost him.
24 October 2008. Giacobbe Fragomeni w tdec 8 Rudolf Kraj.
Venue: Sports Palace, Milan, Italy. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Yuji Fukuchi.
Scorecards: 77-74, 76-75, 77-74.
Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after David Haye decided to move up to heavyweight, it was Fragomeni (194½) who became the new champion after being awarded the technical decision at the end of the eighth round. Although winning the opening two rounds, Kraj (198½) was soon under pressure from an aggressive Fragomeni who continuously went forward. In the seventh an accidental butt that saw Kraj being deducted a point left Fragomeni with a bad cut over the right eye. Allowed to fight on it was clear that Fragomeni would be unable to continue for long, and after an inspection by the ringside doctor it was all over.
27 September 2008. Guillermo Jones w rsc 10 Firat Arslan.
Venue: Color Line Arena, Hamburg, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.
Fight Summary: Arslan (198¼), who was making his first defence after being appointed champion when David Haye decided to move up among the heavyweights, came unstuck when winning just two rounds at best before being halted at 2.33 of the tenth. The southpaw champion appeared early on to have no defence against a steady stream of uppercuts from both hands as Jones (199½) imposed himself, and suffered a damaged nose, a cut over the right eye and a badly cut lower lip. Although there were no knockdowns the game Arslan was taking a battering and at 2.33 of the tenth, when he was under steady fire and not fighting back, the referee called the fight off.
Steve Herelius won the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title when forcing Firat Arslan to retire at the end of the 11th round at the Porsche Arena, Stuttgart, Germany on 3 July 2010.
8 March 2008. David Haye w rsc 2 Enzo Maccarinelli.
Venue: O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, England. Recognition: WBA/WBC/WBO/The Ring. Referee: John Keane.
Fight Summary: Putting up his three championship belts against Maccarinelli (197), the holder of the WBO title, Haye (198) started in confident fashion, finding his distance and showing excellent speed as he looked to measure his rival. Even though he was cut by the left eye in the second nothing was going to stop Haye, who moved in menacingly with both hands before cornering Maccarinelli and smashing in heavy blows. When the Welshman eventually slid to the floor, prior to getting up in a dazed state, the referee stopped the fight at 2.04 of the session.
Firat Arslan outpointed Darnell Wilson over 12 rounds at the Hanns Martin-Schleyer Hall, Stuttgart, Germany on 3 May to retain the WBA ‘second tier’ title.
Having decided to move up to the heavyweight division, Haye relinquished the WBC title on 12 May and at the same time he notified the WBA that he would be sending back his belt. He also stated on 23 May that he would not be defending The Ring Championship Belt again. Following that, Arslan was handed full WBA title honours on 16 June, while the WBC set up a match between Giacobbe Fragomeni and Rudolf Kraj to decide their vacancy. Fragomeni’s only defeat in 26 contests had been at the hands of Haye, while Kraj was getting his chance due to his win over Matt Godfrey (w pts 12 Konig Arena, Krefeld, Germany on 8 March) in an eliminator.
Although Haye relinquished the WBO title on 22 July, it took the body some while to fill his boots. Eventually, Victor Emilio Ramirez contested and won the vacant WBO ‘interim’ title when forcing Alexander Alekseev to retire after nine rounds at the Castle Guard Arena, Dusseldorf, Germany on 17 January 2009, before being promoted to full championship status a few days after. Following that decision, Ola Afolabi knocked out Maccarinelli in the ninth round to win the vacant WBO ‘interim’ title at the MEN Arena, Manchester, England on 14 March 2009. Maccarinelli had initially been matched against Johnathon Banks, but when he pulled out Afolabi stepped in at relatively short notice.
29 December 2007. Steve Cunningham w rsc 12 Marco Huck.
Venue: Seidensticker Hall, Bielefeld, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Marlon Wright.
Fight Summary: While Huck (198½) started well there were early signs that this would not be his night when the tough champion took a crashing right to the head in the opener without blinking. Even though the brawling Huck kept on coming, Cunningham (192¾) generally tied his man up while working the body. Several times Cunningham was pushed or thrown to the floor, but it did not change his focus even though Huck grew more and more wild. By the 12th, sensing that Huck was behind on points and extremely tired Cunningham opened up, dropping his man for what the referee deemed to be a slip before really going to town. With Huck being battered non-stop the referee finally called the fight off at 1.56 of the session after the challenger's corner threw the towel in.
10 November 2007. David Haye w rsc 7 Jean-Marc Mormeck.
Venue: Marcel Cerdan Sports Palace, Levallois-Perret, France. Recognition: WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Franco Ciminale.
Fight Summary: Finally getting his chance of a crack at Mormeck (199), the holder of three championship belts, Haye (199½) started strongly before coming under pressure from rights to the head, one of which floored him in the fourth following a terrific left hook. Keeping his cool Haye gradually recovered his strength, coming back well with solid blows to the head in the fifth. In the sixth, despite being cut over the right eye Haye began to dominate, his speed and movement being too much for Mormeck, and in the seventh he dropped the latter following a burst of heavy punches from both hands. Although Mormeck was on his feet at the count of 'eight' the referee quickly decided that he was in no fit state to continue. The finish was timed at 1.05 of the session.
On 24 November, at the Freiberger Arena, Dresden, Germany, Firat Arslan won the WBA ‘second tier’ title when outpointing the champion, Virgil Hill, over 12 rounds. Having been outpointed at the weight by Henry Maske on 31 March at the Olympic Hall, Munich, Germany, it had been incorrectly reported by some that Hill had been stripped and Arslan had been handed the title on David Haye becoming a double world champion.
3 November 2007. Enzo Maccarinelli w rsc 4 Mohamed Azzaoui.
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Dave Parris.
Fight Summary: Although Azzaoui (197¾), who replaced Ezra Sellers at short notice, had the heavy-hitting champion down in the first from what was ruled as a slip, the Welshman eventually caught up with him in the fourth when a crunching left to the body saw the Algerian rolling around the floor before the referee halted the fight on the 58-second mark. Despite losing the opening three rounds the unbeaten Azzaoui had given Maccarinelli (197¾) something to think about, his high guard and fast jab causing early problems. However, once Maccarinelli had found the range there was only going to be one winner.
21 July 2007. Enzo Maccarinelli w pts 12 Wayne Braithwaite.
Venue: International Arena, Cardiff, Wales. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mickey Vann.
Scorecards: 118-109, 120-107, 119-108.
Fight Summary: Up against a tough southpaw challenger, Maccarinelli (194) proved good value for his points win, knocking Braithwaite (195¼) down in the fifth with solid combinations and boxing well within himself. For his part, Braithwaite, who finished with a badly swollen right eye, spent too much time on the ropes looking to counter, and while he posed a threat with his power punching he failed to take the fight to Maccarinelli. Apart from the third round when a cracking right to the jaw put Maccarinelli at risk that was it from Braithwaite.
26 May 2007. Steve Cunningham w pts 12 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk.
Venue: Spodek Arena, Katowice, Poland. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Dave Parris.
Scorecards: 116-112, 115-112, 114-114.
Fight Summary: In a reversal of fortunes, Cunningham (194) outpointed the champion by a majority decision after a rematch had been ordered when it was discovered that neither fighter had undergone a post-fight urine test in their previous bout. This time around with Cunningham throwing far more punches than Wlodarczyk (196), despite many being blocked, enough got through to convince the judges. The only knockdown came in the fourth when Wlodarczyk went on one knee following a jab to the eye, and although he came on strongly towards the finish it was not enough.
7 April 2007. Enzo Maccarinelli w rsc 1 Bobby Gunn.
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mark Nelson.
Fight Summary: A bad mismatch saw the champion batter the much shorter Gunn (195) almost from the opening bell, landing solid blows from either hand. At one point Gunn was given an 'eight' count after the ropes saved him from going down and with his nose badly damaged, as Maccarinelli (200) worked him over, he was rescued by the referee after 2.35 of the first had elapsed.
17 March 2007. Jean-Marc Mormeck w pts 12 O’Neil Bell.
Venue: Marcel Cerdan Sports Palace, Levallois-Perret, France. Recognition: WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Massimo Barrovecchio.
Scorecards: 115-113, 115-113, 116-112.
Fight Summary: Bell (198½) lost his remaining three championship belts after being generally outboxed by Mormeck (198¼) in what was a return bout. Once again Mormeck started strongly when pushing Bell back with solid combinations, but the latter always looked dangerous with heavy counters, especially in the sixth when catching the Frenchman with solid blows from both hands. Under pressure several times in the second half of the contest, Mormeck began to use his better skills, boxing and moving, as Bell continually got frustrated with his inability to land a finisher.
At the SYMA Sport & Leisure Centre, Budapest, Hungary, on 16 June, Firat Arslan outpointed, the holder, Valery Brudov, over 12 rounds to win the WBA ‘interim’ title.
25 November 2006. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk w pts 12 Steve Cunningham.
Venue: Torwar Sports Hall, Warsaw, Poland. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Tony Weeks.
Scorecards: 116-112, 115-113, 109-119.
Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after O’Neil Bell had been stripped, it was Wlodarczyk (192¼) who took the split decision when finishing stronger than Cunningham (193½) in a well contested match-up. Both men had struggled to gain control throughout, Wlodarczyk landing heavy punches in the seventh before Cunningham came back with a cracking uppercut in the eighth. Despite the closeness of the fight, one judge gave Cunningham 11 rounds.
14 October 2006. Enzo Maccarinelli w rsc 1 Mark Hobson.
Venue: MEN Arena, Manchester, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Terry O’Connor.
Fight Summary: Having been handed the title on Johnny Nelson's retirement Maccarinelli (199) did not hang around against an old opponent and, following a short period of feeling his way in, a heavy right to the side of the head sent Hobson (200) crashing to the floor. Although he was just about upright at 'nine' the referee continued the count, but because Hobson was standing the result was classified as a stoppage.
7 January 2006. O’Neil Bell w rsc 10 Jean-Marc Mormeck.
Venue: MSG Theatre, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Wayne Kelly.
Fight Summary: Challenging for three more championship belts to add to his IBF title, Bell (199½) was forced to take plenty of hits in the opening six sessions as Mormeck (197¾) threw everything but the kitchen sink at him. However, by the seventh Mormeck was visibly tiring from his efforts and it was Bell's turn to go on the offensive, one judge making it a 10-7 round. Although Mormeck just about held Bell at bay in the eighth and ninth, the tenth saw his demise as the latter poured in punch after punch, the referee eventually halting the contest on the 2.50 mark with the Frenchman on the floor.
On 27 January, at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, Virgil Hill won the vacant WBA ‘second tier’ title when outpointing Valery Brudov over 12 rounds.
Meanwhile, on 31 March, Bell forfeited the IBF title for not fulfilling his mandatory requirements, and to fill his shoes a match was made between Steve Cunningham, who had outpointed Kelvin Davis over 12 rounds at the Gund Arena, Cleveland, Ohio on 3 September 2005 in an eliminator, and Guillermo Jones. When the contest was called off at the last moment due to a contractual dispute, Cunningham was later matched against Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, a fighter who had lost just once in 36 contests.
Valery Brudov won the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title on 2 December, at the Bercy Sports Palace, Paris, France, when stopping Luis Andres Pineda in the 11th round.
26 November 2005. Johnny Nelson w pts 12 Vincenzo Cantatore.
Venue: Sports Palace, Rome, Italy. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Roberto Ramirez.
Scorecards: 116-111, 115-112, 112-115.
Fight Summary: Continuing to surprise all boxing people alike the champion stayed one step ahead of Cantatore (199¼), jabbing, moving and making the latter miss more often than not before he was dropped by a big left hook in the ninth and had to fight hard to stay in the contest. With Nelson (198½) in trouble the round was timed at 4.20, something that was par for the course when an Italian fighter had an opponent on the go, and he did well to hang on in until the bell. After a quiet tenth Nelson was badly hurt in the 11th by another heavy blow to the temple, but to his great credit he got through the session and held on well to the final bell to be the recipient of a split decision.
At the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, on 8 July 2006, Enzo Maccarinelli stopped Marcelo Dominguez in the ninth round to win the vacant WBO ‘interim’ title.
Following Nelson’s decision to retire after breaking down in training on 22 September 2006, Maccarinelli was immediately upgraded to full champion status. Nelson had made 13 consecutive defences of the WBO title.
26 August 2005. O’Neil Bell w co 11 Sebastiaan Rothmann.
Venue: Seminole Hard Rock Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Tommy Kimmons.
Fight Summary: Realising that he to stick and move if he wanted to stay in the fight, after taking heavy punishment in the opening session the challenger took over the next four rounds, almost knocking Bell (200) over in the fifth after catching him with several good punches followed by a right to the jaw. Badly damaged around both eyes Rothmann (194) fought on bravely, giving and taking in equal numbers, and going into the 11th was level on two cards and ahead on the other. Desperately trying to hang on to his title, Bell was still taking the jab. All of that counted for nothing when Bell finally sent Rothmann down to be counted out at 2.09 of the session after catching him with two long rights to the temple. It had been a hard night’s work for Bell, made even more difficult when he was deducted points in the seventh and ninth for low blows.
20 May 2005. O’Neil Bell w pts 12 Dale Brown.
Venue: Seminole Hard Rock Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Armando Garcia.
Scorecards: 115-113, 116-112, 117-111.
Fight Summary: After Kelvin Davis was stripped for failing to defend against Bell, the man from Georgia made good his opportunity when outscoring Brown (198¾) in a tough fight that many thought could have gone either way. It was the skill and punch-picking of Brown against the constant aggression of Bell (199), but by the fourth he was cut over the right eye and had a swelling on the other optic, testament to Bell’s headwork and punching power. Despite boxing on the back foot Brown continued to pick Bell off with the jab and right-hand counters, and although ahead on the punch stats at the final bell it was Bell who got the decision.
2 April 2005. Jean-Marc Mormeck w pts 12 Wayne Braithwaite.
Venue: DCU Centre, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Richard Flaherty.
Scorecards: 116-110, 114-112, 115-111.
Fight Summary: In a battle to unify two titles and involving the vacant Ring Championship Belt, Mormeck (198), the WBA champion, proved too good for the switch-hitting Braithwaite (188), his WBC counterpart. For five rounds it was very competitive, both men getting home with heavy shots, but in the sixth Mormeck got on top when driving in solid blows to Braithwaite’s head and body. That was followed by Mormeck having Braithwaite down from a cracking right to the head in the seventh. Docked a point for holding in the eighth and badly cut over the left eye in the same session, Braithwaite dug deep to somehow stay in the contest when taking two of the last three rounds as Mormeck tired.
4 September 2004. Johnny Nelson w rsc 7 Ruediger May.
Venue: Gruga Hall, Essen, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Axel Zielke.
Fight Summary: Despite being firm friends it counted for nothing once the action got underway as May (198¾) took the early initiative while the champion settled in. However, by the third round, Nelson (199½) was beginning to go on the offensive, getting in solid combinations, and following a situation where he was deducted two points for pushing in the sixth he cut loose. Thereafter, it was all Nelson as the challenger tired. Having dropped May with a heavy right to the head in the seventh, on getting to his feet it was apparent that the latter was through as Nelson stormed in with damaging blows hitting the target. With May all over the place and not fighting back the referee called it off on the 2.29 mark.
22 May 2004. Jean-Marc Mormeck w pts 12 Virgil Hill.
Venue: Carnival City Big Top Arena, Brakpan, South Africa. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Wally Snowball.
Scorecards: 115-114, 115-113, 115-113.
Fight Summary: Just a mere shadow of his former self, Hill (194¾) lost his return match against the champion by a unanimous decision, taking a battering in the process as his long career caught up with him. Although Hill was in survival mode for much of the time, being forced to take heavy blows to head and body, he continued to show his defensive skills as Mormeck (196¼) forced the fight. Sustaining a swollen left eye in the third made Hill’s task even more difficult, and after he was dropped by a right to the jaw in the eighth his case looked hopeless. That Hill came back to take three of the remaining four rounds as Mormeck relaxed the pressure did not distort the fact he was past his best, something he recognised when announcing his retirement from the ring.
1 May 2004. Kelvin Davis w rsc 8 Ezra Sellers.
Venue: Jai-Alai Fronton, Miami, Florida, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Frank Santore Jnr.
Fight Summary: Fighting for the title vacated by James Toney, who failed to make a defence, the chunky Davis (190) won every round when wearing Sellers (190) down for a stoppage win at 2.33 of the eighth. Early on it was clear that Sellers, a southpaw, was looking for an early victory, but after hitting Davis with his best punches he was dropped heavily in the fourth by a big right to the head. Thereafter, it would be only a matter of time for Sellers, who was badly cut on the left eye in the seventh, and in the eighth after taking a one-sided beating the referee finally called it off.
When Davis was stripped on 9 February 2005 for failing to agree a defence against O’Neil Bell, the latter was matched against Dale Brown to decide the vacant title.
17 April 2004. Wayne Braithwaite w pts 12 Louis Azille.
Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Eddie Claudio.
Scorecards: 119-108, 120-107, 118-107.
Fight Summary: Having earlier knocked out Azille (193¾) in an eliminator, with the champion expected to repeat the feat he came close to doing just that when dropping his man with a terrific left hook to the head in the third round. Unfortunately for Braithwaite (188) both of his hands were damaged early on, an injury that allowed Azille to stay in the fight. Despite the much shorter Azille landing the occasional heavy shot, Braithwaite took virtually every round as he biffed and banged away at his tough rival without ever being able to finish him off.
13 December 2003. Wayne Braithwaite w co 1 Luis Andres Pineda.
Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Eddie Cotton.
Fight Summary: Starting out as he meant to win the title in a hurry Pineda (199) began unloading heavy blows from either hand before being badly hurt by a big left as Braithwaite (189) momentarily switched to southpaw. Following that success Braithwaite sent Pineda crashing from a right to the head, and although the latter was almost up at ‘six’ he fell back down and was counted out.
15 November 2003. Johnny Nelson w pts 12 Alexander Petkovic.
Venue: Upper Franconia Arena, Bayreuth, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Genaro Rodriguez.
Scorecards: 115-113, 115-113, 114-114.
Fight Summary: Geared up for his number one contender Nelson (189½) gave very few chances to Petkovic (188¾), while controlling the fight with the jab and looking sharp. There were no knockdowns, and while it was clear that the challenger would be a tough nut to crack it was also clear that he had no idea as to how to break the champion’s defences down, merely following him around and swinging punches in the vain hope that they might connect. What did surprise was the scoring of the three judges, who must have awarded rounds to Petkovic merely on the grounds of coming forward rather than landing scoring punches.
26 April 2003. James Toney w pts 12 Vassiliy Jirov.
Venue: Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Steve Smoger.
Scorecards: 116-110, 117-109, 117-109.
Fight Summary: Despite not being in the greatest shape Toney (190) still had too much for the champion, and after losing the opening two rounds he won the next five when picking up speed. Jirov (188) was never out of the contest, still managing to hurt Toney now and again with jolting southpaw punches, but in the eighth round he was deducted a point for going low and failed to win a round thereafter. Looking for a finish in the 12th, Toney eventually had Jirov over with a right-left-right combination that followed several unanswered shots to the head, but the bell rang before any further damage could be done. Toney became a three-weight world champion on winning, having previously been an undefeated IBF middleweight champion and an IBF super middleweight champion.
After Toney handed in the IBF belt on 14 December 2004 to concentrate on the heavyweight division, Kelvin Davis, who had outpointed Louis Azille over 12 rounds at the Fernwood Resort, Bushkill, Pennsylvania in an eliminator on 24 October, was matched against Ezra Sellers to decide the vacancy.
1 March 2003. Jean-Marc Mormeck w rsc 8 Alexander Gurov.
Venue: Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Kenny Bayless.
Fight Summary: Appearing in America for the first time Mormeck (187½) made a slow start as his southpaw challenger got his jab going, and it was not until he began working the body that he found success. In what was an exciting fight, when Mormeck picked up the pace in the sixth, landing several solid punches to the head, by the seventh Gurov (188½) was visibly weakening as he was hit with increasing regularity. Given a standing count at the end of the seventh, having been hurt by lefts and rights to the head and sagging on the ropes, Gurov was stopped after just 32 seconds of the eighth following a steady battering from both hands. At the finish two of the judges had Gurov two points ahead.
21 February 2003. Wayne Braithwaite w rsc 4 Ravea Springs.
Venue: Miccosukee Indian Gaming Centre, Miami, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Tommy Kimmons.
Fight Summary: Making his first defence Braithwaite (186) quickly got down to business against his fellow southpaw opponent, but with Springs (184½) up for the battle by the end of the first round it had already become a slugging session. By the third there was only going to be one winner, Braithwaite finally catching up with Springs when dropping him with a couple of rights to the head in the fourth. On being allowed to fight on Springs was then put down by two heavy lefts to the head, and at 2.41 of the session the referee stopped the fight when ruling that the challenger was unable to continue.
23 November 2002. Johnny Nelson drew 12 Guillermo Jones.
Venue: Storm Arena, Derby, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Paul Thomas.
Scorecards: 116-113, 113-115, 114-114.
Fight Summary: Lucky to escape with his title intact, with Boxing News reporting that he won only two rounds at best, Nelson (189) somehow got a draw due to some surprising scoring by two judges to say the least. Whatever fighting there was came from Jones (189), but as an untidy affair with much cuffing and slapping it fell far below championship standard.
11 October 2002. Wayne Braithwaite w rsc 10 Vincenzo Cantatore.
Venue: The Casino, Campione d’Italia, Italy. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lupe Garcia.
Fight Summary: Following Juan Carlos Gomez’s abdication, Braithwaite (186) and Cantatore (190) were brought together to contest the vacant crown. In a gruelling contest, it was Braithwaite who ultimately prevailed when the referee rescued the tough Cantatore at 2.03 of the tenth round after he had been badly hurt by big southpaw rights and lefts and was stumbling around the ring. Although both men scored with hard punches Braithwaite was soon at the forefront, flooring Cantatore with a smashing right to the head in the fifth before being cautioned for going low. The eighth round saw Cantatore come on strongly, and after hurting Braithwaite in the ninth the latter was docked a point for holding before raising his game for the finish.
10 August 2002. Jean-Marc Mormeck w rsc 8 Dale Brown.
Venue: Gaston Deferre Beach Arena, Marseilles, France. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.
Fight Summary: Very competitive for five rounds, with the challenger winning at least two of the rounds, by the sixth Mormeck (188) was building up his work-rate. In the seventh, Brown (189½), who was forced to take heavy blows to head and body, was cut on both cheeks and ended the session with his right eye closed. With Mormeck totally on top in the eighth, driving Brown before him and taking nothing in return, the referee rescued the latter on the two-minute mark when it was clear that he had nothing left.
6 April 2002. Johnny Nelson w co 8 Ezra Sellers.
Venue: Circus Building, Copenhagen, Denmark. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Andre Van Grootenbruel.
Fight Summary: With Nelson (189½) unable to get going over the first six or seven rounds, having been floored when losing his balance in the fourth round and being hurt in the seventh, he finally put it together in the eighth with a right hander that landed on the dangerous challenger’s head and sent him down. While there were those who thought that Sellers (189) could beat the count, with his eye swelling ominously and obviously still dazed he was counted out in the act of rising.
23 February 2002. Jean-Marc Mormeck w rtd 8 Virgil Hill.
Venue: Sports Palace, Marseilles, France. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Stan Christodoulou.
Fight Summary: Having reeled off the opening two rounds with some ease the champion could be forgiven for thinking that it was going to be an easy night’s work against the cumbersome Mormeck (185). Clearly, Mormeck had not read the script, literally steamrollering Hill (189¾) who began to go downhill as age finally caught up with him. Advancing from the third onwards, pounding the body with solid blows from both hands, Mormeck got right on top of Hill, and at the end of the eighth the latter was retired on his stool after being badly cut over the left eye and driven around the ring in that session.
1 February 2002. Vassiliy Jirov w pts 12 Jorge Castro.
Venue: Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Bobby Ferrara.
Scorecards: 119-109, 119-109, 120-108.
Fight Summary: Challenging for Jirov’s title the tubby Castro (187), way above his best fighting weight, went down on points despite rocking the champion every now and again to remind the onlookers of better days. Boxing at distance Jirov (189) was the master, his southpaw jab finding Castro without fail, and it was only when he was at close quarters that he was exposed. A 30-1 underdog, with Castro never in with a chance, it was only his solid chin that enabled him to make it to the final bell.
3 November 2001. Juan Carlos Gomez w rsc 6 Pietro Aurino.
Venue: Hanse Hall, Lubeck, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Mark Green.
Fight Summary: Outclassing his fellow-southpaw challenger in every round Gomez (190) continued to part-dominate a weight division with a distinct paucity of talent. Dramatically outreached Aurino (190) never had a chance, being dropped by a left cross to the head in the third and on the floor three more times, twice in the fifth and once in the sixth. At 1.42 of the sixth the referee jumped in to rescue the embattled Aurino, who appeared powerless to fight back.
Gomez relinquished his title on 19 February 2002 in order to campaign in the heavyweight division. To decide the vacancy, Wayne Braithwaite, who had beaten Louis Azille in an eliminator on 17 November, was matched against Vincenzo Cantatore, the WBC International champion.
8 September 2001. Vassiliy Jirov w rsc 8 Julian Letterlough.
Venue: Lawlor Events Centre, Reno, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Jay Nady.
Fight Summary: Winning every round on the cards the champion had a field day against the tough, six-inch shorter Letterlough (186½), who came out fast before being almost finished off by powerful southpaw blows in the opening session. Taking a steady beating at the hands of Jirov (190) for round after round the only surprise was that Letterlough stayed upright for so long, looking to be one punch away from defeat on several occasions. In the seventh, Letterlough, battered to head and body, was virtually done for. Finally, in the eighth, the referee pulled him out at 1.24 of the session when he was almost knocked senseless by a left uppercut to the jaw after being hit by all manner of heavy shots.
21 July 2001. Johnny Nelson w pts 12 Marcelo Dominguez.
Venue: Ponds Forge Leisure Centre, Sheffield, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Bill Connors.
Scorecards: 117-110, 117-110, 119-108.
Fight Summary: Although the tough challenger caused Nelson (189¾) a few problems early on with his aggression and efforts to get inside he was ultimately unable to find the punches that would count in his favour. In the sixth, a round he was actually winning, Dominguez (187½) was docked a point for repeated low blows, and thereafter Nelson stepped up the pace to go well clear when banging in lefts and rights to leave the Argentine gasping. Despite being apprehensive at times, with Nelson happy to outbox Dominguez after several heavy shots from both hands had failed to move him it was another clear, if unexciting, win for him.
24 March 2001. Vassiliy Jirov w co 1 Terry McGroom.
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Tony Weeks.
Fight Summary: Less than two months after his last defence Jirov (190) was at it again when destroying another challenger inside the opening round, this time it was McGroom (190) who was knocked out on the 1.22 mark. Prior to the finish there was little action as Jirov looked to set up McGroom for his explosive punches, but once he had cornered the latter a terrific left to the body had him over and unable to get up in time to beat the ‘ten’ count.
6 February 2001. Vassiliy Jirov w co 1 Alex Gonzales.
Venue: Ice Palace, Almaty, Kazakhstan. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Eddie Cotton.
Fight Summary: There was plenty of action while it lasted. Gonzales (189¾) certainly came to fight, hurting Jirov (188) with a couple of solid shots before the latter responded with some of his own. However, once the southpaw champion had the bit between his teeth there was no stopping him, and at 1.35 of the opening round Gonzales was counted out after being floored by cracking uppercuts to the head and body. Badly stunned, Gonzales had to be carried to the dressing room.
27 January 2001. Johnny Nelson w pts 12 George Arias.
Venue: York Hall, Bethnal Green, London, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Bill Connors.
Scorecards: 119-110, 120-108, 120-110.
Fight Summary: In his seventh defence Nelson (189¾) once again settled for a clear points win, even after having Arias (189¼) badly hurt in the opening session from an explosive countering right uppercut. There was no doubting that Arias was tough, going forward throughout the contest. However, although Nelson hit him with some good punches including some solid body shots in the seventh and eighth he could not stop the Brazilian’s march. Despite both men turning southpaw at times it did little to change the nature of the contest and, apart from the tenth when Arias earned a share of the round, Nelson was always in control.
16 December 2000. Juan Carlos Gomez w rsc 10 Jorge Castro.
Venue: Gruga Hall, Essen, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Larry O’Connell.
Fight Summary: Starting as he meant to carry on Gomez (189) had his southpaw right jab in Castro’s face right from the off, and for round after round the latter was pounded by a steady array of blows to head and body without looking to go down. With Castro (183) not winning anything, at the end of the eighth the referee allowed him to carry on after the doctor had given the all-clear. The same thing happened at the end of the ninth, but in the tenth Gomez decided enough was enough. After dropping Castro with a big left to the jaw the referee stopped the contest at 1.56 of the session in Gomez's favour even though the former WBA middleweight champion was back on his feet. For record purposes alone, Gomez was deducted a point in the eighth for going low.
9 December 2000. Virgil Hill w rsc 1 Fabrice Tiozzo.
Venue: Astro Bullet Arena, Villeurbanne, France. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.
Fight Summary: On becoming the oldest man to win the cruiserweight title the 36-year-old former WBA and two-time light heavyweight title holder who had not boxed for over 18 months, created a major shock when stopping Tiozzo (190) with just one second of the opening round remaining. Immediately on the attack behind a solid left jab the much faster Hill (190) soon had Tiozzo over from a right to the face, and although the champion was quickly back into the fray a left to the jaw had him down again. With Hill not letting up, following a battery of blows from both hands Tiozzo was on his way down for the third time when mercifully rescued by the referee.
7 October 2000. Johnny Nelson w rsc 5 Adam Watt.
Venue: The Dome, Doncaster, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Dave Parris.
Fight Summary: For three rounds the champion did very little, being quite happy to make Watt (189¾) come to him as he pulled away, and it was not until the fourth that he began to use his jab as an attacking weapon rather than as a defensive one. Nelson (189¼) was still cautious in the fifth, but after Watt appeared to be slowing the latter was given a mandatory ‘eight’ count when floored by a countering short right. Although Watt did not appear to be hurt, on racing in to Nelson he was floored by a crunching left-right to the jaw. Not even bothering to count Watt out, fearing a badly broken nose and concussion, the referee stopped the contest on the 2.12 mark to allow him immediate medical attention.
6 May 2000. Juan Carlos Gomez w rsc 3 Imamu Mayfield.
Venue: Swiss Hotel & Resort, Dusseldorf, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lupe Garcia.
Fight Summary: Having had a good look at Mayfield (189¾) the southpaw champion opened up in the third when the latter began to succumb to his sheer power. The finish was not long in coming. After almost doubling Mayfield up with a heavy right to the body Gomez (189¾) immediately followed through with a left to the jaw, and although the latter just about made it to his feet the referee called the fight off just 50 seconds into the session.
8 April 2000. Johnny Nelson w rsc 7 Pietro Aurino.
Venue: York Hall, Bethnal Green, London, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Paul Thomas.
Fight Summary: Despite flooring Aurino (189½) in the opening session with a solid left hook that was followed by a right uppercut to the head, the champion sat back on his laurels for several rounds and bided his time. The Italian southpaw even won the second and fourth rounds on one of the judges’ cards, which was more by default than by excellent work as Nelson (189¼) failed to show any initiative. With both men looking to counter it was not a great fight to watch, but Nelson picked it up in the sixth when a long right had Aurino down momentarily, and after heads came together in the seventh the referee stopped the contest on the 2.23 mark when it was clear that the latter did not want to continue.
8 April 2000. Fabrice Tiozzo w rsc 6 Valeriy Vykhor.
Venue: Bercy Sports Palace, Paris, France. Recognition: WBA. Referee: John Coyle.
Fight Summary: When a cracking countering right to the jaw had dropped Vykhor (188½) half a minute into the first it appeared that the referee might call a halt, but he let it continue when the champion failed to follow up. Boxing patiently Tiozzo (189½) kept the jab going before working from head to body, which led to Vykhor being cut on the right eye as heads came together in the third. Although Vykhor was strong he was unable to bother Tiozzo, and at 1.45 of the sixth the fight was called off by the referee after the Ukranian had been floored by a mixture of right uppercuts to the head and body shots.
11 March 2000. Juan Carlos Gomez w rsc 2 Mohamed Siluvangi.
Venue: Hanse Hall, Lubeck, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Larry O’Connell.
Fight Summary: Right from the opening bell it was clear that Siluvangi (187½) had no realistic chance of beating the heavy-handed champion, who boxed as he pleased in the first round before finishing him off in the second. Caught again and again with the southpaw jab Siluvangi had nowhere to go as Gomez (189½) hunted him down, the fight being stopped at 2.35 of the second after the African-born Frenchman was deemed unable to defend himself on getting up from a countering left to the jaw.
12 February 2000. Vassiliy Jirov w rsc 9 Saul Montana.
Venue: Bank of America Centre, Boise, Idaho, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Jerry Armstrong.
Fight Summary: In what was a very competitive fight up until the eighth when the champion finally gained control, the hard-hitting Montana (189½) was always in with a chance. Starting behind the southpaw right jab Jirov (189½) scored well in the opening two sessions, but took some heavy two-handed shots in the third as Montana eventually got going. The fourth and fifth rounds saw both men trading from head to body before Montana came on with hard rights to the body in the sixth and seventh, which were his best rounds. At that stage of the contest Jirov took over, scoring well with heavy blows to the head. With five seconds of the ninth remaining the fight was stopped by the referee after Montana had been shaken up badly following a left to the temple and several additional punches. Montana then slumped to the floor where he lay for several minutes prior to recovering.