Featherweight World Championship Fights & Title Claims

Full featherweight fight details from 1886 to July 2016 (plus junior feather, junior light and light) are available in a definitive companion book:

  • For United States click HERE

  • For United Kingdom click HERE

  • For Germany click HERE

  • For Japan click HERE

Full Fight Details from 2000 Onwards:

 

9 June 2018. Leo Santa Cruz w pts 12 Abner Mares.

Venue: Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Thomas Taylor.

Scorecards: 115-113, 117-111, 116-112.

After Jesus M. Rojas was promoted by the WBA to ‘second tier’ champion on 5 July, Jhack Tepora stopped Edivaldo Ortega inside nine rounds at the Axiata Arena, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 15 July to take over the WBA ‘interim’ title.

On 11 August, Joseph Diaz won the WBA ‘second tier’ title when outpointing Jesus M. Rojas over 12 rounds at the Avalon, Hollywood, California, USA.

19 May 2018. Garry Russell w pts 12 Joseph Diaz.

Venue: MGM Grand National Harbour, Oxon Hill, Maryland, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Kenny Chevalier.

Scorecards: 115-113, 117-111, 117-111.

 

19 May 2018. Josh Warrington w pts 12 Lee Selby.

Venue: Elland Road Football Ground, Leeds, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Michael Alexander.

Scorecards: 116-112, 115-113, 113-115.

9 December 2017. Lee Selby w pts 12 Eduardo Ramirez.

Venue: Copper Box Arena, Hackney, London, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Michael Alexander.

Scorecards: 119-109, 116-112, 118-110.

14 October 2017. Leo Santa Cruz w co 8 Chris Avalos.

Venue: StubHub Centre, Carson, California, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Tom Taylor.

On the same night at the same venue, Abner Mares beat Andres Gutierrez by a ten round technical decision to retain his WBA ‘second tier’ title.

 

22 September 2017. Oscar Valdez w pts 12 Genesis Servania.

Venue: Convention Centre, Tucson, Arizona, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Wes Melton.

Scorecards: 116-110, 115-111, 117-109.

Valdez outpointed Scott Quigg over 12 rounds at the StubHub Centre, Carson, California, USA on 10 March 2018. Although a billed title fight, when Quigg (128¾) came in well over the weight the title was not at stake.  

Carl Frampton won the vacant WBO ‘interim’ title when outscoring Nonito Donaire over 12 rounds at the SSE Arena, Belfast, Northern Ireland on 21 April 2018. He then successfully defended it when stopping Luke Jackson inside nine rounds at Windsor Park, Belfast on 18 August.

22 September 2017. Oscar Valdez w pts 12 Genesis Servania.

Venue: Convention Centre, Tucson, Arizona, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Wes Melton.

Scorecards: 116-110, 115-111, 117-109.

15 July 2017. Lee Selby w pts 12 Jonathan Victor Barros.

Venue: The Arena, Wembley, London, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Steve Gray.

Scorecards: 117-110, 117-110, 119-108.

20 May 2017. Gary Russell Jnr w rsc 7 Oscar Escandon.

Venue: MGM National Harbour Resort & Casino, Oxon Hill, Maryland, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Harvey Dock.

22 April 2017. Oscar Valdez w pts 12 Miguel Marriaga.

Venue: StubHub Centre, Carson, California, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Jack Reiss.

Scorecards: 119-108, 116-111, 118-109.

28 January 2017. Leo Santa Cruz w pts 12 Carl Frampton.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Scorecards: 115-113, 115-113, 114-114.

Carlos Zambrano lost his WBA ‘interim’ title when he was knocked out inside a round by Claudio Marrero at Sam’s Town Hotel, Las Vegas on 29 April. In his first defence, Marrera was knocked out inside seven rounds by Jesus M. Rojas at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas on 15 September.

5 November 2016. Oscar Valdez w rsc 7 Hiroshige Osawa.

Venue: Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Vic Drakulich.

30 July 2016. Carl Frampton w pts 12 Leo Santa Cruz.

Venue: Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Harvey Dock.

Scorecards: 116-112, 117-111, 114-114.

Fight Summary: Although several rounds seemed close the challenger appeared to be the busier, and while the hard-punching Santa Cruz (125½) got off some good shots they did not have the desired effect. In truth, Santa Cruz could well have been counted on in the second after a left hook to the head from the former undefeated IBF junior featherweight title holder had seen him saved by the ropes from going down. Both men landed solid wallops and both men took them well, but it was Frampton's night. After taking time out in the 11th, Frampton came back with a bang in the final session, his hand-speed and movement being too much for Santa Cruz. It was a great win for Frampton as he had not been expected to beat Santa Cruz.

 

Jesus Marcelo Andres Cuellar lost his WBA ‘second tier’ title when he was outpointed over 12 rounds by Abner Mares at the USC Gallen Centre, Los Angeles, California, USA on 10 December.

23 July 2016. Oscar Valdez w rsc 2 Matias Carlos Adrian Rueda.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Russell Mora.

Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Vasyl Lomachenko handed in his belt, it was Valdez (126) who took advantage of the situation when stopping Rueda (125) at 2.18 of the second round. Having hurt Rueda with a right hook towards the end of the opener, the hard-punching Valdez was quickly on the case in the second, dropping his rival with a right to the head. Although Rueda got to his feet, after he was put down again, this time by a left to the body, the referee had seen enough.

16 April 2016. Gary Russell Jnr w rsc 2 Patrick Hyland.

Venue: Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Danny Schiavone.

Fight Summary: Starting fast the southpaw champion was soon whacking punches into Hyland in the opener before he unloaded in the second when sending the latter down with a solid right to the head. On his feet again, Hyland was administered a standing count after the referee ruled that the ropes were holding him up. It was all over at 1.33 of the session when the third man came to the unfortunate Hyland's rescue after a cracking right hook from Russell (125¼) had the Irishman over again.

9 April 2016. Lee Selby w pts 12 Eric Hunter.

Venue: O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Marcus McDonnell.

Scorecards: 116-110, 116-110, 115-111.

Fight Summary: With his title on the line against Hunter (125¼), having made a reasonable start Selby (125) was shocked in the second when a hard left dropped him for the first time in his career. Getting up shakily Selby was let off the hook when Hunter failed to follow matters up, and by the third he was back in control. From thereon in Selby ran the fight very much as he wanted, dropping two rounds at most, while Hunter further damaged his fortunes when he was docked a point in the eighth for going low. Although Hunter showed up well in the last three sessions, with some smart hooks to the body, it was all too little and too late.

27 February 2016. Leo Santa Cruz w rsc 5 Kiko Martinez.

Venue: Honda Centre, Anaheim, California, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Raul Caiz.

Fight Summary: Getting off to a rip-roaring start Santa Cruz (125) had Martinez (125½) over twice in the opening session, two solid right hands doing the damage, only for the latter to hit back with a left hook that decked the champion. Called a slip, most thought that it robbed Martinez of a knockdown. Following a tear-up in the third Santa Cruz got back to his boxing in the fourth, and having slammed Martinez into the ropes with a pair of cracking uppercuts in the fifth the referee came to the latter's rescue at 2.09 of the session when he was not fighting back.

7 November 2015. Vasyl Lomachenko w co 10 Romulo Koasicha.

Venue: Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Robert Byrd.

Fight Summary: Winning every round at a canter, the southpaw champion had far too much for Koasicha (125¾) as he drove in 334 punches with only 75 coming back. Koasicha was never in with a chance as Lomachenko (125¾) continually fired in accurate blows from either hand to have his opponent guessing. Happy to wear Koasicha down, the fight came to an end at 2.35 of the tenth when the latter was counted out after several solid lefts to the body had softened him up.

 

After winning the WBO junior lightweight title on 11 June 2016, Lomachenko handed back the WBO 126lbs belt shortly afterwards.

14 October 2015. Lee Selby w pts 12 Fernando Montiel.

Venue: Gila River Arena, Glendale, Arizona, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Robert Byrd.

Scorecards: 116-112, 118-110, 119-109.

Fight Summary: Defending his title in America, Selby (125¾) was far too fast for the 36-year-old Montiel (125½) when running up the opening five rounds before the latter got into the fight. The sixth saw Montiel bang in several blows without response, but once Selby picked it up again in the eighth, putting together some smart, fast blows that found their target, and then outpunched his man in the final session there was no arguing where the decision was going. Selby finished the fight with a cut and swollen right eye following an accidental clash of heads.

29 August 2015. Leo Santa Cruz w pts 12 Abner Mares.

Venue: Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Jack Reiss.

Scorecards: 117-111, 117-111, 114-114.

Fight Summary: Fighting to decide who would be the successor to Nicholas Walters after he forfeited the title, Santa Cruz (124¾) outscored Mares (125¼) to win the majority decision after what was an all-action battle from start to finish. A clash of heads in the third saw both men cut, Mares on the left eye and Santa Cruz sustaining minor damage. Although Mares started fast he was quickly worked out by Santa Cruz, who made excellent use of his height and reach advantages when jabbing and delivering right crosses. It was clear that Santa Cruz packed the heavier punch when hurting Mares on occasion with solid blows from either hand, and he was also never under as much pressure as the latter. The CompuBox stats showed that Santa Cruz scored with 373 of his 1,052 shots thrown, while Mares successfully landed 227 from 980. Santa Cruz became a three-weight world champion on winning, having previously been undefeated as an IBF bantamweight champion and WBC junior featherweight champion.

 

On 5 December, Jesus Marcelo Andres Cuellar retained his WBA 'second tier' title when outpointing Jonathan Oquendo over 12 rounds at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA.

30 May 2015. Lee Selby w tdec 8 Evgeny Gradovich.

Venue: 02 Arena, Greenwich, London, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Deon Duarte.

Scorecards: 80-72, 79-73, 79-73.

Fight Summary: Taking a positive stance from the start, Selby (125¼) more than matched the champion as he boxed his way to the front despite being caught early on by overarm rights and left hooks. By the end of the sixth Selby was in control, having taken all rounds bar the fifth as Gradovich (126) tried to find an answer. Boxing beautifully, his combinations and movement superb, Selby was in full swing. When a clash of heads in the seventh saw Gradovich suffer a deep cut by the side of the right eye, although he was allowed to box on the fight was eventually stopped by the referee, who called for the cards after one minute of the eighth following the ringside doctor's advice. Having taken the technical decision, Selby stated afterwards that he had failed to get out of second gear and was looking forward to defending the title against whoever was selected.

2 May 2015. Vasyl Lomachenko w co 9 Gamalier Rodriguez.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Robert Byrd.

Fight Summary: Despite making a slow start the southpaw champion was soon up and running when going for the body while sending in solid jabs to push Rodriguez (126) back. Fighting hard, Rodriguez found Lomachenko (125½) just too strong for him before being hurt in the fourth and having a point struck off for going low in fifth. Stepping it up again in sixth, Lomachenko dropped Rodriguez in the seventh following two hard rights and lefts to the body. Under real pressure again in the eighth, being deducted another point for going low, Rodriguez was continually hammered from both hands before being counted out after 50 seconds of the ninth after two solid rights to the body had sent him down on one knee.

28 March 2015. Gary Russell Jnr w rsc 4 Jhonny Gonzalez.

Venue: Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Tony Weeks.

Fight Summary: In what was seen as a surprise, the southpaw challenger started strongly when keeping Gonzalez (125) on the end of his left jab and beating him to the punch time and again. Although Gonzalez came out resolutely for the third, a left to the body hurting Russell (125¾), the latter was soon back on top after a cracking straight left that was followed by a short right dropped the Mexican. Saved by the bell before coming out for the fourth, Gonzalez was soon under pressure as Russell attacked him two-fistedly, and after being knocked over and getting up he was rescued by the referee when being put down again on the 37-second mark.

 

At The Armoury, Washington DC, USA on 5 March 2016, Oscar Escandon knocked out Robinson Castellanos inside seven rounds to win the vacant WBC 'interim' title.

29 November 2014. Evgeny Gradovich drew 12 Jayson Velez.

Venue: Century Link, Centre, Omaha, Nebraska, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Joe Cooper.

Scorecards: 114-114, 113-115, 117-111.

Fight Summary: Up against a tough man in Velez (126), the champion made all the running despite being countered on occasion as he looked to push his man back. Eventually Gradovich (126) managed to get the inside rail as Velez tired, but the latter continued to give him problems right up to the final bell. Retaining his title by a split decision draw, Gradovich's corner thought that their man had won every round in what had obviously been a difficult fight to score.

23 November 2014. Vasyl Lomachenko w pts 12 Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo.

Venue: Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort, Macao, China. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Luis Pabon.

Fight Summary: Having bided his time for three rounds, probing for openings, the champion opened up in the fourth when unloading a cracking southpaw straight left that smashed into Piriyapinyo (126) and left him on the floor. Although the tough Thai made it to his feet and charged at Lomachenko (126) he rarely ever got close enough to do any damage, the former Olympic and world amateur champion being just too adroit. Even though Lomachenko damaged his left hand in the sixth when looking to put Piriyapinyo away he continued to win the rounds with excellent use of the right, whether it be on the attack or in defence.

18 October 2014. Nicholas Walters w rsc 6 Nonito Donaire.

Venue: StubHub Centre, Carson, California, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Raul Caiz Jnr.

Fight Summary: While not looking his normal self, the champion made a reasonable start before being dumped on the seat of his pants by a solid right uppercut to the chin in the third. From thereon in it was all downhill for Donaire (125¾), as Walters (125¾) kept him on the end of firm left jabs and cut him over the right eye in the fourth. In the fifth heavy punches, both up and down, hurt Donaire, and although he had the faster hands of the pair he was gradually being worn down. With Donaire looking shaky in the sixth when he was dropped by a terrific right to the side of his head, despite making it to his feet the referee stopped it with just one second of the session remaining. The decision was the correct one, it being clear that Donaire was in no fit state to continue.

 

On 20 December, Jesus Marcelo Andres Cuellar successfully defended his WBA 'interim' title when stopping Ruben Tamayo in the fifth round of their contest at the Little Creek Casino Resort, Shelton, Washington, USA. Cuellar was given 'second tier' championship status by the WBA on 21 February 2015.

 

Carlos Zambrano picked up the WBA 'interim' title vacated by Cuellar when outpointing Daniel Ramirez over 12 rounds at the Mega Plaza, Lima, Peru on 28 March 2015.

 

Cuellar made a successful defence of the WBA 'second tier' title when stopping Vic Darchinyan inside eight rounds at the StubHub Centre on 6 June 2015.

 

Zambrano held onto his WBA 'interim' title when outpointing Jose Sanmartin over 12 rounds at the Mauro Mina Coliseum, Chinch, Peru on 1 August 2015.

 

Although Walters outpointed Miguel Marriaga over 12 rounds at the MSG Theatre, NYC, New York, USA on 13 June 2015, he had already been stripped of the WBA title a day earlier for failing to make the weight. With Marriaga unable to take advantage of the situation, the WBA set up a clash between Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares to decide the vacant title.

4 October 2014. Jhonny Gonzalez w rsc 11 Jorge Arce.

Venue: Multipurpose Sports Centre, Los Mochos, Sinaloa, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Johnny Callas.

Fight Summary: In a meeting between fellow Mexicans, it was soon noticeable that the champion's power would ultimately be too much for Arce (126), who was cut on the left eye in the third following a clash of heads. Deducted a point for the transgression, Gonzalez (126) followed that up with a cracking left hook that dropped Arce immediately prior to the bell. Having held back in the fourth, Gonzalez decked Arce again with another left hook before going to work on the body and holding the latter at bay with a solid left jab. Floored again in the ninth by another left hook, somehow Arce got up to travel into the 11th, where at 2.53 of the session he was taken out of the contest by the referee.

21 June 2014. Vasyl Lomachenko w pts 12 Gary Russell Jnr.

Venue: StubHub Centre, Carson, California, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Jack Reiss.

Scorecards: 116-112, 116-112, 114-114.

Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant WBO title after Orlando Salido had been stripped, and in a battle of southpaws, Lomachenko was handed the majority decision in what was just his third professional fight. With Lomachenko (125½) the stronger and Russell (125½) the faster it made for a fascinating bout, and so it turned out to be. Although there were no knockdowns, Russell was hurt on several occasions, especially in the fifth and seventh before coming back into it as Lomachenko paced himself. There was little between them up to the tenth, but Lomachenko picked it up to win the last three sessions and the title. The CompuBox stats showed Lomachenko landing 183 scoring shots to Russell's 83 despite having thrown less.

31 May 2014. Nonito Donaire w tdec 5 Simpiwe Vetyeka.

Venue: Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort, Macao, SAR, China. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.

Scorecards: 49-46, 49-46, 49-46.

Fight Summary: With both men looking to settle, Donaire (126) was badly cut at the end of the opening session when heads twice collided and left him nursing a badly gashed left eye that would eventually require 11 stitches. Regardless of visits by the ringside doctor, Donaire fought on and almost had the champion over in the third following a terrific right hand. Trying to come back from that, Vetyeka (125½) ran into a cracking right-left hook in the fourth that dropped him for a short count before making it back to his corner. One second into the fifth, as both men left their corners, the referee stopped the fight on the instruction of the ringside doctor before calling for the cards. On winning the technical decision Donaire became a four-weight world champion, having previously been an undefeated IBF flyweight champion, an undefeated WBC/WBO bantamweight champion and an undefeated IBF and WBO junior featherweight champion.

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A contest on the same bill saw Nicholas Walters retain his WBA 'second tier' title following a fifth-round kayo win over Vic Darchinyan.

 

This was followed by Jesus Marcelo Andres Cuellar making a successful defence of the WBA 'interim' title against Juan Manuel Lopez (w co 2 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) on 11 September.

31 May 2014. Evgeny Gradovich w pts 12 Alexander Miskirtchian.

Venue: Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort, Macao, SAR, China. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Luis Pabon.

Scorecards: 49-46, 49-46, 49-46.

Fight Summary: Although winning most of the rounds, the champion had to climb off the canvas in the sixth after a solid left jab from Miskirtchian (125½) had dumped him. Despite carrying a badly swollen right eye which made things difficult for Gradovich (125½), his superior technique and movement supressed much of the Georgian's aggression. In what was his third title defence, Gradovich, who consistently beat Miskirtchian to the punch, was forced to fight all the way.

24 May 2014. Jhonny Gonzalez w tdec 10 Clive Atwell.

Venue: Convention Centre, Acapulco, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Laurence Cole.

Scorecards: 99-89, 98-90, 96-92.

Fight Summary: Gonzalez (125¾), defending the title he won from Abner Mares, was not at his best against Atwell (125¾) despite dominating with the jab and solid rights. Deducted points for headbutts in the seventh and tenth, the latter transgression from Atwell brought the contest to an end after Gonzalez was badly cut over his left eye and the referee decided that he could not continue before calling for the cards. Atwell had proved to be no test for the champion, being slow to get his punches off and settling on survival.

6 December 2013. Simpiwe Vetyeka w rtd 6 Chris John.

Venue: Metro City Thunderdome, Northbridge, Perth, Australia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Gustavo Padilla.

Fight Summary: Despite his reach advantage, the champion was never able to hold Vetyeka (125½) up for long with the jab and was soon slugging it out with the South African in what would turn out to be to his disadvantage. Fighting wildly at times, John (125¾) was badly hurt in the fifth before going down from clubbing blows to the head. Although looking in trouble the referee strangely called it a slip. Managing to make it to the bell John came out for the sixth, only to be battered down again for yet another slip according to the referee. Things then got even worse for him. Smashed to the floor by a cracking right to the jaw John somehow managed to last the round out before being retired by his corner at the end of the session, a thoroughly beaten fighter. As well as his title going, he had also lost his unbeaten record in the process.

 

On 2 May 2014, Jesus Marcelo Andres Cuellar made a successful defence of his WBA 'interim' title when outpointing Rico Ramos over 12 rounds at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

24 November 2013. Evgeny Gradovich w rsc 9 Billy Dib.

Venue: Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort, Macao, SAR, China. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Allan Huggins.

Fight Summary: Trying to regain his old title from the man who took it from him, Dib (126) started fast before Gradovich (125¾) began to control the contest more and more as each round progressed. After decking Dib in the sixth with a left-right-left to the head it became a matter of when as Gradovich upped the tempo. With Gradovich climbing all over Dib in the ninth, raining in lefts and rights to the head, the referee finally stepped in to stop the fight at 1.10 of the session after recognising that the latter's corner wanted their man out of it.

12 October 2013. Orlando Salido w rsc 7 Orlando Cruz.

Venue: Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Fight Summary: This was a contest for the title that was vacated when Mikey Garcia failed to make the weight for Juan Manuel Lopez on 15 June, and it was Salido (126) who stepped up to regain his old belt when stopping Cruz (125) at 1.05 of the seventh. Salido was always one move ahead as he continually hurt his southpaw opponent, whether it was up or down, and in general controlled the fight. Having been caught by some heavy shots in the fifth, Salido began to up the pace even more, and in the seventh after a right-left smashed Cruz to the floor the referee stepped in.

 

Salido forfeited the WBO title when coming in over the weight for a defence against Vasyl Lomachenko at The Alamadome, San Antonio, Texas, USA on 1 March 2014. Although the fight went ahead, Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner, failed to take advantage when beaten on points over 12 rounds in what was only his second contest as a pro.

24 August 2013. Jhonny Gonzalez w rsc 1 Abner Mares.

Venue: StubHub Centre, Carson, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jack Reiss.

Fight Summary: There was nothing much going on in the opening two minutes as both men looked to find their way into the contest, so it was a shock when the champion was sent crashing from a blistering left hook to the jaw after Gonzalez (125½) settled the quicker. Although Mares (125) got to his feet, instead of holding and looking to make it to the end of the round he decided to punch it out with Gonzalez. Not the best tactic in the circumstances and, when Mares was decked again from a burst of combinations that was finished off by another left hook, the referee stopped the count and called the contest off with five seconds of the first session remaining.

27 July 2013. Evgeny Gradovich w pts 12 Mauricio Javier Munoz.

Venue: Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort, Macao, SAR, China. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Jack Reiss.

Scorecards: 120-108, 119-109, 119-109.

Fight Summary: In a fight in which Gradovich (125¾) won virtually every round on the cards, he still had to remain on his guard during the first six rounds against a challenger who posed a threat with hard shots from either hand. Had the tough Munoz (125¾) been quicker on his feet and been able to throw more than one punch at a time he would have proved to be a most dangerous opponent for Gradovich, whose ability to keep on the move while scoring secured the win. Munoz, who finished with both eyes swollen, tired as the contest progressed, having giving his all.

4 May 2013. Abner Mares w rsc 9 Daniel Ponce De Leon.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jay Nady.

Fight Summary: Defending his title for the first time Ponce De Leon (126) came up against a tartar in Mares (126), who had his man over in the second with a left hook as he looked to get on top of his southpaw opponent. Although Mares was ahead on all three cards at the end of the eighth, it had been hard fought and there was little between them. In the ninth, however, all that changed when Mares floored Ponce De Leon with a solid right to the chin. Despite getting up and trying to fight on the champion was pulled out of the contest by the referee at 2.20 of the session, having taken further heavy head shots and appearing to be shaken up. Following the fight, Mares stated that he wished Ponce De Leon had stayed down as he did not want to finish off his friend and stablemate. Thus Mares joined the group of men who had won world titles at three different weights, having previously been an undefeated IBF bantamweight champion and an undefeated WBC junior featherweight title holder.

14 April 2013. Chris John tdraw 3 Satoshi Hosono.

Venue: Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta, Indonesia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Rafael Ramos.

Fight Summary: The contest had barely got underway when the champion was nicked over his left eye as Hosono tore in with his head low and, although he tried to box the latter off, it had obviously bothered him, especially when dropping the second on the cards. In the third, the shorter Hosono repeatedly went in, head down, before another clash of heads left John (125½) bleeding badly from the right eye. Clearly impairing John's vision, the referee called the fight off on the 2.14 mark following a doctor's inspection. As the contest had ended inside four rounds a technical draw was announced.

 

On 19 April, Javier Fortuna, who was to have defended his WBA ‘interim’ title against Miguel Zamudio, forfeited his honours after failing to make the weight. Although the fight went ahead with only Zamudio able to claim the title he was knocked out inside a round.

 

Jesus Marcelo Andres Cuellar won the vacant WBA 'interim' title when he outpointed Claudio Marrero over 12 rounds at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino, Verona, New York, USA on 23 August.

 

Making the first defence of his WBA ‘second tier’ title, Nicholas Walters stopped Alberto Garza inside four rounds at the American Bank Centre, Corpus Christie, Texas, USA on 9 November.

1 March 2013. Evgeny Gradovich w pts 12 Billy Dib.

Venue: MGM Grand, Foxwoods Resort, Nashantucket, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Eddie Claudio.

Scorecards: 114-112, 114-112, 112-114.

Fight Summary: Although the champion took the opening four rounds on the cards it was clear that Gradovich (125) was gathering pace. From the fifth onwards, when the pressure-fighting Gradovich turned the contest into a brawl, Dib (125) was totally taken out of his stride and unable to respond. Carrying cuts, 14 stitches required to deal with the one on his right eye and seven staples for the damage to the top of his head, Dib was right up against it. Even then, if just one judge had given Dib the final session he would have retained his title, it was that close.

19 January 2013. Mikey Garcia w tdec 8 Orlando Salido.

Venue: MSG Theatre, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBO/The Ring. Referee: Benjy Esteves Jnr.

Scorecards: 79-69, 79-69, 79-70.

Fight Summary: Looking to make his mark in a fight that involved the vacant Ring Championship Belt, and with Salido (126) putting his WBO title on the line, there was plenty for Garcia (125½) to aim at. Out of the tracks fast, Garcia dropped Salido twice in the opening session, firstly with a right hook and then with a left hook. Just when Salido was trying to find a way back, in the third, he was down again, this time courtesy of a right uppercut to the jaw. After being dropped again in the fourth by a cracking left to the head Salido tried to fight back but it was hopeless, and in the eighth as both fighters came together a butt from Salido broke Garcia's nose. With the injury confirmed at the end of the session by the doctor and the cards called for nobody was surprised when Garcia was awarded the technical decision.

 

At the Airlines Centre, Dallas, Texas on 15 June, Garcia (128) lost his WBO title on the scales when weighing in two pounds over the weight for his contest against Juan Manuel Lopez. Although the fight went ahead with only Lopez able to win the crown he was stopped in the fourth round. The Ring Championship Belt was vacated when Garcia won the WBO junior lightweight title on 9 November.

7 November 2012. Chris John w pts 12 Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo.

Venue: Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Mark Nelson.

Scorecards: 119-109, 119-109, 117-111.

Fight Summary: Whilst the cards showed that it was an easy win for the champion, it was anything but as the tough unbeaten Piriyapinyo (125¼) stuck with him throughout, always looking to get big punches off. John (125¾) was badly rattled and hurt in the sixth as both men loaded up, the round seeing the latter landing a blow to the back of the head as well as a low blow for which he was not cautioned. As Piriyapinyo swung hard and often he dropped John near the end of the ninth, only for the referee to see it as a slip, and with the champion in difficulty in the 12th as the Thai went for a stoppage it was probably good for him that the bell went when it did.

 

On 8 December, at the National Indoor Centre, Kingston, Jamaica, Nicholas Walters stopped Daulis Prescott in seven rounds to win the vacant WBA ‘second tier’ title, while on the same day, at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Javier Fortuna outpointed Patrick Hyland over 12 rounds to lift the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title.

15 September 2012. Daniel Ponce De Leon w tdec 8 Jhonny Gonzalez.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Scorecards: 79-72, 79-72, 77-74.

Fight Summary: Right from the start it appeared that Ponce De Leon (125½) had the champion's number, his southpaw stance and swinging punches proving difficult to deal with. Boxing mainly on the defence Gonzalez (125) blocked many blows coming his way but failed to do enough forcing, and in the sixth a heavy left hand sent him through the ropes and onto the ring apron. Having constantly clashed heads throughout, after Gonzalez received a bad cut on his forehead in the eighth and it was clear that he could not continue the referee called for the cards. On winning the technical decision Ponce De Leon became a two-weight world champion, having been a former WBO junior featherweight title holder.

5 May 2012. Chris John w pts 12 Shoji Kimura.

Venue: Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Ferlin Marsh.

Scorecards: 118-109, 117-110, 119-108.

Fight Summary: This was no easy fight for the champion, but he showed his ability to good effect when battering the tough Kimura (125½) throughout on his way to a wide points decision. Kimura was always right in front of John (126), but was only able to get to him with solid blows on occasion. However, in the seventh a tremendous left hook almost had John over, and had another one found its mark it could have been curtains for the champion. Following that there would be no more opportunities for Kimura, who was set upon for the remainder of the contest.

 

Due to face Nicholas Walters, and having been inactive for a year, Celestino Caballero vacated his WBA ‘second tier’ title in October rather than take the fight.

28 April 2012. Jhonny Gonzalez w pts 12 Elio Rojas.

Venue: Grand Oasis Resort, Cancun, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jon Schorle.

Scorecards: 117-111, 116-111, 116-112.

Fight Summary: As the 'champion in recess', Rojas (125) was given a crack at the current title holder, Gonzalez (125½), and went well for a few rounds before being forced into defensive mode as the latter began to unleash his heavy artillery. Pressing forward with the jab, banging in solid blows from both hands, Gonzalez put Rojas down in the tenth with a left to the body that took the wind out of the latter's sails. Although Rojas got up and continued, and even won the final session on the cards, it was not to be.

10 March 2012. Orlando Salido w rsc 10 Juan Manuel Lopez.

Venue: Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Roberto Ramirez.

Fight Summary: In a return match between the pair it was relatively even for the opening few rounds before Salido (126) began to get on top of his southpaw challenger after he had been dropped near the end of the fifth by a cracking countering right hook to the head. Getting up, Salido continued boxing on the front foot as he looked to grind Lopez (125¾) down. In the ninth almost 200 power punches were counted as the pair belted away at each other, but it proved to be Lopez's last stand. Coming into the tenth two of the judges had Lopez ahead, which was not how the crowd were seeing it. Tearing into the attack, Salido unleashed a battery of blows before a terrific right uppercut that was followed by a left hook put Lopez down, and although the latter got to his feet the referee stopped the fight after 32 seconds of the session when concluding that the Puerto Rican was through for the night.

7 March 2012. Billy Dib w rtd 6 Eduardo Escobedo.

Venue: Derwent Entertainment Centre, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Ernie Sharif.

Fight Summary: Punching his way to another good victory the champion walked off with every round other than the third, in which he was deducted a point for holding and hitting, before Escobedo (126) was retired by his corner at the end of the sixth. Having taken a two-fisted battering from the taller Dib (126) it was clear that Escobedo, who finished in a tottering state, did not have the tools required for the job. Although Escobedo had previously met a higher class of opponent than Dib, it counted for nothing on the night.

3 December 2011. Jhonny Gonzalez w co 2 Roinet Caballero.

Venue: Banamex Centre, Mexico City, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Frank Garza.

Fight Summary: With both men looking for opportunities it was the hard-punching champion who found the range first, with left hooks and right crosses that left Caballero (126) wondering whether he had bit off more than he could chew. Stepping it up in the second, showing real intent, Gonzalez (126) swapped punches with Caballero before a left hook to the body followed by a left to the jaw put the latter over. Although Caballero desperately tried to get up he was counted out at 1.51 of the session.

30 November 2011. Chris John w pts 12 Stanyslav Merdov.

Venue: Challenge Stadium, Mount Claremont, Australia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Pinit Prayadsab.

Scorecards: 115-112, 116-111, 116-111.

Fight Summary: Defending his title for the 15th time, John (125½) stepped on the gas from the start when mixing up overarm rights to the head with his normal repertoire, and in the second one such punch had Merdov (126) over. Although Merdov boxed on he was badly hurt by a similar blow in the fourth before coming back into the fight as John tired. Winning the sixth and eighth when keeping John on the outside, Merdov came more and more into it as the fight progressed, but John had already done enough to preserve his title even though the Ukranian wrapped up the last two sessions.

 

On 31 December, at the Bunka Gym, Yokohama, Japan, Celestino Caballero outpointed Satoshi Hosono over 12 rounds to retain his WBA ‘second tier’ title.

19 November 2011. Billy Dib w co 1 Alberto Servidei.

Venue: State Sports Centre, Homebush, NSW, Australia. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Pete Podgorski.

Fight Summary: Despite being known for his boxing ability, the champion surprised one and all when he came out swinging from the opening bell before putting Servidei (126), a southpaw, under real pressure on the ropes. Having slipped over when staggered, and then been dropped by a heavy left to the body following a battery of punches up and down, Servidei slumped down in a corner to be counted out on the 2.38 mark.

15 September 2011. Jhonny Gonzalez w rsc 2 Rogers Mtagwa.

Venue: County Coliseum, El Paso, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lupe Garcia.

Fight Summary: Working the body hard right from the opening bell it was clear that the champion did not intend on hanging around for too long, and before the round had ended Mtagwa (124½) was already on dodgy ground. In the second Gonzalez (125) was quickly at work, banging in left hooks before a cracking left uppercut had Mtagwa in real trouble. That was followed by a badly shaken Mtagwa being sent into the ropes immediately prior to the referee stopping the fight at 2.15 to save the latter from taking further punishment.

29 July 2011. Billy Dib w pts 12 Jorge Lacierva.

Venue: Olympic Park Sports Centre, Homebush, NSW, Australia. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Jack Reiss.

Scorecards: 115-112, 118-109, 119-109.

Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Orlando Salido and then Yuriorkis Gamboa, who had yet to make a defence, had both been stripped, Dib (125¾) made good his second opportunity to win a version of the world championship when outscoring Lacierva (126). Getting off to a fast start, Dib exploited his reach advantage, footwork and general speed to outmanoeuvre Lacierva and keep him at distance. Deducted a point in the fourth for hitting behind the head, it was clear that Lacierva was finding it difficult to keep up with Dib, even at that stage. Having won just one round at most Lacierva was given time out in the ninth following a clash of heads that left him stunned, but for him the fight was already lost.

23 July 2011. Orlando Salido w rsc 11 Kenichi Yamaguchi.

Venue: Multiple Uses Centre, Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Roberto Ramirez Jnr.

Fight Summary: Making his first defence, Salido (126) proved to be too strong for the game Yamaguchi (126) who moved around at pace before throwing punches that lacked the power to take the champion out of his stride. Having dropped Yamaguchi with a cluster of lefts and rights in the third, Salido probably felt that there was not long to go, but the man from Japan got up and continued to give him the run-around. With Salido continually working the body, Yamaguchi, cut over the left eye from a butt earlier on, was saved by the bell to end the tenth, and although coming out for the 11th the referee stopped the fight at 2.50 of the session after he was being hit without reply.

9 July 2011. Jhonny Gonzalez w rsc 4 Tomas Villa.

Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Eddie Cotton.

Fight Summary: Up against a man who had been stopped in two of his last five fights, the champion set about Villa (125½) from the off, battering him with both hands and generally using the contest as one would a sparring session. Having been expected to meet Roinet Caballero in his first defence, this was merely a warm-up for Gonzalez (125½), and after sending Villa down in the fourth following a left hook to the body the referee stopped the contest with just 49 seconds of that session underway.

17 April 2011. Chris John w pts 12 Daud Cino Yordan.

Venue: Exhibition Hall, Jakarta, Indonesia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Raul Caiz.

Scorecards: 116-112, 116-112, 117-111.

Fight Summary: Getting away well, John (125¾) appeared happy take on the challenger at his own game, fighting at close quarters virtually throughout the contest. Although Yordan (126) took the second and seventh rounds, he was always running second best to John, who put on one of his best displays for a long time when finding the blows to unpick his rival's defences. Taking his foot off the pedal in the last two sessions, John cruised through to the finishing post without undue difficulty.

 

Jonathan Victor Barros outpointed Celestino Caballero at the Sports Colony, Junin, Mendoza, Argentina on 2 July to make a successful defence of his WBA ‘second tier’ title.

 

The WBA ‘second tier’ title changed hands on 14 October when Caballero outpointed Barros over 12 rounds at the Luna Park Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina, thus gaining revenge for a previous defeat. Caballero was a former undefeated IBF/WBA junior featherweight champion.

16 April 2011. Orlando Salido w rsc 8 Juan Manuel Lopez.

Venue: Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum, Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Roberto Ramirez Jnr.

Fight Summary: Starting cautiously, the hard-hitting southpaw champion took the opening three sessions as Salido (126), a former title holder, tracked him down while shrugging off a few big shots. Having got closer to Lopez (125) in the fourth, Salido produced a terrific right to the head in the fifth that floored him heavily. It was clear in the sixth that Lopez had not recovered enough when taking some heavy blows, but to his credit he fought back to win the seventh before coming unstuck in the eighth. At that stage of the fight Salido was looking the stronger man, and after battering Lopez heavily on the ropes the referee jumped in on the 1.39 mark to save the latter from taking further punishment.

8 April 2011. Jhonny Gonzalez w rsc 4 Hozumi Hasegawa.

Venue: World Memorial Hall, Kobe, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Michael Griffin.

Fight Summary: The southpaw champion lost his title at the first time of asking when stopped by Gonzalez (124¾) after 58 seconds of the fourth round. The finish came when Hasegawa (125¾) was beaten to the punch by a big right hand to the jaw, and although getting to his feet he was deemed by the referee not to be in a position to defend himself. With both men being recognised as hard punchers the fight had seen plenty of activity up until then as they loaded up their shots, Hasegawa being ahead on all three cards when the fight was halted. Gonzalez was a former WBO bantamweight champion.

5 December 2010. Chris John w pts 12 Fernando David Saucedo.

Venue: Senayan Indoor Tennis Stadium, Jakarta, Indonesia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Rafael Ramos.

Scorecards: 119-109, 119-109, 120-108.

Fight Summary: Dominating the contest from the off with the left jab and hook working well, the champion pushed Saucedo (125) on to the back foot before coming under fire in the middle rounds as he took a breather. Following this, it was clear that the Argentine was in survival mode as he tightened up his defence. With Saucedo difficult to break down, although John (125½) gave it his best shot he was ultimately forced to settle for a wide points victory, having taken virtually every round on the cards.

 

On 12 March 2011, Jonathan Victor Barros retained his WBA ‘second tier’ title when outpointing Miguel Roman over 12 rounds at the Junin Sports Colony Stadium, Mendoza, Argentina.

26 November 2010. Hozumi Hasegawa w pts 12 Juan Carlos Burgos.

Venue: Nihon Gaishi Hall, Nagoya, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Roberto Ramirez Jnr.

Scorecards: 116-111, 117-110, 117-110.

Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Elio Rojas was designated 'champion in recess' status, Hasegawa (125¾), a former WBC bantamweight champion, jumped up two weight divisions to outscore the hard-punching Burgos (125¾) in a fight that went one way and then the other. Taking three of the opening four rounds, the speedy Hasegawa banged out solid southpaw straight left and right hooks to take the initiative before Burgos cut loose in the seventh to have his man on the verge of defeat. After Hasegawa was cut on the right eye in the eighth, Burgos was deducted a point further to an accidental head butt. This was followed by some intense fighting as both men went hammer and tongs, and although Burgos had a badly swollen right eye at this stage it did not stop him from pounding away at Hasegawa, who used plenty of good movement to hang in and eventually be awarded a fully deserved unanimous decision.

6 November 2010. Juan Manuel Lopez w rtd 8 Rafael Marquez.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Tony Weeks.

Fight Summary: Running off all of the rounds except the fourth, in which he was both deducted a point for hitting behind the head, the southpaw champion proved too much for Marquez (125½), who was retired by his corner at the end of the eighth after suffering a shoulder injury. Prior to that, he had been battered by right hooks, although getting off many big shots of his own, especially in the fourth when stunning Lopez (125½) with a heavy left counter. From thereon in Lopez took total control even though Marquez was still dangerous, but after suffering badly in the seventh and then the eighth it was no great surprise to see the latter withdrawn from the contest prior to the ninth getting underway.

10 July 2010. Juan Manuel Lopez w rsc 2 Bernabe Concepcion.

Venue: Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Luis Pabon.

Fight Summary: Making his first defence, the heavy punching Lopez (125½) quickly made his mark when sending Concepcion (125) stumbling with a southpaw left hook. Following up, Lopez soon had his man over following a batch of combinations, and although he had Concepcion on the floor again it was ruled a slip. Then, after hammering away at Concepcion non-stop, Lopez was dumped by a big left over the top before getting up more shocked than hurt. Having dropped Concepcion in the second with a straight left, Lopez, now in finishing mode, chased his man down before decking him again with what was almost a push. Despite Concepcion getting up at 'six' the referee stopped the contest at 2.37 of the session when recognising that the Filipino was in no fit state to continue.

15 May 2010. Orlando Salido w pts 12 Cristobal Cruz.

Venue: Tomas Oroz Gaytan Stadium, Sonora, Mexico. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Roberto Ramirez.

Scorecards: 117-109, 117-109, 116-110.

Fight Summary: With a big reach advantage in his favour, Salido (125¾) quickly got down to work when avoiding the wild punches coming in from the champion, while looking to go up and down. In the second Cruz was dropped twice by solid right crosses, but was soon up and fighting back hard. Although Cruz threw more punches than Salido many of them missed the target while Salido's left their mark, and in the final session it was the latter who finished the stronger when almost gaining a stoppage. Ultimately, Cruz had no defence against Salido's heavy right hands that crashed into him.

 

Salido, having weighed in at 126lbs the day before, forfeited the IBF title on the morning of the contest when coming in ten pounds over the weight for a defence against Yuriorkis Gamboa at the Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA on 11 September. The fight went ahead, and after winning on points over 12 rounds Gamboa was handed the IBF title to go with his WBA ‘unified’ crown.

 

Following that, due to defend the title against Jorge Solis at the Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, Jersey on 26 March 2011, Gamboa was stripped on the morning of the fight for failing to make the mandatory second trip to the scales. The fight, won by Gamboa inside four rounds, also involved the so-called WBA ‘unified’ title which then became non-existant. Shortly afterwards, Billy Dib and Jorge Lacierva were booked to contest the IBF vacancy. Lacierva had beaten Fernando Beltran Jnr (w pts 12 at The Auditorium, Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico on 2 April 2011) in an eliminator, while Dib had lost just once in 32 contests.

20 February 2010. Elio Rojas w pts 12 Guty Espadas Jnr.

Venue: Zamna Poliforum, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Hector Afu.

Scorecards: 119-109, 119-109, 120-108.

Fight Summary: Defending his title against a former title holder in Espadas (126), the speedy Rojas (126) got away to a flier, repeatedly catching the Mexican with right hooks in the opening four rounds. Although slowing by the sixth, Rojas was still in charge as many of Espadas' punches fell short. Coming into the 11th Rojas was well ahead, and even though he was staggered by several heavy blows in the final session as Espadas went for broke he did enough to win the round on all three cards.

 

Having already pulled out of a unification fight of sorts against Yuriorkis Gamboa on 27 July due to hand and shoulder problems, after Rojas was forced to have surgery in August it was recognised that he would be out of action until at least early 2011. With this in mind, on 28 August the WBC announced that Rojas had been appointed ‘champion in recess’ and that Hozumi Hasegawa and Juan Carlos Burgos would meet for the vacant title. They also stated that Rojas would get first crack at the title once fully fit. While Burgos had beaten Ricardo Castillo (w rtd 11 at the Tecate Arena, Guadalajara, Mexico on 29 May) in an eliminator, Hasegawa’s last contest saw him shorn of his WBC Bantamweight Championship Belt.

23 January 2010. Juan Manuel Lopez w rsc 7 Steve Luevano.

Venue: MSG Theatre, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Benjy Esteves Jnr.

Fight Summary: This match-up of southpaws saw Lopez (125½), the WBO junior featherweight title holder, come out on top when stopping the champion, Luevano (126), at 2.16 of the seventh. With Lopez on top from the start, it was a disappointing display by Luevano, who went through the motions before Lopez caught up with him in the seventh. Badly hurt by a right uppercut Luevano was then floored by a left hook, and although the champion was up at 'seven' the referee brought the fight to a close when realising that he was not in a position to continue. Following the contest, Lopez handed back his junior title.

19 December 2009. Cristobal Cruz tdraw 3 Ricardo Castillo.

Venue: Rooster Fair Stockade, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Robert Gonzalez.

Fight Summary: Not expected to give the champion too many problems, Castillo (126) went well in the opening two rounds before the fight was ended at 1.15 of the third on the instructions of the doctor. This came about after a coming together of heads in the first saw Cruz (126) sporting a badly cut right eye that worsened as the contest went on. Under IBF rules if a contest is ended prior to the fourth round getting underway the decision is a technical draw, and that is what happened in this case. Other reports gave the injury as being on the left eye.

19 September 2009. Chris John w pts 12 Rocky Juarez.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Joe Cortez.

Scorecards: 114-113, 119-109, 117-111.

Fight Summary: In a return match, this time round the champion retained his title when boxing off the back foot while keeping plenty of space between himself and the dangerous Juarez (126). It was this tactic that was paramount to his victory, and it was only in the latter stages when tiring that Juarez caught up with him. Winning two or three rounds at most up until then, Juarez had failed to make his punching power count as John (126) caught him with solid left jabs, hooks and uppercuts whenever he was in range. Making one almighty effort in the 12th, Juarez finally got to John with a left hook that buckled the Indonesian's knees prior to a right uppercut staggering him before the bell came to his rescue.

 

Yuriorkis Gamboa retained his WBA ‘second tier’ title when stopping Whyber Garcia in the fourth round of their contest at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York on 10 October, and then made a successful defence when stopping Rogers Mtagwa in the second round at the same venue on 23 January 2010. With John still recognised as the WBA ‘super’ champion, Gamboa made another successful defence of the ‘second tier’ title when outpointing Jonathan Victor Barros over 12 rounds at the Alsterdorfer Sports Hall, Hamburg, Germany on 27 March 2010.

 

On becoming the IBF champion on 11 September 2010, Gamboa was renamed by the WBA as the ‘unified’ champion, thus giving up the ‘second tier’ title.

 

The vacant WBA ‘second tier’ title was next won by Barros when he stopped Irving Berry in the seventh round at the Vicente Polimeni Sports Centre, Las Heras, Argentina on 4 December 2010.

15 August 2009. Steve Luevano w disq 7 Bernabe Concepcion.

Venue: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Jay Nady.

Fight Summary: There was never that much between the southpaw champion and Concepcion (125½), but the latter lost his chance of winning the title when landing a heavy one-two after the bell to end the seventh. With Luevano (125½) remaining on the canvas for several minutes, the referee's decision to disqualify Concepcion was the correct one. Although Concepcion had taken the opener and landed with some solid rights throughout, Luevano was narrowly in the lead at the time of the finish, having used his jab well to keep a hard-hitting opponent at bay. Concepcion would never get a better chance to become a world champion again.

14 July 2009. Elio Rojas w pts 12 Takahiro Ao.

Venue: Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Laurence Cole.

Scorecards: 118-110, 117-111, 116-113.

Fight Summary: Winning the title by a unanimous decision, the fast-moving Rojas (124½) proved too slick for the southpaw champion, who won three rounds at most in what was a painful experience for him. Dictating the pace, Rojas went into a clear lead when landing frequent combinations before moving away, and even when he was on the defensive he was clever enough to avoid the great majority of blows coming his way. Realising he was behind on the cards, Ao (126) came on strong in the ninth when hurting Rojas with a cracking right hook, but was unable follow up.

11 July 2009. Cristobal Cruz w pts 12 Jorge Solis.

Venue: The Roosters Stockade, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Joseph Cooper.

Scorecards: 113-110, 113-110, 113-111.

Fight Summary: Playing his part in what was a bad tempered brawl, the wild-swinging Cruz (125¼) retained his title despite having two points deducted from his total in the third when Solis (125¾) received a cut over the left eye after being shoved to the floor before being pushed over again. For his part, Solis also had two points taken away for low blows in fifth and seventh. The taller Solis, who normally enjoys space to box on the back foot, was completely taken out of his stride despite doing much better in the fourth, eighth and the final two sessions. In the 12th, Solis finally realised that he could go toe-to-toe with Cruz, even being awarded a 10-8 by one of the judges, but he had left it too late.

12 March 2009. Takahiro Ao w pts 12 Oscar Larios.

Venue: Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Scorecards: 119-107, 118-109, 116-111.

Fight Summary: This was a contest in which Ao (126) gained revenge over Larios (126) following their recent championship bout in which the latter was deemed lucky to have retained his title. Making no mistake this time around, Ao was the aggressor from the opening bell, throwing far more than the champion who appeared out of sorts. It was only in the sixth and 11th that Larios showed, and in the ninth he took so many blows that one judge scored it a 10-8 round. Making sure of the win, Ao dropped Larios in the 12th following a burst of solid combinations, but regardless of that his victory was already assured.

28 February 2009. Chris John drew 12 Rocky Juarez.

Venue: Toyota Centre, Houston, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Laurence Cole.

Scorecards: 114-114, 114-114, 114-114.

Fight Summary: Extremely tight, both men did enough to warrant the unanimous draw in a hard-fought contest. Although the champion had more output, it was the never-say-die spirit of Juarez (125½) that made the contest what it was, always aggressive and always chasing an inside-the-distance win. Finishing with his right eye closed and his left cut, Juarez continually surged forward as John (125¼) showed his mettle as well as ability to avoid many of the blows tossed at him. However, while John took more than he normally would have, he showed his ability when countering heavily as Juarez came forward, scoring with more than 600 solid jabs.

 

On 17 April, at Buffalo Bill’s Star Arena, Primm, Nevada, Yuriorkis Gamboa stopped Jose Rojas inside ten rounds to win the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title.

 

At the WBA convention on 2 May John was elevated to ‘super’ champion on the basis of ten successful defences, and at the same time Gamboa was upgraded to ‘second tier’ champion. 

14 February 2009. Cristobal Cruz w pts 12 Cyril Thomas.

Venue: Sports Palace, St Quentin, France. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Roberto Ramirez.

Scorecards: 116-112, 115-113, 115-113.

Fight Summary: Going well for the opening three rounds, Thomas (125) looked to be on his way to the title as he controlled the crude champion who had difficulty with his balance. Eventually, Cruz (125) was able to get closer to Thomas, brawling his way to a close but unanimous points win in what was more like a street fight than a contest in the ring. Although Thomas picked it up in the last two sessions it was too little and too late.

24 October 2008. Chris John w pts 12 Hiroyuki Enoki.

Venue: Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Silvestre Abainza.

Scorecards: 118-110, 118-110, 117-111.

Fight Summary: This was a tough defence for John (125½) and he was made to fight every step of the way against the tough, unbeaten Enoki (126). Although the scorecards show a wide margin of victory for John, who picked up a gash on the right eye in the fifth, they do not tell the full story as many of the rounds were extremely close. Having to take more punches than normal, the classy John proved that he had a good chin, especially when being caught by heavy lefts and rights on occasion. It was John's quicker blows and adroitness that ultimately won the day, and in the closing rounds he outpunched the tiring Enoki, who finished with his left eye closed to go with his badly swollen face.

23 October 2008. Cristobal Cruz w pts 12 Orlando Salido.

Venue: Northern Quest Casino, Airway Heights, Washington, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Jack Reiss.

Scorecards: 116-112, 116-112, 113-115.

Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Robert Guerrero handed in his belt on moving up in weight, it was Cruz (126) who took a split decision win over Salido (126), a man who had been disqualified as a champion following a failed drugs test. Setting a frenetic pace, Cruz was eventually too busy for Salido, especially in the last half of the contest as the latter tired. There were no knockdowns.

18 October 2008. Steve Luevano w pts 12 Billy Dib.

Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Steve Smoger.

Scorecards: 115-113, 117-111, 116-112.

Fight Summary: Although the unbeaten Dib (126) had a good record he posed few problems for the southpaw champion who cruised to a unanimous points win. With Dib moving around the ring, flicking out the jab while only occasionally standing his ground it was left to Luevano (126) to do the majority of the scoring. Although down from a left hand in the sixth, Dib was let off when the referee signalled that it was a slip. Apart from the 11th in which he was the aggressor, Dib, whose face was badly marked up at the finish', was mainly on the end of Luevano's left hand from thereon in.

16 October 2008. Oscar Larios w pts 12 Takahiro Ao.

Venue: Yoyogi 1 National Gym, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Vic Drakulich.

Scorecards: 114-112, 115-111, 112-114.

Fight Summary: Defending the title that was bestowed upon him after Jorge Linares handed back his belt, Larios (126) was both surprised and hurt by heavy southpaw lefts in the opening session as Ao (126) made the better start. Building on that, Ao dropped Larios in the fourth with a right hook that almost had the latter down and out. Under WBC rules, instead of it being a 10-8 round Ao had a point deducted for an accidental head butt that caused Larios' cut right eye. Keeping up the attack, Ao continued to shake Larios up, his two handed attacks being difficult for the champion to fathom. When the interim scores were announced at the end of the eighth as being 78-76, 76-78, 75-75, Ao seemed as dejected as many in the crowd were disbelieving. It was at that point that Larios picked up steam to win three of the last four rounds and hold on to his title by an extremely unpopular split decision.

28 June 2008. Steve Luevano drew 12 Mario Santiago.

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Tony Weeks.

Scorecards: 117-111, 113-115, 114-114.

Fight Summary: Taking on another fellow southpaw, even though Luevano (126) failed to shine he at least held on to his title with a split draw. Both men were on the floor in the second from head punches, Luevano from a short left and Santiago from a left that travelled further. Luevano regrouped to run off the third and fourth before Santiago took the fifth through to the eighth on a higher work-rate, belting the champion good and hard before the round ended. The last four sessions saw both men have their successes but, had two of the judges agreed with the other, then Luevano would have received a majority decision.

15 March 2008. Steve Luevano w pts 12 Terdsak Jandaeng (Kokietgym).

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Robert Byrd.

Scorecards: 118-109, 119-109, 119-109.

Fight Summary: In a battle of southpaws, Jandaeng (126), later to be known as Kokietgym, was up against a champion with plenty of skill and verve, and although he tried hard he could not make a deep impression, other than when dropping his rival with a solid left to the jaw in the fourth. This coming as a surprise, Luevano (126) was soon in control again, banging in right hands that bemused the tough Thai at times. He even had Jandaeng on the floor in the same session, only for the referee to call it a slip. After being hit low and taking a breather in the eighth, Luevano cruised through to the latter stages before Jandaeng, cut and swollen around both eyes, reminded him that he was still there when landing several heavy blows in the final two sessions.

29 February 2008. Robert Guerrero w rsc 8 Jason Litzau.

Venue: Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino, Lemoore, California, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: David Mendoza.

Fight Summary: Up against it from the start, Litzau (125) was no match for a hard hitting champion who was in complete charge throughout. Finding it difficult to deal with a southpaw opponent it could be seen early on that Litzau would struggle against Guerrero (126) and so it proved. Having somehow made it into the eighth, Litzau was floored by two hard lefts to the head before getting up and being put down again by a left uppercut followed by a left-right. With Litzau desperately trying to get up he was rescued by the referee on the 2.25 mark before the count could be completed.

 

Guerrero relinquished the IBF title in June to move up a weight division, whereupon a match was made between Cristobal Cruz and Orlando Salido to find a new champion. Salido had beaten Hector Julio Avila (w rsc 6 at The Stadium, Cicero, Illinois on 14 December 2007) in an eliminator, while Cruz had sprung a surprise when outscoring Thomas Mashaba in his most recent contest.

26 January 2008. Chris John w rtd 7 Roinet Caballero.

Venue: Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta, Indonesia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Raul Caiz Jnr.

Fight Summary: Winning every round but the first according to the cards, although there was nothing in it the skilful champion was soon banging in stiff jabs and countering rights as Caballero (125½) tried to get to him. By the fourth, however, it was clear that Caballero did not belong in the same league as John (126) despite being brave and resilient. When John opened up in the seventh the writing was on the wall when Caballero was slammed by left hooks to the body again and again, and it was no surprise when his corner pulled him out at the end of the session.

15 December 2007. Jorge Linares w rsc 8 Gamaliel Diaz.

Venue: The Bullring, Cancun, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Laurence Cole.

Fight Summary: Defending the title that was handed to him after it had been relinquished by In-Jin Chi, the unbeaten Linares (126) was forced to cover up as Diaz (126) let fly with both hands in the opening session. Boxing his way into the contest, Linares had to take a few more shots before dropping Diaz in the fourth with a heavy right uppercut. Utilising his skills as the slugging Diaz continued to catch him with the odd solid blow, Linares merely bided his time prior to dropping the Mexican following two cracking rights to the head in the eighth. When it was clear that there was no way Diaz was going to make it the referee stopped the fight at 2.12 of the round.

 

On 31 May 2008, Oscar Larios stopped Feider Viloria in the fifth round at the Convention Centre, Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico to win the vacant WBC ‘interim’ title before successfully defending his honours on 2 August 2008 when knocking out Marlon Aguilar inside seven rounds at the Benito Juarez Auditorium, Zapapan, Jalisco, Mexico.

 

When Linares relinquished the WBC title on 13 August 2008 in order to fight at a higher weight, Larios, a former WBC junior featherweight title holder, was appointed champion.

3 November 2007. Robert Guerrero w rsc 1 Martin Honorio.

Venue: Desert Diamond Casino, Tucson, Arizona, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Tony Weeks.

Fight Summary: Having come through a scare with scales, only being inside the weight at the second attempt, the southpaw champion was in no mood for hanging around against Honorio (126). With both men looking for openings at the start of the contest, it was Guerrero (126) who struck first when dropping Honorio heavily with a straight left to the jaw. Although getting up at 'nine', and before Guerrero could inflict further damage, with Honorio staggering around the referee called it off with just 56 seconds on the clock.

6 October 2007. Steve Luevano w pts 12 Antonio Davis.

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Toby Gibson.

Scorecards: 118-109, 119-108, 119-108.

Fight Summary: Realising that he had to get to close quarters to take the play away from the hard-punching southpaw champion, Davis (126) did reasonably well for the opening four or five rounds in restricting what came his way. From there onwards though, Luevano (126) came on hard and fast when using his jab to line Davis up for heavy countering lefts, one such punch to the head in the 11th smashing him to the floor. Although fighting on into the 12th, Davis was almost taken out by a terrific left to the body before surviving to hear the final bell.

19 August 2007. Chris John w rtd 9 Zaiki Takemoto.

Venue: Fashion Mart Arena, Kobe, Japan. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Steve Smoger.

Fight Summary: Although trying to the very last ounce of energy, Takemoto (126) was no match for the skilful champion before being retired by his corner at the end of the ninth. Prior to that Takemoto had been battered by John (125¾), who was in control throughout. Cut over the left eye and floored in the sixth, Takemoto was still trying to take the fight to John when another combination of lefts and rights to the head dropped him again in the eighth. After fighting on bravely in the ninth it was clear that there was nothing left, and on staggering back to his stool his handlers did the right thing.

14 July 2007. Steve Luevano w co 11 Nicky Cook.

Venue: 02 Arena, Greenwich, London, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Dave Parris.

Fight Summary: This one was contested for the vacant title after firstly Scott Harrison and then Juan Manuel Marquez, who had yet to make a defence, handed in their belts. Showing great hand-speed and movement to match, Luevano (125¾) settled down quickly before dropping the game Cook (125¾) with a cracking left counter to the body. Although Cook came back well in the sixth through to the eighth, making the body his target, Luevano was soon hard at work in the ninth before twice dropping the Englishman with heavy lefts to the body. Despite going for it in the tenth, Cook was dropped by another big left, this time to the head, and although just about getting up a crunching left to the body in the 11th saw him counted out after just 29 seconds of the session.

3 March 2007. Chris John w pts 12 Jose Rojas.

Venue: Bung Karno Indoor Tennis Stadium, Senayan, Jakarta, Indonesia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Derek Milham.

Scorecards: 118-108, 117-109, 116-110.

Fight Summary: Trying to turn the contest into a brawl, Rojas (125½) went after the champion early on until a countering right put him over for a short count. Although John (126) had the boxing skills to deal with Rojas he seemed to be more intent on slugging it out with his southpaw opponent, putting him down again the fourth with more of a push than a punch. Coming back hard in the fifth, Rojas landed solidly, only for John to respond. In the ninth an unintentional head butt left a gash over John's left eye, but by now Rojas, who was almost spent, was forced back before coming again in what had been a competitive contest.

23 February 2007. Robert Guerrero w rsc 8 Spend Abazi.

Venue: Falconer Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Mark Nelson.

Fight Summary: Contesting the vacant title after Orlando Salido was stripped, Guerrero (126) got back his old belt when forcing a stoppage at the end of the eighth. Apart from the odd occasion in which Abazi (126) landed some heavy body shots, the southpaw Guerrero held sway, flooring the Dane with a left-right in the third and cutting him over the right eye in the fifth. He also knocked Abazi down again in that session, another heavy left to the jaw doing the damage. Having developed a swollen left eye in the seventh, Abazi took a further beating in the eighth before the fight was halted at the end of the round after the referee told the latter's corner that he was stopping it.

17 December 2006. In-Jin Chi w pts 12 Rodolfo Lopez.

Venue: Chungmu Art Hall, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Curtis Thrasher.

Scorecards: 116-113, 116-112, 117-111.

Fight Summary: Stalking the champion from the opening bell and continually forcing him onto the ropes, Chi (126) regained his old title when taking the unanimous decision. Having dominated up to the end of the fourth, Chi was hurt in the fifth after Lopez (125¾) crashed in a heavy right to the head and had him going. However, making a good recovery in the sixth Chi surprised Lopez with the strength of attack, especially in his use of solid uppercuts, and although the latter hit back hard he was outworked from thereon in.

 

At the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA on 21 July 2007, Jorge Linares stopped Oscar Larios in the tenth round of a contest to decide the vacant WBC ‘interim’ title after Humberto Soto had moved on. Ten days later, on 31 July 2007, after Chi announced that he was relinquishing the title Linares was proclaimed the new champion.

4 November 2006. Orlando Salido w pts 12 Robert Guerrero.

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Robert Byrd.

Scorecards: 118-110, 117-111, 115-113.

Fight Summary: Setting the pace from the off the tall southpaw champion looked to overrun Salido (126) at times, but began to get countered by accurate head punches despite landing hurtful blows of his own. From the middle rounds, Salido started to take over as Guerrero (126) noticeably tired, body shots having an effect on him as the Mexican upped the pace and landed some solid head punches. Although Guerrero came back strongly in the 11th, Salido landed the better punches in the final session to earn the decision. Guerrero had been a champion for just eight weeks.

 

After failing the post-fight drugs test Salido was stripped in mid-November, an action that was followed by Guerrero being matched against Spend Abazi in a fight for the vacant title.

9 September 2006. Chris John w pts 12 Renan Acosta.

Venue: Soemantri Brodjonegoro Hall, Jakarta, Indonesia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Derek Milham.

Scorecards: 119-108, 119-109, 120-107.

Fight Summary: Although this was a wide win for John (124¼) on the scorecards, Acosta (125) was always in the fight, and in the second round he showed his intent when sending in a cracking right to the head that made the champion pay attention. In the sixth, John's extra energy was beginning to count, Acosta being badly hurt by a big right before losing a point in the eighth for going low. From thereon in, Acosta showed his toughness as he took all that John could dish out while still making it competitive.

2 September 2006. Robert Guerrero w rtd 8 Eric Aiken.

Venue: Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Tony Krebs.

Fight Summary: Even though Aiken (125) fought well at times he ultimately proved to be no match for the southpaw challenger, who attacked his body with some gusto right from the start. For round after round it was the same pattern as Guerrero (124½) dug deep with Aiken trying to batter him with heavy shots to the head. Having had a point deducted in the eighth for going low when trying to match Guerrero, at the end of the round Aiken was pulled out of the contest by his corner. For the paying customers, with too much mauling on display, it had been a poor fight to watch.

30 July 2006. Rodolfo Lopez w rsc 7 Takashi Koshimoto.

Venue: Marine Messe Convention Centre, Fukuoka, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Ian John-Lewis.

Fight Summary: In what was an impressive performance by the young challenger, Koshimoto (126) was relieved of his title after the referee stopped the contest at 2.49 of the seventh to save him from taking further punishment. It had been relatively even up until the end of the sixth, with Koshimoto sticking out the southpaw jab while Lopez (126), cut under the right eye in the second, maintained the pressure if somewhat wild at times. In the seventh, Lopez found the punches he had been looking for all night, Koshimoto becoming groggy and unstable as the Mexican lashed in blows from both hands before the fight was halted. Having collapsed at the end of the contest and hospitalised, Koshimoto announced his retirement from boxing upon recovering.

13 May 2006. Eric Aiken w disq 8 Valdemir Pereira.

Venue: TD Bank North Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Charles Dwyer.

Fight Summary: After coming in as a substitute for England's Esham Pickering, Aiken (125) upset the applecart when snatching the champion's title away when winning on an eighth-round disqualification. Having won the opening two sessions and going well in the third, Pereira (126) received a warning for going low when a left hook had Aiken in some distress and requiring a minute to recover. In the fourth, after soaking up pressure, Aiken dropped Pereira following a solid left hook to the temple. On getting up Pereira received a further warning for a low blow, and in the sixth after dominating he was put down again by a left hook to the body before hitting back hard. With Pereira concentrating on the body, he was deducted points in the sixth and seventh for low blows that saw Aiken given more recovery time. In the eighth it was all over on the 1.37 mark when Pereira went low with a wide left hook and the referee, who'd had enough by then, threw the champion out.

4 March 2006. Chris John w pts 12 Juan Manuel Marquez.

Venue: Golden Gate Arena, Tenggarong City, Borneo, Indonesia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Guillermo Perez.

Scorecards: 116-110, 117-111, 116-112.

Fight Summary: John (125) was defending the title that was handed to him after it was forfeited by Marquez (125), who failed to win it back when the unanimous decision went against him. With John jabbing and moving, and occasionally throwing heavy counters, it was left to Marquez to force the fight when getting in close before firing off blows to head and body. There was never a great deal in it, but when Marquez had points deducted in the tenth and 11th for low blows the fight slipped away from him. Even though he caught a few solid shots in the last two sessions as Marquez pressed hard, John remained calm to see the contest out.

29 January 2006. Takashi Koshimoto w pts 12 In-Jin Chi.

Venue: Kyuden Gym, Fukuoka, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Malcolm Bulner.

Scorecards: 114-113, 115-112, 111-116.

Fight Summary: Giving it another go at the age of 35, the tall Koshimoto (126) won the title on a split decision when his southpaw skills proved too much for the champion, who appeared to have left his normal aggression at home. Scoring well with the right jab and showing plenty of good movement, Koshimoto got away well before Chi (126) came into the fight during the fifth and kept up the pressure through to the tenth. The final two sessions saw Koshimoto going on the attack, but when he was cut over the right eye following an accidental butt Chi was docked a point. Unfortunately for Chi, who clearly won the 12th, the referee's decision meant that instead of retaining his title he lost it.

 

On 17 February, at the Emilio Ibarra Stadium, Sinaloa, Mexico, Humberto Soto retained his WBC ‘interim’ title when stopping Oscar Leon inside nine rounds.

20 January 2006. Valdemir Pereira w pts 12 Fahprakorb Rakkiatgym.

Venue: Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Eddie Cotton.

Scorecards: 118-108, 118-108, 118-108.

Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Juan Manuel Marquez was stripped, the 31-year-old Pereira (125) won virtually every round when outscoring Rakkiatgym (125½), a Thai southpaw. Taking charge from the opening bell, Pereira almost had Rakkiatgym over in the second with a tremendous left hook, and although unable to drop the latter he punched away throughout in what was a 10-8 round. The story of the fight was all about Rakkiatgym defending as Pereira got off jabs and solid body shots, although one that strayed palpably low in the tenth ended with a point being deducted from his score after he had been warned a couple of times. It was only in the final session that Rakkiatgym showed his worth, catching Pereira with a cracking left cross, but he had left his best effort too late.

5 November 2005. Scott Harrison w pts 12 Nedal Hussein.

Venue: Braehead Arena, Renfrew, Scotland. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Paul Thomas.

Scorecards: 116-111, 116-111, 117-111.

Fight Summary: Ultimately proving too strong for Hussein (125½), the champion started to go to the body early on after working his way in with the jab. And despite getting occasionally caught by solid counters Harrison remained resolute in his attacks. Caught off balance in the fifth, Hussein was dropped by a straight left, but was soon back in the fray as Harrison (126) continued to boss the action. Harrison, who had put on a massive 20lbs since the weigh-in, began to conserve his energy in the latter rounds, and although Hussein came on strongly in the final three sessions the champion held on with ease to fully deserve the victory.

 

The year 2006 saw Harrison beleaguered by many problems. Due to defend against Joan Guzman on 25 February, the fight was moved on after Harrison had dental surgery to remove a wisdom tooth. Then, in early April, having decided to move up a weight, Guzman was replaced by Martin Honorio, followed by Gairy St Clair when the latter went missing.

 

In mid-May 2006 that fight was also called off after Harrison got himself arrested prior to going into a clinic suffering from depression and alcohol problems. Bearing in mind that Harrison was only allowed nine months between defences, but recognising his situation, the WBO gave him a further three months’ ‘disability leave’ to make a defence, while also setting up an ‘interim’ title fight for 5 August which was won by Juan Manuel Marquez when he stopped Terdsak Jandaeng (Kokietgym) in the seventh round at the Montbleu Resort & Casino, Stateline, Nevada, USA.

 

At the end of September 2006, having been allowed an additional month's recuperation, and back in training, it was announced that Harrison would be meeting Nicky Cook on 7 December, with the winner to defend against Marquez. Plans for the fight were then thrown into jeopardy on 6 October when Harrison was arrested in Spain for assault, but after being released on bail on 17 November and getting medical clearance from the BBBoC it was confirmed that Harrison v Cook was still going ahead on 7 December.

 

Meanwhile, Marquez successfully defended the WBO ‘interim’ title when scoring a ninth-round knockout win over Jimrex Jaca at the Dodge Arena, Hidalgo, Texas, USA on 25 November 2006.

 

Shockingly, when Harrison was unable to make the weight for the Cook fight, he relinquished the title on 6 December 2006, the WBO handing the belt to Marquez. However, when the latter moved up to junior lightweight to capture the WBC title from Marco Antonio Barrera in March 2007 yet again the championship was vacated. Following that, Cook was matched against Steve Luevano in order to find a new champion.

3 June 2005. Scott Harrison w co 4 Michael Brodie.

Venue: MEN Arena, Manchester, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mickey Vann.

Fight Summary: Putting his last defence behind him Harrison (126) settled down quickly, and following a short skirmish in the third round realised that body punches were the answer. From then on there was only going to be one winner and it was not going to be Brodie (126), despite him having done well up until then. Coming out fast in the fourth, giving the challenger no chance to find any rhythm, Harrison set up a concerted body attack which eventually put Brodie down on one knee to be counted out in the act of rising after 46 seconds.

7 May 2005. Juan Manuel Marquez w pts 12 Victor Polo.

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Richard Steele.

Scorecards: 119-108, 118-109, 120-107.

Fight Summary: As in his previous defence Marquez (125) was up against another counter-puncher, but although he won by a large margin on the cards it was anything but interesting. Despite Polo (126) being the taller of the pair whenever he threw the southpaw jab he was countered by a left hook, and through the opening six rounds Marquez edged each round before dropping his rival in the seventh with a hard right. That looked to be the signal for Marquez to move up a gear, but for the next few sessions he went back to playing the waiting game. Even though Marquez eventually upped the pace in the 11th and 12th he was ultimately content to settle for the points.

 

In a battle for the WBA 'second tier' title, Chris John made a successful defence when stopping Tommy Browne right at the start of the tenth round at the Panthers World of Entertainment Complex, Penrith, NSW, Australia on 7 August. According to the referee, Browne had taken far too much punishment up to that point.

 

John was fully recognised as the WBA champion on 22 August after Marquez forfeited the WBA ‘super’ title on that day for rejecting a rematch against Manny Pacquiao.

 

A week earlier, on 15 August, Marquez had been stripped of the IBF Championship Belt after he had failed to negotiate a match against the body’s mandatory challenger, Fahprakorb Rakkiatgym. Following that, Rakkiatgym was matched against Valdemir Pereira in a fight for the vacant title.

30 January 2005. In-Jin Chi w pts 12 Tommy Browne.

Venue: Grand Hilton Convention Hall, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jose Cobian.

Scorecards: 120-107, 119-108, 117-112.

Fight Summary: Starting fast, firing in combinations to head and body, the champion soon had Browne (125¾) over with a right hand, only for it to be classified as a slip. Even when Browne began to utilise his superior reach in the fifth it was to no avail, and the sixth saw him pick up damage above the right eye as the former cut loose with flurries of punches. Although Chi (126) was on top throughout Browne continually showed his mettle as he fought back with solid combinations, the crowd giving him a big hand at the finish.

 

On 20 August, Humberto Soto outpointed Rocky Juarez over 12 rounds at the Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois to win the vacant WBC ‘interim’ title.

28 January 2005. Scott Harrison drew 12 Victor Polo.

Venue: Braehead Arena, Glasgow, Scotland. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Samuel Viruet.

Scorecards: 115-113, 113-116, 114-114.

Fight Summary: Denied from winning a major title for the fourth time by a verdict that hardly favoured him, at the finish the Colombian southpaw challenger had given it everything and more. Although he made a reasonable start, Harrison (125¾), cut and swollen on his left eye from a raking left hand in the sixth, was up against it from then on as Polo (125¾) gained in confidence. As the rounds went by the challenger started to take over, especially after his body punches began to have an effect on the champion, but it was not to be.

11 December 2004. Manny Pacquiao w rsc 4 Fahsan 3K Battery.

Venue: MC Home Depot Open Air Arena, Manila, Philippines. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Ferdinand Estrella.

Fight Summary: Defending The Ring Championship Belt, Pacquiao (125) was far too good for 3K Battery (124), quickly getting into his stride when throwing lightning-quick southpaw punches to head and body. Overwhelmed, all 3K Battery could do was to cover up and try to fight back, but after he had been dropped heavily in rounds two and three it was clear that this one would not be lasting much longer. Twice in the fourth session 3K Battery was blasted to the floor by cracking lefts and rights and, although he made it to his feet on the first occasion, the second time around the referee did not even bother to take up the count, stopping the contest on the 1.26 mark.

 

Pacquiao continued to be recognised by The Ring as the world champion until the end of May 2005, but to all intents and purposes he had moved up to junior lightweight after winning the WBC Iternational title at 130lbs on 19 March 2005.

29 October 2004. Scott Harrison w rsc 1 Samuel Kebede.

Venue: Braehead Arena, Renfrew, Scotland. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mickey Vann.

Fight Summary: Lasting just 59 seconds, this was a total mismatch. The fight had barely begun when the challenger was decked from a right to the temple, and on clambering up he looked distinctly unsteady. When a short left hook from Harrison (125¾) put Kebede (124) down again, despite the latter getting up it was obvious that the contest was almost over, it coming as no surprise when the referee called it off moments later.

18 September 2004. Juan Manuel Marquez w pts 12 Orlando Salido.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Tony Weeks.

Scorecards: 118-110, 117-111, 117-111.

Fight Summary: With his titles on the line for the first time since his war with Manny Pacquiao, Marquez (126) was expected to demolish Salido (126) in quick time, but showing none of the fire associated with that contest it became a tactical battle between counter-punchers. For Marquez it was not a problem as Salido had to come to him if he wanted to win, but when that did not happen the champion was content to control the action from the centre of the ring, throwing occasional combinations to head and body. Although Salido began to take the fight to Marquez in the last two sessions it was all too little and too late.

 

On 3 December, at the Rondong Demang Stadium, Tenggarong City, Borneo, Indonesia, Chris John retained the WBA ‘second tier’ title with a fourth-round technical draw against Jose Rojas. John again successfully defended the WBA ‘second tier’ title at the same venue when outpointing Derrick Gainer over 12 rounds on 22 April 2005.

24 July 2004. In-Jin Chi w rsc 10 Eiichi Sugama.

Venue: Central City Millennium Hall, Seoul, South Korea. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Malcolm Bulner.

Fight Summary: Throwing solid jabs and combinations, the champion made an aggressive start to push Sugama (126) back, and while the Japanese fighter occasionally showed up with accurate left hooks and right crosses he was not busy enough to take control. Sugama had a good third round before being deducted a point in the fifth for going low, but then dropped Chi (126) with a cracking left-right to the jaw just as the bell rang to end the sixth. Because the referee decided that the punches landed after the bell there was no count, but Chi was decidedly groggy in the seventh when right uppercuts and crosses threatened to knock him out. Coming back strongly in the eighth though, Chi blasted his way through the next two rounds before dropping Sugama with a heavy right uppercut in the tenth. Although Sugama made it to his feet, having been quickly floored again he was rescued by the referee on the 1.03 mark when it was deemed that he needed medical attention.

19 June 2004. Scott Harrison w rsc 3 William Abelyan.

Venue: Braehead Arena, Renfrew, Scotland. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Samuel Viruet.

Fight Summary: Although this was considered to be a difficult defence against a wily southpaw opponent, Harrison (125) showed he was genuine world class when he dumped Abelyan (125¾) twice in the third to force a stoppage at 1.45 of the round. There was no doubting Abelyan’s class, but he was dismissed by a supremely confident champion, and one who realised that he had the beating of anyone the WBO cared to throw at him.

8 May 2004. Manny Pacquiao drew 12 Juan Manuel Marquez.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/The Ring. Referee: Joe Cortez.

Scorecards: 115-110, 110-115, 113-113.

Fight Summary: Down three times in the first, the Mexican champion came back like a lion to get a share of the decision after it seemed certain that the southpaw Pacquiao (125), The Ring Championship Belt holder, was going to take the IBF and WBA titles home with him. There were no further knockdowns, Pacquiao complaining afterwards that his left hand had been injured in the second round and had restricted his ability to finish the job. In a fight as intense as this one it was no surprise that both men were carrying the signs of battle afterwards, Marquez (125) swollen around both eyes, while Pacquiao’s right eye was cut along the brow and almost closed. With two judges in complete disagreement as to who won, the other judge admitted the following day that he had marked the opening round as 10-7, not 10-6, a mistake which cost Pacquiao victory. However, the extraordinary comeback by Marquez deserved a share of the laurels, if not more, as he appeared to have outboxed the tough little Filipino from the third onwards.

 

Not long after, on 4 June, Chris John outscored Osamu Sato over 12 rounds at the Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo, Japan to retain the WBA ‘second tier’ title.

10 April 2004. In-Jin Chi w co 7 Michael Brodie.

Venue: MEN Arena, Manchester, England. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Massimo Barrovecchio.

Fight Summary: Contesting the vacant title, and a return match, Chi (125¾) never allowed Brodie (126) to settle as he fired in long, raking punches to head and body. Having learned the lessons of their first fight, Chi put the Englishman down inside two minutes, dominating from then on despite being cut on the left eye in the fourth. Staying on top of his man, Chi eventually landed a tremendous left hook that put Brodie down to be counted out on the 2.48 marker in the seventh. The finishing punch appeared to land on Brodie’s already suspected broken nose, there being no way back from that.

6 March 2004. Scott Harrison w rsc 5 Walter Estrada.

Venue: Braehead Arena, Renfrew, Scotland. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Genaro Rodriguez.

Fight Summary: Coming in as a replacement for William Abelyan, the tall southpaw from Colombia caused quite a few problems during the first three rounds, especially when throwing punches from peculiar angles, but by the fourth session the champion had settled. Moving up a gear, Harrison (125½) began to pressure Estrada (125¼), who was cut above the left eye, and put him on the floor for an ‘eight’ count before setting about him big-time in the fifth when knocking him down twice more to bring about the referee’s intervention on the 1.03 mark.

29 November 2003. Scott Harrison w rsc 11 Manuel Medina.

Venue: Braehead Arena, Renfrew, Scotland. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Manuel Maritxalar.

Fight Summary: Making an early start, Harrison (125¾) made his mind up not to allow the champion to find his gears this time around, having his rival on the floor in the first round from an accumulation of punches. However, Medina (125½), a rough, tough fighter of the old school, cut Harrison over the left eye in the fourth before he too was also cut, over the right eye, as the fight turned this way and that until becoming messy right through to the tenth session when Harrison took control again. Put down for six, then again prior to the bell, with Medina unravelling the end came after 31 seconds of the 11th had elapsed when he was smashed to the canvas by a right to the temple and rescued by the referee.

15 November 2003. Manny Pacquiao w rsc 11 Marco Antonio Barrera.

Venue: The Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Laurence Cole.

Fight Summary: Defending his Ring Championship Belt, Barrera (126) lost his laurels to the IBF junior featherweight champion, Pacquiao (125). Dropped in the third, and again in the sixth, Barrera had run out of ideas by the end of the tenth against a southpaw opponent who just kept throwing leather. Cut over the left eye from an accidentally butt in the seventh, although Barrera made it to his feet after being put down again in the 11th he was taking punches without reply when pulled out of the fight by the referee with just four seconds remaining. Even when Pacquiao had been counted over in the opening session it was clearly a slip and not a knockdown, and from that moment on he dominated.

1 November 2003. Juan Manuel Marquez w tdec 7 Derrick Gainer.

Venue: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.

Scorecards: 69-64, 70-63, 70-63.

Fight Summary: Backpedalling from the opening bell, Gainer (126) failed to put in any work whatsoever while Marquez (125¾) continually stalked him, looking to fire off body shots as and when he could. In the seventh round Gainer, who was tiring rapidly due to the body shots having an effect, suddenly reeled away from a clash of heads with a cut over the left eye. Following doctor’s advice the fight went to the cards on the 2.37 mark, and with Gainer having lost every round Marquez unified both titles on the decision.

18 October 2003. In-Jin Chi drew 12 Michael Brodie.

Venue: MEN Arena, Manchester, England. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Daniel Van de Wiele.

Scorecards: 114-112, 113-113, 113-113.

Fight Summary: Following Erik Morales’ decision to move up a weight this one was billed for the vacant title. After appearing to be a good winner, Chi (125¾) was later told that as one of the cards had been incorrectly added up the result was a majority draw due to a mistake over point deductions on the head-clash ruling. The fight itself was superb, with both men giving everything and more, Brodie (126) finishing with both eyes almost shut while Chi was cut above and below the left eye. Brodie, who was down in the second round, at times looked like being overwhelmed before coming back magnificently. For his part, Chi also proved to be a fighting man who would not take no for an answer.

12 July 2003. Manuel Medina w pts 12 Scott Harrison.

Venue: Braehead Arena, Renfrew, Scotland. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mickey Vann.

Scorecards: 118-113, 116-112, 113-115.

Fight Summary: In what was quite an upset, Harrison (125¾) was outworked by the veteran challenger who prodded and poked away with both hands all night without ever looking to do any real damage to his rival. Meanwhile, the champion, unable to pin his rival down for long and cut on the left eye in the eighth, landed the better quality blows but there were fewer of them. While there were no doubts that it was close, Medina (125¾) proved that he was still a difficult man to beat on this performance.

3 May 2003. Erik Morales w rsc 5 Fernando Velardez.

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Fight Summary: Despite having great difficulty in making the weight, Morales (126) quickly got down to business to outbox the challenger before dropping him with a right to the jaw immediately prior to the end of the first round. Taking his time it was all too easy for Morales as he picked his punches against the enthusiastic Velardez (126), and in the fourth it all got too much for the latter when he was worked over by body punches and knocked down by a cracking combination. Up on his feet again Velardez was soon over for the third time, a heavy right doing the trick, and in the fifth session he was literally being taken apart when another right put him down yet again to bring about the referee’s intervention at 1.02.

 

Having knocked out Guty Espadas Jnr inside three rounds at the Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California on 4 October in a WBC junior lightweight eliminator, Morales decided to move up a division on a permanent basis. Initially, the WBC said that they were calling Morales their ‘Emeritus’ featherweight champion, but that came to nothing after Morales stated that he would never box at nine stone again. The WBC then announced that Michael Brodie v In-Jin Chi would decide the vacant championship.

12 April 2003. Marco Antonio Barrera w rsc 4 Kevin Kelley.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Robert Byrd.

Fight Summary: Barrera’s Ring Championship Belt was on the line in this one and he made a successful defence when battering Kelley (126) to defeat at 1.32 of the fourth round. Knocked down in the opening session by a right cross-left hook, Kelley somehow made it up before taking a battering and being saved by the bell on drunken legs. Boxing in a composed fashion, picking his punches well, Barrera (126) knocked the stuffing out of his southpaw opponent in rounds two and three prior to dropping him heavily in the fourth with cracking body shots followed up by a right uppercut to the head. Allowed to carry on after the ‘eight’ count, when Kelley was caught by a right-left and was lurching on the ropes the referee had seen enough.

12 April 2003. Derrick Gainer w pts 12 Oscar Leon.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Scorecards: 114-112, 117-110, 112-114.

Fight Summary: Struggling to retain his title having lost the first five rounds, Gainer (126), his trusted left jab strangely missing, came back to knock Leon (126) down twice, in the eighth and tenth, before going back into his shell. Leon, who was always looking to get his punches off despite being handsomely outreached, proved to be a worthy challenger when picking up the last two sessions to take the result to a split decision.

 

With Gainer due to meet the IBF champion, Juan Manuel Marquez, in a unification match, Chris John outpointed Leon over 12 rounds on 26 September at the Kartika Plaza Hotel, Bali, Indonesia, to win the WBA ‘second tier’ title.

22 March 2003. Scott Harrison w pts 12 Wayne McCullough.

Venue: Braehead Arena, Renfrew, Scotland. Recognition: WBO. Referee: John Coyle.

Scorecards: 119-108, 120-108, 119-109.

Fight Summary: On top throughout, Harrison (125¾) once again proved what a strong man at the weight he was as he forced the former Olympic silver medallist to give ground continuously, systematically cutting the ring down and punching well with both hands. By the eighth round many felt that it had become too one-sided and should have been called off, but McCullough (125) bravely stayed the distance despite never looking likely to beat the champion. Regardless of all that happened, McCullough once again showed his ability to take a good punch.

22 February 2003. Erik Morales w rsc 3 Eddie Croft.

Venue: City Bullring, Mexico City, Mexico, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Laurentino Ramirez.

Fight Summary: Strangely sanctioned as a title fight by the authority, Croft (126) had no right to have been in the same ring as the hard-punching champion as he had not boxed in three years, was unranked, and had lost his last three contests inside the distance. With 25,000 fans in attendance, Morales (126) did what was expected of him, dropping Croft in the second round and twice more in the third prior to the contest being terminated by the referee on the 2.16 mark.

1 February 2003. Juan Manuel Marquez w rsc 7 Manuel Medina.

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Robert Byrd.

Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Johnny Tapia had been stripped, Marquez (125½) made good his opportunity when beating the old warhorse, Medina (125). After making a slow start, Marquez found the range in the second round, a solid left-right-left combination sending Medina down for the mandatory count. Back on his feet Medina tried his hardest to put his punches together, but Marquez, merely biding his time, picked up the pace in the fourth to hurt his rival before continuing in the same vein through to the seventh, landing punch after punch with little coming back. In the seventh two left hooks and a chopping right put Medina down again, and with his right eye now closed the doctor advised the referee to stop it, the finish being timed at 1.18.

16 November 2002. Erik Morales w pts 12 Paulie Ayala.

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Scorecards: 117-111, 117-111, 116-112.

Fight Summary: Billed for the vacant title following Marco Antonio Barrera’s decision to move on, immediately after becoming champion, Morales (126), given another chance to regain his old title, took full advantage of the situation when emphatically beating the big-hearted Ayala (126) over the full course. Despite what it said on the scorecards several of the rounds were fiercely contested, but ultimately Morales was just too strong with too much ability for his rival, often connecting with jabs, straight rights, hooks and uppercuts that fairly sliced their way through Ayala’s guard. Ayala finished the contest with his left eye almost closed.

2 November 2002. Marco Antonio Barrera w pts 12 Johnny Tapia.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Jay Nady.

Scorecards: 116-112, 118-110, 118-110.

Fight Summary: Putting up his Ring Championship Belt for grabs, Barrera (126) proved to be far too clever for the hardy Tapia (126), who never stopped trying even though he was outsmarted most of the way. There were no knockdowns, but from the eighth onwards Tapia picked up the pace, especially after being stung by heavy blows to the head as Barrera followed up the jab. Despite being caught by heavy rights, with Tapia always looking for a fight he slipped over in the 11th after taking several quick punches. Afterwards, Tapia complained that he had hurt his left hand early on, making things even tougher for him.

19 October 2002. Scott Harrison w pts 12 Julio Pablo Chacon.

Venue: Braehead Arena, Renfrew, Scotland. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Samuel Viruet.

Scorecards: 117-112, 117-111, 117-111.

Fight Summary: It was a tough fight to score, but the challenger’s constant aggression eventually overcame the counter-punching Chacon (125¾) who failed to dictate and ultimately did not get on top at any given stage. According to the judges Harrison (126) lost just three rounds, but the contest was fought in such a sportsmanlike manner that it did boxing proud as well as raising the Scot’s stock to new heights.

24 August 2002. Derrick Gainer tdraw 2 Daniel Seda.

Venue: Roberto Clemente Walker Stadium, Carolina, Puerto Rico. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Jose Rivera.

Fight Summary:  After taking a few moments to look his challenger over, Gainer (126) suddenly exploded into action with a long southpaw left that sent Seda (126) crashing for a mandatory ‘eight’ count. Back in action, Seda was lucky that Gainer hung back before striking with venom again immediately prior to the bell, only for him to stand off again early in the second. Finally making a positive move, Gainer belted Seda into the ropes before the pair clashed heads as the latter dipped inside a long overarm left. With blood pouring from the left eye, making it impossible for Gainer to continue, the referee called it off with 47 seconds of the round left. As less than two rounds had been completed it should be recognised as a technical draw.

22 June 2002. Marco Antonio Barrera w pts 12 Erik Morales.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Jay Nady.

Scorecards: 116-112, 115-113, 115-113.

Fight Summary: With his WBC title and the vacant Ring Championship Belt at stake had Morales (126) taken the last round he would have received the decision. Morales, who finished with his right eye almost closed, also claimed that the long right to the body which dropped Barrera (126) in the seventh should have been recorded as a knockdown not a slip. Very much a tactical affair this time, being contested at range, it all depended on the last round. This went to the former three-time WBO junior featherweight title holder, who took the initiative by sending in punches to head and body before reverting to the jab.

 

Having taken the fight in order to gain revenge over Morales and not interested in the WBC title, Barrera relinquished it on winning while carrying on claiming to be the champion of the people. Following that, it was initially thought that the leading two contenders, Juan Manuel Marquez and In-Jin Chi, would contest the vacant title, but in the event it was Morales and Paulie Ayala who were selected.

27 April 2002. Johnny Tapia w pts 12 Manuel Medina.

Venue: MSG Theatre, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Steve Smoger.

Scorecards: 115-113, 115-113, 114-114.

Fight Summary: Despite setting a 'CompuBox' record with 1,466 punches thrown, double the amount recorded by Tapia (125¾), the champion was deemed to have been outscored at the final bell. For much of the time Tapia appeared confused as Medina (126) just kept throwing leather, and it was only when the former went for the body that the tide turned to some degree, Tapia landing excellent uppercuts to that region, especially in the ninth. HBO’s unofficial judge, Harold Ledderman, had Medina winning by 117-111, but on analysis it was obvious that many of the champion’s blows were ultimately not considered by the judges to be scoring punches for whatever reason. Tapia joined the ranks of the three-weight world champions on winning, having been an undefeated IBF/WBO junior bantamweight champion and a WBA and undefeated WBO champion at bantamweight.

 

Tapia was stripped in October for agreeing to take on Marco Antonio Barrera in a 12-round fight at the weight for The Ring Championship Belt and refusing to hand over a sanctioning fee. Following on from that, Medina was matched against Juan Manuel Marquez in a fight for the vacant title.

19 January 2002. Julio Pablo Chacon w pts 12 Victor Polo.

Venue: York Hall, Bethnal Green, London, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Roberto Ramirez.

Scorecards: 115-112, 114-113, 113-114.

Fight Summary: Boxing on the back foot with the jab, the lanky southpaw challenger made things difficult for Chacon (125½), who seemed bemused at times, but having been dropped by a straight left in the fourth and his right eye cut in the fifth the latter began to fight back. In the sixth, with Chacon at last forcing Polo (125) to trade, when the Colombian was cut on the right eye from there on he began to press intelligently by making Polo fight his fight. After being tagged by a solid left uppercut in the ninth Polo took a mandatory count, and with Chacon now back on track the expected rally from Polo failed to materialise, although there was still little in it at the final bell.

 

Following Chacon pulling out at short notice when due to defend against Scott Harrison, the WBO gave its blessing to the replacement match between Harrison and Victor Santiago at the Braehead Arena, Renfrew, Scotland on 8 June going ahead for their ‘interim’ title. After stopping Santiago in the sixth round, Harrison was eventually booked to meet Chacon in October.

16 November 2001. Manuel Medina w rsc 6 Frankie Toledo.

Venue: Orleans Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Fight Summary: Even though he won the opening two rounds, Toledo (126) was soon up against it as Medina (126), bidding to become champion for the fourth time, began to get through more following a clash of heads which left the former with a cut forehead. The fourth session saw Medina up his work-rate, landing lots of light blows from both hands before another clash of heads put Toledo on the defensive. In the fifth round Medina again upped the tempo with long rights to the head pushing Toledo back, and although the latter retaliated he was beginning to take a two-fisted beating. Looking demoralised during the interval it came as no surprise when the referee stopped the fight five seconds into the sixth after Toledo elected to give up in the hope of getting a technical draw, which was ultimately not granted.

11 August 2001. Julio Pablo Chacon w rsc 5 Eduardo Barrios.

Venue: Falklands Argentine Stadium, Mendoza, Argentina. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Luis Pabon.

Fight Summary: Starting with a bang, Chacon (126) dropped Barrios (126) in the first round with a right-left hook. Biding his time after such a good start, Chacon went on to outbox and outpunch the erratic challenger for the next three sessions before really opening up again. Floored by a big right to the head in the fifth, Barrios somehow got up but was defenceless against the ropes when Chacon, throwing combinations, smashed him down again. At this juncture, the referee called a halt immediately with just ten seconds of the round remaining.

28 July 2001. Erik Morales w pts 12 In-Jin Chi.

Venue: Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jose Cobian.

Scorecards: 116-111, 117-110, 116-112.

Fight Summary: Taking the champion’s best punches for round after round without ever taking a backward step Chi (125½) proved mightily tough, but after Morales (126), his left eye swollen and cut, realised that it was going to be difficult to knock the Korean out and began to rely more on the jab, backed up by left hooks and left uppercuts to head and body, he put rounds in the bag. These were the obvious tactics for Morales, who also needed to protect his damaged features. However, after Morales was drawn into a war of attrition in the latter sessions when Chi climbed all over him in a desperate last throw of the dice, he was forced to retreat following another head clash before coming back to fight toe-to-toe through to the final bell.

16 June 2001. Julio Pablo Chacon w rsc 6 Istvan Kovacs.

Venue: Kiss Ice Stadium, Budapest, Hungary. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Lou Moret.

Fight Summary: Losing his title at the first time of asking, Kovacs (126) had taken the first four rounds by dint of better boxing before being floored twice in the fifth, firstly by a solid right and secondly by a cracking left hook. Saved by the bell, Kovacs somehow stepped up for the sixth but after he was badly rocked by another Chacon (125) left hook the referee called a halt with just 15 seconds on the clock.

6 April 2001. Frankie Toledo w pts 12 Mbulelo Botile.

Venue: Texas Station Gambling Hall & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Scorecards: 118-110, 117-111, 119-109.

Fight Summary: Making his first defence after beating Paul Ingle, although Botile (125¾) failed to bring his best form into the ring he still seemed to have done enough in some eyes. However, he did not impress the judges who unanimously decided that Toledo (126), backpedalling and countering with the southpaw jab, had won the fight despite Botile making it. Toledo, cut over the right eye in the eighth, always did his best work in the last minute of every round when stealing points off the back foot and sticking to his game plan throughout.

24 February 2001. Derrick Gainer w pts 12 Victor Polo.

Venue: Ice Palace, Tampa, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Brian Garry.

Scorecards: 115-112, 118-109, 113-114.

Fight Summary: Circling the ring, displaying excellent hand-speed while using his jab to good effect to tot up points, Gainer (125½) appeared to win handily against a challenger who was made to look pedestrian for much of the time in a battle of southpaws. How one of the judges scored against Gainer was amazing, especially after he dropped Polo (125¾) with a long left in the 11th to produce a 10-8 round and had outboxed a man who consistently came forward without achieving too much. At best, the solid, upright Polo won two rounds, the third and tenth, but in making the fight two of the judges could possibly have been influenced by the crowd who got behind the Colombian at every opportunity.

17 February 2001. Erik Morales w pts 12 Guty Espadas Jnr.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jay Nady.

Scorecards: 115-113, 116-112, 116-112.

Fight Summary: Having given up the WBC junior featherweight title after beating Marco Antonio Barrera in 2000, Morales (125) was installed as favourite to win this one. However, with little in it at the finish if the champion had only upped his work-rate the result could have been different. Although Espadas (124½) took the fight to Morales he never pressured his fellow Mexican enough, being too one-dimensional, whereas Morales, who landed the harder punches in what little action there was, deserved the win on that basis.

27 January 2001. Istvan Kovacs w rsc 12 Antonio Chelo Diaz.

Venue: Rudi Sedimayer Hall, Munich, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Samuel Viruet.

Fight Summary: Fighting for the title vacated by Naseem Hamed, Kovacs (126) became the new champion when he first outboxed Diaz (125½) and then outpunched him. Despite being cut under the right eye, Kovacs boxed well, using the ring and keeping out of range before starting to score regularly from the middle rounds onwards. After tiring badly in the 11th, Diaz was put down by a solid one-two to the head in the 12th. Back in the fray Diaz was dropped again by a good left-hook, and although getting up the referee deemed him not to be in a position to defend himself before stopping the contest with 62 seconds of the bout remaining.

16 December 2000. Mbulelo Botile w rsc 12 Paul Ingle.

Venue: The Arena, Sheffield, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Dave Parris.

Fight Summary: Ending in near tragedy, it was a fight in which Ingle (125¼) fought an uphill battle for much of the time against a challenger who ultimately had too much power for him and was well ahead at the finish. Although Ingle was still in the fight by the 11th he had never really hurt Botile (124½). He had been cut over both eyes and had been gradually ground down by the South African fighting machine, who was consistently unloading accurate, hurtful punches to head and body. In the 11th, Botile struck with venom, a selection of blows being followed by two big lefts, the second putting Ingle down for ‘eight’ before the bell came to his rescue. Coming out for the final session, the former IBF bantamweight title holder went straight on the attack, driving Ingle around the ring with blows from both hands before dropping him with a big left hook, inducing the referee to call the fight off 20 seconds into the round in order to get the stricken champion immediate help. Rushed to hospital, Ingle was operated on within 45 minutes of the final knockdown, testament to the British Boxing Board of Control’s (BBBoC) medical policy. With a blood clot successfully removed, while Ingle would never fight again, his life had been saved.

19 August 2000. Naseem Hamed w rsc 4 Augie Sanchez.

Venue: Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Michael Ortega.

Fight Summary: Although being given a bit of a scare when put down twice by solid right hands in the second round, despite the referee not counting them as such and being tagged with some ease in the third, Hamed (126) soon focused on successfully defending his title to turn things around in the fourth. Nailed early on in the fourth by two rights and a big left, Sanchez (126) was dropped, and on getting to his feet he was soon down again after Hamed had been deducted a point for hitting him while down the first time. Hamed was now in full cry. When a cracking left hook followed by a right-left-right parted Sanchez from his senses it left the referee no alternative but to stop the contest immediately, the finish being timed at 2.34.

 

Hamed relinquished the WBO version of the title in October in order to take on Marco Antonio Barrera for the lesser recognised IBO crown, an action that was followed by Istvan Kovacs and Antonio Chelo Diaz being matched to find a new WBO champion.

 

Taking place on 7 April 2001, at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, although supported by the International Boxing Organisation this fight was more to do with both Barrera and Hamed wanting to decide the best man in the world at the weight, being the richest ever featherweight contest. Right from the opening bell Barrera (125½) got the left jab working well against the switch-hitting Hamed (126), doubling up and finding the target again and again. By round six it had become a master-class as Barrera hit and moved before Hamed could get set, and although the latter was still in the fight he was having no success with his heavier punches. Whenever Barrera was caught by a solid shot he would hold before getting back to business. And he was always on the outside of Hamed’s lunges. Even a point deduction in the 12th for bouncing Hamed’s head off a ring post made no difference, Barrera having landed 89 more punches on his rival than he had received himself in what was a comprehensive 116-111, 115-112, 115-112 victory.

 

Almost immediately, Barrera relinquished the IBO title, claiming to be a fighter who would not be tied down by any of the self-styled boxing commissions.

 

On 8 September 2001, Barrera forced Enrique Jose Sanchez to retire at the end of the sixth round at the Lawlor Events Centre, Reno, Nevada in a fight made at 126lbs and billed as being for ‘The People’s Championship’.

 

Barrera’s next contest would be against the WBC champion, Erik Morales, and would also involve The Ring Championship Belt.

23 June 2000. Guty Espadas Jnr w pts 12 Wethya Sakmuangklang.

Venue: Zamna Poliforum, Merida, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jay Nady.

Scorecards: 116-112, 118-110, 116-113.

Fight Summary: In retaining the title at the first time of asking, Espadas (126) had to sustain furious assaults from Sakmuangklang (126) in rounds eight and nine, but generally dictated matters and finished strongly to well earn the decision. However, it had been a boring affair, not helped by Espadas doing just enough.

 

Booked to defend the title against Erik Morales, the champion, having injured his shoulder, was forced to pull out. This gave Morales the opportunity to stop Kevin Kelley inside seven rounds to win the vacant WBC ‘interim’ title on 2 September at the Don Haskins Centre, El Paso, Texas, prior to meeting Espadas on 17 February 2001.

25 May 2000. Freddie Norwood w pts 12 Julio Pablo Chacon.

Venue: Falklands Argentine Stadium, Mendoza, Argentina. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Stan Christodoulou.

Scorecards: 117-110, 118-109, 116-112.

Fight Summary: Overcoming all non-boxing related problems, Norwood (126) started well when dropping the nervous Chacon (125¾) with a southpaw left in the third round before controlling most of the action from thereon in. Chacon’s best opportunity of getting something from the fight came in the ninth when Norwood’s right eye gave out, but the latter proved too slippery to be caught again, showboating his way to the final bell.

 

Due to make a defence on 9 September against Derrick Gainer at The Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana, Norwood came in over the weight at 127¾lbs, thus forfeiting his title on the scales. The fight went ahead, and with Norwood being stopped inside 11 rounds Gainer was named champion on his victory.

29 April 2000. Paul Ingle w rsc 11 Junior Jones.

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Steve Smoger.

Fight Summary: Boring in behind a stiff left jab and applying good pressure Ingle (125½) impressed the locals as he set about defending his title for the first time, his good head movement making him a difficult target for Jones (125¼), certainly until the ninth round. Prior to that there was little between the pair, but in the ninth Jones finally nailed his man when a big right hand floored Ingle. With Jones in full cry after the mandatory count had been and gone Ingle was forced to defend for the remainder of the session before going toe-to-toe with the American in the tenth. Early in the 11th Ingle staggered Jones with a terrific left hook, and with the ropes holding him up and having been forced to take several unreturned blows the latter was given an ‘eight’ count. Allowed back in the fray, with Jones’ legs betraying him, the referee called a halt on the 1.16 mark.

14 April 2000. Guty Espadas Jnr w tdec 11 Luisito Espinosa.

Venue: Zamna Poliforum, Merida, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richard Steele.

Scorecards: 108-99, 107-100, 108-99.

Fight Summary: Fighting for the vacant title following the WBC’s decision to strip Naseem Hamed, the lanky Espadas (125¾) dominated Espinosa (126) to follow in his father’s footsteps when becoming a world champion. From the opening bell the contest was never in doubt as Espinosa, put down early in the first with a heavy right and barely beating the count, never properly recovered from such a bad start. Towards the end Espinosa was fighting on auto before a clash of heads in the 11th left Espadas cut between both eyes and unable to continue at 2.40 of the session. With the referee calling for the cards, it came as no surprise to find out that Espinosa had won just one round.

11 March 2000. Naseem Hamed w co 4 Vuyani Bungu.

Venue: Olympia, Kensington, London, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Joe Cortez.

Fight Summary: Having been so disappointing in his last three contests, Hamed (126) at last got back to something approaching his normal self when making a successful defence against Bungu (125½), a former IBF champion. Controlling the action from the opening bell, when Hamed opened up a cut over Bungu’s left eye in the third round, and with the South African concentrating on defence alone, it was no contest. The finish came after the challenger was dropped by a cracker of a straight left and counted out at 1.38 of the fourth.

30 January 2000. Freddie Norwood w co 9 Takashi Koshimoto.

Venue: International Centre, Fukuoka, Japan. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Julio Cesar Alvarado.

Fight Summary: Seven inches taller than the champion, Koshimoto (125¾) used the ring well to keep out of trouble for the first eight rounds, but never threatened Norwood (125½) who was sharp and aggressive from the start while retaining control throughout. At the start of the ninth Koshimoto decided to go for broke, meeting Norwood head on, but was countered with hard, accurate blows to the head, the last one being an explosive straight left which dropped him heavily to be counted out with 61 seconds of the session remaining. Both men were southpaws.