Junior Featherweight World Championship Fights & Title Claims
Full junior featherweight fight details from 1976 to September 2016 (plus feather, junior light and light) are available in a definitive companion book:
Full Fight Details from 2000 Onwards:
6 October 2018. Daniel Roman w rsc 10 Gavin McDonnell.
Venue: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Mark Nelson.
25 August 2018. Isaac Dogboe w rsc 1 Hidenori Otake.
Venue: Gila River Arena, Glendale, Arizona, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Chris Flores.
16 August 2018. TJ Doheny w pts 12 Ryosuke Iwasa.
Venue: Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Mario Gonzalez.
Scorecards: 116-112, 117-112, 115-113.
12 May 2018. Rey Vargas w pts 12 Azat Hovhannisyan.
Venue: Turning Stone Resort & Casino, Verona, New York, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Charlie Fitch.
Scorecards: 116-112, 118-110, 117-111.
28 April 2018. Isaac Dogboe w rsc 11 Jessie Magdaleno.
Venue: Liacouras Centre, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Benjy Esteves Jnr.
1 March 2018. Ryosuke Iwasa w pts 12 Ernesto Saulong.
Venue: Kokugikan Sumo Stadium. Recognition: IBO. Referee: Kenny Chevalier.
Scorecards: 119-109, 120-108, 118-110.
28 February 2018. Daniel Roman w pts 12 Ryo Matsumoto.
Venue: Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.
Scorecards: 119-109, 119-109, 118-110.
When Roman met Moises Flores (121¾) at the Ford Centre, Frisco, Texas, USA on 16 June in what had been billed as a title defence, it counted for nothing after the latter failed to make the weight. Regardless of the situation the fight still went ahead, Roman winning on points over 12 rounds.
2 December 2017. Rey Vargas w pts 12 Oscar Negrete.
Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Ricky Gonzalez.
Scorecards: 120-108, 119-109, 119-109.
13 September 2017. Ryosuke Iwasa w rsc 6 Yukinori Oguni.
Venue: EDION Arena, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Wayne Hedgpeth.
26 August 2017. Rey Vargas w pts 12 Ronny Rios.
Venue: StubHub Centre, Carson, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Raul Caiz Snr.
Scorecards: 115-113, 118-110, 118-110.
17 June 2017. Guillermo Rigondeaux w rsc 1 Moises Flores.
Venue: Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Vic Drakulich.
Flores remained the WBA ‘interim’ champion due to the original decision being reclassified as a no contest.
Shun Kubo lost his WBA ‘second tier’ title when stopped in the ninth round by Daniel Roman at the Shimazu Arena, Kyoto, Japan on 3 September.
Further to moving up two weight divisions to meet Vasyl Lomachenko (l rtd 6 on 9 December at Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York) for the WBO junior lightweight title, the WBA stated that Rigondeaux forfeited his title on 2 January 2018. Following that, Roman was given full title status by the WBA.
22 April 2017. Jessie Magdaleno w co 2 Adeilson Dos Santos.
Venue: StubHub Centre, Carson, California, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Lou Moret.
Isaac Dogboe won the vacant WBO ‘interim’ title when stopping Cesar Juarez inside five rounds at the Bukom Arena, Accra, Ghana on 6 January 2018.
25 February 2017. Rey Vargas w pts 12 Gavin McDonnell.
Venue: Ice Arena, Hull, England. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Victor Loughlin.
Scorecards: 117-111, 116-112, 114-114.
31 December 2016. Yukinori Oguni w pts 12 Jonathan Guzman.
Venue: Shimazu Arena, Kyoto, Japan. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Eddie Claudio.
Scorecards: 115-112, 115-112, 115-112.
5 November 2016. Jessie Magdaleno w pts 12 Nonito Donaire.
Venue: Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Tony Weeks.
Scorecards: 116-112, 116-112, 118-110.
16 September 2016. Hozumi Hasegawa w rtd 9 Hugo Ruiz.
Venue: EDION Arena, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Hector Afu.
Fight Summary: After winning WBC world titles at bantamweight and featherweight, the 35-year-old Hasegawa picked up another when forcing the hard-hitting Ruiz, defending for the first time, to retire at the end of the ninth. Both men were deducted a point for accidental butts, Hasegawa in the opener and Ruiz in the seventh, the last offence leaving the challenger with a cut left eye. However, there was no way that Hasegawa was going to let a cut ruin his chance of a third title, and he continued to take the fight to Ruiz, who seemed to have no answer to the southpaw lefts coming his way. Although Hasegawa was caught by a big shot in the ninth he kept marching forward and by the end of the session it could be seen that Ruiz had little left.
Hasegawa announced on 9 December that he was retiring forthwith.
20 July 2016. Jonathan Guzman w rsc 11 Shingo Wake.
Venue: EDION Arena, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Wayne Hedgpeth.
Fight Summary: Fighting to decide the vacant title after Carl Frampton handed in his belt, Guzman (121) dominated Wake (121¾) throughout the contest before the referee came to the latter's aid at 2.16 of the 11th. Wake, an upright southpaw, had been dropped twice in the second by swift combinations, decked in the third by a big left hook and dropped heavily in the fifth by a solid right to the chin. Showing tremendous bravery in continuing, Wake ended the contest with a broken right cheek bone and a fractured eye socket, testament to the two-handed power of Guzman.
16 July 2016. Guillermo Rigondeaux w rtd 2 James Dickens.
Venue: Welsh Ice Arena, Cardiff, Wales. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Howard Foster.
Fight Summary: In a match-up of southpaws the champion proved too fast and accurate for the game Dickens (121½), who was retired on his stool at the end of the second after suffering a suspected broken jaw. The damage was almost certainly caused by Rigondeaux (121¾) in the opening session when Dickens was hit flush by a cracking left hand but, although the latter showed no immediate signs of coming apart, it was a different story in the second. Throwing punches at blinding speed, Rigondeaux was able to find Dickens whether he was inside the range or not and it was clear that the end was not far away.
Nehomar Cermeno made a successful defence of his WBA 'second tier' title when knocking out Anurak Thisa inside three rounds at The Gym, Wenzhou, China on 30 September. He then held on to his honours when outscoring Jun Qiu Xiao over 12 rounds at the Zhe Jiang University Stadium, Hangzhou, China on 17 December before being deprived of them when forced to retire at the end of the 11th by Shun Kubo at the EDION Arena, Osaka, Japan on 8 April 2017.
23 April 2016. Nonito Donaire w rsc 3 Zsolt Bedak.
Venue: City Sports Complex, Cebu, Philippines. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Russell Mora.
Fight Summary: Although the fight started slowly, the champion picked up the pace in the second, stunning Bedak (121½) with a big left hook before dropping him with the follow-up. Hurt several times after getting to his feet, Bedak visited the canvas again when he was countered over the top. It was now all over bar the shouting, and when Donaire (121¾) floored Bedak with a left uppercut-right cross in the third the referee rescued the latter on the 2.44 mark after it was clear that he had no wish to continue.
27 February 2016. Hugo Ruiz w rsc 1 Julio Ceja.
Venue: Honda Centre, Anaheim, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Tom Taylor.
Fight Summary: Making the first defence of the title he inherited when Leo Santa Cruz moved on, Ceja (121½) was stopped after just 51 seconds by Ruiz (122), a man he had defeated inside five rounds in August 2015. Dropped early on by a right over the top, when Ceja got to his feet it could be seen that he had injured his right ankle, and by now shipping punches and unable to defend himself properly on the ropes the referee came to his rescue.
27 February 2016. Carl Frampton w pts 12 Scott Quigg.
Venue: The Arena, Manchester, England. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Ernie Sharif.
Scorecards: 116-112, 116-112, 113-115.
Fight Summary: With two belts on the line, Quigg (121¼) defending the WBA title he inherited from Guillermo Rigondeaux up against the IBF champion, Frampton (121¼), in an all British clash, the latter was handed a split decision after a disappointing fight. Following a cautious start, once Quigg's jaw was broken in the fourth it was all uphill for him. Taking full advantage of Quigg's misfortune, Frampton bossed all rounds coming into the eighth, a round in which Quigg finally and bravely picked up the pace when winning the next two sessions. Although Frampton came back strongly in the tenth it was all Quigg in the 11th as he made a desperate attempt to turn things around, but it was not to be. A disconsolate Quigg would be out of the ring for several months due to the nature of the injury, while Frampton would go on to greater things.
Frampton forfeited the WBA version of the title on 7 April after not agreeing to a defence against their mandatory challenger, Rigondeaux. Following that, Rigondeaux was reinstated as the WBA 'super' champion on 6 May.
To take a fight with Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title, Frampton handed in his IBF belt on 28 April.
Moises Flores made a successful defence of his WBA 'interim' title when beating Paulus Ambunda (w pts 12 at the Ramatex Factory, Windhoek, Namibia on 11 June).
Nehomar Cermeno picked up the vacant WBA 'second tier' title when stopping Jun Qiu Xiao inside 12 rounds at the Capital Gym, Beijing, China on 24 June.
11 December 2015. Nonito Donaire w pts 12 Cesar Juarez.
Venue: Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Ramon Pena.
Scorecards: 117-107, 116-110, 116-110.
Fight Summary: Contesting the vacant title in a match that was set up after Guillermo Rigondeaux had been stripped, Donaire (122) became the new champion after being forced to fight all the way by the tough Juarez (122). Donaire started well enough, banging in punches from both hands before knocking Juarez down twice in the fourth, a right to the head and then a solid left counter doing the damage. If Donaire thought that Juarez was through for the night he was wrong. Regrouping in the fifth, Juarez came back hard, and by the eighth Donaire had cuts over both eyes and had twisted his ankle. Forced to go toe-to-toe because of his lack of mobility, Donaire stated afterwards that it had been the hardest fight of his career.
18 July 2015. Carl Frampton w pts 12 Alejandro Gonzalez Jnr.
Venue: Dan Haskins Convention Centre, El Paso, Texas, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Mark Calo-Oy.
Scorecards: 116-108, 116-108, 115-109.
Fight Summary: Dropped twice in the opening round, by a left hook to the head and then a right cross to the same region, was not the best way to begin a defence of his title for Frampton (121½). However, he proved that he was made of the right stuff when surviving the round and coming back to outscore Gonzalez (121¼) by a unanimous decision. Losing two points for going low in the third and 11th did not help Gonzalez's cause, but ultimately it made no difference as Frampton built up a lead, his left hook being a key weapon. Although Gonzalez came on strongly in the ninth, Frampton was soon back in charge when winning the final three rounds on all of the cards to record a solid victory in his American debut.
28 February 2015. Carl Frampton w rsc 5 Chris Avalos.
Venue: Odyssey Arena, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Howard Foster.
Fight Summary: Defending the title in front of his own crowd, Frampton (122) gave the tough Avalos (122) no respite when constantly battering away at him. Much faster than his opponent, Frampton, carrying a damaged right eye from the third, merely bided his time before opening up. Having slammed home some hefty blows in the fourth, and intent on a finish, Frampton charged into Avalos in the fifth, driving him to the ropes before forcing a referee's stoppage at 1.33 when the latter was struggling to keep his feet.
17 January 2015. Leo Santa Cruz w rsc 8 Jesus Ruiz.
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Kenny Bayless.
Fight Summary: In a contest between fellow Mexicans, the champion had a tougher time than expected before forcing the referee to pull Ruiz (122) out of the contest after 29 seconds of the eighth. Although Santa Cruz (121½) scored heavily at times, especially with left hooks to the body, the hardy Ruiz was always looking to get inside the jab, even cutting his rival over the right eye in the sixth. Having come back strongly in the seventh Santa Cruz kept up the attack in the eighth when driving Ruiz to the ropes, and with the latter not fighting back the referee came to his aid.
On 29 August, Julio Ceja won the vacant WBC 'interim' title when stopping Hugo Ruiz inside five rounds at the Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California, USA.
When Santa Cruz decided to move up to 126lbs permanently on 1 November, having already won the WBC featherweight title, Ceja was given full title status.
31 December 2014. Guillermo Rigondeaux w rtd 11 Hisashi Amagasa.
Venue: Bodymaker Coliseum, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: WBA/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Michael Ortega.
Fight Summary: Despite boxing well, the three-belt champion nearly came unstuck in this one. Up against the lanky Amagasa (121¾) the Cuban southpaw started as well as ever when showcasing his skill and hitting power, but he was unable to drop the challenger early on even though he landed heavily at times. This was illustrated in the fifth when Rigondeaux (121¾) blasted Amagasa into the ropes, only for the latter to come back fighting hard. With the crowd right behind him, in the seventh Amagasa surprised all and sundry when dropping Rigondeaux, having caught him with a crunching straight right to the jaw, before repeating the trick after he was back on his feet. Almost floored again in the eighth, Rigondeaux recovered somewhat to drop the tough Amagasa in the tenth with a solid left that followed a burst of heavy blows from both hands. Despite continuing to show great resolve, with both of his eyes badly swollen, Amagasa's corner retired their man at the end of the 11th.
Oscar Escandon lost his WBA 'interim' title when outpointed over 12 rounds by Moises Flores at the StubHub Centre, Carson, California, USA on 18 April 2015. Flores retained the WBA 'interim' title when he stopped Luis Emanuel Cusolito inside 12 rounds at the Sands Casino, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA on 22 September 2015.
Scott Quigg made another successful defence of his WBA 'second tier' title when stopping Kiko Martinez in the second round of their contest at The Arena, Manchester, England on 18 July 2015.
Rigondeaux was stripped of his WBO title due to inactivity on 29 October 2015, and a day later was classed as 'champion in recess' by the WBA after the body had rejected Cesar Seda as a world championship opponent in December. Following that, Quigg was given full title status by the WBA.
Finally, having not defended against a top five contender for almost three years, on 9 February 2016 Rigondeaux forfeited his hold on The Ring Championship Belt when he signed to meet the unrated British champion, James Dickens.
13 September 2014. Leo Santa Cruz w rsc 2 Manuel Roman.
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Robert Byrd.
Fight Summary: Setting about his challenger with a vengeance, Santa Cruz (121) rammed in punch after punch on the hapless Roman (122) throughout the opening session. Coming out fast at the bell to start the second it was more of the same from Santa Cruz, and after a straight right to the jaw sent Roman down the referee called the fight off on the 55 second mark when he could see that the latter was through for the night.
6 September 2014. Carl Frampton w pts 12 Kiko Martinez.
Venue: Titanic Quarter, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Steve Gray.
Scorecards: 119-108, 119-108, 118-111.
Fight Summary: Having previously stopped Martinez (121) in a European title fight, the challenger was expected to win this one. On top from the start, Frampton (121½) was just too quick for Martinez, and after slipping to the floor in the fifth he got up to land a cracking right to Spaniard's jaw that sent him down. Regardless of that it was still a tough fight, with Frampton having plenty to do if he wanted the win. With his hands aching, Frampton stuck to his boxing, winning the last five rounds to make sure that the verdict came his way, even though Martinez was always dangerous and never gave up. Both men finished up with cuts, Frampton over his right eye and Martinez near his left optic, in what turned out to be an enthralling night for the fans.
19 July 2014. Guillermo Rigondeaux w co 1 Sod Kokietgym.
Venue: Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort, Macao, SAR China. Recognition: WBA/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Mark Nelson.
Fight Summary: Formerly known as Sod Looknongyangtoy, the challenger, now named Sod Kokietgym (122), only lasted 104 seconds as Rigondeaux (121½), his three championship belts on the line, set about him with vigour. After a clash of heads had dropped Kokietgym, having appealed to the referee without success the latter got up before being sent down again from a cracking left-right to the jaw. Never looking likely to find his feet, Kokietgym was counted out in what was a match-up of southpaws.
Scott Quigg retained his WBA 'second tier' title with a third-round stoppage win over Stephane Jamoye at The Arena, Manchester, England on 13 September. He next defended the title when outscoring Hidenori Otake over 12 rounds at the Echo Arena, Liverpool, England on 22 November.
Oscar Escandon won the vacant WBA 'interim' title when outpointing Tyson Cave over 12 rounds at the Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula, California, USA on 11 December.
23 April 2014. Kiko Martinez w rsc 7 Hozumi Hasegawa.
Venue: Castle Hall, Osaka, Japan. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Robert Byrd.
Fight Summary: Showing much improvement, the champion overcame a difficult start on away territory to drop Hasegawa (122) in the second following a solid right to the jaw that followed a barrage of blows to head and body. Although coming back to run off two of the next three rounds, the southpaw challenger was ultimately no match for Martinez (121¼), who continued to grind him down. Having had a point deducted in the fifth for hitting on the break, Martinez came right back in the seventh when decking Hasegawa with a solid left hook to the chin, and after the latter got up and was dropped again the referee rescued him on the 1.20 mark.
8 March 2014. Leo Santa Cruz w pts 12 Cristian Mijares.
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Kenny Bayless.
Scorecards: 120-108, 120-108, 119-109.
Fight Summary: In a battle between Mexicans, the southpaw challenger, and former WBC junior bantamweight champion, was no match for the improving Santa Cruz (122). Always in control, sending in hard blows from either hand to head and body, Santa Cruz gave Mijares (122) very few opportunities to get going despite being cut over the right eye by an accidental head butt. Although Mijares attempted to find space Santa Cruz was always in front of him, and although the former made the eighth more competitive he was soon put back in his place as the champion sauntered to a virtual shut-out win.
21 December 2013. Kiko Martinez w co 9 Jeffrey Mathebula.
Venue: Esperanza Lag Sports Pavilion, Elche, Spain. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Eddie Claudio.
Fight Summary: Attacking the much taller Mathebula (121½) non-stop, targeting the body throughout, the champion eventually found a right to the solar plexus that saw the South African counted out in a kneeling position at 2.05 of the ninth. Prior to that it had stopped being competitive for several rounds, it seeming to be only a matter of time before Martinez (121¾) would catch up with Mathebula, a faded former IBF title holder at the weight. Having declined so far it was not surprising that Mathebula announced that he was retiring immediately afterwards.
14 December 2013. Leo Santa Cruz w pts 12 Cesar Seda.
Venue: The Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Mark Calo-Oy.
Scorecards: 117-110, 116-111, 115-112.
Fight Summary: Putting his title on the line for the first time, Santa Cruz (121½) was given a rough ride by the more than willing Seda (121¾) before earning the unanimous decision. After slowing Seda down with his body attacks, Santa Cruz sent his southpaw challenger to the floor in the fifth with a left hook to the jaw from what seemed to be more of a push than a punch. However, from thereon in, despite dominating, Santa Cruz was unable to repeat the trick as the smaller Seda showed his mettle to make it to the final bell.
7 December 2013. Guillermo Rigondeaux w pts 12 Joseph Agbeko.
Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Benjy Esteves.
Scorecards: 120-108, 120-108, 120-108.
Fight Summary: With his three championship belts on the line the southpaw champion once more showed his skills to good effect when outboxing the 36-year-old Agbeko (121½) for round after round in what became a boring spectacle for many. It was not that Agbeko was poor it was because Rigondeaux (121) not only had great defensive ability but was also too powerful for the game Ghanaian, who failed to win a round on all three judges' scorecards. The fight stats showed that Agbeko landed just 48 punches in the contest, being taken apart by jabs and hard lefts from distance.
On 19 April 2014, Scott Quigg successfully defended his WBA 'second tier' title with a two-round stoppage win over Tshifhiwa Munyai at the Phones 4u Arena, Manchester, England.
24 August 2013. Leo Santa Cruz w rsc 3 Victor Terrazas.
Venue: StubHub Centre, Carson, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lou Moret.
Fight Summary: Although the champion boxed on even terms with Santa Cruz (121¾) in the opener, once he had received a badly swollen right eye in the second he began to get punished heavily to the body as he looked for breathing space. Into the third, with the former undefeated IBF bantamweight title holder continuing his assault, Terrazas (121) was dropped by a left hook to the jaw following a sustained attack and after being decked again from another left hook, this time to the body, the referee came to his rescue at 2.09 of the session.
17 August 2013. Kiko Martinez w rsc 6 Jhonatan Romero.
Venue: Revel Resort, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: David Fields.
Fight Summary: Flying out of his corner at the opening bell, Martinez (121½) showed his intent when hurting the taller champion several times before the round was over. Regrouping, Romero (121½) came back strongly prior to being cut on the left eye in the fourth, with combinations and solid uppercuts picking up points. Having been denied up to this point, Martinez blasted away with both hands, and in the sixth several powerful rights that left Romero badly hurt on the ropes led to the referee coming to the latter's aid at 2.40 of the session.
20 April 2013. Victor Terrazas w pts 12 Cristian Mijares.
Venue: The Arena, Mexico City, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Bill Clancy.
Scorecards: 114-113, 113-114, 115-112.
Fight Summary: Billed for the vacant title after Abner Mares moved up a division, in a contest that could have gone either way it was Terrazas (121½) who received the split decision. That, despite being cut on the left eye in the 11th and dropped in the 12th following a powerful right-left to the head as Mijares (122), a southpaw, went for broke. Although going well for four or five rounds, after Mijares received bad swellings under both eyes he took his foot off the pedal which allowed Terrazas to make his run. However, it was that close, and had Mijares enforced another knockdown the fight would have been scored as a draw.
13 April 2013. Guillermo Rigondeaux w pts 12 Nonito Donaire.
Venue: Radio City Music Hall, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Benjy Esteves Jnr.
Scorecards: 116-111, 115-112, 114-113.
Fight Summary: Up against Donaire (121½), the holder of two championship belts, the WBA champion, Rigondeaux (121½), excelled himself when putting on a great display of boxing. Starting fast, getting in and out before Donaire could respond, the Cuban southpaw then began to exhibit great defensive skills when avoiding follow-ups. Although Donaire began to pick up points when coming down the straight he was unable to land more than one punch at a time as Rigondeaux's defence held firm. Eventually Donaire's pressure began to count when having Rigondeaux down twice in the tenth, once from a slip and then a left hook to the jaw. But fighting on to the final bell, damaging Donaire's right eye in the process, Rigondeaux won the last two sessions to make sure of the verdict.
On 10 August, Nehomar Cermeno outpointed Oscar Escandon over 12 rounds at the Megapolis Convention Centre, Panama City, Panama to win the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title. Cermeno was stripped of it in September 2014 for not making a defence within the stipulated period.
Making the first defence of his WBA ‘second tier’ title, Scott Quigg drew over 12 rounds with Yoandris Salinas at the O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, England on 5 October. Quigg followed this up with a more successful defence when stopping Diego Oscar Silva inside two rounds at the Phones 4u Arena, Manchester, England on 23 November.
16 February 2013. Jhonatan Romero w pts 12 Alejandro Lopez.
Venue: Municipal Auditorium, Tijuana, Mexico. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Genaro Rodriguez.
Scorecards: 115-112, 116-111, 112-115.
Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Nonito Donaire handed in his belt, Romero (122) became the new champion when outpointing Lopez (122) by a split decision. The lanky Romero got away the better of the pair, with wide left hooks and solid rights setting up Lopez, who for his part was always trying to get inside. By the halfway stage Lopez had got himself into the action before it became extremely scrappy as the fight wore on. In the 11th Lopez went to the floor following a clash of heads that left him with a cut over his left eye, but there was no action taken. And although Romero had a point deducted in the final session for going low following several warnings it was not enough to affect the result.
15 December 2012. Nonito Donaire w rsc 3 Jorge Arce.
Venue: Toyota Centre, Houston, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBO/The Ring. Referee: Laurence Cole.
Fight Summary: Donaire (121½), his two championship belts on the line, went on the front foot immediately, dropping Arce (122) in the second with a left-right, which on closer inspection was seen to be a shove rather than a punch. In the third, having taken the fight to Donaire, the Mexican was floored by a right to the temple, and on getting up he was quickly smashed down again by a left hook that landed right on the button. At that point the referee called the fight off with just one second of the session remaining.
11 November 2012. Abner Mares w pts 12 Anselmo Moreno.
Venue: Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Raul Caiz Jnr.
Scorecards: 116-110, 116-110, 120-106.
Fight Summary: Having moved up from bantamweight, where he was the WBA title holder, Moreno (120¾) was looking add another belt to his collection when taking on Mares (121¾). Although Moreno, a southpaw, did relatively well he was generally outscored by the champion, and in the fifth he was dropped for the first time in his career by a straight right to the head and almost put down again in the sixth from a similar punch. With Mares concentrating on the body from the seventh onwards things got messy as the pair boxed on the edge of the rules at times, and in the 11th Moreno had a point deducted for pulling down the champion's head. Two judges agreed that Mares had won eight rounds while the other gave Mares every session, which was a travesty.
Unable to make a unification fight with Nonito Donaire, in early February 2013 Mares relinquished the WBC title in order to move up to featherweight. Following that, it was stated that Cristian Mijares would be meeting Victor Terrazas to decide the vacancy.
13 October 2012. Nonito Donaire w rsc 9 Toshiaki Nishioka.
Venue: Home Depot Centre, Carson, California, USA. Recognition: WBO/The Ring. Referee: Raul Caiz.
Fight Summary: With Donaire (121½) putting his WBO title on the line against Nishioka (121¾), this contest also involved The Ring Championship Belt. When reeling off the opening seven rounds and knocking Nishioka down in the sixth with a solid left uppercut, Donaire showed his boxing prowess against a top class southpaw opponent. Although Nishioka came back strongly in the eighth, after being dropped in the ninth by a straight right to the chin and staggering up the referee stopped the contest at 1.54 of the session. The referee's decision, if needed, was endorsed for him when Nishioka's corner threw the towel into the ring.
15 September 2012. Guillermo Rigondeaux w pts 12 Robert Marroquin.
Venue: Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Robert Byrd.
Scorecards: 118-108, 118-108, 118-109.
Fight Summary: Coming in at late notice due to legal problems, even though going down by a big margin on the scorecards Marroquin (122) made a good showing, especially in rounds three and nine when he hurt the southpaw champion with some solid blows. Although dropping Marroquin in the fifth with a straight left to the head the clever Rigondeaux (122) was unable to finish him off despite handing out a boxing lesson. Always looking to stay the course, the tough Marroquin was decked again in the 12th, this time by a fast straight left followed by a right hook to the jaw, but got up immediately to fight on.
On 24 November, Scott Quigg won the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title when stopping Rendall Munroe inside six rounds at The Arena, Manchester, England. Quigg relinquished the ‘interim’ title in July 2013 on being matched against Yoandris Salinas for the vacant ‘second tier’ crown. According to the WBA ratings for September 2013 Quigg was handed the ‘second tier’ crown on 5 September 2013, thus making the contest against Salinas a defence.
7 July 2012. Nonito Donaire w pts 12 Jeffrey Mathebula.
Venue: Home Depot Centre, Carson, California, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBO. Referee: Pat Russell.
Scorecards: 119-108, 118-109, 117-110.
Fight Summary: In a match to unify two titles, the WBO champion, Donaire (121½), outscored the lanky Mathebula (121¾), representing the IBF, by a wide margin of points, the latter winning two rounds at most. But because Donaire did not take advantage of opportunities and was happy to box at his own pace many of the rounds were very close. Although Donaire dropped Mathebula with a solid left hook near the end of the fourth he failed to hammer his advantage home, being happy to get 12 rounds under his belt.
Donaire handed in his IBF Belt a few days prior to defending the WBO title against Toshiaki Nishioka on 13 October. The Ring Championship Belt would also be at stake in that one.
The vacant IBF title would eventually be contested by Alejandro Lopez and Jhonatan Romero, who both came through official eliminators; Lopez beating Takalani Ndlovu (w pts 12 at the County Coliseum, El Paso, Texas on 27 October) while Romero defeated Efrain Esquivias (w pts 12 at the Chumash Casino, Santa, Ynez, California on 21 September).
9 June 2012. Guillermo Rigondeaux w rsc 5 Teon Kennedy.
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Russell Mora.
Fight Summary: Rigondeaux (122), with his title on the line for the first time, hardly raised a sweat when demolishing Kennedy (122) inside five rounds. Dropped in the first, twice more in the second and again in the third, all from heavy southpaw left hands, Kennedy was rescued by the referee at 1.11 of the fifth after being dropped by another big left. Unable to keep Rigondeaux at bay, Kennedy had been a sitting duck for the former Olympic champion's power-laden blows.
A contest to decide the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title at The Velodrome, Manchester, England on 16 June, failed to find a winner after the Scott Quigg versus Rendall Munroe clash was halted in the third round when the latter sustained a bad cut. Due to it being accidental the result was announced as a no contest or technical draw for our purposes.
21 April 2012. Abner Mares w pts 12 Eric Morel.
Venue: Don Haskins’ Centre, El Paso, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lupe Garcia.
Scorecards: 120-107, 119-109, 119-109.
Fight Summary: Billed for the vacant title after Toshiaki Nishioka was stripped, Mares (119¾), the former undefeated IBF bantamweight champion, was a clear points winner over the smaller 36-year-old Morel (120). Using a solid left jab to keep Morel at bay for most of the time, banging him around the body, Mares hurt his man on several occasions but was unable to put him away. Cut over the left eye in the sixth, Morel showed much spirit in reaching the final bell with all the odds stacked against him.
24 March 2012. Jeffrey Mathebula w pts 12 Takalani Ndlovu.
Venue: Casino Arena, Carnival City, Brakpan, South Africa. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Wally Snowball.
Scorecards: 117-112, 116-112, 113-115.
Fight Summary: Making a reasonable start on the front foot, boxing well within himself, the champion eventually came under pressure from the middle rounds onwards as the ungainly Mathebula (122) began to use his longer reach to better effect. With Ndlovu (121¾) tiring, his left eye swollen, the last three rounds saw Mathebula take control to justify the split decision in his favour.
4 February 2012. Nonito Donaire w pts 12 Wilfredo Vazquez Jnr.
Venue: The Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Rafael Ramos.
Scorecards: 117-110, 117-110, 112-115.
Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Jorge Arce handed in his belt on dropping down a division, Vazquez (122) got an early opportunity to regain his old crown, but found Donaire (121½) too good for him. Attacking with both hands to take the opening four rounds, almost having Vazquez over from a left hook to the head in the third, Donaire looked quality. Coming back well with the jab in the fourth, cutting Donaire near the right eye, Vazquez took the next three sessions only to have his good work undone by two heavy lefts that decked him in the ninth. Knowing that an inside-the-distance job was probably his only chance of winning at this stage of the fight, Vazquez gave it all he had in the last three sessions, only to be met halfway by a determined switch-hitting opponent. Donaire was a clear winner as far as two of the judges were concerned, but somehow the other judge saw a different fight when awarding Vazquez eight of the contested rounds. By his victory Donaire became a three-weight world champion, having previously been an undefeated IBF flyweight champion and an undefeated WBC/WBO bantamweight champion.
20 January 2012. Guillermo Rigondeaux w co 6 Rico Ramos.
Venue: Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Joe Cortez.
Fight Summary: In just his ninth pro contest, Rigondeaux (120½), a southpaw, wrested the title away from Ramos (122) who was making his first defence. Having twice won Olympic gold, Rigondeaux was no novice, and after stalking Ramos in the opener he dropped him with a hard left to the face. Clearly stung, Ramos got up and tried to find his way into the contest, but was generally outmanoeuvred. Although Ramos hit back in the fifth he was in real trouble in the sixth when Rigondeaux finally went on the attack. Having driven Ramos into a corner, banging away with both hands, a left to the body saw the latter counted out at 1.29 of the session.
29 October 2011. Takalani Ndlovu w pts 12 Giovanni Caro.
Venue: Fair Stockade, Colima, Mexico. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Roberto Ramirez.
Scorecards: 114-113, 114-113, 113-114.
Fight Summary: Although not making the best of starts, being dumped by an overarm right in the first, the champion hit back in the second when almost putting Caro (121) down following a left hook to the body. From thereon in there was little between them, Ndlovu (122) edging it on the cards with a split decision. In what had been a tough old battle, Ndlovu ended up with a badly swollen left eye, while Caro sported a damaged nose to go with a cut over his left optic.
1 October 2011. Toshiaki Nishioka w pts 12 Rafael Marquez.
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Kenny Bayless.
Scorecards: 115-113, 116-112, 117-111.
Fight Summary: When winning three of the opening four rounds it looked as though a rejuvenated Marquez (121) might be too much for the southpaw champion. However, by the fifth Nishioka (122) was back in the groove, smashing in heavy lefts as he looked to take over. Coming back hard in the eighth, especially after a clash of heads had cut Nishioka on the forehead and left him stunned, Marquez poured it on in an attempt to force a stoppage. Having survived the pressure, Nishioka started dishing out retribution in spades to take the last three sessions and the unanimous decision.
Unable to make a defence in the short term due to personal problems, when Nishioka was stripped of the title in early March 2012 a match was made between Abner Mares and Eric Morel to find a successor.
24 September 2011. Jorge Arce w rsc 4 Simphiwe Nongqayi.
Venue: Promo Casa Forum, Mexicali, Mexico. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Rafael Ramos.
Fight Summary: Starting strongly, the champion was soon getting to Nongqayi (121) before having him over from a left-right to the head in the opening round. Coming into the fourth, clearly ahead, when Arce (122) was badly cut on the forehead from a head butt, for which Nongqayi was deducted a point, instead of looking for a technical decision the Mexican intimated that he wished to carry on. With Arce surprisingly allowed to continue, the fight eventually came to an end at 2.01 of the session when Nongqayi was rescued by the referee when he was stuck in a corner under severe pressure and not able to hit back.
After Arce handed back his belt in mid-November to move back down to bantam and have a shot at the WBO title in that weight division, Nonito Donaire and Wilfredo Vazquez were matched to find a successor.
9 July 2011. Rico Ramos w rsc 7 Akifumi Shimoda.
Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Benjy Esteves Jnr.
Fight Summary: Defending his title for the first time, Shimoda (121½) came unstuck at the hands of Ramos (122) when being stopped at 2.46 of the seventh. Although the southpaw champion seemed uncomfortable at times when dealing with Ramos' in-and-out style, coming into the seventh he was ahead on all three cards. Then, with Shimoda looking to move on he was caught by a terrific left hook that seemed to come out of nowhere, and after hitting the deck he was rescued by the referee after stumbling when the count had reached 'eight'.
7 May 2011. Jorge Arce w rsc 12 Wilfredo Vazquez Jnr.
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Joe Cortez.
Fight Summary: Not at his best, the champion allowed himself to be pushed around the ring by the 31-year-old Arce (122), who looked fresher than he had done for years. However, in the fourth Vazquez (122) found a terrific left hook which slammed into Arce's head and dropped him just before the bell ended the round. Having recovered during the interval, Arce got back to his bullying tactics in a contest that had become difficult to score. Coming in to the final session two of the judges had both men level, but instead of Vazquez raising his game it was Arce who found the punches to hurt his rival. The contest ended on the 55 second mark when the referee rescued Vazquez after a bottle had been thrown into the ring by his corner. Arce became a three-weight world champion on winning, having been a WBO and undefeated WBC junior flyweight champion and a WBO junior bantamweight champion.
8 April 2011. Toshiaki Nishioka w co 9 Mauricio Javier Munoz.
Venue: World Memorial Hall, Kobe, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Anek Hongtongkam.
Fight Summary: Having controlled six of the opening eight rounds, the southpaw champion was still forced to take some heavy shots from the tough Munoz (121), who was always looking to get left hooks off. Until running out of gas in the eighth Munoz was still dangerous, but in the ninth he had to take heavy lefts and rights as Nishioka (121¾) loaded up. Keeping up the pressure, after Nishioka let go a solid left hand the Argentine was counted out seven seconds into the interval.
26 March 2011. Takalani Ndlovu w pts 12 Steve Molitor.
Venue: Nasrec Indoor Arena, Johannesburg, South Africa. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Wally Snowball.
Scorecards: 118-110, 116-112, 118-110.
Fight Summary: This was third time lucky for Ndlovu (121½) as he put two previous defeats at the hands of Molitor (121) behind him to punch out a clear win on points. In a change of tactics, Ndlovu kept the southpaw champion on the back foot throughout, banging in punches from head to body, and pressing non-stop. Both men committed transgressions without points being deducted, Molitor holding in virtually every session and Ndlovu going unintentionally low on occasion. At the final bell, Molitor, carrying cuts over both eyes, was out of ideas and bereft of his title.
31 January 2011. Akifumi Shimoda w pts 12 Ryol Li Lee.
Venue: Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Rafael Ramos.
Scorecards: 118-109, 115-111, 118-109.
Fight Summary: Making the first defence of a title that had been handed to him after Celestino Caballero moved up in weight, Lee (121½) was outpointed by Shimoda (122). Boxing out of a southpaw stance, Shimoda was on the front foot right from the start against the counter-punching Lee, dropping the latter with a cracking straight left in the third before being downed by a hard right to the head. Although cut on the right eye in the fourth, Shimoda upped the pace to knock Lee over in the fifth with another left, and despite Lee sustaining a cut right eye in the sixth he came back strongly in the seventh. Having been put down by a right hook in the eighth Lee continued to fight hard, but when Shimoda took three of the last four rounds all of his efforts had been in vain.
On 19 March, Guillermo Rigondeaux retained his WBA ‘interim’ title when stopping Willie Casey in the opening round at the City West Hotel, Dublin, Ireland.
24 October 2010. Toshiaki Nishioka w pts 12 Rendall Munroe.
Venue: Ryogoku Sumo Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lupe Garcia.
Scorecards: 119-109, 119-109, 119-109.
Fight Summary: A clash of southpaws saw Munroe (120¼) up against the hard-hitting Nishioka (121) who, having been expected to meet his challenger half way, boxed superbly on the back foot from the fourth onwards after realising that was his best bet. With Munroe forced to chase Nishioka he lacked the speed to make anything pay, and he was being hit by heavy counters to head and body before the latter moved on. And with Nishioka failing to tire the gap between the two men got greater and greater, Munroe being awarded just one round on each of the judges' cards at the finish. Despite some heavy punches landing there were no knockdowns.
16 October 2010. Wilfredo Vazquez Jnr w rsc 11 Ivan Hernandez.
Venue: Silver Spurs Arena, Kissimmee, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Telis Assimenios.
Fight Summary: While holding his own for several rounds, the challenger came under increasing pressure as Vazquez (121¾) began unloading his heavy artillery. By the sixth it was apparent that Hernandez (122) was weakening, but he was still holding Vazquez up, none more so than in the ninth when getting some solid punches off. However, in the tenth Hernandez was crumbling, and in the 11th it was all one way as Vazquez hammered him with all manner of blows until the referee stopped the contest after 50 seconds of the session had ensued.
11 September 2010. Steve Molitor w pts 12 Jason Booth.
Venue: Rainton Meadows Arena, Houghton Le Spring, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Dave Parris.
Scorecards: 116-112, 116-113, 114-114.
Fight Summary: Putting up a great display, Booth (121) ran the southpaw champion extremely close before going down on a majority points decision. After losing the opening three rounds, Molitor (122), who was cut on the left eye in the third, got his jab going in the fifth, his three-inch reach advantage and fast feet making it difficult for Booth. Although Booth was still competing hard, it was in the latter rounds that Molitor, working well to the body, began to take the steam out of him, and although the Englishman finished strongly it was not enough.
29 May 2010. Wilfredo Vazquez Jnr w rsc 10 Zsolt Bedak.
Venue: Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum, Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Jose Rivera.
Fight Summary: The champion did not make the best of starts as he did little work and allowed Bedak (121) to snatch the initiative, but come the third he had found that his best form of defence lay in attack. Fighting hard in the fourth, battering away at Bedak's ribs, Vazquez (122) upped the ante. From thereon in Vazquez harried the fading challenger at every opportunity, and having already gone close with several heavy rights he finally caught up with Bedak in the tenth when a couple of left jabs and a left hook, followed up by a heavy right, deposited him on the canvas. Although the referee started the count, once Bedak's cornermen jumped into the ring to come to their man's aid he called the fight off at 1.12 of the session.
30 April 2010. Toshiaki Nishioka w rsc 5 Balweg Bangoyan.
Venue: Nihon Budokan Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Gelasio Perez.
Fight Summary: Stamping his mark on the contest from the opening bell, the champion threw hard, fast right-lefts from his southpaw stance that befuddled Bangoyan (122) at times. Bangoyan was still dangerous, even if wild at times, and in the second he stung Nishioka (122) with a cracking right that landed flush. Mainly, however, it was the quality of Nishioka's blows that took the eye, and at the beginning of the fifth he dropped Bangoyan heavily with a cracker of a left to the face. Although Bangoyan, who had been deducted a point for going low in the fourth, made it to his feet he was eventually rescued by the referee at 1.14 of the session when he was being battered without response.
27 March 2010. Steve Molitor w pts 12 Takalani Ndlovu.
Venue: The Casino, Rama, Ontario, Canada. Recognition: IBF. Referee: David Fields.
Scorecards: 117-111, 116-112, 115-113.
Fight Summary: Billed for the vacant title after Celestino Caballero was stripped, Molitor (121¾), a southpaw, regained his former belt when outscoring an old victim in Ndlovu (121¼). Starting slowly, Molitor came on from the third through to the sixth when catching Ndlovu with countering shots while moving out of range. Ndlovu was always dangerous, pressing forward while banging away with both hands, but it was Molitor's cleaner punching and speed around the ring that was the difference.
27 February 2010. Wilfredo Vazquez Jnr w co 4 Marvin Sonsona.
Venue: Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum, Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Luis Pabon.
Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Juan Manuel Lopez handed in his belt on moving up in weight, young Vazquez (122) emulated his father, who held the WBA version between 1987 and 1988, when defeating Sonsona (121½). Although Sonsona, a southpaw, started well enough, by the second he was under pressure and cut near the right eye. It got worse for Sonsona in the third as Vazquez banged away from head to body, and in the fourth he was put down and counted out after taking a big left hook to the body. The finish was timed at 2.01.
10 October 2009. Toshiaki Nishioka w rtd 3 Ivan Hernandez.
Venue: Yoyogi Gym, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Michael Griffin.
Fight Summary: Fighting hard and fast from the opening gong, Hernandez (122) forced the southpaw champion to box in defensive mode, making him miss while countering with lefts to the body. After heads came together in the second, leaving Hernandez with a cut forehead, Nishioka (121¾) received a one-point deduction. In the third it was all Nishioka as he caught Hernandez with solid lefts up and down, and after driving in another left to the jaw he had the Mexican on the run for the remainder of the session. Thus, it came as no surprise when Hernandez was retired on his stool during the interval with a suspected broken jaw.
10 October 2009. Juan Manuel Lopez w pts 12 Rogers Mtagwa.
Venue: MSG Theatre, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Eddie Cotton.
Scorecards: 116-111, 115-111, 114-113.
Fight Summary: Even though the southpaw champion took the opening six rounds on all three cards it was not easy for him, especially when cut on the left eye in the third. Twice in the first Mtagwa (121) touched down, but was not counted on, although in the fifth he took a count after slipping over. The second half of the contest saw the tough Mtagwa make his run for home, hurting Lopez (121) with a terrific right to the head in the seventh and pushing him all the way. By the 12th both men had staggered each other consistently without a reward. It was in the final session that Lopez came close to being stopped as Mtagwa lashed into him, one judge marking it 10-8, but somehow he made it through the three minutes as though his life depended on it as Mtagwa gave it his all.
After moving up to win the WBO featherweight title on 23 January 2010, when Lopez handed in his junior belt a match was made between Wilfredo Vazquez and Marvin Sonsona to find a successor.
29 August 2009. Celestino Caballero w rtd 7 Francisco Leal.
Venue: Calafia Bullring, Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Rafael Ramos.
Fight Summary: Putting both of his championship belts on the line, Caballero (121½) started fast when having his southpaw opponent down following a solid right to the head before handing out a beating for round after round. The overmatched Leal (121½) was always trying to get inside but was denied the room by the lanky champion, who continually battered him with lefts and rights. The fight came to a conclusion when Leal was retired by his corner at the end of the seventh. Sadly, Leal passed away on 22 October 2013 from injuries sustained in a contest against Raul Hirales three days earlier.
At the O2 Arena, Dublin, Ireland, on 26 September, Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, the WBA ‘interim’ champion, knocked out Bernard Dunne inside three rounds to pick up the latter’s ‘second tier’ crown. Kratingdaenggym successfully defended the WBA ‘second tier’ title when outpointing Satoshi Hosono at the Big Site, Tokyo, Japan on 11 January 2010.
A few weeks later Caballero forfeited the IBF title on 5 February 2010 when failing to agree to a defence against Takalani Ndlovu within the regulatory timescale, following which the latter was matched against Steve Molitor to find a successor. Both men had won eliminating bouts during the year, Ndlovu beating Kiko Martinez (w pts 12 at the Nasrec Indoor Arena, Johannesburg, South Africa on 25 September) and Molitor outscoring Heriberto Ruiz at The Casino, Rama, Ontario, Canada on 26 June).
Kratingdaenggym successfully defended the WBA ‘second tier’ title when stopping Shoji Kimura inside four rounds at a make-shift arena at the Borabue School, Maha Sarakham, Thailand on 20 May 2010. However, on 2 October 2010 he lost the ‘second tier’ crown when outpointed over 12 rounds by Ryol Li Lee at the Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan.
This was followed by Guillermo Rigondeaux winning the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title when outpointing Ricardo Cordoba on points over 12 rounds at the Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas on 13 November 2010.
Caballero handed in his WBA ‘super’ title in order to move up to featherweight on 10 December 2010, an action that saw the 'second tier' champion, Ryol Li Lee, handed full championship status.
27 June 2009. Juan Manuel Lopez w rtd 9 Olivier Lontchi.
Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Allan Huggins.
Fight Summary: Expected to finish early, the power-punching southpaw champion had some difficulty in dealing with the moving target that was Lontchi (120), even though he had the latter over in the second from a right hook. Unable to catch up with the slipping and sliding Lontchi (who won the fifth on all three scorecards), Lopez (121½) merely took his time and waited for an opportunity to present itself. Sooner or later it was going to happen, and after being knocked over by a solid straight left in the ninth Lontchi was retired by his handlers at the end of the session when complaining of damage to his ribs.
23 May 2009. Toshiaki Nishioka w co 3 Jhonny Gonzalez.
Venue: The Arena, Monterrey, Mexico. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Kenny Bayless.
Fight Summary: Defending his title on away territory, Nishioka (122) was dumped on the floor in the first round after taking a left hook to the body that was followed by a straight right to the chin. Up on his feet at 'six', the southpaw champion made it to the bell before being hurt again at the end of the second when Gonzalez (122) tagged him with another big right. It was a confident Gonzalez who came out for the third, but Nishioka had not read the script. With Gonzalez looking for the win, but unable to make his punches count, he was caught by a cracking straight left that sent him crashing down to be counted out at 1.20 of the session.
30 April 2009. Celestino Caballero w pts 12 Jeffrey Mathebula.
Venue: Roberto Duran Arena, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Ernie Sharif.
Scorecards: 116-112, 116-112, 112-116.
Fight Summary: With his two championship belts on the line, the 5'11" Caballero (121¼) found himself up against a man of his own height in the 5'10" Mathebula (120), in a fight that could have gone either way. Beginning to tire after five rounds, possibly due to the fact that he had found it hard to make the weight, the champion showed much heart to dig in to reach the final bell. Caballero had much difficulty in controlling the contest, having been outjabbed at times, while Mathebula did his reputation no harm at all despite showing a lack of power.
On the same day at a makeshift outdoor arena in Rangsit, Thailand, Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym stopped Rafael Hernandez in nine rounds to win the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title.
25 April 2009. Juan Manuel Lopez w rtd 9 Gerry Penalosa.
Venue: Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum, Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Jose Rivera.
Fight Summary: Having handed in his WBO Bantamweight Championship Belt for a crack at Lopez (121¾), the tough Penalosa (121½) probably wished he had stayed put after his corner retired him at the end of the ninth round. In this battle of southpaws it was the power of Lopez against the brave Penalosa, who stood in front of the champion for round after round despite being hammered from head to body at times. Forcing the champion to work hard, while taking his lumps, Penalosa got a standing ovation at the finish.
3 January 2009. Toshiaki Nishioka w rsc 12 Genaro Garcia.
Venue: The Pacifico, Yokohama, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Bruce McTavish.
Fight Summary: Originally scheduled to involve the ‘interim’ title, the fight was upgraded to full championship status earlier in the day after the WBC stripped Israel Vazquez and announced that Nishioka (121½) was the new champion. Fighting out of a southpaw stance, Nishioka soon got the upper hand before dropping Garcia (122) in the fourth with a heavy left uppercut to the jaw. With Nishioka unable to finish Garcia off, the latter got back into the fight as more of a nuisance than anything else, but in the ninth after a heavy left to the head dropped him again any hopes of him winning disappeared. Although still tracking forward Garcia was tiring fast, and in the 12th he was rescued by the referee after 57 seconds when he was almost floored, having taken quite a battering over the last three rounds.
6 December 2008. Juan Manuel Lopez w rsc 1 Sergio Manuel Medina.
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Joe Cortez.
Fight Summary: Making it a hat-trick of first round wins in world title contests, the southpaw champion crushed Medina (122) after just 98 seconds of action, if you could call it that, when the referee came to the latter's aid following three knockdowns. It was the two-handed attacks that did it for Medina, who seemed to crumble from the first blow as Lopez (122) unloaded from head to body. CompuBox showed that during the short time the contest lasted, Lopez landed with just nine of 37 power punches.
21 November 2008. Celestino Caballero w rsc 4 Steve Molitor.
Venue: Rama Casino, Orillia, Ontario, Canada. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.
Fight Summary: Under pressure from the start the IBF champion, Molitor (121¾), found that he just could not get close enough to the 5'11" switch-hitting Caballero (121¾), representing the WBA, to do any real damage. By the third round it was already one-way traffic as Caballero began to bully Molitor, hammering in blows from both hands, and in the fourth the latter was dropped by a heavy right uppercut. Although Molitor was up at 'four' he was soon in trouble again, the referee stopping the contest on the 52 second mark when the Canadian southpaw was sagging on the ropes after taking more hard right hands.
Following his win over Molitor, the WBA moved Caballero into the position of ‘super’ champion to enable a ‘second tier’ title fight to take place between Ricardo Cordoba, the ‘interim’ champion, and Bernard Dunne at the O2 Arena, Dublin, Ireland on 21 March 2009. Taking full advantage of being given the chance to fight on home turf, Dunne won when the referee stopped the contest at 2.52 of the 11th round after the Panamanian southpaw had been dropped three times by crushing left hooks.
4 October 2008. Juan Manuel Lopez w co 1 Cesar Figueroa.
Venue: Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Roberto Ramirez.
Fight Summary: Defending the title he won when beating Daniel Ponce De Leon inside a round, the southpaw champion improved on that when demolishing Figueroa (121½) inside 47 seconds. After taking a few moments to weigh his opponent up, Lopez (121) unleashed a straight left that was followed by a short right hook and Figueroa was down face first, never looking likely to make it to his feet. Although managing to get to his knees the Mexican was unable to get any further before being counted out.
18 September 2008. Celestino Caballero w rsc 1 Elvis Mejia.
Venue: Figali Convention Centre, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.
Fight Summary: Not giving Mejia (122) a chance to settle the lanky champion was soon letting both hands go, and it was not long before a right-left combination had the Colombian over. Although Mejia made it to his feet he was soon under the cosh again as Caballero (122) let loose big rights and lefts. With Mejia taking a battering, the referee stepped in with just nine seconds of the first round remaining after he had been wobbled by two heavy one-twos and was an open target.
On the same show, Ricardo Cordoba won the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title on outpointing Luis Alberto Perez over 12 rounds.
29 August 2008. Steve Molitor w rsc 10 Ceferino Labarda.
Venue: Rama Casino, Orillia, Ontario, Canada. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Charlie Fitch.
Fight Summary: Taking three or four rounds to get into his stride, from thereon in the champion was landing well to head and body with the jab paving the way for heavy overarm lefts that often staggered Labarda (121¼). Having come close several times, Molitor (121½) finally put Labarda over in the ninth after a straight left had set the latter up for a crunching right hook. Somehow making it to the bell, Labarda was unmercifully targeted in the tenth before being rescued by the referee at 2.34 of the session when many punches were going in unanswered. Afterwards, Molitor claimed that it was his bodywork that had won the fight for him in this battle of southpaws.
7 June 2008. Juan Manuel Lopez w rsc 1 Daniel Ponce De Leon.
Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Michael Ortega.
Fight Summary: In a battle of fellow southpaws, it was Lopez (121) who was the first to land heavily after making the champion miss with left crosses that either sailed past him or fell short. The effects of a left-right to the jaw saw Ponce De Leon (121) going down in delayed fashion, and when he was up again it was clear that the fight was not going to last much longer. With Lopez chasing Ponce De Leon around the ring, banging in shots from either hand, after sending him down again with a terrific right hook the referee waved it off when the Puerto Rican got himself up at 'four' before falling into a corner. The finish was timed at 2.25 of the opening session.
7 June 2008. Celestino Caballero w rsc 11 Lorenzo Parra.
Venue: National Olympic Centre, San Juan De Los Morros, Venezuela. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.
Fight Summary: Almost seven inches smaller than the champion, and having jumped up three weight classes, Parra (121) gamely stayed with his man, even winning five rounds on two of the judges' scorecards. Parra had his moments but was gradually ground down by the stronger Caballero (121), who was landing heavily from both hands from the mid-point onwards. With Parra obviously in trouble at the end of the 11th before the final session could get underway the referee called the fight off after being advised by the ringside doctor that the Venezuelan was suffering from a suspected broken jaw.
5 April 2008. Steve Molitor w pts 12 Fernando Beltran Jnr.
Venue: Rama Casino, Orillia, Ontario, Canada. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Mark Nelson.
Scorecards: 120-107, 120-107, 119-108.
Fight Summary: Back at his best, this was a virtual shut-out points win for the champion, who retained his title for the fourth time. In a match-up of southpaws, it was Molitor (121¾) who dominated Beltran (121¼) when showing excellent movement and footwork to get off solid left crosses that landed repeatedly, coupled with combinations from head to body. Although cut over the right eye in the ninth, it hardly held Molitor back as a tiring Beltran tracked him to no great effect. Having had a point taken away in the ninth for going low, Beltran never really got to grips with Molitor. And, visiting the scales three times in order to make the weight on the day of the fight would not have helped him either.
1 March 2008. Israel Vazquez w pts 12 Rafael Marquez.
Venue: Home Depot Centre, Carson, California, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Pat Russell.
Scorecards: 114-111, 113-112, 111-114.
Fight Summary: Meeting for the third time in what was another brilliant fight, the champion retained both of his championship belts when coming from behind to win by a split decision. Both men scored knockdowns, Marquez (121½) in the fourth following two cracking rights to the head and Vazquez (122) in the 12th when his rival was held up by the ropes. In between the knockdowns was a points deduction for Marquez in the tenth when he went low once too often and plenty of tremendous action as the fight swung to and fro. There were so many thrilling rounds that it would be difficult to describe in so few words, but there was no doubting that this would go down in boxing history as one of the great fights of modern times. At the final bell, both men were suspended for 60 days by the Californian Boxing Commission on medical grounds, Vazquez carrying cuts on his eyes which would require 30 stitches, as well as damaging ligaments in his left knee.
On 15 September, Toshiaki Nishioka outpointed Napapol Sor Rungvisai over 12 rounds at The Pacifico, Yokohama, Japan to win the vacant WBC ‘interim’ title before Vazquez was stripped of the main title on 3 January 2009 when unable to make a defence following retina surgery. Following that, Nishioka took over as WBC champion, with his prospective ‘interim’ title defence against Genaro Garcia being granted full championship status.
Meanwhile, The Ring magazine continued to recognise Vazquez as champion until early June 2009 when it became clear that he would be fighting in a higher weight division.
19 January 2008. Steve Molitor w pts 12 Ricardo Castillo.
Venue: Rama Casino, Orillia, Ontario, Canada. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Sam Williams.
Scorecards: 118-109, 118-109, 118-109.
Fight Summary: Retaining his title for the third time, Molitor (121½) was generally one step ahead of Castillo (122), even having to cope with a cut left eye that was caused by a head clash in the fourth and was further damaged in the seventh. In virtually every round the southpaw champion landed solidly, but was unable move his rival. Cut over the right eye in the tenth, after having his best round in the ninth, the tiring Castillo had a point deducted in the same session for going low. Going from head to body, when Molitor scored heavily in the 11th and 12th it only emphasised his class.
8 December 2007. Daniel Ponce De Leon w pts 12 Eduardo Escobedo.
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Kenny Bayless.
Scorecards: 115-113, 117-111, 118-110.
Fight Summary: This contest was much closer than the judges would make you think it was according to many of the scribes who were present, and yet another example of aggression winning over science. For round after round the southpaw champion lunged in with big punches, missing more often than not, while Escobedo (122) was happy to counter off the back foot while showing good speed and movement. In the fifth and sixth, Escobedo came out of defensive mode when catching Ponce De Leon (121) with both hands before doing likewise in the ninth. However, it was Ponce De Leon, who finished the fight cut over the right eye, that the judges favoured even though there had been little end product to the majority of his forward charges.
1 December 2007. Celestino Caballero w rsc 8 Mauricio Pastrana.
Venue: Roberto Duran Gym, Panama City, Panama. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Roberto Ramirez.
Fight Summary: Defending his title for the third time the 5'11" Caballero (122) eventually stopped the 5'3" Pastrana (121), having dominated him from the opening bell. Clearly, Pastrana needed to get inside if he wanted to do any damage, but with Caballero's solid left jab holding him up time and again it became an impossible task. Having hurt Pastrana in the seventh, when Caballero opened up with both hands in the eighth and the Colombian was not fighting back the referee, recognising that it was no longer competitive, intervened 53 seconds into the session.
27 October 2007. Steve Molitor w pts 12 Narongrit Pirang.
Venue: Rama Casino, Orillia, Ontario, Canada. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Rocky Zolnierczyk.
Scorecards: 119-109, 119-109, 120-108.
Fight Summary: It was the champion who came out on top in this battle between southpaws when he was awarded the unanimous verdict over Pirang, also known as Fahsan 3K Battery, following a dominating display. Although he predicted an early win, after realising that his opponent was extremely durable Molitor (122) settled down to outbox the Thai, using good movement and fast hands to get his message across. In the seventh when 3K Battery caught the off-balance Molitor with a big overarm left the latter was sent sprawling and should have been counted on, only for the referee to not call it. Disappointed that he had not taken 3K Battery out, Molitor claimed that he had hurt his right hand early on and from thereon in had stuck to his boxing.
11 August 2007. Daniel Ponce De Leon w rsc 1 Rey Bautista.
Venue: ARCO Arena, Sacramento, California, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Jon Schorle.
Fight Summary: Jumping on his challenger right from the start, Ponce De Leon (121¾) was soon banging out the southpaw jab while looking to set his man up with one-twos to the head. Before too long Bautista (121½) was in trouble, especially when hurt by several solid overarm lefts prior to being dropped by another heavy left. Given the opportunity to carry on Bautista was clearly up against it, and after he was clubbed down by rights and lefts the referee stopped the contest with 30 seconds of the first round remaining.
4 August 2007. Israel Vazquez w rsc 6 Rafael Marquez.
Venue: Dodge Arena, Hidalgo, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Lupe Garcia.
Fight Summary: Having lost his two championship belts to Marquez (121) in his previous fight, this time around Vazquez (121) turned in a great performance to regain them with a stoppage at 1.16 of the sixth after another great contest between the pair. There was never that much between them, Vazquez using his jab to move inside with left hooks while Marquez hit back with a whole range of shots. Coming into the fourth both men were cut on their right eyes, and after going toe-to-toe in the fifth Vazquez went to the floor in what was ruled a slip. The pace was relentless. In the sixth it was Marquez's turn to be dropped when a combination of blows finished off with a cracking left hook to the jaw dumped him, and although he regained his feet and was allowed to box on the referee gave him every chance before calling it off.
4 August 2007. Celestino Caballero w pts 12 Jorge Lacierva.
Venue: Dodge Arena, Hidalgo, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Laurence Cole.
Scorecards: 116-110, 115-112, 116-111.
Fight Summary: Even though he dropped the opening three rounds the 5'11" champion was ultimately too good for Lacierva (121½), who had a point deducted in the sixth for head butts and tired towards the end. Lacierva had started well, landing some heavy shots in the third and making Caballero (121) miss. Strangely, Caballero played into Lacierva's hands when opting to trade at close quarters, but after picking it up in the tenth following a few give-and-take sessions he moved up a gear to make sure of the win.
14 July 2007. Steve Molitor w rsc 9 Takalani Ndlovu.
Venue: Rama Casino, Orillia, Ontario, Canada. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Hubert Earle.
Fight Summary: Picking his punches well, while concentrating on the body to wear Ndlovu (121) down, the southpaw champion had to be wary of his tough opponent who stalked him continuously. Coming under attack in the fourth, being staggered by a big left hook to the body and several follow-up blows, Molitor (120¾) showed his class when boxing his man off. It was Molitor's speed and movement that kept Ndlovu at bay, and in the ninth he dropped the latter with a solid right hook to the head before following it up with two further knockdowns which came as the result of two-fisted attacks. With no three-knockdown rule in place and with Molitor chasing Ndlovu down, banging in blows from both hands, the referee elected to call it off at 1.42 of the session.
17 March 2007. Daniel Ponce De Leon w pts 12 Gerry Penalosa.
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Robert Byrd.
Scorecards: 119-109, 119-109, 120-108.
Fight Summary: In an all-southpaw clash, although the champion won clearly he was not at his best against the tough Penalosa (122), who made him work hard. Despite it being a virtual shut-out points victory, Ponce De Leon (122) failed to excite the crowd, even going on the back foot from the fifth onwards. Having come up two weight divisions, Penalosa showed great heart as well as a hardy chin when absorbing some solid shots, but retaliated well when catching Ponce De Leon with a few heavy blows of his own. It was the Mexican's greater work-rate that won it for him.
16 March 2007. Celestino Caballero w rsc 9 Ricardo Castillo.
Venue: Seminole Hard Rock Live Arena, Hollywood, Florida, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Telis Assimenios.
Fight Summary: Spearing Castillo (122) from the start with a solid left jab, the tall champion made life extremely uncomfortable for his Mexican opponent, outboxing him for round after round. In the third, Castillo was docked a point for repeated low blows before landing his best punch of the fight when a right hook smashed into Caballero (121¾). Showing a good chin, Caballero merely upped the ante to carry on dominating each ensuing session, and when Castillo turned his back on him in the ninth after being badly hurt by a straight right the referee rescued the latter when influenced by his corner. The finish was timed at 2.02.
3 March 2007. Rafael Marquez w rtd 7 Israel Vazquez.
Venue: Home Depot Centre, Carson, California, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Raul Caiz Jnr.
Fight Summary: With his two championship belts on the line, Vazquez (121¾) came up against a hardy opponent in Marquez (121½) who took the fight to him from the opening bell and made life difficult. Having shaded the first and second, Marquez then ran into a thunderous left hook to the jaw in the third that sent him to the floor, and although he made it to his feet he was shaky for the rest of the session. From thereon in it was almost punch for punch as both men gave it their all, but at the end of the fifth it was clear that Vazquez was having trouble with his nose. Although going well in the sixth, Vazquez was retired at the end of the seventh with a badly broken nose.
Coming to the ring as the IBF bantamweight champion, Marquez relinquished that title on 16 March in order to remain in the 122lbs division.
10 November 2006. Steve Molitor w co 5 Michael Hunter.
Venue: Borough Hall, Hartlepool, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Phil Edwards.
Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title that came about when Israel Vazquez was stripped, the unbeaten Hunter (121½) went reasonably well for the opening three rounds before being dropped in the fourth by a cracking southpaw left to the head after Molitor 121½) had opened up. Having made it through the round, Hunter charged out for the fifth, only to be met with several heavy blows that dampened his course of action. Realising he had the fight in his hands, Molitor unleashed a long left to the jaw, followed by several other shots that shook Hunter to his boots and eventually sent him down to be counted out on the 1.32 mark.
21 October 2006. Daniel Ponce De Leon w rsc 8 Al Seeger.
Venue: Don Haskins’ Centre, El Paso, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Laurence Cole.
Fight Summary: Although Seeger (122) held his own in the opening round, from thereon in he was up against it as the champion looked to finish early. Dropped for 'eight' in the fourth, Seeger continued in defensive mode as Ponce De Leon (122) continually marched forward with heavy southpaw blows rattling through the American's defence. Floored again by a solid left to the head, Seeger's days were numbered, especially when Ponce De Leon landed on top of him as they tumbled to the floor together. After having a point deducted in the eighth for holding, when Seeger's corner informed the referee that their man was all-in the fight was called off at 1.43 of the session.
4 October 2006. Celestino Caballero w rsc 3 Somsak Sithchatchawal.
Venue: Ban Rai Temple, Korat, Thailand. Recognition: WBA. Referee: John Coyle.
Fight Summary: Making his first defence the southpaw Sithchatchawal (122) started confidently enough before being on the receiving end of some powerful shots in the second as Caballero (121) worked his way into the contest. The third round saw Caballero looking for a finish, and after dropping Sithchatchawal three times, a right uppercut, a left-right and another left-right doing the damage, the latter was automatically stopped at 1.48 of the session with the three-knockdown rule in place.
16 September 2006. Israel Vazquez w rsc 10 Jhonny Gonzalez.
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Kenny Bayless.
Fight Summary: Despite dropping the opening six rounds and being decked twice by left hook counters, in the fourth and sixth, the two-belt champion came right back in the seventh when flooring Gonzalez (121) with a solid right to the head. From thereon in it was all Vazquez (122), his right eye damaged in the third failing to stop his forward march, and in the tenth he sent the tiring Gonzalez down from a three-punch combination. Although getting to his feet before the count was over, when the referee saw Gonzalez's corner looking for him to rescue their man he did just that, the finish being timed at 2.09. Interestingly, all three judges had Gonzalez ahead up to that point.
15 July 2006. Daniel Ponce De Leon w rsc 1 Sod Looknongyangtoy (Sod Kokietgym).
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Jay Nady.
Fight Summary: In a battle between southpaws, and a return contest, it was the champion who came out on top when forcing a stoppage after just 52 seconds. After spending time sizing each other up, it was Ponce De Leon (122) who made the first and only moves of the fight when sending out a jab that was followed by a tremendous left cross that dropped Looknongyangtoy (122) like a log. Having started the count, the referee thought better of it when allowing doctors to attend to the stricken Thai.
10 June 2006. Israel Vazquez w rsc 4 Ivan Hernandez.
Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Earl Morton.
Fight Summary: With both of his championship belts on the line Vazquez (122) continually pressured Hernandez (122), who put up game resistance before being cut badly on the bridge of his nose in the fourth. Having been beaten to the punch throughout, Hernandez lacked the power to take Vazquez out, and after the doctor had taken a good look at the damaged nose at the end of the session he advised the referee to halt the contest.
27 May 2006. Daniel Ponce De Leon w rsc 2 Gerson Guerrero.
Venue: Home Depot Centre, Carson, California, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Pat Russell.
Fight Summary: The southpaw champion did not take long to settle, battering the unfortunate Guerrero (119¼), a late replacement for Alejandro Barrera who had visa problems, with blows from both hands. Already looking a loser in the second, Guerrero was under the cosh before Ponce De Leon (121½) dropped him with a right hook to the head. Although Guerrero fought back he was rescued by the referee at 1.50 of the session after he had been decked again by a batch of right hooks and left crosses and was not looking likely to get up.
18 March 2006. Somsak Sithchatchawal w rsc 10 Mahyar Monshipour.
Venue: Marcel Cerdan Sports Palace, Levallois-Perret, Paris, France. Recognition: WBA. Referee: John Coyle.
Fight Summary: Not at his best to start with, taking several hard hits and being dropped by a left uppercut in the opening round, the champion came back strongly to put himself in the lead by the end of the ninth. However, coming more and more into it as the fight progressed, Sithchatchawal (122) was beginning to catch Monshipour (121¼) with solid southpaw shots that were taking the wind out of the latter's sails. Following a tremendous ninth in which both men were hurt it was Sithchatchawal who looked the stronger and after blitzing Monshipour with blows to head and body the referee rescued the latter at 2.42 of the tenth.
3 December 2005. Israel Vazquez w rsc 3 Oscar Larios.
Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Tony Weeks.
Fight Summary: Even though Larios was ruled out of contesting the IBF title as he failed that body’s ruling on weight gain following the official weigh-in, with Vazquez (121) winning he picked up Larios’ WBC crown and the vacant Ring Championship Belt. The fight itself saw Larios (120½) decked after half a minute, courtesy of a left hook to the jaw, but getting up and going on to win the second round when boxing well on the outside. Although right back in the frame, disaster struck for Larios in the third when a right-left combination ripped a deep gash over his left eye and led to the referee stopping the contest in Vazquez’s favour at 2.52 of the session after consulting the doctor.
After Vazquez forfeited the IBF Belt in March 2006 when failing to agree to a title defence, Steve Molitor was selected to fight Sergio Manuel Medina for the vacant crown. Surprisingly, for whatever reason, when Medina turned the opportunity down Molitor was set to meet a replacement in South Africa’s Gabula Vabaza in Johannesburg, South Africa on 1 September 2006, only for the fight to be called off the day before due to the South African failing a pre-fight medical. Following that it was announced that Molitor would meet Michael Hunter.
29 October 2005. Daniel Ponce De Leon w pts 12 Sod Looknongyangtoy (Sod Kokietgym).
Venue: Desert Diamond Casino, Tucson, Arizona, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Lou Moret.
Scorecards: 118-109, 115-112, 115-112.
Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title, Looknongyangtoy (121½) struck first when he knocked Ponce De Leon (121) down with a right hook to the head in the second session, but thereafter it was a fairly even battle between quality southpaws. With Ponce De Leon the busier and more accurate of the pair, especially with the jab, and the Thai being the harder puncher it made for an interesting fight. First one then the other took over in preceding rounds, many thinking that Looknongyangtoy deserved something from the fight. However, despite most of the rounds appearing to be very close, apart from the second, the judges were unanimous in their decision.
16 July 2005. Oscar Larios w rsc 10 Wayne McCullough.
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richard Steele.
Fight Summary: Having his second crack at Larios (122) in just over five months, McCullough (120) yet again gave it his best shot, throwing as many punches as the champion, but this time he was pulled out by the doctor at the end of the tenth when it was clear that he was not going to win. Despite being cut over both eyes from the third round onwards, Larios’ punching was far more precise and more effective than that of his rival, who began to labour from the eighth as his blows failed to make a dent in the champion’s defences. By the ninth, McCullough was taking far too many punches and in the tenth, when unable to rally, it had become clear that the end was nigh.
25 June 2005. Mahyar Monshipour w rtd 9 Julio Zarate.
Venue: The Futuroscope, Poitiers, France. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Guillermo Perez.
Fight Summary: Refusing to give ground to the champion, Zarate (121¼) made it clear from the start that he had come to win and in the fourth round a solid left hook followed by a heavy right put Monshipour (121¼) down. Having been shocked into action, from there on Monshipour began to rip in two-fisted blows to head and body that dramatically sapped Zarate’s energy, the latter being deducted two points, in the seventh and eighth, for head butts. At the end of the eighth, a cracking right uppercut seemed to drain Zarate of what little he had left, but it was still a surprise when he refused to come out for the ninth, staying on his stool after the bell had rung.
On 15 October, Celestino Caballero outpointed Yober Ortega over 12 rounds at the Figali Convention Centre, Panama City, Panama, to win the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title. Making his first defence, Caballero retained his ‘interim’ honours when Roberto Bonilla was stopped in the seventh round at the Figali Convention Centre on 4 February 2006, prior to getting a crack at the main title in October 2006.
31 May 2005. Israel Vazquez w pts 12 Armando Guerrero.
Venue: Ho-Chunk Sports & Expo Centre, Lynwood, Illinois, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: John O’Brien.
Scorecards: 116-112, 116-112, 116-112.
Fight Summary: Making his second defence, when Vazquez (121½) opened up aggressively he found Guerrero (122) only too happy to match him punch for punch in a fast scrap that saw varying styles make for a good fight. While Vazquez possessed the shorter shots and jabbed well off the hook, the punch stats showed that the challenger landed more, but from distance. The last third of the contest saw Vazquez in control with the jab, and although still trying hard Guerrero finished in an exhausted state and well beaten.
29 April 2005. Mahyar Monshipour w rsc 6 Shigeru Nakazato.
Venue: Sports Palace, Marseille, France. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Raul Caiz.
Fight Summary: Starting strongly, a hallmark of his career, the champion tore into Nakazato (121) only to be met by an equally determined customer, there being little in it at the end of a frenetic opening session. Although beginning to get on top in the fourth, Monshipour (121) did not have things his own way, being caught by several heavy rights and lefts to the head in the fifth as he looked to finish it. Now cut over the right eye, Monshipour came out for the sixth with a vengeance, and after much pressure he dropped Nakazato with a tremendous right cross to the jaw. Despite there being just three seconds of the round remaining, when it was obvious that Nakazato was done for, the referee immediately called it off to allow him to be tended to.
22 April 2005. Joan Guzman w pts 12 Fernando Beltran Jnr.
Venue: Dodge Arena, Hidalgo, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Laurence Cole.
Scorecards: 115-113, 116-112, 117-111.
Fight Summary: Although Beltran (121) won four rounds on the judges’ cards he was a clear loser as the much faster champion successfully defended his title going away. Holding his hands low at times, and often taunting his tough southpaw rival, Guzman (121) was just too quick, firing in bursts of punches before getting out of range. The frustrated Mexican kept trying to land powerful blows, but Guzman was able to bob-and-weave and duck his way out of trouble throughout when cornered or up against the ropes. There were no knockdowns.
When Guzman relinquished the WBO title in July on deciding to move up a weight class, Daniel Ponce De Leon was matched against Sod Looknongyangtoy (Sod Kokietgym) to find a new champion.
10 February 2005. Oscar Larios w pts 12 Wayne McCullough.
Venue: Palace Indian Gaming Centre, Lemoore, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jon Schorle.
Scorecards: 118-110, 118-110, 116-112.
Fight Summary: Giving it everything he had the former champion tried his hardest to remove the crown from the head of Larios (121¾), but was ultimately found wanting as age caught up with him. Try as he might, McCullough (121) could make no impression on Larios, cut over the left eye in the sixth, and was met with fast jabs and left hooks as he attempted sustained body attacks. Still the brave Irishman kept coming, taking everything Larios could toss at him, but with his punches having little effect although he made it to the final bell the latter was a clear winner.
28 December 2004. Israel Vazquez w rsc 5 Artyom Simonyan.
Venue: Sycuan Indian Resort & Casino, El Cajon, California, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: James Jen-Kin.
Fight Summary: Much too fast for his challenger, and consistently beating him to the punch with jabs and straight rights from the off, Vazquez (121) knocked Simonyan (121½) down twice with right hands and cut him under the left eye in the third round. Even though there was a five-minute break to replace one of Vazquez’s gloves the result was inevitable, Simonyan being dropped yet again by a heavy right in the fifth. Although the Armenian got up and tried to fight back, with Vazquez at full throttle the referee called it off after 59 seconds of the session.
27 November 2004. Oscar Larios w pts 12 Nedal Hussein.
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richard Steele.
Scorecards: 118-110, 119-109, 120-108.
Fight Summary: After sampling the power of the challenger early on, Larios (121) realised that the best way to retain his title would be in sticking to his boxing, which is what he did when losing just one round - the 12th. Outworking Hussein (122) with lefts and rights, Larios kept the momentum going against the dangerous Aussie to go further and further ahead as the fight progressed. Although Hussein landed a cracking right to Larios’ head in the final session it was all too late, the latter being able to make it to the bell where his victory was greeted loudly by his supporters.
8 November 2004. Mahyar Monshipour w rsc 6 Yoddamrong Sithyodthong.
Venue: Bercy Sports Palace, Paris, France. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Guillermo Perez.
Fight Summary: Monshipour (121¼) was quickly on the attack, relentlessly setting about Sithyodthong (121¾) with hooks and uppercuts, and by the third the latter’s right eye was beginning to close. Unfortunately for the Thai, with Monshipour walking through his best punches he was caught by a cracking left hook to the liver that dropped him in the sixth. On getting up after the mandatory ‘eight’ count, Sithyodthong was immediately swamped with punches before being rescued by the referee at 1.07 of the session.
27 May 2004. Mahyar Monshipour w rsc 8 Salim Medjkoune.
Venue: D’Auvergne Grand Hall, Clermont Ferrand, France. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Daniel Talon.
Fight Summary: Regardless that he was cut over the right eye in the opener and on the left eye in the third round, Monshipour (121½) continued to swarm all over his southpaw challenger, who was virtually sold-out by the end of the sixth. Stepping up his assaults, especially to the body, Monshipour closed in on Medjkoune (121¼) to drop him in the eighth with a left hook to the jaw followed by a sickening right to the body. Despite Medjkoune making it to his feet, after he was quickly overwhelmed the referee stopped the fight at 2.20 of the session to save him from further punishment.
25 March 2004. Israel Vazquez w rsc 12 Jose Luis Valbuena.
Venue: Grand Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: James Jen-Kin.
Fight Summary: Contesting the title vacated by Manny Pacquiao, Vazquez (122) set a relentless pace from the third round onwards, dropping Valbuena (121) with a big right to the jaw in the fourth. Boxing well, Valbuena, a southpaw, came back strongly with the jab and body blows, but in the sixth after sending Vazquez down with a low one he was deducted a point. With little respite now for Valbuena as he came under pressure he had another point taken from his score in the ninth after Vazquez was again decked by a punch that landed around the thigh. It was now obvious that Valbuena had little left, but with Vazquez also tired he survived into the 12th before disaster struck. Smashed to the floor by a long right to the head, although he got up, Valbuena was pinned on the ropes when the referee called it off on the 34 second mark.
6 March 2004. Oscar Larios w pts 12 Shigeru Nakazato.
Venue: Super Arena, Saitama, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richie Davies.
Scorecards: 118-109, 120-107, 116-112.
Fight Summary: Even though he had suffered a broken jaw against Nakazato (121½) in an earlier defence, Larios (122), starting fast with the jab, was soon firing in left-right combinations that quickly piled up the points. In the fifth, however, Nakazato got himself into the fight with a series of solid left hooks, one of which opened a cut over Larios’ left eye. Fighting back furiously the champion battered Nakazato from the sixth through to the ninth, but unable to force a stoppage he ultimately had to settle for the points win.
26 February 2004. Joan Guzman w rsc 7 Agapito Sanchez.
Venue: Sports Arena, San Diego, California, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: David Mendoza.
Fight Summary: In something of a grudge match, Guzman (121¾) went straight on to the attack against his challenger before two left hooks and a smashing right to the head sent the older man to the floor in the second round. Thereafter, it was all one way as Guzman handed Sanchez (121¾) a real beating, and at 1.05 of the seventh the referee, who by then had seen enough, pulled the former champion out of the fight. With both of Sanchez's eyes badly swollen, the referee’s decision was a wise one.
16 December 2003. Mahyar Monshipour w rtd 7 Jairo Tagliaferro.
Venue: Marcel Cerdan Sports Palace, Levallois-Perret, France. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Armando Garcia.
Fight Summary: Making his first defence, the rugged Monshipour (119¾) had too much strength and aggression for Tagliaferro (122), who was never allowed to get into a rhythm and settle. Apart from landing a terrific right hand on Monshipour’s jaw in the fourth it was all one-way traffic. Then, after being hit by punches from all angles, especially uppercuts, and being bulled to the ropes on numerous occasions it came as no surprise when Tagliaferro’s corner pulled him out at the end of the seventh round.
22 November 2003. Oscar Larios w rsc 10 Napapol Sor Rungvisai.
Venue: Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Marcos Rosales.
Fight Summary: Having allowed himself to be used as a punch bag for five rounds, with Larios (122) almost punched out the challenger at last began to throw back, occasionally hurting the Mexican. Strangely though, Sor Rungvisai (122) never took advantage of the situation, merely going back into his shell where he continued to take a beating. In the tenth, with Larios unleashing all manner of shots, the Thai finally succumbed and fell to the floor. That should have been it, but Sor Rungvisai got up. With the challenger again taking a hammering, and after what seemed an age, the referee finally acted when stopping the fight with 2.26 on the clock.
7 September 2003. Oscar Larios w rsc 2 Kozo Ishii.
Venue: Rainbow Hall, Nagoya, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richie Davies.
Fight Summary: The challenger began well enough, but towards the end of the first round he was hammered to the floor following a series of heavy overarm rights and left hooks. Saved by the bell, Ishii (122) came up for the second session only to quickly run into another barrage of blows from a rampant Larios (121¾), which dropped him. Up again, and with Larios looking to finish the job, the referee saw no point in allowing Ishii to continue, stopping the contest with 2.02 of the round gone.
26 July 2003. Manny Pacquiao w rsc 3 Emmanuel Lucero.
Venue: Grand Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Jose Cobian.
Fight Summary: Outclassed from the first bell, Lucero 121¼) continually ducked for cover as the southpaw champion threw heavy but wild blows. He also suffered on several occasions when the follow-up ended with him almost being forced to the floor as Pacquiao (120) laid on him. In the third round, when Pacquiao finally found his range, it came as no surprise that Lucero fell apart when a terrific left cross smashed him into the ropes where he collapsed immediately prior to the referee stopping the contest on the 0.48 mark to save him from further punishment.
After Pacquiao vacated the title following his 11th-round retirement win over Marco Antonio Barrera at featherweight on 15 November, Israel Vazquez was eventually matched against Jose Luis Valbuena to find a new champion.
4 July 2003. Mahyar Monshipour w co 12 Salim Medjkoune.
Venue: The Futuroscope, Poitiers, France. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Daniel Talon.
Fight Summary: Walking into the champion from the opening bell, Monshipour (119) cut down the ring well and allowed his rival no room in which to work. With heads coming together Medjkoune (120½) was docked a point in the third round, and in the fourth Monshipour was cut over the right eye. The pattern of the fight did not change though, as Monshipour furiously controlled most of the exchanges up to the ninth before Medjkoune rallied. It looked like the champion was back in the fight, but in the 12th and final round a right cross delivered with venom saw him take the full count with one minute and 23 seconds of the contest remaining.
26 April 2003. Oscar Larios w pts 12 Shigeru Nakazato.
Venue: Ryogoku Sumo Arena, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Toby Gibson.
Scorecards: 114-111, 116-110, 116-110.
Fight Summary: Although Nakazato (122) made a bright start, after being cut on the forehead in the fourth the champion tried to finish matters in the fifth when dropping his rival with a terrific left hook. Somehow Nakazato got through to the bell, and showing remarkable powers of recuperation he almost floored Larios (122) in the sixth and eighth sessions as he went for victory. It was not to be though, as Larios regrouped, using hit-and-run tactics to get himself through the last four hectic rounds against a skilful and tough opponent who impressed with his jab and movement.
4 April 2003. Salim Medjkoune w pts 12 Vincenzo Gigliotti.
Venue: Sports Centre, Clermont Ferrand, France. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.
Scorecards: 115-113, 117-112, 116-111.
Fight Summary: Despite making a successful first defence Medjkoune (122) found the aggressive Gigliotti (122) a tough nut to crack, and it was only in the last third that he pulled away. Head clashes were a constant problem as the men came together, Gigliotti being cut over the left eye in the third round and on the right optic three sessions later. Ultimately, it was the greater speed and variety that won the day for Medjkoune.
1 November 2002. Oscar Larios w rsc 1 Willie Jorrin.
Venue: ARCO Arena, Sacramento, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: James Jen-Kin.
Fight Summary: Roaring out at the opening bell it was not long before Larios (122) caught up with Jorrin (122), and as the champion came off the ropes he was chinned by a crunching right uppercut which put him down heavily. After being given a seemingly slow count, Jorrin was back in the fray only to be met by more heavy punches coming his way. At one stage both men tripped over and went down, but it was now clear that this fight was not going to last much longer. With Larios keeping up the pressure, after Jorrin had been hit by several unanswered blows that were followed up with a solid left hook he was rescued one minute and 28 seconds into the contest.
26 October 2002. Manny Pacquiao w rsc 1 Fahprakorb Rakkiatgym.
Venue: Rizal Memorial College Gym, Mindanao, Philippines. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Bruce McTavish.
Fight Summary: Stalking his weight-drained challenger from the opening bell, Pacquiao (122) soon got down to business to put Rakkiatgym (121) down in a heap with a cracking southpaw right hook. Although he somehow made it up it looked all over for the Thai, Pacquiao dropping him three more times before the referee brought matters to a halt with 14 seconds of the first round remaining.
9 October 2002. Salim Medjkoune w pts 12 Osamu Sato.
Venue: National Yoyoki Stadium, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Guillermo Perez.
Scorecards: 116-112, 117-111, 119-110.
Fight Summary: Unable to catch the clever challenger who started well by throwing accurate if somewhat light combinations, when Sato (122) became the aggressor as he tried to cut the ring down he played straight into his opponent’s hands. In the sixth, Sato began to make the body his target before being dropped on the bell by a southpaw straight left (ruled a slip) after Medjkoune (122) had opened him up. Although Sato continued to chase Medjkoune, the cool Frenchman stayed on his bike while countering the champion whenever he could to run out a worthy points winner.
17 August 2002. Joan Guzman w co 3 Fabio Oliva.
Venue: Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, Wales. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Jose Rivera.
Fight Summary: With the vacant title up for grabs after it was discovered that the champion, Agapito Sanchez, had cataract problems and could not defend against Guzman (122), the unbeaten Oliva (122) had to be rushed in to save the promotion from being cancelled. However, he was clearly up against it, being shaken by big punches as early as the opening round as Guzman stalked him. By the third it had become obvious that Guzman was too powerful for the Argentine, who was quickly pounded against the ropes by head and body shots before a terrific left hook to the midriff saw him go down on one knee to take the full count 70 seconds into the round.
8 June 2002. Manny Pacquiao w rsc 2 Jorge Eliecer Julio.
Venue: The Pyramid, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Bill Clancy.
Fight Summary: Following a tame opening round, the action fairly exploded in the second when Pacquiao (120½) two-fistedly tore into the challenger to drop him for a count of ‘six’ with a southpaw straight left. Dusted off and given the all clear by the third man, Julio (122) was quickly at the mercy of Pacquiao, who was by now unstoppable, and another cracking left floored him again, this time for an ‘eight’ count. On getting up, reeling all over the place, the referee stopped the fight on the 1.09 mark to save Julio from taking further punishment.
18 May 2002. Osamu Sato w co 8 Yoddamrong Sithyodthong.
Venue: Super Arena, Saitama City, Japan. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Guillermo Pineda.
Fight Summary: In what was his first defence, Sithyodthong (122) made good his superior boxing skills right through to the sixth round as he jabbed and moved to pile up the points. The crowd were delighted in the seventh when Sato (121¼) tore up the form book to put Sithyodthong down for a count with an overarm right before repeating the dose at the end of the round, the bell coming to the champion’s rescue. Although Sithyodthong bravely rallied in the eighth, a vicious left to the body sent him slumping to the floor in some pain to be counted out at 1.58 of the round.
23 February 2002. Paulie Ayala w pts 12 Clarence Adams.
Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Kenny Bayless.
Scorecards: 118-110, 117-111, 118-110.
Fight Summary: A return match, this involved the vacant Ring Championship Belt. Shooting out southpaw jabs from the beginning Ayala (122) made a better start than previously, and with Adams (121½) boxing far too defensively he slipped further and further behind. It was clear at the two-thirds stage that Adams needed to start taking the fight to Ayala, but while he connected with some good shots here and there it was not sustained. Disappointingly, the fight had not been a patch on their earlier go.
Ayala continued to be recognised by The Ring as the champion of the weight division until April 2004 despite making no further defences and moving up in weight to meet Erik Morales on 16 November 2002.
21 February 2002. Yoddamrong Sithyodthong w pts 12 Yober Ortega.
Venue: Wat Banrai Temple, Nakhon, Thailand. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Armando Garcia.
Scorecards: 117-112, 118-111, 116-112.
Fight Summary: Although the hard-hitting southpaw champion made a fair start, taking the first three rounds, Sithyodthong (122) soon began to solve his style, coming on strong himself in the fourth and fifth when landing sharp rights and lefts to head and body. From that point on Sithyodthong was in charge, scoring with accurate counters as Ortega (122) kept running on to the punches while being unable to turn the tide in his favour.
5 February 2002. Willie Jorrin drew 12 Osamu Sato.
Venue: Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo, Japan. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Terry O’Connor.
Scorecards: 114-114, 113-113, 112-114.
Fight Summary: Making an excellent start, the sharp-punching Jorrin (122) floored his challenger twice in round three, and showing up impressively he looked to be well on his way to retaining his title. However, at that point the fight took a surprise turn. Although he had begun nervously, Sato (122) began to fire back and started to get to Jorrin with busy combination punching in the fourth as the latter strangely eased off, occasionally sending in counters but without any conviction. Dominating from then on, Sato seemed assured of the verdict in front of his home fans, but it was not to be as Jorrin, cut over the left eye and losing on one of the cards, escaped with a draw.
With Jorrin indisposed, Oscar Larios stopped Israel Vazquez in the 12th round of a contest to decide the WBC ‘interim’ title at the Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento, California, USA on 17 May. Just over three months later, Larios successfully defended the ‘interim’ title when stopping Manabu Fukushima in the eighth round of their contest at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Arena, Tokyo on 24 August. Following that, Larios was lined up to be Jorrin’s next challenger.
17 November 2001. Yober Ortega w rsc 4 Jose Rojas.
Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Tony Weeks.
Fight Summary: Billed for the vacant title, Ortega and Rojas were matched after Clarence Adams had been stripped in July. In a fight that was less than world class, Rojas (122) got away the quicker, winning the first two rounds before the 36-year-old Ortega (120½), who had been inactive for 12 months, picked it up with effective body punches. Then, having moved up a gear in the fourth, a terrific right hook from Ortega sent Rojas hurtling to the canvas out to the world. Without taking up the count, the referee called a halt, the finish being timed at 0.36.
10 November 2001. Manny Pacquiao tdraw 6 Agapito Sanchez.
Venue: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBO. Referee: Marty Denkin.
Scorecards: 58-54, 57-55, 56-56.
Fight Summary: In an effort to unify two titles the fight between Pacquiao (120¼), the southpaw IBF champion, and the WBO’s Sanchez (120½) decided nothing when it went to the scorecards after the referee called it off at 1.12 of the sixth. This was following the doctor’s advice when Pacquiao was deemed unable to continue due to being badly cut over the right eye, an injury that occurred in the second round. Prior to that it had been a crude affair, with Sanchez deducted a point for landing low and fighting wildly. He then lost another point in the fourth when both men fell over after Pacquiao had been hit low again and then seemingly kneed. When Sanchez was cut on the left eye in the fifth it was felt that with the harder-hitting Pacquiao going better he would take over, but that came to nothing when his eye damage worsened and the fight came to an end.
Due to defend the WBO title against Joan Guzman on 17 August 2002, Sanchez was forced to vacate two days earlier after it was discovered that he had cataract problems. To find a new champion, Guzman took on Fabio Oliva, who came in as a late substitute.
23 June 2001. Manny Pacquiao w rsc 6 Lehlo Ledwaba.
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Joe Cortez.
Fight Summary: Right from the opening bell the southpaw Pacquiao (121) came in firing rights and lefts, and in the second round he had Ledwaba (122) over prior to wobbling him again. Although under pressure, the champion came back strongly. It was noticeable, however, that while Ledwaba was sending in the jabs with some venom he was gradually being overrun. When Ledwaba was sent crashing from a straight left in the sixth, after instinctively getting up he was attacked by a variety of blows before he was again put down, this time by two solid lefts and a right. He was then rescued by the referee at 0.59 when rolling painfully on his side. Pacquiao had previously been an undefeated WBC flyweight champion.
23 June 2001. Agapito Sanchez w rsc 7 Jorge Monsalvo.
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Kenny Bayless.
Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title following Marco Antonio Barrera’s decision to move up a weight class, Sanchez (121) proved too good an opponent for Monsalvo (122), who was outjabbed consistently and cracked by rights over the top. Although cut over the right eye in the third, Sanchez, who was rarely under pressure, began to hand out a real battering to his game but outclassed rival in the fourth. Thus it was no surprise when a big right sent Monsalvo crashing in the seventh, and on getting to his feet, wobbling all over the place, he was rescued by the referee on the 1.28 mark.
22 April 2001. Lehlo Ledwaba w pts 12 Carlos Contreras.
Venue: Carnival City Big Top, Brakpan, South Africa. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Sam Smyth.
Scorecards: 118-110, 116-112, 117-112.
Fight Summary: Despite suffering from a virus and then damaging his right hand, while Ledwaba (121¾) did more than enough to win the fight he was unable to subdue the tough challenger who came on strongly in the last two sessions as he tired. In the ninth, Contreras (121), under constant pressure in that round, was badly hurt, but he somehow got through it. Following that, it was Ledwaba's turn to defend until the final bell. The decision was never in doubt as Ledwaba’s early work, especially with hooks, jabs and uppercuts that rained in on his unprotected opponent, had given him a clear margin to work with.
23 March 2001. Clarence Adams w pts 12 Ivan Alvarez.
Venue: Sports Centre, Owensboro, Kentucky, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Steve Smoger.
Scorecards: 115-112, 116-111, 115-112.
Fight Summary: Finding who his opponent was only a matter of hours before the fight was hardly the way to treat a champion, and in return Adams (122) treated his challenger as a sparring partner. Adams just about did enough to win against Alvarez (122), who lunged in and belted away as if his life depended on it. When Alvarez was floored late in round four by a heavy right to the body the bell saved him, but there were no further incidents such as that, and although Adams started to use the jab well in the latter rounds he was unable to stamp his authority on his tough rival.
Recognised as the best man in the weight division by The Ring magazine, Adams forfeited the WBA version of the title in July after agreeing to meet Paulie Ayala to decide the vacant IBO title rather than defend against Yober Ortega. That was followed by the latter being matched against Jose Rojas to find a new WBA champion.
On 4 August, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, Ayala outpointed Adams over 12 rounds in a fight between the two highest-rated men in the weight division. Cut over the left eye in the second from a clash of heads and shaken up, Adams (122) was unfortunate to lose the round 10-8 even though he did not go down. A 10-9 round would have gained him a draw. With both men giving it all they had in what was one of the year’s most exciting fights ultimately it was the southpaw aggression of Ayala (122), especially when going to the body, that swayed the judges. According to the CompuBox stats Adams had landed 230 punches to 157, and it was no surprise that a rematch was called for involving The Ring Championship Belt. The cards showed Ayala winning by scores of 114-113, 115-112, 113-114.
17 February 2001. Lehlo Ledwaba w rsc 9 Arnel Barotillo.
Venue: Carnival City Big Top, Brakpan, South Africa. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Rudy Battle.
Fight Summary: Giving an excellent display of controlled boxing, Ledwaba (120¾) countered the challenger’s aggression with good movement and solid punches driven into the body as he handed out a systematic beating. It was not that Barotillo (121¾) was poor it was more about Ledwaba being top class, and with the former soaking up punishment it was no surprise when a double left hook sent him crashing to the floor in the ninth. Up after a mandatory ‘eight’ count, Barotillo walked straight in to another barrage of heavy punches before being rescued by the referee on the 1.49 mark.
19 January 2001. Willie Jorrin w pts 12 Oscar Larios.
Venue: ARCO Arena, Sacramento, California, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Chuck Hassett.
Scorecards: 115-113, 115-113, 115-113.
Fight Summary: Even though he possibly won seven of the first eight rounds, the champion faded somewhat as Larios (122) came on in the latter stages, nailing his rival with lefts and rights before running out of rounds required to clinch a victory. It was yet another close fight for Jorrin (122), who tended to throw fast and precise punches without ever sustaining the pressure needed to get on top of his opponent, and he was often guilty of straying low.
1 December 2000. Marco Antonio Barrera w rtd 6 Jesus Salud.
Venue: Venetian Casino Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Joe Cortez.
Fight Summary: Coming back to form, Barrera (122) outpunched and outboxed Salud (122) before the latter was retired by his corner at the end of the sixth round. For the previous two rounds, the challenger, his right eye almost closed and not fighting back, had been worked over systematically by a mixture of jabs, combinations and body blows, and was beginning to look his 37 years of age. Although Salud had bothered Barrera in the third with his strength, once that had gone there was nothing left for the former champion.
Following his victory over England’s Naseem Hamed for the vacant IBO featherweight title on 7 April 2001, Barrera relinquished his WBO version of the title the following month in order to compete as a featherweight. To find a new champion, the WBO selected Agapito Sanchez and Jorge Monsalvo to contest the vacant title.
6 October 2000. Lehlo Ledwaba w co 8 Eduardo Enrique Alvarez.
Venue: Leisure Centre, Maidstone, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Roy Francis.
Fight Summary: Boxing smartly on the back foot the challenger made life difficult for Ledwaba (121½), who was forced to look for openings, but in the seventh the South African upped the pace after realising how to best deal with Alvarez (121¼). Ledwaba was now in full swing, and in the eighth he forced Alvarez into a corner where a right-left-right to the head and a terrific left hook to the ribs dropped the latter to be counted out with two seconds of the round remaining.
9 September 2000. Willie Jorrin w pts 12 Michael Brodie.
Venue: Bowler’s Arena, Manchester, England. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Richie Davies.
Scorecards: 115-112, 116-112, 114-114.
Fight Summary: Billed for the vacant title after Erik Morales decided to move on, apart from the tenth which was effectively a 10-8 round after Brodie (122) took some big head punches and touched down for the mandatory ‘eight’ count, the latter appeared to have outworked, outfought and outpunched Jorrin (121¾) in many of the rounds. Two of the scorecards certainly beggared belief, especially after Brodie had maintained a good work-rate throughout, mixed up his punches well and boxed with plenty of authority to control Jorrin. Although having his moments, Jorrin did not do nearly enough.
9 September 2000. Marco Antonio Barrera w pts 12 Jose Luis Valbuena.
Venue: The Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Elmer Adolph.
Scorecards: 115-113, 117-111, 116-112.
Fight Summary: On what was obviously an off night, apart from the first two and the last two rounds, Barrera (120½) found the fast-moving challenger too difficult to catch, having to settle for a relatively close points win. An erratic southpaw, Valbuena (120½) certainly made a difficult target, but aided by the inability of Barrera to catch up with him until near the end he was even cocky at times. However, the authoritative punches, what there were of them, came from Barrera.
5 August 2000. Clarence Adams w rsc 6 Andres Fernandez.
Venue: Alliant Energy Centre, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Monte Oswald.
Fight Summary: Retaining his title at the first time of asking, Adams (122) finished the contest with a badly cut right eye and a fractured right hand after his challenger had been pulled out at 2.23 of the sixth when suffering a series of bad cuts on the left-hand side of his face. Having started lazily Adams finally exploded into action in the fifth on realising that the lanky Fernandez (121¾), constantly posing problems with his head, would have to be removed, and following another barrage of punches in the sixth it was the doctor who advised the referee that the challenger was cut too badly for him to continue.
With Adams sidelined suffering an injured hand, Antonio Cermeno, the WBA’ interim’ champion, was contracted to defend against Kozo Ishii in November, prior to being arrested for an alleged involvement in a murder case. Despite Cermeno being allowed to travel abroad for the contest the WBA decided to vacate the ‘interim’ title to allow Ishii to meet Yober Ortega instead, on the proviso that Adams would defend against the winner when pronounced fit. Ortega stopped Ishii in the 11th round to win the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title at the Rainbow Hall, Nagoya, Japan on 23 November.
17 June 2000. Marco Antonio Barrera w co 1 Luiz Claudio Freitas.
Venue: The Arena, Mexico City, Mexico. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Genaro Rodriguez.
Fight Summary: Although Freitas (122), the 32-year-old brother of Acelino, came out throwing punches as if there was no tomorrow and actually hurt the champion with a solid right to the head, Barrera (122) quickly assessed what he had to do by immediately getting down to work. Backing Freitas up against the ropes, he smashed in a battery of big punches before a vicious left hook to the liver led to a count-out win after just 87 seconds.
7 April 2000. Lehlo Ledwaba w rsc 8 Ernesto Grey.
Venue: Whitchurch Leisure Centre, Bristol, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Sam Williams.
Fight Summary: Proving to be an excellent champion, the slick-moving Ledwaba (122) was a class above Grey (122), who although showing up well early in the fight was shaken up in the third and fourth rounds by excellent counters. Ledwaba opened up in the fifth to cut Grey over the left eye and drop him following two solid lefts, and although the latter made it into the eighth he was knocked down by a short left for ‘four’ before being rescued on the 1.20 mark when not fighting back.
4 March 2000. Clarence Adams w pts 12 Nestor Garza.
Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Joe Cortez.
Scorecards: 118-108, 116-110, 116-110.
Fight Summary: Taking weight off one time too many effectively lost the fight for the champion before a punch was thrown, but Adams (122), who still had to win, made a great start when he floored Garza (122) with a terrific left hook midway through the first round. Although Garza got up and back into the fight he was cut over the right eye in the third, dropped again in the fifth by left-right combinations, and was in trouble on several occasions before being judged a wide loser. A big outsider, the sharp-punching and sleek skills of Adams were just too much for a weakened Garza to handle.
19 February 2000. Erik Morales w pts 12 Marco Antonio Barrera.
Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC/WBO. Referee: Mitch Halpern.
Scorecards: 114-113, 115-112, 113-114.
Fight Summary: A match made by public demand saw a contest between two champions - Morales (121) representing the WBC and Barrera (121½) the WBO - and at the end of 12 exciting rounds two judges decided that Morales had won. While Morales was the busier, Barrera, swollen and cut down the left side of his face, was the bigger puncher, staggering his rival on several occasions, especially with withering hooks to the body. In the final round, Morales was knocked down according to the referee, but film later showed it to be a slip. It was certainly a tough one to call with most of the onlookers feeling that Barrera had won clearly.
Those feelings were borne out when Barrera was reinstated as the WBO champion within days of the fight after the organisation refused to accept the decision in Morales’ favour. Later, on 2 September, when Morales relinquished the WBC version of the title to fight in a higher weight class Michael Brodie was matched with Willie Jorrin in order to find a new champion.