Middleweight World Championship Fights & Title Claims

Full middleweight fight details from 1873 to September 2016 (plus junior middle, welter and junior welter) are available in a definitive companion book:

  • For United States click HERE

  • For United Kingdom click HERE

  • For Germany click HERE

  • For Japan click HERE

Full Fight Details from 2000 Onwards

 

20 October 2018. Demetrius Andrade w pts 12 Walter Kautondokwa.

Venue: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Steve Willis.

Scorecards: 119-105, 120-104, 120-104.

15 September 2018. Saul Alvarez w pts 12 Gennady Golovkin.

Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBC. Referee: Benjy Esteves Jnr.

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

Rob Brant won the WBA ‘second tier’ title when beating the holder, Ryota Murata, at the Park Theatre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA on 20 October.

5 May 2018. Gennady Golovkin w co 2 Vanes Martirosyan.

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

Although the IBF did not sanction the bout, Golovkin was granted an exception on the grounds that he met their leading contender next time out. However, when he refused to meet the mandatory challenger, Sergey Derevyanchenko, by 3 August he was stripped on 7 June.

16 December 2017. Billy Joe Saunders w pts 12 David Lemieux.

Venue: Place Bell Arena, Laval, Quebec, Canada. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Michael Griffin.

Scorecards: 117-111, 118-110, 120-108.

16 September 2017. Billy Joe Saunders w pts 12 Willie Monroe Jnr.

Venue: Copper Box Arena, Hackney Wick, London, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Marcus McDonnell.

Scorecards: 115-114, 117-112, 117-111.

Due to make a defence against Demetrius Andrade in Boston, Massachussets on 20 October 2018, on testing positive for Oxilofrine and finding out that he would be suspended for six months Saunders vacated the WBO title on 11 October 2018. Following that, Walter Kautondokwa was brought in to meet Andrade to decide the vacancy.

16 September 2017. Gennady Golovkin drew 12 Saul Alvarez.

Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Scorecards: 115-113, 110-118, 114-114.

Ryota Murata relieved Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam of his WBA ‘second tier’ crown in a rematch, when forcing the latter to retire at the end of the seventh round at the Kokugikan Sumo Stadium, Tokyo, Japan on 22 October. Defending the WBA ‘second tier’ title at The Arena, Yokohama, Japan, on 15 April 2018, Murata stopped Emanuele Blandamura inside eight rounds.

Jermall Charlo won the WBC ‘interim’ title when knocking out Hugo Centeno in the second round of their contest at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA on 21 April 2018.

Alvarez was stripped of The Ring Championship belt on 12 June 2018 due to him being temporarily banned for drug usage.

18 March 2017. Gennady Golovkin w pts 12 Daniel Jacobs.

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC. Referee: Charlie Fitch.

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

 

Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam traded in his WBA ‘interim’ title for a ‘second tier’ version when outpointing Ryoto Murata over 12 rounds at the Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo, Japan on 20 May.

3 December 2016. Billy Joe Saunders w pts 12 Artur Akavov.

Venue: Lagoon Leisure Centre, Paisley, Scotland. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Marcus McDonnell.

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

 

Avtandil Khurtsidze won the vacant WBO ‘interim’ title when stopping Tommy Langford inside five rounds at The Arena, Leicester, England on 22 April 2017. A short while later, on 20 June 2017, Khurtsidze was stripped after being charged for allegedly having a role in a New York based Russian/Georgian crime syndicate.

10 September 2016. Gennady Golovkin w rsc 5 Kell Brook.

Venue: O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, England. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC. Referee: Marlon Wright.

Fight Summary: Defending the full WBC title handed to him after Saul Alvarez sent back his belt along with his IBF crown, Golovkin (158¾) ultimately did what was expected of him. Moving up two weight divisions to meet the most feared puncher around the IBF welterweight champion gave it his best shot, taking the opening two sessions on the scorecards. However, by the third Golovkin was into his stride and a left hook brought about an angry swelling beneath Brook's right eye. Bravely hitting back but taking more punches at this stage, in the fifth Brook (159½) was really up against it as Golovkin unleashed punch after punch. Even when Brook's corner threw the towel in several more punches rained in prior to the referee closing matters on the 1.57 mark. Despite suffering a broken right eye socket and other lumps and bumps, Brook came out of the contest with his pride and reputation intact. The WBA did not sanction the bout as Brook was unrated, but had Golovkin lost the belt would almost certainly have been vacated.

 

Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam took over Alfonso Blanco’s WBA ‘interim’ title when knocking the latter out inside a round at the Jean-Ivoula Stadium, Saint-Denis, Reunion on 17 December.

7 May 2016. Saul Alvarez w rsc 6 Amir Khan.

Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Fight Summary: Stepping up two weight divisions from welter to middle to challenge Alvarez (155) for his two championship belts was just too much for Khan (155), who was eventually stopped at 2.37 of the sixth after putting on a stirring display. Taking the fight to Alvarez from the opening bell Khan took the opening two sessions with fast lefts and rights before moving out of range, and it was only in the fifth that the Mexican was able to catch up with his rival. Although Khan took a solid shot in the fifth, unfazed he was still going well in the sixth. That was until a right-hand counter sent him crashing, out to the world. Not bothering with the count the referee halted the fight immediately. It had been a gallant effort by Khan and was appreciated by all those who saw it.

 

When Alvarez relinquished the WBC title on 18 May, as he did not wish to be pushed around by the WBC, Gennady Golovkin, the 'interim' title holder, was appointed champion. However, Alvarez remained The Ring lineal champion.

23 April 2016. Gennady Golovkin w co 2 Dominic Wade.

Venue: Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Jack Reiss.

Fight Summary: Barely raising a sweat, the champion marched into Wade (159½) regardless of his height and reach advantages, and immediately prior to the bell to end the opening round had him over with a cracking right to the side of the head. Having beaten the count, Wade was eventually down again in the second after another right crashed into him. Getting to his feet just before the 'ten' was tolled and allowed to fight on, Wade was soon floored again after Golovkin (159) unleashed another big right. This time round Wade failed to beat the count, the finish being timed at 2.37 of the session. Golovkin’s WBC 'interim' title was also on the line in this bout.

 

On 9 September, Daniel Jacobs successfully defended his WBA 'second tier' belt when stopping Sergio Mora inside seven rounds at the Santander Arena, Reading, Pennsylvania, USA.

19 December 2015. Billy Joe Saunders w pts 12 Andy Lee.

Venue: The Arena, Manchester, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Steve Gray.

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

Fight Summary: A battle between southpaws saw Lee (159¾) put his title on the line against a fellow traveller in Saunders (160), the former undefeated British, Commonwealth and European champion. Starting the sharper in what was a cagey beginning Saunders dropped Lee twice in the third from heavy right hooks when beating his man to the punch, but was never able to repeat the trick again. From thereon in Lee went back to his boxing, and although there were several bouts of hard hitting from both men the majority decision went to Saunders, who overall had been the busier of the pair.

21 November 2015. Saul Alvarez w pts 12 Miguel Cotto.

Venue: Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Robert Byrd.

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

Fight Summary: This one was billed for the vacant WBC title after Cotto (153½), also the holder of The Ring Championship Belt, refused to pay their sanctioning fee. The fight itself was much closer than the cards suggested, and although Alvarez (155) took both belts home the margin of victory appeared to flatter him. There were no knockdowns but it was a contest full of good action, the 35-year-old Cotto going with the jab and follow-up right and the two-handed former WBA/WBA junior middleweight champion being just that bit busier. Freddie Roach, Cotto's trainer, said afterwards that he believed his man had won the fight when showing a sound defence and putting together plenty of good combinations.

17 October 2015. Gennady Golovkin w rsc 8 David Lemieux.

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

Fight Summary: Not afraid to test himself against the best it proved to be a step too far for Lemieux (159¾), the IBF champion, in his unification contest against the WBA's Golovkin (159½). In a battle of big punchers, Golovkin showed that he was the man with a plan as he held Lemieux up and unbalanced him with a solid jab right from the start. Having hurt Lemieux in the second with a left hook-right hand Golovkin merely bided his time, and in the fifth he found a left hook to the body to put the Canadian on one knee. Golovkin even hit Lemieux on the head and was lucky to get away with a caution, which was mainly due to the latter not making a meal of it. Although Lemieux staged a bit of a fightback in the sixth and seventh it was all over at 1.32 of the eighth when the referee rescued him after he had taken several heavy shots to head and body. Golovkin also successfully defended his WBC 'interim' title in this one.

 

Daniel Jacobs stopped Peter Quillin inside a round at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NYC, New York on 5 December to retain his WBA 'second tier' title.

20 June 2015. David Lemieux w pts 12 Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam.

Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Marlon Wright.

Scorecards: 115-109, 115-109, 114-110.

Fight Summary: Contested for the title that was vacated when Jermain Taylor was stripped, Lemieux (160) provided proof of his early promise when outpointing a former champion in N'Dam N'Jikam (158½). Although it went the distance it was more down to N'Dam N'Jikam's toughness than anything else. Having been dropped by a left hook to the jaw in the second, put down twice in the fifth from heavy left hands and then a straight left counter in the seventh it was all over bar the shouting, but back came N'Dam N'Jikam with overarm rights that kept Lemieux on his toes for the rest of the bout.

6 June 2015. Miguel Cotto w rsc 4 Daniel Geale.

Venue: Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Harvey Dock.

Fight Summary:  With his two championship belts on the line against Geale (157), a former champion, it did not take too long for Cotto (153½) to add the Aussie to his list of victims. The opening three sessions saw both men looking for openings before Geale was shaken up by a straight right at the end of the third. Starting the fourth quickly after recognising that he had hurt Geale, Cotto soon had his challenger over from a heavy left. Just about beating the count, Geale was soon under the cosh. It was now obvious that the contest was nearly at an end, and when Geale was floored by a right to the jaw the referee rescued him at 1.28 of the session even though he was on his feet.

16 May 2015. Gennady Golovkin w rsc 6 Willie Monroe Jnr.

Venue: The Forum, Inglewood, California, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Jack Reiss.

Fight Summary: Quickly working Monroe (160) out, Golovkin (159) had his southpaw challenger over in the second from a left hook to the side of the head before bashing him down again for a second count. Although fighting back as best he could, throwing blows to head and body Monroe surprised many by his fightback, but having survived several hard shots in the fifth his days were numbered when coming into the sixth. Banging in punch after punch the Russian finally sent Monroe to the boards again, and although the latter appeared to beat the count in the referee's eyes the official then called it off on the 45-second mark. With Golovkin’s WBC ‘interim’ title also on the line, even if Monroe had won he could not have claimed the title as he had failed to comply with WBC rules over the pre-fight weigh-ins.

 

On 1 August, at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA, Daniel Jacobs stopped Sergio Mora inside two rounds in a successful defence of his WBA 'second tier' title.

 

Although the WBA allowed Chris Eubank Jnr's promoter to bill a fight against Tony Jeter on 24 October as a defence of his 'interim' title (w rsc 2 at the Sheffield Arena, England), they had already stripped him for inactivity in favour of Alfonso Blanco. Blanco had beaten Siarhei Khamitsky (w pts 12 at the Polyhedron, Caracas, Venezuela on 10 October) in a contest that was also billed for the WBA 'interim' title.

21 February 2015. Gennady Golovkin w rsc 11 Martin Murray.

Venue: Room of Stars, Monte Carlo, Monaco. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.

Fight Summary: While Murray (160) showed great courage he was ultimately no match for a champion who had both speed and power in his locker. As early as the fourth Murray was sent to his knees after taking a cracking right to the body before being put down again by a similar shot. Even though Murray fought back bravely and tried to take the fight to Golovkin (159) for several rounds he was being forced to take plenty in return. Having been dropped again by a heavy blow to the head in the tenth Murray somehow beat the count to make it into the 11th. However, 50 seconds into that session it was all over when Murray was rescued by the referee following a big right to the jaw that had left him reeling on the ropes. Golovkin's WBC 'interim' title was also on the line.

 

Chris Eubank Jnr stopped Dmitry Chudinov in the last round of their 12-round contest at the 02 Arena, Greenwich, London, England on 28 February to take over the latter's WBA 'interim' title.

 

Daniel Jacobs successfully defended his WBA 'second tier' title with a 12th-round stoppage win over Caleb Truax at the UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois, USA on 24 April.

13 December 2014. Andy Lee w rsc 6 Matt Korobov.

Venue: The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Fight Summary: Following Peter Quillin's decision to hand in his belt, Lee (159¾) and Korobov (159½) came together to contest the vacant title in what was an all-southpaw battle. Having been outboxed for the opening five rounds even though he hurt Korobov in the fourth and fifth, Lee started to put the punches together with some venom in the sixth. With Korobov slowing appreciably Lee caught him with a terrific right hook, and after the latter hammered in punch after punch from both hands the referee stopped the contest at 1.10 of the session when the Russian was not fighting back.

8 October 2014. Jermain Taylor w pts 12 Sam Soliman.

Venue: Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, Biloxi, Mississippi, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Bill Clancy.

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

Fight Summary: Having suffered a brain bleed at the hands of Arthur Abraham some five years ago, and at the age of 36, Taylor (159¾) wrested the title from the 40-year-old Soliman (160). Despite dropping rounds in the earlier stages, Taylor came back in the seventh to drop Soliman with what seemed to be a nothing jab and when he repeated the trick in the eighth it could be seen that the latter's left knee was injured. Clearly at a disadvantage, although the smaller Soliman was put down again in the ninth and 11th he managed to make it to the final bell in much pain.

 

The IBF stripped Taylor on 6 February 2015 after it was reported that he had been ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation.

26 July 2014. Gennady Golovkin w rsc 3 Daniel Geale.

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Mike Ortega.

Fight Summary: Given a chance to reach the top again, Geale (159¼) was right up against it from the start after he had slipped over when trying to avoid the champion's punches coming his way, and the timekeeper had allowed the round to run to four minutes. Not only did Geale get caught up in the ropes after tripping over photographic equipment but he also returned to his corner with a cut on his right eye. Despite going down from a punch to the neck in the second as Golovkin (159¾) opened up, Geale started the third showing an excellent defence until being dropped by a right to the jaw. Although Geale made it to his feet in time the referee called the contest off with 13 seconds of the session remaining when realising the Aussie was not quite right.

 

Dmitry Chudinov defended his WBA 'interim' title with a three-round stoppage win over Mehdi Bouadla at the Open-Air Arena, Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia on 9 August, while Daniel Jacobs won the vacant WBA 'second tier' title when defeating Jarrod Fletcher (w rsc 5 at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NYC, New York) on the same day.

 

When Golovkin knocked out an overweight Marco Antonio Rubio inside two rounds at the StubHub Centre, Carson, California on 18 October in a contest that was billed for the WBA title, he took over the latter's WBC 'interim' title at the same time.

7 June 2014. Miguel Cotto w rtd 9 Sergio Martinez.

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Michael Griffin.

Fight Summary: Starting like a bomb, Cotto (155) became a four-weight world champion when Martinez (158¾), the holder of two championship belts, was retired by his corner at the end of the ninth. The fight had started badly for the southpaw champion when he was floored three times in the opening round by a mixture of solid shots, and although he somehow managed to remain upright for another seven rounds it was a nightmare. Unable to avoid hooks thrown from either hand the torment went on for Martinez for round after round. Despite trying his best to pull something out of the bag, after a heavy jab from the dominant Cotto sat Martinez down in the ninth the game was almost up. Cotto came to the ring as a former undefeated WBO junior welterweight champion, a former WBA/WBO welterweight champion and a former WBA junior middleweight champion.

31 May 2014. Sam Soliman w pts 12 Felix Sturm.

Venue: Konig Sports Palace, Krefeld, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Eddie Cotton.

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

Fight Summary: In a return fight between the pair, yet again Soliman (159½) proved the better man as he stayed at close quarters and gave the champion no room to get his punches off. Keeping low to make life difficult for Sturm (159), the Aussie also roughed him up, and although the latter came back hard to take the eighth and ninth he lost the last three sessions on all of the cards. It was a big disappointment for Sturm, who simply ran out of gas just when it mattered.

19 April 2014. Peter Quillin w pts 12 Lukas Konecny.

Venue: The Armoury, Washington DC, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Kenny Chevalier.

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

Fight Summary: Even though the champion received a wide unanimous decision at the end of his contest against Konecny (158¼) he had been unable to put his rival on the floor and never looked like doing so. However, from the third onwards Quillin (159¾) was putting his punches together, especially solid lefts to the body as Konecny came on to him, but he was unable to have the latter in difficulty. Afterwards, all Quillin could say was that Konecny was one tough man who came to fight.

 

On 4 September, Quillin relinquished his WBO title in order to pursue bigger opportunities at the weight.

1 February 2014. Gennady Golovkin w rsc 7 Osumanu Adama.

Venue: Room of Stars, Monaco, Monte Carlo. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.

Fight Summary: Up against a challenger who had never been floored, Golovkin (159½) soon put paid to that record when forcing the Ghanaian to the floor with a solid right towards the end of the first. Despite that, Adama (159¼) came back in the second as though nothing had happened and had gradually regained his composure by the fourth even though he was forced to take heavy blows and was way down on the cards. Picking it up in the sixth, Golovkin had Adama down from a crunching left hook to the body. Up again, his right eye swollen, Adama was dropped in the seventh by a left to the jaw before the fight was called off at 1.20 of the session after he had taken another solid left hook to the chin.

 

The WBA stripped Martin Murray of his 'interim' title on 7 March for making no defences and appointed Dmitry Chudinov as his successor. Making his first defence, Chudinov outpointed Patrick Nielsen over 12 rounds at The Arena, Mytishchi, Russia on 1 June.

7 December 2013. Felix Sturm w rsc 2 Darren Barker.

Venue: Porsche Arena, Stuttgart, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Mark Nelson.

Fight Summary: Barker's reign as champion ended as suddenly as it had begun when he was forced out of the fight at 2.09 of the second round. Having been put under pressure by the Sturm (159½) left hook early in the opener, Barker (159) began to fight back before a rib problem resurfaced when he threw a right hand near the end of the session. Although trying to find his way back in the second, Barker's lack of mobility would prove his undoing. Fighting virtually on one leg Barker was easy pickings for Sturm, and after being dropped by a right hook and then taking further punishment the referee rescued him on the 2.09 mark when his corner threw the towel in.

2 November 2013. Gennady Golovkin w rtd 8 Curtis Stevens.

Venue: Madison Square Garden Theatre, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Harvey Dock.

Fight Summary: Although starting cautiously the champion was quick to pick it up in the second, a left hook to the head, towards the end of the round, sending Stevens (159¼) crashing. Back in action, Stevens did not do much fighting in the third before surprising Golovkin (159½) in the fourth with a heavy left-right that saw the latter backing off. From thereon in, however, it was all downhill for Stevens, who was punished without respite as Golovkin went for the finishing line. Having endured a tough session in the eighth, his right eye badly swollen and at the end of his tether, Stevens' corner wisely pulled him out of the contest during the interval.

 

On 21 December, at the Krylatskoye Dynamo Sports Palace, Moscow, Russia, Dmitry Chudinov stopped Juan Camilo Novoa inside six rounds. The bout was originally set for the WBA 'interim' title, but after Golovkin's request to become WBA 'super' champion was refused it became an eliminator. At the same time, Martin Murray continued as the 'interim' champion.

26 October 2013. Peter Quillin w rsc 10 Gabriel Rosado.

Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Allan Huggins.

Fight Summary: Not at his best, having left some of his ability in the gym, the champion was still too good for Rosado (160). Although knocked down in the second by a left hook Rosado came back to make a fight of it, even though he was falling behind on the cards, before being cut over the left eye in the ninth. Coming out for the tenth it soon became clear that the cut was too bad for Rosado to carry on and, after the doctor indicated that to the referee, the contest was called off 40 seconds into the session.

17 August 2013. Darren Barker w pts 12 Daniel Geale.

Venue: Revel Resort, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Eddie Cotton.

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

Fight Summary: Having come back from a series of bad injuries and being on the verge of retirement, Barker (159½) started well enough before having to endure time out after a low blow from the champion in the fourth and being dropped heavily by a left hook to the body in the sixth. Somehow making it to his feet and lasting out the round, Barker gradually boxed his way back into contention, pushing Geale (159½) back with solid jabs. By the ninth Barker was in full flow, and despite being cut on the left eye in the tenth he finished strongly to take the split decision.

29 June 2013. Gennady Golovkin w co 3 Matthew Macklin.

Venue: Foxwoods MGM Grand, Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Eddie Cotton.

Fight Summary: Never in with a chance, Macklin (159) was outspeeded and outthought by the hard-hitting champion from the opening bell, lefts and rights piercing his guard as he tried to move away. Stalking Macklin throughout the second and stunning him with heavy shots, it was clear that Golovkin (159) had his man where he wanted. It was more of the same in the third, and after Golovkin smashed in a left to the short rib Macklin went down to be counted out at 1.22 of the session.

27 April 2013. Sergio Martinez w pts 12 Martin Murray.

Venue: Velez Sarsfield Sports Club, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Massimo Barrovecchio.

Scorecards: 115-112, 115-112, 115-112.

Fight Summary: Defending his two championship belts on home soil, Martinez (159½) rattled off the opening three rounds while Murray (159½) looked to get a foothold in the contest. From the fourth onwards it was extremely close as Murray made his move with solid left jabs and a tight defence paving the way forward. The southpaw champion was right up against it in the sixth when pushed back by heavy jabs and being cut by the left eye. In the eighth it got worse for Martinez when he was decked by a left-right, and although coming back in the ninth he was floored by a left hook in the tenth that the referee called a slip. Despite looking to go behind, Martinez finished strongly in the final two sessions to just about retain his title. There were many who thought that Murray had been unlucky after going so close.

 

Following Murray’s defeat, Marco Antonio Rubio won the vacant WBC 'interim' title when knocking out Domenico Spada inside 10 rounds at the Grand Stadium, Ciudad Delicias, Chihuahua, Mexico on 5 April 2014.

27 April 2013. Peter Quillin w rsc 7 Fernando Guerrero.

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

Fight Summary: It did not take the champion long to show Guerrero (160) who was boss when battering his southpaw opponent to the floor twice in the second, the first knockdown coming from a heavy right to the chin before a cluster of solid shots repeated the trick. Although Guerrero landed with good left hooks himself and fought back hard, Quillin (160) was always master of the situation. Having won the sixth on all three cards, the seventh saw Guerrero finally removed from the fight when put under severe pressure from the hard-hitting Quillin. Dropped by a cracking right for the 'eight' count, when Guerrero got back into the action it was not long before the referee stopped the contest on the 1.38 mark after he had been decked for the fourth time by a left-right.

30 March 2013. Gennady Golovkin w rsc 3 Nobuhiro Ishida.

Venue: Star Rooms, Monte Carlo, Monaco. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Stan Christodoulou.

Fight Summary: While coming to make a fight of it, Ishida (158½) ultimately played into the champion's hands. Seemingly happy to swap punches with Golovkin (159½), in the second round it was clear that this was not a wise move by Ishida when he was forced to take several heavy lefts to the head, one of which left him with a cut under the right eye. It was more of the same in the third before Golovkin dropped Ishida with a terrific right to the jaw that left his rival hanging through the ropes with his head on the ring apron. With Ishida clearly out to the world the referee stopped the contest immediately to allow him medical treatment, the finish being timed at 2.20.

30 January 2013. Daniel Geale w pts 12 Anthony Mundine.

Venue: Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Robert Byrd.

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

Fight Summary: Avenging his only defeat in the paid ranks while making a successful defence of his remaining title, Geale (159¾) proved too good and too busy for the 37-year-old Mundine (158½) this time round. Working non-stop throughout, Geale pressured Mundine to such a degree that he was not able to get his best punches off, and several times he was spoken to by the referee for use of foul tactics. Winning three or four rounds at most, the former champion was beaten comprehensively.

19 January 2013. Gennady Golovkin w rsc 7 Gabriel Rosado.

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

Fight Summary: Handed the title when Daniel Geale was stripped, this was Golovkin’s first defence. On the back foot from the opening bell in order to negate the champion's power as best he could, Rosado (159) put on a good showing until being stopped. With Golovkin (160) coming in behind the left jab throughout to hammer in lefts and rights Rosado was gradually worn down, but not before he had landed some good punches of his own. Hurt in the sixth, the cut on his right eye bleeding badly, Rosado held out for a while before being rescued by the referee at 2.27 of the seventh after his corner threw the towel in when his vision was badly impaired.

20 October 2012. Peter Quillin w pts 12 Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam.

Venue: Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Eddie Claudio.

Scorecards: 115-107, 115-107, 115-107.

Fight Summary: This was N'Dam N'Jikam’s first defence of the title he was given after Dmitry Pirog had been stripped, and he took the opening three sessions by dint of good left hand work before running into trouble in the fourth. Dropped twice by left hooks that found the mark, N'Dam N'Jikam (159) hit the floor twice more from what were called slips before coming back swinging hard. Having held up in the fifth the Cameroonian was floored twice more in the sixth, the left hook and a right doing the damage. Recovering well, N'Dam N'Jikam bravely fought it out with Quillin (159¼) during the next five sessions, only to be battered to the deck twice more by heavy lefts in the 12th prior to hearing the final bell.

15 September 2012. Sergio Martinez w pts 12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr.

Venue: Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Tony Weeks.

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

Fight Summary: Putting on a master class, despite injuring his left hand in the fourth, Martinez (159), the holder of The Ring Championship Belt, was just too good for the WBC champion, Chavez (158). For round after round Martinez had confused Chavez with his southpaw stance, moving him around and belting him with shots to head and body, almost without a care in the world. Prior to the final session only one judge had given Chavez a round. Unable to get near Martinez for 11 rounds, suddenly in the 12th Chavez, his left eye closed, was in with a chance after catching the Argentine with two heavy blows that left him slumped on the ropes. Following up, Chavez smashed Martinez to the floor with three hard lefts, and although the latter made it to his feet and then survived another drop which was classified as a slip he lasted out the round.

1 September 2012. Daniel Geale w pts 12 Felix Sturm.

Venue: Pilsner Arena, Oberhausen, Germany. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.

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

Fight Summary: In a battle to unify two championship belts, the IBF champion, Geale (158¾) beat Sturm (158¾), the WBA title holder, by a split decision in a tough fight that saw the latter impressing with the jab in the early rounds before he was overhauled by the Aussie. Both men landed heavily with rights and lefts and both remained upright. By the seventh it was noticeable that Sturm was tiring as Geale stayed at close quarters working the body, and although the German came back with some quality punches he could not match his opponent's quantity.

 

Also on 1 September, at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino, Verona, New York, USA, Gennady Golovkin stopped Grzegorz Proksa inside five rounds to retain his WBA ‘second tier’ title.

 

At The Arena, Manchester, England, on 24 November, Martin Murray stopped Jorge Navarro inside six rounds to win the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title.

 

After Geale was stripped by the WBA on 1 November for deciding to defend against Anthony Mundine instead of Golovkin, the latter was handed the title.

16 June 2012. Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr w rsc 7 Andy Lee.

Venue: Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Laurence Cole.

Fight Summary: It was Lee (159¼) who got away the better, banging in a solid southpaw jab and countering well before the champion found his way inside in the third. From thereon in it was two-fisted fighting all the way with Lee ahead on the cards coming into the seventh. Although Chavez (159) complained of cramp prior to the seventh, once the session was underway he was all business, battering Lee around the ring until the referee rescued the latter on the 2.21 mark after a cracking right to the chin had sent him to the floor.

1 May 2012. Dmitry Pirog w pts 12 Nobuhiro Ishida.

Venue: Krylatskoe Sports Complex, Moscow, Russia. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Manuel Maritxalar.

Scorecards: 119-109, 120-108, 117-111.

Fight Summary: Sticking to his game plan, the champion was soon banging out the jab and cutting up rough inside as the 35-year-old Ishida (157¾) tried to get to grips with him. Despite being cut over the right eye in the ninth, Ishida was still willing, constantly lunging in to get punches off. Even though the margin of victory for Pirog (158) was wide Ishida came to fight and was always competitive.

 

Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam won the vacant WBO ‘interim’ title when outpointing Max Bursak over 12 rounds at the Marcel Cerdan Sports Palace, Levallois-Perret, France on 4 May.

 

When Pirog forfeited the WBO title on 25 August after he had signed to meet Gennady Golovkin for the latter’s WBA ‘second tier’ championship, N'Dam N'Jikam was appointed champion.

13 April 2012. Felix Sturm w rtd 9 Sebastian Zbik.

Venue: Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Raul Caiz.

Fight Summary: Although Zbik (160) went well in the opening three rounds, attacking the champion from head to body, by the fourth he was beginning to lose ground. At that point Sturm (159½) had found his jab, while his left hook was giving Zbik plenty to worry about. Still aggressive, Zbik was always a danger despite his eyes starting to swell, but by the ninth Sturm was in complete control. Looking tired, and with his vision impaired, Zbik was retired by his corner at the end of the ninth after Sturm had continued to step up the pace.

 

On 12 May, Gennady Golovkin stopped Makoto Fuchigami inside three rounds to retain his WBA ‘second tier’ title at the Terminal Ice Palace, Brovari, Ukraine.

17 March 2012. Sergio Martinez w rtd 11 Matthew Macklin.

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Eddie Cotton.

Fight Summary: Getting away well, the southpaw holder of The Ring Championship Belt caught Macklin (158) heavily several times before the latter came back with good punches of his own. In the fourth, after catching Martinez (157½) with a solid shot the Englishman was almost floored in what was becoming a tough fight. Despite being dropped in the seventh by a corking right uppercut Martinez was soon back in business, hammering away at Macklin who was rapidly tiring when coming into the ninth. By the 11th it was clear that Macklin had shot his bolt, and after being dropped twice by hard lefts he was retired by his corner at the end of the session.

7 March 2012. Daniel Geale w pts 12 Osumanu Adama.

Venue: Derwent Entertainment Centre, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Jack Reiss.

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

Fight Summary: Immediately taking control of the fight at the opening bell, the champion was soon pushing Adama (159) back with fast right hands and left hooks. Occasionally Adama caught Geale (159½) with solid shots, but the Aussie soon gained his momentum. As the pace fell off in the final few sessions, instead of trying to take Adama out Geale was happy to box conservatively with the jab in order to run the clock down. Although Adama had put up a good display and was complimented by Geale as being extremely tough, he lacked the necessary skills required to become champion.

4 February 2012. Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr w pts 12 Marco Antonio Rubio.

Venue: The Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lupe Garcia.

Scorecards: 116-112, 118-110, 115-113.

Fight Summary: Once again the champion used the regulation of weighing-in a day earlier to his advantage when coming into the ring 21lbs heavier than Rubio (159). Going head-to-head with Chavez (159½) the hard-hitting Rubio matched his fellow-Mexican for pace and power for much of the contest before finding the weight discrepancy working against him towards the end. Even then Rubio hurt Chavez in the tenth and 11th, but ultimately it was the latter's body work and better conditioning that saw him walk off with the unanimous decision.

2 December 2011. Felix Sturm drew 12 Martin Murray.

Venue: SAP Arena, Mannheim, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Stan Christodoulou.

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

Fight Summary: In his second defence running Sturm (159¾) came close to losing his title to an Englishman as Murray (159¼) ran him close. Had Murray not lost the opening two rounds when taking his time he would have been crowned champion. From the fourth onwards Murray began to get to Sturm, especially with solid rights, and in the eighth the German was stunned by a terrific left hook. However, showing his experience Sturm hung on in to come back strongly in the final two sessions to just about scrape home on a split draw. In the final moments of the bout Sturm hammered Murray with heavy rights, but had left any chance of a stoppage win far too late.

 

A few days later, on 9 December, at the Ballsaal Intercontinental Hotel, Dusseldorf, Germany, Gennady Golovkin knocked out Lajuan Simon in the opening round to retain the WBA ‘second tier’ title.

19 November 2011. Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr w rsc 5 Peter Manfredo.

Venue: Reliant Arena, Houston, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Laurence Cole.

Fight Summary: After a slow opening round, Chavez (159¾) started the second strongly, belting in blows to head and body that put the challenger on the back foot. In spite of the pressure being exerted on him, Manfredo (159½) came back in the fourth with rights to head and body, which he repeated at the start of the fifth before being forced to take some heavy shots as Chavez hit back. With Manfredo under a relentless attack as Chavez threw everything at him the referee eventually stopped the fight at 1.52 of the session.

1 October 2011. Sergio Martinez w co 11 Darren Barker.

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

Fight Summary: Starting well against the holder of The Ring Championship Belt, Barker (159½) picked up several rounds with the jab and rights over the top before coming under pressure as the fight wore on. Having shown a certain amount of caution, Martinez (158) began stepping it up from the sixth onwards as Barker tired. By the ninth Barker was being rocked by heavy right hooks, and in the 11th he was counted out at 1.29 of the session after being floored by a solid right to the side of the head that left him on his knees. Even though he was behind on points at the finish, Barker had boxed commendably against the southpaw champion.

25 September 2011. Dmitry Pirog w rtd 9 Gennady Martirosyan.

Venue: Olympic Palace of Sport, Krasnodar, Russia. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Viktor Panin.

Fight Summary: Towering over his challenger, Pirog (159½) controlled the fight from the opening bell with hard lefts going in up and down, the body shots being most effective. Although Martirosyan (157¾) landed hard blows himself, he was normally the receiver. Coming into the fourth Martirosyan was already cut on the right eye, and although fighting on gamely his corner pulled him out of the contest at the end of the ninth round after he had continued to ship punishment.

31 August 2011. Daniel Geale w pts 12 Eromosele Albert.

Venue: Derwent Entertainment Centre, Hobart, Australia. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Tony Weeks.

Scorecards: 117-111, 119-109, 116-112.

Fight Summary: Making his first defence Geale (159½) proved too good for the hardy Albert (158) who, despite coming forward for the majority of the time, was forced to take solid counters from both hands. While Albert's aggression earned him a few rounds as Geale took a break, in the main all of the good work came from the latter. By the ninth Albert was open-mouthed, having taken some hurtful blows up and down, but he gamely fought on to the final bell.

25 June 2011. Felix Sturm w pts 12 Matthew Macklin.

Venue: Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Stan Christodoulou.

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

Fight Summary: Taking the fight to Sturm (159) from the opening bell, looking to find holes in the champion's defences, Macklin (159¾) was extremely busy. By the middle stages Macklin was still going well, but his punches were beginning to lack bite as Sturm came back into the action. Although Sturm came on strongly to take the last three sessions in a grandstand finish, there were many who thought Macklin's earlier good work should have been better rewarded.

4 June 2011. Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr w pts 12 Sebastian Zbik.

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

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

Fight Summary: Defending the title he had been awarded after the WBC had placed Sergio Martinez on 'emeritus' status, Zbik (158¾) lost it at the first time of asking when dropping the majority decision to Chavez (160), the son of a famous father of the same name. Almost a stone heavier than Zbik when the fight started, due to rehydration, was clearly unfair and almost certainly gave Chavez an advantage. There were no knockdowns, but both men gave it plenty, with Zbik scoring with 391 punches to Chavez's 256 according to CompuBox. There was no doubt that Zbik proved to be a good ring technician, but most of his shots were to the head, whereas Chavez worked mainly on the body, a tactic that eventually wore the champion down. With all three judges giving Chavez the final three sessions that was where the fight was won.

7 May 2011. Daniel Geale w pts 12 Sebastian Sylvester.

Venue: Jahn Sports Forum, Neubrandenburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Randy Neumann.

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

Fight Summary: Making a fast start, Geale (159) moved in on Sylvester (159¾) from the opening bell in an effort to take the play away from a champion fighting on home territory. There was never much between them despite what the cards said, Geale throwing plenty of leather while Sylvester looked to pick single shots. In the seventh Geale began catching Sylvester from varying angles as he began to pick up his work-rate, but the latter stood firm and hit back. At the end of the day it was Geale who held up better to take the final three sessions and the split decision. In the wake of the verdict, Sylvester admitted that he had been outworked and had not been prepared for Geale's style of fighting.

26 March 2011. Dmitry Pirog w pts 12 Javier Maciel.

Venue: DIVS Sports Palace, Ekaterinburg, Russia. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Benjy Esteves Jnr.

Scorecards: 115-112, 117-110, 116-111.

Fight Summary: Showing a sound defence, the challenger turned out to be a tough nut for Pirog (159¼) to crack when taking him all the way. It was only when Pirog started working the body in the fourth that he began to have some joy, but back came Maciel (156¼) with some solid shots of his own, especially in the eighth. Returning the compliment, Pirog landed heavily in the ninth before dropping a point in the tenth for elbowing his opponent. All to play for in the final two sessions, it was Pirog who outgunned the Argentine to take the unanimous decision in what was generally seen as an off night for him.

12 March 2011. Sergio Martinez w rsc 8 Serhiy Dzinziruk.

Venue: Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: The Ring. Referee: Arthur Mercante Jnr.

Fight Summary: Meeting a fellow southpaw for the second time in a row, the 36-year-old holder of The Ring Championship Belt both started and finished strongly against Dzinziruk (158¾), whom he stopped at 1.43 of the eighth. Taking control from the start, Martinez (158¾) took the opening three sessions by dint of forceful jabs before having Dzinziruk over in the fourth when the latter touched down. He then dropped Dzinziruk in the fifth following a cracking left to the head. Although Dzinziruk came back well in the next two sessions he came unstuck in the eighth when a right to the head put him down for a count of 'five'. After being dropped twice more from another solid right and then a left hook to the head the referee came to Dzinziruk's rescue. Martinez also received a WBC diamond belt on winning.

19 February 2011. Felix Sturm w rsc 7 Ronald Hearns.

Venue: Porsche Arena, Stuttgart, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Raul Caiz Jnr.

Fight Summary: In what was his ninth defence, against Hearns (159¼), the son of the famous Thomas, Sturm (159¼) was not expected to be at risk, and that was the case as he cruised to a stoppage win in the seventh. Controlling matters most of the way, Sturm bided his time before picking it up in the sixth when hurting Hearns with solid blows just prior to the bell. Not hanging around at the start of the seventh, Sturm belted away with both hands until finding a big right hand to the head that floored Hearns. After taking a quick look at Hearns the referee called it off after 48 seconds of the session without bothering to take up the count.

 

On 2 April, Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam outpointed Giovanni Lorenzo over 12 rounds at the Sports Palace, Le Cannet, France to make a successful defence of his WBA ‘interim’ title, while on 17 June at the Roberto Duran Arena, Panama City, Panama, Gennady Golovkin stopped Kassim Ouma in the tenth round to retain his WBA ‘second tier’ title.

 

At the end of January 2012, N'Dam N'Jikam relinquished his WBA ‘interim’ title to put himself in line for a crack at Dmitry Pirog, the WBO champion.

20 November 2010. Sergio Martinez w co 2 Paul Williams.

Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBC/The Ring. Referee: Earl Morton.

Fight Summary: A match-up between southpaws saw the champion come out on top when knocking out Williams (156), a former two-time holder of the WBO welterweight title, at 1.10 of the second. Contested at catchweights due to both men being natural light middleweights, it was soon clear that this one would not last with the punches going in thick and fast almost from the opening bell. It was much the same in the second until Martinez (157½) found a sweeping left to the jaw that ended matters there and then.

 

Unable to defend against the WBC ‘interim’ champion, Sebastian Zbik, due to his contractual agreements with HBO, the television network, Martinez forfeited the title on 11 January 2011. Desperate not to lose Martinez completely, the WBC handed him the term ‘emeritus’ title holder’ while, at the same time, promoting Zbik to full championship status. Regardless of this, Martinez continued to be recognised by The Ring magazine as being the best man in the world at the weight.

30 October 2010. Sebastian Sylvester w pts 12 Mahir Oral.

Venue: Stadium Hall, Rostock, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Marlon Wright.

Scorecards: 117-107, 119-106, 117-107.

Fight Summary: Having given away the opening round to Oral (159¾), the champion began to find his feet before hurting his Turkish-born opponent in the fourth with a solid straight right that shook him to his boots. Although he did not go down, Oral took so many solid shots that two of the judges marked it a 10-8 round. From thereon in it was all Sylvester (159¾), despite being badly cut over the right eye from a clash of heads. Working the body well Sylvester softened Oral up, and in the eighth, ninth and 11th he had the latter over from such punches while on his way to a convincing points win.

4 September 2010. Felix Sturm w pts 12 Giovanni Lorenzo.

Venue: Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.

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

Fight Summary: As soon as the contest was underway Lorenzo (158¼) set up an attack to take the play away from Sturm (159), but it was not long before the champion got himself into gear, his speed, movement and quality punching proving to be a match winner as early as the second round. It was soon clear that Sturm was content to outbox Lorenzo, who won three rounds at most, and as the rounds passed by solid left jabs, coupled to body shots and rights to the head softened the Dominican up. Surprisingly, Lorenzo's team even thought that their man had won, although on reflection they would have realised that aggression is not everything.

 

Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam outpointed Avtandil Khurtsidze over 12 rounds at the Port of Versailles Sports Palace, Paris, France on 30 October to win the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title.

 

Golovkin went on to make a successful defence of his WBA ‘second tier’ title on 16 December when knocking Nilson Julio Tapia out in the third round at the Daulet Sports Complex, Astana, Kazakhstan.

31 July 2010. Dmitry Pirog w rsc 5 Daniel Jacobs.

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

Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Sergio Martinez had been stripped of the belt, the favourite, Jacobs (159), was shockingly beaten after 57 seconds of the fifth. Although starting well enough Jacobs was rescued by the bottom rope in the second, having been caught by an overarm right and solid left to the head, and should have been counted on. That was certainly a warning that Pirog (160) was dangerous, but after ignoring it and sailing through the fourth Jacobs was smashed to the floor by another big right only a round later. After counting up to 'six', the referee called the fight off to allow Jacobs medical attention.

5 June 2010. Sebastian Sylvester drew 12 Roman Karmazin.

Venue: Jahn Sports Forum, Neubrandenburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Mufadel Elghazaoui.

Scorecards: 118-111, 111-117, 114-114.

Fight Summary: Showing a high work-rate the challenger gave Sylvester (159½) all the trouble he could handle when running him to a split decision draw. While Karmazin (157¾) was always working hard, banging in shots from either hand, Sylvester used a solid jab in an effort to keep him away. Having been outworked in several rounds despite landing heavily, Sylvester eventually went to the front in the final three sessions when hurting Karmazin with several heavy blows and cutting him on the left eye. Regardless of the decision, there were many who thought that Karmazin deserved better.

17 April 2010. Sergio Martinez w pts 12 Kelly Pavlik.

Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBC/WBO/The Ring. Referee: David Fields.

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

Fight Summary: Following a hand infection and weight-making difficulties, Pavlik (159½) put his three championship belts on the line against Martinez (159½), the current WBC junior middleweight champion. Using his speed to get inside Pavlik's long reach, the southpaw challenger took the opening four rounds before coming under fire in the seventh when dropped by a short right uppercut. Pavlik had already begun the fightback in the fifth and he took the next three sessions on the cards. However, after cutting Pavlik under both eyes in the ninth Martinez poured it on to the final bell to make sure that the title went his way. A week later, Martinez handed back his WBC junior belt in order to concentrate on the middleweights.

 

Also on 17 April, Sebastian Zbik successfully defended the WBC ‘interim’ title when outscoring Domenico Spada over 12 rounds at the Borderland Hall, Magdeburg, Germany.

 

On 1 June, Martinez was stripped of his WBO title when failing to decide within a reasonable time frame whether or not he would continue to campaign in the 160lbs weight class or remain in the junior middleweight division. Following that, Dmitry Pirog and Daniel Jacobs were signed up to contest the vacant WBO title.

 

Another successful defence of the WBC ‘interim’ title for Zbik came on 31 July when he outpointed Jorge Heiland at the O2 World Arena, Hamburg, Germany.

30 January 2010. Sebastian Sylvester w rsc 10 Billy Lyell.

Venue: Jahn Sports Forum, Neubrandenburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Earl Brown.

Fight Summary: Coming in at short notice for Pablo Navascues, who failed a drugs test, Lyell (156¾) put up spirited resistance against a champion who let him off the hook several times prior to the contest coming to an end in the tenth. Sylvester (159¾) started well enough, landing heavy shots from both hands in the opener and cutting Lyell's nose badly in the second, before easing off as the rounds went by. Following the eighth, which Lyell took on aggression, Sylvester picked it up in the ninth before the referee stopped the contest 36 seconds into the tenth session after the American's corner showed the towel. At the time of the stoppage, Lyell had been badly hurt by a heavy left-right and was under severe attack.

19 December 2009. Kelly Pavlik w rsc 5 Miguel Angel Espino.

Venue: Beeghly Centre, Youngstown, Ohio, USA. Recognition: WBC/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Steve Smoger.

Fight Summary: Despite giving his all the brave challenger did not have the tools to beat Pavlik (160), who met him with solid blows from either hand that had destruction written all over them. At the end of the opener Espino (159) was deducted a point for punching after the bell, and in second and third when the two men went head-to-head Pavlik was cut on the right eye. It hardly made any difference to Pavlik, who twice dropped Espino with right uppercuts in the fourth before going to town in the fifth. The fight ended after Espino, who had been floored for a count of 'five' by lefts and rights, continued taking a beating until the referee brought matters to a halt at 1.44 of the session on the instructions of the latter's corner.

 

On the same day, Sebastian Zbik successfully defended the WBC ‘interim’ title against Emanuele Della Rosa when winning on points over 12 rounds at the Sport & Congress Centre, Schwerin, Germany.

19 September 2009. Sebastian Sylvester w pts 12 Giovanni Lorenzo.

Venue: Jahn Sports Forum, Neubrandenburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: David Fields.

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

Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Arthur Abraham decided to move up a division, it was Sylvester (159¼) who became the new champion after outscoring the tough Lorenzo (160). Right from the opening bell Sylvester made it his fight, his speed and movement leaving Lorenzo nonplussed at times. Although Lorenzo was always dangerous with solid hooks from either hand, many of which missed, Sylvester boxed with intelligence and the belief that he could make his punches count.

11 July 2009. Felix Sturm w pts 12 Khoren Gevor.

Venue: Nurburgring Race Track, Nurburg, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Jean-Louis Legand.

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

Fight Summary: Fighting flat out, the southpaw challenger gave Sturm (159¼) all the problems he could handle, plus some more. In a difficult contest to score all three judges plumped for Sturm, while there were many who thought Gevor (159¾) had done enough. Making the fight from the opening bell Gevor did not leave Sturm alone, realising that he had to get inside if he wanted to win. Although taken out of his stride, it was Sturm who produced the better quality before being taken to hospital suffering a haematoma to his right ear.

 

Gennady Golovkin won the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title when knocking out Milton Nunez in the opening round of their contest at the Roberto Duran Arena, Panama City, Panama on 14 August 2010, prior to being promoted to ‘second tier’ status on 14 October 2010.

27 June 2009. Arthur Abraham w rsc 10 Mahir Oral.

Venue: Max Schmeling Hall, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Earl Brown.

Fight Summary: It was Oral (158¾) who started the better in this one, taking the opening three rounds when outboxing the champion. Having woken up in the fourth Abraham (159¾) set up Oral with some solid body shots before dropping him with a right to the head, and he repeated the knockdowns in the fifth and sixth. Strangely, when Oral was put down in the fifth the referee called it a slip. Although Oral came back well in the seventh by the tenth he was a spent force. With Abraham concentrating on the body, Oral was floored an additional three times, more from exhaustion than anything else, before the referee stopped the contest at 1.23 of the session after the towel was thrown in.

 

When Abraham relinquished the IBF title on 11 July in order to compete in the ‘Showtime’ super middleweight tournament, Sebastian Sylvester and Giovanni Lorenzo were signed up to find a new champion. Sylvester was the IBF international champion, having beaten Lajuan Simon (w pts 12 at the Max Schmeling Hall on 27 June) on the undercard of Abraham versus Oral, while Lorenzo had beaten Dionisio Miranda (w co 2 Prudential Centre, Newark, New Jersey, USA on 27 February) in an eliminating contest.

25 April 2009. Felix Sturm w rsc 7 Koji Sato.

Venue: Konig Sports Palace, Krefeld, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.

Fight Summary: In a battle of left hands, the champion ultimately showed himself to be a cut above Sato (159¾). Although Sato threw some solid shots, Sturm (159) always appeared to be in control of the situation, especially when landing with better quality. Suffering from a rapidly swelling right eye Sato fought back hard, but in the seventh it was all over when he was driven into a corner following a terrific left hook to the body and rescued by the referee with 14 seconds of the session remaining.

14 March 2009. Arthur Abraham w pts 12 Lajuan Simon.

Venue: Ostee Hall, Kiel, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Benjy Esteves Jnr.

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

Fight Summary: Sticking with the champion all night, Simon (157¼) proved to be a tough man to dislodge, and despite being push-punched to the canvas in the third he was quickly back into the action. Not deterred, Simon continued to make a nuisance of himself, banging in left hooks when and where he could, while the poorly conditioned Abraham (159¾) looked to take time out. Despite being unable to put Simon away, the points were always with Abraham.

21 February 2009. Kelly Pavlik w rtd 9 Marco Antonio Rubio.

Venue: Chevrolet Centre, Youngstown, Ohio, USA. Recognition: WBC/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Frank Garza.

Fight Summary:  Starting as he meant to carry on, the champion walked into Rubio (160) with a solid jab that continually pushed him back. It was only in the sixth that Rubio began to let the punches go, but that was it. The seventh saw Pavlik (159) take back command of the situation and at the end of the ninth Rubio was retired by his corner when they decided that their man had taken enough. Pavlik, who won every round, showed yet again that his long left jab was paramount to his success.

 

At the Race Arena, Nurburg, Germany on 11 July, Sebastian Zbik outpointed Domenico Spada over 12 rounds to win the vacant WBC ‘interim’ title.

8 November 2008. Arthur Abraham w rtd 6 Raul Marquez.

Venue: JAKO Arena, Bamberg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Wayne Kelly.

Fight Summary: Boxing at his best Abraham (159¾) was too good for his southpaw challenger, who was simply not up to the task in hand. The problem for Marquez (160) was that he just could not handle Abraham's power and was continually forced to give ground as the latter bored in. Already showing wear and tear, when Marquez was cut over the right eye in the fifth things got progressively worse for the American. Despite there being no warning of what was to come, Marquez was retired at the end of the sixth when it was clear to his corner that it was his only option.

1 November 2008. Felix Sturm w pts 12 Sebastian Sylvester.

Venue: Koenig Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Guillermo Perez Pineda.

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

Fight Summary: Once again Sturm (159½) proved to be the master boxer, his left hand finding holes in the challenger's defence all night long. There was no doubting that Sylvester (159½) came to win and he fought strongly at times, but he was forced to take punches when opening up. Even though Sturm speeded up towards the end, throwing both hands, Sylvester was still there right in front of him, always looking to unload. At the final bell, although soundly outscored it was Sylvester who got the plaudits for his game display.

5 July 2008. Felix Sturm w pts 12 Randy Griffin.

Venue: Gerry Weber Stadium, Halle, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Guillermo Perez Pineda.

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

Fight Summary: Much improved from their earlier contest, this time round Sturm (159½) established his jab from the start to outbox the challenger in virtually all rounds other than the third, eighth, ninth and 12th. Although Griffin (159¾) never stopped trying to find a chink in Sturm's armour he was unsuccessful even if his aggression was impressive. Afterwards, Griffin was sure he had won, but had Sturm packed more power the American would never have reached the final bell.

7 June 2008. Kelly Pavlik w rsc 3 Gary Lockett.

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

Fight Summary: Hurt in the opening round things got worse for Lockett (159½) in the second as Pavlik (159) used his big reach advantage to bang in blows from both hands, the challenger being forced to take a knee on two occasions to limit the damage. In the third after giving it one last effort, when Lockett was dumped from a left-right to the head the referee stopped the contest at 1.40 of the session. The decision was effectively made for him when the Welshman's corner threw the towel in.

5 April 2008. Felix Sturm w rsc 7 Jamie Pittman.

Venue: Castello Castle-Keeper Arena, Dusseldorf, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Russell Mora.

Fight Summary: Showing plenty of spirit the southpaw challenger gave it his best shot, throwing plenty of leather in the early sessions, but after his right eye was cut and swollen in the third things became even tougher as Sturm (158¾) picked his punches and waited for the inevitable to happen. Pittman (160) looked as though he had nothing left in the fifth after being floored by a left to the body, but he made it into the sixth only to be knocked over again. Gamely continuing, when Pittman was dropped by a right-left in the seventh the referee humanely called it off 36 seconds into the session.

29 March 2008. Arthur Abraham w co 12 Elvin Ayala.

Venue: Sparkassen Arena, Kiel, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Roberto Ramirez.

Fight Summary: After making his usual slow start the champion was back on equal terms coming into the fifth, and although knocking Ayala (159¾) down in that session the latter was soon on his feet and going well. Showing excellent defensive skills and a good jab, Ayala was making life tough for Abraham (159¾), who was clearly not at his best. Coming into the final session, Abraham, well in front, finally caught up with Ayala, and after a cluster of punches put the latter down he was counted out with just 28 seconds of the fight remaining. On review it was discovered that it was Abraham's left forearm that had administered the kayo blow.

 

Due to meet his mandatory challenger, Raul Marquez, on 4 October, the fight had to be postponed due to Abraham going down with flu on the morning of the contest.

8 December 2007. Arthur Abraham w rsc 5 Wayne Elcock.

Venue: St Jakob Hall, Basle, Switzerland. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Wayne Kelly.

Fight Summary: Having gone well for the opening four rounds despite being knocked over in the second by a right to the head, Elcock (159) came out for the fifth with no little confidence after inducing a swelling over the champion's right eye, courtesy of solid jabs. As a known slow starter Abraham (160) had merely been biding his time, and in the fifth a cracker of a right hand sent Elcock into the ropes for a standing count. Still not recovered, Elcock was then caught by a crashing right hand followed by a left hook that saw the referee call the contest off at 1.58 of the session with the latter stunned and held up by the ropes.

20 October 2007. Felix Sturm drew 12 Randy Griffin.

Venue: Gerry Weber Stadium, Halle, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Guillermo Perez Pineda.

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

Fight Summary: Clearly a gruelling contest, Sturm (159¾) just about held on to his title as Griffin (159½) took him all the way. Attacking throughout, throwing punches from both hands, Griffin made life difficult for Sturm. Having been taken out of his stride Sturm eventually upped his work-rate and went back to his boxing, and had he not taken the last two sessions he would have lost his title.

29 September 2007. Kelly Pavlik w rsc 7 Jermain Taylor.

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

Fight Summary: Aiming to get his hands on three championship belts, Pavlik (159½) walked into the champion from the bell only to be dropped in the second after being caught heavily on the head and follow-up blows. Somehow getting through all the punches coming his way to reach the end of the round, Pavlik came back strongly to take the next two sessions before Taylor (159) picked it up to win the fifth and sixth when utilising his boxing skills. In the seventh Pavlik showed what a powerful puncher he was when slamming in a tremendous right to the head that had Taylor staring into oblivion, and when two further heavy blows dropped the latter the referee stopped the contest immediately. The finish was timed at 2.14.

 

A return match made six pounds above the middleweight limit saw Pavlik outpoint Taylor over 12 rounds at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada on 16 February 2008.

18 August 2007. Arthur Abraham w rsc 11 Khoren Gevor.

Venue: Max Schmeling Hall, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Pete Podgorski.

Fight Summary: In a hard-fought encounter, Abraham (160) had to pull out all the stops to overcome his southpaw challenger who came to fight. It was not until the fifth that Abraham got into gear, shaking Gevor (160) up in the sixth with a left-right, and going up a gear. However, Gevor kept going despite being hurt on several occasions before coming undone in the 11th. Hurt by a big left hook in that session, Gevor was rescued by the referee at 2.41 after another heavy left hook had deposited him on the deck in a crumpled state.

30 June 2007. Felix Sturm w pts 12 Noe Tulio Gonzalez Alcoba.

Venue: Porsche Arena, Stuttgart, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Roberto Rodriguez.

Scorecards: 120-108, 118-110, 116-112.

Fight Summary: Making his first defence a successful one, Sturm (159¾) took control from the opening bell when scoring well with the jab as Gonzalez Alcoba (159½) had difficulty breaking down his rigid defence. For round after round it followed the same pattern, and even after the eighth when Gonzalez Alcoba was tired and ready to be taken Sturm let him off the hook when continuing to take no risks. It was only in the 12th that Sturm followed up his openings, but Gonzalez Alcoba survived. The third round was probably Gonzalez Alcoba's best when concentrating on the body, and his punching was solid enough to leave the right side of Sturm's face bruised and swollen by the end.

26 May 2007. Arthur Abraham w rsc 3 Sebastien Demers.

Venue: JAKO Arena, Bamberg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Ernest Sharif.

Fight Summary: Coming back after suffering a broken jaw in his last contest, Abraham (160) soon picked it up against the limited Demers (159), who had done most of his fighting in a lower division. Getting to grips with Demers in the third, Abraham hurt his man with a cluster of blows before dropping him with a solid right to the head. Although Demers made it up, once he had stumbled the referee immediately called it off, the finish coming with just three seconds of the session remaining.

19 May 2007. Jermain Taylor w pts 12 Cory Spinks.

Venue: FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Recognition: WBC/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Michael Ortega.

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

Fight Summary: Putting his three championship belts up for grabs against a crafty southpaw in Spinks (159¾), the holder of the IBF junior middleweight title, once again Taylor (159¾) was disappointing in a fight that never took off. With Spinks always moving on the back foot and ducking low when coming forward, Taylor had great difficulty in lining him up. All the harder punches of the fight came from Taylor and how one of the judges had Spinks winning nine rounds was beyond most of the observers.

28 April 2007. Felix Sturm w pts 12 Javier Castillejo.

Venue: Koenig Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Raul Caiz Jnr.

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

Fight Summary: Castillejo (158¼) was making his first defence after being handed back the title when Mariano Carrera was stripped. In a return match, Sturm (159½) gained revenge for a previous defeat when moving well and countering Castillejo to good effect. It was clear that Castillejo was the harder puncher, but Sturm came back strongly from the seventh onwards to rack up the points. Although Castillejo took the last two sessions it was not enough, and had he concentrated on the body things may have been different.

9 December 2006. Jermain Taylor w pts 12 Kassim Ouma.

Venue: Alltel Arena, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. Recognition: WBC/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Frank Garza.

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

Fight Summary: Defending his three championship belts Taylor (159½) was always in control of the tough Ouma (158½), who though continually trying was too small to do serious damage. Boxing a lazy fight, Taylor allowed his southpaw challenger back into it at times, especially in the remaining three sessions. Cut on the left eye in the fifth, Taylor used his five-inch reach advantage to negate rather than attack, only coming to life in the last minute of each round. In the main, while Taylor looked lethargic at times Ouma could take much credit from his performance.

2 December 2006. Mariano Carrera w rsc 11 Javier Castillejo.

Venue: Estrel Congress Centre, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Guillermo Perez.

Fight Summary: Castillejo was making his first defence after the WBA had decided not to recognise Jermain Taylor any longer. Concentrating on the body, Castillejo (159½) was on the border line several times before being deducted two points, in the fourth and the tenth. Both men were taking and giving plenty throughout, but in the 11th Castillejo was badly hurt after a left hook and three-punch combination from Carrera (159½) opened him up. With Carrera banging in punches without return the referee rescued Castillejo on 2.25 mark.

 

The Spaniard was reinstated as champion on 23 February 2007 after a second drug sample taken from Carrera tested positive for a banned substance, the result being reclassified as a no contest.

23 September 2006. Arthur Abraham w pts 12 Edison Miranda.

Venue: Rittal Arena, Wetzlar, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Randy Neumann.

Scorecards: 114-109, 115-109, 114-109.

Fight Summary: In what was an extremely tough, close fight, Abraham (160) had to fight on with a broken jaw from the fourth, while the challenger threw his chances of winning away when being deducted five points, two in the fifth for butts, two in the seventh and one in the 11th for low blows. Had Miranda (160) not been so wild with his deliveries the title would have been his, but he lacked the control required to close the fight down. Even though Abraham looked as though he was done for on several occasions he would come back strongly to hold Miranda off.

 

Immediately after the contest Abraham was taken to hospital to have his jaw operated on, following which he would be out of the ring for eight months.

17 June 2006. Jermain Taylor drew 12 Ronald Wright.

Venue: FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBC/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Frank Garza.

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

Fight Summary: With his four championship belts on the line, Taylor (160) appeared lucky to retain them after his southpaw challenger cruised through the final session instead of making sure of the points. Wright (159¾) had taken the fight to Taylor from the beginning, outjabbing the latter for much of the time, but was forced to take heavy blows in return. Despite being the harder puncher, Taylor, whose left eye was almost closed at the final bell, was never able to build up momentum as Wright continually took him to the ropes and negated his power. The Boxing News stated "Wright fought hard for 33 minutes and tamely for the last three", having thought that all he had to do to was remain on his feet.

 

On 15 July, Javier Castillejo, a former two-time WBC junior middleweight champion, stopped Felix Sturm in the tenth round to take the latter’s WBA ‘second tier’ title at the Color Line Arena, Hamburg, Germany. Castillejo was handed full title status on 14 December when the WBA decided not to recognise Taylor as their ‘super’ champion any longer. The WBA’s decision was made after Taylor was matched against Kassim Ouma, an opponent who failed to meet their criteria.

13 May 2006. Arthur Abraham w pts 12 Kofi Jantuah.

Venue: The Stadium, Zwickau, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Robert Byrd.

Scorecards: 115-112, 117-110, 116-111.

Fight Summary: Starting slowly, Abraham (160) was forced to take some heavy shots in the early sessions before taking over from his challenger at the halfway stage, solid jabs and blows from head to body taking him to the front. Being deducted a point in the seventh for punching behind the head barely concerned Abraham as he continued banging in punches that hurt Jantuah (158¾) and forced him to hang on. Jantuah even came back to stun Abraham in the tenth with a cracking right to the jaw, but ultimately lacked the weapons required to win.

4 March 2006. Arthur Abraham w pts 12 Shannan Taylor.

Venue: EWE Arena, Oldenburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Wayne Kelly.

Scorecards: 120-107, 120-107, 120-106.

Fight Summary: Losing every round on all three scorecards and having a point deducted in the sixth for repeated low blows made it a bad night for the challenger, who never looked like disturbing Abraham (159¾). While Taylor (159½) kept out of serious trouble it was more to do with Abraham conserving his energy than anything else. Hurt in the fourth by body shots and again in the ninth, Taylor kept his boxing together without ever being in a position to take over.

10 December 2005. Arthur Abraham w rsc 5 Kingsley Ikeke.

Venue: The Arena, Leipzig, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Samuel Viruet.

Fight Summary: Contesting the vacant title Abraham (159) proved too good for Ikeke (159), starting faster and getting his punches off better, especially the right over the top followed by a left hook. Although the taller Ikeke tried hard enough he could not get going. In the fifth Ikeke was caught by a heavy right-left-right combination that saw him eventually stumbling to the floor after the referee had waived it over with 84 seconds of the session remaining.

3 December 2005. Jermain Taylor w pts 12 Bernard Hopkins.

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBC/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Jay Nady.

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

Fight Summary: As in their first contest there was nothing between them, both men showing each other too much respect, and many of the rounds were so closely contested that they could have gone either way. With neither man looking like going down, much of the action was plain boring. Boxing News got it right when they reported that Taylor (159), the champion, won by default, with Hopkins (160) relying on one big punch to finish it rather than busying himself.

 

At the Color Line Arena, Hamburg, Germany on 11 March 2006, Felix Sturm outpointed Maselino Masoe over 12 rounds to take over the Western Samoan’s WBA ‘second tier’ title.

16 July 2005. Jermain Taylor w pts 12 Bernard Hopkins.

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

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

Fight Summary: Regardless of the fact that most experts had the champion winning, and despite the ridiculous last round score from one of the judges that if corrected would have meant that Hopkins (160) retained his belts, the real problem was in the latter getting his tactics wrong and allowing Taylor (160) too much leeway. Having let Taylor build up a fair lead by the end of the eighth, when Hopkins at last realised that he had to get busy he took the last four sessions on all cards other than the one already mentioned. However, it was not enough. There were no knockdowns, but the fight stats over 12 rounds showed that Hopkins landed 96 to Taylor’s 86, while in the last four sessions the champion connected with 56 to the challenger’s 23. Prior to this, Hopkins had made 20 successful defences of the IBF title.

 

When Taylor relinquished the IBF title on 11 October due to contractual problems, Arthur Abraham and Kingsley Ikeke were matched to decide a new champion.

19 February 2005. Bernard Hopkins w pts 12 Howard Eastman.

Venue: Los Angeles, California, USA. Recognition: World/The Ring. Referee: Raul Caiz Jnr.

Scorecards: 119-110, 117-111, 116-112.

Fight Summary: Unable to find the answer to the ageless champion’s ability to control a fight, Eastman (159½) was beaten by a fairly substantial points margin, never really showing up. It was a case of Hopkins (159½) having just too much of everything, and although Eastman took the fight to his rival he never forced home any attack which might have left him open to the counters. With Hopkins picking his punches before moving out of range as the challenger predictably stalked him, the contest was hardly exciting. Although Eastman was never embarrassed it was a bridge too far for him.

18 September 2004. Bernard Hopkins w co 9 Oscar De La Hoya.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: World/The Ring. Referee: Kenny Bayless.

Fight Summary: At the age of 39 Hopkins (156) put his WBA, WBC and IBF titles, as well as The Ring Championship Belt, up for grabs against De La Hoya (155), the WBO champion, in a match that would unify the title for the first time since 1986. In contention during the opening four rounds, having disrupted Hopkins’ rhythm when snapping in four or five blows to the body before making off, De La Hoya was looking to move on. However, by round five he was running into stiff lefts. As each round came and went it was apparent that De La Hoya was having trouble getting inside Hopkins’ jab. Not only that, but the latter’s size and strength was also beginning to bother him. Having won the last two rounds on all the cards Hopkins began to step it up in the ninth, and following a solid left jab he stepped inside with a cracking left hook to the body that sent De La Hoya down to be counted out at 1.38 of the session. Afterwards, De La Hoya, who had never been floored by a blow to the solar plexus before, said that the punch had paralysed him.

5 June 2004. Oscar De La Hoya w pts 12 Felix Sturm.

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Vic Drakulich.

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

Fight Summary: Making his debut in the 160lbs division, De La Hoya (160) started brightly when winning four of the opening five rounds before the champion picked up his work-rate to make the contest a close-run thing. Had Sturm (160) turned southpaw earlier than the 11th he might well have won as De La Hoya found himself under a little bit of pressure, especially when being forced to take solid right uppercuts. However, the fight was really decided by the fact that De La Hoya threw punches in clusters, mixing them up from head to body, while Sturm, in the main, concentrated on single shots. De La Hoya became a world champion at six different weights on winning, having been an undefeated WBO champion at junior lightweight, an undefeated IBF/WBO champion at lightweight, an undefeated WBC champion at junior welterweight, a WBA/WBC champion at welterweight and a WBC champion at junior middleweight.

5 June 2004. Bernard Hopkins w pts 12 Robert Allen.

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

Scorecards: 119-107, 119-107, 117-109.

Fight Summary: Clearly the superior man, the champion took on an old opponent in Allen (160), being happy to box his way to an easy points win until struck low in the fifth. While Allen was deducted a point for the infringement, Hopkins (159) upped the pace, dropping his rival with a crashing right to the head in the seventh. Although Allen was on his feet at ‘six’, Hopkins went after him before settling down again to box his way home against a dangerous southpaw. All the quality punches came from Hopkins, his body punching and fast lead rights making sure that he would be the man to face the winner of Oscar De La Hoya v Felix Sturm in a battle to unify the division.

20 December 2003. Felix Sturm w pts 12 Ruben Varon.

Venue: Ostsee Hall, Kiel, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Roberto Ramirez.

Scorecards: 120-108, 120-108, 118-110.

Fight Summary: Sturm (159¾), making his first defence, gave an excellent display of boxing as he outclassed Varon (158¾) from start to finish, breaking his nose and cutting him over the right eye. Although Varon started as though he meant business, landing a few solid left hooks, he was soon being contained and outboxed by the stronger Sturm who surprisingly failed to go for a stoppage win when it had looked imminent. Content to take no risks, Sturm won every round on the cards.

13 December 2003. Bernard Hopkins w pts 12 William Joppy.

Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Earl Morton.

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

Fight Summary: Although Joppy (159) went the distance, winning a side-bet, despite there being no knockdowns the champion was far too good for him. Pacing himself superbly Hopkins (160) was on top in virtually every round bar the seventh when Joppy scored with a hard right uppercut, and by the eighth he was back controlling his rival from the centre of the ring. Coming out for the 11th, his left eye swelling up, Joppy gave it one final go before being forced to take a sustained beating right through to the final bell.

 

On 1 May 2004, at the Jai-Alai Fronton, Miami, Florida, Maselino Masoe stopped Evans Ashira inside two rounds to win the WBA ‘second tier’ title that had been vacated following Joppy’s defeat.

13 September 2003. Felix Sturm w pts 12 Hector Velazco.

Venue: Estrel Convention Centre, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Rocky Burke.

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

Fight Summary: Putting up his title for the first time after being appointed champion, Velazco (159¼) took on Sturm (158¾) who came in as a late substitute for the injured Bert Schenk. Coming out in a southpaw stance before switch-hitting throughout, and showing much cleverness, Sturm took an early lead despite being chased all over by Velazco. With the Argentine just not getting enough punches off it was Sturm doing the better work even though he was boxing on the back foot and landing with no real snap. Whenever he had to Sturm took Velazco’s best shots, being good value for the split-decision win.

29 March 2003. Bernard Hopkins w rtd 8 Morrade Hakkar.

Venue: First Union Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Frank Cappuccino.

Fight Summary: In what was a bad mismatch it was soon clear that Hakkar (159) did not belong in the same ring as the champion when sprinting around the perimeter and barely stopping to land punches. Having somehow got through five rounds, Hakkar dropped down in the sixth after taking a body shot, and with Hopkins (158½) failing to go to a neutral corner and the referee not spotting it he was probably resting on one knee for about 20 seconds. Twice in the seventh the Frenchman was on the floor without a count. In the eighth he went down again without the referee bothering to call it a knockdown. With Hopkins working the head and body when Hakkar slumped on his stool at the end of the session his corner retired him.

6 April 2002. Harry Simon w pts 12 Armand Krajnc.

Venue: Bygningen Circus Arena, Copenhagen, Denmark. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Michael Ortega.

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

Fight Summary: The contest was fairly even during the opening few rounds, but eventually Simon (159) established a reasonable lead, his solid combination punches being effective despite not hurting the champion. A great competitor, Krajnc (159½) was always up for it, looking as strong as when he started at the final bell. However, it was Simon, a former undefeated WBO junior middleweight title holder, who had the quality. There were no knockdowns.

 

With Simon failing to make a defence following injuries sustained during a car crash, Hector Velazco forced Andras Galfi to retire at the end of the seventh round to win the vacant WBO ‘interim’ title at the Luna Park Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina on 10 May 2003.

 

Velazco was appointed champion on 29 June 2003 after Simon was stripped when it was recognised that he had not fully recovered and still had legal issues to be sorted out.

2 February 2002. Bernard Hopkins w rtd 10 Carl Daniels.

Venue: Sovereign Centre, Reading, Pennsylvania, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Frank Cappuccino.

Fight Summary: Attacking Daniels (160) from the opening bell the champion continued to march forward for ten rounds as his cute southpaw opponent stayed on the back foot for most of the time. When Hopkins (158¾) did manage to close Daniels down, the latter took what was on offer. It was only in the ninth that Daniels began to ship heavy punishment, blows to head and body sending him lurching round the ring. At the end of the tenth, which he had somehow managed to get through, Daniels made the decision not to continue knowing he had no chance of winning.

 

On 10 October, William Joppy, who retained the WBA ‘second tier’ title when stopping Naotaka Hozumi inside ten rounds at the Ryogoku Sumo Arena, Tokyo, Japan, would be Hopkins' next challenger.

3 November 2001. Armand Krajnc w pts 12 Paolo Roberto.

Venue: Hanse Hall, Lubeck, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Joachim Jacobsen.

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

Fight Summary: Shrugging off a bad start when he was rocked by a right hook to the jaw, the champion, beginning to dictate matters, took control after the third round as Roberto (160), a hard-hitting southpaw, ran out of ideas. In the sixth Roberto was lucky to be still in the fight after a tremendous right to the head had him all over the place, but he stuck at it when surviving to the final bell as Krajnc (160) tired.

29 September 2001. Bernard Hopkins w rsc 12 Felix Trinidad.

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

Fight Summary: After an opening round in which he had good look at the new WBA champion, Hopkins (157) moved up several gears to gradually take Trinidad (158½) apart prior to stopping him at 1.42 of the 12th. Hopkins was just far too good for Trinidad, whether it be boxing or fighting. Stumbling around in the 11th it was clear that Trinidad was almost finished for the night, and in the final session Hopkins opened up with both hands before sending his man down heavily with a short right to the jaw. Although Trinidad struggled up at ‘nine’, on seeing that he was not ready to continue the referee decided the fight was over.

 

Hopkins was awarded The Ring Championship Belt at the end of 2001. With the WBA recognising Hopkins as a ‘super’ champion, William Joppy took over their ‘second tier’ title when outpointing Howard Eastman over 12 rounds at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada on 17 November.

12 May 2001. Felix Trinidad w rsc 5 William Joppy.

Venue: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Arthur Mercante Jnr.

Fight Summary: Moving up a weight to take on Joppy (158¾) for his WBA title, the former undefeated IBF and WBA junior middleweight champion made the transition without a hitch, starting well by dropping his rival with heavy left-right combinations towards the end of the first. From there onwards it was all one-way apart from in the third when Joppy made a big effort to take Trinidad (159½) out of the fight with heavy right hands. Coming straight back in the fourth Trinidad decked Joppy for the mandatory ‘eight’ count with a big left hook before going to work in similar vein in the fifth. Trinidad was now totally on top, ripping in blows to head and body, and after pounding away at Joppy the latter crashed to the floor from a right to the jaw. At this point the referee called the fight off on the 2.25 mark when the stricken fighter somehow got to his feet at ‘four’ in no condition to continue. Thus Trinidad, who was also a former undefeated IBF/WBC welterweight title holder, joined the ranks of three-weight world champions.

14 April 2001. Bernard Hopkins w pts 12 Keith Holmes.

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

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

Fight Summary: In a contest that would unify the IBF and WBC titles, Hopkins (159) took over Holmes’ WBC crown when winning virtually every round even after having a point deducted for low blows in the fifth. In that session Holmes (157½) was given about a minute’s rest, but it made no difference. There were no knockdowns as such, despite Holmes, who also suffered a cut to his left eye in the fifth, going down on one knee on four occasions. Holmes was taken out of his stride throughout by Hopkins, who waged a physical battle right from the start. Although the clever southpaw, realising that he was way behind, tried to match his rival in the latter stages he was put in his place after being bombed to head and body by heavy punches.

2 December 2000. William Joppy w rsc 4 Jonathan Reid.

Venue: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Joe Cortez.

Fight Summary: As a late substitute for Guillermo Jones and then Julio Garcia, the unbeaten Reid (160) proved no match for the champion, being totally outclassed. On the back foot from the beginning Reid got through the opening two rounds unscathed before he was blasted to the floor in the third by a salvo of punches and then saved by the bell when under another heavy attack. With it being more of the same in the fourth, when Joppy (159½) smashed Reid down with a solid left-right combination the referee immediately stopped the fight with 17 seconds of the session remaining.

1 December 2000. Bernard Hopkins w rsc 10 Antwun Echols.

Venue: Venetian Casino & Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Tony Weeks.

Fight Summary: Following on from their previous dramatic encounter it was no surprise that the pair started brawling almost from the start. In the second round when the champion put Echols (160) down for at least 30 seconds from a punch to the back of the head, the referee neither counted nor deducted points before telling them to fight on. Then, in the sixth, with decisions going against him the challenger picked Hopkins (158½) up and body slammed him. Hopkins was hurt but consented to fight on, while Echols had two points taken away. After Hopkins had been pushed to the floor in the seventh he came back strongly to batter Echols through the ropes for a count, the latter being saved by the bell. Both men were throwing heavy blows from there on before Hopkins, who had lost a point for holding in the eighth, forced the referee to rescue the badly battered and tottering Echols at 1.42 of the tenth session.

7 October 2000. Armand Krajnc w rsc 6 Bert Schenk.

Venue: Estrel Convention Centre, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: James Condon.

Fight Summary: Having lost his title through injury, Schenk (159½) was given the opportunity to regain it when meeting the current champion, Krajnc (159), but unfortunately for him he was eventually found wanting. Starting slowly, the southpaw Schenk lost the first two rounds before getting back into the fight when winning the third and fourth with solid counters proving effective. He was also going reasonably well in the fifth, but halfway into the session he was in trouble, and after taking a heavy right hook to the head followed by a body shot in the sixth he dropped to his knees. Back on his feet, having taken a mandatory ‘eight’ count, Schenk merely covered up before the referee stopped the fight on the 2.51 mark when he was not hitting back.

 

Further to reports that Krajnc had split from his management and renounced his WBO title during the summer of 2001, when the championship was declared vacant a match was made between the WBO junior middleweight champion, Harry Simon, and Hacine Cherifi. The contest went ahead at the Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum, Bayamon, Puerto Rico on 21 July 2001, Simon outpointing Cherifi over 12 rounds of a fight billed for the vacant title. However, when it later transpired that Krajnc had not vacated the championship, despite a letter from his lawyer to that effect, the WBO was eventually forced to accept that Simon v Cherifi was merely an ‘interim’ championship fight. The WBO then stated that the winner of a projected Krajnc v Paolo Roberto contest would have to defend against Simon.

16 September 2000. William Joppy w pts 12 Hacine Cherifi.

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

Scorecards: 119-106, 118-107, 118-107.

Fight Summary: According to the reports the fight was never close, Cherifi (159) winning just one round - the fifth - and being dropped twice before going down heavily on all the cards. Right from the start it was clear that Cherifi was in for a hard night when Joppy (160) walked into him throwing solid uppercuts and combinations. Although Cherifi came through the attack and stoically resisted the champion’s efforts to finish early, he was dropped in both the eighth and ninth rounds before being smashed to the floor just as the bell rang to end the ninth. Regardless of the fact that the knockdown did not count Cherifi was left badly stunned, but he somehow made it to the final bell despite taking a battering all the way. To make matters even worse for the Frenchman was a point deduction in the sixth for hitting on the break.

20 May 2000. William Joppy w rsc 1 Rito Ruvalcaba.

Venue: Grand Casino, Tunica, Mississippi, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Fred Steinwinder.

Fight Summary: Up against the WBA’s mandatory challenger, Joppy (157¼) made a fast start when sending the hapless Mexican back on his heels from the first two blows of the fight. Although Ruvalcaba (155¾) remained upright it was clear that he was unlikely to be around much longer as Joppy wound up the punches, and after slamming in three big rights that catapulted him off the ropes the referee stopped the contest with 67 seconds of the first round remaining.

13 May 2000. Bernard Hopkins w pts 12 Syd Vanderpool.

Venue: Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Bill Page.

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

Fight Summary: Coming in at late notice after the champion’s original opponent, Brian Barbosa, was injured, Vanderpool (160) made a reasonable fist of it without ever looking likely to win despite taking the opening three rounds. According to The Ring magazine, Hopkins (158½) was strangely passive for a fighter looking to be considered among the elite and while he opened up at times, because he never went after the southpaw Canadian with a vengeance, the fight became messy. In the third, sixth and seventh rounds both men were on the floor together. Towards the end, in the 12th, Hopkins began to place his punches better, and after he had got Vanderpool up against the ropes the referee jumped between them. It looked like Hopkins was getting a stoppage win, but it turned out that the referee thought he had heard the final bell which went moments later.

29 April 2000. Keith Holmes w rsc 11 Robert McCracken.

Venue: The Arena, Wembley, London, England. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Alfred Asaro.

Fight Summary: Being inactive for over a year did not help the challenger’s cause when trying to wrest the title from Holmes (158). Boxing off the back foot Holmes’ southpaw skills were too much for the brave McCracken (159½), who was dropped by a hard left to the side of the head in the third before cuts appeared around both eyes and his left eye began to close in round five. Although McCracken tried to find a way through Holmes’ defences it was not his night, and even after the American had a point deducted for holding in the tenth he came on strongly to have the Brummie stumbling and on the verge of going down. There was little action in the 11th, but when McCracken’s left eye began to worsen the referee gave it a few moments before calling the fight off on the 2.24 mark.

11 March 2000. Armand Krajnc w co 2 Jonathan Corn.

Venue: Hanse Hall, Lubeck, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mark Nelson.

Fight Summary: Putting up his title for the first time, Krajnc (159¾) wasted little time in going for Corn (159¾), and by the end of the opening round it already looked as though the little known American would not be around for much longer. Picking up where he left off Krajnc was soon letting the punches go and, after chasing his man down, heavy blows to the head saw Corn almost knocked out of the ring before being counted out at 1.29 of the second.

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