Super Middleweight World Championship Fights & Title Claims

Full super middleweight fight details from 1984 to April 2016 (plus heavy, cruiser and light heavy) are available in this 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

 

28 September 2018. Callum Smith w co 7 George Groves.

Venue: King Abdullah Sports City Arena, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.

30 June 2018. Gilberto Ramirez w pts 12 Roamer Alexis Angulo.

Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Gary Ritter.

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

7 April 2018. James DeGale w pts 12 Caleb Truax.

Venue: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Robert Byrd.

Scorecards: 114-113, 114-113, 117-110.

After DeGale handed in his IBF belt on 4 July in order to pursue better opportunities, the ‘interim’ champion, Jose Uzcategui, was promoted to take his place a day later.

17 February 2018. George Groves w pts 12 Chris Eubank Jnr.

Venue: The Arena, Manchester, England. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Michael Alexander.

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

 

Tyron Zeuge successfully defended his WBA ‘second tier’ title when stopping Isaac Ekpo inside two rounds at the Insel Park Hall, Hamburg, Germany on 24 March, before losing it when stopped inside five rounds by Rocky Fielding at the Baden Arena, Offenburg, Germany on 14 July.

17 February 2018: David Benavidez w pts 12 Ronald Gavril.

Venue: Mandalay Bay Events Centre, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Russell Mora.

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

3 February 2018. Gilberto Ramirez w rsc 6 Habib Ahmed.

Venue: Bank of America Centre, Corpus Christi, Texas, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Laurence Cole.

9 December 2017. Caleb Truax w pts 12 James DeGale.

Venue: Copper Box Arena, Hackney, London, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Phil Edwards.

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

Jose Uzcategui forced Andre Dirrell to retire inside eight rounds at the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA on 3 March 2018,  while taking over the latter’s IBF ‘interim’ title.

14 October 2017. George Groves w co 4 Jamie Cox.

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

22 September 2017. Gilberto Ramirez w pts 12 Jesse Hart.

Venue: Convention Centre, Tucson, Arizona, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mike Ortega.

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

8 September 2017. David Benavidez w pts 12 Ronald Gavril.

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

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

27 May 2017. George Groves w rsc 6 Fedor Chudinov.

Venue: Bramall Lane Football Ground, Sheffield, England. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Steve Gray.

Making a successful defence of the WBA ‘second tier’ title, Tyron Zeuge outscored Paul Smith over 12 rounds at the Rittal Arena, Wetzlar, Hessen, Germany on 17 June 2017.

22 April 2017. Gilberto Ramirez w pts 12 Max Bursak.

Venue: SubHub Centre, Carson, California, USA. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Thomas Taylor.

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

14 January 2017. James DeGale drew 12 Badou Jack.

Venue: Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: IBF/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Arthur Mercante Jnr.

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

 

Jack handed back his WBC belt on 18 January in order to box in a higher weight division.

 

Andre Dirrell won the vacant IBF ‘interim’ title when beating Jose Uzcategui by an eighth-round disqualification at the MGM National Harbour Resort & Casino, Oxon Hill, Maryland, USA on 20 May.

30 April 2016. James DeGale w pts 12 Rogelio Medina.

Venue: The Armory, Washington DC, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Malik Waleed.

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

Fight Summary: Up against a tough Mexican challenger, despite taking time out in a few rounds DeGale (167½) did plenty enough to earn the unanimous decision in a contest where he could have had even more control. Switching from his normal southpaw stance on several occasions, DeGale impressed with his work to the body as well as dishing out some hefty right uppercuts to the head, one such blow in the ninth stunning Medina (167¾). Not daunted, Medina kept on going forward, especially in the last two sessions when he worked hard enough to win them. However, it was too late to change matters, DeGale having already made sure of the win.

30 April 2016. Badou Jack drew 12 Lucian Bute.

Venue: The Armory, Washington DC, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lupe Garcia.

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

Fight Summary: Pitted against a former 36-year-old champion in Bute (167), Jack (167½) was expected to be too much of a handful for his challenger regardless that he was only four years younger. Although Bute, who was cut over the right eye in the third, came forward for much of the time he often failed to pick up on openings and was forced to take jabs and point-scoring blows in return. Winning the last three rounds on the cards certainly brought Bute back into the fight, but Jack appeared to have done enough prior to that to warrant more than a majority draw.

9 April 2016. Gilberto Ramirez w pts 12 Arthur Abraham.

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

Scorecards: 120-108, 120-108, 120-108.

Fight Summary: Making a fast start against Abraham (168), a man known for taking his time to get going, the southpaw challenger was soon picking up points with a sound jab and follow-up punches. Normally, Abraham catches up with opponents, but this time round he found Ramirez (168) just too fast and accurate for him. There were early warning signs that Ramirez could punch hard as well as box, and as much as the 36-year-old Abraham tried he could not get to grips with Mexican. With it going Ramirez's way for round after round it came as no surprise when the shut-out points tally in his favour on all three cards was announced.

20 February 2016. Felix Sturm w pts 12 Fedor Chudinov.

Venue: Koenig Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.

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

Fight Summary: Putting his title on the line for the first time since he was handed it after Andre Ward moved on, Chudinov (168) was the victim of what most ringsiders thought was poor judging when Sturm (167) won the fight by a majority decision. Gaining revenge for a previous defeat at the hands of Chudinov, the former IBF/WBA/WBO middleweight title holder was certainly better than in their previous contest but was hardly convincing, especially when landing only 143 punches to his opponent's 297. Although Sturm was well in the fight up to the sixth, when he began to tire Chudinov appeared to take over, his body assaults beginning to take effect. Despite Sturm coming with a rush in the final session he appeared not to have done enough.

 

It was reported in April that Sturm had failed the post-fight drugs test and would be asking for sample 'B' to be tested.

 

Giovanni De Carolis held on to his WBA 'second tier' title by the skin of his teeth when drawing over 12 rounds with Tyron Zeuge at the Max Schmeling Hall, Berlin, Germany on 16 July 2016.

 

With no further news on the drugs testing front, Sturm, who had relocated from Germany to Bosnia in the interim, informed the WBA on 5 October that he was relinquishing his title as he was due to undergo elbow surgery and would be out of action for some time.

 

Tyron Zeuge stopped De Carolis inside 12 rounds at the MBS Arena, Potsdam, Germany on 5 November to pick up the latter’s WBA ‘second tier’ title. In defence of the WBA ‘second tier’ title, Zeuge won a fifth-round technical decision over Isaac Ekpo at the same venue on 25 March 2017.

 

Eventually, George Groves was matched against Chudinov to contest the WBA ‘super’ title in May 2017.

28 November 2015. James DeGale w pts 12 Lucian Bute.

Venue: Videotron Centre, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Marlon Wright.

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

Fight Summary: Making his first defence, and in a battle of southpaws, DeGale (167½) came out fast and took the opening three rounds to make sure that he had a good lead. While Bute (167¼) was always dangerous with his power punches the champion was controlling the pace of the fight, often switching to orthodox in an effort to bamboozle his opponent. Sustaining a bad cut over the left eye in the fifth from an accidental clash of heads did not further DeGale's cause, but he put it behind him to concentrate on the job in hand even though Vaseline obstructed his vision for a while. Once he put that behind him, DeGale took the last three sessions, even trading with Bute to make sure of the win.

21 November 2015. Arthur Abraham w pts 12 Martin Murray.

Venue: TUI Arena, Hannover, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Benjy Esteves Jnr.

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

Fight Summary: Hoping for fourth time lucky, having lost three times in world title bouts, Murray (166¼) came up short again despite giving it his best shot. Murray had started well when keeping Abraham (168) on the ropes while firing in lefts and rights, but at the finish it appeared that Abraham's short bursts of punches in each round had impressed two of the judges more than the Englishman's all-round work. Murray also delivered the punch of the night, a cracking right to the head that hurt Abraham in the eighth before he was deducted a point in the 11th for use of the shoulder.

12 September 2015. Badou Jack w pts 12 George Groves.

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

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

Fight Summary: Not making the best of starts, the challenger, having his third crack at a world title, was dropped in the opening session when a Jack (167½) overarm right connected heavily. Despite Groves (168) coming back well with the left jab to put himself in a good position at the halfway stage he started to tire from thereon in, his work becoming ragged. Taking advantage, Jack began to push Groves to the ropes, scoring with more than he took, and although there was never a great deal between them it was Jack who took the split decision. Boxing News, the British trade paper, stated that the punch stats showed Jack to have landed with 210 punches as opposed to Groves' 154.

18 July 2015. Arthur Abraham w rsc 6 Robert Stieglitz.

Venue: Gerry Weber Stadium, Halle, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Earle Brown.

Fight Summary: Despite suffering a broken jaw early on the champion made all the running against Stieglitz (167¼), in what was their fourth meeting, finding the latter with heavy rights and not allowing him room to work. Having gone down in the fourth from what seemed to be more of a slip than a punch as Abraham (167½) moved in aggressively, in the sixth Stieglitz eventually went to the floor after being struck on the temple following several combinations. With Stieglitz's corner asking for a stoppage the referee called the action off at 1.16 of the session.

23 May 2015. James DeGale w pts 12 Andre Dirrell.

Venue: Agganis Arena, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Leo Gerstel.

Scorecards: 114-112, 117-109, 115-112.

Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Carl Froch handed in his belt, DeGale (167¼) became the second British-born Olympic champion to win a version of the world title when he outscored Dirrell (167¾). He would be the first if Lennox Lewis, who won his Olympic gold while boxing for Canada, was not included. Making a great start against his fellow southpaw, DeGale, already cut over the right eye, had his man over twice in the second round following two cracking left hands as he looked for an early stoppage. Having won five of the opening six rounds, for whatever reason DeGale began to ease off, happy to land single punches, and for the next few rounds it was nearly all Dirrell. However, realising he had to do more, DeGale came back strongly in the last two or three sessions to make sure of the win.

24 April 2015. Badou Jack w pts 12 Anthony Dirrell.

Venue: UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Celestino Ruiz.

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

Fight Summary: Having dealt with the champion's early rushes, Jack (167½) gradually eased his way into the fight when trying to take over the inside ground. From the sixth onwards, as Dirrell (167¼) began to tire, it was Jack who started to edge the rounds as he pushed his man back. Having fallen behind it was clear that Dirrell needed a big finish, and although he came on strong Jack matched him punch for punch to walk off with the majority decision.

21 February 2015. Arthur Abraham w pts 12 Paul Smith.

Venue: 02 World Arena, Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Raul Caiz.

Scorecards: 116-112, 117-111, 118-110.

Fight Summary: Winning just three rounds, the third, sixth and 11th, Smith (165½) never came close to dethroning Abraham (167¾) in what was a rematch, and although often matching the champion's aggression he lacked the power to make it pay off. From the fourth onwards Abraham was generally pushing Smith back with two-fisted rushes while looking to unload heavy right hands. Always trying to fight back when he had to, ultimately the brave Smith was unable to turn the fight his way and went down by a wide margin.

27 September 2014. Arthur Abraham w pts 12 Paul Smith.

Venue: Sparkassen Arena, Kiel, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Robert Byrd.

Scorecards: 117-110, 117-111, 119-108.

Fight Summary: Unfortunately the judging left a lot to be desired in this one, Smith (167¼) being much better than the scores suggested with the majority of analysts believing that there was no more than two or three points between them. Abraham (168) did his best work early on when using good jabs and solid right hands as the challenger came onto him, but for several rounds he did little but cover up on the ropes behind a high guard. Smith, who boxed well behind the jab while applying continuous pressure, felt that he was the one making the fight at that stage and should have been rewarded as such.

16 August 2014. Anthony Dirrell w pts 12 Sakio Bika.

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

Scorecards: 117-110, 114-113, 116-111.

Fight Summary: A much needed return saw Dirrell (168) finally get his hands on the title when taking the unanimous decision in yet another rough, tough brawl that left a lot to be desired. It was Dirrell's better boxing that won the day, and he also produced the punch of the fight when shaking Bika (167¾) up in the fifth with a terrific uppercut. While Dirrell was given time out after a punch landed on the top of his head, Bika further upset the referee when having a point deducted in the eighth for low blows.

31 May 2014. Carl Froch w rsc 8 George Groves.

Venue: The Stadium, Wembley, London, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Charlie Fitch.

Fight Summary: Fighting in front of an 80,000 strong crowd, the champion finally settled the argument between him and Groves (166¼) when the referee stopped the contest at 2.43 of the eighth having dispensed with the count with the latter on the floor. The contest had certainly lived up to expectations with both men landing good punches as the action swung to and fro. Coming into the eighth, with Froch (167¾) a round up according to two of the cards, the intensity moved up a gear as the men appeared happy to trade. At this point Groves was showing good footwork when moving out of range at the sign of danger, but when Froch followed him to the ropes, feinting to throw the left hook before landing one, a follow-up howitzer of a right hand landed flush and that was that.

 

Froch relinquished the IBF title on 3 February 2015 in order to pursue a career-defining fight before retiring, thus clearing the way for a James DeGale v Andre Dirrell meeting to decide a new champion.

3 May 2014. Arthur Abraham w pts 12 Nikola Sjekloca.

Venue: Prenzlauer Berg Velodrome, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mark Nelson.

Scorecards: 116-112, 119-110, 116-113.

Fight Summary: Sjekloca (168) made a good start when winning the opening two rounds with the jab as the champion looked to settle. Abraham (167¾) began to get his punches off in the third and dropped two rounds at most from thereon in as Sjekloca was cut under the right eye and took more stick the longer the contest went on. Although Sjekloca gave it his best shot in the 11th and 12th it was never going to be enough, Abraham being happy to cruise to the win. It was stated afterwards that Abraham had badly injured his right hand in the eighth, which would probably explain the reason for his predominant use of the left from that point onwards.

1 March 2014. Arthur Abraham w pts 12 Robert Stieglitz.

Venue: GETEC Arena, Magdeburg, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Genaro Rodriguez.

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

Fight Summary: Meeting Stieglitz (168) for the third time, the aggressive champion won three of the four opening sessions before having his best round in the fifth when taking Abraham (168) to the ropes and pounding him with hard lefts. The sixth, however, saw a resurgence in Abraham, who came right back into the fight with solid counters, and with neither man sure of victory the final round was a slugging match with Stieglitz being forced to the floor and barely able to make it to the bell. Both men were docked a point, Abraham in the eighth for rabbit punching and Stieglitz a round later for holding.

7 December 2013. Sakio Bika drew 12 Anthony Dirrell.

Venue: Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, NYC, New York, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: David Fields.

Scorecards: 114-112, 110-116, 113-113.

Fight Summary: With his back to the wall for much of the time, the champion retained his title even though he was dropped by Dirrell (167½) in the fifth by a right hook and then having a point deducted in the 11th for going low. Showing great durability and mental toughness, Bika (166½) continued to walk through the punches to get his own off, and in the sixth a terrific uppercut saw the challenger hurt and then pinned on the ropes before coming back. At the finish a crestfallen Dirrell felt that he had deserved the verdict, having controlled much of the action with heavy right hands and countering blows.

23 November 2013. Carl Froch w rsc 9 George Groves.

Venue: Phones 4u Arena, Manchester, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Howard Foster.

Fight Summary: In a contest that also involved Froch’s WBA ‘second-tier’ title, Groves (166¾) gave a great display against the teak-tough champion before he was rescued by the referee in the ninth in what was thought by some to be a premature stoppage. Groves made a fast start, just as he said he would, and when Froch (167¾) tried to step in he was caught flush by a cracking right hand to the jaw that deposited him on the floor. Making it to the bell, Froch was more cautious when coming out for the second as Groves boxed sensibly and seemingly in control. Froch came back with some heavy shots of his own in the fifth before Groves matched the champion punch for punch in the next three sessions, both men sending in hard blows. With Groves ahead on all three scorecards, it was in the ninth that Froch finally got to his man after catching him on the temple. Tearing after the challenger, when Froch nailed him with a left hook sandwiched between two heavy rights Groves fell into the arms of the referee who made the decision to stop it. Regardless of the finish, Groves had shown that he belonged at this level and would be back.

19 October 2013. Robert Stieglitz w pts 12 Isaac Ekpo.

Venue: Trade Fair Main Hall, Leipzig, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Eddie Cotton.

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

Fight Summary: Regardless of the fact that Ekpo (164½) made life difficult for the champion by ducking low, his negative tactics were ultimately futile. Controlling the fight from the centre of the ring, Stieglitz (167¾) was well on top by the fourth, his left jab and straight right ripping through Ekpo's defences. Although Ekpo remained dangerous with countering right hands, in the main Stieglitz ignored them to get off his own shots. Under pressure during the last three rounds, Ekpo weathered the storm to hear the final bell.

13 July 2013. Robert Stieglitz w tdec 10 Yuzo Kiyota.

Venue: Energy Composite Arena, Dresden, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Celestino Ruiz.

Scorecards: 100-89, 99-90, 99-90.

Fight Summary: Once the champion had found the range for solid lefts and rights he had settled by the third, despite the hard-hitting Kiyota (167¼) catching him with countering blows. The fourth round saw Kiyota stunned by a series of punches as Stieglitz (168) loaded up before he was deducted a point in the fifth for hitting on the break. Always dangerous when charging in head down, Kiyota was gashed above the left eye in the eighth from one such foray and was eventually pulled out of the fight after 40 seconds of the tenth when blood was restricting his vision. As it had been an accidental clash of heads that had caused the injury the referee went to the cards, the result being in favour of Stieglitz.

22 June 2013. Sakio Bika w pts 12 Marco Antonio Periban.

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

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

Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Andre Ward was forced to give it up due to injury, Bika (167¼) became the new champion after being handed a majority decision over Periban (167¼). In what was Bika's fourth attempt to win a world title, he showed his power from the start, firing in overarm rights and pushing Periban back. However, Periban came back with some good punches of his own in the latter stages, and in the final session he battered away at the tiring Bika who probably saved his bacon when coming back strongly before the final bell. Both men received cuts, Bika on the forehead in the third and on the left eye in the eighth, while the previously unbeaten Periban was also cut in the eighth.

25 May 2013. Carl Froch w pts 12 Mikkel Kessler.

Venue: O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Pete Podgorski.

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

Fight Summary: Gaining revenge for a previous loss at the hands of Kessler (166½), the champion punched his way to a unanimous decision in what was an exciting all-out war with no quarter asked for or given. Both men had come to fight, but it was the power of Froch (167¾) that saw him go to the front, terrific jabs and crunching rights keeping Kessler at bay for much of the time. Kessler, however, threw plenty of solid blows, his best rounds coming in the fourth, sixth, ninth and 11th when he forced Froch into defensive mode on occasion. At the final bell, although the vast majority felt that Froch had won there had never been more than three or four rounds between them, the 118-110 card being way out. Froch took over Kessler’s WBA ‘second tier’ title on his victory.

23 March 2013. Robert Stieglitz w rsc 4 Arthur Abraham.

Venue: GETEC Arena, Magdeburg, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mike Ortega.

Fight Summary: Seen as a huge upset, Stieglitz (168) regained his old title from the man he lost it to when Abraham (167½) was stopped at the end of the third on the ringside doctor’s advice. This time round Stieglitz made a confident start, and although Abraham came back to some degree in the second by the end of the round his left eye was beginning to swell after the challenger had landed a cracking straight right. It became even worse in the third for Abraham, being deducted a point for hitting and holding as Stieglitz gave him a rare pounding as lefts and rights found their mark.

15 December 2012. Arthur Abraham w rsc 8 Mehdi Bouadla.

Venue: Nurnberger Insurance Arena, Bayern, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mark Nelson.

Fight Summary: Making his first defence Abraham (168) soon got down to business, using his left jab and left hook to stop Bouadla (164¾) in his tracks. A tough, walk-forward fighter, Bouadla was dangerous, especially with the left hook, but Abraham always held the upper hand with his extra power and know-how. In round seven Abraham picked it up, terrific right and left uppercuts leaving Bouadla cut over the right eye, and although the referee let things continue at 2.11 of the eighth he brought matters to a halt having seen enough.

17 November 2012. Carl Froch w co 3 Yusaf Mack.

Venue: Capital FM Arena, Nottingham, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Phil Edwards.

Fight Summary: Dropped in the first by a left-right the challenger gamely tried to keep going, but it was patently clear that Froch (167½) was never going to let him off the hook, it being merely a matter of time. Having battered his man throughout the second, at 2.30 of the third the luckless Mack (168) was counted out on his knees after taking four hefty blows to head and body.

8 September 2012. Andre Ward w rsc 10 Chad Dawson.

Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California, USA. Recognition: WBA/WBC/The Ring. Referee: Steve Smoger.

Fight Summary: Although he started the better of the pair, his extra height and reach to the fore, Dawson (168) soon found himself on the receiving end, being dropped in the third after taking a solid right to the body followed by a left hook to the head. There would be no let-up for Dawson in the fourth, and he was put down again after Ward (168) had lined him up with another left hook to the head. Despite the three-belt champion being just too fast for Dawson, who had come down from light heavy, the latter gamely plugged away, always looking for a punch that would get him out of trouble. However, after going down on one knee following a thumping five-punch combination in the tenth, the referee stopped the contest at 2.45 of the session when it was clear that Dawson had little left.

 

On 10 November, Stanislav Kashtanov outpointed Server Emurlaiev over 12 rounds at the Druzhba Sports Palace, Donetsk, Ukraine, to win the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title, which had been vacated by Brian Magee in October when he was given the opportunity to challenge Karoly Balzsay for the latter's 'second tier' belt. Unfortunately for Magee the fight was called off twice due to the latter suffering a back injury.

 

In early November, Magee was awarded the WBA ‘second tier’ title, having already been booked to fight Mikkel Kessler on 8 December at the MCH Fair Centre Arena, Herning, Denmark. The fight duly took place, Kessler winning by a third-round stoppage to capture the ‘second tier’ belt.

 

Due to Ward’s long-term shoulder injury, the WBC vacated the title on 11 April 2013. Following that, Ward was named as their ‘emeritus’ champion and told that he would be the prime challenger when fully fit again. However, once the WBC decided that Sakio Bika would be meeting Marco Antonio Periban for the vacant title on 22 June 2013, Ward effectively discarded the ‘emeritus’ tag on a matter of principle. Bika had beaten Nikola Sjekloca (w pts 12 at the Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey on 16 February 2013) in a final eliminator, while Periban had knocked out Samuel Miller (w co 2 at the Grand Oasis Resort, Cancun, Mexico on 16 March 2013) to win the vacant NABF title.

 

When Carl Froch successfully defended his IBF title against Kessler (w pts 12 at the O2 Arena, Greenwich, London on 25 May 2013) he also took over the latter’s WBA ‘second tier’ title.

 

Kashtanov made a successful defence of his WBA ‘interim’ title when knocking out Jaime Barboza inside ten rounds at the Donbass Arena, Donetsk, Ukraine on 24 August 2013, prior to announcing his retirement on 2 September 2014 due to health problems.

 

In a fight in which Ward was down to defend The Ring and WBA belts against Edwin Rodriguez at the Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, California on 16 November 2013, when the latter came in two pounds over the weight it lost its title status. With Rodriguez unable to win the title, Ward cantered to 12-round points win.

 

A week later, on 23 November 2013, Froch made a successful defence of the WBA ‘second tier’ title when defeating George Groves (w rsc 9 at the Phones 4u Arena, Manchester, England), and followed that up with another win over Groves (w rsc 8 at The Stadium, Wembley, London, England on 31 May 2014). On both occasions, Froch's IBF title was also on the line.

 

Following Kashtanov's temporary retirement, Fedor Chudinov won the vacant WBA 'interim' title when knocking out Ben McCulloch in the second round at the Dynamo Sports Palace, Moscow, Russia on 11 December 2014.

 

The Ring Championship Belt was vacated in February 2015 due to Ward not making a defence against a top-five man for over two years.

 

On 9 May 2015, Chudinov outpointed Felix Sturm over 12 rounds at the Festival Hall, Frankfurt, Germany. The contest was originally billed as a defence of Chudinov's WBA 'interim' crown, but after Froch had been stripped two days earlier for not defending the WBA 'second tier' title for almost a year it was the latter belt that was on the line.

 

Further to that, Vincent Feigenbutz captured the vacant WBA 'interim' crown when stopping Mauricio Reynoso inside three rounds at the Gerry Weber Stadium, Halle, Germany on 18 July 2015. Feigenbutz then defended his new belt, outpointing Giovanni De Carolis over 12 rounds at the DM Arena, Karlsruhe, Germany on 17 October 2015.

 

Chudinov made another successfully defence of the WBA 'second tier' title when outpointing Frank Buglioni over 12 rounds at the Wembley Arena, London, England on 26 September 2015. Several weeks later, on 12 November 2015, Chudinov was handed full title status by the WBA after Ward had decided to move up a weight division.

 

Meanwhile, on 9 January 2016, De Carolis stopped Feigenbutz inside 11 rounds of a return match at the Baden Arena, Offenburg, Germany to win the vacant 'second tier' title.

25 August 2012. Arthur Abraham w pts 12 Robert Stieglitz.

Venue: O2 World Arena, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Joe Cortez.

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

Fight Summary: Normally a slow starter Abraham (167¾) got away well when scoring with solid punches, and although the champion came back strongly in the next two sessions he was shaken up in the fourth as well as finishing with a cut over the left eye. With Abraham dominating the next five sessions it was clear that Stieglitz (167¾) had to find a way to turn the tide, but by the tenth his job became even more difficult when cut over and under the right eye. Ultimately the former undefeated IBF middleweight champion's strength and power proved to be too much for Stieglitz.

26 May 2012. Carl Froch w rsc 5 Lucian Bute.

Venue: The Arena, Nottingham, England. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Earl Brown.

Fight Summary: Taking on a champion with a hard-hitting reputation did not bother Froch (167½), who went for his man with heavy hands right from the start. Despite Bute (167¾) scoring well with southpaw lefts in the third Froch walked straight through them, and until the bell rang to end the session Bute had been on the verge of being stopped, one of the judges making it a 10-8 round. By the end of the fourth Bute looked all-in and it was a surprise that he came out for the fifth. Realising it was his for the taking Froch unleashed punch after punch on the unfortunate Bute, who was being belted along the ropes when the referee decided to give him an 'eight' count. However, when it became clear that Bute was unable to defend himself properly the referee called it off at 1.05 of the session.

5 May 2012. Robert Stieglitz w pts 12 Nader Hamdan.

Venue: Fair Hall, Erfurt, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Dave Parris.

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

Fight Summary: A late substitute for the injured George Groves, Hamdan (167) found it hard going against the fast-moving champion and went down by a wide points margin. Showing his customary stiff left jab Stieglitz (166¾) dominated his opponent, who made life easier for him by attacking in straight lines and was made to take heavy combinations as a consequence. For Stieglitz it was little more than a routine defence, while the 38-year-old Hamdan proved yet again that he was a difficult man to stop inside the distance.

14 January 2012. Robert Stieglitz w pts 12 Henry Weber.

Venue: Baden Arena, Offenburg, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Andre Van Grootenbruel.

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

Fight Summary: Starting fast, throwing accurate left jabs and combinations, the champion maintained the pace throughout to romp off with the decision over Weber (166¾), a man who had never gone beyond eight rounds. The outclassed Weber, boxing behind a high guard, occasionally got through with stiff punches, but there were never enough of them to unduly worry Stieglitz (167½), who marched on to a prospective defence against Arthur Abraham.

17 December 2011. Andre Ward w pts 12 Carl Froch.

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

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

Fight Summary: The final of the 'Super Six Tournament’ saw the WBA and WBC titles at stake as well as the vacant Ring Championship Belt. In unifying two belts, Ward (168), the WBA title holder, showed genuine ringcraft when beating the WBC’s Froch (167½), his ability to get off punches and move out of range showed him to be one of the best in a long line of champions. Froch was never out of the fight but was unable to find any rhythm, and in order to land he was often prepared to throw many wasteful punches. In the last two sessions as Ward tired Froch gave it everything he had, but was unable to find the finishing blow he so desperately required that would turn certain defeat into victory.

 

Brian Magee successfully defended his WBA ‘interim’ title with a fifth-round stoppage win over Rudy Markussen at the Brondby Hall Arena, Copenhagen, Denmark on 18 February 2012.

 

Karoly Balzsay made a successful defence of the WBA ‘second tier’ title when stopping Dimitri Sartison in the 12th round at the Sport & Congress Centre, Schwerin, Germany on 21 April 2012.

 

It was announced by the WBC on 27 April 2012 that they were giving Ward ‘champion in recess’ status on the grounds that he had broken his hand last time out and it needed time to heal. Although there had been rumours that Ward was considering giving up the WBA and WBC Championship Belts, believing that The Ring Championship Belt was far more prestigious and he was not really interested in defending against Anthony Dirrell, with two months left to make a defence the WBC’s actions were surprising to say the least. All of that was forgotten when he signed up to defend all three belts against Chad Dawson in September 2012.

5 November 2011. Lucian Bute w pts 12 Glen Johnson.

Venue: Pepsi Coliseum, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Mark Nelson.

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

Fight Summary: Having sparred many rounds together made for a poor fight, the champion deciding early on that he would not take any chances with the 42-year-old Johnson (166½), who defended well with a high guard. Happy to outspeed and outwork his opponent, Bute (167½), cruised to a near shut-out win in a contest that was remarkable for the fact that there were virtually no signs of the body attacks that had he had built his reputation on.

9 July 2011. Lucian Bute w co 4 Jean-Paul Mendy.

Venue: Romexpo Arena, Bucharest, Romania. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Marlon Wright.

Fight Summary: Yet again meeting a fellow southpaw, the champion took his time before finishing Mendy (166) off. It was quickly apparent that the veteran Mendy had little to offer, other than pushing out lefts and rights, and Bute (167¾), moving in behind the jab in the fourth, smashed home a heavy straight left that sent the Frenchman down to be counted out. The finish was timed at 2.48.

4 June 2011. Carl Froch w pts 12 Glen Johnson.

Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Earl Brown.

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

Fight Summary: Taking time to settle, with Johnson (167½) winning the opening two sessions, Froch (167½) was up and running by the third before having to play second fiddle in rounds six through to seven. From there on, however, the champion was in control, scoring well with bursts of heavy blows from either hand as his veteran opponent began to fade. Following the fight, which had been a semi-final leg of the 'Super Six Tournament’, Froch explained that he had never had to get out of second or third gear and had taken no risks in order to reach the final.

14 May 2011. Andre Ward w pts 12 Arthur Abraham.

Venue: Home Depot Centre, Carson, California. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.

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

Fight Summary: Defending his title in the 'Super Six Tournament' Ward (168) had things almost all his own way, especially after he found that the jab was the best way forward. Unfortunately, Abraham (167), who finished with a badly swollen right eye, was too slow to get to Ward, although he did catch the latter with a couple of cracking hooks in the final session. Ward was just too fast for Abraham, often doubling up the jab to push him back, a tactic that stopped the German from getting set.

 

On 30 July, Brian Magee outpointed Jaime Barboza over 12 rounds at the National Gym, San Jose, Costa Rica, to win the vacant WBA ‘interim’ title.

 

Karoly Balzsay won the vacant WBA ‘second tier’ title on 26 August, at the Donbass Arena, Donetsk, Ukraine, when outpointing Stanislav Kashtanov over 12 rounds.

9 April 2011. Robert Stieglitz w disq 10 Khoren Gevor.

Venue: Borderland Hall, Magdeburg, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Manfred Kuchler.

Fight Summary: Stieglitz (168) had been due to defend his title against Dimitri Sartison, but when the latter injured a knee a week before the fight he was replaced by Gevor (168). After making a slow start, Stieglitz began to get going in the third, landing solid lefts and rights on his southpaw opponent for round after round. Gevor had already shown his frustration in the sixth following a clash of heads that went unpunished, and in the ninth he threw Stieglitz to the floor. Fortunate not to have points deducted, he was less lucky in the tenth when he was disqualified on the 2.45 mark, having already lost a point for hitting behind the head. The final transgression saw him push Stieglitz to the floor before jumping on top of him and cutting his right eye in the process.

19 March 2011. Lucian Bute w rsc 10 Brian Magee.

Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Pete Podgorski.

Fight Summary: In a match between southpaws, Magee (167¾) made a decent start in the opening five rounds as he marched through the champion's defences, taking some hard head shots to land solid body blows of his own. Regardless of all that he was well down on the cards. Then, in the sixth and seventh he was dropped three times from lefts to the body, one of them being palpably low, before recovering well. Moving up a gear in the tenth, Bute (167¾) finally saw Magee off when a body blow that turned into a left uppercut floored the tough Irishman, who was rescued by the referee at 2.04 of the session.

27 November 2010. Carl Froch w pts 12 Arthur Abraham.

Venue: Hartwall Arena, Helsinki, Finland. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Frank Garza.

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

Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Mikkel Kessler handed in his belt on being given 'emeritus' status, Froch (166¾) scored a virtual shut-out win over the tough Abraham (167¼), who had run out of ideas by the midway stage but continued trying. Keeping Abraham at bay by dint of stiff rights and lefts to head and body Froch produced a master-class performance, later claiming that he never had to get out of second gear. While Froch finished the contest with a swollen left eye, which was a small price to pay for the win, the shell-shocked Abraham knew that he would have to do better when facing up to Andre Ward for the latter's WBA title in the very near future.

27 November 2010. Andre Ward w pts 12 Sakio Bika.

Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Dan Stell.

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

Fight Summary: Making the second defence of his title Ward (168) did not have matters all his own way, being forced to battle hard as a determined Bika (168) gave him no respite. Bika may have lost most of the rounds, but he was always in Ward's face when clubbing in punches from both hands and leaving the champion with cuts over both eyes. No respecter of reputations, Bika's stock went up in this one.

20 November 2010. Robert Stieglitz w pts 12 Enrique Ornelas.

Venue: Freiberger Arena, Dresden, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Joe Cortez.

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

Fight Summary: Although a clear winner the champion was forced to fight back at times as Ornelas (167¾) began to pick holes in his defence with hard punches finding their mark, especially during the last half of the contest. It was during the seventh and eighth that Stieglitz (168) was forced to endure head punches that saw his eyes become swollen, but he showed his mettle when coming back with heavy blows of his own to take the play away from Ornelas, winning four of the last five rounds. Giving it all he had in the 12th, Ornelas won the session but was unable to turn the fight his way.

15 October 2010. Lucian Bute w co 9 Jesse Brinkley.

Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Sam Williams.

Fight Summary: There was no doubting that Brinkley (167¾) came to fight, and he certainly provided Bute (167½) with some problems, but ultimately it was the champion's superior hitting power that undid him. Dropped heavily in the fifth by a cracking southpaw left to the body, Brinkley somehow made it up in time courtesy of a slow count to survive into the eighth round. Cut over the left eye in that session, Brinkley was then dropped for 'eight' by a right uppercut to the jaw before being knocked out in the ninth after a left uppercut had flattened him. The finish was timed at 2.48.

19 June 2010. Andre Ward w pts 12 Allan Green.

Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Raul Caiz.

Scorecards: 120-108, 120-108, 120-108.

Fight Summary: Dominating Green (166) both on the inside and outside, the champion raced to a shut-out points win against this recent addition to the 'Super Six Tournament'. There were no knockdowns, mainly due to Green's toughness, but Ward (167¾) was always looking to work, occasionally switch-hitting while using his fast left jab to home in on the Australian. He also proved he could take a punch, shrugging off an uppercut to the jaw that hurt him in the eighth before going back to work as if nothing had occurred.

 

On 31 July, Dimitri Sartison successfully defended the ‘second tier’ title when outpointing Khoren Gevor over 12 rounds at the O2 World Arena, Hamburg, Germany.

 

Sartison relinquished the ‘second tier’ title on 15 July 2011 after not recovering sufficiently from a bad knee injury in time for a defence against Stanislav Kashtanov.

24 April 2010. Mikkel Kessler w pts 12 Carl Froch.

Venue: MCH Exhibition Centre, Herning, Denmark. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Michael Griffin.

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

Fight Summary: In what was termed by some as a barbaric 'tear up', Froch (167¼) not only lost his title but his unbeaten record as well. The men proved their toughness with no knockdowns scored despite the heavy hitting, although Froch, for whatever reason, failed to follow up several times when he apparently had Kessler (167) going, especially in the sixth. There was never more than a round or two between them regardless of what one of the cards showed, and on another night it could have been different. This night, however, belonged to Kessler, who took advantage of the room he was given early on, made excellent use of his jab and took some heavy shots that would have knocked many men out. Not surprisingly, both finished with cuts over their left eyes and plenty of respect for each other. By the way, the contest belonged to the 'Super Six Tournament’.

 

Due to fight Allan Green in the next leg of the ‘Super Six Tournament’, Kessler was forced to withdraw from the contest at the end of August due to an eye injury which affected his vision. Vacating his WBC title on 10 September and given ‘emeritus’ status, he was told that he would be given the opportunity of regaining his belt when fully fit again. Following that, the WBC announced that Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell would meet for the vacant title, but after much protest Froch, who had beaten the latter, was matched against Arthur Abraham to find a successor.

17 April 2010. Robert Stieglitz w pts 12 Eduard Gutknecht.

Venue: Borderland Hall, Magdeburg, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Manfred Kuchler

Scorecards: 117-111, 119-108, 117-110.

Fight Summary: While showing good hand-speed, the champion was matched by Gutknecht (168) in the opening session, the latter finishing strongly. Stieglitz (167) then started to get into a rhythm, working well with the jab to head and body before being stunned when hit on the back of the head in the fifth. With Gutknecht deducted a point and Stieglitz given time out to recover when the fight got going again it had lost momentum, and despite Stieglitz winning six of the last eight rounds and having his man going at times he was unable to force a stoppage.

17 April 2010. Lucian Bute w rsc 3 Edison Miranda.

Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Ernest Sharif.

Fight Summary: With Bute (167¼) taking the opening two rounds by negating the challenger's power punches, it was only in the third that the fight got going. Although starting the session aggressively Miranda (167) was soon under pressure after taking a cracking left hook to the body, and after shipping heavy southpaw lefts he was sent crashing to the deck by a left uppercut. Getting to his feet after a few seconds, Miranda was rescued by the referee on the 1.20 mark when it was clear that he had been badly hurt.

9 January 2010. Robert Stieglitz w rsc 5 Ruben Eduardo Acosta.

Venue: Borderland Hall, Magdeburg, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Jose Rivera.

Fight Summary: It was the challenger who started the better, despite having come in at short notice, when catching Stieglitz (168) with some big hooks in the opening session. However, Stieglitz soon got his act together, dropping Acosta (167½) with a solid left hook in the third. Clearly hurt, Acosta got through the fourth before being set upon in the fifth. Dropped by a right hook to the body Acosta got up shakily, but with Stieglitz pouring in punches with nothing coming back the referee rescued the Argentine at 1.48 of the round.

28 November 2009. Lucian Bute w co 4 Librado Andrade.

Venue: Pepsi Coliseum, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Benjy Esteves Jnr.

Fight Summary: Having been under intense pressure in their previous bout the champion left nothing to chance this time round, even though he was forced to fight hard in the third round as Andrade (166½) closed the ring down while looking for a quick win. In the fourth, however, Bute (167) stepped up a gear, dropping Andrade with a short southpaw right for 'eight'. Although back on his feet there would be no let-up for Andrade, and he was counted out at 2.57 of the session after being sent crashing from a left uppercut to the solar plexus.

21 November 2009. Andre Ward w tdec 11 Mikkel Kessler.

Venue: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California, USA. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Jack Reiss.

Scorecards: 97-93, 98-92, 98-92.

Fight Summary: Defending his title in another 'Super Six Tournament' pairing, Kessler (167) came unstuck against the extremely gifted Ward (166½), who proved a difficult man to tag with speed to burn, fast hands and the ability to rough an opponent up. Guilty of head butts, Ward should have been deducted points on at least two occasions, but escaped bar a single caution. The head butts certainly played a big part in the fight and led to Kessler being unable to see out of his left eye by the end of the seventh. This worsened in the eighth when Ward's head did further damage, but by this time the challenger was virtually in an unassailable lead. After Ward's head caused a large bump under Kessler's left eye in the tenth, the referee eventually asked the ringside doctor to take look, which led to the fight being stopped at 1.42 of the 11th. Because the second of Kessler's two cuts was ruled to have been caused by an accidental butt the cards were called for. According to Boxing News, the British trade paper, "the referee later stated that the severity of Ward's butts were more apparent when watching them on replay than at first hand."

 

On the same night at the Sparkassen Arena, Kiel, Germany, Dimitri Sartison stopped Stjepan Bozic inside five rounds to win the vacant WBA ‘second tier’ title.

17 October 2009. Carl Froch w pts 12 Andre Dirrell.

Venue: Trent FM Arena, Nottingham, England. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Hector Afu.

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

Fight Summary: In what was part of the 'Super Six Tournament', by the champion's standards it was a bore as both men boxed cagey fights, Dirrell (167½), who had a point deducted in the tenth for holding, being deemed too negative to win the title. It was only in the last two rounds that Dirrell, a southpaw, came to life when showing that his speed of both punch and foot should have made more of his opportunity. Froch (167½), who described Dirrell as a 'nightmare', felt that as he had forced the fight he had deserved the win, while his trainer implied that if you want to win a title in someone else's country you should be more positive and not leave things to chance.

12 September 2009. Mikkel Kessler w rsc 4 Gusmyr Perdomo.

Venue: MCH Exhibition Centre, Herning, Denmark. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Russell Mora.

Fight Summary: Suffering from ring rust after being out of action for ten months, the champion seemed bothered by the taller Perdomo (167¼), a southpaw, at first but soon got his measure. Opening up in the third, Kessler (167¾) began to put his punches together and had Perdomo over in what was described as a flash knockdown. Out quickly in the fourth, Kessler went after Perdomo with a vengeance, and after being hurt by a couple of cracking left-rights the latter was rescued by the referee as he began falling to the floor, eyes glazed. The finish was timed at 51 seconds of the round.

22 August 2009. Robert Stieglitz w rsc 11 Karoly Balzsay.

Venue: SYMA Sport & Leisure Centre, Budapest, Hungary. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Joe Cortez.

Fight Summary: After winning the opening six rounds when boxing well behind the southpaw jab, the champion appeared to go to pieces in the ninth after an old wound on his forehead opened and blood began running into his eyes. It had been a fast-paced contest, and although both men were tiring it was Stieglitz (167¼) who found the extra energy to pound away at Balzsay (166¾), who merely covered up. In the tenth it was more of the same and before the 11th could get underway, with Balzsay still slumped on his stool, his corner informed the referee that their man could not continue. When Balzsay ignored his corner's decision and tried to fight on it was the referee who brought matters to halt after 12 seconds of the 11th.

25 April 2009. Karoly Balzsay w rsc 11 Maselino Masoe.

Venue: Konig Sports Palace, Krefeld, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mark Nelson.

Fight Summary: Although Masoe (167¼) made the opening moves the southpaw champion held him at bay with solid combinations before suffering a cut right eye when heads collided. Keeping calm and collected, Balzsay (196½) used speed and timing to make sure that his right leads found the target on a regular basis. Balzsay finally caught up with Masoe in the 11th, a tremendous right-left sending him crashing, and although he beat the count the referee waved it off on the 2.07 mark, realising that the latter was in no position to defend himself.

25 April 2009. Carl Froch w rsc 12 Jermain Taylor.

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

Fight Summary: Making his first defence, Froch (167) came back from the brink of defeat to score a terrific win over Taylor (166), who was four rounds ahead according to two judges at the end of the 11th. Having taken some heavy shots in the opening two rounds, Froch was dropped by a hard right to the head in the third. It was the first time he had ever taken a count, amateur or pro, but not panicking he was up at 'seven' and back in the contest. With Taylor's left jab being his key punch it was not until the ninth that Froch began making him miss as he began to tire after taking some heavy blows to the body. Although Taylor was definitely slowing by the 11th, it was only in the final session that Froch managed to catch up with him. In what was a race against the clock Froch finally put Taylor down for 'nine' with a couple of smashing right hands, and after belting away at his almost defenceless challenger the referee made the stoppage with just 14 seconds of the fight remaining.

13 March 2009. Lucian Bute w rsc 4 Fulgencio Zuniga.

Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Lindsay Page.

Fight Summary: Putting his previous defence behind him Bute (167½) began to make progress in the second, and in the third he took complete control of Zuniga (167¾) when hammering home solid blows from both hands. The fight came to an end at 2.25 of the fourth after Zuniga had been dropped by a southpaw right uppercut to the body before somehow managing to continue and then being battered by a whole clutch of punches without return. The referee would have been fully justified to have intervened earlier.

10 January 2009. Karoly Balzsay w pts 12 Denis Inkin.

Venue: Borderland Hall, Magdeburg, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Jose Rivera.

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

Fight Summary: Fairly even after four rounds, it was Balzsay (167¼) who picked up the pace in the fifth with fast southpaw jabs beginning to find their mark. In the sixth and seventh Inkin (167¼) was forced to take some heavy left hands as Balzsay caught up with him, but instead of taking the fight to his challenger he failed to take advantage of several openings and lost four of the last five rounds when being outworked.

6 December 2008. Carl Froch w pts 12 Jean Pascal.

Venue: Trent FM Arena, Nottingham, England. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Guido Cavalleri.

Scorecards: 116-112, 117-111, 118-110. 

Fight Summary: In a battle for the vacant title after Joe Calzaghe decided to move up a division, it was Froch (166½) who came home the winner after 12 rounds of pulsating action. Both fighters gave it everything, giving and taking, but it was Froch who was doing the most damage, Pascal (167¾) ending up with his right eye almost closed. It was hard to believe that there were no knockdowns, such was the ferocious power of Froch, and although he carried a cut left eye from the seventh and hurt his right hand he was never going to lose his grip on the fight in front of his home fans.

25 October 2008. Mikkel Kessler w co 3 Danilo Haussler.

Venue: Weser-Ems Hall, Oldenburg, Germany. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Stan Christodoulou.

Fight Summary: Defending the title that had been handed to him after it was relinquished by Joe Calzaghe, Kessler (167¼) was far too good for the brave Haussler (167¼), who was polished off inside three rounds. Right from the start Kessler made it his fight, stunning Haussler with right hands to the head and solid body shots in the second before going to work in the third. The fight came to an end at 1.08 of the session after Haussler had been dropped by a right, left combination and counted out.

24 October 2008. Lucian Bute w pts 12 Librado Andrade.

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

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

Fight Summary: For round after round the champion circled the ring, picking off the tough Andrade (167¾) with southpaw jabs and solid combinations without ever being able to feel secure as the latter merely walked through the punches. In the tenth Andrade was put down when off balance, but was soon up and running as Bute (168) tired rapidly, and from the tenth onwards he surged all over his man. The final session saw Bute staggering around the ring as Andrade looked to finish, and with ten seconds remaining he smashed the champion to the floor. When Andrade failed to get back to a neutral corner quickly enough, by the time the referee took up the count his opportunity had gone.

27 September 2008. Denis Inkin w pts 12 Fulgencio Zuniga.

Venue: Color Line Arena, Hamburg, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mark Nelson.

Scorecards: 117-111, 116-112, 118-110.

Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Joe Calzaghe decided he could not make 168lbs again, it was Inkin (167¼) who took control early on. Although Zuniga (166¼) tried hard his punches were ineffective and failed to stop Inkin's march to the title, one of the judges giving him just one round. There were no knockdowns.

29 February 2008. Lucian Bute w rsc 10 William Joppy.

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

Fight Summary: Having failed to win a round on the cards coming into the ninth, and having taken some solid left hands from the southpaw champion, the 37-year-old Joppy (167¾), both eyes swelling, was up against it. The first knockdown of the fight came in the ninth, Joppy being put down after Bute (167½) dug in several left hooks to the body, and in the tenth he was dropped twice more before the referee came to his rescue at 1.08 of the session.

3 November 2007. Joe Calzaghe w pts 12 Mikkel Kessler.

Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Recognition: WBA/WBC/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Michael Ortega.

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

Fight Summary: With Kessler (168) putting his WBA and WBC titles on the line while Calzaghe (167½) had his WBO crown and Ring Championship Belt up for grabs, it was the latter who came home by a unanimous decision. Although Kessler fought at the top of his game he could never close down the Welsh southpaw, who continually went up the gears and took over completely in the second half when winning five of the last six rounds. Always dangerous, Kessler proved to be a very good fighter, but in Calzaghe he was up against a great one.

 

At the Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia on 10 December, Anthony Mundine knocked out Jose Alberto Clavero inside four rounds to retain the WBA ‘second tier’ title, prior to outpointing Nader Hamdan over 12 rounds on 27 February 2008 at the same venue in another defence. The day after Mundine made a further successful defence, when outpointing fellow Australian Sam Soliman over 12 rounds at the Vodafone Arena, Melbourne, Australia on 28 May 2008, he relinquished the title in order to drop down a weight division.

 

Following that, Kessler knocked out Dimitri Sartison inside 12 rounds at the Brondby Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark on 21 June 2008 to capture the WBA ‘second tier’ title, bearing in mind that Calzaghe continued to be recognised as the ‘super’ champion.

 

On 28 June 2008, Calzaghe relinquished the WBC title to pursue a fight at the light heavyweight limit against Roy Jones, and Carl Froch was eventually selected to meet Jean Pascal to decide the vacant crown. Initially, it had been reported that Froch would be taking on Jermain Taylor, but with the latter’s planned contest against Jeff Lacy virtually signed and sealed Pascal turned down the chance of a WBO ‘interim’ title fight to meet Froch. Meantime, Taylor beat Lacy (w pts 12 at the Vanderbilt University Memorial Gym, Nashville, Tennessee on 15 November 2008) in what was billed as an official WBC eliminator and would meet the winner of Froch versus Pascal.

 

Now that a match against Jones at 175lbs was signed and sealed, Calzaghe relinquished his WBO and WBA titles as well as handing in The Ring Championship Belt on 26 September 2008 as he felt that regardless of his forthcoming contest he would find it too difficult to make 168lbs again. He had made 21 successful defences of the WBO crown. That decision allowed the WBO ‘interim’ title fight scheduled for the next day between Denis Inkin and Fulgencio Zuniga to go ahead for the full title, and saw Kessler promoted to full WBA championship status.

19 October 2007. Lucian Bute w rsc 11 Alejandro Berrio.

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

Fight Summary: On the back foot from the bell, the southpaw challenger found the hard-hitting Berrio (167¾) not too willing to accommodate him, and although the former always appeared in control he had to take more blows than he would have cared. Several times Bute (167) stunned Berrio, but was unable to finish him off. Having taken the ninth and tenth sessions, coming into the 11th Bute finally found the punches he had been looking for; a right hook to the head sending Berrio crashing back before he was left slumped in a corner, eyes glazed, following further heavy blows. With 1.27 on the clock the referee stopped the fight, leaving Bute, his right eye badly swollen, the winner.

7 April 2007. Joe Calzaghe w rsc 3 Peter Manfredo.

Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Recognition: WBO/The Ring. Referee: Terry O’Connor.

Fight Summary: Far below the level to be fighting for two world championship belts, especially when up against an unbeaten champion who was looking to make it 20 defences, the game Manfredo (166) was stopped at 1.30 of the third round, a decision that was thought by many to be premature. Regardless of that, Manfredo was on his way to a beating and was not fighting back against the fast-handed southpaw when the decision was made. After the contest Calzaghe (167¾) stated that he had fractured his left hand again, which probably explained why he looked for the early win and went downstairs more often than not.

24 March 2007. Mikkel Kessler w pts 12 Librado Andrade.

Venue: Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark. Recognition: WBA/WBC. Referee: Laurence Cole.

Scorecards: 120-108, 120-108, 120-108.

Fight Summary: Despite it being one-sided, the champion winning every round, the tough Andrade (168) made it an absorbing contest right up to the final bell. There were no knockdowns, but that was due to Andrade's ability to take excessive punishment as Kessler (168) hit him with every punch in the book and more. How Andrade, remaining virtually unmarked, took everything thrown at him and came back with heavy shots of his own was amazing and marked him out a real 'Iron Man'.

 

Anthony Mundine outpointed Pablo Daniel Zamora Nievas over 12 rounds at the Leisure Centre, Broadbeach, Queensland, Australia on 27 June to retain his WBA ‘second tier’ title.

3 March 2007. Alejandro Berrio w rsc 3 Robert Stieglitz.

Venue: Town Hall, Rostock, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Remigio Ruggeri.

Fight Summary: Contested for the vacant title after Joe Calzaghe handed in his belt, it was Berrio (168) who came home the winner when he stopped Stieglitz (167¼) at 2.37 of the third. Having already beaten his opponent Stieglitz was favoured, but he failed to find the range and in the third was dropped by a combination of blows. Back on his feet, Stieglitz was then put down again by a right hand, and although allowed to continue he was almost out on his feet when the referee brought the fight to a halt.

14 October 2006. Mikkel Kessler w co 3 Markus Beyer.

Venue: Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark. Recognition: WBA/WBC. Referee: Guido Cavalleri.

Fight Summary: Looking to unify two titles, when the WBA champion, Kessler (167¾), met the WBC's Beyer (168) it was the former who came out on top by a third-round kayo win after starting well with the jab to unsettle his southpaw opponent. Marked over the right eye, coming into the third Beyer was quickly under pressure as Kessler stepped it up, and at 2.58 of the session he was counted out after being caught heavily by a right cross to the jaw.

 

Now that Kessler was recognised as the WBA ‘super' champion, Anthony Mundine stopped fellow Australian, Sam Soliman, inside nine rounds at the Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia on 7 March 2007 to win the vacant WBA ‘second tier’ title.

14 October 2006. Joe Calzaghe w pts 12 Sakio Bika.

Venue: MEN Arena, Manchester, England. Recognition: IBF/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Mickey Vann.

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

Fight Summary: With his three championship belts on the line it was not one of Calzaghe’s better nights, but he still boxed well enough to win clearly over the tough Bika (168). In the fifth round Bika had a point deducted for repeated head butts, and at the end of the contest Calzaghe (168) finished with a vertical cut over the left eye and a badly swollen jaw, testament to the former's rough, tough tactics. Boxing well on the counter Bika had occasionally hurt his southpaw opponent, especially in the ninth, but the Welshman continually threw more punches than his rival, something that was reflected on the scorecards.

 

On 27 November, it was reported that Calzaghe had relinquished the IBF version of the title in order to defend his WBO crown against Peter Manfredo rather than face Robert Stieglitz, the IBF’s mandatory challenger. Following that, the latter was matched against Alejandro Berrio for the vacant title. Despite losing to Stieglitz in an earlier contest, Berrio had earned his opportunity when defeating Yusaf Mack (w rsc 6 at the Club Cinema, Pompano Beach, Florida, USA on 19 May) in an eliminator.

13 May 2006. Markus Beyer tdraw 4 Sakio Bika.

Venue: The Stadium, Zwickau, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Joe Cortez.

Fight Summary: Cut under the right eye in the second by a left hook, the southpaw champion was under pressure in the third when a left uppercut put him on the back foot. Although finishing the round strongly with several hard lefts that backed Bika (168) up, at 1.45 of the fourth Beyer (167¾) was ruled out of the contest when a nasty class of heads left him with a cut on the right eye. Following an inspection by the doctor the referee ruled it a technical draw under the WBC ruling that a contest has to go beyond four completed rounds for a decision to be given.

4 March 2006. Joe Calzaghe w pts 12 Jeff Lacy.

Venue: MEN Arena, Manchester, England. Recognition: IBF/WBO/The Ring. Referee: Raul Caiz.

Scorecards: 119-105, 119-107, 119-107.

Fight Summary: In what was a unification contest between Calzaghe (168), the WBO representative, and the IBF champion, Lacy (167), the former put in one of his best ever displays to outclass the American danger man. Pounded for round after round by southpaw lefts and rights and cut over both eyes, Lacy showed his mettle as he continually looked for a winning blow. Calzaghe, who was deducted a point in the 11th for an illegal punch, had been at his best, ripping in speedy punches from all angles, and in the final session he finally had Lacy down. Getting up at 'four' Lacy looked to have a breather until almost being taken out by a clutch of uppercuts and being saved by the bell. The Ring Championship Belt was also up for grabs in this one.

28 January 2006. Markus Beyer w rsc 12 Alberto Colajanni.

Venue: Tempodrom Arena, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Larry O’Connell.

Fight Summary: Hardly concerned that this was a boring affair, the southpaw champion appeared content at times to let the outclassed Colajanni (164) remain in the fight. Throwing few punches, Colajanni had been floored in the fourth by a right-left combination before being badly hurt in the 12th when dropped for 'eight' by a heavy left. With Colajanni unsteady on his legs, when Beyer (167) smashed him down again the referee called matters off at 2.25 just as the towel was thrown in.

14 January 2006. Mikkel Kessler w rsc 10 Eric Lucas.

Venue: Brondby Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.

Fight Summary: Although there were no knockdowns the champion outclassed the hardy Lucas (167), winning all nine completed rounds before the latter's corner threw the towel in to enforce the referee's stoppage on the 1.51 mark. With Kessler (165) in total control, dominating behind the jab and still strong, it was clear that Lucas would struggle the longer the fight went on. Cut over both eyes with his face a bloody mess at the end, the corner saved him to fight another day.

5 November 2005. Jeff Lacy w rsc 2 Scott Pemberton.

Venue: Caesar’s Palace, Lake Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Vic Drakulich.

Fight Summary: Even though a good fighter, Pemberton (168) was several levels below the champion, and right from the opening bell he was forced to use every part of the ring to survive the heavy bombs being thrown at him. Eventually, in the second round, Lacy (168) caught up with his rival when a big right put Pemberton down for ‘nine’. Back on his feet, despite ducking low and moving away Pemberton was sent crashing in his own corner following a right hook that hit him flush. Without bothering to take up the count the referee stopped the fight with one second of the session remaining.

10 September 2005. Joe Calzaghe w pts 12 Evans Ashira.

Venue: International Arena, Cardiff, Wales. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mark Nelson.

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

Fight Summary: Dominating from the opening bell the champion swarmed all over Ashira (168) with southpaw rights and lefts, and following an accidental clash of heads in the second round the latter was cut over the left eye. Although Calzaghe (167½) continued to throw plenty of leather at Ashira, from thereon in it was clear that something was up with the Welshman’s left hand as he stopped throwing it after the fourth and relied on his lead right to get him through the contest. Afterwards, it transpired that as Calzaghe had broken a metacarpal he would be unable to fight Jeff Lacy, regardless of the ongoing negotiations, in the immediate future.

3 September 2005. Markus Beyer w pts 12 Omar Sheika.

Venue: IC Centre, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Massimo Barrovecchio.

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

Fight Summary: Clearly at his best the champion cut Sheika (167¼) on the right eye in the opening session before settling down to outbox the American, mainly by the use of a southpaw straight left. It was not until the fifth that Sheika landed a meaningful blow, a right to the jaw that shook Beyer (167¼), but he was unable to follow it up. While almost putting Sheika away in the eighth with a solid left, as in most of Beyer's fights he seemed content to sit back and box his way to a comprehensive points victory.

6 August 2005. Jeff Lacy w rtd 7 Robin Reid.

Venue: St Petersburg Times Forum, Tampa, Florida, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Jorge Alonso.

Fight Summary: In control right from the start the champion was soon banging in big punches, and in the third a low left hook dropped Reid (167½) for which the latter was given valuable seconds to recover. Lacy (167) really picked it up in the fourth, but after being butted in the fifth he dropped Reid with a right to the jaw on the referee's call of ‘break’. Not only was it the first time in his career that Reid had been dropped he also had a point deducted for the head work before being floored again by a terrific left uppercut to the jaw. Although saved by the bell, Reid was down again in the sixth. Docked another point for holding in the seventh, Reid was then smashed to the floor by a right uppercut to the jaw following a series of heavy blows. It was no surprise when Reid was retired in his corner at the end of the session, having taken far more than was good for him.

8 June 2005. Mikkel Kessler w pts 12 Anthony Mundine.

Venue: Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Luis Pabon.

Scorecards: 116-112, 120-108, 117-113. 

Fight Summary: Starting fast, Mundine (166¾) traded with the champion in the opening session before going on the back foot and making himself a difficult target. However, in the fourth Kessler (167½) finally made his mark, punching away with both hands before increasing the tempo in the middle rounds with stiff jabs and solid right crosses. Mundine was still boxing well though, especially when coming on strongly in the ninth with combinations and right crosses that shook Kessler. The last three sessions saw both men looking to make a point, but it was Kessler who impressed most when going for the body and landing heavily to make sure of the win.

7 May 2005. Joe Calzaghe w rsc 6 Mario Veit.

Venue: Volkswagen Hall, Braunschweig, Germany. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Genaro Rodriguez.

Fight Summary: Although Calzaghe (167¾) had beaten Veit (167¾) inside two minutes previously the German was a much improved fighter, while the champion was looking to put the Kabary Salem fight behind him. It was soon apparent that the challenger’s best chance of winning lay in keeping his distance as he stuck to the task well, his left jab popping out consistently. However, once Calzaghe began to work the body, his hand-speed blistering, to the initiated it seemed to be just a matter of time. And so it proved when Calzaghe dropped Veit with a smashing left at the end of the fifth. Storming out for the sixth the champion soon had Veit down again following a barrage of heavy shots, and although the German got his feet he was rescued by the referee with just 42 seconds of the session gone.

12 March 2005. Markus Beyer w pts 12 Danny Green.

Venue: Stadium Hall, Zwickau, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Laurence Cole.

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

Fight Summary: Finally getting his return against the champion Green (166) was expected by many to take over the title, and although it was always close the verdict was a fair reflection as to how the fight went. This time round, with much of Green’s aggression ineffective he was occasionally hurt by southpaw lefts to the body as Beyer (167) looked to find a weakness. However, in the tenth Green came on strongly, smashing in lefts and rights before having Beyer counted on in the 12th following a big right to the head. Although the ropes stopped Beyer from hitting the floor, when the German was allowed to box on Green jumped all over him until running out of time.

5 March 2005. Jeff Lacy w rsc 7 Rubin Williams.

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

Fight Summary: Williams (167) surprised all by attacking the champion with solid long jabs and taking the best he could muster before being stopped after 47 seconds of the seventh round. All three judges gave Williams the fourth when he went punch for punch against the tank-like Lacy (167), the former continuing to show resolve even when bombarded by vicious left hooks in every session. The fight ended when Lacy, punching away for all his worth, was using Williams’ head as target practice with the latter trapped and unable to get off the ropes.

18 December 2004. Markus Beyer w pts 12 Yoshinori Nishizawa.

Venue: Upper Franconian Arena, Bayreuth, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: John Keane.

Scorecards: 116-111, 117-111, 118-109.

Fight Summary: Having put the 38-year-old Nishizawa (167) down in the opening round, even though it was not counted as a knockdown, the southpaw champion was forced to take the mandatory ‘eight’ count himself after being dropped by a solid right in the second. It was more surprise than hurt, and Beyer (166¾) was soon dictating matters even though he could not find the punch to finish Nishizawa off. Afterwards, Beyer stated that he was amazed that his brave opponent was able to take so many heavy shots without crumbling, testament to the man from Japan’s durability.

4 December 2004. Jeff Lacy w pts 12 Omar Sheika.

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

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

Fight Summary: In his first defence, Lacy (168) was shocked in the opening two sessions being staggered by lefts and rights before getting back on course. For several rounds the crafty Sheika (166) made life difficult for Lacy, who was trying to overpower his rival without success. Lacy always had his nose in front, but it was not easy as Sheika took his best punches before coming back with some of his own. By the ninth, however, Lacy’s extra power was beginning to tell, and he continued to land thudding blows that would have dropped a lot of other fighters.

12 November 2004. Mikkel Kessler w rtd 7 Manny Siaca.

Venue: Brondby Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Stan Christodoulou.

Fight Summary: By the end of round two the champion was already under pressure, and by the fourth Kessler (168) was well in control as he pushed his man back with solid blows from both hands. Although Siaca (168) was dropped by a right to the jaw in the seventh it was not ruled as a count, but thereafter he had little chance of retaining his title as Kessler battered him throughout the session. It was no surprise when Siaca was retired by his corner at the end of the seventh after he had been taken apart by cracking combinations before slumping on to his stool.

22 October 2004. Joe Calzaghe w pts 12 Kabary Salem.

Venue: Royal Highland Showground, Edinburgh, Scotland. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Paul Thomas.

Scorecards: 117-109, 118-107, 116-109.

Fight Summary: Calzaghe (168) was possibly the best super middle around, but unfortunately this was not a good day for him. However, because Salem (167¾) had come to spoil there was no way he was ever going to win the title despite putting the southpaw champion down in the fourth after cutting him on the head in round two following a coming together. It was a big right-hand counter that had put Calzaghe on his pants for ‘four’, and although he looked shaken he was soon back in the action. Eventually rising above the lethargy Calzaghe got himself going to cut Salem over the right eye in the seventh before nearly putting him away in the final session after a solid straight left had dropped the Egyptian for ‘eight’. Both men had points deducted for butting, Salem in the third and Calzaghe in the 11th.

 

On 6 November, at the Erdgas Arena, Riesa, Germany, Mario Veit successfully defended the WBO ‘interim’ title when stopping Charles Brewer in the ninth round.

9 October 2004. Markus Beyer w rsc 6 Cristian Sanavia.

Venue: Fair Hall, Erfurt, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Ian-John Lewis.

Fight Summary: Defending the title against the man he won it from Sanavia (165¾) started slowly in the opening session before taking the next four rounds. At that stage of the proceedings he looked the more likely winner. However, boxing coolly, Beyer (167¼) had begun to show signs of his form late on in the fifth, and in the sixth he turned the fight on its head when smashing Sanavia to the floor with a right and two lefts to the jaw. Although Sanavia was up at ‘eight’, because he was sagging badly the referee continued to count to ‘ten’. The finish came after 54 seconds of the session had elapsed.

2 October 2004. Jeff Lacy w rsc 8 Syd Vanderpool.

Venue: Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Robert Byrd.

Fight Summary: Fighting to decide who should wear the IBF Championship Belt after Sven Ottke’s retirement, Vanderpool (167), a crafty southpaw, began well with the jab before Lacy (168) picked up the pace in the fourth when landing heavily with rights and lefts. By the sixth Lacy was into his stride, shaking Vanderpool up with left hooks, and he built on that in the eighth before hurting the latter badly enough in the eighth with solid uppercuts to force the referee to stop the fight in his favour. Timed at 1.37 of the eighth, the finish saved the brave Canadian from taking more than he had to.

5 June 2004. Cristian Sanavia w pts 12 Markus Beyer.

Venue: The Arena, Chemnitz, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Mark Green.

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

Fight Summary: In a battle of southpaws, Sanavia (166½) started the better when scoring well with the right jab while the champion found it difficult to find any rhythm. And when Sanavia began to get his hooks and uppercuts going it became even more difficult for Beyer (167½) to raise his game. However, there was never that much between them and by the tenth it looked as though Beyer might have found the answer, hammering home lefts and rights, before the final two sessions saw him hand the initiative back to Sanavia and, at the same time, relinquish his title.

5 May 2004. Manny Siaca w pts 12 Anthony Mundine.

Venue: Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia. Recognition: WBA. Referee: Raul Caiz Jnr.

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

Fight Summary: Making his first title defence since taking over from Sven Ottke, Mundine (167¼) made a bad start when dropped in the second round by a left hook to the jaw. Although Mundine was up at ‘four’ he did little to show himself as championship material during the rest of the contest. Having entered the ring after turning an ankle a week earlier Mundine was on the back foot from thereon in as Siaca (167½) went after him, and in the tenth he twice went to the floor due to his injury. Occasionally, Mundine landed good combinations, but Siaca was always the master of the situation.

27 March 2004. Sven Ottke w pts 12 Armand Krajnc.

Venue: Borderland Hall, Magdeburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Armando Garcia.

Scorecards: 120-108, 120-110, 119-109.

Fight Summary: Putting on his best performance for some time the champion, Ottke (167½), was soon threading in the jabs to head and body, with Krajnc (166½) having great difficulty in keeping up with his speed. Although Krajnc had little joy, being outboxed round after round, he gave it a real go over the final three sessions to no avail.

 

Ottke announced his retirement from boxing immediately following the contest, and while the IBF title remained vacant Anthony Mundine took over full recognition as the WBA champion.

 

Meantime, the IBF set up two eliminating bouts between Syd Vanderpool v Tito Mendoza and Jeff Lacy v Vitaliy Tsypko. While Vanderpool outpointed Mendoza over 12 rounds at the State Fairground Hall, Tampa, Florida on 17 April, the Lacy v Tsypko fight at the Leggett & Platt Centre, Joplin, Missouri on 5 June was stopped at the end of the second round and declared a technical draw after the latter received a badly cut forehead. To allow the IBF title fight to go ahead it was Lacy who was selected to take on Vanderpool.

28 February 2004. Markus Beyer w pts 12 Andre Thysse.

Venue: Mehrzweck Hall, Dresden, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Larry O’Connell.

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

Fight Summary: Giving away six inches in height to the tough challenger, also a southpaw, was not a problem for Beyer (166¾) and he was soon landing with accurate rights and lefts from range to avoid any repetition of his last contest. In the third round Thysse (167¼) did manage to hurt Beyer with a right hook to the jaw, but thereafter rarely threatened as the latter boxed his way to a comprehensive points win.

21 February 2004. Joe Calzaghe w rsc 7 Mger Mkrtchyan.

Venue: Ice Rink, Cardiff, Wales. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Paul Thomas.

Fight Summary: Defending for the 14th time Calzaghe (167¾) took his time to deal with the tough Mkrtchyan (167), who was not overawed in the least, but by the fifth it was clear that the challenger was gradually being worn down. Although the brave Armenian was still willing to trade the seventh saw him hit with a barrage of punches, the last two being heavy lefts which sent him down. Up before being counted out, and not looking like a man who could last much longer, the referee rescued Mkrtchyan on the 1.05 mark.

 

At the Westphalia Hall, Dortmund, Germany, on 8 May, Mario Veit outpointed Kabary Salem over 12 rounds to win the vacant WBO ‘interim’ title. However, it was Salem who got first crack at Calzaghe.

13 December 2003. Sven Ottke w pts 12 Robin Reid.

Venue: The Arena, Nuremburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Roger Tilleman.

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

Fight Summary: Yet again Ottke (168) successfully defended his title on home turf when all seemed lost, this time against the unlucky Reid (168). With the referee taking centre stage virtually throughout, warning Reid continuously and ignoring what seemed to be a perfectly good knockdown when Ottke was floored in the sixth, it turned into an untidy affair. The sixth also saw Reid deducted a point for an accidental head butt after Ottke had theatrically dropped to the ground. From the seventh through to the 12th the action became more and more untidy, which suited Ottke more than it did Reid, and the German just about got his nose in front.

 

Anthony Mundine retained the WBA ‘second tier’ title with a fifth-round stoppage win over Yoshinori Nishizawa at the Entertainment Centre, Wollongong, Australia on 19 January 2004.

6 September 2003. Sven Ottke w pts 12 Mads Larsen.

Venue: Fair Hall, Erfurt, Germany. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Pete Podgorski.

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

Fight Summary: Facing a southpaw for the first time the champion had some difficulty in fathoming Larsen (167½) out initially, but with good footwork and classy countering, especially with rights to the body, he began to get on top. Although it had been expected that the hard-hitting Larsen would show more in the middle sessions he continued to miss wildly at times, there being only one winner at the final bell. Once again Ottke (168) had proved to be the master of just doing enough to win.

16 August 2003. Markus Beyer w disq 5 Danny Green.

Venue: Nurburgring Formula One Racetrack, Nurburg, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Bill Clancy.

Fight Summary: Green (167½) made a great start when having the southpaw champion over in the opening two sessions from big right hooks. However, he also had a point deducted in the second when an accidental butt left Beyer (167½) badly cut over the right eye. Although Beyer came back refreshed in the third he was still being outworked by Green, but by the fourth he finally won a round when holding his boxing together. At this stage the hard-punching Green was still ahead, almost throwing Beyer to the floor in the fifth as he looked for a finish. By now Beyer was bleeding heavily, and following another butt from Green that opened up a further cut on the champion’s right eye the referee was advised by the ringside doctor to stop the fight. At that point, with the butt deemed to be intentional, instead of being handed the win Green found himself on the end of a disqualification defeat, timed at 2.15 of the fifth.

 

On 20 December, at the Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada, when Green stopped Eric Lucas in the sixth round he won the WBC ‘interim’ title in doing so. Regardless, he would have to wait some 15 months before being given another crack at the title.

28 June 2003. Joe Calzaghe w rsc 2 Byron Mitchell.

Venue: The International Arena, Cardiff, Wales. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Dave Parris.

Fight Summary: Knocked down for the first time in his career when nailed by a short right hook in the second, Calzaghe (167) was up at ‘eight’ and came back swiftly to belt Mitchell (168) to the canvas with a big left. Having also taken the ‘eight’ count, the challenger was immediately set about and driven to the ropes where the referee rescued him after 2.36 of the round had elapsed. This was a good win for the Welshman against a former champion and a man who gave it a real go while it lasted.

14 June 2003. Sven Ottke w pts 12 David Starie.

Venue: Borderland Hall, Magdeburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Randy Neumann.

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

Fight Summary: Even though the decision was unanimous in the champion’s favour had Starie (168) upped his work-rate, especially in the middle rounds, the result could have been very different. Once again Ottke (167½) boxed in a conservative fashion, doing what he had to in order to keep ahead when picking his punches and using the left hook well on the inside. The last three sessions saw Starie finally take more risks, outpunching Ottke three to one in the 11th, but the German continued to work on the outside as if he knew the fight was already his.

 

With Ottke continuing as a double champion, Anthony Mundine outscored Antwun Echols over 12 rounds on 3 September, at the Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia to win the vacant WBA ‘second tier’ title.

5 April 2003. Markus Beyer w pts 12 Eric Lucas.

Venue: The Arena, Leipzig, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Laurence Cole.

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

Fight Summary: Making a fast start the champion won the opening sessions, shaking Beyer (167¼) up with a big right in the third before the latter settled in what became a difficult fight to score. There was no doubt that the German southpaw took most of the middle rounds, but Lucas (166¼), always in contention, tried to finish strongly in every one of them. However, it was Beyer who came through in the 11th and 12th when standing his ground and throwing combinations to swing the fight his way.

15 March 2003. Sven Ottke w pts 12 Byron Mitchell.

Venue: Max Schmeling Arena, Berlin, Germany. Recognition: IBF/WBA. Referee: Stan Christodoulou.

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

Fight Summary: In a fight to unify the IBF and WBA titles, it was Ottke (167) who ultimately came out on top after surviving a tough last round when he was shaken up by heavy left and rights as Mitchell (167¼) tried to turn the fight his way. Ottke, who started as he meant to carry on, jumping in with jabs and straight rights before moving away and denying Mitchell openings, always appeared to be one step ahead. With four rounds to go Mitchell moved in, looking to land heavily, but was thwarted more often than not as Ottke, now cut by the side of the left eye, made him miss again and again. At the final bell most good judges had Ottke further ahead than the officials, and how one of them had the American in front beggared belief.

14 December 2002. Joe Calzaghe w rsc 2 Tocker Pudwill.

Venue: Telewest Arena, Newcastle, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Dave Parris.

Fight Summary: Despite the American, who came in at short notice, lasting 12 rounds with the IBF champion, Sven Ottke, this was a mismatch. Dumped three times by the southpaw champion in the opener, his right eye a mess, Pudwill (167½) came out for the second round only to be stopped with 39 seconds on the clock when he was rescued by the referee after being floored with a body punch. Angry at not being able to meet Thomas Tate, who pulled out earlier with a burst eardrum, Calzaghe (167¼) took his frustration out on the limited Pudwill.

16 November 2002. Sven Ottke w pts 12 Rudy Markussen.

Venue: Frankenland Hall, Nuremburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Robert Byrd.

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

Fight Summary: Although the unbeaten Markussen (166) made the early running, using his strength to push Ottke (167½) back, once the champion had got his left hand working by the fourth round there was only going to be one winner. Markussen, who had never been beyond eight rounds before, continued to be picked off in the latter sessions by jabs and rights over the top as Ottke upped the pace. Giving it one last effort in the 11th Markussen pressed for all he was worth before fading as Ottke coasted home for his 16th successful defence.

6 September 2002. Eric Lucas w pts 12 Omar Sheika.

Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lupe Garcia.

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

Fight Summary: After dropping two of the opening three rounds and being badly hurt in the third the champion picked up the pace to go clear as Sheika (167) appeared happy to box on the back foot. By the fifth, although Sheika was boxing a clever fight Lucas (166¾) was one step ahead of him, scoring well with left-right-lefts. Cut over the left eye in the seventh Sheika tried to force Lucas on the back foot in the latter rounds, but unable to get past the jab he was well beaten at the finish.

24 August 2002. Sven Ottke w rsc 9 Joe Gatti.

Venue: The Arena, Leipzig, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Raffaele Argiolas.

Fight Summary: Gatti (168), the elder brother of Arturo, started well when taking the opening session, but from there onwards he was always running second best despite making the champion work hard for the points. After being cut over the right eye in the seventh Gatti found it difficult to stay with Ottke (167½), and in the ninth after being dropped twice he was rescued by the referee with 17 seconds of the round remaining. Following the contest, when Gatti was found to have a minor bleed to the brain he never boxed again.

17 August 2002. Joe Calzaghe w pts 12 Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Venue: Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, Wales. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Dave Parris.

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

Fight Summary: Up against a challenger who was intent on survival, although Calzaghe (167¾) won every round the fight was made more difficult for him after he damaged the knuckles on his left hand as early as the second. Jimenez (168), who certainly proved his durability, offered up little and immediately covered up when under attack. By the latter stages it had become monotonous, with Calzaghe going for the body more in order to preserve his hands. At the final bell it was difficult to understand quite why Jimenez, who had a point deducted in the tenth for head butts, was given a title shot when there was only one recognised name on his record.

27 July 2002. Byron Mitchell w rsc 4 Julio Cesar Green.

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

Fight Summary: In what started as a brawl the champion was soon on the end of things in the opening round when downed twice, firstly by a cracking left hook and secondly following a flurry of blows as the unfancied Green (168) looked for the finish. Although suffering the after-effects in the second, by the third Mitchell (167½) was beginning to put his punches together prior to sending in a solid short right that opened up a gash over Green’s left eye in the fourth. At this point Mitchell went for broke, and after hammering Green around the ring and the eye damage worsening the referee stopped the fight on the 1.55 mark.

1 June 2002. Sven Ottke w pts 12 Thomas Tate.

Venue: Frankenland Hall, Nuremburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Randy Neumann.

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

Fight Summary: The champion proved to be far too quick and accurate for Tate (168), in what was a return match, scoring a second-round knockdown following a sharp left-right. Ottke (168) also kept the latter on the end of the jab for much of the time. In the fourth Tate’s left eye began to swell following the constant attention paid to it by the jab, and by the eighth it was bleeding. Towards the end Tate began to come on strong, but by that time Ottke knew that he only had to avoid trouble to make sure of a 14th successful title defence.

20 April 2002. Joe Calzaghe w pts 12 Charles Brewer.

Venue: International Arena, Cardiff, Wales. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mark Nelson.

Scorecards: 117-112, 119-109, 118-111.

Fight Summary: While the scorecards tell you that it was a relatively easy win for Calzaghe (167¾) it was certainly not, especially in the seventh round when Brewer (167¾) tested his chin and body when hammering in heavy punches from both hands. Ultimately it was the southpaw champion’s speed of hand and foot that was the main difference between him and Brewer, and that allowed him to move in and out of range without having to take more than he had to. Afterwards, Calzaghe admitted that the hard-hitting American had given him one of his hardest fights.

16 March 2002. Sven Ottke w pts 12 Rick Thornberry.

Venue: Borderland Hall, Magdeburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Denny Nelson.

Scorecards: 120-108, 120-108, 120-108.

Fight Summary: Despite securing a shut-out points win Ottke (168) failed to come close to dropping an extremely competitive challenger who was always in front of him. It was clear right from the opening bell that Thornberry (167½) was not at the same level as Ottke, but that did not stop him from trying at every opportunity. Defending his title for the 13th time Ottke consistently got through with solid left jabs and combinations, and once again delighted the crowd with his consummate boxing skills.

1 March 2002. Eric Lucas w pts 12 Vinny Pazienza.

Venue: Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, Connecticut, USA. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Eddie Cotton.

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

Fight Summary: Although well on top of the 39-year-old Pazienza (168), who hardly deserved a crack at the title, Lucas (167¾) was unable to drop the former IBF lightweight and WBA junior middleweight champion before having to settle for the wide points decision. Pazienza had promised his fans that he would brawl his way to victory, but it was only in the final session that he gave them a glimpse of what he used to be. Being cut over the right eye in the second merely added to Pazienza’s woes.

1 December 2001. Sven Ottke w co 10 Anthony Mundine.

Venue: Westphalia Hall, Dortmund, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Wayne Kelly.

Fight Summary: Working well from the outside Mundine (166½) set the champion several problems for a few rounds, even having his man over in the eighth although the count was never picked up. In the ninth, however, Ottke (167), beginning to put his punches together better, had to weather a bit of a storm as Mundine looked for an early finish. Initially, the tenth session saw Mundine having an edge and scoring well with fast lefts, but after a couple of body shots had lowered his guard Ottke hammered home a tremendous right hook to the jaw that sent him down to be counted out on the 2.40 mark. At the time of the finish Ottke was ahead on all three cards by a reasonable margin, which would have been a lot closer had Mundine not been deducted two points in the fourth for intentional butts.

30 November 2001. Eric Lucas w rsc 8 Dingaan Thobela.

Venue: Molson Centre, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Laurence Cole.

Fight Summary: Boxing in a defensive mode with little on offer other than durability, Thobela (168), looking even older than his 35 years of age and performing more like a sparring partner, rarely gave the champion a problem and was nearly out of wind by the fifth. The sixth saw Lucas (167¾) ramping up the pace, but having hurt Thobela by the ropes there was a clash of heads that saw him pick up a badly cut left eye. Deducted a point for what was termed an accidental head butt Thobela was almost through for the night, and after taking heavy punishment from there onwards he was finally rescued by the referee at 2.15 of the eighth following a two-fisted hammering that left him in a dazed state on the ropes.

13 October 2001. Joe Calzaghe w rsc 4 Will McIntyre.

Venue: Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Rudy Battle.

Fight Summary: Looking badly out of his depth, McIntyre (167½), who had substituted for Antwun Echols, was picked apart and dissected by the champion’s southpaw jab right from the opening bell. And by the third round Calzaghe (167½) was winding up jabs, uppercuts and heavy lefts that eventually left McIntyre totally exposed, at which point the referee exacted a standing ‘eight’ count before the bell came to the latter’s rescue. Still shaky at the start of the fourth McIntyre should have been retired by his corner, but after being dropped following a steady barrage of blows from Calzaghe and getting to his feet the referee stopped the fight 45 seconds into the session.

29 September 2001. Byron Mitchell w pts 12 Manny Siaca.

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

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

Fight Summary: In what was a third title challenge for Siaca (167½) he fell short yet again in a difficult fight to score, the judges only agreeing on three rounds. The champion made a good start when dropping Siaca in the opening session, a right to the head doing the trick, and then dominated the second before the latter came back well in the third. Thereafter, both men had their moments, but by the fifth Siaca was on the back foot, landing good counters as Mitchell (168) tried to close him down. With Siaca tiring Mitchell went all out for the stoppage in the ninth, but after failing to put his man down he himself was floored in the 12th when caught by a left hook to the jaw. Although Siaca seemed to have Mitchell at his mercy when the American got to his feet, he let the opportunity slip and ultimately paid for it.

1 September 2001. Sven Ottke w pts 12 James Butler.

Venue: Borderland Hall, Magdeburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Randy Neumann.

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

Fight Summary: Even though he posed a threat throughout the fight with big rights to the head Butler (167½) was unable to get going until the sixth round against a champion who knew too much for him and gave him little opportunity. Although still being outmanoeuvred by Ottke (167½), Butler finally threw caution to the wind in the last three sessions in an effort to turn things around, only to have a point docked from his total for rabbit punching in the 12th. A worthy winner, Ottke’s speed was supplemented with good footwork, accurate jabs and solid combinations. 

10 July 2001. Eric Lucas w rsc 7 Glenn Catley.

Venue: Molson Centre, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Lupe Garcia.

Fight Summary: Battling for the vacant title, Lucas (167¾) ultimately avenged a previous defeat at the hands of Catley (167¼) when he stopped his old rival at 2.04 of the seventh round. The contest had been relatively close up until the fifth even though Catley was falling short with the jab and being countered heavily for his pains, and in the sixth the writing was on the wall for him when he was twice dropped by heavy rights. Still dazed at the start of the seventh Catley continued bravely, but after a crashing right to the jaw sent him to the floor with no chance of beating the count the referee immediately brought the contest to an end.

9 June 2001. Sven Ottke w rsc 11 Ali Ennebati.

Venue: Frankenland Hall, Nuremberg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Arno Pokrandt.

Fight Summary: Successfully defending his title for the tenth time Ottke (166½) won virtually every round before the fight was stopped in his favour at 2.28 of the 11th, despite being up against a hard puncher who hurt him on several occasions, especially with rights to the head. By the end of the eighth it was clear that Ottke was lining himself up for the finish, and in the ninth a terrific right to the body had Ennebati (165½) doubled up in pain. Having dominated the tenth with Ottke going all out in the 11th, after he had dropped Ennebati twice with heavy rights to the head, the referee brought matters to a close.

28 April 2001. Joe Calzaghe w rsc 1 Mario Veit.

Venue: The International Arena, Cardiff, Wales. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Mark Nelson.

Fight Summary: Showing all the form expected of him the southpaw champion tore into Veit (167), his 6’4” challenger, and within 30 seconds he had dropped the German for ‘three’ with a left over the top. Having taken the mandatory ‘eight’ count Veit was immediately put under further pressure before being floored again after a crunching left from Calzaghe (167¾) detonated on his jaw. Although Veit got to his feet he was quickly in trouble, being rescued by the referee when taking a battering against the ropes. The finish was timed at 1.52 of the opening session.

24 March 2001. Sven Ottke w co 8 James Crawford.

Venue: Borderland Hall, Magdeburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Robert Byrd.

Fight Summary: Taking more risks than usual the champion set about the limited Crawford (167¼) right from the opening bell, dictating every round on his way to a relatively easy victory. Having thrown 165 blows at Ottke (167¾), landing with only seven, the American did not have the technical defensive ability to avoid punches coming his way, his demise being just a matter of time. Badly cut on the nose in the sixth Crawford tried his best to stay in the fight, but all that came to nought when a series of left-rights to the head followed by a cracking right to the body sent him down to be counted out with eight seconds of the eighth remaining.

3 March 2001. Byron Mitchell w rsc 12 Manny Siaca.

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

Fight Summary: Contesting the title forfeited by Bruno Girard on the morning of the fight, Mitchell (168) overcame a points deficit to stop Siaca (168) with just 28 seconds of the fight remaining. Siaca had made a good start, scoring well with long lefts and rights over the top as Mitchell came onto him while firing in solid right uppercuts at close range. Mitchell was also busy, and by the end of the seventh there was significant damage to Siaca’s left eye. Things turned in Mitchell’s favour in the ninth when he dropped Siaca with a cracking right, but after the latter was back in action both men had a point deducted for carrying the fight on after the bell. Although Siaca came back strongly in the next two sessions, looking to be well on his way to victory in the 12th, disaster struck when he missed with a right and walked on to a tremendous left hook to the jaw that sent him down to be counted out.

16 December 2000. Sven Ottke w pts 12 Silvio Branco.

Venue: Europa Hall, Karlsruhe, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Arno Pokrandt.

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

Fight Summary: Despite not boxing at his best the champion worked much harder than Branco (167¾), who was out of sorts for much of the time and unable to take advantage of opportunities that presented themselves. Even then the scores did Branco a disservice according to Boxing News. The trade paper made the point that if Ottke’s pushing, pulling and hitting with the inside of the glove had been cut out the scoreline would have been much closer. In his last contest Branco had beaten England’s Robin Reid, but he failed to use his left hand enough while ultimately allowing Ottke (168) to steal rounds as he did in the first, third, seventh and eighth.

16 December 2000. Joe Calzaghe w rsc 10 Richie Woodhall.

Venue: The Arena, Sheffield, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Roy Francis.

Fight Summary: Making his seventh title defence Calzaghe (167¾) proved too strong and durable for Woodhall (167½), winning five of the first eight rounds before opening up in the ninth and forcing a stoppage after 28 seconds of the tenth. Prior to the finish Woodhall had boxed well, shooting in good lefts and straight rights, but towards the end of the ninth, his right eye swelling badly, he was put down from southpaw lead right and lefts for a count of ‘four’. At the start of the tenth Woodhall had nowhere to go, and after Calzaghe picked it up where he left off in the ninth, slamming in rights and lefts, the referee had seen enough.

15 December 2000. Dave Hilton w pts 12 Dingaan Thobela.

Venue: Molson Centre, Montreal, Canada. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Elmo Adolph.

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

Fight Summary: After nearly 20 years in the ring, Hilton (160½), eight pounds inside the weight limit, finally won a world title when taking a split decision over Thobela (166½). The contest had been extremely close, with no knockdowns, and had the referee taken a point from Hilton for low blows in the tenth the champion would have retained his title. With Hilton going from head to body in short bursts against Thobela’s better boxing, it was only when the latter began to tire that the Canadian got his nose in front.

 

When Hilton forfeited the WBC title on 19 April 2001 on being jailed for sex crimes, Eric Lucas and Glenn Catley were matched to find a new champion.

16 September 2000. Bruno Girard w pts 12 Manny Siaca.

Venue: Circus Tent, Chateauroux, France. Recognition: WBA. Referee: John Coyle.

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

Fight Summary: It was the champion’s aggression and work-rate against the classier boxing skills of Siaca (167½). Although Siaca scored well with left jabs, especially in the middle rounds, Girard (167½) barely gave him time to think as he bored in looking to get inside. The last two sessions were somewhat frenetic, and while Siaca won them on the cards he failed to make up the leeway despite one of the judges having him the winner by seven rounds to three with two even.

 

Further to Girard forfeiting the WBA version of the title on 3 March 2001 after refusing a rematch against Siaca due to contractual problems, the latter was matched against Byron Mitchell to find a new champion.

2 September 2000. Sven Ottke w pts 12 Charles Brewer.

Venue: Borderland Hall, Magdeburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Brian Garry.

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

Fight Summary: In what was a return match, Ottke (167½) having earlier taken the title from Brewer (167), the champion was far more aggressive than in their previous fight. This time there were far more infringements, Ottke given time out after a low blow in the sixth. Also, both men were careless with their heads throughout, Brewer being cut over the left eye in the eighth. Eventually, in the tenth, the American was deducted a point for a head butt, and in the 11th he showed a distinct lack of interest in the proceedings before coming back to take the final session. Despite damaging his left hand Ottke fully deserved the win, showing excellent sharpness and accuracy throughout.

1 September 2000. Dingaan Thobela w co 12 Glenn Catley.

Venue: Carnival City Arena, Brakpan, South Africa. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Eddie Cotton.

Fight Summary: With Catley (167¼) ahead on the cards coming into the eighth, in what had been a tough fight, he was hurt by solid combinations and under constant pressure from there onwards. Deducted a point for illegal use of an elbow in the tenth Catley was still in front, but Thobela (167) was coming on strong. Giving it everything in the final session, after having the champion down from a heavy left-right combination the former WBA and undefeated WBO lightweight title holder was only moments away from victory. Although Catley made it to his feet in time he was immediately in trouble as crashing punches to head and body took their toll, and it was no surprise when another volley of blows sent him to the floor again. Counted out with just seven seconds left on the clock, Catley complained that Thobela’s bandages had been tampered with, thus giving him greater hitting power.

 

Following an inquiry, despite no concrete evidence of wrong doing the WBC ordered the winner of Thobela’s defence against Dave Hilton to meet the winner of Eric Lucas v Catley.

12 August 2000. Joe Calzaghe w rsc 5 Omar Sheika.

Venue: Conference Centre, Wembley, London, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: Genaro Rodriguez.

Fight Summary: Following three disappointing title defences Calzaghe (168) finally got his act together when taking Sheika (167) apart and battering him to defeat at 2.08 of the fifth. Making a confident start Calzaghe soon had the southpaw jab in and out of Sheika’s face as the latter looked to work the body. Cut over the left eye towards the end of the fourth Sheika came out fast for the fifth, but within moments he was also cut on the other eye. And, with Calzaghe punching him without response and the blood flowing, the referee decided that he had seen enough.

3 June 2000. Sven Ottke w pts 12 Tocker Pudwill.

Venue: Europa Hall, Karlsruhe, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Raffaele Argiolas.

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

Fight Summary: Although the opening six rounds were relatively even it was more to do with the champion not working to his maximum ability rather than Pudwill (167) extending him. Pudwill, who survived a badly cut scalp following an accidental clash of heads in the first session and had been shaken up by a left-right to the jaw in the fifth, was still there in the seventh when being deducted a point for illegal use of the head. It was totally one-sided thereafter, with Pudwill being forced to endure counts in the ninth and tenth after Ottke (166½) landed heavily with lefts and rights before making it to the final bell.

6 May 2000. Glenn Catley w rsc 12 Markus Beyer.

Venue: Hoechst Ball Sports Hall, Frankfurt, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Bob Logist.

Fight Summary: Shaken up by a heavy southpaw left in the second round as the champion looked to assert himself, Catley (167) saved his best work for the latter stages. Having nicked many of the rounds with Catley seemingly content to box on the outside, Beyer (167¼) possibly thought that he had the fight already won when he stepped out for the final session. However, Catley had different ideas. Dropping Beyer for ‘five’ with a left-right-left combination he tore in, belting away with both hands, before the referee rescued the latter after 53 seconds of the session had elapsed.

8 April 2000. Bruno Girard w pts 12 Byron Mitchell.

Venue: Bercy Sports Palace, Paris, France. Recognition: WBA. Referee: John Coyle.

Scorecards: 117-114, 116-113, 116-113.

Fight Summary: Making good his return with Mitchell (167½) on home ground, Girard (168) lifted the title after coming on strongly to take three of the last four rounds as the champion tired. There was no doubt that Mitchell was the harder puncher of the two, boxing well behind the jab in the early stages, but had he paced himself better it could have been a different story.

11 March 2000. Sven Ottke w pts 12 Lloyd Bryan.

Venue: Borderland Hall, Magdeburg, Germany. Recognition: IBF. Referee: Denny Nelson.

Scorecards: 117-109, 118-108, 120-106. 

Fight Summary: Having shared the opening session Bryan (168) found himself in trouble in the second round as the champion opened up. He was then badly hurt by a left hook in the fifth and docked a point in the eighth when going low. Continuing to pile on the pressure Ottke (168) went after Bryan in the tenth, and after dropping him with a right to the jaw he cruised through to the final bell. 

29 January 2000. Markus Beyer w co 7 Leif Keiski.

Venue: Sachsen Arena, Riesa, Germany. Recognition: WBC. Referee: Jay Nady.

Fight Summary: Regardless that Keiski (166¼) made a reasonable start he was soon under pressure in the second round before being dropped by a southpaw left as the champion began to find his way. The next two sessions saw much of the same as Beyer (167¼) pushed on, and in the fourth he again floored Keiski with a solid left to the jaw. Showing he had something left Keiski came back well to take the fifth but, after Beyer had worked him around in the seventh, he was sent down and counted out on the 1.47 mark having taken a heavy left to the body.

29 January 2000. Joe Calzaghe w pts 12 David Starie.

Venue: MEN Arena, Manchester, England. Recognition: WBO. Referee: John Coyle.

Scorecards: 120-108, 116-113, 118-110.

Fight Summary: Despite being second best in most sessions Starie (167½) made it to the final bell as the southpaw champion failed to find the punch that would ensure an early finish. It was a clear win for Calzaghe (167¾), but once again he failed to show his best form against a man who was cut over the right eye in the sixth and one who was unable to exert any real influence over the proceedings. Afterwards, Calzaghe admitted that having been out of action for over six months due to surgery had affected him.