Whether in Auckland, New Zealand, Manchester, United Kingdom, Omaha, Nebraska or elsewhere around the world. Connoisseurs of combat sports got a treat they had long starved for this past weekend in a night of action packed bouts of spirited twelve- rounders and sensational knockouts.
For many of us boxing fans Christmas came early with gifts of red gloves, not ribbons.
Many of us awoke early to watch the WBO Heavyweight title match in New Zealand. The undefeated Kiwi Joseph Parker squared off against also undefeated Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr.
The victor after a hard fought duel was the hometown favorite Parker, claiming the belt vacated by Tyson Fury before his scheduled October rematch with Wladimir Klitschko.
At times, the fight was slower, the way Parker (22-0 18KOs) wanted it; long range jabs and straight rights. He kept, for the most part, Ruiz “the destroyer,” and his notoriously fast hands at a safe distance.
There were some high volume explosive melees on the inside which Ruiz (29-1 19KOs) got the better of throughout the contest.
Parker for the most part recognized that wasn’t his style and kept Ruiz back a safe ways, and pointed his way to a majority decision victory, claiming a world championship for New Zealand.
One could have their opinions on Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn, but he delivered on Saturday in Manchester Arena; everybody did, even the losers of the matches.
Monte Carlo sure did have its busts, with Malik Scott fleeing in dread from Matchroom’s newest stablemate Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz.
However December 10th was different, and it’s no surprise after a night like this why Britain is the center of the boxing universe right now.
Something I don’t write out of bias, but sheer jealously living in the United States.
Ireland’s Katie Taylor continued dominating as a professional in her second contest taking Brazilian foe Viviane Obenauf the distance in an impressive points victory.
Obenauf was spirited and courageous but the awe-inspiring amateur pedigree of Taylor (2-0 1KO) was simply insurmountable The contest as a whole was a short but fascinating look on the future of boxing is going to be; what the women do with it.
Between middleweight American Claressa Shields, lightweight Taylor, and welterwight Swedish-Colombian Cecelia Brakhaus (boxing’s only undisputed champion male or female), one can only hope we’re witnessing the regeneration of something that tried to blossom nearly 15 years ago with the scions of boxing greats Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
Speaking of amazing amateur careers and returning to Ortiz (27-0 23KOs 2NC). The Cuban battling out of Miami, Florida had another victory, this time against David Allen(9-2-1 6KOs).
Allen, who couldn’t really mount much of an offence against the master counter puncher that Ortiz is, still has to be commended for an impressive heart against such an annihilating nemesis.
Knocking out nearly every one of his opponents, including Allen on Saturday with Allen protesting initially, Ortiz got the rounds, the fireworks and a decent fight out of the British pugilist on the Anthony Joshua-Eric Molina undercard.
Allen actually fired back getting some good jabs and hooks into Ortiz, but by the time he was stopped in the seventh round, he simply absorbed too much punishment, being present of mind but not too capable of defending himself or doing much else.
What can be said however, if you plan on taking on either opponent, prepare for war; especially with the title-destined Ortiz.
Britain has another champion to add to the deep ranks with Khalid Yafai triumphant over Luis Concepcion for the WBA world super flyweight belt.
The Panamanian Concepcion (22-2 17KOs) actually lost the belt on the scales on the previous day’s weigh-in when he came in overweight by 3 pounds.
Birmingham has its first champion in over a century when Yafai (21-0 14KOs) completely controlled the fight flooring the former champion with a left in the tenth round in addition to catching Concepcion with clean punches in the middle of the fight.
I’m not done with Manchester yet folks, hold on…
Scott Quigg (32-1-2 24KOs) came back after an injury and a tough title loss to fighter of the year contender Carl Frampton. Flooring Jose Cayetano (20-5 9KOs) in the middle of the ninth round for the vacant WBA International featherweight title.
Undefeated Callum Smith retained his british super middleweight Lonsdale title in an absolutely devastating knockout of Luke Blackledge (22-3-2 7KOs) in the tenth round.
A left hook to the chin was the final blow after being dropped in both rounds three and eight. Blackledge needed some assistance in reaching his feet after the shot but appeared okay.
Callum (22-0 17KOs) is the last undefeated boxer of the Smith family with brother Liam losing his WBO junior middleweight title to superstar Canelo Alvarez in September of this year in Dallas, Texas.
A fight of the year candidate was Frank Buglioni defeating Hosea Burton via TKO in the twelfth round in an fight full of firepower from both sides.
Buglioni (19-2-1 15KOs) handed Burton (18-1 9KOs) his first professional defeat as he grasped the British Light Heavyweight crown, and later in media outlets a picture of the two shaking hands smiling and waiting for medical care surfaced showing the damage both men had endured in what can only be described as a courageous bout between the two.
Burton is the cousin of abdicated and still lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
Could a fight like that be rivaled, well, the grudge match between Dereck Chisora and Dillian Whyte lived up to all the circus sideshow shenanigans that almost threatened the match’s existence.
The British Boxing Board of Control called an emergency meting between the two fighters after a Chisora (26-7 18KOs) threw a chair at Whyte (20-1 15KOs) almost hitting several bystanders. Chisora was fined and handed a two year suspended sentence for the incident.
The fight itself was nothing but glory for both fighters.
In a universally praised matchup with a rematch within reach, Whyte got a narrow split decision victory that could have easily been called a draw.
Both men punched, popped, bombed and did just about everything a great heavyweight does, including not go down. The two almost came close with Chisora tiring in the fifth and Whyte in the eigth with absolutely hellacious shots being traded back and forth.
The animosity between the two seemed to fade after Whyte came to embrace an initially reluctant Chisora as ring announcer Michael Buffer praised the heart of both men in the ring and demanded the audience’s ovation.
However we saw the complete opposite in the night’s main event. IBF Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua easily continued his perfect record against a lackluster (and that’s being kind) Eric Molina.
Molina (25-4 19KOs) had no answer to anything Joshua (18-0 18KOs) executed as the Mexican-American fighter went down hard after a straight right in his corner in the third round.
After narrowly beating the count, another blitzkrieg from Joshua trapped Molina along the ropes, leaving him defenseless, hopeless, and with the referee with no option than to halt the contest.
After the victory, the confirmation of Anthony Joshua versus Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium was announced for April 2017, leading to a staredown between Joshua and Klitcshko (64-4 53KOs) who was attending the fight and a huge roar from the packed Manchester Arena.
Back in the United States there were a couple more bouts in a terrific marathon of boxing. Terence Crawford successfully defended his WBC, WBO, lineal, and The Ring junior welterweight titles against a completely overwhelmed John Molina Jr. in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.
Referee Mark Nelson suspended the contest in the eighth after a barrage of punches, including three brutal rights to the head, rendered Molina (29-7 23KOs) unable to continue.
Crawford after the fight expressed his desire to unify the division before moving to full welterweight and his belief that he’s earned “fighter of the year” status; “I feel like I got it. I just have to wait until the results come in,” Crawford (30-0 21KOs) told the cacophonous hometown Midwestern crowd.
Concluding the amazing day for the sweet science was Junior Middleweight Jermall Charlo, sensationally knocking out with a brutal uppercut, challenger Julian Williams.
Williams (22-1-1 1NC 14KOs) couldn’t resist much after going down from the power punch in round five and a quick flurry of punches afterward was the finale for Charlo (25-0 19KOs), defending his IBF Junior Middleweight title. Charlo immediately called out WBO titlist Canelo Alvarez (48-1-1 34KOs) and demanded a unification bout.
Watch the bouts again if you can, some of this was too brief and doesn’t do the fighters justice but December 10th was an embarrassment of riches for boxing, in a time and especially a year it needed it the most.
Christmas came early for us boxing fans, and December isn’t over yet.