Jorge Linares decisions Anthony Crolla, looks towards Mikey Garcia

World lightweight champion Jorge Linares (42-3, 27 KOs) defended his status as the world’s premier lightweight with a clear unanimous decision over Anthony Crolla (31-6-3, 13 KOs) earlier this morning in Manchester. The fight was a rematch of a clash last September where Linares again won via unanimous decision, although that was a much closer affair. Linares left no doubt as to who the better man was today, dropping Crolla in the seventh and thoroughly out-boxing the former WBA title holder, winning by scores of 118-109 on all three cards.


Early on it appeared as though the bout could be another close fight with Crolla applying pressure and attempting to cut the ring off and Linares using fast feet and lots of feints to keep the Manchurian at bay while scoring with explosive combinations on the inside. Linares did the better work in the opening round but the harder punches came from Crolla, mainly with a hard left hook to the body midway through the round. It was the last success Crolla would have for a while.

Rounds two through five saw Linares dictating the pace and landing with hard two handed assaults to the body all the while evading Crolla with fast feet and not allowing him to get set to throw many punches. The times when Crolla closed the distance Linares scored to the body and with uppercuts and moved away. Linares also controlled the distance with a hard left jab, something that he didn’t use much of during the first encounter and this seemed to be the difference in the bout. In round six Linares controlled the distance and pace once more but also stunned Crolla with a right hand.

The seventh was Linares’ best round of the fight. He dropped Crolla with a left uppercut and looked like he could finish his man off but Crolla gamely saw his way through the round. Round eight, however, was Crolla’s best round of the fight. He attacked the Venezuelan born three weight division title holder along the ropes and landed his best shots of the contest. Crolla continued to rally in a much closer ninth round but Linares regained control in the tenth and punished Crolla in the eleventh.

Crolla’s trainer Joe Gallagher wanted to stop the bout before the 12th round and referee Howard Foster examined Crolla but they both allowed Crolla to finish on his feet. While the twelfth was a clear Linares round, Crolla finished strong and no one can criticise his heart. In the end Linares was the clear winner and he had a case for winning every round (I scored it 119-108). Even in round 8 (the only round I scored for Crolla) Linares landed his fair share of hard punches.

Linares will likely meet Mikey Garcia in an attempt to win back his WBC title that he won in 2014 and never lost in the ring. Linares is the premier lightweight in the world based off his victories over Crolla and while Terry Flanagan and Rances Barthelemy also hold titles, both won vacant titles over men who weren’t legitimate contenders. The Linares-Crolla bouts were the first involving two of the best lightweights against one another since Terence Crawford, the last Ring lightweight champion, stopped Yuri Gamboa in 2014. Garcia, until he defeats Linares, is a paper champion at this weight and while I would make him the favourite in a bout between these two, if he wants to be in the pound for pound mix he needs to fight Linares.

Golovkin scrapes past Jacobs

WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin scraped past WBA “regular” middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs on Sunday afternoon (Sydney time) with a razor thin unanimous decision in a bout between the world’s two top middleweights. Golovkin scored a knockdown in the fourth round but found catching the elusive Jacobs golovkin-vs-jacobs-2-960x540difficult and was extended the 12 round distance for the first time in his career, ending his 23 fight knockout streak.

The feeling out process lasted the opening three rounds as Golovkin tried to cut the ring off and find range with his jab while Jacobs switched from orthodox to southpaw and moved both directions to avoid standing in front of GGG. I felt Golovkin had the edge in rounds one while Jacobs took rounds two and three. Round two was the only clear round out of the three, which I scored for Jacobs on the back of a few clean left hands. Jacobs was surprising many early with his ability to shut down the much feared assault of GGG.

In round four things went back to script as Golovkin backed Jacobs towards the ropes and caught him with a pair of right hands that sent Jacobs to the canvas. It was a clean knockdown however Jacobs went on the defensive and while he took some good punches, he never allowed Golovkin to come close to finishing him. Golovkin kept the pressure on Jacobs in the fifth round and landed some punishing shots along the ropes while making the New York native miss many of his counters and seemed to be in control at the end of five.

Jacobs showed that he wasn’t going to go the route of GGG’s previous opponents and had his best round of the fight in round six. A hard overhand right midway through the round and a pair of assaults to the head and body later in the round as well as his slick defence saw Jcobs clearly outpunch (despite what official CompuBox stats show, Jacobs clearly outlanded Golovkin in this round, more on this later) Golovkin and turn the tide. The seventh was more of the same and Golovkin was having trouble, perhaps for the first time in his career, pulling the trigger and while Jacobs confused him with his switching of stances and effective volleys of punches from both stances.

Rounds eight and nine were difficult to score. Jacobs did the better work throughout much of both rounds. I would go as far as to say he won close to five of the six minutes in these rounds however Golovkin landed the better punches in both rounds, a right hand to the chin in the eighth which Jacobs took well and two right uppercuts towards the end of the ninth followed by a series of shots in the final minute that gave GGG the round on my card. Jacobs took control again in the tenth and eleventh with his workrate and his ability to make GGG miss and the fight was anyone’s going into the final round.

gggjacobscardGolovkin went to work early in round 12 and used his jab effectively, nailing Jacobs and setting up a couple of right hands that Jacobs partially deflected. Jacobs came back and made GGG miss and landed a solid right-left-right combination midway through the round. Jacobs let his hands go again scoring to the head and body but ate a clean right hand in return. Jacobs continued to do the better work in the final minute but Golovkin landed the cleaner punches which made the final round difficult to score.

At the end of 12 I had Jacobs up 115-112, however I felt rounds 1, 3, 8, 9 and 12 all could have gone either way and I favoured Jacobs in three of those. The judges cards (115-112 twice and 114-113) were within the acceptable range I felt. I preferred Jacobs’ defence and his workrate but Golovkin was effective with his aggression and he often controlled where the fight took place.

One thing I will bring up is the punchstats. I believe these are incorrect. I have sat down and counted the punches in rounds two and six, both clearly Jacobs rounds but rounds which CompuBox said GGG outlanded Jacobs in one of them (the 2nd) and threw and landed exactly the same amount as Jacobs in the sixth, arguably Jacobs’ best round of the fight. Jacobs threw at least 15 more punches than GGG in round six and significantly outlanded him, including the more eye catching shots and outlanded GGG at almost 2-1 in round two. These are the only two rounds I have sat down and calculated my own punchstats but this wouldn’t be the first time HBO has used incorrect stats. Round four or five of the first Pacquiao fight, if you watch the HBO telecast, has Pacquiao outlanding Bradley at one point during that round despite not even throwing the amount of punches they said he had landed at that time.

There are a lot of arguments that will come out of this fight regarding the scoring and who these two should fight next but I hope this puts a temporary halt to the “GGG is an all-time great middleweight” story line. He still has a long way to go. He is no where near Monzon’s record for defences (I still rate Monzon’s record as he was the lineal champion while Hopkins didn’t unify until towards the end of his career) as he still isn’t the lineal champion. The majority of his titles were of paper titles and Jacobs makes three top five contenders who he has beaten (Geale, Lemieux, who was debatable, and Jacobs). Not to mention this is a very weak middleweight division. Off his performance last night I wouldn’t giove GGG much of a chance against a top contender of the 1950-70’s middleweight divisions like George Benton, let alone have him up there with Carlos Monzon, Gene Fullmer, Emile Griffith, Nino Benvenuti or Dick Tiger.

The one thing this fight does for the division is lightens it up. Golovkin-Canelo is the big fight in boxing right now but Jacobs against either man is big as well. Jacobs-Lemieux or Jacobs-Saunders are both great matchups that could slot in on that undercard. Even Canelo-Lemieux and GGG-Jacobs II makes sense, if it were a double header. The judging of the Gonzalez fight aside, this was a good day for boxing.


Gonzalez loses controversial decision in New York

Listed as a 10-1 underdog, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (42-4-1 (although he was reportedly 8-3 before his first recorded bout) 38 KO) wasn’t expected to give Gonzalez (46-1, 38 KO) more than a few rounds resistance before he was dispatched by Gonzalez. Gonzalez started fast, scoring clean punches with both hands while making Sor Rungvisai miss, until a right body shot dropped him late in the first round. It seemed more of the force of the blow knocked Gonzalez down than the placement of the body shot, however Gonzalez didn’t rise until the count of nine.

Gonzalez hit back in the second round, clearly outworking Sor Rungvisai although Sor Rungvisai stood in the pocket and threw back heavy leather. The third round seemed to change everything as both men clashed heads and a gash opened on the outside of the left eye of Gonzalez. The wound bled profusely throughout the contest and was re-opened by numerous headbutts. The blood, as well as Sor Rungvisai’s wild swinging style, seeminly influenced the judges decision. Gonzalez thoroughly outworked Sor Rungvisai in rounds 3-6 before Sor Rungvisai, who lost a point in the sixth for a headbutt, had his best round since the opener in the seventh.

Gonzales dominated the 8th and the 12th however rounds 9 and 10 were nip and tuck with both men landing great shots, and Sor Rungvisai won the 11th clearly. Gonzalez battered Sor Rungvisai in the 12th to the point where Sor Rungvisai actually ran away at one point to avoid the blows. The Thai fighter was desperate in the 12th and did well to survive, although his punch and grab tactics had a lot to do with that. The fight, in a nutshell, was Gonzalez scoring with both hands to the head and body while Sor Rungvisai took the shots and fired back with hard punches. Many of these punches were blocked, slipped or rolled with by Gonzalez however the blood made the fight seem more even than it was.

Judge Waleska Roldan’s 113-113 card was overruled by judges Julie Lederman and Glenn Feldmann’s 114-112 cards for Sor Rungvisai. I scored the bout 116-110. I favour clean punching, effective aggression, defence and ring generalship (which are the four criteria of boxing judging), all four of which were in favour of Gonzalez ,over throwing lots of hard punches and missing most of them. I was flabbergasted by the result. People complained about the first Bradley-Pacquiao card, this was much, much worse.

The one thing to take out of this fight is that Gonzalez is too small for 115lbs. He won his first bout at 105lbs and wasn’t a big flyweight. Against Cuadras and Sor Rungvisai he looks like he is a clear one or two divisions below them. Gonzalez will likely rematch both men (although a bout between Naoya Inoue and Sor Rungvisai in Japan would be huge money) but I think he is shortening his career by fighting in this division.

Why does Australian Boxing keep doing this?

First of all, I didn’t watch last nights card. The reasons were simple; the main event was a farce, there were numerous mismatches on the undercard and even in the better bouts of the undercard, the winners were all obvious before the bouts even took place. There was nothing I was going to miss by staying up to watch that card last night except for sleep.

The reason boxing will not grow out of being a niche sport in Australia is because it is marketed for the lowest common denominator rather than showcasing what’s good about our sport. By that I mean we don’t get to see the good, even match-ups on television that you can see on non-televised cards in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney throughout the year. That’s because everyone is so afraid to take a loss on their record that the TV slots on the big shows like this are wasted with safe matches. This leaves the casual fan bored because they aren’t getting what they came to see; a fight!
The promoters and matchmakers make up for this by appealing to something these casual fans know; footy players. Instead of seeing a great domestic matchup like George Kambosos vs Brandon Ogilvie, Zac Dunn vs Les Sherrington, Wes Capper vs Wade Ryan or Dennis Hogan vs Samuel Colomban (all fights that headlined shows that were not shown live on nationwide TV in the last 12 months), we get safe match-ups with only one possible outcome (and no punter enjoys watching a contest they already know the outcome of) or we get the worst our country has to offer in the pro ranks, lower level professionals who box for some extra money as well as working full-time and they’re matched up against an in shape, athletic man who has the financial backing to hire the best coaches and the luxury of training full time. These men don’t stay in our sport, they just take the TV slots (and the money that could go to one of our prospects) and go back to playing footy, where they make more money than nearly all boxers in Australia do.

Another issue is that young professional fighters don’t get the chance to learn their trade because there’s a drought of smaller professional shows around Australia. There used to be fight clubs where guys could get even matchups anywhere throughout the country on a weekly basis and some of the profits would be split among the fighters for their purses. The boxers wouldn’t make much but they would stay active, they would learn their trade and work towards big money fights. But now every promoter needs to make thousands of dollars on every show and a fighter can’t get matched unless they sell five times their pay worth of tickets. If they can sell that much, they get matched against opponents who won’t beat them so they end up building a career out of not fighting anyone tough and again, don’t learn their trade and eventually they get exposed. The Catch 22 for the less popular fighters is that a fighter can’t sell that many tickets every time they fight if they can’t get the experience to become good at their craft. There are exceptions to this rule but it seems that the nice looking record and the potential for a huge fight down the track are more important than putting on good fights NOW.

The other problem is the boxing media won’t tell it like it is and call a spade a spade. Tonight’s card was shit. It’s good that the Moloney brothers and Trent Broadhurst got some TV time but not many are going to remember them or want to see them again because they weren’t tested in 50-50 match-ups. If this sort of thing was going on in the NRL, AFL or A-League there would be a riot but it’s boxing and no one cares about boxing.

If you’re disappointed with last nights fights then go to bed early tonight and wake up early tomorrow morning to catch Renold Quinlan’s IBO title fight with Chris Eubank jnr. Quinlan has been fighting the best guys throughout his 12 fight career (11-1, 7 KOs) and has appeared on a couple of Mundine’s undercards. He knocked Daniel Geale out in his last fight and isn’t the 12-1 underdog that he is being made out to be. Renold Quinlan won’t disappoint.

If you’re a casual fan and you were let down by tonight’s show, get to one of your local professional shows (there’s usually at least one a month in every major city) and check out some real boxing. The fights are much more evenly matched which makes for better boxing. It’s not as convenient as watching it on TV or at the local pub but watching a fight live in person beats watching it on TV. If you consider yourself more than a casual fan then get out and support your local shows and even bring some mates along. The more shows on out there the better our product will be when it’s on the big stage and the more likely it will be when it’s on the big stage.

Our sport is better than this.

Santa Cruz defeats Frampton, Garcia wins WBC title

The rematch wasn’t the fight of the year candidate that their July 2016 bout was but Leo Santa Cruz avenged his only career loss and regained the WBA featherweight title from undefeated Carl Frampton earlier today with a majority decision victory. On the undercard, Mikey Garcia scored an early candidate for knockout of the year with a 3rd round knockout over previously unbeaten WBC lightweight title holder Dejan Zlaticanin.
Santa Cruz MD12 Frampton
The fight wasn’t the classic that last years bout was but Santa Cruz boxed a much smarter bout to reclaim his title. Working behind a left jab that wasn’t used much in the first meeting, Santa Cruz didn’t allow Frampton to dictate the pace as he did last July. This resulted in a slower fight but Santa Cruz utilised his 7″ reach advantage and was able to score with jabs and long right hands which showed signs of swelling the Irishmen’s left eye early in the contest.

Frampton battled back in the third round and was able to have success when he caught Santa Cruz on the ropes. Both men exchanged heavily at times during the contest with Santa Cruz throwing more punches but Frampton landing the harder blows. The bout was fairly even through rounds three to five with Frampton effectively forcing the action. Santa Cruz landed six or seven hard left rips to the body in the sixth round, one of which seemed to momentarily take the wind out of Frampton. The defending champion Frampton though came back in the seventh round with his best round of the fight.

Round eight was nip and tuck but Santa Cruz pulled away in the later rounds, landing frequently with long right hands while Frampton had no answer how to get inside on the taller man. Santa Cruz’ long jab made Frampton forget his own, a weapon that he used effectively in his victories last year over Scott Quigg and Santa Cruz and despite good head movement, Santa Cruz’ was scoring as the shorter man came inside. Frampton fought desperately in the twelfth round but it was too little too late. Judge Burt Clements somehow came out with an even scorecard but was overruled by Dave Moretti and Glen Feldman’s 115-113 cards. I scored the bout 116-112 for Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz rejoins Garry Russell jnr, Lee Selby and Oscar Valdez as one of the title holders in the division however a third fight is likely before any unification fights take place with the WBA title at stake. Abner Mares, whom Santa Cruz defeated in 2015, is also in the mix with the WBA regular title. Russell is considered by many, including myself, as the top fighter in the division based on his victory over Jhonny Gonzalez who defeated Mares. Santa Cruz is now number two for me with Frampton close behind in third then Selby then mares then Valdez. If any combination of these six men fight each other it should make for excellent viewing.

Garcia KO3 Zlatincanin
Mikey Garcia won his third title in as many weight classes with a huge third round KO over Dejan Zlaticanin for the WBC title that Dejan won in June last year. It was the first defence of the title that was stripped from Jorge Linares for unifying with Anthony Crolla, a bout that Linares won. Dejan never looked in Garcia’s class and was controlled by a stiff jab throughout the first two rounds.

Garcia opened up in the third and landed with an overhand right and a left rip midway through the round. Dejan attempted to come in low and walked into an uppercut that landed flush and a grazing left hook from the former WBO featherweight and junior lightweight champion. Dejan was hurt and wile he regained his balance Garcia landed a right hand as hardly thrown and as flush as he probably could have landed and Zlaticanin was out before he hit the floor.

Dejan seemed fine after being administered oxygen by the ringside doctors and both Garcia and his trainer Robert Garcia showed excellent sportsmanship by checking on him. Garcia claims his third title in as many weight classes however he is yet to clean out a division and I would love to see him in with Linares for lightweight supremacy. A bout wit Terry Flanagan would also be excellent. In my opinion Garcia needs to stay at lightweight and clean out the division if he wants to be mentioned in the pound for pound stakes however there is already talk of him moving up by the years end.

I would love to see Garcia face Lomachenko should Vasyl move up to the lightweight limit and personally I think Garcia wins that contest but I can see Garcia moving up, likely fighting Ricky Burns or whoever is the weaker out of the junior welterweight champions at the time. Boxing needs more of the top guys fighting each other rather than everyone chasing as many paper titles in as many divisions as they can. Garcia is a three division title holder now however Henry Armstrong would be turning in his grave every time someone mentioned this as an achievement.

Other Results
In a fight that wasn’t televised on Australian TV, Francisco Vargas lost his WBC junior lightweight title and perhaps a chance to meet Lomachenko in a decent money fight with an (apparently) one sided eleventh round TKO loss to Mexican Miguel Berchelt. There will be a report on this site if I’m able to see the fight in the next few days. Takashi Miura scored a 12th round knockout over Mickey Roman on the undercard in what was apparently a rival to DeGale-Jack for fight of the month/year.

DeGale and Jack battle to draw

In an early contender for fight of the year, IBF super middleweight champion James De Gale and WBC super middleweight champion Beau Jack battled to a twelve round majority draw yesterday in New York.

DeGale started the faster of the two and scored with a hard lead left hand from the southpaw stance that dropped Jack in the opening round. Jack took the count and recovered well but was having trouble with the Englishman’s speed. degalejackposterThe IBF champion continued his success in the 2nd round but Jack began to score with right hands to the body and head in the third round and the fight was very even through rounds three to five with all three rounds potentially going either way.

Jack , who was coming off a draw to Lucian Bute last year, had his first moments of dominance in the sixth round when he trapped DeGale along the ropes and scored with a flurry of punches. Later in the round he appeared to hurt DeGale with a body shot and despite a flurry from “Chunky” in the final 30 seconds it was Jack’s first dominant round of the fight. The 7th round was again hard to score with DeGale seeminly landing more punches but Jack scoring with the heavier blows.

Early in the eighth round Jack knocked DeGale’s mouthpiece out and before the referee had a chance to replace it, the Swedish born fighter began his best onslaught of the fight. Referee Arthur Mercante jnr had an excellent fight and his decision to hand the mouthpiece off to DeGale’s corner and instruct them to rinse it while the fight continued was probably the best handling of that situation I have ever seen. DeGale was in serious jackdegalecardtrouble during this round and had he received additional time to recover  it could have given his promoter Floyd Mayweather jnr another thing to whine about after the fight (more on that later). There was word in a later round that DeGale lost some teeth during this round and that has since been confirmed.

Round nine was another close round with DeGale now landing the harder punches and Jack landing more punches although Jack was still landing hard blows himself as he again knocked DeGale’s mouthpiece out. DeGale took the tenth on my card as well as all three judges’ cards but the round was one of the better rounds of an excellent bout. Going into the championship rounds I had DeGale up 95-94. Round eleven was scored unanimously for DeGale although the round was very close and I’ve seen a number of different cards scoring the round for Jack.

The final round both fighters sensed they needed to win it to win the fight and fought accordingly. Halfway through the round Beau Jack evened up the knockdowns and dropped DeGale with a hard right hand. DeGale was clearly hurt with blood coming from his mouth and his face swelling up. Jack attempted to finish him and again knocked out the British fighter’s mouthpiece and landed hard shots right up until the final bell.

Judge Glenn Feldman’s 114-112 card in favour of James DeGale was overruled by judges Julie Lederman and and Steve Weisfeld who both scored the bout 113-113 allowing each man to retain their titles. This was a fantastic fight and despite neither man winning it, boxing fans were the winner as this fight topped off a card that will be hard to beat in terms of evenly matched fights and back and forth action. I scored the bout 114-112 for Jack but I wouldn’t tell a person who scored it 115-111 for DeGale that they were wrong because there were that many close rounds in this fight.

During the post fight interviews both men felt they won, both men had every right to say that they won. Beau Jack now 20-1-3 with 12 KO’s, didn’t say much except that he wants to fight at light heavyweight and he thought he won and would prefer a rematch there. DeGale’s promoter Eddie Hearn didn’t say anything. James DeGale, now 23-1-1 with 14 KO’s, stated that he landed the cleaner shots and was “picking his (Jack’s) head off” then Jack’s promoter Floyd Mayweather spoke. Mayweather thought Jack was ripped off for the second time in a row and there’s a lot of people who probably agree. Mayweather then stated that the judges ruined this fight, claimed that ONE judge scored a “unanimous decision” for Oscar De la Hoya in their 2007 bout which Mayweather won by split decision and that this was a bad night for boxing.

By a bad night for boxing Mayweather means it was a bad night for him. This was the exact kind of card boxing needed and especially considering it was in New York, a state that almost lost boxing as a sport because of crazy insurance premiums that the State Athletic Commission was forcing promoter’s to take out in order to host shows in the state, this was exactly the type of card boxing needed. Mayweather, despite what he thinks, isn’t boxing. Both times Mayweather got on the mic during this card he made a fool of himself (he swore unneccessarily on free to air TV while being interviewed after the Davis-Pedraza fight, way to bring the kids into boxing) and the only thing that was bad for boxing tonight was what came out of his mouth.

Undercard; Gervonta Davis wins IBF 130lb title, Immanuwel Aleem stops Khytrov

The undercard was sensational. Gervonta Davis looks like he could be a major player at junior lightweight with a dominating performance in his first 12 round bout over Puerto Rico’s IBF world titlist Jose Pedraza. Davis dominated the first four rounds, making Davis miss and exploding on him with counters. He appeared to slow down in rounds five and six but Pedraza’s only really good round was the sixth. Davis took over again quickly in the seventh and put Davis away after dropping him with a series of shots punctuated with a right hook from the southpaw stance.

Davis, now 17-0 with 16 KO’s, reminds me of Adrien Broner when he was at this weight and hopefully he keeps the same focus. While Pedraza, now 22-1 with 12 KO’s, probably had no business being a world titlist (he won a vacant title and hasn’t fought anyone inside the top 10) Davis looked good in dispatching him.

The other televised undercard was another war between undefeated prospects Immanuwel Aleem (16-0-1, 9 KO’s) and Ievgen Khytrov (14-0, 12 KO’s). Aleem boxed from the outside early but hurt Khytrov, a former world amateur champion in 2012 with a win over Olympic gold medalist and Japanese middleweight prospect Ryota Murata, with an overhand right midway through the round. Aleem then became right hand happy and threw pretty much just his overhand right for the rest of the round and seemingly punched himself out by the end of the stanza attempting to finish the Ukrainian.

Khytrov took the second on my card with his aggression. He cut the ring off well and threw a lot of punches on the inside although his defence was very leaky and he took his share of big punches in return. Aleem looked exhausted until he came to life late in the third and stunned Khytrov with a left hook. he then followed it with a beautiful double left hook and dropped Khytrov heavily. Referee Eddie Claudio administered the eight count, then took an inexplicable ten more seconds before he restarted the fight. Rather than using combinations, Aleem winged wild left hooks in an attempt to finish Khytrov and let him off the hook.

The Ukrainian’s corner went off between rounds at their man’s lack of defence and told him not to stay so tall and the advice was well received. Khytrov came back well in rounds four and five and seemed to have recovered and worked his way back into the fight as Aleem had slowed down again. Coming in lower and moving his head more, Khytrov made Aleem miss and went to work when he trapped him along the ropes and seemed to be on his way to a stoppage victory with Aleem tiring. The end came suddenly in round six.

Aleem used his jab better early in the sixth and kept Ievgen off him momentarily before Khytrov went to work. With Aleem defending along the ropes, he landed a right uppercut which backed Khytrov up. He missed with a right hand but then landed a huge corkscrew left hand followed by an overhand right and dropped Khytrov heavily. Khytrov beat the count but was clearly hurt and despite an additional seven seconds on top of the eight count, Aleem landed four consecutive right hands followed by two left hooks forcing the stoppage. There was a lot of hype behind Ievgen Khytrov so this is a huge win for Aleem, who wasn’t very well known before this fight.

Boxing Preview; De-Gale-Jack, Nasio-Fujimoto

This weekends boxing action is headlined by the huge super middleweight unification fight out of New York with IBF titlist James DeGale unifying with WBC titlist Beau Jack with an IBF junior lightweight title fight on the undercard. Also featuring this weekend is Cuban star Erislandy Lara defending his WBA junior middlweight title against former Miguel Cotto victim Yuri Foreman. There is no action domestically but Australian heavyweight champion travels to Japan to take on former K-1 star and now full-time boxer Kyotaro Fujimoto for the vacant OPBF heavyweight title.

James DeGale vs Badou Jack
Vacant Ring Magazine world championship, WBC/IBF world titles
New York, USA
Television- Fox Sports 5, 1.30pm Sunday 15 Jan
Australian fight fans are being treated to a lot of Showtime fights free to air on Fox Sports. It’s expected to continue with the huge welterweight showdown between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia later this year as well as the Carl Frampton vs Leo degalejackposterSanta Cruz rematch but first up is the entirely under-hyped super middleweight unification bout between WBC titlist Badou Jack and IBF titlist James DeGale.

DeGale (23-1, 14 KO) took the vacant IBF title by defeating Andre Dirrell in 2015 following Carl Froch’s retirement. He has since defended it twice with a clear cut decision wins over former champion Lucian Bute and Italy’s Rogelio Medina. DeGale’s sole career loss was via razor thin decision to George Groves back in May 2011. Groves and DeGale were amateur rivals with Groves defeating DeGale in the unpaid ranks before DeGale went on to win the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics. Groves win over DeGale for the Commonwealth title in 2011 was a huge upset and a huge fight for British boxing but DeGale has bounced back well while Groves’ career has slid following his losses to Carl Froch in 2014.

Badou Jack (20-1-2, 13 KO) took the WBC title from Anthony Dirrell, who defeated Sakio Bika for the WBC title and was making his first defence of the title. Jack showed he was one of the top super middleweight’s in the world in his next fight with a majority decision win over George Groves on the Mayweather-Berto undercard and was unlucky not to get the decision over Lucian Bute in a fight that he clearly won (Bute later tested positive for banned substances). Jack’s only loss was in 2014, a surprise first round knockout against Derek Edwards, who has since lost his last three bouts.

DeGale should be the favourite but Jack has surprised people in his last three fights and a lot of people were expecting him to lose all three. This is a fight between two of the top three super middleweights in the world and Ring Magazine has put their vacant title on the line for the winner. WBO champ Gilberto Ramirez, in my opinion, is the top super middleweight in the world following his domination over Arthur Abraham, who had established himself as the best super middleweight behind Carl Froch with wins over Robedrt Stieglitz and Martin Murray. DeGale has the edge in speed for me and I think this will be the difference. I expect this one to go 12 rounds and Jack will likely make it close but DeGale should be able to control the fight with his hand and foot speed and take a close decision.

The undercard sees an IBF junior lightweight title fight between Jose Pedraza and Gervonta Davis. The title has gone to Pedraza after Rances Barthelemy moved up to lightweight and Pedraza is making his third defence. Davis, a 2012 national golden gloves champion, is taking a significant step up in class, competing in his first 12 round fight but has a thirsd round knockout over former title holder Cristobal Cruz on his record. A women’s world title fight between one of the best women’s boxers in the world Amanda Serrano and former WBC bantamweight champion Yazmin Rivas for the WBO junior featherweight title and a middleweight contest featuring Ukraine’s former world amateur champion Ievgen Khytrov make up the rest of the card.

Erislandy Lara vs Yuri Foreman
WBA junior middleweight title
A non televised fight on Australian TV, Lara is making a rather routine defence against Foreman, who hasn’t really done a whole lot since losing back to back fights against Miguel Cotto and Pawel Wolak in 2010 and 2011. Lara won’t pressure Foreman as much, which might give Foreman a chance as his losses were both against pressure fighters, but Lara is too slick and technical and should win a wide decision.

Kyotaro Fujimoto vs Wille Nasio
Vacant OPBF heavyweight title
Kyotaro Fujimoto (15-1, 8 KO) is a former K-1 fighter who was being built up as the next Japanese star after wins over Peter Aerts and Jerome Le Banner but after losses to Semmy Schilt and Gegard Mousasi in 2010 he switched to boxing. His one loss was to Solomon Haumono by knockout the last time he went for the OPBF title. He has since won the Japanese national title and has defeated middleweight boxer Nobuhiro Ishida on points (Ishida is a notoriously tough middleweight who was only stopped by Gennady Golovkin and has a first round knockout win over James Kirkland) and scored wins over Peter Okhello and Australia’s Nathan McKay.

Nasio (10-1, 9 KO) is coming off a fourth round stoppage over Hunter Sam and his only loss was to Tai Tuivasa in a one night tournament in the fourth fight of his pro career. He’s also defeated Nathan McKay, although his win was via first round knockout and Kyotaro went 8 rounds with McKay. Nasio should be the favourite in this fight, Kyotaro has trouble keeping strong guys at a distance and he doesn’t have huge power for a heavyweight. If Nasio takes his time and puts on steady pressure he should be able to break down Kyotaro the same way Haumono did and force a mid round stoppage.