HBO Wrapup: Berchelt Tops Miura in Tough As Nails Bout
By: Sean Crose
Joe Smith returned from his conquest of the great Bernard Hopkins on Saturday at the Forum in California to take on skilled former Olympian Sullivan Barrera in a showdown of light heavyweight contenders. It was a quality matchup – perhaps that’s why it was a bit of a surprise to see Barrera hit the mat in the first. The man got up, but Smith once again made people take note of his power. After a relatively uneventful second round, Barrera opened the third round strong and performed effectively throughout.
A Barrera uppercut rocked Smith early in the fourth. The Miami based fighter continued to assert control from there on out. The fifth essentially consisted of more of the same, but the two men exchanged well at the tail end of the sixth. The seventh round clearly alarmed the referee, if few others, for in between the seventh and eighth, Jack Reese asked Smith if he was feeling all right. Smith didn’t impress for the following two rounds.
Then, at the beginning of the tenth, Reese told the two fighters to touch gloves, clearly forgetting that it was a twelve round affair. But wait, he wasn’t mistaken. Reese knew what HBO didn’t, that the promotion had switched from a twelve round bout to a ten rounder without the broadcast team being informed. Needless to say, Barrera wrappedd up the night and earned himself a unanimous decision win.
Next up was the WBA super featherweight title fight between Jezreel Corrales and Robinson Castellanos. It was a close, fairly interesting affair. Corrales was dropped twice in the fourth, but came back and performed well afterwards. Still, Castellanos looked solid when the bout was stopped because of an accidental headbutt in the 10th. Needless to say, Corrales pulled off a majority decision win. A hoped for rematch might possibly be warranted.
It was time for the main event. Miguel Berchelt, the WBC super featherweight champ, stepped into the ring to face Japan’s Takashi Miura in what was clearly an intriguing matchup – at least on paper. It was a close, clinical first round, until Miura was sent to the mat. Looking no worse for wear, the man quickly got to his feet. The second round was also clinical for the most part, but the strength of Berchelt’s punches ultimately told the tale.
Miura started landing clean to the body in the third. Berchelt landed well in the fourth and it began to seem as if Miura would truly have to start working his opponent’s body if he were to keep from eventually being stopped. Sure enough, Berchelt ended the round in strong fashion. Miura fought hard in the fifth, but it wasn’t enough. Same for the sixth. Make no mistake about it, though, the fight wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Miura was there to win and the first half of the bout was an entertaining affair.
In the seventh, it was Berchelt who worked on Miura’s body as he looked to break his man down. The fight was stopped in the eighth for a rabbit punch from Miura. It seemed excessive, but I won’t fault a referee for being extra cautious. In the ninth, Miura whaled away at his opponent’s body in impressive fashion. He continued to do so in the tenth. By the eleventh, both men were tossing crushing shots at each other. It wasn’t a fast paced bout, but it was exciting and extremely rugged.
The twelfth was as grueling as the previous few rounds. Berchelt won a well deserved decision, but hats off to both men. Here’s hoping Miura seriously considers retirement. There’s only so much ring damage one man can take over the course of a career.