By Chris Cella
Getting the action underway live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn was a WBC Super Middleweight championship bout between undefeated prospect Marco Periban (20-0, 13 KO) and former title challenger Sakio Bika (31-5-2, 21 KO). Almost immediately both fighters established the intense pace to the fight, letting their hands fly rapidly through each round.
Periban came in the bigger fighter and utilized his jab at the start of the fight, but Bika was able to diffuse it by coming forward and throwing heavy hands with bad intentions.
Although the fight was sloppy at times, Bika was able to win the majority of the late rounds counterpunching on Periban.
A street fight from start to finish, the fans were given a treat as both fighters left it all in the ring. There were several rounds through the middle stage of the fight which could’ve gone either way, and entering the 12th it appeared the fight could’ve been up for grabs. The last minute of the fight was reminiscent of a Arturo Gatti vs. Mickey Ward battle, with both pugilists throwing all caution to the wind and looking to land the money shot to end the night.
As the fight went to the score cards, Bika was awarded the Majority Decision, capturing the belt.
The second bout of the evening was a heavyweight rematch between two of the division’s top fighters, WBO NABO titlist Jonathan Banks (29-1-1, 19 KO) and Seth Mitchell (25-1-1, 19 KO).
Both fighters met last November where Banks was able to finish Mitchell off in the second round, and out of the gate tonight the fight looked like it was going to pick up where it left off. In the second round Mitchell caught Banks with a right hand which sent him to the canvas, but Banks was able to survive the round and fight on.
From that point on the pace of the fight greatly slowed down, with both fighters punching one shot at a time rather than with the ferocity they began with. Although Banks was able to hurt Mitchell with his powerful shots several times through the course of the fight, he was unable to capitalize and finish the challenger off as he successfully did in their first meeting.
In the late rounds it was Mitchell who was staying more active and landing more punches, and Banks continued to appear to fade.
The action nearly came to a standstill in the last two rounds as both fighters looked worn down, struggling to let their hands go, and in the end it was Mitchell who prevailed, winning by Unanimous Decision and capturing the belt.
The table was set for the main event of the evening, the WBA World Welterweight Title fight between champion Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi (32-4, 7 KO) and undefeated WBC Lightweight champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner (26-0, 22 KO). Both champions went above and beyond in their efforts to trash talk and build the hype up for this welterweight showdown, but none of that mattered once the first round was underway.
Despite being the reigning belt holder, Malignaggi came into the fight a heavy underdog against the bigger and faster challenger.
A classic matchup between the technical boxer against the powerful and crafty puncher, Malignaggi came out of the gate using his jab to stay busy and find his range and timing, and Broner stayed tight in his guard minimizing his target and blocking the majority the titlist threw his way.
The fight began to turn to a street fight late in the second round as the two were clinched and Paulie grabbed Broner’s left leg, resulting in Broner lifting it to kick him off. From that point on Paulie started to abandon his boxing and looked to exchange with Broner, landing the majority of his combinations though they didn’t do any immediate damage. Broner continued to pick his shots one by one but each time Malignaggi came firing back with his own flurry. At the end of the round Broner let his hands go a bit and caught Malignaggi with a few clean shots, starting to welt up the champion’s face.
Malignaggi showed why he is a world champion as he continued to come forward even when Broner was able to pinpoint his power shots, and stayed active with throwing multiple punch combinations, nearly doubling Broner’s punch output through each round.
The wear and tear of Broner’s power was evident as the rounds progressed, but Malignaggi refused to back down even though his pace slowed. Broner found his rhythm in terms of timing Malignaggi’s jab and kept connecting with power shots, and at times looked like he was going to send the champion to the canvas, but Paulie kept popping his jab out and throwing his combos.
In the end Malignaggi’s determination and will weren’t enough to do any real damage or slow Broner down, and the continuous power shots were what gave the challenger the edge.
Broner was awarded a hard fought split decision and showed that he is one of the best pound for pound fighters in the sport, adding another piece of hardware to his collection.