Vargas-Berchelt, Miura-Roman, Provide Great Night Of Boxing On HBO
By: Sean Crose
Super featherweight Takashi Miura (30-3-2) returned to American television screens on Saturday as he kicked off HBOs first Boxing After Dark broadcast of 2017 by facing Miguel Roman. Although Roman had a record of 56-11, he hadn’t lost a fight since 2012 and would undoubtedly move on to big things should he beat the Japanese action fighter in their scheduled 12 round bout at the Fantasy Springs Casino in California.
Miura moved forward early, cautiously moving in on his prey. Still, round one proved to be a feeling out process for both fighters. No fireworks went off in the second. In the third, the men exchanged heavy blows. The action continued throughout the fourth. Indeed, it looked towards the very end of that round that Roman might actually be in trouble. By the middle of the fifth, however, Roman started coming on strong. It was shaping up to be a truly grinding affair.
By the end of the sixth, a cut Miura looked like he might be in danger. He was back in the seventh, however, and the war continued. Still, it looked like
Roman may have been pulling ahead (albeit slightly). The eighth-round looked more like a brawl than a boxing match and the ninth showed Miura screaming each time he tossed a thunderous shot at his foe. Roman, however, kept swinging. It may not have been a great fight, but there was no doubt the combatants were engaged in a war of attrition.
The grind continued throughout the tenth. With seconds left in the round, however, Roman hit the canvas, courtesy of a stabbing body shot from Miura. Roman, however, was able to beat the count, who knows how. Halfway through the eleventh, however, Miura put Roman down again, this time with a combination of shots. Again, though, Roman got back to his feet. Roman went down for the third time early in the twelfth, though, and this time the game warrior didn’t get up.
It was the epitome of a hard-earned victory for Miura.
A few minutes later, the main event began. Miguel Berchelt (30-1) stepped into the ring to challenge undefeated WBC super featherweight champ Francisco Vargas (23-0-2). The first round was a sharp three minutes, with both men landing crisp, accurate punches. Berchelt landed quite effectively in the second and even appeared to have Vargas hurt. Vargas, however, returned the favor before Berchelt wrapped up the round with hard, clean shots. It was a thrilling chapter.
It continued to be a slugfest throughout the third. It looked like it might come down to which fighter had better stamina. Vargas was being as tough and as game as they come, but Berchelt was cracking more effectively in the fourth. Vargas came back alive in the first half of the fifth, however. Yet Berchelt was determined to make the night his. It continued to be a grueling affair throughout the sixth.
Both men were still landing well in the seventh. Berchelt’s punches were stronger, but Vargas’ landed with more frequency. By the end of that round, however, Berchelt’s output picked up, giving him the edge. By the eighth, it was clear that Berchelt’s superior strength was telling the tale. It was a tough, indeed a brutal, fight, but Berchelt was proving to be the better man.
By the ninth, Vargas was bleeding profusely. A cut that had opened earlier was now flowing horribly. Vargas was also getting banged up bad by his opponent. The referee wisely called time and the doctor allowed the fight to continue. No matter how things turned out, it was clear Vargas was some kind of athlete to keep going as he was. The referee called in the doctor again at the beginning of the tenth. And once again, Vargas was allowed to continue. By the eleventh, the HBO team was openly and very firmly complaining that the fight was being allowed to continue. And, with less than a minute left in the round, the referee put a stop to things.
Berchelt, the new champ, had been brilliant…and Vargas had gone out like a warrior (though the fight could well have been stopped sooner).