By: Ste Rowen
In an intriguing night at Orlando’s CFE Arena, IBF champion, Emmanuel Rodriguez scored a competitive 12-round decision over Jason Moloney; while Yunier Dorticos of Cuba, earnt a tough, but dominant, unanimous decision over Mateusz Masternak, both to progress to the final four of the World Boxing Super Series.
Tonight’s results mean Puerto Rican bantamweight, Rodriguez will fight Naoya Inoue next, and Dorticos, former cruiserweight ‘Regular’ champion, takes on Andrew ‘The Beast’ Tabiti, in their respective WBSS semi-finals.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
First up were the cruiserweights. Dorticos and Masternak started off their bout with a lot of jabs thrown but very little intent by either until, towards the end of the 2nd round, ‘The KO Doctor’ Dorticos lay on an onslaught of 1-2’s, forcing his Polish foe further and further back. The Pole survived but the pace of the fight was being firmly set by the Cuban.
Masternak sustained two cuts in round 3, one below his right and another above his left, but the former European champion regained composure as the fight unfolded into the middle rounds of the scheduled 12. Yunier, now 23-1-0 (20KOs), was mixing up his shots well. The frequent body attack in the early rounds let the crowd know that the former WBA ‘Regular’ champion was thinking long term for this matchup.
‘The Master’ may have taken punishment early, but through the 8th and 9th, Mateusz was showing that he wouldn’t be intimidated by Dorticos’ power. Even when the European touched the canvas in the 7th due to a slip and maybe a hint of fatigue, he rose calmly and initiated his own string of attacks. Miami resident, Dorticos, with the Orlando crowd audibly in his favour, tagged Masternak with a short right hand in the final 10 seconds of round 9. Once again, Masternak displayed his resoluteness to survive and come out swinging into the 10th.
The final rounds gave us more of the same dominance from ‘The KO Doctor’ and counters from the Polish Master. Both fighters went tit-for-tat in the 12th but the blooded face of Masternak seemed to tell the tale by the time the final bell rang.
And so, we waited for the final scorecards which returned as, 116-112, 115-113 (x2), all for Yunier Dorticos. The KO Doctor had prescribed a unanimous decision, and spoke post-fight via translator,
‘‘I came ready, I was prepared for 12 rounds. I gave the fans the best of everything I bring to the table.’’
And his thoughts on facing Andrew ‘The Beast’ Tabiti in the semi-finals,
‘‘Tabiti, be ready, The KO Doctor’s back and it aint gonna be easy. The Muhammad Ali Trophy, this time around, is mine, so you better make sure you train.’’
The final two cruiserweight WBSS quarter-finals are happening three weeks from now in Chicago when former WBC champion, Mairis Briedis comes up against Noel Gevor, and former WBO titlist, Krzysztof Glowacki fights Maksim Vlasov.
Emmanuel Rodriguez vs. Jason Moloney
In a candidate for fight of a stacked weekend, IBF titlist, Emmanuel Rodriguez roughed and toughed it out with unbeaten contender, Jason Moloney to earn a split decision over 12 rounds.
The IBF champion led with a heavy jab, multiplied his attack with swift overhand shots and evaded significant attack from his Australian opponent. Moloney is no pretender, 17-0, the Australian is undoubtedly a bantamweight contender, but unfortunately for Jason, ‘Manny’ seems to be in a class of few fighters that includes WBSS semi-finalist, Naoya Inoue, who was in attendance tonight.
Though perhaps lacking the power of Japanese phenom, Inoue, Rodriguez, now 19-0 (12KOs) is clinical in his offence. When he throws, he lands. When he dodges, he counters. Into round 4, Moloney began to find a little rhythm. The Australian became more mobile and freed up his shots, but, though there wasn’t much wrong with the tactics, ‘Manny’ figured it out as the bout headed into the middle rounds.
Moloney was more active through to round 9, the messages he was getting from his corner of Rodriguez’ legs ‘going’ were more hopeful than truthful. As the two fighters fought out round 8, the IBF champion, making his first defence, looked mean, almost annoyed that Jason was still hanging in. By the finale of the 9th, as Jason returned to his corner, the left-uppercut/right hand combo towards the end of the round from the Puerto Rican, had clearly left a lasting impression.
The bout entered the final three rounds, and though Moloney, was going all out, he struggled to do anything more than test Manny’s stamina. The blood thirsty crowd were appeased, with all-out action in the final two rounds but heading into the 12th, it looked as if Moloney would need the stoppage if he was gonna be the man to face Inoue next.
The Australian undoubtedly went for it, but the story of the fight seemed to be reoccurring as Moloney had the volume of punching, but the champ had the accuracy. The final scorecards, 115-113 for Moloney and 115-113 (x2) for Rodriguez came back closer than expected, but Rodriguez said he always felt confident, post-fight,
‘‘It took Moloney to bring the best out of me, but I knew I won the fight. We knew the fight was close, but my corner told me I was in front so, that’s what happened.’’
And Emmanuel’s thoughts on his future Japanese foe,
‘‘He’s a top fighter. I know he likes to finish his bouts with a KO…It’s gonna be a good fight and I can’t wait for it.’’
Semi-finalist and Emmanuel’s next opposition, Naoya Inoue joined Rodriguez in the ring and said,
‘‘I would like to congratulate Rodriguez on winning his fight today. I’m really excited that I’ll be facing Rodriguez in the semi-finals probably early next year.’’
The 4th 118lb quarter-final bout takes place in two weeks, when WBA champion, Ryan Burnett fights Filipino Flash, Nonito Donaire at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro. The winner of that matchup progresses on to fight WBO champion, Zolani Tete.