Dorticos and Breidis Advance to Finals
By: Shane Willoughby
The Latvian did not let his country down. In front of the thousands in attendance at the Riga Arena, Mairis Breidis proved that he still has the power and stops Glowacki in the 3rd round.
One of the most exciting 3 rounds in the history of boxing; it’s difficult to know where to start. Let’s begin with the craziness of 2nd round.
After a pretty basic 1st, the 2nd round exploded into action with both going for broke. Someone must have told them that this can’t go the distance. They both landed massive shots on one another. But what happened next was probably the most bizarre thing in boxing history.
Both Briedis and Glowacki went into a clinch where it appeared that Glowacki hit Briedis behind the head. Instead of waiting for the referee, Breidis followed up with a flying elbow. Dana White you might need to sign these guys up for the UFC.
The elbow sent the polish men crashing to the canvas, a perfect knockout. At one stage it looked as if he couldn’t get up. But once he finally got up Breidis smelt blood and went for the finish. After being deducted a point, it was like the Latvian didn’t care about the scorecard anymore.
Briedis dropped Glowacki too more times in the round; this time with punches. The entire crowd rose to the feet screaming for their hero to finish the fight. What happened next was remarkable.
They both started trading again in the middle of the ring. The bell goes to signal the end of a fantastic round and the fight continues. Both guys refused to stop throwing punches and Briedis drops Glowacki again. 30 seconds after the bell rang.
In the defence of the fighters, the arena was very load so they may not have heard. Where was the ref, you may ask? Not judging the fight that’s for sure.
Glowacki made it to his feet and made it to his corner and that was finally the end of the round. But it wasn’t the end of the action. Thinking that the fight couldn’t possibly provide more drama, and they would take a bit of a rest. Nope.
Both men cane out again for the kill. After being on the verge of defeat, the WBO champion landed a great shot on the home fighter and Briedis looked to be out on his feet. But the Latvian done the veteran thing and held on.
Once back to his senses, back on the attack. Briedis went back in the middle to trade off again, but this time it saw the end of the bout.
The home town fighter gave his fans something to cheer about, permanently landing a brilliant combination to end the fight and a fantastic night of boxing.
Not so much for the the many polish fans, who were livid at the invisible referee. But at least they don’t have to travel that far home.
Yunier Dorticos wins the IBF championship by knocking out Andrew Tabiti in the 10th round. Dorticos has now advanced to the WBSS final and become a two time Cruiserweight Champion.
Like most fights at the top level, the fight started very cagey with both men not throwing much. But the Cuban was trying to press the action but couldn’t quite keep up with the speed of Tabiti.
But like a true veteran, Dorticos started putting money in the bank by going to the body.
Eventually, Tabiti started to slow down and the fight started to got much cleaner.
The 6th round was definetly a game changer. When Dorticos got cut from an accidental headclash and Tabiti got a point deducted for a excessive holding.
After the fight became much more exciting, both landing good shots but Dorticos’ body work in the early rounds paid dividend as Tabiti started to hold his feet.
Knowing that he was probably down on the cards, the American started to trade up with Dorticos and was getting some success.
However, he traded one time too much and the KO doctor gave out an amazing prescription. The right hand landed flush on the undefeated fighter and sent him to the canvas and Tabiti wasn’t able to get up.
Now the new Cruiserweight Champion has cemented his name in the history books and moves onto the final and into a unification with Mairis Braidis.
Kalle Sauerland: The IBF Belt Will be Vacant for this Series
By: Shane Willoughby
Ahead of Saturday’s WBSS Semi-final clash between Yunier Dorticos and Andrew Tabiti, Kalle Sauerland added some insight at the press conference to exactly what is happening with the IBF belt.
With Tabiti ranked number 1 and Dorticos number 2 with the IBF and Usyk obviously moving to heavyweight, the belt being available for this bout makes perfect sense. However, there has been no word from either the governing body nor Usyk about him relinquishing his title.
“We have applied for the full world championship, the current status is that we’re waiting to here back, we should here by Saturday”. Sauerland added “in a logical world there is no reason why it can’t happen, it should happen and it will happen. The question is whether it’s now or for the final.”
To be honest its difficult to see what the hold up is. There is no chance Usyk will be making any defences of his belt and both Dorticos and Tabiti are the next in line for a shot at the title.
It’s not usual for the IBF to take so long in freeing up their belts. They stripped Tyson Fury of his IBF belt before he even realised he won it.
“The WBO and WBC have already gone ahead and we expect the IBF to follow suit but we have to wait for all the formalities of it” Kalle Sauerland stated.
The promoter brought up the fact that Usyk vacated his other belt. But look how long it took him to finally give them. There could have been 5 new world champions between now and the Ukrainians last title defence.
Mr Sauerland and his team could be waiting until next year if they are waiting for Usyk to vacate the belt. But hopefully the IBF come to their senses and make the title available for Saturday’s clash.
And if the governing body does what it’s suppose to, it makes Saturday’s clash even more interesting. Is Dorticos going to become a two time world champion, or is Andrew Tabiti going to be returning with the strap.
Kalle Sauerland: The Judges Will Have No Favoritism Towards Briedis
By: Shane Willoughby
Ahead of Saturday’s WBSS semi final between Glowacki and Briedis for the WBO and WBC Cruiserweight titles, German promoter Kalle Saurland, is confident the judges won’t be in favour of the home fighter.
Mairis Briedis is a national hero in Latvia; the biggest sports icon in the country. So it is no surprise that the question of bias towards him is brought up, especially as the fights in his home town. However, Saurland stressed that the fight will be completely impartial.
“The officials are not from Latvia. The ring might be in Latvia, but the ring is a ring and as Usyk showed he faught three times away from home in the first one [WBSS]” as confirmed by Saurland.
Whilst it is difficult to believe that judges can be impartial especially when watching modern boxing, Mr Saurland makes a very strong point especially, when Usyk won a close points decision against the Latvian in his backyard.
“The biggest fight that he [Glowacki] has made in my opinion was against Marco Huck and that was also not in Poland, so he shown that he can travel” added Saurland.
Whilst all those points maybe true, it will be interesting to see how well the judges do, when the home supporters are cheering for their guy. Will they be inclined to give any close decision to the pre fight favourite and potential cash cow in the series.
Mairis Briedis is the only fighter who can potentially sell out a venue in a country and is the pre – tournament favourite. In addition to that, the former WBC champion got a favourable decision in his last fight against Noel Gevor.
Many thought that Briedis lost that fight and whilst the fight wasn’t in Latvia, the WBSS couldn’t afford for their only crowd puller to come into the competition off a loss.
All of the speculation and conspiracies are unnecessary and probably carries little substance or truth. If the promoter says a fight will be fair then that is exactly what will happen. When have you ever seen an untruthful boxing promoter?
WBSS Semifinals Preview: Briedis-Glowacki and Dorticos-Tabiti
By Robert Aaron Contreras
It will be an earlier Saturday than usual for fight fans. The semifinals of the second cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series kicks off on DAZN at 2 p.m. ET.
Two matchups will decide the tournament finale as Mairis Briedis hosts the rest of the field from his backyard in Riga, Latvia on June 15. The hometown man battles former world champion Krzysztof Glowacki. And another of the division’s sharpshooters, Yuniel Dorticos meets the undefeated Andrew Tabiti.
All four men are rated among the best in the world, carrying on the tradition of intense matchmaking that has in recent memory defined these most courageous competitors.
Mairis Briedis (25-1, 18 KO) vs. Krzysztof Glowacki (31-1, 19 KO)
This matchup may only technically be the semifinals, but this particular clash could decide who for the time being is the premier fighter in the class. Last season’s WBSS finalists, Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev, are both set for the land of heavyweights, leaving the WBC and WBO belts up for grabs between Briedis and Glowacki.
Briedis, 35, once held that WBC title. In 2017, he went over to Germany to beat out Marco Huck for the green strap. The Latvian bruiser proved he was more than just a puncher, hardly dropping a round over the championship distance. He became just the second cruiser to defeat Huck at the weight in a decade.
Briedis also undoubtedly gave Usyk the tightest fight of the Ukrainian’s career. And his collection of knockouts is incredible: blowing away a sizable, rough-and-rumble cruiser like Simon Vallily; the physical specimen Olanrewaju Durodola, and lighting up heavyweight Manuel Charr with a single shot—walking backwards and giving up 30 pounds, no less.
Rated No. 1 in the world by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, his last two contests have not been so impressive. In fact, save for a competitive outing against Usyk, Briedis has not looked all that elite since outboxing Huck.
Last time out, Briedis was dealt with an apparent arm injury on his righthand side opposite Noel Gevor. The underdog took advantage and was all over Briedis for 12 rounds. The slippery German transplant touched his man up and down at the end of a rangy, pawing jab and awkward lateral movement. The unanimous decision Briedis received did not go over well on social media.
Gevor though is one of the most underrated boxers around, having been on the wrong end of another set of bad scores against Krzysztof “Diablo” Wlodarczyk. But that does not explain why just before that, Briedis could not get out of first gear in his fight against an unheralded bit player like Brandon Deslaurier.
Over 10 rounds with Deslaurier, Briedis shut out the Frenchman but was lackadaisical throughout. Following his first ever loss, it wasn’t held against him. He did not have that excuse when he met Mike Perez just before that. The pride and joy of Latvia may have a terrible habit of fighting down (or up) to his opponents.
Glowacki, 32, shares a couple common opponents. After all, in the 200-pound division, the créme de la créme are bound to meet each other.
For one, Glowacki also lost to Usyk, giving up his WBO strap in the process. He picked up the alphabet trinket from Huck the year prior in a barnburning affair. The Polish warrior defended the title once, turning away former champion Steve Cunningham. The exhilarating American would touch the canvas four times en route to a clear-cut decision loss to the visiting Glowacki.
Glowacki rattled off five straights victories since that loss to Usyk. Most recently, in the quarterfinals he overpowered Maxim Vlasov, who is equally a terrifying puncher, wining another decision.
Now as the division undergoes transition, Briedis and Glowacki have a chance to separate themselves from the pack. All it could take is one punch.
Yuniel Dorticos (23-1, 21 KO) vs. Andrew Tabiti (17-0, 13 KO)
From the opposite side of the bracket, Cuba’s own “KO Doctor” Dorticos meets Tabiti, from Las Vegas.
Dorticos, 33, has a real reputation for turning in violent slugfests. Though last outing against Mateusz Masternak did not fit the bill, Masternak has a way of sucking the life out of a fight. Dorticos still out-dueled the perennial contender, who is always a difficult out.
As part of the first WBSS tournament, Dorticos was pushed as far as a man can be, hammering away at Gassiev, and receiving it back just as harshly for almost a complete 12 rounds until a volley of right hands sent him through the ropes.
Never one to back down from a massive puncher, Dorticos slaughtered Dmitry Kudryashov in just two rounds. And before that, ditched the warmongering Youri Kalenga in a brutal 10 rounds. It is a division that allows for few easy touches.
Tabiti, though, unlike most of the blue-collar field, does have ritzy promotional backing behind him. Partnered with Mayweather Promotions, the 29-year-old American trains regularly with Floyd Mayweather Sr. And it shows, utilizing that calculated, “Money” Mayweather approach in the ring. But the reserved style has come close to backfiring.
In Tabiti’s previous bout, he was lucky to escape with a points win over the little known Ruslan Fayfer. The Russian journeyman matched Tabiti in output and was on his heels until the final bell.
All told, the work at the Mayweather Gym has helped Tabiti remain undefeated, served a gradual rise in competition from fellow upstarts (Keith Tapia) and gatekeepers (Lateef Kayode) to former champions (Steve Cunningham) and now the biggest test of his career in Dorticos.
The IBF championship is on the line, and bigger yet is the tourney finale for the Muhammad Ali trophy, which represents something more rare than the cash prize of millions and millions of dollars: the helm of the entire division.
Taylor and Inoue Look to Advance
By: Oliver McManus
Naoya Inoue strolls into Glasgow at the weekend looking to steam-roll past yet another opponent in yet another world title fight. The WBA’s bantamweight world champion shouldn’t be pigeonholed by way of his slim anime-esque figure with the 26 year old possessing nonchalant fight-ending aggression. Punches thrown from the most innocuous of circumstances have his opponents fearing their safety from every angle, shuffle and punch.
That ability to finish bouts with split-second precision has been meticulously showcased throughout his career with just one of his twelve world title fights going the distance. Perhaps the best characterisation of his effortless brilliance came against Jamie McDonnell last year. McDonnell was granted the daunting task of defending the WBA title against Inoue, in the Japanese fighters first fight in the division, and was caught almost immediately by a mini-flurry of punches that dropped him to the canvas. McDonnell managed to find his senses but was shown no mercy and several shellacking shots to the body finished off the contest for good.
Saturday night at the SSE Hydro will see Inoue look to unify world titles for the first time in his career by taking on, IBF champion, Emmanuel Rodriguez. On paper this should be the toughest test since turning professional (in 2012) with his pathway to bantamweight supremacy barely causing Inoue to break a sweat. Eternal legacy is already secured in his homenation but this next stage of his career is about capitalizing on the Western markets – trying to break the UK and the United States. Inoue has already fought on HBO as part of their ‘Super Fly’ series of events, as well as ESPN+ and now Sky Sports, so he’s principally well endeared with the boxing fraternity: all that’s left now is to turn that frightening reputation into global stardom.
His opponent, meanwhile, will look to become the first Puerto Rican champion to unify belts since Miguel Cotto (unless you count Danny Garcia and his heritage) and move a step closer to a homecoming world title fight in the, not too distant, future. The 26 year old’s background is chequered having been held in high regard within his national amateur system but only garnering international success at a ‘youth’ level. In 2010 he received second-degree burns across a majority of his body whilst attempting to set alight a pickup truck and was on the sidelines for ten months.
Since turning professional in 2012, having failed to qualify for the Olympics, Rodriguez set about a fairly unassuming career picking up regional titles from the big governing bodies. Indeed, he was proving to be quite a threat within the South American circuit with knockout after knockout against domestic prizefighters – finishes that came as out-of-the-blue as Inoue’s but against a far diminished level of opposition. The big break for Rodriguez came last May when he fought Paul Butler for the vacant IBF title. Butler looked ragged but Rodriguez looked exceptional as he dropped his opponent twice in the first round and didn’t put a foot wrong in the following eleven to record scorecards of 120-106, 120-106, 118-108.
Suddenly, just like that, the Puerto Rican had announced himself as a major player but, actually, in his last contest (against Jason Moloney) he just couldn’t settle into a regular rhythm and his Australian challenger nipped at his heels throughout. What we have seen, however, is a robust and awkward style that means his opponents struggle to find repeated success in a contest. He’ll need that rugged defense to be as tight as taut rope if he’s going to give himself a foothold for success in the later rounds but, with Inoue in the opposite corner, that’s a big IF he gets into those later rounds.
Hometown hero Josh Taylor remains convinced he will be the first man to defeat, IBF champion, Ivan Baranchyk and claim the first world title of his career in doing so. Taylor, the WBC Silver titleholder, has been a prodigious talent ever since he turned professional in 2015 – following Commonwealth glory – and the southpaw now gets his chance to cement himself on the world stage. Despite being one of few, genuine, big names not to have been snaffled up by Frank Warren or Eddie Hearn he is no stranger to the big scene having sold out the SSE three times already in his career.
In his last fight, against Ryan Martin, the 28 year old was able to ease into the semi-final with a comprehensive schooling. Martin looked sheepish on the night, perhaps daunted by the occasion, and Taylor capitalized with a punch-perfect display. Baranchyk, meanwhile, advanced to this stage of the competition with a gruesome stoppage victory over Anthony Yigit: his Swedish opponent was taking considerable punishment and the contest was stopped with Yigit’s eye ballooning up to the size of a snooker ball.
We’ve seen a few rough patches from Taylor since he became professional with him sometimes looking beleaguered but the real learning fight was against Viktor Postol. Postol, criminally written off, refused to wilt in the face of relentless attacks and doubled-down in return with pressure of his own. The Beast from Belarus is reminiscent of, his countryman, Kiryl Relikh in respect of his doggedness and tenacity so is a distinct potential banana skin on Taylor’s record and I expect him to find success. Taylor, you imagine, will have the superior class to keep his head above the choppy waters with the scorecards likely giving him a helping hand.
An “I was there” moment if ever there was one – arguably the scariest fighter on the planet making his UK debut and Scotland’s flag bearer looking to secure the first world title of his career.
WBSS Preview: Taylor vs. Baranchyk, Inoue vs. Rodriguez
By: Michael Kane
The World Boxing Super Series has rolled back into Glasgow this week ahead of arguably the biggest show in the UK so far this year.
The conclusion of the semi-final line up of the super lightweight and bantamweight tournaments takes place at the Hydro Arena in Glasgow.
Prestonpans Josh Taylor (14-0, 12 KOs) will face U.S based Belarussian Ivan Baranchyk (19-0, 12KOs), for the IBF world title which Baranchyk won in the quarter final stage against Anthony Yigit. Taylor progressed to the semi-final after a comprehensive win in Glasgow against American Ryan Martin.
It’s only been a month or so since we knew the fight was definitely set after it seemed Baranchyk wasnt happy with World Boxing Super Series. It does go ahead this Saturday in what will be one of the biggest nights in Scottish boxing history as two world titles fights headline the event.
Taylor has fought several times at the Hydro Arena, from winning Commonwealth Games Gold in 2014 to beating former world champion Viktor Postol last year. With a large expectant home crowd it will be interesting to see how Taylor handles the pressure in his first world title shot and if Baranchyk will handle the red hot atmosphere sure to be created by the Scottish crowd.
The fight could be a close contest and the home support could be crucial to keep Taylor going to the end in a gruelling contest.
🗣️ @JoshTaylorBoxer: "This is the best vs the best!" 🔥
— World Boxing Super Series (@WBSuperSeries) May 17, 2019
The other world title fight will see Puerto Rican, Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs) defend his IBF Bantamweight title against Japanese superstar ‘The Monster’ Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15KOs), who will have his WBA regular belt up for grabs.
The press conference on Wednesday would see approximately 80% of the media being made up from Japan showing the popularity of Inoue in his home country.
There has been a bit of animosity between the two camps with a Rodriguez coach pushing Inoue’s father and head coach at the media work out.
This should be the three weight world champion Inoue’s biggest test to date and will be interesting to see how he handles the bigger Rodriguez, who is confident and how Inoue handles fighting away from the home comforts of Japan for the first time.
Rodriguez won his world title when he fought and beat Paul Butler in London last year so has experience of big fights in the UK.
This could be a great fight between two fighters in their prime and a bonus for the Scottish public to see a genuine sporting superstar in Inoue.
World Boxing Super Series will be shown live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in the U.S.
— World Boxing Super Series (@WBSuperSeries) May 16, 2019
World Boxing Super Series Semi Finals Results: Prograis Stops Relikh, Donaire Shows Off Power
By: William Holmes
The semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series was held tonight at the Cajundom in Lafayette, Louisiana. The main event of the evening was between Regis Prograis and Kiryl Relikh in the Super Lightweight Division. The co-main event was between Nonito Donaire and Stephon Young in the Bantamweight Division.
Zolani Tete was originally scheduled to face Donaire, but an injury to his right shoulder forced him to withdraw. Stephen Young stepped in to face Donaire.
The co-main event was between Nonito Donaire (39-5) and Stephen Young (18-1-3) in the semifinals of the WBSS Bantamweight Tournament.
Donaire, the taller fighter, pawed at Young with his jab as he circled towards Donaire right hand. Donaire found a home for his check left hook in the opening round, and did not appear to be bothered by the power of young.
Donaire continued to walk Young down in the second and third rounds, but developed a small mouse under his left eye from some of the shots of Young. Donaire had Young stunned in the third round with a straight right hand.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Young was backing up for most of the fourth and fifth rounds and had blood coming from his nose from the strong shots of Donaire. Young was able to land some counter punches in the sixth round, but Donaire was landing first most of the time.
The end came in the seventh round when Donaire landed a vicious left hook that sent Young crashing to the mat and unable to continue.
Nonito Donaire wins by knockout at 2:37 of the seventh round.
The main event was between Regis Prograis (23-0) and Kiryl Relikh (23-2) in the semifinals of the WBSS Super Lightweight Tournament..
Prograis, a southpaw, showed good upper body movement in the opening round and forced Relikh to miss most of his combinations. Prograis connected with a hard left to the body that caused Relikh to turn around and get cracked with another shot as he went down.
Relikh was able to get up survive the opening round.
Prograis continued his assault on Relikh and wasn’t phased by his power in the second. Prograis opened up a cut on the bridge of Relikh’s nose during the second, but was stung with a punch by Relikh after the the ringside bell signaled the end of the round.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Prograis looked recovered by the third round and pummeled Relikh in the third and fourth rounds. Relikh’s attempts at combinations hit nothing but air as Prograis upper body movement made him a very elusive target.
Prograis dominated the fifth round, and when Relikh walked back to his corner he was warned that they may stop the fight if he didn’t show more.
Prograis opened up the sixth round with a straight left followed up with some thudding shots to the body that hard Relikh hurt again. A few more thudding power shots forced Relikh’s corner to follow through with their warnings and stop the fight.
Regis Prograis wins with an impressive TKO at 1:36 of the sixth round.
WBSS2 News: Diaz Quells Fears of Baranchyk Dropout
By: Ste Rowen
Pedro Diaz, famed trainer of IBF super-lightweight champion and World Boxing Super Series semi-finalist Ivan Baranchyk, reassured fans of his fighter’s status in the tournament when he spoke in a press release on Friday,
‘‘The preparations are going really excellent…Baranchyk is a very dedicated athlete and is going through a very good camp with good sparring partners.’’
Despite multiple reports from ESPN of the Belarussian deciding to move on from the tournament over a pay dispute, the WBSS announced a date and location (18th May at the SSE Hydro, Glasgow) for the bout vs. Josh Taylor, which will also be the date and venue for Naoya Inoue’s bantamweight semi vs. another IBF champion, Emmanuel Rodriguez.
Diaz went on to say,
‘‘Some boxers are tired when the weekend comes but not Baranchyk. He is unstoppable. His only focus is his training and his future.
Taylor is a great boxer, he is one of the best in the division and he has a good team around him, but we are very confident, and people will see why he is called The Beast.
We are not going for the KO. We always aim to win all twelve rounds and we know Baranchyk can keep every round a very high pace.’’
The second super-lightweight semi-final between Regis Prograis and Kiryl Relikh is set for 27th April in the US, with the venue to be confirmed. The bantamweight final four bout between Nonito Donaire and Zolani Tete will also be on the April card.
World Boxing Super Series add Inoue v Rodriguez to Glasgow card
By: Michael Kane
The World Boxing Super Series have announced Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue will face Puerto Rican, Emmanuel Rodriguez in Glasgow, Scotland.
The bout will take place on May 18 at the SSE Arena on the same card as local hero Josh Taylor takes on IBF Super Lightweight champion Ivan Baranchyk. Both bouts are semi finals in their respective weight classes.
Inoue (17-0, 15 KOs) opened up this season’s WBSS in spectacular fashion, knocking out Juan Carlos Payano in 70 seconds of the first round in their quarter final tie in Japan.
There was an expectation that Inoue would have another home tie, with WBSS having secured a Japanese TV deal to show his fights so the announcement that he will travel to Scotland has come some what as a surprise. The news has already gone down well with Scottish fans and fans across the rest of the UK, with social media buzzing at the news.
Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs) retained his IBF title in a tough quarter final bout against Australian, Jason Moloney, winning by split decision back in October in Orlando, Florida.
In a WBSS press release both fighters gave their initial reaction
“My destiny is to win the prestigious Ali Trophy and prove I am the best bantamweight in the world,” said Inoue. “I cannot wait to box in the United Kingdom in front of their loud fans and I will show them a ‘Monster’ performance!”
“I have been waiting for this moment my entire life,” said Rodriguez. “I always wanted to fight the best, and now I am fighting a boxer considered the best by the boxing reporters and fans. That’s great motivation for me, my team, and Puerto Rico, We got this.
“I am going to get the victory. Puerto Rico will shine in Scotland and I am confident of going all the way and take home the Ali Trophy.”
“This amazing match-up highlights the vision of the World Boxing Super Series,“ said Kalle Sauerland, Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer.
“Two unbeaten World Champions, two sublime athletes, are putting everything on the line for a place in the final of the World Boxing Super Series where the Ali Trophy awaits the winner. It doesn’t get bigger than this.”
The Second Series of the Cruiserweight WBSS Proves Belts Matter
By: Ste Rowen
There we were, now here we are. This time last year Yunier Dorticos had KO’d an unbeaten Kudryashov, Mairis Briedis had bored us through twelve rounds against Mike Perez, Murat Gassiev had cut Wlodarczyk down with a body shot that could be felt through the TV screen and Aleksandr Usyk had dealt with a boisterous Marco Huck.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Hand on heart right now, could you say for definite whether there had been a knockout in the quarter-finals of the second series of cruiserweights in the World Boxing Super Series? Did you even know the cruiserweights were in the second series?
The problem is belts. As beautiful as it is to see one man draped in every single piece of boxing jewellery, as in the case of Usyk, the lack of belts or obvious rewards in the WBSS cruiserweight fights this year is so evident and is killing the hype.
So far this season big fights have been made and completed. Former WBC titlist and first season Super Series semi-finalist, Mairis Briedis has decisioned Noel Mikaeljan, former WBO champ, Krzysztof Glowacki dominated the Russian, Maksim Vlasov, Andrew ‘The Beast’ Tabiti, for all his talent, bored an Ekaterinburg crowd to a drab 12-round victory over Ruslan Fayfer and in the best of the bouts, Yunier Dorticos of Cuba slugged it out with former European champion, Mateusz Masternak.
The semi-finals are currently, Dorticos vs. Tabiti and Briedis vs. Glowacki, set to take place in early 2019. For the boxing purist, these are two exceptional fights to be made in a division living in the shadow of the Ukrainian supremo that is Usyk, who recently finished his ‘Fighter of the Year’ 2018 with a knockout of hopeful, Tony Bellew; but the 200lb limit division, and the second series of the Super Series is still steeped in talent even without the undisputed champ, and yet without the glitter on show such as, the WBC belt Briedis used to hold, or the WBO that Glowacki was once the champion of, the show is just lacking that key element that fans come out for, or watch on tv to see – The immediate reward. A champion lifting aloft a recognised, and respected title at the end of a fight.
For now, casual fans will overlook the second season of cruiserweights unless they’re on the same card as say, the bantamweight-semi-final of the newly crowned, WBA champion Nonito Donaire vs. WBO titlist, Zolani Tete. Maybe, by the cruiserweight’s final, there will be vacant belts left behind by Usyk moving up to the heavyweight division, but the keyword is ‘vacant’. And maybe it won’t matter that history will show the belts as vacant, but that was the beauty of the first series, and the perfection that lies in the bantamweight version of the Super Series, a feeling of finality. That when the final comes around and is won and lost, the man who lifts the Muhammad Ali Trophy above their head is actually worthy of having their name next to ‘The Greatest’. The current feeling with this season of cruiserweights is that this isn’t the case. Let’s hope for at least a knockdown in the semi-finals.
$250K and a Shortcut to World Title Belt Awaits Winner of Epix Series The Contender
By: Vishare Mooney
Southern California middleweight fighters Shane “Sugarman” Mosley, Jr. (13 – 2) and Brandon “The Cannon” Adams (20 – 2) will face off tonight in a ten round bout at the L.A. Forum in what looks to be an exciting live finale for the Epix series The Contender. The top prize is significant for any fighter: $250,000 and a top ten WBA ranking. The latter effectively gives the winning Contender a shortcut to a world title belt. Current rankings for Mosley Jr. and Adams are 149 and Inactive respectively (Adams had been on a three year hiatus until the show). The co-main event will feature brawler Michael “The Silverback” Moore (17-2) and Contender fan favorite, Louisiana fighter Eric “The Babyface Assassin” Walker (17-2).
Though each fighter was portrayed in the unscripted twelve episode series, as an underdog in their own way, the two finalists may actually have been the most overlooked in terms of their boxing skills. Mosley, Jr. in particular seemed to have the reputation of riding on his father’s name. He was called out by Devaun Lee and Moore, among other fighters, who wanted a win against a Mosley Jr. under their belt. Mosley, Jr. seemed to hold his own and never took the drama bait that often occurred in the house and in reality tv. His demeanor was all business.
At an interview with Boxinginsider, Mosley Jr. spoke of his time at the Contender house. “I try to be true to myself and you know, I want to win so you can’t be involved with the crazy nonsense that’s going on in the house. Of course, you have to adapt a little and be involved in some of the stuff but for the most part you try to find your own space so that you can shine.”
Mosley Jr. soundly bested Devaun Lee in his first tournament fight with two knockdowns in a somewhat sloppy brawl. In his second win against Danny Valdivia, Mosley, Jr. showed impressive jabs and footwork. And in the close semifinal bout with Michael Moore, he impressed the judges with effective aggressive punches which rocked his opponent.
The legendary boxing coach Freddie Roach, who will be in Adams corner tonight, said of Mosley Jr. at yesterday’s press conference, “I’ve seen Shane fight before and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him fight better than he did in the tournament. I think he did raise (his) level.” Mosley, Jr. prior to the show, was training at Roach’s Wild Card gym. “He fought better than I’ve ever seen him before,” said Roach.
And while Mosley, Jr. has been fighting to create his own “Sugarman” legacy and emerge from his father’s shadow, Brandon Adams, has been steadily working, training to emerge from obscurity. As can be the fate of many fighters, Adams had signed with a promoter that produced no fights for him – hence the forced hiatus from boxing until The Contender came calling to give him that opportunity. “This is boxing, anything can happen. I train for the “happen” to happen for me.” Adams and Mosley, Jr. were part of the same gym, Maywood Boxing, years ago and Adams has actually sparred with Shane and his dad.
Adams, in the three years not having a bout, has never stopped training or sparring. “I was sparring, training. I was training as if I always had a fight coming up.” He was more prepared than anyone realized. At The Contender, Adams quickly caught the attention and stole wins from the other contestants. Famed coach Nazim Richardson, who is Shane’s coach for the finals, gave props to Adams, “The names that he faced, were the names that everybody said were going to win.” In particular, Adams had a dramatic win over Eric “Babyface Assassin” Walker, the favorite to win the competition. Adams said of Mosley Jr. and tonight’s fight: “He’s grown, he’s a tremendous fighter, he made it to the finals, I’ve grown, I’ve made it to the finals. It’s bittersweet, but we both wanna win.”
As for fight predictions, Freddie Roach calls it even. “This is not an easy fight in the finals. This is a give and take fight. We’ve got two great fighters going against each other. To me, it’s a 50-50 fight.”
WBSS on DAZN Preview: Briedis vs. Mikaelian, Glowacki vs. Vlasov
By: Hector Franco
This weekend at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois the World Boxing Super Series will be in full effect with the quarterfinals of the Cruiserweight division portion of the tournament. In the main event, Latvia’s Mairis Briedis (24-1, 18 KOs) will be taking on Germany’s Noel Mikaelian (23-1, 10 KOs) for the WBC cruiserweight diamond belt. Join DAZN free for 30 days and live-stream fight night anywhere!
Fans may remember Briedis for his stint in the first season of the World Boxing Super Series. At the time of the tournament, Briedis was the WBC cruiserweight champion winning the vacant title from former cruiserweight champion Marco Huck in early 2017. Entering the tournament, Briedis was considered one of the tournament favorites including Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev. In the first round, Briedis won a clear unanimous decision over former heavyweight contender Mike Perez. The Latvian cruiserweight would then go on to face the eventual winner of the tournament in Usyk. Looking back at the level of dominance Usyk has displayed thus far throughout his career, Briedis was able to give the Ukrainian his toughest test falling short in a close majority decision loss.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Briedis’ ability to give one of the best fighters in the sport a run for their money makes him this year’s tournament favorite this season. Briedis’ opponent, Noel Mikaelian, is not well known in the United States; however, his only defeat came at the hands of Poland’s Krzysztof Wlodarczyk who also participated in last season’s cruiserweight tournament. What will be detrimental to Mikaelian is that he has been inactive for the last 14 months with his last victory coming in September of 2017 against Isiah Thomas. The fight with Briedis will be Mikaelian’s first time-fighting in the United States and just the second time for the Latvian fighter.
For a first-round opponent, it may not get any tougher than having to face Briedis. For that reason, he will be the heavy favorite to advance to the semi-finals.
The main co-feature fight will be another quarterfinal tournament bout in the cruiserweight division featuring former WBO cruiserweight champion Krzysztof Glowacki (30-1, 19 KOs) taking on Russia’s Maksim Vlasov (42-2, 25 KOs). Glowacki is best known for his exciting, action-packed style that has provided fans with some of the best cruiserweight fights of this era. The Polish fighter’s 2015 bout with Marco Huck was one of the best fights of that year and showed that he could bounce back from being knocked down earlier on to come back to win by knockout. As is the case with a vast majority of top cruiserweights, Glowacki’s only blemish on his record stems from a bout with Usyk in September 2016.
Glowacki’s opponent Vlasov has fought as low as the middleweight division with his last defeat coming at the hands of current WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez in 2015. Since then, Vlasov has won 12 fights in a row with ten of those victories by way of stoppage. The only other defeat on Vlasov’s record is against light heavyweight contender Isaac Chilemba. Needless, to say that while Vlasov has not faced the elite at cruiserweight the gap in competition between him and Glowacki is not as extensive as one would think.
The city of Chicago has one of the largest Polish immigrant populations in the United States, and as seen in his fights with Huck and Steve Cunningham, Glowacki will have a large contingent of supporters in the arena. Fans in attendance can expect an action-packed battle between Glowacki and Vlasov who are the same age (32) and will continue the international rivalry between Russia and Poland.
The fights will stream live on DAZN this Saturday, November 10th at 8:00 pm ET.
WBSS on DAZN Preview: Taylor vs. Martin; Burnett vs. Donaire
By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night two of Britain’s best take to the ring for the World Boxing Super Series as 140lb number two, seed Josh Taylor of Scotland, fights undefeated American, Ryan Martin; while WBA bantamweight champion, Ryan Burnett of Belfast, steps in with future hall of famer, Nonito Donaire. Watch the fight on DAZN.
Whether watching at home or inside the arena you’re sure to remember at least one thing from Josh Taylor’s World Boxing Super Series quarter-final vs. Ryan Martin, and that’s noise. When the ‘Tartan Tornado’ appears to the crowd for the first time on Saturday, the Scottish crowd will erupt. Covering Martin, in a cacophony of sound he’s never felt before as a boxer.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Taylor’s professional-breakout fight was in his five-round dismantling of super-lightweight gatekeeper, Dave Ryan at Meadowbank Sports Arena, in 2016 and since then, five out of Taylor’s six fights have taken place either in Glasgow or his home city of Edinburgh. The fan-base has grown and with it, the anticipation of what the Scottish fans will bring.
Saturday nights venue, SSE Hydro was the base for the 2014 Commonwealth games in Glasgow, where Taylor won gold, so it stands to reason that he’ll be forever linked with the venue,
‘‘The Hydro is now my home. Every time I fight there I’m getting stronger and stronger and the fans are getting bigger and noisier.’’
The ‘Tartan Tornado’s’ last two fight have taken place at the SSE. Five months ago, the Scottish southpaw went head to head with former world champion, Viktor Postol in his most important professional fight to date.
His performance matched the event, as Taylor, now 13-0 (11KOs) battled through 12 exhausting rounds, dropping the Ukrainian in the 11th, to add another notch to his record and emerge as arguably, the biggest threat outside of the current 140lb world champions,
‘‘My style is based on hand speed and timing. I can punch hard as well…I know if I’m hitting you, I’m putting you down or hurting you. I don’t think there’s anybody that boxes the way I box.’’
‘‘I’ve seen every type of style, every type of fighting you can imagine… My ambition is to move forward, win this tournament and become world champion.’’
Before entering the WBSS, Taylor was making his way through the WBC rankings to eventually face one of the organisation’s belt holders, Jose Ramirez or already confirmed semi-finalist, Regis Prograis. If he wins on Saturday though, he’ll instead face the recently crowned IBF champion, Ivan Baranchyk for that title and a place in the final to fight either Kiryl Relikh or Prograis.
Ryan ‘Blue Chip’ Martin has fluctuated between lightweight and super-lightweight throughout his pro career. Currently 22-0 (12KOs) and training out of Big Bear under the tutelage of Abel Sanchez, Martin has won minor lightweight titles as an amateur and as a professional.
Towards the end of last year, he picked up the 135lb WBA Inter-Continental strap with a split decision victory over Francisco Rojo; as well as already being the owner of the WBC ‘Americas’ lightweight belt. However, his two fights this year came at the weight class above including a shut-out points victory over Briedis Prescott in May.
Though 22 bouts in, his professional record has been steady in its progress; Martin’s not the type of man who takes any opponent lightly,
‘‘I know Josh Taylor’s a very good boxer, I’m the most athletic, I have the most speed and that’s gonna make the most difference throughout the tournament.’’
‘‘I’ve heard the crowd in Scotland is gonna be a very different atmosphere than I’ve ever been in but I’m gonna soak it all in.’’
Although ‘Blue Chip’ won’t have fought in an atmosphere as raucous as Saturday’s is expected to be, he’s no stranger to performing on the big stage having already performed at venues such as, the StubHub Center in LA, Vegas’s T-Mobile Arena and, probably the most famous boxing venue of all, Madison Square Garden,
‘‘I’m a boxer-puncher. I love to entertain, I love to excite people…Nobody wants to see a boring fighter.’’
‘‘As fighter’s every time we step in the ring we’re risking something so why not risk it on the big stage.
As mentioned earlier, the man to emerge victorious this weekend will go on to face Ivan Baranchyk in the semi-finals, who last week scored a 7th round stoppage victory over Anthony Yigit.
Ryan Burnett vs. Nonito Donaire
The fourth and final bantamweight quarter-final sees WBA ‘Super’ champion, Ryan Burnett step into the ring with ‘The Filipino Flash’, Nonito Donaire. The winner will progress to the semis to fight WBO champion, Zolani Tete.
No one can say the 26-year-old Ryan Burnett hasn’t earned his place at the top table of 118lb boxers. The Belfast man has, on numerous occasions, been given reasons to quit boxing, his story, which he outlines in another brilliantly put together Super Series documentary here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu4AaO7UGlc isn’t your regular hard knocks tale.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
He’s overcome neurological issues that he was told were career-ending and been homeless; all before even catching his break in the sport.
‘‘I’ve got a hunger that I know no one in there has.’’
‘‘For a year and a half, we learnt how the brain worked and we started pursuing it to prove that my health wasn’t in any danger…I just always had that mad belief that I am meant to be a world champion.’’
Since around 2014, Burnett has been trained by Adam Booth and since then, established a record of 19-0 (9KOs) which, most significantly, includes becoming a world champion in 2017, for the first time via a completely dominant decision victory over Lee Haskins, and then immediately unifying the WBA and IBF championships with a tough but unanimous points win over Zhanat Zhakiyanov.
Before the WBSS second season fighters was announced, Burnett decided to drop the IBF strap, therefore avoiding a fight with WBSS semi-finalist, and now IBF champion, Emmanuel Rodriguez. Instead, Ryan’s one bout so far in 2018 was a fairly routine victory over Venezuelan, Yonfrez Parejo on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker.
Like all of the top seeds across the Super Series, Burnett recognises the pressure on his shoulders, especially when he’s going up against the power that his Filipino foe is known for,
‘‘I don’t need to be nasty to people, I’m able to switch it like a light switch and I turn into a different person…I picked Nonito because, the better the fighter, the better I become.’’
‘‘We all dream of these moments of fighting the best and becoming the best in the world and the World Boxing Super Series are making that come true.’’
Currently 38-5 (24KOs), Nonito Donaire’s, last fight was also his latest defeat as ‘The Filipino Flash’ was beaten by Burnett’s fellow Northern Irishman, Carl Frampton.
Speaking at the press conference on Wednesday, the four-weight world champion was asked about any similarities between the two men,
‘‘They (Frampton & Burnett) are similar because they’ve both got big balls. They’re there to fight and that’s something that I like… I’m just grateful to be in the ring with a great man.’’
Nonito hasn’t fought at bantamweight since 2011 when he scored a unanimous decision over, a then 35-0-2, Omar Narvaez. That night in New York he became a two-weight world champion, picking up the WBC & WBO straps as well as improving his own record to 27-1.
He then shifted his sights to super-bantam and eventually the featherweight division where he accomplished world honours in both, but by his own admission, he didn’t feel all together comfortable fighting at the 126lb limit, and the tournament has given him the opportunity to add one more achievement to his already impressive accolades.
‘‘I’ve always come to fight the best out there…I’ve achieved pretty much everything in boxing…The only thing I haven’t done in boxing is become the undisputed champion, and that’s the one thing that’s given me this fire.’’
It’s beneficial for both sides as well though as Donaire’s legendary status adds an extra bit of flavour to an already appetising class of fighters that has been whittled down to Naoya Inoue, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Zolani Tete.
‘‘This is a moment for me to rise. When one is driven to a point, there’s only one way to go and that’s going up and that’s rising beyond what I’m capable of.’’
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World Boxing Super Series Soldiers On, Even If You’re Not Watching
By Jake Donovan
One week after Emmanuel Rodriguez and Yunier Dorticos were both dragged through hell in order to secure well-deserved victories in Orlando, Regis Prograis and Ivan Baranchyk found new ways to take their respective careers to new heights in separate dominant wins Saturday evening in New Orleans.
The boxing world should be talking loud and proud about each of these four boxers, all of whom have advanced to the next round of the latest edition of World Boxing Super Series. Instead, all were forced to ply their trade in front of near-empty venues and with little outside fanfare beyond the sport’s hardcore due to their events playing second fiddle on their own platform.
So continues the struggles of rallying the U.S. boxing audience around the WBSS brand, a sad commentary as the series as a whole deserves a far more resounding response.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Whereas its overseas offerings have little difficulty commanding attention, the four stateside shows to date between the WBSS’ two seasons have featured little in the way of full-scale promotion, which has been reflected at the box office and in TV interest. Tournament handlers appeared to have learned from mistakes made in Season One, with this year’s offering featuring six WBSS doubleheaders rather than each bout topping its own card.
It meant a stacked card in Japan to kick off the series, with regional hero and rising bantamweight superstar Naoya Inoue destroying former champ Juan Carlos Payano in barely over a minute. The show aired on Sunday afternoon in Japan, which meant early Sunday morning for stateside viewers who were able to view on DAZN-USA which has picked up the U.S. broadcasts rights for the entire WBSS tournament spanning three weight divisions.
Despite the odd time slot for a typical boxing broadcast airing stateside, the event was able to command attention thanks to a big splash from DAZN USA presenting its first-ever US-based card barely eight hours prior in Chicago. Through cross-promotion came the extra push the event deserved, and fans willing to wake up a little earlier than normal in this corner of the world in order to catch Inoue and Kiryl Relikh (whom bested Eduard Troyanovsky in a 140-pound title defense) advance to the WBSS semifinal round of their respective weight divisions.
A similarly less distracting atmosphere came of the October 13 WBSS doubleheader from Russia. While wins posted by visiting cruiserweight Andrew Tabiti and well traveled bantamweight tiitlist Zolani Tete over house favorites Ruslan Fayfer and two-time Olympian Mikhail Aloyan lacked action, the advancement in their respective careers received deserved attention due to not having to compete for coverage.
The most significant boxing card of the day would come hours later on ESPN, with Terence Crawford stopping Jose Benavidez in the 12th round of the most watched U.S. televised boxing match of 2018. The spacing out between events meant most in the boxing industry were able to give their undivided attention to both shows.
That has simply not at all been the case for the past two WBSS offerings.
Conflicting telecasts is hardly anything new in boxing culture, but normally coming from rival networks or promoters. In each of the past two weeks, WBSS coverage was trumped by more high profile events offered by promoter Eddie Hearn, the primary boxing content provider for DAZN-USA.
Everything about Rodriguez’ gutsy win over Jason Moloney should’ve commanded boxing headlines. Their 12-round war is among the short list of viable Fight of the Year candidates, and Rodriguez’ eventual well-earned split decision victory setting up a mouthwatering bantamweight semifinal matchup with Inoue, a bout that is rumored to land stateside.
The perfect primer to the Rodriguez-Moloney slugfest came in the form of Dorticos’ brave stand versus a tough-as-nails challenger in Poland’s Mateusz Masternak. Dorticos is never in a bad fight—his TKO loss to Murat Gassiev in the Season One WBSS cruiserweight semifinals earlier this year also garnering Fight of the Year consideration—and his latest feat was no exception.
Unfortunately, the event came in front of a sparse Orlando crowd devoid of atmosphere, and playing second fiddle among the U.S. boxing audience to Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA-promoted event in Boston, headlined by Demetrius Andrade’s vacant middleweight title-winning shutout effort over Namibia’s Walter Kautondokwa. DAZN-USA’s core boxing crew was on hand for the latter event, with the WBSS offering on the same streaming platform carrying that DAZN brand only in televised rights but without any of the production value or promotion.
Prograis’ latest hometown headliner on Saturday suffered the same fate.
The unbeaten New Orleans native showed new elements to his game, offering a complete performance through a more subdued attack in dominating former lightweight titlist and still highly credible Terry Flanagan. The virtual shutout win included a knockdown of Flanagan, who’d previously never been down as a pro, as Prograis—in going 12 rounds for the first time in his career—showed that his boxing ability is just as strong as his explosive knockout game.
Much like the forthcoming November 10 WBSS cruiserweight doubleheader airing live from Chicago, Saturday’s show was intriguing in that both legs of the telecast featured bouts in the same weight class. While the winners won’t face off next—Prograis will next face Relikh, while Bananchyk awaits the winner of next week’s clash between Josh Taylor and Ryan Martin—Saturday night’s show very well could have provided a glimpse into the super lightweight finals.
That’s how dominant was Ivan Baranchyk’s performance, completely shutting the left eye of Anthony Yigit who bravely fought on to the point of even protesting the mandated stoppage by the ringside physician after seven physical rounds. Baranchyk picked up a vacant title for his effort, but seemed secondary to his not only remaining unbeaten but posing as a deep threat to Prograis and the rest of the bantamweight field.
Prograis and Baranchyk have plenty for which to be proud, but their moments of glory came in front of a near-empty room in a New Orleans venue that featured a much healthier crowd when Prograis performed just four months prior. This time around, it was DAZN-USA’s only boxing show on the night but from a notoriety perspective paled in comparison to a Hearn-promoted HBO triple header featuring storylines galore—including Daniel Jacobs re-emerging toward the top of the middleweight division following a hard-fought win over unbeaten and longtime training stablemate Sergiy Derevyanchenko to win a vacant title.
The WBSS tournament drifts back overseas to Glasgow, Scotland this weekend. Taylor and Martin will compete in a battle of unbeaten super lightweights looking to land a semifinal date with Baranchyk, while Ryan Burnett and former four-division champ Nonito Donaire meet with the winner to face Tete in the bantamweight semifinals.
One week later will come the cruiserweight doubleheader at UIC Pavilion in Chicago, where the winners between Mairis Breidis-Noel Gevor and Krzysztof Glowacki-Maksim Vlasov will collide early next year in the cruiserweight semifinals. A swarm of tickets still remain for the show, with barely a ripple of news having come of the event since the batch of stories that followed its initial announcement more than a month ago.
The good news for stateside viewers is that the November 10 cruiserweight show doesn’t have any competition on the dial. However, the most significant show of the day—and even of the division, for that matter—will come earlier from London.
That’s when World cruiserweight king and WBSS Season One winner Oleksandr Usyk will face Tony Bellew, also to be carried on DAZN, and to feature the platform’s primary crew and leading promoter. Their event—which in fairness is a massive one—has already benefited from live cross-promotion in each of the first two DAZN-USA live streams.
Nothing even remotely close has been afforded to any of the six Season Two WBSS telecasts. Suffering the most has been the (lack of) promotion for the five past and forthcoming stateside shows between the two seasons, all of which deserve a much better fate.
WBSS on DAZN Results: Prograis Defeats Flanagan; Baranchyk Stops Yigit
By: Ste Rowen
Tonight in The Big Easy, it was anything but easy viewing for the main event audience as, Regis Prograis battled his way to a unanimous decision victory over terry Flanagan; and, in more pleasant viewing, Ivan Baranchyk became the new IBF 140lb champion to score a 7th round technical stoppage over Anthony Yigit; both to progress to the semi-finals of their respective WBSS semi-finals.
Prograis now moves on to face Kiryl Relikh in the semi-finals; whilst Baranchyk faces the winner of next week’s matchup between Josh Taylor vs. Ryan Martin.
Both main event fighter’s southpaws, Prograis and Flanagan, were clearly weary of the other’s qualities as the two WBSS quarterfinalists fought off a steady jab through the early rounds into the 4th. ‘Turbo’ was in the fight but offering very little other than making it difficult for Prograis to initiate a substantial offense.
Photo Credit: DAZN Twitter Account
Both boxers seemed more mobile through the middle rounds, but there was only one man, home fighter Regis, who wanted to bring the excitement tonight. Flanagan seemed to have resigned himself to the occasional overhand counter. The Manchester native’s combinations weren’t quick enough to land on ‘Rougarou’.
At the end of round 6, Prograis gestured to his home crowd to pick up the atmosphere, a sure sign that the fight was lacking action. The American, in black and gold shorts, did his best to break out a fight but as the saying goes, it takes two to tango, and the away fighter had no desire to dance anything but his own moves.
With just over two minutes left of the 8th, Prograis dropped Flanagan. ‘Turbo’ took the 8-count and the onslaught that followed from the WBC ‘Interim’ champ, to survive the round. Now the crowd was making the noise Regis wanted to hear. But the 9th began as if the previous round hadn’t happened, ‘Turbo’ persisted with his earlier tactics, and Prograis reverted to a jab and hook manoeuvre.
Through 10 and 12, more of the same occurred as the American looked for a way in, but Terry nullified most shots that came his way, without firing back with his own arsenal.
It’s not hard to see what Flanagan’s plan was at the start of tonight’s bout, it is difficult however, to understand what ‘Turbo’ was looking to do in the championship rounds. The former WBO lightweight champion did very little in terms of attack compared to ‘Rougarou’ and by the final bell it felt as if the Manchester fighter came to survive rather than to win. Regis’ jab ruled the fight throughout and saw him to the final bell.
It was never in doubt as the crowd waited for the judge’s final scorecards. The announcer called, 119-108, 118-109, 117-110 all for Regis Prograis, who spoke after the fight,
‘‘I want to bring big time boxing back to New Orleans and guess what? I did it. We gonna do it again.’’
‘‘I boxed my ass off. Most people say I can’t box, I can’t do this, I can’t do that, I only got power, now I showed you I can go 12 rounds with a world class fighter…It doesn’t matter who the hell I fight, the Muhammad Ali trophy is mine.’’
Ivan Baranchyk vs. Anthony Yigit
Baranchyk ‘The Beast’ may have been born in Belarus, but the super-lightweight has made his home in the US, and tonight it seemed as though he’d made his home in New Orleans as he fell into his stride early on into tonight’s bout.
From the first bell both fighters went in search for the big, finisher. Yigit, the southpaw struggled to make as much as an impact as his Belarussian opponent who, on multiple occasions through the early rounds, impactfully jerked the Swedes head back.
Photo Credit: DAZN Twitter Account
Yigit was throwing well, but volume counts for nothing if it doesn’t land. Baranchyk was living to his pseudonym of ‘The Beast’ into rounds 2 and 3 as he landed with precision, rarely wasting shots, and though at times he was using his face as his best defence, Ivan’s chin stood up and allowed him to fire off hooks more efficiently.
It seems a little lazy to compare an eastern European fighter to Gennady Golovkin but, Baranchyk really does resemble an early day’s version of the Kazakh. Ivan seems to trust so much in his chin and accuracy that he’s prepared to go toe to toe, and jaw to jaw, with whatever opponent he faces.
Into round 4 there was now swelling below Yigit’s left eye. The pressure seemed beginning to tell, but the Swedish southpaw clearly hadn’t got the message as he rushed into attacks, attempting to restrain his foe’s outside game. It wasn’t working, and by the 6th, Yigit’s left eye looked ready to blow. Baranchyk was firing from all angles, and almost without meaningful reply by now, but he knew where the most valuable punches needed to land.
Through to the 7th, no one could question Anthony’s desire. As his eye only swelled further, the Swede, 21-0-1 (7KOs) heading into tonight, seemed to have no quit in him. Though surely only being able to see out of one eye. Yigit was prepared to go head to head with one of the 140lb division’s most dangerous boxers, meeting Baranchyk in the middle of the ring when, arguably, he should have been evading attack trying to tire his opponent out.
With a minute left of round 7, the referee, Phil Edwards, took a point from Baranchyk for what seemed to be pushing down on his opponent. Harsh considering when up close, Yigit seemed to be ducking. It didn’t matter though as, at the end of the same round, the ring doctor took another extensive look at the Swede’s eye and called an end to the bout, sending the Belarussian into the World Boxing Super Series semi-finals.
Yigit fiercely protested against the stoppage but it seemed the good doctor saved the Swede from himself. Yigit will walk away from tonight with credit in the bank and, a very worthy and attractive contender.
Baranchyk however, comes away from tonight as the IBF world champion and the second Super Series semi-finalist, set to face either Josh Taylor or Ryan Martin in the near future.
Speaking post-fight, the defeated Yigit was magnanimous in defeat,
‘‘Obviously, I am a fighter and you never want a fight to be stopped but maybe it was the right decision. People are telling me it looks pretty bad…Our game plan was to take him later on because we felt like he was gassing out…But they stopped the fight, so I couldn’t fulfil the game plan. He’s a hard hitter and he deserves this win.’’
The new IBF super-lightweight champion, Ivan, now 19-0 (12KOs), was complimentary towards his opponent,
‘‘It was a tough fight, but I win this fight. I win. He’s a tough guy but I love this. Anthony is a good guy, thank you…With him (Trainer, Pedro Diaz) I will win the Ali trophy.’’