By: William Holmes
Tucson Arena in Tucson, Arizona was the host site for tonight’s broadcast of Top Rank Boxing on ESPN and featured two world title fights which featured two popular Mexican boxing stars.
The co-main event of the night was between Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez and Jessie Hart for Ramirez’s WBO Super Middleweight Title and the main event was between Oscar Valdez and Genesis Servania for Valdez’s WBO Featherweight Title.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing
The undercard featured several up and coming prospects, including Irish Olympian Michael Conlan. Tonight’s card was supposed to start on ESPN, but the baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers ended later than expected and the fight card started on ESPN News.
Michael Conlan (3-0) opened up the telecast against Kenny Guzman (3-0) in the featherweight division in a six round bout.
Conlan has 340 fights as an amateur compared to 47 amateur fights for Kenny Guzman, who also works a full-time carpenter.
The first round was more of a feeling out round as Guzman was able to land some decent shots but Conlan was clearly the better technical boxer. Conlan switched to a southpaw stance midway through the first round with some moderate success.
Conlan switched back into an orthodox stance and was sitting on his punches more in the second round. Guzman’s left eye was showing signs of swelling and blood was coming from his nose as he was taking some heavy shots from Conlan. Conlan landed a heavy right hand in the final ten seconds of the second round that sent Guzman falling backwards to the mat. He was able to get back up before the count of ten but was still wobbly and the referee waived off the fight.
Michael Conlan wins by TKO at 2:59 of the second round.
The next fight of the night was for the WBO Super Middleweight Title between Jesse Hart (22-0) and Gilberto Ramirez (35-0).
Ramirez was slightly taller than Hart, who was active with his jab early on. Hart was very active while circling and was able to stay on the outside in the opening round.
Hart continued to stay active with his jab into the second round and appeared to be a little hesitant of Ramirez’s power. Hart had a habit of ducking his head low when he gets in tight and Ramirez was able to take advantage of that with a short right uppercut that sent Hart crashing to the mat. Hart was able to get back to his feet and survive the round, but he was badly hurt.
Hart had a decent third round and was given time to recover from a low blow by Ramirez, but Ramirez had an excellent fourth round and appeared close to stopping Jesse Hart several times during that round.
Ramirez kept up the pressure in the fourth and fifth rounds and was landing a high number of power shots. Hart was able to slip in a few shots of his own, but he also lost his balance several times in the corner of the ring.
Hart may have stolen some of the middle rounds from the sixth round to the ninth as he was able to land some decent counter shots and avoid getting hurt again. Hart had a very strong ninth round with good straight right hands, but Ramirez showed a strong chin and was able to continue to walk forward.
Both boxers left everything in the ring in the championship rounds with both boxers landing heavy blows and absorbing heavy punishment. But Ramirez ended the final round as the aggressor.
It was an entertaining and competitive bout. The judges scored it 115-112, 115-112, and 114-113 for Gilberto Ramirez.
The main event of the night was between Oscar Valdez (22-0) and Genesis Servania (29-0) for the WBO Featherweight Title.
Servania is a Filipino boxer who trains in Japan. This was his first professional fight outside of Asia.
Servania showed a lot of head movement early on and had some success with his left hook, but Valdez was far more active and was landing good shots to the body.
Valdez was in control in the second and third rounds and simply out landed the constantly coming forward Servania.
Servania was able to score a flash knockdown in the fourth round on Valdez as he was backing away with his hands down. Valdez was in some trouble at the end of the round when Servania was able to catch him off guard with a good combination.
Valdez turned the tide of the fight back in his favor in the fifth round when a clean left hook sent Servania crashing to the mat. Servania was able to get back to his feet and slug it out with Valdez as the round came to an end, but he was badly hurt.
Servania may have stolen the sixth round with a round ending combination, but Valdez outworked Servania for most of the round. Valdez appeared settled in the seventh round and was the more aggressive fighter.
Valdez’s body work won him the eighth round and he was cruising by the ninth. Sevania, to his credit, never stopped coming forward despite the constant barrage of punches.
Servania was reaching for his punches in the tenth and eleventh round and never had Valdez in trouble. Vadez just continued to pile up the points by throwing at Servania whenever he got in range.
The final round was exciting as Servania came right at Valdez to exchange to start the final round and took several risks throughout, but his punches just weren’t powerful enough to hurt Valdez or put him down again.
Oscar Valdez defends his title with scores of 116-110, 119-111, 117-109.
By Hans Olson
Saturday evening in Nottingham, England, Lucian Bute (30-0, 24 KOs) defends his IBF super middleweight championship against British star and Super Six tournament runner-up Carl “The Cobra” Froch (28-2, 20 KOs) in the toughest test of his undefeated career.
On Monday afternoon, Boxing Insider spoke with Bute’s trainer, Stéphan Larouche:
Boxing Insider: Hi Stéphan! So how are you guys enjoying Nottingham?
Stéphan Larouche: “So far, so good! We came yesterday to Nottingham, hitting the gym today. We’re at a nice place, a nice hotel…it’s exactly how we expected. We spent also about, almost nine days in Sheffield prior to being here, so this is our second week already in the UK.”
Is Lucian pretty adjusted to the time difference and everything like that?
Stéphan Larouche: “Right now Lucian is. You know we changed his sleeping habits and hopefully he will feel really good the night of the fight. This is the reason why we came here [sooner than later].”
How is everything going as far as diet, food and everything? You know, a lot of times people say you go over to the UK, the food is different…how are you guys dealing with certain things like that?
Stéphan Larouche: “Here with us, our chef in Sheffield, she’s actually a chef here [at our hotel] and we’re really surprised how people are cooperating with us. She goes to the grocery [store] to buy the food, to buy different things…even the meat, the good steak and she’ll give it to the chef at the hotel and they cook everything for us. So we’ve got a good relationship with everyone here.”
The fight is in a few days or so…what is this last week of preparation going to be over there? Just fine tuning…
Stéphan Larouche: “Fine tuning. You know that, you’ve been following boxing…you know we stay focused. Nice quality workouts, short training…maintain the habits and stay away from things that could get you off focus. That includes people that could get off the plane too early…you know you don’t want to catch a cold. So this is business as usual. This is the nice part. We’ve been working hard.”
And his foot with the infection that had been reported…how has everything healed with that?
Stéphan Larouche: “The foot is perfect, the toe is perfect…if everything wouldn’t be perfect, we wouldn’t be here.”
Now the judges for this fight…it looks like they’ve got an American judge, a Canadian judge, and someone from overseas, is that right?
Stéphan Larouche: “We don’t really pay attention, you know? It’s a matter of Lucian having to be impressive. Everything that he does normally, he’s going to have to do a little bit more of. For Froch, for the minimum amount of work, he’s going to have more reward. In fact, to give kind of an example is that Lucian told me, ‘Stéphan, I will walk into that ring and [and imagine that] I’m going to put the belt vacant so that I have to re-win the belt. So I have to work hard.’”
Have you noticed anything different with Carl? Usually he’s a little bit more vocal than he has been in the build-up to this fight. Do you feel that he’s somewhat surprised that you guys essentially called his bluff going over there to Nottingham?
Stéphan Larouche: “He’s kind of now being a little bit more loud and we hear him, but Lucian does not even [acknowledge] it. The difference between the two men is that, for some reason Carl Froch needs to talk. He needs to criticize people. I don’t know if it’s to pump himself…but we don’t need that. We don’t need to talk bad about anybody. Lucian doesn’t need that to get his motivation. He’s very well motivated, he’s really focused and he doesn’t need to trash talk.”
What do you think is going to have to be the difference in the fight? As far as—it’s probably going to be fairly competitive in the early going—what do you think Lucian is going to have to do that, for example that Andre Dirrell didn’t do when he was over there?
Stéphan Larouche: “Lucian’s been focused to keep doing what he normally does. This is going to be a good fight for him. You’re right, the earlier few rounds are going to be enthusiastic. A lot of will. And on one side there is Carl Froch that never, never gets discouraged. So you have to put that [in] mind. Sometimes fighters, they decline as the round goes on. They’re losing rounds, the get discouraged. But Carl Froch never, never resigns so we’re going to have to stay focused the whole fight.”
Is there anything else that has surprised you guys being overseas right now that you maybe didn’t expect when you got over there?
Stéphan Larouche: “I’m surprised how the people are nice with Lucian! I think the fight that we respect everybody, it pays off. Because here, people they take pictures with Lucian, they wish him good love, they said they like him, they’ve been following him. Also, I think it’s the first time in boxing history that a fighter from our area, our place, from Québec, that will bring so many people at one of his fights across the ocean like this. We’re expecting close to 1,000 people supporting Lucian in the arena.”
How about some of the smaller details? Is Lucian walking walking out first, or second as the champion?
Stéphan Larouche: “We don’t even care about that. I told Lucian, we will do anything we need to do to win this fight. We don’t get distracted by things like this, you know? The only thing is which national anthem we’re going to pick! Romania, or Canada…with Lucian recently being recognized as a Canadian citizen.”
Finally, with this fight over here in North America…Epix, they’re sending their crew over there…the fight is going to be televised right in Times Square in NY…that’s a pretty big deal here, and something Lucian wouldn’t have even gotten on Showtime. What does this fight mean for Lucian as far as American exposure?
Stéphan Larouche: “I think it’s not the thing with exposure…there would still be exposure but I think that just being here is the exposure itself. Just by the fact that we came to fight here. Even with no TV, it would be good exposure in terms of significance of the action and the fact that we are here.”
By Johnny Walker
“King” Arthur Abraham cruised to a comfortable unanimous decision win today over Polish challenger Piotr Wilczewski, successfully defending his WBO European Super Middleweight title at the Sparkassen-Arena, Kiel, Germany.
The first half of the fight was a close affair, with Abraham fighting in flurries out of his trademark peek-a-boo guard, while Wilczewski used his jab to try to keep Abraham off balance. But gradually, Abraham’s brute strength began to overwhelm the game challenger.
Round five saw a strong combination of punches thrown by the champion drive Wilczewski into the ropes. The challenger continued to try to work around Abraham’s high guard with some limited success, but in return Abraham bruised him with thumping body shots: the left side of Wilczewski’s rib cage and back was visibly reddening.
In round seven, Wilczewski had a point deducted by referee Manuel Maritxalar, but no-one seemed quite sure what the offense was, though the Pole had resorted to holding at times. After that, Abraham seemed to get a second wind, and he began to enthusiastically pummel Wilczewski, now mixing in some wicked uppercuts with his withering body attack.
Round nine saw Abraham rock Wilczewski with a hard uppercut and two hard left hooks. The blistering attack from the champion kept up through round ten, and in round eleven, a series of shots from Abraham had Wilczewski on the verge of a knockout, as he staggered around the ring and held on for dear life, saved only by the bell to end the round.
After a final uneventful round, Abraham was judged to be the winner with scores of 118-109 (twice) and 119-108. Boxing Insider scored it similarly, 118-108 for Abraham, who will now look toward obtaining a world title at super middleweight.
By Hans Olson
Lucian Bute said he was willing to do whatever it takes to be recognized as the best Super Middleweight in the world.
On May 26, Bute is doing just that when he hits the road to face former WBC champ Carl “The Cobra” Froch at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, confirming what was initially reported Wednesday by RDS.ca’s Francis Paquin.
“We really wanted to press forward with this fight,” said Bute’s promoter Jean Bedard in a news item that ran on Fight News Thursday. “We’ve been insistent, made some concessions, but it was important to realize this is a fight that Lucian, our fans and, our partners wanted. Also, I am convinced that Lucian will silence the critics. Lucian is showing great courage in agreeing to defend his title in enemy territory.”
If Bute were to lose, a clause in the contract calls for an immediate rematch in Montreal.
It had been rumored for weeks that Bute and Froch would eventually get made. In an interview with Boxing Insider last week, both Lucian and his trainer Stephan Larouche made it apparent that if they couldn’t get a fight with Andre Ward, they wanted the division’s next best available opponent.
That man is Carl Froch.
“This fight will allow us to rid ourselves of two things: that Lucian has never beaten anyone and he always fights with at home,” said Bedard Thursday afternoon during a conference call with the French media. “This is an extremely important step in his career. ”
Paquin also noted in his RDS.ca story Wednesday that, although there is no American television set for Bute vs. Froch (both Showtime and HBO passed on the fight), it’s a possibility that EPIX–a new cable player which has recently screened fights featuring heavyweights Vitali Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin–could buy the fight.
“What we want is a broadcaster who will be interested when the magnitude and excitement that the duel will generate is realized,” said Bedard.
For Lucian Bute, who celebrated his 32nd birthday this past Tuesday, it will be the greatest test of his career. He will attempt to defend his IBF Super Middleweight Championship for the tenth time, but it will only be the second time he’s defended it outside of Quebec, the first having been last summer’s fourth round knockout of Jean Paul Mendy in his native Romania.
For Froch, it will be the first fight he’s had at home since his October 2009 points victory over Andre Dirrell.
“We are delighted to have agreed to terms for what I believe will be the biggest night for British boxing in many years,” Froch’s promoter Eddie Hearn told ESPN.
“I have to respect Lucian and his team for agreeing to enter the lion’s den and face Carl in his hometown of Nottingham, but am fully confident that Carl can become a world champion again on this epic night.”
The winner of the fight will undoubtedly be eager to fight Andre Ward in the Fall.
The question is: if the winner is Bute, how eager will Andre Ward be?
(Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @hansolson)