A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at Los Angeles
Danny Garcia W12 Robert Guerrero
Wins a vacant welterweight title
Scores: 116-112 (three times)
Records: Garcia (32-0, 18 KOs); Guerrero (33-4-1, 18 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Garcia, the former junior welterweight world champion, won a title in 2012, then unified two belts via a knockout of Amir Khan later that year, and made five total defenses. As it became increasingly difficult for Garcia, 27, of Philadelphia, to make 140 pounds, he fought a couple of times over the weight limit in nontitle bouts, including one very close fight in April in which he won a significant victory against then-fellow titleholder Lamont Peterson. Finally, in August, Garcia made the official move up to 147 pounds and looked good in a one-sided ninth-round knockout of former titleholder Paulie Malignaggi.
Coming off that victory, Garcia got a chance to fight for one of the welterweight world titles vacated after Floyd Mayweather retired in September. He was matched with Guerrero, 32, of Gilroy, California, a former two-division titleholder but a fighter in a career slide who had not looked good for a few fights and was a big reach to be in a world title fight.
But Guerrero always fights hard, and he did just that against Garcia in the Premier Boxing Champions main event, which headlined the first prime-time boxing card on Fox since 1998.
Guerrero, a southpaw who dropped to 2-3 in his last five (and really should be 1-4), got off to a very good start as he backed Garcia up and took it to him for the most of the first half of the fight. But Garcia has always found a way to win and finally got into rhythm in about the fifth or sixth round, when he basically took over the fight. He had quicker hands and feet, countered well and found plenty of opportunities to land his right hand. Guerrero came forward but had a hard time finding his mark later in the fight in front of an announced crowd of 12,052 -- which included Mayweather and Khan at ringside -- at the Staples Center.
Garcia, who earned $1.5 million, and Guerrero, whose purse was $1.2 million, both had marked-up faces and closed the show with an intense 12th round in which they both landed a ton of leather in fierce toe-to-toe action. It was a close fight, but Garcia got the decision. Guerrero was very upset and demanded a rematch, which he is unlikely to get. According to CompuBox punch statistics, Garcia connected with 163 of 496 punches (33 percent) while Guerrero landed 108 of 436 blows (25 percent).
Garcia next bout could be a mandatory defense against Khan, but the bigger fight for him would be a unification fight against the winner of the March 12 bout between titleholder Keith Thurman and former titlist Shawn Porter. Garcia will not have any problem landing significant fights.
Sammy Vasquez TKO6 Aron Martinez
Records: Vasquez (21-0, 15 KOs); Martinez (20-5-1, 4 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. But don't blame Vazquez, a 29-year-old southpaw from Monessen, Pennsylvania. He came to fight, as always. But Martinez, 34, of East Los Angeles, surprisingly did not bring that same attitude, and the result was a forgettable snoozefest of a bout that ended when Martinez quit on his stool, citing a left elbow injury.
Very little had happened in the fight up until that point. The faster Vasquez won basically every second of the fight as he came forward and did what he could against a Martinez who never seemed interested in fighting. According to CompuBox punch statistics, Vasquez landed 88 of 309 punches (28 percent) while Martinez landed only 35 of 176 (20 percent).
The way this fight played out was surprising because Martinez usually does come to fight and had looked good in his previous two bouts, a huge decision win upset over former two-division titleholder Devon Alexander in October and a split-decision loss to Robert Guerrero in June in a fight nearly everybody had Martinez winning except for two judges. But the Martinez who was in the ring against Vasquez, the likable former military man who served two tours of duty in Iraq and is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, looked nothing like the guy from those recent fights. The win puts Vasquez on the path to an eventual title shot against Danny Garcia, who won a vacant belt against Guerrero in the main event. But before that, Vasquez will likely have to win at least two more bouts.
Dominic Breazeale TKO5 Amir "Hardcore" Mansour
Records: Breazeale (17-0, 15 KOs); Mansour (22-2-1, 16 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Breazeale, of 30, Alhambra, California, was a 2012 U.S. Olympian who did not come to boxing until he was in his 20s, after he played quarterback at the University of Northern Colorado. He has been a raw prospect who has gotten by mainly because of his enormous size -- 6-foot-7, 253 pounds. But even though he beat Mansour, he was further exposed as a fighter who does not look like he will be able to get to the top level.
The 6-1, 218-pound Mansour, who is 43 and from Wilmington, Delaware, was out of the ring for a decade while serving a prison sentence. He totally outclassed the much bigger Breazeale until he retired on his stool because of a fractured jaw and the fact that he had bitten through his tongue.
Mansour, a southpaw, took it to Breazeale from the outset. By the second round, he was backing him up with hard shots, and then midway through the third round, he dropped Breazeale with a clean right hook to the chin. Breazeale survived the round and made a bit of a comeback, but he was clearly losing against the best opponent he's faced so far in his career. Mansour continued to rough Breazeale up in the fifth round, backing him into the ropes and going to town with right hands and body shots, but Breazeale connected with a right hand to Mansour's jaw, which did the damage. After the round, Mansour, ahead on all three scorecards, was struggling to even close his mouth and retired on his stool because of the injury. It was a solid victory for Breazeale -- who came into the fight with heavy heart because his mother, Tina, had died unexpectedly after having a heart attack on New Year's Eve -- but it left open more questions than it answered.
Saturday at Apia, Samoa
Joseph Parker TKO8 Jason Bergman
Records: Parker (18-0, 16 KOs); Bergman (25-12-2, 16 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Parker, 24, of New Zealand, is of Samoan decent and was fighting there for the first time. Many think Parker is the world's best heavyweight prospect not named Anthony Joshua. Parker is supremely conditioned, has super fast hands for a big guy, has a quality trainer in Kevin Barry and can bang. He also seems like he can take a shot -- the southpaw Bergman, 31, of Pittsburgh, a pretty good puncher, nailed him cleanly with a straight left hand in the opening round and Parker did not budge.
Parker pretty much had his way with Bergman, whose style did not seem to give Parker too many problems. In the second round, Parker connected with a nice left hook-right hand combination to floor Bergman with a minute to go. He continued to punish the game Bergman throughout the fight and dropped him to a knee late in the seventh round courtesy of a left hook to the body that followed several hard head shots.
There was no quit in Bergman, but Parker continued to blast away at him in the eighth round, finally driving him to the canvas with an accumulation of blows. Bergman barely beat the count but was in no shape to go on, and referee John Conway stopped the fight at 1 minute, 2 seconds. It was a dominant performance from Parker, who looms as a possible future force in the wide-open heavyweight division.
Saturday at Mexicali, Mexico
Jose Zepeda KO1 Ammeth Diaz
Records: Zepeda (24-1, 21 KOs); Diaz (32-13, 23 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Last July, Zepeda, 26, of La Puente, California, traveled to Manchester, England, to challenge Terry Flanagan for a vacant lightweight world title in Flanagan's hometown. The fight ended before it had ever heated up, with Zepeda losing by second-round knockout because he was unable to continue after suffering a dislocated left shoulder. Zepeda returned in October but again had a fight cut short because of an injury as he suffered a bad cut under his left eye due to an accidental head butt against Jose Alfaro, and the fight was declared a no contest.
Looking to get back on track, Zepeda returned to face late substitute Diaz, 32, of Panama, and took care of business in emphatic style. Zepeda was on the attack from the outset and eventually backed Diaz near the ropes and fired a left hand to the pit of his gut. Diaz bounced into the ropes and then went down to all fours. He tried to get up but did not beat the count from referee Jacinto Arambula, who waved off the fight at 1 minute, 49 seconds. Diaz suffered his second early knockout loss in a row, having also been stopped in the third round by contender Walter Castillo in July.
Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. W10 Jhon Gemino
Scores: 97-93 (twice), 96-94
Records: Sanchez Jr. (21-4-1, 9 KOs); Gemino (12-6-1, 5 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Sanchez, a 25-year-old southpaw from Mexico, held a junior bantamweight world title from 2012 to 2013 and made two successful defenses before losing it on the scale because he was overweight for a June 2013 defense.
In July, he lost a highly competitive decision to Cesar Juarez, who gave Nonito Donaire a run for his money in a December junior featherweight world title bout. Sanchez bounced back from the loss to Juarez for a competitive but deserved decision against Gemino, 23, of the Philippines, who lost his third fight in a row and for the fourth time in his last six bouts. The fight was fairly nondescript, but Sanchez, the taller, slicker, more experienced man, did enough to win the majority of the rounds.
Friday at Tucson, Arizona
Rob Brant KO4 DeCarlo Perez
Records: Brant (19-0, 12 KOs); Perez (15-4-1, 5 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Another week, another knockout of the year candidate! One week after heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder erased Artur Szpilka with a massive right hand in the ninth round, Brant scored a sensational knockout of his own.
Brant, 26, of St. Paul, Minnesota, was a fine amateur and is a fine prospect who looked outstanding in his destruction of a very solid opponent in Perez, 24, of Atlantic City, New Jersey. In his previous fight in October, Brant toughed out a majority decision against Louis Rose for a quality victory. Perez, who was riding a four-fight winning streak, was an even better opponent than Rose, but Brant totally dismantled him in the main event of the 2016 debut of Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation." The show was made for prospects like Brant in that he stepped up his competition in the two recent bouts and passed his tests.
He is known as more of a skilled boxer than a big puncher, but he displayed crushing power on this night. Brant dominated the fight from the outset and then knocked Perez down with a straight right hand in the third round. He continued to take it to Perez in the fourth round, then landed a titanic right hand on the chin that annihilated Perez, who fell between the ropes and was hanging on the second ring rope with his half body out of the ring before ricocheting back into the ring. He was out, and referee Rocky Burke immediately called off the fight at 39 seconds. The knockout was very reminiscent of the 2008 ESPN.com knockout of the year in which Edison Miranda knocked out David Banks in the third round, leaving him dangling over one of the ring ropes.
"The game plan was to be aggressive," Brant said. "We knew we wanted to show him our power early and make him respect us right away. When I caught him with the right on the temple in the third, I knew we had him. And then when I connected in the fourth, it was lights out, game over. I just want to get back in the ring as soon as possible and continue making progress."
Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller TKO7 Donovan Dennis
Records: Miller (16-0-1, 14 KOs); Dennis (12-3, 10 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: The 6-foot-4, 274-pound Miller, 27, of Brooklyn, New York, is another interesting prospect to watch in the suddenly wide-open division. He took on perhaps the best opponent of his career in Dennis, a 28-year-old southpaw from Cleveland who lost in the 2015 ESPN Boxcino tournament final, and looked good.
The 6-4, 218-pound Dennis, who got knocked out by Andrey Fedosov in the Boxcino final in May, got stopped for the second fight in a row but showed tremendous heart before falling to Miller, who went into the seventh round for the first time.
Miller started very fast as he scored two knockdowns in the first round and nearly stopped Dennis, who took two huge right hands for the first knockdown and a right hand to the chest moments later, putting him in rough shape. Somehow, Dennis, who seemed out on his feet, survived the final 50 seconds of the round. He actually came back a bit as fight went on, outboxing Miller for brief periods, but Miller's size and power were too much for him to overcome. Miller was bashing him around the ring in the seventh round, at which point the fight should have been stopped. But referee Tony Zaino let it go, and with Dennis on the ropes and out of it, Miller crushed him with three brutal, unnecessary shots before Zaino finally stopped it at 2 minutes, 31 seconds.
"I had him out in the first round, but I threw my shoulder out throwing a left hook," Miller said. "I was looking for the knockout so bad he started catching me with some shots. So then I decided to box a little bit, and that's what I did until the knockout came. I'm glad it went seven rounds. It taught me to go to plan B. I can box beautifully when I want and I showed some of that. It was good experience. My power was there; my wind was good. I was breathing well and seeing the shots."
After the fight, Miller, who had a big personality, got a bit ahead of himself as he called out champion Tyson Fury and titleholders Deontay Wilder and Charles Martin.
Bakhtiyar Eyubov TKO3 Jared Robinson
Records: Eyubov (10-0, 10 KOs); Robinson (16-3-1, 7 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: The ultra-aggressive Eyubov, 29, a Kazakhstan native fighting out of Brooklyn, came into the fight having faced absolutely nobody (opponents had a combined record of 19-52-8), but he took a solid step up against Robinson, 33, of Sumter, South Carolina, and shined brightly in a very impressive performance.
Eyubov, who came into the ring wearing a Mike Tyson T-shirt, is a pure power puncher. He threw only three jabs in the fight, according to CompuBox statistics, but scored three knockdowns, two in the first round and one in the second round. The first knockdown, on a tremendous left hand, came only 15 seconds into the fight. Eyubov stalked Robinson throughout the round and floored him again with 20 seconds left by cracking him with a left hand, causing him to sag into the ropes, which held him up. Robinson hit the deck again in the second round when Eyubov nailed him with a right hand that did the damage and a left that sent him to the mat. In the third round, Eyubov trapped Robinson along the ropes and hammered him repeatedly until referee Rocky Burke stepped in to stop the onslaught at 56 seconds. This was a super impressive performance from a heretofore unknown fighter that is as fan-friendly as they come. Look forward to seeing more of him.
"Was I surprised at how easy it was? No, I can't believe he made it to round three," said Eyubov, who has never been past three rounds. "The ref should have stopped it earlier. I am much smarter than I was before. I expect more of myself now. It was another step forward, and I promise everyone all my fights will be like that. I am like [Arturo] Gatti. My trainers are teaching me to move my head, and I'm confident that no one can hurt me. I will never ever be knocked down."