A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at New York
Keith Thurman W12 Shawn Porter
Retains a welterweight title
Scores: 115-113 (three times)
Records: Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs); Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: This fight was exactly what the doctor ordered. Canelo Alvarez refuses to fight Gennady Golovkin after teasing us that he would this fall and instead picked Liam Smith as the opponent for a $70 pay-per-view fight (good luck with that); we still have to sit through two more pointless Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward tune-up fights for the privilege of spending PPV money this fall to see them finally fight each other; and way too many of the televised fights offered are nothing more than blatant mismatches that are a waste of everyone's time.
But, for one night at least, Thurman and Porter -- both elite fighters with exciting styles, good personalities and a willingness to fight each other -- gave us all something to be proud of as boxing fans. As hotly anticipated as their fight was, Thurman and Porter, friends since they were teens, put that aside and delivered a helluva fight -- even more than what most expected. And they did so for free on network television in prime time on CBS as part of a deal between sister network Showtime and Premier Boxing Champions. In fact, it was the first time CBS showed boxing in prime time in nearly 40 years, since Leon Spinks upset Muhammad Ali to win the heavyweight title in 1978. What a way to return as Thurman and Porter produced a bona fide fight of the year candidate, although it was not better than the epic draw between junior lightweight titleholder Francisco Vargas and Orlando Salido on June 4.
Thurman, 27, of Clearwater, Florida, retained his belt for the third time -- and cemented his place as the No. 1 welterweight in the world in the post-Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao era by barely turning back a very spirited effort from former titleholder Porter, 28, an Akron, Ohio native fighting out of Las Vegas. It was a close contest all the way with many close rounds. According to CompuBox punch statistics, they landed totals within five punches of each other in 10 of the 12 rounds. Overall, they were separated by one landed punch as Thurman landed 235 of 539 (44 percent) and Porter 236 of 662 (36 percent). The difference appeared to be Thurman's harder, cleaner punches combined with better defense. Porter, who opened a small cut over Thurman's right eye (which required stitches) was tremendously aggressive, but often smothered his punches and was wild while Thurman's shots were clear as a bell.
The crowd of 12,718 at Barclays Center was into the fight all the way, making for a great atmosphere worthy of such an exciting fight. There were many fierce exchanges, but the ninth round, a round of the year candidate, was the best as it featured extended toe-to-toe action and Thurman wobbling Porter with a left hook. The final 30 seconds of the round were exceptional. Porter, who earned $1 million, was disappointed with the result but showed a lot of class by congratulating Thurman, who earned $1.4 million, and saying he hoped they could have a rematch, which Thurman said he was open to (although his first wish is a unification bout with Danny Garcia). Porter went to the hospital as a precaution because he was dehydrated but he was fine and so too, for one night at least, was boxing.
Jarrett Hurd TKO10 Oscar Molina
Records: Hurd (18-0, 12 KOs); Molina (13-1-1, 10 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Before Saturday night, Hurd, 25, of Accokeek, Maryland, was an aspiring prospect known only to the most hardcore boxing fans. But after turning in a terrific knockout performance on CBS in prime time, Hurd surely made a slew of new fans with this rousing and dominant effort against Molina, 26, a 2008 Mexican Olympian fighting out of Norwalk, California, who showed enormous heart and probably made new fans of his own.
Originally, Hurd and Molina were supposed to meet on the non-televised part of the card. But a week before the fight, featherweight titleholder Jesus Cuellar's defense against Abner Mares was canceled after Mares failed a New York State Athletic Commission vision test and was not licensed. That led to Hurd-Molina being elevated to the card's co-feature position. While not a significant fight like Cuellar-Mares, Hurd and Molina put on an exciting bout that gave fans plenty of action. Hurd dominated the fight from the opening bell and dropped Molina with a right uppercut late in the first round. While the bigger and obviously stronger Hurd continued to dominate, Molina tried to fight back as best as he could. He just did not have enough to do much damage to Hurd, who was inflicting all kinds of abuse on Molina, especially with his right hand. Molina's face was busted up, his legs were unsteady and he was taking a pounding when referee Ricky Gonzalez stepped in and waved it off at 2 minutes, 2 seconds of the 10th round of a fight in which Hurd was ahead 90-80, 88-82 and 87-83 at the time of the stoppage. Suddenly, with this kind of performance on such a huge stage, Hurd becomes a prospect to watch in the talent-rich 154-pound division that includes titleholders Erislandy Lara, Jermell Charlo, Jermall Charlo and unbeaten former titlist Demetrius Andrade, not to mention awaiting the return of superstars Alvarez and Miguel Cotto, who are dropping down from the middleweight division for their next fights.
Saturday at London
Anthony Joshua KO7 Dominic Breazeale
Retains a heavyweight title
Records: Joshua (17-0, 17 KOs); Breazeale (17-1, 15 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Joshua, 26, the 2012 British Olympic gold medalist, has a chance to become a megastar. He's already a major attraction in the United Kingdom, selling out arenas (including The O2 for this one) and generating big pay-per-view numbers. With more performances like the one-sided demolition he authored against Breazeale, 30, the 2012 U.S. Olympian from Los Angeles, Joshua is just going to become an even bigger star.
The 6-foot-6, 243-pound Joshua, who claimed a title by second-round knockout of Charles Martin on April 9, was back in the ring rather quickly for his first defense (and the first bout under his new Showtime contract) and made it look easy. He dished out a beating to the 6-7, 255-pound Breazeale, who showed an enormous heart but landed virtually nothing of consequence and was outclassed. Meanwhile, it was like target practice for Joshua, who landed 166 of 368 punches (45 percent), according to CompuBox punch statistics. Breazeale mustered just 38 connects on 191 thrown (20 percent).
Joshua cruised along, using a very hard jab and breaking the much slower Breazeale down. In the seventh round, Joshua connected with a powerful left-right combination to the head and Breazeale went down in a heap along the ropes. He beat the count but was down again moments later under heavy fire, including a crushing straight left hand to the face, as referee Howard John Foster immediately waved off the fight at 1 minute, 1 second. It was a near-flawless performance from Joshua, who has huge fights in his future. A unification fight with countryman and recognized champion Tyson Fury would be enormous. So too would a unification fight with American Deontay Wilder. Before that, however, there's a good chance he will either have a rematch with Dillian Whyte, who won on the undercard in his first bout since Joshua stopped him in the seventh round of a terrific fight in December, or face mandatory challenger and rising contender Joseph Parker of New Zealand.
George Groves W12 Martin Murray
Super middleweight title eliminator
Scores: 118-110 (three times)
Records: Groves (24-3, 18 KOs); Murray (33-4-1, 16 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: British countrymen Groves, 28, and Murray, 33, have both been there and done that as it relates to world title opportunities. Groves has came up empty in three shots at super middleweight world title belts and Murray failed to claim a belt in four tries, three at middleweight and one at super middleweight. But they have remained top contenders and squared off for the right to earn yet another super middleweight title shot. Groves was the favorite against his older, smaller opponent and did what he was expected to do as he pounded out a hard-fought but well-deserved decision against Murray, who showed his usual big heart in a very game effort.
Groves controlled most of the action as he established the pace and distance with his jab. Murray did open a cut over Groves' right eye in the in the fourth round but it had no lasting impact on Groves, whose power advantage was evident later in the fight when he began landing some hard shots that had Murray in trouble. Groves had a huge eighth round, rocking Murray repeatedly with clean blows, especially from his right hand. A tiring Murray languished on the ropes and ate shots later in the fight as Groves hurt him again with big shots in the 12th round. It was an easy fight to score as Groves looked as good as he has looked in quite some time. Where Murray goes from here is anyone's guess.
Chris Eubank Jr. TKO 4 Tom Doran
Retains British middleweight title
Records: Eubank (23-1, 18 KOs); Doran (17-1, 7 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: On March 26, Eubank knocked out Nick Blackwell in the 10th round to win the British title. Blackwell suffered a brain injury and wound up in a coma. Although he recovered, his boxing career is over. In his first fight since that bout, Eubank, the 26-year-old son of Chris Eubank Sr., the big British star and former middleweight and super middleweight world titleholder, dominated Doran, 28, of Wales, to retain the belt.
Eubank Jr. was never threatened as he pummeled Doran. In the third round, he hammered him with an unrelenting series of blows, finally knocking him to his knees with a brutal right uppercut. In the fourth round, Eubank sent him to the mat three more times, first with a right uppercut that dropped him to all fours. He went down again moments later after eating three more punches. After a little showboating, Eubank went after Doran again and floored him with a right uppercut. Doran beat the count but referee Marcus McDonnell appropriately stopped the gross mismatch at 2 minutes, 35 seconds.
With the victory in hand, there is a good chance Eubank's next fight will be a challenge of unified titleholder Gennady Golovkin, who is being ducked by lineal champion Canelo Alvarez and needs a fall opponent. Golovkin's team and Eubank's team have been in conversations but nothing could be finalized until after this bout. Golovkin is willing to go to England for the fight.
"Gennady Golovkin, man, I'm coming for you," Eubank said in his in-ring post-fight interview. "I'm coming for your belts, man. Everyone's scared of you for some reason. People think you're the indestructible man. You're not and I'm coming."
Also on the card: British heavyweight Dillian Whyte (17-1, 14 KOs), 28, of England, coming off a riveting seventh-round knockout loss to Anthony Joshua in December, may have set himself up for a rematch by knocking out Ivica Bacurin (25-10-1, 15 KOs), 34, of Croatia, in the sixth round; junior welterweight Conor Benn (3-0, 2 KOs), the 19-year-old son of 1990s British star and former two-division world titleholder Nigel Benn, scored a first-round knockout of Lukas Radic (3-7-1, 3 KOs), 24, of the Czech Republic; and 27-year-old middleweight Anthony Ogogo (10-0, 6 KOs), a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, fighting for only the third time since July 2014 because of injuries, knocked out Frane Radnic (11-3, 10 KOs), 32, of Croatia, in the first round.
Saturday at Dallas
Mike Alvarado W8 Josh Torres
Scores: 78-74, 77-75, 76-76
Records: Alvarado (36-4, 24 KOs); Torres (15-5-2, 7 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Former junior welterweight world titleholder Alvarado, 35, of Denver, won the second fight in a row on his comeback following a 14-month layoff and a stint in alcohol rehabilitation, which followed his non-effort in a third-round knockout loss to rival Brandon Rios in their January 2015 rubber match. Alvarado launched his comeback in March with a third-round knockout of Saul Corral and continued with a tough fight against Torres, 26, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, which headlined Top Rank's "Solo Boxeo Tecate" card on UniMas.
Alvarado would like another big fight or world title shot, but he knows he is going to have to work to get it and this fight with Torres was part of the process as he continued to shake off the rust of the layoff. It took Alvarado a few rounds to get going as Torres took it to him but he eventually found his rhythm. By the fourth round, Alvarado seemed to take control and was finding a home for his right hand. If there was any doubt that Alvarado was going to win, he won the last two rounds as he fired shots, backed Torres up and nailed him with hard right hands.
"Mike's comeback continues," Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler said. "He is taking small steps to make sure he gets it right. And the comeback inside the ring goes with his personal comeback outside the ring."
Matt Korobov W8 Bryan Vera
Scores: 79-69 (twice), 78-70
Records: Korobov (26-1, 14 KOs); Vera (23-11, 14 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Korobov, 33, a 2008 Russian Olympian living in Florida, fought for a vacant middleweight world title in December 2014. He was way ahead of Andy Lee when he suddenly got knocked out by a right hook in the sixth round. He returned from a 13-month layoff for an eight-round decision win in January and scored his second victory in a row by outpointing Vera, 34, of Austin, Texas, who got knocked down four times but won some middle rounds and showed a big heart in the loss.
Korobov, a southpaw, started very fast. He was all over Vera, knocking him down twice in the first round, with a right hook and then with a left hand. In the second round, Korobov floored Vera for the third time, sending him to his rear end with a right hook. Vera, who suffered a nasty cut over his right eye, hit the mat again in the final round when Vera landed a left hand to the body. As always, Vera got up yet again and lasted the distance in a good fight but another defeat, his fifth in a row.
Saturday at San Antonio
Justin DeLoach W8 Junior Castillo
Scores: 79-71, 78-72 (twice)
Records: DeLoach (15-1, 8 KOs); Castillo (10-1, 9 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: DeLoach, 22, of Augusta, Georgia, rolled to a one-sided decision win over Castillo, a 30-year-old southpaw who represented the Dominican Republic in the 2012 Olympics, in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on NBC Sports Network that appeared to have barely a few hundred fans in attendance. DeLoach, who split from trainer and former welterweight titleholder Paul Williams after their pairing received so much hype earlier this year, dropped Castillo in the third and sixth rounds and rolled to the lopsided win.
"I'm very happy with my performance [and] did exactly what I wanted to," DeLoach said. "I'm ready for any of the big names in the junior middleweight division, even my friend [top prospect] Erickson Lubin. I'd love to fight him. I'm going to stay humble, stay focused, and keep working towards a world championship."
Also on the card: Welterweight Ryan Karl (12-0, 8 KOs), 24, of Houston, knocked down Mexican journeyman Luis Solis (16-7-4, 13 KOs), 24, in the third round on his way to a one-sided decision, 80-71, 79-72 and 78-73. In the televised opener, junior welterweight Darwin Price (10-0, 5 KOs), 26, of Houston, knocked Semajay Thomas (7-1, 4 KOs), 23, of Chicago, down in the first round and went on to win a one-sided unanimous decision in a spirited fight (80-71 twice, 79-72).
Friday at Beijing
Jason Sosa TKO11 Javier Fortuna
Wins a junior lightweight title
Records: Sosa (19-1-4, 15 KOs); Fortuna (29-1-1, 21 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: In December, Sosa, 28, of Camden, New Jersey, was a heavy underdog when he faced former featherweight titleholder Nicholas Walters, who was moving up to junior lightweight. When the HBO-televised bout ended, virtually everyone had Walters winning easily, many by shutout. But Sosa somehow got a draw in one of the worst decisions in recent history. But that draw was good enough to land Sosa, perceived as an easy mark, a shot at secondary titleholder Fortuna, a 26-year-old southpaw from the Dominican Republic, who was making his second defense. It turned out that despite a poor showing against Walters, Sosa was no easy mark and Fortuna found that out the hard way.
Fortuna, much faster and slicker than Sosa, outboxed him for virtually the entire fight and also knocked him down with a clean straight left hand to the chin in the final seconds of the fifth round. Sosa began to get back into the fight midway through the 10th round when he hurt Fortuna with a left hand and eventually dropped him with an accumulation of shots. Fortuna was under intense pressure and not all together from the knockdown when his mouthpiece came out later in the round and referee Raul Caiz Jr. penalized him one point for spitting it out. It was all Fortuna could do to survive the 10-7 round.
Going into the 11th round, Fortuna was still ahead on all three scorecards -- 96-91, 95-92 and 94-93 -- but he was fading fast. Sosa went all out against him, backed him to the ropes and unleashed a vicious three-punch combination -- left, right, left. Each punch connected to the face and Fortuna fell in a heap. He beat the count but was in shambles, forcing Caiz to wave off the fight at 45 seconds as Sosa and his corner wildly celebrated the major upset. Fortuna's promoter Sampson Lewkowicz was disappointed but said Fortuna had a rematch clause in his contract so it seems likely there will be a sequel. Sosa now has a belt but it is the cheaper second-rate WBA secondary title behind Panama's Jezreel Corrales (20-1, 8 KOs), who won the organization's main title in very impressive fashion by upset in a second-round knockout of long-reigning titleholder Takashi Uchiyama on April 27 in Uchiyama's hometown of Tokyo.
Nehomar Cermeno TKO12 Jun Qiu Xiao
Wins a vacant junior featherweight title
Records: Cermeno (24-5-1, 13 KOs); Xiao (20-3, 9 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Although the WBA claims to be trying to become more normal by having one titleholder per weight class rather than the absurd three it has usually had for the past several years (super titleholder, regular titleholder and interim titleholder) it is not exactly keeping its word because it sanctioned this bout for a vacant 122-pound regular title in a division in which Guillermo Rigondeaux already has its super belt and Moises Flores is already an interim titleholder. Nonetheless, Cermeno, 36, of Venezuela, claimed the belt with a dominant performance against China's Xiao, 25. Going into the 12th round, Cermeno, who effectively countered Xiao all fight long, had a commanding lead on all three scorecards: 109-100, 108-100 and 108-101. Then he put the tiring Xiao away, landing a flurry of punches, including a big overhand right hand that rocked him and forced referee Luis Pabon to step in and stop the fight at 1 minute, 11 seconds.