A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at Manchester, England
Jorge Linares W12 Anthony Crolla -- Full recap
Retains world lightweight title
Scores: 118-109 (three times)
Records: Linares (42-3, 27 KOs); Crolla (31-6-3, 13 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: In September, three-division titleholder Linares, 31, of Venezuela, traveled to Crolla's hometown of Manchester and clearly outpointed him in a blazing fight to win a lightweight belt and earn recognition as the true champion of the division. Linares returned because Crolla, 30, had the right to an immediate rematch but few thought anything would change -- and nothing did. In fact, Linares was even more dominant this time in a one-sided masterpiece against the outclassed Crolla, whom he dropped with a nasty uppercut in the seventh round and cut over the left eye. Linares, who won his 11th fight in a row, was sharp and never in any trouble as he put on a classic display of skill and power.
Also on the card, lightweight Katie Taylor (4-0, 2 KOs), 30, the former Irish Olympic star, cruised to an 80-72 shutout of Milena Koleva (9-8-1, 3 KOs), 28, of Bulgaria. (Only referee Howard John Foster judged the bout.)
Saturday at Potsdam, Germany
Tyron Zeuge W (Tech. Dec. 5) Isaac "Grenade" Ekpo -- Full recap
Retains a super middleweight title
Scores: 49-46, 49-47, 48-47
Records: Zeuge (20-0-1, 11 KOs); Ekpo (31-3, 24 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: In November, Zeuge, 24, of Germany, knocked out Italy's Giovanni De Carolis in the 12th round in a rematch of their draw to claim a 168-pound world title. Zeuge, making his first defense, and Ekpo, 34, the mandatory challenger from Nigeria, accidentally clashed heads during the third round. The collision left Zeuge with a nasty cut over his right eye. He continued to fight for two more rounds but with blood streaming down Zeuge's face and his vision apparently impaired, referee Raul Caiz Sr. stopped the fight after the fifth round. Ekpo initially thought he had won by knockout but, in fact, the fight was stopped because of the cut and was sent to the scorecards for a technical decision, which Zeuge won.
Saturday at Mulvane, Kansas
Nico Hernandez TKO4 Patrick Gutierrez
Records: Hernandez (1-0, 1 KO); Gutierrez (0-3)
Rafael's remarks: In August, the 21-year-old Hernandez, of Wichita, Kansas, claimed a light flyweight bronze medal for the United States at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, thus ending the drought for the American men, who had not taken home an Olympic boxing medal since Deontay Wilder's heavyweight bronze in 2008.
Hernandez returned home to a hero's parade and, seven months later, made his professional debut, doing so as the headline attraction on CBS Sports Net in a scheduled six-round bout at the Kansas Star Casino Arena, less than hour's drive from his hometown. In front of a raucous crowd of about 3,100, Hernandez did not disappoint as he took apart Gutierrez, 22, of Las Vegas, with ease.
Hernandez was the aggressor from the start as he went to work on Gutierrez to the head and body. Gutierrez showed heart but took a pounding until his corner threw in the towel and referee Tom Anderson waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 32 seconds of the fourth round.
Also on the card, New Haven, Connecticut, southpaw Tramaine "The Mighty Midget" Williams (10-0, 3 KOs), 24, cruised to an eight-round unanimous decision against Eduardo Garza (6-2, 2 KOs), 28, of Pal View, Texas. It was just Williams' second fight since 2013, partly because he had been incarcerated. Williams dropped Garza twice, in the first and third rounds, and won by scores of 79-71, 79-71 and 78-72.
Saturday at Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Jhonny Gonzalez KO3 Francisco Contreras
Records: Gonzalez (63-10, 53 KOs); Contreras (30-6, 23 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Former bantamweight and featherweight world titleholder Gonzalez, 35, of Mexico, kept his chances of a shot at a junior lightweight world title alive with a crushing knockout of Contreras, 33, a Dominican Republic native fighting out of Irvington, New Jersey. Contreras came into the fight having won eight in a row (albeit against very low level opposition), but Gonzalez was a much higher level opponent and it showed.
Gonzalez appeared to win the first two rounds and then turned up the heat in the third round as he scored three knockdowns: with a left hook to the chin 30 seconds into the round, then on a left hook to the body a minute later and, finally, another left hook to the body that laid Contreras out for the count just as the round was ending. Gonzalez now hopes to land a shot at the winner of the summer fight between titleholder Miguel Berchelt and mandatory challenger Takashi Miura.
Saturday at Palenque, Mexico
Jorge Paez Jr. TKO3 Daniel Sandoval
Records: Paez Jr. (40-9-2, 24 KOs); Sandoval (39-5, 36 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: The son of former lightweight world titleholder Jorge Paez Sr., Paez, 29, of Mexico, came into the fight having lost three in a row and four of his last five. He put that rut behind him with an explosive performance against Sandoval, 25, of Mexico, who suffered his second third-round knockout in his last three bouts. Paez dropped Sandoval with a big right hand 45 seconds into the fight and nearly finished him in the first round. A left-right combination floored Sandoval again in the second round. Paez continued to rock him repeatedly in the third, after which Sandoval had had enough and retired on his stool.
Emanuel Navarrete TKO1 Salvador Hernandez
Records: Navarrete (19-1, 16 KOs); Hernandez (15-6, 9 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Navarrete, a 22-year-old prospect from Mexico, won his 14th fight in a row since a four-round decision loss in 2012 as he blew away late-replacement Hernandez in 2 minutes, 48 seconds. Navarrete dropped Hernandez three times before referee Miguel Angel Canul waved off the fight. Navarrete initially floored him with a left hand to the chin a minute into the fight. Another left hand at the end of a combination put him down again and then another left hook. Hernandez, 26, of Mexico, beat the count but was in no shape to go on. He dropped to 3-4 in his last seven bouts.
Thursday at Indio, California
Jason Quigley W10 Glen Tapia -- Full recap
Scores: 100-90, 99-91, 98-92
Records: Quigley (13-0, 10 KOs); Tapia (23-4, 15 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: If all of the main events on the new "Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN" series produce the kind of fan-friendly action fights that Quigley and Tapia did in the debut, then the show is going to be a hit.
Ireland's Quigley, 25, who fights out of Los Angeles, took a step up in competition and, though he had some problems, came out the clear winner against Tapia, 27, of Passaic, New Jersey, who lost his third fight loss in a row but fought his heart out. After Quigley dominated the first three rounds, Tapia got back into the fight and made it competitive, despite the stunningly one-sided scores. Tapia deserved better but Quigley proved the better fighter, even though, based on his shaky performance, he does not appear to be all that Golden Boy has hyped him to be.
Randy Caballero W10 Jesus Ruiz
Scores: 97-93, 96-94 (twice)
Records: Caballero (24-0, 14 KOs); Ruiz (36-8-5, 25 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Caballero, 26, of Coachella, California, returned from a 13-month layoff to give the home area fans what they wanted in a tough victory against Ruiz, 27, of Mexico. Caballero had been stripped of a bantamweight world title for failing to make weight in November 2015 and was boxing for only the second time since he won a belt in October 2014, a layoff caused in part by a foot injury. But Caballero looked pretty sharp as he was faster and slicker than the aggressive Ruiz. Despite some messy rounds involving head-butts and holding, this was a pretty good fight that Caballero, who was cut by a head-butt in the ninth round, deserved to win by the closes scores he received.
Marlen Esparza W4 Rachel Sazoff -- Full recap
Scores: 40-36 (three times)
Records: Esparza (1-0); Sazoff (0-3)
Rafael's remarks: Esparza, 27, of Houston, was the first woman to earn an Olympic boxing berth for the United States and went on to claim a bronze medal in the 2012 London Games. Four years later, she failed to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic team and decided to go pro, becoming the first female fighter to sign with Golden Boy Promotions, which slotted her pro debut to be the first televised bout on the first card of the new "Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN" series. Nobody expected Esparza to be matched tough and she wasn't, as she cruised to a shutout decision against Sazoff, 26, of Hamilton Township, New Jersey, who was 1-8 as an MMA fighter and remains winless as a boxer.