A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at Las Vegas
Andre Ward TKO8 Sergey Kovalev - Full recap
Retains unified light heavyweight title
Records: Ward (32-0, 16 KOs); Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: There was genuine controversy after Ward was given a unanimous decision -- 114-113 on all three scorecards -- and three world-title belts following an excellent fight with Kovalev in November. The reason was because in the eyes of most observers Kovalev was the rightful winner of the fight, even had he not dropped Ward in the second round.
But the so-called controversy of their rematch is nothing more than a manufactured excuse by Kovalev, 34, who is from Russia and fights out of Los Angeles, and his team for supposed low blows that were the final punches Ward threw. In fact, while there may have been a shot or two during the bout that strayed low, none appeared on to be on purpose and, in fact, some were on the beltline area that referee Tony Weeks physically showed was legal during the pre-fight instructions.
What really happened here was that Ward, who was ahead 67-66 on two scorecards and down 68-65 on the third at the time of the stoppage of a rough-and-tumble fight, broke Kovalev mentally and physically. The end really began when Ward crushed the "Krusher" with probably the best right hand he has ever landed earlier in the eighth round. The shot badly wobbled Kovalev, whose legs nearly gave out on him. From there, Ward continued to pound Kovalev, who backed into the ropes, bent over and took three more body shots. He was done and Weeks stepped in at 2 minutes, off 29 seconds to give Ward a huge victory. Kovalev never complained to Weeks about the stoppage, a clear sign that it was legit. Ward, not known as a KO puncher, did outstanding body work throughout the fight, including landing 10 among the 20 total punches he landed in the eighth round, according to CompuBox statistics. Kovalev and his team complained bitterly about the decision after the first fight and Ward, 33, of Oakland, California, did too about not getting credit for the win. The rematch was named "No Excuses." So nobody wants to hear any from Team Kovalev.
Guillermo Rigondeaux No Decision 1 Moises Flores - Full recap
Retains a junior featherweight title
Records: Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs); Flores (25-0, 17 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Rigondeaux retained his 122-pound world title for the eighth time against Flores, the interim titlist and mandatory challenger, in a controversial manner. Sorting out the end of the fight between Rigondeaux, the Miami, Florida-based Cuban defector (and two-time Olympic gold medalist) and Flores, 30, of Mexico, took longer than actual fight. As the first round was coming to a close, Rigondeaux landed two left uppercuts but had his right hand over Flores' neck and was pulling him down. That caught the attention of referee Vic Drakulich, who attempted to break them just as the bell rang to end the round. But at that moment, Rigondeaux fired a left hand that nailed Flores on the chin and dropped him. Perhaps Flores was doing a little acting to make it look worse than it was but he was caught clean and was down. Drakulich counted him out but then reviewed the video of the end of the fight, but because he had no access to the audio he had no idea if the shot was before or after the bell. He ruled it a knockdown, which was the result that was announced. However, the fight was reviewed again (with sound) on Sunday and determined that the punch was clearly after the bell -- and by a lot -- and the result will be formally changed to a no decision. It's the right call and could mean a rematch of the mandatory fight.
Dmitry Bivol TKO4 Cedric Agnew - Full recap
Records: Bivol (11-0, 9 KOs); Agnew (29-3, 15 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Bivol was extremely impressive in his American television debut on Showtime on April 14 and just as impressive in his second U.S. TV fight on HBO PPV as he blitzed Agnew, who could not do anything but throw an occasional punch and back up hoping to get away from Bivol's powerful punches. When Agnew, 30, of Chicago, challenged Sergey Kovalev for his light heavyweight world title in 2014, he got dropped twice and stopped in the seventh round but he at least made it a little bit interesting. But Bivol, 26, of Russia, won every second of the fight with ease and looks like a future world champion. Bivol had a huge amateur career and already owns an interim world title (which was not on the line against Agnew), but Agnew was probably the most notable opponent of his career.
Luis Arias TKO5 Arif Magomedov - Full recap
Records: Arias (18-0, 9 KOs); Magomedov (18-2, 11 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Getting his first serious exposure, Arias, 26, of Milwaukee, showed himself to be a talented and crowd-pleasing prospect as he abused Magomedov, 24, a Los Angeles-based Russia native, en route to a surprisingly easy victory. He let his hands go throughout the fight and nailed Magomedov time again, especially uppercuts. Magomedov has lost two of his last three fights.
Saturday at Frisco, Texas
Fidel Maldonado Jr. W10 Pablo Cesar Cano
Scores: 97-92 (twice) Maldonado, 96-93 Cano
Records: Maldonado Jr. (24-3-1, 19 KOs); Cano (30-6-1, 21 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Maldonado, a 25-year-old southpaw from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Cano, 27, a former interim junior welterweight titlist from Mexico, put on a competitive and crowd pleasing fight in the main event of the "Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN" card, which was the first boxing event to take place at the Tostitos Championship Plaza at The Star, the practice facility of the Dallas Cowboys.
Maldonado, who edged Cano to move to 5-0-1 in his last six fights, survived a knockdown from a shot to the chin late in the fourth round. There were a lot of back-and-forth exchanges in the fight and some close rounds, but Maldonado did enough to deserve the decision, even if the two cards favoring him were perhaps slightly generous.
Saturday at Wetzlar, Germany
Tyron Zeuge W12 Paul Smith -
Retains a super middleweight title
Scores: 119-108 (three times)
Records: Zeuge (21-0-1, 11 KOs); Smith (38-7, 22 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Zeuge, 25, of Germany, retained his secondary belt for the second time against an entirely unworthy challenger in Smith, 34, of England, who had done absolutely nothing to warrant a title fight -- his third. In his previous world title bouts he lost back-to-back decisions to then-super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham, a controversial decision in September 2014 and a more clear-cut verdict in the February 2015 rematch. Then he was overweight in a one-sided ninth-round knockout loss to Andre Ward and came into this fight having won three in a row against horrible opposition. So that Zeuge dominated was no surprise. To punctuate the easy work Zeuge dropped Smith with a left hand in the final seconds of the pointless fight.
Saturday at Park City, Kansas
Nico Hernandez KO3 Jose Rodriquez
Records: Hernandez (2-0, 2 KO); Rodriquez (2-1, 2 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Hernandez, 21, of Wichita, Kansas, claimed a bronze medal for the United States at the 2016 Olympics and scored a fourth-round knockout in his pro debut on March 25. Back for pro fight No. 2, Hernandez fought near home and headlined the CBS Sports-televised card against Rodriguez, 29, of Markesan, Wisconsin. He had no issues, landing quick combinations to the head and body as he battered the overmatched Rodriguez, whom he knocked down during the second round. In the third round, he dropped him again with a right-left combination. When he continued to pelt Rodriguez and then dropped him for the third time, referee Kevin Champion counted him out at 2 minutes, 38 seconds.
Friday at Detroit
Claressa Shields W8 Sydney LeBlanc
Scores: 80-72 (three times)
Records: Shields (3-0, 1 KO); LeBlanc (4-2-1, 0 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Shields, 22, of Flint, Michigan, is probably the most famous active American female boxer thanks to her 77-1 record that included back-to-back Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016. She's on her way to big things as a pro it seems also. Shields was supposed to face the Dominican Republic's Mery Rancier (7-8-3, 5 KOs), but visa issues forced out of the bout at the last minute and she was replaced by LeBlanc, 33, of Gretna, Louisiana, on three days' notice. Whichever opponent Shields faced the result figured to be the same as she rolled past LeBlanc in for a shutout decision as Shields boxed in an eight-round fight for the first time. The fight was also Shields' first since signing a promotional deal with Salita Promotions.