A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at New York (Barclays Center)
Deontay Wilder KO10 Luis Ortiz - Full recap
Retains a heavyweight title
Records: Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs); Ortiz (28-1, 24 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: For the first four rounds, this was an awful fight with no action, but Ortiz, 38, of Miami, was in control thanks to his boxing skills and activity. Then it turned into a classic heavyweight title fight as Wilder, in easily his toughest test, proved his mettle in a big way against the Cuban southpaw. Wilder, 32, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, dropped Ortiz with a right hand in the final seconds of the fifth round and then miraculously survived a massive onslaught over the final minute of the seventh round. Ortiz came within a whisker of the stoppage, but Wilder, making his seventh defense, amazingly didn't go down, even though he was in terrible shape. He answered any questions about his heart and resolve as he stormed back to eventually score two knockdowns in the 10th round, including the fight-ender on a humongous right uppercut that dropped Ortiz and caused referee David Fields (who did an outstanding job) to stop it at 2 minutes, 5 seconds as the Barclays Center crowd of 14,069 went wild. Bring on the winner of the Anthony Joshua-Joseph Parker fight on March 31.
Jose Uzcategui TKO9 Andre Dirrell - Full recap
Wins an interim super middleweight title
Records: Uzcategui (27-2, 23 KOs); Dirrell (26-3, 16 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Revenge was sweet -- and somewhat easy -- for Uzcategui, who gave Dirrell a beatdown in the sequel of their highly controversial vacant interim title bout from last May, when Uzcategui suffered a very questionable disqualification for a punch that knocked Dirrell out a split second after the bell ending the eighth round. In the rematch, Uzcategui, who was winning the first fight at the time of the DQ, picked up where he left off and took it to Dirrell, 34, a southpaw from Flint, Michigan, with a hard two-handed attack. Uzcategui, 27, of Venezuela, pounded him throughout the fight and swelled his face until referee Ricky Gonzalez stopped the fight in the corner two seconds into the ninth round. The win makes Uzcategui mandatory for the Caleb Truax-James DeGale II winner.
Saturday at New York (Madison Square Garden)
Sergey Kovalev TKO7 Igor Mikhalkin - Full recap
Retains a light heavyweight title
Records: Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs); Mikhalkin (21-2, 9 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: In an all-Russian battle, Los Angeles-based Kovalev, 34, made the first defense of his second title reign and dominated amateur teammate Mikhalkin, 32, who fights out of Germany. Although heavy favorite Kovalev was a little uncomfortable with Mikhalkin's southpaw style, he dominated. Mikhalkin's face was showing damage with a cut on the bridge of the nose and a bloody nose, but then Kovalev opened a deep cut under his right eye in the sixth round. It got worse in the seventh round and referee Steve Willis had the doctor look at it and took his advice to call it off at 2 minutes, 25 seconds. Kovalev outlanded Mikhalkin 186-43 and never landed less than 20 punches in a round while the outgunned Mikhalkin never landed more than nine.
Dmitry Bivol TKO12 Sullivan Barrera - Full recap
Retains a light heavyweight title
Records: Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs); Barrera (21-2, 14 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Bivol, 27, of Russia, turned in an extremely impressive performance to retain his title for the second time against easily the best opponent of his career in Barrera, 36, a former Cuban amateur star fighting out of Miami. Barrera elected to challenge Bivol over main event titleholder Sergey Kovalev for less money, and the gamble didn't pay off. He made Bivol work hard for the win, but Bivol won every round on all three scorecards before the knockout. Bivol dealt with a cut over his left eye from an accidental head butt in the second round and swelling on the right side of his forehead from another butt, but he controlled Barrera with an outstanding jab before unleashing a jab-right-jab-right combination in the final round to drop Barrera. Barrera showed heart to beat the count, but couldn't continue and referee Harvey Dock stopped it at 1 minute, 41 seconds. Bivol, who landed 243 punches to Barrera's 75, just might be the most talented 175-pounder in the world.
Saturday at Sheffield, England
Kell Brook KO2 Sergey Rabchenko - Full recap
Records: Brook (37-2, 26 KOs); Rabchenko (29-3, 22 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Welcome back to the win column! Former welterweight world titlist Brook, 31, of England, ended a harsh two-fight losing streak in which he suffered orbital bone breaks on each side of his face in knockout losses to Gennady Golovkin challenging for the middleweight title in 2016 and losing his welterweight title to Errol Spence last May. Now a junior middleweight, Brook returned and blew out a very respectable opponent in Rabchenko, 32, of Belarus. In the second round, Brook rocked Rabchenko with a right uppercut and moments later floored him with a right hand to the temple. Rabchenko was unable to beat the count and referee Steve Gray stopped the fight at 1 minute, 27 seconds. Brook looked strong in his return and moved closer to a possible long-awaited showdown with countryman Amir Khan.
Saturday at Glasgow, Scotland
Josh Taylor TKO3 Winston Campos
Records: Taylor (12-0, 11 KOs); Campos (30-4-5, 18 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Taylor, 27, a southpaw from Scotland, is one of boxing's elite prospects. He was supposed to fight former two-division world titleholder Humberto Soto, but Soto pulled out because of a cut in training and was replaced by the much less-heralded Campos, 25, a southpaw from Nicaragua. Taylor, 2012 Olympian who didn't turn pro until 2015, blew through Campos with ease as he continued his march toward a world title fight. He hurt Campos repeatedly throughout the fight before dropping him to his knees with an overhand left in the second round. He knocked him down again later in the round with an avalanche of clean punches. Campos was down for the third time early in the third round when Taylor landed a left hand. He beat the count, but looked worn out and referee Victor Loughlin stopped it at 44 seconds.
Saturday at Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Jayson Velez TKO12 Juan Manuel Lopez
Records: Velez (26-4-1, 18 KOs); Lopez (35-6, 32 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: In an all-Puerto Rican showdown between fighters well past their best, Velez, 29, a former featherweight title challenger, won his third fight in a row as he finished off the remnants of Lopez, 34, a long-faded former featherweight and junior featherweight titlist who dropped to 2-4 in his past six fights (with all four losses by knockout). It was a rough, back-and-forth fight in which Lopez suffered a cut over his right eye in the fifth round. In the 12th round, Velez dropped Lopez to his knees with an overhand right on the jaw in the center of the ring. As Velez clobbered him during the follow-up attack, Lopez's corner intervened, and referee Luis Pabon stopped it at 1 minute, 54 seconds. Lopez, who has already exited one retirement, surely is finished for good now.