A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at London
Kell Brook TKO6 Frankie Gavin
Retains a welterweight title
Records: Brook (35-0, 24 KOs); Gavin (22-2, 13 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Brook, 29, of England, won a world title in impressive fashion when he came to the United States last August and outpointed Shawn Porter. But a few weeks later he suffered a serious stab wound in his left leg, in an apparent random attack while on vacation to celebrate the victory, putting his career in jeopardy. But Brook recovered and has not looked back. He blew away mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan in an emotional homecoming first defense on March 28 and returned just two months later to headline a loaded card against southpaw countryman Gavin, 29, England's first-ever world amateur champion.
Brook did what he was expected to do and put away Gavin in easy fashion. It was a boring, tactical fight until the ruthless finish. Brook picked Gavin apart, had him in some mild trouble against the ropes in the fifth round, and then finished him in the sixth round. Gavin, with bad swelling under his right eye, got hurt by a right uppercut along the ropes late in the sixth round, and Brook followed with a big chopping right hand. As Gavin slumped into the ropes, referee Steve Gray stepped in and called off the fight at 2 minutes, 51 seconds. Gavin's three-fight winning streak came to an end.
Brook is fighting exceptionally well and would like square off with countryman Amir Khan in what would be a major British showdown, but Khan is eying a shot at champion Floyd Mayweather in September, so it remains to be see what Brook will do next. Promoter Eddie Hearn said Brook could be back on Aug. 29 or in early September, and since it won't be Khan, an opponent such as Brandon Rios is a possibility.
Anthony Joshua TKO2 Kevin Johnson
Records: Joshua (13-0, 13 KOs); Johnson (29-7-1, 14 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: There are many who believe that Joshua, 25, the super heavyweight Olympic gold medalist in 2012, will become the heavyweight champion of the world. He is the best heavyweight prospect in boxing, and this absolute destruction of Johnson, 35, of Atlanta, was impressive and should not dissuade anyone from thinking that Joshua could be something very special.
It is not that Joshua beat Johnson, who talked a ton of smack (as usual). It is that Joshua blew his opponent away in stunningly easy fashion. Johnson had little chance to win, but he is known for his durability, and he needs rounds. In Joshua's short unbeaten career, he has never been past the third round, and Johnson -- who has faced several quality opponents and went the distance in a world title fight with Vitali Klitschko in 2009 -- figured to at least get Joshua into the later rounds. But Joshua blitzed Johnson, who had been knocked down only once previously in his career (in a unanimous decision loss to Dereck Chisora in 2014). Johnson had never seriously been hurt in a fight and had never been stopped or come close to being stopped.
But this was over before it really got rolling. Joshua hurt Johnson with a right hand almost immediately, sent him into the ropes, and then put some punches together. Joshua, of England, did as he pleased, putting Johnson in survival mode and then dropping him with a powerful right hand along the ropes with 20 seconds left. Joshua dropped Johnson again with a barrage of shots as the bell sounded to end the round. The fight could have been over right then as Johnson's corner got into the ring to help him up before referee Ian John-Lewis could even count. Nonetheless, it was a formality because even though Johnson came out for the second round, he was toast. Joshua blasted Johnson around the ring in the second round and finally floored him again under heavy fire, causing John-Lewis to step in without counting at 1 minute, 22 seconds. The fight could have been stopped in the first round, but Joshua was content to dish out massive punishment in the second round of a stellar performance. Johnson, once a promising prospect, has lost four fights in a row and five of his last six. Joshua is headed for much bigger and better fights. He will be back in July in Manchester and then, if all goes well, on Sept. 12 in London, promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing said after the bout.
Jorge Linares TKO10 Kevin Mitchell
Retains a lightweight title
Records: Linares (39-3, 26 KOs); Mitchell (39-3, 29 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Linares made his first title defense, a mandatory, by traveling to Mitchell's home turf and winning a terrific and competitive battle between two excellent fighters. Both showed true grit and heart in an exciting fight filled with ebb and flow.
Linares, 29, of Venezuela, a former junior lightweight and featherweight titleholder, won a vacant lightweight belt via an easy fourth-round knockout of journeyman Javier Prieto in December. But Mitchell, 30, of England, figured to pose much more of a threat, and he sure did. Mitchell had been knocked out by then-titleholder Ricky Burns in the fourth round in 2012 but won his next six fights to land another shot, and he came very close to winning.
Mitchell had his biggest moment in the first minute of the fifth round when he connected with a right-left combination that dropped Linares, who was in trouble but took his time getting to his feet. He had a long time to survive but made it out of the round.
Linares, who was knocked out in two of his losses, made a strong comeback. He eventually opened a terrible cut over Mitchell's left eye in the eighth round. In the 10th round, Linares battered Mitchell along the ropes, opened a cut on his nose, and raised swelling around his left eye. Mitchell was in bad shape but pressed forward and landed a few hard shots as the crowd roared. Linares, however, took the shots and continued to batter Mitchell until finally flooring him with a right hand during a flurry. Mitchell showed heart to beat the count, but he was a mess and referee Victor Loughlin rightly called it off at 2 minutes, 57 seconds. At the time of the stoppage, Mitchell led 88-82 and 86-84 while the third card had it 85-85. It was a memorable fight that delivered everything a boxing fan could want -- action, skills, heart, knockdowns and drama.
Lee Selby (Technical Decision 8) Evgeny Gradovich
Wins a featherweight title
Scores: 80-72, 79-73 (twice)
Records: Selby (21-1, 8 KOs); Gradovich (19-1-1, 9 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Selby, 28, of Wales, looked terrific in October when he knocked out then-unbeaten Joel Brunker in the ninth round of a title eliminator to earn a shot at Gradovich, 28, of Russia. Then, when Selby faced Gradovich, he looked even better in a surprisingly one-sided rout of Gradovich, who was making his fifth title defense. But Gradovich was never in the fight. Selby outclassed him.
Selby landed clean shots from all angles and blocked most of the incoming punches from the aggressive Gradovich. A hard left hook rocked Gradovich late in the third round. At the end of the sixth round, a clean straight right hand to the face snapped his head back. Gradovich continued to press forward but had no Plan B as Selby met his opponent's advances with effective punches.
It looked as if Selby might be on his way to a stoppage victory when an accidental head-butt in the seventh round opened a cut over Gradovich's right eye. That cut wasn't too bad, but when another accidental head clash opened a worse cut over his left eye in the eighth round, referee Deon Dwarte stopped the bout 1 minute into the round on the advice of the ringside doctor and sent it to the scorecards for a technical decision (the judges scored the partial round). Selby was obviously way ahead. He boxed a masterpiece and his future is very bright.
Nathan Cleverly KO1 Tomas Man
Records: Cleverly (29-2, 15 KOs); Man (13-9-1, 8 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: It might take you longer to read this than the fight lasted -- 24 seconds. After Cleverly, 28, of Wales, lost his light heavyweight world title to Sergey Kovalev in August 2013 via a punishing fourth-round knockout, Cleverly moved up to cruiserweight, scoring two knockouts against low-level opponents and then losing a decision in desultory fashion to Tony Bellew in their November rematch (Cleverly defended his 175-pound title successfully in their first close encounter). After the loss, Cleverly returned to light heavyweight, where he faced Man, a 38-year-old career super middleweight from the Czech Republic with no prayer to win.
Man lived down to every possible expectation for the fight, getting blown out in even quicker fashion than anyone would have imagined. Cleverly immediately began to throw punches with both hands and then caught Man with a digging left hook to the liver. It sent Man to his knees and he was frozen with no chance to beat the count.
The plan for Cleverly was to return to the ring, get a win, and then move on to a proposed Sept. 5 shot in Germany against secondary light heavyweight titleholder Juergen Braehmer.
Saturday at Ensenada, Mexico
Javier Mendoza (Technical Decision 6) Milan Melindo
Retains a junior flyweight title
Scores: 60-52 (twice), 59-53
Records: Mendoza (24-2-1, 19 KOs); Melindo (32-2, 12 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Mendoza, 24, of Mexico, won a 108-pound world title in September by unanimous decision against Ramon Garcia Hirales and was making his first defense, a mandatory, against Melindo, 27, of the Philippines. Melindo got a shot at Juan Francisco Estrada's unified flyweight titles in 2013 but lost a decision and later dropped down in weight and got the shot at Mendoza. It was a rather dirty but fast-paced bout, and Mendoza dominated. Melindo had a point deducted by referee Gerard White for a low blow in the fifth round. In the sixth round, an accidental head-butt opened a cut over Melindo's right eye that caused White to call timeout so the ringside doctor could examine it. Later in the round, another accidental head butt left Mendoza with a deep, bloody cut over his left eye; on the advice of the ringside doctor, White stopped the bout at 2 minutes, 39 seconds, sending it to the scorecards for the technical decision, which easily went to Mendoza.
Saturday at Komaki, Japan
Kosei Tanaka W12 Julian Yedras
Wins a vacant strawweight title
Scores: 117-111 (twice), 115-113
Records: Tanaka (5-0, 2 KOs); Yedras (24-2, 13 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Tanaka, just 19 and a national high school champion in Japan, turned pro in November 2013, and five fights into his pro career he has set the Japanese record for winning a world title in the fewest number of fights. The record had been held by Naoya Inoue, the prodigy who claimed a junior flyweight world title in his sixth pro fight in April 2013. Tanaka was not far off from the all-time record of three, held by reigning featherweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko and Thailand's Saensak Muangsurin, who won a junior welterweight belt in 1975.
Tanaka and Yedras, 27, of Mexico, were fighting for the 105-pound world title vacated by Katsunari Takayama of Japan. In an entertaining bout, Yedras landed solid jabs and body shots, but many of his punches were often wide, so when they landed they did not have much power. Tanaka combined his better speed and greater punch output to win the clear decision in a fast-paced bout. Tanaka, who marked up Yedras' right eye, was strong in every department -- throwing quick jabs and combinations, landing solid left hooks, and displaying sound defense -- and outboxed Yedras with relative ease to make history.
Saturday at Hollywood, Calif.
Saul Rodriguez W8 Antonio Capulin
Scores: 80-71 (twice), 79-72
Records: Rodriguez (17-0-1, 13 KOs); Capulin (14-1, 6 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Rodriguez, 21, of Riverside, California, is a good-looking prospect who makes fan-friendly fights. The bout with Capulin, which headlined "Solo Boxeo Tecate" on UniMas, was no different than usual -- a fun fight with Rodriguez coming out on top. He handed Capulin, 22, of Houston, his first defeat, dropping him in the first round with a left hook that forced him to touch his glove to the mat, nearly knocking him out in the second round with an all-out assault, and then cruising to the decisive decision win.
In the co-feature, welterweight prospect Alex Saucedo (18-0, 13 KOs), 20, of Oklahoma City, dropped Jake Giuriceo (17-4-1, 4 KOs), 30, of Youngstown, Ohio, with a left hook in the third round and then staggered him with a flurry of punches in the fourth round, forcing referee Ray Corona to stop it at 49 seconds.
Friday at New York
Amir Khan W12 Chris Algieri
Scores: 117-111 (twice), 115-113
Records: Khan (31-3, 19 KOs); Algieri (20-2, 8 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: In a battle of former junior welterweight titleholders, Khan, 28, of England, clearly won the crowd-pleasing fight, but it was a bit more difficult than many expected. Most thought Khan would easily dominate Algieri, 31, who is from Huntington, New York and was fighting in front of a home crowd. After all, Algieri had to survive two first-round knockdowns and a horribly swollen eye 11 months ago when he claimed a controversial split decision and a 140-pound belt from Ruslan Provodnikov, a fight that was followed by a move up to welterweight to challenge then-titleholder Manny Pacquiao in November. All Pacquiao did was drop Algieri six times in a one-sided thrashing.
Khan was expected to do the same, but Algieri -- working with new trainer John David Jackson for the first time after firing Tim Lane following the Pacquiao debacle -- was in great shape and fought with an aggressiveness few expected. Algieri took it to Khan and hurt him with a right hand moments before the end of the first round. But Khan eventually got himself together, found his rhythm and took control. Khan, who won his fifth fight in a row, was quicker and more accurate with his punches, and he hit harder. According to CompuBox statistics, Khan landed 218 of 609 punches (36 percent) and Algieri connected on 199 of 703 (28 percent). Some of Khan's punches landed clean on Algieri's left eye, which was a swollen, black-and-blue mess during the final third of the fight.
While Algieri lost his second fight in a row -- and it could be three in a row if not for the debatable Provodnikov win -- he gained in stature for the effort he put forth. Khan got the deserved victory and then did what he has been doing for the past couple of years -- called out welterweight champion and pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather (48-0, 26 KOs), who needs an opponent for his proposed Sept. 12 fight to close out his six-fight CBS/Showtime contract. Khan has been in the serious running to land a fight vs. Mayweather for the champ's previous three bouts. But since Mayweather is out of other high-profile and available opponents, and since Khan looked vulnerable against Algieri, Khan just might finally get the fight of his dreams.
Javier Fortuna W12 Bryan Vasquez
Wins a vacant junior lightweight title
Scores: 117-111 (twice), 116-112
Records: Fortuna (28-0-1, 20 KOs); Vasquez (34-2, 18 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: The quick-fisted and sometimes awkward Fortuna, 25, of the Dominican Republic, and the straight-ahead brawler Vasquez, 27, of Costa Rica, were battling for a secondary 130-pound title. The organization's top title is held by the excellent Takashi Uchiyama (23-0-1, 19 KOs), who stopped Vasquez in the eighth round of a title defense in 2012. But regardless of the value of the belt they were fighting for, they put on a pretty entertaining fight -- at least for the first half. That was when Fortuna was as aggressive and interested in slugging it out with Vasquez as Vasquez was in going to war with Fortuna. But in the second half of the fight, Fortuna decided to move a lot more, use his speed and lateral movement advantages, and pick Vasquez apart with quick combinations.
Fortuna, a southpaw, even admitted after the bout that he began to go to more of a boxing style in the sixth round rather than continue to mix it up. It was probably a wise decision, because even if it meant the action slowed down, it was the best way for Fortuna to win the fight. But the first several rounds were action-packed. Once Fortuna began to box and move more, he took over. He marked up Vasquez's right eye and still had a few moments where he hurt Vasquez and sent him into the ropes late in the seventh round. Fortuna apparently figured he had the fight in the bag, because in the later rounds he taunted Vasquez at times by shuffling his feet and raising his fist in victory a few times. This fight was originally scheduled to take place May 23 in Boston on the James DeGale-Andre Dirrell undercard, but was moved to this card when co-feature fighter Paulie Malignaggi suffered a cut and was forced to withdraw from his welterweight fight with Danny O'Connor. Vasquez's five-time winning streak since his loss to Uchiyama came to an end.
Friday at Memphis
Lateef Kayode W10 Nick Kisner
Scores: 100-90 (twice), 99-91
Records: Kayode (21-0, 16 KOs); Kisner (14-2-1, 5 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Kayode is officially undefeated, but he has two no-decisions that are cause for concern. He fought to a draw with Antonio Tarver in a terrible 2012 cruiserweight bout, but the result was overturned because Tarver tested positive for steroids after the fight. Kayode moved up to heavyweight, won two bouts against woeful opposition, and then got crushed via first-round knockout by Luis Ortiz in an interim title fight in September. But that result was also erased from his record because Ortiz tested positive for a banned substance after the fight. In Kayode's first bout since that nasty KO loss, he returned to the cruiserweight division, which is where he really belongs.
A native of Nigeria living in Los Angeles, Kayode was matched with Kisner, 24, of Baltimore, and rolled to a near-shutout decision. Kisner's modest two-fight winning streak came to an end. Kayode, 32, did as he pleased, landed heavier and cleaner shots, and rolled to a lopsided win.