A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at New York
Carl Frampton W12 Leo Santa Cruz - Fight Recap
Wins a featherweight title
Scores: 117-111, 116-112, 114-114
Records: Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs); Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: What a fight! When the match was made everyone had high expectations for a first-class and exciting fight and Santa Cruz, 27, a Mexico native from Rosemead, California, and Frampton, 29, of Northern Ireland, delivered in spades. It's a clear-cut candidate for fight of the year.
Fights don't get much better than this. There was non-stop action in a very competitive fight, high-skill level, high stakes and an electric atmosphere thanks to the Irish community that turned out to watch as Frampton, moving up from junior featherweight, became the first fighter from his country to win titles in two weight classes and the second Irishman to do it (along with Steve Collins).
They traded toe to toe for long stretches but it was Frampton, a heavier hitter, who did enough to take the fight in a well-deserved decision, even if the 117-111 card was perhaps a round too wide. Nonetheless, it sets up an obvious rematch at some point. Santa Cruz, a three-division titlist who was making his second featherweight defense, has a rematch clause and he said he wants revenge. Frampton said he was game for it. A rematch figures to happen eventually, even if not next, so prepare for another FOY candidate, whenever it takes place.
Mikey Garcia TKO5 Elio Rojas - Fight Recap
Records: Garcia (35-0, 29 KOs); Rojas (24-3, 14 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: After 2½ years with his face on a milk carton, Garcia, 28, of Oxnard, California, a former featherweight and junior lightweight titleholder, returned to action. He sat out in a contract beef with career-long promoter Top Rank until they finally settled the case. It paved the way for his explosive return as a junior welterweight to take on former featherweight titlist Rojas, 33, of the Dominican Republic, who was fighting for the first time in 23 months and for only the second time in four years.
Despite the layoff, Garcia looked pretty darn good and likely will be a force at 140 or 135 pounds, whichever division he elects to fight in. Rojas landed a few nice right hands but Garcia was on point and in great shape, scoring four knockdowns, two in the third round and two more in the fifth round. After No. 4, referee Eddie Claudio waved it off at 2 minutes, 2 seconds. If Garcia can get active, he's as close to a sure thing as there is to win another title and be in major fights.
Tony Harrison TKO9 Sergey Rabchenko
Junior middleweight - Title eliminator
Records: Harrison (24-1, 20 KOs); Rabchenko (27-2, 20 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Many had high hopes for an entertaining bout but it turned out to be simply awful. If anyone elected to hit the head during this monotonous match, it was the right call. Harrison, 25, of Detroit, easily outboxed the extremely slow and seemingly clueless Rabchenko, 30, of Belarus, who has looked much better in other bouts. But even admonishment from trainer Ricky Hatton between rounds didn't help Rabchenko, the former European champion, who had nothing to offer. Harrison, meanwhile, didn't exactly press the action, electing to work from a distance using his jab. But at least when an opening presented itself, Harrison took advantage and put Rabchenko out of his misery (and everyone watching) with a booming right hand to the chin that dropped him to a knee. He beat the count, but was done and referee Arthur Mercante stopped it at 1 minute, 18 seconds. It was the biggest win of Harrison's career as he earned the No. 2 position in a sanctioning body's ratings and moved a step closer to a mandatory shot at the belt held by Jermall Charlo.
Paulie Malignaggi W10 Gabriel Bracero
Scores: 98-92 (twice), 96-94
Records: Malignaggi (36-7, 7 KOs); Bracero (24-3, 5 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Malignaggi won his third fight in a row since being pulverized in nine rounds by Danny Garcia 11 months ago, but he is winding down his career, as is Bracero. But the 35-year-old friendly Brooklyn rivals met in a turf battle for Malignaggi's symbolic Brooklyn belt and gave their fans a decent show. Neither can punch much, but they both turned in solid efforts. Malignaggi, a former junior welterweight and welterweight world titleholder, is simply the superior fighter and got the job done rather handily as he outboxed and counterpunched Bracero throughout the bout. More impressive than Malignaggi's performance was how quickly he provided a urine test and changed his clothes in order to make it to ringside to call the rest of the card in his usual role as a Showtime analyst. If this is it in the ring for Malignaggi, it was not a bad way to bow out.
Tevin Farmer W10 Ivan Redkach
Scores: 99-89, 98-90 (twice)
Records: Farmer (22-4-1, 5 KOs); Redkach (19-2-1, 15 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Do not be fooled by the pedestrian record of Philadelphia's Farmer, who was fighting on his 26th birthday. This man can fight. He's slick, skilled, fast and would be dangerous for any lightweight out there. But he does not have a big name, a fan base or the ability to bring an opponent a big pay day. He is exactly the kind of fighter for which mandatory positions were created, because nobody with a title is going to mess with him unless forced to do so. Farmer looked very good as he won his 15th consecutive bout by easily outboxing the slower, wider-punching Redkach and beating him to the punch constantly. Farmer also showed excellent defense as Redkach, 30, a Ukraine native fighting out of Los Angeles, who dropped to 1-2-1 in his last four bouts, could barely hit him. According to CompuBox, Farmer landed 155 of 502 punches (31 Percent) while a frustrated Redkach, docked a point by referee Arthur Mercante for head butting in the ninth round, landed only 100 of 615 (16 percent).
Saturday at Leeds, England
Josh Warrington TKO9 Patrick Hyland
Records: Warrington (24-0, 5 KOs); Hyland (31-3, 15 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Warrington, 25, who was boxing in his hometown, is closing in a title opportunity and this win over Hyland, 32, of Ireland, was critical. Warrington dropped Hyland to a knee in the eighth round with an overhand right and then twice more in the ninth round before referee Ian John Lewis stopped it at 45 seconds. Warrington is now in line for a mandatory shot at the belt held by Gary Russell Jr., who first has a mandatory against interim titlist Oscar Escandon and is probably not long for the division. Hyland lost his second fight in a row, having been crushed by Russell in a second-round knockout loss in a title shot on April 16.
Luke Campbell W12 Argenis Mendez
Scores: 117-110, 116-111, 115-112
Records: Campbell (14-1, 11 KOs); Mendez (23-5-1, 12 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Campbell, 28, a 2012 British Olympic gold medallist, won his second fight in a row as he bounced back from a knockdown in the second round to top Mendez, 30, a former junior lightweight titleholder from the Dominican Republic. Mendez, who was badly knocked out by Robert Easter in the fifth round in April, lost his second fight in a row.
Also on the card, British heavyweight Dillian Whyte (18-1, 14 KOs), 28, won his second fight in a row since a knockout loss to Anthony Joshua in December as he routed David Allen (9-1-1, 6 KOs), 24, of England, winning 100-91, 100-90 and 99-91.
Saturday at Indio, Calif.
Antonio Orozco W10 Abner Lopez
Scores: 99-91 (twice), 97-93
Records: Orozco (25-0, 16 KOs); Lopez (25-6, 19 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Orozco, 28, of San Diego, is sitting as the No.1 challenger for newly crowned unified champion Terence Crawford but by the looks of this fight he is nowhere ready for that kind of assignment. Despite the wide scores, Orozco did not look good against Mexico's Lopez, 26, who pressed the action all night but lost his second fight in a row. In fact, the broadcasters calling the fight on HBO Latino had the fight 95-95. Accidental head butts left Orozco with cuts over both of his swelling eyes in a fight that was closer than the scores might indicate.
Joseph Diaz Jr. TKO2 Victor Proa
Records: Joseph Diaz Jr. (21-0, 12 KOs) TKO2 Victor Proa (28-2-2, 21 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Diaz, a 23-year-old southpaw and 2012 U.S. Olympian from South El Monte, California, is one of Golden Boy's best prospects and he wants a major fight. His explosive performance against Proa, 31, of Mexico, who dropped to 2-2 in his last four bouts, helped him make the case that he deserves one. Diaz dominated the first round with power punches and then ended it on the second round. He sent Proa to the mat face first with a clean left hook to the chin and then battered him with a series of unanswered blows until referee Raul Caiz Jr. intervened at 1 minute, 7 seconds. With the win Diaz set himself up for a much bigger fight Sept. 17 on the HBO PPV undercard of the Canelo Alvarez-Liam Smith fight.
Friday at Quebec City
Adonis Stevenson KO4 Thomas Williams Jr. - Fight Recap
Retains world light heavyweight title
Records: Stevenson (28-1, 23 KOs); Williams (20-2, 14 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Stevenson, 38, of Montreal, returned from a 10-month layoff and retained the world title for the seventh time in an exciting shootout with Williams, 28, of Fort Washington, Maryland, whose chin betrayed him again; he also got knocked out in an upset by former titleholder Gabriel Campillo in the fifth round in 2014. Most figured this fight would be a exciting for however long it lasted but that Stevenson would eventually prevail. That's what happened. Williams put the presure on in the battle of southpaws but Stevenson floored him in the first round on a straight left hand. Williams got in his licks but Stevenson withstood them and then landed a sharp left hand to the chin in the fifth round that Williams never saw coming and he went down very hard and referee Michael Griffin counted him out at 2 minutes, 54 seconds. We all know Stevenson can punch, has a big personality and is exciting. But most of his title reign has come against lesser opponents (although Williams was a deserving challenger) while he has done his very best to avoid a unification fight with three-belt titleholder Sergey Kovalev. Stevenson has said many times he wants Kovalev but has yet to back it up, so it's no surprise that he said following this Premier Boxing Champions card on Spike that he wants the winner of the Nov. 19 Kovalev-Andre Ward fight. We'll believe it when we see it.
Eleider "Storm" Alvarez W10 Robert Berridge
Scores: 99-90, 98-92 (twice)
Records: Alvarez (20-0, 10 KOs); Berridge (27-5-1, 21 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Alvarez, 32, a Colombia native fighting out of Montreal, was supposed to face former light heavyweight world champion Chad Dawson but a week before the fight Dawson pulled out with a shoulder injury, which meant getting Berridge, a 31-year-old southpaw from New Zealand, on short notice. They fought at a 180-pound contract weight and the entire purpose of the fight was for Alvarez to be impressive to stoke interest in his mandatory title fight against Montreal rival and light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson. Alvarez remains the mandatory challenger because he won and did so easily, but he did not impress and did not make any kind of statement in this boring fight that looked more like a glorified sparring session. If anything, this performance from Alvarez probably made fans less interested in a fight with Stevenson than they had been.
Friday at Ontario, Calif.
Ruben Villa KO1 Gerardo Molina
Records: Villa (1-0, 1 KO); Molina (1-2, 1 KO)
Rafael's remarks: Villa, 19, of Salinas, California was an amateur standout (166-17, won two National Junior Golden Gloves titles and two National Golden Gloves titles at 123 pounds) who lost at the Olympic trials. So he signed a co-promotional deal with Artie Pelullo's Banner Promotions and Thompson Boxing Promotions and made his pro debut with a nice knockout of Mexico's Molina. Villa, whose left hook is a potent weapon, took his time, threw combinations and eventually tagged Molina with a right hand and a left hook that sent him crashing into the ropes, and referee Raul Caiz Jr. waved it off at 2 minutes, 25 seconds. Villa is one of the many young fighters who did not make it to the Rio Olympics embarking on pro careers. This kid is one to watch.
Wednesday at Ayutthaya, Thailand
Marlon Tapales KO11 Pungluang Sor Singyu
Wins a bantamweight title
Records: Tapales (29-2, 12 KOs); Sor Singyu (52-4, 35 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Tapales, a 24-year-old Filipino southpaw, won his eighth fight in a row since a majority decision loss in 2013 as he went on the road and claimed a 118-pound world title in impressive fashion against Sor Singyu, 26, of Thailand, who was making his second defense. In an entertaining fight Tapales survived two fifth-round, body-shot knockdowns to rally to drop Sor Singyu in the sixth round on a right hook to the head and finish him with a left hand to the chin in the 11th round as referee Ramon Pena counted him out.