The SSE Arena, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Ryan Burnett partially unified the bantamweight division with a win over now former WBA champion Zhanat Zhakiyanov. The bout was a physical one filled with excessive holding throughout, but it was Burnett’s cleaner, more effective output that won him the hard-fought unanimous decision with tallies of 119-109, 118-110, 116-112.
The undercard featured former blue-chip amateur Josh Kelly knocking out Jose Luis Zuniga in two rounds. The disparity between skill and speed were palpable from the opening bell, as Kelly landed a right uppercut and left hook combination on Zuniga that sent him back to the ropes. It didn’t get any easier for Zuniga as the Kelly onslaught of right uppercuts, straight right hands and left hooks continued which bounced Zuniga off the ropes. Referee John Lowey called a halt to the action with 1:18 remaining in the second round.
Middleweight prospect Anthony Fowler remained undefeated as he boxed his way to a unanimous decision win over Laszlo Fazekas. Behind an educated jab, Fowler could land combinations with regularity however a clash of heads had him cut and bleeding down to the bridge of his nose. With a sense of urgency, Fowler pushed the pace in the second looking for the knockout. It was not meant to be however he easily out-boxed Fazekas and won a shutout 60-54 on all three judges’ scorecards.
Metepec, Mexico City, Mexico
Lightweight prospect on the watch William Zepeda Segura retired Juan Pablo Borbon in three rounds. A former member of the World Series of Boxing Mexican Guerreros team, Segura made relatively easy work of Borbon.
Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
To close out the last bracket of the cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series, IBF champion Murat “Iron” Gassiev became the first person to knock out former WBC champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. Gassiev, while still room to improve, has come a long way since pairing with trainer Abel Sanchez. Technically crude and with little amateur experience, Gassiev has been refined enough to unleash what may be the purest power in the sport, in one of boxing’s deepest divisions. Last year in November, upon winning his title, he made a pure hunter and offensively brilliant Dennis Lebedev go on the back foot all night long. Against Wlodarczyk, a fearless fighter who has given fans thriller over the years, simply refused to engage. Gassiev went to work, trying to pressure the reluctant Wlodarczyk. While fighting upright and not always being able to cut off the ring effectively, Gassiev was able to land his share, and what did land, made an impact and visibly rocked Wlodarczyk. In the third frame, a left and right combination that partially landed moved Wlodarczyk to the ropes which helped set up a lethal left uppercut, followed by a left hook which floored him. He didn’t get up at the ten count. Wouldn’t have gotten up had it been a hundred count. With the win, Gassiev advances to the WBSS semifinals to face WBA titlist Yunier Dorticos. While the date and venue are yet to be determined, it will surely provide fireworks.
Maciej Sulecki out-boxed Jack Culcay in a hard fought, entertaining ten round bout. The fight served as semi-final eliminator for the WBC 154 title, the winner of this bout having to face Vanes Martirosyan to determine the number one contender to Jermell Charlo. While Culcay got his fair share of shots in, it was Sulecki who prevailed, earning a unanimous decision with score totals of 98-92, 97-93, 96-94.
Former 2016 Olympian Efe Ajagba of Nigeria moved to 2-0 with 2 Kos with a first round knockout over Luke Lyons. While a bit raw and unrefined, it’s incredibly early in his career and the potential, strength and athleticism are evident with Ajagba.
Turning Stone Resort & Casino, Verona, New York
Alberto Machado overcame a fast start from Jezreel Corrales to win the WBA 130 title. The title became vacant after Corrales failed to make weight and was only on the line if Machado won. Corrales was getting the better of Machado in the early, utilizing his speed and awkward rhythm to score, producing a knockdown in the fifth frame. Behind on the judges’ scorecards, Machado dropped Corrales in the eighth with a short counter left hand in the middle of an exchange.
Demetrius Andrade fought for a second time in a year. The first time doing so since 2013. In a twelve-round fight against Alantez Fox, Andrade boxed his way to a unanimous decision win. Andrade, caught off balance, was knocked down in the seventh round. Nonetheless the disparity in skill was too much for Fox to overcome, as Andrade went on to win with score tallies of 118-109, 118-110 and 116-111.