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Marquez puts on masterful performance
Pirog upsets Jacobs; Guerrero, Linares beat Casamayor, Juarez

Ringside by Andreas Hale and Anthony Springer Jr.
Photos by Chris Cozzone

Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz picked up right where they left off for three rounds in the rematch of their 2009 “Fight of the Year” winner. After that, Marquez schooled the future law student on what the sweet science is all about.

Once again, Marquez got the best of Diaz, scoring a masterful 12-round unanimous decision to retain his WBA and WBO lightweight titles by utilizing sharp counterpunching and taking advantage of Diaz’ plodding straightforward style. With a pro-Marquez crowd of 8,383 in attendance at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, “Dinamita” erased last September’s loss to a larger Floyd Mayweather Jr. with a performance that was nothing short of brilliant.

This time around, Marquez (51-5-1) started out as the aggressor and quickly took the center of the ring. He and Diaz (35-4) quickly engaged in a furious pace and both scored with combinations as it looked to be an instant replay of their epic clash last February. The 36-year-old Mexican proved to be quicker and stronger than the 25-year-old fighter affectionately known as “The Baby Bull.”

By the fourth round, Marquez was tearing into Diaz with wicked combinations to the head and body as the crowd roared in appreciation. Diaz would be hurt several times throughout the bout but wouldn’t go down. As Marquez began to sweep the middle rounds, it looked as if his combinations were being sprayed from a shotgun at close range and Diaz couldn’t get out of the way.

Again, Diaz fell for the same traps that Marquez set – falling into his punches and being strafed by Marquez’ uppercuts when in close range. Although Marquez’ face showed some swelling, he was unaffected and continued to burn through Diaz as the rounds wore on.

“He’s a great fighter and has good technique, but I was a better fighter tonight,” Marquez said. “He’s a very good boxer and like every Mexican warrior we fought with our hearts and left it all in the ring.”

Diaz – who has dropped four of his last six fights – wouldn’t go away but didn’t have to skill to keep Marquez at bay. With the role of aggressor taken from him early, Diaz looked lost through the middle rounds and was unable to be the volume puncher he has long been known for. Diaz was able to piece it together in the championship rounds and kept things competitive heading into the final frame

Although Marquez was well ahead on the scorecards, the two engaged in an entertaining brawl to close out the 12th and final round as the two Mexicans winged punches at each other as if it were the first round all over again.

In the end, judges saw the fight in favor of Marquez with scores of 116-112, 118-110 and 117-111 and opened several doors for interesting fights in the next year. But with many opportunities ahead at 140 with fighters like Amir Khan, Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander, Marquez has his eyes set on one opponent.

“The trilogy with Manny Pacquiao is what I want,” Marquez said regarding a third fight with the Filipino which he scored a draw and lost a close fight that many thought could have gone either way. “It is good for all fight fans. The Mexican fans, Filipino fans and fight fans from all over want to see it. I’ll be ready to fight again in November, so hopefully Pac will take the fight.”

With Pacquiao currently locked into a fight with Antonio Margarito, chances are that fight won’t happen. But it will be interesting to see who the three-division world champion faces next.

As for Diaz, his future is clouded in uncertainty. Diaz said earlier that this could possibly be his last fight as he is considering law school. Although he wouldn’t commit one way or the other, it is apparent that the “Baby Bull” has a lot to think about.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” a dejected Diaz said. “I’m going to take the LSAT for sure. I’ve been fighting for 10 years (which is) longer than most fighters. I’ll just have to figure it out and see what I’m going to do. I’m not going to sit here tonight and say that I’m never going to fight again.” --Andreas Hale

Pirog Flattens Jacobs, captures WBO gold

What happens when you’re a power puncher and your opponent is unfazed by your power?

The answer, as top Golden Boy prospect Daniel Jacobs found out the hard way, is nothing.

In the evening’s co-main event and battle of the unbeatens, Russian fighter Dmitry Pirog flattened Daniel Jacobs at :57 in the fifth round to snare the WBO middleweight championship.

Pirog (17-0, 14 KOs) caught Jacobs (20-1, 17 KOs) with a thunderous right hand over the top that instantly put the New Yorker to sleep. Before the fight ending right, Jacobs didn’t have much luck.

Fellow FightNews writer, Anthony Springer, compared the bout to the fictional affair between Ivan Drago and Apollo Creed in Rocky IV. Pirog appeared indestructible, repeatedly shrugging off shots that would’ve given other fighters pause. From the early going, Pirog proved to be the superior fighter as Jacobs was unable to compensate for a reach disadvantage and was routinely peppered with jabs. When the two men closed ranks, Pirog worked the body and avoided return fire.

The crafty Russian proved to be as skilled of a showman as he was a pugilist. At the close of the third frame, he was tagged with a right hand that connected on the button and remained unfazed. When Jacobs accidentally landed a blow below the belt, Pirog paused and shrugged his shoulders. At other times, he shook his head, smiled and kept moving forward after taking a big hit.

With diminishing offensive options and no answers for the steady stream of pressure from his Russian adversary, Jacobs found himself against the ropes in the fifth. Jacobs ducked the left jab but never saw the train of a right hand coming his way.

After hitting the canvas and momentarily going limp, Jacobs attempted to pop up before the ten count, but referee Robert Byrd was having none of it, promptly halting the bout. Despite the appearance of the power shot, Jacobs insists he could’ve continued if permitted to do so. “Everything happens so fast, and I got caught with a shot I didn’t see,” a disappointed Jacobs said. “I tried to get up and felt fine, but then [Robert Byrd] waved [the fight] off.”

The CompuBox numbers fail to paint an accurate picture of the fight. Jacobs landed 73 punches (of 276) while Pirog connected on just 43 (of 21). Jacobs also nearly doubled the number of power shots landing 51 to Pirog’s 27.

Despite the lack of offense numbers wise, Pirog felt the fight coming to an end after round two.

“After the second round I knew I was good,” the new champion said. “I caught him and knew I could do it again. I hit him with a straight right and could tell I hurt him. I’m really happy to be taking this belt back to Russia”

With WBO gold in tow, Pirog has loftier goals.

“Now I want to unify all the belts,” he added.

Fighting just two weeks since the passing of his grandmother, whom he paid homage to by donning “Lady Bird” on the front of his shorts, Jacobs just hopes for a chance at redemption and insists he’ll be back.

“I’m not complaining, I hope everyone can forgive me and keep the faith,” Jacobs said before noting that the passing of his grandmother affected his performance. “I think if I was at 100 percent I’d have been a little better.”--Anthony Springer Jr.

Guerrero Dominant In 10 Round Clash With Casamayor

It was a bad time for 39-year-old Joel Casamayor to be facing a southpaw for the first time in 14-year career. It was even worse that the southpaw was Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero.

In a matchup of junior welterweights, Guerrero improved to 27-1-1 and cruised to a relatively easy ten round decision over the former lightweight champion – although he would have to pull himself off the canvas for the first time in his career in the final round to earn it.

Casamayor – who fell to 37-5-1 - struggled early with the lefty and immediately went into his infamous bag of tricks when he couldn’t figure out how to cut angles and score on the taller Guerrero. The former champion attempted an MMA style takedown and was docked a point in the second round by referee Jay Nady. “The Ghost” made him pay by stunning Casamayor with a sweeping left hook and dropping the Cuban with a right hand at the end of the round. Casamayor would survive the assault and make some minor adjustments to effectively take away the overhand left but wasn’t able to put anything substantial together to keep “The Ghost” from pressing the attack.

It wasn’t pretty and Casamayor wasn’t doing anything to help. The Cuban’s only opportunity to land would come during a few wild exchanges early in the fight. However, Guererro avoided engaging in an all out brawls and picked Casamayor apart by setting up power punches behind the jab.

Guererro would no longer be weary of the crafty Cuban in the 7th stanza and began undressing the decorated former champion with left hooks and right jabs. But it appeared that Guerrero was running out of gas as his punches became sloppy and wide down the stretch.

Entering the 10th and final round, Casamayor took advantage of Guerrero’s sloppy punching and dropped him with a straight right hand midway through the round. But it was too little, too late and “The Ghost” cruised to the decision with scores of 98-89, 98-89 and 97-90.--Andreas Hale

Juarez Comes Up Short (Again) Against Linares

In a battle for the vacant WBA Fedlatin lightweight title, Rocky Juarez came up short as Jorge Linares pulverized him with the jab and uppercut en route to a unanimous ten-round decision. Linares (29-1) was just too sharp and fast for Juarez (28-7-1) throughout the duration of the fight.

Anytime Juarez tried to close the distance, Linares negated his forward progress with a stiff jab. If Juarez managed his way inside, Linares made him eat his powerful uppercut. Even though Linares sent Juarez down in the 5th round courtesy of a picture perfect left uppercut, Juarez continued to show the tremendous heart he displayed against top tier fighters such as Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez and Humberto Soto.

Well behind on the cards, Juarez fought a spirited 10th round and did his best to make it competitive. But in the end, Juarez couldn’t muster up enough offense and dropped his 3rd fight in a row and will likely do some serious thinking about his future. Scores were 99-90 (twice) and 97-92.--Andreas Hale

Gomez blasts Peterson, remains unbeaten

Frankie Gomez stopped Ronald Peterson at 2:14 in the opening round

The undefeated Gomez set the tone early and showed the Mandalay Bay crowd why he’s earned the nickname “Pitbull.” It seemed that it wasn’t a matter of whether Gomez would win but when. He stalked forward slowly as Peterson preferred to bounce around and avoid direct contact with Gomez.

When the two finally exchanged punches, we found out why.

With Peterson backed into a corner, Gomez unleashed a devastating left hook that sent Peterson cowering against the corner. Referee Kenny Bayless delivered the ten count as a visibly dazed Peterson was unable to continue.

Gomez is now 5-0 with all wins coming by knockout, while Peterson falls below .500 at 2-3.--Anthony Springer Jr.

Mendy Dropped Early, But Wins Via DQ After Late Punch

What looked like a dominating super middleweight performance quickly turned sour as Sakio Bika lost to Jean Paul Mendy via disqualification after Bika hit the undefeated fighter from Paris while he was down on one knee.

Bika (28-4-2) assaulted Mendy with a barrage of punches from the outset. The Frenchman was in trouble as Bika dropped Mendy with a straight right and a left hook to the temple. Mendy sank to one knee but Bika – possibly charged with adrenaline – fired off a devastating right uppercut that sent Mendy down face first.

Referee Joe Cortez immediately waived the bout off at the 1:19 mark as Mendy lay motionless for up to 15 seconds. After a few moments of deliberation, Cortez awarded the fight to Mendy as a result of a DQ. Mendy (29-0-1) was able to make it to his feet and back to the locker room under his own power but was clearly shaken up by the punch. It was an unfortunate ending for the IBF Super Middleweight Eliminator bout that Bika looked well on his way to winning early.--Andreas Hale

In bloody slug fest, Montiel outlasts Peralta

Juan Manuel Montiel defeated Mike Peralta via unanimous decision after six rounds of action.

From the outset, it appeared that Montiel (6-3-1, 1 KO) had Peralta’s (4-6, 1 KO) number. A left uppercut followed by a left hook sent Peralta to the canvas and set the tone for the duration of the fight.

Though Peralta roared back with some power shots of his own, he often ceded control of the ring to Mexico City, Mexico fighter. Peralta was caught several times against the ropes and allowed Montiel to tee off with body shots.

Going into the sixth frame, both fighters were bloody but Peralta was clearly the worse for wear. Bleeding from the nose and mouth, the Carson City, Nevada fighter pressed on but was outpointed by Montiel who remained consistent with a varied attack to the body and head.

The judges scored the bout 58-55, 60-53, 58-55 for Montiel.--Anthony Springer Jr.

Grove stops Contreras in a bizarre finish

George Grove (10-0, 8 KOs) extended put one more victory on his undefeated record, stopping Alfredo Contreras (11-8-1, 5 KOs) at :48 in the sixth round.

The two men went toe to toe in the opening rounds, with neither man claiming an overwhelming advantage, though Grove appeared to get the better of the early exchanges.

The man hailing from Hammersmith, England turned the tide in the third round as a series of straight right hands and combos continued to find a home.

Contreras failed to muster much offense in rounds four and five but continued to press forward. His efforts were rewarded with more blows from St. George. A big right hook in the fourth drew the approval of the crowd.

A left hook-right cross combo caused referee Russell Mora to surprisingly halt the bout to the bewilderment of the crowd at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Grove, who was cornered by heavyweight David Haye, has stopped his last three opponents.--Anthony Springer Jr.

Mitchell steamrolls Bryant

Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell (18-0-1, 12 KOs) made short work of Derek Bryant (20-6-1, 17 KOs), defeating the Philadelphia native via TKO at 1:45in the opening round.

From the outset, the former Michigan State linebacker commanded a presence inside the ring. “Mayhem” slowly plodded forward, forcing Bryant into a defensive posture from the moment the bell rang.

With Bryant trapped against the ropes, Mitchell moved in for the kill, stinging his adversary with a barrage of heavy shots to the body and face. Bryant barely ducked a vicious right hand but a left uppercut found its mark.

After the lack of offense from Bryant, referee Kenny Bayless mercifully stepped in to halt the bout.

The loss is Bryant’s second in a row.--Anthony Springer Jr.

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