by Steven Bateson
Canelo Alvarez walked straight through Rocky Fielding en route to a destructive third round knockout victory at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
Fielding was a huge underdog despite his size and weight advantage and within minutes it was clear to see why, despite his bravery he was completely outclassed by the Mexican superstar.
There was no feeling out process as Canelo marched forward and was ducking inside to let rip to the body with sickening left hands. Fielding was standing his ground and trying to let his own shots go but his body was quickly reddening and a small inside uppercut from Canelo lifted the head enough to present an opening behind the elbow where the challenger sank another brutal left hook that sent the Liverpudlian down to his knees. Rocky grinned but it was clear he was hurt, for the first time looking slightly overawed by the task at hand.
The Briton showed guts to carry on and continued to stand and trade with Canelo, hoping his own power would pay dividends, but was soon undone by another vicious shot in the second round. Canelo had just caused Fielding to stumble off balance from a clubbing right to the side of the head before his trademark left body blow floored him. Nobody would have blamed Fielding for folding at this point; but he rose and fought on.
It was desperation now and Fielding knew no other way but to stand and trade, unable to use his reach advantage to keep distance, but he could not find a punch to quell the onslaught. Canelo hurt his opponent again with a right hook upstairs after another body shot before a concussive left hook to the side of Fielding’s head had him down on the mat. The referee allowed Fielding to continue but told him he’d wave it off if there was another knockdown; he didn’t have to wait long. Canelo poured it on and nailed a snapping uppercut followed by another left to the body that dropped Fielding to his knees and immediately prompted the referee to call a halt.
It was brave and honest from Fielding, he should be commended for taking the fight and giving it his all, but he was so far out of his depth. Canelo Alvarez is a superstar of the sport and should be competing with the rest of the elite names at both 160-168lbs. A trilogy with Gennady Golovkin may beckon for next year whilst the likes of Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade and Daniel Jacobs have to be on the agenda also.
Tevin Farmer successfully defended his IBF Super Featherweight Title with a dominant unanimous decision win over Francisco Fonseca.
Farmer was classy from the outset and used his excellent jab to snap away at the head and body of his challenger. Fonseca was happy to plough forwards but he was struggling to pin Farmer down or predict his next move, the quickness of the champion’s hands just too much to handle.
Farmer began whipping right hands to the body in the second round and then punctuated the round with two straight lefts upstairs followed by another body blow. Fonseca was already looking a little weary from the punishment that he was taking.
The champion turned it up again in the third round with double jabs and then a stinging straight left. He drove hurtful hooks into the body of Fonseca, who was sucking in deep breaths, and it looked like only a matter of time before the Costa Rican folded.
Farmer was bullying his man and happy to stand his ground whilst putting a beating on him to both head and body. But Fonseca was taking the punishment and toughing it out; all of a sudden he looked a lot more sturdy and able to stick in there.
The champion began to look a little too gung ho through the middle stages, loading up on his blows, and his work became a little sloppy. He was still racking up the points, Fonseca not doing enough to win rounds, but he didn’t seem as controlled and measured as he had done early doors.
Fonseca, stopped in eight by Gervonta Davis, was having a little more success as the championship rounds approached but then Farmer raised his gears again to seize back complete dominance. A sharp uppercut snapped Fonseca’s head back in the ninth before two more in the tenth and a series of hooks to head and body had the challenger on unsteady legs for the first time. By the end of the tenth Farmer was pitching a near shutout and although Fonseca’s effort was admirable he needed the most unlikely of miracle knockouts.
The challenger continued to pound forward, cuts around both eyes, but he could not find a way to dent the confidence or defence of Farmer, whose upper body movement was outstanding throughout. Farmer bounced around the ring in the twelfth, confident he had the decision in the bag, and put on a little showboating to see out proceedings.
It was a dominant display from the champion, at times he looked sublime, but he may be disappointed in his inability to get the knockout. He lulled around midway, perhaps from the effort exude in the early stages, but came back strong down the stretch to put the exclamation point on his second defence.
Farmer (now 28-4-1 with 6 KO’s) is likely to meet Jono Carroll next on St Patricks Day in New York before targeting the other champions at Super Featherweight. There is plenty of bad blood between Farmer and Gervonta Davis and that is a fight the boxing public will want to see sometime in 2019.
Scorecards read: 117-111 x 3
Sadam Ali scored a points victory over Mauricio Herrera in a dreadful Welterweight contest, the styles of both men refusing to gel into anything watchable.
A potential "dullest fight of 2018" that will not live long in anyone’s memory. Herrera has never been an entertainer but Ali is a former world champion at 154lbs and looked afraid to let his hands go throughout the contest, happy to throw single blows and minor raiding tactics. Once or twice there was a glimpse of talent or an inkling of a potential fight breaking out but it soon descended back into a borefest that sapped the life out of the crowd.
It is hard to compile a few paragraphs of the fight but the most noticeable punch came in round eight when Herrera seemed to momentarily stun Ali with a right hand as the latter was trying to duck and dodge an attack. Aside from that it was hard to distinguish clear rounds for either although Ali probably was the busier throughout and landed more shots than his foe; nobody will be calling to revisit this one.
Neither of these men are going to mount a threat at 147lbs and although paydays at this stage of their career should not be begrudged they are going to be little more than an "opponent" for rising stars in the division if they choose to continue.
Scorecards read: 100-90, 99-91, 98-92 (the cards suggest a dominant display when in reality it was anything but)
Ryan Garcia’s impressive rise continued with a fifth round TKO victory over Braulio Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was looking to unsettle the young prospect with unorthodox movement and tactics but he almost came undone in the first round with an inside left hooked uppercut that sat Rodriguez down for an eight count. The Dominican Republic fighter’s eyes were glazed and he looked finished but the referee allowed him to continue and somehow he survived the round, clinging on at every opportunity.
Garcia remained patient behind his jab whilst Rodriguez mounted wild and awkward attacks, taunting Garcia at every turn and desperate to lure him into a firefight that may allow him to land one big bomb. A long left hook stung Rodriguez in the second before a rangy right hand and left hook combo in the third had him scrambling into the ropes
Rodriguez was docked a point for two blatant low blows, yet more attempts at goading his younger opponent, but Garcia was not fazed and continued to chip away at his foe. A blistering barrage on the ropes had Rodriguez backing off again in the fourth before Garcia closed the show in the fifth.
He rocked Rodriguez with a stiff right hand, pushing him to the ropes, and followed up with a solid right to the temple. he then drove through with a left hook to the jaw that sent his man down and out under the bottom rope. Rodriguez managed to find his feet but he was in no position to continue the fight.
Garcia (now 17-0 with 14 KO’s) is a big prospect in the Super Featherweight division and could have a huge future in front of him, his handlers at Golden Boy Promotions certainly see him as the poster boy of their operations for years to come so it will be interesting to see if he can step up to that level.
Katie Taylor produced a sensational, one sided performance to successfully defend her IBF and WBA Lightweight Championships against Eva Wahlstrom.
Taylor was absolutely sublime from start to finish and completely dominated Wahlstrom in every single department. The Irish fighter was judging distance perfectly from round one and ripping to head and body with lightning combinations.
Wahlstrom was trying to get her jab working but Taylor drove a right hand over the top of it and then followed up with the four, five punch combinations that have been a hallmark of her career. Taylor was beginning to bring in her trademark left hook to head and body and within three rounds Wahlstrom’s face was marked up and swollen.
The Finnish challenger showed guts to come out swinging in the fourth but Taylor beat her to the punch every time and punished her to the body before heading back upstairs with startling accuracy and venom. Wahlstrom was clearly tough beyond measure but she had no answer for what was coming her way, now resembling little more than a punchbag.
Taylor’s punch variety is exceptional as she worked through the gears and just tore through her opponent like a whirlwind. Wahlstrom was cut from a clash of heads and then around the eye from the continuous punches she was eating, by the final bell she looked as though she had been the victim of a horrendous beatdown and in reality that is exactly what she had been.
Taylor (now 12-0 with 5 KO’s) is relentless from the first bell to the last, her handspeed and combination punching make it almost impossible to match her, and it is hard to believe there is anyone at Lightweight that can get the best of her. She moves in and out of range, switches distance and positioning in the blink of an eye whilst always bobbing from one foot to the other. Her power may not be concussive but she hits you so often that over the course of ten rounds she inflicts great damage upon her opponent; there isn’t a list of superlatives long enough to talk up how good Taylor really is. Wahlstrom was an undefeated fighter and expected to give Taylor the fight of her career thus far but she was so outclassed it was almost cruel to watch at times.
There is talk of a massive fight with Amanda Serrano in New York, maybe around St Patricks Day, but Taylor has always made it clear she wants to unify all of the Lightweight belts. It is now up to Eddie Hearn to get Delfine Persoon (WBC) and Rose Valante (WBO) in the ring with Taylor next year.
Scorecards read: 100-90 x3
Lamont Roach outboxed Alberto Mercado on the way to a unanimous ten round decision at Super Featherweight.
Mercado boxed well early doors and was using his sharp jab to dictate the range and pace. Roach was showing excellent head and body movement to avoid the Mercado right hand whilst trying to counter but the early rounds certainly belonged to the Puerto Rican, his punch output alone putting points on the board.
Roach then began to find his timing and range whilst banging away to the body at every opportunity, an attempt to sap the legs of Mercado. Mercado’s punch output was slowing a little as Roach was finding the target more frequently, the left hand counter becoming a key to his success.
Roach’s hands were faster and his power more prominent , a right uppercut to the body followed by a solid right down the pipe dipped Mercado’s legs momentarily in the fifth. Roach slammed away to the body with right hands and then a straight right/right hook combo had Mercado stumbling to the ropes in the sixth.
Mercado was then forced to absorb a torrid seventh as a right hand and a glancing left to the temple turned his legs to jelly. He staggered to the ropes and Roach uncorked another right and two more left hooks but somehow Mercado survived, it looked almost certain that he would be forced to the deck.
Roach looked to have a handsome lead on the scorecards but Mercado displayed his own credentials in the final two stanzas as he went looking for the knockout that it seemed inevitable he needed. A short inside punch grabbed Roach’s attention in the tenth and final but the American stood his ground as both men traded leather, much to the delight of the Garden crowd, to see in the final bell.
Roach (now 18-0-1 with 7 KO’s) retains his WBO International Championship and will likely climb from #5 in their rankings to a position closer to a world title shot against Masayuki Ito. Roach, at only 23, probably needs one or two more tests before he is thrown in at that level, however.
Scorecards read: 99-91, 98-92, 97-93
Yves Ulysse Jnr scored a eight round decision over Maximilliano Becerra in the first televised bout of the evening. Ulysse used his slick skills to dominate the early rounds but then chose to stand and trade with Becerra as the bout progressed, beating his man in every department. Becerra acquitted himself well in each stanza but was always one step behind and was wide open to Ulysse’s right hand. A stiff right in the sixth turned his legs to lead and a follow up shot forced him to take a knee, although he was able to beat the count. Another sharp, thudding right as Becerra was stepping in had him on the deck again in the seventh but once again he displayed the heart to continue, despite being a mile behind on the scorecards. Becerra came out swinging in the eighth but Ulysee was able to avoid any damage whilst showcasing the levels between the two.
The Canadian, Ulysse Jnr, (now 17-1 with 9 KO’s) is ranked in the top ten for both the WBC and IBF so could find himself in the world mix sometime in 2019 although it is more than likely he will have to fight someone else ranked at the same level in order to prove he belongs at the heady heights, fights with the likes of Jack Caterall, Robbie Davies Jnr or Joe Taylor would be received well in the UK.
Scorecards read: 79-71, 78-72 x2