In a huge weekend of boxing that started early on Thursday with Jason Quigley's upset loss to Tureano Johnson, carried on Friday with the IBF Lightweight final eliminator win for Teofimo Lopez and ended on Saturday with bumper cards in the USA and UK provided by Premier Boxing Champions and Matchroom Boxing we were spoilt for choice.
Pacquiao vs Thurman
The superstar attraction was 40-year-old Manny Pacquiao's split points win over Keith "One Time" Thurman at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Pacquiao's performance was nothing short of superb, dropping the 10 years younger Thurman in the 1st round and pulling away to a wide points lead in the first half of the fight before Thurman showed his class to narrow the gap in the middle rounds. But it was Pacquiao who kept a high work rate throughout and hurt Thurman badly again in the 10th round to seal a well-earned and well-received points win.
Whyte vs Rivas
At the O2 Arena in London, Dillian Whyte became the WBC Interim heavyweight champion when he won a unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Columbian Oscar Rivas. Rivas did manage to drop Whyte in the 9th round with a right uppercut, but while he had other good rounds he never looked like winning over the 12 round distance. The win was meant to ensure Whyte a shot at the Champion Deontay Wilder but the WBC have since announced that they have made Wilder their "Franchise" champion which will allow him to avoid the heavy-handed Englishman for the foreseeable future. The move means that Whyte could be WBC mandatory for years to come without ever fighting for the title.
Chisora vs Szpilka
On the Whyte vs Rivas undercard, Dereck Chisora, the 35-year-old perennial heavyweight contender, knocked out Poland's Artur Szplika in the 2nd round of a crossroads matchup of former world title contenders. Szplika looked like he came for the win in the early going, but Chisora came forward looking to detonate his heavy right hand and end matters early. In the 2nd round, Chisora backed Szplika to the ropes and landed a huge over-hand right which detached the Pole from his senses, and the North Londoner took the opportunity to land a further two heavy right hands, the last of which left Szpilka on the canvas unconscious. Thankfully, Szpilka recovered quickly and rose to congratulate Chisora. The win sets up a clash with former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker at the end of the year. Parker will be a much tougher proposition than Szpilka.
Price vs Allen
Domestic level heavyweight David Price breathed some life into his flagging career when he forced his opponent Dave Allen to retire after the 10th round of their much-anticipated fight. Price put on the sort of performance that still makes you think he might be able to regain his old British and Commonwealth titles again if matched correctly. Any talk of European or world title contention should be dismissed right away because while the Liverpool giant looked good holding off the much shorter and limited Allen with his still excellent jab and straight right hand, he has lost by stoppage to European level fighters Christian Hammer, Erkan Teper, and Sergey Kuzmin and at world level to Tony Thompson twice and Alexander Povetin.
Plant vs Lee
On the Pacquiao vs Thurman undercard, IBF Super-middleweight champion Caleb "Sweet Hands" Plant successfully defended his title for the first time with a 3rd round knockout of Chicago's Mike Lee. Lee had no right being in the ring with Plant, he had no defence to the fast hands and accurate punch placement that Plant exhibited tonight. Hopefully, Plant will face a decent test before the end of the year because he is a real talent but will not stay sharp if he's matched against poor opposition again.
Ugas vs Figueroa Jr
Yordenis Ugas, the Cuban welterweight contender who was so unlucky to lose for the title to WBC champion Shawn Porter last March, won a highly forgettable 12 round final eliminator bout against former lightweight champion Omar Figueroa Jr on the Pacquiao undercard. Figueroa looked like he hasn't grown into the welterweight division and couldn't compete with the much stronger Ugas. The bout was marred with too much holding, Ugas being deducted a point in the 5th round. The Cuban scored the only knockdown of the fight in the 1st round. Ugas can hopefully get a 2nd shot at the title but may have to wait until after the recently announced September 28th Porter vs Spence Jr title unification bout to find out who he will be WBC mandatory too.
Nery vs Payano
The unbeaten former WBC world bantamweight champion Luis Nery knocked out Dominican Juan Carlos Payano with a perfect left hook to the body in the 9th round of their scheduled 12 round WBC Silver Bantamweight title fight on the Pacquiao vs Thurman undercard. Nery improved to 30 straight victories with 24 coming inside the distance and remains the WBC No1 bantamweight contender to champion Nordine Oubaali of France.
Lipnets vs Inson
Kazakhstan's Sergey Lipnets knocked out last-minute replacement opponent Javar Inson (18-3-0) in the 2nd round at the MGM Grand. Lipnets lost his IBF world Super-lightweight title to Mickey Garcia in the only loss of his career back in March 2018. This was Lipnets third win in a row and he is heading back towards another world title shot. In his last fight, he stopped former champion Lamont Pearson in the 10th round, prompting Pearson to hang up his gloves for good. Inson came in at the eleventh hour as a replacement for John Molina who pulled out with a back injury. Inson was dropped by a big left hook to the head by Lipnets, and although he made it to his feet, referee Jay Nady stopped proceedings as he felt Inson was in no position to defend himself.
Ajagba vs Demirezen
Nigerian heavyweight prospect Efe Ajagba was taken the distance for the first time in his career by fellow 2016 Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen in their 10 round bout on the MGN undercard. Both boxers were unbeaten going into the contest and both came for the win. Demirezen put pressure on the tall and athletic Ajagba, taking his best punches and landing plenty of his own in an entertaining heavyweight tussle. Ajagba may have thought he was going to blast the Turkish fighter out the way he had with his previous ten opponents but he will have learnt more in this fight than all the others combined. Demirezen should be treated as a good prospect because he showed that he can be competitive against the top prospects.