In January of 2017, Miguel Berchelt and Francisco Vargas engaged in a bloody war in Indio, Calif. When the smoked cleared, Berchelt, then largely unknown, had saddled Vargas with his first defeat while snatching away Vargas’s WBO 130-pound world title belt.
Tonight they renewed acquaintances in Tucson and the circumstances were very different. Berchelt (pictured on the right) was now the title-holder. He would be making his fifth title defense. And there was a huge swing in the odds from the first meeting with Berchelt chalked a prohibitive favorite for the rematch.
The rematch was another good action fight for as long as it lasted. Vargas, as was his custom, rarely took a backward step while eating a lot of leather. But after six rounds there was swelling around both of his eyes and his chief second Joel Diaz decided there was no reason to continue. At age 34, Vargas has absorbed far more ring damage than his record, now 25-2-2 (both losses to Berchelt) would suggest.
Berchelt improved to 36-1 (32 KOs) with his 15th straight win.
In the co-feature, Mexico City’s Emanuel Navarette repeated his win over Isaac Dogboe, but in a far more dominant fashion. When they met last December in Madison Square Garden, the unheralded Navarette upset Dogboe, winning a unanimous decision on scores of 115-113 and 116-112 twice. The previously undefeated Dogboe was making the first defense of his WBO super bantamweight world title.
Tonight the roles were reversed, but once again Navarette (27-1, 23 KOs) proved to be too big and too strong for Dogboe (20-2). Navarette had a 5-inch advantage in height and an 8-inch advantage in reach and Dogboe, who was game to the end, was never able to work effectively on the inside.
The end came in round 12 when Dogboe’s corner mercifully threw in the towel. Up to that point, the Accra, Ghana native had absorbed a terrific amount of punishment. In the sixth, the referee gave him something akin to a standing 8-count, ruling that the ropes had held him up. In round 12, shortly before the stoppage, Dogboe went to the mat again, a delayed reaction from a series of unanswered punches.
In an upset, beanpole junior welterweight Mykal Fox won a 10-round unanimous decision Fazliddin Gaibnazarov, saddling the former Olympic gold medalist, now 7-1, with his first pro defeat. Gaibnazarov had a point deduced in round 7 for holding and another point in round 8 for hitting behind the head, without which the bout would have ended in a draw. It was sweet redemption of sorts for Fox who was coming off his first pro loss and fighting his second straight bout against an Uzbekistani opponent.
In an all-Columbia affair, three-time world title challenger Miguel Marriaga advanced to 28-3 (22 KOs) when late sub Ruben Cervera failed to answer the bell for the fourth round. Marriaga came in at 136 ¼, 10 pounds heavier than in his previous start against journeyman Jose Estrella. The 21-year-old Cervera, who lost for the second time in 11 starts, was on the deck three times, twice from body punches.
In a contest slated for six rounds, Mexican junior welterweight Miguel Angel Parra won his eighth straight and improved to 17-1-1 with a fast blowout of David Morales who did not answer the bell for round two. Morales entered the contest with a misleading 13-10 (13 KOs) ledger. He isn’t that good. With tonight’s defeat, he has lost seven of his last eight.
In a 4-round middleweight contest, local product Emmanuel Guajardo (5-0) won a majority decision over spunky but limited Jonathan Espino (2-4). At six-foot-one, Guajardo had a 6-inch height advantage.
A raucous crowd was on hand at the Fairfax Arena on the campus of George Mason University to root on Jarrett “Swift” Hurd in his second defense of the 154-pound title he won in dramatic fashion from Erislandy Lara. But they left disappointed as Hurd, from nearby Accokeek, Maryland, was outpointed by Philadelphia’s Julian “J Rock” Williams.
Known as a strong closer, Hurd did his best work in the middle rounds after hitting the deck in round two, but he lacked a finishing kick and Williams won by scores of 116-111 and 115-112 twice.
Other Bouts of Note:
Fast rising San Antonio welterweight Mario Barrios improved to 24-0 (16 KOs) with a second round stoppage of Argentina’s Juan Jose Velasco (20-2). Tall for a welterweight at six-foot-one, Barrios caved in Velasco with a body punch. The 23-year-old Barrios has now won eight straight inside the distance. In his previous U.S. appearance, Velasco was badly mauled by Regis Prograis.
Philadelphia super bantamweight Stephen Fulton improved to 17-0 and copped the “world title” of a fringe organization with a lopsided 12-round decision over Paulus Ambunda, a 38-year-old Namibian. Fulton won all 12 rounds on all three cards.
The 10-round middleweight match between Matt Korobov (28-2-1) and Immanuwel Aleem (18-1-2) ended in a draw. Aleem, from Richmond, Virginia, had the home field advantage and was 11 years younger than Korobov, but he was fortunate to skirt defeat as most in the crowd thought that the 36-year-old Florida-based Russian had done enough in the early rounds to secure the win. One judge favored Korobov 97-93 but the others had it 95-95.
Alexandru Marin, a Maryland-based Romanian, stepped up in class and won a 10-round unanimous decision over Panamanian veteran Luis Concepcion (37-8). The scores were 97-93 and 96-94 twice as Marin won his 18th straight without a defeat. A former WBA 115-pound world champion, the 33-year-old Concepcion is on the wrong side of the hill. He’s lost four of his last six.
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