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Fast Results from London: Edwards Out-Foxes Mthalane; Conlan W12 Baluta

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  • Fast Results from London: Edwards Out-Foxes Mthalane; Conlan W12 Baluta

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    By Arne K. Lang

    Sunny Edwards, whose style harks to some of the great cuties in boxing history, turned in the best performance of his career today at venerable York Hall, snatching the IBF world flyweight title from Moruti Mthalane, who rode into the match on 16-fight winning streak, having last lost in 2008 at the hands of Nonito Donaire. In some quarters, Mthalene, a 38-year-old South African, was considered boxing’s most underrated champion, but he had no antidote for Edwards, an undefeated (16-0) 25-year-old Londoner who displayed exceptional footwork and lateral movement to keep Mthalene from successfully applying pressure and cutting off the ring.

    Mthalene, who fell to 39-3, was making the fourth defense of the title he won from Muhammad Waseem in Kuala Lumpur. Among his victories during his winning streak was a fifth-round stoppage of current WBO bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero.

    With only four of his 16 victories coming by stoppage, Edwards, the younger brother of former two-time world title-holder Charlie Edwards, won’t win any awards for his punching power, but he exhibited a high ring IQ while becoming promoter Frank Warren’s second active world champion, joining Tyson Fury.

    The judges had it 120-108, 118-111, and 115-113. Mthalene reportedly had to quarantine for 10 days in Tunisia on his flight from Johannesburg to London, but went to post the favorite although Edwards was well-fancied.

    Co-Feature

    Michael Conlan moved up a weight class to super bantamweight for his first 12-rounder and emerged with a majority decision over Ionut Baluta, a Madrid-based Romanian who entered the contest riding a 6-fight winning streak. The scores were 117-112, 115-114, and 114.

    Many of the rounds were close. In the eighth, it appeared that Conlan’s body shots were taking their toll on Baluta, but the Romanian got a second wind and performed well in the 10th and the 11th. Conlan, who improved to 15-0, had the better of the milling in the final round and was a deserving winner i his second straight appearance at York Hall where he scored a 10th round stoppage of Sofiane Takoucht in his last start.

    A noted spoiler whose last two victories came against a former title-holder (TJ Doheny) and a former Olympian (David Oliver Joyce), Baluta declined to 14-3.

    Also

    In a match between unbeaten junior middleweights, Troy Williamson (16-0-1) scored a sixth-round stoppage of Kieran Smith (16-1). This was a fairly even fight through five frames with no indication that the bout was headed to a violent conclusion. But in the sixth, Williamson nailed Smith with a wicked right hand that snapped his head back. Only the ropes kept Smith from falling, but his goose was cooked and after a flurry of punches, he pitched face-first to the canvas, unconscious.

    Williamson’s final punch landed behind Smith’s left ear as the referee was moving in to waive it off. The official time was 1:28 of round six. The match was framed as an eliminator for the British title held by Ted Cheeseman.


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