No announcement yet.

Weekend Boxing Recap: Okolie in Manchester, Ramirez in Fresno and More

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Weekend Boxing Recap: Okolie in Manchester, Ramirez in Fresno and More

    The media room at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas was as underpopulated as North Dakota this weekend. Only a handful of America’s A-list boxing writers attended the Benavidez-Plant card. Prominent wordsmiths like Kevin Iole, Mike Coppinger, and Dan Rafael were nowhere to be found.

    Inside the boxing arena, however, the joint was full. One guesses that the Grand Garden was configured to hold 13,865 as that was the announced attendance and there didn’t appear to be an empty seat in the house. And the attendees arrived earlier than was the norm for a major Las Vegas fight card. The high rollers that arrive fashionably late (if there were any) were vastly out-numbered by true boxing fans, primarily Mexican-American on this particular occasion, who left the show in good spirits after Arizona-born David Benavidez, the self-styled Mexican Monster, manhandled brave but out-gunned Caleb Plant.

    There were notable fights elsewhere on Saturday. Across the pond in Manchester, England, Lawrence Okolie, widely regarded as the sport’s best cruiserweight, won a lopsided decision over Australia’s David Light, advancing his record to 19-0 while successfully defending his WBO world title belt.

    Okolie (pictured) was making his first start in 13 months. In the interim, he ditched his promoter Eddie Hearn in favor of Ben Shalom and ditched his trainer Shane McGuigan in favor of SugarHill Steward.

    He and McGuigan appeared to be a great fit. With McGuigan in his corner, he was 7-0 with six wins inside the distance. His initial foray under Steward was a dull fight reminiscent of some of Okolie’s early efforts. He had a point deducted for excessive clinching but it was a moot point as Okolie breezed, winning by scores of 119-108, 117-110, and 116-112. Light was 20-0 heading in, but was sorely outclassed.

    By all accounts, the Okolie-McGuigan divorce was an amicable split. Okolie trained for this bout in Miami and McGuigan had too much on his plate to accompany Okolie to the Sunshine State.

    Okolie appears headed toward a domestic showdown with fellow Londoner Richard Riakporhe who is also unbeaten (16-0, 12 KOs). Physically, these two late-bloomers, both of whom stand six-foot-five, are virtual clones. A bigger fight for him would be a match with IBF belt-holder Jai Opetaia, the lineal cruiserweight champion, who is still recovering from the two broken jaws he suffered while de-throning long-reigning 200-pound champion Maris Briedis in a fight that will live long in Australian boxing lore.

    The Okolie-Light undercard was cheesy including a BBBofC super featherweight title fight between Michael Gomez Jr and Levi Giles, two fighters who built their records on the backs of professional losers. Gomez won a split decision. Also, 31-year-old heavyweight Frazer Clarke, a bronze medalist in the Tokyo Olympics, improved to 6-0 (5) at the expense of Romania’s Bogdan Dinu, a late sub who performed about as expected, retiring on his stool after two rounds.


    The Benavidez-Plant card went head-to-head with a Top Rank show in Fresno featuring local fan favorite Jose Carlos Ramirez. It was the second fight back for Ramirez after losing a close decision to Josh Taylor with all four 140-pound belts on the line and his first fight in 13 months. In the opposite corner was former world lightweight titlist Richard Commey, a 36-year-old Ghanaian.

    Ramirez came out like gangbusters and hurt Commey in the opening minute. But Commey survived the onslaught and came back to win some of the middle rounds. In round 11, Ramirez closed the show. After decking Commey with a right hand that didn’t appear to be particularly hurtful, he delivered a vicious left hook to the liver and Commey was counted out while taking a knee.

    Ramirez improved to 28-1 with his 18th knockout. His promoter Bob Arum is expected to rekindle negotiations with Regis Prograis who won the vacant WBC 140-pound diadem in November with an 11th round stoppage of Jose Zepeda. Commey (30-5-1) has lost three of his last five.

    In the co-feature, East LA’s Seniesa Estrada picked up a second world title belt at 105 pounds with a lopsided decision over Germany’s previously undefeated Tina Rupprecht. Estrada (24-0, 9 KOs) won all 10 rounds on all three cards which was misleading as many of the rounds were close.

    (The victory opens the door to a true unification fight with Costa Rica’s Yokasta Valle who has won 15 straight since losing a decision to Rupprecht in Munich in 2018. Valle was also in action on Saturday night. At a beach resort hotel in Guanacaste, Valle successfully defended her titles with a wide decision over Mexican invader Jessica Basulto.)

    In another bout of note on the Fresno card, SoCal lightweight Raymond Muratalla (17-0, 14 KOs) overcame adversity to score a ninth-round stoppage over Tijuana’s Humberto Galindo (14-3-1).

    Galindo caught Muratalla against the ropes in the opening round and put him down with a left-right combination. Muratalla returned the favor three rounds later and ended the contest in round nine with a series of punches which deposited Galindo on the deck where he stayed for the 10-count.

    According to Jake Donovan, Top Rank plans to pit Muratalla against Namibia’s Jeremiah Nakathila on the Lomachenko-Haney card tentatively scheduled for May 20 in Las Vegas. Nakathila upset Miguel Berchelt in his last outing, dominating the former super featherweight title-holder en route to a sixth-round stoppage.


    Two 10-round preliminaries preceded Saturday’s SHOWTIME pay-per-view at the MGM Grand. Both contests played out in a similar fashion.

    In a super bantamweight contest, Culiacan, Mexico’s Kevin Gonzalez stayed unbeaten with a clear-cut unanimous decision over Colombia’s Jose Sanmartin. The judges had it 99-91, 98-92, and 97-93.

    Gonzalez, who advanced to 26-0-1, fought mostly in flurries but worked the body well and landed the cleaner punches. It was the U.S. debut for Sanmartin (34-7-1) who had been in with the likes of Emanuel Navarrete and Mauricio Lara.

    In the lid-lifter, Orestes Valasquez, a 29-year-old Cuban defector who has been training Las Vegas under Ismael Salas, stepped up in class and won a 10-round unanimous decision over Argentina’s Marcelino Lopez. The judges had it 97-93 and 99-91 twice.

    A 16-year pro, Lopez brought a 37-2-1 record. His signature win was a second-round blowout of former world title-holder Pablo Cesar Cano. Valasquez was extended the distance for the first time after opening his pro career with six wins by stoppage.

    Ramirez-Commey photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images