A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at Chicago
Joe Smith Jr. TKO1 Andrzej Fonfara
Records: Smith Jr. (22-1, 18 KOs); Fonfara (28-4, 16 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Upset of the year alert! Fonfara, 28, a native of Poland based in Chicago, where he has a healthy fan following, was a massive favorite in the main event of the Premier Boxing Champions card on NBC. He had given light heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson an extremely tough battle in a competitive decision loss in 2014 and then won his next three fights in a row, including making former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. quit after nine rounds 14 months ago and outpointing former world titleholder Nathan Cleverly in an action-packed fight that set all kinds of CompuBox records for the light heavyweight division in October.
Smith, 26, a construction worker from New York's Long Island who boxes part time on club shows, had never faced anyone of consequence and never even been in a televised bout. But Smith ruined Fonfara's hopes of a rematch with Stevenson any time soon with a huge upset that left the pro-Fonfara crowd in shock.
Fonfara landed several powerful punches in the first 90 seconds of the fight and seemed in command but then Smith came out of nowhere and landed a brutal right hand to the side of Fonfara's head and he dropped like a rock. He quickly got to his feet but was off balance and staggered into the ropes before gaining his footing. Referee Hector Afu allowed the bout to continue and Smith cleaned up on Fonfara, landing about a dozen unanswered blows before Afu jumped in to stop the bout at 2 minutes, 32 seconds as Fonfara was falling to the canvas again. It was a total shocker.
"There's no feeling like this," Smith said. "I'm happy to take this victory back home to New York to all my fans. I'll talk to my promoter [Joe DeGuardia] but I'm hoping for another big fight to get myself to a world title. Now everybody knows who I am. This is the best thing that could have happened. Once I started hitting him and pushing him back he fell away and left himself open for the right hand. I thought this would be more of a fight, but I took him out early and it feels great."
Coming into the bout Fonfara was unbeaten in 15 fights (14-0 with a no decision) at the UIC Pavilion before Smith wrecked that record.
"He is a heavy puncher," Fonfara said. "He hit me with a great punch. It happens. I threw some good punches, but I got too comfortable. I didn't see the punch coming. That made it a great punch. I'm disappointed because I thought I would win the fight but it is boxing. I will rest and get back in the ring. I'll get back to work."
Rau'shee Warren W12 Juan Carlos Payano
Wins a bantamweight title
Scores: 115-113 (twice), 114-114
Records: Warren (14-1, 4 KOs); Payano (17-1, 8 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Last August, Payano, a 32-year-old two-time Olympian from the Dominican Republic, retained the title in his first defense with a debatable split decision against Cincinnati's Warren, 29, the only three-time Olympic boxer in United States history. It was a good, competitive fight between southpaws in which Payano suffered cuts over both eyes, had three points deducted for fouls and got knocked down in the 12th round. Warren, who defeated Payano in an amateur bout, felt he deserved to leave the ring with the belt, as did many, and the rematch was made, although neither had fought since the first bout and both were coming off their longest career layoff.
This time Warren left little doubt, despite the one draw scorecard. He did more than enough to earn the well-deserved majority decision.
Although Payano was busier, he also missed with far more punches than Warren. According to CompuBox statistics, Payano landed 162 of 882 punches (18 percent) and Warren connected with 160 of 514 (31 percent). Payano, who hurt a rib early in the fight, was more aggressive, but Warren countered well and landed the cleaner shots round after round. There was good action also, but Warren often got the better of it. They went toe-to-toe in the 11th round and Warren hurt Payano and then opened a cut under his right eye in the 12th round. A third fight between them certainly would plausible.
"This feels great. It's unbelievable," said Warren, who became the first member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team to win a professional world title. "Payano came to put on a great fight but I came out victorious. It was a good fight. If he wants the rematch, we can do it again. I was comfortable that I had won the decision. We wanted to make him miss and make him pay. I definitely made him miss a lot. He was just staying busy. I bobbed and weaved. I pressed him enough to where I could take over. I want to take it to another level. A third fight could be really big. I want Warren-Payano III in Cincinnati. If not I'll go after all the other champions."
Unlike the controversy of the first bout, there was none this time. Not even Payano complained. "I wasn't able to completely follow my game plan," he said. "At moments I was able to do what we trained for, but not enough. I hurt my rib early, in the first two rounds, and it made it difficult to grab and breathe. I take nothing away from him. I was courteous enough to offer the rematch right away and I hope that I get reciprocated the same way. I fought his pace and I didn't follow my plan. I wasn't able to do what I wanted to do and he was able to prevail. I think I gave the fight away and Rau'shee won the fight."
Erickson Lubin TKO3 Daniel Sandoval
Records: Lubin (15-0, 11 KOs); Sandoval (38-4, 35 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Lubin, 20, who dedicated the fight to his grief-stricken hometown of Orlando, Florida, following last week's night club shooting, is one of the best prospects in boxing, so it was no surprise that he took Sandoval, 25, of Mexico, apart with ease. Sandoval, showing no professionalism, was 5½ pounds overweight at 159½ pounds at Friday's weigh-in but the fight went ahead anyway because a few extra pounds was not going to be enough for Sandoval to overcome the massive talent disparity he has in comparison to Lubin.
Lubin, a southpaw, was poised and took his time as he basically did as he pleased for the first three rounds. He outboxed and outpunched his slower opponent with ease. In the third round, Lubin unleashed a sustained two-fisted onslaught of more than a dozen punches that hurt Sandoval and had him against the ropes, forcing referee Mark Nelson to jump in and stop the bout at 2 minutes, 36 seconds. It was a very strong performance from Lubin, who landed 80 of 161 punches (50 percent), according to CompuBox punch statistics. Sandoval landed 43 of 203 punches (21 percent).
"I felt great. He's a veteran so I wanted to take my time and get him out of there by chipping away," Lubin said. "I saw that he was hurt with a hook. I saw that it cut him and I wanted to rush him. A flurry of punches and the ref stopped it. [Now] I'm looking at going higher in the rankings. My team knows I'll fight everybody. They have to stop me from fighting people because I'll say yes to anyone. I just want a title and I'll do anything to get there. Everybody is on my radar."
Maciej Sulecki TKO10 Hugo Centeno Jr.
Records: Sulecki (23-0, 8 KOs); Centeno Jr. (24-1, 12 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Sulecki, 27, of Poland, fighting in the United States for the fourth fight in a row, dominated Centeno in surprisingly easy fashion for his biggest victory. His best weapon was a strong jab although he also landed many more power punches than Centeno (127 to 47). Centeno, 25, of Oxnard, California, just did not look like he was very interested in fighting. He was sluggish the entire fight and in survival mode the last few rounds.
In the ninth round, Sulecki opened a cut over Centeno's right eye. In the 10th round, Sulecki dropped Centeno with a hard right hand to chin and although he beat the count, he was bleeding from the eye, bleeding from his nose and in no condition to go on as referee Mark Nelson waved off the contest at 1 minute, 6 seconds.
"It was a milestone fight for me. This could give me a chance to fight for the middleweight world title," Sulecki said. "I've always thought of myself as a technical fighter. I just needed a small adjustment to move the technique to power. That is exactly what happened when I moved to America. This is unbelievable. It's hard to put into words. Fighting on the biggest stage in American television is amazing. I knew from the beginning that I was going to dominate. I needed a couple of rounds to get my timing. Once I got my timing, I knew that I was physically and mentally better than this guy. I want to fight [secondary titleholder] Daniel Jacobs. I think that would be a great fight."
Centeno blamed his poor performance on trouble making weight. "He did what he had to do, but I felt like I couldn't do what I wanted to do," Centeno said. "I felt sluggish by the fourth round. The fatigue set in hard. I wanted to finish the fight. I work hard for it. It is what it is, but I can't wait to get back in the ring again."
Saturday at Tijuana, Mexico
Jose Uzcategui TKO3 Derrick Findley
Records: Uzcategui (25-1, 21 KOs); Findley (23-20-1, 15 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: In June 2014, Uzcategui, 25, a native of Venezuela who lives in Tijuana, got an opportunity to fight on HBO on the Terence Crawford-Yuriorkis Gamboa undercard and lost a clear unanimous decision to Matt Korobov in a middleweight bout. Now Uzcategui has won three bouts in a row since after taking out Findley, a 32-year-old journeyman from Chicago, in the main event of the Zanfer Promotions card on Azteca America.
Uzcategui took it to Findley from the outset, knocked him around the ring and dominated until Findley retired on his stool after the third round. Uzcategui looms as the mandatory challenger for world titleholder James DeGale (23-1, 14 KOs), of England, although that possible fight is a ways off because DeGale is set to meet fellow titlist Badou Jack in a unification match later this year. The DeGale-Jack winner will have Uzcategui as one of his mandatory opponents.
Saturday at Toluca, Mexico
Jhonny Gonzalez TKO10 Christopher Martin
Records: Gonzalez (61-10, 51 KOs); Martin (29-8-3, 9 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Mexico's Gonzalez, 34, a former bantamweight and featherweight world titleholder, suffered an upset majority decision loss to Jonathan Oquendo in September on the Floyd Mayweather-Andre Berto undercard in his second bout after moving up to junior lightweight (following the loss of his featherweight belt by fourth-round knockout to Gary Russell Jr. in March 2015).
Now Gonzalez has won three fights in a row in the 130-pound weight class after dominating Martin, 29, of San Diego, en route to the knockout victory. Gonzalez knocked Martin to his knees a minute into the fifth round with a sharp left hook and was credited with another knockdown 20 seconds into the 10th round courtesy of a left hook that drove Martin into the ropes, which held him up. When the round was over, Martin's corner threw in the towel to save him from continuing to take a beating. Martin, who has faced several quality opponents, dropped to 1-5 in his six fights.
Also on the card, former junior middleweight titlist Carlos Molina (26-6-2, 8 KOs), 33, of Mexico, claimed a split decision against former lightweight title challenger Javier Prieto (27-9-2, 20 KOs), 28, of Mexico, in an eight-round welterweight fight. Two judges had the fight for Molina, 78-74 and 77-75, and one judge scored the fight for Prieto, 77-75.
Saturday at Albacete, Spain
Thomas Dulorme TKO3 Jesus Gurrola
Records: Dulorme (23-2, 15 KOs); Gurrola (22-9-3, 10 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Dulorme, 26, of Puerto Rico, once one of boxing's hottest prospects, faced Terence Crawford for a vacant junior welterweight world title 14 months ago and got knocked out in the sixth round. Making his return to the ring, and fighting again as a welterweight, Dulorme took out Mexican journeyman Gurrola, 28, in his first fight since the loss to Crawford.
"Fighting for the first time in Spain was something big in my career because I felt at home with the love and respect that they gave me," said Dulorme, who fought in Spain because he is now being trained by Spanish trainer Alberto Gonzalez. "My opponent was strong and tried to connect with good shots. He was aggressive, but my preparation mentally, physically and was strategically was very strong at all times and went according to the plan. I used my speed to my advantage to finish him. I felt very good and strong in my return to 147 pound. I'm a free agent and several promoters want to meet with me. I know it will soon come together for me with good fights. I'll be more than ready to take them and come away with the win."