A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at Las Vegas
Timothy Bradley Jr. TKO9 Brandon Rios
Retains a welterweight title
Records: Bradley Jr. (33-1-1, 13 KOs); Rios (33-3-1, 24 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: There are two ways to look at the fight: either Bradley looked fantastic, perhaps the best he ever has in his long, championship-level career, in large part because of the work done by new trainer Teddy Atlas in their seven weeks together, or he looked so good because Rios was not prepared, out of shape and an easy mark.
The reality is Bradley's superb showing and Rios' absolutely pathetic one probably was a combination of both factors. No matter how bad Rios was, Bradley and Atlas, who replaced the fired Joel Diaz in September, deserve credit for the win. Bradley, 31, of Palm Springs, looked reborn to a degree. He was fast, accurate with his punches, light on his feet and responsible on defense. And the punishing overhand right hand that he kept catching Rios with also helped. Bradley, who has won five world titles in two weight classes, bought into Atlas' plan and obviously picked up a lot of what was thrown at him in their training camp. They seem to be a perfect match for each other as Bradley looked transfixed and was hanging on every word Atlas said during his almost comical preaching between rounds. Apparently, he and Bradley are firemen! (Watch the HBO telecast.)
Whether you like Atlas' wild discourse between rounds or not doesn't matter. Bradley obviously got a lot out of it. He went after former lightweight titlist Rios, 29, of Oxnard, California, from the opening bell and never really let up. He hurt him several times with overhand rights and body shots. A few left hard left hooks also found the mark. While Bradley was banging Rios around the ring, Rios showed almost nothing whatsoever. He moved less than a statue and didn't have much steam on his punches. Clearly, the 10-month layoff since his tremendous performance in a third-round knockout of rival Mike Alvarado in their rubber match in January took its toll. Rios has not fought since and didn't spend much time in the gym during the layoff, which was obvious. He struggled to make 147 pounds, needing two tries at the scale before barely making it and looking dead in the process. And on fight night he ballooned up to 170 pounds and looked huge compared to Bradley, who rehydrated to a more normal 155 pounds. The added bulk did nothing to assist Rios, who lost every single round on all three official scorecards. None of the rounds were all that close either.
Finally, in the ninth round, Bradley finished him off with two knockdowns. First he landed a hard left hand to the body and a window-dressing right hand upstairs to send Rios to mat. Bradley immediately pounced on Rios when the fight resumed and quickly dropped him again with an onslaught of shots, at which point referee Tony Weeks waved off the fight without a count at 2 minutes, 49 seconds.
Bradley can look forward to bigger business down the road -- with Atlas at his side -- perhaps a junior middleweight fight against Canelo Alvarez, depending on what happens between Alvarez and middleweight champion Miguel Cotto on Nov. 21. But Rios announced his retirement in the ring and reiterated it strongly at the post-fight news conference. Rios insisted that once he makes a decision he sticks to it and won't be back. He said he has saved his money -- and he made several million dollars -- and that he just doesn't have it anymore. If he really is done, he got a lot out of himself. He was one of boxing's most entertaining fighters during his time, won a world title and had some big fights, including against Manny Pacquiao and the memorable trilogy he won against Alvarado.
Vasyl Lomachenko KO10 Romulo Koasicha
Retains a featherweight title
Records: Lomachenko (5-1, 3 KOs); Koasicha (25-5, 15 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Lomachenko, 27, a 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, needs a challenge. He is perhaps the greatest amateur ever (396-1) and even after only six professional fights is already one of the best in the world. Opponents such as Koasicha are not going to challenge him or bring out the best in him.
He wants to fight top opponents and he wants to unify world titles, but while those opponents are not available to him he is stuck with this kind of fight, which was a dominant shutout from start to the knockout finish. And it's not that Koasicha, 24, of Mexico, is a bad fighter. He's actually pretty solid and has a big heart. But Lomachenko's skills are at another level and he displayed them all as he picked him apart. He was way, way faster than Koasicha, outboxed him with ease and landed punches from all angles almost at will. Lomachenko, a southpaw, connected with basically everything in his arsenal, be it right hooks, straight left hands and powerful body shots. When it was over Lomachenko declared that he "was just having fun in there."
The CompuBox punch statistics show just how one-sided the fight was as Lomachenko landed more than four times as many punches as Koasicha. Overall, Lomachenko landed 334 of 717 punches (47 percent) and Koasicha was limited to connecting on just 75 of 607 punches (12 percent).
In a perfect world, Lomachenko will next face a top pound-for-pound fighter in Guillermo Rigondeaux, who was recently stripped of his two alphabet junior featherweight titles because of inactivity. Top Rank's Bob Arum, who promotes Lomachenko and used to promote Rigondeaux, said he believes he can make the fight and it's not like Rigondeaux has any other legitimately lucrative options given how unwanted he is by the television networks. But HBO surely would be interested specifically in a Lomachenko-Rigondeaux fight that would be historical, which is why Arum loves it so much, even though it probably would not be an action-packed fight. Besides Lomachenko and Rigondeaux both being incredibly skilled fighters it would be the first time two boxers who won two Olympic gold medals apiece would meet as professionals. It's a no-brainer fight to make. Both fighters need each other.
Saturday at Monte Carlo
Ruslan Provodnikov TKO4 Jesus Alvarez Rodriguez
Records: Provodnikov (25-4, 18 KOs); Alvarez Rodriguez (14-1, 11 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Former junior welterweight titlist Provodnikov, 31, of Russia, has been one of boxing's most exciting brawlers for the past several years, including losing a close decision to Timothy Bradley Jr. in a welterweight world title bout that was the 2013 fight of the year. But because the "Siberian Rocky" had gone 2-3 in his past five bouts, including a majority decision loss to Lucas Matthysse in a hellacious fight of the year candidate on April 18, Provodnikov had a hard time getting HBO or Showtime to make room for him in their fall schedules, leaving him to settle for an overseas fight against an unknown opponent in Rodriguez, 23, of Mexico. Rodriguez came into the fight with glossy record but one compiled against horrible opposition. In fact, before facing Provodnikov, Rodriguez had faced only one opponent with a winning record (8-7). He was just what the doctor ordered for Provodnikov, a willing combatant with not much chance of winning. And that's just how it went down as Provodnikov, who was with trainer Joel Diaz for the first time after paring ways with Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, dominated the game Rodriguez.
With Monaco's Prince Albert at ringside, Provodnikov took it to poor Rodriguez from the outset, pressured him throughout the fight and landed all kinds of clean power shots.
In the fourth round, Provodnikov nailed Rodriguez with a right hand to the temple that took his legs away and sent him staggering into the ropes. Referee Stanley Christodoulou stepped in as though he was going to stop the fight and then inexplicably walked away, neither stopping it nor issuing a count. It was weird and a bad mistake. Provodnikov proceeded to pummel Rodriguez with several unanswered punches to the head and body, finally driving him to the mat with a body shot. Provodnikov continued to pound him, beating him into a corner and then hammering him with a huge left hand the side of the head that sent him down again into the ropes. This time Christodoulou immediately stepped in and waved off the fight at 1 minute, 40 seconds.
It was an easy win for Provodnikov, who got through a fight for a change without taking any punishment. He got back into the win column and his next move is open, although he likely will be headed back to the United States for a premium cable fight.
Saturday at Liverpool, England
Callum Smith TKO1 Rocky Fielding
Wins vacant British super middleweight title
Records: Smith (18-0, 13 KOs); Fielding (21-1, 12 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: In a rather surprising outcome, Smith destroyed Fielding in the all-Liverpool showdown that had been hyped for quite some time. Smith, 25, was the favorite but few expected an early demolition but that's what he did to the 28-year-old Fielding, whom he knocked down three times. In winning the vacant British 168-pound title, Smith etched the family name deeper into British boxing history as he became the unprecedented fourth sibling to win a British title, joining brothers Paul, Liam and Stephen.
Smith inflicted damage just 30 seconds into the fight when he caught Fielding with a right hand to the head that badly wobbled him. Smith followed up with a series of punches, finishing the flurry with a body shot to score the first knockdown. Smith continued to absolutely pummel Fielding for most of the next two minutes. When Fielding finally got off a couple of solid punches, Smith responded with a left hand to the head that dropped him again. Moments later, Smith fired another series of punches that dropped Fielding for the third time. He managed to beat the count but was a shaky, wobbly mess and referee Phil Edwards rightfully waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 45 seconds to give Smith a huge victory and Fielding a crushing defeat.
"I don't know what it looked like from the outside but it felt exciting when I was in there as while it lasted," Smith said. "Credit to Rocky Fielding. He came out and we had a shootout and I think that's what the public wanted. It was a good fight while it lasted and I'm pleased to get the win. It looks on paper like a one-round blowout but it's a good win regardless of what round I put him away. I said in the build-up -- and it came across as a bit arrogant -- but I knew I was the better fighter and I just need the chance to prove it and I think I showed that."
Fielding was, naturally, devastated by the one-sided loss.
"I am gutted," he said. "Hats off to Callum. He is a good fighter, and I knew I was in for a good fight. But that is boxing -- one punch changed the game and fair play to him."
Because of Smith's ranking in the alphabet organizations, the victory could propel him toward a title opportunity in 2016, possibly against Badou Jack.
Also on the card former lightweight and junior lightweight titlist Ricky Burns (39-5-1, 13 KOs), 32, of Scotland, who had been boxing as a junior welterweight, returned to lightweight and stopped Josh King (20-4, 9 KOs), 30, of Australia, with a left hook to the body at 54 seconds of the 11th round. In another bout on the card, Scotty Cardle (19-0, 6 KOs), 26, of England, retained the British lightweight title in his first defense by knocking out Sean Dodd at 1 minute, 58 seconds of the 12th round.
Saturday at Miami
Kevin Bizier TKO10 Fredrick Lawson
Welterweight - Title eliminator
Records: Bizier (25-2, 17 KOs); Lawson (24-1, 20 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Bizier, 31, of Canada, made his United States debut in the Premier Boxing Champions main event on NBC Sports Net and scored the biggest win of his career. The victory in the final elimination bout made him the mandatory challenger to world title Kell Brook of England.
Bizier earned the title shot in dominant fashion against Lawson, 26, a native of Ghana fighting out of Chicago. Bizier landed a lot of combinations and powerful right hands as he pressured Lawson throughout the bout. He scored the only knockdown of the fight in the fifth round when he landed a right hand to the head that sent Lawson into the ropes. Because the ropes were responsible for keeping Lawson on his feet, referee Samuel Burgos properly called it a knockdown.
Lawson took a lot of punches and when the 10th round was over it appeared as though he may have had a busted jaw and his trainer, Abel Sanchez, stopped the fight in the corner.
"My plan was to stay close, not let him breathe and it worked. I put too much pressure on him," Bizier said. "I was surprised. He's not a puncher like his record would indicate. He hit me well, but never hurt me. I never felt tired or any pain. In the 10th round I was still very strong. He was starting the rounds strong but he would fade by the end of the round and that's when I would come on."
Keita Obara D12 Walter Castillo
Junior welterweight - Title eliminator
Scores: 114-114 (twice), 115-113 Obara
Records: Obara (15-1-1, 14 KOs); Castillo (26-3-1, 19 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Castillo, 27, of Nicaragua, and Obara, 28, of Japan, who was fighting outside of his home country for the first time, met in an elimination bout to produce the mandatory challenger for newly-crowned world titleholder Eduard Troyanovsky. That position remains vacant, however, because they fought to a majority draw, even though it appeared to most that Obara was the rightful winner in a closely contested fight, mainly because he outworked Castillo consistently.
Castillo sure looked like the loser, emerging from the fight with a bloody right eye, lip and ear. Obara used his longer arms and accurate right hand to control Castillo for long stretches of the fight. Castillo never seemed to be able to adjust to Obara's movement.
"It's my fault for not knocking him out," Obara said. "I don't agree with the decision, but it's my fault in the end because he was still there at the end of 12 rounds. I landed good punches on him, but none were knockout punches. I knew to beat him here I would need to get the knockout and I did not get it. It was really fun and exciting to fight in U.S. Before the decision was read I was having the time of my life. Now I'm disappointed in the decision. I would fight him again if the arrangement were made."
Castillo seemed almost relieved to get a draw.
"The fight was a very good, strong fight. I respect the decision of the judges. I fought my best," he said. "The eye did affect my vision. As soon as I got hit, everything went blurry. My corner did a good job to get me through the 12 rounds. I gave it my all, but the eye did hamper the things I was trying to do. I would definitely fight him again. I would like to have a final decision over who the winner was. If he will fight, I would love to."
Friday at Las Vegas
Antoine Douglas TKO4 Les Sherrington
Records: Douglas (19-0-1, 13 KOs); Sherrington (35-8, 19 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Douglas, 23, of Burke, Virginia, is a good looking prospect making his way up the ladder. In this fight, the main event on Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation," Douglas put away Sherrington, 33, of Australia, who showed zero resistance to Douglas' sharp punches.
Fighting outside on a very chilly night, Douglas took care of business impressively as he dropped Sherrington, who was fighting in the United States for the first time, five times overall before the fight was mercifully called off. Douglas scored knockdowns in the first round, second round, two in the third round and one more in the fourth before referee Kenny Bayless called if off at 1 minute, 2 seconds. None of the punches that scored knockdowns hurt Sherrington badly but he had no legs at all and could not avoid Douglas' quick hands.
"They said this was my graduation day, time for a cap and gown, so this was definitely a big win," Douglas said. "It was a great experience fighting on 'ShoBox' (for the fifth time) and I appreciate everything they've done for me getting me ready to go to the next level. Now, it's time for me to take the next step.
"I expected to win, probably by knockout, but I didn't expect it to be this way. I expected Sherrington to be tougher, more prepared. I think my jab was the key. It set him up for all the big shots I landed with my right hand and left hook. I knew I'd be faster than him. I was very prepared. One good thing I'm happy about is how I kept my composure."
Sherrington was impressed by Douglas, saying, "Antoine Douglas is very good and he will go on to really big things in this sport. I'm not making excuses, but I was freezing and I could never really warm up. And then he caught me cold. I came here to reach a lifelong dream of mine but it was not meant to be. I got welcomed into the big leagues in a big hurry and in the worst way. All credit goes to Douglas for that."
Also on the quadrupleheader: southpaw welterweight Taras Shelestyuk (13-0, 8 KOs), 29, a 2012 Ukrainian Olympic bronze medalist fighting out of Los Angeles, routed Russia's Aslanbek Kozaev (26-2-1, 7 KOs), 27, who was fighting for the first time in 18 months, on scores of 100-90, 100-90 and 99-9; welterweight Keenan Smith (9-0, 3 KOs), a 25-year-old southpaw from Philadelphia, outboxed Benjamin Whitaker (10-2, 2 KOs), 31 of San Antonio on scores of 79-73, 78-74 and 78-74 in a slow-paced fight; and lightweight Samuel Teah (7-1, 2 KOs), 28, who is from Liberia and now living in Philadelphia, outhustled lethargic O'Shanique Foster (8-1, 5 KOs), 22 of Orange, Texas, in an awful, action-free dance, winning on scores of 79-73, 77-75 and 77-75.