Forum full of surprises as Berchelt, Barrera, and Corrales prevail Saturday

One new champion was crowned Saturday night, while one champion retains his title with ease, and a third barely kept his belt in his possession.

And the new, the best words in boxing: Sullivan Barrera wins the WBC Light Heavyweight title from Joe Smith Jr. Photo: Cynthia Saldana, Saldana Photography

LOS ANGELES, July 15, 2017 – With three titles on the line in Los Angeles, one changed hands, one should have changed hands, and the third was never in jeopardy.

Miguel Berchelt’s arsenal was simply too overpowering for Takashi Miura on Saturday. Photo: Ed Mulholland, HBO Boxing

In the main event, Miguel “Alacran” Berchelt and Takashi Miura didn’t quite deliver the barn burner fight fans hoped for, but there was still enough action to make it worth watching. Berchelt won in a solid unanimous decision. Scores were 120-109, 119-108, and 116-111.

“I anticipated it, I knew it would be a tough fight, but I was the better fighter,” said Berchelt. “He has the toughest left hand in the division, he was hitting me and hurting me sometimes. I knew I was facing an ex-world champion.”

Neverthless, Miura never really challenged Berchelt. He was never completely out of the fight, due to the dangerous left hand. Miura makes things harder for himself by being notoriously slow to get started. He often tosses away early rounds. In prior fights he’s made up for it, but this time he simply didn’t have it.

Miguel Berchelt knocked down Takashi Miura in Round 1. Photo: Ed Mulholland, HBO Boxing

Miura is always game though, and in the eighth round and again in the 12th round, he traded shots with Berchelt to the delight of the fans. Berchelt demonstrated excellent boxing skills along with power punching, particular in his footwork. It makes him far more dangerous in the long run to opponents than simply a guy who can bang.

“I knew this fight was going to be won with intelligence … I knew I was going to fight and ex-world champion, so I prepared myself well,” said Berchelt. “I have proven that I am the best by taking on the two toughest champions in the division with Vargas and Miura. I am ready to fight anyone.” Could it be Vasyl Lomachenko, not just the best in the division but one of the best in boxing?

After the fight, Miura said he simply couldn’t find the right distance against Berchelt. As for Miura’s future, perhaps he might make a good action opponent test for “High Tech” before Berchelt takes his turn.

In a close fight, Robinson Castellano (right) landed the harder shots, but Jezreel Corrales prevailed. Photo: Cynthia Saldana, Saldana Photography

In a wild, messy fight with a messy ending, WBA Super World Super Featherweight champion Jezreel “El Invisible” Corrales (22-1, 8 KOs) of Panama hung onto his title in his American debut against the ever-surprising Robinson “Robin Hood” Castellanos (24-13, 14 KOs) of Mexico.

The fight was stopped 31 seconds into the tenth round by the ringside physician due to cuts suffered by Castellanos, the majority by accidental head butts. The tenth round was scored, resulting in a majority decision for Corrales by scores of 96-92 and 94-93, with the third card scored a draw, 94-94.

Castellanos started right where he left off after his defeat of Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa in May in Las Vegas. He throws from unexpected angles and he doesn’t hold back. He surprised the champion several times. Corrales settled in and began to score with clean, accurate punches.

Robinson Castellano (right) knocked down Jezreel Corrales twice in the fourth round. Photo: Cynthia Saldana, Saldana Photography

The pair traded knockdowns through the middle rounds. Castellanos knocked down Corrales twice in the fifth round; Corrales returned the favor to Castellanos in the seventh round.

One of Castellanos’ knockdowns was erased though when referee Jerry Cantu took away a point for a low blow in the second round. It turned out to be the difference in the bout; it would have been a draw without the penalty.

Jezreel Corrales (left) managed to escape with a victory. Photo: Cynthia Saldana, Saldana Photography

Castellanos expressed the disappointment felt by many observers in the outcome. “I am honestly so sad,” said Robinson Castellanos. “That head butt should have disqualified him; it could have been fatal. I knew coming in that I was in enemy territory, however I felt that I was ahead in the cards. I feel terrible.”

“I knew this would be an interesting fight, I am so happy about the victory,” said Corrales. “This is probably the best fight that I’ve had in my career so far. I’m looking at tonight’s main event as one of my future opponents.” Corrales shouldn’t be so quick to step into the ring with Berchelt. He’ll need to reassess that idea after his performance tonight.

It seemed the fight would be over in the first round, but Sullivan Barrera got off the canvas to win. Photo: Cynthia Saldana, Saldana Photography

Within seconds of the opening bell, it looked like WBC International light heavyweight champion Joe Smith, Jr. (23-1, 19 KOs) would make quick work of Sullivan Barrera (19-1, 14 KOs), just as he had when he shocked Andrzej Fonfara in the first round to take his title. Smith Jr. had Barrera down on the canvas thanks to a vicious right hook.

But Barrera got to his feet, finished the round, and from Round 2 forward, the fight was in Barrera’s skilled hands for the remainder of the fight. Barrera won a unanimous decision by scores of 97-92, and 96-93.

Sullivan Barrera’s boxing pedigree got the better of the game Joe Smith Jr. Saturday. Photo: Cynthia Saldana, Saldana Photography

Barrera seemed more dominating than the scores reflect. No disrespect to Smith Jr. in describing the fight this way. He proved he can take a punch, he doesn’t panic in the ring, and he never gave up. He did appear to visibly slow down midway through the fight. He has only gone ten rounds once so it was unfamiliar territory.

This fight is where Barrera’s superior boxing pedigree showed over Smith Jr.’s experience. Barrera delivered better quality punches of far better accuracy, and with more variety. Barrera scored with hooks, excellent body shots, and a surprisingly strong upper cut from both right and left sides. Smith Jr. is a pure power punches with no jab, and Barrera took much of his arsenal away from him.When Smith, Jr. knocked me down in the second round, I got back up cause that’s who I am. In my fight with

“When Smith, Jr. knocked me down in the second round, I got back up cause that’s who I am,” said Barrera. “In my fight with (Vyacheslav) Shabranskyy (in December), the same thing happened. I shoot back up to get the victory.”

Sullivan Barrera won his first world championship with his father watching for the first time. Photo: Cynthia Saldana, Saldana Photography

Perhaps the presence of Barrera’s father provided a little extra motivation. He travelled from Cuba to Los Angeles to see the fight ringside, the first time father and son have seen each other in person in eight years, and the first time the elder Barrera has ever seen his son in a professional fight. “I feel very happy about this win, Joe Smith, Jr. is a great champion, and I respect him very much,” said Barrera.

“This title wouldn’t have been possible with my amazing team, and my father here tonight was also amazing.”

Who’s next for Barrera? It’s unlikely Main Events would pair Barrera with stablemate Sergey Kovalev at this point. Barrera may appear more palatable to Adonis Stevenson than his nemesis Kovalev.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.


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