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Rating the Rounds: Ortiz Jr., Warren, Franco shine; Rigondeaux and Casimero stink

Written By | Aug 15, 2021
Vergil Ortiz Jr. (right) proved he's ready for a title fight with his eighth round knockout win over Egis Kavaliauskas. Photo: Golden Boy Boxing

Vergil Ortiz Jr. (right) proved he’s ready for a title fight with his eighth round knockout win over Egis Kavaliauskas. Photo: Golden Boy Boxing

SAN DIEGO, Calif., August 14, 2021 – On a busy Saturday night, we give you the recap you need to catch up – all in one place.  You’re welcome.

In the best bout of the night on DAZN, welterweight Vergil Ortiz Jr. of Grand Prairie, Texas (18-0, 18 KOs) needed one less round than Terence Crawford to score an impressive 18th straight knockout win over Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (22-2-1, 18 KOs) in the last second of the eighth round.

Although it was the left hooks to the body and head around the guard rendering the knockdowns, Vergil Ortiz Jr. used his power jab to perfection to set up his money punches. Photo: Golden Boy Boxing

Although it was the left hooks to the body and head around the guard rendering the knockdowns, Vergil Ortiz Jr. used his power jab to perfection to set up his money punches. Photo: Golden Boy Boxing

Kavaliauskas suffered his second loss after being stopped by Terence Crawford in nine rounds. The Crawford performance stood as the comparison by which Ortiz Jr.’s performance Saturday would ultimately be judged. Ortiz Jr. scored four knockdowns in the eighth round on top of a second-round knockdown for the win.

Ortiz Jr. claimed he wasn’t aware of it. “Was it eight rounds? It felt like it was four,” he smiled. “It doesn’t really mean anything to me. Crawford and I are different fighters, with different skillsets.”

Although it was the left hooks to the body and head around the guard rendering the knockdowns, Ortiz Jr. used his power jab to perfection to set up his money punches. It reminds you of vintage Gennadiy Golovkin’s work, with a smaller man’s speed. Ortiz Jr. landed 79 total jabs in the fight, against just 37 for Kavaliauskas.

Kavaliauskas tagged Ortiz Jr. with several hard shots of his own, especially in the second and third rounds, but once Ortiz Jr. settled in and let the jab go, he was in control of the fight. “I’m glad we fought a tough guy like Egis; he took the best of me,” said Ortiz Jr.

Ortiz Jr. ‘Could have looked a little prettier’

Ortiz Jr. Warren

Vergil Ortiz Jr. gave himself a B-plus. Photo: Golden Boy Boxing

Oritz Jr. understands at just 23 years old how to make his effort count, the definition of a key to successful boxing: effective aggression.

“I think I did all right. I got the win. I could have looked a little prettier doing it. I’m happy with my performance,” said Ortiz Jr., giving himself a B-plus. “I’m not going to lie. I couldn’t tell he was hurt until I had to chase him down. He does a really good job masking it.”

Total punches landed per CompuBox: 148 of 389 for Ortiz Jr. (38%) against 75 of 391 for Kavaliauskas (195). Ortiz Jr. landed 54% of his power punches to just  14R% for the Lithuanian.

Is Ortiz Jr. ready to fight Terence Crawford? The polite young man’s response: a firm “Yes, sir.” Crawford had his eyes on the fight, tweeting his response.

To date, Ortiz Jr. has passed every test set in front of him in short order: Mauricio Herrera, Antonio Orozco, Maurice Hooker. Now Kavaliauskas. If he gets a stay busy fight waiting for the champions to use the Welterweight Sorting Hat, Ortiz Jr. can be forgiven. What he shouldn’t do is sit around his house playing guitar licks, waiting. Stay in front of the fans, and let’s all enjoy ourselves in the meantime. Over to you, Golden Boy matchmaker Roberto Diaz.

Undercard results: Gutierrez wins trilogy bout; Felix Alvarado impresses

Roger Gutierrez of Venezuela (36-3-1, 20 KOs) successfully defended his WBA Super Featherweight title in a trilogy tiebreaker against Rene Alvarado of Nicaragua (32-10-1, 21 KOs) by unanimous decision.  Scorecards were 116-112 X 2 and 115-113. It wasn’t the action fight fans hoped for. Gutierrez was content to let Alvarado come at him, offering selective power punches to push Alvarado back and keep him at distance. It was a disciplined approach and effective, if not the thrilling brawl fans hoped for.

Late replacement Israel Vasquez of Puerto Rico (10-4-2, 7 KOs) showed plenty of bravery but not much else against IBF World Light Flyweight champion Felix Alvarado of Nicaragua (37-2, 32 KOs). Referee Luis Pabon wisely waved off the fight at 2:50 of the first round.

Casimero and Rigondeaux set record in forgettable fight

Ortiz Jr. Warren

John Riel Casimero won a split decision in a disappointing effort against Guillermo Rigondeaux. Photo: Stephanie Trapp, Showtime Boxing

WBO World Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero of the Philippines (31-4, 21 KOs) will take his title home, but it lost its luster after an awful fight with former two-division champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux of Miami (20-2, 13 KOs). Not even the Carson War Grounds setting could infuse any energy into this bout.

Casimero chased the elusive Rigo ‘round the ring, doing barely enough to win a split decision. Scores were 116-112 and a ridiculous 117-111 for Casimero and 115-113 for Rigondeaux.

Between them, Casimero and Rigondeaux broke the CompuBox record for the fewest combined punches landed in a 12-round fight: 91 total punches. The previous record was 100 combined landed punches between Mario Barrios and Devis Boschiero in 2016.

No real surprise the tactical Cuban made his defense his offense, but there seems little creativity on Casimero’s part to change the course of the bout. Still, Casimero was happy after the fight.

“I’m excited to get the win. Rigondeaux is a good boxer and two-time Olympic gold medalist. I was worried because he said he wouldn’t run, but he ran the whole time. My expectations were for a knockout. Me and all my fans wanted that. I did my best to knock him out, but he was just running and not fighting. Next is Nonito Donaire and then finally Naoya Inoue,” said Casimero.

Guillermo Rigondeaux made no apologies for his defensive approach. Photo: Stephanie Trapp, Showtime Boxing

Guillermo Rigondeaux made no apologies for his defensive approach. Photo: Stephanie Trapp, Showtime Boxing

A defiant Rigondeaux (via his surrogates) let loose on Twitter.

“I am not going to make excuses for anything. I was expecting a guy ready to blow my chin away and sent me to retirement. But I am not a picture on a bag. I can actually box. I learned before becoming a champ back in Cuba.

“No one has to make me a champion or give me anything. You can point fingers at my style all you want, but everything I got, I fought for it. Nothing was given.  Boxing has never been fair to me at the professional level. But he is no Pacquiao, and my chin is still on my head. Congratulations to the Filipino fans. You have a great champion, his name is Pacquiao.”

Rau’Shee Warren delivered a sensational second-round knockout in Carson. Photo: Stephanie Trapp, Showtime Boxing

Former Olympian Rau’shee Warren of Cincinnati (19-3, 5 KOs) scored the best knockout of his career, dropping Damien Vasquez of Las Vegas (15-3, 8 KOs) one minute into their fight on a pretty check left hook. Vasquez got up, only to get hit by another left hook with even more vicious intent in the second round, wobbling Vasquez so badly, referee Ray Corona jumped in to stop the bout, giving Warren the win.

Brandun Lee sent his Southern California fans happy with a sensational knockout in just under two minutes of round one. Photo: Stephanie Trapp, Showtime Boxing

Brandun Lee of La Quinta, California (23-0, 21 KOs) gave his SoCal fans a thrill, making quick work of Ezequiel Fernandez of Argentina (28-5-1, 3 KOs) with a first-round knockout. In just 100 seconds, the 22-year-old Lee scored three knockdowns, and referee Ray Corona moved in quickly to spare the 30-year-old Fernandez any more punishment. Lee has now rolled up a 14-fight knockout streak. Lee is fun to watch with plenty of power, skill, and personality to back it all up.

Gary Antonio Russell’s fight with former champion Emmanuel Rodriguez of Puerto Rico became a no-contest when Rodriguez suffered a horrible headbutt injury just 16 seconds into the fight. “It happens,” said Russell. “I was looking to establish my jab. I was going to set up a hook. Heads come in, heads collide. It happens. People didn’t get to see me perform.” Russell said he wouldn’t mind running the fight with  Rodriguez back as soon as he has recovered

Franco takes trilogy fight from Moloney

Joshua Franco won his third fight with Jason Moloney by a solid decision. Photo: Top Rank Boxing

Class was in session as “The Professor” Joshua Franco (18-1-2, 8 KOs) schooled Andrew Moloney of Australia (21-2, 14 KOs) to take the trilogy’s third matchup.. Franco denied Moloney the revenge he sought when denied a victory due to a technical decision in their second fight in November. Scores were 116-112 X 2 and 115-113.

Franco retained his WBA Super Flyweight title in the third straight bout between the two since last June, when Franco won a narrow unanimous decision, the biggest win of his career. Franco pulled away from Moloney with sharper offensive skills and conditioning. Moloney could never gain any real momentum.

Franco should be glad to see a fresh opponent in front of him. He’s now fought two trilogies back-to-back.  He and Oscar Negrete fought three all-action fights, with Franco getting two wins after a draw in the first bout.

Referee Jack Reiss of California deserves credit for reversing an initial knockdown against Franco when a swift review between rounds showed no punch landing. “Relax, I made a mistake. No knockdown,” Reiss told the judges. This is how replay should work.

Brother Jason Moloney (21-2, 18 KOs) fared better. He made sure the “Night Night” pillow of Joshua Greer Jr. (22-2-2, 12 KOs) stayed in the dressing room. Moloney never let Greer Jr. into their bout, timing Greer to perfection and winning via a solid unanimous decision. Scorecards were 98-92 X 2 and 96-94.

Moloney admitted before the bout his future was on the line, and it showed in a good way. Moloney began landing hard shots on Greer Jr. in the fourth round and continued to the final bell. He kept up his effort behind a solid overhand right, meeting anything Greer Jr. offered with slick counterpunching.

Greer Jr.’s frustrated trainer Kay Koroma urged his man to pick it up, but Moloney didn’t give him an opening. In round eight, Moloney should have scored a knockdown as Greer used the ropes to hold him up, but it wouldn’t have affected the outcome.

Arnold Barboza Jr. remained undefeated with an impressive effort against tough Mexican opponent Antonio Moran. Photo: Top Rank Boxing

In an impressive performance, Arnold Barboza Jr. of South El Monte, California (26-0, 10 KOs) put a pounding on Antonio Moran of Mexico City (26-4, 19 KOs). Barboza broke Moran’s nose in the second round, but the Mexican fighter carried on as best he could. Following his last victory against Alex Saucedo, Barbosa is a serious player in the competitive super lightweight division.

Nico Ali Walsh won his pro debut over Jordan Weeks in Tulsa at the Hard Rock Hotel. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

In one of boxing’s most anticipated pro debuts (aided by plenty of backstory), Nico Ali Walsh, the grandson of Muhammad Ali, delivered a successful professional debut at middleweight against former MMA fighter Jordan Weeks (4-2, 2 KOs). Wearing a pair of his grandfather’s vintage black and white trunks, Ali Walsh appeared to handle the pressure and enjoy the spotlight, scoring a quick first-round stoppage.

Across the pond: Joshua Buatsi works for win over Ricards Bolotniks

Joshua Buatsi made a case for a light heavyweight title fight with a stoppage of Ricard Bolotniks. Photo: Mark Robinson, Matchroom Boxing

Capping off the third and last “Fight Camp” card of the summer from the Hearn estate on DAZN, light heavyweight Joshua Buatsi of Croydon, England (15-0, 13 KOs) had to put in hard rounds against a tough, determined Ricards Bolotniks of Riga, Latvia (18-6-1, 8 KOs) to get his victory Saturday. Buatsi landed serious leather on Bolotniks. He was able to knock him down in the sixth and 11th rounds before sending Bolotniks to the canvas a second time in the 11th round to end it at 2:08 of the round.

“I’m grateful, man. Bolotniks big credit to him. He pushed me. I think he said Josh hasn’t been past seven rounds before so after seven, we’ll see. I was there until 11 and landed a good shot. I worked every round, but I want to congratulate him – he’s a good champion.” Buatsi thanked his sparring partners for preparing him to work for the win.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer 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.  

Copyright © 2021 by Falcon Valley Group

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.