BOXING

Crawford and Santa Cruz Win With Fifth-Round TKOs

Terence Crawford Handles, Then Dismantles Hank Lundy

 Hank Lundy got off to a fast start — and then Terence Crawford brought Lundy’s momentum to a quick end. Crawford adjusted to Lundy’s strategy, took it away, took control of the action and took Lundy out with a stoppage victory in the fifth round.

Lundy landed some good shots from unorthodox angles in the opening minutes. But rather than be undone by the unorthodox, Crawford changed the fight by changing the pace and the distance. He probed with his right jab and pumped it out as well, keeping Lundy farther away and making him reset. Crawford also moved when Lundy tried to attack.

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By the third, Crawford had added left hands, which sometimes followed the jabs and other times worked as a counter. And so now it was Lundy adjusting, switching to southpaw in the fourth round, a different look that got him closer to Crawford once again.

Crawford still had command of the ring. In the fifth, he led with a jab and followed with one left hand, then another that staggered Lundy. He followed up and soon Lundy was down. Lundy beat the count but was on wobbly legs. Crawford pinned Lundy on the ropes and then in the corner, landing hard head shot after hard head shot until the referee jumped in.

Lundy is now 26-6-1 with 13 KOs, while Crawford moves to 28-0 with 20 KOs. He has now made two defenses of his world title at 140 pounds to go along with the two defenses of the belt he had at 135 pounds in 2014. It’s too soon to say whom his next opponent will be, though a unification bout with the skilled Viktor Postol or a clash with the tough Ruslan Provodnikov would be possible to make and would make for interesting challenges.

 

Leo Santa Cruz Overwhelms A Game Kiko Martinez

 Kiko Martinez wanted a firefight with Leo Santa Cruz. That’s exactly what he got. The problem for Martinez is that he was outgunned.

Santa Cruz is happy to stand in and go shot for shot. He is a fighter who never seems to run out of ammunition. He also had more firepower in his arsenal, knocking Martinez down twice in the first round, wounding him in the fifth and then putting him away for the technical knockout.

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Santa Cruz scored the first knockdown just 25 seconds into the fight off a right hand. Martinez wasn’t badly shaken and went straight back at Santa Cruz, only to get deposited back onto the canvas from a combination that ended with a right uppercut, a jab and then another right hand.

Santa Cruz threw about 140 punches in that first round and would continue to have a high-volume attack. The same could be said for Martinez. Together, they combined for more than 1,000 punches in less than five rounds. Martinez knew no other way. He was able to put Santa Cruz down early in the second round with a right hand and then a left hook. It was ruled a slip and not knockdown, though. No matter the ruling, Santa Cruz had been off-balance at the time and did not at all appear to be shaken.

Martinez was able to draw blood from Santa Cruz’s nose in the third round. Santa Cruz fought through it and then kicked the fight into a different gear. He would throw a combination and then take a few steps to the side, waiting for Martinez to walk back into range before launching another combination.

The grueling pace and punishment wore Martinez down. Santa Cruz hurt him in the fifth with a couple of combinations. Martinez was on the ropes, allowing Santa Cruz to let forth with an extended barrage that closed the show.

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This was Santa Cruz’s first defense of a 126-pound world title he won last year against Abner Mares; he’d previously been a titleholder at 118 and 122. There are several possible options for his second defense, be it fellow featherweights Jesus Cuellar and Gary Russell Jr., a rematch with Mares, or even a bout with Carl Frampton, who unified world titles in the 122-pound division on the same day as Santa Cruz-Martinez. He is now 32-0-1 with 18 KOs.

Martinez, meanwhile, is a former 122-pound titleholder who has clearly seen better days. Three of his past four losses have been by technical knockout. The consolation: Those four defeats have all come against very good opponents — Santa Cruz, Frampton (twice) and Scott Quigg. He is now 35-7 with 26 KOs.

 

Frampton Outpoints Quigg, Unifies World Titles at 122

 Sometimes bouts between some of the best fighters don’t lead to some of the best fights. And sometimes there are heated rivalries that don’t produce heated action.

Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg are two of the best in the 122-pound division. Both fight out of the United Kingdom. Both were undefeated. Both had world titles. There had been talk for some time about them facing each other, and finally they did. But once they did, a fight that so many were looking forward to seeing turned into something without much to see.

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Neither man wanted to do much in the first half of the fight. Neither tried to assert himself and take control. Instead, each was too aware of what the other was capable of, and so any offense was rare. Through six rounds, CompuBox had Frampton landing just 28 punches in total. Only nine of those were power shots (anything that’s not a jab), one of which apparently gave Quigg a jaw injury that required surgery afterward. Quigg was credited with landing a mere 11 punches total in six rounds. A paltry three of those were power shots.

That was enough for Frampton to build a lead. The fight finally began to kick into a higher gear as it neared its end, with exchanges breaking out and Quigg often getting the better of them. It wouldn’t be enough. While one judge had him winning 115-113, or seven rounds to five, that was overruled by the other two judges, who had it 116-112, or eight rounds to four, for Frampton.

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Frampton is 22-0 with 14 KOs and now has two world titles, but he may not have them for much longer. Instead of sticking around at junior featherweight and challenging Guillermo Rigondeaux, it’s likely that Frampton will give himself some relief on the scales and go up to 126, where there are potential fights with Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares, Gary Russell Jr. and Jesus Cuellar, among others.

Quigg suffered his first defeat and dropped to 31-1-2 with 23 KOs. If Frampton departs the division and drops his belts, don’t be surprised if Quigg gets an opportunity to fight for one of them.

 

Verdejo Beats Silva by Decision, Continues Down Path to Stardom

Felix Verdejo wasn’t in the main event at Madison Square Garden in New York City — that honor belonged to the fight between Terence Crawford and Hank Lundy. But the lightweight was a big attraction nonetheless, drawing a significant chunk of the crowd there to see him win a unanimous decision over Willian Silva.

His promoter believes Verdejo will be the next star from Puerto Rico, following in the footsteps of Miguel Cotto and Felix Trinidad. It’s still early. While he’ll be headlining in New York City later this year on the weekend of the Big Apple’s annual Puerto Rican Day Parade, the spotlight he’s getting doesn’t yet match his status in the sport.

Then again, he’s only about three years into his pro career. He faced, in Silva, a fellow undefeated prospect who seemed early on as if he could give Verdejo a good test. Silva appeared to be both confident and competent, standing in front of Verdejo, landing right hands on him in the second round, dodging many of Verdejo’s shots and handling those that hit their target.

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Silva seemed to lose interest in putting up a good challenge. He moved more and threw less — he landed just 45 punches total over the course of 10 rounds. Verdejo was mostly patient in his pursuit, punching when he could, picking up points on the scorecards along the way and only rarely sending out a heavier shot that was meant to bring the fight to an end but missed its mark.

The judges saw him winning easily; two had him winning every round while the third had nine rounds for Verdejo and one for Silva, who fell to 23-1 with 14 KOs. Verdejo, who is now 20-0 with 14 KOs, called the fight a learning experience.

The important thing for him on Saturday was that he won. The important thing for him from here on out will be whether he can use this experience to develop further. Verdejo will need to do just that if he is to go as far as his promoter hopes and become anywhere near as famous as those two Puerto Rican stars who preceded him.

David Greisman
About the Author:

David Greisman.

David Greisman is an award-winning boxing writer based out of Washington, D.C., who has covered the sport since 2004. He is the senior staff writer and “Fighting Words” columnist for BoxingScene.com and a reporter for The Ring magazine. Greisman is the author of the book “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing.”
Follow on Twitter @fightingwords2

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