Conlan edges Baluta by majority decision

 Michael “Mick” Conlan’s junior featherweight debut was a little tougher than expected, but the Belfast native pulled through. Conlan edged Ionut Baluta by majority decision (114-114, 115-114 and 117-112) to win the WBO International junior featherweight belt Friday in London, formally announcing his intentions as a world title challenger at 122 pounds.

Conlan’s junior featherweight coronation was almost spoiled, as Baluta closed the fight strong in the final three rounds. Conlan’s early lead proved too much for the Romanian-born contender to overcome. Baluta (14-3, 3 KOs), whose awkward attack was difficult to decipher, entered the bout coming off upset victories over a pair of Conan’s Irish countrymen, TJ Doheny and Davey Oliver Joyce.

Conlan (15-0, 8 KOs), who is the WBO No. 1 junior featherweight contender, can now look toward a title shot shortly. Whether the title shot is next, or a couple bouts down the line, remains to be seen.

Conlan said, “Baluta is a tough character, tougher than I thought. And he showed it in his last two performances. He’s as game as they come. But he was missing tons of punches, so I wasn’t really worried. But when {the first scorecard read} was a draw, I was like, ‘What’s going on here?’
 
“It was a good fight, good preparation for what’s to come.
 
“I’ll stay active. I’ll fight in August anyway, and I’ll get straight back in the gym.”

In the main event, there was an upset, as Sunny Edwards defeated Moruti Mthalane by unanimous decision (118-111, 120-108 and 115-113) to win the IBF flyweight world title. Mthalane (39-3, 26 KOs) had been unbeaten since 2008, while Edwards (16-0, 4 KOs) proved up to the task in his first world title outing.

Photo: Queensberry Promotions

Parker: ‘I’ve been a World Champion before, and I want to be World champion again’

Joseph Parker hopes that a win over Derek Chisora at the AO Arena, Manchester this Saturday May 1, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN in all markets excluding the UK, Ireland, China, New Zealand and Samoa, will kickstart his route back to the top of the Heavyweight division.

Former WBO World Champion Parker (28-2, 21 KOs) is fresh off a hard-fought 12-round decision over long-time amateur nemesis Junior Fa at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand that settled an 11-year old rivalry with his compatriot.

Ranked at No.3 with the WBO, Parker recently teamed up with former Middleweight World Champion Andy Lee, and the 29-year-old knows an impressive stoppage of the teak-tough Chisora would propel him closer to his ambition of becoming a two-time World Champion.

“I’m very prepared for this fight, I’ve had a great training camp with Andy in Ireland, then we moved over to Morecambe and got some great sparring under our belt, great pad work, bag, everything,” said Parker. “I feel like with this fight, physically and mentally, I’m in a great place – probably the best I’ve been in a while.

“You will see some good changes. I’ll be sharper, with better movement and better footwork. I’ll be focused for the whole fight. If I execute the game-plan that Andy has put in place, it should be a good night for Team Parker. I expect Derek to be Derek – to apply pressure from the beginning, throwing punches and bombs.

“Two totally different styles, Junior Fa’s style was move and hug, punch every now and then. With Derek it’s no secret, he’s going to come forward and apply the pressure, throw punches everywhere. My hands are going to have to be up, down and all around.

“I’ve been a World Champion before, and I want to be World champion again. In order to achieve that goal I have to get Derek out of the way first. Then set up the other fights that are out there. We’ve done everything we can to prepare for whatever he brings.

“I think this is the perfect fight at the right time. We’re right there, get a good victory and there’s many other great fights out there to be made and to position yourself when the titles are free to fight for. This is a big card, not only the main event but the undercard fights are very exciting, I’m looking forward to Saturday.”

Chisora vs. Parker tops a huge night of action in Manchester, Irish star Katie Taylor (17-0, 6 KOs) defends her Undisputed Lightweight crown against former amateur rival Natasha Jonas (9-1-1, 7 KOs), undefeated WBA Light-Heavyweight World Champion Dmitry Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs) puts his Title on the line against Craig Richards (16-1-1, 9 KOs), Chris Eubank Jr (29-2, 22 KOs) returns against Marcus Morrison (23-3, 16 KOs), Belfast’s James Tennyson (28-3, 24 KOs) faces Mexico’s Jovanni Straffon (23-3-1, 16 KOs) for the IBO Lightweight World Title, Preston’s Scott Fitzgerald (14-0, 9 KOs) makes his long awaited return against Gregory Trenel (13-6-2, 3 KOs) and Lightweight prospect Campbell Hatton (1-0) fights in his home city for the first time as a pro against Levi Dunn (0-4).

Photo: Matchroom Boxing

Eubank Jr. on Golovikin: ‘I really and truly believe I would stop him’

Chris Eubank Jr has his sights firmly set on IBF Middleweight World Champion Gennady Golovkin and believes 2021 could be the year that he finally gets to lock horns with the big-punching pound-for-pound star from Kazakhstan.

The Brighton powerhouse returns to fight in the UK for the first time in over two years this Saturday May 1 when he takes on British rival Marcus Morrison at the AO Arena, Manchester, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and on DAZN in all markets excluding the UK, Ireland, China, New Zealand and Samoa.

Having previously campaigned at Super-Middleweight, Eubank Jr (29-2, 22 KOs) returned to the Middleweight division to claim the WBA Interim Middleweight World Title for the second time with a TKO win over former World Title challenger Matvey Korobov in December 2019, while making his US debut at the Barclays Centre in New York.

Eubank Jr was in talks to fight Golovkin in 2016 but the opportunity instead went to Sheffield’s Kell Brook. The only blemishes on Golovkin’s fearsome record is a draw and a defeat in two fights with Canelo Alvarez, but Eubank Jr is confident he could become the first man to stop ‘GGG’.

“Getting past Marcus Morrison sets me up for some big fights in the summer and winter of this year,” said Eubank Jr. “There’s a lot of interesting fights out there and a lot of big names in the Middleweight division, a lot of World Champions that fans want to see me go up against.

“There’s even fighters that aren’t World Champions that could happen for me. You’ve got Kell Brook talking it up a lot and I know Eddie Hearn wants to make that fight, so that’s something that could possibly happen in the summer.

“The end goal is to get Golovkin. The other World Champions in the Middleweight division, Ryota Murata is definitely up on my list. He has the full WBA World Title, I’m the Interim World Champion right now. There are some big names out there and some big fights.

“I’ve wanted to fight Golovkin for years. I believe this is the year that I’m going to get him. I’m coming for all of the belts. That’s what I’m in the sport to do. It’s not that I have to look good in this fight to get to that stage. You’ve got to look good in every fight, and I do look good in every fight.

“I really and truly believe I would stop him. My engine and his fight style? He doesn’t back down and goes to war regardless. An immovable force against an unstoppable object. When two warriors collide who put it all on the line, it would be an amazing fight. I don’t believe he could out-punch or out-perform me.

“Win or lose I put it all on the line. That’s why I have a lot of fans. I don’t coast, I don’t quit, and I don’t give up. I don’t slack, I’m on it 100% of the time. This is my life, and once I get past Marcus Morrison the World Champions are in some serious trouble.”

This weekend’s clash with Morrison will be Eubank Jr’s first fight since linking up with boxing legend Roy Jones Jr, who was once a rival of his father’s, and the 31-year-old believes Jones Jr will be a valuable addition to his team as he targets World Titles

“COVID messed up a lot of plans for my career in 2020. I went away and I used that time to the best I could and that was training with Roy Jones Jr. Learning from him, as much as I could, perfecting the craft. Learning the teachings of Roy and trying to implement them as much as I could through sparring and training. I feel like I’m a better fighter for it.

“I’ve looked up to Roy since I was a kid. He was one of my favourite fighters. To actually be able to spend the amount of time that I have with him and pick his brains and hear everything he has to say on the sport and how I should approach it has been a dream come true.”

Eubank Jr vs. Morrison is part of a huge night of action in Manchester, Derek Chisora (32-10, 23 KOs) and Joseph Parker (28-2, 21 KOs) collide in a crunch Heavyweight clash, Irish star Katie Taylor (17-0, 6 KOs) defends her Undisputed Lightweight crown against former amateur rival Natasha Jonas (9-1-1, 7 KOs), undefeated WBA Light-Heavyweight World Champion Dmitry Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs) puts his Title on the line against Craig Richards (16-1-1, 9 KOs), Belfast’s James Tennyson (28-3, 24 KOs) faces Mexico’s Jovanni Straffon (23-3-1, 16 KOs) for the IBO Lightweight World Title, Preston Super-Welterweight Scott Fitzgerald (14-0, 9 KOs) makes his long awaited return and Lightweight prospect Campbell Hatton (1-0) fights in his home city for the first time as a pro.

Photo: Matchroom Boxing

Granados-Sanchez, Negron-Alexander added to Ruiz-Arreola undercard

An action-packed lineup of undercard attractions will enter the ring as part of a stacked boxing extravaganza headlined by former unified heavyweight champion Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz Jr. taking on all-action Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola in the FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View main event this Saturday, May 1 from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

Portions of the undercard will be broadcast for free on the FOX Sports app and FOXsports.com starting at 4:40pm ET/1:40 p.m. PT. The undercard feed will also be made available to the PBC on FOX YouTube, Twitter and Facebook pages. Ray Flores and Félix DeJesús will be on the call.

Undercard attractions will feature hard-hitting Adrian “El Tigre” Granados in an eight-round welterweight bout against Jose Sanchez, Puerto Rican Olympian Carlos Negron taking on Scott Alexander in an eight-round heavyweight clash, rising prospect Fernando Molina facing Prisco Marquez in a lightweight fight and unbeaten prospect Anthony Garnica dueling Jesse Bazzi for four-rounds of featherweight action.

The FOX Sports Pay-Per-View begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. Preceding the pay-per-view, FOX PBC Fight Night will begin at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT and be headlined by WBA Super Welterweight Champion Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara seeking a third title in a second weight class when he takes on Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna for the WBA Middleweight Title.

Granados (21-8-2, 15 KOs) has battled a slew of accomplished super lightweights and welterweights over the course of his career including Shawn Porter, Adrien Broner, Danny Garcia and most recently Robert Easter Jr. in October 2019. The 31-year-old from Mexico City, Mexico owns an upset knockout victory over then-unbeaten Amir Imam and returned to the ring in February 2020 to stop Arturo Herrera in two rounds. He will be opposed by Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Sanchez (11-1, 4 KOs), who owns a nine-fight winning streak heading into this step up against the veteran Granados. The 28-year-old has fought professionally since 2012 and delivered three victories in 2019, including a fifth-round TKO of Joe Gomez.

A 2008 Olympian from Villalba, Puerto Rico, Negron (22-3, 18 KOs) fights out of Miami, Florida and enters this bout the winner of back-to-back contests. Negron stopped the previously unbeaten Robert Alfonso in March 2020, before most recently knocking out Rafael Rios in November 2020. He faces the 32-year-old Alexander (16-3-2, 8 KOs), who has also won back-to-back fights entering May 1. The Los Angeles-native Alexander has won four of his last five fights overall dating back to 2016.

The 18-year-old Molina (5-0, 3 KOs) first turned pro in August 2019, scoring stoppage victories in his first two fights, before a successful U.S. debut saw him defeat Jose Zaragoza by decision in November 2020. A native of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, Molina most recently stopped James De Herrera in the first-round in January of this year. He squares off against Marquez (4-2-1, 1 KO), who fights out of Liberal, Kansas and is entering the fight off of decision losses to then-unbeaten fighters Arnold Dinong and Christopher Zavala.

Representing his hometown of San Francisco, California, Garnica (5-0, 3 KOs) returns to the ring after his last bout saw him score a decision victory over Luis Alvarado in February 2020. The 20-year-old delivered knockouts in three of his first four fights after turning pro in October 2018. He takes on the 29-year-old Bazzi (1-1) from Dearborn, Michigan. Bazzi turned pro in 2021 with a win over Andre Marquez before dropping a March contest to Francisco Javier Martinez.

Triller Fight Club files $100 million lawsuit against illegal streamers

Triller Fight Club announced on Monday that they had filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court of Central California concerning piracy that they believed impacted their April 17 Triller Fight Club Pay Per View event that was held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

The lawsuit seeks $100 million in damages from the groups named.

Here is a statement from Triller Fight Club co-controlling shareholder Ryan Kavanaugh:

“It’s shocking to think a theft so grand can be done so blatantly and brazenly and with no remorse. There is zero difference between what they did and walking into a market stealing tons of a product and selling it at a discount in the parking lot. It’s neither civilly nor criminally any different, and we are prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law. There were more than two million illegal streams, akin to hundreds of millions of dollars. Sites, mostly using Google’s YouTube, such as FILMDAILY.COMACCESSTVPRO.CO, enONLINE2LIVESTREAM.US, CRACKSTREAMSLIVE.COM, SPORTS-TODAY.CLUB, MY-SPORTS.CLUB, BILASPORT.COM, TRENDY CLIPS, MIKE, YOUR EXTRA, ECLIPT GAMING, ITSLILBRANDON, and others are causing significant damage not just to Triller Fight Club but content creators overall.

“People put a lot of hard work, time and money into creating a product for the consumer, and having it stolen and resold is terribly damaging. The good news is they are not protected by VPN masking or other firewalls as their activities are criminal and grand theft, so we will ultimately find them and prevail not just for us but for content creators in general.”

Photo: Triller

Navarrete stops Diaz on Saturday night

WBO featherweight world champion Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete knows how to add an exclamation point. The Mexican star knocked down Puerto Rican contender Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz four times, closing the show in the 12th round of an action-packed battle Saturday evening at Silver Spurs Arena.

It was the first successful featherweight title defense for Navarrete (34-1, 29 KOs), who also reigned as WBO junior featherweight world champion. After the knockdown in the 12th, Diaz’s trainer, Nelson Rodriguez, threw in the towel.

Navarrete said, “I think we did put on a worthy performance (of Mexcio vs. Puerto Rico) because ‘Pitufo,’ I knew he was tough, I knew he was strong. And I knew he could hit hard, but he surpassed all my expectations. He brought out all the best in me and so I’ve got a lot of respect for Christopher ‘Pitufo’ Diaz.

“I was really impressed by ‘Pitufo’ because every time I hurt him, every time I dropped him, he came back stronger. He was a beast in there because he kept coming at me. He kept getting better even though I kept hurting him, and as the fight progressed, you’d expect him to get weaker but he kept getting stronger. I just couldn’t understand it. So I have the utmost respect for Christopher ‘Pitufo’ Diaz and what he did tonight.”

Diaz (26-3, 16 KOs) entered the fight having won two straight since a decision loss to Shakur Stevenson in a non-title bout. He landed 183 punches on Navarrete, but he was unable to seriously hurt the seasoned champion.

Diaz said, ” I’m very disappointed. I wanted to win. It’s a title shot. But next time. He’s a great fu—– fighter. He hit hard. We went to war. I made my best fight. I was in shape. Everything was good.

“I’m not a weak fighter. I always bring my heart with me. I came here to fight. I said I want to box but that guy, he’s a problem. We come here to fight, too. He caught me. My coach loves me like a son, and he stopped the fight.”

Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images

Berlanga on fans: ‘I know they wanted a first-round knockout’

Edgar Berlanga finally got out of the first round on Saturday night, and in fact, he went the distance on Saturday night.

The Puerto Rico star dropped Demond Nicholson(23-4, 20 KOs) four times and went on to win by unanimous decision at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida. Berlanga(17-0, 16 KOs), who had 16 consecutive first-round knockouts entering the night, was in complete control in this fight.

He knocked down Nicholson with a left hook in the second round, a right hand in the third round, a left hook in the fifth round, and a right hand just before the bell sounded to end the eighth.

“It’s kind of fu—- up I had to go to the judges with all the people here,” Berlanga said after the fight. “I know they wanted a first-round knockout, but I enjoyed getting the experience. 

“It was an awesome experience for me. I caught him with an amazing shot at 10 seconds of the last round. I wanted to get him out! But I didn’t, but I got the experience, especially in front of my Puerto Rican people. It was good.”

The 16-fight first-round knockout streak was remarkable, but if he wants to become a champion, Berlanga needs rounds, and he got that against a veteran in Nicholson on Saturday night. He does need to work on his stamina. It appeared that in the later rounds, he tired out, but, to his credit, Berlanga did finish strong. 

What’s next for the 23-year-old Berlanga? There was some talk on the ESPN telecast about a possible fight with Jesse Hart, another step-up fight for him, and a fight that will test Berlanga. He has the potential to be a big star, and if he can continue to get better and keep winning, he can be the next big thing in boxing, and right now, the Brooklyn native might be ready to headline a card at Madison Square Garden.

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images)

Berlanga: ‘You build the brand, you build the image, and that’s how you make more money’

Edgar Berlanga is making a name for himself inside and outside the ring. The 23-year-old Berlanga is 16-0 with 16 first-round knockouts, and that streak will be put to the test against Demond Nicholson(23-3, 20 KOs) in an eight-round showdown on Saturday night at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida.

Berlanga has a great relationship with rapper Fat Joe and is expected to be walked to ring by rapper Lil Wayne on Saturday night. However, despite the notoriety, boxing is still the number one priority for Berlanga.

“With winning, all of that comes. The fame, the money,” Berlanga said this week. “When you’re winning, and if you’re doing what I’m doing, all of that is going to come. So I don’t really pay mind to that. It’s cool to have that, to build a brand. You build the brand, you build the image, and that’s how you make more money. But at the end of the day, boxing is my number one priority. And you have to win at the end of the day.”

Despite the first-round knockout streak, Berlanga is preparing to go the full eight rounds against Nicholson.

“We push in training camp to go those rounds in sparring,” he said. “I make sure I’m ready to go 12 rounds, whether {the fight} is an eight-rounder or 10-rounder. And that’s the mindset you gotta have because there are killers out there. You have to train for that. When you’re on top and a target, everyone wants to take your head off, so you have to be 100 percent prepared. We’re in camp, and I push myself to the limit each and every time.”

The 28-year-old Nicholson is on a five-fight win streak. His last loss was in 2018 when he was stopped by Jesse Hart. However, according to Nicholson, he’s a different fighter in 2021. 

“I’m not mentally in the same place I was three years ago, financially and everything,” Nicholson said, “I was facing some hard demons that I’ve pushed away and pushed to the side, overcame, and now it’s time to work. It’s my time to shine.

“It’s going to be a boxing lesson. That’s all I can tell you.”

It should be interesting to see if Berlanga can keep the streak going. It will be a tall order against Nicholson. However, For Berlanga, it’s probably in his best interest to end the streak and get some rounds in.

In the main event on Saturday night, two-weight Mexican world champion Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete will make the first defense of his WBO featherweight world title against Puerto Rican challenger Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz.

Photo Credit: Mikey Williams (Top Rank via Getty Images)

Lara wants to be the best Cuban boxer ever

Cuban star and WBA Super Welterweight Champion Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara previewed his quest to become a three-time, two-division champion as he prepares to take on Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna for the WBA Middleweight Title headlining FOX PBC Fight Night and on FOX Deportes Saturday, May 1 from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

Lara vs. LaManna serves as the main event of a broadcast beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT preceding the FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View event headlined by former unified heavyweight world champion Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz Jr. battling all-action heavyweight Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola, which tops a stellar boxing extravaganza all taking place at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

Lara will make his 2021 debut after his last fight saw him defeat Greg Vendetti by unanimous decision on FOX in August, making it three-straight fights without a loss combined with his knockout victory over Ramon Alvarez in August 2019 and a split-draw in a 2019 action fight against current 154-pound champion Brian Castaño.

Prior to narrowly dropping 2018’s Fight of the Year to Jarrett Hurd, Lara was established as the longest-reigning 154-pound champion, owning six title defenses. Lara has faced a slew of top names in the division throughout the years, including Canelo Alvarez, Austin Trout, Alfredo Angulo, Paul Williams, Ishe Smith and Vanes Martirosyan, in addition to Hurd and Castaño.

Here is what Lara had to say about training camp, moving up to middleweight and more:

On this recent training camp:

“Training camp has been hard. I am working with my coach Ismael Salas, and things have just been very calculated and scientific. We got great sparring and I’m feeling young in my mind, body, and soul. I like the way the camp is being managed, and I expect to have a lot of success in this fight based on the preparation I have had in Las Vegas.”

On his matchup with LaManna:

“Thomas LaManna is really big and tall and brings a unique style to the ring. This is not an easy fight at all, and I know I will have to be my very best to come out victorious. He has never fought for a world title so I am fighting a person who is looking to accomplish his lifelong dream of becoming a world champion. I am fully prepared, focused, and I’m expecting a tough fight.”

On fighting for the vacant WBA middleweight title:

“I’m looking to become a two division and three-time world champion. I take great pride in being a fighter that puts everything on the line. I want to face any-and-all challengers, and this will continue May 1. My goal is to be an all-time great and a legend in the sport. I’m moving up in weight to become a world champion and show the world I’m ready for new challenges.”

On what a win will do for his career:

“A victory against LaManna will put me in position to challenge the other champions at middleweight. I am looking at unification bouts, I want the biggest bouts possible, but I must win this fight first. There are a lot of meaningful fights at middleweight, and I want them all. I want to be a Hall-of-Famer and go down as one of the best Cuban boxers to ever do it. For my legacy to be thought of that way, I have to fight the best.”

Photo: Team Lara

Andrade: ‘I am undefeated; I shouldn’t have to inspire anyone to get in the ring with me for a belt’

Demetrius Andrade wants his fellow champions to step-up after he defended his WBO World Middleweight crown on points against the spirited challenge of Liam Williams on Saturday night, live worldwide on DAZN.

Andrade made it an unblemished 30 wins from 30 in the paid ranks against the Welshman, getting the win 118-109 twice and 116-111 on the scorecards, and the 33 year old and his promoter Eddie Hearn said it’s time for fellow champions Jermall Charlo (WBC), Gennadiy Golovkin (IBF) and Ryota Murata (WBA) to make unification fights.

“At the end of the day I am a champion,” said Andrade. “I am undefeated; I shouldn’t have to inspire anyone to get in the ring with me for a belt, an undefeated record and a whole lot of money on the table.

“Whenever we can sit down and make something happen, I’m willing to risk it all. I am ready to show that I am the best and to do that, I want to step in with those champions and they have to do the same thing as well.

“I have to go back and watch the fight but listen, Liam is a hell of a fighter, tough, strong, comes to fight and that’s type of fight that people want to see me in. I showed out, I performed the way I needed to do to get the W, and my hat goes off to Liam all day.

“I already know he was tough but getting back up in the second round and showing me he wanted more, it wasn’t a surprise, he’s a dog. He came here to win; he didn’t lay down. I got hit with some hard shots too, we showed me are tough guys that can take shots and give shots and that’s what we did.”

“It was a great fight, massive props firstly to Liam Williams,” said Hearn. “Demetrius has done his job, it’s not his responsibility to convince other champions to fight him. Champions are supposed to fight champions.

“Charlo vs. Andrade is a massive fight, why don’t the champions want to fight Demetrius? He was hurt tonight, he was tired tonight, he can’t make 160lbs forever. If I am GGG or Charlo, I am looking at him and thinking ‘I can beat him’, so why not step-up?”

“Demetrius is a very good fighter, better than I thought,” said Williams. “More slippery than he appears on TV. I couldn’t really get going and get my combinations off because I’d hit him once, and I feel I hurt him a couple of times, but then he would be gone, and I couldn’t capitalize on it.

“I know I am tough, everyone does, and I can take a shot. When I went down, I took a clean shot and taken the best he’s got. He didn’t keep me down, so I had nothing to fear. I don’t feel I am going to take a step back; I am going to stay at world level. Demetrius is the best in the world other than Canelo, I have to give him credit, I gave him some stick in the build-up, but I have nothing but respect for him, he’s quality.”

A textbook one-two down the pipe put Williams on the canvas late in the second round, the exclamation mark on a strong opening for the champion who started like a train. Williams beat the count and weathered a storm, and began to work his way into the fight, having successes of his own towards the halfway point, but Andrade began to land his uppercut in the sixth, a signature shot throughout the bout.

Into the ninth round, Williams had his best moment as he appeared to buzz Andrade but the champion was elusive and the Welshman was unable to capitalize. The Rhode Island star was able to reassert his authority and stretch his lead in the championship rounds and retain his title.

Photo: Matchroom Boxing