by Geoffrey Ciani – Saturday night was the last big night of boxing in 2009. Vitali Klitschko, Timothy Bradley, Vic Darchinyan, and Paulie Malignaggi were all victorious. It was a decent night of boxing overall with an early stoppage, a couple of lopsided decisions, revenge, and a comeback victory for a highly touted prospect.
Vitali Klitschko UD Kevin Johnson
The big day of fighting started off in Berne, Switzerland where Vitali Klitschko successfully defended his WBC heavyweight crown against undefeated American prospect Kevin Johnson.. Klitschko won by scores of 120-108, 120-108, and 119-109. It was a one sided affair. The American challenger was a huge disappointment as he was virtually in survival mode from the opening bell. Never making an effort to mount a serious offensive attack, Johnson was content backing into the ropes where he remained in a defensive posture as Klitschko peppered him with punches. Johnson’s lack of effort made for a dull fight. The shame of it is that he fought well in spots when using his jab, but he never followed it up with anything meaningful. Johnson was simply unwilling to take any risks.0
For Klitschko, this capped off a good year which saw three successful WBC title defenses. Not too shabby for a 38 year old who, after a four year retirement, has gone a perfect 4-0 since returning to the ring last October when he won back his WBC strap from Sam Peter. It is unclear how much Klitschko has left in the tank, but the fact remains—in his last four fights he has not lost too many rounds. He obviously still has skills. The big question is, how much longer can his body hold up?
Timothy Bradley UD Lamont Peterson
The highly anticipated match-up between undefeated junior welterweights saw WBO champion Timothy Bradley thoroughly outclassed challenger Lamont Peterson. In the early going, Bradley could not miss with his right hand and Peterson had trouble adjusting. A looping right from Bradley dropped Peterson in the third. This seemed to motivate the young challenger, and for the next few rounds, the fight turned into a phone booth slugfest where the fighters exchanged clubbing shots at close quarters. Ironically, the taller fighter fared better on the inside while the champion dominated the action on the outside. By the sixth round, Bradley started using the ring and boxing more effectively from the outside. He more or less coasted from there. The judges scored the fight 118-110, 119-108, and 120-107, all in favor of the champion.
It was a great year for Bradley. He successfully defended his WBO title three times, including a fight that was ultimately reversed from a win to a no contest against Nate Campbell. The 26 year old pugilist seems to be improving with each and every fight. He has fast hands, tremendous stamina, and an outstanding ability to throw punches in bunches. He is also has pretty good defense and appears to have a solid beard. There will be a lot of options for Bradley coming up in the talent rich 140 pound weight class. If he keeps winning and keeps looking good, it is only a matter of time before he finds himself in some kind of super fight.
Vic Darchinyan KO2 Tomas Rojas
Vic Darchinyan bounced back from his loss against Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko with a second round knockout against Tomas Rojas. Rojas started off well in the first round by simply boxing. Darchinyan stole the round when he initiated an exchange that enabled him to start landing power shots. In the second, Rojas regained control and was seemingly on his way to winning the round. As the round neared its conclusion, however, Darchinyan caught Rojas with a clubbing left hand. He immediately followed this up with another left that caught Rojas right at the bottom of the chin. Rojas went down and was never even close to beating the ten count.
It was a nice victory for Darchinyan, but despite the impressive knockout, he looked sloppy. He was a much more complete fighter in his victories against Dmitry Kirillov, Cristian Mijares, and Jorge Arce. During that winning streak, Darchinyan was using his jab to set up his power punches. The results were positive. When he utilizes his jab it creates openings and improves his chances. He began getting away from this habit in his loss to Agbeko. After the victory, Darchinyan made his intentions clear—he wants to avenge his losses to Agbeko and Nonito Donaire. If he expects to be successful against either man, he will need to go back and start doing the things he was doing before the Agbeko fight—he needs to rediscover his jab.
Pauli Malignaggi UD Juan Diaz
Paul “Magic Man” Malignaggi was able to avenge his controversial loss earlier this year against Juan Diaz. Malignaggi dominated the early action by jabbing and using the ring. Diaz was never able to apply consistent pressure the way he had during their first encounter. When Diaz was able to start closing the distance, which was often the result of Malignaggi losing focus and abandoning his game plan, the fight became more competitive. When Malignaggi decided to resume boxing, however, he regained control of the action. All three judges scored the fight 116-111 in Malignaggi’s favor, and rightly so. It is worth noting that a questionable knockdown in the tenth potentially caused a three point swing in the scoring, as Diaz appeared to be winning that round before the questionable ruling by referee Genaro Rodriguez.
Malignaggi is now back in the mix in the 140 pound weight class. It is unclear where he goes from here, but one possibility would be a showdown with WBA champion Amir Khan. This fight makes a lot of sense for both fighters as Khan is looking to have his first fight across the pond.
Victor Ortiz TKO7 Antonio Diaz
Victor Ortiz received a lot of criticism following his loss against Marcos Maidana. This was a very tough scrap where both fighters were dropped multiple times. Not only was Ortiz criticized for choosing not continue, he was additionally criticized for his post-fight interview where many observers noted a lack of heart and desire on his part. Ortiz bounced back with a seventh round stoppage against Antonio Diaz, but he did not look especially good. He seemed less explosive and less willing to engage. On one hand, he fought smarter than he had against Maidana but on the flipside, he seemed unwilling to take chances and almost appeared afraid of getting hit. This is understandable following the beating he suffered against Maidana, but it does very little to tell us whether he has overcome the psychological impact of said beating. Perhaps 2010 will give us a better idea of what Victor Ortiz is made of.
This article was also published at East Side Boxing