By Alexey Sukachev
Scottish Exhibition Centre, Glasgow, Scotland - Raymundo Beltran (28-6-1, 17KOs) appeared to win the biggest fight of his life, but somehow the three official judges saw it a twelve round split draw with Ricky Burns (36-2-1, 11KOs), who retained his WBO lightweight title. The scores were 115-112 for Burns, 115-113 for Beltran, and 114-114 for the draw. The British broadcast crew for Sky Sports had all scored the fight for Beltran.
BoxingScene.com had it 116-111 for Beltran.
Unlike his latest defense against Jose Gonzalez, Burns, 30, started this one pretty fast. Being light on his toes, he was able to outbox Beltran in the opening stanza. However, the Mexican wasted little time in getting right back on track in the second round, which was close enough but mostly in Beltran's favor. Beltran used his bodysnatching ability to improve his game considerably in the third round. Fending off Burns to prevent clinches and avoiding his sticky jab, Beltran pinned Burns to the ropes numerous times and landed hard, damaging body shots there. Burns looked to save himself in clinches as much as possible. He fought back in spurts, but those spurts barely matched up Beltran's success.
It also seemed that Burns had his jaw shattered early on, which was later confirmed in a post-fight quickie. Meanwhile, "Sugar" Beltran from Phoenix, Arizona, by way of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, turned on some old-school tricks and took rounds four and five as well. He just sit on his punches, waited just enough for Burns to miss and countered him, making it look so easy.
Burns mounted a comeback in the sixth round, using fast one-two combinations on his way out to prevent Beltran from capturing him. He did even better in the seventh, but it looked like Beltran took his feet from the gas pedal to save some much needed energy. He did save it. Early into the eighth he jumped in with a left hook to the body, followed by a left hook to the jaw, that sent Burns down. The defending champion beat the count and fought back valiantly but lost the round with a good margin.
Round nine was close, and could have been scored for either fighter. From that point on, however, the game was all Beltran's. Burns, on the other hand, suffered from a broken jaw and clinched every time he was cornered or put to the ropes. Controversial referee Phil Edwards did his part of the job too, failing to deduct any points from the champion for constant grabbing and holding.
It's to be noted that Burns ended the fight on a high note, giving all he had in the closing rounds. Still, the feeling was he didn't do enough to save his championship. Yet, the scores stunned everyone once again. Burns made the fourth defense of his lightweight regalia. Beltran is going back to the States, standing out as a real winner, albeit without a belt.
"Veni, Vidi, Vici", was on David Graf's mind, when he entered a rare British-German boxing encounter on a British soil. Unlike the legendary Roman, however, Graf's failed to act accordingly, losing a spirited ten-round unanimous decision to then-undefeated local cruiserweight Stephen Simmons (now 9-0, 5 KOs). Official scores were: 99-91 (Ian John-Lewis), 98-92 (Juergen Langos) and 97-92 (Daniel Van De Viele) - all for 29-year old Scottish fighter. Graf loses for the first time in his career and is now 10-1, 7 KOs.
The German fighter started it well, using his legs to outhustle the slower Scottsman and to score on occasion with a counter right hand. Simmons got much better in the second, wobbling Graf with hard left hooks but the German withstood the pressure. Graf tried to give fits to the Scottish battler in the third, which was quite an even stanza. But Simmons rallied big in the fourth, forcing Graf to move backwards and to take some punishment at the ropes. Graf spitted out his mouthpiece for the first time in that round. Simmons was also credited with a dubious knockdown late in the fourth, which looked more like a slip by Graf.
The German did much better in the fifth, battling back with zeal. He was also able to set a deep, bleeding cut over Simmons' left eye. However, the German import looked completely exhausted during the subsequent break. Graf looked completely gassed in the sixth round as well, dropping his mouthpiece again to save crucial seconds and being warned sternly by referee Victor Loughlin for doing that. Surprisingly, he was able to mount an amazing comeback in the next couple of rounds, while Simmons started to feel fatigue as well. He still marched forward but it was Graf who landed bigger, sounder punches.
The fight was pretty close at the start of the championship rounds. And it was where Simmons showed his grit and character, finding something to get the edge against a tough opponent. With a bloody face he took the ninth and hurt Graf with a hard left hand to the solar plexus to solidify his win in the tenth and final round. BoxingScene had it 96-93 - for Stephen Simmons. Simmons is now the WBC International Silver Cruiserweight champion.
Scott Cardle (12-0, 2 KOs), the BBOfC Central Area lightweight titleholder, made another decent step up in class at the domestic level by outscoring rugged, heavily tattoed Gary Fox (11-2, 2 KOs) over eight rounds of action. Cardle, 23, boxed cleverly to avoid Fox's wild rushes early on, then used his jab and body punches to slow his foe down. Cardle danced on his toes, twisting his older opponent time and again and frustrating him. Gary, 27, was hurt in the fifth and then in the seventh rounds. He tried hard to save his game but it wasn't enough for a better operator in Cardle. The final sole score was 79-73 - for the undefeated prospect.
Scottish super featherweight Paul Appleby (19-4, 11 KOs), 26, came back after more than a year off, and scored a decision over Lee Connelly (5-2). The sole score was 59-56 - for Appleby.
Callum "Mundo" Smith, the youngest of fighting Smith's brothers, got his fifth consecutive first-round TKO, dissecting usually durable Lithuanian import Kirill Psonko (10-27-2, 6 KOs) in just 150 seconds. Smith, 23, dropped Psonko with a very hard body shot at the end of the second minute of the first round. Psonko got up only to be dropped again in several seconds by another barrage of the powerful Liverpudlian. As he rose on his feet shaking his head in a visible refusal, referee Victor Loughlin has waved the fight off. Smith is no 7-0, with 5 KOs, and looks impressive.