By David P. Greisman
Madison Square Garden, New York City - Brandon Rios is leaving the lightweight division without his world title, but at least he left it with a victory.
Rios, who dropped his World Boxing Association belt after failing to make 135 pounds on Friday, defeated John Murray by 11th-round technical knockout.
The referee stopped the bout 2 minutes and 6 seconds into the round.
Murray stood in with Rios for the first half of the fight, going forehead to forehead and flurry for flurry with him. Murray, however, does not have the power that Rios does. And Rios, while weakened from attempting to make weight, still had enough power left to bring blood from Murray’s nose and break him down.
Rios took over in the second half of the bout, digging into Murray’s body and lowering Murray’s activity level and what snap he had on his punches and, hence, his resistance. Murray still stood in with Rios, but he couldn’t keep up with him. Rios kicked into a higher gear, walking through Murray’s shots,
The referee took a point from Murray in the seventh round for a low blow. That wouldn’t matter.
Rios threw uppercuts in trios and body shots in tandems, and when the time came to finish Murray off, the punches came until they closed the show. With a minute to go in the 11th, Rios pummeled Murray with left uppercuts and chopping rights.
He landed 371 of 1002 punches, according to CompuBox, compared to 298 of 921 for Murray. Murray threw slightly more power shots, landing 272 of 707. Rios landed more, however, going 297 of 668, and his heavier punches made a difference not shown in any statistic except for “TKO11.”
Rios, 25, of Oxnard, Calif., is now 29-0-1 (21 knockouts) and likely en route to the junior-welterweight division. Murray, 26, of Manchester in the United Kingdom, is now 31-2 with 18 knockouts.
The second fight between Delvin Rodriguez and Pawel Wolak was fought in as close quarters as their first thrilling war. But the final result this time wouldn’t be as close.
Four and a half months after they fought to a draw, Rodriguez defeated Wolak by a wide unanimous decision, with one judge finding it 98-91, another giving it to him by a 98-92 margin, and a third ruling it a shutout, 100-90.
The rematch would not start off as “Round 11,” picking up where they’d left off. Rodriguez tried to stick and move, unaware of how long it would work but attempting the strategy nevertheless. Wolak still sought to maul Rodriguez — it is the only way he knows, and to him it is the only way he needs.
Rodriguez had certain combinations in mind, in particular a right uppercut or right cross to be followed by a left hook. He also would use his left hand to shove Wolak away and try to create more room. Wolak threw uppercuts himself and dedicated much of his artillery to body punches. The more he went to Rodriguez’s core, the less able he would be to move away.
Inevitably, the fight ended up in close quarters, Wolak going to the body but rarely able to land cleanly with the right hand. Rodriguez was hunched over, making it easier to duck but leaving him more vulnerable to uppercuts.
Wolak, of course, was also open to uppercuts throughout the night. It is his style and his sacrifice. Rodriguez wanted angles to hurt Wolak, whether it was the upward course of his left hand between Wolak’s gloves or the right crosses that could come when he moved to the side, whether it was the right crosses looping around Wolak’s guard or the left hooks that by definition did the same.
Rodriguez would have to continue to work to keep Wolak from breaking through as he did in the first fight. Wolak would continue to work to break him down.
Wolak momentarily appeared to have done so halfway through the seventh, when Rodriguez suddenly turned and moved away at a much farther distance than the fighters had previously been. Rodriguez recovered, however, landing more right uppercuts and left hooks and taking the eighth round.
And then, after a slower ninth, the two warriors gave a 10th that brought fans to their feet.
Wolak’s right eye, which had swollen to cartoonish proportions in the first fight, was again swelling, albeit comparatively less so. Rodriguez sought to take advantage and ensure that the scorecards, should they be close, would come out in his favor this time.
The barrage of hooks, uppercuts and crosses that would follow would see Rodriguez throwing 101 power shots over three minutes, landing an astonishing 65 of them — and Wolak remaining standing through all of this.
The rematch wasn’t the war that the first fight was, but it was another battle of attrition. This time Rodriguez would hold on strong for the entire stretch and would come out with the hard-fought, well-deserved win. He landed 257 of 734 punches, according to CompuBox. Wolak, meanwhile, was less effective, credited with landing 167 of 742.
Rodriguez, 31, of Danbury, Conn., improves to 26-5-3 (14 knockouts). Wolak, 29, of Mt. Arlington, N.J., falls to 29-2-1 (19 knockouts).
MIKE JONES VS. SEBASTIAN LUJAN
It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t exciting. And it was awkward. But it was a unanimous decision victory for Mike Jones over Sebastian Lujan.
Jones, who remains undefeated at 26-0 with 19 knockouts, has long had his name mentioned as a prospect possibly worth watching in the welterweight division. Yet he’s not had the breakout performance that would show he truly deserves to have his name alongside the other titleholders and contenders at 147.
This fight wouldn’t do it either.
Lujan is a come-forward fighter, which should’ve meant that he would be there for Jones to hit. But his aggression is of the awkward, herky-jerky variety, making him more difficult to hit cleanly. And despite Jones’ record, he doesn’t carry much power against the upper tiers of opponents.
A left hook from Jones did send Lujan backing up in the second. For the most of the bout, though, he bobbed and weaved and jabbed and threw looping punches. In-between his activity came flurries from Jones and a dedicated body attack.
Jones’ punches landed more often and more crisply. CompuBox counted him as connecting with 292 of 1,091 shots. Lujan, meanwhile, was 174 of 934.
They threw more than 2,000 punches combined, yet it wasn’t an action fight.
What it was, was a wide win for Jones. The judges scored it 119-109 (twice) and 118-110.
Jones, 28, of Philadelphia, is now 26-0 (18 knockouts). Lujan, 31, of Rosario, Argentina, is now 38-6-2 (24 knockouts).