By Alexey Sukachev
Manchester Arena, Manchester - It looked to be an easy night for Martin Murray in his WBA interim middleweight title contest with dangerous puncher - but totally unproven - Venezuelan fighter Jorge Navarro, who somehow he was ranked #7 by the World Boxing Association. And it was. However, Murray, 30, let his opponent last until the sixth round despite the fact Navarro was knocked down hard at the conclusion of the first. WBO #1 and WBC/WBA #3 middleweight Murray is now 25-0-1, with 11 KOs. Navarro, 27, slips down to 12-1, with 10 KOs.
The fight was mostly in Murray's favor. Navarro was the aggressor, who moved forwards to no use and took a lot of punishment in retaliation. Murray, a smoother boxer and a better technician, easily controlled all the risks. He put Navarro down late in the first with a counter right cross. In rounds two, three and four the Venezuelan continued to press the action but Murray avoided any trouble by maintaining a high guard and covering his body well from Navarro's easily-seen assaults.
Navarro did a bit better in the fifth with Murray being way too passive and too defensive. But that was only a trick to let the Venezuelan come forward with more recklessness. In the sixth, Murray stepped up and started to land his right hand with conviction. Soon the Venezuelan was knocked down again - and once again thanks to Murray's right hand. He got up but Murray quickly trapped him in the corner. Two more flush rights landed before the Navarro's corner threw in a towel making referee Guiseppe Quartarone wave the bout off at 1:40 of the sixth.
European light middleweight champion Sergey Rabchenko had his hands full with Frenchman Cedric Vitu (35-2, 15 KOs) in the off-TV twelve-round title collision. The native of Belarus retained his EBU 154lb belt and added the WBC Silver crown to his collection with a hard-fought split decision.
The Belarussian pressed forward throughout and used various stances at times, but found Vitu a very tough nut to crack. It was a case of having to grit his teeth, take Vitu's wide looping shots, and then look to land some of his own. WBC #5, WBA #7 and IBF #13 Rabchenko had been blasting out opponents, including former three-time world title challenger Ryan Rhodes, but soon found that the Frenchman had a sturdy chin and tremendous heart for the battle.
The champion, now 22-0, with 16 KOs, landed his best shot of the first half of the fight in round four when he placed a major left hook to the jaw of Vitu. However, before the session had ended, Vitu had responded with an equally impressive assault. Down the stretch, both boxers toiled away, with Rabchenko being the one pushing things on the front foot.
Judges' scorecards were: 116-113 (twice) - for Rabchenko, and 114-115 - for Vitu. It was emphatically proved that Rabchenko has some things to learn in the gym before challenging opponents of the world caliber.
And revenge was really sweet... WBA #2 super bantamweight Scott Quigg (25-0-1, 18 KOs) proved his natural talent and all of the kinds words, which had been said about him in the past, by humiliating capable veteran Rendall Munroe (24-3-1, 10 KOs) and stopping him at 2:37 of the sixth round to become a new WBA interim champion of the world. The regular champion is a former amateur superstar Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba, but another British rising star Carl Frampton (15-0, 10 KOs) can be next for the newly crowned champion.
The fight was a rematch of the June technical draw. which has been induced by an accidental cut on Munroe from a clash of heads. That bout had been going into Munroe's favor at the time of stoppage. This time, WBA #4 Munroe, 32, picked from where he had left off. The veteran fighter pummeled his 24-year old opponent with well-placed left hooks in the first round. However, in the second stanza Quigg re-adjusted his style to that of southpaw Munroe. Big left hooks to the liver became a major weapon for a younger fighter. Quigg was better in rounds two and three, and Munroe used his jab and smart uppercuts to bother Quigg in the fourth.
The fifth was mostly in Quigg's favor. Scott mixed hard body blows with short stiff jabs, which kept Munroe at bay. Quigg was cautious at the same time, using his speed and reflexes to go in and then out of Munroe's range of fire. Rendall's speed wasn't enough to give fits to Quigg.
The end came in the sixth, when Scott started to land crisp body punches with visibly bad intentions. Munroe sustained a number of them previously, but his body started to break down under fire. Midst into the sixth, Quigg landed a hard left to the liver, and Munroe took a knee in pain. He beat the count but was soon back in trouble. Another punch - a right uppercut to the solar plexus - got the job done for Scott Quigg. Munroe took a knee, was counted to nine and was deemed to be in no position to continue by referee Terry O'Connor.
Gary Buckland (27-2, 9KOs) retained his title with an eight round stoppage over Stephen Foster (30-4-1, 18KOs) to retain the British super featherweight title.
Buckland, 26, overwhelmed Foster, six years his elder, with his tremendous workrate and pressure. The Welshman, who is ranked #14 by the WBA, fired punches from very different angles using uppercuts, body punches and head shots, mixing them in various proportions but always - in mind-boggling quantities.
Foster opposed the champion with his precision and punching power but his workrate was deceiving, and it didn't get better down the road. However, the challenger, who had narrowly lost the first three stanzas, came back strong in the fourth with stinging left hooks, which landed cleanly onto Buckland's whiskers.
Round five was closely contested between both combatants but that was possibly the last of Foster's successful activities. Buckland came back really strong in the sixth; and Foster also suffered a cut on his forehead after an accidental headbutt. Blood continued to pour freely in the next couple of rounds. Meanwhile, Buckland increased his punch output even more, mauling Foster's body and punishing him even through the guard. Foster was wilting under Buckland's power in the eighth, and then Foster's corner put a halt to the fight immediately before the start of the ninth.