by Cliff Rold

It’s not often a near shutout also gives the fans a great show, answers character questions about the winner, and leaves one with even more respect for the defeated.

Most shutouts are the sort of one-sided that ends up a little dull. While all out war never broke out on Saturday night, both WBC 130 lb. titlist Miguel Berchelt and Takashi Miura both had to be feeling it on Sunday morning.

Berchelt won by wide, and earned, margins. He didn’t just earn it by winning more rounds. He won it by enduring a spirited effort and plenty of whaling body shots. He won it by not allowing the tide to turn when it looked like Miura might have found something late. 

Let’s go the report card.


Pre-Fight: Speed – Berchelt B; Miura B/Post: B; B-

Pre-Fight: Power – Berchelt B+; Miura B/Post: Same

Pre-Fight: Defense – Berchelt C+; Miura C/Post: B; C

Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Berchelt B+; Miura B+/Post: A; B+

The key to victory for Berchelt was his willingness not to be lured into a war for most of the night. He didn’t have to. His jab is excellent and he makes effective use of the ring with his feet. For the first half of the fight, it was hard to find more than a round to give Miura. Berchelt picked his spots, stayed active, and connected big. His knockdown in the first set a pace for the night and Miura was stuck trying to catch up.

Miura’s commitment to the body kept him in the fight and made it very competitive in the second half. Berchelt is a hard puncher and he endured some fantastic shots. Berchelt occasionally appeared almost exasperated at what the Japanese challenger would take. Late in the fight, it almost looked like Berchelt would run out of steam.

Miura appeared to have a chance at a late miracle and then the last two rounds elevated Berchelt. The young titlist dug in and pushed back hard, summoning a championship effort and a second wind to maintain and extend the control he’d had most of the night.

There were exchanges of body shots between both men that could make anyone in the audience wince. The headshots were hard enough but the body work looked like a recipe for suffering. It said a lot about the heart and fire of both men that neither wilted. We didn’t get a classic but that was a hard fought prizefight and both men deserved a round of applause.

For Miura, one wonders how many of these he has left. He’s 33 and aging fast. He had several wars in Japan before US fans saw these battles with Francisco Vargas, Miguel Roman, and now Berchelt. Given the wave of young, violent talent at Jr. lightweight right now, he may have seen the end of his chances for another title.

Berchelt has the world in front of him. He can make good fights with just about anyone and would be even money with any titlist in the class aside from Vasyl Lomachenko. There are still elements of his game he could work on. He sometimes pushes the right hand and brings it back sloppy; it begs for a counter. He also has a bad habit of pulling back with his chin up begging for the same.

Those aren’t traits that work against him as an entertainer. Berchelt has had two dominant performances this year but looked vulnerable enough in both to keep the suspense high. Will he continue to improve? Fights like his own against Vargas and now Miura won’t hurt in that regard. How high he can rise at Jr. lightweight remains to be determined but it’s going to be fun to find out.    

Report Card Picks 2017: 24-11 (Including five additional Notes picks last weekend)

Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at