-- A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at Dusseldorf, Germany
Tyson Fury W12 Wladimir Klitschko
Wins world heavyweight title
Scores: 116-111, 115-112 (twice)
Records: Fury (25-0, 18 KOs); Klitschko (64-4, 54 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: For more than a decade, Klitschko, who made his name as the 1996 super heavyweight Olympic gold medalist, was the dominant force in the heavyweight division, rolling past one top contender after another. He hadn't lost for 11½ years. He won 22 fights in a row. He successfully defended the title 18 times during his second reign, the third-most in heavyweight history behind Joe Louis (25, best of all time for any weight class) and Larry Holmes (20). And Klitschko held the title for nine years, seven months, seven days, the second-longest tenure in history behind Louis, whose reign lasted a remarkable 11 years, eight months, eight days. And when he stepped into the ring to make a mandatory defense against England's Fury, Klitschko appeared in his 28th world heavyweight title fight, breaking the division record he shared with Louis.
The 6-foot-6, 246-pound Klitschko, untouchable for years since rebuilding his career after three knockout losses, was a huge favorite against Fury, who is 6-9 (if you believe him, because he looked only slightly taller than Klitschko) and 246 pounds. And then the fight began and it was quickly evident that this was not going to be Klitschko's night.
At 39, Klitschko looked every bit his age against the 27-year-old Fury, who was moving well and keeping Klitschko off balance. Fury backed up all of his wild talk by taking Klitschko completely out of his game. But it is not as though Fury seized the world title. He didn't look good either. This was a fight in which one guy looked bad (Fury) and one guy looked way worse (Klitschko), so Fury was the rightful winner and it was nice to see quality scorecards turned in by the three judges on Klitschko's turf in Germany, where he is a major star.
But it was as dreadful a fight as one could imagine, with virtually no action, no clean punching and very little of anything. The CompuBox punch statistics were abysmal for both fighters, especially Klitschko. He landed only 52 of 231 punches (23 percent). Fifty-two punches in a 12-round fight? That is as bad as it gets, especially for a fighter with such a diverse offensive arsenal and great power in both hands. But Klitschko just could not pull the trigger.
Make no mistake though -- Fury was not a whole lot better, connecting on 86 of 371 punches (23 percent). But at least Fury showed a bit of fire, which Klitschko could have used, even after trainer Johnathon Banks was honest with him after the 10th round and told him he needed a knockout. Had Emanuel Steward, Klitschko's late Hall of Fame trainer, been in the corner, he no doubt would have been begging Klitschko to let his hands go much sooner. But perhaps Klitschko, who is from Ukraine and lives in Miami, just grew old after 19 years in the pros and 68 fights.
In the fifth round, an accidental head-butt opened a cut under Klitschko's left eye. In the 11th round, referee Tony Weeks, who had warned Fury for hitting behind the head several times, finally took a point when he did it again. In the end, point deduction or not, Fury was the rightful winner. It was a bad fight, but nobody can ever take that moment away from Fury, who broke out into song in the ring.
He'll have his victory lap and soak up all the attention for his great accomplishment, while Klitschko will have to think about what he wants to do next. If he elects to fight on, there will likely be a rematch, because he has one in his contract if he wants it. If they fight again, however, hopefully it will be a real fight and not a staring contest like this bout mostly was.
Saturday at Quebec City
James DeGale W12 Lucian Bute
Retains a super middleweight title
Scores: 117-111 (twice), 116-112
Records: DeGale (22-1, 14 KOs); Bute (32-3, 25 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: DeGale, 29, who won a 2008 Olympic gold medal for Great Britain, traveled to Boston and faced Andre Dirrell for one of the world titles that Carl Froch vacated. DeGale dropped Dirrell twice in the second round and won a tight unanimous decision, thus becoming the first British fighter to win an Olympic gold medal for the country (Lennox Lewis won his Olympic gold for Canada) and a professional world title.
Making his first defense, DeGale traveled to the home turf of Montreal star and former titlist Lucian Bute -- who lost the same belt by knockout to Froch in England in 2012 -- because he was offered double the money to defend in Quebec than he would have made had to take a different fight in England. Many viewed Bute as an easy mark for fellow southpaw DeGale. After all, since the loss to Froch, Bute had struggled with injuries and only fought three times, including a one-sided loss to former champion and Montreal rival Jean Pascal. But the 35-year-old, with a deep desire to regain his belt, fought as well as he had in years as he and DeGale produced a tremendous action fight. They fought tooth-and-nail at a high skill level and gave everything they had in a borderline fight of the year waged at a relentless pace.
DeGale always seemed to be in control, but Bute had a lot of good moments and finished strong, clearly showing that he was not the shot fighter some had labeled him. An accidental head-butt opened a bad cut over DeGale's left eye in the sixth round but his corner did a nice job of keeping the blood under control for the rest of the fight. Bute surged in the second half of the fight and did damage in the ninth round as he landed some big shots, but DeGale showed an excellent chin. The 10th round was action-packed as was the 11th, setting the stage for the gripping 12th round as they closed out like animals fighting for a scrap of food. It was an intense round as they emptied their tanks as the crowd inside the new Videotron Centre went wild.
In the end, DeGale, who landed a lot of body shots and combinations from different angles, got the deserved decision but it was a memorable fight. According to CompuBox punch statistics, DeGale landed 211 of 710 blows (29 percent) and Bute connected on 140 of 521 (26 percent).
DeGale gave Bute huge respect and said his desire was to face titleholder Badou Jack in a unification fight in 2016, a fight that should be easy to make given that both are associated with adviser Al Haymon.
"I'm young and I'm fresh. I'm peaking right now," DeGale said. "I'm ready for the best in the world. Credit to Bute -- he's a great champion and believe me, he will be back. Like I've said in the past, he is a world-class fighter. I've still got things to work on in the next three or four years, and I'm going to be my best."
Bute, who made nine title defenses between 2007 and 2012, did not complain about the decision, gave DeGale respect and vowed to come back.
"I think it was a great fight -- I did my best," he said. "I think it was a close fight. He's an Olympic champion, he's a world champion. If the judges give him the decision, I respect that. I'll be back in the gym to work hard and continue to fight. The last three years were difficult for me. After I lost to Carl Froch, that was a very difficult period for me. I took a break, and now I'm back. I feel great, I feel healthy and now I have one more chance to be back on the top."
Eleider "Storm" Alvarez W12 Isaac Chilemba
Light heavyweight - Title eliminator
Scores: 118-110, 115-113, 114-114
Records: Alvarez (19-0, 10 KOs); Chilemba (24-3-2, 10 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Alvarez, 31, a 2008 Olympian from Colombia now fighting out of Montreal, met Chilemba, 28, a native of Malawi living in South Africa, in a world title eliminator with a mandatory shot at world champion Adonis Stevenson (27-1, 22 KOs) at stake. Chilemba was the first legitimate contender Alvarez was facing in his career, and he passed the test in a very close fight, the ridiculous outlier score of 118-110 from judge Peter Hary notwithstanding.
As with most Chilemba fights, it was a tactical affair with sporadic moments of excitement. Alvarez was the aggressor and got off to a quick start, but Chilemba boxed his way back into the fight as Alvarez seemed to tire. They were nip-and-tuck down the stretch and fought the exciting 12th round like they believed the fight was on the table. Alvarez won the round; had Chilemba won it, the fight would have been a draw. The CompuBox punch statistics were very close, with Alvarez landing 147 of 544 punches (27 percent) and Chilemba connecting on 151 of 598 blows (25 percent).
"I knew I had to finish the later rounds strong, but I believe I did enough to win the fight," Alvarez said. "I'm ready to accept the challenge and face Stevenson. To be the world champion, you have to beat the champion. So that's what I aim to do."
Chilemba complained that Alvarez got the benefit of hometown judging, although the judge who ruled the fight a draw was Canadian and the two others were from neutral territories.
"I thought I did enough to win it," Chilemba said. "But it is what it is. I guess you can call it a hometown decision."
Stevenson-Alvarez figures to be an attractive fight in Quebec because Stevenson, who is from Haiti, also is based in Montreal, but there are still ongoing talks to match Stevenson with three-belt titleholder Sergey Kovalev in June in the 175-pound fight that the boxing world wants to see, provided Kovalev takes care of former world champion Jean Pascal in their Jan. 30 rematch.
Adrian Granados TKO8 Amir Imam
Records: Granados (17-4-2, 12 KOs); Imam (18-1, 15 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Big upset alert! Granados, 26, of Chicago, pulled a major one by stunningly stopping Imam in what was supposed to be a tuneup fight for Imam and knocking him out of a guaranteed world title shot. Imam, 25, of Albany, New York -- and the last fighter of consequence in the stable of promoter Don King -- became the mandatory challenger for world titleholder Viktor Postol in July. Since Postol was approved for one optional defense first, Imam was staying busy but tangled with the wrong guy. Had his people done their homework, they would have known that Granados, despite a pedestrian record, is no joke. All four of his defeats were by either split or majority decisions, including to such notable opponents as Felix Diaz, Brad Solomon and Frankie Gomez.
Granados entered the fight filled with confidence that he could beat Imam, but it looked like he was out of his depth early when Imam nailed him with a right hand to knock him down in the opening round. But Granados took over after that. He took Imam's jab away, negated his speed advantage with a smothering attack and controlled the fight. Granados was dishing out punishment in the form of heavy combinations and Imam looked like he was gassed and falling apart by the end of the seventh round. When Granados continued to the relentless attack in the eighth round and appeared to have Imam out on his feet, referee Alain Villeneuve intervened at 2 minutes, 34 seconds for the shocking outcome. At the time of the stoppage, Granados led 67-64 and 66-64 on two scorecards and the third card was 66-66.
"I believe I should be the mandatory challenger," an elated Granados said. "He was in line and I stopped him. What does that mean? Come on. I was the underdog, but I just came to take it. I came to take it. It feels great. Once I had him wobbled I was like, 'You've got to get him now. This time you're not taking it from me.'"
Imam said he understood the risks before the bout and did not backtrack after losing.
"I know people might say I shouldn't have taken this fight, but I needed this fight in between as a tune-up for my next fight because I didn't want to wait for the six to eight months for the world title shot," Imam said. "The key to the fight was my jab. I just didn't use it enough. But that's the way it goes and I'm going to definitely come back stronger. He's a good fighter and that's all there is to it."
Oscar Rivas KO2 Joey Abell
Records: Rivas (18-0, 13 KOs); Abell (31-9, 29 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: The 28-year-old Colombia-born, Montreal-based Rivas -- a 2008 Olympic super heavyweight quarterfinalist -- continued to feast on low-level opposition as he took out journeyman Abell, 34, of Coon Rapids, Minnesota, who has been knocked out in seven of his losses. Rivas, who is only 6-feet, short for a heavyweight prospect, had no problems. He cruised through the first round and then began to land combinations in the second round. During one of them, he nailed Abell with an overhand left to the head and Abell collapsed to his rear end against the ropes. Referee Steve St-Germain began to count, but Abell was not moving and he waved it off midcount at 46 seconds.
Saturday at Dallas
Jermall Charlo TKO4 "Silky" Wilky Campfort
Retains a junior middleweight title
Records: Charlo (23-0, 18 KOs); Campfort (21-2, 12 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: On Sept. 12, Charlo, 25, of Houston, was the mandatory challenger when he scored four knockdowns in a third-round blowout Cornelius "K9" Bundrage to win a junior middleweight world title. Making his first defense barely two months later, Charlo headlined a Premier Boxing Champions card on NBC and crushed Campfort, who came into the fight with zero credentials to challenge for a world title. It was expected to be a mismatch and it turned out to be exactly that as Charlo dominated with a stiff left jab that is one of the best in boxing and scored three knockdowns.
Campfort, 31, who is from Haiti and fights out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, had nothing to offer Charlo and no success trying to get inside against the jab. Charlo dropped Campfort to his rear end with a jab in the second round. A left hand-right uppercut combination dropped him again less than a minute into the third round. And in the fourth round, Charlo landed another left uppercut to Campfort's right eye at an odd angle. The punch cut Campfort and drove him into the ropes before Charlo nailed him with three more punches to knock him down for the third time. Although Campfort beat the count, he told referee Mark Calo-Oy that he could not see out of his right eye and Calo-Oy stopped the fight at 1 minute, 16 seconds.
It was an overwhelmingly dominant performance for Charlo, who landed 62 of 207 punches (30 percent) while ?Campfort connected on only 11 of 102 (11 percent), according to CompuBox punch statistics. Charlo had some problems making 154 pounds and may soon move up to middleweight, although he said that he hopes to have at least one big fight at junior middleweight first.
"My game plan was to start off using the jab and to see how he'd react. It was a powerful weapon," Charlo said. "I work so hard in camp. It's a great feeling to see it translated into a victory. I knew I had advantages, so I just wanted to take my time and make sure I got a chance to show my power. I've got the best jab in the business. I'm going to keep using it, because it's feeding my family."
Campfort admitted getting inside against Charlo's jab was an impossible task. "I had a problem getting past his jab," he said. "Once I got in, he was so much bigger than me and my punches couldn't really affect him. He controlled the fight with his jab. I tried to make the fight happen, but it was hard to get inside of him. He's a big guy and a really good fighter. But I felt like I was in there with a light heavyweight. On the last knockdown my eye got blurry and I couldn't really see. That's why the ref stopped it."
Errol Spence Jr. TKO5 Alejandro Barrera
Welterweight -- Title eliminator
Records: Spence Jr. (19-0, 16 KOs); Barrera (28-3, 18 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Fighting in his hometown for the first time as a professional, Dallas' Spence, a 25-year-old 2012 U.S. Olympian and one of the best prospects in boxing, continued to toy with opponents as he moved a step close to an inevitable world title shot. By taking out Barrera, 29, of Mexico, he continued a path toward a mandatory shot at the belt held by England's Kell Brook.
Spence, a southpaw, took a good look at Barrera in the first round and then continually picked up the pace, hurting him with left hands in the second round. He easily dominated Barrera, finally dropping him in the fifth round with a right hand to the body. Spence continued to tee off on Barrera to the head and body, dropping him again with an unrelenting series of punches to the head and body, prompting referee Laurence Cole to wave off the fight at 1 minute, 46 seconds. Barrera was taken to Baylor Medical Hospital to be checked out after the fight. Spence, who needs to fight a quality opponent or two, said he wants to rumble with the bigger names and mentioned Brook, titleholder Keith Thurman and former titlist Shawn Porter. All would be fascinating fights.
"The strategy was to be patient and to pick my spots," Spence said. "He was more awkward than I thought he would be. I rushed it a little bit but once I got myself composed I picked my spots and listened to my coach [Derrick James], I could come forward and stop him. The body work was really important. That's what we train for in the gym, work the body then go to the head. In the first round I kind of got away from it but then I went back to it and was able to stop him.
"There were definitely some nerves fighting in front of my hometown fans. It took me the first couple of rounds to get over that. Then I just started doing what I usually do and it worked out. I want top 10 welterweights. My goal is to become a world champion. If I have to go to England to fight Kell Brook, I'm willing to do that."
Erickson Lubin KO2 Alexis Camacho
Records: Lubin (13-0, 10 KOs); Camacho (21-6, 19 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Lubin, a 20-year-old southpaw from Orlando, Florida, is one of boxing's best prospects and really could be fighting better opponents than Camacho, 34, a native of Mexico fighting out of Austin, Texas. He's a used-up opponent who dropped to 2-3 in his last five bouts and who was fighting for the first time in 16 months.
Lublin blitzed him with ease. He badly hurt him with a left hand midway through the first round and followed with a cuffing right hand to drop Camacho to his knees. He finished the round teeing off on Camacho, who was looking for cover in a corner.
In the second round, Lubin, who went 5-0 this year, was playing target practice with Camacho's head when he landed a clean right hook that snapped his head side to side and dropped him in highlight-reel fashion as referee Neal Young counted him out 42 seconds into the round.
"I knew he was experienced, so I had to take my time to get him out of there," Lubin said. "I didn't want to rush too much. I sat behind the jab and got it done. My lead hand is my quickest and I saw him running in, so I used that check hook to put him out. 2015 has been a great year. I'll give it an A-minus only because I still don't have a world title. I'm improving as a fighter every day."
Also on the card, junior welterweight John Molina Jr. (28-6, 23 KOs), 32, of Covina, California, blew out Jorge Romero (24-10, 21 KOs), 25, of Mexico, stopping him 47 seconds into the third round and handing him his sixth loss in a row. Molina, who stopped a three-fight losing streak, was fighting for the first time since his one-sided March 7 decision loss to Adrien Broner in the opening bout of the first Premier Boxing Champions card and subsequent suspension for failing a drug test after the bout.
Saturday at Sendai City, Japan
Carlos Cuadras W12 Koki Eto
Retains a junior bantamweight title
Scores: 117-111 (twice), 116-112
Records: Cuadras (34-0-1, 26 KOs); Eto (17-4-1, 13 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Cuadras, 27, of Mexico, ventured to fight in Japan for the sixth time but for the first time in any of his five title defenses. Cuadras more or less outclassed Eto, who is 5-foot-8 and held a 4-inch height advantage that did not help him. Cuadras used his legs and quickness to soundly outbox Eto while avoiding any serious exchanges in a very tactical, boring fight.
With the open scoring system in place, Cuadras was announced with a 40-46 lead on all three scorecards following the fourth round and he was still in control when scores were announced after the eighth round: 79-73, 79-73 and 78-74. Eto, the aggressor, had success with his body attack in the ninth round when it appeared as though Cuadras was fading but he could not capitalize. Cuadras got on his bike and ran for much of the final four rounds. Eto, 27, of Japan, saw his three-fight winning streak come to an end since being stopped in the 12th round by Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep for an interim belt in Thailand in November 2013.
Yu Kimura W12 Pedro Guevara
Wins a junior flyweight title
Scores: 115-113 Kimura (twice), 117-111 Guevara
Records: Kimura (18-2-1, 3 KOs); Guevara (26-2-1, 17 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Kimura, 32, of Japan, had never beaten a top fighter and was a surprise choice as a title challenger but he did the job against Guevara, 26, of Mexico, who beat well-respected Akira Yaegashi to win the vacant belt in Japan in December 2014 and returned there to make his third defense against Kimura.
The fight was contested using the WBC's terrible opening scoring method, so Guevara and the fans knew he was winning after the fourth round (40-46, 39-37, 39-37) and also after the eighth round (79-73, 77-75 and 76-76). But Kimura, the former Japanese national champion, turned the tables to virtually sweep the final four rounds to win the fight and the 108-pound belt by split decision. Guevara, who is studying to be a lawyer, nearly dropped Kimura with a right hand in the fifth round and had him in big trouble. Kimura survived and turned more aggressive. He continued to press forward and landed enough to turn the tide against Guevara, who began to box more cautiously than earlier in the fight.
Saturday at Tequisquiapan, Mexico
Carlos Ocampo W10 Jorge Paez Jr.
Scores: 100-90, 99-92, 99-91
Records: Ocampo (17-0, 11 KOs); Paez Jr. (39-7-2, 23 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: For the third fight in a row, Mexico's Paez, 27, the son of former featherweight titleholder Jorge Paez Sr., was matched with an undefeated opponent. His matchmaker is doing him no favors as Paez is 1-2 in those fights. He got knocked out by Jose Benavidez Jr. in the 12th round of an interim junior lightweight title bout in May, eked out a 10-round majority decision against Daniel Echeverria in August but was dominated by 20-year-old prospect Ocampo, of Mexico.
The taller, more aggressive and busier Ocampo outworked Paez consistently throughout the fast-paced fight. Paez seemed to be aware he needed to do something dramatic in the final round as he pressed for a knockout but could never land the big blow.