Wrapping up the updates of "Boxing Bits", here are the fights that have taken place in February (...so far)...
[C] WBA, WBC, IBF Flyweight Champion Vic Darchinyan TKO11 (RTD) Jorge Arce
--Darchinyan always wanted a crack at the brash Arce, and after verbally beating him down following his loss to Cristian Mijares, he got a crack at beating him down physically--which he most certainly did. Arce was unusually subdued, if not nervous, before the bout and he looked uncomfortable and afraid to trade off with the dangerous champion (who recently schooled and KO'd Mijares). Darchinyan started cautiously, but turned on the heat as he continually had his way with Arce and batted him at will for much of the fight and used his unorthodox style to keep the challenger out of rhythm. Arce had his flashes of competitiveness, but he was thoroughly dominated, which made his quitting in the eleventh not too surprising. Darchinyan is a great, and mouthy, pugilist, but unlike many others, he can actually back it up.
[C] (WBO NABO, (Vacent) NABF Super Middleweight Championships) Andre Ward UD Henry Buchanan [Showtime]
Yusaf Mack SD Chris Henry (Light Heavyweight)
[C] (Vacent WBO NABO Lightweight Championship) Antonio DeMarco TKO9 (RTD) Almazbek Raiymkulov [Showtime]
--Raiymkulov, aka "Kid Diamond", looked good at times and showed why he was a promising prospect a few years ago, but his quitting after a rough 9th round may be telling of his future in the sport...
Francois Botha UD Ron Guerrero (Heavyweight)
Joe Spina TKO1 Matt Gockel (Super Middleweight)
Carlos Molina UD(10) Alexis Camacho (Welterweight) [ESPN2]
--Alexis Camacho is nearly a classic example of a fighter that has a "name" (though not related to Hector Camacho in this case) and good, innate skills that is overprotected and spoon-fed lesser talent to make them look good. Carlos Molina, a decent fighter in his own right, embarrassed Camacho and helped make him look totally aloof. I say "helped" because Camacho fought terribly and led to his own demise, despite his apparent abilities, and his tactics and decision-making mirrored that of someone unfamiliar with handling good competition. Take also into consideration his fight record prior to his first match, and loss, against a good opponent (Terrance Cauthen), which speaks for itself. It might take awhile to unlearn his current ways and really make use of his weapons before facing other good opponents, but he'll need to if he wants to make it any further up. Otherwise, he and his people are just squandering his potential and talent, as well as everyone else's time and money.
[C] (Vacent WBA, IBF, WBO Lightweight Championships -- Funeka Only) Nate Campbell MD Ali Funeka [HBO]
--Campbell may have lost his belts at the weigh-in after coming in over, but he was certainly determined to keep Funeka from getting them. It was a very good fight (thankfully, given the meager offerings of the two bouts below) which saw Campbell take it hard to the #1 contender, who was fighting for the first time outside of South Africa. "The Galaxxy Warrior" utilized great strategy in fighting the taller Funeka and kept the pressure on. Funeka was holding his own until Campbell knocked him down in the second, which he barely made it out of. From then on, "Rush Hour" steadily began to wrest control of the fight from Campbell and showed just why he was given the chance to win the titles. Funeka kept him at bay with jabs and plenty of defense-penetrating shots while Campbell tried to strike gold twice by continually depending right haymaker.
The 36-year-old grandfather was visibly tired and looked to be losing the fight until the 11th round, when he discovered gold once again and caught the game Funeka a second time. He was reeling from the blow the rest of the round and into the final one, as Campbell poured it on and ultimately prevented him from winning his lost belts in a close majority draw. As much of a fan I am of Campbell's, I really felt for Funeka, who looked impressive and talented in how he commanded the fight, made use of his physique and skills, and even how he held himself together after the two knockdowns (both due more to just getting caught rather than poor form). He was understandably distraught afterwards, but I really do hope that he ventures outside of South Africa more and that his performance in the fight will get him another chance at the titles down the road or more big fight opportunities.
[C] Interim WBC Light Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez M-D Kermit Cintron [HBO]
--The fight as a whole, despite the bizarre happenings in the latter rounds, was pretty dull and filled with much posturing, clinching, and unexciting combating between the two. Cintron fought poorly in ring while Martinez channeled a lesser-Joe Calzaghe with his showboating "stance" and use of substantial hand-speed and constant movement to befuddle him. While Cintron had a few moments, his performance and choice of tactics further highlight his need for a trainer (a "Freddy Roach"-type) that make the best use of his latent potential and turn him into the sort of fighter that he was projected to be a few years ago.
As for the controversial seventh round, I thought Cintron made it up before "ten" (obviously not down via headbutt) and that the referee never gave the formal gesture that the fight was over (the hand wave in the air). The confusion and lack of clarity on his part may have sparked some life into the match, but Martinez continuously struck and moved around Cintron. A point deduction for a "rabbit punch" by him in the ninth cost him a victory, but regardless, the scoring should have been much more in his favor than the kind that led to the majority draw. That being said, I wasn't terribly impressed by Martinez, either, and I don't see him being as good as his record suggests.
Alfredo Angulo TKO5 Cosme Rivera (Light Middleweight) [HBO]
--Angulo, and his sophisticated-looking pre-fight attire, looked pretty good and showed some promise in his stoppage of Rivera. Granted, the latter was really only "sloppy-thirds", being the replacement of the replacement of Ricardo Mayorga, and had only four days notice prior to the fight, but he didn't look too bad for the first two rounds. The prospect would of course get the upper-hand and from the late-second round on, Angulo dominated the fight and showed some good prowess. From the referee's vantage point, it was understandable that he was hesitant to halt the fight, as a clearly-outgunned Rivera was still trying to return some of the volleys. However, it was getting very uncomfortable watching him take the kind of shots he was getting and seeing him stagger with each blow, so thankfully it was not allowed to get completely out-of-hand or too far into the fifth round.
Ray Austin UD(8) Julius Long (Heavyweight)
WBC USNBC Super Middleweight Champion Jesse Brinkley UD Joey Gilbert