The week in boxing: Fights and commentary

Bill Tibbs writes about a busy weekend of action


- WBC super featherweight world champion Miguel “El Alacran” Berchelt (36-1, 32 KO’s) stopped Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas (25-2-2, 18 KOs) after round 6 on Saturday in Tucson, Arizona. As predicted this war left off where the other one finished but Berchelt simply broke down Vargas with damaging shots. Hats off to Vargas who was competitive and game for every minute of the fight. After the fight, a classy Berchelt said, “I want to thank Francisco ‘Bandito’ Vargas. He’s a true Mexican warrior, and more than anything, let me tell you, he gave me my first opportunity at a world title. So, it was only fair that I would give him a shot to win his world title back.”


- In the semi-main in Tucson, WBO junior featherweight champion Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete (27-1, 23 KO’s) completely dominated Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe (20-2, 14 KO’s) in their rematch. Navarrete beat Dogboe by UD last December and repeated the feat even more emphatically this time around. It was a one-sided beat down that could have been stopped much earlier than it was (round 12). ESPN announcer Joe Tessatore was all over Dogboe’s trainer (and father) on the air for not stepping in sooner to stop the fight. Credit to Dogboe, who is as tough as they come, he hung in there right until the end. After the fight Navarrete said he is looking to fight any of the other champions in the division while Dogboe said he would be moving up to campaign at 126-pounds where he feels he will be stronger after struggling to make weight.


- Philadelphia’s Julian “J-Rock” Williams won a UD over previously undefeated “Swift” Jarrett Hurd to win the unified WBA/IBF/IBO super welterweight championship Saturday night in Fairfax, Virginia. Williams went on to win by scores of 116-111 and 115-112 twice in an all-action war. Williams, 27-1-1, 16 KO’s, wins his first world title and does it in a ‘fight of the year’ candidate. Hurd is now 23-1, 16 KO’s. Nobody would mind seeing round 2 of this doozy.


- During the Williams/Hurd card it was announced that WBA welterweight champion Manny “Pac Man” Pacquaio, will take on undefeated WBA welterweight super champion Keith “One Time” Thurman on Saturday, July 20 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card will also feature undefeated, IBF super middleweight world champion Caleb “Sweethands” Plant making his first title defense against unbeaten Mike (Subway commercial) Lee. While Lee has campaigned in his pro career at 175-pounds, he’ll get his world title shot at 168 pounds


- Amir Khan, who was recently stopped by Terence Crawford at MSG in New York, had successful elbow surgery this past week and vows to be back better than ever after he heals up. That might be a tough sell after his recent NY showing.


- Kell Brook was possibly slated for the undercard of the Ruiz-Joshua heavyweight title fight on June 1 but that doesn’t look like it’s happening and apparently has his sights set on Terence Crawford at a later date.


- And finally boxing says goodbye to a couple of their own. Harold Lederman, 79, best known as the unofficial scorekeeper for HBO Boxing, passed away after a long battle with cancer. One of the most recognizable faces and voices ringside at all the big HBO events, Lederman had an unbridled enthusiasm and love for boxing.


-Also, sad to report that former heavyweight title challenger Smokin’ Bert Cooper passed away on Friday at the age of 53. Bert came within a punch or two of winning huge fights against Michael Moorer and Evander Holyfield in world title shots. He also faced a list of impressive contenders and champions in his career - he fought everyone. Rest in peace, Harold and Bert.


* “Bert gave Evander Holyfield a big scare in a fight for the heavyweight title, fought a true classic with Michael Moorer in Atlantic City, and gave us many, many more memorable nights. Bert was a very good fighter and a true character.” – Philadelphia sports writer John DiSanto


* “It was one of the greatest privileges of my broadcast career to work with Harold Lederman,

whose unique humanity and lifelong love of boxing brought joy to the hearts of fans, show after show after show. No one in the sport had more friends because no one in the sport was more deserving of friends. As deeply saddened as I am by his passing, I am equally deeply joyful that he made it to the final bell on December 8. Nothing was more important to the legacy of HBO Boxing, so in that we can take solace. Now his scorecard is complete” – Longtime Lederman colleague at HBO Jim Lampley.


- To all the moms out there – Happy Mothers Day


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