It looks like boxing fans around the world will get the best of the Holiday Season this year. Every passing week seems to unveil more fierceness, victories, losses, and a lot more boxing fun. The last week was no exception. RDX Sports is back with another boxing news round-up, this time for the 2nd week of December 2022.

1.      Undefeated Frank Martin Outclasses Michel Rivera in WBA Lightweight Title Eliminator

Top undefeated lightweight contender Frank “The Phantom” Martin dominated from start to finish by winning a unanimous decision over previously undefeated Michel “La Zarza Ali” Rivera.

His stellar performance came for the WBA Lightweight Title Eliminator that headlined the live action on SHOWTIME Chelsea’s Saturday night inside the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

Martin dropped Rivera in the seventh round and stole the show by scores of 120-107, 117-110, and 118-109.

“I felt good tonight. There were things I saw in there that I didn’t capitalize on, but we went in there and got the job done. My corner was telling me to stay outside, watch the right hand and work on the game plan.”

He shared his thoughts with the press after winning the bout.

“I was using my legs, and I could have done a lot more. It worked for us tonight, but there’s a lot of room for improvement, and we’ll keep working.” 

The 27-year-old Martin (17-0, 12 KOs) was the man in control throughout the match. He displayed superior speed and boxing acumen as he quickly closed the reach advantage at Rivera’s disposal.

With unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. as his promoter and Derrick James as his trainer, Martin enjoys a solid position in the star-studded lightweight division.

“It’s a blessing to be in the gym with Errol and [undisputed 154-pound champion] Jermell [Charlo], and they keep me going,”

Martin said.

“I always watch Errol when he trains, and I always ask questions and look to improve. Seeing top champions like them, I get nothing but joy from them.”

The 24-year-old Rivera (24-1, 14 KOs) was visibly uncomfortable with Martin’s southpaw offense. He continued to receive his right-left combos, especially in the early rounds. Though Rivera’s reach advantage allowed him to land occasional right hands, Martin’s footwork regularly kept him out of further damage.

“I went there to win. I didn’t come here to lose,”

Rivera said.

“I felt pretty good today, but by round four or five, I think I started to feel the effects of the weight reduction. I’m not looking for excuses, but I’m a big guy for the division.”

Eventually, in the seventh round, Martin delivered his signature moment of the fight, exposing Rivera to a straight left-right hook combination. Rivera showed courage as he got back to his feet. But Martin continued the attack, mixing in even more body shots on his weary opponent.

“We believe in ‘Man Down,’

Martin said.

“It’s protecting yourself at all times. He got caught slipping, and he fell.”

On the other hand, Rivera admitted his opponent’s agility in these words:

“I’m pretty fast, but you have to be faster to fight a guy like that.” 

He further added,

“I was too slow tonight. I tried to use my jab to get him away from me. He was the best guy today. I won’t take anything away from him. I don’t want to learn how to lose. I’m just going to work hard to win again. I don’t want losing to feel normal. I work to win.”

According to CompuBox, Martin enjoyed a clear statistical advantage. He outscored Rivera 174-67, connecting on 31{317a7769e272dec17b69bda26c6a5a4c5e6799efcd8a85f72cb552b76862c2b9} of his shots, vs. 15{317a7769e272dec17b69bda26c6a5a4c5e6799efcd8a85f72cb552b76862c2b9} for Rivera.

Martin’s defense was key throughout the clash as well, as he kept Rivera below double-digit punches round after round.

After overcoming this obstacle, Martin sets his sights on the rest of the elite 135-pounders.

“I just believe in myself, and I believe in our team,”

Martin said.

“We know what we are doing, and we are constantly working. We believed in it and believed we were ready for one of the best fighters out there. So, let us get them. We are ready to eat.”

2.      Vladimir Shishkin Stuns the Former World Champion Jose Uzcategui in the IBF Super Middleweight Title Eliminator

In the co-main event of the same fight card, undefeated super middleweight contender Vladimir Shishkin (14-0, 8 KOs) picked up a hard-fought unanimous decision win over former world champion Jose Uzcategui (32-5, 27 KOs) to win the eliminator of the IBF super middleweight title.

“I came to America, and I’ve lived here for a few years, to achieve my goal of becoming world champion,”

said Shishkin, who won by scores of 117-111, 117-111, and 115-113.

He was elated after the win:

“It’s a big step in that direction. It was a great chance for me, and I took advantage of it.”

Both fighters came out aggressive from the start, looking to land powerful right hands up close. This through-and-through mentality continued throughout the fight, as they frequently struggled to position themselves on the inside.

With the fight progressing, it was Shishkin’s combination punches that helped him outscore Uzcategui on the judges’ cards.

However, Uzcategui had different views about the event:

“I think I did enough to win the fight, but the judges didn’t see it that way,”

Uzcategui said.

“He was grabbing me, grabbing me and pulling me, and I could never get enough clean shots.”

Shishkin averaged 63 punches per round, vs. 43 for Uzcategui, and outscored his opponent 38-20 over the last two frames. Both fighters came to the seventh round with added aggression. But neither was able to seriously injure the other, although both sported swelling above their eyes.

“I felt in control throughout the fight,”

Shishkin said.

“I’m at a higher level now, so the fights are going to be tougher. He pushed me hard. It was something new for me.”

With his strong finish and an overall advantage of 238 to 162 punches, Shishkin was able to pull off the win. In the end, this victory puts the undefeated Shishkin in a position to fight for a title at 168 pounds.

“I want all the big names at 168 pounds,” Shishkin said. “Canelo is the champion right now, and I will be ready to give him everything he can handle.”

3.      Vincent Astrolabio Dominates Nikolai Potapov to a Sixth Round Stoppage in IBF Bantamweight Title Eliminator

IBF Bantamweight Title Eliminator was the telecast opener Saturday night in Las Vegas, where Vincent Astrolabio (18-3, 13 KOs) scored an impressive and dominating sixth-round stoppage over Nikolai Potapov (23-3-1, 11 KOs).

“I’m very happy with the win,”

Astrolabio said.

“It was my first time in the United States, and I’m grateful to Manny Pacquiao and my entire team for this opportunity. I felt very strong against my opponent. Just like I did against Guillermo Rigondeaux, and that gave me confidence for this fight.”

The Filipino Astrolabio started the fight in great shape, sending Potapov to the canvas for the first time in his career with a charged left hook late in the opening round.

However, Potapov was able to get up and build momentum in the next round by countering Astrolabio’s aggression, winning the round on two judges’ cards.

In the third round, however, Potapov took a clean punch that drew blood from his right eye, hampering his offensive outing. In the fourth round, Astrolabio caught him with another left hook, which knocked Potapov out, forcing him to take a knee in his corner.

Astrolabio upped his pressure again in the sixth round and hurt Potapov mid-round with a fierce uppercut followed by a straight right hand, which toppled him.

Finally, the referee Robert Hoyle counted out Potapov at 1:26 into the round with that decisive blow. Astrolabio held a 74-58 advantage in punches and a 56-45 advantage in power shots at the time of the stoppage.

“I have nothing to say about my performance. He was just the better fighter tonight,”

Potapov said after the decision.

Astrolabio was a bit more eloquent, though:

“I will fight whoever I can, but my dream is to become world champion,”

Astrolabio said.

“I want to fight for the belts. I’m so grateful to have had this and to have been able to give everyone a knockout blow. This is the biggest moment of my career, and I will keep pushing to fight for the best.”

4.      Chris Billam-Smith Knocks Out Armend Xhoxhaj in Round 5 in Bournemouth, A Potential Knockout of the Year Contender!

British cruiserweight Chris Billam-Smith got the best of a tough and resilient challenger in Armend Xhoxhaj, winning in five rounds at Bournemouth. This helps him solidify his claim to a world title shot in 2023.

It was a wild night, and the fight was fierce, but Chris Billam-Smith finally found a chilling knockout blow to stop the fiery Armend Xhoxhaj in Bournemouth. Pundits and enthusiasts around the world see it as one of the best knockout of the year contender.

The local crowd at the Bournemouth International Center let out a deafening roar, furiously booing Xhoxhaj and reaching new delirium to welcome their hero Billam-Smith.

But Kosovar, who is based in Germany, was not intimidated. Rather, he seemed to feed on the uproar against him. In the first round, shorter, stockier, Xhoxhaj rushed on the front foot and unleashed some powerful hooks.

Xhoxhaj had a taste of success in the second round. He threw a solid right to the head of Billam-Smith. Destabilized for a moment, Billam-Smith must have smiled.

“He rang me momentarily, a little more annoyed with myself than hurt,”

Billam-Smith said afterward.

“I shouldn’t get caught with blows like that, especially since I know it was the blow to come.”

In the next round, Billam-Smith chose his own shots wisely. He used his jabs to dig into his opponent’s body with effect. A long right hook hit Xhoxhaj’s trunk, which troubled him. Encouraged, Billam-Smith proceeded with a left hook into his body, wearing him out slowly but surely.

These successes began to make Xhoxhaj think. The Briton tagged it with wide right hooks in round four, injecting more power into his attacks and starting to control things better.

Then, in round five, Billam-Smith ended the battle with astonishing strength. He whipped out his left hook, shaking off Xhoxhaj and leaving him open for a huge knockout blow.

The shot, a huge right sweep, landed with such power that Xhoxhaj was thrown backward, falling to crash into the canvas.

He had to be treated immediately. When Xhoxhaj was finally able to stand back on his feet, the crowd applauded him.

“It was exactly what I thought it was going to be,”

Billam-Smith said.

“I wasn’t fired up enough at first and got caught in a few silly shots, but I did the job, adapted, and listened to the corner. Shane [McGuigan, his trainer] was saying to sit down a bit more, I started doing that, went with him on a few shots, and obviously hurt him, and luckily he’s fine.”

With this emphatic victory, Billam-Smith can demand a world title fight.

He is targeting Jai Opetaia, the IBF heavyweight champion who is widely regarded as the best fighter in the division.

“Jai Opetaia is a great champion,”

Billam-Smith said,

“He beat the man, so now it’s my turn to beat the man.”

This is the fight that promoter Ben Shalom wants to lead.

“We will be back this summer at the stadium,”

promised Shalom.

“All the world champions want to fight in the UK, and we’re going to see that. Jai Opetaia wants this fight; Chris Billam-Smith wants this fight. He’s going to fight for a world title at Bournemouth, and it’s going to be amazing.”

5.      Dan Azeez Defeats Rocky Fielding via TKO in Round 8 to Claim the Vacant Commonwealth Title

Azeez rose to prominence since claiming the British light-heavyweight title. However, the championship was not on the line in this fight after the former WBA “regular” champion Fielding went a pound over the limit at the weigh-in.

The victory, however, allowed Azeez to claim the vacant light heavyweight Commonwealth belt.

The Londoner set the tone from the first round. He maintained his forward momentum, repeating the jabs and also going to the body at times. He made his way through Fielding’s defenses in time.

Some head-butting in the second round cut Fielding through the left eye, and the referee cautioned Azeez for it.

But in general, it was the pressure exerted by Azeez that made the difference. Fielding fought back when he could but didn’t set the same kind of pace for his counters.

Azeez made the best use of his gloves to block Fielding’s punches and landed some particularly eye-catching uppercuts.

Fielding needed to stem the British champion’s lead and caught him with a one-two off the ropes late in the fifth round.

The Liverpoolian came back with sporadic flurries of punches but couldn’t force Azeez to leave. Azeez knocked him down for a moment late in round six and prompted Fielding to return a furious volley.

Azeez found more success late in the seventh round, a straight right to the body, dropping Fielding to one knee.

We saw him start round eight with fierce intent, blasting hooks around Fielding’s guard and grabbing the lead.

Eventually, Azeez shoved him into the ropes. Visibly beaten by Dan’s shots, Fielding’s corner finally threw in the towel to get him out, handing a significant win to Dan Azeez.

That sums up the boxing world’s highlight of the second week of December. Stay tuned while we bring more of it in the coming days.


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