David Benavidez became a two-time WBC super-middleweight world champion after stopping Anthony Dirrell in the ninth round.
The undefeated Phoenix, Arizona native extended his perfect record to 22 wins and no losses with a thoroughly comfortable victory, albeit one where he looked somewhat sloppy at points.
Benavidez had the look of someone in almost complete control throughout the early rounds, nonchalantly ploughing forward and sticking out a rangy lead left jab as he manoeuvred Dirrell effortlessly around the ring.
Dirrell, meanwhile, was content to backpedal and look for openings, and although he enjoyed a certain degree of success with jabs to the body coupled with counter right hands, he was unable to seriously deter Benavidez’s relentless forward march.
Benavidez invariably had the upper hand in exchanges and flashed a menacing grin whenever the pace increased in intensity, as Dirrell – forever the slippery and stubborn customer – frequently elected to hold and spoil.
A choice right hand from Benavidez opened up a vicious gash above Dirrell’s right eye, which threatened to stop the fight altogether in the seventh after being painstakingly assessed by a ringside doctor.
Dirrell continued to ship punishment in the subsequent rounds – the referee inexplicably refusing to stop the fight – before he was finally pummelled into submission in the ninth.
Mario Barrios captured the vacant WBA secondary light-welterweight championship, unanimously outpointing Uzbekistani counterpart Bartyr Akhmedov in a closely-contested affair.
Barrios appeared to be in control throughout the early proceedings, dictating the pace with rangy combinations in addition to scoring a knockdown in the fourth round.
However, he was forced to withstand a ferocious late onslaught from Akhmedov as the southpaw hounded him relentlessly and attempted to rough him up at close quarters.
Indeed, Akhmedov had significant success in this regard and it appeared at some point that his seemingly unrelenting assault would pay dividends in the form of forcing a dramatic stoppage.
Ultimately, Barrios displayed an equal amount of tenacity to survive and then score another knockdown with a no-nonsense straight right hand in the final stanza.
This was something that proved to be decisive in the outcome in numerically securing Barrios’ position as the victor, with the trio of scorecards proclaiming him the winner by margins of 116-111, 115-111 and 114-112.
Josesito Lopez also emerged triumphant from his crunch clash with John Molina Junior, stopping the latter in the eighth round after nearly ending in the first with the two knockdowns.
Article by: Navi Singh
Follow Navi on Twitter at: @DarkMan________