Omar Figueroa vs Ricky Burns & Tomoki Kameda vs Jamie McDonnell
BY KID HERSH
PBC on CBS! From the deep south in Hidalgo, Texas, came a nice Saturday afternoon boxing card on regular network! First up was Tomoki Kameda (31-0, 19ko's) vs Jamie McDonnell (25-2-1, 12ko's). McDonnell is defending his WBA title in this fight. The first round was a close one, with McDonnell being the busier man but El Mexicanito picking his shots very well. The second round was a bit cat and mouse, with McDonnell being a bit trigger shy (although he is still the busier man) because Kameda is just waiting to counter his shots due to his superior speed and accuracy. Kameda looked like he was trying to set up a big shot in the third round and he did eventually get that shot in - two minutes into the round when he stepped into a big right hand that dropped the champion. McDonnell, ever the veteran, rose up off the canvas and shook off the hard knockdown to finish the round. The fourth round showed the champions fighting heart as he made some good adjustments to go back to using his range from the outside to jab Kameda and keep him guessing. Kameda showed some good footwork in being able to dart in and out but he was not throwing enough shots while doing so to win the round. The fifth round went back to a bit of cat and mouse, with McDonnell looking to control the outside (and doing well at it) while Kameda was still looking to place his shots and couldn't quite close the distance effectively. Kameda had himself a great sixth round as he got back to a higher output in jabbing effectively on his toes while moving in and out. He also looked like he was stalking the champion now, pressing him backwards and getting his shots off first. The seventh round was a close one, with McDonnell coming back a bitt after an off sixth stanza. In the eighth Kameda came out and walked the champion into a straight right hand that buckled his legs. McDonnell showed the wares of a champion though, battling back immediately afterwards and recovering on the spot to press the action for the remainder of the round. Kameda landed some good shots, as did the champion, and the round was yet another very close one. The frustrating part with watching Tomoki fight is that he is a such a technical fighter that while this is a close fight, for a title, and his opponent is sweating and tiring out and breathing heavy, El Mexicanito looks like he just went for a brisk stroll down to the street corner and back. He looks like he could do so much more to win these close rounds but instead just plays like it's a casual game of chess. It was pretty good back and forth action until the championship rounds, where in the eleventh round Kameda was showing his hand speed and footwork while McDonnell was trying to track his man down but couldn't quite hit the mark in the twelfth and final round it was McDonnell who was trying to finish strong and retain his championship. He really kicked it up a gear and dug deep to throwing everything he could at his opponent, finally hurting him near the end of the fight with a right hand. The cards came in 114-113 across the board - showing that that twelfth and final round was the one that retained his title for him! Big upset here, and props to McDonnell for coming overseas and pulling it off.
Main event time in Omar Figueroa (24-0-1, 18ko's) vs Ricky Burns (37-4-1, 11ko's). This is Figueroa's debut at 140lbs - and a nice opponent pick by his team in a lifetime 135lb'er! Burns had a very good start to the fight in the first round, as he pumped his jab and was able to get off on Figueroa nearly at will. Figueroa looked a bit perplexed, but perhaps still just has to warm up? The second round was a helluva slugfest with Burns getting his way for the majority of the round by crowding Figueroa and when backing out he would nail him with unpredictable shots that the youngster would walk straight into - such as the straight right hand with less than 30 seconds left in the round into the round. In the third round referee Laurence Cole was doing a dangerous thing in pulling Burns' arm away in the clinches, when Figueroa was doing some holding of his own - with Burns not being the only offender. It was a bit of a tough to score round as it was back and forth action in the clinches but it still feels like it is a Burns fight at this juncture. In the fourth round Burns went right back to dominating the fight with hard power shots that just couldn't miss the mark. In the fifth round it was more warring, but Figueroa had more success midway through the round when he trapped Burns on the ropes and managed to land about a dozen unanswered body shots. Neither man looks like they are tiring yet, which is surprising considering the grueling fight they have going on. The sixth round was another great round of action that was fought in a phone booth with both men holding and roughhousing and trying to get their shots in. Laurence Cole was still displaying the odd practice of grabbing the fighters arms while they were in the clinch to get the to stop holding in the seventh round, not wanting to deduct a point from either man in this close fight. I agree with that mindset, but it's still very odd to say the least that he is grabbing their arms while they are fighting. In the eighth round Cole took a point away from Burns two minutes into the round for holding. As Paulie Malignaggi said commentating - this is such an inside fight with both guys all over each other that you could take a point from either man because they have to jockey for position on the inside and are leaning all over each other at all times. Tough loss there for Burns because this fight is very, very close and hopefully that point does not prove to be difference. The fight was not going to suddenly change in the ninth round so we saw more phone booth fighting through the ninth and into the tenth round, where Burns seemed to have the upper hand via more accurate punching. Figueroa has zero defense to speak of for pretty much this entire fight! The eleventh round was a Figueroa round, with him digging deep and trapping Burns on the ropes while unloading what he has in his arsenal to try and rally in the championship rounds. Cole proved yet more incompetent as he basically gave the fight to Figueroa when at the very end of the round he docked Burns two points for holding when he was hurt by a left hook to the liver. The final round was a good one for Burns, who rallied and pressed forward while throwing shots from the floor. Figueroa of course had his moments as well, but everyone knows that if he is getting pressed back on his heels then he is not winning the fight! The cards came in a clear UD victory for Figueroa, although the fight was much closer than the 6-7 point gaps in scoring.