VIKTOR POSTOL had been out of the ring for 16 months before his challenge to Jose Ramirez inside Top Rank’s Bubble in Las Vegas’ MGM Grand on Saturday night (August 29). The WBC and WBO super-lightweight boss, in turn, had not stepped foot in a prize ring for 13 months. The rust showed on their fighting irons as the pair – who had endured two cancellations to this contest due to the coronavirus pandemic – went to work behind closed doors.

In the end, after what on paper was arguably the most talent-laden and evenly-matched bout of the crowd-free era to date, it was the younger and fresher Ramirez who did just about enough to edge the 36-year-old via majority decision over 12 rounds. But it took a second half surge from the champion to retain his belts, his unbeaten record and his hopes of a unification battle with WBA and IBF titlist, Josh Taylor.

Taylor, of course, defeated Postol in 2018 via lopsided scorecards that cruelly failed to tell the correct story of the Ukrainian’s significant role in a close contest. Before that, only Terence Crawford had managed to get the better of Postol in a professional ring, outworking him over the full 36 minutes in 2016.    

The veteran set traps and countered accurately, making a mockery of the old fairytale that his trainer Freddie Roach is capable only of teaching his charges to box aggressively.  

After six rounds, it was Ramirez’s trainer – Roberto Garcia, who has beaten the virus after testing positive earlier in the summer – who played a sizeable role in the outcome. “You can’t afford to lose another round,” he said to Ramirez who in turn stepped on the gas and bullied Postol in the seventh. A one-two scored before a left hook stunned Viktor.

But there would be more twists and turns. Ramirez’s rally stalled in the 11th – a session bossed by Postol – before the underdog produced another stirring 12th. In the end, though, it was the overall aggression of Ramirez that caught the eyes of those that mattered. Scores of 115-113 and 116-112 (Tim Cheatham and Steve Weisfeld) trumped Dave Moretti’s tally of 114-114, which matched Boxing News’ calculations.

Meanwhile, at the Microsoft Arena in Los Angeles, the World Boxing Association’s infuriatingly nonsensical ‘regular’ belt allowed the bout between Cuban veteran Erislandy Lara and Stoneham, Massachusetts’ Greg Vendetti to shamelessly masquerade as a super-welterweight world title fight.

Erislandy Lara

Lara hasn’t beaten a world class fighter since losing to Jarrett Hurd in 2018. Outpointing Vendetti – who barely makes the top 20 in his country – did not change that. The ‘challenger’ bravely came forward throughout but was picked off by the 37-year-old southpaw. The scores at the end (117-111 twice and 116-112) were kind to Vendetti.

The WBA will demand more sanctioning fees at the end of September from both Jeison Rosario and Jermell Charlo when they clash in the same weight class for their ‘super’ belt. This incessant hogwash has to stop, surely.

On the undercard, the minor resurgence of 38-year-old Mexican Alfredo Angulo ceased when he was handily decisioned over 10 rounds by unheralded countryman, Vladimir Hernandez over 10 rounds. Last September, the veteran defeated Peter Quillin but this latest setback underlines a decline in Angulo that has otherwise been evident for a number of years.

Over in Germany, another war-torn slugger was in action. Former WBO cruiserweight belt-holder, Marco Huck – 35 and with a punishing career behind him – overcame a weight deficit of 112lbs to win every round against the wibbly-wobbly Dennis Lewandowski. After 10, all three judges scored for Huck 100-90 over his 335lbs opponent at the Eisstadion in Braunlage.

Don’t be surprised to see Huck snare one last meaningful bout at heavyweight. His name is famous enough to be marketed as a step-up for one of the young prospects but little of the once tremendous fighter remains. For context, Fabio Wardley thrashed Lewandowski in three rounds 15 months ago.

The night before (August 28), 185 miles east at Havelstudios in Berlin, local star Jack Culcay looked very fortunate to get the split nod over Abass Baraou – also of Berlin – after a super-welterweight 12-rounder.

The previously unbeaten Baraou forced the action from the start and appeared to win the early rounds yet one judge, Iko Bebic, failed to give him any of the opening five. Yet Bebic then gave him five of the last six, when Culcay rallied, to turn in a scorecard that demands investigation. Judge Oliver Brien’s card (116-113 to Baraou) seemed most in keeping with the action but was trumped by Bebic (115-114) and Peter Milord (115-114) who favoured Culcay.

A fine MTK-promoted show in Yorkshire took place last Wednesday (August 26). Inside the Production Park Studios in South Kirkby, Belfast’s Lewis Crocker halted Strood’s Louis Greene when referee Michael Alexander stopped the scheduled welterweight 10-rounder at 2-02 of the seventh.

Crocker and Greene went to war in the opening moments, the chaos briefly curtailed by a big left that dropped Greene at the end of the first round. Crocker was in command but Greene was always in the bout. But the Northern Irishman’s pressure, particularly to the body, sapped his rival and after two further knockdowns in the seventh, the bout was halted.

The fight of the card saw Liam Taylor overcome the spirited Darren Tetley over 10 rounds in another welterweight battle. Bradford’s Tetley – 20-0 going in – started fast but was dropped in the second from a right hand.

Tetley rallied but his carelessness was punished and he touched down again from Taylor’s right hand. But the Middleton fighter did not have things all his own way, far from it. Tetley seemed to hurt Taylor in the fifth before the duo went all out for victory in the second half of the Howard Foster-officiated bout. In the end, the knockdowns made the difference as Taylor – via two scores of 96-93 and 95-93 – won the unanimous decision.

Also on the card: Edinburgh’s impressive Lee McGregor was too skilled for Newham’s overmatched Ryan Walker who was scythed to defeat after the Scot’s body attacks softened him before a huge right hand dropped him and persuaded Phil Edwards to call a halt after 16 seconds of the fifth; Naas’ Gary Culley brushed off a fifth round knockdown to outpoint Newport’s Craig Woodruff, 77-75 on Mr Edward’s card, over eight; and there were wins for two Northern Irish  debutants when Fearghus Quinn (Belleek) and James McGivern (Belfast) were adjudged 60-54 winners by Mr Edwards over Chalk Farm’s Robbie Chapman and Stockport’s Jamie Quinn respectively.

On the same day at Queensland Country Bank Stadium – in front of a crowd – in Australia, the emerging Tim Tszyu scored the biggest win of his career when he thrashed an out-of-sorts Jeff Horn in a one-sided mauling.

Horn was floored in the third and sixth rounds and should have been pulled out by his corner before referee Phil Austin stopped the contest at the end of the eighth. The impressive Tszyu teed off on Horn, who looked shot and disinterested from the start, at will.