A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Sunday at Liverpool, England
Tony Bellew KO3 Ilunga "Junior" Makabu
Wins a vacant cruiserweight title
Records: Bellew (27-2-1, 17 KOs); Makabu (19-2, 18 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Twice before Bellew lost in world title fights, both at light heavyweight -- by majority decision to Nathan Cleverly in 2011 (a loss avenged in 2014 at cruiserweight) and sixth-round knockout to Adonis Stevenson in 2013.
When world titleholder Grigory Drozd (40-1, 28 KOs), of Russia, had to twice withdraw from mandatory defenses against Makabu, he was made a titleholder "in recess" and Bellew got the chance to face Makabu for the vacant belt. Makabu, a hard-hitting southpaw, who is from Congo and based in South Africa, traveled to Bellew's hometown of Liverpool for the fight. It was put on in an electric atmosphere outdoors at the Goodison Park, the home stadium of the Everton Football Club and Bellew, who had a recent starring role in the Rocky film "Creed," did not disappoint, even if things looked bleak early on when Makabu, 28, dropped Bellew, 33, with a clean straight left hand in the final seconds of the first round.
Both fighters were fairly cautious in the second round but Bellew began to open up on offense in the third round. He backed Makabu near the ropes and let his hands go, blasting him with several clean shots, including a left and a right that badly hurt him. Bellew measured him for more blows as he hammered him at will. A left hook on the ropes bent Makabu over and he appeared out on his feet but Bellew landed one more hellacious right hand to finish him off, sending him to the mat out cold as referee Victor Loughlin was jumping in to call off the fight at 1 minute, 20 seconds. It was a sensational finishing sequence and sent the home crowd into a wild celebration as Bellew won his seventh fight in a row, which was easily the biggest of his career. The loss was Makabu's first since he was knocked out in the first round of his professional debut in 2008.
Stephen Smith TKO7 Daniel Brizuela
Records: Smith (24-2, 14 KOs); Brizuela (28-6-2, 8 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: On April 16, Smith, 30, lost his mandatory title shot against junior lightweight world titleholder Jose Pedraza in Mashantucket, Connecticut. Fighting in his hometown of Liverpool, he made a quick return against Brizuela, 30, of Argentina, and took him apart. Smith was in command from the outset, broke Brizuela down and knocked him down twice in the seventh round, first under from an accumulation of punches and then a few seconds later following a series of body shots. After Brizuela took a knee for the second knockdown referee Ian John Lewis waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 59 seconds
Callum Smith TKO6 Cesar Hernan Reynoso
Records: Smith (20-0, 15 KOs); Reynoso (14-8-3, 7 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Smith, 26, one of the four fighting Smith brothers from Liverpool, including junior middleweight world titleholder Liam Smith (who defends his belt on Saturday) and junior lightweight contender Stephen Smith and super middleweight Paul Smith, both of whom won on this card, took out Reynoso, 29, of Argentina, with ease. Although he is European super middleweight champion Callum Smith was fighting a nontitle bout just to stay busy for a mandatory shot at the winner of the September world title unification fight between James DeGale and Badou Jack. He battered poor Reynoso for the entire fight. He dropped him three times, in the first and fourth rounds with left hooks upstairs and with a left hook to the body in the fifth round, and then was pounding him in the sixth round when referee Steve Gray stepped in at 2 minutes, 2 seconds.
In another undercard fight, one-time heavyweight top prospect David Price (20-3, 17 KOs), 32, also of Liverpool and a 2008 British Olympic bronze medallist, dropped Vaclav Pejsar (9-3, 8 KOs), 31, of the Czech Republic, twice and stopped him at 1 minute, 30 seconds of the second round. It was Price's first fight in 10 months since suffering a second-round knockout in a fight for the vacant European title to Erkan Teper, who failed a drug test following the bout.
Saturday at Glendale, Ariz.
David Avanesyan W12 Shane Mosley
Retains an interim welterweight title
Scores: 117-110 (twice), 114-113
Records: Avanesyan (22-1-1, 11 KOs); Mosley (49-10-1, 41 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Avanesyan, 27, of Russia, was unknown coming into his first fight in the Untied States and making the first defense of the interim belt he won by ninth-round knockout of journeyman Charlie Navarro in November. He was picked by future Hall of Famer Mosley, 44, of Pomona, California, whose GoBox Promotions put on the fight on CBS Sports Net in the hopes Mosley could turn back the clock.
It was not to be as Mosley, a former lightweight, welterweight and junior middleweight world champion -- and also No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world during the early 2000s, has seen better days. Avanesyan is the kind of opponent the prime Mosley would have absolutely destroyed. This version of Mosley, who had actually won two fights in a row following a nearly two-year retirement, just did not have the same kind of speed, accuracy, defense of punching power he once had. He was competitive with Avanesyan, despite the two wide scorecards.
Mosley, who had legendary Hall of Famer Roberto Duran in his corner as head trainer for the first time, seemed to get off a solid start through the first quarter of the fight but then Avanesyan picked up the pace and came on strong. He worked Mosley to the body and also hurt him with a left hook late in the eighth round. In the 10th round, referee Wes Melton, who had previously warned Mosley for low blows, docked a point from him when he strayed low yet again. It turned out not to make a difference in the outcome but Mosley came out blasting in the 12th round and was going for a knockout as though he knew he was behind. But Avanesyan took what he had and scored the biggest win of his career to secure his place as the mandatory challenger for the winner of the June 25 bout between full titleholder Keith Thurman and former titlist Shawn Porter.
For Mosley, however, it's been a great career -- one in which he faced a who's who of his time, including Oscar De La Hoya twice, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Ricardo Mayorga twice, Fernando Vargas twice, Winky Wright twice, the late Vernon Forrest twice and even Canelo Alvarez -- and one that probably should come to an end.
Also on the card, Mosley's son, middleweight Shane Mosley Jr. (7-1, 5 KOs), 25, of Las Vegas, scored a hard-fought six-round majority decision win against Phoenix's Roberto Young (5-8, 4 KOs). Two judges scored the fight for Mosley, 59-55 and 58-56, and one had it 57-57.
Saturday at Glasgow, Scotland
Ricky Burns TKO8 Michele Di Rocco
Wins a vacant junior welterweight title
Records: Burns (40-5-1, 14 KOs); Di Rocco (40-2-1, 18 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Burns, 33, of Scotland, won a junior lightweight and lightweight world title before going through a rough stretch in 2014 and 2015 in which he went 1-3 at one point and looked like he might be done. But he came back to score two wins in a row, albeit against lesser opponent. Nonetheless, they put him in position to challenge Italy's Di Rocco, 34, the former European junior welterweight champion, for the 140-pound world title left vacant when Adrien Broner was stripped of the belt for failing to make weight before an April 1 defense against Ashley Theophane.
Burns looked terrific. He had no problems with Di Rocco, who was facing a name opponent for the first time in his 12-year career. With the win, Burns made Scottish boxing history as the first fighter from his country to win a world title in three weight divisions, doing so in front of a supportive home crowd, Burns' first fight in Scotland since 2014.
Burns started fast, staggering Di Rocco with a left hook late that sent him into the ropes late in the first round and the one-sided domination was on. He knocked Di Rocco down late in the third round when he rushed to him and nailed him with a left hand and a right. Burns continued to lay a beating on Di Rocco, who could not get anything going on offense or defense.
In the eighth round, Di Rocco looked exhausted and Burns did not let up. He bludgeoned him to the canvas with seven unanswered shots, although it was a crunching right hand that did most of the damage. Di Rocco beat the count but was very wobbly and had nothing left and referee Terry O'Connor waved it off at 1 minute, 57 seconds. It was a big win for Burns, who was leading by shutout scores of 70-62 on all three scorecards.
Two British prospects also appeared on the card. Middleweight Anthony Ogogo (9-0, 5 KOs), a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist who was fighting for only the second time since July 2014 because of injuries, knocked out Gary Cooper (4-20-1, 2 KOs), 27, of England, in the third-round of their scheduled six-rounder. Junior welterweight Conor Benn (2-0, 1 KO), the 19-year-old son of former middleweight and super middleweight world titleholder Nigel Benn, won a four-round decision over Luke Keleher (2-5-1, 1 KO), 29, of England. The referee, the only scorer, had it 40-36. Benn is scheduled to fight again on June 25 on the Anthony Joshua-Dominic Breazeale undercard.
Saturday at Bacolod City, Philippines
Donnie Nietes TKO5 Raul Garcia
Retains a junior flyweight title
Records: Nietes (38-1-4, 22 KOs); Garcia (38-4-1, 23 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Manny Pacquiao is, of course, the most famous all-time best champion to come from the Philippines, but fight after fight Nietes, 34, continues to etch his name into the boxing history of their country. Nietes made four strawweight title defenses and then moved up to the junior flyweight division he continues to dominate.
Since winning a 108-pound belt in 2011, Nietes has defended it nine times, including this dominant victory against Garcia, 33, of Mexico, a former two-time strawweight world titleholder who suffered the first knockout loss of his career. It was a far more dominant win than when Nietes retained the belt via unanimous decision against Ramon Garcia, Raul's twin brother, in October 2011.
In the third round, Nietes scored two knockdowns, first on a combination (left hook to the head and a right to the body) and then on a damaging right hand to the body. Although Garcia survived the round he took huge punishment until retiring on his stool after the fifth round.
Nietes isn't getting any younger and wants a big fight, which he deserves after all these years. Ideally, he would move up to flyweight and challenge either world champion and pound-for-pound king Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez or unified flyweight titlist Juan Francisco Estrada, two bouts he has said he is interested in. Before that, however, he is headed to a mandatory defense -- and a third bout -- against Moises Fuentes on Sept. 24 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. In title defenses, Nietes fought to a majority draw with Fuentes in 2013 and knocked him out in the ninth round in 2014. After that bout the move up to flyweight is expected.
Saturday at San Antonio
Miguel Vazquez W10 Erick Bone
Scores: 99-91, 97-93, 96-94
Records: Vazquez (36-5, 13 KOs); Bone (16-4, 8 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Former lightweight world titleholder Vazquez, 29, of Mexico, has a well-earned reputation as perhaps boxing's single-most boring fighter in the sport to watch, so his Premier Boxing Champions main event on Fox Sports 1 was not what anyone would call must-see TV, and it wasn't. Although Vazquez, who was coming off a decision loss to former junior lightweight titlist Argenis Mendez in October and moving up in weight to box at a contract weight of 144 pounds, actually was a bit more aggressive than usual against Bone (a late replacement on about two weeks' notice for injured 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz) it was still an utterly lackluster fight other than a few interesting moments, such as in the second round when Vazquez rocked Bone with a right hand and a similar shot in the eighth round. But generally Vazquez stayed behind his jab, boxed and moved and won the clear decision. You've seen one round, you've seen them all.
"I wanted to throw the heavier punches because I thought I could win by knockout, but that didn't happen," said Vazquez, who called out former titleholder Adrien Broner after the bout. "There was an overhand right in the eighth round that I thought hurt him badly. He was an elusive fighter and survived, so there are still things that I have to work on."
Bone, 27, of Ecuador, lost his third fight in a row, all against good opponents, including a hard-fought decision against former junior welterweight world titleholder Chris Algieri in December and a fifth-round knockout loss to former welterweight titlist Shawn Porter 14 months ago, a fight Bone also took on a few days' notice.
Friday at Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller TKO2 Nick Guivas
Records: Miller (17-0-1, 15 KOs); Guivas (12-4-2, 9 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Miller, 27, of Brooklyn, New York, is an interesting up-and-comer in a heavyweight division suddenly coming to life. Miller's easy victory against club fighter Guivas, 37, of Topeka, Kansas, was totally expected but Miller went about it methodically. The 6-foot-4, 283-pound Miller worked well off his jab, put his punches together well and viciously attacked the body of the 6-0, 230-pound Guivas in the main event of promoter Greg Cohen's CBS Sports Net main event.
Miller dropped Guivas twice in the opening round, first with a left hand to the body with 40 seconds to go and then again moments later when he landed a nice right hand around the ear just before the bell. Miller continued to stalk Guivas in the second round, in which he scored two more knockdowns. Early in the round, he landed a right-left combination to both sides of Guivas' body and he sunk to a knee for the first one. Then came a left hook to the body that dropped him to a knee yet again. This time referee Rich Pakozdi did not bother to count and waved the fight off at 1 minute, 26 seconds.
Miller, a former kickboxer, has a big personality which will help him go far in boxing if it turns out he can actually fight. After the bout he called out basically every heavyweight of note, throwing insults their way in a humorous way as he looks to keep climbing the ladder hoping to gain attention as he does it.