A recap of the highest-profile boxing matches of the weekend.
This was boxing, right?
Richard Abril defended his WBA lightweight title Saturday in Las Vegas against Sharif Bogere. At least that's the straight-forward version.
But what occurred was perfectly fitting for a place called "The Joint" at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. After 12 rounds of holding, clutching, head-butting, tackling and awkward exchanges, Abril (18-3-1, 8 KOs) was accurate enough and sound enough technically to walk away with a unanimous decision, but the victory came at a cost with the champion suffering cuts above each eye as a result of head-butts in the fourth and sixth rounds.
Bogere took down Abril in each of the first two rounds -- with the champ pushing down Bogere in the 10th -- and Abril had a point deducted in the eighth round for holding. Bogere (23-1, 15 KOs) was finally docked a point for head-butting in the final round, but by that point we were just happy no one was hit with a chair.
Abril took control of the bout as it wore on with effective counter-punching, using his length -- and plenty of holding -- to keep the shorter, hard-charging Bogere at bay.
As the right hands piled up for Abril and the outcome was no longer in doubt, the best thing that could be said for a game and determined Bogere is that he didn't opt to leap off the top turnbuckle for a surprise pin. Needless to say, his ring exit was much more subdued than his entrance.
What's next? Lightweight king Adrien Broner was ringside Saturday, and that's the first name that pop's up whenever a title bout takes place in the division. Abril is tall and has great length for a lightweight, and he certainly knows all the tricks to keep things interesting. It makes for an intriguing matchup, but it's hard to see Broner losing. Abril has said he would like to avenge his disputed April 2012 loss to slugger Brandon Rios, but Rios reportedly has no interest in getting mixed up with Abril again.
The undercard: Stop if you've heard this one before: Super prospect Gary Russell Jr. (22-0, 13 KOs) walked through another overmatched opponent on his way to an easy win. It wasn't all good news for the super featherweight, who said he thought he broke his left hand early in the fight against Vyacheslav Gusev (20-3, 5KOs). Coincidentally or not, Russell's left glove ruptured along the wrist and the bout had to be briefly halted before the ninth round to swap it out.
"Great fighters are willing to make the necessary adjustments in the ring," Russell said. I went six rounds straight with one hand."
Great fighters also fight real competition. Let's get it going, Gary.
The last words: "That guy, that's his style. He grabs, he holds, he uses elbows and stuff. The ref kept warning him but ... I think it was a close fight, but I think I deserved to win the fight." -- Bogere, whose best offensive output Saturday came from head-butts