Unknown just six months ago, Miguel Berchelt, in his first world title defense, dominated Japanese challenger Takashi Miura, defeating the game Miura by unanimous decision Saturday night to retain his WBC Super Featherweight title at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, Calif.
The fight card was televised by HBO.
The Mexican fighting in the U.S. for only the third time, Berchelt won the title in January with a huge upset of champion Francisco Vargas by 11th-round TKO in a bloody battle at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif.
Berchelt skilfully boxed and moved around the ring, picking Miura off from the opening bell, and knocked the former champion down in the first round, though it was more of a flash knockdown that did not seem to hurt Miura. But as the fight wore on, Berchelt pounded Miura with thudding body shots. Both fighters took big shots to the body throughout the fight and kept coming.
Berchelt (32-1, 28 KOs) won comfortably by scores of 116-111, 119-108 and 120-109. He threw 300 more punches than Miura (31-4-2, 24 KOs), and landed 11 more (245 of 745 for Berchelt and 134 of 436 for Miura). Berchelt connected on 46% of his power punches (171 of 369), which was the difference in the outcome.
“I knew it was going to be a tough fight, but I knew I was the better fighter,” Berchelt, 25, said. “I’m very happy for the win and I knew I won.”
Berchelt weathered Miura’s best shots, especially his heavy left hand.
“Miura has the toughest left hand in the division and he was hitting me and hurting me sometimes,” Berchelt said. “I prepared very well because I knew I was facing an ex-world champion but thankfully things went my way.”
Asked if he was ready and willing to fight Vasyl Lomachenko, perhaps the best fighter in the division and one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Berchelt said, “I beat Vargas and I beat Miura. I’m ready to fight the best.”
Corrales retains title: Panamanian super featherweight titlist Jezreel Corrales survived two fifth-round knockdowns by challenger Robinson Castellanos and went on to win a majority decision in a fight that was stopped by an accidental headbutt 31 seconds into the 10th round of the scheduled 12-round bout.
The ringside doctor stopped the fight after a headbutt by Corrales opened a deep gash under Castellanos’ right eye. Corrales (22-1, 8 KOs) won by scores of 94-94, 94-93 and 96-92. Castellanos, who earned the title shot with a stoppage of Yuriorkis Gamboa in May.
With the loss, Castellanos, the Mexican fighter named for Sugar Ray Robinson, fell to 24-13 (14 KOs).
Castellanos outlanded Corrales both in overall punches and power punches.
Barrera defeats Joe Smith: Cuban light-heavyweight Sullivan Barrera, whose only professional loss came against pound-for-pound king Andre Ward, survived a first-round knockdown and came back to defeat construction worker Joe Smith by unanimous decision on the televised undercard.
After his first-round knockdown, Barrera (20-1, 14 KOs), turned it around and was by far the more accurate boxer, outworking and outlanding Smith (23-2, 19 KOs) the rest of the way in the 10-round bout that was changed from a 12-rounder for the WBC International light-heavyweight fight.
Barrera landed 39% of his punches (187 of 484), while Smith was only able to land 61 of 320 punches (19%). The edge in power punches went to Barrera 129-46.
The judges’ scores were 97-92 twice and 96-93 for Barrera.