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World Weekend Boxing Roundup: Wilder, Pedraza, Walters, Lara

There were a few good fight cards around the globe this weekend and we'll kick off this report in the American state of Alabama, where favorite son Deontay Wilder was in action.

Gracing the cavernous Barstow Arena in Birmingham, Wilder put his WBC heavyweight belt up for grabs for the first time as he faced off against little known challenger Eric Molina.

Molina had his moments, including landing a big left that shook Wilder in the third and later a right that snapped back the head of the champion but the challenger was unable to avoid nor take the big shots of "The Bronze Bomber".

Wilder was just too fast for Molina, 23-3 (17), who was floored in the fourth and twice in the fifth before getting decked once again in the ninth, prompting referee Jack Reiss to stop the fight at 1:03 of the round.

Now standing at 34-0 (33), Wilder gets closer to a unification showdown with world champion Wladimir Klitschko, although it would be advisable for the American to face better competition before taking such a big leap up and perhaps this showing against Molina will embolden his backers to allow him the freedom to do so.

On the undercard, the vacant IBF super feather title has a new owner as Jose Pedraza, 20-0 (12), handily outpointed Andrey Klimov, 19-2 (9), by scores of 120-108, 120-108 and 119-109.

Next up for Pedraza could be a massive domestic showdown with fellow Puerto Rican Rocky Martinez, who regained his old WBO super feather strap in April.

There was also a highly anticipated clash at lightweight between undefeated southpaw contenders Ivan Redkach and Dejan Zlaticanin, who tangled for the WBC's mandatory challenger position.

Ukraine's Redkach, 18-1 (14), is well known in the states as he has fought his entire pro career in America and it was somewhat of a shock that he was gunned down and out in the fourth by Montenegro's Zlaticanin, 21-0 (14).

Zlaticanin proved that his upset of former two weight world champion Ricky Burns a year ago was no fluke and now the 31 year old has the right to challenge WBC king Jorge Linares.

Super welter Julian Williams, 20-0-1 (12), operated at peak efficiency in his sixth round hammering of well-traveled opponent Armen Ovsepyan, 14-5 (11), for the WBC Continental Americas belt.

Heading north up the coast, we land in New York's famed Madison Square Garden where the WBA "Super" featherweight crown was fought over by Nicholas Walters and challenger Miguel Marriaga.

This interesting bout between unbeaten sluggers was given a little extra spice by the fact that the obscure Marriaga had beaten "The Axeman" in the amateurs in 2008 but when Walters couldn't make weight, therefore vacating a title he was now unable to win, it threw a bit of a wet blanket over the whole affair.

During the fight, Walters, 26-1 (21), managed to maintain distance and operate with authority from the first round, hurting Marriaga, 20-1 (18), a few times but could not KO his old rival.

Regardless, Jamaica's top boxer swept the cards by comfortable margins of 119-108, 118-109 and 117-110.

The WBC trophy remains vacant and it will interesting to see if Walters moves up in weight or discovers newfound motivation to return to the 126 pound class and reacquire his old strap.

Also at MSG, lightweight Felix Verdejo, 18-0 (13), knocked Ivan Najera, 16-1 (8), down in the fifth and seventh rounds enroute to posting a 100-88, 100-88 and 99-89 points verdict after ten rounds for the WBO Latino title.

Hanging a sharp right, we next land at Whitchurch Sports Centre in Bristol, England where local bantamweight veteran Lee Haskins, 32-3 (14), finally got a chance to walk on the world stage.

With the Interim IBF title on offer, the tricky stylist overcame fellow southpaw Ryosuke Iwasa, 19-2 (12), at 2:10 of the sixth round after dropping the former OPBF and Japanese champion.

Former two-time European champ Haskins was in the best form of his career, scoring sizzling combinations while handling anything Iwasa was able to land.

Haskins is now the mandatory challenger to IBF champion Randy Caballero, currently sidelined by injury.

The chief support bout featured British light heavy king Bob Ajisafe, 16-2 (7), continuing his recent surge of punching power with a fourth round KO of Daniel Wanyonyi, 21-7-2 (17), for the Commonwealth title.

Turning back the clock as we jump back over the Atlantic to America, we next visit UIC Pavilion in Chicago where WBA super welter king Erislandy Lara, 21-2-2 (12), put on a clinic against challenger Delvin Rodriguez, 28-8-4 (16), on Friday.

Lefty Lara was at his shifty best, utilizing his Cuban style to befuddle Rodriguez, making the Connecticut man miss and eat leather all night long. The challenger never stopped trying but could not get to grips with his ever-moving target.

Lara floored Rodriguez in the sixth on the way to winning a 120-107 UD on all three scorecards.

Afterward, Lara reportedly called out some big names at super welter and middleweight but the 32 year old presents a difficult test for anyone and could continue to be avoided by better known world champions.

The Guantanamo Bay native could have to settle for facing WBA Interim champ Jack Culkay, which would probably mean a trip to Germany, something Lara will probably not be looking forward to.

On the undercard, light heavy slugger Artur Beterbiev, 9-0 (9), was taken past four rounds for the first time in his career but in the end the result was the same as the Russian gunned down veteran Alexander Johnson, 16-3 (7), at 1:38 of the seventh round.

Beterbiev is similar in boxing style to WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and WBA/IBF/WBO light heavyweight king Sergey Kovalev and the 30 year old Montreal resident is a credible threat fast gaining on the division's elite operators.

About Wellington Amadulu

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Photos by Sami Lommi and Jussi Talvitie of Photolies

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