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World Weekend Report: Alvarez, Usyk, Hasegawa Win World Titles

This past weekend featured some excellent world title action with three major belts changing hands on three different continents.

We kick off this report in North America, where Saul "Canelo" Alvarez was back in action Saturday night as a light middle after two fights at middleweight. The 26 year old Mexican superstar headlined the huge AT&T Stadium in the American city of Arlington by challenging WBO champion Liam Smith.

Alvarez was engaging in his second contest in a row against a British fighter, having previously disposed of Amir Khan in May, but Smith proved to be a tougher nut to crack for the Guadalajara man.

The champion was initially taken aback in the early rounds by the surprising speed and offensive variety coming from Alvarez, who solved Smith's tight high guard shell defense with looping shots, body work and bracing uppercuts.

But by the fourth frame, Smith was beginning to give Alvarez some of his own medicine, pushing the challenger back and launching one-handed multi-punch combinations, particularly when he had "Canelo" on the ropes.

By the seventh round, Alvarez stepped up to a new gear, battering Smith with both hands. The 28 year old Englishman sucked up the punishment and came roaring back at times, surprisingly belting Alvarez around but he could not hurt the Mexican.

The end for Smith started that same round when a three punch head-body-head combo put him on the canvas. The champion recovered but was again down in the eighth, courtesy of a solar plexus shot.

In the ninth, Smith started a brave last stand, chopping away with both hands until Alvarez slipped in a full-blooded left to the rib cage that left "Beefy" writhing on the floor as the action was called off with just around thirty seconds remaining in the round.

Alvarez wins yet another world title, improving his record to 48-1-1 (34), and positions himself for a massive showdown with middleweight divisional ruler Gennady Golovkin.

Smith suffers his first career loss, dropping to 23-1-1 (13), but will certainly see his stock rise given his big-hearted effort against one of the sport's leading lights.

Over in Europe, the spotlight fell on Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland, where local man and WBO cruiserweight king Krzysztof Glowacki put his belt at risk against the undefeated Ukrainian contender Oleksandr Usyk.

From the start, Usyk showed the superb form that won him an Olympic gold medal, using his height and skill advantage to negate the pressure coming from the champion, who had success at times when he could trap the challenger on the ropes or force a close quarters brawl.

But Usyk showed grit in never allowing Glowacki to control the action, holding his own in the trenches at times before regaining distance.

By the time the dust settled, Usyk, now 10-0 (9), won the scorecards, 117-111 (twice) and 117-109, capturing his first world championship in just his tenth pro bout. Glowacki loses for the first time, dropping to 26-1 (16), after making one successful defense.

Look for Usyk to defend his new crown a couple of times in a bid to gain more experience before facing the likes of WBC titlist Tony Bellew or IBF/WBA king Denis Lebedev in a unification clash.

There was world class action on Friday night, where we travel to Asia, landing at Edion Arena in Japan's Osaka, where there were two big clashes.

Former WBC bantam and featherweight champ Hozumi Hasegawa shocked reigning WBC super bantam boss Hugo Ruiz in a brutal slugfest that had both men swollen and bleeding by the time Ruiz could not answer the bell for the tenth round.

Things started going bad for Mexico's Ruiz in the first round when a headclash with Hasegawa left the champion with a broken nose, for which the challenger lost a point.

Hasegawa used a quick and slippery southpaw style to negate the big punch of the champion, who couldn't solve the problems posed by the more experienced challenger.

At 35 years of age, Hasegawa wins an unexpected world title and now stands at 36-5 (16). The seasoned Kobe based vet should manage to hold onto the belt over the course of a few defenses as challengers will likely have to come to Japan and face a hostile partisan crowd as well as Hasegawa.

Ruiz falls to 36-4 (32) but at just 26 years of age has time to rebuild his career back in Los Mochis.

Also on the bill in Osaka, longtime WBC bantam regent Shinsuke Yamanaka, 26-0-2 (18), retained his crown for the 11th occasion by stopping ex-two weight world champ Anselmo Moreno, 36-5-1 (12), in a rematch to their 2015 pairing.

The first fight went the distance in a hard to score contest that Yamanaka won by a narrow split decision and this time the action was also very competitive.

Moreno was on the floor in the first frame but came back to put Yamanka on the deck in the fourth in a torrid affair. The champion came back to drop Moreno in the sixth and then repeated the feat twice in the seventh, forcing a stoppage.

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Photos by Sami Lommi and Jussi Talvitie of Photolies

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