A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:
Saturday at Riga, Latvia
Oleksandr Usyk W12 Mairis Briedis -- Full Recap
Unifies two cruiserweight titles -- World Boxing Super Series semifinals
Scores: 115-113 (twice), 114-114
Records: Usyk (14-0, 11 KOs); Briedis (23-1, 18 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: In a terrific action and skillful fight, tournament favorite Usyk, 31, the 2012 Olympic heavyweight gold medalist from Ukraine, once again went on the road and won in his opponent's hometown. This time he unified cruiserweight world titles with a close, but well-deserved majority decision win against Briedis to advance to the World Boxing Super Series final in May in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he will face the winner of Saturday's fight between titlists Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos. Usyk, a southpaw who retained his belt for the fourth time, and Breidis, 33, who was making his second defense, fought at an extremely fast pace, and both landed many powerful shots. In what was billed as the biggest sports event in Latvian history, Usyk sent the crowd home disappointed as he was just a bit faster, a bit more powerful and a bit better to earn a win in a fight that was judged very well.
Saturday at Inglewood, California
Lucas Matthysse KO8 Tewa Kiram -- Full Recap
Wins a vacant welterweight title
Records: Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs); Kiram (38-1, 28 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: If you missed the main event of HBO's first card of the year count yourself lucky. It was an all-time stinker, at least until the final 20 seconds or so when Matthysse, 35, of Argentina, finally did something and knocked out the unknown Kiram, 25, of Thailand to win a secondary belt, Matthysse's third try for a world title. Neither man did much of anything until the eighth round, when Matthysse, in his second fight at welterweight and only his second bout since October 2015, dropped Kiram with a right hand and finished him with a left jab, of all punches.
Jorge Linares W12 Mercito Gesta -- Full Recap
Retains world lightweight title
Scores: 118-110 (twice), 117-111
Records: Linares (44-3, 27 KOs); Gesta (31-2-2, 17 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Linares is way more talented than the mediocre Gesta, a Philippines native fighting out of San Diego, and the chasm in their abilities showed through in this fight that was decent but nothing special. Linares, 32, who won his 13th fight in a row, did a good job putting his combinations together and landing sharp punches, although he never truly hurt Gesta, 30, who fell to 0-2 in world title bouts. But Linares was always a step ahead and a punch better than Gesta, who had no zip on his shots and usually threw them one at a time, which won't get it done against a fighter of Linares' caliber. The win set Linares, a Venezuela native living in Las Vegas who retained his belt for the third time, up for a much bigger fight, possibly a defense against junior lightweight titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko or a unification bout with Mikey Garcia.
Saturday at Calgary
Zab Judah W10 Noel Mejia Rincon
Score: 99-91 (three times)
Records: Judah (44-9, 30 KOs); Rincon (21-14-1, 12 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Well, look who was back in the ring. Former welterweight and junior welterweight titleholder Judah, 40, a southpaw from New York fighting out of Las Vegas, won his second fight in a row as he boxed for the first time in one year. The fight was only Judah's second since a December 2013 decision loss to Paulie Malignaggi, but Judah didn't look half bad against Rincon, 33, of Mexico, who dropped his second fight in a row and third in his past four. Judah still has solid hand and foot speed that gave Rincon problems. Judah also showed tight defense, and although he didn't get a knockout, he landed some solid shots and rattled Rincon in the second round. About all Rincon could muster was nailing Judah with a rough low blow in the fourth round. Judah said he plans to be back in the ring in April, once again in Calgary.
Saturday at Tijuana, Mexico
Edivaldo Ortega W10 Drian Francisco
Scores: 98-92 (twice), 96-94
Records: Ortega (26-1-1, 12 KOs); Francisco (29-5-1, 22 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: Ortega, a southpaw fighting in his hometown, had few issues with Francisco, 35, of the Philippines, a former interim junior bantamweight titlist, even though one judge had the fight close. Ortega, who won his second fight in a row, was in command all the way. He kept a brisk pace and landed far more frequently than Francisco, who missed with a number of wild shots. Francisco was in the ring for the only the second time since losing a sleep-inducing 10-round decision at junior featherweight to Guillermo Rigondeaux in November 2015.
Saturday at Las Vegas
Sharif Bogere W10 Arturo Santos Reyes
Scores: 100-90 (twice), 99-91
Records: Bogere (31-1, 20 KOs); Reyes (19-9, 5 KOs)
Rafael's remarks: In 2013, Bogere, 29, a Uganda native fighting out of Las Vegas, lost a decision to Richar Abril for a vacant lightweight world title. Bogere is unbeaten in nine fights since (8-0 with a no contest because of a head butt), including this near-shutout of Santos Reyes on the Mayweather Promotions card at Sam's Town. Bogere dominated from start to finish against Santos Reyes, 32, of Mexico, who lost his third fight in a row and his sixth in his past seven, all by decision; he has never been stopped in nine defeats.