The fact that Alberto Machado lost is not necessarily a surprise. The fact he lost to someone on the perceived level of Andrew Cancio is probably slightly surprising. Machado is a physically imposing specimen who can punch, but his fundamental boxing skills are not great. The difference here was experience. Whereas Cancio (with four losses and two draws on the slate) had tasted tough times before and boasted the experience and savvy to survive a heavy first-round knockdown and keep plugging away.
Puncher Machado, nicknamed “El Explosivo”, came in with an 81% knockout ratio, but had only competed in 61 rounds. Recent victims Rafael Mensah and Youndale Evans were not of championship calibre, and both proved to be ripe pickings for Machado. Some thought that Freddie Roach’s insistence on overt aggression might walk him into trouble. That proved to be the case as Cancio hammered Machado’s body to such an extent that the Puerto Rican folded in the fourth.
Cancio was more seasoned having boxed twice as many rounds and arrived on reasonable form. Ronny Rios and Joseph Diaz were both unbeaten at the time when they defeated the West Coast boxer on the way up. Cancio, 30, did stop unbeaten Kazakh Aidar Sharibayev in early 2018 in an upset victory. This time he took home Machado’s WBA title for his endeavours. Fair play to him.
Rey Vargas notched another win, but it’s hard to get too excited about the Mexican until he unifies or takes on a premier opponent. The WBC super-bantamweight king made the fourth defence of his title when he defeated little-known Franklin Manzanilla in the Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio on the same card as Machado-Cancio.
Boxing on DAZN, Vargas was surprisingly dropped in the second round by an unheralded challenger who had manoeuvred his way into contention with a shock retirement win over Julio Ceja last year. Manzanilla was a puncher if nothing else. The powerful left hook he landed in the second session seemingly woke Vargas up, and the champion proceeded to get on the jab. Taking control of sorts, Vargas later suffered a cut to the eye. The Mexican bemoaned Manzanilla’s wayward head as being the reason behind the laceration. Vargas is talented but needs to target the likes of TJ Doheny and Daniel Roman in a bid to inject some fizz into his career.
Boxing in Belfast’s Ulster Hall on Saturday night cruiserweight Tommy McCarthy went through the motions against Czech survivor Jiri Svacina. Tommy is talented but occasionally lets in-ring lethargy take over. Coasting against Svacina is fine (he got a solid eight rounds in the bank as he returns from an extended lay off), but the “Mack Attack” will have to be on his game when he takes on unbeaten Richard Riakporhe in early March.
Riakporhe, 29, is 6’5” and has starched seven of his eight victims including Sam Hyde in Manchester last year. He also knocked out Svacina when they boxed in 2017. McCarthy, meanwhile, was a top amateur and has only lost to Matty Askin as a pro. This could be the big chance for the Belfast man to push his way back into the limelight, and the perfect opponent to bring the best out of him.
It’s hard to beat a good old small hall scrap. That’s precisely what Feargal McCrory and Karl Kelly served up shortly after McCarthy’s win. McCrory packs in the fans, offering an exciting style if lacking somewhat of a dig. Dubliner Kelly was 2-2 going in but fought hard from the first bell until he was stopped in the ninth round of a scheduled 10. It would’ve been nice to see him last the distance but with the blood flowing and heat rising referee David Irving’s stoppage call was correct.