By Jim Dower: Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs) and Yunier Dorticos (23-1, 21 KOs) had a much tougher time than expected in defeating their respective opponents Jason Moloney (17-1, 14 KOs) and Mateusz Masternak (41-5, 28 KOs) on Saturday night in the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight and cruiserweight tournaments at the CFE Arena, in Orlando, Florida.
In the main event, Rodriguez, beat the 27-year-old Moloney by a 12 round split decision. The scores were 115-113, 115-113 for Rodriguez, and 115-113 for Moloney. Boxing News 24 scored the fight for Rodriguez by a 116-112 score. Moloney came on strong down the stretch after Rodriguez, 26, gassed out badly. The body punching from Moloney seemed to really negatively effect Rodriguez, who looked hurt in the 12th round from the shots he was taking.
Even in the early rounds, Rodriguez found it tough to land shots without getting nailed in return each time he’d throw by Moloney. The lack of punching power and hand speed for Rodriguez made it tough on him to dominate the fight in the way that he’d been doing in his previous fights.
Moloney’s steady pressure paid off for him with him coming on strong in the second half of the fight to make it close. What cost Moloney the fight was the slow start he had in the first half of the fight. He let too many rounds get away from him, and it was hopeless by the end for him to make up all that ground without a knockdown or two.
The win for Rodriguez lines him for a unification fight against WBA bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue in the semifinal of the World Boxing Super Series 118 lb tournament. Inoue (17-0, 15 KOs) came all the way from Japan to watch Rodriguez-Moloney fight. Inoue, 26, was in the crowd taking it all in. After the fight, Inoue entered the ring and stood for photos and a face off with Rodriguez. Inoue didn’t look worried at all in standing next to Rodriguez, as he saw all he needed to for him size up his opponent.
Former World Boxing Association ‘regular’ cruiserweight champion Yunier Dorticos (23-1, 21 KOs) beat Masternak by a close 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 116-112, 115-113 and 115-113. The Dorticos vs. Masternak fight was the quarterfinal of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament. Dorticos, 32, started to gas out by the 2nd round and struggle from the pressure that was being put on him by the Polish fighter Masternak.
The fight was a WBA cruiserweight title eliminator, which makes Dorticos the mandatory challenger to WBA champion Oleksandr Usyk, who holds all four belts. It’s likely the WBA will have Dorticos challenge WBA ‘regular’ cruiserweight champion Beibut Shumenov, as Usyk is expected to vacate his four cruiserweight belts if he beats Tony Bellew next month on November 10 in their PPV fight on Sky Box Office.
Dorticos’ punching power presented a big problem for Masternak all throughout the fight, as he was forced to box smart to avoid the Cuban’s powerful shots, which he did a good job of doing. However, Dorticos was still landing with major power even into the 12th round. You could see the fatigue in Dorticos’ body though, as he was holding frequently to try and rest each time he’d throw shots. Masternak had a nasty bruise on the right side of his face from some of the big shots that he’d taken from the Cuban.
The win for Dorticos moves him forward to the next round of the WBSS tournament against Andrew Tabiti in the semifinal. That’s going to be a tough fight for Dorticos, because Tabiti can punch and he’s got excellent boxing skills. What may give Dorticos a chance to win is Tabiti’s poor stamina. He wears down late in his fights if he can’t get a KO early on. Dorticos might be a little too advanced for Tabiti to be fighting at this point in his career.
Cruiserweight Mike Perez (24-3-1, 15 KOs) won an ugly 10 round unanimous decision over Keith Tapia (18-2, 11 KOs). The scores were 97-92, 96-3 and 96-93. Perez spent most of the fight clinching and looking tired. It was not an impressive performance by Perez, who looks weak at cruiserweight compared to when he was fighting at heavyweight. Perez showed no improvement from the performance he put in last year in losing to Mairis Briedis.