January Recap: Beterbiev, Maloney, Barroso Standout
Fighter of The Month: Artur Beterbiev
With his seventh-round TKO victory over former 168lb champion Callum Smith, Artur Beterbiev is our fighter of the month for January of 2024. In the first few seconds of the fight, he asserted himself and landed a flurry that backed Smith up against the ropes. From that point on he methodically broke down the mandatory challenger, showing no signs of potential slippage even at nearly forty years old. He became the first man to drop Callum Smith in the seventh and then floored him again shortly after, forcing Buddy McGirt to step into the ring to save his fighter from further punishment. Beterbiev improved to 20-0 with 20KOs, looking as sharp as ever, and now turns his attention to a highly anticipated undisputed fight with fellow pound-for-pound talent Dmitry Bivol.
Jaime Munguia also deserves mention for his victory over John Ryder. Ryder was seen as a “live dog” coming into the fight but Munguia dominated from the opening bell much to the surprise of many. He sent Ryder to the canvas four times in total, including twice in the ninth round before the fight was stopped. Munguia picked up his most impressive victory to date and did something Canelo Alvarez couldn’t do by stopping the always-game Ryder inside the distance.
– Jack Kelly
Fight of the Month: Jason Moloney vs Saul Sanchez
The WBO bantamweight title fight between Jason Moloney and Saul Sanchez is not only the fight of the month for January, but as 2024 comes to a close it will be in the discussion for fight of the year honors. The challenger Sanchez came out strong and forced the champion into more of a trench warfare fight than he would have preferred, but the experience and championship pedigree of Moloney wound up being the difference in a razor-close fight. Both men landed flush shots that bothered the other, but neither folded under pressure and they gave us a fight for the ages. The end of the fight was fitting, as both Moloney and Sanchez stood and traded hellacious blows until the final bell. Moloney won a majority decision, but this was the type of fight where there were truly no losers.
Natasha Jonas defended her IBF welterweight strap against Mikaela Mayer a week later, and like the Moloney-Sanchez fight it had its fair share of activity and drama which led to it earning honorable mention recognition. Jonas boxed well in the early rounds and appeared to have a lead on the cards, but Mayer started to close the distance in the mid-rounds which forced some exciting exchanges. Many viewers believed Mayer had done enough to get the victory, but the hometown favorite Jonas was awarded the split decision victory in the end.
– Jack Kelly
Knockout of the Month: Ismael Barroso KO1 Ohara Davies
In what seemed like a very odd matchip for an interim title, Ohara Davies took on Ismael Barroso, a 41 year old fighter fresh off a controversial stoppage loss to Rolly Romero in a fight he was well ahead in. On paper, the 31 year old Davies appeared to be the favporite, coming off a 5 year unbeaten streak since a close decision loss to Jack Catteral in 2018.
Instead it was Barroso who caught Davies with a hard counter left hand that he would never recover from, dropping him twice hard before ultimately the fight was stopped. Barroso started on the back foot, giving Davies a false sense of confidence coming forward, catching him off guard and earning our knockout of the month in a feel good win.
NOTABLE FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS
March 30: Keith Thurman vs Tim Tszyu and Rolando Romero vs Isaac Cruz
March 29: Seniesa Estrada vs Yoka Valle