A rising prospect continued to see his stock go up, a trio of awful scorecards robbed a woman of an opportunity to unify world titles, and a maligned fighter’s controversial return to the ring was a successful one at the Caribe Royale in Orlando.
Step one of Conor Benn’s comeback is complete as he won a wide unanimous decision over Rodolfo Orozco.
Benn’s return was highly criticized after multiple failed drug tests kept him out of the ring over the past year. Even though the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) and National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP) refused to lift the suspension and license Benn in his own country, the Brit ended up slipping through the cracks when the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) lifted their suspension and allowed him to compete in Florida.
Benn (22-0) wasted little time sliding into a rhythm, cracking Orozco at will with his thudding right hand as he pursued his 15th stoppage. In the third round, Benn lit Orozco up with a right hand that sent his opponent reeling into the ropes. But Orozco — who had never been stopped in his career — fought back and refused to get run out of the building. The spotlight began to shift to the otherwordly chin of Orozco as he absorbed an outrageous amount of punishment but never appeared to be in any real trouble.
Although he was down big, Orozco refused to go away and had his moments in round five. Benn decided to shift gears and opted to box rather than seek the finish. The Brit went to the body more in the seventh round, which resulted in Orozco slowing down.
Benn lit up Orozco in the ninth round with a pair of blistering right hands but the Mexican’s durability was on full display. Benn continued to chip away with body shots in an attempt to get the finish but Orozco wouldn’t give in.
Try as he might, Benn had to be happy with the decision as he earned two scores of 99-91 while another judge must have seen more value in Orozco’s ability to survive with a scorecard of 96-94. The win is in the books but the story will remain the controversy that surrounds Benn.
Richardson Hitchins (17-0, 7 KOs) moved closer to a world title fight at 140 pounds by cruising to a unanimous decision over Jose Zepeda. It wasn’t terribly exciting as Zepeda couldn’t figure out Hitchins and was systematically shut down throughout the fight.
Hitchins observed Zepeda in the opening round and then began to pick Zepeda apart as the fight wore on behind a sharp jab and a right hand that didn’t miss when he threw it. Meanwhile, Zepeda couldn’t get a read on his opponent and struggled to find the mark. Hitchins was never taken out of his comfort zone and Zepeda didn’t press hard enough to force the 25-year-old to alter his strategy.
A clash of heads opened up a cut in the middle of Zepeda’s head in the seventh round and was about all the drama in the fight. Hitchins’s corner urged their fighter to find the finish and the 2016 Olympian started to ramp up the activity. The accumulation of punishment began to wear down Zepeda in the 10th round.
But Hitchins wouldn’t put himself in danger by taking an unnecessary risk and continued to outbox Zepeda until the final bell. Scores were 120-108 twice and one card of 119-109
Sandy Ryan and Jessica McCaskill ended in a split draw but it seemed obvious to most that Ryan was robbed of the opportunity to unify the women’s welterweight titles.
Scores were 96-94 for Ryan and an egregiously incorrect scorecard for McCaskill of 97-93. The third judge somehow saw it even with a scorecard of 95-95, making the fight a draw.
It’s an unfortunate outcome for Ryan, who started and finished strong over the course of ten rounds while McCaskill never got out of first gear.
It was evident early that Ryan simply wanted it more and began to work over the former undisputed champion with combinations and body shots. It appeared that the body shots from Ryan took the wind out of McCaskill’s sails and hurt her in the middle rounds. By the eighth round, Ryan had little concern with what McKaskill was throwing back and marched her down while routinely beating her to the punch.
When the final bell rang, it seemed obvious that Ryan would be adding McCaskill’s WBA, WBC, and The Ring magazine titles to her collection. But, somehow, two of the three judges managed to find rounds to give to McCaskill. A chorus of boos filled up the building when it was announced that the fight was scored a split draw and fans can only hope that they run this fight back sooner rather than later.
Richardson Hitchins vs. Jose Zepeda full card results
- Richardson Hitchins def. Jose Zepeda (120-108, 120-108 & 119-109
- Conor Benn def. Rodolfo Orozco via unanimous decision (99-91, 99-91 & 96-94)
- Sandy Ryan and Jessica McCaskill ends in split draw (96-94, 97-93 & 95-95)
- Austin Williams def. Steve Rolls via unanimous decision (97-93, 97-93 & 97-93)
- Orestes Velazquez def. Mohamed Soumaoro via 8th round TKO (2:19)
- Khalil Coe def. Kenmon Evans via 2nd round TKO (1:21)
- Jasmine Artiga def. Haley Pasion via unanimous decision (80-71, 80-71 & 80-71)