Wooden shocks Can, takes title in Twelfth-round TKO

Boxing

Leigh Wooden capitalized on a sluggish efficiency from Xu Can to drag off the upset and win the WBA “common” featherweight title by TKO within the Twelfth spherical Saturday in Essex, England.

Good from begin to end, Wooden floored Can with a proper hook within the Twelfth. After taking a depend, Can by no means recovered and was stopped on his toes by referee Marcus McDonnell as Wooden piled on punches.

Can (18-3, 3 KOs), who entered as ESPN’s No. 3-rated featherweight, was anticipated to overwhelm Wooden along with his quantity of punches. However, in keeping with CompuBox stats, Can threw simply 75 punches per spherical after averaging 107 per spherical in his earlier six fights.

The Chinese language boxer appeared to undergo from ring rust coming off a 20-month layoff and lacked his normal punch output. Wooden, in the meantime, was razor sharp and picked his punches completely in his first world title combat.

Wooden, who turns 33 on Sunday, rose to the problem regardless of preventing on six weeks’ discover.

“I actually need to take a look at myself in opposition to different high fighters now,” Wooden mentioned. “I am 33 in an hour. It was about protecting my self-discipline and never getting carried away.”

Can was making his third title protection and fought for the primary time since November 2019, when he unanimously outpointed Manny Robles III.

Wooden (25-2, 14 KOs), 32, from Nottingham, frequently picked holes in Can’s guard, rocking again the Chinese language boxer’s head with uppercuts.

After being saved out of the ring for therefore lengthy because of the coronavirus pandemic, Can began slowly and his head was jolted again by an uppercut within the second spherical.

Can, 27, from Beijing however who trains in Miami, was busier from the third spherical when he started to outpunch Wooden, however the English boxer continued to have success with single energy photographs on the counter.

Wooden landed extra uppercuts within the fourth and fifth rounds, as he continued to seek out holes in Can’s protection.

Wooden, who gained the British title in his earlier combat in February, outworked Can within the eighth and the Chinese language boxer by no means settled into his normal high-tempo rhythm of quantity punching.

Wooden switched stances within the final two rounds, irritating Can. When Wooden landed a brief proper to the jaw within the final spherical, a weary Can dropped to the canvas. Wooden adopted as much as power the stoppage at 2 minutes, 43 seconds of the Twelfth spherical.

Wooden’s win brings one other shocking change to the featherweight panorama. Can was alleged to be preventing Wooden’s fellow English boxer Josh Warrington this yr, however Warrington was stopped in a stunning defeat to Mexican Mauricio Lara earlier this yr.

Warrington faces Lara in a rematch on Sept. 4. Child Galahad and Jazza Dickens, each from England, will combat for the vacant IBF world featherweight title on Aug. 7.

• On the undercard, Anthony Fowler (15-1, 12 KOs) arrange a giant combat with rival Liverpool tremendous welterweight Liam Smith on Oct. 9 with an eighth-round stoppage win over Germany’s Rico Mueller.

Smith (29-3-1, 16 KOs), 33, made two defenses of the WBO world tremendous welterweight title earlier than he was knocked out by Canelo Alvarez, boxing’s largest star, in 2016. Smith failed in an try to win again the belt in 2018, when he was unanimously outpointed by Mexico’s Jaime Munguia. In his final bout, he was unanimously outpointed by Russia’s Magomed Kurbanov in Could.

Fowler, 30, dominated Mueller, and it was the proper confidence booster forward of what would be the largest combat of his profession in opposition to Smith in Liverpool.

• Chris Billam-Smith captured the European and Commonwealth cruiserweight titles, in addition to the vacant British crown, in a split-decision win over Tommy McCarthy.

McCarthy (18-3, 9 KOs), 30, from Belfast, was ranked No. 3 by the WBA and No. 4 by the IBF, however his world title hopes took successful with this defeat.

“I will likely be shocked if he needs a rematch, but when he does I am up for it,” Billam-Smith mentioned.

McCarthy appeared harmful from the beginning, and Billam-Smith (13-1, 10 KOs), 30, from Bournemouth in England, did nicely to soak up a giant proper within the first spherical.

The early rounds have been shut, however Billam-Smith landed a succession of hooks within the fifth spherical. McCarthy took extra punishment when he discovered himself trapped on the ropes and caught by a proper cross in a spherical that belonged to Billam-Smith.

McCarthy completed the sixth higher, however suffered a nasty reduce above the fitting eye from a conflict of heads. It was an in depth, grueling combat, and each fighters look like a methods off from a world title shot.

• Turkish tremendous middleweight Avni Yildirim has misplaced three straight after being unanimously outpointed by England’s Jack Cullen (20-2-1, 9 KOs). Yildirim lasted three rounds with Alvarez in February, after dropping a technical resolution to American Anthony Dirrell a yr earlier.

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