We witnessed several shocking upsets and devastating knockouts at the title level this month.
The boxing world was extremely active in May, and several prominent talents competed. Undisputed champions Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Katie Taylor were among those that entered the ring, with varying results.
Alvarez successfully defended his undisputed super middleweight title with a decision victory over John Ryder, while Taylor’s effort to become undisputed in both weight classes fell short when she was defeated by Chantelle Cameron, who is the super lightweight champion.
There was a lot more activity that might have gone unnoticed, such as multiple world championship matches and significant upsets.
In light of this (and the fact that there is just one huge bout scheduled for this weekend), let’s look at some of the boxing action you might have missed in May.
Jason Moloney def. Vincent Astrolabio, May 13
The twin Moloneys’ month of May was extremely upsetting. First up was Jason, who took on Astrolabio for the vacant WBO bantamweight championship. Moloney had previously lost to Emmanuel Rodriguez in 2018 and Naoya Inoue in 2020 in his career’s three world title fights. When Moloney faced Astrolabio, he took advantage of his finest chance to win the world championship so far.
Moloney outboxed Astrolabio over 12 rounds. While being heavily torn apart by the Australian, the Filipino spent the entire fight searching for one decisive blow. The crowd made sure the fighters knew it wasn’t going to be a fun fight, but Moloney used a wise tactical strategy and deserved to win even if he only received two of the three official scorecards. 114-114, 115-113, and 116-112 were the final scores.
Janibek Alimkhanuly def. Steven Butler, May 13
In his previous fight against Denzel Bentley, WBO middleweight champion Alimkhanuly didn’t appear to be the same fearsome force that made him one of the top threats in the division. Nevertheless, the Kazakh combatant recovered against Butler.
Alimkhanuly knocked down three opponents in less than two rounds, forcing referee Jack Reiss to stop the fight. Butler was helpless to stop Alimkhanuly from touching him. Alimkhanuly repeatedly charged forward, landing strikes at will, and successfully defending his world championship for the second time.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) May 14, 2023
Junto Nakatani def. Andrew Moloney, May 20
One week after Jason Moloney won the world title, his twin brother Andrew sought to repeat the feat when he competed against Nakatani for the vacant WBO 115-pound championship. It would be an understatement to say that Moloney’s matchup with Nakatani did not go well.
Simply put, Nakatani’s power was excessive, resulting in knockdowns in the second and eleventh rounds. After Round 11, Moloney’s crew debated whether to send their fighter back into the ring, but they ultimately decided to let him go on. That turned out to be a costly error since Nakatani immediately followed up with a powerful left hand that rendered Moloney unconscious and very certainly secured Knockout of the Year for him.
WORLD CHAMPION 🏆
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) May 21, 2023
Oscar Valdez def. Adam Lopez, May 20
Valdez made his comeback to the ring against Lopez, a competitor he had already defeated in 2019 at a lighter weight, after more than a year away from competition. Although Valdez’s performance wasn’t very exciting, it was a good one against a difficult opponent as Valdez easily won with scores of 97-93, 98-92, and 98-91.
More significantly, Valdez’s victory offers him the opportunity to capture the world title for the third time in his career. Later in 2023, he will compete against Emanuel Navarrete for the WBO junior lightweight championship. In his third weight class of his career, Valdez would capture a world championship with a victory.
Luis Alberto Lopez def. Michael Conlan, May 28
For the second time in his career, Conlan lost a world championship match. In March 2022, Conlan lost his first attempt at winning the world championship to Leigh Wood’s late comeback and Knockout of the Year. Conlan never had the upper hand in the fight with Lopez, unlike the match with Wood.
From the beginning, the two men engaged in intriguing combat by exchanging punches. Nevertheless, Lopez was winning almost all of the arguments and frequently harming Conlan. The fifth round saw the hometown boxer get blasted by a Lopez uppercut, which silenced the Irish audience. With the victory, Lopez successfully completed his maiden IBF featherweight title defence and now has a wide range of intriguing opponents to choose from for his upcoming contest.
Chris Billam-Smith def. Lawrence Okolie, May 28
Three favourites lost in world title finals on May 28 due to the pandemonium. The outcome where Okolie lost versus Billam-Smith is perhaps the most startling of those results. Although Okolie had not established a reputation as a fan-friendly fighter, his clinch-centric style of fighting did not create for exciting contests.
One of the factors that cost Okolie the fight was his particular fighting technique. Throughout the bout, Billam-Smith knocked down three opponents, but Okolie did himself no favours by responding by losing two more points for excessive gripping. Okolie may have legitimately lost more points or been disqualified. He merely lost a majority decision instead. By scores of 112-112, 115-108, and 116-107, Billam-Smith prevailed and claimed the WBO cruiserweight championship. Despite the right man winning, there was some debate due to one judge awarding a draw to the contest. It indicates Billam-Smith won more rounds overall rather than just having a few great moments, and that Okolie only lost because of the five points lost due to knockdowns and deductions.