Sivenathi Nontshinga reclaims IBF title from Adrian Curiel in huge comeback, Mauricio Lara struggles to a draw

Sivenathi Nontshinga reclaims IBF title from Adrian Curiel in huge comeback, Mauricio Lara struggles to a draw

Sivenathi Nontshinga avenged his loss to Adrian Curiel and reclaimed the IBF belt tonight in Oaxaca, Mexico, but he took a very risky path to do it. Nontshinga (13-1, 10 KO) gave away most of the fight with his back on the ropes, but flipped the switch and finished the show when he saw the opportunity.

It was all action at the start, with both men forehead to forehead, temple to temple, trading uppercuts and body hooks. But Nontshinga fought the bulk of the fight like someone who wasn’t going to let himself get caught by an unexpected punch again. That allowed Curiel (24-5-1, 5 KO) to smother Nontshinga against the ropes, piling up rounds and looking like he had the fight in hand, even as the majority of his flashy power punches landed on Nontshinga’s guard.

Nontshinga’s path to victory got even narrower when he was docked a point for head contact in the 7th round. But, the 8th round was the turning point, with Nontshinga unleashing an entirely different attack, and rallying to rattle Curiel on multiple big punches. A frustrated and tired Curiel was in terrible shape at the end of the 9th before the bell saved him. Nontshinga only needed 44 seconds of the 10th to score a knockdown, and then a referee stoppage as he unloaded on a cornered and finished Curiel.

It was a dangerous strategy, but Nontshinga worked it brilliantly to score a thrilling comeback victory. Half the fight was a grim affair of sumo wrestling against the ropes occasionally interrupted by grabs and headbutts. But, the highlights were exceptional. Enjoy them!

Mauricio Lara MAJORITY DRAW Daniel Lugo

Not a fun night for Mauricio Lara in what was technically his 130 pound debut, though he fought just a quarter pound shy of it in his rematch with Leigh Wood last May. Lara (26-3-2, 19 KO) started slowly, but was handling things reasonably well until slipping repeatedly on the oversized center ring logo. He fought the latter half of the fight weirdly stiff-legged on the front foot, purposely avoiding the center of the ring even after repeated pauses in the action so the referee could wipe it down.

Daniel Lugo did his most significant early work with headbutts and low blows, but hurt Lara badly to the body in the 6th. Lara was folded over in the corner with his head between his knees between rounds, but answered the bell and did just enough the rest of the way to hang on for a majority draw.

Lugo (27-2-1, 18 KO) pulled the dissenting card, and Eddie Hearn said afterwards that if anyone deserved to win the matchup, it was Lugo. He and Lara both seemed inclined to give Lugo an immediate rematch, which feels very fair given the outcome. It wasn’t a classic, but it was a tense one, and hopefully any potential rematch happens on a surface with better traction than a breakdancing mat.

Arturo Cardenas UD-10 Ernesto Garcia

Quality performance from Arturo Cardenas, who worked through an aggressive start from Ernesto Garcia to largely dominate and nearly finish the fight on multiple occasions. Cardenas (13-0-1, 8 KO) took control starting in the 4th, patiently countering non-stop punches from Garcia (11-4, 10 KO).

Garcia went down at the end of the 7th round, and might not have been able to continue if it had happened 15 seconds earlier. Cardenas was never in danger again, and the referee looked right on the verge of stopping the fight in the 9th round. But, Garcia got through it and stuck around to the final bell, showcasing toughness and lots of activity even in clear defeat.

Cardenas earns the unanimous decision on scores of 100-89, 98-91, and 98-91. Garcia put on a quality show, even after the tide turned against him, and he’s still just 18 years old. Even if there’s no room for development, some promoter might consider picking Garcia up to liven up their undercards.

Sergio Chirino Sanchez TKO-3 Dennis Contreras

Quick finish for Chirino, who dropped Contreras in the 1st round. Contreras appeared to have some vision issues from the punch that put him on the canvas, and the corner stepped in to stop it when Chirino knocked him down again in the 3rd.

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