World Boxing Super Series: Emmanuel Rodriguez and Yunier Dorticos come out victorious in Orlando
By Hector Franco | Senior Writer and Editor
Published: October 21, 2018
ORLANDO, FL - At the CFE Arena on the campus of the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs) stepped inside the ring with Australia’s Jason Moloney (17-1, 14 KOs) in front of a very much pro-Puerto Rican crowd. Rodriguez would be making the first defense of his IBF bantamweight (118) title in the quarterfinals of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) bantamweight tournament. The Puerto Rican won his title last May against Paul Butler in the United Kingdom winning a wide unanimous decision.
The first four rounds of the bout were primarily won by Rodriguez’s ability to counterpunch Moloney in spots. Moloney would rush in at times and get caught mid-stride by sharp punches from the Puerto Rican. The bout began to tighten on the scorecards after the fifth round when Moloney amped up the volume of his punches and unleashed consistent body attacks on Rodriguez. The remainder of the bout followed a similar ebb and flow where Rodriguez would at times seem in control with his counter punches and other portions of the bout where Moloney simply outworked the Puerto Rican. In the championship rounds, Moloney went for broke and began throwing body punches relentlessly. Rodriguez fought back every step of the way, but after twelve rounds of action, it was unclear as to who would be awarded the decision.
An early round lead and possibly preference of counter punches over volume allowed Rodriguez to escape with a razor close split decision victory with scores of 115-113 for Moloney and two judges scoring for Rodriguez with scores of 115-113 twice.
Rodriguez will now move on to the semi-finals in the WBSS bantamweight tournament and face Japan’s Naoya “Monster” Inoue. Inoue will be favored by a vast majority of fans and experts against Rodriguez who showed vulnerability toward body punches, and the Japanese fighter is one of the best body punchers in the sport.
The two men will like face off in the first half of 2019.
The co-main event took place in the Cruiserweight (200) division and was a quarterfinal bout in the cruiserweight portion of the WBSS tournament. Last season’s contestant in the WBSS Yunier Dorticos (22-1, 21 KOs) took on Poland’s Mateusz Masternak (41-4, 28 KOs). In Dorticos’ last bout he took on Murat Gassiev in the semi-finals of the WBSS in a unification bout for the WBA and IBF cruiserweight titles. The Cuban put on a valiant effort in a fight of the year contender but ultimately lost via 12th round technical knockout in a battle of knockout artists.
Dorticos and Masternak were both able to excite the crowd at times by exchanging punches; however, Dorticos’ edge in power allowed him to get the better of the Polish fighter most of the time. There were no knockdowns in the match, but Dorticos’ was able to land some hard power punches that put Masternak on unsteady legs. At times Masternak was able to land some well-timed hooks on the Cuban who was open all night for an uppercut. Ultimately after twelve rounds of action, the judges sided with Dorticos’ harder punches throughout the fight giving him the unanimous decision victory with scores of 116-112 and 115-113 twice.
Dorticos’ will now go on to take on Andrew Tabiti (17-0, 13 KOs) in the semi-finals of the Cruiserweight tournament. Last week Tabiti defeated Ruslan Fayfer to move on to the semi-finals. A Dorticos-Tabiti bout should be explosive and will likely be one of the tournament highlights, after all, is said and done.
On the supporting undercard, former cruiserweight and heavyweight contender Mike Perez (24-3-1, 15 KOs) took on Keith Tapia (18-2, 11 KOs) in a rather uneventful ten-round cruiserweight contest. The bout was fought in spots with many lulls in the action. When there was any action between the two men, it looked sloppy. Both men have been relatively inactive as of late with Tapia only fighting once in 2016, once in 2017 and now for the first time in 2018. The 33-year old Perez has been much more active than the younger Tapia having fought at least twice in 2017 and now in 2018. At times during the bout, Perez was merely able to outwork Tapia. This could have made the difference in the fight as all three judges scored the bout in Perez’s favor with scores of 97-92 and 96-93 twice.
(Featured Photo: Lester Silva/World Boxing Super Series)