SportsMap weekend boxing rewind

Bivol survives scare to beat Smith

Dmitry Bivol lands a jab to the body of Joe Smith. (Photo courtesy of Matchroom Boxing.)

Light heavyweight titleist Dmitry Bivol won a wide decision in his mandatory defense against Joe Smith Jr. on Saturday night in Verona, NY. Bivol (16-0, 11 KO) defended his World Boxing Association title by scores of 119-109 (x2) and 118-110. SportsMap.com also scored the fight 118-110 in favor of Bivol.

Despite the wide scores, Bivol had to survive a scare to get the win. At the end of the tenth round Bivol ate a huge right hand from Smith right as the bell rang. The punch staggered Bivol, who retreated to his corner holding onto the ropes. Bivol returned for the 11th round still not looking like himself, facing more hard shots from Smith (24-3, 20 KO) in the penultimate round than he seemingly did for the rest of the fight combined. For much of the 11th it looked like one well-placed shot from Smith could end the fight in a stunning come from behind knockout victory for the challenger from Long Island. But Bivol retained his form in the 12th round, nearly stopping Smith on his feet. Referee Gary Rosato looked in position to wave off the fight because of the accumulation of punches Bivol was landing, but Smith was saved by the final bell.

Smith, who is best known for his monster knockout of Bernard Hopkins that ended his career in 2016, looked to be at a boxing skill disadvantage from the opening bell. Bivol controlled the tempo easily winning the first nine rounds of the fight, staying out of trouble before the aforementioned right hand that changed the fight late. It was the second loss in three fights for Smith, who has struggled with jaw injuries recently. Smith lost a unanimous decision to Sullivan Barrera in 2017.

Bivol, who is aligned with Matchroom Promotions and the DAZN streaming service, now faces difficulty finding a big fight at light heavyweight because the other titlists at that weight are aligned with other networks. Bivol did mention that he will considered moving down to super middleweight, where a fight with WBA super champion and DAZN stablemate Callum Smith would be an easier fight to make.

SATURDAY IN CARSON: PORTER GETS GIFT AGAINST UGAS

Welterweight titlist Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17 KO) retained his WBC belt on Saturday in a wildly unpopular split decision victory over challenger Yordenis Ugas. Porter won by scores of 115-113 and 116-112. The third judge scored the fight 117-111 in favor of Ugas. SportsMap.com scored the fight 116-112 in favor of Ugas. The crowd booed wildly when the decision was announced.

Porter, who is known for his physical, all-action style, was neutralized through much of the fight by Ugas (23-4, 11 KO,) who was able to constantly disrupt Porter's normal pace. The fight featured many difficult to score rounds throughout.

The fight could have turned in the 12th round when Ugas appeared to floor Porter with a looping right hand. Veteran referee Jack Reiss didn't score the blow as a knockdown, instead ruling that Porter slipped. Replays show the punch should have been ruled a knockdown. As the final bell sounded Ugas raised his hands in the air and celebrated; the face of a man who felt he won. Porter looked stunned, and as if he had resigned to the fact that he had been defeated.

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Houston's winning streak moves to six

Eighth-inning rally powers Astros to series sweep over Rangers

Yuli Gurriel brought in the go-ahead run late in Sunday's game. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Winners in the first three games of this series and their last five games overall, the Astros continued their climb towards the A's for first place in the AL West. They completed the four-game sweep, ending a successful homestand on a positive note before heading on the road.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 2

Astros' Record: 24-17, tied for first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brooks Raley (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Joely Rodriguez (1-2)

Astros strike first, McCullers Jr. goes six scoreless

After the Rangers went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Houston grabbed an early lead off the bat of Alex Bregman. He provided the third single of the inning, a one-out RBI to put the Astros in front 1-0, a score which would hold steady for a while. Another run didn't come across until the bottom of the fifth when Houston would load the bases with one out when Carlos Correa would get an RBI groundball to double the lead to 2-0.

Lance McCullers Jr. did well with the small lead, backing up his recent eight-inning gem with a quality start against Texas. He allowed a couple of hits each in the third and fourth but would erase the runners with no damage allowed. The Rangers threatened in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double before the runner moved to third on a wild pitch, putting him in a great position with no outs. McCullers Jr. would come away unscathed, finishing the inning and his day by retiring the next three batters. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 95 P.

Rangers tie it against Scrubb

First out of Houston's bullpen was Andre Scrubb, and he would not fare as well as the Astros starter. A leadoff single turned into a two-run game-tying homer, making it 2-2 before Scrubb would sit down the next three in order. Still tied in the top of the eighth, Brooks Raley had a terrific inning, striking out the three batters he faced.

Houston rallies ahead in the eighth for the four-game sweep

The top of Houston's order mounted a threat in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out to try and regain the lead. Yuli Gurriel would come through with the go-ahead at-bat, getting a sac fly to put the Astros back in front 3-2. A two-out walk loaded the bases again, setting up Chas McCormick to provide two insurance runs on a two-RBI single.

Myles Straw added one more on an RBI single, making it a four-run game at 6-2 heading to the ninth. Enoli Paredes made his long-awaited return from the IL, appearing for the first time since April 8th to try and close things out in the ninth. He tossed a scoreless inning, finishing off the four-game sweep, extending Houston's winning streak to six games, and keeping them in step with Oakland for the AL West lead.

Up Next: After a day off on Monday, the Astros will begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday. They'll kick off a three-game set in Oakland against the A's at 8:40 PM, an exciting matchup to determine who will head into the weekend atop the division. While Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.08 ERA) is the expected starter for Houston, Oakland has not yet determined their rotation for the series.

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