Caballero defeats Hall, Murray bests Spada in Monte Carlo
Unbeaten American prospect Randy Caballero fought gallantly to claim the vacant IBF bantamweight title with a 12-round unanimous decision over rugged British slugger Stuart Hall in Monte Carlo on Saturday. The official scores were 116-111 twice and 118-110, although the numbers do not reflect the competitive nature of the action.
The 24-year-old Caballero was seriously tested for the first time in his career and although the Californian managed to score a flash knockdown in the second, courtesy of a flush jab, he rarely troubled Hall for the remainder of the contest.
The blink and you miss it knockdown was all that separated the fighters over the first quarter. Both men stood in the pocket and thrashed each other to head and body at a very fast pace and, early on, it was Caballero who looked surprised by what was coming back at him.
Aware of his opponent’s physical strength, Caballero switched tactics in the fourth and boxed smartly on the outside. The young American was successful with the check left hook, but his work to the body was straying low and Hall complained in earnest to the referee, more than once.
In the fifth, Hall (16-4-2, 7 knockouts) retaliated with a vicious left uppercut below the belt which hurt the younger man badly and sent him to the canvas. It was a well-timed foul by an old pro who knew the referee was in no position to deduct a point, given the prior action, and it was a sacrifice worth making.
Hall, from Darlington, England, was equally relentless with his legal punches but, by the ninth, Caballero’s outside game was beginning to sparkle. The former champ trapped the American on the ropes and unloaded but Caballero moved his head adeptly, picked off the punches, and countered with well-timed shots.
The acid test was always going to be the championship rounds. The British pressure fighter had completed the 12-round route on six occasions, whereas Caballero had only been ten rounds twice – and Hall knew it.
In the 11th, Caballero was being worked over by a barrage of heavy hooks to the head but responded brilliantly with a two fisted burst of his own. It was the same in the closing session and the bout ended, appropriately, with both men going toe to toe.
Caballero (22-0, 13 knockouts) was the overwhelming favorite coming in. Hall brought the professional experience and proven toughness but those attributes were edged out by youth, quickness and technical skill. Known as “El Matador,” Caballero is one to watch and Golden Boy Promotions will seek to guide him through a competitive 118-pound division.
As for Hall, the courageous Brit has nothing to be ashamed of. He exceeded expectations by winning the vacant IBF title against Vusi Malinga last December and, despite losing to domestic rival Paul Butler, has acquitted himself well throughout a highly successful career.
The former British and Commonwealth champion has earned the right to do whatever he chooses in terms of his future.
Caballero weighed in officially at 117.9 pounds, with Hall one pound less.
British middleweight contender Martin Murray (29-1-1, 12 KOs) continued his journey towards a shot at WBA titleholder Gennady Golovkin with a messy seventh-round technical decision over respectable veteran Domenico Spada.
The bout was stopped as the result of a nasty cut around Spada’s right eye, which was opened following a clash of heads, and the official cards were required. The scores were 67-66, 68-63 and 69-67.
Murray, rated No. 6 by THE RING at 160 pounds, was clearly the better fighter but Spada, as is usually the case, made it very untidy from the start. The Italian complained when the verdict was announced, but nobody was listening as Gennady Golovkin vs. Martin Murray is as good as official.
Many have said, and with good reason, that Golovkin is being avoided by the entire middleweight column but, despite tonight’s non-event, Murray may be the exception. The British star challenged Felix Sturm, for the WBA title, in Germany, and also ventured to Argentina to give then RING Champion, Sergio Martinez, all he could handle.
With those missions already on his dossier, Murray could be the man to finally test this immense knockout artist.
Both Murray and Spada weighed in at 159.75 pounds.
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing