Kal Yafai defeats Norbelto Jimenez to retain junior bantamweight belt
Khalid Yafai successfully defended his WBA junior bantamweight title Saturday night, defeating mandatory challenger Norbelto Jimenez by unanimous decision at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
With the win, Yafai improves to 26-0 (15 knockouts).
Saturday marked the fifth successful defense of the WBA title Yafai won in December of 2016, defeating Luis Concepcion by decision.
The 38-year-old Jimenez, who lost eight of his first 11 pro fights, was challenging for his first world title belt.
Yafai, who was fighting for the second time in the United States, was the more-effective fighter early on, outboxing Jimenez from the outside. Yafai thought he scored a knockdown in the fourth round, but the punches he threw landed below Jimenez’s belt-line.
By the middle rounds, Jimenez closed the distance and focused his attack on the body of Yafai, finding success with left hooks to the body. During the seventh round, Jimenez allowed Yafai to initiate exchanges in an attempt to counter to the head or body.
Jimenez went down again in round eight from two low blows from Yafai. Replays showed the punches looked deliberate, but referee Danny Schiavone chose not to deduct a point from Yafai. Instead, Schiavone forced Jimenez to engage and not utilize the five minutes allotted to recover from the foul.
Yafai scored a knockdown in round 12, but replays showed Jimenez went down from Yafai hooking his left arm around the head of Jimenez and pulling down to the canvas.
Scores were 117-109, 119-107, and 118-108 for Yafai, who resides in Birmingham, England.
“I won easy,” said Yafai, who is promoted by Matchroom Boxing. “I learned a lot about myself tonight due to how to react from a cut I suffered in the fight. I want to fight the big fights next. I want (WBC titleholder Juan Francisco), Chocolatito (Gonzalez), (Jerwin) Ancajas. I want them all.”
Jimenez, who resides in Villa Duarte in the Dominican Republic, improves to 29-9-4, 16 KOs.
Fringe junior middleweight contender Mark DeLuca, from nearby Whitman, Massachusetts, defeated Brandon Brewer by unanimous decision over 10 rounds.
By the third round, DeLuca pulled away, outboxing and outscoring Brewer, especially in the pocket. Brewer looked tired during the final two rounds of the fight.
Scores were 97-93, 98-92, and 99-91 for DeLuca, who improves to 24-1 (13 KOs).
Brewer, who resides Nackawic, New Brunswick, Canada, drops to 23-1-1 (11 KOs).
Featherweight Shelley Vincent of Providence improves to 25-2, 1 KO by defeating Brazil’s Simone Aparecida Da Silva (16-13, 6 KOs) by unanimous decision. Scores were 78-74, 78-74, and 79-73 for Vincent.
Lightweight prospect Otha Jones III defeated Matias Agustin Arriagada (6-5, 3 KOs) of Argentina by unanimous decision. All three judges scored the bout 60-54 in favor of Jones, who improves to 3-0, 1 KO.
Super middleweight Alexis Espino (3-0, 2 KOs) stopped Kerby Saint-Juste of New Jersey at 1:49 of the second round. Saint-Juste was making his pro debut.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing