Boxing
Wild weekend: Barry relieved, Sylvester satisfied after victories
Lyle Fitzsimmons


By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor


Ocala, FL (Sports Network) - You really can't help but like Kevin Barry.

Not only was the former New Zealand Olympic medalist accessible to everyone interested in telling his tumultuous training story prior to last Friday's WBA light heavyweight fight between Beibut Shumenov and incumbent champion Gabriel Campillo...he's been an equally stand-up guy afterward.

For those unaware, Shumenov became Barry's first world championship client with a split 12-round decision over Campillo in the Fox Sports Net-televised main event from Las Vegas, though the verdict has been roundly criticized almost immediately since it was announced.

The Kazakhstan native won the belt by taking counts of 117-111 and 115-113 on the misguided scorecards of Patricia Morse-Jarman and Jerry Roth, while judge Levi Martinez rightfully saw Campillo a 117-111 superior.

For the record, I had it 118-110 on my card -- giving Campillo all but the first and 10th rounds.

"I haven't seen the reaction to the judging yet, though I'm sure they thought they won," Barry said. "I thought we had rounds one to three, maybe five, then a good finish in 10 and 11 and possibly 12. I knew it was close and I expected more, although it was a lot to do in only two months."

Barry took over Shumenov's corner after the youngster's previous fight, a majority decision loss to Campillo last August that he claimed to have scored once for Shumenov, once for Campillo and once dead even upon reviewing the tape three times.

He said Shumenov -- a 2004 Olympian now 9-1 as a professional -- will return for a mandatory WBA defense against No. 2-ranked Ukrainian contender Vyacheslav Uzelkov by May 29, before possibly meeting Campillo in a rubber match.

"It hit me that we have a lot of work to do if he is to successfully defend his title," Barry said. "I am thrilled more for Beibut, my wife and my parents. I know he is much better than he showed."

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Far less controversial and 100 times more anonymous, IBF middleweight champion Sebastian Sylvester made his first successful title defense with a 10th-round stoppage of American replacement Billy Lyell.

Fighting in his homeland for the 35th time in 36 fights, the 29-year-old Sylvester led by nine, five and five points on the scorecards before halting the Ohio-based Lyell 37 seconds into the 10th.

He is 33-3 with 16 knockouts.

Lyell was a fill-in for 15th-ranked Spaniard Pablo Navascues, who was bumped after testing positive for a banned substance eight days before the bout.

Now 21-8, Lyell was ranked No. 14 by the IBF and had won three straight since a decision loss to prospect Vanes Martirosyan last February in California.

"You never know what is going to happen when you have a late change of opponent," said New York-based attorney Scott A. Shaffer, who represents Sauerland Event, Sylvester's promoter. "Sylvester was training for one opponent, and, with a week to go, he was told to get ready for Lyell, who is not a world-beater but who upset John Duddy, was in shape and had nothing to lose."

Sylvester's next foe is likely to be ex-junior middleweight belt-holder Roman Karmazin, who became a mandatory challenger with a 10th-round KO of Dionisio Miranda on January 8 in Glendale, Calif.

He's won four straight since a TKO loss to Alex Bunema in January 2008.

"The Roman Karmazin deal is not done yet, but he is the mandatory challenger and it certainly makes sense to have it in Germany, since Sylvester is a much bigger draw in Germany than Karmazin is here in the U.S.," Shaffer said. "I really don't see HBO buying the fight, and it is a certain headliner in Germany."

Beyond Karmazin, Sylvester most covets a rematch with incumbent WBA middleweight champion Felix Sturm, who won a wide unanimous decision when the two met in November 2008.

"Lyell was probably a better opponent than Navascues and certainly better than at least one other guy approved by the IBF as a last-minute replacement," Shaffer said. "Sylvester stopped Lyell in the 10th round, a similar result to James Kirkland -- who stopped Lyell in eight.

"I am very happy for Sylvester because for years he labored in the shadow of two more famous middleweights based in Germany -- Arthur Abraham and Sturm -- and now as the IBF champion, he is finally coming into his own as a boxer and an attraction."

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Elsewhere in the grab bag...

Brewer bloodied, but unbowed -- Contender alumnus Grady Brewer will press on in spite of a 10th-round stoppage loss to Cuban prospect Erislandy Lara on the televised portion of the Shumenov-Campillo undercard in Las Vegas.

The affable Oklahoman had won eight straight bouts before running into the hotshot 26-year-old import, who led by five, seven and seven points before a knockdown and follow-up flurry prompted a wave-off from referee Tony Weeks with 16 seconds to go in the final round.

"Grady has requested a rematch but that will likely not be accepted," Brewer's lead publicist, Amy Green, said. "He plans to fight and remain active."

Dlamini dies in car crash -- As an admitted IBO junkie, it was a sad jolt to find out the organization's reigning lightweight champion, unbeaten South African Mlungisi Dlamini, was killed in a car accident in his home country last week at age 27.

Armed with one of boxings best nicknames -- the "Killer Shark" -- Dlamini won the IBO belt at 135 pounds with a three-round stoppage of fellow South African Zolani Marali in what turned out to be his final fight on Halloween night at the Emperor's Palace in Kempton Park.

The 5-foot-10 right-hander was 21-0-1 with 13 KOs in a career that began in 2000.

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This week's title-fight schedule:

SATURDAY

WBC lightweight title -- Monterrey, Mexico Edwin Valero (champion) vs. Antonio DeMarco (interim champion) Valero (26-0, 26 KO): Second title defense; Only four fights beyond three rounds (4-0, 4 KO) DeMarco (23-1-1, 17 KO): First title fight; Twelve-fight win streak (12-0, 7 KO) Fitzbitz says: Valero in 8

SUNDAY

WBA flyweight title -- Kobe, Japan Denkaosan Kaovichit (champion) vs. Daiki Kameda (No. 11 contender) Kaovichit (48-1-1, 20 KO): Third title defense; Three wins in five title fights (3-1-1, 1 KO) Kameda (15-2, 11 KO): Winless in two title fights; Lost majority decision to Kaovichit in October Fitzbitz says: Kaovichit by decision

Last week's picks: 4-0 Overall picks record: 165-59 (73.6 percent)

Lyle Fitzsimmons is an award-winning 21-year sports journalist, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a frequent contributor to sports radio talk shows throughout the U.S. E-mail him at fitzbitz@msn.com, follow him at twitter.com/fitzbitz and read more at fitzbitzonfights.wordpress.com.

Jabs, hooks or knockouts, Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at fitzbitz@msn.com.