But the timing of the fifth-round stoppage by referee Celestino Ruiz was heavily criticised by the losing fighter’s corner
Chantelle Cameron retained her World Boxing Council super lightweight title with an utterly dominant dismantling of Melissa Hernandez in a one-sided beat-down of the 41-year-old Puerto Rican. But the timing of the fifth-round stoppage by referee Celestino Ruiz was heavily criticised by the losing fighter’s corner.
Hernandez did not appear to be hurt at the time of the intervention. Nonetheless, the referee had warned Hernandez and her team in the corner between the fourth and fifth rounds that he would halt the contest if Hernandez continued to take punches under the constant onslaught from the British fighter, a former kick boxer and Muay Thai fighter.
Cameron, 33, from Northampton, younger, faster and more powerful, had punished Hernandez from the opening bell, relentlessly peppering her opponent with strong right hands and a powerful jab, with the older fighter dropped in the fourth round under a heavy assault on the ropes. Cameron was urged by trainer Jamie Moore to break her opponent down patiently, but honing in on her target.
Cameron – known as ‘Il Capo’ (the boss) – is undefeated now in 14 fights and having made the first defence of her WBC crown, stopped 34-fight veteran Hernandez for the second time in her career by using her speed and reach advantage in a powerful, destructive display of flashing fists. Hernandez never looked capable of changing the course of the lopsided contest.
With promoter Eddie Hearn also having undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor in his stable, Cameron-Taylor would be a viable match-up, and an intriguing clash of styles. Cameron lost in the European Championship semi-finals to Taylor as an amateur in 2011, where Taylor went on to claim the gold medal.
The 10-round bout was the chief support to Devin Haney’s successful defence by unanimous decision of the WBC lightweight crown against former champion Jorge Linares at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The American – who had Josh Taylor’s trainer Ben Davison in his corner alongside the fighter’s father Bill Haney – had started well against the Venezuelan, and dominated the early rounds with his speed and footwork, and overall was more aggressive than in recent performances, but the wily 35-year-old Linares had Haney, still just 22, hurt in the tenth round and tested the champion in the final two rounds as the older fighter looked to chase the stoppage finish he needed.
Haney – who won 116-112, twice, and 115-113 on the judges’ cards – looked to clinch for much of the last round, but held on to retain his title in the talent-rich lightweight division.