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Richardson Hitchins Clinches A Controversial Victory Over Gustavo Lemos, Skye Nicolson Becomes World Champion

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Richardson Hitchins (R) and Gustavo Daniel Lemos (L) during their 140 lbs non-title contest held at the Fontainebleau in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 6, 2024. (Photo by DAZN)

American 140-pounder Richardson Hitchins netted a controversial unanimous decision win over Argentinian contender Gustavo Daniel Lemos that would be best classified as a “robbery” given Lemos had been thought to be the better fighter on the day. The two headlined a Matchroom-promoted event that was held at the Fontainebleau Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 6th.

Despite his decision win, Richardson Hitchins (18-0, 7 KO’s) took a harsh blow to his reputation following his super lightweight/junior welterweight match against Gustavo Daniel Lemos, with the bulk of the criticism directed towards the judges whose controversial scorecards of 117-111 and 115-113 twice gave off the impression that a form of corruption had taken place given Hitchins was the home fighter in this scenario.

During the match, Richardson Hitchins resorted to too much clinching and holding in an attempt to stifle Lemos’ attacks which were clearly posing problems to the American fighter. The boxing ability and ring IQ that Richardson Hitchins had been lauded for did not fully emerge due to Lemos’ pressure, preventing Hitchins from asserting himself in the ring and forcing him to cling to desperate tactics for the most important portions of the match.

Lemos in turn looked very much the genuine contender, showing acute conditioning as well as a decent amount of skill in the way he managed to pressure Hitchins throughout the twelve scheduled rounds of their non-title bout. Too many times Richardson Hitchins was forced into disrupting the flow of the match by holding onto Lemos, which the presiding referee did not properly address by deducting points from the American.

Moreover, there was a clear difference in power between the two that should have likely been taken into account by the judges, with Lemos’ punches often forcing Richardson Hitchins on the retreat, while Hitchins’ own blows seemed to do little to nothing to deter Gustavo Lemos from assaulting him in the ring.

Following the twelve rounds, Hitchins was announced the surprising winner by unanimous decision (UD), tying up a match that Lemos should have most likely won. The result will count as a stain on Hitchins’ record, despite it being ruled as a victory, and only a rematch may help Hitchins to recuperate the blow to his reputation that he suffered on the night.

Lemos, in the meantime, will have been frustrated by the loss but at the same time has profiled himself as a potential contender in the division. Despite his loss, Gustavo Lemos finds himself in the unique scenario where he has helped boost his standing in boxing, similar to Jack Catterall (28-1, 13 KO’s) following his 2022 controversial loss to Josh Taylor (19-1, 13 KO’s) which prevented him from becoming the undisputed champion of the division.

Unlike Catterall, however, Lemos did not stand to win any titles but would have likely made quite some headway in the sanctioning bodies’ 140 lbs rankings, allowing him a quicker means to become a title challenger given there are currently four champions in the division. Though no rematch clause was reported to be included, a second fight between the two is likely to be considered by both fighters―albeit for very different reasons.

The rest of the Matchroom undercard saw several other interesting fights occur on the night, most prolifically the featherweight world title bout between Australian Skye Nicolson (10-0, 1 KO’s) and Danish contender Sarah Mahfoud (14-2, 3 KO’s) fighting over the vacant WBC title―that had been relinquished by Amanda Serrano (46-2-1, 30 KO’s) last year.

The match proved to be a showcase for Nicolson who went on to become the winner by UD after ten rounds following another dominating display of boxing ability that saw her win with scorecards of 100-90 twice and 99-91. The victory has allowed Skye Nicolson to become a world champion for the first time of her career, a magnificent achievement that might soon become overshadowed by a match with WBA, WBO and IBF featherweight champion Amanda Serrano.

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Skye Nicolson celebrating her first-ever world title victory over Sarah Mahfoud at the Fontainebleau in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 6, 2024. (Photo by DAZN)

While there is an opportunity for Nicolson to become undisputed against Serrano, she will face off against one of the best female fighters of the modern era and certainly one of the most experienced, leaving many to wonder whether Nicolson’s win had done her any favors if she is matched up with Serrano in the near future.

American super middleweight Diego Pacheco (21-0, 17 KO’s) also made an appearance on the card against undefeated countryman Shawn McCalman (15-1, 7 KO’s), but Pacheco saw himself forced to bring out his best during his UD win against a fighter that was barely considered a fringe contender prior. The scorecards of 98-92, 97-93, and 96-94 in favor of Pacheco did not do the 168 lbs contender any favors in a ten-round match he was expected to dominate more thoroughly.

Following Puerto Rican-American Edgar Berlanga’s (22-0, 17 knockout (KO) victory over Padraig McCrory (18-1, 9 KO’s) in February, Pacheco had been expected to deliver upon a similar performance given the two fighters seem to be competing for a spot as genuine title contenders for undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KO’s).

However, following Pacheco’s inability to finish McCalman within the distance―taking into account that McCalman was not rated higher than McCrory―has not genuinely helped Pacheco prove to be the better and more suitable contender, though in boxing there will always be a chance for him to redeem himself depending on his next opponent and performance. Pacheco retained his WBC USA and WBO International titles following his victory.

British flyweight contender Galal Yafai (7-0, 5 KO’s) continued his rise to a potential world title shot following an eight-round technical knockout (TKO) win over Argentinian contender Agustin Mauro Gauto (21-2, 15 KO’s), and Yafai retained his WBO International title in the process. There was nothing new or surprising about Yafai’s victory with the only questions that now remain pertaining to whether he is ready to challenge the very top of the division―which might even include a world champion.