Sunday, September 24

Jeremia Nakathila upsets Miguel Berchelt by TKO in sixth round

Miguel Berchelt was brutally knocked out by Oscar Valdez in February 2021, and it’s now apparent he lost much more than just his 130-pound title on that night.

In his comeback bout, Berchelt was stopped in Round 6 by Namibia’s Jeremia Nakathila on Saturday in Las Vegas in an early contest for boxing’s upset of the year. Berchelt entered the fight as roughly a 6-1 favorite.

Nakathila sent Berchelt’s mouthpiece flying across the ring after he connected with a right-handed haymaker late in Round 6, prompting referee Russell Mora to pause the action. When the 135-pound fight resumed, Berchelt was on unsteady legs as he absorbed the underdog’s aggressive attack. Nakathila connected on 38 punches during Round 6, 10 more than he landed over 12 rounds in a shutout defeat to Shakur Stevenson in June.

After the round ended, Mora stopped the bout on the advice of the ringside doctor. Nakathila was ahead 60-53 on all three scorecards, winning every round.

“I was going to knock him out or put him to sleep in a bad way,” said Nakathila, who never fought outside Namibia before his US debut against Stevenson in a 130-pound title fight. “I know what I have. I knew it would be difficult for him to reach the 10th round. It wasn’t so easy, but I made it look easy.”

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Said Berchelt through a translator: “I’m a little bit surprised. Thought I was in condition to continue, but the referee decided to stop the fight. He’s the ultimate authority. I have to respect that, but I wanted to continue.”

Nakathila (23-2, 19 KOs) was viewed as a viable comeback opponent for Berchelt to rebuild his confidence following a knockout loss to Valdez that rendered him unconscious. After all, Nakathila was dropped by Stevenson and didn’t win a single round.

But he walked Berchelt down and didn’t show the former champion any respect. Berchelt was a step slower and was reticent to throw punches, connecting on 80 of 287 compared with Nakatahila’s 125 of 503.

Berchelt entered the ring rated No. 2 by ESPN at 130 pounds and had made seven successful title defenses before the loss to Valdez. Now, it’s difficult to envision Berchelt still being a factor on the world-class level.

“I’m going to get up; I’m going to rise from this,” Berchelt, 30, said through a translator. “The great champions are not the ones who fall. The great champions are those who rise, and I will go home, spend time with my family, visit with them, get some rest and I am going to come back stronger than ever.”

Nakathila, 32, finds himself in a much different position. He was a virtual unknown in the boxing world before his challenge of Stevenson, and his performance was lackluster. So it was a surprise when Nakathila received the call from Top Rank for another main event assigned.

But this time, Nakathila rose to the occasion, and he’s now guaranteed another meaningful fight at 135 pounds.

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