2001-03-23 Clarence Adams w pts 12 Ivan Alvarez, Sports Centre, Owensboro, Kentucky, USA - WBA

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2001-03-23 Clarence Adams w pts 12 Ivan Alvarez, Sports Centre, Owensboro, Kentucky, USA - WBA. Referee: Steve Smoger. Scorecards: 115-112, 116-111, 115-112. Finding out who his opponent was only a matter of hours before the fight was hardly the way to treat a champion, and in return Adams (122) treated his challenger as a sparring partner. It was a poor performance by Adams but he just about did enough to win against Alvarez (122), who lunged in and belted away as if his life depended on it. When Alvarez was floored late in round four by a heavy right to the body the bell saved him, but there were no further incidents such as that and although Adams started to use the jab well in the latter rounds he was unable to stamp his authority on his tough rival.

Recognised as the best man in the weight division by The Ring magazine, Adams forfeited the WBA version of the title in July 2001 after agreeing to meet Paulie Ayala to decide the vacant IBO title rather than defend against Yober Ortega. That was followed by the latter being match against Jose Rojas to find a new WBA champion.

On 4 August, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, Ayala outpointed Adams over 12 rounds in a fight between the two highest-rated men in the weight division. Cut over the left eye in the second from a clash of heads and shaken up, Adams (122) was unfortunate to lose the round 10-8 even though he did not go down. A 10-9 round would have gained him a draw. With both men giving it all they had in what was one of the year’s most exciting fights, ultimately it was the southpaw aggression of Ayala (122), especially when going to the body, that swayed the judges. According to the ‘Compubox’ stats Adams had landed 230 punches to 157, and it was no surprise that a rematch was called for involving The Ring magazine championship belt. The cards showed Ayala winning by scores of 114-113, 115-112, 113-114.