Sergey Kovalev and Dmitry Bivol retain titles. Is a collision course to unify the division next?
After an opening round that saw Russian compatriots Sergey Kovalev, 32-2-1 (28), and Igor Mikhalkin, 22-2, (9), feel each other out, the reigning, defending WBO light heavyweight titlist started to open up his offense after he warmed up in rounds two and three. Mikhalkin finally decided to let his hands go and was able to connect flush with several left hands on Kovalev. Kovalev took the shots and answered back with some stiff rights.
The action heated up in the fourth round with both fighters landing shots in exchanges. Mikhalkin continued to land looping lefts, while Kovalev landed one-twos, which he would follow up with stiff jabs. Rounds five and six continued to have heated exchanges but, clearly, Kovalev’s power was the difference. This included a strong right hand that busted open a cut beneath Mikhalkin’s right eye.
Kovalev poured it on to start the seventh and could sense the end was near. After landing more vicious lefts and straight right hands, Mikhalkin was on shaky legs. As the round was winding down, referee Steve Willis asked for the doctor at ringside to check the cut and they both agreed to call a halt to the fight at the 2:25 mark of the seventh round. “This was better work than the last fight for sure. This fight looked easy but it was not easy. (Mikhalkin) has a lot of movement. I felt the body shots, so I had to be ready for them,” stated Kovalev. “I’m always ready for the big money fights. I read on the internet that Badou (Jack) would be a big fight if he was to beat (WBC light heavyweight titlist Adonis) Stevenson.”
Dmitry Bivol closes the show against Sullivan Barrera in 12
Dmitry Bivol, 13-0 (11), of Russia, and Sullivan Barrera, 21-2 (14), out of Cuba, circled in the center of the ring, exchanging jabs to start the fight. Both fighters threw hard shots behind the jab but were content with feeling out what their opponents had to offer, in terms of speed and power. Bivol, the WBA light heavyweight beltholder, came out with crisp power shots and was controlling the round till a cut formed over the Bivol’s right eye. This allowed Barrera back into the round as he was able to land some good work.
A headbutt stopped the action briefly in the third round. Bivol landed a sharp right hand in exchange, which stopped Barrera in his tracks. Determined behind stiff jabs, Bivol caught Barrera with a sharp left hook that stunned him for a few moments. He finished the fourth with solid balance and a sharp jab.
Barrera had a few bright spots in the fifth round but, once again, Bivol controlled the round with a stiff jab. Both fighters were still fighting hard in the sixth and Barrera landed a few shots until he was caught with a sharp right hand, while his back was on the ropes. A one-two by Barrera bounced off Bivol’s head, as the first minute of the seventh looked good for the Cuban. However Bivol’s stinging jab and sharp rights solidified the round for the Russian.
After another headbutt stopped the flow of the action in the eighth, Bivol threw a crisp three-punch combination that hurt Barrera and had him a bit shaky, as the round closed. Barrera refused to go away and landed good body shots, with straight rights that made Bivol circle and stay away from exchanges. Once he regained his composure, Bivol and Barrera exchanged to end the ninth.
It was more of the same in the 10th round with Bivol using his superior balance, stiff jab and footwork to control the round and land the harder shots. While Barrera, again, had a few moments in the 11th, Bivol would regroup and circle away from Barrera and reestablish control with crisp combinations. Bivol came out to finish the show in the final round and did just that with a thunderous right hand that dropped Barrera. Barrera rose to his feet but was spared the ensuing beat down when referee Harvey Dock waved the fight off at the 1:41 mark of the 12th. “(Barrera) showed me a lot of things that I need to work on. In the 12th round, I knew I could knock him out, so I stepped on the gas,” stated Bivol after the fight.
Incidentally for the sake of both fighters’ safety, Bivol and Barrera went to the hospital after their bout concluded/
Off TV Results
Bombs away from the opening bell was the script between both Vaughn Alexander,12-0 (8), and Devaun Lee, 10-3-1 (5), in their super middleweight fight. Alexander’s constant pressure and punishing body shots forced Lee to fight off the ropes as he tried to counter with his own power shots. Lee tried to change things up by circling in the center of the ring, as a southpaw, but Alexander was still able to blast his way inside with hooks to the head and body. Finally in round nine, Lee was able to impose his boxing skills and made Alexander think twice before launching his punches. Lee finished the fight with a strong 10th round and even seemed to buzz Alexander with a strong straight right. It was a little to late for Lee though, as he dropped the decision to Alexander with scores of 98-92, 96-94 and 97-93.
“The Brooklyn Rocky” Frank Galarza, 19-2 (11), out-worked a game Norberto Gonzalez, 23-11 (14), over eight rounds to earn a unanimous decision in a junior middleweight bout. Galarza and Gonzalez were happy to exchange power shots throughout. Galarza landed the harder shots and controlled the pace of the action, which led to his win by the scores of 80-72, 79-73 and 78-74.
Bakhram Murtazaliev, 12-0 (10), of Russia stopped Kenneth McNeil, 11-4 (8), of Birmingham, Alabama, at the 1:08 mark of the fifth round in a junior middleweight bout. McNeil was just simply outclassed by Murtazaliev, who worked behind his jab to set up a barrage of punches that trapped McNeil on the ropes. McNeil crumbled to the canvas just as the referee was set to step in and stop the action.
Super middleweight Meiirim Nursultanov, 6-0 (5), continues to do his best Gennady Golovkin impressions, as he blasted away on Alejandro Torres, 9-4-2 (4). At the 1:55 mark of the sixth round, the referee called a halt to the action due to the clear power shots landed by Nursultanov.
Main Events heavyweight Cassius Chaney, 12-0 (6), stated that he knew he had the victory over Tim Washington, 6-6 (6), when he landed several booming overhand rights. Washington was out on his feet and crumbled to the canvas. Time of the stoppage was 1:28 of the second round.
Alexey Evchenko, 16-10-1 (6), of Russia, did not fight like a normal fighter, with his record, putting together a real determined effort against Khiary Gray-Pitts, 15-4 (11). After five rounds in their junior middleweight contest, a clash of heads caused a cut, so the fight went to the judges’ cards. Evchenko received the victory with all three cards reading a 48-47 score.
Middleweight LeShawn Rodriguez, 9-0 (7), of Long Island, handled the game Martez Jackson, 4-2-2 (2) of Macon, Georgia. Rodriguez seemed to make things harder on himself, at times, and was fighting down to his opponent’s level until the fifth. When he received motivation and great instructions from the lovely ladies of Main Events sitting ringside, Rodriguez turned it up another level and secured a unanimous decision, by scores of 58-56, on all three judges’ cards.
Madiyar Ashkeyev of Kazakhstan, 9-0 (5), scored a first round knockdown with a hard, straight right hand off the chin of Jose Abreu, Dominican Republic, 13-4 (8). Abreu got up but the junior middleweight fight was waved off at 1:52 of the first round.
Junior middleweight Ismael Villarreal, 2-0, of the Bronx, won a unanimous decision over Anthony Woods, 1-7, who fights out of Philadelphia. Villarreal has real talent and, for just 20, has plenty of room for growth.
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