Bob Arum and Top Rank came to
Philadelphia on Friday night (10/18) for an IBF/WBC light
heavyweight “Unification” bout at the Liacouras Center of Temple U.
They teamed with the great J Russell Peltz (Peltz Boxing) for local
support. A crowd of 3,283 was well entertained by record builders
that produced no upsets on the undercard but saw the prospects get
some valuable experience. Then the two top bouts electrified fans
with solid competitive battles. Bruce Trampler and Brad Muhammad
Goodman (and Peltz?) did the matchmaking for TR. Leroy Samuels, a
long-time veteran of Philly and AC boxing before TR moved to LV, was
publicist. Lupe Contreras was ring announcer for the undercard while
Jimmy Lennon Jr. provided for the headline bouts, carried on ESPN. A
sad note was timekeeper Fred Blumstein tolling the final 10 for
BETERBIEV WINS DRAMATIC SHOWDOWN
Oleksandr Gvozdyk, 174 ¼, Kharkiv, Ukraine, via Oxnard, CA, 17-1
(14), faced Artur Beterbiev, 174 ½, a Russian fighting out of
Montreal, 15-0 (15), in the scheduled 12-round unification bout. It
was not a good fight for action, but made up for it in drama. The
styles were a good mix, not so much for trading punches, but rather
a chess match in sustaining the right moves. The tall and rangy
Gvozdyk, the crowd favorite, used his long jab, but often it was
more a defensive weapon to hold Beterbiev at bay rather than a
take-charge weapon to set up combinations.
Most of the punches by both fighters were one at a time and neither
engaged in prolonged trading until action escalated in later rounds.
There were a lot of ducked punches, fall inside and tie up, that
kept referee Gary Rosato busy. Meanwhile, the shorter Beterbiev,
fighting out of a squared stance, didn’t seem to be doing much but
whatever he did was evidently working. Artur did little infighting
and his punches weren’t spectacularly noticeable, but were surely
doing their job.
The first round got the bout off to a controversial start. Gvozdyk
quickly established a long jab that scored points and put him ahead
if not in actual control. Just before the bell, Artur corralled
Oleksandr in his own corner and stepped in, bringing up a left hook
as his prey tied him up. The subsequent brief wrestling threw Olek
to the canvas more than knocked him down, but Rosato saw the punch
and gave a count. As Gvozdyk was clearly winning the round with the
jab, and was heavily favored by the crowd, this brought up a storm
of boos as well as Olek’s trainer, Teddy Atlas, charging into the
ring to protest. It was later reported that Commissioner Greg Sirb
watched the replay and nullified the knockdown call.
Gvozdyk’s jab was less effective in the second, inviting Artur to
get within range and launch. Beterbiev didn’t manage to put punches
together well, but one jolting right set the tone for what was to
come. Again, one long right lead stung Olek in an otherwise
unproductive third. Acton was better in the fourth, with Gvozdyk
starting out well at long range but Artur mounting his attack and
coming on the make it a tough score. Action subsided in a poor
fifth, but again Beterbiev finished with more pressure.
The sixth brought up the otherwise rapt but not too noisy crowd! In
a reversal of pattern, Beterbiev started aggressively but once
Gvozdyk got his jab going, he came on and so did the fans. The round
ended once again with Olek flopping down in his own corner, but this
time there was no knockdown call. Phew! Following what was almost a
pattern, action subsided in the seventh instead of playing off the
big finish of the sixth. Gvozdyk landed what blows there were as
Beterbiev seemed held at long range. Once again, the eighth was a
comparatively action round, with Gvozdyk working off the jab at long
range and landing one good right. Possibly frustrated at Olek’s
tying him up whenever he got close, Artur landed a clean left hook
on a break and got bawled out by Rosato. There was good, close
action to the bell.
The ninth was pivotal and the round where the Russian took complete
control of what up to that point had been a seesaw and anybody’s
fight. Olek strangely walked away shaking his right hand at the
start of the round. From then on, there was no stopping the Russian.
Beterbiev at last applied sustained pressure, crowding inside as an
increasingly desperate Gvozdyk tried to shut him down by holding. A
solid left uppercut-right cross stunned Olek and had him hanging on
to the bell.
He seemed ok coming out for the tenth, but he was finished. His legs
just wouldn’t hold up whenever Beterbiev got inside and clinching
no longer worked. Gvozdyk was down four times, the first Rosato
calling a rabbit punch, but no doubt about the other three.
Crunching left hooks accounted for two and a chopping right to the
ear signaled the ref that it was time to stop it. It was a tough
fight to score through eight, and the judging seemed to prove it.
John Poturaj had the winner up, 87-83, while John McKaie and Ron
McNair had Gvozdyk, 87-84 and 86-85, respectively.
ABDUKAKHOROV OVER COLLAZO VIA TECHNICAL DECISION
The semi 10 between Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, 147 ¼, Qorgontepa,
Uzbekistan, 17-0 (9), and Luis Collazo, 146 ½, Queens, 39-8 (20),
was an awkward and bewildering yet all-action and entertaining
contest. Collazo opened by switch hitting left to right and
Kudratillo spent the round trying to measure him for clobber rights
behind the ear, left or right depending on which side Luis was
fighting at the time.
Everything changed in the second. The much bigger and muscular
Collazo seemed to gain confidence and take control behind a bruising
physical attack that had Abdu giving ground. In an all-action third,
Collazo was attacking vigorously while a seemingly desperate
favorite was throwing back, but only in a rear guard defense. But in
the close fourth, Collazo’s pressure ebbed and Kudratillo got back
in the fight with sneak counters.
The fight pivoted in the fifth. Collazo was now just storming around
but ineffective in gaining penetration while Kudra circled and
countered well. In the sixth, Luis was just following his man around
and being countered while wringing his left hand as if injured. This
he continued to do throughout the remainder. Good seesaw drama
however as Luis again asserted effective pressure in a bruising
seventh. Kudratillo’s movement and boxing outmaneuvered Luis in the
eighth. Collazo tried to apply pressure in the ninth but
Abdukakhorov was outboxing him.
The tenth was operatic! Abdukakhorov’s movement and boxing had
gained control until the tow tied up and wrestled to the canvas,
with Kudra on top and Luis suffering injuries that were ruled
terminal to the contest. Not that he didn’t do an emotive job of
rolling around in real or feigned agony until referee Benjy Esteves
took him to see the doctor. He was cut over the right eye, possibly
from a knee, and his own knees seemed to have suffered in the fall.
The bout was ruled over at 2:03, with a technical unanimous decision
going to Abdukakhorov over a lot of booing from the fans. It was
actually a good call. Steve Weisfeld had 97-93, Jimmy Kinney 98-92,
and Dewey LaRosa a bit unforgiving at 99-91.
SEALS BELTS OUT TROSCH
Michael Seals, 174 ½, Atlanta, 24-2 (18), belted out Elio Trosch,
173 ¼, Santiago del Estero, Arg., 14-9-2 (7), in 1:38 of the first
of the scheduled eight-rounder. Fighting out of a squared stance,
Trosch tried to attack vigorously and when he had Seals on the
ropes, figured he had him where he wanted and set to punch. But the
favorite brought up an inside left hook to dump him in a shot! Elio
got up but stumbled blindly toward a neutral corner and Dali wisely
called a TKO.
VARGAS TOPS RODRIGUEZ
Josue Vargas, 140 ¼, Isabela, PR, via Bronx, 15-1 (9), won a
unanimous shutout over Johnny Rodriguez, 140 ½ Denver, 9-5-1 (6),
eight. Action was tame but the long-limbed southpaw favorite placed
his punches well and kept the underdog at bay. Rodriguez attempted
to make more of a fight of it with increased pressure in the third,
but Josue just caught him coming in. By the fifth, Rodriguez seemed
befuddled at his inability to get inside Josue’s long reach. But
action heated up in a good seventh when the two traded at closer
range. The underdog held his own for a while but was getting
punished by round’s end. Vargas coasted the final round to win by
80-72 on all cards (Weisfeld, McKaie, LaRosa).
ADORNO KAYOS SOSA
Popular Joseph Adorno, 136 ¾, Allentown, 14-0 (13), looked sharp
taking out game Damian Sosa, 134 ¾, Villa Hidalgo, Arg., 9-3 (7), in
1:20 of the second of eight. Closing the first, Sosa thought he had
Adorno trapped on the ropes and tried to unload. But in a sizzling,
two-handed exchange, Adorno finished it off with a crushing left
hook and Sosa collapsed to the canvas. He got up just in time to
finish the round, then made essentially the same mistake in the
second. Adorno glided along the ropes, Sosa tried to corral him, and
the favorite smoothly sidestepped and dropped a right behind the ear
to deck him again. Damian struggled up but was holding himself up on
the ropes when referee Clark stopped it.
ADORNO REMAINS UNDEFEATED
Joseph’s brother Jeremy Adorno, 121 ¼, Allentown, 3-0 (1), coasted
to a unanimous decision over Misael Reyes, 121 ¼, KC, 1-3, in a tame
four. In the second, Reyes tried to step inside of Adorno’s long
southpaw reach, but Jeremy fired a left to the body and brought a
right hook to the head to drop him cleanly but not badly hurt.
Outboxed, the underdog tried to force a street fight in the final
round but punched wide while Adorno consistently beat him with
straight shots. LaRosa somehow had it 38-37, evidently penalizing
Jeremy for retreat and lack of pressure, while Kinney and Allen
Rubenstein had it 40-35.
RODRIGUEZ STOPS DORONIO
A relaxed and smooth Julian Rodriguez, 142 ½, Hasbrouck Hgts., NJ,
18-0 (12), waited until the sixth and final round to get rid of game
Leonardo Doronio, 139 ½, Mandaluyong City, Philippines, 17-17-3
(11), at 2:29. It was a gym workout until the third when a flashy
two-hand volley by the favorite rocked the Filipino. Early in the
fifth, Rodriguez caught a retreating Doronio on the end of a long
left hook and made him dance, but again did not press the advantage.
Finally, Julian rocked Leonardo with a combo to start the final
round, then fell back into coasting until suddenly leveling him with
a single crushing left hook. Doronio sprawled flat on his back and
referee Esteves didn’t bother to count.
CONTO PUMMELS LYON
The only Philadelphian on the card, popular “Sonny” Conto, 214 ¼,
5-0 (4), crudely pummeled Steven Lyons, 201 ¾, Larose, LA, 5-6 (2),
throughout the opening round of a scheduled four. Lyons did fight
back and managed to extricate his way out of trouble several times
when it appeared Conto was about to get him on the hook. But the
underdog mysteriously quit in his corner for a TKO loss. Dali
refereed. The official time was 3:00 of the first round.