Sunday, March 30, 2014

Powerful Kovalev keeps title in Atlantic City

Sergey Kovalev -courtesy of Larry Levanti/Main Events
By John McMullen

ATLANTIC CITY (The Phanatic Magazine) - Powerful WBO light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev retained his title on Saturday night, dispatching the previously undefeated Cedric Agnew with a seventh-round knockout on HBO's "Boxing After Dark" from the Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall.

It was the second successful title defense for Kovalev (24-0-1, 22 KOs), who earned the crown in August of 2013 by topping Nathan Cleverly in the United Kingdom.

Typically Kovalev doesn't get paid by the hour and 15 of his 21 career knockouts coming in were recorded in the first or second rounds. Wary of that power Agnew (26-1) was playing defense early and content on player the counter-punch game.

Almost on cue, though, Kovalev connected with a powerful left which sent Agnew to the canvas late in the second round. The bell saved the Chicago native for the time being and he was able to hang in.

"Agnew was far tougher than anyone gave him credit for," promoter Kathy Duva said. "Sergey is just incredible."

Agnew, however, just doesn't have the power to afford to fall behind on the scorecards early so the plan seemed to be rope-a-dope and let Kovalev punch himself out. That may have changed in Round 4 when  Agnew opened up a nasty cut around Kovalev's right eye but if it did, it was false hope.

Kovalev put on a clinic in the sixth round with power punch after power punch and it was surprising the game Agnew even came out for the seventh. He did but only to crumple to the canvas after a crippling body blow which kept Agnew gasping for air many minutes after things had been waved off 58 seconds into
the frame.

"It was a difficult fight tonight because I got the two cuts. He has good defense," Kovalev said. "I found the key - the left to the body. This is very good for me. I was ready for 12 rounds - just to try. He is not a fighter, he is just a boxer. I tried to box with him. I found the key to the body. I found this open place in his defense and my last punch was more harder."

In the semifinal of the night Thomas Dulorme (21-1 14 KOs) proved to be too athletic for Karim Mayfield (18-1-1) and earned the vacant NABF light-welterweight title with a unanimous-decision victory.

If anyone thought a Friday weigh-in melee between the two would result in fireworks they were sorely mistaken. Dulorme's biggest problems in the uneventful fight came from an inadvertent head-butt, which opened up a small cut on his head, as well as a pair of low blows thrown in the eighth round which could have cost him a valuable point.

Mayfield's mechanics, though, were just not ready for prime time, The San Francisco fighter tried to press the action but was off balance throughout the fight, leaving his open to Dulorme's counter game.

The undercard was headlined by Bosnian light heavyweight Radivoje Kalajdzic (15-0-0, 10 KOs), who took a big step up in competition and remained unbeaten, topping contender Lionell Thompson (15-3) by split decision.

The judge who scored the fight for Thompson, Shafeeq Rashada, was clearly giving the higher-profile fighter the benefit of the doubt, however, and the 22-year-old Kalajdzic, who is from Zenica, Bosnia, but now lives in St. Petersburg, FL. took the other two scorecards, 78-72 and 76-75.

The 78-72 measure was the closest to reality as Kalajdzic, who turned pro in 2011 and has spent most of his time toiling in the Tampa area, clearly outboxed Thompson, the No. 8 ranked WBA contender coming in and a five-time Golden Gloves Champion in New York who has trained with stars like Chad Dawson and Carl Froch.

Also junior middleweights Wilky Campfort (17-1-0, 9 KOs) and Khurshid Abdullaev (6-1-1, 3 KOs) seemingly battled to a draw with each fighter taking one scorecard and the third reading 75-75. Moments later a retabulation gave Campfort a split-decision victory with a 76-75 edge on judge John McKale's

Either way it was an injustice for the far-less experienced Abdullaev, who clearly won five or six rounds of the eight-frame bout.

The opener went the distance as local favorite Ismael Garcia (6-0-1, 3 KOs), of Vineland, NJ, edged southpaw DuShane Crooks (6-1), of Brooklyn, NY, in a battle of previously undefeated junior middleweight prospects. Garcia took all three scorecards by a slim 58-56 margin.

Wellington Romero (3-0-0, 1 KO), who represented the Dominican Republic in the 2012 Olympics, remained unbeaten as a professional, handing Philadelphia's Gerald Smith (3-1) his first setback by dominating a four-round junior welterweight match. The 23-year-old Romero set the tone in the first round by putting Smith on the deck with a straight left, and pitched a virtual shutout from there, winning all three scorecards 40-35.

Popular Atlantic City-area super middleweight journeyman Rafael Jastrzebski (4-8-1) was no match for North Jersey's Mike Mitchell (3-3-3). The 36-year-old Mitchell knocked Jastrzebski down twice in Round 2 before referee Ricardo Vera was finally forced to waive things off with just seven seconds left in the

Finally, Brooklyn heavyweight Adam Kownacki (6-0-0, 6 KOs) remained unbeaten in his young career, easily topping Buffalo's Excell Holmes (2-3-1) by TKO, 42 seconds into Round 2. It was the sixth knockout in six pro fights for the heavy-hitting but no so well-conditioned Kownacki.
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