Shumenov defends title
Ringside by David Robinett
Photos by Laura De La Torre
Prior to his first title defense Friday night, against undefeated Vyacheslav Uzelkov, WBA light heavyweight champion Beibut Shumenov was seeking a measure of redemption, having won the title in a controversial decision in January over Gabriel Campillo. Although Shumenov’s win over Campillo, in just his tenth pro fight, made him the fourth-fastest boxer to win a world title at the start of his career, most ringside observers felt the title was undeserved, leaving Shumenov in a position of having to prove himself all over again.
Friday night’s performance went a long way towards quieting his critics, as Shumenov, (10-1, 6 KOs), survived a first-round knockdown and blistering 100-degree heat to take a dominant 12-round decision over Uzelkov, (22-1, 14 KOs), at a specially constructed outdoor arena at the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, California. Scores were 117-109, 118-108, 118-108.
By the time the fighters entered the ring for the ESPN2-televised bout, the sun had set and the temperature had dropped out of triple digits, but the conditions were still challenging. Shumenov appeared to be handling things early on, particularly with a left hook to the body that hurt Uzelkov early in round one. However Uzelkov stunned Shumenov, and the fans in attendance, with a chopping left hook out of nowhere that dropped Shumenov with over a minute remaining in the round. Shumenov appeared a little shaky, but Uzelkov missed with several of his follow-up shots, and Shumenov was able to regain control by working Uzelkov’s body and driving him into the ropes.
Round two started where round one left off, with Shumenov aggressively working the body, but Uzelkov continued to sneak his left hook to the head in between Shumenov’s attacks, and while Shumenov was taking the punches better this round, there was a feeling at ringside that each left hook by Uzelkov had the potential to do damage.
In round three Shumenov continued to outwork Uzelkov, continually mixing straight hand volleys with his left hook to the body. Uzelkov made a few modest efforts at firing back, including trying to utilize a left uppercut on occasion, but Uzelkov’s early momentum had all but evaporated by the time Shumenov countered an Uzelkov right hook with a straight right hand that dropped Uzelkov an instant before the bell.
Although Uzelkov rose quickly from the knockdown, unfortunately that seemed to take the fight out of him, as from the fourth round on Uzelkov went into Joshua Clottey-mode, covering up in the face of Shumenov’s aggressive attacks, countering meekly, and then allowing Shumenov to attack again before repeating the cycle. Whether it was the heat, the knockdown, or a combination of the two, from this point on the fight was essentially over as Uzelkov shut down, which was hugely disappointing considering his early success.
There was little to note for the remainder of the fight, other than Shumenov’s excellent workrate and accuracy, particularly to the body. By the sixth round Shumenov was under less pressure than a spirited sparring session, able to attack Uzelkov with a short flurry of punches, then back up, catch his breath, figure out what he wanted to do next, and re-engage. The only criticism one could lob at Shumenov is that he didn’t hurt Uzelkov again in the fight, despite landing at will and without serious opposition for several rounds.
With the win, Shumenov, a 2004 Olympian for his native Kazakhstan who also co-owns his promotional company, KZ Event Productions, has now validated his presence in an attractive light heavyweight division that includes beltholders Jean Pascal and Jurgen Brahmer, as well as American stalwarts Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson.
Ramos Cruises Past Vargas
WBO #3 rated super bantamweight and fast-rising prospect Rico “Sauvecito” Ramos, (17-0, 9 KOs), lived up to his nickname with a smooth, albeit uneventful, eight-round decision over Cuauhtemoc Vargas, (15-4-1, 10 KOs) by scores of 79-73, 80-72, 80-72.
Ramos, a natural southpaw fighting right-handed, took control of this fight from the opening bell, circling Vargas while peppering him with left jab, straight right combinations and the occasional lead left hook. Vargas had trouble putting his gloves on Ramos in round one, unable to get off before Ramos darted out of range. As Ramos became more aggressive in round two and fought closer inside, Vargas surprisingly had some success outboxing the boxer, timing Ramos coming in with the jab, and then slipping in a few combinations to Ramos’ body before getting tied up.
Vargas’ success was short-lived though, once Ramos was able to find his range and not rush in as recklessly, coming in to attack but not close enough to allow Vargas to counter. Ramos was particularly effective with the left hand, utilizing a diverse attack that included the jab, lead left hooks, and even a few left uppercuts when the opportunity presented itself. Ramos’ lead left hand would be his primary weapon for the remainder of the fight.
Vargas was unable to figure out Ramos for much of the remaining rounds. When Vargas rallied briefly in round six with a pair of sharp left hooks to Ramos’ body a few seconds apart, Ramos beat him back easily, stinging Vargas with several lead left hooks of his own, both to the head and body. The rest of the fight saw Ramos darting in and out to attack, while Vargas was too slow to counter and unable to time him with any success. By the eighth round Ramos knew the fight was won and danced to the bell, stopping sporadically to potshot Vargas, while Vargas continued to lumber after Ramos to no avail.
Estrada Mauls Hunter
2008 Olympian and Goossen Tutor prodigy Shawn Estrada returned from a 14-month layoff due to injuries to brush aside courageous but hapless Eddie Hunter 53 seconds into a scheduled four-round super middleweight bout.
Estrada, (7-0, 7 KOs), who has knocked out all but one of his first seven opponents in the first round, must have been surprised to see Hunter, (4-3-1, 1 KO), charging at him from the opening bell, but after ducking a couple of wild swings by Hunter, Estrada clubbed him to the canvas with his own looping right hand less than 10 seconds into the fight. Hunter got up even more aggressively than he went down, seemingly ready to take on Goossen Tutor’s entire stable of fighters, but found himself on the canvas again moments later, courtesy of a left hook, straight right, left hook combination. Undeterred, Hunter rose for more…and went down again, this time from the business end of a right-hand haymaker from Estrada. Mercifully, the referee waved the fight over at that point, as it seemed Hunter was ready to jump back up while Estrada was just getting warmed up. Although this fight was not much of a litmus test on whether Estrada is back to full strength after his shoulder and hand injuries, his future seems bright if he can stay healthy.
Hudaynazarov Outlasts Miranda
In a scheduled eight round welterweight contest, undefeated Uzbekistan prospect Ravshan Hudaynazarov, (13-0, 11 KOs), impressively dismantled tough challenger, Pavel Miranda, (16-6-1, 8 KOs), when Miranda elected to retire on his stool rather than come out for the sixth round. Miranda was intended to be a step up for Hudaynazarov, and he didn’t disappoint initially, taking the first round by utilizing sharp left jab, straight-right hand combinations while Hudaynazarov worked the body but not with enough frequency to win the round.
Hudaynazarov’s left and right hooks to the body became more of a theme in round two, digging away mercilessly at Miranda’s midsection as the two fighters cooked under the searing heat. By round three, Miranda was in full retreat, while Hudaynazarov continued to pound away with both hands to the body. Miranda rallied briefly in round four, using his jab to try and keep Hudaynazarov away, while strafing the Uzbek fighter with the left jab, straight-right hand combination that helped him carry the first round.
However in round five Hudaynazarov reclaimed the momentum with his body attack, and overwhelmed the quickly fading Miranda. Before the start of the sixth round, the referee walked over to Miranda’s corner where they indicated that Miranda did not wish to continue. The official time of Hudaynazarov’s TKO victory was 3:00 of the fifth round.
Stan “The Man” Struggles Past Bobadilla
In the first bout of the evening, former amateur standout Stan “The Man” Martyniouk got a little more than he bargained for against game Jonathan Bobadilla in a four-round lightweight bout. While Martyniouk was awarded a somewhat generous 39-37, 39-37, 40-36 unanimous decision victory, and was clearly starting to pull away in the final round, the first round was clearly Bobadilla’s, and the pivotal second round was scored for Martyniouk but could have gone either way.
In round one, Bobadilla simply outhustled Martyniouk, who either was not firing because of the heat, or chose not to open up right away on his seemingly overmatched opponent. Bobadilla’s performance did not exude a lot of class, but admirably, from the opening bell he stuck his head down into Martyniouk’s chest and fired away for most of the round. That one judge awarded Martyniouk the first round was more a symptom of pedigree than what actually occurred in the ring. As for Martyniouk, while many good fighters start slow, in a four-round fight its generally not advisable, and although Martyniouk started to pick up the pace in round two, Bobadilla at this stage was still the more active fighter.
In rounds three and four, Martyniouk restored order to the ring and began to turn the tide with his sharper and more accurate punches. Bobadilla continued to try and press the action but was getting consistently hammered by Martyniouk’s straight right hand and right uppercut. Although Martyniouk was clearly the better fighter by the final bell, Bobadilla may have been unfairly denied a draw by virtue of his first two rounds.
In Other Action.
In a walkout bout, local southpaw Michael Ruiz Jr. overcame a spirited effort by very game challenger, Juan Tepoz, in a scheduled six-round bantamweight contest. It was a see-saw battle until the final seconds of the fourth round when Tepoz was floored and nearly counted out but managed to rise at the count of nine as the round was ending. Ruiz Jr. was in control the remainder of the way and went on to earn a unanimous decision victory. Ruiz Jr. improves to 4-0 (1 KO) while Tepoz drops to 4-4-1.
In the final fight of the evening, a scheduled ten-round light heavyweight bout, undefeated Gayrat Ahmedov took on Dallas “Deaf Pride” Vargas. Vargas, who is known in boxing circles for fighting successfully for several years despite a hearing impairment, appeared to be a solid opponent, at least on paper, but folded for the count after being tagged by a solid body shot to the liver towards the end of the opening round. By way of KO victory, Ahmedov improves to 15-0-1 (10 KOs) while Vargas drops to 22-5 (16 KOs).
The seven-bout card was promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions and KZ Event Productions, in association with the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino.
One final note regarding the time and place for this card, this writer is not qualified to speak to the medical effects on fighters competing in what ESPN2 reported as “over” 110 degree temperatures under the lights at ringside (before sunset), but it seems to be a reasonable conclusion that those are not safe conditions in which to compete, in an already inherently dangerous sport, and it would be interesting to know whether the California State Athletic Commission gave its blessing to the time and place for this fight in deference to ESPN2’s scheduling needs. That is not an accusation, but simply a worthy point of discussion for the parties involved. Nobody would consider the notion of staging a televised fight card in 0 degree weather; it isn’t clear why staging a fight where the temperature in the ring exceeds 110 degrees, under a midday sun, would not be equally ridiculous.