Playing it safe
Shumenov cautiously defends WBA strap, Ornelas cautiously challenges
Ringside report and photos by Chris Cozzone
It was a safe bet that WBA Light-heavyweight Champion Beibut Shumenov would retain his strap, last night against super-middleweight “challenger’ Enrique Ornelas. But the shallow crowd in attendance was not expecting to find themselves lulled to a deep sleep after watching the usually gutsy champ fight so cautiously, especially against an opponent afflicted with earmuff-itis.
The title fight headlined a five-bout card at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas, promoted by Golden Boy and KZ Promotions, for FOX Sports.
Expectation for an upset was at a minimum, for the suddenly rated challenger (No. 15 in the WBA) was moving up in weight while Shumenov was shaking off the rust after hanging onto his belt with nearly a year of inactivity. But Shumenov, rarely dull, promised, at least, a fast finish.
Unfortunately, due to an injury, he later explained, Shumenov never got started. Then again, neither did Ornelas, who spent the majority of time with his gloves glued to his ears and his eyes watching the clock click clack its way toward the concluding clang.
Shumenov gave the appearance of aggression, at least, though it was less of a drive to score a knockout and more along the lines of a heavy bag exhibition executed on a wet floor. Careful not to close the distance, Shumenov popped away on his bag, one punch, sometimes two, rarely a combination, while Ornelas worked on his ear muffs. Once in a while, Ornelas would counter, almost always landing on Shumenov – he’s not exactly Floyd Mayweather when it comes to defense – but he’d pull back and regain his composure as an opponent.
“Ussshhh! Ussshhh!” Shumenov cried every time he threw something, his vocal cords taking a beating equal to the one displayed by Ornelas’ slow, facial disfigurement.
On and on it went, round and round, round after round, until Shumenov, suddenly hungry for a knockout, hurt Ornelas and rushed in for the finish. Only problem was, this was in the last five seconds of the fight and the master of mitt muffs had more than enough wartime experience to weather a few seconds of uncompromised aggression.
The judges had little trouble with the math, for all three cards tallied up scores of 120-108.
“This was not my best performance,” Shumenov said afterward, explaining that ten weeks before, he’d hyperextended his left elbow in sparring.
Despite the less-than-spectacular show, Shumemov’s promoter, Don Chargin, assured the media that there are no less than three valid offers on the table for his champ: Nathan Cleverly, Mikkel Kessler and Bernard Hopkins – all of whom are probably licking their chops after last night’s fight.
With the win, Shumenov ups his record to 13-1, 8 KOs while Ornelas ends a four-bout win streak, dropping to 33-8, 21 KOs.
Elegele takes a ride in the fast Lane
In an eight-round co-main, between must-win, once-lost welters, Floridian Joseph Elegele (12-2, 10 KOs) scored the decision while Philly’s Lanard Lane (13-2, 8 KOs) had to settle for the applause of the crowd.
Up against severe height and reach disadvantages, Lane’s task appeared insurmountable in the opening stanzas. Keeping the fight at range and hammering Lane with straight lefts, the southpaw Elegele took an early lead.
Keeping away from Elegele’s deadly left and closing the gap, Lane started to turn the fight around and, by the fourth, had turned the fight around with sheer pressure. Momentum swapped hands again in the fifth, however, when Lane went down from what appeared to be a slip.
Refusing to lose, Lane upped his game and soon had Elegele on the defense. Elegele was staggered several times but, against the ropes and in the corners, he fought back, more than once regaining the upper hand.
After eight rounds, the judges ranged from an even 76-76 to 77-74 and 76-75 for Elegele, making him the winner by majority decision – and one that was booed by the crowd.
Fightnews had it even in rounds, four apiece, but the knockdown making the difference for the winner, Elegele.
Hudaynazarov still undefeated
Undefeated WBA #15 welterweight Ravshan Hudaynazarov improved his record to 16-0, 12 KOs by defeating Euri Gonzalez (20-2-1, 14 KOs) via unanimous decision in an eight-round junior middleweight bout.
Explosive rights and a certain elusiveness in defense gave Hudaynazarov the edge over the mop-topped Dominican, who merely waited too long to spring into action. The far busier fighter, Hudaynazarov kept the counter-punching Gonzalez on the defense for much of the fight.
All three ringside judges scored in Hudaynazarov’s favor with tallies of 79-73.
Walkout bout best of night
In the final bout of the evening, between two gutsy junior lightweights, Johnny Reyes (2-0, 1 KO), of Lancaster, outboxed Roberto Duran lookalike Uriel Torres (0-1), of Los Angeles, through four feisty rounds.
Torres was all about pressure and against anyone else, he would’ve had his arms raised at the end of the bout. But Reyes, despite looking like a candidate for high school chess club, had eerie capability and ring generalship. Scoring a knockdown in the process, in the third, Reyes kept his wildling opponent under control with precise rights and fancy combinations.
Scores were 40-35 twice and 39-36.
Arnett forced to brawl with Abreu
In a four-round junior middleweight swing bout, Florida’s Daquan Arnett (4-0, 2 KOs) weathered rough-and-ready Yosmani Abreu (2-3-1) to win a unanimous decision with scores of 40-35 twice and 39-36.
Outsized and perhaps underestimating Abreu’s maul and brawl capabilities, Arnett was forced to earn his win, though he did score a knockdown in the second with a sweet right uppercut.