Kovalev krushes Mohammedi; Pascal edges Gonzalez
Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KOs)* and Nadjib “IronDjib” Mohammedi (38-4, 23 KOs) started off the main event slow, just feeling each other out in the first round.
At the start of the second round, Kovalev engaged in an aggressive attack on Mohammedi which knocked the challenger down. In the third round the chants for Kovalev began to ring out from the Las Vegas fans and the champion knocked down Nadjib again. This time the referee stopped the fight at 2:38.
After the fight Kovalev said, “I am very happy that I got the victory I gave my best; I am happy. I told him stand up. It was short show. People didn’t see boxing. I wanted to continue. I tried to continue longer this fight. I didn’t see Pascal fight, just a little bit. That was a good fight. What I saw of the fight Gonzalez was much better. If Pascal interested in rematch I am ready. It is boxing. I want to fight this guy too [Gonzalez]. I am ready for anyone. I am ready for any fight, any opponent. It is boxing. It is sport. If fans want to see and promoters want to make the fight, I am happy; I will do it.” He then proceeded to throw gifts into the crowd to his fans.
According to Mohammedi, a thumb in the eye made him unable to continue. He said, “I couldn’t open my eye. After the knockdown I knew I was in a fight. I started to catch him with shots [in the third]. Kovalev is a skilled fighter and it takes time. Unfortunately, I got a thumb in my eye.”
In the first bout on the HBO World Championship Boxing telecast, former light heavyweight world champion Jean Pascal (30-3-1, 17 KOs) faced undefeated Cuban Yuniesky Gonzalez (16-1, 12 KOs) in ten rounds of light heavyweight action. Gonzalez was the aggressor from the first bell. Pacal returned fire with a flurry of punches in the second that seemed to stun Gonzalez. Yuniesky continued his fierce attack on Pascal in the fourth but the former champ continued to counter with equally brutal punches.
Pascal opened the sixth round with a couple of hard shots. Both men looked fatigued in the last few rounds but continued to trade big shots. At the end of the brutal battle many unofficial scorecards had Gonzalez with the win, however, all three official judges scored the bout 96-94 in favor of the former champion, Jean Pascal, for the win by unanimous decision. Compubox stats showed that both fighters landed around the same number of punches (154 connected for Pascal vs. 163 for Gonzalez), but Gonzalez was the busier man (632 punches thrown vs. 397 for Pascal).
Pascal said, “I was controlling the fight. The fight was following the exact rhythm that I wanted. It was a great fight; very close. I am glad to give the fans another candidate for fight of the year because I think it was. I am going to continue fight best opposition and give a great performance because that is what I do. I am the best.”
Gonzalez believed he pulled off the upset. He said, “I am so sad. I was the real fighter. That was taken from me. He did not win, I did. I am the real winner.”
Undefeated Cuban light heavyweight sensation Sullivan Barrera (16-0, 11 KOs) remained undefeated against Hakim Zoulikha (21-8, 10 KOs) of Villeurbanne, France in the final fight of the non-televised undercard. Barrera knocked down Zoulikha in the second but he quickly got up and came straight at Sullivan. The two traded some tough shots over the next couple of rounds. Finally at 1:34 in the eighth round the referee stopped the fight after Barrera’s second knockdown of Zoulikha.
Sullivan had this to say after the fight, “Physically and mentally I felt great! I fought a guy that came in with nothing to lose. I traded with him. And I feel I accomplished what I set out to do and that is to entertain my fans. And all boxing fans!”
Joel Diaz (19-0, 15 KOs) of Palmdale, California remained undefeated against Alejandro Rodriguez (24-18-1, 14 KOs) of Guadalajara, Mexico. The two were scheduled for six rounds of junior welterweight action. Diaz knocked down Rodriguez just before the bell rang in the second round but Rodriguez was able to get up and make it through the round. Diaz continued his attack on Rodriguez in the third round but Rodriguez managed to stay on his feet throughout the round. However, in the next round, Diaz delivered the final blow that stopped Rodriguez at 0:39 of the fourth round.
Heavyweights Rodney Hernandez (8-2-1, 1 KO) of Modesto, California and Brice Ritani-Coe (4-4-1, 3 KOs) of San Pedro, California squared off for California bragging rights in the second fight of the evening and the first fight to go the distance. Both fighters were battle-worn at the end of the sixth and final round but Hernandez walked away with the split decision victory 59-55, 56-58 and 58-56.
In the first bout of the evening, undefeated heavyweight prospect Cassius Chaney (3-0, 2 KOs) of New London, Connecticut made quick work of Eduardo Ramirez (1-3, 1 KO) of Yuma, Arizona knocking him out at 1:55 of the first round.
After the fight Cassius said, “I stayed focused. I stayed poised. I floated like butterfly and hit like a tree. It is a good experience for me to be out here in Las Vegas and experience the HBO atmosphere. I want to say thank you to Main Events and Kathy Duva and Jolene [Mizzone, Main Events’ matchmaker] for giving me the opportunity to fight in Las Vegas.”