By David Robinett at ringside
In a tepid affair that likely drove away some of the UFC fans in attendance who might have converted to boxing after watching Dulorme vs. Ugas, cruiserweights Andrew Tabiti (16-0, 13 KOs) and Steve Cunningham (29-9-1, 13 KOs) sparred, mugged, and held over ten rounds for the USBA/NABF cruiserweight belt. Tabiti emerged victorious because someone had to win, with the judges awarding him the decision by scores of 97-93, 97-93, 100-90. Although he was a solid fighter in his prime, at 41 years old and lots of sea miles, its probably time to decommission the U.S.S. Cunningham while Tabiti should just go back to the gym and work on his craft before fighting again on such a high profile card.
Welterweights Thomas Dulorme (24-3, 16 KOs) and Yordenis Ugas (20-3, 9 KOs) put on the fight of the night thus far, trading knockdowns and big punches over ten entertaining rounds, with Ugas earning a controversial unanimous decision after referee Vic Drakulich penalized Dulorme in the final round for the second time in the fight for low blows, which got Ugas over the hump by scores of 94-91, 93-92, 93-92.
It looked early on like it would be short work for Ugas, a bronze medalist at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and a world amateur champion in 2005. Ugas dropped Dulorme twice in round two, first with a right uppercut that put Dulorme on the canvas after a delayed reaction. Although Dulorme appeared steady when he rose, Ugas dropped him again about a minute later with a right hook to the jaw. To his credit, Dulorme stormed back over the next few rounds, getting inside of the long arms of the taller Ugas and ripping shots to the body with both hands. Ugas complained several times that Dulorme’s body punches were low, drawing some warnings from referee Vic Drakulich, but also some admonishments to Ugas to stop complaining about several legal beltline shots.
Dulorme did stray low a few times however, prompting Drakulich to take a point from Dulorme in round seven. Dulorme responded by snapping Ugas’s head back with a right uppercut and then knocking Ugas down with a left hook right before the bell. The two fighters fought evenly over the final three rounds, before Drakulich deducted the deciding point on what appeared to be a borderline low blow.
In an attractive matchup between two undefeated prospects, Juan Heraldez (13-0, 8 KOs) from the Mayweather Gym withstood a hard knockdown and fought off highly touted Mexican youngster Jose Borrego (12-1, 11 KOs) to earn a unanimous decision by scores of 96-93, 97-92, 97-92, in a ten-round welterweight contest. The early rounds belonged to Heraldez, who used constant movement and quick combinations to keep Borrego from effectively countering, resulting in Borrego following Heraldez around the ring but not doing much else. As the rounds progressed though, Heraldez slowed a step, allowing Borrego to consistently land lead left hooks that visibly rocked Heraldez. Right before the bell to end round six Borrego landed a left hook that wobbled Heraldez and then just missed with a left hand finisher that grazed Heraldez’s chin.
By round seven Heraldez was no longer boxing and moving, and was just moving to avoid Borrego’s left hand, allowing Borrego to come in more aggressively. Heraldez found his second wind in round eight, boxing circles around Borrego and landing quick combinations that stopped Borrego in his tracks with the same vigor as in the early rounds. However Borrego’s left hand changed the momentum again in round nine, dropping Heraldez, who just beat the ten count and was in bad shape, managing to hold on for dear life over the final minute of the round. Despite the knockdown, Heraldez dug deep and boxed smartly in the last stanza, circling away from Borrego’s left hand while mustering the courage to continue to land quick combinations to take the round and earn the well-deserved victory.
In a largely tactical affair, Antonio Hernandez (10-1, 2 KOs) pulled off the mild upset, scoring a final round knockdown and defeating the previously unbeaten Kevin Newman (7-1-1, 3 KOs) by scores of 57-56, 59-54, 59-54, in a six-round super middleweight contest. Newman seemed to be controlling the bout early with his speed, popping quick jabs and circling away before Hernandez could counter. However as the fight progressed Hernandez was able to occasionally close the distance or trap Newman along the ropes, allowing him to land a few punches before Newman moved out of danger. Although Hernandez was moving up in weight against a natural super middleweight, Newman also started short-arming many of his punches in the latter half of the fight, seemingly getting too conservative with an opponent who he probably should have had an easier time with. A flash knockdown by Hernandez in the final round helped cement the victory, but Newman’s lack of urgency was as responsible for his first defeat as anything Hernandez did in the ring.
Female super middleweights Sydney LeBlanc and Savannah Marshall kicked off the undercard of the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, with the debuting Marshall cruising to a four-round unanimous decision by identical scores of 40-36. Marshall, England’s first women’s amateur boxing world champion, utilized her height and reach advantage to keep LeBlanc at bay, relying heavily on her left jab and long right-hands. Marshall mixed in some body shots as the fight progressed and clearly established herself to be the superior fighter. LeBlanc (4-4-1, 0 KOs), who unsuccessfully challenged American Olympian Claressa Shields earlier this year, came on a little in the final round, but it was too little too late to make any difference in the final outcome.