Jalolov, Nursultanov win, ex-champ Molina defeated
By David Finger at ringside
It may have been the last place boxing fans would have expected to witness a pair of Mexican contenders clash for a vacant WBC world title, but in front of nearly 12,000 boxing fans in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Lift Promotions hosted what would prove to be a memorable night of boxing featuring two close friends in Carlos Cuadras and Pedro Guevara as they battled for the vacant super flyweight title. With WBC junior bantamweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada (44-3, 28KOs) looking to be sidelined until next year, the winner was looking to not only capture the interim belt, but establish themselves as the mandatory challenger to Estrada.
Although #3 ranked veteran Guevara was seen as the slight favorite going into the ring on November 17th at the Humo Arena in Tashkent, it would be the #2 ranked “Principe” Cuadras who would walk out of the ring with the WBC belt after capturing a split decision over his countryman.
For local fans, it was a technical, but entertaining affair, with Cuadras applying pressure early on and forcing the action against a Guevara who was attempting to establish some distance. However, Cuadras dropped Guevara in round two with a short counter hook, and although Guevara was able to get up and fought back well after the knockdown, it soon became apparent that he dug himself a big hole after the scores were announced in round four (the fight was one in which open scoring was implemented). With two judges having the fight a shutout (40-35), and with a five-point lead for Cuadras, there was little question that Guevara needed to turn things around quickly.
But as true champions often do, Guevara dug deep and found a way to close the gap in round five and outwork “The Prince”. Nonetheless, the momentum was shattered in round six when Cuadras scored another knockdown in a round that Guevara seemed to be controlling. Although Guevara argued it was a slip, there was no question that he could ill afford the second knockdown. Although Cuadras appeared to be fading somewhat, he had nonetheless built himself a nice little retirement fund with the two knockdowns, and after eight rounds he was comfortably ahead on two of the judges’ scorecards (78-72 and 77-73). The third judge had the fight even at 75-75. With the open scores announced, it was clear that not only did Guevara need to win every remaining round, but he was going to need to either score a knockdown of Cuadras or was going to need to have a point deducted somewhere in order to capture the belt. And although Guevara did admirably well in the championship rounds, by no means did he pitch a shutout and he failed to score that elusive knockdown. After twelve rounds two of the judges scored the fight for Cuadras by scores of 116-110 and 115-111. One of the three judges scored the fight for Guevara (115-111). With the win, Cuadras sees his record improve to 42-5-1, 28 KOs, while Guevara sees his record fall to 40-4-1, 22 KOs. There were rumors in press row that Guevara was sick going into the fight and had been running a fever the day before the event. Nonetheless it was an exceptional performance by Cuadras, and few fans would complain about a rematch.
In the main event, undefeated heavyweight contender Bakhodir “The Big Uzbek” Jalolov, 253.5, made a strong statement that he might be one of the best heavyweight prospect in the world with a dominant first round knockout over the normally durable South African Chris Thompson, 240.25. Jalalov was a heavy favorite going in, but with Thompson having gone the distance with undefeated prospects Solomon Dacres (7-0) and Evgeny Romanov (19-0) there was the assumption that Thompson could at least give the local boy a few rounds and maybe even take him the distance for the first time. However, Thompson had no answer for the overhand left from the Uzbek southpaw and was rattled almost immediately by a trio of left hands. Jalolov quickly bullied Thompson to the ropes where he unleashed on his hapless foe, sending him to the canvas with a flurry of heavy punches. Thompson struggled to get to his feet and failed to beat the count, leading to a first round KO for the undefeated Uzbek. With the win Jalolov improves to 14-0, 14 KOs while Thompson falls to 12-6-1, 7 KOs.
In boxing, all good things must come to an end. And for this generation of boxing fans the modern day Saoul Mamby or Oliver McCall was Carlos Molina. Much like Mamby and McCall, Molina was a durable former world champion whose twilight years in boxing was defined by durability and a rock solid chin that saw them go the distance with everyone he fought, even if he came up short. But as Saoul Mamby once famously said, “even dripping water wears down the stone”, and in Tashkent the rock that had been Carlos Molina was finally worn down when he was stopped in nine rounds by undefeated Albanian-American prospect Ermal Hadribeaj. Molina was never in the fight, and although he was never really hurt, it was obvious that he was not able to compete with the younger man. After four rounds the open scoring revealed that Ermal was pitching a shutout, and when the open scores were announced after round eight it became clear that the light punching Molina was going to have to score a knockout to win the fight. With all three judges scoring the fight 80-72, and with round nine being more of the same, Molina’s corner elected to throw in the newly minted “red towel” (which was introduced at the WBC convention just two days prior in Tashkent). Molina was clearly not happy with the decision, but it was clear that there was no path to victory for the former world champion. Nonetheless, for the former champion whose professional debut was just over twenty years ago, the Undertaker like streak comes to an end with his first stoppage loss. With the win Hadribeaj improves to 17-0-1, 7 KOs and keeps his 154-pound WBC International title. For the 40-year old Molina, his record falls to 38-14-2, 12 KOs.
In what can only chalked up as a “win today, look good next time” type of performance, undefeated middleweight contender Meiirim Nursultanov won a boring and uneventful 12-round decision over Julio Alamos of Chile. Nursultanov is the current #2 WBC ranked contender and was being mentioned as a possible future opponent for current world champion Jermall Charlo. Although he did nothing last night to move the needle, he nonetheless stayed active and got some rounds in against the gritty South American. All three judges scored the fight 117-111 for Nursultanov, who improves to 20-0, 11 KOs. Alamos, who was ranked #35 by the WBC going into this fight, sees his record slip to 16-2, 9 KOs.
Rounding off the card, undefeated Sukhrobjon Kayimov improved to 2-0, 1 KO after his opponent Anvar Turapov, failed to come out of his corner after two rounds. Kayimov was in control of the fight and seemed to have dropped Turapov twice in the opening round, although both were ruled slips. Turapov’s record now stands at 8-2, 6 KOs.
Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov pitched a shutout and won a decision over Runqi Zhou of China over eight rounds. All three judges scored the fight 80-72 for Mirzakhalilov, who improves to 3-0, 2 KOs. Zhou sees his record fall to 6-2-1, 2 KOs.
Another Uzbek prospect, Mujibillo Tursunov, scored another shutout decision over another gritty Chinese journeyman in Yangcheng Jin. All three judges had the fight 80-72 for the Uzbek, who sees his record improve to 3-0, 1 KO. Jin’s record falls to 12-7-2, 7 KOs.
Uzbek prospect Kudratillo Abdukakhorov got his career back on track after back-to-back losses to Cody Crowley and Ve Shawn Owens. The Uzbek made short work of Tanzanian journeyman Maono Ally, stopping him in 0:27 of round two. Abdukakhorov dropped Ally with a hard overhand right in the opening seconds of round two and quickly felled him a second time moments later with another right hand. With the win Abdukakhorov improves to 19-2, 11 KOs while Ally drops to 14-8-1, 10 KOs.
Debuting Abdumalik Khalokov made a huge statement, destroying Ukrainian veteran Oleksandr Yegorov in two rounds. A counter right hand sent the Ukrainian to the canvas in round two, where he was counted out. With the loss, Yegorov sees his record fall to 20-10-1, 10 KOs.
In the opening fight of the night, Avetis Nalbandyan scored a six-round decision over Vikash Dahiya of India. Two judges scored the fight 60-53 while the other had it somewhat closer, at 57-56. With the win the Armenian Nalbandyan improves to 2-0, 0 KOs while Dahiya sees his record now stand at 6-4-1, 4 KOs. Six other fights were scheduled for the night but appeared to have been scrapped due to time constraints.