Undercard: Jesse Hart defeats Sullivan Barrera

By David Robinett at ringside

In the first of two walkout bouts following Tyson Fury’s victory at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, heavyweight youngster Sonny Conto (3-0, 3 KOs) blew out Daniel Infante (1-2, 0 KOs) at 2:08 of round two in a scheduled four-round contest. Conto, who in addition to being a decorated amateur boxer was also a college baseball pitcher who helped lead his Rowan College team to the 2015 NJCAA Division III World Series, was throwing fastballs in the ring, riding a powerful right hand to a pair of knockdowns in round two, the second one prompting a referee’s stoppage.

Two-time super middleweight title challenger Jesse Hart (26-2, 21 KOs) made a successful move up to light heavyweight, earning a ten-round unanimous decision over former light heavyweight title challenger Sullivan Barrera (22-3, 14 KOs) on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Scores were 96-93, 97-92, and 99-90.

Hart, whose only two losses have been to WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez, seized momentum early, after a chippy first round which saw Barrera go down to a knee following a low blow and answering moments later with a punch to Hart’s jaw after the break. In round two, Hart appeared to drop Barrera with a right hand but referee Jay Nady called it a slip. Nevertheless, Barrera rose on shaky legs and Hart sensed it, unloading a flurry of punches to try and close the show, though Barrera had enough in the tank to fight Hart off and make it to the end of the round.

Good two-way action in round four, which looked to be Hart’s round early but Barrera rocked Hart late with a pair of right hands, Barrera’s two best punches of the night. Both fighters seemed gassed after their spirited fourth round, with little action in the fifth, before Hart reestablished himself in the sixth with a straight right hand that caused Barrera to hold on to Hart for a breather.

The fight slowed a bit in the later rounds, but not before Hart scored an official knockdown of Barrera, dropping him with a right hand in the eighth round that seemed to catch Barrera off balance more than hurt him. Barrera quickly rose from the canvas looking to return fire while Hart seemed to think the knockdown sealed the win, dancing away from Barrera over the remaining few minutes to the final bell, drawing a few boos for an anticlimactic end to an otherwise solid fight.

2016 Olympian Mikaela Mayer (11-0, 4 KOs) earned a workmanlike unanimous decision over Lizbeth Crespo (13-5, 3 KOs) in a ten-round super featherweight bout. Scores were 98-92, 99-91, and 100-90 in a contest that featured steady action but little drama as the fight settled early into an established pattern of Mayer outboxing the forward-moving but ineffective Crespo, with neither fighter seemingly able to hurt the other.

In a fight that could have really used two more rounds, Albert Bell (15-0, 5 KOs) scored a mild upset over previously unbeaten Andy Vences (22-1-1, 12 KOs), capturing Vences’ WBC Continental Americas super featherweight belt by unanimous scores of 97-93 over ten rounds. Bell, a tall super featherweight at 6’0”, used his three-inch height and reach advantage to keep Vences at the end of his punches in the early rounds, disrupted only by an accidental headbutt from Vences that briefly dropped Bell in round three. Bell recovered quickly and remained in control through the middle rounds, including landing a right hook, straight left combination that had Vences on the verge of going down in round seven, though Bell may have let him off the hook by not fighting with more urgency after Vences was visibly hurt. However the rough seventh round seemed to kick Vences into a higher gear, as he started to push forward more aggressively, forcing Bell to engage in spirited toe-to-toe action over the final three rounds. Although Vences seemed to be getting stronger just as Bell was starting to tire, it was too little too late and Bell was able to hold on for a well-deserved decision.

England’s Isaac Lowe (18-0-3, 6 KOs) held off a spirited challenge from Duarn Vue (14-2-2, 4 KOs) to retain his WBC International featherweight belt via ten-round unanimous decision. Scores were 97-93, 98-92, and 99-91. Lowe started strongly, fighting in an athletic style, switching stances and landing lead left and right hands at will on the incoming Vue. Lowe largely dispensed with the jab while timing Vue with ease as the Hmong challenger came forward. Round two was Lowe’s best of the fight, at one point catching Vue with a left uppercut followed shortly by a right hook that had Vue shaken but swinging valiantly back to keep Lowe off of him. The tide started to turn though in round four, with Vue’s pressure starting to catch up to Lowe. The Englishman continued to move around the ring but was not catching Vue as much coming in, allowing Vue more opportunities to get inside and land with big left and right hooks. Vue seemed to briefly establish some momentum in the middle rounds but as the fight progressed Vue’s aggression became less and less effective, with the challenger continuing to come forward but often unable to land anything cleanly on Lowe, who started using the entire ring to dance away from Vue and land the occasional potshot. Ultimately, Lowe was able to reestablish control of the fight with his movement and Vue’s inability to cut off the ring or consistently land on his moving target.

Despite being outweighed by thirty pounds, Italian heavyweight Guido Vianello (4-0, 4 KOs) made quick work of 268-lb. Keenan Hickman (6-4-1, 2 KOs), knocking Hickman down three times in the second round to force a referee’s stoppage at 2:22 of the same round, in a scheduled six-round contest. Vianello, a 2016 Olympian who lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury recently described as a “tanned Greek God” after sparring with him in preparation for tonight’s card, certainly fought like one, bouncing and moving well while raining sharp jabs and combinations down on the overmatched Hickman. Vianello nearly had Hickman down at the end of round one, stopped only by the bell. In the second stanza Vianello dropped Hickman all three times with his right hook before referee Tony Weeks jumped in to stop the beating.

Opening the undercard action at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, German heavyweight Peter Kadiru (4-0, 1 KO) coasted to a four-round unanimous decision over MMA fighter Juan Torres (3-2-1, 1 KO). Kadiru, a decorated amateur who won a super heavyweight gold medal at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, fought tentatively considering the level of his opposition, relying primarily on his straight right hand to land solid scoring blows, but never putting Torres in any danger. Scores were 40-36 on all three cards.

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  • Referee Jay Nady is an attention whore. Over officiating has become his trademark. Yo Jay, a good referee doesn’t scream to be heard by everyone in the audience and if you begin to notice him more and more that means you are obviously trying too hard to take the spotlight from the fighters. Time to fade away now.

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