By: Sean Crose
Fresno, California hosted Top Rank’s ESPN+ card on Saturday night. First up was a battle of heavyweight contenders. Kubrat Pulev, 27-1, stepped into the ring for a scheduled 10 rounder against the 26-2 Rydell Booker. Although the ESPN broadcast team pointed out Booker’s lack of conditioning, the veteran fighter had himself a solid first round. Pulev controlled the ring in the second. The European fighter began coming in strong behind his jab in the third.
Pulev continued to jab his way along through the fourth. Booker was looking completely ineffective. “He’s ready to quit,” Pulev’s trainer said in between rounds. “But you’ve got to make him quit.” The fight was so one sided that by the fifth round, it was worth wondering why Pulev wasn’t finishing things early. Booker ended up coming alive a bit in the sixth. By the seventh, however, it was back to business as usual. The eighth round essentially saw more of the same. Pulev continued to work away in the ninth, while Booker did little at all. For some reason, though Pulev couldn’t stop his man. Perhaps it was because he continually fought in straight punching, European style. Still, it was enough to wing Pulev the tenth, as well as the entire fight. He walked out of the ring with a UD win.
It was time for the main event. The 20-2 Jamel Herring stepped between the ropes – after a brilliant military entrance – to defend his WBO title against the 19-0-1 Lamont Roach. Former Marine Herring worked the body well with crisp punching in the first. Herring slipped early in the second, but got up and continued to stalk his prey. Herring’s fast, effective punching told the story in the third. Roach started to land in the fourth round, but Herring controlled the fifth.
The sixth round was competitive. Although it appeared that Herring was winning, Roache was definitely in the fight. The seventh saw Herring be able to nullify and avoid Roach’s forward attack. The bout was proving to be a story of speed and accuracy edging solid determination. Things remained close in the eighth. Roache went down in the ninth, though it was ruled a slip. Both men fought well through the tenth round. Herring was able to find his range better in the eleventh…until Roache found and hurt his man at round’s end. The final round saw Roach coming after his man. Herring survived, but the round belonged to Roach.
The judges ruled it for Herring via unanimous decision.