By: William Holmes
ESPN Friday Night Fights traditionally puts on a stacked card for a Friday night the day before a pay per view, and their June 6th card from the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York was no different.
This was also the International Boxing Hall of Fame induction weekend and many boxing luminaries were in attendance. Promoter Mike Tyson as well as world champions Oscar de la Hoya, Andre Ward, Felix Trinidad, Leona Brown and actress Rosie Perez were in attendance.
The first televised bout of the night was between Ievgen Khytrov (4-0) and Chris Chatman (12-4-1) in the middleweight division. Khytrov was a 2012 Olympian for Ukraine.
The first round started off slowly, with Chatman boxing from the outside and Khytrov taking the center of the ring. Chatman, a southpaw, was able to land a few pop shots but Khytrov did not appear to be too worried about Chatman’s skills and was doing decent body work.
Khytrov came out a little more aggressive in the second round, but Chatman was game and still throwing hard counters. Chatman’s punches did not have the pop of Khytrov who was landing his left hook with regularity in the second round, with several of his shots backing Khytrov up. Chatman did fall to the mat in the second round but it was ruled a slip.
The end of the fight came in the third round. V was backing Chatman up from the opening moments of the third round, and landed a beautiful left hook that sent Chatman crashing to the canvas. The referee waived off the fight at 2:18 of the third round.
The next televised bout of the night was between Jay Krupp (16-7) and Sammy Vasquez (14-0) in the welterweight division. Jay Krupp came in overweight and had to surrender part of his purse to Vasquez.
Vasquez was a former two time amateur champion and it was clear early on that he was going to outclass Krupp. Vasquez, a southpaw, had Krupp fearful of his jab in the first round and did solid body work by the ropes. Krupp was unable to launch an effective offensive attack in the first and was dropped in the first from a straight left hand by Vasquez near the end of the round.
Vasquez continued his assault in the second round and was confidently landing shots on Krupp at will. He knocked down Krupp again in the second round, but Krupp was able to get back to his feet and survive the round.
The end of the fight came in the third round when Vasquez knocked Krupp down for the third time of the night with a combination near the corner. The referee had seen enough and waived off the bout at 1:19 of the third round.
The main event of the night was between Yudel Jhonson (16-1) and Norberto Gonzalez (20-3) in the junior middleweight division.
Both Gonzalez and Jhonson were thirty three years old and are on the fringe of contending for a legitimate world title.
The opening half of the bout lacked any notable or exciting action, but it was Jhonson who was setting the pace by fighting from the center of the ring and had Gonzalez moving away from Jhonson’s punches. Jhonson was tagged by a few punches from Gonzalez, but he was in control
Jhonson scored his first knockdown of the night in the fifth round when he connected with a counter left that sent Gonzalez to the mat. Gonazalez immediately got back to his feet and the round ended immediately.
Gonzalez came out firing in the sixth round but was unable to get past the defense of Jhonson. Jhonson’s accumulation of punches were clearly hurting Gonzalez in the seventh round. Jhonson landed a low blow in the ninth round and knocked Gonzalez down again in the ninth with a short left hand.
Gonzalez clearly needed a knockout in the final two rounds to win but failed to do so. The exchanged ferociously in the final round but it was Jhonson who got the better of Gonzalez.
Jhonson was never in trouble throughout the entire bout and won a wide decision with scores of 97-91 on all three scorecards.