By: Hector Franco
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – At the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois the World Boxing Super Series came to town to finish their final portion of the quarterfinals in their second season of the tournament.
The main event featured former WBO cruiserweight champion Krzysztof Glowacki (31-1, 19 KOs) taking on Russia’s Maksim Vlasov (42-3, 25 KOs). The fight would be for the interim WBO cruiserweight championship. The city of Chicago has one of the highest populations of Polish citizens in the United States, and plenty of Polish fans showed up to support Glowacki.
The southpaw Glowacki is not a complicated fighter as his intentions in a boxing ring is to turn the boxing match into a fight. It would be no different against Vlasov as the Polish fighter imposed his will on the Russian in every round throwing punches in combination and landing some brutal body punches. A knockdown was scored in favor of Glowacki in the third round after Vlasov fell to the canvas after an exchange. In a replay it did not look like a punch landed cleanly; however, referee Celestino Ruiz saw a punch thrown and thus scored it a knockdown.
The bout followed a similar pattern in each round with Vlasov giving a good account of himself in each round landing an occasional combination on the inside. Each round seemed like Glowacki was just one or two steps ahead of Vlasov giving him the edge in the majority of the rounds.
In the championship rounds, the fight picked up its intensity with both fighters picking up the volume of punches thrown. Despite Glowacki winning the vast majority of the rounds, each round took its toll on the Polish fighter leaving him looking exhausted after twelve rounds.
All three judges scored the fight in favor of Glowacki with scores of 118-110, 117-110 and 115-112. Glowacki will move on the tournament semifinals.
The second bout of the night that was part of the World Boxing Super Series tournament took place between tournament favorite Mairis Briedis (25-1, 18 KOs) and German contender Noel Mikhaelian (23-2, 10 KOs). The match was for the vacant WBC cruiserweight diamond title with the winner advancing to the semi-finals of the tournament.
From the start, the pace of the fight was established that it would be a tactical chess match. Former Cuban amateur coach Pedro Diaz who is best known for training the likes of Miguel Cotto and Guillermo Rigondeaux trains Mikhaelian. The German, Mikhaelian had been out of the ring for 14 months, however, showed little rust throughout the fight. There were many awkward exchanges between the two pugilists with plenty of grabbing, clutching and headbutts throughout. In the fourth round, Mikhaelian was deducted a point for hitting Briedis behind the head.
The first six rounds were nip and tuck with both fighters having their moments; however, Mikhaelian was able to showcase better timing landing right hands on Briedis who had trouble letting his hands go all night. The six foot three German’s jab was a consistent threat throughout the fight throwing off the rhythm and timing of Briedis.
Heading into the championship rounds, the fight was slipping away from Briedis with there not being many clear rounds in his favor. Unfortunately for Briedis in the 10th round, he was deducted a point by referee Guadalupe Garcia for hitting Mikhaelian while holding him in a headlock. The Latvian contingent in attendance became more and more silent as the fight continued.
In the last round, Briedis attempted a final assault on Mikhaelian that may have given him the round. After twelve rounds the judges disagreed with the majority of the viewing audience giving Briedis a controversial unanimous decision win with scores of 116-110, 115-111, and 114-112.
There is a reason that fights are fought in the ring and not on paper. Mikhaelian who was fighting for the first time in the United States was able to push to the limit the fighter most fans had pegged to come out the winner of the tournament. The decision may not have given the German another win on his record, however, with his showing he can expect more opportunities in the future despite the fight being a messy and ugly contest.
It will be interesting to see how the promoters involved in the tournament will handle such a controversial decision.
The main card began with a battle of up and coming cruiserweights with Germany’s Artur Mann (14-0, 8 KOs) facing Russia’s Alexey Zubov (17-1, 9 KOs). Zubov who fights out of Detroit, Michigan donned the infamous gold Kronk Gym trunks in a bout that lived up to the Detroit gym’s infamous gym wars. In the first round, Zubov was dominating by throwing an onslaught of punches on Mann who remained calm and waited for his opportunity to attack. Mann was able to land a right hand and uppercut that hurt Zubov who overstayed his welcome on the inside and was sent down to the canvas. Zubov arose from the knocked down and did not stray away from his game plan to attack Mann. Right as the bell rang to signify the end of the first round, Mann landed another right hand that once again dropped Zubov. The Russian fighter got up from the second knockdown to make it back to his corner.
With the recovery of a comic book superhero, Zubov came out in the second round as if the knockdowns in the first round never occurred. The Russian fighter kept going to Mann’s body and outworking him for the next several rounds. Mann, who was fighting for the first time outside of his native Germany, looked like the harder puncher, as he was able to hurt Zubov when he threw punches in combination specifically with the uppercut.
In the seventh round, Mann was able to time Zubov in the center of the ring with a beautifully placed right hand that put the Russian down once again. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Zubov got up from the knockdown and continued to plow away at Mann.
The final three rounds were nip and tuck; however, the German fighter looked like the fresher fighter and was able to stun Zubov anytime he landed any punches. After ten rounds of action, Mann was awarded the unanimous decision victory with scores of 98-89 twice and once scorecard of 96-91.
Zubov is a fighter that is almost too tough for his own good, and hopefully, he will be able to recover and take an extended break from the ring following his fight with Mann.
Uzbekistan’s Shohjahon Ergashev (14-0, 13 KOs) made quick work out Zack Ramsey (8-5, 2 KOs) in the super lightweight division as he dismantled the Massachusetts native with a quick first-round knockout. Ergashev wasted no time getting to work landing a straight left on Ramsey as soon as the bell rang to start the match. The 26-year old Ergashev landed a body shot underneath the rib cage of Ramsey putting the fight to an end in the first round.
In the lightweight division, 22-year old Deshawn Boyd (2-0) took on Marcos Delgado (0-1) who was making his professional boxing debut. In the first round, Boyd landed a right hand during an exchange that put Delgado down. Boyd looked like the quicker fighter in all four rounds landing combinations at will. Delgado gave a good account of himself in the third and fourth rounds pushing Boyd back while applying pressure and letting his hands go in combinations. It would be to no avail as all three judges scored the fight in favor of Boyd with scores of 40-35 on all three scorecards.
Chicago native Owen Saldana (1-0) made his professional boxing debut as a cruiserweight against Florida’s Joe Miller (1-3). The fight did not last very long; Saldana was able to land a straight right hand that backed Miller against the ropes. Miller was unresponsive with Saldana unleashing a barrage of punches on him forcing the referee to stop the match. The fight was stopped at the 2:13 mark of the first round.
The broadcasts festivities began in the super lightweight division (140) with a bout between two veteran fighters. Chicago’s Genaro Mendez (13-4-1, 6 KOs) took on Lansing, Michigan’s Tyrone Harris (26-13, 16 KOs) in an exciting contest to start the event. The first three rounds were a give and take affair as both men landed effective punches. In the fourth round, Mendez landed a perfectly timed left hand pull counter that sent Harris to the canvas. Harris was unable to continue after the punch putting a halt to the bout. Mendez was awarded a technical knockout victory at the 2:08 mark of the fourth round.
While Mendez isn’t likely to receive a title shot opportunity with the victory he may be able to land a bout with an up and coming prospect in the 140-pound division.
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