Kovalev stamps out Shabranskyy in 2
By Rich Mazon
26 Nov 2017
New York - Sergey Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) was determined to bounce back from his two recent defeats to Andre Ward and he started that comeback with a strong showing Saturday night at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.
The former unified light heavyweight champion destroyed Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) in two rounds to reclaim one of the title belts that he lost to Ward last year in Las Vegas.
Strong and accurate from the opening bell, Kovalev sent his ill-fated foe three times to the canvas before Referee Harvey Dock stopped the carnage in the 2nd round of their World Boxing Organization (WBO) light heavyweight title fight, granting a TKO victory to Kovalev.
Kovalev’s powerful right hand brought down Shabranskyy twice in Round 1 and another time in the second before Dock stopped the bout at the 2:36 mark to avoid further injury to Shabranskyy who received additional punishment after the three knockdowns.
The WBO title became vacant after Ward announced his retirement after he defeated Kovalev again this June, also in Las Vegas.
“Last time I was stopped, it was a decision by the referee. Here tonight was great boxing for me. I love boxing and I want to make great fights.” said Kovalev who was referring to the last Ward fight that he lost by TKO.
Those fights include unification bouts with iIBF’s Artur Beterbiev, WBA’s Dmitry Bivol and rival Adonis Stevenson of the WBC.
“We can make good fights for boxing fans, and make boxing history. Let's find out who is the best.” Kovalev remarked.
Barrera routs Valera
In the co-feature of the night, a bruising light heavyweight scuffle between Sullivan Barrera (20-1, 14 KOs) and Felix Valera (15-1, 13 KOs) entertained the crowd prior to the main event bout that was aired live via Home Box Office (HBO).
Barrera, a former challenger to Andre Ward, defeated Valera by Unanimous Decision with scores of 98-88, 97-90 and 97-89 to supplement his standing as a top challenger to WBA’s Dmitry Bivol.
Both fighters exchanged knockdowns in the first round and both were also deducted points for low blows against each other during the course of their 10 round non-title fight.
Referee Michael Ortega warned and took a point off a spirited but sloppy Valera in rounds 3, 6 and 8 while Barrera was also subtracted a point in Round 9 - all from hitting the other below the belt line.
Valera sent the favored Barrera down first with a left hook in the first but Barrera returned the favor with a knockdown of his own in the dying seconds of the same round.
The low blows momentarily stopped Barrera on his track but that did not prevent him from exchanging against his dance partner. He would land the more telling punches after those exchanges with Valera.
With his victory, Barrera secured a spot to challenge Bivol, who was watching at ringside.
“It was a tough, awkward fight. I have beaten two of the three light heavyweights shown on HBO. I'm just waiting to finally get the opportunity I deserve.”
That opportunity will come next year.
Gamboa escapes with a controversial win over Sosa
In the opening HBO TV fight, former featherweight and lightweight champion, Yuriorkis Gamboa (27-2, 17 KOs) suffered a knockdown and was deducted a point for holding but still managed to defeat tough Jason Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KOs) via Majority Division in a 10 round super featherweight contest.
Armed with his fast combinations and athleticism, Gamboa wowed two of the judges at ringside who have him winning by at least two rounds despite the deductions.
Judge John McKale had it 95-93 and Don Trella scored it 96-92 for Gamboa while Robin Taylor had it tied at 94.
The decision was booed and heckled by the crowd after it was announced by Michael Buffer and a jubilant Gamboa celebrated with his team despite the booing.
Gamboa was quick with his hands and feet as he overwhelmed his opponent with blinding combinations in the opening round.
In the 2nd, Sosa was able to counter Gamboa with his overhand rights. Some of those rights tested his opponent’s chin early.
In the 6th, Sosa again tested Gamboa’s chin with a couple of overhand lefts but once again Gamboa did not fold.
The 7th saw Gamboa go down after he touched the canvas with his gloves as a result of being clipped in the head by Sosa who came from nearby New Jersey.
Referee Ron Lipton deducted a point on Gamboa in the 10th and final round after he was previously warned for holding Sosa in the previous round.
But those two minuses did not affect the decision of the judges who had Gamboa winning early in the fight.
“It was a good fight. I didn't have enough time to train. I only had three weeks. I didn't have time to get ready. I needed 2 or 3 more weeks to lose the weight correctly. Of course the decision was good. I think I won every round except for the knockdown and the point deduction.” said Gamboa who escaped with the controversial victory to extend his career in the ring.
A dejected Sosa, dropped his 3rd career loss in a fight the audience thought he won.
“I was a fun fight. I took some breaks but i thought i did enough to win. I know i did enough to win the fight. No, I didn't get hurt at all during the fight. I spar with middleweights so that was nothing.”
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