Driving to Bethlehem PA's Sands Casino Resort I expected to see some good fights. It was a typically well matched NBC Sports Fight Night card, primarily put together by Main Events and Peltz Boxing. They're usually good. But this one was especially so.
I had only seen one Andrey Fedosov fight prior to this night (when he knocked out Lionel Butler over 3 years ago). I thought he was a fundamentally sound but did nothing spectacular. I expected Fedosov to put forth a game effort but didn't think my scorecard would reflect anything other than a wide points victory for Bryant Jennings.
Boy was I surprised.
Although my post-fight interview with Jennings will contradict everything I'm going to tell you, I saw a dead even fight through 6 rounds (although the momentum shifted to Jennings before the finish). Fedosov viciously attacked Jennings' body in the first 2 rounds while Jennings seemingly bided his time. I think Jennings still out landed Fedosov in the 1st round, primarily due to the jab, and it's certainly debatable as to who deserved to win it, but the bigger shots came from Fedosov.
However, round 2 was not up for debate. Jennings was simply far too passive. Nonetheless, fellow boxing scribe Bill Holmes of BoxingInsider, who sat next to me, gave that round to Jennings anyways. So what do I know? I like Bill. He's a good guy and a fan of BadLeftHook. But he did admit that he might be biased...
Moving on, I'm sure everyone can agree that round 3 clearly belonged to Jennings after a right uppercut followed by a left hook changed the complexity of the fight. Fedosov staggered backward and Jennings rallied. The end appeared to be near but Fedosov showed great determination, stood his ground, and waged war. Fedosov completely regained his senses before the round concluded and came back strong in round 4. During round 4 BY's trainer, Fred Jenkins Sr, revealed to Chris Mannix that he instructed Jennings to keep his back off the ropes. That instruction however seemed to take a round before it sunk in.
Yet even when Jennings kept his back off the ropes in round 5, the round was still close. I edged it to Jennings but NBC Sports had it for Fedosov. Then again, NBC Sports also listed David Price in a top 8 heavyweights graphic but not Tony Thompson (the man that just stopped him in 2 rounds). So maybe that was a mistake too. Who knows?
All I know for sure is that I saw an excellent main event. Unfortunately it just didn't last too long due to an injury to Fedosov's left eye. It was nearly swollen shut after 6 rounds and Fedosov said he couldn't see out of it. Thus under the advice of the ringside doctor and at the discretion of the referee, the fight was stopped in the corner. The injury didn't exactly compare to what we saw Denis Lebedev endure the month before, and Fedosov was still very much in the fight, but, uh, yea...
Did I mention the undercard was sweet too? Highlights include Sergey Kovalev blitzing Cornelius White in 3 rounds, Ray Narh upsetting Ronald Cruz over 10, and Jerome Rodriguez getting off the canvas to win by knockout in a wild 2 round affair. And then there was the epic post-fight interview following the pro debut of Arturo Trujillo. Get the details on all of that and more below:
Hasan Young UD6 Ariel Duran (58-56, 59-55, 60-54)
In the opening bout of the evening Young controlled the pace and landed big right hands throughout the bout. I only saw a substantial case for Duran winning round 3, but even that was close. Young punched in combination and had Duran stunned multiple times, especially in the 2nd half of the fight. Duran held often but I wouldn't say it was the only reason Young couldn't finish him off. Young often shifted his weight to his front foot after throwing his right hands, thus hindering his ability to finish with a left hook. His promoter, Russell Peltz, yelled at him to throw the punch but he didn't have the proper balance to pull it off regardless of his efforts. No big deal though; this was only his 5th fight. His record now stands at 3 wins, 1 loss, and 1 draw.
Jerome Rodriguez TKO2 Treysean Wiggins (1:38)
Speaking of the draw on Young's resume, it came against Rodriguez. Rodriguez had a tough pro debut assignment against Young and another tough one on this night against a 3-0 fighter that always wins by KO. Rodriguez-Wiggins round 1 saw Wiggins down early and Rodriguez down even harder late. It was one of the very best rounds I've seen this year without a doubt in my mind. Unfortunately NBC Sports didn't televise it, yet. It should pop up as part of their "Future Stars" series at a later date. Anyways, round 2 was all Rodriguez. It looked like Wiggins punched himself out and soon enough he found himself down and out. Rodriguez is now 4-0-1. You can check out my post-fight interview with Rodriguez here.
Bill Marks MD4 Randy Easton (38-38, 39-37, 39-37)
This was a competitive, but sloppy heavyweight affair where the guy applying the pressure got the nod over the one landing the clean punches. I didn't agree with the decision but I expected it. Sometimes jabs and movement just don't get appreciated by judges. Consequently Marks made a successful pro debut while Easton fell to 0-2-1. Easton shared his sentiments over the decision with me here.
Raymond Nahr UD10 Ronald Cruz (96-94, 98-92, 100-90)
In a one sided but fun bout, Nahr out boxed Cruz in just about every round. The 1 round I gave Cruz was the 3rd. Nahr was shook by 2 left hooks, especially by the one that landed with about 10 seconds to go. But through the first 2 minutes and 30 seconds of that round, Nahr was easily winning. Cruz just wasn't busy enough for most of the fight. Russell Peltz, who also promotes Cruz, could be heard shouting "let your hands" and "work the jab for Christ's sake," among other less godly utterances. Cruz applied pressure but walked in with no jab or head movement. Nahr just picked him apart.
However, because Nahr "ran", a less competent judge might have found a way to score the fight 6-4 for Cruz.
Fortunately none were working on this night.
Consequently that makes back to back fights that the hometown favorite Ronald Cruz hasn't received a hometown decision. Perhaps he should blame Mike Jones, originally scheduled to fight Nahr before pulling out. Peltz Boxing didn't really want to put Cruz in there with Nahr, but they owed Ray a fight...
Cruz isn't much of a prospect if he can't beat a guy like Ray Nahr, but he sure can pack the Sands Event Center. But how long can he draw a large fan base if he keeps losing? Nahr improved to 26-2 while Cruz fell to 17-2.
Sergey Kovalev TKO3 Cornelius White (1:42)
After taking a beating in the first 2 rounds while showing tremendous heart and determination, White finally succumbed to Kovalev's power in round 3 as he was dropped by a jab, then a left hook, and then another jab before the referee waved it off. Kovalev demonstrated better technical skills, speed, and power. He's the full package. Now which light heavyweight will dare give him a world title shot? Kovalev and White were rated 4 and 5 respectively by the IBF leading into this fight with only Juergen Braehmer (3) and Karo Murat (2) rated ahead of them (1 was vacant). With Murat unable to get into the USA due to visa issues will the IBF suspend him as Bernard Hopkins' mandatory? Will Kovalev become the new mandatory? He sure hopes so. Kovalev is now 21-0-1.
Arturo Trujilo TKO1 Anthony Watson (0:29)
In less than 10 seconds a straight left from the southpaw and amateur standout Trujilo sent Watson's mouthpiece flying and his body crashing to the canvas. A few seconds later a series of hooks did the same thing again. The referee waved it off as soon as Watson was dropped the 2nd time. But if you thought the fight was fast, you should check out the post-fight interview with Chris Mannix. Then you can check out my slightly longer interview with him here. It was a very successful pro debut nonetheless.
Bryant Jennings RTD6 Andrey Fedosov (3:00)
You've read enough about my opinion on the fight. Now listen to what Bryant Jennings and Fred Jenkins Sr had to say:
Also in attendance on this evening was middleweight contender Curtis Stevens, scheduled to face Saul Roman in August. I caught up with him after the show and he had some interesting comments regarding the best middleweights in the world. We might have to call Stevenson "The Grave Digger" if he can pull off the gauntlet of Gennady Golovkin, Peter Quillin, Sergio Martinez, Daniel Geale, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr...which I ironically find most challenging to least in that exact order...