PBC's first year in business is almost over, and tonight on Spike they hold their penultimate card of the year, and really their final major show, with a world title on the line in the main event and a pair of unbeaten cruiserweight prospects squaring off in the co-feature.
Cuba's Rances Barthelemy (23-0, 13 KO) is looking to win a world title in a second weight class, as the former IBF super featherweight titleholder takes on Russia's Denis Shafikov (36-1-1, 19 KO) for the vacant IBF lightweight title, last held by Mickey Bey. Shafikov was set to face Bey in July, but the Mayweather Promotions fighter pulled out of that fight, which was won at purse bid by Top Rank, and now the vacancy will finally be filled.
The co-feature will see another Russian, 22-year-old Murat Gassiev (22-0, 16 KO), face Detroit's Isiah Thomas (15-0, 6 KO) in a 12-round cruiserweight bout. The original co-feature was to see Beibut Shumenov face Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, but Shumenov pulled out with an injury.
Patrick L. Stumberg will be on the call for tonight's fights, so join him!
Rances Barthelemy def. Denis Shafikov by unanimous decision (119-109, 116-112 x2)
Murat Gassiev and Isiah Thomas fight to No Contest (accidental foul)
Eric Walker def. Chris Pearson by unanimous decision (79-73, 80-72, 78-74)
Gervonta Davis def. Luis Sanchez by KO at 2:05 of Round Nine
Rances Barthelemy vs. Denis Shafikov
Round one: Shafikov on the front foot, looking for body shots and overhands as Barthelemy works his jab. Pretty much all jabs from Barthelemy, while Shafikov fires straights downstairs as well as his own jabs. One minute in. Looping lefts by Barthelemy low and high. They trade short punches to the body. Barthelemy whacks him with an uppercut. One minute to go. Shafikov continues to pressure. Left cross by Barthelemy, right hook by Shafikov. Left to the body from the lanky Cuban. Uppercut coming in, Shafikov responds with body shots. Close round. 10-9 Barthelemy.
Round two: Shafikov steps in with body jobs, Solid right hands up top. Double left by Shafikov. Barthelemy keeping up the jab and looking to follow up with the left. Shafikov's finding his way inside. One minute in. Both land lefts, Shafikov pops him with the jab. Shafikov with some overhands, walks into an uppercut and straight left. Swatting left around the guard by Barthelemy, who gets backed to the ropes and smacked with a straight left. One minute to go. Both dig body shots. Once again. Straight left by Barthelemy, who eats a hard right downstairs. 1-2 by the Cuban. Barthelemy finding success at medium range in the final minute. Good fight. 10-9 Shafikov, 19-19.
Round three: Shafikov is reaching Barthelemy with a lot of punches, even though not all of them are getting through the guard. Nice right hand above the ear. Barthelemy digs a left downstairs; he's just not keeping enough distance right now. Combination by the Cuban, who's warned for going low. One minute in. Short uppercut by Barthelemy, who is landing some good lefts downstairs amidst Shafikov's volume punching. Solid pressure by Shafikov, One minute to go. They trade body shots. Shafikov continuing to press forward while Barthelemy meets him with body shots and swatting hooks upstairs. Big right hook by Shafikov, then an overhand left at the bell. 10-9, 29-28 Shafikov.
Round four: Barthelemy still struggling to keep Shafikov away. They're landing at a roughly even pace but the distance very much favors the Russian at the moment. Solid left hand. Body shot. Barthelemy is finding him with the uppercut. One minute in. Nice 1-2 by the Cuban, Shafikov comes back with swatting blows upstairs. Uppercut by Barthelemy, three-piece combo by Shafikov. They're engaging forehead-to-forehead. One minute to go. More trading at close range. Solid right downstairs by Barthelemy, then an uppercut at the bell. 10-9 Barthelemy, 38-38.
Round five: Shafikov gets him to the ropes quickly, keeping up the pressure and firing off his jab. Low-high from Shafikov. This is a very difficult fight to score at the moment. One minute in. Both land at a reasonable clip, though no eye-catching shots on either side. Barthelemy's uppercut still finding a home. Solid lefts and hooks by Shafikov. Shafikov's punches are the more eye-catching so far. One minute to go. 1-2 from Barthelemy, looping left. Right hook in return by Shafikov as the exchanges continue. 10-9, 48-47 Shafikov.
Round six: Shafikov still finding his way inside. Uppercut and straight left after some decent shots from Barthelemy. Uppercuts by the Cuban. Shafikov with a rhythm of punches, backing Barthelemy up. One minute in. 1-2 by Barthelemy, body shots by Shafikov. Both dig to the body. Barthelemy with a sequence of long shots. One minute to go. Overhand left by Shafikov, uppercut from Barthelemy. Shafikov looking to flurry inside. One more exchange before the bell. 10-9 Barthelemy, 57-57.
Round seven: Solid shots by Shafikov as he forces Barthelemy to the ropes. And again. Barthelemy comes back with uppercuts to the body. Some circling as Shafikov looks for the overhand left. One minute in. Barthelemy does some solid work at range. Shafikov with combinations inside, eating a handful of uppercuts. Barthelemy just doesn't seem to be fazing him with his shots. One minute to go. They continue to trade at a reasonably brisk pace in the center of the ring. Solid counter right from Shafikov and a 1-2 before the bell. 10-9, 67-66 Shafikov.
Round eight: They keep on digging away in the center. Neither man appears to be hurting the other. Solid right hook by Shafikov. One minute in. Barthelemy connecting with his uppercut, solid 1-2 after taking a flurry. Body shots by the Russian, who's now wearing some of the uppercuts. One minute to go. Hard 1-2 by the Cuban. Again; these have more on them than some of his earlier shots. Shafikov eating multiple left hands, He's cut badly over his right eye. The Russian comes back aggressively and lands a solid right before the bell. 10-9 Barthelemy, 76-76.
Round nine: Shafikov opens with a solid flurry; he looks a bit fired up, slinging punches. Barthelemy firing the 1-2, Shafikov coming back with flurries. Uppercut exchange. Solid right hooks from the Russian. One minute in. Counter right and 1-2 by the Cuban as Shafikov swings. Barthelemy warned again for low blows. The left hits home and opens Shafikov back up. He's still giving as good as he gets. One minute to go. Solid uppercut by Shafikov. More phone booth scrapping. Clinch. Barthelemy clowns a bit before the bell. 10-9, 86-85 Shafikov.
Round ten: Barthelemy still taunting a bit with his hands at his waist, throwing from there. He's putting some heat behind his left hands as Shafikov stalks and swings. Some clinching. One minute in. Back to the center they go, Shafikov winning the exchanges. More brief clinching. Volume favors the Russian this round. One minute to go. Clinch. Solid straight left by Barthelemy, clinch. Shafikov throwing and landing more and Barthelemy clinching. Barthelemy clowns a bit more and manages to land a left in the waning seconds. 10-9, 96-94 Shafikov.
Round eleven: Shafikov keeping up the urgency, pursuing Barthelemy across the ring. The Cuban's just not offering as much in return as he has before. Uppercut lands for him. Clinch. One minute in. Clinch. 1-2 by Barthelemy, then a well-timed uppercut. Clubbing lefts by Barthelemy. Anotehr heavy 1-2 and another left. Clinch. He's turning this back round. Another straight left. One minute to go. Shafikov having more trouble getting him against the ropes. Clinch. Another good 1-2 by Barthelemy. Yet another. He's suddenly taking over this fight out of nowhere. 10-9 Barthelemy, 105-104 Shafikov.
Round 12. Barthelemy's moving now, a lot more than he has before. Clinch. Clinch. Clinch. Clinch, all from Barthelemy. One minute in. Barthelemy's just running circles around him and clinching whenever Shafikov tries to get inside. Barthelemy still slinging the jab and 1-2 with his hands down while Shafikov tries to bully his way in. Solid counter left, clinch. One minute to go. He keeps up the clowning until the bell. 10-9 Barthelemy, 114-114.
Final result: Barthelemy def. Shafikov by unanimous decision
Murat Gassiev vs. Isiah Thomas
Round one: Gassiev on the front foot as Thomas sticks out his jab. No big punches in the first minute. Jab to the body by Gassiev as he eats more from Thomas. Stiff jab lands for the Russian. Thomas adding the occasional prodding left to his jab attack. One minute to go. Gassiev tries to work the body and Thomas clinches. Straight left from Thomas before the bell. 10-10.
Round two: Gassiev continues to pursue. A right hand near the ropes forces Thomas to clinch. Both land hooks on the ropes. One minute in. Thomas' left straight finding a home. 3-2 connects. Gassiev fires some right hands, Thomas clinches. Straight right by Gassiev. Thomas to the body, eats a hook. One minute to go. Gassiev tries to open up, clinched. He's getting Thomas to the ropes, but not doing enough there. Gassiev to the body, eats some left hands. Thomas measuring him with the right, eats a right hand and clinches. Another straight left at the bell. 10-9, 20-19 Thomas.
Round three: Gassiev cutting off the ring well. Thomas still running him into jabs and left hands. Thomas clinches when he gets close. Multiple times. Ref warns him for holding. One minute in. Nice left hands by Thomas as he circles off the ropes. Gassiev rips a pair of hooks downstairs. Clinch. More straight lefts, then another clinch. One minute to go. Gassiev doing work downstairs on the ropes, lands a wide left hook when Thomas tries to shoulder roll. Both land to the body. Thomas ties up again. Gassiev cracks him with a hard right hand, then a 1-2 after the bell. 10-9 Gassiev, 29-29.
Isiah Thomas and the doctor say he can't continue and it's over. No Contest.
Final result: No Contest
Chris Pearson vs. Eric Walker
Round one: Pearson aggressive early. Three-piece combo by Walker. Counter right. Right hand falls short, then a counter right does not. More hard right hands. One minute in. Body hook as well. Walker putting shots into and around Pearson's guard. More right hands, including a looping one that looks nasty. Pearson in there and throwing back now. One minute to go. Clinch. Lead right by Pearson, clinch. Pearon to the body, Walker answers in kind. They move to close range and Walker sneaks in an uppercut. Combination before the bell. 10-9 Walker.
Round two: Walker keeping up the volume early. Nice left hook on the ropes. Body shots. Pearson tries to dig in some hooks in return but he can't match Walker's volume. Right hands around the guard. Nice uppercut. Pearson whacks him with a jab. One minute in. Walker takes him to the ropes, eats a couple of short punches and comes back with some of his own. Pearson spending way too much time just covering up. They trade body shots. Solid right hook by Pearson. One minute to go. Walker presses him against the ropes and they trade good punches. Heavy shots by both men. Pearson tries to taunt and Walker comes back with three hard punches. They keep slugging until the bell. 10-9, 20-18 Walker.
Round three: Body shots from Walker, right hook up top by Pearson. Walker nearly takes himself off his feet swinging a right hand. Clinch. Body shots by Pearson. Walker with a couple of his own. Referee warns them for elbows/forearms. One minute in. 2-3 by Walker, then some more uppercuts. Big swings from both men. Another uppercut by Walker. Pearson backs him to the corner and Walker punches his way out, forcing Pearson back. Pearson's punches have pop, there just aren't enough of them and he's not hurting Walker enough to slow him down. One minute to go. Walker goes to work on the ropes. Hard right hook by Pearson as they trade body blows. Walker digs in some uppercuts to again back him away. Heavy left by Walker draws some oohs from the crowd. 10-9, 30-27 Walker.
Round four: More cranial trauma to start the round with nary a hint of defensive nuance in sight. Walker's still just burying him in volume. Clinching. Both shot by Pearson, straight right by Walker. One minute in. Walker gets him to the ropes and both connect. Walker digs in uppercuts and body hooks. Nice overhand right seems to rock Pearson and Walker's going for the finish. One minute to go. Pearson waves him on and Walker is still slinging leather. Pearson finding himself on the ropes, eating blows to the head and body. Nice uppercuts and chopping right from Walker. Both land their power hands. Back to the ropes until the bell. 10-9, 40-36 Walker.
Round five: Pearson throwing some heat of his own to start things off. Walker backs him to the corner, eats a right hook and straight left. Pearson backs him up this time and lands to the body, then eats some uppercuts. Hooks low and high for Pearson. One minute in, clinch. Walker pushes him back. Uppercuts from Walker, right hooks from the southpaw Pearson. Pearson's punches look like they have a lot more behind them right now and both of them connect with bombs upstairs. One minute to go. Hard right uppercut by Walker. The last minute isn't quite as hectic, but Pearson still lands the better shots. 10-9 Pearson, 49-46 Walker.
Round six: Walker slinging combinations off the back foot. Both land hard near the corner. Nice straight left from Pearson. Both land their power hands. One minute in. Pearson snaps Walker's head back with a straight left and follow-up right hook. Walker comes back throwing and they continue to engage in center ring. Solid right around the guard from Walker. Clinch. One minute to go. Hard body shots on each side. They engage at point-blank range. Pearson rips to the body and catches him coming in with a right hook. Tough round to score. 10-9 Pearson, 58-56 Walker.
Round seven: They get their feet tangled and Walker stumbles back before they resume biffing. Clinch. Hooks land. Clinch. Clinch. Walker might be running out of steam. One minute in. Pearson landing the better blows at this point. Solid work inside from Walker, though. Nice shots, hard uppercuts. Pearson slinging his right hook, walks into a right in turn. One minute to go. Walker's landing big shots again as Pearson tries to back him into the ropes. Hard right hand seems to rattle Walker. Clubbing right hands by Pearson. Walker shoves his shoulder into him and digs to the body. 10-9, 68-65 Walker.
Round eight: Pearson comes out throwing. Walker slams home a combination when backed to the ropes and clinches. Counter right from Walker. Clinch. Walker's answering most of Pearson's shots with two of his own. One minute in. Walker continues to land on the back foot. Nice left hook as they separate. Watching Pearson's dreads jump up and down when he gets hit with an uppercut is mesmerizing. One minute to go. Hard right hands from both men as they continue trade at close range. Pure brawling at this point. The battle continues all the way to the bell. 10-9, 78-74 Walker.
Final result: Walker def. Pearson by unanimous decision
Gervonta Davis vs. Luis Sanchez
Round one: Davis flicking out his southpaw jab, walking after Sanchez. Straight left to the body lands for him. Sanchez with a hook around the guard as Davis continues to advance. Solid left hands from Davis. One minute in. Another straight left hits home near the corner. Counter rights from Sanchez. Lead hook lands for SAvis after more jabwork. Jabs and straight lefts as he forces Sanchez across the ring. One minute to go. Davis sneaking in some uppercuts inside, lands another straight left. Body shot. Lead left before the bell. 10-9 Davis.
Round two: Davis continues to move forward, eats a right through the guard. Check hooks as Sanchez looks for the body. Clinch. 1-2 by Sanchez. One minute in, Davis digs some counter lefts downstairs and leans into an uppercut. Davis slipping and ripping to the head and body to good effect. Sanchez manages to connect with a straight right but is coming out on the wrong end of these exchanges. One minute to go. Sanchez pursuing with 1-2s and variations thereof. Davis avoiding them for the most part. Straight left lands and he shoves Sanchez to the ground when he tries to clinch. Easy work for Davis thus far. 10-9, 20-18 Davis.
Round three: Davis' jab back to work immediately. Slower round, both men sneak a couple shots around the guard. Hard body shot by Davis and now they're exchanging in the center. One minute in. Sanchez cracks him with a good left hook. Davis snaps his head back with a stiff left and goes to work with combinations,. Davis again pushes him to the ground. One minute to go. Sanchez to the body. Some more, Davis answers in kind. Hard left uppercut and right hook by Davis. Sanchez cracks him with an uppercut, eats a harder one in return. Davis is fired up and clubbing Sanchez with heavy, accurate punches. Sanchez manages to tie up and survive the round. 10-9, 30-27 Davis.
Round four: Sanchez seems steady to start the round as Davis returns to prodding with his jab. Left hook by Sanchez. One minute in. Davis pops him wit a straight left twenty seconds later. Slow round. Counter right from Davis. One minute to go. Clinch. Davis still moving forward, picking away but not committing to murderous shots like last round. He lands another left before the bell. 10-9, 40-36 Davis.
Round five: Hard counter left by Davis to start things off, then a counter hook. Sanchez reaching with his punches. Body shot by Davis, who has avoided most of Sanchez's punches. One minute in. Right hand downstairs from Sanchez. Sanchez lands some short shots, walks into an uppercut between Davis combinations. Another lead left. Counter jab. He's found his rhythm again, it seems. One minute to go. Counter left connects. Sanchez wings a 1-3-2, eats another uppercut and answers with one downstairs. Heavy right hand by Sanchez, clinch. Davis steps in with an uppercut downstairs and they trade close-range shots. 10-9, 50-45 Davis.
Round six: Steady as she goes, Davis jabbing. Solid right hands by Sanchez on the ropes. Counter hook, counter straight by Davis. One minute in. Lead lefts connect amidst the jabs. Looping left lands. Sanchez is moving forward, just not landing much. One minute to go. Sanchez with a solid right to the body. Lead lefts land for Davis. Sanchez hits him with a left hook as he circles off, Davis comes back with a head-turning cross. Sanchez lands an uppercut in the last exchange. 10-9, 60-54 Davis.
Round seven: Sanchez looking for combinations in the early going of the round. Solid shots get through. Dais putting on his earmuffs in response. Davis manages to reach him with a left after taking some more shots. Overhand right by the Mexican. One minute in. Davis just isn't throwing all that much. They exchange near the ropes and Davis shoves him to the ground a third time. One minute to go. Overhand right by Sanchez. Both connect with right hands. Both dig to the body and Davis whacks him with a pair of hooks upstairs. Solid counter lefts by Davis, clinch. 10-9 Sanchez, 69-63 Davis.
Round eight: Davis lands a couple hard left hands early. Sanchez looks to work at point-blank range. Davis complaining to the ref about Sanchez leading with his head. Davis slams home a right to the body, then a left and their heads collide yet again. One minute in. Clinch. Davis lands a good straight left and uppercut, only for Sanchez to lead with his head once again. Davis rips him with some hard shots on the restart, including some sharp uppercuts. One minute to go. A pair of nasty uppercuts send Sanchez to the ground. He makes it up but does not look great. Sanchez retreating, ties up. Powerful left hands crash home for Davis but Sanchez survives. 10-8, 79-71 Davis.
Round nine: Davis back on the advance. Sanchez looking for combinations of his own. Another par of uppercuts land for Davis. Big right uppercut this time and Sanchez clinches. Straight left connects in the corner, followed by a 1-2. One minute in. 1-2, Sanchez clinches. Davis landing a lot of clean punches and Sanchez's return fire doesn't have much steam behind him. Uppercuts and body shots land for Davis. Sanchez tries to advance and Davis crushes him with a short left hand that sends him face-first to the mat. Nice.
Final result: Davis def. Sanchez by KO