2014 Boxcino lightweight tournament winner Petr Petrov returns to action on this evening's edition of ESPN Friday Night Fights, as he faces former super featherweight titleholder Gamaliel Diaz in a 10-round main event from Corona, California, with top welterweight prospect Taras Shelestyuk also featured on the bill.
The broadcast begins at 9:00 pm EST on ESPN2.
Petrov (35-4-2, 17 KO) has not fought since last May, when he beat Fernando Carcamo in the Boxcino final, following wins over Fedor Papazov and Chris Rudd to make the final. His opponent, Diaz, has just one win since 2012, and it wasn't over anyone of substance. Diaz (38-11-3, 17 KO) upset Takahiro Ao to win the WBC 130-pound title two and a half years ago, but lost it in his next fight to Takashi Miura, which was followed up by a KO loss to Dante Jardon. In his last outing, he went to a technical draw in England against Anthony Crolla.
Shelestyuk (11-0, 8 KO) was a 2011 World Amateurs gold medalist and a 2012 bronze medalist at the London Olympics. He turned pro two years ago and has mostly dominated thus far. Tonight, he faces Juan Rodriguez Jr (12-1, 5 KO), a 28-year-old southpaw from New Jersey. You may remember seeing Rodriguez last April against Sammy Vasquez Jr. In that fight, Rodriguez was dropped three times in the first round and stopped in 2:49.
Petr Petrov defeats Gamaliel Diaz by Unanimous Decision (98-89, 97-90 x 2)
Taras Shelestyuk defeats Juan Rodriguez Jr. via Unanimous Decision (78-74, 79-73 x 2)
Emmanuel Robles defeats Wilberth Lopez via Unanimous Decision (58-56, 59-55 x 2)
Petr Petrov vs Gamaliel Diaz
Round 1: It doesn't take long for the heavy leather to start flying, as could have been predicted with two warriors such as these. Diaz clubs Petrov with a nice overhand right, dives into a clinch, and swings his way out, clipping Petrov with another right on the break. Petrov's glove touched the canvas, but it was difficult to tell whether or not a punch caused it. Referee Jack Reiss is calling it a knockdown. Now Diaz does connect with a clean punch, nailing Petrov as they separate from a clinch, but Petrov responds with a hard cross of his own that puts Diaz on the retreat. More hard rights from Petrov, and now he's got Diaz badly hurt with a right uppercut inside. 10-8 Diaz (but it's not looking good).
Round 2: Petrov is back to work at the start of the round. Now Diaz's forehead opens up on a clash of heads, but it's the punches he should be worried about, as Petrov clubs him with a right uppercut. Diaz is staggering every time Petrov lands the left hook, and now he wobbles after a left to the body. More hard shots from Petrov, right hands and left hooks. Diaz gets rough in the clinch, and Reiss is forced to warn him for continually ignoring his commands. 10-9 Petrov, 19-18 Diaz.
Round 3: Petrov links together his punches beautifully , moving Diaz around with the jab or the right, and following up with the left to the body. Diaz responds with wide counters, and Petrov rolls under the looping shots with ease. As Petrov slows, however, Diaz is starting to find some openings. He lands a clean right hand and a nice jab to get the Russian's respect. Petrov answers with a vicious left hook that staggers Diaz, and he's back on the offensive at the end of the round. 10-9 Petrov, 28-28.
Round 4: Wow, Petrov tries to resume his aggression and Diaz nails him with a 2-3, knocking Petrov forcefully into the ropes. Diaz spoils his own momentum with a blatant blow to the hip that gives Petrov a chance to recover, and he comes back with a short right that starts Diaz stumbling. Both men exchanging body shots in the pocket, and Petrov really seems to be looking to hurt Diaz here. Hard punches in the clinch from Petrov, and Diaz ends the round on the ground, the result of a push from his Russian opponent. 10-9 Petrov, 38-37.
Round 5: Petrov lands the first solid punch of the round, countering a Diaz jab with a cross followed by a nice hook. Both men are exchanging punches now, trading punches back and forth. Diaz lunges into the clinch and holds Petrov still for a dirty uppercut up the middle. His erratic movements seem to be giving Petrov pause, but no matter--Petrov stings him with a straight right counter. Petrov starting to show his skill again. Diaz is continuing to throw, but Petrov catches the shots on his shoulders and elbows, answering with short counters inside. 10-9 Petrov, 48-46.
Round 6: This is turning into a festival of left hooks. Diaz is swinging wildly at Petrov's body, but Petrov's own hooks are just tighter and more precise. Diaz is stumbling all over himself as he punches now, and Petrov seems to have finally realized that he can pick his shots and still win. Beautiful short right from Petrov. And another. Diaz is huffing and puffing from this pace, while Petrov is cool and calm in front of him. Another counter right from Petrov, and Diaz may have wobbled a bit. He's pushing his punches now, and he spits out his mouthpiece as he walks back to the corner. 10-9 Petrov, 58-55.
Round 7: Huge, leaping left hook from Petrov and Diaz goes down on the seat of his pants. That's the first real knockdown of the night, and Petrov is all over Diaz as he stands up. Diaz still swinging, but Petrov slugs him with another left hook that sends him reeling. Another left hook, this one to the body, and Diaz is starting to break. Now Petrov digs shots to his ribs, and Diaz is fighting hunched over, trying his hardest to protect himself while still attacking. Low blow from Diaz, and Reiss justifiably takes a point while Petrov recovers. They restart, and Diaz immediately hits him low again. Boy oh boy. 10-7 Petrov, 68-62.
Round 8: Now Diaz is complaining about low blows, but Reiss is unsympathetic. He immediately comes back with two more low blows of his own--blatant, but Reiss doesn't see them. He may actually be looking for a DQ in a fight that he is clearly losing. Diaz is actually landing at a decent clip now, but it's really ugly work as he lunges in with his head and hits Petrov on and around the beltline. Still, I think he won the round. 10-9 Diaz, 77-72 Petrov.
Round 9: Petrov goes back to his jab now, and nails Diaz coming in. But Diaz bullrushes into the clinch and bangs Petrov with right hands behind the ear. Diaz complaining about a head clash that he almost certainly caused himself. Petrov responds to his rough tactics in kind, whipping Diaz bodily into the ropes. Diaz is complaining madly to the ref about the cut near his eye, and Reiss pauses the bout to chastise the fighter to his corner, asking his coach if this is the way Diaz wants to be represented on national television. Warns him that if he doesn't show up and start fighting soon he's going to stop the fight. Petrov clips him with a hook and an uppercut, and we're going to the tenth round. 10-9 Petrov, 87-81.
Round 10: Three sharp right hands in a row from Petrov as Diaz once again dives into the clinch. Now Diaz headlocks the Russian and hits him in the ribs while Jack Reiss admonishes him to listen to his commands. Petrov goes back to the lead right, and it finds the mark. Another right hand--Diaz rolls his head but the impact was audible. Petrov is coming forward now, and Diaz has no choice but to swing wildly back at him till the end of the round. 10-9 Petrov, 97-90.
Taras Shelestyuk vs Juan Rodriguez Jr.
Round 1: Rodriguez starts off well, playing the role of the boxer. He stabs Shelestyuk in the belly with his jab, and answers a pair of advances with counter combinations. Nothing big landing, but he's doing a good job of standing his ground early. Shelestyuk lands a nice lead right hook that gets Rodriguez's respect. Rodriguez is starting to wait on Shelestyuk too much, but that round should be his. 10-9 Rodriguez.
Round 2: Shelestyuk lands a hard jab to the body. Now he tries a straight left, and Rodriguez counters with a right uppercut. Nice left to the ribs from Rodriguez after that. He's back on his game now, using his jab and countering well. Rodriguez eats a clean jab stepping in and misses big. Now a hard left from Shelestyuk as Rodriguez attacks again. Shelestyuk is doing well on the counter. 10-9 Shelestyuk, 19-19.
Round 3: Rodriguez goes back to the body, but Shelestryuk catches this one on his elbow. He takes a Shelestyuk jab, and answers with a combination of punches, all blocked. They exchange, and both guys miss everything. They haven't found it easy to hit one another thus far, perhaps a result of the unusual southpaw vs southpaw matchup. Rodriguez throws a Leonard-esque shoeshine that draws a cheer from the crowd, but nothing really lands. I'd like to call it a draw, but for the sake of realism I'll score a winner. 10-9 Rodriguez, 29-28.
Round 4: Shelestyuk lands a nice counter hook to start off the round, and immediately kills Rodriguez's momentary determination to come forward. He's back to waiting on Shelestyuk now, and throwing easily-blocked punches. Still, Shelestryuk is doing an awful lot of following, and failing to throw anything of his own. Now he tries a right hook, and Rodriguez bombs him with a left hand over the top. And another identical exchange. Bad clash of heads as Shelestyuk lunges in, and he's cut over the right eye--fortunately just on the forehead. Short counter left from Rodriguez as they resume fighting. And a really nice combination, ending with a left to the body. That went from a snoozefest to a fun round fairly quickly, and it belongs to Rodriguez. 10-9 Rodriguez, 39-37.
Round 5: Nice jabs from Shelestyuk at the start of the round. He lands a slapping right hook. Let's see if Rodriguez tries to counter with the left hand like he did last round. Oddly it's Rodriguez on the defensive despite his success last round, and he eats a pair of clean punches as a result. Shelestyuk is growing more confident, and throwing more. That's what he really needs to win this. Nice body shot from Rodriguez, and a nice right hook in return from Shelestyuk. Hard left to the ribs from Rodriguez, and they're back to swinging at one another now. Never mind--they end the round staring at one another, aside from a single body jab from Shelestyuk. 10-9 Shelestyuk, 48-47 Rodriguez.
Round 6: Shelestyuk clowning Rodriguez now, dropping his hands. Rodriguez embarrasses him by landing a lead left. Two solid body shots from Rodriguez, but he steps into a right uppercut from Shelestyuk. Shelestyuk sneaks a right hook around Rodriguez's guard and forces him to shell up. Another hook at the end of the round, and that's the hardest shot of the fight so far. 10-9 Shelestyuk, 57-57.
Round 7: Shelestyuk starts the round with two good right hooks, and he puts Rodriguez on the defensive with one, following up with a hard jab that knocks him into the ropes. Solid left from Shelestyuk now, but Rodriguez answers with a heavy combination. Shelestyuk connects with a nasty hook in the clinch while Rodriguez waits for the referee break. Another pair of punches score for Shelestyuk, and now he's got Rodriguez swinging and missing wildly on counter attempts. Rodriguez throwing back with rapid combinations, but everything is hitting Shelestyuk's high guard. Easiest round so far for the Ukrainian. 10-9 Shelestyuk, 67-66.
Round 8: Shelestyuk starts the final round as if it was the first, applying heavy pressure with his footwork and jab. Rodriguez finds the mark with a lead overhand left, but Shelestyuk is punishing him with jab after jab. He counters the overhand with one now, and seems to wobble Rodriguez momentarily. They collide, and Shelestyuk shoves Rodriguez stumbling into the ropes. Another counter hook from Shelestyuk, and he's really showing his potential now. Rodriguez ends the round swinging and missing while Shelestyuk punctuates his haymakers with precise counters. 10-9 Shelestyuk, 77-75.
Wilberth Lopez vs Emmanuel Robles
Round 1: Heavy action in round one. Robles starts things off with a series of hard overhand lefts, but Lopez isn't backing down, and he tags him with counters as he comes in. As the fighters rest near the end of the round, it appears that Lopez has the advantage at range, but so far Robles is able to close the gap at will and land that left hand. 10-9 Robles.
Round 2: Robles lands the first significant punch of the round, another overhand left. His next attempt, however, is met with a vicious counter from Lopez, who connects with a left hook followed by a short right that rocks Robles back on his heels. Lopez coming forward now, throwing his right hand fearlessly, but Robles rolls with them fairly well and takes the sting off. Close round, but Lopez was more consistent. 10-9 Lopez, 19-19.
Round 3: Robles starts off well, sticking the jab to the body and using it to set up his left hand, which lands cleanly . He eats a counter hook from Lopez when he tries to put a hook behind the left, though. Lopez looks to take the momentum, but Robles changes his mind with another left hand, this one snapping Lopez's head back. And another. Another, but Lopez rolls with it. Robles is back to jabbing the body now, which seems to be working well for him as the shorter fighter. Robles rips a left to the body, and Lopez immediately backs off. He looks hurt, and he switches to orthodox in an attempt to hide his liver. He spends the rest of the round on the defensive, and Robles takes it easy. 10-9 Robles, 29-28.
Round 4: More of the same from Robles. He looks to have found his rhythm now, and he cracks Lopez with a pair of lefts, peppering him with more body jabs. Lopez reminds Robles that he is, in fact, a live body by stinging him with a short left hook on the inside, but Robles starts moving frenetically around the ring and stinging him with counters immediately after. Robles is timing every one of Lopez's jabs, but Lopez is coming forward and throwing all the same. Big left misses twice for Lopez. 10-9 Robles, 39-37.
Round 5: Both fighters getting down and dirty now. Robles crashes into the pocket headfirst, and Lopez swings away. Neither man landing anything consequential. Robles slugs Lopez's belly with a vicious left hand, and it takes the fight out of him momentarily. Lopez is making the curious decision to attack the body now, in the second-to-last round. Might've helped him more earlier.Robles lands another overhand, but Lopez counters, connecting with a shorter, straighter punch. Robles backs off, and Lopez tags him with a few jabs. 10-9 Robles, 49-46.
Round 6: Not much landing in the first minute, but Lopez is fighting very aggressively and getting the better of the exchanges. Robles may be a bit tired here, and Lopez is taking full advantage. Every time Robles ties up he flings him bodily into the ropes. Another big counter left from Robles, but Lopez walks through it. They trade ineffective punches, and now Lopez walks into a sweat-flinging counter. Still he comes forward, and digs to the body.The final punch of the fight is a left hand that seems to stagger Lopez, and that should seal it for him. 10-9 Robles, 59-55.