In an extremely well-matched, back-and-forth, and entertaining welterweight clash, Chris Kongo stopped a rallying Luther Clay in the ninth round of their 10-round bout, picking up a minor WBO title and, more importantly, a better ranking with the sanctioning body.
The 24-year-old Clay (13-2, 5 KO) started a bit slow, though early rounds were close. He was maybe buzzed a bit in the fourth round, and was definitely hurt in the fifth round, reeling around the ring as Kongo threw everything he had at Clay, only for Clay to ably survive, dodging shots with his back to the ropes and steadying his legs.
And from there, Clay actually adjusted and got back into the fight, coming forward and winning rounds. But the 27-year-old Kongo (12-0, 7 KO) got to Clay again in the ninth round, and though Clay again was looking like he might survive, he got dropped heavily late in the frame, struggled to get up, and the fight was stopped at 2:44 of the ninth round. At the time of stoppage, BLH had the fight even, 76-76, with Clay having come back in the sixth through eighth rounds to get it level.
“I was willing to die in there before I’d get out of there,” Kongo said. “There was no way I was leaving without this belt. I knew I had the speed, I knew I had the power, I just had to go in there and pace myself. It’s been 16 months since I got in there. The first rounds I thought I was trying to feel him out, but then I hurt him in the middle rounds and knew I’d get him out of there.”
Alen Babic TKO-2 Shawndell Winters
There's a reason they call Alen Babic 'The Savage' pic.twitter.com/gyYadtdCfv— DAZN USA (@DAZN_USA) August 22, 2020
This was technically a heavyweight bout, Babic (4-0, 4 KO) weighed in at 205, and Winters was about 195 on the scales, so really it was a cruiserweight fight with some wiggle room. Babic did weigh 220 once, but usually he’s been low 200s, that’s really risky at heavyweight anymore. But Babic not only says he’s going to stay at heavyweight, at this weight, but that he wants the giants.
Babic, a 29-year-old Croatian, fought ferociously here, just bombing at the 39-year-old Winters (13-4, 12 KO), who is still trading off of an upset win over Oleksandr Teslenko in Sept. 2019. This was his second Matchroom call of 2020, as he also served as an opponent for Joseph Parker in February, and that means it’s also his second straight loss. Babic gave Winters no room to breathe and dropped him twice, once in the first round and again in the second, before the fight was rightly stopped.
Babic was also quite colorful post-fight.
“This is my approach, one or two rounds. I don’t see my fights going past three rounds,” he said. “I’m different. I want to bring something different to the table. I’m not going to wait to see who’s better. I don’t care about that. I’m going to kill him. If somebody kills me, I will say, ‘OK, that’s my end.’”
Babic specifically called out fellow Croatian heavyeight Filip Hrgovic, a top prospect and emerging contender.
Zak Chelli D-10 Jack Cullen
These two both weighed in just north of 164 for this fight, with Chelli coming down from 168/175 (this was his lowest weight on the scales to date) and Cullen coming up from 160, where he had a great action fight with Felix Cash last November.
The decision is highly questionable at best, Chelli was robbed of a win at worst, and more realistically. Scores were 95-95, 96-95 Cullen, and 97-93 Chelli. Bad Left Hook had the fight 97-93 for Chelli, and DAZN commentator Darren Barker also felt Chelli won the fight.
The 22-year-old Chelli (7-1-1, 3 KO) was back to looking like a solid domestic prospect here, following his light heavyweight loss to Kody Davies in Sept. 2019, which was his last fight. Coming back in against Cullen (18-2-1, 9 KO) was a bit of a risk, but he also had to fight someone, and there’s just not a lot of room right now for low-level tune-ups.
Chelli didn’t fully dominate here, but he seemed to win pretty clearly, landing the better blows, cutting up the 26-year-old Cullen, who has now lost two of his last three. Cullen is a brave, game fighter, very tall at 160 or 168, but kind of gangly, and he wasn’t generating the same power Chelli was, and it’s not like Chelli’s a huge puncher. Cullen looked like he knew he was lucky to not take an L here, which I’m certain he’d deny if asked about it.