PBC On NBC
It was a rather busy weekend in fisticuffs with several major fights. First up, on Friday night we had an example of some excellent match-making from the folks at Golden Boy Promotions as they hosted a showdown between two blood-and-guts warriors at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles. Jesus Soto “Renuente” Karass (28-10-4) and Yoshihiro “Maestrito” Kamegai (26-3-2) gave fight fans the brawl they were expecting with ten rounds of fast-paced, bombs-away action. It was a close, hard-fought battle all the way, with a few hard-to-call rounds and the final result of a split draw was not a shocker. Anyone up for a rematch?
Also on Friday night, another draw in the main event as Nikolay Potapov (14-0-1) and Stephon Young (14-0-3) put on a spirited show over ten rounds on the ShoBox card at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. Potapov was more active and controlled the early going, but Young came on strong in the middle rounds. It appeared Young was on the cusp of taking a close win, but it was the Russian who won the final round to salvage the tie. Meanwhile, the undercard saw a spectacular one-punch KO from Mason Menard (31-1) as he unloaded with a huge right hand that put Eudy Bernardo (21-1) down and out in round three.
On Saturday we had plenty of action. First, at the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, Gary Russell Jr. (27-1) made quick work of Patrick “The Punisher” Hyland (31-2), scoring three knockdowns in the second round to force a stoppage. The undercard saw an excellent 12 round battle for the IBF 130 lb title between Jose “Sniper” Pedraza (22-0) and Stephen “Swifty” Smith (23-2). Smith gave a valiant effort, but Pedraza controlled the first half of the match and scored a knockdown in round nine to come away with a unanimous decision in an exciting fight.
Meanwhile, in Vegas, Calgary’s own Steve “The Dragon” Claggett (23-4-1) appeared to deserve a better fate as he dropped a split decision to South African Chris “The Heat” Van Heerden (24-2-1). Claggett was the aggressor in an entertaining scrap and some at ringside, including the entire CBS broadcast team, thought him a clear winner, but the judges decided otherwise.
The biggest card of the weekend took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, with Premier Boxing Champions putting together an excellent show. Several matches of significance took place on the undercard, including Brooklyn’s rising female featherweight star Heather Hardy upping her record to 16-0 with a four round stoppage of Sweden’s Anna Hultin 8-3); lightweight Mario Barrios (15-0) pitching a shutout over eight rounds against Edgar Gabejan (26-33), and cruiserweight Earl Newman (9-0) stopping Dustin Echard (13-3) in round four.
The televised portion of the PBC on NBC card saw some excellent performances. Perhaps the most dramatic battle of the entire weekend was a 12 round war between cruiserweights Krzysztof Glowacki (26-0) and Steve Cunningham (28-8). This was a back-and-forth brawl decided by Glowacki’s four knockdowns of the tough Cunningham as the Polish native successfully defended his WBO title. Cunningham was game and competitive, as always, but it was Glowacki’s power that decided the outcome as he delighted the large contingent of Polish fans in the arena.
Next up, a controversial outcome as Marcus Browne (18-0) somehow received a split decision win over Radivoje Kalajdzic (21-1) in a sloppy fight which was supposed to decide a new top prospect in the light heavyweight division. In truth, neither man looked impressive, especially Browne, who spent most of the match holding on while Kalajdzic tried his best to do battle. Browne received credit for a first round knockdown which was clearly a slip. Worse, Brown tagged Kalajdzic while he was down but received no penalty for the foul. In round six Kalajdzic scored a legit knockdown. How Browne got the decision will forever remain a mystery.
Finally, in the main event, as reported earlier by our own Sean Crose, welterweight contender Errol Spence gave a breakout performance in his domination and stoppage of Chris Algieri.
Our man on the scene, Chris Connor, came through with video of the post-fight pressers, plus a behind-the-scenes interview with Heather Hardy. Things got a bit tense at the Kalajdzic-Browne presser (here’s hoping there’s a rematch!), while Lou DiBella could not praise Spence too highly as the young welterweight phenom looked on with his young daughter in his lap. Check it out:
— Robert Portis