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Jermall Charlo Defeats Brandon Adams in Soldout Houston Homecoming

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Jermall Charlo’s Houston homecoming at NRG Arena went longer than most people probably expected it would. Still, in the end, the local champ earned the hard-fought unanimous decision victory over Brandon Adams, 29, from Los Angeles, in front of a soldout crowd of 6,408.

Judges at ringside scored it 119-109, 120-109 and 120-108 for Charlo. 

No longer known as the other Charlo, Jermall put his interim—err—suddenly very full WBC world middleweight title on the line in the fight. It was the long-awaited Houston return bout for Charlo, 29, who although one minute older than his identical twin brother, Jermell, had gotten a little slower out of the professional gate than did his sibling. 

Charlo stayed behind his jab during the first round. He didn’t land it with any regularity, but his significant longer reach and greater height kept Adams from doing anything but ducking and dodging early besides the occasional looping roundhouse from long distance.

Perhaps secure in his superiority after the first three minutes, Charlo pressed more for an opening against Adams in round two. Charlo’s crosses and uppercuts were full for steam, but artful dodging by Adams kept the challenger safe from harm. 

Adams did his best to make a fight of it in round three. Charlo threw and landed more punches, but Adams made him miss more than perhaps he was accustomed to doing and even managed to corral Charlo to the ropes where his shorter body might give him an edge. But Charlo’s uppercuts and hooks were fast and vicious, so mostly Adams had just put himself in harm’s way.

Still, it was his only chance, so Adams pressed more in the next round. The action heated up because of the closer quarters, with Charlo’s more powerful and precise punches probably taking the nod. 

They traded overhand rights to start round five. Charlo had Adams dazed in the corner soon after, but the brave boulder of a man got his wits about him and made it through the stanza. 

Charlo is a sharp, powerful and ruthless puncher. A right uppercut, left hook combination put Adams in trouble in round six, but his craft earned him some respect when he dazed Charlo with a hard hook and put the Houstonian’s backs to the ropes toward the end of the round.

But Adams main problem was that whenever Charlo kept him on the end of his longer punches, which was the majority of round seven, there wasn’t much Adams could do to stop it. Sure, he’d lob the occasional hard and awkward counter, but Charlo constantly got the better of things and was always looking to land the telling blow. 

Still, the saving grace for Adams was that for all the physical advantages Charlo had, the hometown fighter wasn’t accurate enough. Credit should be given to Adams perhaps for his quick movement, but it might also be true that Charlo was pressing a bit in an effort to impress the local crowd. 

That showed itself again in the ninth round when Charlo let loose a five-punch combination that Adams deftly avoided in his corner. Adams urged Charlo to bring more pressure, but Charlo was wise to Adams’ attempt at finding a counter opportunity and moved away.

By round ten, it seemed clear the fight would go the distance. Charlo was aggressive in all the right ways, but Adams had too much craft for Charlo to land very many punches clean enough to get the stoppage. Even in round ten, when Charlo seemed to daze Adams, the stocky fighter was able to stem the tide by constantly leaning away from Charlo’s power. 

Charlo did his best to end things early in round eleven with vicious combinations to the head and body, but Adams was just too tough. By the final round, Charlo seemed mostly content to take the win on the judges’ scorecards, a virtual certainty at this point, even in the topsy turvy world of professional boxing. 

Back in 2012 when I first met Jermall, Charlo was undefeated and talented, but he didn’t have a manager or promoter yet. Where Jermell already had twice as many fights on his ledger, as well as a manager, Al Haymon, and a promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, the other Charlo had pretty much nothing going his way except that he seemed to have a place to train at Plex in Houston under the guidance of trainer Ronnie Shields and he appeared to have what it takes physically to make it in the gritty world of professional boxing. 

But something always stood out about Jermall. Maybe it was just that he seemed to be working so hard in the gym every single time I saw him. Where other local fighters I’ve covered over the years in the Houston area usually succumb to the natural apathy that comes with not having a fight coming up soon, Charlo was always in the gym working, sparring and learning as if he did.

So seven years later, that Jermall is now an undefeated two-division world champion with at least a credible path toward megafights against the likes of former unified middleweight king Gennady Golovkin or current lineal champ Canelo Alvarez comes to no surprise to this writer. 

Whether he’ll stay at or near the top of the divisional mountain remains to be seen, but Charlo’s steady rise from relative obscurity should not go unnoticed in the sport. 

Lubin Stops Attou at 154

Erickson Lubin, 23, from Florida, stopped French fighter Zakaria Attou in just four rounds in a junior middleweight scrap that kept Lubin in line for another world title opportunity. Lubin looked electric in the fight, something he’s appeared to be in every outing except one. 

Two years ago, Lubin looked a bit green (or maybe just super unlucky) when he was knocked out by Jermell Charlo in the first round for Charlo’s WBC junior middleweight title.

One wonders what it was like for Lubin to share the card with Jermell’s identical twin brother, Jermall. Was it hard for him to see the same face of the man who so quickly and thoroughly dispatched him of his world championship dreams with one big punch? 

If it did bother him, he certainly didn’t show it against Attou. From the very start of the fight, Lubin was landing hard punches to Attou’s head and body. The Frenchmen moved away, trying to counter, but Lubin was just too sharp for Attou to handle. 

It didn’t help Attou that he injured his right bicep in the bout. Still, even if he had the use of two good arms, this fight probably wouldn’t have lasted much longer than it did. 

Lubin punched him into just about every corner of the ring during every round of the fight. By round four, Lubin had hurt him enough to send him down to the canvas for good. At that point, the fight was mercifully halted by Attou’s corner. 

If there’s anything to criticize about Lubin, it’s that he only really looks for one punch at a time. But at least in that, Lubin is almost always standing flatfooted and throwing with tons of power. He’s fast, He’s athletic. He’s powerful. He’s probably the best fighter in the world right now who has been recently knocked out in the first round. Lubin looks legit. 

Take that one performance away, and Lubin would likely be considered a certain bet to someday win a world championship. Even with that loss, he probably should be anyway. 

Marrero Defeats Ramirez in Featherweight Bout

Claudio Marrero, 30, from the Dominican Republic defeated Eduardo Ramirez, 26, from Mexico, by unanimous decision for a secondary WBA featherweight title. 

The bout was billed as an eliminator bout in the featherweight division, meaning the winner of the fight might theoretically be on his way to facing either regular WBA titleholder Xu Can or super champion Leo Santa Cruz.

But knowing the history of the WBA’s political machinations, which sometimes resembles a sidewalk shell game, the only substantial prize absolutley on the line in the bout (besides what they were paid in money) was probably just pride, and both fighters seemed eager to earn the respect of the other. 

Ramirez was the mover in the bout. He backpedaled from the start trying to get his punches off, while Marrero came forward behind concise footwork and a good jab. 

Ramirez’s main weapon was the right hook from a southpaw stance, though he sometimes would change his footing to get better angles for punches out of an orthodox stance. Marrero ate that hook more than he probably liked, but he also slipped them often enough to employ a sharp one-two, his lead being the right-hand because he was also a southpaw. 

The fight boiled down to Marrero just possessing a slightly higher level of quality, something Ramirez just couldn’t match. He was faster, slicker and the better athlete. Both fighters left their marks on each other, but by the end of the fight it was clear Marrero was the winner. 

Judges at ringside scored the bout 116-112, 115-113 and 118-110 for Marrero, who was jubilant in victory and happy to wear the WBA gold belt around his waist no matter what we in the media think about such things. 

Flores Stops May in Five Rounds at Junior Lightweight

Junior lightweight Miguel Flores stopped Mexico’s Luis May in the fifth round of a scheduled 10-round junior lightweight scrap. 

Born in Mexico, Flores, 26, now lives in Houston and trains at the same place where 140-pound titleholder Regis Prograis does his thing, the Main Street Boxing & Muay Thai gym. Flores is trained by local stalwart Arron Navarro who is one of Main Street’s mainstay cornermen alongside local legend Bobby Benton.  

Flores is now on a two-fight winning streak after suffering consecutive stoppage losses in 2017 to Dat Nguyen and Chis Avalos, just around the time his handlers were talking about their fighter maybe getting a world title opportunity. 

But Flores seems to be back on track. He kept his 35-year-old opponent at the end of his longer and snappier punches right from the opening bell, hurting him on occasion but not quite able to put him away until May’s corner threw in the towel at 1:33 of the fifth round. 

Despite the unexpected losses two years ago, Flores has continued to work and improve, perhaps because he doesn’t just fight for himself, but also for his late brother and role model, Benjamin, who tragically died from injuries suffered inside a ring three months prior to Flores making his own professional debut back in 2009.

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Oleksandr Usyk from a Historical Perspective 

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Oleksandr Usyk flipped the heavyweight division onto its head this past Saturday night in the Kingdom Arena, Riyadh, travelling a long way from home to seal his greatest victory. Usyk, small by modern heavyweight standards, towers over most men at 6’3″ and 220lbs and sporting a reach that lineal champions Ezzard Charles or Joe Walcott would have killed for. Things have changed though, and in the middle rounds of his war with Tyson Fury, Usyk suddenly appeared tiny. Fury, a giant at around 6’8” and over 260lbs seems a heavyweight for this century. Usyk, a journeyman in the most ancient sense of the word, feels like a throwback to a more savage time. His greatest achievements have taken place on foreign soil. The last time he boxed at home was almost a decade ago and given the situation in Ukraine and given Usyk’s 37 years, it is unlikely he will ever box there again.

Usyk took chances in the seventh and especially the eighth to take charge of a fight that seemed to be slipping away from him. In the vertigo inducing ninth, it was he, not Fury who appeared the giant. Usyk draped the Englishman over the ropes like so much fresh meat and tenderised him to within an inch of unconsciousness, the sheer hugeness of Fury perhaps preventing a referee’s intervention on behalf of his opponent, and not for the first time. Against both Deontay Wilder (the first fight) and Otto Wallin, a more squeamish official would have stepped in and stopped the fight, and here, too, there was a case. If Usyk seems a throwback, then Fury has been refereed like one, spared stoppages likely to be inflicted upon his peers, he was allowed once again to continue boxing, as Joe Louis was against Max Schmeling, or Jack Dempsey was against Luis Pirpo. But with Fury buckled at the knees, Usyk seemed the true heavy man in the ring.

In historical terms, Usyk is not a small heavyweight. He would have dwarfed “The Galveston Giant” Jack Johnson in the ring and loomed large over “Big” George Foreman. Usyk has every attribute necessary to make an unpleasant evening for Joe Louis, but it should be noted that while his footwork and speed and technical excellence would be the source of the discomfort, his excess of height and reach are the wildcards. Usyk would seem two to three weight classes bigger than Rocky Marciano, mainly because he is, and the towering Sonny Liston would look up. Circus strongman Jess Willard and the mob-sponsored Primo Carnera would both look down on Usyk – but not by that much. Usyk would stand eye to eye with Muhammad Ali but prime-for-prime he would outweigh him by ten pounds, as he would Larry Holmes. We must skip Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield and reach all the way into the Lennox Lewis era before we find men from history that truly out-size Usyk on a consistent basis.

Size, as Usyk has proven, is far from everything. Big by historical standards, he is small by modern standards. What else is now true in the wake of the seismic fistic events of Saturday night? Firstly, Usyk is unquestionably ranked the #1 heavyweight in the world. Of this, there can be no dispute. Accounting for his two wonderful defeats of another “super” heavyweight, Anthony Joshua, he is 3-0 against the rest of the top five and sitting unassailably at the head of the heavyweight table. More, and I have been surprised to see it disputed in some corners, Usyk is now almost as equally unassailably the pound-for-pound number one. The only fighter breathing the same air as Usyk right now is Naoya Inoue. Inoue has been operating at or near the highest level for longer, but the level of his opposition has not been as rarefied. Comparing the first phase opposition defeated by Naoya to the murderer’s row of cruiserweights that Usyk ran into during the Super Six series can lead to only one conclusion. Although Naoya’s busy, weight-class-bursting style has topped him out for most of the past two to three years, only one of these men has consistently been beating bigger, taller, longer opposition at the highest level, and that is Usyk. It is not a matter of opinion – he is the smallest man in my heavyweight top ten.

01 – Oleksandr Usyk

02 – Anthony Joshua

03 – Joseph Parker

04 – Tyson Fury

05 – Filip Hrgovic

06 – Zhilei Zhang

07 – Agit Kabayel

08 – Daneil Dubois

09 – Martin Bakole

10 – Joe Joyce

Usyk lives among giants now and where there is parity of height (Kabayel) he is the lighter man by 15 pounds. This is not true of Naoya, who despite his weight-hopping, still manages to run into fighters of the same height and of shorter reach. The opposition argument is narrow, but the relative size opposition is not and there is no pound-for-pound credential more significant than that of consistently out-fighting bigger men. Usyk has done so and will continue to do so for as long as he fights. There is simply no smaller man in his class.

Not since the heyday of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield has a lineal heavyweight champion consistently fought bigger men and not since Mike’s hype-infused prime has a heavyweight menaced the number one pound-for-pound spot. Usyk has not enjoyed anything like the same machine support as Mike did; indeed, he has laboured in the shadow of more prominent men until such time as he thrashed them. He is a true manifestation of pound-for-pound glory in the unlimited class. Where does this leave him in terms of all-time standing?

I am reluctant to rate active fighters for reasons that are obvious enough; Usyk could be pole-axed in three by an irate Fury in a December rematch and all this ink is for naught. But what I am willing to do is play let’s pretend and imagine Usyk as retired and consider his place in heavyweight history now.

Usyk’s raw numbers are low-grade at just 22-0 with 14 knockouts. Worse, most of this was built in the cruiserweight division and not the heavyweight division. Against men weighing in as heavyweights, Uysk is essentially 7-0, and only 3-0 against ranked opposition. On the other hand, one of these victories came against Daniel Dubois, now ranked, and the 3-0 was posted against Tyson Fury, generally held to be the best or second-best heavyweight in the world, and Anthony Joshua, ranked behind only Fury at the time of his first fight with Usyk. So, when he stepped up, he stepped up to tackle the best in the world and has become lineal as a result. It’s a hard ledger to wrestle with, but fortunately we have a career that is comparable in the shape of Gene Tunney.

Tunney, a career light-heavyweight, earned a heavyweight legacy built of essentially one man: Jack Dempsey. Past-prime and inactive, Dempsey was ripped apart by Tunney in their legendary first fight and did better in a losing effort against the genius “Fighting Marine” in a rematch, much like Joshua did against Usyk. Tunney then boxed the limited but game Tom Heeney and retired. The rest of his heavyweight career was spent beating great middleweights like Harry Greb and limited losing-streak gatekeepers like Charley Weinert and Martin Burke. One thing that must be noted is that Tunney is matching men who are smaller than Usyk’s cruiserweight opposition to his heavyweight credit. Men like Mairis Briedis and Murat Gassiev would have been big men in Tunney’s era, but they aren’t counted towards heavyweight legacy for the Ukrainian – either would constitute Tunney’s second-best heavyweight scalp, I think. Tunney’s wider resume does not necessarily include fighters who compare that favourably even to Dereck Chisora or Chaz Witherspoon, the men who make up Usyk’s second layer of opposition.

The point is, Tunney was made a legend for defeating a champion. Both Fury and Joshua were active, physically enormous fighters that Usyk simply unmanned with a type of genius Gene Tunney would have stood to applaud. Tunney appended to his light-heavyweight career the important part of a heavyweight career – the part where you fight and beat the champion, and it has made him a stalwart of heavyweight history. This, Usyk too has achieved, but I have been more impressed with Usyk’s summit than Tunney’s. To be direct: Usyk should rate higher at heavyweight than Tunney.

What that means is that the top twenty at heavyweight is the minimum Usyk can expect from history’s eye should he retire undefeated. In such a case, I would place Usyk in this sort of company:

18 – Ezzard Charles

19 – Oleksandr Usyk

20 – Jersey Joe Walcott

21 – James J Corbett

22 – Peter Jackson

23 – Ken Norton

24 – Max Schmeling

25 – Vitali Klitschko

26 – Riddick Bowe

27 – Gene Tunney

Also illustrative of a point is Tunney’s career pre-heavyweight. Tunney, every bit as brilliant as Usyk in the ring (although notably smaller, and successful against notably smaller opposition), laced up his gloves on close to ninety occasions and his level of competition dwarfs that of Usyk. That is no indictment. All it really means is that Usyk isn’t among the thirty greatest fighters ever to have drawn breath, like Tunney is. He can join an enormous and star-studded cast that includes Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins and Carlos Monzon in that. I do think, though, that Oleksandr Usyk’s career, were it to end tomorrow, could be readily compared to that of Evander Holyfield and that means that an unbeaten Usyk, lineal cruiserweight and heavyweight champion of the world, current pound-for-pound king, is within spitting distance of a list that captures the fifty greatest fighters in history.

56 – Ruben Olivares

57 – Wilfredo Gomez

58 – Vicente Saldivar

59 – Oleksandr Usyk

60 – Evander Holyfield

61 – Ted Kid Lewis

62 – Lou Ambers

63 – Rocky Marciano

64 – Abe Attell

65 – Manuel Ortiz

A retired Naoya Inoue would join him in the top seventy, I think, and a retired Bud Crawford the top ninety.

Boxing is dead, haven’t you heard?

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

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Another Victory for Ukraine as Berinchyk Upsets Navarrete in San Diego

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Whether it was inspiration or perspiration, Ukraine’s Denys Berinchyk motored past Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete by split decision to become the WBO lightweight world titlist on Saturday.

Just hours after his fellow countryman Oleksandr Usyk became undisputed heavyweight world champion, Berinchyk joined the club.

“This is a great night for all people of Ukraine,” Berinchyk said.

The undefeated Ukrainian Berinchyk (19-0, 9 KOs) gutted out a win over Navarrete (38-2-1, 31 KOs) who was attempting to join Mexico’s four-division world champion club in San Diego. The lanky fighter known as “Vaquero” fell a little short.

Through all 12 rounds neither fighter was able to dominate and neither was able to score a knockdown. Just when it seemed one fighter gathered enough momentum, the other fighter would rally.

A butt caused a slight cut on Navarrete in the 10th round. That seemed to ignite anger from the Mexican fighter and he powered through the Ukrainian fighter the next two rounds.

In the final round Berinchyk bore down and slugged it out with the Mexican fighter as both relied on their weapons of choice. For most of the night Navarrete scored with long-range uppercuts and Berinchyk scored with overhand rights.

After 12 rounds two judges scored it 115-113, 116-112 for Berinchyk and one 116-112 for Navarrete. Ukraine gained its third world titlist in one a week. Berinchyk joins Usyk and Vasyl Lomachenko as world titlists.

“He’s a very tough guy,” said Berinchyk of Navarrete.

Welterweights

A battle between undefeated welterweights saw Brian Norman (26-0, 20 KOs) knock out Giovany Santillan (32-1, 17 KOs) in the 10th round to become the interim WBO titlist.

For nine rounds both welterweights engaged in brutal inside warfare as each tried to beat the sense out of each other.

Norman worked the body early as Santillan targeted the head. Neither fought more than two inches from each other.

The younger Norman, 23, connected with a right cross during an exchange that wobbled Santillan in the eighth round. From that point on the Georgia fighter began setting up for his power shots. Finally, in the 10th round, uppercuts dropped Santillan twice. In the second knockdown Santillan went down hard as referee Ray Corona stopped the fight immediately at 1:33 of the 10th round.

Other Bouts

Heavyweight Richard Torrez (10-0, 10 KOs) knocked out Brandon Moore (14-1) in the fifth round for a regional title.

Lightweight Alan Garcia (10-0) defeated Wilfredo Flores (10-3-1) by decision after eight.

Photo credit: German Villasenor

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UNDISPUTED ! – Usyk Defeats Fury ! – Plus Undercard Results from Riyadh

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The most ballyhooed fight of the young century played out today at Riyadh Arena in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where Ukraine’s amazing Oleksandr Usyk became an undisputed world champion in a second weight class with a split decision over WBC and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.

This was a memorable fight with twists and turns. Usyk had some good moments early, but the middle rounds belonged to the Gypsy King. Heading into the second half of the bout, the old saying that a good big man will always beat a good little man, appeared to be holding up once again. Fury was having good success working the body as his trainer SugarHill Steward exhorted him to do, and when he went upstairs, he rattled Usyk, notably in round five when a big uppercut appeared to lift the Ukrainian off his feet. But Usyk finished round seven strong, a prelude of what was to come.

Usyk plainly won round eight and in round nine, he came within a whisper of ending it. A flurry of punches sent Fury reeling. He crashed into the ring ropes which dictated a standing-8 count from referee Mark Nelson. If Nelson had waited a few more seconds, he would have likely waved the fight off as Fury was on queer street. But this dramatic turnaround came late in the round and the Gypsy King was saved by the bell.

Among other things, Tyson Fury is known for his amazing powers of recuperation. He not only stayed the course, but appeared to win the final round. But in the end, Oleksandr Usyk, now 22-0 (14) saddled Fury (34-1-1) with his first defeat. Two of the judges favored him (115-112, 114-113) with the dissenter scoring it for Fury 114-113.

A draw wouldn’t have caused much of a stink and now they will do it again. The sequel is tentatively scheduled for October. Both are getting a little long in the tooth – Usyk is 37 and Fury is 35 – so we will be surprised if the rematch lives up to the hype.

Semi-wind-up

The first encounter between Jai Opetaia and Mairis Briedis was a grueling fight. Opetaia, an Australian Olympian at age 16, won the battle (a fair decision) but yet took the worst of it. Early in that bout, he had his jaw fractured in two places and for the next two months was forced to eat out of a straw.

The rematch tonight in Riyadh was a monotonous fight through the first nine rounds. Briedis, now 39 years old and inactive since their first meeting, looked old and rusty. But the fight heated up in round 10 and the championship rounds belonged to the Latvian.

It came too little, too late, however, as Briedis needed a knockout to win. At the conclusion, the judges favored the Aussie by scores of 117-111 and 116-112 twice.

Opetaia, 28, improved to 25-0 (19).  Briedis, who has defeated everyone that he has fought with the exceptions of Opetaia and Oleksandr Usyk (and the Usyk fight was close) falls to 28-3.

The first fight between Opetaia and Briedis was for the IBF cruiserweight title. Tonight’s match is for the vacant IBF cruiserweight title (don’t ask).

Cordina-Cacace

In a major upset, Belfast’s Anthony Cacace, a 12-year pro, captured the IBF 130-pound world title with a seventh-round stoppage of previously undefeated Joe Cordina who went to post a consensus 7/1 favorite. The end came 39 seconds into round seven with Cacace pummeling Cordina against the ropes.

The Irishman was the busier fighter and landed the harder punches, but the bout was not without controversy. In the third frame, Cacace stunned Cordina with a punch that landed after the referee ordered the fighters to break. That put Cordina on the defensive and before the round was over, Cacace put him on the canvas with a wicked uppercut and Cordina, badly hurt, barely survived the round. Cacace (22-1, 8 KOs) had a big sixth round and closed the show in the next stanza.

Cordina, a 2016 Olympian who was undefeated in 17 pro fights heading in, is a close friend and frequent workout partner of Lauren Price who captured the WBC female welterweight title last week. She now stands alone as the only current world champion from Wales.

Kabayel-Sanchez

In a mild upset, Agit Kabayel continued his late career surge with a seventh-round KO of previously undefeated Frank Sanchez. As was the case in his last fight when he upset Arslanbek Makhmudov, Kabayel (25-0, 17 KOs) finished his opponent with body punches. A left-right combination knocked Sanchez to his knees and then, after Sanchez got to his feet, a straight right to the belly sent him down again and he wasn’t able to beat the count.

Sanchez, who was 24-0 heading in, entered the bout with a brace over his right knee that compromised his mobility. Kabayel, the aggressor throughout, was comfortably ahead at the time of the stoppage. The official time was 2:23 of round seven.

Kovalev-Safar

In a dull 10-rounder, unsung Robin Safar, a Swedish-born fighter of Kurdish descent, may have written the finish for the career of Sergey Kovalev. At age 41 in his second fight as a cruiserweight and coming off a two-year layoff, the “Krusher” was a pale imitation of the fighter that won nine straight light heavyweight title fights before losing a controversial decision to Andre Ward in their first encounter.

Safar, who improved to 17-0 (12) punctuated his triumph by knocking down Kovalev (35-5-1) with a big right hand inside the final 10 seconds of the final round. The judges had it 99-90, 97-92, and 95-94.

Two early fights ended in early knockouts.

Moses Itauma, a 19-year-old, six-foot-six southpaw who was raised in London by a Nigerian father and a Slovakian mother, stopped Ilya Mezercev at the 50-second mark of the second round. Mezercev made it to his feet after being decked with a big right hook, but his legs were jelly and the fight was waved off.

Trained by Ben Davison, Itauma (9-0, 7 KOs) has been hailed as the next Anthony Joshua. As an amateur, he was reportedly 24-0. Mezercev, a Germany-based Kazkh, declined to 25-9.

British lightweight Mark “Thunder” Chamberlain (16-0, 12 KOs) looked sensational while blasting out Joshua Oluwaseun Wahab in the opening stanza. Chamberlain had Wahab (23-2) on the deck twice before the bout was waived off at the 2:42 mark.

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