Andrew Tabiti vs Keith Tapia, Hunter vs Thomas, Gavril vs Novoa, Olvera vs Rakhmanov
BY KID HERSH
ShoBox card from Las Vegas. First up was Alfonso Olvera (7-2, 3ko's) vs Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (4-0, 3ko's). In the first round we saw before it was said by the announcers why Rakhmanov fights like he does; the Mike Tyson influence. He was bobbing and weaving and unloading power shots when in range - although the difference from Tyson was the accuracy of the shots of course because sometimes he simply unloads to unload and is well out of range. Olvera was trying to make it an outside fight but couldn't do it until parts of the second round where he was unloading a lot of shots and finding the target very often when Rakhmanov was more of a stationary target with less energy due to loading up so heavily on everything. He continued the success through the third round and then in the fourth actually hurt Rakhmanov with a right hand, among the avalanche of gloves dropped down on the smaller opponent. He didn't have the power to take his man out but he kept the jab consistently touching his face and followed up with further punches in bunches that were doing damage and just never stopped. Rakhmanov was backing up by the end of the round for the first time in the fight and clearly looking like a beaten man. He was still throwing power hooks in spurts and landing some but just cannot turn this fight around yet. He did manage to gain some momentum in the fifth round as Olvera tired greatly with his long arms looking very heavy. The sixth round was a bit of a snoozer after a fast start for Rakhmanov when he was blasting home power shots that he couldn't miss with on the tall tired man in front of him. Going down the stretch both fighters were exhausted and finished with a bit of a whimper compared to the fast rounds before it. Great little six-rounder though that I felt was a draw, with Rakhmanov landing more power shots but Olvera throwing a whopping 716 punches total. The cards came in a SD with one judge a piece for the fighters - a great decision overall actually.
Before the next fight Floyd Mayweather came on to talk about being a promoter and a possible Conor McGregor fight while also getting a sports Emmy for the Mayweather vs Pacquiao series last year. He is apparently very serious about a fight happening with Conor McGregor but of course it would have to be in a boxing ring and for $100 million dollars - so - it will never happen.
Next up was Ronald Gavril (15-1, 11ko's) vs Juan Novoa (26-6-1, 24ko's). In the first round Gavril was boxing very technically sound as he went to work picking apart Novoa, who appeared pretty shaky on his feet a few times from straight rights that were thudding home. Gavril did not follow up at all - ever the boxer that likes to break his man down. This continued for the coming rounds with Novoa coming to life a bit and throwing better punches but still not having much success due to Gavril much more highly skilled and tactical. All of the precise, accurate punching caught up with Novoa in the sixth round when midway through a left hook to the liver crumpled Novoa to the canvas. He was in a lot of pain and rose but the fight was stopped shortly thereafter when he could not protect himself likely due to the devastating liver shot crippling his body still.
There was a break to talk about Povetkin testing positive for a banned substance, putting the big heavyweight fight next weekend in jeopardy.
Next up was Mike Hunter (11-0, 8ko's) vs Isiah Thomas (15-0-1, 6ko's). Hunter started off the fight very hot and was all over Thomas who looks out of shape but whether he is or isn't doesn't really matter because he has the skills to play defense well. This is exactly what he did as he made it clear that he is just looking to play spoiler here since he cannot deal with Hunter in a toe to toe fight. Thomas continued his defensive fighting in the coming rounds with not much to write about as Hunter's output was dwindling from chasing and getting clinched while also no doubt the mental aspect of an ugly fight for his big day is playing out in his mind. Really I didn't even have anything to write until now which is the very end of the fight with Barry Tompkins saying it came to the end "mercifully". Thomas threw a whopping 244 shots over ten rounds and only landed 55 shots - he didn't come to fight and lost the shutout decision. Thank god that's over.
Main event time featuring Andrew Tabiti (12-0, 11ko's) vs Keith Tapia (17-0, 11ko's). The first round was very frustrating, with Tapia coming forward but not getting shots off before the two fighters would get angled up. Nady was also super annoying in yelling at Tabiti time and time again to "step back!!!" After clinches when the fighters were not throwing and clearly out of range already - a weird show of authority that was distracting for both the viewer and no doubt the fighters. The second round was more awkward, with Tapia even yelling at Floyd Mayweather "he keeps grabbing Mayweather!!" Meanwhile Nady was animated as ever and extremely vocal to the fighters as neither man could find the distance or anywhere near any sort of rhythm. The third round was not very much different as Tabiti really showed his "boxer" nature and Tapia was really trying to make a fight of it but while rushing forward and not knowing if Tabiti is going to be there or not it produced for poor fighting. Tabiti's quickness of hand and foot is really what is giving him the edge in the fight. By the time the sixth round came around the most flush blows landed were clearly head butts with Tapia on the receiving end of a bad one two minutes into the sixth that caused a flow of blood (finally - was wondering when it would finally draw blood!). The two fighters just cannot get into a good rhythm on either end as Tabiti is using his athletic frame to move around and be elusive but cannot land and get away "perfect" to make it pretty. Meanwhile Tapia looks mechanical, as if he is someone that was grabbed without a boxing background and taught by the book a certain style of cover up and get in and throw punches but it just turns out to look like a video game boxer in the ring with trainers pressing buttons. That being said he sure is game and trained to a T as he continued coming forward even while getting slammed by serious power shots more often later in the fight like the seventh round when an uppercut from the floor jarred his head like a Paez dispenser but he continued on forward. I have noticed that when tapia gets nailed he has the natural instinct of a fighter to cinque forward and prove a point right back. Unfortunately for him tonight that is a tough one to do because Tabiti is on his wheels and gone before any retaliation can happen. Either that or Tabiti clinches and ties up Tapia. Near the end of the eighth round a right hand to the ear area of Tapia scored a knockdown. While it was a weak knockdown (due to glancing off the shoulder and the positioning of Tapia making it more of a momentum knockdown) it was still a knockdown that widened Tabiti's lead. Tapia stood in between rounds to prove a point that he was not going anywhere and not seriously hurt by the punch. I like this guy! Going down the stretch it was more of the same and Tabiti would win the UD.