Sergiy Derevyanchenko vs Sam Soliman & Ievgen Khytrov vs Paul Mendez
BY KID HERSH
PBC on ESPN from Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut. First up was Ievgen Khytrov (13-0, 11KO's) vs Paul Mendez (19-2-2, 9KO's). In the first round Khytrov started in his usual forward gear. Mendez was backing up and trying to box his man - which he did well in spots and actually stood and traded shots with Khytrov to end the round. Mendez gave as many as he took but the problem with his strategy is he doesn't have the power that Khytrov does so he shouldn't be trading with him. In the second round Khytrov continued his forward pressure, with Mendez not too hard to find as Khytrov didn't have to cut the ring off. Khytrov was putting in great body as well and while Mendez is taking the punches well and landing some of his own a guy has to wonder if he can take them for a full ten rounds. I guess we will find out! And very soon, as Mendez took severe punishment in the third round with it looking like he might even taste the canvas. Khytrov got his motor warmed up and was throwing punches in bunches and just could not miss with anything he threw. Mendez took them well but he took so many that eventually they were wearing him down, especially when he started to cock off a little bit and took more punishment than he needed to. He made it through the round and was looking worn down in the fourth but made it clear that he was not going anywhere. This continued through the fifth round where Khytrov was missing his trainer Andre Rozier, who was back in the dressing room taping Derevyanchenko's hand because Sam Solimans team had a problem with the wraps on one of his fists, thinking it was 1" instead of 2" when in reality it was right in the first place. So now, as Teddy Atlas pointed out, Khytrov was missing his trainer in the corner. Mendez continued taking punishment through the sixth and seventh rounds and was still missing Rozier from his corner because the commission found a problem with Derevyanchenko's other fist and so it needed to be re-wrapped. The story of the fight was Khytrov's crazy work rate, which was at well over 100 punches per round. Also Khytrov's right hand just couldn't miss and in the eighth round he pounded it home, hurting Mendez for the first time in the fight a little over midway through the round with a vicious right hand that had more following. Mendez is tough hombre though and made it through the round. The fight was over in the ninth round and Mendez was stopped for the first time in his career due to taking far too many shots, include head shots that were just snapping Mendez's head violently and consistently. He threw 966 punches and landed a whopping 482 - with the fight barely making it into the ninth round!
The main event was delayed due to Soliman's team getting a taste of their own medicine as they were wrong on their own wraps - having 4" Australian tape and not 2" - which is what they complained about to Derevyanchenko's team! It was a bit of a clusterfuck as the commission admitted that the huge delay and hand wrapping fiasco was their fault, not the fighters. It sounded like it was mainly due to a combination of Solimans team complaining in the first place, which pulled Rozier from Khytrov's corner, which in turn caused them to press the issue that Rozier never got to see Soliman's hands wrapped - effectively saying "F you re-wrap your hands now"
In any case the main event between Sergiy Derevyanchenko (31-1, 13KO's) vs Sam Soliman (44-13, 18KO's) finally got underway about a half hour later. Soliman looked forward and off balance from the start, which he always is but I thought he looked extra off balance - perhaps from a bad knee. When Derevyanchenko got going Soliman looked flustered to my eyes and at one he went falling far backwards into the ropes, bounced off them, bounced off Sergiy, then Sergiy promptly dropped him with a right hand. The fight did not last much longer as Derevyanchenko upped his output and dropped Soliman two more times en route to a knockout win from a left hook that put Soliman out hard. Great win for Derevyanchenko and yet another reminder that a knee injury is about the worst thing possible a boxer can suffer. I saw shades of Miguel Cotto vs Sergio Martinez before this fight, with an older athlete and a knee injury likely being the end of a career.