Vasyl Lomachenko vs Jason Sosa, Oleksandr Gvozdyk vs Yunieski Gonzalez, Oleksandr Usyk vs Michael Hunter
HBO World Championship Boxing from Oxon Hill, Maryland at the MGM National Harbor in a night of the Ukrainians. It is Jim Lampleys 68th birthday today.
First up on the telecast was Oleksandr Usyk (11-0, 10KO's) vs Michael Hunter (12-0, 8KO's). In the first round Hunter got going a lot quicker than Usyk, who was waiting on Hunter and seeing what he had to offer before finally opening up at the end of the round. Hunter did not react well to a left hand at the end of the round as he was squared up for it and took it flush - not a good sign. It was more of the same in the second round as Usyk was surprisingly getting outworked and peppered with shots despite his high guard. In the third round Hunter had his best round of the fight as he stepped around Usyk clockwise, away from his power left hand and peppered him with punches while outworking and out landing him. He was putting in excellent work in the third round and Usyk answered it with his own body work in the fourth round as he closed the distance and made it a closer inside fight. He also landed some powerful punches flush to the chin of Hunter, but Hunter took them well just like the other ones Usyk has landed thus far but I thought I saw a little studder step in his legs - just a bit. Usyk further threw and landed more punches in the fifth round, closing the gap that Hunter had created early on. The interesting thing with Hunter is that while he looks off balance and sloppy at times he will still stake flush shots and come right back - almost like a drunken monkey style of sorts where he gets hit (by a real puncher!) and looks off balance, or should I say is off balance, but then bounces right back and throws shots. As Bernard Hopkins said in the sixth round "the truck has warmed up" as Usyk looks better and better as the rounds go by and he throws more punches while getting his rhythm going. This continued through the rounds and Hunter continually surprised me with how well he takes a punch and rolls with the shots. He seemed like he was in real trouble in the tenth round as Usyk finally hurt him when he attacked to the body aggressively. But then he made the mistake of going back upstairs for the kill and Hunter weathered the storm up top as Usyk went for the knockout with a wall of gloves falling on Hunter. It's actually amazing he has made it through this! And it was the same in the twelfth and final round as Usyk finally hurt Hunter and unloaded everything he had left in the tank - scoring a knockdown due to Hunter being held up by the ropes at one point. It looked like it was surely the end of the fight but the referee let the fight continue and despite Usyk throwing what seemed like 200 punches in the round Hunter made it through the round and the fight. It is actually somewhat amazing he made it through this one. Usyk would win the wide UD.
Next up was Oleksandr Gvozdyk (12-0, 10KO's) vs Yunieski Gonzalez (18-2, 14KO's). Harvey Dock was the referee. In the first round Gvozdyk was of course looking to keep his range and get his punches off while Gonzalez was bombs away - not literally just yet but you can see the power in his swings. Gvozdyk took the power of Gonzalez well in the first round but he has not taken it flush just yet. In the second round Gvozdyk widened the gap by throwing very fast and very straight punches that were landing clean and flush. Gonzalez was very frustrated, even shaking his head at the end of the round to show the frustration in not being able to do anything against the pure boxer in front of him. In the third round Gvozdyk's sharp shooting was too straight, too quick, and too hard as Gonzalez walked right into his shots and was hurt and dropped before the fight was mercifully stopped. Dock let this one go a bit too long in my opinion, with Gonzalez barely able to walk before it was finally stopped. Amazing showing by Gvozdyk tonight - he may even steal the show depending on what Hi-Tech does.
Main event time featuring Vasyl "Hi-Tech" Lomachenko (7-1, 5KO's) vs Jason Sosa (20-1-4, 15KO's). Kenneth Chevalier was the referee. The first round was pretty quiet overall, with Lomachenko establishing his great footwork while he was moving around the ring and likely figuring out angles on Sosa, who was trying to punish Lomachenko whenever he was in range. By the end of the second round Lomachenko was really getting his offense going; landing punches in bunches and excellent combinations while always staying in proper range and distance. Lomachenko got the engine going more and more and got his footwork really going in the fourth round. It was starting to look more and more like the Walters fight actually as he is taking the fight away from Sosa and starting to hurt him and take his will away. Lomachenko started to showboat against Sosa more - holding out a cape as if he is the matador while also throwing fake punches to emulate the sometimes looping shots of Sosa. Sosa is not giving up though, and while being hurt to the body and eventually to the head in the sixth round as Sosa's face started to get disfigured a bit as well with his left eye closing and face turning red. Lomachenko was just destroying Sosa, pulling his gloves down in the eighth round to punish him further and even gesturing at the end of the eighth round that the body shot he landed had to hurt. Ownage. The fight was eventually stopped at the end of the ninth round, with Sosa obviously out of the fight after being hurt further in the round. Another brilliant performance by Lomachenko here but I still feel that everyone is going overboard with the guy. Example: Jim Lampley saying "You can be born Muhammad Ali or Roy Jones Jr. but..." and Max Kellerman basically saying Lomachenko is better than Willie Pep. Also some revisionist history on Gary Russell Jr winning "only a round or two" but it was a majority decision that plenty of people I have talked to had a fairly close fight and not some wipeout they chalked it up as numerous times. It's just getting.....lets say heavy, with the hype. Great win though no doubt.