SAN DIEGO, August 2, 2014 – Sergey Kovalev got the victory he needed, Brandon Rios got a victory he didn’t want, and Jessie Vargas got a victory he barely earned Saturday night.
The good: Sergey Kovalev was as good as his nickname, handed Australian Blake Caparello (19-1-1, 6 KOs) his first defeat with a crushing second round TKO after knocking Caparello down for the third time in the round.
Caparello seemed to start strong, scoring a knockdown in the first round. But on the replay, Caparello had stepped on Kovalev’s foot.
No matter, it merely served as a slight speed bump on Kovalev’s way to mowing down Caparello. The first knockdown did the damage, a body shot Caparello could never really recover from.
The post-fight interview for Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev was longer than the actual bout, and more entertaining. Joining Kovalev and HBO’s Max Kellerman ringside was Kovalev’s next opponent, Bernard Hopkins. This is the fight everyone was thinking about Saturday night.
Hopkins will fight Kovalev just a few months shy of his 50th birthday. “I always ran to the fire, not away from the fire, that’s my personality,” said Hopkins. “I get to show at this stage something that you could never imagine…So pay attention, don’t get sick that night.”
Kovalev laughed, saying “If he’s alien, he needs to live on a different planet… You know, I’m not going to knock him out. I’m going to the ring for boxing. If it happens, good, but it’s not my goal… I’m going to be a new alien, a new record holder.” The fight will take place on November 8, either in Atlantic City or at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Let’s go straight to the ugly. Brandon Rios (32-2-1, 23 KOs) won in his return to the ring against Diego Chaves of Argentina (23-2, 19 KOs), but not in a way that satisfied anybody.
The fight was stopped by referee Vic Drakulich when he disqualified Chaves after repeated fouls at 1:26 of the ninth round. Chaves shook his head in disbelief; Rios erupted in anger at not being able to finish the fight.
It was every bit the brawling fight in a phone booth everyone expected. It started fast and tough, got messy, grew nasty, and became frustrating. Chaves clinched and held throughout the fight. Drakulich took a point from Chaves for holding in the third round, and against in the eighth round. He also took a point from Rios in the fifth round.
Rios gets the win by DQ, but he had something to prove and didn’t get that chance. The fight was close on the scorecards. All three judges had it 75-74, two for Chaves and one for Rios. Rios wouldn’t come to the center of the ring and wouldn’t let referee Drakulich raise his hand.
After the bout, the Nevada State Athletic Commission said the referee tried to control the fight by deducting points. Neither fighter respected his authority. The forearm to Rios’ forehead is what disqualified Chaves, according to the Commission.
After the bout, Rios told HBO’s Jim Lampley that Chaves was putting his finger in Rios’s eye as he was holding. “He kept (deleted) grabbing my eye. He put me in a headlock, that’s not right.
“It just not the way I wanted to win I wanted to show everyone I was back. Come on, if you want to fight, let’s fight. Don’t fight dirty. I’m happy the way I performed, but I’m not happy the way it went. I wanted to do more. He was a dirty ugly fighter,” said Rios.
Chaves said, “He was in a headlock, my hand was just there. It was a dirty fight. Truthfully they think he’s a big shot, a good guy. But I was teaching him. It was unjustified the way I was disqualified. I was hitting him comfortable whenever I wanted to.” Chaves said he wants a rematch with Rios.
Rios did not appear at the post-fight presser. Top Rank said Rios was taken to a local hospital due to an eye injury and possibly a separated shoulder or broken collarbone, which may have occurred when the fighters clinched and fell onto the canvas together.
As for the bad, Jessie Vargas (25-0, 9 KOs) won a lopsided unanimous decision on the scorecards over Anton Novikov of Russia (29-1, 10 KOs), retaining his WBO title belt. But it didn’t appear anywhere near that lopsided to observers. Vargas started off sharply, but tired as the fight went on. Novikov landed 27 percent of his punches to 24 percent for Vargas, 223 of 812 punches against 191 of 783 punches.
Novikov landed a much greater percentage of body shots. Judges don’t always see or value body work, and it seemed the case for Novikov. Vargas lives and trains in Las Vegas and he has a home town advantage to boot. Vargas won, but didn’t impress.
The undisputed winner of the night was The Cosmopolitan at Las Vegas hotel, which hosted boxing for the first time in its theater called The Chelsea. Two thousand fans enjoyed the luxe new venue and it was a knockout on camera.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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