By Sam Geraci at ringside
In the main event of Sammy Merza and Heavy Hitters Promotions International Rumble III, “King” David Estrada (26-6, 16 KOs) of Chicago, IL, made his return to the ring after a two-year absence to score a hard-fought unanimous decision over a game Rahman Mustafa Yusubov (9-10, 7 KOs) of Dallas, TX. Scores were 60-54 and 59-55 (twice).
For the first thirty seconds of the bout, Estrada came out behind his jab and was looked to follow it with his straight right, which he often overshot throughout the night. Toward the one-minute mark, Estrada landed a three-punch combination to the body followed by a right hand upstairs that shook Yusubov. Estrada continued to control the action with his jab and by stepping back as Yusubov plotted forward in order to create space so that he could lunge forward with power shots, lead rights or lunging left hooks to the body. Although Estrada was overshooting his right hand and coming up short with his left hook, overall, the first was a dominant round, especially after such a long layoff.
To start the second, Estrada charged towards Yusubov’s corner and attempted to flurry. Shortly after, however, Estrada’s aggression was returned with a lead overhand right that buckled Estrada’s knees and forced him back to his corner as the blood streamed from his nose. Estrada regained control shortly after with a solid counter left hook. Near the two-minute mark, with the round still on the line, Estrada feinted brilliantly to set up a crisp lead right followed by a short left hook that nearly sent Yusubov through the ropes. Estrada’s ability to time Yusubov in order to score with his lead right was the difference throughout the second. As the round came to a close, Estrada flurried as Yusubov was forced to hold in order to survive. After the round, many at ringside believed Estrada had finally woken up and had begun to fight his kind of fight: a brawl.
To start the third, Estrada was caught with a crisp lead right that appeared to shake him, but he managed to take control of the action seconds later by smothering Yusubov’s shots whenever he scored with his lead left hook. Midway through the round, Estrada began to breathe heavily through his mouth but still managed to outwork and outmuscle Yusubov, who was simply too inactive throughout the round to be given much credit. With about thirty seconds remaining in a round in which neither fighter did much, Estrada scored big with a left hook followed by a straight right hand but was then caught with a solid counter right as he missed wildly with a left hook.
For the first minute of the fourth, Estrada attempted to preserve himself by using his superior footwork to create space in order to set up his counter lead right, which he began to land with greater precision as the bout progressed. Although Estrada began to add body combinations to his attack and dominated the fourth, Yusubov appeared to be growing in confidence as the round came to a close because he was still standing and because Estrada looked spent.
Estrada attempted to start the fifth with his footwork as he had done in the fourth, but in the fifth, Estrada’s lack of conditioning had become apparent as Yusubov backed him into a neutral corner and scored with several wide shots to the chest and stomach. Despite the fatigue, Estrada was able to turn Yusubov throughout the first half of the fifth in order to create the distance needed to continue landing his lead rights, which began to provide opportunities to follow with his left hook. With ten seconds remaining, Estrada caught Yusubov with a terrific lead left hook followed by a right and several thudding body shots that sent Yusubov flailing from the red corner to the neutral corner and then back to the red corner. Estrada was close to scoring a stoppage as the bell sounded.
In the final round, Estrada came out looking for the knockout and landed a solid 1-2 but was unable to cause any damage with it. Estrada continued to punch with what vitality he had left but was unable to stop Yusubov, who had shown a true journeyman’s grit and professionalism throughout the bout. After the first minute, Estrada seemed to acknowledge that he was not going to score the stoppage and simply backpedaled for the remainder of the round to avoid any exchanges. Neither fighter did much in the final round, but Yusubov was the aggressor and probably did enough to deserve the nod.
After the bout, Estrada, as always, was honest in his assessment of his performance.
“It felt good to be back in the ring, but I was rusty. You know, it’s been almost three years, so I’d like a fight or two before I step up to fight the fighters that I belong in there with,” Estrada added, “Yusubov does deserve credit because he’s got some tricky movement. I’m going to be back in the gym on Monday, and I’m looking to fight again in June. I’m back.
Mousaoui vs. Ankrah
In the co-main event, welterweight “Prince” Ahmed El Mousaoui (16-1-1, 4 KOs) of Paris, France, used his height, hand speed and superior movement to outbox veteran Ben Ankrah (17-14, 8 KOs) of Accra, Ghana, to a unanimous decision. Scores were 79-73 and 80-72 (twice).
Throughout the bout, Mousaoui used his height and movement to create distance in order to land his jab and left hooks to the body and head in order to outwork his smaller and lighter-fisted opponent, Ankrah. Having said that, Ankrah showed great heart and a good ability in cutting off the ring in order to pin Mousaoui against the ropes. When against the ropes, however, Mousaoui was able to slip Ankrah’s shots and was the only fighter capable of getting off. Although he was unable to hurt Ankrah or slow him from coming forward, Mousaoui controlled every round except for the eighth, which he appeared to take off.
Arambula vs. Coverson
Twenty-year-old junior welterweight, Jose “Chico” Arambula (4-0, 2 KOs) of Harvey, IL, continued to add to his large fan-base by outclassing and flooring a usually gritty Greg Coverson, Jr. (3-6, 2 KOs) of Detroit, MI, to score a unanimous decision with three scores of 40-34.
Arambula pounded Coverson, Jr. to the body in each round and showcased solid punching power in his right hand by flooring Coverson, Jr. in the first and second with right hooks.
In each of his bouts, Arambula has shown consistent improvement in his defense and composure. Under the tutelage of Chicago trainer, Sam Colonna, and the management and watchful eye of his mother, Dannie Arambula, Arambula appears to have the support structures needed to excel in the ring.
Sharpe vs. Linenfelser
Welterweight Kelin Sharpe (1-0, 1 KO) made his pro debut by scoring at TKO of Anthony Linenfelser (3-5, 3 KOs) of Rockford, IL, at 2:59 of the first round. Sharpe scored two knockdowns before Linenfelser decided that the size difference was too much.
Diaz vs. Sharp
Lightweight David Diaz (2-0, 2 KOs) of Chicago, IL, overwhelmed Jim Sharp (0-4) of Gary, IN, to score a TKO at 1:23 of the second round.
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After the event, Sammy Merza expressed his satisfaction with International Rumble III and the future of Sammy Merza and Heavy Hitter Promotions.
“It was a great night of fights and we are thankful for all of the support from the fans. Today was just a glimpse of what we are going to do in June in the Rosemont Area. Fans can expect to see one helluva event in June with ‘King’ David Estrada, Gregory Soszynski, and Ahmed El Mousaoui.”