By Phil Doherty at ringside
Photos by Lisa Ross
Russian-born Denis “The Pirate” Grachev (9-0-1, 5 KOs) plundered the unbeaten record of Azea Augustama (9-1, 6 KOs) on Friday night in their light heavyweight main event at the Magic City Casino in Miami, Florida. Grachev scored an eight round majority decision.
In a fight that started extremely cautiously for both men, it was clear the two fighters knew little, if anything of each other’s styles. The San-Diego-based Grachev ratcheted up the pressure beginning in the second round; although the handspeed advantage belonged to Augustama. Stylistically, Augustama seemed to employ an overly cautious strategy as he pot-shotted Grachev with right uppercuts and left hooks while Grachev came forward.
The third round saw Grachev breathing heavily as the pace started to increase. The Russian martial-arts instructor was not deterred by the pace or the punches coming at him. Augustama picked his spots working rights to the body to try and stem the Russian’s advance. In the fourth round, Augustama utilized a shoulder roll defense and moved along the ropes allowing Grachev to continue pressing the action. The sixth round was marred by two incidental low blows from Grachev; who received a warning from referee Frank Santore Jr. Augustama took approximately two of the allotted five minutes to recuperate. He immediately came out firing in the most heated action of the fight as he launched combinations to the body and head of Grachev. However, the judges saw it as too little too late and scored it 78-74, 77-75 and 76-76.
Augustama understandably took his first defeat hard but plans to utilize the experience to improve his strategy for future fights. His skills and his future remain bright. It remains to be seen how he deals with this pivotal experience.
In undercard action, local junior-welterweight Xavier “X-Factor” Burgos (7-1, 2 KOs) scored a unanimous decision victory over Puerto Rican Ray Betancourt (8-6, 3 KOs). Burgos stuck to his plan of chipping away the incoming and determined Betancourt with straight lefts and counter rights. The two accidentally clashed heads to start the second round; which opened a cut over Betancourt’s right eye. However, Betancourt scored with straight rights of his own to keep the pressure on “X-Factor”. Burgos seemed somewhat concerned by the fifth round and leaned on his boxing skills to carry him to victory in the six-round affair. Judges scores were 60-54 (twice) and 59-55.
Cuban heavyweight Glendy Hernandez (4-0, 2 KOs) scored his second-consecutive knockout victory by stopping Alberto Jimenez (5-3, 5 KOs). Hernandez fired a right hand to catch Jimenez behind the left ear to plant him on the canvas. Jimenez rose as referee Frank Santore Jr. counted eight but seemed very unsteady and the stoppage became official at 1:35 of the first round.
Fellow Cuban countryman: cruiserweight Yunieski Gonzalez (2-0, 2 KOs) earned his second professional victory tonight with a second-round knockout of Texan Kentrell Claiborne (2-1, 1 KO). Gonzalez fired furious barrages concluding with a left hook to send Claiborne down at 1:50 of the second round. Gonzalez’s ability to turn up the punishment at will with impressive technique clearly demonstrates why it’s difficult to locate quality, willing opposition for him.
The first two fights on the undercard were bloody affairs due to head clashes. In the first bout of the evening, lightweight Angel Albelo (3-3-1, 2 KOs) earned a hard-fought unanimous decision against Larry Yanez (0-2). The fight started with an immediate clash of heads that caused a gushing cut above Albelo’s hairline. Exciting back and forth exchanges ensued as Albelo started to find a home for his overhand right. The southpaw Albelo switched to an orthodox stance and landed 3 successive rights in the fourth round that floored Yanez. The game Yanez regained his feet as blood gushed from his left nostril and his left eye rapidly closed. Albelo could not finish him off but judges awarded him the decision by margins of 40-35, 39-36 and 40-36. The second bout pitting welterweights Wilson Feliciano (2-0, 2 KOs) and Jose Torres (1-2) also began with an accidental clash of heads. The contact opened a gaping cut over Feliciano’s left cheek but he steadily applied pressure firing right uppercuts and left hooks. Torres gamely responded throughout with uppercuts and straight rights himself. However, by the third round, Feliciano’s shots started to break Torres down. A blistering right hand put Torres out on his feet along the ropes. Although the tough-as-nails Torres would have continued if allowed, referee Frank Santore Jr. wisely halted the abuse at 2:10 of the round.
This was the third installment of Pugilistic Promotions’ Badia Spices Friday Night Fight series at the casino and the quality of the matchups continues to improve and impress. Noted celebrities in attendance included “The Fight Doctor” Ferdie Pacheco and fellow Florida Boxing Hall-of Famer Frankie Otero.
Other Florida Boxing Hall of Fame inductees included promoter Ramiro Ortiz and Tommy Torino. The entire class of 2011 will receive formal announcement Saturday at the grand re-opening of the SJC Boxing Gym in Ft Myers this weekend.