By Boxing Bob Newman at ringside
Photos: Andy Newman
Brian Vera headlined his second straight ESPN2 Friday Night Fights, this time on “regular” ESPN against game, but fragile-faced Donatas Bondorovas, in defense of his WBO/NABO middleweight title. The bout was not without risk for Vera, who’s WBO #1 ranking was on the line. Vera took a tougher-than-expected TKO between rounds seven and eight as Bondarovas’ face couldn’t match his will to win, prompting the stoppage in his corner between rounds.
Lithuanian native, Chicago resident Bondorovas, who prefers to have his surname shortened to “Bondas” when announced in the ring, came into this fight with a huge liability- a horrible scar across the bridge of his nose. Vera wasted no time in targeting the damaged tissue with his jab and right cross in round one. By round two, the scar turned into a cut and fresh blood began to drip from it. “Bondas” hung tough though and seemed to get the crowd on his side at the end of round three. In round four however, Vera sprung a small leak around his left eye, the same optic that was cut in his last ring appearance against former WBO Jr. Middleweight champ Serhiy Dzinziruk two months ago. At the same time, referee Charlie Fitch kept a close eye on Bondas’ worsening nose, which was now dripping blood into his own mouth. In round six, Bondas suffered cut along his left eye, which also bothered him as he periodically shook his head. Late in the round, referee Fitch called time to have the ringside doctor to examine Bondas’ worsening face. Deemed fit to continue, Bondas seemed energized, and finished the last moments of the round with a vengeance. The seventh was to be Bondas’ last hurrah. Again the fans rallied to his cause with cheers, whenever he flurried to Vera’s head. After the end of round seven, the ringside physician recommended to referee Fitch to stop the bout as Bondas’ cuts were deemed too severe to continue. Scoring at the time of the stoppage was as follows: Don Ackerman and John Mackey had it 67-66 for Vera, while Glenn Feldman had it one round wider at 68-65, also for Vera.
It would seem fool hardy for Bondas to continue his ring career given his penchant for taking punches and the damaged nose. While Bondas’ corner argued that their fighter couldn’t understand English, Fitch countered that the fighter clearly told him that he couldn’t see, prompting the doctor intervention and eventual stoppage. For Vera, a possible title shot against WBO champ Peter Quillin or a big money match against Chavez Jr. is still alive.
The post fight press conference was lively as Bondas’ promoter Bobby Hitz maintained the “can’t speak English” argument in his charges’ favor. Hitz demanded a rematch in Chicago, from Vera’s promoter Artie Pelullo, who scoffed at the idea. Vera for his part said he’ll fight anybody, but cited the fact that his face was unmarked, versus Bondas’ tattered flesh.
Recent Banner Promotions signee, 2011 amateur world champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Taras Selestyuk, made his pro debut to open the ESPN telecast. His foe was fellow debutant Kamal “#13” Mahummad of New York, New York. Selestyuk took no time in making “#13” his “#1” pro victim, dismantling Mahummad in efficient style. Mahummad took a delayed knee after a series of thudding head shots buzzed him. A follow-up flurry sent Mahummad into a heap in Selestyuk’s corner, prompting referee Dick Pakozdi to stop the onslaught at 1:39 of the opening stanza. Selestyuk starts things off right at 1-0, 1KO, while Mahummad doesn’t, limping into the paid ranks at 0-1.
The WBO Latino light heavyweight title belt was on the line as champion Jackson “Demolidor” Junior Dos Santos, Sao Paolo, Brazil, defended against Miami-based Cuban, Umberto “El Don” Savigne. With a combined 24 wins, 1 loss and 19 knockouts between them, this one promised to be a slam-bang thriller. The opening round was tentative, drawing cat calls from the fans, expecting bombs away. Savigne, perhaps wary of his lone loss via TKO2 three years ago, only pawed his jab, and moved away from the cocked right hand of Junior Dos Santos. In round two, Savigne landed a nice counter right to Dos Santos’ cabeza, stunning the Brazilian. Perhaps sensing an opening, Savigne forged ahead, catching Dos Santos with a series of unanswered blows, sending his foe to the deck in the neutral corner. With only seconds to go, Dos Santos survived further punishment. Rather than let it all hang out, Savigne carefully stalked his foe in the third, as if knowing sooner or later, his time would come. Dos Santos was brave, and fought his way back at the end of the round. A straight right to the chin put Dos Santos on the seat of his pants in the opposite neutral corner in the first minute of the fourth. Less than a minute later, a ferocious combination sent Dos Santos floundering around on rubber legs, finally collapsing to the canvas in the first neutral corner where he previously flopped. Another brutal knockdown seconds later along the ropes and referee Mark Nelson waved it off at 2:17 of round four. The victory allowed Savigne to snatch the WBO Latino strap away from Dos Santos, while improving his record to 11-1, 8 KOs. It’s back to the drawing board for “el Demolidor,” who was demolished himself to 14-1, 12 KOs. “Irish” Micky Ward worked Savigne’s corner a mingled with fans after his charge’s victory.
Due to the early K.O., air time was afforded to a swing bout featuring Antoine “Action” Douglas of Washington, D.C. and John “Bullet Proof” Worthy, Los Angeles, CA in a scheduled four round middleweight clash. Douglas was familiar to Turning Stone boxing fans as he plied his trade here in his last bout, also on Brian Vera’s ESPN undercard, winning a UD4 over Emmanuel Medina. The slick Douglas looked to prove his opponent was not “Worthy” of being in the ring with him, but seemed to become frustrated at “Bullet Proof’s” durability. In the second, Douglas resorted to throwing single shots, scoring, but not deterring Worthy. If nothing else, Worthy was at least “knockdown proof” against Douglas, lasting the distance. All three judges scored the bout 40-36 for Douglas, who wins his second straight decision in moving to 5-0, 3 KOs. Worthy slumps to 3-6, 1 KO.
Lavais “Red” Williams and Calvin “50 Cal.” Pritchard opened the off-TV portion of the night in a scheduled four round welterweight clash. Williams just turned pro one week ago up the Thruway in Rochester with a KO1 over Jeremy Graves. This night’s work wouldn’t be as easy however. Pritchard proved that while he had a losing record, his ring experience had immeasurable value, frustrating Williams with his endurance and craftiness. Judge Glenn Feldman tabbed it 39-37 for Williams, while judges Don Ackerman and Wynn Kintz both saw it 38-38, to the dismay of the pro-Williams crowd. Williams suffers his first blemish at 1-0-1, 1 KO, while Pritchard goes to 2-6-3, 2 KOs.
Local favorite Ryon “Big Youth” McKenzie, out of Canastota, New York by way of Nassau, Bahamas took on Albany’s Steven Tyner in a light heavyweight scrap slated for six. McKenzie looked to stalk in the first, then opted for deliver his vaunted power via the counter punching method in the second. It worked as he caught Tyner off the ropes with a chopping right that staggered his foe. Sensing the end could be near, “Big Youth” delivered a measured flurry of punches, but Tyner weathered the storm. Things were even in the third. McKenzie regained control in the fourth with a steady jab and a healthy diet of right hooks mixed to the body and head of Tyner, who never stopped coming forward. The fifth drew cheers from the crowd as McKenzie opened up, at times recklessly, leaving himself vulnerable to Tyner’s well placed counters. The final round continued as McKenzie dictated the pace and cruised to a unanimous 60-54 victory. “Big Youth’s” record now stands at 14-0, 11 KOs, while Tyner plummets to 3-10-2, 2 KOs.
Evgenii “Happy Gilmore” Chuprakov, out of Ekaterinberg, Russia took on Cincinnati’s Micah “Real Deal” Branch in a scheduled four round Jr. lightweight slugfest. Chuprakov seemed to have a little bit more in both the power and frequency departments over Branch. Chuprakov however did keep things interesting by eating just enough hard right hands from Branch in wild flurries. In the end, all three judges saw it the same, 40-36 for the still “Happy” Chuprakov, now 5-0, 2 KOs. Branch slips to 1-4-1.
Recent WBO welterweight title challenger Ruslan Provodnikov took to center ring just before air time to acknowledge the fans in attendance. Provodnikov took time to talk with Fightnews.com in an interview which will appear here soon.