Kovalev vs. Ward Pay-Per-View Undercard Results
At 5’11” tall and an immense reach, Hooker is a difficult fighter for any junior welterweight to deal with…
Curtis “Cerebral Assassin” Stevens (29-5, 21 KOs) vs. “King” James De La Rosa (23-5, 13 KOs)
LAS VEGAS, Nevada—In the 10-round middleweight fight, De La Rosa started out boxing, with Stevens stalking. Both fighters kept their jabs busy,and about a minute into the first round, Stevens caught the ever-moving De La Rosa with a blistering power shot that clearly hurt him. With 23 seconds left in the round, Stevens dropped him with a clean body shot. De La Rosa was simply unable to keep Stevens off of him or command the respect necessary for Stevens to think twice about stalking his way inside. To make things worse for him, De La Rosa also suffered a cut over his left eye.
Stevens seemed less sure of himself in round 2 and was more tentative. But when round 3 began, Stevens threw all bombs, clearly hurting De La Rosa with nearly every shot, upstairs or downstairs. De La Rosa seemed tired, because he had stopped using his feet and spent more time toe-to-toe with the puncher Stevens. De La Rosa’s punch output was impressive, but still took too many clean and obviously shaking shots to give him the round.
In round 4 De La Rosa backed Stevens into a corner, and his greater punch output seemed to make him the slightly more effective fighter during the round. Stevens displayed some real patience during the middle rounds, taking his time and seeming to focus on his fundamentals including solid defense, one-twos, and good foot placement. But in round 6, that patience got him into a bit of trouble when he took several clean shots to the face and didn’t have an answer for them. He began to look more tired and ineffective. De La Rosa stuck his jab out and simply out-threw and out-boxed Stevens for much of the middle rounds.
In round 8, Stevens got busier and, with De La Rosa on the ropes, threw repeated hard shots to the body, a couple of them borderline low. A bit later he landed a legitimate low blow to De La Rosa’s left hip, and referee Russell Mora deducted a point. It was too early for a point deduction, as Stevens had only landed the one actual blow south of the belt line. Mora inserted himself into the fight unnecessarily, which is truly unfortunate in as close a fight on the scorecards as this one was.
In the final round, De La Rosa’s higher punch output continued. Stevens did land a few nice clean shots that caught the crowd’s interest, but was overall the less effective fighter as he followed De La Rosa around the ring, seemingly looking for one punch to end the fight. When he would get in too close, De La Rosa effectively tied him up.
Stevens displayed some improved fundamentals in the fight, when he didn’t seem fatigued—this was perhaps thanks to his new trainer John David Jackson (also Sergey Kovalev’s trainer). After the knockdown in round 1 that clearly hurt him, De La Rosa should be given all credit for not only getting up and continuing, but winning a relatively close fight on my scorecard with his effective boxing. But the judges saw it differently and scored the fight unanimously for Stevens.
Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk (12-0, 10 KOs) vs. Isaac “Golden Boy” Chilemba (24-5-2, 10 KOs)
With his new trainer Roy Jones Jr. in his corner, Isaac Chilemba came into this fight intending to break the unbeaten streak of the up-and-coming Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
In the early rounds, Chilemba displayed excellent movement and, while the first round was close, he seemed to be more in control of the ring, and kept his jab out there, dodging most of Gvozdyk’s shots. Gvozdyk seemed to get a bit more frustrated as the early rounds progressed, and perhaps because of Chilemba’s regular jab or his tricky movement, seemed hesitant to throw meaningful shots. His inexperience at the pro level began to show itself as the rounds progressed, and Chilemba helped move Gvozdyk’s tentativeness along by alternating the types of shots he threw very well.
In round 4, Gvozdyk was able to trap Chilemba on the ropes and hurt him a bit with a flurry of shots, some of which were blocked, but as they parted, Chilemba nodded at his opponent in seeming respect. Finally, Gvozdyk won a round on my scorecard.
Chilemba went back to out-boxing Gvozdyk in rounds 5 and 6, slipping most of the shots coming at him and out-maneuvering his opponent. In round 6, Gvozdyk clearly landed a right hook to the back of Chilemba’s head and referee Jay Nady said nothing.
As the rounds progressed, Gvozdyk got a bit better at cutting the distance and found Chilemba a bit more often. While Chilemba did an excellent job of gauging distance and landed some clearly hard shots on his opponent, his nose was clearly damaged in the later rounds and he seemed more sluggish. Then in round 8, Roy Jones called an end to the fight for his fighter, as Chilemba’s right arm was hurt early in the fight. Chilemba said later that he was in an incredible amount of pain from the third round through the rest of the fight.
Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker (21-0-2, 16 KOs) vs. Darleys Perez (33-2-1, 21 KOs)
At 5’11” tall and an immense reach, Hooker is a difficult fighter for any junior welterweight to deal with. He established solid boxing fundamentals in round 1, reaching out with his jab and establishing his preferred distance. Despite Perez’s superior professional experience, Perez had a difficult time finding his way inside Hooker’s long reach.
Hooker boxed well off the back foot in the early rounds, though at times his balance was off. But with his solid fundamentals, Perez was not able to get close enough to make Hooker pay for the balance issue. Now and then Perez’s experience shined through, though, and he was able to slip a shot of Hooker’s and counter him with a good body shot—a good punch choice for such a tall fighter.
In round 4, Perez knocked Hooker down but referee Kenny Bayless ruled it a slip. Hooker seemed much more cautious after that, and in round 5 came out clearly trying to land a straight right hand, his money shot, on Perez. But Perez displayed some slick defensive slips and looked like the more experienced fighter, making Hooker miss with his big power shots fairly often and letting Hooker come to him a bit more rather than trying to battle his reach.
In round 6 during a bit of an inside scuffle, Hooker threw a punch on the break, and received a warning for it. As the rounds passed, Perez would clap his gloves together when Hooker landed a shot on him and urge him forward.
The fight was close, but Perez was generally first with his shots, with Hooker trying to play catch-up.
But then, in the final round, Hooker landed a hard right that looked like it may have stunned Perez a bit. Then, with a minute remaining, Hooker landed what looked like a glancing right hand on the top of Perez’s head that buckled his knees.
It looked like a close win for Perez, but in the end the judges scored it a draw.
Follow Caryn A. Tate on Twitter@carynatate