Crushing Kovalev Performance Highlights
All Action Fight Night at The Garden!
(March 3rd) Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) of Russia delivered another trademark crushing performance with a seventh round stoppage of Igor Mikhalkin (21-2, 9 KOs) of Russia at The Theater at Madison Square Garden to retain his WBO World Light Heavyweight Championship.
Despite their friendship, there was no love lost between Russian countrymen as Kovalev made Mikhalkin feel the heat from the opening bell. Through the first six rounds, Kovalev out landed Mikhalkin 145 to 25 punches, according to CompuBox.
Nevertheless, Mikhalkin is a world champion, and stayed in Kovalev's face. A cut opened below Mikhalkin's right eye, and as Kovalev continued to punish him, referee Steve Willis stepped in to have the ringside physician examine Mikhalkin. He determined Mikhalkin could not continue, delivering a TKO victory to Kovalev at 2:25 of the seventh round.
"It was better work for sure than the last fight," said Kovalev of his win over Mikhalkin. "This might maybe have looked easy, but it definitely was not. He doesn't hit the hardest, but I could feel his punches and he has a lot of movement and he is a great boxer."
Asked about what's coming next, Kovalev said "I'm always ready for a big money fight ... I read on the internet that the Badou Jack fight would be a big fight - if he beats (Adonis) Stevenson." As to the potential of a third fight with the now retired Andre Ward, Kovalev said, "I don't think about this right now. I want to fight the fights that the fans want to see. For you, for myself, because I love boxing."
In the exciting co-feature, WBA Light Heavyweight Champion Dmitry Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs) of Russia battled Sullivan Barrera (21-2, 14 KOs) of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba down to the final round before scoring a TKO victory at 1:41 of the twelfth.
Bivol found a home for his powerful right hand at several points throughout the bout, but the resilient and dangerous veteran fighter Barrera stayed competitive until the moment he could not continue. At the time of the stoppage, all three judges' scorecards were overwhelmingly in favor of Bivol.
"He was a really great opponent," said Bivol. "Sullivan Barrera showed me a lot of things tonight I need to work on when I go back to the gym. So thank you, Sullivan, for that."
Bivol said he held some of his effort in reserve until he felt confident. "As a matter of fact for the first few rounds, I was a little bit reserved while planning the rest of the fight. I was thinking how much I needed to go the rest of the fight. But by the 12th round, I knew I could knock him out. I stepped on the gas, and the knockout came."
As to his future, "I've got the goods to be the best light heavyweight in the world, but I've got a lot of work to do to be the best in the division. I have to fight the best in the division and prove I'm the best," said Bivol. As to who it might be, Bivol said, "You can be the best only when you fight the best. I'm not going to attack anybody. I have a belt, whoever wants it can come and get it."
Vaughn "Da Animal" Alexander (12-0, 8 KOs) of St. Louis, Missouri remained undefeated in his second appearance at Madison Square Garden, 14 years after his original 2004 victory. Alexander won a ten-round unanimous decision over a tough as nails Devaun Lee (10-3-1, 5 KOs) of Brooklyn, New York, who took the fight on barely two days' notice.
The tough middleweights traded to the body from early in the bout. Alexander snapped Lee's head with shots, but due credit to the local favorite for hanging tough. "It was good to put in the rounds. I got the victory, I'm looking forward to fighting again."
The 32-year-old Alexander picked up his career where he left off after serving an 11-year prison sentence. "It was good to be here as a more mature, experienced fighter."
Brooklyn's own Frank "Notorious" Galarza (19-2-2, 11 KOs) battled a determined Norberto Gonzalez (24-11, 14 KOs) of Monterrey, Mexico in an eight-round junior middleweight contest. The local hero delivered a unanimous decision victory by scores of 80-72, 79-73, and 78-74.
Galarza, 32, traded shots with Gonzalez, but was in control of the action and directed the path of the fight throughout as his devoted fans cheered him on. The veteran Mexican, 36, took the fight on short notice and acquitted himself well with his effort.
"We knew we would get the rounds in. We knew he was a counterpuncher, so we utilized that," said Galarza. "I was able to show my ability, my boxing ability, my ring intellect, being smart in the ring. Compared to my last fight, overall we brought a lot more to the table."
Galarza thanked all the fans who came to The Garden to see him.
"I love my fans, they always come and support, that's the beauty of it. Ain't no better place to be, Madison Square Garden, that's where all the classics are, all the greats."
Bakhram Murtazaliev (12-0, 10 KOs) of Grozny, Russia extended his knockout streak to eight, stopping Kenneth McNeil (11-4, 8 KOs) of Birmingham, Alabama, in the first defense of the IBA Super Welterweight World Title he won at The Garden in November. Murtazaliev let out a roar of satisfaction as referee Danny Schiavone halted the contest at 1:08 of the fifth round.
"I imagined the fight would go a little bit differently," said Murtazaliev. "My opponent didn't fight, he was running all around, always running. With an opponent like this, it's super hard to fight." Trainer Abror Tursunpulatov had confidence his fighter would prevail. "We knew Bakhram was going to win by KO or TKO in the last rounds."
"For all my team, Egis (Klimas), for Kathy Duva, for all the team, they helped me a lot. My goal is to make you happy, every fight," added Murtazaliev.
McNeil had never been stopped before, giving Murtazaliev, 25, the most significant test of his career to date. It was the Russian's third fight under both the Krusher Promotions and Main Events banners.
Meiirim "The Sultan" Nursultanov (6-0, 5 KOs) worked hard to stop a tough Alejandro Torres (9-4-2, 4 KOs) of Monterrey, Mexico at 1:55 of the sixth round in front of a robust cheering section at The Garden of his enthusiastic Kazakh fans. He has now stopped his last four opponents.
"The Mexican offense is very different style, this Mexican Style for me," said Nursultanov of Torres. "My training camp was very good, I sparred many different guys" in preparation for Torres.
Cassius Chaney (12-0, 6 KOs) of Baltimore delivered the big heavyweight show he promised, stopping Tim Washington (6-6, 6 KOs) of Toledo, Ohio at 1:28 of the second round to remain undefeated.
"It was a good fight, he's a big strong guy," said Chaney. "I did what I had to do to win. I'm happy that Main Events allowed me to fight here at MSG and I'm glad I put on a show. I trained hard and I'm ready to get back in the ring." Roy Jones, Junior congratulated Chaney backstage on his win.
Chaney, 30, the former standout NCAA basketball player at the University of New Haven, is working with new trainer Calvin Ford, the inspiration for the character "Cutty" in the popular TV series "The Wire."
After going to the scorecards due to an accidental headbutt after five rounds, Alexey Evchenko (16-10-1, 6 KOs) of Chelyabinsk, Russia won his American debut in a unanimous decision over Khiary Gray-Pitts (15-4, 11 KOs) of Worcester, Massachusetts in what was a scheduled eight-round welterweight fight. All scorecards read 48-47 at the time of the stoppage.
Evchenko, 34, made a solid introduction to American fans with his seventh straight victory.
Middleweight Leshawn "Lightning" Rodriguez (9-0, 7 KOs) remained undefeated, winning by unanimous decision over Martez Jackson (4-3-2, 2 KOs) in six rounds. All three judges scored it 58-56.
Rodriguez, 24, of Shirley, New York, enjoys a strong fan base in New York going back to his accomplished amateur career. Since his pro debut, he continues to generate fan interest thanks to his take-no-prisoners, hard-hitting style. Jackson, 34, from Atlanta, Georgia, presented Rodriguez his toughest test to date, having never been stopped.
Madiyar Ashkeyev (9-0, 5 KOs) of Merki, Kazakhstan made it a brief appearance in the ring after being out over a year due to injury. He stopped Jose Antonio Abreu (13-4, 8 KOs) of La Romana, Dominican Republic at 1:52 of the first round.
Ashkeyev, 29, an accomplished amateur now training in Oxnard at the Boxing Laboratory under the guidance of Marco Contreras, faced a dangerous opponent in Abreu, who was in a must-win situation after two straight defeats. Although Abreu beat the count of referee Johnny Callas, Callas stopped the bout.
As his fans waived the Kazakh flag, Ashkeyev said, "Yes, thank you all everybody. I'm happy, I missed this fight (due to injury in November), my last fight was one year ago. I hope next time I will have a big show."
Opening the evening, two-time NY Daily News Golden Gloves Champion Ismael Villarreal (2-0) from the Bronx, New York remained undefeated with a unanimous decision over against Anthony Woods (1-7) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. All three judges gave Villarreal the shutout on the scorecards for the four-round super middleweight contest, 40-36.
Using a more diversified attack including increased bodywork, Villarreal said after the fight, "I'm happy to come out safe and sound" after fighting Woods, 31, who has never been stopped.
Villarreal, 20, son of former super lightweight fighter Otilio Villarreal, is quickly gaining fans and making a name for himself despite also carrying a full course load at Brooklyn Community College.
(November 25th) Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev regained his WBO Light Heavyweight World Title in classic Krusher fashion with a second round stoppage of Vyacheslav Shabranskyy at the Theater at Madison Square Garden and live on HBO World Championship Boxing. Kovalev came out of the gates swinging, knocking down Shabranskyy twice in the first round. The second round continued with more hard shots from The Krusher and a third knockdown. Finally, at 2:36 of the second round, the referee called a halt to the action and Kovalev was named the new WBO champ.
The punch stats clearly favor Kovalev, who connected for 50 of 113 punch attempts (44%) compared to 16 of 71 for Shabranskyy (23%). The Krusher also landed 62% of his power punches (36 of 58), compared to 30% (8 of 27) for Shabranskyy. Finally, for jabs Sergey landed 25% (14 of 55) and Shabranskyy landed 18% (8 of 44).
After the fight Kovalev said, "I did it and worked very hard to get to champion status. My brain, mentally, my conditioning, my body - I'm back. It's my goal to be the best in this division. I am here, I love boxing, I love to make great fights. This makes boxing interesting. We can make good fights for boxing fans, and make boxing history. Let's find out who is the best. Chickenson is on my list. This is very good for boxing. Let's do it."
The co-feature of the evening started off with a bang as both Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KOs) of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Felix Valera (162, 13 KOs) of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic scored knockdowns in the first round.
In the second round, Valera began to taunt Sullivan with his antics but Barrera countered with hard shots that put a quick end to the showboating. However, Barrera suffered a cut over his left eye that started to swell in the second round. Shortly after the bell rang to start the third round, Valera hit Barrera with a low blow that cost him a point on the judges' scorecards.
Both fighters continued to trade hard shots over the next few rounds. In the sixth, the action continued to intensify and referee Mike Ortega deducted another point from Valera for hitting Sullivan with the second low-blow of the night. The low blows continued in the eighth and the referee took another point away from Valera. However, at the start of the ninth round, it was Barrera who lost a point for a low blow. This exciting grudge match continued into the tenth and final round with both competitors trading big shots. At the end of ten exciting rounds, the judges all scored the bout in favor of Barrera (98-88, 97-90 and 97-89).
"It was a tough, awkward fight," explained Barrera. "I have beaten two of the three light heavyweights shown on HBO. I'm just waiting to finally get the opportunity I deserve."
The live HBO telecast began with a controversial decision between Yuriorkis Gamboa (28-2, 17 KOs) of Miami, Florida and Jason Sosa (20-3-4, 15 KOs) of Camden, New Jersey. Despite a deducted point for holding in the tenth, Gamboa was declared the winner by majority decision after ten hard-fought rounds. The scorecards varied widely for this bout. One referee scored the contest 94-94. The other two judges scored the fight for Gamboa 95-93 and 96-92.
In the ring following the fight the two fighters had this exchange:
Gamboa: "I'm sorry I didn't give you a better match. I only had 3 weeks to prepare."
Sosa: "That's boxing"
Gamboa: "You gave a great fight. You have a great heart."
Sosa: "I was a fun fight. I took some breaks but I thought I did enough to win. I know I did enough to win the fight. I didn't get hurt at all during the fight. I spar with middleweights so that was nothing."
Gamboa: "It was a good fight. I didn't have enough time to train. I only had three weeks. I didn't have time to get ready. I needed 2 or 3 more weeks to lose the weight correctly. Of course the decision was good. I think I won every round. Except for the knockdown and the point deduction."
(Galvan Knocked Down by Murtazaliev)
Grozny, Russia native Bakhram Murtazaliev (11-0, 9 KOs) kept his stoppage streak alive with his seventh straight knockout over Carlos Galvan (16-6-1, 15 KOs) of Antioquia, Colombia at 1:31 of round five.
After the fight Murtazaliev said, "The fight went as it went. I didn't think my opponent would be in the ring that long. He has a big heart. All respect to him."
When asked about fighting at Madison Square Garden he added, "It looked like what I dreamed all my life. I'm not that famous a boxer, but I want to say thank you to all my fans. I promise more exciting fights in the future."
(Herrera and Galarza)
After a 14-month layoff Brooklyn's own Frank "Notorious" Galarza (18-2-2, 11 KOs) made his triumphant return to the ring with a lopsided unanimous decision victory over Jaime Herrera (15-5-1, 8 KOs) of Chicago, Illinois. Herrera suffered a cut over his left eye in the fifth round but managed to finish the fight. The judges scored the fight 78-74, 80-72 and 79-73 all in favor of the hometown hero.
The comeback kid was ecstatic after the fight. He said, "I feel good after a 14-month layoff, shaking off some ring rust. I'm so grateful for Main Events to put me on their card. Hopefully I'll be back in the Garden soon. It felt great, it was where I belong. It felt right. Not many places you can call home but this is one for me. I'm grateful for my supporters, for people who waited it out for me. As a Brooklyn native, a person from New York who's been around, they support me and that's the best thing."
Middleweight prospect Meiirim "The Sultan" Nursultanov (5-0, 4 KOs) of Astana, Kazakhstan needed less than two rounds to stop the previously undefeated Eric Moon (7-1, 6 KOs) of Atlanta, Georgia. The referee stopped the contest at 1:54 of the second round.
"I prepared to fight more rounds," explained Nursultanov. "I think I showed a very professional fight. Many people thanked me, I win more fans every fight. I'm looking forward to having more success. I want to be a unified world champion someday. I sparred with [Sergey] Kovalev, we helped each other. Tonight's fight was so far because of this very good experience. Thank you to Sergey."
(Rodriguez Knockdown of Duarte)
New York native "Lightning" LeShawn Rodriguez (8-0, 7 KOs) stopped Alex Duarte (7-3, 5 KOs) of Sao Paulo, Brazil at 1:48 of the third round. Rodriguez recently returned to the ring last month after an 11-month injury layoff. His performance against Duarte tonight proves the 24-year is back!
"It feels good always to win, but to win by knockout is better, sensational, spectacular," said Rodriguez. "I felt at home. A lot of people came out to see me. This is the first time I've fought in New York since I turned pro."
(Abreu and Gogokhia)
Former kickboxer Enriko Gogokhia (7-0, 3 KOs) of Zugdidi, Georgia improved his undefeated record with a unanimous decision victory over Jose Abreu (13-3, 8 KOs) of the Dominican Republic. Two judges had the score 59-54 and the third judge scored the bout 60-53, all in favor of Gogokhia.
When asked about the fight Gogokhia replied, "It was a good fight, good opponent with a good record. it was harder because the opponent was ready and he also wanted to win. I was just getting started by the last round. Still, a victory is a victory."
(Villarreal and Sawyer)
In the first bout of the evening Bronx native Ismael Villarreal (1-0) made his professional debut with an impressive shutout unanimous decision over Race Sawyer (0-5) of Salt Lake City, Utah. One judge scored the bout 40-35 while the other two scored the contest 40-36 in favor of Villarreal.
After the fight Villarreal said, "It totally felt different than the amateurs. There were so many more people looking at me. I was trying to look good, I was focused on the knockout because it was my very first professional fight. I learned I have to work harder and be careful not to get hit."
(October 12th) Main Events has added another up-and-coming prospect to their already diverse roster with the signing of junior middleweight prospect Ismael Villarreal of the Bronx, New York.
Villarreal grew up on the south side of the Bronx listening to his father, Otilio Villarreal, recount stories of his own professional boxing career and his match-ups against names like Zab Judah, Hector Camacho and Kermit Cintron. Ismael first began training with his father at the age of eight.
Ismael, though, does not want to be known just as his father's son; he wants to make a name for himself in boxing. After a stand-out amateur career record of 66-7 featuring two New York Daily News Golden Gloves Championships Ismael is set to make his professional debut under the Main Events banner with his father in his corner. When asked about his goals for his career, Villarreal responded, "My goal in boxing is to be special, one of the greats. It's about winning. People are going to be talking about me who care about boxing and respect me as a Latino boxer. I want to be a world champion at a young age. I don't want to wait. I want to be champion at a young age."
In addition to his boxing career, Ismael is currently enrolled in Bronx Community College where he studies physical education. He explained, "I'm studying to be a physical education teacher. I've been boxing my whole life. I have an understanding of workouts, cardio, and all that. I think definitely that would be a good job for me. Also, I've been going to school my whole life so I know how school works. I think being a gym teacher would be a good career. I box. I work out. I also went to school, so it all works out."
Ismael admits balancing his boxing career and his education are tough but he said, "Yeah, sometimes it is hard to balance everything. Sometimes it definitely is. Sometimes you have to focus like on studying and it gets in the way of boxing. I have to go to sleep early to be able to run and sometimes I can't. Sometimes I have to finish my homework or finish a certain assignment. It's hard but I balance it out. I'm doing good in school so I have no complaints. But it definitely is hard, not easy."
According to his manager, Jose Santiago, "I always wanted a boxer of the quality of Ismael Villarreal to be signed by the most serious boxing company in the United States. That dream came true at the moment that Villarreal stamped his signature with Main Events. Villarreal will be a great boxing world champion"
Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO, said, "Being located on the East Coast, we're always looking for local fighters that have the potential to be world champions. Ismael was a standout New York amateur with the kind of come-forward style that we love at Main Events. I'm thrilled that Ismael, his father, Otilio, and his trainer, Jose, chose to sign with us. Now it's time to get to work!"
(Alexander Stops Ayala all photo Credit David Spagnolo/Main Events)
(October 6th) Mohegan Sun's Rising Stars Boxing Series presented by Main Events completed its third successful installment tonight at the Arena at Mohegan Sun. In the main event, Rising Stars' middleweight prospect Vaughn Alexander dazzled fans with a heart-stopping battle against local fan-favorite Elvin Ayala. The bout started slow with both competitors feeling each other out. In the fifth round, Alexander began to turn on the heat. In the seventh, Alexander refused to let a bloody broken nose slow him down. He ignored the hometown cheers for Ayala and sent Ayala to the canvas in brutal fashion. The referee stopped the contest at 1:42 of round seven.
(Crespo and Green)
The New Haven Grudge match between Nate Green (10-0, 2 KOs) and Josh Crespo (6-6-3, 3 KOs) did not disappoint the fans who came to see a heated crosstown rivalry. Crespo had been gunning for a rematch with Green since they met in Green's professional debut in 2011. Crespo drew first blood, cutting Green between the eyes in the second round. Green countered the next round with a knockdown. The referee also deducted a point for an illegal punch from Crespo in the third. The doctor stopped the fight due to an accidental headbutt after the bell to the end the fourth round, sending it to the cards. The judges all scored the bout 40-35 in favor of Nate Green.
New London, Connecticut-based heavyweight sensation Cassius Chaney (11-0, 5 KOs) overcame adversity for the first time in his young career. He got up from a first round knockdown against Jon Bolden (8-12-1, 6 KOs) of Brooklyn, New York to go the distance and secure a come-from-behind unanimous decision victory. At the end of this action-packed brawl, which left Cassius with a cut over his left eye, all three judges scored the bout 56-55 in favor Chaney.
(Asmat and Castillo Rosendo)
The featherweight battle between North Bergen, New Jersey's fan-favorite Kevin Asmat (3-1, 2 KOs) and Bronx, New York native Rafael Castillo Rosendo (0-1) was entertaining from bell to bell. The two traded nasty shots for the full four rounds of their bout. All three judges scored the contest 39-37 in favor of Kevin Asmat.
(Gogokhia Knocks Down De La Rosa)
Welterweights Enriko Gogokhia (6-0, 3 KOs) of Oxnard, California and Joquin De La Rosa (6-3-1, 3 KOs) of Victoria, Mexico were scheduled for a six round bout, but Gogokhia made quick work of De La Rosa. After a knockdown in the second, Enriko unleashed a fury of punches on his opponent and the referee quickly stopped the fight at 1:27 of round two.
(Rodriguez and Barber)
Shirley, New York native LeShawn Rodriguez (7-0, 6 KOs) scored an early knockout over Romon Barber (7-16, 6 KOs) of Wichita, Kansas. The referee waved off Barber after a knock down at 1:15 of the third round.
(Murtazaliev and De Assis)
In the first bout of the evening Bakhram Murtazaliev (10-0, 8 KOs) of Grozny, Russia made quick work of Robson De Assis (14-5, 8 KOs) of Sao Paulo, Brazil. After two quick knockdowns in the first, the referee called a halt to the action at 1:14 of the first round.
*Note: All records have been updated to reflect tonight's results.
(photo Courtesy of David Spagnolo)
(July 20 ) Main Events continues to add to their roster with the signing of Brooklyn super welterweight Frank "Notorious" Galarza (17-2-2, 11 KOs). Galarza, 31, made his professional debut in 2010 as a highly-prized prospect. He built up a fan base in the New York area with his all-action style, while remaining undefeated for six years. He suffered two losses following some inactivity and promotional issues. Now, with a new promoter and a new manager, Galarza is ready to resume his climb to the top of the hot 154 lb. division.
After nearly a year-long lay off, Galarza can't wait to re-enter the ring and is excited to be fighting under the Main Events' banner. He said, "I am just one of those fighters who will never turn down anyone. I will fight anyone. I wanted to work with Main Events because I have seen what they have done in the past. I like the way they move their fighters. I have seen what they have done with Curtis Stevens and, for me, I just felt that it was a perfect fit. After speaking with Kathy [Duva] and Jolene [Mizzone], I just knew it was right."
Galarza added, "My goal right now is to get back into the ring and start taking over. I am just grateful that Main Events has given me this opportunity right now. I promise that I am going to give my all and give everything that I have left to give to this sport. I am going to dedicate myself and put my heart into this. I guarantee you that my story hasn't ended. You are going to hear a champion's story told about me and it is going to be a story worth talking about. We are going for the movie!"
Daughter Joy Looks on as Frank Signs his Main Events' Promotional Contract
Photo Courtesy of Frank Galarza
Frank carries the same passion that he feels for his boxing career into his personal life. He believes it is imperative that he give back to his community. In addition to his rigorous schedule training, his day job as a personal trainer and parenting his first child, seven-month old daughter, Joy, he is also heavily involved in a youth program he founded in 2014 called Youth Fighting Forward that currently operates in Brooklyn and Danbury, CT. "We focus on the kids. We try to offer free boxing classes for the kids as well as mentoring and tutoring," explained Galarza. For more information regarding Frank's passion project, Youth Fighting Forward, visit: frankgalarza.com/youthfightingforward.
"Notorious" is managed by Adrian Clark who also manages Main Events stablemate Cassius Chaney. When asked about Galarza's signing with Main Events he said, "Extremely happy to have Frank with such a prestigious company as Main Events. After meeting with Frank and learning what he wanted for the remainder of his career, it was a no brainer for me to reach out to Kathy & Jolene to make this happen. I told Frank, all he has to do is deliver, they will make you a star."
"Frank Galarza is one of the fighters that I've always felt we could promote well," said Main Events CEO Kathy Duva. "He has a fan-friendly style and fans in the New York and Connecticut area, so he's really a perfect fit for Main Events. Now it's time to get to work!"