Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
In a fight filled with excessive holding, wanton wrestling and a finish that was punctuated with lowblows, Cornelius Bundrage knocked Cory Spinks down numerous times en route to a seventh round technical knockout at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California on Saturday, June 30. Following the official announcement of his triumph, Bundrage expressed his desire to unify his IBF junior middleweight belt with Saul Alvarez’s WBC title.
Official verdict: Bundrage via 7th Rd TKO.
Bundrage’s best weapon was established early as a succession of tough right hands all landed but, midway through the first round, Spinks began to employ head movement in order to duck under the shot. When it came to attacking, Spinks struggled to press the trigger and his most notable contribution to the fight was lifting Bundrage up for a few seconds, prompting the referee to pull them apart. Moments later, Spinks was dropped with an overhand right, recovered, but for the second time in three minutes the pair decided to abandon the discipline they had trained in and instead wrestled.
In round two, Spinks clinched and, in retaliation, Bundrage got Cory headlocked with a free arm and both moves contributed to the souring of the sweet science. It took a knockdown, some MMA-style grappling and five minutes of taking Bundrage’s shots for Spinks to finally box positively and connected with an orthodox jab followed by a body-bound left.
Bundrage relied on single-fire jabbing at the start of round three and this contributed to the swelling on the right eye of Spinks. The often spoken pugilistic mantra of keep yourself protected at all times was something that went AWOL in Spinks’ mind in round four as he left his chin hanging, which allowed Bundrage to score with a hellacious uppercut and a bomb of a hook.
Spinks secured his first big round in the fifth, landing damaging left hands, right hooks, targeting the body and finishing the session with a huge straight. Bundrage had slowed considerable and this allowed Spinks to gain momentum, something that irked Bundrage’s head cornerman Emmanuel Steward who shouted: “You’re stumbling around like a goddam drunk,” as well as: “You’re letting him get his confidence back!”
The success Bundrage enjoyed with his right hand early on had fizzled out by the end of the sixth as his accuracy had gone. While Spinks’ could not brag the power of Bundrage, his inside fighting was superior and won him the round.
Any momentum Spinks had built up in the fifth and sixth was stolen away from him in the seventh as Bundrage twice dropped Spinks, both times with acute right hands. Cornelius had relocated his accuracy with the punch and Spinks was beaten around the ring, falling to the canvas another two times, yet both were adjudged to not be the result of a punch. With 26 seconds remaining on the round, the referee waved the bout off as Bundrage was literally chasing and battering his man, with little intention to reply let alone throw anything back.
“I want Canelo [Alvarez],” proclaimed Bundrage, hoping to be the man to fill the TBA slot next to Saul’s name for the popular Mexican’s slated prizefight on September 15.
Overall, the bout was not pretty, neither was the pummeling Cory received in the seventh and final stanza but Bundrage did enough to claim his second win in his series with Spinks. With a knockout victory, the Iron Man Bundrage saw his record rise to 32-4-0, 19ko and, while the announcement was made, Cornelius – in what had become his signature – barked into the air, mimicking an animal who would be more likely to fight cleaner.
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Featherweight sensation Gary Russell Jr continued his climb up the division ranks with a dominant third round knockout over Christopher Perez on Saturday, June 30 at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. Russell outclassed Perez primarily with his unmatched hand speed, powerful and precise flurrying and general ring nous. With one knockdown scored in the second round, followed by a further three in the third, a teekayo win was awarded.
Official verdict: Gary Russell Jr by way of 3rd Rd TKO.
Occupying the centre of the ring immediately, Russell Jr (20-0-0, 12ko) bossed the space and almost the entire opening minute had it not been for a countering right hand landed by Perez; his most significant punch of the round. Russell, though, demonstrated his blazing-fast hand-speed, landing solitary shots but also loading up on leather and attacking the Mexican with combinations.
In round two, Russell’s flurrying began with body blows and concluded upstairs and it was this style of move that produced a knockdown in the final minute of the round. Showing a good finisher’s instinct, Russell went after Perez (23-3-0, 14ko) when he had returned to his feet, stalked his prey, caught Christopher with a mighty left hook and generally forced the Sinaloa 126lber into a retreat.
Russell scored a crucial second knockdown at the beginning of the third round, knocking Perez through the ropes and onto his seat, prompting the referee to tell Perez that he ‘needs to show him something’. That something did not arrive, though, and Russell floored him again with two minutes left to wind down on the round clock.
Then, a right hand dropped Perez and the officiator immediately took over, took a hold of Perez and invited the ringside physician into the ring. Russell then returned to his corner, nonplussed, and had his gloves taken off while Another One Bites The Dust played out.
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Freddy Hernandez fought a courageous fight on Saturday, June 30 at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California but was out-boxed by canny Cuban Erislandy Lara. For ten rounds, Lara’s accuracy was outstanding, his combination-punching on point and his ability always one level above his opponent’s, yet his ten round victory was marred slightly by his occasional use of dirty tactics…
Official verdict: Lara by unanimous decision (95-94, 98-91, 99-90).
During the opening sessions, Lara (17-1-1, 11ko) asserted himself with two fundamental assets: speed and strength, however, there were occasional blemishes to the overall nature of the bout as headbutts occurred. The left hand to the body was key for Lara and it was thrown with great aggression. Hernandez, who was stopped in a solitary round by Andre Berto during a WBC welterweight world championship contest in 2010, slipped behind Lara in terms of scoring after two stanzas as he just couldn’t match the Cuban’s combination punching.
Hernandez, though, upped his accuracy in round three and his left hook in particular inspired Lara to move into other spaces within the ring. With this success, Hernandez boxed in the fourth round with pressure and aggression in mind. And, in round five, body shots were exchanged, inside fighting ensued and a physically gruelling pace was maintained. Straight punches to the face caused bleeding from the eye region on the Mexican, evidence that Lara’s punches had notable pop.
When the fight had reached it’s halfway mark, Lara had successfully busted Hernandez up. The body-shots at the beginning of the fight had led to openings that allowed him to land crisp and thudding straight left punches into Freddy’s face. Further to this, the Cuban also landed tortuous shots to the midsection and used his jab to a: find-range and b: parry Hernandez’s punches. In the final minute of the sixth, Lara riled the crowd with what appeared to be a jumping headbutt, but all that did was bring the fighter out of Hernandez who clapped his gloves and implored Lara to stand and trade.
Ignoring the referee’s request to keep it clean prior to each round, Lara again butted Hernandez at the beginning of the seventh and so a point was duly deducted from his tally. With a cut-laden and bloody face, the ringside physician inspected Hernandez after the round and, within moments of the eighth’s commencement, Lara pounded his opponent with crunching one-two combos. Despite the lacerations, Hernandez continued to be a game adversary but couldn’t pin Lara where he needed to be in order to negate Erislandy’s foot speed – against the ropes or the corner.
In the closing rounds, question marks rose regarding Lara’s conditioning but he still found the finish line with an incredible authority, landing often, powerfully and accurately. By the end of the fight, Hernandez’s cheek bone was swollen and red, his brow was cut and he also sported claret nicks over his face… Lara, in contrast, appeared relatively unscathed and it was this image that was the definitive factor in the fight. Hernandez was a valiant warrior but ultimately one who was continually outclassed by the economic, resourceful and stronger fighter from the blue corner; Lara.
Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Fast-rising Cuban hotshot Erislandy Lara clashes with former welterweight world title challenger Freddy Hernandez on Saturday, June 30 at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California but believes that a replication of his first round drubbing of Ronald Hearns could mean he becomes an even more avoided fighter than he currently is: “The [big] fights will come sooner or later,” the 29-year-old southpaw recently hoped.
The victim of a controversial split decision loss to Paul Williams last summer and the victor in a first round knockout win over Hearns are two results that have propelled Lara (16-1-1, 11ko) into territory where he is perceived to have great talent but is yet to establish a name as familiar as, for three examples, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Miguel Cotto or Saul Alvarez.
Currently, he is therefore a high risk/low reward contender, but that does not dishearten the Florida resident as he has confidence in his management team to align him with the right opponents that will see him manoeuvred into a junior middleweight world title shot. Speaking ahead of his punch-up with Hernandez, Lara said: “If I go out there and do what I did to Ronald Hearns [then] no one is going to want to fight me.
“Freddy Hernandez is a very good fighter,” he added. “I’m prepared for anything he’s going to bring, but he needs to be worried about what I plan to bring.”
On his reputation as a fighter whom is avoided by the elite in his division, Lara said: “I’m not frustrated that fighters avoid me. I just have to keep working hard and taking care of the fighters my promoter puts in front of me. The big fights will come sooner or later.
“These guys can run but they can’t hide.”
All photos credit: Tom Casino/Showtime
Omar Figueroa (15-0-1, 12ko) overwhelmed Ramon Ayala (22-3-1, 11ko) with brutal body shots to score a second-round TKO in the main event of ShoBox: The New Generation, March 16. In the co-feature, Randy Caballero (14-0, 7ko) kept his perfect record intact with a tough unanimous decision victory over veteran Jose Luis Araiza (32-6-1, 23ko) by the scores of 98-92 twice and 97-93 from Fantasy Springs Resort Casino.
Figueroa returned to ShoBox for his second appearance on the series and earned another stoppage. In his usual style, the all-action pressure fighter from Weslaco, Texas dominated Ayala with power shots for nearly two full rounds before the fight was halted. Ayala, of Morelos, Mexico, seemed to deal with the head shots, but the body blows proved too much.
Figueroa landed a left to the gut in the first that staggered his opponent but it was the left hook to the liver in round two that spelled the beginning of the end. Figueroa, who threw more body punches than his opponent by a tally of 19 to 2, followed the liver shot with a barrage of shots to finish the taller Mexican. Ayala attempted to hold but Figueroa let him drop to the canvas and referee Lou Moret began the count. Ayala returned to his feet by the count of nine but wobbled backwards and Moret ended the contest at 2:53.
“It surprised me when he didn’t try to box because he is a pretty tall guy,” said Figueroa. “Once he started throwing power shots with me, I knew it wouldn’t last long. He had decent power so I was careful of his wild shots but I never thought the fight would make it past the third or fourth round.”
In the opening bout of the night, Caballero, of Coachella, Calif., added another win to his perfect record but it didn’t come easy. The charismatic 21-year-old enjoyed the comforts of fighting amidst the cheers from his hometown crowd and won the first several rounds over a tentative Araiza, of Tecate, Mexico.
Poise and good hand speed carried Caballero until Araiza picked up his pace, aggression and punch output in the sixth round. Araiza tagged Caballero with many hard shots in the second half of the bout and took Caballero to the tenth round for the first time in his young career. The late surge by Araiza brought excitement to the fans but not enough rounds to come back against Caballero. The victory earned Caballero the vacant NABO bantamweight title in his 118-pound debut.
“This was more of a learning experience for me,” said Caballero after the bout. “We knew he was going to try to do a couple of things in the ring and I let him do them a couple of times. That’s my mistake so we’re going to go back to the gym and keep working so we can come out even better next time.”