Monday, March 27, 2023  |



Evgeny Gradovich’s trainer ‘stunned’ by draw with Jayson Velez


The trainer of Evgeny Gradovich was “stunned” that the unbeaten Russian featherweight titlist was granted only a split-draw against Jayson Velez on Saturday night following the fourth defense of his IBF belt.

Gradovich (19-0-1, 9 knockouts) was awarded the victory, 117-111, on the card of judge Tom Schreck, with David Hudson scoring it 115-113 for Velez (22-0-1, 16 KOs) and George Hill, 114-114.

“This is hard to believe,” said Robert Garcia. “Evgeny fought well and deserved to win. I am stunned.”

HBO’s Steve Weisfeld, a former judge, scored the fight 116-112 for Gradovich.

“I thought we won four out of the first six rounds and at least one or two of the remaining six,” said Abel Sanchez, Velez’s trainer. “That being said, its a one point fight in my mind either way, depending on the angle and perspective view of the judges. You have never heard me criticize judges. That’s why they are there, to judge. Win or lose, for us, we live with them and cant live with out them.”

Gradovich had an overall advantage in punches landed (310-to-278) and power shots (236-211) according to ringside CompuBox.

“Give me my belt,” said a disappointed Gradovich, 28. “I won the fight and I want my belt.”

Gradovich also landed 251 head shots to 199 for Velez, who had an advantage in body shots landed, 79-to-59.

“He was a tough, awkward fighter,” said Velez, 26, of Caguas, Puerto Rico. “I had good moments in there.”

Gradovich-Velez took place at the CenturyLink Arena in support of the unanimous decision victory for the RING lightweight championship by WBO titleholder Terence Crawford over No. 2-rated Raymundo Beltran in Crawford’s native Omaha, Neb.

The bout represented the second time since last month that Garcia stared across the ring at Sanchez.

Sanchez worked the corner of WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin on Oct. 18 during his second-round knockout of the Garcia-trained Marco Antonio Rubio at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Rubio represented the 12th defense by Golovkin as well as his 18th straight knockout victory.

Gradovich had last been in action for a unanimous decision over Alexander Miskirtchian in May that followed his ninth-round stoppage of former titleholder Billy Dib in November.

Gradovich won his belt by split decision over Dib in March 2013 and made his first defense with a unanimous decision over Mauricio Javier Munoz in July 2013.

Velez was coming off a second-round knockout of Miguel Soto in April, representing his third stoppage in his previous four fights. Velez debuted on American soil in his ninth fight in June 2009, scoring a third-round stoppage of Jesus Bayron. In December 2012, Velez dropped Salvador Sanchez twice en route to a third-round knockout.

“Like I said from the beginning, I thought we were up against a machine,” said Sanchez of Gradovich. “If we could box and outlast him, we had a chance of beating him, maybe stopping him. But he’s a tough kid.”