Lomachenko-Sosa undercard report: Usyk, Gvozdyk remain unbeaten
OXON HILL, Maryland — Aleksandr Usyk’s playfulness comes through in subtle ways. When the TV cameras are focused on his face and his fists, he may swirl a quasi Ali shuffle, or a half-hearted bolo punch when he’s against the ropes.
But his punches come with serious thuds.
The right side of Michael Hunter’s face was proof Saturday after Usyk got through with him before a sellout crowd of 2,828 at the MGM National Harbor on the first major fight card held at the luxurious venue.
Usyk (12-0, 10 knockouts) successfully defended the WBO cruiserweight title for the second time with a unanimous decision over Hunter (12-1, 8 KOs), with 117-110 scores on each of the three scorecards.
“I’m very happy with my performance, I did what I wanted to do, he took a lot of punches, I thought maybe they would stop the fight at the end,” said Usyk, who received a low blow in the fifth that seemed to wake him up. “The low blows didn’t really both me, it was annoying however.
“He was trying to hold and I knew he would do that so I worked in the gym on keeping him off me and keeping my distance to extend my arms. I’d love to fight any of the title holders, anytime, anyplace.”
For the fight, Usyk landed a total of 239 of 453 punches (52.8%) to Hunter’s 118 of 418 (28.2%), according to CompuBox stats. Usyk scored a knockdown in the 12th and opened up what had been a close fight after the seventh round.
“No excuses, I lost the fight, no issue with the scorecards,” Hunter said. “I need to stay more active, I give myself a six. I’d love to fight him again, it was a great fight and he’s a great champion.”
In the first two rounds, Hunter was more active. He worked up and down nicely, trying to get Usyk to drop his high guard. Usyk did more fighting in the last 10 seconds of each round than he did the first 2:50 of each of the first two rounds. The opening two rounds appeared to go to Hunter, again based on activity.
Hunter worked the body again in the third. Usyk, in white trunks with the Ukrainian yellow and blue down the left side and USSR on the back of his waistband, didn’t seem to have an answer for him, rarely throwing punches in combination. And keeping with his pattern, Usyk perked up once more in the final 10 seconds of the round in an attempt to steal the frame. Granted, Hunter wasn’t exactly rocking Usyk with anything, appearing more content to score than to punish. But he was landing punches in twos and threes to Usyk’s one shot. The two briefly had a heated exchange in the fourth, with Usyk digging to the body, and it looked like the first round for Usyk.
Referee Bill Clancy momentarily stopped the fight in the fifth for a low blow by Hunter. Maybe it charged something up in Usyk, because it was his best round to that point. He nailed Hunter with a number of shots, not allowing Hunter to tie him up. From there, Usyk’s confidence seemed to grow. He was suddenly the stalker, coming forward, initiating the contact and forcing Hunter against the ropes.
In the sixth, Usyk had Hunter cornered, landing hard lefts to his body and head.
Hunter went back to the jab in the seventh. He created distance with it, while backing up Usyk. By the midway point of the round, Usyk began changing the sway of the frame. He was the one coming forward pressing the action. But he let Hunter go when it looked like he had him against the ropes, and Hunter went back to the jab, mixing in an occasional power shot. The round gave Hunter some momentum back.
In the eighth, something must have triggered the desperation switch in Usyk, because he had Hunter in some real trouble. A left to the head stunned Hunter, followed by another shot that forced Hunter backwards. Just when it looked like Usyk was about to take firm command, Hunter recovered to survive.
By the ninth, Hunter’s workrate had decreased. Usyk was gaining in strength and attacking. Usyk worked his jab, which was almost nonexistent in the first few rounds. He landed a hard left to Hunter’s sternum in the 10th, and wildly attacked Hunter later in the ring, landing some but missing more. Still, Hunter couldn’t do anything but cower and get out of the way.
Entering the 11th, Usyk finally looked like he had the edge. Hunter’s methodical jab had no snap. Usyk felt so secure he even half-heartedly played with a Bolo punch. Going into the last round, Usyk was up 7-4 on The Ring ringside scorecard.
With just over a minute left in the 12th, Usyk had Hunter in real trouble. He was up against the he ropes and teetering, when Clancy stepped in and gave Hunter a standing eight-count. Usyk landed 52 of 121 punches in the last round, and of that total, 49 of 90 power punches landed.
“It was a great TV fight truly showcasing how talented the cruiserweight division is,” said Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, Usyk’s promoter. “Both are world-class fighters and that showed tonight in their performances. We’re very happy with Aleksandr’s performance and look forward to his return on HBO.”
In the other televised undercard fight, Oleksandr Gvozdyk (13-0, 11 KOs) made rather easy work of Yunieski Gonzalez (18-3, 14 KOs), stopping him at 2:55 of the third round.
Gvozdyk, the 29-year-old 2012 Ukrainian Olympic light heavyweight bronze medalist, dominated from start to finish. Gvozdyk plowed Gonzalez with right hands, dropping him twice. Gonzalez gamely got up, though stumbled about the ring like a drunk. It’s when referee Harvey Dock moved in and called it over, with Gonzalez’s corner very much in agreement.
On the non-televised undercard, Mike Reed (22-0, 12 KOs), from nearby Waldorf, Maryland, took care of the lime-haired Reyes Sanchez (26-10-2, 15 KOs) to remain undefeated by a unanimous 10-round decision in a super lightweight fight. Reed showed some flashes of real ability, but he should have been able to stop someone like Sanchez, and though he was crafty and awkward, had not won a fight in almost two years.
Jesse Hart (22-0, 18 KOs), from Philadelphia, stopped Alan Campa at 1:44 of the fifth round in a scheduled 10-round super middleweight fight. A Hart right uppercut began Campa’s decline, and with Campa reeling and defenseless, referee Brent Bovell waved it over.
In a scheduled eight-round super lightweight fight, southpaw Patrick Harris (11-0, 7 KO) remained undefeated with a unanimous decision over Omar Garcia (6-7, 1 KO).
Egidijus Kavaliauskas, a 28-year-old Lithuanian, stopped Ramses Agaton (18-6-3, 10 KOs) at 2:58 of round four in a scheduled eight-round welterweight bout. Kavaliauskas dropped Agaton twice in the third and once in the fourth, when Bovell saw enough and mercifully ended it.