Saturday, March 25, 2023  |


Oleksandr Gvozdyk nails an unfulfilling title defense, stops Doudou Ngumbu in 5

Photo from Top Rank

PHILADELPHIA — Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk can’t seem to get a break. He beat Adonis Stevenson in a grueling give-and-take duel in December 2018 that resulted in Stevenson being hospitalized with a catastrophic brain injury that impaired him for months.

And now this.

The WBC light heavyweight champion made his first title defense and his first fight since the Stevenson brawl and won without even tossing a punch, which once again resulted in his opponent being taken to the hospital.

Doudou Ngumbu, 37, injured his right Achilles tendon that prematurely stopped the fight at :58 of the fifth round Saturday night from the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia.

Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 knockouts) retains the title, though not the way he wanted it.

“I’m satisfied I won, I keep my title, but how it happened I’m definitely not satisfied with,” Gvozdyk said. “The people that came here aren’t happy, and it’s important to make your fans happy.

“I tried to do my best. It’s not my fault. I think the guy just came to get a paycheck; I don’t know. I didn’t want to insult him, but maybe something happened. I don’t know.

“I hurt him or something like that.”

The Ukrainian light heavyweight bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympics was robbed of any post-fight celebration.

“This is the second time something screwed up my celebration, but the first time (after the Stevenson fight), I knew only in the morning. I did have a lot of time to celebrate. This time, I’m happy I keep my title. It’s not my fault.

“If the fight went longer, it would have been more exciting.”

Gvozdyk controlled the early rounds, though couldn’t land anything substantial on the 37-year-old Ngumbu, who suffered a torn right Achilles injury with 2:01 left in the fifth round.

After the ringside doctors were called over to check out Ngumbu (38-9, 14 KOs), referee Eric Dali waved the fight over officially at :58 of the fifth round, awarding it to Gvozdyk.

Gvozdyk did more work after the fight than it seemed he did during it, signing autographs and taking pictures with the many adoring Ukrainian fans clad in their blue and yellow.

“I could hear the fans,” Gvozdyk said. “I’ll take a little break and recover. Then I’ll be ready to fight again.”

Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Ray Robinson fight to a majority draw

The co-feature pitted Philadelphian welterweight southpaw Ray Robinson (24-3-1, 12 KOs) against “Mean Machine” Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs).

Photo from Top Rank

Robinson used a tactical, slow approach that frustrated Kavaliauskas. It was a boring, though effective style to convince judge Rose M. Lacend, who had Robinson the winner, 97-93, while not exactly compelling enough for judges Dave Braslow and Kevin Morgan, who both had it a 95-95 draw.

Entering the ring wearing a Philadelphia Eagles cap and decked in camouflage trunks, Robinson started well, connecting with a right hook in the first, which may have won him the round.

In the second, Kavaliauskas, also decked in camouflage though with a gaudy red waistband with sequin red sides, played the role of stalker, patiently waiting for Robinson and looking to counter. It was a close round, with neither fighter doing anything distinguished.

Robinson, 33, began to get caught in the third round against the ropes, and it looked as if Kavaliauskas, 30, was going to be more assertive.

That was a prelude to the fourth, when Kavaliauskas opened up and went after Robinson. Kavaliauskas, the two-time Olympian from Lithuania, seemed impervious of anything Robinson threw and one time had Robinson pinned on the ropes for a spell in the fifth.

In the sixth, Robinson landed a left on Mean Machine’s chest, though later in the round, Kavaliauskas tapped Robinson on the chin with a right. Once again, it looked like a hard round to judge.

Robinson’s awkwardness and reluctance to engage certainly didn’t help Mean Machine’s brand. As the seventh began, the two engaged heavy shots, then went back to the slow, tedious, rhythmic pace they appeared content on fighting with.

Kavaliauskas ripped Robinson with a few body shots. But each time there was a chance that the tempo would pick up, the two backed off to a comfortable distance.

In the eighth, Mean Machine popped Robinson with a straight right to the chest. Despite what was supposed to be a partisan home crowd, filled with more Lithuanians than Philly fight fans, Robinson looked resigned to the fact that just surviving 10 rounds with Mean Machine was a victory in itself.

Robinson smoked Kavaliauskas with a counter right in the ninth. Whatever Kavaliauskas was waiting on is anyone’s guess.

In the opening seconds of the 10th, Mean Machine went after Robinson, though backed away after not landing anything heavy. Kavaliauskas connected with a short right to Robinson’s face late in the round. Kavaliauskas came surging ahead in the waning seconds of the fight and touched Robinson a few times in the face, which Robinson shook his head over and laughed, implying “You didn’t hurt me.”

When the final bell sounded, Robinson ran to the nearest corner and jumped up on the ropes with his arms held high thinking he did enough to win. Kavaliauskas wasn’t as enthusiastic.

Afterward, there was debate whether or not Kavaliauskas reached his ceiling.

On the undercard, heavyweight Cassius Chaney (14-0, 9 KOs) stopped Christian Mariscal (12-3, 5 KOs) in a scheduled six-rounder. Welterweight Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0, 9 KOs) won a 12-round decision over Keita Obara (20-4-1, 18 KOs) in an IBF welterweight title eliminator.

Super middleweight Christian Mbilli (14-0, 13 KOs) beat Humberto Gutierrez (33-8-2, 22 KOs) in an eight-round decision and in a surprising upset, super welterweight Juan Ruiz (22-4, 14 KOs) stopped Frederick Lawson (27-2, 21 KOs) in the fourth round.

Super bantamweight Jeremy Adorno won his pro debut by beating tough Sebastian Baltazar (1-4) in a scheduled four-rounder.

“I was doing what I had to do the first two rounds, and then I got away from my game plan,” Adorno said. “I wish I could have performed better. I was in the middle of the ring and didn’t stick with my game plan.

“I just turned 18 in January and I just fought someone who’s 26. I fought a grown man. I’ll take the win.”

Super featherweight Joshafat Ortiz (6-0, 4 KOs) made easy work of James Thomas (6-5, 6 KOs) with a first-round knockout. Super lightweight Askhat Ualikhanov (5-1, 3 KOs) stopped Jose Lopez (11-2, 9 KOs) in the seventh.

Local heavyweight Sonny Conto (2-0, 2 KOs) smashed Omar Acosta (1-6, 1 KO) in the first round of a scheduled four-round heavyweight fight.

“This was better than my debut,” Conto said. “I was more poised and patient. My team told me I needed to be patient and control the fight with my jab, which is what I did.

“It’s coming. I’ll fight better fighters. Whoever they put in front of me I won’t underestimate. I’ll leave it in Top Rank’s hands and keep training.”

Conto already has his next date: June 15, in Las Vegas on the Tyson Fury-Tom Schwartz undercard at the Thomas & Mack Center. That will be a first for Conto, since he’s never previously been to Las Vegas.

Super featherweight Donald Smith (9-0, 6 KOs) remained undefeated by stopping Jose Antonio Martinez (11-18, 6 KOs) in the fourth round of a scheduled six-rounder.