Christian Mbilli stays unbeaten with UD over Carlos Gongora
Super middleweight contender Christian Mbilli had to walk through fire to keep his unbeaten record against the always dangerous Carlos Gongora, by 10-round unanimous decision, on Thursday, at Montreal Casino, Montreal, Canada.
Mbilli (24-0, 20 knockouts), The Ring’s No. 5 rated super middleweight, won by scores of 97-93, 98-92 and 99-91. Although Mbilli won the fight, Gongora (21-2, 16 KOs) was more competitive than the scorecards suggested.
Mbilli, a 2016 Olympian, started extremely aggressive, landing shots to the head and body, backing Gongora up. However, early in the second round, the Ecuadorian southpaw buckled Mbilli with a left uppercut. Mbilli shook it off and continued to fight on the front foot and, while never really comfortable, he won rounds but had to be continuously weary of what was coming back.
By Round 6, Mbilli was ahead on the scorecards but still had to put in the work. He landed two big combinations in the round that drew gasps from the crowd.
Early in Round 8, Gongora uncorked a huge right uppercut. Mbilli was on very unsteady legs for well over a minute and looked in real trouble. He somehow found a big right of his own in the final minute that stopped Gongora in his tracks. Mbilli seized the moment and jumped on Gongora, unloading everything he had to roar back in an early candidate for “Round of the Year.” The crowd stood and cheered at the bell to end the round, while Mbilli stood in his corner soaking in the applause, having gone to the darkest of places he will have ever been in his career. He showed he has a huge heart and then some.
Mbilli didn’t look to maintain his lead and came charging out for Round 9 and looked to score a knockout. It didn’t come but he hurt Gongora. The action continued into the 10th round and in the final seconds, Gongora was visibly hurt by a shot from Mbilli, lurching into a neutral corner, spent from a tough night’s work. The bell sounded and both rightfully received huge cheers from the excited fans in attendance.
It was an excellent fight and Mbilli has increased his position in the sport and earned new fans from his exciting performance.
One of those was Hall of Fame promoter Lou DiBella, who was suitably impressed. Afterward he told press row he was a huge Mbilli fan and felt his fighter had the fight won in the eighth round, “…and then that kid came back with 50 punches. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Mbilli is made for TV; he’s extremely fan-friendly. I look forward to seeing him tangle with undisputed champion Canelo Alvarez or the winner of David Benavidez-Caleb Plant. He may not be favored against them but he’d certainly be a tough out.
In chief support, Simon Kean (23-1, 22 KOs) stopped two-time heavyweight title challenger Eric Molina (29-9, 21 KOs) in the seventh round.
Kean had the better of the early exchanges, dictating the action behind his jab. However Molina landed a couple of big right hands that got the home fighter’s attention. Kean responded in kind with his own vaunted right hand that had Molina backing up late in the second round. The action cooled over the next couple of rounds, with Kean having the better of things but not really impressing.
The big Texan sprang to life and showed Kean he would have his own way by catching the Canadian with a pair of right hands. Kean again landed a shot in return.
The fight came alive in Round 7, as both men exchanged heavy shots. Molina got aggressive and walked into a right hand that stumbled him backward, dropping him to the canvas. Although he beat the count, he was in no position to continue and referee Yvon Goulet called off the fight at 2:39 of the seventh round.
Kean was reportedly close to securing a fight against 2016 Olympic gold medalist Tony Yoka, who he beat at the 2012 Olympics. Ultimately Yoka met and lost to Carlos Takam earlier this month. However Kean, now 34, is as ready as he ever will be to step up and face someone on the fringes of the top 10. Molina, 40, announced that he is retiring, coming a long way for a guy who was stopped in one round in his debut.
Canadian veteran Steve Claggett forced Rafael Lugo to retire at the end of the seventh round. Claggett, 33, who is in the 15th year of his career, looked the stronger man from the beginning. Both men went straight at each other and, with no feeling-out period, stood in close and fought. Although both had their moments, Claggett’s shots carried more weight and landed cleaner. By the third round, Lugo’s face was heavily reddened.
Claggett continued to up the ante and barreled forward, landing with greater success. Lugo held tough until the conclusion of the seventh round, when he decided enough was enough and the Mexican quit before the start of the eighth round. Claggett moves to (34-7-2, 24 KOs), while Lugo suffered his first loss within the distance, dropping to (26-3-2, 16 KOs).
The all-action Claggett deserves an opportunity to face a contender at 140-pounds. He would be a handful for many and would appear a solid B-side to Arnold Barboza, Jose Zepeda or even a young fighter like Brandun Lee.
In lightweight action, Luis Santana (9-0, 3 KOs) scored a third round stoppage over Francisco Ramirez (11-5, 6 KOs). Santana, who is known more as a stylist than a knockout artist, appeared in no mood to go the scheduled eight rounds and sat down on his punches from early in the fight. The 25-year-old hurt Ramirez with a left hook to the body a minute into the third round. Ramirez winced and retreated to the nearby corner where he was given a standing eight-count by referee Yvon Goulet, who was advised by the local commission to curtail the bout at 1:23. This was Santana’s first eight-rounder and he was able to post arguably his best win to date.
Rising female junior lightweight prospect Leila Beaudoin (9-0, 1 KO) stayed unbeaten with a six-round unanimous decision over Laura Avendano Mondragon (6-1, 2 KOs). Beaudoin was awarded the win on all the scorecards, 60-54.
Rangy super middleweight Wilkens Mathieu (2-0, 1 KO) controlled the distance from the outside, boxing behind a stiff jab, mixing in heavy right hands for good measure, to dominate Jose Gonzalez Saldana (1-3-1) through four one-sided rounds. This fight will likely serve as a good education for Mathieu, 18, who looked composed and boxed well but didn’t hurt, much less drop, his opponent. Mathieu won a shutout by 40-36 on all three scorecards.
Eye of the Tiger Management’s newest acquisition Jhon Orobio made a successful professional debut by stopping Alejandro Medina de la Rosa (2-2, 2 KOs) at 1:35 of the opening round. The 19-year-old Colombian, who has moved to live and fight out of Montreal, used his jab to find his range in the opening moments of the fight. However once he landed a left hand on his Mexican opponent, he swarmed all over him, forcing referee Alain Villeneuve to stop the junior lightweight fight at 1:35.
Former WBC female heavyweight title challenger Vanessa Lepage Joanisse (4-1, 1 KO) returned to action for the first time in over five years with a four-round unanimous decision over Princess Hairston (2-2-1, 2 KOs). Joanisse outworked her American opponent to win by 40-36 on all three scorecards.
ALSO ON RINGTV
Christian Mbilli ‘looking not only for a knockout but a big win’ against Carlos Gongora – The Ring (ringtv.com)
Carlos Gongora goes for his slice of the American dream against Christian Mbilli – The Ring (ringtv.com)
Heavyweight prospect Simon Kean faces former title challenger Eric Molina on Thursday – The Ring (ringtv.com)
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.