MONTREAL — There are some fighters you’ve heard of on the undercard of Sergey Kovalev vs Jean Pascal, and we’re here at the Bell Center to tell you about them. This post will be updated after every fight up to and including the first fight on the HBO broadcast, Isaac Chilemba. Then the Kovalev vs Pascal results post will get its own place, as will Vyacheslav Glazkov vs Steve Cunningham.
Read on, then for Dmitry Mikhaylenko vs Felipe De La Paz; Yves Ulysse Junior vs Miguel Antoine; Nadjib Mohammadi vs Lee Junior Campbell; Dierry Jean vs Carlos Manuel Reyes; and Isaac Chilemba vs Vasily Lepikhin.
We’ll go in chronological order:
Mikhaylenko didn’t look like much to start. The Russian welterweight got hit plenty by De La Paz, and often seemed to throw punches just to be throwing them. By the end of the 1st round, he had scored a body shot knockdown on a left hook, and his attributes became more obvious. That left hook, for example, which he worked well up and down.
Then, once he got his right hand going, and once it became clear that his swarming wasn’t going to end, and that there was a method to his madness so far as sitting down on the occasional shot, he looked better. After a prolonged beating, he finally convinced De La Paz that coming out for the 6th round would be unwise. Mikhaylenko’s resume doesn’t look half bad, either; he stopped Ronald Cruz in his last fight for the first time Cruz had been stopped, and he’d been in with some punchers, plus he decisioned Sechew Powell.
Think mini-Evgeny Gradovich with this guy. Not saying he’s that good, but he had that “hit you hard, hit you a lot, get hit back a fair amount, might be better as a package than his individual qualities suggest” thing.
Ulysse, too, started slowly, unable to find Antoine, then got very hot around the 4th round and only got hotter. As the five-win junior welterweight struggled to find the target, he at least mugged for the crowd, raising his hand in acknowledgement of a fan shouting something to him in French, cheekily popping Antoine while he was in a headlock, the like. Antoine wasn’t getting anything done either, so it’s not like Ulysse was losing, anyhow.
In the 4th, a left-right combo from Ulysse finally sparked the aforementioned fire. Antoine was hurt, and Ulysse stayed on top of him, landing combinations then putting Antoine down with a shove, not that Antoine needed more help. Another combination put him down again from accumulation of blows, and if not for the bell Ulysse was ready to race over and finish him. Antoine survived into the 5th, only to take a shellacking; a combination finished by a long, flush right hand rendered Antoine woozy and discouraged-looking, and the ref saw enough.
Ulysse got a good reception from the sparse crowd. He has speed, and in the ring his personality amounted to a friendlier, Canadian version of Adrien Broner. He tracked down 17-1-1 fighter eventually, so that says more good than bad about his difficulty in connecting early on.
Mohammedi is probably next for Kovalev at light heavyweight, after getting a routine win over Campbell, which, based on this showing, means it would probably be a slight variation of whatever happens with Pascal later tonight. Mohammedi isn’t as fast as Pascal, but he’s awkward, and he’s more of a volume puncher.
Volume is how Mohammedi beat Campbell, who only landed the occasional right hand by way of competition. Mohammedi mauled Campbell early and often, but got more accurate with his shots as the fight wore on. The finish came in the 6th, with Campbell tired but in no particular trouble and the referee stepping in to halt it.
He didn’t wow me as someone who might be competitive with Kovalev. He might make a spirited showing, but he also might be in harm’s way more than Pascal because his style demands him throwing a lot of punches.
After a loss to Lamont Peterson and apparently wrestling with some demons related to gambling and alcohol, Jean, his manager said this week, was back on track. He very much looked like it against Reyes, winning by 3rd round knockout thanks to a body shot.
Reyes was never in it. Jean came out quickly, apparently wary of a history of slow starts. By the 2nd round, he was putting together nifty combos — first a left uppercut/left hook to the head, then, building on that, later, a left uppercut/left hook to the head/left hook to the body. In the 3rd, a right hand had Reyes in some trouble, and two left hooks to the body subsequently put down Reyes two separate times.
The junior welterweight division is deep. Jean showed against Peterson that he had some tools, but lacked experience. He’s got the experience now, so let’s see him against a contender by the end of the year, yes? The crowd sure welcomed him back against even this level of opposition.
The first fight of the HBO broadcast started boring, got strange, and ended boring. Lepikhin had some luck in the 1st round, which is why two judges scored it for him — the only rounds anyone did. Chilemba took over after that.
What stood out about this fight is that around the 7th, Lepikhin began to crumble. He put his back to the ropes, waving Chilemba in, then did nothing once he came in. It was less reminiscent of Muhammad Ali’s “rope a dope” and more reminiscent of Oliver McCall’s breakdown against Lennox Lewis, when he functionally quit without the towel actually being thrown in and spent some time getting hit on purpose.
It looks like it was too much, too soon for a young fighter who had never taken on a challenge like Chilemba. Not that Chilemba’s any great shakes, just that he’s experienced and doesn’t totally suck. And as trainer Buddy McGirt mentioned, he’s been working on his angles, which showed. He didn’t appear interested in taking any risks to finish the show or win over the Canadian crowd, which had no local rooting interest in a Russian facing a South African. After Lepikhin came out of his weird McCall coma, the fight went back to being boring, with the occasional Chilemba power shot mixed in to spice things up every now and again.
I’d say Chilemba should fight a contender rather than a prospect next time, except he didn’t deliver the kind of performance that made me advocate for anything for him.