It’s not the world’s greatest undercard for the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward HBO Pay-Per-View show or anything like it, but hell, let’s give it its own post. In reverse chronological order:
Roc Nation’s much-hyped prospect Maurice Hooker walked away with an absolutely absurd draw against Darleys Perez, who schooled the young junior welterweight for all but three rounds, tops. Like, Hooker just got owned. Perez was too clever for him, too savvy, too veteran-y. Hooker couldn’t make contact against Perez, and after a while almost stopped trying entirely. Meanwhile, Perez was hitting him with weird shots from all angles, like a 3rd round overhand right that seemed to rock Hooker. HBO’s commentating team, especially Roy Jones, Jr., salivated for far too long over Hooker (“a beautiful specimen”), and for whatever kind of broad, long frame he has, whatever speed he exhibited, whatever power he owns, it meant nothing. He had no idea what to do with any of it. This isn’t to say that Hooker might not someday become a real fighter, but he sure didn’t look like he had elite potential Saturday night, getting befuddled by Perez, a solid vet but nothing more. Perez should’ve had one of his best wins. Jay-Z never really showed his face to promote this card via his Roc Nation label, but at least he apparently wisely paid off the judges, who scored it 97-93 for Perez (yes), 97-93 for Hooker (WTF) and 95-95 (maybe you could live with it in a vacuum, but…).
Oleksandr Gvozdyk spent a lot of his light heavyweight bout looking thoroughly competent against the tricky Isaac Chilemba, not like the “future of the division” he’d been promoted as, and with the kind of showing that thrilled exactly none (something hard to do against Chilemba, immediately). But then he started beating the tar out of Chilemba, however slowly. And then, finally, Roy Jones, Chilemba’s corner stopped the fight, citing a broken right hand for Chilemba. Hard to say when the hand got broken without more reporting. But Chilemba did look pretty discouraged around the 6th and 7th. Finally, at the end of the 8th, it came to an end. Gvozdyk just came off as sharp and smart, if not terribly fast or powerful. He’s now a contender in the division to pay attention to, if not must-see TV.
Curtis Stevens got an exceptionally generous scorecard victory over James De La Rosa in a fight many (including HBO’s Harold Lederman) scored a draw. Stevens did get a 1st round knockdown off his trademark left hook, opening a cut on his middleweight foe’s left eye right away. The big-punching Stevens kept up his unusually busy pace, instead of his usual anemic work rate, but things started to change in the 3rd when De La Rosa stood and traded and no longer seemed buzzed by every power shot. At the end of the 4th, Stevens told his trainer that he’d hurt his left hand, which basically made him no fighter at all. De La Rosa piled up the middle rounds, and even got a friendly ruling from the ref who deducted a point from Stevens for a low blow with little warning. Stevens turned up the urgency late, so you can see why he won. But 98-90 and 96-92 twice was garbage scoring. Stevens says he wants a rematch with Gennady Golovkin, which shows that he has plenty of balls, even if he got a bit lucky Saturday night.