He moved in and out, seemed to bounce up and down sometimes, and even feigned a bolo punch or two. Through all of his awkwardness, Beibut Shumenov managed to frustrate B.J. Flores to win a unanimous 12-round cruiserweight decision Saturday night on the Premier Boxing Champions card on NBCSN from the Pearl Theater in Las Vegas.
Judges Steve Morrow, Dave Moretti and Patricia Morse Jarman all scored it 116-112 for Shumenov (16-2, 10 KOs).
Shumenov total punch count was 104-of-420 landed (25 percent), connecting on 42-of-199 jabs (21 percent) and 62-of-221 power shots (28 percent). Flores (31-2, 20 KOs), who was coming off a nine-month layoff, connected on 117-404 (29 percent) total punches, 33-of-181 (18 percent) jabs and 84-of-223 (38 percent) power shots.
“It was like I knew; BJ is a tough cruiserweight but he was lunging more, looking for big shots,” Shumenov said. “I did enough to win the fight. I’m still in the learning process. Every time I go to the gym, I learn something new. Boxing is an art and you use your position and angles to hit your opponent.”
It was an art Flores didn’t very much appreciate.
“I put a lot of effort into the performance,” said Flores, the NBC Sports Network color analyst when he’s not fighting. “Beibut always comes forward; he’s always very aggressive; always a very tough, strong fighter. Tonight, he ran the whole night. In my opinion, it’s tough to win a fight when you’re going backwards. My punches affected him, and he was just touching me.”
At the outset, Flores did well jabbing to the body, forcing Shumenov to lower his hands. Flores won the first two rounds establishing his jab, and then coming over the top with his right hand. After the second, Shumenov complained to referee Robert Byrd about getting hit in the back of the head. That seemed to get Shumenov motivated. He fired out at Flores in the third round, becoming the aggressor and backing up Flores. In the fourth, Shumenov, changing between a conventional to southpaw stance, again was the more accurate puncher and his attack more effective.
Flores appeared to regain the momentum in the sixth. He countered, stinging Shumenov to the face and the body. Flores had possibly his best round in the seventh, raising his right hand and beating his chest as he walked back to his corner after the round ended. But Shumenov came back in the eighth, catching Flores off balance and tapping Flores in the chest, on his arms, anywhere he could touch him.
The divergent styles made the fight difficult to score.
But Shumenov did gain strength towards the latter stages of the fight, a possible byproduct of Flores being inactive for nine months.
The victory gave Shumenov the “interim” WBA cruiserweight title, while Flores may have to re-evaluate what his next career move is.
Two undefeated cruiserweights highlighted the 10-round co-feature, Jordan Shimmell and southpaw Isiah Thomas. Shimmell entered the fight without ever losing a round in his previous 19 pro fights, but that was shattered by a unanimous decision by Thomas (15-0, 6 KOs) by scores of 98-92 (Tim Cheatham), 97-93 (Glenn Feldman) and 99-91 (Glenn Trowbridge). Thomas busted open a cut over the bridge of Shimmell’s nose, and landed a total of 64 punches of 330 thrown (19-percent), while Shimmell (19-1, 16 KOs) connected on 81 of 413 total punches thrown.
“I thought I could have done more if I listened to my corner,” Thomas said. “I could have thrown more punches. I thought it was a real close fight.”
Shimmell thought the fight was closer than the final scores indicated.
“I’m alright, I’ll come back,” Shimmell said. “You have to be more prepared. I have to be stronger and more prepared the next time.”
In a scheduled 10-round featherweight fight, southpaw Claudio Marrero (19-1, 14 KOs) took out former WBA world super bantamweight titlist Rico Ramos (24-5, 12 KOs) at :20 of the third round. Marrero was the aggressor from start to the short finish. Marrero knocked out Ramos, who was coming off a seventh-month layoff, with a straight left to the chin. Referee Jay Nady, who could see the devastation of the punch, waved it over as Ramos was falling to the canvas. It was a good call.
On the first televised undercard fight, cruiserweight Andrew Tabiti (11-0, 10 KOs) went the distance for the first time in his career with an eight-round unanimous decision against a tough Mexican, Roberto Santos (12-2, 5 KOs). “The guy was very tough, and I needed the work,” Tabiti said. “The guy was very experienced. He was never knocked out before. I know I can go the distance, but there are more tests for me to go through.”
Joseph Santoliquito is the president of the Boxing Writer's Association of America and a frequent contributor to Sherdog.com's mixed martial arts and boxing coverage. His archive can be found here.
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