Kownacki Decisions a Record-Setting Chris Arreola
Is there a bigger kiss of death in combat sport than saying a fight is “guaranteed not to go the distance?” Such was the case on Saturday night, when despite Chris Arreola setting the record for most punches thrown in a heavyweight fight, and Adam Kownacki coming in fifth on the same list, the fight between the two knockout artists went the distance, with Kownacki ultimately taking a unanimous 118-110, 117-111, 117-111 decision victory.
Twitter praised the fight as a great one, but it really wasn’t. While they broke the record for punches landed in a heavyweight fight, Kownacki dominated throughout -- the start of the seventh was delayed so that the doctor could examine Arreola. About halfway into the fight Arreola broke his left hand which meant he couldn’t use it effectively and there were no knockdowns or moments of serious drama about whether either fighter would be stopped.
Kownacki showed some slickness -- this sequence in particular was very pretty -- but plenty of questions remain for the now 20-0 heavyweight, who wants to become the first ever Polish-born heavyweight champion of the world. Kownacki came into the fight at 266 pounds, a career high, which is not a good sign for your big coming-out party, in your hometown, live on Fox. On twitter, he got called out by Andy Ruiz, who remarked that Kownacki’s style was “perfectly tailored to mine.” Kownacki sold 2,000 tickets to his own fight this weekend and plenty of Polish people will come to watch him fight, but Ruiz has the belt and far more fans due to being Mexican. If that fight happens, Ruiz would clearly be the A-side.
As for Arreola, before the fight he said if he lost, he would retire. He lost, and he should retire.
Aided by Accidental Head Butt, Jean Pascal Shocks Marcus Browne
Could a 36-year-old Jean Pascal have beaten Marcus Browne if the fight went the distance? That’s the question most boxing fans have after an accidental headbutt opened a cut above Browne’s eye, stopping the contest in the eighth round.
The fight went to the scorecards, and Pascal won a unanimous 75-74, 75-74, 75-74 decision, giving Browne the first loss of his professional career and giving Pascal the WBA interim Light Heavyweight Championship belt.
Brown outlanded Pascal almost two-to-one over the course of the bout, but Pascal dropped Browne once in the fourth round and twice in the seventh. The fact that Browne was hit by those looping counters is not a good sign for his future, fighting in the same division as punchers like Sergey Kovalev and Artur Beterbiev.
After the fight, Pascal expressed a strong belief that he would have won the fight had the head butt not occurred. Browne had a rematch clause in the fight’s contract which he plans to exercise, so we’ll likely get to see if that is indeed the case, soon enough.
Mick Conlan Stops Diego Alberto Ruiz in Ninth, Is Carl Frampton Fight Next?
In his hometown of Belfast Ireland, Mick Conlan stopped Argentina’s Diego Alberto Ruiz in the ninth round, when after dropping him with a right hand to the body, Conlan poured on the pressure and forced Ruiz’s corner to throw in the towel.
Conlan was too good for Ruiz, who was a replacement opponent after Conlan’s onetime Olympic foe Vladimir Nikitin suffered a shoulder injury, consistently befuddling him with slick boxing until Ruiz opted to brawl with Conlan in the eighth. While Ruiz landed a few punches, he came out on the wrong side of most of those exchanges.
There was an odd moment in the sixth round when Ruiz’s father hopped onto the ring apron to protest his son getting hit by repeated rabbit punches. Nothing came from that event; other than a reminder this was Ruiz’s first ever fight outside of his native Argentina.
What’s next for Conlan is an interesting prospect. Conlan was asked about facing Nikitin, but said at this point in his career it would be a step back in competition, and that he’d face him down the line if Nikitin wins enough. Bob Arum was asked about Shakur Stevenson and dodged the question, which made it clear he wanted no part of that matchup. (In fairness to Arum, why put two future cash cows against each other so early in their careers?) The match he does seem open to is having Conlan fight Carl Frampton somewhere across the pond. That would be a huge test for Conlan, but it’s unclear whether Frampton would be willing to take a fight against a guy with so little experience; this was only Conlan’s 12th professional victory.
As for Conlan’s marketability, he is making some interesting choices. He dedicated the fight to murdered Limerick heavyweight Kevin Sheehy, wore a patch in memorial to fallen Russian boxer Maxim Dadashev, as well as one encouraging people to donate their organs. Going into the fight, Top Rank put out a funny video where he talks about his parent’s reaction to him getting a tattoo, which led ESPN’s Mark Kriegel to comment “You can’t not like this kid.”
If Mark had done his research, he would know there are plenty of people that don’t like Conlan because of some of the choices he’s made in the past. While this time Conlan did not walk out to what is believed to be a pro-IRA song, and has apologized for doing so in the past, there were supposedly many pro-IRA chants coming from the crowd. As we’ve seen in American politics, what the crowd chants at your event can become a huge headache for you, so don’t be surprised if the bigger Conlan gets, the more he’s going to have to answer for his past mistakes.
Curtis Stevens Dropped in Every Round of Third-Round TKO Loss
Curtis Stevens has fallen apart very quickly. Best known for his 2013 fight against GGG where he was knocked down and made a now famous “whoa” face, Stevens suffered his second third-round TKO loss in three fights, getting dropped in each round by journeyman Wale Omotoso on Saturday night.
In his first fight at 154 after fighting as a middleweight for years, Stevens looked really bad. The shot that put him down in the first round was far from the GGG or David Lemieux-caliber punches that dropped him as a middleweight; it was a soft right hand just behind the ear. The second knockdown came on a pretty light-looking check left hook, while the fight ending shot was a nice right hand that split the guard.
At 34, and having lost four of his last nine fights, it’s time for Stevens to call it a career. The move to 154 didn’t work, and at this point, it’s hard to see anything else working either.
Anthony Fowler Bounces Back with Decision Win over Brian Rose
Fresh off the first loss of his career, which he attributed to being too cocky, the UK’s Anthony Fowler bounced back by beating veteran Brian Rose in an uneventful but unanimous 97-93, 98-92, 98-92 decision. Interestingly, after the fight Rose mentioned he would consider retiring, while Fowler argued he shouldn’t, because he still put up a good fight (he even cut Fowler in one of the later rounds). The win moved Fowler to 10-1 with eight wins via stoppage.
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