Shumenov takes out Santiago in title defense
Ringside report & photos by Chris Cozzone
The last time WBA Light Heavyweight Champion Beibut Shumenov fought in Las Vegas – home now for the Khazakh – he won his title with a very questionable split decision over Gabriel Campillo.
The only thing controversial about last night’s title fight and bombardment of the “Bronx Bomber,” Danny Santiago, who earned little more than a Bronx cheer for his efforts, was why a better challenger could not be found.
Dominating every round before a 23-blow barrage in round nine had referee Tony Weeks waving off the slaughter, Shumenov retained his belt by TKO on a card promoted by KZ Event Productions, Golden Boy and Don Chargin. The title fight was televised on Telefutura’s “Solo Boxeo” from the South Point Hotel Casino before a crowd of nearly 2,000, most of whom had been given free tickets.
Santiago, rated out of the top ten in the WBA, at No. 15, and unrecognized by the other ABCs, had been a former WBO title challenger in 2007, but a TKO loss to Antonio Tarver and get-back wins over mediocre foes were enough for the WBA to deem him a worthy challenger over guys like Campillo, who still looms largely as a No. 1 contender.
Santiago had his moments in the fight, but could not figure out a way to stem the Khazakhstan champ’s aggression.
After weathering a very early attack, Shumenov worked his jab, created the distance he needed, then sat back to take his time pounding away at Santiago, who stayed at range like a good opponent following the script.
Santiago could not find a way to close the distance for, at every attempt, he found himself at the end of a jab, a straight right or a choppy left hand. Kept at bay, the challenger followed Shumenov around, hoping to land his own right. It was a tactical fight of rights through the first five frames, until a big one from the Khazakh staggered Santiago at the end of the fifth.
Santiago came out with a mouse under his right eye in the sixth and continued walking into punches. Desperate, Santiago made round seven close, by staggering the champ with a rarely-thrown left hook. Revving up the pro-Shumenov crowd, Santiago drew an imaginary line on the canvas with his foot, as if to say, “Let’s fight,” but, one round later, it was more like, “Alright, you win.”
Santiago pocketed his hook and went back to walking into punches through the eighth. Early into the ninth, Shumenov unleashed his final barrage and the fight was called off at :46.
“My eye bothered me and I couldn’t see the punches at the end,” said Santiago, now 31-5-1, 19 KOs. “He’s a great fighter and has good technique.”
Shumenov, 12-1, 8 KOs with the win, said Santiago proved tougher than expected.
“He was durable and can take punches,” he said. “It wasn’t what I expected, but I could’ve thrown more punches.”
Watching the fight from ringside and joining Shumenov in the ring was former champ Jean Pascal.
“I want to fight you in Canada," he told Shumenov.
"You fight in Canada, I am from Kazakhstan," was the champ’s response. “Let's fight in Las Vegas where all the champions fight."
Hudaynazarov blows through "Hurricane"
In the non-televised co-main, Ravshan Hudaynazarov (15-0, 12 KOs), also of Las Vegas by way of Kazakhstan, defended his WBA Fedlatin welterweight strap against game-but-outclassed “Hurricane” Hector Munoz (19-6-1, 12 KOs), of Albuquerque, N.M.
Munoz had lost four of his last five bouts, most of which have been “title” shots sanctioned by one ABC or another. Against Hudaynazrov, Munoz lacked the firepower to turn the fight around, but was certainly able to land punches while taking anything thrown his way.
Munoz won round one with his jab and punch output but the Khazakh opened up in the second, landing the harder, sharper punches and going to the body.
In the third and fourth, hard rights crashed down on Munoz’s mug, but, in the fifth, Munoz’s weaker but more frequent punches won him a second round over a resting Hudaynazarov.
Hudaynazarov picked up the pace from the sixth to tenth rounds, using Munoz as a heavy bag in the sixth, driving him back in the seventh and countering him well in the eighth. Hudaynazarov played matador in the ninth and, in the tenth, the two both unloaded on each other.
Two judges cored it 99-91 for Hudaynazarov while the third saw it 98-92. Fightnews gave Munoz two rounds, scoring it 98-92.
Ahmedov shuts out late sub in title tilt
Defending his WBA International light-heavyweight title, Uzbekistan’s Gayrat Ahmedov (17-0-1, 11 KOs) had to work for a win over late sub Billy Bailey (11-12, 4 KOs), of Bakersfield, Calif., who replaced Albuquerque’s Max Heyman on a few days notice.
Despite the eleventh hour foe swapping, the WBA saw fit to sanction the “title fight,” though Bailey had lost six of his last seven bouts.
Bailey was certainly game, but Ahmedov’s harder shots – almost all to the body – earned him the rounds. Ahmedov was there for the hitting, but Bailey either lacked the firepower or had the late sub’s lack of conditioning, that stacked the odds in the title-holder’s favor, to turn it around.
All three judges had it 80-72.
Montano surprised by Suazo
In a six-round lightweight bout, Tucson’s Juan Suazo (8-4-3, 5 KOs) surprised Las Vegas’ Ramon Montano (17-10-2, 2 KOs) for the unanimous decision.
Suazo’s right hand edged the first. By the second, neither fighter was able to miss landing on the other. Showing the effects of his previous wars, Montano was on the short end of the exchanges, Suazo’s shots full of bite
Montano came out for the second with his left eye completely closed – things went from bad to worse for the Vegas favorite. Refusing to back down, Montano duked it out with Suazo over the next three rounds, sheer will stealing the fifth, but the Tucson pug’s bigger shots had Montano in a spot of trouble near the end.
The scores ranged from 60-54 to 59-55 to 58-56. Fightnews gave Montano one round, scoring it 59-55.
“Lightning” strikes in Las Vegas
In the most entertaining bout on the card, Las Vegas’ “130-pound Beast,” “Lightning” Lonnie Smith (14-2-2, 10 KOs), who brought more locals to the venue than Shumenov, weathered a rough first round to take out Tijuana’s Eduardo “Lalo” Arcos (16-5-1, 13 KOs), two rounds later.
A virtual slugfest from the opening bell, Arcos caught Smith several times in the first, but Smith, grinning and seeming to enjoy the battle, evened the score in round two with a vicious body attack. The round ended with a toe-to-toe throwdown in Arcos’ corner.
The two collided again in the middle of the ring, but after another round of non-stop action, Arcos was in no shape to come out for the final frame, his corner having thrown in the sponge between rounds.
Diaz bucks Nichol
When Esteban “Junglehead” Nichol (3-2, 3 KOs), of Denver, was last in Vegas, two weeks ago, he lost his perfect record to Jesse Magdaleno, who pummeled him down twice en route to a decision. Last night, against Wild Card pupil Joel Diaz (5-0, 4 KOs), of Palmdale, Calif., Nichol repeated his unsuccess by double-timing his trips to the matt with a loss by TKO at 2:20 of round one.
Diaz wasted no time and, pounding away at Nichol with every punch imaginable, put the Denverite twice.
In the four-round cruiserweight walk-out bout, one fighter was better than his record indicated while the other was worse.
Barely scraping by with a split decision win, Russian Medzhid Bektemirov (6-0, 5 KOs), fighting out of Houston, had oodles of difficulty with crafty Phoenician Chad Davis (3-9, 0 KOs).
Davis smothered, held and, generally, outboxed Bektemirov, particularly well in the first and third rounds, while the undefeated Russian, most likely, expecting his sixth, unchallenging foe, waited too long to load up on power shots, though landed the stiffer shots.
The judges were mixed, ranging from 39-37 apiece, to, somehow, a 40-36 shutout for Bektemirov. The crowd was less mixed, most of ‘em booing while a horde of Bektemirov followers sought to lessen the impact with cheers.
Longtime promoter Don Chargin was honored for his contributions to the sport with an award.
An award of some sort – maybe a belt along the order of a “silver,” “fecombox,” or “Fedlatin-international-superthis-or-that” variety – should’ve been presented to the WBA. Three WBA belts were on the line in last night’s card, from Shumenov’s world title, to two lesser ones hardly worth repeating their lengthy labels. The world title challenger unnoticed by the WBC, IBF and WBO, was ranked No. 15 by the WBA. The two “challengers” for lesser titles? One had lost six of his last seven; the other, four out of his last five.