Sergey Kovalev lived up to his name and “Krushed” Gabriel Campillo on Saturday night at the Mohegan on NBC Sports Fight Night, improving to 20-0-1 with 18 knockout victories, and instantly placing himself in title contention.
In the co-feature of the evening, Stevens (23-3, 17 KOs) made an emphatic statement, stopping Elvin Ayala 1 minute, 10 seconds into the opening round of a scheduled 10-round bout to claim the vacant North American Boxing Federation (NABF) middleweight title.
The event, co-promoted by Main Events and Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports, aired live on the NBC Sports Network.
Kovalev was simply too physically strong, and was able to impose his will on Campillo. Campillo, of course, was robbed against Tavoris Cloud last year, and was hoping to make another run at a title. It looks like that’s out of the question at least for the time being, and he’ll be in need of some major rebuilding.
But as for Kovalev, who knocked his man down three times in the third round leading to the stoppage victory, officially a TKO3 at 1:30 of the round, questions about his style and his ability to adapt against a high level opponent have seemingly been answered. He’s an exciting, action fighter, with devastating power, and we’ll certainly be seeing more of him on the NBC Sports Fight Night series.
The middleweight division appears to be a perfect fit for Curtis Stevens, as he was fighting at 160 pounds for just the second time since returning to professional boxing in March,
Stevens, a hard-hitting Brooklyn native who fought most of his career at super middleweight and light heavyweight, dropped Ayala with a hard left hook to the temple in the opening minute.
“I came out jabbing early on – jab, jab, jab,” Stevens said. “At one point, I saw him overcommit. He was trying to set me up. So I ‘stayed in the bucket,’ as my coach put it, and when he threw that right, I found my opening.”
Ayala appeared wobbly as he rose to his feet, but continued to fight.
“I told myself, ‘If he gets up, his ass is grass,” Stevens said.
Sensing his opponent’s weakness, Stevens kept applying the pressure and ultimately finished the bout seconds later with another flurry that sent Ayala into the ropes.
“I’m cut from a different cloth. This is a great feeling. I took two long years off. To come back like this means a lot. I don’t want it given to me; I want to take it.”
The main event ended in similar fashion with unbeaten Russian light heavyweight prospect Sergey Kovalev (20-0-1, 17 KOs) – ranked No. 3 in the world entering Saturday – stopping former world champion Gabriel Campillo 1:30 into the third round. Kovalev dropped Campillo three times in the third, ending the bout for good with an overhand that put Campillo flat on his back.
The night began with a controversial decision as heavyweights Jarrell Miller (4-0-1) of Brooklyn and Philadelphia’s Joey Dawejko (7-1-2) fought to a draw due to an untimely, two-point deduction from Miller’s scorecard in the third round for excessively shoving the shorter Dawejko to the canvas. Miller won the final three rounds on each scoreboard, but the deduction resulted in a 37-37, 37-37, 37-37 finish.
Super featherweights Jason Sosa (8-1-3, 4 KOs) of Camden, N.J., and Chip Perez (10-2) of East Hartford, Conn., traded blows for three rounds until Sosa finished Perez with an overhand left 50 seconds into the fourth round. Perez also hit the canvas in the opening round, but fought back strong in the second and third before hitting the deck again early in the fourth. Perez beat the count, but the referee stopped the bout as Perez wobbled to the neutral corner.
Super middleweight Marcus Upshaw (15-8-1, 7 KOs) of Jacksonville, Fla., returned to Mohegan Sun for the first time in three years and pulled off an impressive comeback win over Vladine Biosse (14-2-1) of Providence, stopping Biosse at the 2:25 mark of the eighth and final round after losing the first two rounds. The taller Upshaw began using his reach to his advantage midway through the fight, preventing Biosse from working the body. Upshaw sent Biosse to the canvas in the fifth and eighth rounds and finished the fight for good after the second knockdown with another flurry in the closing seconds.
Willimantic, Conn., lightweight Edwin Cotto (1-0, 1 KO) put on an impressive performance in his professional debut, stopping Brooklyn’s Ian James (2-5-1) 18 seconds into the fourth and final round. Cotto scored knockdowns in the second and third and ended the bout for good in the fourth with a flurry of lefts and rights that sent James tumbling into the referee’s arms.
Welterweight Jimmy Wlliams (1-0, 1 KO) of New Haven also put on a show in his debut, stopping Noel Garcia (2-16-2) of Springfield, Mass., 39 seconds into the third round of their scheduled four-round bout. Garcia put up a good fight before Williams dropped him late in the third. He continued to press forward in the fourth and ended Garcia’s night with a vicious, 1-2 combination.
Facing her toughest test to date, New London, Conn., female bantamweight Shelito Vincent (7-0) remained unbeaten with a 59-55, 58-56, 58-56 unanimous decision win over Nydia Feliciano (5-4-3) of the Bronx. Vincent finished as strong as she started, overwhelming Feliciano in the sixth and final round and pressing her opponent against the ropes to secure the victory.