By:Marc Livitz at ringside: Ismayl Sillakh was heavily favored this evening. ESPN’s "Friday Night Fights" was to be his showcase. The unbeaten fighter from Simi Valley, California by way of Ukraine ran into a brick wall in the form of also undefeated Denis Grachev and was knocked out in the eighth round after putting on a near virtuoso performance at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.
Sillakh showed his superior footwork and overall movement from the opening bell. He used a rapid left jab as he waited to set up his right cross, as well as using his height and reach to a tremendous advantage. Grachev (San Diego, CA by way of Russia) was unwillingly leaning forward into Sillakh’s powerful shots. The Ukrainian fighter was not allowing his Russian opponent to apply any meaningful pressure. Throughout rounds two and three, Ismayl continued to box and move with great efficiency. Denis Grachev had trouble closing the gap between them and could not effectively connect with many of his punches. The first knockdown arrived courtesy of a short right cross from Sillakh. Grachev went down to one knee and quickly rose to his feet.
As round four began, Sillakh’s "light as a feather" footwork was gone. He was forced to pivot whenever he tried to land his short right uppercut. In the fifth, Grachev turned up the pressure just a bit and Sillakh began to move a little too much for the taste of the crowd inside the Erwin Center. Ismayl started round six with a quick jab/uppercut combination, but his power was all but vanished. The fighter from Russia proved to be an extremely tough customer. He was perfectly content with taking a three to one punch ratio between he and the undefeated fighter from Ukraine.
Tonight was Ismayl Sillakh’s chance to make his case to fight the winner of this weekend’s contest between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson for true supremacy within the light heavyweight ranks. He had Grachev outgunned for the entirety of the bout, but he did not put him away. This would be the breaking fault of Sillakh. The undying will of Denis Grachev helped him find the strength to score the upset. He caught Ismayl with a crushing overhand right which sent the Ukrainian pugilist into a corner. Grachev attacked and did not let up. A flurry of hard punches to the head left Sillakh utterly defenseless.
Ismayl plummeted toward the canvas and almost through the ropes. Referee Rocky Burke waved the bout to a close. Denis Grachev remains undefeated at (12(8)-0-1) and is now the new NABF Light Heavyweight champion. Sillakh falls to (17(14)-1).
Fortuna Crushes Evans
Javier Fortuna made quick work of Yaundale Evans in a matchup of undefeated featherweights. The Dominican fighter (who is trained by Sergio Martinez’s cornerman, Gabriel Sarmiento) wasted no time in taking the fight to his Cleveland, OH based opponent. A powerful overhand right got the attention of Evans (18(13)-0) early on in the opening moments. Quickly thereafter, a strong left hook from Fortuna (16(12)-0) dropped Evans. Although "Honeyshot" beat the count, he was clearly dazed but allowed to continue by referee Mark Caloy. Javier went on the offensive mere moments after the bout resumed. A flurry of shots put Evans against the ropes and ultimately against the odds. Another left hook dropped Yaundale, only this time the official would not let the bout continue. Javier Fortuna TKO 1 at 2:02 Yaundale Evans.
Brice Ritani TKO 1 (15 sec. - one punch) Clay Herzing – Heavyweights
Mitch Williams UD 4 Ray Johnson – Crusierweights
Daniel Henry DRAW Jawnta Manson - Super Middleweights