By Derek Bonnett from Ringside
The MGM Grand at Foxwoods, Mashantucket, CT, USA, played host to a stacked HBO Boxing After Dark card on Saturday, June 29. Fast-rising middleweight star, Gennady Golovkin, took a major step up in opposition to meet two-time world title challenger Matthew Macklin. Thomas Oosthuizen and Willie Nelson were also scheduled in separate bouts on the triple header. SecondsOut covered both the untelevised and televised portions of the DiBella Entertainment card from ringside.
In the main event, Matthew Macklin started off boxing well keeping a slow pace as Golovkin followed him around the ring. The champion began finding his right hand as Macklin circled in its direction. A straight lead right rocked Macklin into the ropes as the round concluded. Early in the second Macklin was rocked again off balance as Golovkin reached in with the right hand. The patient champion maintained the pressure and kept Macklin on the move along the ropes. Macklin planted his feet in the corner and traded with Golovkin late in the round, but he did not land any clean blows. Macklin turned Golovkin’s head with a quick one-two, but the champion responded with a powerful series of his own, which sent Macklin back on his heels. A thunderous left to the body dropped Macklin midway through the round. The challenger writhed in pain on the canvas as he was counted out at 1:22 of round three.
Golovkin advanced his resume to 27-0 (24). It was the eighth defense of his WBA middleweight title. Macklin failed in this third title attempt and dropped to 29-5 (20).
In the second bout of the telecast, South Africa’s Thomas Oosthuizen met fellow unbeaten Brandon Gonzales of Sacramento, CA in a ten round super middleweight contest. Oosthuizen dedicated the bout to the ailing Nelson Mandela. Oostuizen started quickly, pumping a speedy jab at Gonzales, who looked a little dry at the start. The round went his way easily, but Oosthuizen was tagged by a right hook pulling back with his hands down. Gonzales came in a little too wildly to close the gap on Oosthuizen, but his mounted pressure slowed Oosthuizen’s punch output in round two. Oosthuizen’s reflexes made the difference in round three as he was able to rip off rapid three punch combos. Gonzales was able to let his hands go, but “Tommy Gun” was able to deflect many with his shoulder and forearm. Oosthuizen continued to control the distance for much of the fourth, but Gonzales finally broke through to make it a chest to chest battle, but he could not land effectively outside of an after the bell shot. Gonzales had his best round in the fifth as he finally managed to land the more significant punches and with greater frequency.
In round six Gonzales right hand began to find a home through Oosthuizen lowering guard. The tempo of the fight increased and the momentum shifted toward Gonzales, who punched with greater fluidity for the first time in the fight. Oosthuizen re-asserted the use of his power jab in the seventh and utilized better foot movement to keep Gonzales at bay. Round eight saw some excellent two way exchanges as both fighters landed well with combinations. Oosthuizen’s greater volume seemingly was enough to keep him slightly ahead on the scorecards. Gonzales worked Oosthuizen over along the ropes for much of the ninth to move the fight closer. Oosthuizen surrendered his distance and ate enough leather to cost him the round. In the final round, Oosthuizen jumped out of the gate to use high volume combinations to blind Gonzales. Not a lot landed cleanly, but it was enough to stall a waning Gonzales. “Flawless” did managed to land a few well-timed overhand rights on Oosthuizen just to remind him the final outcome was still in the balance.
The bout was declared a draw after one judge favored Gonzales 98-92, but was overruled by a 96-94 margin favoring Oosthuizen. The third card had the bout even 95-95. Gonzales’ record moved to 17-0-2 (10). Oosthuizen’ record now stands at 21-0-2 (13).
The HBO broadcast got underway with Willie Nelson’s clash against Argentina’s Luciano Leonel Cuello. The scheduled ten-rounder was contested for Nelson’s NABF super welterweight title. Nelson applied the early pressure and laid down some long range combinations, but Cuello boxed wisely and kept his guard tight to prevent Nelson from scoring cleanly. Cuello cut Nelson early in the third and did a nice job of closing the gap while Nelson surrendered his physical advantages. The more technical boxing prevailed for the Argentine. Nelson used his legs to create some range and recapture his early success in the fourth. Cuello broke through again in a competitive fifth round, but Nelson’s lead combos gave him a slight advantage.
The second half of the bout remained competitive. Cuello still found ways to break through Nelson’s offense to land several well-timed combos, but his rate of output was underwhelming. Cuello stunned Nelson badly to the body and had him reeling in the seventh. Foolishly, Cuello went head-hunting after hurting his man. Nelson went back to the corner still on wobbly legs. Cuello kept the momentum through the eighth as Nelson willingly grinded with him on the inside. Nelson opened a cut on the corner of the right eye of Cuello in what turned out to be a better round for him, albeit a close one. Cuello rocked Nelson badly with a series of uppercuts and had Nelson pouring blood from the eye and nose. Nelson held on for dear life as he wobbled on unsteady legs. Nelson’s left eye was completely closed. Cuello once again let the moment slip away from him as Nelson held onto until the final bell.
The judges’ cards favored Nelson by unpopular scores of 97-93 twice and 96-94.
Nelson raised his dossier to 21-1-1 (12). Cuello dipped to 32-3 (15).