By Mike Sloan ringside in Las Vegas: It took Ishe Smith his entire professional career to finally become a champion. In his first ever title defense, he let the belt leave his possession and into the hands of Carlos Molina. In a fight where neither man ever seized control or dominated his opponent, Molina was awarded a version of the junior middleweight title via split decision.
The fight was the antithesis of the two that bookended it in terms of excitement because it was an extremely dull affair. With neither boxer sporting the sort of crushing power to end a fight with one shot, it was a duel largely made up of pitter-patter punchers, leaving a lot to be desired as each round wore away.
Smith (25-6, 11 KOs), the only Las Vegas native to become a world champion, looked lethargic throughout the encounter and was pushed around by the Mexican. Molina clinched whenever he got close, nullifying most of what Smith tried to throw. When Smith gave himself enough space to punch and counter, he did well, though he rarely gave himself said space throughout the fight.
Many of the rounds were extremely close and could have gone to either man. But when the fight concluded, the general notion was that Molina (22-5-2, 6 KOs) had done enough to win. However, judge Adalaide Byrd scored it 116-112 for Smith. Her score was offset by those of Burt Clements and Barry Druxman, who saw it 117-111 and 116-112, respectively, for Molina.
Cano Wins War Over Theophane
Welterweight Pablo Cesar Cano finally got his first ever victory on American soil, but it was not an easy task. Cano stood toe-to-toe for most of the allotted ten rounds against Ashley Theophane and wound up walking away with an incredibly hard-fought split decision.
The Mexican rocked his foe repeatedly throughout the contest, but he was never able to either knock Theophane off his feet or take him out completely. Whether it was from his powerful overhand right or sharp counter left hook, Cano controlled most of the action and seemed just a few punches away from having the fight halted several times. However, the Las Vegas-based Theophane was tougher than leather and stood his ground, bravely fighting back every time he was wobbled.
Cano (27-3-1, 20 KOs) appeared to sweep the first five or six rounds – he rocked his opponent badly in the third and fifth rounds – but he seemed to fade in the latter stages of the contest. Theophane picked up his pace at that point and turned the fight in his favor, but eventually Cano’s reliable right hand crashed home again, badly rocking him again in the ninth. Still, Cano couldn’t put him away and had to fight tooth and nail until the final bell sounded.
When the dust settled, it seemed as though Cano had dominated most of the fight and won the fight going away, even though it was a back-and-forth tussle. However, ringside judge Ricardo Ocasio saw the bout in favor of Theophane (33-6-1, 10 KOs) with a score of 96-94. The other two judges saw it for Cano, though, with scores of 98-92 and 97-93. SecondsOut also had it for Cano, but by a wider margin of 98-91.
Middleweight prospect Luis Arias was a dominating force against James Winchester, scoring a shutout over six rounds. Arias, from Las Vegas, was the aggressor throughout the bout and mauled the Reidsville, North Carolina fighter from start to finish. Arias was not able to put away his foe, but he won a lopsided unanimous decision via tallies of 60-54 on all three cards. With the win, Arias jumped to 7-0 with 3 KOs while Winchester dipped to 16-9 with 6 KOs.
Another local fighter, Ronald Gavril was dominant over eight rounds en route to a unanimous decision win over Flint, Michigan fighter Shujaa El Amin. Gavril used superior footwork, jabs and counters throughout and won via scores of 79-73 on all three ringside scorecards. El Amin was tough and tried to continuously engage the quicker Gavril, but it was not enough. Gavril improved to 7-0 with 5 KOs while El Amin dipped to 12-5 with 6 KOs.
Middleweight prospect Chris Pearson destroyed opponent Joshua Williams, stopping him in just 74 seconds. Pearson, from Dayton, Ohio, stuck a stiff jab in his foe’s face from the start, which set up perfect straight lefts and rights. Williams (9-6, 5 KOs), from Westerly, Rhode Island, couldn’t avoid the onslaught and was mercifully rescued by referee Russell Mora. With the TKO, Pearson improved to 12-0 with 9 KOs.
Local super middleweight Lanell Bellows made quick work of Jordan Moore. Bellows (6-0-1, 5 KOs) crushed Moore with a right hand to the body, sending him to his knees where he was counted out by referee Robert Byrd. The official time of the knockout came at 2:30 of the opening frame. Moore, from Logan, West Virginia, fell to 3-1.
The heavyweight tussle between local fighter Andrew Tabiti (1-0, 1 KO) and Nskayumn, New York’s Edward Smith (1-0) was scrapped because Smith never showed up. No official reasons were given as to why he never made it to the MGM as of press time, though it was rumored to be because Smith never gave a pre-fight urine sample.
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September 14, 2013