|Photo by: Manny Murillo/RJJ Boxing Promotions|
Las Vegas -- In a rare night of prizefighting that truly lived up to its billing and pre-fight hype, Roy Jones Jr. Promotions’ “Knockout Night at the D” turned out to be just that, as no less than three of the evening's five bouts ended early. The night culminated with a surprise, as the previously unbeaten 160-pound Russian prospect Arif “The Predator” Magomedov (17-1, 10 KOs) was soundly defeated by an inspired Andrew “Hurricane” Hernandez (12-4-1, 4 KOs) in the main event.
Hernandez earned a unanimous 10-round decision (100-89 twice, 98-91) to win the vacant USNBC middleweight title.
"This fight changes everything for me," Hernandez proclaimed. "He's very good and deserves all of the accolades he's received but I now have my head on straight and I'm focused. My jab was very important tonight. He's very strong but I wanted to fight him inside because I knew he couldn't take it from me. I was very prepared. I think I may have broken my ankle in the fourth round but I kept going. I wanted to finish him, get the knockout, but he's a very tough fighter. He has heart and showed why he has all of those accolades."
Magomedov was the heavy favorite heading into the fight, as he was a top five ranked contender by no less than three different sanctioning bodies. Add that to the fact that as recently as a month ago, Hernandez was weighing around 200 pounds and training for a fight in the cruiserweight division, causing many to believe he would be a drained fighter. However, contrary to conventional thinking, the Phoenix-based Hernandez -- now obviously a middleweight -- seemed to actually gain an advantage in energy and strength as the fight progressed.
Despite starting off at a somewhat slow and measured pace, Hernandez began to find his range in Round Three, connecting with a series of nice uppercuts, followed by some blistering left hooks. He had Magomedov noticeably hurt on a couple of occasions, as the Russian seemed to freeze up and go stiff whilst standing right in front of his opponent on a few occasions.
Magomedov gained some traction back in the fourth, countering his man well with intelligent step-around hooks. In the fifth round, Hernandez continued to box effectively, jabbing and circling, turning his opponent, and then stinging him with hard shots to the body.
The pace slowed considerably in the sixth, as each man fought at a more measured rate, whether they realized it or not. Hernandez continued to impress, jabbing accurately and countering with the right hand from distance. At this point, the "Predator" instead took on the unwanted role of the hunted. Each man looked to close the round big, as they traded heavy shots to close the frame.
In Round Seven, Hernandez again showed that he was no joke, noticeably rocking Magomedov with a couple of huge rights that stopped the Russian fighter right in his tracks.
The eighth was another round in which Hernandez controlled his man and backed him up with his jab. Magomedov seemed unable to establish any rhythm, as he was kept back on his heels by the taller Hernandez, and was quite mindful of his big uppercut shots. Hernandez wisely continued to attack the body in this round.
By Round Nine, the Russian challenger was desperately winging shots in the hope of somehow connecting, but Hernandez stayed patient and calm, boxing when necessary and playing defense when the time called for it. The combat took place primarily in close counters in this round, until approximately 10 seconds remained and Hernandez once again dazed his man with a nice left-right combination. It became clear to nearly all in attendance that "The Predator" would need to hunt and capture himself a knockout if he hoped to emerge victorious.
While Hernandez opened up the final round boxing behind his long jab, Magomedov tried to muck it up and make things ugly, at one point earning himself a warning from referee Jay Nady.
Later, it was Hernandez sealing what now was a foregone conclusion, dropping Magomedo face first with a huge right hand. Upon barely stumbling to his feet, Magomedov was wise to try and tie up his opponent, narrowly surviving the round and ending the fight on his feet.
In earlier action on the night, Long Beach, California's Jeremy “J-Flash” Nichols continued his winning ways, as he was able to land his straight left to the body early and often against his Puerto Rican opponent, Julio “El Indio” Santos.
With seconds to go in the opening round, Nichols found his mark with a flurry of punches that lived up to his nickname, causing Santos to hold until the bell. Round Two saw the shorter Nichols continue to succeed in backing his man into the corner and then teeing off. Nichols was the aggressor in the fourth as well, but Santos did counter him well.
In the end, Nichols would win by unanimous decision, and then went on to show off his dance moves to the amusement of the crowd.
"I know I could have done a little better, throwing more combinations and jab," Nichols said. "He came in trying but he couldn't fight. I sent him back to Puerto Rico with a loss."
Lopez used that same left hand to stun Cochrane on no less than three more occasions in the round, with the third time resulting in the second knockdown of the first round. This time Cochrane was clearly hurt, as he dangerously fell flat on his face before unsteadily rising. Cochrane was still on unsteady legs, and despite fighting gamely, was caught with a monstrous right hand along the ropes that put him down for good. He remained down and unconscious for several scary moments.
With the win, Lopez picked up just the fourth KO victory of his 12-fight career and improved to 11-1. The loss was the first suffered by Cochran,
In the fight that actually may have garnered more feverish anticipation than all other fights on the card, including the main event, 2015 Youth World Champion and Las Vegas native Devin “The Dream” Haney put Jairo “El Leon” Vargas and the rest of those in the featherweight and neighboring divisions on notice that there is a new fighter on the cusp of making some real noise in the not-so-distant future.
Working with Floyd Mayweather Sr. in his corner, the seventeen year-old used a surprisingly educated jab, in conjunction with great mastery of distance and angles, including a seemingly improbable right uppercut from range, to control his man for virtually the entire 3 minutes of the opening round.
In the second round, Haney continued to impress, this time showing nice acumen and comfort in fighting well on the inside. Haney closed the round by countering the hard-charging Vargas effectively.
The end was both sudden and abrupt as Haney put an end to things at just 1:34 of the fourth round, stunning Vargas with an overhand right behind a step-in jab along the ropes, and then pouncing on the opportunity, as he showcased an amazing killer instinct for such a young pugilist and dispatched of his man with an impressive arsenal of punches. Haney's shots prompted veteran referee Jay Nady to put an end to things early in just the fourth round.
"I happy that I put on a good performance for my fans," Haney commented after the fight. "My team put together the strategy to use my jab and breakdown his body. I picked up my combinations did what I was told to do."
In the night’s co-feature , NABA-USA Super welterweight title holder John “The Phenom” Vera Jr. counted on his big straight left hand to try and keep the tough Joey "Boxer" Ruelas at bay.
In the second, Ruelas seemed to catch Vera’s attention with a big right hook. Vera responded in kind, only to be caught with another big right, this time below the belt line. After taking a few moments to compose himself, Vera came back out aggressively, initiating some big exchanges. However, now it was Ruelas that seemed to control things with a stiff right jab, likely edging the round his favor in the opinion of most in attendance.
Ruelas did some good work in Round Three, landing some awesome uppercuts. Both men would open up more in Round 4, leading to some memorable exchanges where each had their heads violently knocked back.
Round 5 featured more aggressive action, as each man tried to establish supremacy. Ruelas continued to charge hard while coming forward, as Vera seemed intent to counter. This strategy led to trouble for Vera in the fifth, as he absorbed some hard shots while backing up and circling, seemingly in hopes of landing a big counter that never came.
In Round 6, Vera was able to finally counter his man, stunning him with a hard looping shot, and then unloading on Ruelas, who continued to fire back on instinct, until Nady stepped in and stopped the fight. The stoppage occurred despite the fact that Ruelas never actually hit the canvas. This was not lost on the attendees, as many voiced their displeasure with what they surely felt was a premature decision to stop the fight by the normally dependable Nady.
"I knew eventually he'd put his hands down and I'd catch him," Vera explained. "I thank him for the opportunity to fight. He's helluva fighter, I give him that, but I know I'm a warrior. I took some shots but gave 'em, too. I broke him down and just kept throwing those lefts."
OFFICIAL RESULTS (Winner listed first)
MAIN EVENT - MIDDLEWEIGHTS
Andrew Hernandez (12-4-1, 3 KOs), Phoenix, Arizona
WDEC10 (100-89, 100-89, 98-91)
Arif Magomedov (17-1, 10 KOs), Chekhov, Russia
(Hernandez won vacant USNBC middleweight title)
CO-FEATURE - SUPER WELTERWEIGHTS
John "The Phenom" Vera (14-0, 9 KOs), Champion, Fort Worth, Texas
Joey "Boxer" Ruelas (10-2-1, 4 KOs), Challenger, Phoenix, Arizona
(Vera won or retained USNBC super welterweight title)
Tony Lopez (11-1, 4 KOs), Dallas, TX
Jerren Cochran (11-1-1, 4 KOs), Houston, TX
Devin Haney (6-0, 4 KOs), Las Vegas, Nevada
Jairo Fernandez (4-1, 3 KOs), Veracruz, Mexico
Jeremy Nichols (4-0, 2 KOs), Las Vegas, Nevada
WDEC4 (40-36, 40-36, 39-37)
Julio Santos (2-3, 1 KO), Ponce, Puerto Rico
By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for TheDailySportsHerald.com