By Joseph Hammond
Oxon Hill, Maryland -- Bivol means "buffalo" in Russian. Samuel “The Main Event” Clarkson probably feels like just got ran over by a stampede after his fight with Dmitry Bivol, as Bivol maintained his WBA Interim Light Heavyweight belt with a fourth round technical knockout at the MGM National Harbor Casino Friday night.
“I thought I would finish him in the first round, but I think it was better that it went to four rounds because the fans were able to see the way I fight," said Bivol.
Bivol stomped on Clarkson in the first round with two knockdowns. Clarkson (19-4, 12 KOs) was dropped with a left hook first to the head and then to the body. Bivol rocked Clarkson a couple of times with a jab, but his left-right combinations were pretty predictable.
Bivol wanted to be a household name and told ringside media he would love to fight the winner of Andre Ward versus Kovalev. Bivol is following a now well-blazed path of trying to use the motif of the villain in Rocky IV as the basis of the promotional campaign: Another mysteriously tenacious, hard-punching, Soviet fighter. Throw in some stereotypes about bear-wrestling and vodka-swilling.
Except Bivol was born in 1990 with the Soviet Union collapsing around him. Although he was born in Kyrgyzstan, Bivol claimed Russia and entered the ring with a massive Russian flag. Given current Russian-American tensions, it is unclear how far that can be promoted.
Bivol looked rather predictable in his attack. Like a Porsche racing a smart car, he might have not needed a second gear to beat Clarkson, as Clarkson was outclassed. Clarkson had a few moments in the third, but Bivol seemed to take the round off after throwing a lot of punches in the first two rounds.
"He caught my with a good body shot for the first knockdown," said Clarkson. "I thought I was back in the fight in rounds two and three. In round four I got caught, I stumbled and my balance was off."
Bivol improved to 10-0 with the win. He might be the best 10-0 fighter in the world, as Bivol has an impressive amateur pedigree and serious power. Bivol (10-0, 8 KOs) is now the mandatory challenger for WBA (regular) Light Heavyweight World Champion Nathan Cleverly.
Bivol landed 46 percent of his power shots over the four rounds compared to just 17 percent for Clarkson.
The card was probably a rare night where the main event doesn't account for most of the ticket sales. The night saw the professional debut of Hasim Rahman, Jr., as the son of the former heavyweight champion sold most of the tickets that night. After making quick work of Ralph Alexander (whom he knocked out in the 40th second of the first round with a couple short hooks), Rahman Jr. climbed the ring posts and was greeted by hundreds of adoring fans chanting “DeeBo,” a reference to the neighborhood bully in the classic 1995 film Friday.
Love and Boxing
There was family drama behind the Super Bantamweight fight between Glenn Dezurn and Leroy Davila. Franchon Dezurn, the wife of Glenn, is also a fighter. She lost to two-time Olympic Champion Claressa Shields on the undercard of Ward-Kovalev I. It was both fighters' professional debuts and also a rematch of their amateur rivalry. Shields previously beat out Dezurn for a spot on the Olympics.
When the two have made public appearances, the rivalry between them has proven to be very real. It played out in an unexpected way at Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Claressa Shields is a supporter of Leroy Davila and entered the ring with him, along with some other promising fighters (prospect Ardreal Holmes, at least according to various media reports, is Shield’s longtime boyfriend). During the third round, she left her seat to cheer for Davila, yelling at him to jab. Dezurn, meanwhile, was supported just as vocally by his wife.
Davila won the seventh round, and a lot of the other rounds were close. Round 8 ranks as one of the best fought in the short history of boxing in Oxon Hill. The fight went to the cards with Dezurn winning 78-74 on all cards. The fight was a bit closer than those scores indicated.
"I came into the fight with the best trainers in the world, I train at the best gym in the world. I have the best team in the world and, most importantly, I have the best wife and sparring partner in the world,” said Dezurn, who trains under Barry Hunter in Washington, D.C., and spars with his wife.
In another undercard battle, welterweight Malik “Iceman” Hawkins defeated Carlos Soto of Mexico. The fight was stopped before the start of the third round by the ringside physician.
Soto developed a huge “mouse” over his left eye in the first round from a straight right hand by Hawkins. The straight right was Hawkins best punch, and as the fight continued, Soto just couldn’t see out of it. Dr. Doug Frankel checked the eye after the first, and Soto took a knee at the end of the first. Frankel mercifully stopped the fight after the second.
Hawkins remains undefeated at 11-0, with eight KO’s. Soto took his first loss in the stoppage, falling to 13-1-2, with seven KO’s.
The card also included two promising Super Featherweight prospects, Ruben Villa of Salinas, California, and Michael Dutchover of Texas. Villa is only 19 and is a promising prospect. He lost to Shakur Stevenson in the Olympic trials, forcing him to turn professional.
Villa stopped Luis Diaz of Puerto Rico at the 35-second mark of the fourth round. Villa is now 5-0.
"I just didn't want to get caught with one of those," Villa told the DSH, alluding to how Diaz loaded up on a punch every 30 seconds to little effect. Villa just didn’t have great offense, he also displayed excellent defense.
Dutchover, 19, took just three rounds to knock out Eder Amaro Fajardo who quit on his stool between rounds.
Joey Dawejko can box
You haven’t heard of him, but Joey Dawejko is perhaps the greatest 17-4-4 fighter ever. Dawejko previously lost to Amir Mansour, and he quit on his stool against Charles Martin of Los Angeles in a fight he took on short notice. But make no mistake, he can box.
He is short for a heavyweight at 5'10". A glance at his physique reminds one of a Viking warrior who is in-between raids and is just enjoying his tattoo sessions and feasts.
If you Google “Joey Dawejko” you will find this video of Dawejko winning a fight in 30 seconds with dramatic uppercut.
Rodney Hernandez must have seen that tape, or maybe he thought because Dawejko had once quit on his stool that he could take care of him in short order. Hernandez jumped out of the gate with powerful combos, landing most of them.
Dawejko chose instead to snipe with hard counter shots throughout the fight. Dawejko bloodied Hernandez’s nose, but the kid from Modesto continued to fight. With Hernandez's offensive onslaught slowed by the counter shots, it seemed that Dawejko was setting up Hernandez for a big KO.
Dawejko displayed some nice skills, turning a hook into a jab, a tough combo to pull off. He even did a shoulder roll at one point. Dawejko ran out of rounds in the eight round fight, as the 26-year-old managed a split draw with scores of 77-75 Dawejko, 78-74 Hernandez, and 76-76 Draw. It was a tough fight to score, but the Daily Sports Herald also had it a draw. Dawejko, had he dug deep in the final round, would have won the fight. He also failed to land his signature uppercut.
The card started a bit behind schedule, but the first fight of the evening was a quick knockout to start the evening off with a bang. Sergey Kuzmin of St. Petersburg, Russia, forced Keenan Hickman of Baton Rouge, to quit on his stool between rounds.
Hickman showed some Razor Ruddock-style head movement early in the fight, but injured his arm in the third. He consulted with the ringside physician, but continued the bout. Kuzmin knocked down Hickman in the third. Hickman, who took the bout on short notice, fell to 5-2-1, with two KO’s. Kuzmin improved to 10-0.
In a walkout bout, local Baltimore journeyman light heavyweight Travis “Seveer” Reeves defeated Taneal “Spider” Goyco in an eight-round bout. Goyco showed some promise, especially when he dipped before throwing his right hand. By then, most of the 2100-plus fans had left the building after a great night of boxing.