This past Saturday night at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City , New Jersey, HBO’s boxing after dark returned with a very interesting double header event. The first bout of the night pinned rising prospects Karim ‘Hard Hitta’ Mayfield and Thomas Dulorme against one another for the vacant NABF light welterweight title. Mayfield came into the fight with his trainer Virgil Hunter and carried a perfect record of 18-0 (11 KO’s) Dulorme also was accompanied by a top level trainer in Robert Garcia, and he came in with a 21-1 (14 KO’s) record.
The opening rounds saw the taller Dulorme have more success by keeping the fight on the outside and not allowing Mayfield the opening to land any shots of his own. Early in round 1, Dulorme landed a clean left hook which momentarily staggered Mayfield. It wasn’t until round 3 that Mayfield was able to close the distance and landed his first significant shots of the fight.
Mayfield success in round 3 was short lived, as the tide shifted back to Dulorme’s favor. ‘Hard Hitta’ attempted to make the fight into a physical affair by forcing Dulorme back to the ropes. However, Dulorme was still able to land the more effective blows inside, both to the body and to the head. At one point in the 6th round, Mayfield was hurt by a shot up against the ropes.
In round 7, a clash of heads caused a cut on Thomas Dulorme’s head. Mayfield rallied and won the round by out working Dulorme, but was unable to land any fight changing blows. Round 8 was a controversial round, as Mayfield was hit twice below the belt and to the surprise of some people, referee Steve Smoger did not deduct a point for either of the offences. Both round 8 and 9 were dominated by Dulorme, as Mayfield was not effective with his attack.
As the final round approached, Virgil Hunter urged his fighter to risk getting knocked down in order to turn the fight around, while in Dulorme’s corner, they emphasized that he make no mistakes. Karim Mayfield did come out more aggressive and did enough to win the round, but at no point was he on the verge of stopping the fight.
The bout went to the score cards and the judges had it 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94 all in favor of Thomas Dulorme, who won the NABF title and takes a big step towards the top of the stacked 140 lb weight class.
In the main event of the night, WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev faced off against undefeated 26-0 (13KO’s) and unknown Cedric Agnew. Kovalev who was 23-0 (21 KO’s) going into the fight was coming off the first defense of his title in which he scored a highlight reel knockout over Ismayl Sillah, while Agnew had last been seen in the ring easily outboxing former title challenger Yusaf Mack.
Round 1 was a slow round, as neither fighter wanted to open up recklessly. Agnew was able to sneak in a couple of good shots and avoid the power of Kovalev, and he also landed a low blow which sent Sergey to the canvas for a few seconds. In the 2nd round, Kovalev began to open up his attack, which prompted Agnew to go into a defensive shell. Kovalev punctuated the round with a left hook that sent Agnew to the floor, the end looked near.
Having felt the power of Kovalev, Agnew stayed hidden behind a high guard and offered no offense of his own for the next round. ‘Krusher’ was happy to keep throwing hard shots which occasionally penetrated the guard of Agnew. A head butt in round 4 opened a cut over the eye of Kovalev, but it did not halt him from continuing his attack. The 5th round saw much of the same, as Cedric Agnew just looked to weather the storm.
The damage was starting taking its toll on the 27 year old Agnew. The 6th round was highlighted by a body shot landed by Kovalev that made Agnew bend over in pain and forcing the second knockdown of the fight. Cedric Agnew looked to be in rough shape in between rounds, and early in round 7, a hard jab to the body sent him to the canvas and he was unable to continue.
With the win, Kovalev moves up to 24-0 and still looks to be the most dangerous light heavyweight in boxing. With a clash against Adonis Stevenson looking unlikely in the near future, Kovalev now has the difficult task of finding top opponents within his weight class that will fight him, due to most of the names in the division being with rival TV network Showtime.
Kovalev showed this past weekend that he can go beyond the early rounds and be just as powerful as he was at the start of the fight, and also showed himself to be one of the most exciting fighters to watch in boxing. Kovalev’s future is looking bright with or without the big name fights.
(AP Photo/Tim Larsen)