By Cliff Rold
33-year old Cuban Jr. Middleweight Yudel Jhonson (16-1, 9 KO) of Miami, Florida, made it four wins in a row since a lone loss to Willie Nelson in 2012, scoring knockdowns in rounds five and nine en route to a unanimous ten-round decision over 33-year old Norberto Gonzalez (20-4, 13 KO) of Monterey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Jhonson was a 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist at Light Welterweight on Friday night at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York.
Both men came into the bout at the division limit of 154 lbs. The referee was Charlie Fitch.
The precise pace of the fight through the first five round saw both men taking turns working off the jab and looking for big shots, neither really pushing the pedal. Jhonson played the stalker far more, breaking through late in round five with a counter left to send Gonzalez to the floor. Gonzalez quickly made his feet and the bell rang before Jhonson could follow up.
Gonzalez came out strong in the sixth looking to get back the point he’d lost in the fifth but found the southpaw guard of Jhonson hard to break and remained open to the counter left. Gonzalez appeared in trouble for a moment in the seventh but collected himself well and stayed afoot.
Round nine was rough for Gonzalez all around. A break in the action was called after he suffered a bad low blow, Gonzalez clearly affected. He got up and made a go of it, even rocking Jhonson with a right. The Cuban had an answer, blasting Gonzalez late with a perfect short left to drop Gonzalez for the second time. Again the bell rang before Jhonson could follow up and the bout moved into the tenth and final round.
Perhaps the best action of the night was seen in the final minute of the fight. Going for broke, Gonzalez let loose and Jhonson met him in the trenches, both men exchanging hard leather. A Jhonson left shook Gonzalez but didn’t drop him and they battled to the bell. The decision was little in doubt, coming in at unanimous scores of 97-91.
In Welterweight action, 28-year old Samuel Vasquez (15-0, 11 KO), 147, of Monessen, Pennsylvania, scored knockdowns in each round on his way to a third round stoppage of 31-year old Jay Krupp (17-7, 8 KO), 150, of Catskill, New York. It was Vasquez’s sixth consecutive knockout win. After felling Krupp with a left in the first, and a body shot in the second, Vasquez dropped him a third time with a left to send referee Benji Esteves to the rescue at 1:19 of round three.
The televised opener featured a promising young Ukrainian Middleweight.
25-year old 2011 World Amateur Champion and 2012 Olympian Ievgen Khytrov (5-0, 5 KO), 160, fighting professionally out of Brooklyn, New York, needed a single right hook to score a third-round technical knockout of 29-year old Chris Chatman (12-4-1, 5 KO), 160, of San Diego, California. Khytrov got some good work along the way. Buzzed briefly in the first round, Khytrov worked through the turbulence quickly and patiently walked his man down. He lowered the boom from the southpaw stance, Chatman able to beat the count but deemed unable to continue by referee Dick Pakozdi at 2:18 of round three.
The card was broadcast in the US on ESPN2 as part of its “Friday Night Fights” series, promoted by Iron Mike Productions.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]