Ahmed Elbiali was forced to sweat out his latest win.
The once promising light heavyweight extended his win streak to seven in a row after a narrow unanimous decision over Rodolfo Gomez. All three judges scored the contest 95-94 for Elbiali in the co-feature of a Don King-promoted Fite TV Pay-Per-View extravaganza Friday evening from Casino Miami Jai Alai.
Gomez enjoyed a strong opening round and fared well when he actually tried to fight. The journeyman boxer from Laredo, Texas was consistently first to the punch as Elbiali struggled to find his offensive rhythm.
The fight took a drastic and very ugly turn in round two, when Gomez insisted on making the referee a major part of the fight.
Elbiali was determined to work the body of Gomez, who repeatedly complained of low blows. A few shots in fact strayed low and prompted a warning from the referee, who on other occasions pleaded with Gomez to stop trying to sell clean body shots as illegal punches.
Time was called twice in round four as Elbiali was once again disciplined for going below the beltline. Gomez flopped to the canvas at the end of the round courtesy of a right hand to the cup. Elbiali was instructed to wait in a neutral corner despite the bell having sounded to end the round before Gomez made it to his feet and both were sent to their respective trainers for the one-minute period between rounds.
Gomez landed a right hand in round five, which Elibiali took well though was clearly surprised by the sudden momentum shift. A long right uppercut by Gomez missed the mark but at least presented the perception that he was still fighting for the upset.
Elbiali controlled the flow of the fight behind his jab for much of round six. Gomez responded in kind but was short with his left uppercut. Elbiali overcommitted on a right hand but recovered in time to catch Gomez with a compact left.
Gomez enjoyed brief success on the inside in round seven though let the moment slip from his grasp when he had a chance to steal the round. Elbiali took control in round eight through better gauged body attack which slowed down Gomez, whose best intended punches either missed or were blocked.
Elbiali couldn’t carry over the momentum in round nine, whether through fatigue from all of the two-way clinching or an unexpected power surge from his opponent. Gomez took advantage and let his hands go at close quarters. Elbiali was forced to absorb a series of body shots but managed to respond with power punches of his own.
Gomez was pushed to the canvas at the start of the tenth and final round, though Elbiali was able to avoid a point deduction for the incidental contact. Frequent clinching slowed the bout to a crawl in the closing minutes, though Elbiali briefly stunned Gomez with an uppercut with just more than a minute to go.
Both boxers raised their arms in victory after the final bell though Gomez’s winless streak would remain intact despite his insistence that he was robbed by the judges. He fell to 14-7-3 (10KOs) and is 0-3-2 in his past five starts.
In the other direction, Elbiali has won seven in a row as he advanced his overall record to 23-1 (18KOs). His lone defeat came in a December 2017 knockout loss to former lineal light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal, who announced his retirement before and after their Fox Sports-aired main event from a racetrack parking lot in Hialeah, Florida. Pascal of course returned to the ring, while Elbiali has spent the past six years attempting to resurrect a career once filled with promise.
Of course, that didn’t stop him from aiming for the top.
“We want the title fight,” Elbiali told Hall of Fame former lightweight champion Ray Mancini as part of the DKP broadcast team, after the fight. “Dmitry Bivol, Artur Beterbiev. Those are the only two champions we got. Any of those two fights would be an honor.”
Headlining the show, former four-division titlist Adrien Broner (34-4-1, 24KOs) ends a 28-month layoff as he faces Pittsburgh’s Bill Hutchinson (20-2-4, 9KOs) in a ten-round welterweight contest. Cincinnati’s Broner—who turns 34 in July—has not fought since a February 2021 unanimous decision victory over Puerto Rico’s Jovanie Santiago.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox