By Thomas Gerbasi
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York - Junior featherweights Amanda Serrano and Yazmin Rivas battled it out for ten fast-paced rounds in the return of women?s boxing to Showtime, with Brooklyn?s Serrano retaining her WBO title via 10-round unanimous decision.
Scores were 97-93, 98-92 and 99-91 for Serrano, now 31-1-1 with 23 KOs; Rivas falls to 35-10-1 with 10 KOs.
Serrano walked Rivas down throughout the first two rounds, firing off power shots to the body and head with little regard for anything coming back at her.
By the third, Serrano?'s pace and straight punching was starting to take its toll on Rivas, who was visited by the ringside physician before the round, and it was clear that without the power to hurt Serrano, she wasn't going to be able to stop the barrage coming at her.
Rivas, a longtime former bantamweight champion, never stopped throwing punches though, hoping that her crafty, yet busy, style would allow her to take some rounds while Serrano took her foot off the gas and began implementing a more boxing-centric attack in the middle rounds.
The Torreon, Mexico native had a solid eighth frame, landing several flush head shots, but that only pushed Serrano to up her work rate once more, giving the crowd a charge, and in the final round, it was more Serrano as she tried to close the show with a knockout. She didn?t get it against Rivas, who has never been stopped, but the performance of both should warrant more women?s boxing to hit the airwaves in 2017.
In a fight that is a good omen for the 2017 boxing season, unheralded middleweight prospect Immanuwel Aleem shocked highly-touted Ievgen Khytrov, winning via sixth-round TKO in a thrilling clash of unbeatens.
Aleem nearly pulled off the upset in the opening round, drilling Khytrov with a right hand and following it up with several more that had the Ukrainian reeling and on the ropes. He appeared to get his legs back after surviving the barrage, but late in the round, he was staggered and punished once more, referee Eddie Claudio opting the let the fight continue.
In the second, Khytrov showed signs of life, and despite taking more hard shots from Aleem, when he caught his foe on the ropes, he was able to score with a steady stream of blows, getting himself right back in the fight. But with a little over a minute left in the third, Aleem drilled Khytrov with a left hook, putting him on the deck hard. Again, it looked like the fight was about to be over, but after receiving a generous amount of time from Claudio to recover, Khytrov responded by hurting Aleem, nearly putting his stamp on the fight in emphatic fashion.
The back and forth slugging continued in the fourth and fifth frames, Khytrov remarkably appearing to be the fresher of the two as he marched forward, throwing punches every step of the way. Yet after another strong start to the sixth for Khytrov, Aleem erupted suddenly, apparently playing possum as he fired off two right hands that dropped Khytrov a second time. This time, the follow-up barrage was enough, as Claudio stepped in and stopped the fight at 1:20 of round six.
With the win, Virginia's Aleem moves to 17-0-1 with 10 KOs and picks up the vacant WBC silver middleweight belt. Khytrov falls to 14-1 with 12 stops.