By Francisco Salazar
Heavyweight Amir Mansour was not about to let the Russian fighters in the other televised fights steal the show. He had something up his sleeve.
Already dominating Frederic Kassi, Mansour decided to end matters abruptly in the eighth round with one punch at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on Saturday night.
The bout headlined a "Fight Night" card, presented by Main Events in association with Peltz Boxing.
Mansour was coming off a 10 round unanimous decision loss to Steve Cunningham on April 4 in Philadelphia. Kassi had not fought in about 15 months, when he knocked out Shannon Caudle in the third round.
The southpaw Mansour controlled the fight by pressing Kassi from the opening bell, forcing him to fight defensively. Mansour landed to the head and body with wide, yet effective punches.
Kassi would switch from conventional to southpaw and back to conventional again, but it did little to throw off Mansour, who continued to control the fight through the middle rounds.
In the seventh round, Mansour backed Kassi up against the ropes. After throwing a left, Mansour followed up with a counter right hand to the head of Kassi, dropping face-first to the canvas. Referee Gary Rosato immediately waved the fight over at 2:17 .
Mansour, who spent almost nine years in prison during the 2000's, improves to 21-1, 16 KOs. The Cameroon-born Kassi drops to 18-3, 10 KOs.
Junior middleweight Dmitry Mikhaylenko stopped Ronald Cruz after the eighth round.
Both fighters took the fight to each other after the opening bell sounded. Both fighters threw combinations in the pocket, with both landing to the head and body.
Cruz seemed to land the more telling blows in the third and fourth rounds, beating Mikhaylenko to the punch, particularly with right hands to the head.
Mikhaylenko swung momentum in his favor in the fifth round. He was able to create distance between himself and Cruz, allowing him to land repeatedly with right hands to the head. As the bout progressed, Cruz's right eye was swelling and there was a small cut over the same eye.
Cruz's punch output began to noticeably. Rather than hold his ground, he began backing up against the ropes and did little to block Mikhaylenko's punches.
After the eighth round, Cruz's trainer, Billy Briscoe, told referee Steve Smoger that Cruz had enough, prompting Smoger to wave the fight over.
The Russian-born Mikhaylenko improves to 18-0, 7 KOs, while Cruz, who resides in Bethlehem, drops to 20-5, 15 KOs.
Light heavyweight Vasily Lepikhin won an unpopular 10 round unanimous decision over Jackson Junior.
Lepikhin, who had about a five-inch height advantage over Junior, stunned Junior in the first round with an overhand right to the head.
Not to be outdone, Junior was able to get on the inside of Lepikhin's guard, where he was able to beat Lepikhin to the punch. Junior was at his best when he had Lepikhin on the ropes, throwing and landing numerous hard combinations to the head. Lepikhin kept his gloves up to his ears, blocking a lot of the punches from Junior.
As the bout progressed, Junior looked to land right hands to the head on the inside while Lepikhin tried to counter to the head with left hooks.
Both fighters had their moments in the second half of the fight. Junior continued to do well on the inside, while Lepikhin finally got on track in the final two rounds by landing right hands when he had the right distance between himself and Junior. Lepikhin looked somewhat fatigued, but kept his hands busy until the final bell sounded.
All three judges scored the bout in favor of the Russian-born Lepikhin, 97-93, 97-93, and 96-94. The decision was met with boos from the crowd.
Lepikhin goes to 17-0, 9 KOs. The Brazilian-born Junior falls to 15-1, 13 KOs. Junior was stopped by Umberto Savigne in March of last year, but the bout was reversed to a no-contest when Savigne failed a post-fight drug test.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Salazar also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star, RingTV, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing