By Keith Idec
NEWARK, N.J. – Jack Culcay deserved better Saturday night.
Ecuador’s Culcay hurt unbeaten Polish contender Maciej Sulecki several times during a highly competitive 10-round, 154-pound fight on the Murat Gassiev-Krzysztof Wlodarczyk undercard at Prudential Center. Culcay lost their WBC elimination match by big margins on two of three scorecards, though, and dropped a unanimous decision.
Judge Lindsey Paige scored the fight 98-92 and judge Paul Wallace had it 97-93. Judge James Kinney scored it closer (96-94).
By winning, Poland’s Sulecki (26-0, 10 KOs) moved closer toward a shot at WBC super welterweight champion Jermell Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs). Sulecki is ranked No. 5 by the WBC, three spots ahead of Culcay (22-3, 11 KOs).
Culcay lost a second straight decision. Demetrius Andrade defeated him by split decision in his previous fight, a 12-rounder for the WBA world super welterweight title March 11 in Ludwigshafen, Germany.
“It was a close fight,” Culcay said. “Hard to tell, but I felt like I was winning. It was very close, but I really thought I was winning.
“I felt like I was strong. I thought I had hurt him, but this is boxing. I would love a rematch, but either way I will be back even stronger.”
Culcay cracked Sulecki with a left hook that staggered Sulecki late in the 10th round, but Sulecki was able to make it to the final bell.
Sulecki and Culcay connected with power punches throughout an entertaining, back-and-forth ninth round. Sulecki went down to one knee late in the ninth round, but referee David Fields ruled that it wasn’t a knockdown.
Sulecki survived Culcay’s onslaught in the seventh round to make the eighth round competitive. Culcay finished the eighth round strong by landing right hands to Sulecki’s head, but Sulecki connected with two right hands of his own before the bell sounded.
Culcay attacked Sulecki at the start of the seventh round and hurt him badly after landing several right hands. After starting the round at a blistering pace, Culcay slowed down to catch his breath, which helped Sulecki survive the trouble.
“It was a very tough fight and I had to be at my best,” Sulecki said. “I didn’t think he’d be quite as tough, but I wanted to fight him and I got him. … The seventh round was the toughest round for me. I got hit with a couple big shots, but I wanted a war. I was never going to let down.”
Before Sulecki beat Culcay, super welterweight prospect Money Powell survived a first-round knockdown to beat Brandon Adams by unanimous decision in a six-round bout.
Powell was dropped by an Adams left hand less than 20 seconds into the bout, but came back to win the fight on all three scorecards (59-55, 59-56, 58-55).
Powell, of Fort Mitchell, Alabama, improved to 5-0. Adams, of Oakland, California, slipped to 4-5-1.
In the second bout Saturday night, Nigerian heavyweight prospect Efe Ajagba made quick work of previously unbeaten Luke Lyons.
Ajagba (2-0, 2 KOs), a 2016 Olympian, dropped Lyons twice within a 35-second span on his way to a first-round technical knockout. Lyons (5-1, 2 KOs), of Ashland, Kentucky, got up both times, but referee Harvey Dock determined he shouldn’t continue and stopped their scheduled six-rounder 2:19 into the first round.
The six-bout card began with Skender Halili’s six-round unanimous decision victory over Samuel Amoako in a middleweight match.
Halili (15-2, 13 KOs), of Fort Worth, Texas, won by the same score, 60-53, on all three scorecards.. Amoaka, of Silver Springs, Maryland, slipped to 23-16 (17 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.