By David P. Greisman
Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada - Dmitry Mikhaylenko is nicknamed “The Mechanic,” and it’s fitting, then, that he won a workmanlike unanimous decision over Karim Mayfield.
The scorecards were 100-90 (twice) and 99-91 in a bout that gave fans in Bell Centre a bathroom break between the highly entertaining Francis Lafreniere-Renan St. Juste undercard bout and the Kovalev-Pascal 2 main event.
Mayfield’s nickname is “Hard Hitta,” and he tried to live up to that in the opening moments, coming out with a big right hand and a left before tumbling to the canvas on a wild right hand. The larger Mikhaylenko easily withstood it and then worked behind his jab to pressure Mayfield around the ring. He didn’t have enough power to break Mayfield down, but Mayfield also didn’t have enough in his hands or his legs to keep Mikhaylenko away for long, nor did his smothering tactics in close help him win rounds.
Mikhaylenko outworked and outlanded Mayfield, according to CompuBox, going 220 of 756, a 29 percent connect rate. He was 168 of 482 with power punches, or 35 percent, and 52 of 274 with jabs, or 19 percent.
Mayfield was 104 of 487 in total punches, a 21 percent connect rate, with 88 of 336 power shots, or 26 percent, and 16 of 151 jabs, or about 11 percent. Mayfield increased his activity in the last two rounds; it wasn’t enough to score the come-from-behind victory.
“It was a lot of hard work in the ring,” Mikhaylenko said afterward. “Mayfield was tougher than I thought he was going to be. He hung on me too much but I was able to throw more punches. I am happy with my performance.”
Mikhaylenko, a 29-year-old from Russia, moves to 21-0 with 9 KOs.
Mayfield was a late replacement opponent for Ray Robinson, who was injured about two weeks beforehand in a motor vehicle crash. He arrived in shape even though he hadn’t fought since 2014. This opportunity still wound up being his third defeat in four fights; he suffered back-to-back losses to Thomas Dulorme and Emanuel Taylor in 2014, then outpointed Michael Balasi before the year is out. The 35-year-old from San Francisco is now 19-3-1 with 11 KOs.
“He is tough, very durable. He was able to absorb my punches,” Mayfield said afterward. “He took some good shots from me but he was able to recover very well. Really tough guy. Future champ. You need more time to prepare for a guy with Mikahaylenko's style. I would like a rematch and have the proper time to prepare.”
The year isn’t even a month old, but by the time 2016 is over it shouldn’t be surprising if the war between Francis Lafreniere and Renan St. Juste makes the list of best fights. Lafreniere and St. Juste went to war for 10 rounds, with Lafreniere leaving with a truly hard-fought unanimous decision.
On the surface, Lafreniere had the far less impressive record, coming in at 10-5-2 with 6 KOs, while St. Juste was 26-4-1 with 18 KOs and with those defeats coming against far better foes than those who had topped Lafreniere. But that didn’t matter. Lafreniere, a 27-year-old who the adoring crowd called “People’s Champ,” put the 43-year-old St. Juste through hell. St. Juste returned the favor often.
Lafreniere fought through a cut and swollen eye that brought attention from the ringside physician before the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds. St. Juste continued to target Lafreniere’s head with haymakers. They stood toe-to-toe, and somehow they remained standing. The only point deduction came from Lafreniere in the eighth round for a low blow. Lafreniere finished stronger and had St. Juste seemingly ready to go at the end of the ninth. He survived and made it to the final bell.
The scores were 99-90 from one judge and 97-92 from the other two. Lafreniere is now 11-5-2 with 6 KOs while St. Juste is now 26-5-1 with 18 KOs.