By Jake Donovan
Joseph Elegele earned his second straight win since returning to the ring earlier this year, the latest feat outpointing Phil Lo Greco over 10 rounds Sunday evening at Lakeland Events Center in Lakeland, Florida.
Scores were 97-95 and 96-94 (twice) in favor of Elegele in their welterweight battle, which headlined the latest edition of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Bounce TV.
It was just over four months ago when Elegele officially returned to the ring following a hiatus of more than a year. The politics of the sport left him with a bitter taste in his mouth but has opted to give it one more try.
Both comeback bouts for the rangy southpaw have aired live on Bounce TV, scoring a 6th round knockout of the late Alex DeJesus on January 31st and on Sunday fending off a stubborn Lo Greco for the well-earned victory.
The latest feat came with its share of struggles. Lo Greco was dominated in the opening round, but came out swinging early in round two, rocking Elegele with a left hook early in the frame and pinning the Floridian along the ropes. His quest for an upset knockout win instead left the Canadian welterweight gasping for air by the end of the frame, at which point Elegele dramatically turned the tide with a slew of left hand shots upstairs just before the bell.
It was a momentum shift for sure, but not one that remained in the free flowing direction of the resurgent welterweight from Broward County, Florida. Just as it seemed that Elegele would run away with a landslide win, Lo Greco managed to enjoy a burst of energy and create anxious moments. It happened in round five, with Elegele all but taking off in the round, leading to a tongue lashing from head trainer Jason Galarza.
The harsh talk worked, as Elegele had Lo Greco wobbly in round six, but was never able to land that fight-ending punch.
A low blow in round nine ultimately gave both boxers a much needed breather, though specifically a break for Elegele to shake off the shot that landed just below his belt line. He cruised through the rest of the frame before unloading in a dominant 10th and final round to close strong.
It turned out he needed the round to preserve the win, as all three judges had the bout scored closer than the televised action suggested.
Nevertheless, it's two in a row for Elegele, who improves to 16-2 (11KOs). Lo Greco heads in the opposite direction, falling to 27-3 (15KOs) as he has now lost three of his last five starts.
YELEUSSINOV, LEE FIT TO BE TIED
Dauren Yeleussinov and DeVaun Lee battled to an eight-round draw in their Bounce TV swing bout.
Scores were all over the place in a sloppy-yet-fun affair. Yeleussniov (5-0-1, 4KOs) was awarded a 79-73 win on one card, while Lee (7-2-1, 3KOs) was ahead 78-74 on a second card. The third judge had the bout 76-76, perhaps paving the way for the Brooklyn (Yeleussinov, though by way of Kazakhstan) versus Queens (Lee) matchup to head to New York City for a potential part two.
BAKER CLIMBS OFF DECK, CRUSHES LOVETT
Steve Lovett was one round away from what would have been a certain points win. He never made it to the final bell, as Craig Baker rallied to score a dramatic 8th round knockout.
It was all Lovett for the first five rounds or so, as the previously unbeaten light heavyweight from Australia seemed to have the perfect game plan for Baker. A steady jab controlled the flow of action, with Lovett offering head movement on the inside and countering with power shots.
That formula led to the first knockdown of the fight. Baker overshot a right hand, leaving himself open for a counter left hook to the temple. The moment came late enough in round four to where Baker was able to recover and make it to the bell.
Oddly, it was Lovett who never seemed to recover.
Baker turned the tide late in round five, swinging momentum in his favor but still down on the cards heading into the 8th and final round, Lovett ran out of ways to defend himself, getting clipped with a right hand shot with about 40 seconds to go, with the same punch dropping him hard at the 10-second mark. He was still down and loopy at nine when referee Frank Santore halted the contest.
The official time was 2:57 of round eight.
Baker once again violently snatches the "0" of a light heavyweight prospect. Some 16 months after handling the now-retired Humberto Savigne his first loss, he does the same to Lovett as he now improves to 17-1 (13KOs). Baker hadn't won since that night, suffering a 3rd round stoppage at the hands of Edwin Rodriguez in his most recent ring appearance last May.
Lovett suffers his first career defeat as he falls to 15-1 (12KOs).
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Follow his shiny new Twitter account: @JakeNDaBox_v2