Guido Vianello is back in the win column.
It was hardly entertaining, though enough for the 2016 Olympian to hand his arm raised in victory in an eight-round, unanimous decision over Curtis Harper. Scores were 80-72, 79-73 and 79-73 for Vianello in their ESPN+ preliminary stream Saturday at Fort Bend Epicenter in Rosenberg, Texas.
Roma's Vianello was ready for Harper’s forward charging motion in the early going. The tactic was to be expected, as the bout was his first since a stoppage defeat to Jonnie Rice earlier this year. The Italian heavyweight was well ahead in the bout before a cut caused by a punch ultimately proved too severe to continue.
It will perhaps take a few fights for Vianello to flush that memory out of his system. He caught Harper with a counter right uppercut early in the bout but otherwise offered a cautious approach against a grossly out-of-shape Harper who’d been stopped five times in his journeyman career.
Harper enjoyed mild success in round three and attempted to disrupt Vianello’s rhythm by coming out in a southpaw stance in round four. It didn’t produce any real success, to which he resorted to smothering his heavily favored foe. Vianello landed a right hand midway through the round and pressed the action.
Action slowed as neither boxer seemed interested in fighting like a heavy-handed heavyweight. Vianello took the lead in round seven and landed a right hand which knocked loose a makeshift wrap on Harper’s hair.
Harper (14-10, 9KOs) was encouraged to go for the knockout in the final round but was content to go the distance. Vianello (11-1-1, 9KOs) fought as if he was on board with that plan but the look on his face by fight’s end suggested he knew this fight—while a win—will be one to forget.
Headlining the main show, Kazakhstan’s Janibek Alimkhanuly (14-0, 9KOs) meets Germany’s Vincenzo Gualtieiri in a WBO/IBF middleweight unification bout.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox