LAS VEGAS – Kevin Johnson pushed Richardson Hitchins on Friday night more than any of his first nine pro opponents.
Hitchins responded well by using his superior hand speed and movement to out-point the crafty, stubborn Johnson on all three scorecards. Johnson landed plenty of overhand rights of his own, but Hitchins displayed a good chin during their competitive 10-round welterweight fight at Sam’s Town Hotel & Gaming Hall.
The 22-year-old Hitchins (10-0, 5 KOs) remained unbeaten, but the junior welterweight prospect was tested throughout just the kind of fight for which Showtime’s “ShoBox: The New Generation” series was created.
Judges Adalaide Byrd (97-93) and Dave Moretti (97-93) both scored seven rounds for Brooklyn’s Hitchins (10-0, 6 KOs), who represented Haiti at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Judge Patricia Morse Jarman scored six rounds for Hitchins (96-94).
Despite losing, the previously unknown Johnson (7-2, 4 KOs) produced a strong showing against a prospect promoted by Floyd Mayweather’s company.
Detroit’s Johnson came on during the second half of the fight, when he consistently connected with counter right hands.
HItchins clipped Johnson with a lunging left hook in the beginning of the 10th round. Johnson go the better of Hitchins for much of the remainder of the final round,
Hitchins’ hand speed and ring generalship made the ninth round difficult for Johnson, who spent much of it missing Hitchins and taking punches.
Johnson connected with several hard right hands during the eighth round, probably his best three minutes of the fight to that point. Hitchins took all those shots well, however, and kept pressing forward.
A right uppercut/left hook combination by Johnson clipped Hitchins early in the seventh round. Johnson connected with an overhand right later in the seventh.
Johnson clipped Hitchins with a short, counter right hand early in the fifth round. Hitchins came back later in the fifth to blast Johnson with an overhand right.
Hitchins drilled Johnson with a right hand about a minute into the fourth round. Johnson connected with a right hand of his own few seconds later.
Hitchins connected with a right hand to the side of Johnson’s head and quickly got out of Johnson’s punching range in the final minute of the third round.
Johnson landed two counter right hands within the final 30 seconds of the second round. Hitchins had found a home for his right hands earlier in the second.
Hitchins and Johnson traded hard right hands about a minute into the opening round, when he quickly exhibited a speed advantage over Johnson. Hitchins landed several more right hands later in the first round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.