By Jake Donovan
Nadjib Mohammedi is now a mandatoy challenger to unified light heavyweight titlist after tearing through Anatoliy Dudchenko in less than seven rounds Saturday evening at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.
The bout was never close, with Mohammedi scoring at will with right hands all night long. Dudchenko came in highly touted as the latest light heavyweight in the Main Events stable that was supposed to pose a major threat to the rest of the field.
The oddsmakers apparently knew better than the masses, with Mohammedi opening as a near 2-1 favorite. The bout marked his first in the United States, and just fourth overall outside of his native France. Mohammedi hadn't enjoyed too much success on the road; two of his three career losses came away from home, including a 2nd round knockout at the hands of Dmitry Sukhotsky in Oct.' 11.
Ten straight wins have followed heading into the biggest fight of his career, and Mohammedi rose to the occasion.
Meanwhile, Dudchenko never got going. The 35-year old hadn't fought since his 12-round war with Robert Woge last October. He promised a similar type of performance here, but barely won a round as he was beaten in every possible way.
Mohammedi turned a corner in the fight in round three and never looked back. Round after round, right hands crashed down on Dudchenko's tender skin, his swollen and sunken eyes telling the tale of a fighter who realized too late he was in way over his head.
The fight was on the verge of being stopped in round six, but permitted to go a little longer. It gave Mohammedi enough time to deliver a spectacular finish, pummelling Dudchenko until the bout was mercifully stopped at 0:37 of round seven.
Mohammedi cruises to 35-3 (21KO), making good on a pre-fight promise that he would knock out Dudchenko, who watches a six-year, 16-fight win streak come to an end as he falls to 19-3 (13KO).
With the win, Mohammedi is now the mandatory challenger to one of the titles currently in the possession of legendary future Hall of Fame unified champ Bernard Hopkins. The title shot he craves might not necessarily come next; Hopkins is currently in negotiation for a fall showdown with lineal light heavyweight king Adonis Stevenson.
Should that fight materialize, Mohammedi can expect to be next in line. It's also possible he is steered towards a shot at unbeaten alphabet titlist Sergey Kovalev, whose promoter Main Events presented Saturday's action which aired live on NBC Sports Ntwork.
Whatever the case, Mohammedi becomes the latest player in a light heavyweight division that continues to show hope for the future as it slowly gets younger.
In a lightweight contest, the more skilled Karl Dargan (16-0, 8KOs) put away Anthony Flores (11-5, 6KOs) in the fifth round of their contest.
In a battle of undefeated light heavyweights, Sullivan Barrera (12-0, 7KOs) of Cuba continued to rise in the ranks when he stopped Lee Campbell (6-1, 3KOs) in six rounds.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox